watch out. I sometimes write in the present tense to bring you closer to the action... enjoy...
Two more days, which seemed to the sailors as if they would never come to an end, passed before they were close enough to Boston harbor for Gabriel, who had been piloting the ship throughout the voyage, to finally make the announcement which all had anticipated; that they should prepare for docking. The moment he said this, the ship became a hive of activity, as several men began to furl the sails while others roused out the anchors or, if they were unlucky, began to clear the lower decks of hammocks, sea chests, and various other articles which had been mislaid by the men who had first claimed them. At long last, just after midday, the ship came alongside the dock.
Almost before it had stopped moving, Matt, Mark, Luke, and Raphael, two to each side, had leapt overboard holding the ropes used for just that purpose. When they had finished their task, which did not take them long, the four boys met in front of the ship. As they looked out at the growing crowd which had gathered to witness the arrival of the ship, the boys felt a sudden rush of pride in themselves. “Look at all those men out there!” remarked Raphael, as if the others needed to be told to do this. “And they’ve all come to see us! Would you believe it?”
“I can believe it, because I’m seeing it with my own eyes.” answered Matt.
Before the boys could say more, David appeared on the dock, along with Gabriel and John. Blowing loudly on a whistle he had brought with him, David announced to the crowd “The threat is over! And no-one has received any money for the head of Admiral Mellino, I presume?”
This statement was met with cheers and some laughter. David, however, suddenly grew serious as a large group of men stepped toward him. Without introducing themselves, they said “Come with us. Your brother is waiting for you.”
“Oh ho” replied Gabriel with a laugh “Has Anthony become so rich already that he sends servants to meet us? Who was this wealthy relative we didn’t know we had?”
“Quiet!” snapped the leader of the men who had stepped forward. “All of you are under arrest as pirates!”
There was a collective gasp from the crowd and also, we must admit, from the newly arrived sailors turned prisoners. “All of us?” David cried, voicing the common surprise. “Including the boys?”
“Including the boys.”
“Who accused us?”
“A man who wishes to remain unnamed.”
“But this can not be true! Any man who accused us of such baseness is a liar!”
“We do not discuss the honesty of others. Our task is to arrest you and place you in prison until your case is decided. Come along.”
Knowing that to resist would make them truly guilty, the Mellinos, along with Matt and Mark, could do nothing but march slowly in front of their captors through the crowd, whose surprise was quickly turning to hostility.
“Pirates, are you? And I thought you were good men!”
“And your brother an Admiral? Is he a pirate too, then? Did he buy his flag?”
“Go die in prison! No one’s going to try to get you out!”
Unfortunately, the hostility of the crowd soon became evident in the prisoners themselves, though they attempted to keep their tones civil. Gabriel turned to David, scowling. When he spoke, frustration was evident.
“Now, whose idea was that flag? We’d have been met with worse than this if we’d had that thing flying from the masthead.”
“Right back at you, Gabe. Whose idea was it to tell our secret plans to a ‘friend’, as you called him?”
“What makes you think it was him?”
“He wanted to remain unnamed. Obviously thinks we’ll come after him if we get out. Wouldn’t you?”
“Wouldn’t I what?”
“Never mind. We have to think of a plan that will get us out.”
Leaning back to speak to John, who was immediately behind him, Gabriel whispered “Pass the word. We’re to break away as soon as possible.”
Five minutes later, the whole party was forced into two carriages which stood waiting for them. Gabriel, Raphael, and John stepped into the first, while David, Luke, Matt, and Mark entered the second. As the prisoners took their places inside the carriages and the guards took their places outside, the boys leaned in toward David in their coach, asking eagerly “Well, have you got a plan yet? What’s the signal?”
David looked back at them which might have pity for their excitement. “The plan, my boys” he said softly, glancing out the window at the ominous building they were to be housed in “is that we will trust in God and the government.”
“We’re not going to break out?!” The boys were unable to hide their shock at David’s statement.
“Yes. Breaking out will be a last resort only. We must not accuse ourselves by our actions. I promise you, we will not mount the scaffold.”
The boys relaxed once more, satisfied. They knew now that they would escape, if they only waited for the right moment.
