Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Diary of Lilian Whitlock - Spanish Prisoners Part I

Sunday, afternoon.

My lungs burned as I gasped for air.  I awoke in the cold waters of a turbulent ocean.   The shock of the sudden burden of consciousness momentarily gave way to the instinct to swim.  My arms flailed about in a panic as I remembered that swimming was not one of my better talents.  Each new wave gave cause to my stomach to churn and complain.  I felt sick and confused.

I heard women screaming from somewhere behind me.  The sounds were strangely hollow and distant.  A loud ringing in my ears overtook their words.

Someone grabbed the jacket that I was wearing.  I knew that it was Captain Kirkpatrick somehow.  I felt myself being lifted onto a crate.  My hands struggled to find a good grasp as I was assisted in being hoisted onto the floating debris.  Captain Kirkpatrick pulled my crate next to his and began to propel us towards a strange vessel about seventy feet ahead of us.  He was trying to get me to swim, I finally understood.

A loud whistle streaked across the sky, its sound loudening into a terrifying boom as it passed overhead.  A large plume of water rose from the sea as something struck the water near the vessel ahead of us.  I peered back and saw a side-wheeler in the distance making its way towards us and the strange vessel.  Who was aboard either ship or why there was gunfire were questions I couldn’t answer.  Now was not a good time to be searching for such answers.

Half dozen men were disembarking from the strange vessel ahead of us.  They were aboard a small life boat and began to paddle towards us.  Another loud whistle rang out overhead.  The ominous boom of the gun followed shortly afterwards.  The shot landed between the strange vessel and us.  A large wave swept past our crates.  The Captain and I managed to hang on and stayed afloat.

How did we end up here?  I turned my head and could see Ms. Alders, Nellie and Mr. Binford.  Nellie and Mr. Binford were struggling in the water.  Where were Mr. Alders and Mr. Preeble?

A loud explosion sounded nearby.  The air filled metallic sounds.  I could barely make out the word, “Down!” as Captain Kirkpatrick yelled at me.  He grabbed my head and forced me underwater.  The Captain stayed down under the waves with me for a moment before signaling that it was safe to resurface.

The row boat was nearby.  “Lads, we better go!” one of them hollered to his fellow sailors.  “It looks like they have us sighted in, Lads. Get out of here!”  They turned back to their vessel.

Another shot whistled overhead.  The explosion swelled a large wave of water from nearby.  Again the Captain and I rode through the wave by clinging to our crates.  We continued to paddle towards the rowboat and the strange vessel.

“Throw us a Goddamn rope!” Nellie screamed at the sailors who were now clamoring back aboard the strange vessel.  The desperation in her voice had a strange affect on me.  It was almost as if I were still asleep, drowning in a state of unconsciousness.  Her words somehow brought me closer to the surface.  I knew that she was in a total panic.

The next gunshot must have hit the vessel.  Captain Kirkpatrick again grabbed me to go below the ocean waves for a moment.  When we surfaced, a sailor aboard the strange vessel tossed a rope to the Captain.  The vessel was beginning to move away from us.  “Get onboard!” the sailor yelled.

The Captain caught the rope, with his right hand.  His left hand still held me fast.  We began to move with the vessel.  Another explosion sounded nearby.   The nearby gunshot caused another wave.  The Captain lost his grip on the rope.  A loud clang sounded inside the vessel and it began to go under.  

“It’s sinking?  Well, it’s a good thing we didn’t get onboard,” Captain Kirkpatrick said.  

“I guess so,” I agreed.  A loud churning of water near the vessel stirred up more waves.  “What is going on?” I asked.  A loud horn sounded from aboard the paddle boat as it approached from behind us.  The sound of the wheels slowed down and it slowly approached.  One last shot went off towards where the strange vessel had sunk.

After several minutes, the paddle boat approached.  Ropes were flung overboard and some sailors began to fish Nellie, Miss Alders and Mr. Binford from the sea.  “Nelly Bly!  Nelly Bly!  Nellie Bly,” the reporter screamed for attention.  She was desperate to be attended first.

The Captain insisted that the sailors take me out of the water before him.  My dress was soaked and quite heavy now.  As the sailors helped me over the railing, I noticed a small tear in the sleeve of the Captain’s Jacket.  As I stood on the deck of the ship, my left leg gave way.  There was blood pouring out of my left thigh, staining my dress.  Apparently I had been cut somehow.  I was overwhelmed by the entire situation.  I began to cry.

