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Peace with Spain was signed in February 1720. In late April its news arrived to the West Indies, so all the Navies got allied against the common foe – pirates, making their trade more difficult to survive. Which side are you on?

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 Healing Wounds, Att. Katya
Santiago Moreno
 Posted: Mar 7 2017, 01:37 AM
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Smuggler; captain of "Hermione"
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Date: 20-th of May 1720
Place: Kingston, Jamaica


- continued from here -


About two weeks had passed since Chago had fainted at Katya's door and her brother had brought him inside, to get his wound tended.

The first days had been spent alternating sleep, delirium, morning and evening without distinction. The short moments of being awake and talking coherently were forgotten in the many hours of fever conquering the exhausted body, helpless against infection. Even the meeting with Sword Angel had been forgotten.

The specific smell of vinegar, the scent of sage and sweet basil, the sound of male and female voices in a foreign language Chago had never heard before, the darkness of the room, broken by an oil lamp's trembling light, these were his surroundings, which were estompating into vivid delirious dreams of past fights and people long time dead, just to get highlighted again in the few moments the fever got lower. The thing he remembered dominating over everything else was pain. Hot and cold came only afterwards. He felt as if he were in a an unchanging state of discomfort, one moment burning, another shivering, always feeling the burn and pain in his thigh, and being awakened, from time to time, by annoying, repeated noises of working men's tools.

He couldn;t do anything about it, though. All he could do was lay and sleep and wait for the moments when Katya came – assuming he was conscious enough to recognize her, as in his high fever delirium there had been moments when he hadn't recognized her, calling her various names, from Pepita to Madame Celestine or Maribel, as each of them had nursed him back to health a time or another.

The vinegar compresses, the innumerable mugs of tea against fever and the fight of a generally healthy and vigurous body (when nobody slashed, stabbed nor tortured it) have recently overcome the infection. Or, at least, the fever. Chago was feeling as weak and dizzy as a baby, but he was not delirious anymore. This was a good thing, to be grateful to Katya and her family for.

Now, that he was more awake, she spent more of her little free time with him, talking about various subjects, to compensate the silence over daytime, when she was at work. Her brother had sailed off long time ago, actually one or two days after Chago had been so warmly received in this poor, but hospitable family. She was his saviour angel, and he had been hers. Funny twists of life, when the protector becomes helpless and in need of protection himself.
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Katerina Meshcheryakova
 Posted: Mar 8 2017, 03:47 PM
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Tavern maid, Kingston
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Returning home from work had been slightly odd these past weeks. Their guest had left the home in a slightly peculiar state, given that the small Russian family found themselves resorting to English more often than they used to. Of course, they often spoke in their native tongue, but Russian was usually the only language spoken in this home and now, English was spoken surprisingly frequently.

Katya returned home from the tavern and greeted her parents and briefly discussed her work day with them. While they spoke, Katya heated a pot of water for tea and her father expressed his concern with her job as she poured the hot water into several cups. Once her family had been served, Katya brought one cup to their wounded guest and took a seat on the chair next to his rest and handed him the cup. For the first time since getting home, Katya switched to English and smiled. ‘How do you feel?’ She asked kindly as she reached back to retie the yellow ribbon that kept her long hair in a ponytail.
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Santiago Moreno
 Posted: Mar 9 2017, 09:38 PM
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Today Chago had also waited impatiently for her return from work. It was what he had usually done since he got to be more conscious… ie for a few days. Before, everything had been enveloped in mist, but he still could remember somehow that he was feeling happier when she was around. He was not sure why. It simply happened, and he was too exhausted by fighting fever in order to question anything. Being alive and safe were the only aspects which mattered.

Katya's mother didn't speak English almost at all. He had to smile, to nod and show his gratitude more in gestures than in words. Her father and uncle did, but they were most of the time too busy to notice him. And, at his turn, Chago kept silent, not to disturb them, even when awake. He had nothing to occupy his time with – and even if he had, he would have been too weak even to read , so in Katya's absence he was usually daydreaming or reminiscing various moments of his past. Of course, when the fever rose again, memories were mixing with delirious dreams turning into nightmares…

As he received the tea from her, he thanked her for it, then he replied to the question:

"When I see you, I already feel better. How was your day? Anything you liked, hated or feared?"

