Literary Yard

Search for meaning

Of Gods, Men, and Beasts: Narrative of a Survivor of the Molucca Voyage

By Rich Elliott

I, Brother Nicholas, your most humble servant, submit this narrative on Holy Thursday, in the year of our Lord fifteen hundred and thirty-two, at the request of Abbot Anthony, our most Holy Father, who wishes a record of my voyage for the glory of God and the Monastery of St. Mary of the Caves.

Furthermore, Abbot Anthony, God bless his Holiness, advises that my writing will ease my torment. He hears my cries at night, he notes my fear of open water and my hatred of cloves. Undoubtedly, he wonders about the red scar on my face.

Abbot Anthony asks few questions of the novitiates. Yet he has divined, that I—the person formerly known as Vasco Gomes Gallego, or Vasquito—am one of the Survivors. It seems I cannot escape my fame nor my infamy.

I informed Abbot Anthony, and I will tell you, dear readers, that my story consists of but the flawed impressions of a boy, the inflamed perceptions of a child. Akin to a heathen’s descriptions of a church’s stained glass.

If you wish something approaching facts, you should refer to Pigafetta’s Journal, which can be found in Colon’s biblioteca. If you want a hero, read Pigafetta. I will not give you a hero.

______________

I shipped out with the Armada del Molucca from the port of Sanlucar de Barrameda, Spain, in September, in the year of the nativity of our Savior fifteen hundred and nineteen. I traveled with my father, Vasco Gomes Gallego the Elder, who was to be pilot on the Trinidad, one of the five ships in our fleet. I was thirteen years of age. My head full of the adventures of Marco Polo and my heart full of questions on how one becomes a such a man.

Father and I began with a lie. To be accepted on the voyage, we stated we were Spanish, not Portuguese. King Charles allowed Captain-General Magellan to bring only a few Portuguese. Thus our lie. Later, when the King learned of the lie, he rescinded all salary due to me.

I was to be a grumete, that is, a cabin-boy, an apprentice sailor. Because my father was an important person on the Trinidad, I was spared the worst jobs, like cutting the toenails of the older men or securing the harness while they defecated over the side of the ship. Still, my jobs were many: I scrubbed decks, repaired sails, cleaned quarters, worked pulleys, turned the hour-glass, worked the pumps, hoisted the anchor, raised and lowered sails, rowed longboats, and killed rats.

My favorite task was standing lookout atop the mast. High on my perch, I was king of the sky. The rest of the crew, far below, moved like toads, while I stood heroically, my hair flying back, my chest out, surveying the far horizon and the wide sweep of the sea. I was all-seer, master of my realm.

And the thrill when you first spy a distant outcropping, and you sing out, Land Ho! Well, this is something.

To me, Captain-General Magellan was a majestic figure. When he emerged from his cabin, his red cape billowing, his black beard shining, he strode the deck like a Colossus. He was power incarnate. Even his limp, the result of a long-ago Moroccan battle, added to his fearsome bearing.

I was scrubbing away on the deck when a black boot entered my vision and lifted my chin.

“And you, boy. Are you the pilot’s son?” The booted figure towered over me.

I jumped up and doffed my cap. “I am, Sir! Vasco Gomes Gallego, the Younger, at your service. The men call me Vasquito.”

“Vasquito. Little Vasco.” Magellan looked me up and down with an expression of what seemed like deep sadness. “I see that you scrub. Do you scrub well?”

“Verily, Sir! I scrub so our deck shines like the new Cathedral of Seville.”

“Ha! You have more humor than your father, Vasquito. I like you.”

______________

Not all of the crew thought so highly of the Captain-General. Some of them complained. Was this always the way on a sailing ship?

“Where are we headed? Does anybody know?”

“We push night and day. We are exhausted!”

“The course we are taking makes no sense!”

“Captain General tells us nothing!”

“Why should we trust him? He is Portuguese, after all.”

“His Spanish is bad. He hardly smiles. Stick-up-his-ass Portuguese!”

To my father I relayed these grumblings. My father was a tight-lipped man, consumed by his work. So it was gratifying when one night in our tiny quarters, he hunched over me and swore me to secrecy. He unrolled a map.

“Vasquito, look at this,” he whispered. “Do you see these islands way over here? These are the fabled Spice Islands. The Portuguese went there by sailing east. Like this.” With his finger, Father traced a route. “But we will go there by sailing west.”