When the Captain was brought on board, several sailors leveled their guns at him.  The Captain was still in possession of a pistol and the carbine riffle.  He made no aggressive moves to give them cause for trouble.  Nellie and Miss Alders were both coughing up some water, exhausted from their plights on the sea.

A tall and highly decorated sailor in a blue jacket approached.   He barked off orders to his sailors in a foreign language.  He then addressed us, “My name is Capitan Juan Pasqual Hernandez.  You are in Spanish waters and you are now guests of the Spanish Armada.  We will take care of you but then you will have dinner with me and you will need to answer some questions.  You will change your clothes.  Ladies, I have some women’s clothing from my wife that may fit you.”

“She must have lost some weight as some point,” Miss Alders said in my direction.  Her sad attempt at making me feel self conscious backfired as I stared at the skinny woman in the heavy, wet dress before me.  Apparently the British don’t feed their women well enough.

The Spanish Captain looked at Captain Kirkpatrick and began to say, “It looks like the US Navy…”

“Captain Oliver Maxwell Kirkpatrick, Sir.  United States Naval Intelligence.”

“You will be taken care of Capitan Kirkpatrick,” Capitan Hernandez said as a pair of sailors disarmed him.

“Capitan, I will need a receipt for those weapons.  They are not my property.  They are property of the United States Navy,” Captain Kirkpatrick told him.

“Capitan Kirkpatrick, you are in Spanish waters.  They have been confiscated.  They are now the property of the Spanish Armada.”

“If you could just give me a receipt to that effect, I would appreciate it.” Captain Kirkpatrick continued.

“I will deal with the paperwork a little later, Capitan Kirkpatrick,” Capitan Hernandez said.  “And you are another navy man?” he asked Mr. Binford, doubt filling his voice.

“Yes, Lieutenant…” Mr. Binford began.

“Where is your uniform, sir?” Capitan Hernandez questioned him.

“Uh, not with me,” Lieutenant Binford told him.

Miss Alders began to cough in an overly dramatic fashion.

“You’re not in uniform?” he asked again, as he approached Lt. Binford.

“No, I’m not,” Lt. Binford replied.  “I was not planning on being at sea,” he explained.

“This will make a very interesting report,” Capitan Hernandez declared.  “We will have dry clothes for all of you.”  Miss Alders began to cough for attention again.  “And I am sorry ladies, I will make proper acquaintances later and hopefully my wife’s clothing will fit you.” 

I observed the tattered, bloody, torn and soaking wet evening gowns that Miss Alders wore.  Nellie had somehow misplaced her dress and was only in her under garments.  Both Miss Alders and Nellie’s hair were a complete mess of matted, salty snarls.  If I looked half as badly as they did, I must have appeared absolutely dreadful.  I noticed that Captain Kirkpatrick avoided looking in their direction, most likely out of consideration for their present state of appearance and Nellie’s state of undress.

“You will have guards.  They will take you down stairs,” Capitan Hernandez told us.  He began to give orders in Spanish to his men.

A young Spanish sailor came to my side and proffered his arm.  I took a hold of it and leaned heavily on him.  

“Lilian?  Lilian?” Miss Alders asked as we walked down a hall.  I shook my head, tears began to pour out of the corners of my eyes.

“Are you ok?” Nellie asked me.

“No,” I whispered at her, my voice quavering more than I had intended.

“Captain?  Captain?” Nellie tried to get Capitan Hernandez’s attention.  

The Spanish Captain turned to her and asked, “Yes?”

“Do you have a doctor onboard?  Our young lady-friend,” Nellie said as she gestured towards me, “is not doing very well.” 

“Most certainly.  We will get you medical aide as quickly as possible,” The Spanish Captain said.

“We have several injured, actually,” Captain Kirkpatrick pointed out.

“We will attend to your wounds,” Capitan Hernandez said to everyone.  “I will explain that to my Lieutenant and he will be back to you.  You will see the surgeon immediately, ma’am,” he told me reassuringly.

The young sailor escorted me to my quarters, a small room below deck.  

The surgeon arrived and the young sailor stood guard at the door.  

The surgeon spoke no English and I could not understand his questions.  In the poor lighting below deck, he looked amazingly similar to my father.  I gasped slightly in horror at the realization but the doctor did not react, mistaking it for a sign of pain perhaps.  

He pressed smelling salts at my nose.  Another sailor stopped in briefly to hang a dress on a peg located on the room’s wall.  The surgeon began to tear off my dress.  “Oh my word!” I complained.    “Not so fresh!  Don’t touch that!”  He began to pour alcohol on my leg wound.  It burned badly and I could not help but scream in agony.  “That hurts!” I yelled at him.  