His eyes wandered to her nimble fingers, then to the ribbon in her hair. He had seen such a shade of golden ribbon in many young women's hairdressings, during the pilgrimage to Cobre. It was la Cachita's colour, as Concha had taught him.
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Katerina Meshcheryakova
 Posted: Mar 17 2017, 08:24 PM
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Tavern maid, Kingston
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A faint smile crept over Katya’s lips when the still weak Jacopo claimed that her presence alone was enough to make him feel better. She wasn’t sure he was completely truthful though. He was still weak and his complexion was pale, but while her presence might not actually have any influence on his physical condition, at least it seemed to have a positive effect on his mood.

I am glad you feel better,’ she said and finished up tying the ribbon. Now with her hair neatly secured in a ponytail, Katya continued a bit more solemnly: ‘I am not sure I could forgive myself if you died trying to save me’. She didn’t want to linger on negative thoughts, but she felt that it was something she had to tell him while he was awake and somewhat conscious. Luckily, he wanted to discuss her day and Katya though back if anything had happened during the day worthy of a tale. ‘My day it was good,’ she answered and thought a little more before continuing. ‘But my life is not very interesting to talk about,’ she then said, not believing herself all that interesting. After all, compared to a man who sailed the seas and saw battles and adventure, Katya was just Katya; a young girl going to the same job every day, indentured to serve, and most of the time told what to think or do.
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Santiago Moreno
 Posted: Mar 18 2017, 05:00 PM
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Chago smiled back, her comment about him dying trying to save her resounding in his mind. He had been a mercenary. He had killed. If that was how he had been meant to die, rescuing someone, it would have still been a form of divine justice his moral values couldn't protest against. But it was nothing he could actually tell her.

"You are worth dying for… but better living for," he replied. "I am glad I succeeded to save you."

As she was saying that her day was good, his eyes fell again on the new dress and ribbon. Maybe he had seen them before, in the previous days, but he never felt well enough and able to focus in order to notice them.

"I think your life is the most interesting subject for now, since I want to know you better," he stated on a serious tone, his eyes meeting her gaze.

He was ready to tell her all kind of stories about his life too, but only the stories she would understand. Travels, funny memories, stories about his sister's family, maybe something about Concha too. Nothing about religious pilgrimages, of course, even if her tanned complexion highlighted by the golden ribbon reminded him a little of the statue of La Cachita.

"And I like your new dress. It puts better in valour your natural beauty."

Indeed, it took just a change in the shape and colour of the dress she was wearing, as this one was slightly more fashionable, most likely sold by a chambermaid who had been gifted her mistress's older dress to highlight in a different way Katya's figure and to make her seem more like a young woman than the shy almost still a child he remembered from his past visits to Kingston. He couldn't help, however, wondering how hard the attack had affected her.
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Katerina Meshcheryakova
 Posted: Mar 25 2017, 01:40 PM
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Tavern maid, Kingston
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Katya smiled when she heard the response from her saviour that she would have been worth dying for. It wasn’t exactly something she had heard a lot and for almost her entire life, she had been scorned for her religious beliefs, or treated like dirt because of her contract as an indentured servant. The nice words gave her a bit of a similar feeling she had felt back before Gary, the navy lieutenant, had taken time out of his schedule to spend time with her. She remembered him fondly and now she felt similar again.

She still wasn’t convinced that her life was all that interesting or worthy of a whole conversation, but his insistence on knowing her better made her think for a bit and then decide to try her best to answer. Though she still needed to narrow it down to something tangible. ‘Okay what do you wish to know about me?’ She asked.

The compliment made Katya smile and though she didn’t understand the word valour, she understood enough of the sentence to catch the meaning overall. ‘Thank you,’ she said and looked at the dress for a moment. It certainly did make her seem more womanly. Not because it was designed to be alluring, but because it was made for someone as a more casual apparel. Katya’s regular dresses were made to be practical for working. This one was meant to be worn by a woman with feminine shapes and no work for the day.
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Santiago Moreno
 Posted: Mar 26 2017, 12:49 AM
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Chago wasn;t sure what he wanted to know – because the reply everything he would have given would have been daunting to a shy young woman like Katya.

