“Well that there along the side…you see it…the sort of interlocking thing…yes…” I said running my finger along the edge. “That is the tree of life – the world tree…”
“Like in the Bible.”
“Somewhat..though this is a Yakut story likely given our guests origin…and the pearl atop really seals it as belonging to that tradition – the white mother.”
I watched the Turk. I knew that he understood English. Yet nothing that I said. Things that I was sure were familiar to him. Nothing of that had caused so much as the hint of a tinge of a change in expression.
In my experience Turks were usually lively. Maybe it was his role as guest rather than host that caused his ascetic reticence. Yet…no…that couldn’t be it. There was something off about this man.
He had not given any explanation of the strange box that he had insisted we help him pry from the Spanish. He said that they had stolen it. Though how they had effected that given its nature was beyond me. I suppose this was a problem of language. He had probably been taken together with the box and when we had first liberated him had gotten separated.
His face bore many marks of abuse. Apparently he had been ill treated. The Castilians are as hot blooded as the Moors and I wouldn’t put a single travesty past them once they were under the influence of zeal.
“Timurhan…” I said as gently as I could. “You know that we are men of faith…not the faith of Spain…no…we are not papists..we are free Englishmen and you will receive no coercion or abuse at our hands. As far as we are concerned your soul and your secrets belong to you and to God. That being said…we are mortals…and most curious about the nature of your treasure…is there any chance that you would share your knowledge…”
Timurhan sat in silence for eternities. Then he motioned for some parchment.
After some scribbling he handed it to me.
It was a series of dots appearing off the coast of Africa.
“You wish to sail to the Canaries?” I asked.
He nodded slowly.
Van Yost gave a low whistle.
“That is thousands and thousands of miles off course…” Harris began.
I held up my hand.
“Timurhan if we take you to the Canaries…will you sate our foolish lust for knowledge?”
Again the Berber nodded slowly.
“Well that is hardly an incentive…” Harris guffawed.
This was true. What I had difficulty in ascertaining was why the Spaniards had dragged him all the way to the Americas.
“I can see that you are a man of devotion…Allah has blessed you with a gift for silence…but I fear you may be misusing it. I do not mind the box so much now as I mind knowing what it is that finds you in Florida?”
This time he responded quickly in surprisingly good English. “I had been fooled. Those papal dogs had promised safe Harbor in the colonies. That is where I was bound before my fool of a captain got captured by your countrymen. Then the Spaniards freed me. Then you in turn put me back in English hands. They lied to me. Are you now lying to me also?”
I took a few moments to process this barrage of words.
“Well, I have promised nothing, I have simply inquired as to what would get you to part with your wisdom. I am not an honest man and I believe that statement lends me virtue. I avoid lying but as I have said I am carnal and as subject to sin as any. I will lie for days for my country for my family even for a fatter wage. Now I have bared myself to you.”
“So you have.” The berber said with the air of one considering some words.
“Now, tell me honored guest why is it that you sought the new world and now wish to return to the old? You are not setting a trap for us. Those are in effect the Caliphs waters…”
“The original project is now impossible due to politics…and I must return to perform a certain rite. I guarantee that you will not be molested so long as I am sent in advance with Solomon’s gift.”
“Yes, you have doubtless heard of Solomon.”
“This was gift..from the Queen of Sheba.”
“Is that all.” Harris quipped.
The Turk resumed his silence as if in penance for giving up too much too quickly. Well, that was good enough. There was much to discuss and I set off to find the Captain.
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