The surgeon held his finger in front of my face.  He moved it back and forth, left and right.  I turned to watch it and the surgeon said something short and curt in response.  He held my chin still with his left hand and began to move his right pointer finger across my field of vision again.  I tried to follow it with my eyes, believing that was what he wanted.  He shook his head and said something in Spanish. 

He felt the back of my head and his fingers sent jets of pain along the back of my skull.  He washed the wound with more alcohol.  I screamed in pain again.  The surgeon wrapped my head in clean bandages and gave me some instructions or orders in Spanish.  The surgeon turned to look at me for a moment.  I had an overwhelming sense that he pitied me for some reason.  He then left, closing the door behind him.  I assumed that I was now supposed to dress myself in The Spanish Captain’s wife’s clothes.    I dressed as quickly as I could.

A sudden surge of nausea engulfed me.  I went to the door and tried to convey to the young sailor that I needed to get on deck to vomit overboard.  There were several other sailors in the hallway now with him.  I held my stomach with my left hand, doubled over and covered my mouth with my right hand to indicate that I was feeling sick.  

The sailors engaged in brief horseplay as each tried to grab another’s hat.  One of the hats was proffered to me, with much laughter from the other sailors.  I closed the door to my room and promptly vomited into the hat.  I set the hat in the far corner of the room and lay down.  All I wanted to do was sleep; sleep for a long time.  I was exhausted.

Sometime in the afternoon, the young sailor entered my room and woke me.  An officer was with him.  The officer said in broken English, “The Capitan wants to see you now.”

The young sailor offered me his arm and he escorted me upstairs to the dining room.  Again I leaned heavily on him as every other step sent waves of pain up my left side.  The sailor smiled at me sadly and tried to say something calming to me but I could not understand him.  He was tall and quite handsome.  His smile was quite genuine.  I was glad to have someone friendly to walk with.  I reminded him of his sister.  Her hair was long and dark, like mine.  He couldn’t have told me that, since he spoke no English, but somehow I knew it was true.

A table was set on the deck with white linen.  Some of the sailors were serving as waiters.  The silverware, glassware and plates were all placed on the table.

As we approached the table, the Capitan rose from his seat, as any gentleman should.  The rest of my traveling companions were also arriving.  “Welcome.  I am sorry that we had to meet under such circumstances, but you are my guests right now.  You will have Spanish hospitality.  So please sit down.”  The sailors pulled out chairs for each of the ladies that they were escorting.  I took my seat and then thanked my escort. I smiled and waved at him before he turned to leave.

One of the sailors went around offering Captain Kirkpatrick and Lt. Binford cigars.  Each gentleman took one.  Nellie accepted a cigarette while Miss Alders and I graciously refused the offer.  I could not help but wonder what a teetotaler thought about cigarettes.

“So how did you come around to be floating in the sea?” Capitan Hernandez asked.

“Our vessel sank,” I told him.

“That’s the truth,” Lt. Binford agreed but there was a slight bit of laughter in the tone of his voice.

“Was it the one that we seen in the sky that was coming down?” The Spanish Captain continued to question us.

“Yes, it was,” I said.

“Yes, sir.  It was not our vessel,” Captain Kirkpatrick explained.  “We were prisoners on board that vessel.”

“We were guests,” Nellie argued.  “Just like we are now.”

“Guests? Prisoners?” Capitan Hernandez probed for an explanation.  “I’m confused.  Explain it to me please.”

“It’s all a matter of perspective,” I said.  The Captain ignored me and turned to Nellie for answers.

“We’ll see what she has to say,” Captain Kirkpatrick said quietly.

“Hold on a second.  Hold on!”  The Spanish Captain suddenly said.  “I’ve introduced myself and who do I have the honor of addressing?” he asked as he stood up and made his way over to Nellie’s side.

“Nellie Bly, reporter” Nellie said as the Capitan kissed her proffered hand.  “This is my companion…” she began.

“Are you American?” the Spanish Captain asked her.

“I am American but I think…” Nellie began.

“You are very beautiful for an American,” The Spanish Captain told her flatteringly.

“I feel like a citizen of the world,” Nellie finished.

“My pleasure, Captain.  Miss Miranda Alders,” Miss Alders introduced herself as the Captain approached her.

“You have a British accent.  What brings you with the Americans?”