"I am not sure. Maybe less about the past and more about the future? What would you like to do? How do you imagine your life after you'll be free of your contract? You can also ask me whatever you want to know."

If initially he would have been content with a few impressions about the customers she had for the day, he would have wanted – in theory - to ask other questions, but he wasn't sure he wouldn't be misunderstood, so he kept to the future. He would have wanted to ask her, first and foremost, how she was feeling, if she kept having nightmares about the horrors she had been through. Maybe he was curious about how she had felt when having to move from a place to another. At the same time, he understood perfectly that these were questions about subjects she might want forgotten through denial. Many victims thought this way, and the denied realities came to haunt them in their sleep instead. So these were not questions to be asked.

Plans for future were way safer. Then, his mind was racing about how to further protect her. If they had been discovered, he feared that persecutions might continue or get worse. Again, not a thing to actually mention to a scared young woman…
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Katerina Meshcheryakova
 Posted: Mar 30 2017, 12:22 AM
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Tavern maid, Kingston
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Katya had always been a timid little girl. A doe caught by the hunter’s lantern. But in her home, she felt safe and more importantly, she felt at ease with her heavy accent, her language and her traditions. Once she left her front gate, she was her usual timid self and the lingering memories of the attack haunted her whenever she walked home alone from the Dancing Fairy.

In regards to her future, Katya did have dreams, but they were usually suppressed because her contract seemed eternal. Especially when she had no real understanding of numbers. ‘I would like to bake,’ she answered simply and thought about what she’d like to do if any possibility was available to her. She had no dreams of outstanding wealth or status. She had never known either. But Katya was the happiest when she could bake something with the the fresh ingredients from their little garden. ‘I always like bringing inside things from garden to put in the bread,’ she announced further and then became a bit more serious in her expression. ‘But I am indentured servant so I serve’.

A thought came to Katya’s mind and she had to utter the question because it had been nagging in her mind. Her mother had bade her forget about the words of a delirious man, half in a feverish sleep, but Katya who had taken care of him had often held a wet cloth to his sweaty forehead while the fever possessed him. She had tried to calm him but surprisingly, he had failed to react to her words. Not just any words of course. ‘When sometimes you are not well in your sleep and I say your name, you don’t react even if half awake,’ she tried to explain but failed to properly turn it into a question. The language barrier might make this a hard thing to find out.
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Santiago Moreno
 Posted: Mar 31 2017, 08:55 AM
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Working in a bakery – if not opening one herself, with some help and associates – would seem fitting for her, Chago thought.

"Does it mean I have eaten bread made by you?" he asked, with a smile.

In the moments he was able to eat more than broth, he had been only partly awake; not enough to really care where the bread he was eating came from. He assumed it came from a bakery. The smell of fresh bread hadn't entered the house, since, like for most Colonial cabins, the oven/ stove with a bigger cooking space was outside. Inside, there was a mere fireplace where some water for tea could boil, but no bigger cooking was happening.

"Your contract isn't forever. You will be free of it in a few years. Two or three, if I remember well?"

Another thought pestered him: how was she going to live these two or three years, after everything which had happened? Would the persecutions get worse? Could he leave, fearing for her safety and fearing that the same things might happen again, when she would have nobody to protect her? He had to find a solution to this. He was well enough to think, for now, even if not well enough to leave this damn bed yet.

Focusing on her and on her words, Chago had understood what she meant. He took her hand in his, looking at her while trying to choose a good way to reply.

"You call me Jack, the French say Jacques, and the Venetians Jacopo. When awake, I answer to any of these names, because all are mine. And you know another version from the Holy Scriptures – as Jacob had been the ancestor of the tribes of Israel. But I think that when half awake and with the mind boiling in fever, I would have reacted only at the name Chago, how I am called at home. Exactly how you are called Kate in the tavern, but Katya at home, and it surely comes from your way of pronouncing the name which here sounds Catherine, and in my country sounds Catalina."

