Page 70 - January 2021
P. 70

Santiago
















           The sailors explained how they had stuffed the rowboat with bark and palm leaves
           after tying Santiago to a seat and using a piece of glass in the sunlight to set the
           pyre on fire before returning to La Navidad.
           One of the sailors stayed behind to mock Santiago as the flames grew close to
           him,  but,  before  the  dwarf  caught  fire,  Santiago  cursed  the  crew  and  their
           relations  with  such  vengeance  that  his  tormentor  became  frightened  and  fled
           back to La Navidad. When the sailor told of Santiago’s curse, we looked upon the
           smoke rising in the distance with a palpable unease. Fear spread that all would
           suffer for blackening Santiago’s name and taking his life.
           The  last  to  see  Santiago  recounted  his  exact  words  as  follows,  “Dwarves  are
           powerful magic and all that harm me will be cursed to suffer and die!”

           Any  man’s  last  words  are  significant,  and,  everyone  knows  that  dwarves  are
           unnatural  beings  touched  by  dark  magic;  therefore,  logic  dictated  we  be
           concerned.  Silence  fell  over  the  men.  Then,  as  if  a  sign,  the  sailor  who’d
           recounted Santiago’s dark magic began to cough uncontrollably, and the crew’s
           eyes widened in horror. The sailor gasped that he’d inhaled palm smoke before
           running back to La Navidad, but everyone stepped away from him all the same.
           Another  sailor,  the  brother  of  the  coughing  man,  said,  “Dying  men  will  say
           anything  for  a  chance  live.”  A  few  nodded  in  agreement,  yet,  soothing  words
           didn’t stop the native’s attack.


           I was not part of Santiago’s killing. Yet, I was no better than the rest with regard to
           blaming  him  for  the  sinking  of  the  Santa  Maria.  On  Christmas  Eve,  I  awoke  in
           darkness to the screams of the sailors closest to the breach. I was not near the
           helm  to  see  the  cause  of  the  wreck  first-hand,  but  it  was  clear  Santiago  was
           leading the charge to save our cargo. I saw the watchman corner Santiago and
           say, “How dare you!” before he turned to the crew and blamed the dwarf for the
           shipwreck.
           In  the  immediate  chaos  most  weren’t  certain  who  was  responsible  for  the

           collision, but, as the ship sank, those closest to the incident whispered that it was
           the watchman who had unlawfully passed the helm to his son, a boy of ten years
           with  no  experience  at  the  wheel.  Three  other  sailors  confirmed  they  say  the
           watchman asleep. Captain, I am ashamed to say that I told them not to tell you of
           the watchman’s lies.



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