“I was abroad studying,” Miss Alders told him as he kissed her hand then moved around the table to me.

“And you?  You look rather young to be out and about.  And your name is?” he asked me.

“I’m Lilian Whitlock,” I told him quietly.

“You have a rather strange accent,” he said.

“Oh.  I am American as well,” I explained.  “A different part.”

“Oh.  A southerner,” Capitan Hernandez said, understanding.

“Yes, near Savannah.  You been there?”  I asked him.  “Probably not.”

“Yes, the Spanish occupied Savannah some time ago.”

“Oh.  I did not know that,” I told him as he kissed my hand briefly and then turned to address Lt. Binford.

“It was several centuries ago”, Captain Kirkpatrick explained to me.

“Oh.  Alright then,” I said, taking in the idea of the Spanish ruling the southern states.

“Lt. Tom Binford,” Lt. Binford introduced himself to The Spanish Captain and then saluted him.

Capitan Hernandez turned to Captain Kirkpatrick.

“We’ve been introduced,” Kirkpatrick told him.

“You are Captain Kirkpatrick.”

“That is correct, sir,” The Captain told him.

“You were in the airships as guests?  Prisoners?” The Spanish Captain asked.

“Prisoners,” I reasserted.

Capitan Hernandez again ignored me and instead addressed Nellie.  “Miss Bly?”

“Well the airship was not American.  It’s not British or American, so we were guests on there,” Miss Bly lied as the first course was served.  “Just like we are guests on this wonderful ship.  You saved us.  The navy officer believes that he is a prisoner if he is not on his own ship it seems like.”

“We were prisoners,” I stated again.

“You were prisoners, Miss Whitlock?” Capitan Hernandez asked me, as if suddenly noticing me.

“We were locked in the gondola,” I explained.

“Try the piaya, it’s wonderful,” Miss Alders said to distract me.

“They locked the hatch,” I reiterated.

“What did they do to imprison you?” The Spanish Captain asked, interested.

“They locked the hatch and they kept us in the back.  They were taking us away to another country against our will.”

“Hmmm,” Capitan Hernandez mulled over my story.  He turned to Captain Kirkpatrick and asked, “How did the US… Army?”

“US Navy, Sir,” Captain Kirkpatrick assisted.

“How did the US Navy become involved in this?” Capitan Hernandez asked.

“I was sent to investigate this airship which is from a foreign power that is unknown to the nations of the world.  After a confession by the captain of the ship, that his people destroyed two American naval vessels, battle cruisers, we were taken prisoner.”

“This must be a mighty ship indeed,” Captain Hernandez said.

“The ship didn’t do the damage.  This was merely a scout vessel.  But they have vessels and weapons unlike anything you have ever heard of; or we had ever heard of either.”

“So it seems like the US Military is down from an ABCD navy to an AB navy now,” Capitan Hernandez said and then laughed.

“I don’t understand,” I said.

“The fact of the matter is that they unprovokedly attacked American naval vessels, at which point I deemed that we were prisoners and were going to stay as such.  After some discussion amongst ourselves, we were locked in the aft gondola of this airship.  Did you get a good look at it mon capitan?”  Captain Kirkpatrick asked.

“We got to look at it from a distance.  We’re interested too in that vessel that rose up behind you.  I’m sorry that we had some near misses but we were trying to draw that vessel away.”

“I have no idea what that was,” Captain Kirkpatrick explained.

“It came up from the sea and then it disappeared again,” Capitan Hernandez said.  “It’s not an American vessel?”

“No.  Are you sure it came up from the sea?  I thought it was just hidden from view by the waves after we struck the water.  So it didn’t sink?  It went under the water intentionally?”

“I don’t know,” Capitan Hernandez answered.

“Those men were dressed in the same uniforms as the airship captain.  Captain, these people are a threat to everyone – to every nation.

“So this is not one of the United States’ ships?” The Spanish Captain asked yet again.

“No.  I wish it was,” Captain Kirkpatrick said truthfully.

“This country, if it even is a country, they have airships and apparently ones much bigger than the one we rode in. “And they have told us about other vessels as well – Submarines, under water boats.”

“Submarines?  Tell me more,” Capitan Hernandez said, his voice full of curiosity.

I pushed my plate over to Miss Alders, indicated that she could eat more if she wanted.  “Is your head hurting you?” she asked me quietly as the men continued to discuss military matters.  “I nodded and said that it was quite painful.  “Do you have a concussion?” she asked.

“A concussion?” I asked.  