He hoped he had succeeded to explain well.
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Katerina Meshcheryakova
 Posted: Apr 3 2017, 04:16 PM
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Tavern maid, Kingston
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Katya smiled at the question about the bread. Not because she felt particularly proud, but because of the way it was said. ‘Yes it is me baking mostly here,’ she answered calmly and sat back in her chair. Being of the working class, or lower, meant that she exhausted herself every day and while some might see that as problematic, it actually helped Katya sleep a lot better. All the worries of the day, the fears of people’s reaction to her faith or foreign accent washed away when she got to rest at night because tiredness overwhelmed her and took away thoughts of darkness and cruelty. Thereby no said that she never had nightmares, but her fears manifested themselves during the daytime and Katya could jolt at the tiniest things these days. But at home, she was at rest.

In regards to being a man of many names, Katya could relate. Not just because of his explanation, but simply because her cultural upbringing meant that she was used to everyone having a given name, a diminutive and sometimes more than one. Her name, Katerina was so rarely used now that she was so far from Russia. Kate was used at the inn, Katya by her parents or sometimes even Katyusha. ‘Chago,’ she tasted the word and found it not too difficult to pronounce, nor too different from what she had otherwise known him.
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Santiago Moreno
 Posted: Apr 5 2017, 12:02 AM
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So indeed, she had a skill to be put to use later, after she gets free of the contract.

"Your bread is very tasty and I am sure you will earn well in a bakery," he said.

It was a better place than a tavern, anyway, but he was aware she couldn't choose while on a contract.

Chago felt a bit better and his heart was beating differently when she pronounced his name. It felt familiar, as if she had always done it…. And he felt the need to tell her more.

"Katya," (now, after having heard her parents and her brother call her so several times, he had noticed that he could say it as well) "our stories are a little bit – just a little – similar. You couldn't – and still can't – tell the truth about your origins and your religion, because it could have happened worse than that night. When coming to Kingston, during the last years, I couldn’t tell where I was from either, because my country was at war with England. Even so, as I was saying I was Venetian, somebody had discovered the truth, last summer, and I was emprisoned and tortured as a Spanish spy. I have never been any spy."

If she had been cleaning his wounds, she had surely seen some of his scars. The torture explained them.

"I am a Spanish citizen, born in the colonies. You might have heard about the Spanish Main, or Nueva Granada. That is my homeland."

Why did he feel the need to tell her the whole truth about him? Difficult to say. To see if she accepted him for what he really was? Maybe, as he had accepted her for what she was, and his opinion on her hadn't changed a bit when discovering the truth. He just felt that he could trust her completely now.
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Katerina Meshcheryakova
 Posted: Apr 10 2017, 05:51 AM
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Tavern maid, Kingston
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Chago’s compliment to her baking was received with a smile. Though Katya didn’t fully believe him when he spoke of her working in a bakery. Even when her contract ended some day, she would still not be free to make her own choices. Her father would probably have something for her to do. Not that she was complaining of course. She valued her father’s protective and leading personality.

Listening to his story, Katya wondered for a moment about how she should respond. On one hand, it was surprising to hear him confess that he was a different man than he had told her originally and that he had been in prison. Yet on the other hand, Katya could not blame him for keeping his nationality hidden when it would cause him torture.

Actually, only one question came to Katya’s mind in response to all this. Not about his homeland, nor about him keeping it secret, because she accepted that fact. But her question related to the part of their stories that were the most similar: Being discovered. ‘How did they discover the truth?’ she wondered out loud.
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Santiago Moreno
 Posted: Apr 10 2017, 09:28 AM
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Katya accepted him for what he was. Chago had worried in vain. Ultimately, why wouldn’t she? He was the same man, no matter if Venetian or Spaniard. He behaved the same, acted the same, had the same family he was telling Katya about during his previous visits. He was himself, no matter if Santiago or Jacopo. These were more the outside labels some people needed for those around them, not his true self, behind all the layers.