Father saw the wonder in my eyes and smiled. “First, we sail to the east coast of America. Then we find a passage to the South Sea. Then we cross the Sea and locate the Spice Islands.”

I tried to take in the concept, my heart racing. I noted that large portions of the map were labeled Terra Incognita. “Father. By the time we return home, we have sailed all the way around the world.”

“Aye, Vasquito. It is the boldest of missions. Most of the crew do not know. If they had known, they may not have come.”

______________

I still had questions about Captain-General. And when I came to trust Barbosa, a young officer, I renewed my inquiry.

“Barbosa, why do the Spanish sailors say bad things about Captain-General? Why do they mistrust us Portuguese?”

“Ah! We are oil and water, Vasquito! Different personalities altogether. We will never understand each other, nor fully trust each other.”

I considered this. “And Friend, why is there such great interest in the Spice Islands?”

“Ha! You and your questions, Vasquito!” He reached into his pocket and brought out a few small, brown buds. “Do you know what these are?”

“Cloves?”

“Of course, Apprentice! But more than that! They are money! Lots of it!” We breathed in the rich smell. “This is why we risk our lives and taunt death.”

______________

Captain-General did nothing to quell the crew’s grumblings. Then a spark lit a fire.

A Spanish officer on the Victoria was caught in the act of sodomy with a cabin boy. Father explained to me what this meant, for I had no prior imagining of such a thing. Sodomy was a crime, and therefore it had to be punished.

Magellan had the officer executed by strangulation—as the law dictated. The cabin boy was thrown overboard.

The Spanish officers felt Magellan had gone too far in his punishments. They seethed.

The next thing I heard was that Captain Cartagena of the San Antonio was confined to quarters for insubordination! This was a shock because the King had made Cartagena the Inspector General, a powerful role. Apparently, Cartagena, in an argument with Magellan, had made mutinous remarks.

______________

We landed at Rio de Janeiro. After three months at sea, we could scarcely believe the feast for our eyes: A dazzling wide bay, lush vegetation, wondrous greens, and perfumed scents!

We rested and resupplied, we explored the bay, we gorged on fresh foods, and the older men did partake of the native women, which they described to me in great detail.

But alas, in this paradise we did not tarry long. Captain-General was in a hurry. He sought to find the mythical passage to the South Sea while summer lasted. So we drove southward and southward exploring every river and bay and inlet along the coast, our ship, its signal torch at the stern, leading the way.

Summer turned to fall, the winds grew cold. We wrapped ourselves in our capes to little avail. The great storms came. I had experienced tempests in the Atlantic. These were not such. These were storms that would have defeated Jesus, God help me. Winds that scoured the decks and ripped sails. Rains like waterfalls, waves cathedral-high, and troughs like hell’s maw. Unholy sounds of shrieking and howling. The full unleashment of the Furies!

Our armada plunged into the tempest, then retreated, then plunged anew. Through it all, iron-eyed and jaw set, Captain-General, called out orders, pushing his crew to strike the sails and lash the rudder. Somehow we avoided all reefs.

Me, I cowered in the hold and held my rosary. Father forbade me to go adeck, and I obeyed. I shook uncontrollably. Finally, out of morbid curiosity, I did take one peek, and that is when I saw St. Medard, patron saint of storms, wrapped in a shining blue light, standing atop our mast. Assuredly, I was not the only one who saw him! St. Medard, his face wonderfully calm, with a subtle motion of his arm, moved his staff over us and receded into the dark.

The winds relented.

______________

Captain-General decided we must stop to wait out the winter. He found a harbor protected by cliffs and named it St. Julian. The astrolabe told us we were now farther south than anyone had ever ventured. It was a cold and desolate place.

To guard against exhausting our stores, Captain-General cut our daily rations. If there is one thing that befouls a sailor’s mood, it is an unsatisfied belly. Though it was Easter, and we had much to be thankful for, our hearts felt dark.

Grumbling renewed with vengeance: What is Captain-General trying to do? Kill us? The conditions are too much! The coast goes on forever. A passage west is fantasy! We will freeze or starve.

______________

It was during this time I came to believe Captain-General must be a god. If this be sacrilege to say, so be it.

On board we celebrated Easter Mass. Father seemed nervous. “Stay out of sight today, Vasquito.”

Naturally, this inflamed my curiosity. I saw a longboat being readied. Several of our bravest sailors, Barbosa one of them, hiding weapons, sallied off to the Victoria.

