A hand went over my mouth and a man's voice whispered one word into my ear.
“Silencia” I took it to mean I was to be quiet as I heard the following men rush passed the door.
It time a candle was illuminated and I saw that people were in the room. The man with his hand over my face was lean and wore a short gray beard. He was wearing a light colored suit and a floppy tie.
No one spoke -- then one of the woman, an elderly matronly person pulled away a rug and opened a trap door in the floor. She gestured for me to follow her and she went down into the dark pit first. I was right behind her, and Maria came with the bearded man. A light came on as the trapdoor was closed. There was a room with a table and chairs. I was sat on one of the wooden chairs. There was a bottle of red liquid and a plate with some oddly shaped pieces of what looked like bread. I was encouraged to have one. I found them warm and filled with spiced meat. I was starving and the dish was most welcome. The red liquid was poured into a glass and I found it was tart.
As I ate Maria and the older man conversed in their fast language. When they stopped, the older man came to me and offered his hand.
“My name is Dr. Reynaldo, Maria has vouched for you. She tells me you are an American?”
“Yes, My father is and I guess that makes me one as well. Are you a medical doctor?”
“Yes, I am,” he answered.
I shook his hand vigorously. “You are just the man I need to see! Its a long story but I need medicines for my mother. She was attacked by a -- a lion. The wounds are infected and only your drugs can save her. I have a note that tells of what she is suffering from and what drugs are needed.”
I quickly unfolded the note Perry had written and handed it to the old doctor. He read it over several times.
“I am surprised you do not have these medicines where you are from?” he asked.
“It is a place far from from here,” I told him. He I knew would not believe the truth. “I had gold to pay you for the medicines but they were taken from me when I was captured.”
“It is nothing, These drugs are not expensive.” the old doctor said. “They are old drugs as well, we have better now that would be most effective to stop the infection.”
“I will be in your debt sir!” I told him. “All I have is this.” In my pocket I had one of the big silver cartwheels that Perry had made with the image of my father on it. I handed him the big coin. I carried it as a good luck token.
“I have never seen such a coin?” said the old man as he examined it. “Where is this Empire of Pellucidar?”
“As I said, far far away.”
“I collect coins, senior, and I have never heard of such a place.”
“Tell, me of what is happening in your land?” I asked, more to change the subject than anything else. At that he started to tell of how his country was a peaceful democracy until this one fellow was elected by promising the poor people a great deal. Once in power he started to do other things that were against the will of the people. When the Vice president and the head of the courts tried to stop him he put them in jail and with the help of the army he ruled as a dictator. He was supported by wealthy people from the United States who bought up lands and ran banana plantations, paying the workers very little for long hours of labor. I now understood why I was so badly treated when people thought I was an American. I assured him I did not support these measures or the president for life who ran things here. I was here only to secure the medications and return to the place from which I came. I then discovered what I had guessed, the doctor and Maria were part of a group who favored the vice president and wanted to free him from El Morro prison and replace the tyrant.
“I don't know how I can help?” I asked him.
“You already have, by freeing Maria from the soldiers,” he said. “And you have humiliated Captain Ortega and that is no small thing. Our next plan is to break into El Morro to free Vice President Sanchez and Justice Rodriguez.”
“It sounds dangerous.” I said.
“Many of our freedom fighters will perish,” added Maria. “Can I ask you to help as we try to rescue the elected officials from the tyrants prison?” I had to think, my mother's life was in the balance, I had to return to the inner world with the medications or she would die. She had to be my first duty.
“I must secure the medications for my mother,” I told them. “I am in sympathy with your cause but, If I was to be captured again or killed she would be doomed.”
“He is right,” the doctor said. “We can not ask this of him.”
“I understand,” she said with tears in her eyes.
“We can go to the hospital and secure the medications, at first light, then you must be off,” said the old man, “I wish you God's speed.”
“I will need to retrace my steps back to the place where I was captured,” I told them. “Can you help me?”
“It was near the village of Dos Pueblos de la Trinidad,” answered Maria. “I am sure we can secure a car and get you there -- but there is no port or airfield?”
“That is all I need,” I told her.
“You are a man of mystery from this unknown place called Pellucidar,” added the doctor. “I will give you some other medicines as well as what you requested.”
“That would be a great help,” I told him. I was taken to another room with a cot and permitted to lay down. I was exhausted and fell asleep almost instantly.
I woke up to a hand shaking me. My shoulder ached where I had landed on it in the escape. I opened my eyes and it was Maria.
“We are ready to take you to the hospital,” she said. “We have a disguise for you.” she held up a brown piece of cloth.
“Thank you,” I said stretching. “I could use something to drink.”
“We have cafe for you,” she answered. Old Perry had told me of Coffee, or cafe as it was called in some parts of the upper world but I had never tasted the stuff and attempts to find such plants from which it was made in Pellucidar were unsuccessful.
“I would like that,” I told her with a smile. I got up and saw that the garment she brought was a large brown thing with a hood.
“What is this?” I asked. “I do not wish to dress like a woman.”
“It is the robes of a Franciscan Monk.” she told me but I didn't have an idea what it might be. “They are not woman. Do you not have such orders in your land?”
