10. Don Diego
Don Diego de Espinosa y Valdez awoke, and with languid eyes in aching head, he
looked round the cabin, which was flooded with sunlight from the square windows
astern. Then he uttered a moan, and closed his eyes again, impelled to this by the
monstrous ache in his head. Lying thus, he attempted to think, to locate himself in time
and space. But between the pain in his head and the confusion in his mind, he found
coherent thought impossible.
An indefinite sense of alarm drove him to open his eyes again, and once more to
consider his surroundings.
There could be no doubt that he lay in the great cabin of his own ship, the Cinco Llagas,
so that his vague disquiet must be, surely, ill-founded. And yet, stirrings of memory
coming now to the assistance of reflection, compelled him uneasily to insist that here
something was not as it should be. The low position of the sun, flooding the cabin with
golden light from those square ports astern, suggested to him at first that it was early
morning, on the assumption that the vessel was headed westward. Then the alternative
occurred to him. They might be sailing eastward, in which case the time of day would be
late afternoon. That they were sailing he could feel from the gentle forward heave of the
vessel under him. But how did they come to be sailing, and he, the master, not to know
whether their course lay east or west, not to be able to recollect whither they were
His mind went back over the adventure of yesterday, if of yesterday it was. He was clear
on the matter of the easily successful raid upon the Island of Barbados; every detail
stood vividly in his memory up to the moment at which, returning aboard, he had
stepped on to his own deck again. There memory abruptly and inexplicably ceased.
He was beginning to torture his mind with conjecture, when the door opened, and to
Don Diego's increasing mystification he beheld his best suit of clothes step into the
cabin. It was a singularly elegant and characteristically Spanish suit of black taffetas
with silver lace that had been made for him a year ago in Cadiz, and he knew each
detail of it so well that it was impossible he could now be mistaken.
The suit paused to close the door, then advanced towards the couch on which Don
Diego was extended, and inside the suit came a tall, slender gentleman of about Don
Diego's own height and shape. Seeing the wide, startled eyes of the Spaniard upon him,
the gentleman lengthened his stride.
"Awake, eh?" said he in Spanish.