Seconds later, the coaches stopped abruptly. The guards swung the doors open wide and snapped “Out! Quick march!”
The prisoners, who were now confident in themselves and secure in the knowledge that the guards did not know their plans, stepped out of the coaches and, grinning cheekily, marched ahead of the guards straight into the dark passageway which was the main opening of the prison.
As they marched past, a voice rose out of the darkness. “It is you, isn’t it David? I’ve been in here for I don’t know how long waiting for you to turn up.”
“Anthony! Are you well?”
“As well as a man can be who’s escaped from his enemies only to be condemned by his countrymen.”
“That’s enough!” the guards barked, prodding David’s party forward. “No communication with prisoners is permitted!”
As David and the others began to march forward again, Anthony called after them “Michael’s all right! He escaped! He’ll get us out!”
Cheered by this statement, the new prisoners replied with a call common to all men: “Freeeedoom!”
Just as Anthony had said, Michael had escaped and was roaming the streets of Boston. You may wonder why he had not simply turned back and broken Anthony out straightaway, but he had not done this because he knew that if he were to approach the prison at all for some time, he might be recognized and captured. He would be no help to anyone then.
The day on which we have spotted Michael is two days after the arrival and capture of his uncles and the other boys. At the moment he is sitting on the dock, watching and waiting for a certain ship to come in. There is a ship coming in now, and Michael rises anxiously to meet it. He thinks that Dameon may be on board this ship, as, of course, he is unaware of his oldest uncle’s death in Madrid.
After several minutes of intense concentration on the ship, Michael falls back in despair. Dameon has not disembarked.
As the ship continues to unload its cargo, two men, one of solid build and average height and light brown hair, and the other a tall, thin man with darker hair, walk briskly past Michael’s position, talking earnestly in a foreign tongue. Michael, having nothing better to do, decides to follow them.
When Michael had been following them for several minutes, the shorter man stopped suddenly and fired a question at him. “Did I know your father, boy?” asked the man, sounding surprised.
Moving closer, Michael replied “Did you? Who’s my father, then?”
“Would your father be Captain Dameon Mellino?”
“No. Captain Dameon Mellino would be my uncle. If you know him, can you tell me where he has gotten too?”
“Your uncle died fighting bravely. My companion and I have hurried here in the hope that we could save the rest of your people from the scaffold.”
“Really? Then you are just the help I’ve been looking for. The rest of my uncles, my cousins, and our two friends, sons of the famous captain Sponsler, are all imprisoned now. Will you help? How did you know we had been wrongly accused of piracy?”
Leaning in toward Michael, the man answered “That ship is really a smuggler. News travels fast. We came to help. Lead us on.”
“Thank you, sir.” Michael replied, stepping in front of his allies and striding off in the direction of the prison.
Some time later, when they had drawn close to the prison, Michael spoke again. “All right, sir. The guards want me. If I run past, some of them are bound to follow. Keep an eye out for yourself, because you’ll have to fight some off.” Noticing the man’s lack of a blade, he added “A few feet away, I will turn and throw you a knife. If you catch it, you should be able to unlock the doors if you haven’t taken the keys by then. Tell my family I will be waiting outside the western gate. Good luck.”
“Same to you, boy.”
Without another word, Michael sprinted off, in full view of the prison guards. Just as he had hoped, several of the guards, calling out “It’s the Mellino boy!” leapt up and ran after him. Just before he got clear of the prison, Michael drew one of his blades, spun quickly, and hurled it off in the direction of the men who had come to help him. Then he ran off.
Still in the shadows, the two men watched the boy’s flight. At the last possible second, the tall one reached up and caught the flying knife. Then the pair sprang out of the shadows.
The guards, who had become tense, quickly surrounded the two men as they ran toward the doors of the prison. The fight was hard but short, and it was only a few short minutes before the tall man was twisting Michael’s knife in the lock and throwing the doors open wide.
In a few moments more, the pair, who had left all the guards sprawled upon the ground, ran down the corridor shouting “Mellinos! Sons of Sponsler! Your help has arrived!” At every reply, they stopped long enough to say “The boy said he would meet us beyond the west gate. Wait for us.”