Standing at the gunnel, I heard sympathetic words exchanged between Barbosa and his crew and that of the Victoria. Barbosa and his men boarded the ship. Then—shouts, screams, a melee! In minutes the fight was over.

When Barbosa, blood-splattered, returned to our ship, I grabbed him. “Please, Friend, tell me!”

Barbosa smiled. “Vasquito. Our little force, we were a Trojan Horse. We feigned sympathy for the mutiny.”

“The mutiny!”

“Aye, Vasquito. The Spanish captains wish to return home. They have had enough.”

“Bastards!” I spit over the gunnel.

“Well, we boarded the Victoria. And Mendoza, its captain, ran up to me. ‘So, Friend, you join us!’ he shouted. ‘You are smart!’ Well, that is when I pulled out my knife and cut his throat from ear to ear.”

Barbosa described how our men, while Mendoza lay dying on the deck, forced the Victoria to capitulate.

“Masterful!” I leaped and threw my cap in the air.

“The mutiny is not over, Vasquito. There are still two rebel ships, the Concepcion and the San Antonio. Captain-General will block their escape from the bay.”

So we prepared our ship for battle. Bellowed orders flew this way and that. I raced to do the crew’s bidding.

At one point the Concepcion, its mooring secretly cut, drifted close to us. With that, Captain-General unleashed all our cannon. What a sound! I staggered backwards and wet my pants, I am ashamed to say.

The Trinidad ran up on the rebel ship and hooked on. Our brave sailors swarmed on board the Concepcion.

“Who are you for?!” Magellan asked of Captain Quesada of the rebel ship. Quesada dropped his knife. “For the King and Magellan,” came the pathetic answer.

Thus the mutiny was put down. For now.

Captain Mendoza’s corpse was pulled apart and burned, Captain Quesada was beheaded, and the other mutineers were assigned back-breaking labor on shore. And later, when we departed St. Julian, Captain Cartegena—son of a powerful Spanish official—was left stranded on an island.

I looked at Magellan with awe. Here was a man of decisive action and grace under pressure. And cunning! Not for nothing had he fought so many battles in India and Morocco. He knew how warfare must be conducted—with cruelty and prejudice.

______________

We burrowed into St. Julian. In this remote land, we marveled at a strange breed of camel. They were easy to catch, and their meat was good. We marveled at an even stranger breed of native people, the mysterious giants we named Patagonia. Captain-General took several as captives, but they proved so unthankful and mean-spirited they were released.

One night Captain-General summoned me to his quarters.

“Vasquito, son of Pilot Gallego. I cannot sleep.” He indicated I should sit in a chair at his table. “Do you know the game of chess?”

Thoroughly surprised, I said, “No. But if Captain-General teaches me, I would be very much honored.”

Thus began my lessons in an ancient game and my unlikely friendship with a god.

Why me? You may ask, but I have no answer. Perhaps he wanted to do a kindness for his pilot. Perhaps he missed his young sons back home. Perhaps he saw something in me, God knows what. As for me, I was thrilled to be chosen. Hungry was I, as any boy that age, for an idol.

“Vasquito, chess is a most beautiful and magical game. It contains all things. Most importantly, how to move amongst men in this world.” I was eager to learn this.

Captain General proceeded to teach me how the pieces move and their unique talents. Patiently he explained how to take pieces and how to avoid being taken.

“Vasquito, never despair,” he said after beating me in eight moves. “Last time I beat you in five moves. Your vision expands. You progress.”

I grew to love the game. Even more, I loved being in Magellan’s presence. Though he had an undercurrent of violence, I grew to love his bearish gruffness, the warmth of his cabin, his aura, our meditative silences, and our snatches of conversation.

“Apprentice, what do you make of the Patagonia?”

“Sir, I do not go near them. A single toe would crush me and make me porridge.”

Magellan chuckled and moved a bishop across the board. “You know, if you cut the Patagonia’s toe, he would bleed. He is both beast and man.”

I considered this. “I suppose this is true. Still, their women are a terror. Their breasts swing mightily like the giant bells of a cathedral.”

“Ha! Vasquito! By God, you are a good boy!”

I learned chess quickly. In a matter of weeks, Captain-General taught me various stratagems. He instructed on opening moves and end games. He explained how the pieces can work together. He showed me how to control the board’s center. By winter’s end, Captain-General and I were exploring the game’s finer points.

“Vasquito, you must develop an understanding of deception.” He reset the pieces to begin another game. “As you war against your opponent, you learn his beliefs. By so doing, you can lead him into a situation in which his beliefs will deceive him.”