“We do not,” I said as she helped me put the thing on. She then lead me into the next room where there were pieces of bread and a mug of a steaming liquid in a mug. It had a strange smell.
“Do eat, we will be leaving in fifteen minutes,” she said. “We have secured an automobile and I can lead you to the village when we are done at the hospital. We need only get though the roadblocks and check points put up by the army.”
The bread was sweet and had a hard crust, the coffee proved to be bitter and strong. For a moment I thought that descriptions of the drink must have been way off. But once I got used to the strong beverage I found it most stimulating.
We went up the trapdoor to a maze of rooms and hallways and then out into the blinding sunlight that reminded me of home. There was an odd looking wheeled vehicle, a sedan with rusty spots, I got in and sat back as Maria took the wheel.
“We will meet the doctor at the hospital,” she informed me, rather coldly. “He left before dawn. There is much planning to do before we can try to free our people from El Moro tonight.”
“I am sorry, I could not help you in your plan,” I answered. “But my first thought must be for my mother. If I could stay, I would.”
“I understand,” she said as she piloted the automobile down the narrow streets of the city. I was fascinated by the size of the community, it seemed to go on and on forever. There were shops with produce in front of them and many curious establishments I longed to explore. We left this one narrow road to a wider one that was filled with the same sort of vehicles in a dizzy array of shapes and colors. I was surprised at there speed and that they didn't crash into one another as they made their way though the town. I wanted to pilot one for myself! Now I could see why Perry was so compelled to make one in Sari. I couldn't blame him and resolved to assist him to fashion one when I returned.
“I forgot to mention that I will need kerosene for my return. Is there anyplace one can get this?”
“Kerosene?” she asked. “You mean Petrol?”
“No, kerosene, like some use for lanterns,” I told her. “I will need about eighty gallons. My vehicle uses it as fuel.”
“It must be a strange car,” she commented. “Yes, we can get it for you -- but eighty gallons is a great deal.”
We made our way to a very large building constructed in a strange style, It looked to be six to seven stories high and clearly one of the largest structures I had ever set my eyes on. I wondered how such a magnificent thing could be built. I would later learn this was by no means the largest one in the capital.
“The Hospital,” she said dryly as she pulled into a flat space filled with neatly arranged vehicles, she set the car into one of the rows and stopped.
“I am most impressed with your town,” I told her.
“Just wait until you see a really large city.” she said. “You are the strangest American I have ever met. Most comment on how behind the times we are in San Mateo.”
“Let us get the drugs I need,” I commented as I got out of the car. I was starting to see her curious nature might unmask my true origins and that might undermine my mission to the outer world. I put the hood up and walked behind her. She told me to look down and keep my hand folded together -- as that was the way monks walked. I wondered why people who worshiped monkeys would walk this way but I did as I was instructed.
There were two guards in uniforms standing on each side of the doorway to the place. They had the small rifles I had seen before and they were looking at everyone who came in. I found the doors very interesting. They were made of large slabs of glass! I had never seen such things. The guards seemed to be more concerned with looking at Maria. We got through without mishaps and into the building. We walked down a busy hallway to a set of doors and waited until the two doors opened. It lead into a small chamber. We got in and she pressed a button on the wall, and the doors closed. Then I felt movement, the whole room was going up! I was warned about this by Abner Perry -- it was a thing he called an elevator.
The thing stopped at the top floor and we went down an empty hall, until uniformed men came out of a doorway, I turned and saw others with guns coming out another behind us. We were trapped. The guards below must have somehow signaled them! I turned and went back hoping to fight my way back to the elevator at the screaming men. I found the monk costume confining and made it hard to move quickly, I hit one of the men, but before I could do more they were all over me. I was tossed to the floor and struck many times by their boots. I looked and saw Maria was also held by two soldiers.
“Its the Americano” one of the men said in his odd language -- or at least that's what I thought he said.
This time someone placed metal bonds on me -- locked on their was no chance I could free myself. The same was done to Maria and we were forced down the hallway to another room. Here, behind a table sat the figure of Mr. Ortega. He was smiling now and it didn't bode well for us.
“It is good to see you Mr. Innes and I see you have brought Maria with you.” he said with mock hospitality. I know this didn't look well for us. I wasn't worried for myself but I was concerned for Maria.
“Mr. Innes, it seems you have taken up religious vows!” he continued.
“I like monkeys,” I answered him. This caused a look of confusion on his face.
“We have a comedian with us, so it seems, Lets hope you are still able to make jokes after a little time in El Moro!” the Captain snapped back at me. He then looked at Maria.
“I will have you know that your doctor friend was arrested this morning. One of the people in your group is a patriot to the republic and informed us of your little plan to free the traitors of the revolution. There was to be an attack upon El Moro from your brother and his bandits. Now we will be waiting for them with machine guns. There will be time to hold a public trial for you and a quick firing squad.”
“My brother and his men are true patriots,” she shot back. “He and his men are freedom fighters.”
The soldier next to Maria slapped her hard across the face causing her to reel. The blow came as a surprise to me. I didn't expect such violence on a bound prisoner.
“Hey!” I yelled, “Pick on someone your own size!” I rushed the soldier and butted him with my head. The blow sent him staggering but caused me to see stars. Just then the man behind me struck me on the back of the head with his rifle stock. All went black as I fell to the floor.
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