In the space of twenty minutes, the two men had released all of the Mellinos and both the Sponsler twins. Suddenly, Gabriel took charge. “Come on! I know where we can find coaches!”
As there was no time to argue, everyone else followed Gabriel obediently as he dashed off.
The whole party sprinted off without another word. As they ran, a cry was taken up against them. “The pirates have escaped! Sheriffs! Sheriffs!” Fortunately, the ‘pirates’ were able to keep just ahead of the angry crowd until they reached a cab stand, where they clambered hurriedly into an empty coach.
As the former sailors arranged themselves in the seats (the two men who had freed them had turned away and run off earlier), gasped out “To the west gate! When you’re there, we’ll hire you for longer! Quickly!”
As the noise was too great to attempt a reply, the cab driver only snapped his whip in the air, causing his team to dash wildly through the oncoming crowd.
Some time later, when the cab had reached the west gate, the occupants of the cab caught sight of Michael dashing towards them. Calling on the driver to slow down but not to stop, David, who was closest, threw open the door just in time for Michael to grab onto it and swing himself inside. David then called to the driver “Go on ‘till we tell you to stop!”
The coach bounced swiftly down the road for several days. By the end of the first week, the passengers knew they were being pursued by mounted sheriffs, who had as yet been unable to catch up with them. David then promised the coachman fifty dollars if he could get them home, and then suddenly decided “You drive, Gabe. We’ll let this man go.”
“Aye aye, sir.” Gabriel replied cheerfully. Without breaking stride or slowing down the coach, he had positioned himself on the box in moments. He stopped the coach for an instant so the other man could jump off and collect his fee from David, and then they were off.
Two weeks later, when the intrepid adventurers had finally reached home, they had to run into David’s house at breakneck speed to evade the sheriffs who were still chasing them. “Quick, everyone” David called “Bar the door! There’s something I must find! They shan’t take us away!” As the others braced themselves against the door, David went dashing down the hall. A few minutes later, he gave a triumphant cry. “Ah ha! Perfect! Just what I wanted! Open the doors, men! We surrender!”
For a moment, the others were stunned, but then they saw that he was laughing. They threw open the doors. As the whole party stepped outside, they noticed that a large crowd had gathered on the lawn to discover the reason for the commotion.
Grinning widely, David announced “We’ll come quietly men, but only if we are allowed to read this letter first.” Without further ado, he began reading.
Captain Dameon Mellino, Captain David Mellino, Admiral Anthony Mellino, Pilot Gabriel Mellino, John, Luke, Michael, and Raphael, sons of the said officers, along with Mark and Matthew Sponsler, twin sons of Joseph Sponsler, volunteer spymaster for the U.S. government, are hereby fully and unconditionally pardoned for any acts of privateering or piracy which they may have committed in defense of this nation. Signed by the hand of the President of the United States, …” At this time, David held it up for all to see. He then added “Now, my good men, if you’ll go find a man by name Franz Turphoil, and arrest him, we shall be square. And tonight, I invite everyone to the pub to celebrate!”
The whole crowd cheered at this, and then went their own ways. The pardoned sailors retreated into David’s house and remained there until after dark, when they went to the pub, which was full. Taking the largest table, David called “Ale for the men and cider for all the boys! These two” he added, pointing at Mark and Matt “are boys.” This statement drew general laughter.
Several minutes later, when the drinks had come, David rose. “Gentlemen, I would like to offer a toast, or two.” Raising his mug, he called out “To God, to America, and to true friends! Long may they last!”
“Aye!” cried the whole establishment. There was a pause as everyone drank a portion of their beer. Then David continued. “To Dameon Mellino and Joseph Sponsler, two brave men who died for their friends!”
“Aye!” The drinks were emptied, then refilled. Then, David mounted the table and called out in his best deck voice ‘To happy reunions and fortunate destinies, may they be God’s Will!”
So ends the story of Reunions And Destinies
Featuring my good friends The Scarlet Pimpernel and his brothers, C.C. and his brother M. as Spaniards, and with appearances by my good friends J.B. and H. S. as Portuguese expatriates.
(Under normal circumstances, I do not positively identify my friends to protect their identities)
-Written for the greater Glory of God by JT/King Valun-