“Like how you sent our Trojan Horse to Captain Mendoza! He wanted to believe he had allies.”

Magellan looked up from the board and studied my face for a long moment. “Just so, Apprentice. You progress.”

______________

Before we left St. Julian to resume our voyage, Captain-General sent his friend Serrano, captain of the Trinidad, to explore the coastline south of us. The mission proved disastrous. The Trinidad was destroyed by a fierce storm, the crew barely managing to survive.

Not long after this debacle, Captain-General and I played chess. He played distractedly and only narrowly defeated me. Later I told this to my father. He sighed, pushed his dinner plate to me, gestured I should finish his ration. “Vasquito. How would you feel if you were the captain, and you lost one of your ships and nearly its crew?”

This notion caught me up. I wondered if a god could feel human emotions.

______________

I was aloft in the crow’s nest, my hands nearly frozen to the barrel-rail, when I spied the coastline jutting, narrowing, and curving.

“The land, it changes!” I screamed. “Perhaps a cape?”

My report sent the entire crew scurrying to the starboard side. Captain-General was halfway up the rigging, straining his eyes, studying the land. It was indeed a cape!

We edged our fleet into a promising bay and found a narrow waterway that continued west. With mounting excitement, our fleet entered the passage. Captain-General noted the strong current. He kept drawing up samples of sea water and tasting—the water remained salty! He kept testing the depths of the passage—nothing but deep water!

“Ahead, all sails!” ordered Magellan, and we cheered lustily and gave thanks to the Lord.

Perhaps God failed to hear us, for misery lay ahead.

Picture if you will a labyrinth of rock and ice and fog. The labyrinth would not end. False doors multiplied. Channels twisted and turned. Passages lured and became mocking impasses. Blue ice walls loomed around us threatening to crush our ships. Jagged rocks called like Sirens. The tides were confounding. The shrouding fog frustrated vision. Water depths were so infinite we could not anchor.

We were like blind men at the Chapel of Bones stumbling through the catacombs.

In this time of dogged search, Captain-General and my father huddled constantly over their worthless maps. How did the two function on no sleep? I had never seen my father so worn. In his exhaustion, he spoke to me not at all.

We crew shuffled like specters. The cold attacked every crevice in our clothes. We beat our ears against the numbness. Our breaths came out in smokey billows. The men’s beards frosted over. Each day held many hours of maddening light. The shore, when we could see it, offered no comforting vision—it was soulless and bleak.

We came in the gloom to an island. Or was it an island? Two pathways presented. Captain-General divided our fleet. Two ships would explore one path, two would explore the other. We would unite after two days and report.

But alas, the reunion was delayed by a storm. After it subsided, we did not see the other ships for days. Finally, the Concepcion appeared, but not the San Antonio. We searched for her but never saw her again. To add insult to injury, the San Antonio carried a lion’s share of our remaining supplies.

Rumors spread that Gomez, pilot of the San Antonio, had argued for returning home. Did Gomez desert? (This was confirmed when I finally made it home and found the villainous Gomez arrogantly walking the streets of Seville.)

During these frustrating days, Magellan and I played chess only once. I wondered if I might see in him any weakening of spirit. He had lost another ship, and the way west seemed a closely guarded secret.

“We will beat this maze, Vasquito,” he told me.

“Do you mean the chess board, Captain-General?”

“Ha! You always make me laugh, Apprentice. No, I mean the strait.”

“Do you think so?”

“I know so!” Magellan pounced on my queen. “I know this because I am smarter than this strait, and I know God is on our side.”

I tried to focus on my next move, but I felt hopeless having lost my queen.

“Sometimes, you must throw out your strategies and go on Belief. Do you have Belief, Apprentice?”

Because I can lie easily, I told him yes. I felt lifted by his resolve, but try as I might, I could not summon his steadfast Belief.

Days later, the officer Espinosa returned in a longboat from a scouting mission, emerging from an icy tunnel. I was at the bow repairing some rope. I was within sight of Captain-General.

“How goes?” Magellan called to Espinosa.

“Captain-General!” shouted Espinosa. “Praise God a thousand times! An opening! The water, it changes! It is the color of iron!”

I leaped up from my work. I took a few steps towards Captain-General to share in his joy, but I stopped myself when I saw his face wet with tears.