“Sometimes when a person hits their head, it can often cause loss of appetite and nausea,” She explained.

“The doctor couldn’t tell me anything, he didn’t speak any English.”

“You should at least drink some water and try some of the flat bread,” Miss Alders said, concern in her voice.

I reached for the glass of water, making sure that both of my right hands grasped both of the glasses.  The last thing that I wanted was to spill my water all over the table and draw attention to myself while the men were having a serious discussion about the possible discussion about the location of the New Britannian base on Cuba.

Miss Alders and I had a brief discussion about bandages and stitches.  I felt dizzy and disoriented.

“This is not an American plot.  We were prisoners on board that ship,” Captain Kirkpatrick was explaining to The Spanish Captain.  “This country, called Newe Britannia, as Mr. Binford just said, I had never heard of before.  These people apparently value their privacy to such an extent that they are willing to kidnap, kill or take prisoner anyone who finds out about it.”

“You say, Newe Britannia,” Capitan Hernandez said.

“That is what he called it.  I can only relay to you information as it was given by a very unreliable source, who was lying to us for some time.  He told us the truth supposedly,” Captain Kirkpatrick said, meaning the truth about Newe Britannia.

Capitan Hernandez was very interested in this and was hanging on every word that Captain Kirkpatrick said.

“If there is a base on Cuba, I don’t think that is an American state secret and I don’t think that there is any problem with me relaying that information to you,” Captain Kirkpatrick said.  “If that was an American base, I certainly wouldn’t tell you about it, would I, Captain? Even to speculate about it?”

“That’s true, Captain Kirkpatrick,” Capitan Hernandez agreed.

“So Miss Bly, you were a guest and these people were prisoners?” Capitan Hernandez asked the reporter who had been silent as of late.

“Well, I mean, guest, prisoners, it’s all your point of view.  I mean, I try to be optimistic.  I mean…” Nellie stumbled as she lied.

“Were you allowed the run of the ship, Miss Bly?” Captain Kirkpatrick asked her point blank.  “Or were you locked in the room with the rest of us?”

Nellie began to stutter for a moment as she contemplated how best to skirt the question.

“Were you allowed the run of the ship or were you locked in the room with the rest of us?  It’s a simple, simple question,” Captain Kirkpatrick pressed.  I was glad that he was not letting her off the hook.

“I was locked in a room.  Yes,” Nellie finally admitted.

“Miss Alders, is that true?” Capitan Hernandez asked.  “You are a British National?”

“We were locked in a room,” Miss Alders stated, barely answering the question and avoiding admitting being a prisoner yet again.

“I don’t know if she really was,” I said, almost shocked that I had spoken the thought aloud.   Now that it was out there, I wouldn’t back down however.

“What do you mean, Miss Whitlock?” Capitan Hernandez asked.

“I was locked in the same room with you, Lilian” Miss Alders insisted.  It was amazing that the truth could be admitted aloud if it suited Miss Alder’s needs at the moment.  I found my ire rising at the British woman.

“What do you mean?” Capitan Hernandez requested clarification.

“Right.  After you went and talked to our captors,” I argued with Miss Alders.

“So this was maybe a British ship?  We are talking about Newe Britannia,” Captain Hernandez concluded.

“No,” I responded.

“I don’t think it was a British ship,” Captain Kirkpatrick corrected him.  “Things would be much simpler if it was a British ship.”  He sounded despondent as he spoke.  I assumed that Captain Kirkpatrick was disappointed with my brusque questioning of Miss Alders, but I pressed on nonetheless.

“I was just going to say that it seemed really convenient that she was the last person to go speak to our captors, right before we were locked in.  She is also from the same country as the other captor.”

“So Miss Alders, you are from Newe Brittania also?” Capitan Hernandez guessed incorrectly at my meaning.

“Oh no, no,” Miss Alders said.

“But her brother’s British,” I said in a mocking British accent.

Miss Alders gasped aloud at this remark and began to sob.  She felt a sharp jab of pain.  The realization that her brother was dead sank in.  I had somehow forgotten the entire thing.  Much of the ship’s sinking was gone from my memory and the demise of Mr. Preeble and Mr. Alders just then became real in my mind.

“Was British.  I’m sorry,” I corrected myself.

“So the British are in cahoots with the Newe Brittanians?” Capitan Hernandez asked.  It was the first guess that he had made that I thought made sense.  I had believed that Miss Alders and her brother were in league with Mr. Preeble for some time now.  “I’m quite confused,” Captain Hernandez declared.