Of course she could relate. There was a thing they had in common… only that for him, with the ending of the war, that chapter had ended too. For her, it wouldn’t, unfortunately. Here, if people had learnt that she was Jewish, she would potentially be the target of their hate and frustration at any time, if they couldn’t channel it more constructively on those who had actually wronged them. Someone had always to be to blame… for what, in truth, leaders closer to them, but way better guarded, were doing.

And this was exactly what he kept thinking about, worrying about: that Katya was not safe here anymore. That he should find a solution. And maybe in the upcoming days, if feeling better now, he would.

He didn’t expect her question, out of all the possible ones. But it was easy to reply:

”Someone who knew that I was Venetian, introduced me to a Venetian woman who was just passing by, thinking that I’d be glad to meet a compatriot. But I had learnt only a few Venetian expressions from my crewmate, so when she had started talking to me, I couldn’t pretend it anymore. And there had been someone around to overhear it and report me to the authorities as a Spanish spy, no doubt for a few coins. He didn’t care if the man he reported was innocent, he just wanted more coins to drink them away.”

He shuddered only at the memory of the prison and of the tortures endured. They were still appearing vividly in nightmares from time to time.
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Katerina Meshcheryakova
 Posted: Apr 17 2017, 10:51 PM
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Tavern maid, Kingston
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The story made Katya’s expression quite grim. To think how easy it was for someone to end up totally exposed and with dire consequences was worrisome indeed. She had been seconds from being beaten and raped but Chago had prevented it. What had happened was solely because of her religion. The men did not know her personally and she was almost certain that none of them had been served poorly by her in the tavern. They had not cared about her as a person but about her religion. Something similar had happened to Chago but no one had stepped in.

It is scary how little it takes to be in trouble,’ Katya said thoughtfully and wondered if she, and for that matter Chago, had to live looking over their shoulders for the rest of their lives. Even if for different reasons and for different people. ‘But how did you get away?’ she wondered. Katya might have been killed after being raped simply for being a jew, but even she knew that being an enemy of the crown was practically a death sentence.
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Santiago Moreno
 Posted: Apr 18 2017, 10:16 AM
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Chago could somehow guess the direction of her thoughts, and it made him worry again about her further safety, looking for a solution.

”Indeed, it takes so little, and it is sometimes scary to think about it this way. I had been lucky that a respectable, rich man who had known me for many years had testified for me that I was not a spy, and he had paid for my bail to get out of prison until the fort commander changed his mind. I had to promise I would never return to Kingston as long as he was there. And I heard he died in January, but I heard later and I couldn’t return until now,” he said simply.

As he kept looking at her all the time during their discussion, his eyes fell again on the new golden ribbon. If at first he had associated it with being la Cachita’s colour, worn by many women during the pilgrimage to Cobre and further at the Easter celebration in Guaicanamar, now he remembered something else. Besides asking him to pray, serve her and wear her colours – and since then Chago had changed the colour of his neckerchief and sash – Santa Virgen del Cobre had told him something more: ”While serving me, you’ll meet some day a woman wearing my colours too, and you won’t be alone anymore.” Could Katya be the one?

Everything else la Cachita’s had told him, had happened. The way to his healing had been paved with changing his profession and finding the way to honour Hermione – by naming the ship after her, by composing the ballad and singing it right in Kingston, her town. Hermione would have enjoyed knowing all these – and most likely she knew, if she was watching for him from the above. She would have also wanted him to go forward and live each moment fully, enjoying everything possible, like she used to. She had told him this during the vigil for the departed, on Dia de los Muertos. She had said that God would look upon him with mercy and give him, some day, another woman to comfort him, a totally different one.

Would this be the solution for protecting Katya? Could he love her – in a different way than he had loved Hermione, but still in a blessed way? Was this golden ribbon the sign he was waiting for? If it was, it would be confirmed. For now, he had to pray for clarity of mind – because he knew he cared for her anyway, for a long time. Would this, however, be enough?

”Katya, what do you think about starting a new life on another island? Would you like it, especially if you get, in time, to have your own bakery as well?” he asked. ”I think there are places where you’d be safer than here, after they have learnt the truth.”

It wasn't yet a marriage request, because he was still confused - both what he wanted and what she might have wanted. But it was a start for a heartfelt discussion which might continue during the upcoming evenings.
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