______________

The South Sea. We entered into calm waters, and Magellan thusly named it Mar Pacifico. We held a day of thanksgiving. Captain-General declared our mission graced by God. As if in agreement, Nature served up a vision. In the distance we saw a great density of fish, leaping and diving. This flashing, silvery cloud moved to us and over us, and soon we were showered in a joyous cascade of fishes that dropped onto our deck, where, despite the warnings of the older sailors that killing such fish was bad luck, we did so, and we feasted.

We sallied north along a dark coast that showed on no map. At our back such a fair wind! It puffed our sails, speeding us into the unknown. Our trinity of ships ate up the leagues. We sang our chants and deemed ourselves masters of the wind.

The men spoke excitedly of the fabled women of the Spice Islands. Ah, the naked and lithe beauties of the Islands! And when our ships were loaded with spices, the wealth that would come to us! We would buy Castilian estates and beget generations of fat babies.

Captain-General ordered our rudder turned, and our fleet moved west by northwest. We lost sight of land, and with that, any feeling of security. We pushed into the setting sun.

But you see, our voyage was predicated on a mistake. The mistake was nothing less than the size of the Earth. The mapmakers had imagined a small earth. They imagined a South Sea the size of a big lake. They said that the run to the Spice Islands would only take several days at most.

At two months our food ran out.

“Damn the mapmakers!” blurted Magellan, unexpectedly, after a chess match that I nearly won. “The South Sea was not supposed to be such! Fuck them all!”

“But you will see, Vasquito. We will sight land any day now. Any day.”

Was this remark for my encouragement, I wondered. Or for his?

On a ship, when your supplies run out, suddenly your being is consumed with thoughts of food. Our seal meat was infested with maggots. We ate the maggots. We frugally sipped our dirty water. We chewed sawdust and shoe leather. We sucked on ropes. The competition for rats became fierce, and soon there were no more rats.

Barbosa and I began a daily entertainment.

“Barbosa, tell me what you dreamt.”

We sat against the forecastle wall. We no longer had strength to perform our duties.

“Friend, last night it was paella. A huge, steaming pan of paella!”

“Tell me what was in it!”

“It featured duck! And succulent shrimp. And Bomba rice, of course, fluffy and tender.”

“And?”

“And the saffron! Heavenly Father, the saffron!”

I closed my eyes and smiled. “My dreams are always of sweets. Last night my mother handed me a honeycomb. I pushed my face into the honeycomb and lapped up its sweetness. The honey ran down my chin!”

Thusly my friend and I tortured each other.

______________

Our crew began to die. A strange disease overcast our ships. Perhaps God was not on our side after all.

Firstly, we would see sores open on the bodies of the soon-to-be-dead. Then the men’s teeth began to drop out. Their faces turned monstrous with swollen, bleeding gums. They sat dumbly on the deck, ignoring their duties, and the next day they were stone-cold.

When you cast a dead body into the sea, you experience the cold and dark his body will feel. I felt this when we committed poor Torino, a cabin boy, to his watery grave. It is the loneliest feeling.

During the day the infinite expanse of water stretched out in defiance. At night the Southern Cross slid bright and uncaring across the back vault.

Once, very late, unobserved, I saw Captain-General alone at the bow. His torso was bare, his back distorted and bleeding. His hand held a short whip, which he was using to attack his flesh, muttering as he did so. “Why do you forsake me?” he cried into the night.

Much disturbed, I slunk away in the shadows.

I shared my observation with Father. His clothes now hung from him, he looked a comic figure.  “Aye, Vasquito. I see it too. You know, it is one thing when you lose ships. But when you lose men. . . it weighs on you.” Father’s voice seemed tired from this little exertion. “Son, you take my bread. I am not hungry. I ate with Captain-General earlier.”

I did not have to be asked twice. My face burning, I inhaled his bread.

Captain-General and I played chess but once more. There was no pleasure in it. He made a beginner’s mistake, moving his queen too early, and I beat him quickly. I felt sick to my stomach. At first, I thought he let me win, but no. Magellan sat hollow-eyed, a thousand years old. He seemed vacant, fallen.

My captain said, “Apprentice, let us halt our games.”

He looked up, as if studying the ceiling of his quarters. I too looked up but could see nothing.

“Do you think God must punish man’s hubris?” he sighed. I did not answer, as the question seemed not for me.

“I find I am called to prayer,” he continued. “I pray night and day now, and I never sleep. But this I swear. If we find land, I will dedicate my life to God Almighty.”

Magellan crossed himself and waved me out of his room.

The following day, with the sun directly overhead, I heard our lookout noisily clear his raspy throat. “Land!” he screamed. “Land!”

