THE INSURGENCE of CHAN SANTA CRUZ

 

BOOK FOUR:  THE BOOK of SCIENCE

 

CHAPTER THIRTY ONE

 

          Edwin Arbuckle, Governor-General of the colony of British Honduras, lay the two telegrams which he had received within three days of one another upon his desk. His office fronted the docks and, from his chair, Arbuckle could gaze out beyond the boats to the Caribbean, which was a dazzling green that, at a distance, slowly merged into a deeper turquoise. The green, as Arbuckle sniffed, was algal growth that fed prodigiously upon the outflow of the sewers of Belize City that emptied into the ocean and, on the occasions when the winds turned, hurled the odor back upon the city. Today, however, the wind was blowing its usual west to east... everything, in fact, was right and proper.

          Except for the news.

          That the Mexican territorial governor desired an audience with him was not surprising. Arbuckle and his predecessor had known of Bravo for some years, although most of their contacts had been first with Admiral Monasterio, a fine, nautical sort of fellow, then that General Vega who had gotten himself into some sort of scrap with the indians. It was too bad. Vega had been a gentleman, at least as near to it as any Mexican ever could become. From what he'd seen of Bravo, and the stories baited about by such traders as scurried back and forth across the border, these developments could not be positive ones. No indeed!

          As if confirming his suspicions, a second message had been forwarded from the station at Orange Walk. The situation was incomprehensible. The sublevados had attacked two settlements on the British side of the Rio Hondo, killing eight peaceable indians, two Negro laborers and a policeman. The survivors had fled to Orange Walk and had no idea why these villages had been attacked... for the loot, if robbery was the motive, would have been pitiful.

          "Mischief is afoot in Mexico," the Governor concluded and lay two pieces of paper side by side, the better to draft a message of notice to London and a reply to this General Bravo that he would, of course, be pleased to confer with him if... it was underlined... such meeting took place in his own office in Belize.

          Arbuckle was nothing if not a careful chap.

 

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