“It’s not the British.  It was just one individual.  Her late brother,” Nellie said, meaning Miss Alder’s sibling.  As Miss Alders cried more, Nellie responded with, “I’m sorry.”  I should have felt bad for making her cry, but I was in a vicious mood and felt no remorse.

“Honestly, Captain,” Captain Kirkpatrick began.

“This is very confusing,” Capitan Hernandez said.

“Some British nationals, civilians except for Mr. Gavin Alders, as far as I know, and a Lord Brownwell, sent an expedition to this place, Newe Brittania,” Captain Kirkpatrick explained.

“This is Lord Brownwell you’re talking about?” Capitan Hernandez asked.

“Yes…” Captain Kirkpatrick began and tried to explain that Lord Brownwell had died recently, but Capitan Hernandez spoke over him.

“I just spoke to Lady Brownwell not too long ago in Cuba, in Havana,” Capitan Hernandez said.

“Interesting,” Captain Kirkpatrick replied, his voice trailing off as he mulled over the news.

“Tom?” Miss Alders asked and she began to sob again.

“As a matter of fact, she is still there.  Would you like to talk to her a little bit more?  I can introduce you,” Capitan Hernandez offered.

“We’ve met,” was all that Captain Kirkpatrick had to say.

“Very lovely lady,” Capitan Hernandez continued.

“In any case, he was behind an expedition to this country and for whatever reason… Well, actually we know the reason.  After they used one of their weapons on one of our ships, a strange device that can scramble men’s minds, they returned the ship and the injured men to our waters,” Captain Kirkpatrick explained, successfully changing the topic from Lord Brownwell.

Miss Alders stilled sobbed.  I no longer paid her any attention.

“I know it sounds fantastic, but it is, as far as I am able to tell, the second-hand truth,” Captain Kirkpatrick concluded.

“Captain, may I please be excused?” Miss Alders asked.  “I am clearly overwrought for this conversation,” she said.  

“Yes, you may, Miss Alders,” Capitan Hernandez said, his voice filled with compassion.  He called guards over to escort her to her room.

“I’m sorry. My brother’s death is just too raw,” she said.

“Can I go with her?” Nellie asked and she was excused as well.

“So where are we currently?” Lt. Binford asked.

“You are north of Cuba,” Capitan Hernandez said.

“What do you intend to do with us?” I asked.  I was feeling a wave of déjà vu.  I had asked Mr. Preeble the same question just the day before yesterday.

“You are sailing the coastal waters of Cuba, actually,” Capitan Hernandez ignored my question.   “I was out on patrol.”

“What do you plan to do with us?” I asked again.

“Well, it seems like I got some American nationals on my hands, especially two naval officers.  Which makes the situation rather sticky,” Capitan Hernandez said.

“We are currently not on friendly terms with Spain,” Captain Kirkpatrick explained to me.  “We’re not at war.  It’s very tense.”

“It’s very tense right now,” Capitan Hernandez agreed.

“So holding us captive might actually escalate the situation?” I asked as I tried to grasp the politics involved in our plight.

“Having American nationals in the water that were going to fly to our precious Cuba is going to aggravate the situation,” The Spanish Captain twisted the situation to his advantage. 

“Rescuing us would be amicable,” I said, trying to encourage a positive outcome from the conversation.

“And very diplomatically sticky, I am certain, Miss Whitlock,” he said, dismissing the idea.  “Especially two American officers who the military governor in Havana would not like to hear about - Americans coming on Spanish soil.”

“But we weren’t on Spanish soil,” Captain Kirkpatrick countered.

“You were in Spanish coastal waters, which is the same thing,” Capitan Hernandez insisted.

“We were floating in wreckage,” I argued.

The discussion continued for some time without anyone making any significant ground for their side.

After dinner, I was escorted back to my room to spend the evening in solitude.  The young, Spanish sailor smiled a lot and tried to speak with me along the way but I could not understand him at all.  Once I arrived in my own room, I was grateful for the peace and quiet.  I had developed quite a headache that evening and wanted to rest to get rid of it.   That would not happen.

My injuries were not healing well.   The bandages on my leg and around my head were yellowed by infection and fluids.  Dreams of disaster filled the night.  I recalled Mr. Binford dragging me from the rear gondola and throwing me out into the sea.  The cold water shocked my system and emphasized my injuries.  The salt and the wind tormented me.  The sounds of Miss Alders’ mournful cries haunted my nightmares as smoke and fire floated on the murky waters of my mind.

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