This was also the day on which my father died.

______________

The men were kind to me. Magellan adopted me into his quarters. It did not occur to me until later that Father had been giving me his rations. All thought and much of my grief were pushed aside by the events of the next few days. At the islands we filled our bellies, and there was great jubilation about our deliverance.

The Indios who came to our ships in canoes were most peculiar. They were black-toothed and naked except for their tattoos. They considered everything on our ship to be theirs and proceeded to carry off all manner of our objects. They would not stop until we killed several of them. I never once considered who, in this meeting, were the real beasts.

We continued sailing west, investigating islands, and we discovered bigger communities of natives who seemed compliant. We lingered among them, feeling at last some contentment. The crew enjoyed the natives’ palm wine, fornicated with their women, and traded for their goods. The Indios gave us ginger and gold. We gave them bells and red caps.

But the agent of our deliverance, our heroic captain, was now a stranger to us. His indomitable resolve had transformed into something frightening. He became consumed with a new passion: He must convert the Indios.

In the middle of the Pacific, he had made a deal with God: Deliver us, and I will do Your work. Now Magellan had to do God’s work.

I walked past his quarters, and I heard the officers pleading with him. “Captain-General, let us push on to the Moluccas. Let us complete our mission!” They could not dissuade him.

Striding the deck, Magellan was a man possessed. “Bring me the Indios king!” he ordered. “We must baptize. We must save the Indios from eternal damnation!”

Magellan’s iron will, once again, brought success. The king converted. “Your people must convert or be killed,” Magellan told the king. The following week, on Easter, hundreds of conversions. A long line of natives wound around the beach, waiting to receive the Blessing, while Magellan, with a messianic stare, stood before them, resplendent in a white robe.

“Do you see the Holy Light in the eyes of the converted?” Captain General exhorted us. “Do you see how they shine?”

The king had a rival on another island. This rival king was stubborn. He and his people refused to be converted. Before we knew it, Captain General was planning an attack on the island.

______________

My first battle! A chance to fight alongside Captain-General! With my father gone, and the crew in a state of consternation, no one forbade me to go.

At dawn, in longboats, we approached the island. We had a small force. With our armor, crossbows, and swords, we believed we were invincible. We disembarked in shallow water. I kept my eyes riveted on Captain-General, following his lead. His armor shone gloriously in the rising sun.

We had not even emerged from the water when the natives, hundreds of them, appeared out of the jungle on three sides of us. In an instant I saw our folly. For our leader had ignored a fundamental of chess and warfare—the use of deception.

Our force was quickly overwhelmed. A shower of spears rained down. Our men began to drop, the water boiling red.

Magellan seemed to awaken from a dream. He swiveled his head and blinked at the carnage.

“Hence to the boats, men!” he shouted. “Save yourselves! I will remain!” Madly, he swung his sword at the natives, holding them off.

I was fully prepared to stay and die at my captain’s side. Did I not have Belief?

A spear arced toward me, I twisted, too late, and it swiped my face, ripping away flesh. With this my Belief crumbled. Taken by panic, I deserted. I dropped my sword, and I frenzied back to the boat.

I forced one final, shamed look to see the great man silently fall under countless hacking blows.

______________

Our voyage home took a year and a half.

Pigafetta reports that many exceptional events happened: the Red Banquet, in which the Indios tricked and slaughtered Barbosa and so many of our officers; the long miserable search for the Spice Islands; our starving voyage across the Eastern Ocean; and our capture by the Portuguese.

Yet these events I barely remember.

I felt as a sleepwalker. I moved about the decks performing my tasks. I spoke little. I slept little, I cared for little. I had as many questions as before, but no one to ask. Our great mission had killed every man I loved.

______________

Even upon my return, even as the people of Seville paraded our tattered crew, my desolation remained. Verily, I spent years living among the destitute until Abbot Anthony found me.

Here at the Monastery of St. Mary, they tell me I will find restoration. They tell me I will progress.

Here I am again in the company of men. Here I do not have to think much. Here I have thrown out all strategies. I no longer try to understand the nature of gods, nor men, nor beasts.

They say that Jesus forgives all sins, but I do not understand how this is. This is the sole understanding which I seek.

I am adequately fed. I have a cell that does not roll and lurch. I have my eventide chants. I have my chores, and I perform them well. I am the lowliest piece on the chess board, but I have my utility.

Leave a Reply

Related Posts

%d bloggers like this: