…some work in progress from the Cazique of Poyais story…
Noemi surfaced above decks as needed to get fresh air and relief from the heat below decks as necessary, but she still had very little interest in communicating with anyone abroad the Ocean, including Jose. Nonetheless, Jose stayed by her side. After all, it was his fault to a certain extent that they were where they were.
The days continued to be relatively droll, uneventful affairs of monotonous forward bouncing motion. They had no real sense of direction, so only assumed they were heading towards London. So far there had been no bad weather or incident, just plain sailing. Neither Noemi nor Jose thought it was quite plain sailing, but it was their land locked souls that caused that particular course of thought.
Jose grew restless after a couple of weeks. They had stopped at a Caribbean island for a short time to resupply, but there wasn’t precisely time to jump off and explore. It had been different to Belize Town, but it was another port in the same part of the world. It was not so different as to intrigue Jose too much. It didn’t even cross Noemi’s mind as something interesting. What it did push Jose to do was listen in on some of the conversations the other passengers were having and see if he could get involved somehow.
One day after they left the Caribbean island, Noemi and Jose were catching some air above decks on a particularly pleasant day, when they heard two women speaking about the tragedy that befell them in Poyais.
“Lily, dear, I know it’s so awful to think of, but I curse my dearly departed husband for dragging me halfway around the world like this only to be dragged back when the dream of a new life turned to ash before our eyes.”
“Don’t be cursing him alone my dear Emma. He’s not the main person to blame.”
“Who then? He dragged me along with him!”
“That Gregor McGregor, that’s who. He swindled all of us out of our hard earned savings and sold us a patent lie.”
“He was that charming gentleman was he not, who spoke to us in the town hall and saw our boat off?”
“Exactly, that is the man you should direct your anger at. He did knowingly and fully swindle us my dear.”
A thin, middle aged man of distinctly below average build and character was within earshot of Emma and Lily, as was Jose. Most people were, but most only focussed on their own thoughts as Noemi did. He had been shaking his head at the conversation for some time when he finally interjected, “You can’t fault the honourable Sir Gregor McGregor ladies!”
Emma looked at Lily for a rebuttal which duly cane, “is that so? Well, surely he is at fault. It’s not as though he had never been to this part of the world! He spent considerable time there. How can he not have known it was an awful swamp of a place?”
“He was simply a figurehead, a man spreading hope and happiness! It was that Colonel Hall and Sir McGregor’s other agents whose was at fault. They mislead him and us!”
Emma looked dumbfounded at the man, “what’s your name?”
“Thomas Clink, at your service.”
“Well, explain to me, Mr Clink, how it is that Colonel Hall is responsible? From my view, he did all he could to help us survive the misery we were dumped into.”
“But his agents my dear woman – they stood to profit most. The bankers who sold us those worthless bonds and helped in part, but not to their detriment on the whole, to fund so many an expedition over to the ill fated Poyais.”
Exasperated Emma now joined the fray, “you didn’t even answer her question! You blame Colonel Hall yet all he did was try to help us.”
“Lies! He was a half witted leader working on behalf of the trading companies down there. They didn’t want a Poyais that flourished as it would have ruined their profits from trade in the area.”
“So now we move on to the truly fanciful,” Emma said, no longer as shy as she seemed at first.
“You women, what would you know. You call an honourable man a swindler. Awful. You wretches should be ashamed of yourselves. Are your husbands not hear to teach you proper?”
“My husband died because of what that monster McGregor put us through! Now I have no choice but to take my own counsel,” screeched Lily, ending the conversation.
Thomas Clink would surely bring it up again on this long voyage as it was clear he had supporters amongst the Poyais sufferers. This who had solemnly nodded along to his every word.
Jose, watching and listening to all this wondered most what it was that had driven the woman called Emma to speak up. He also pondered what had caused her suffering and shyness. Was it a lost husband as well?