The robed cleric approached Sal, “Welcome Coronel! We prayed for supplies, you are our angel of mercy,” he said.
“I’m no angel. You can thank Father Serra for these supplies,” Sal said. He tried to see the face beneath the cleric’s hood. “He commissioned me…”
“Yes, yes, we are all commissioned by God, Brother,” the cleric said. “I’m afraid Father Serra has already moved on to consecrate new Mission grounds in the north.” The cleric stepped away from the shoreline and turned his back to Sal. His words were muffled by the hood covering his head. “I will receive the goods. Come, follow me,” he said.
This short round man did not lack authority. Sal noticed he spoke like the other Brothers, with a lot of flowery talk and offered no real help with the cart. Sal followed him, still struggling with the load of supplies. The chubby cleric slowed to catch his breath. His face was turned away, but Sal could see him steady himself with his hands on his knees. The man’s shoulders shook and he gasped for breath.
“To be honest, Coronel, you must be the most bedraggled soldier in all of Imperial Spain. What happened to you?” the Brother said. He gasped for air between every word. Sal strained to hear his words.
“What’s that you say, Brother?” Moments ago, this same man called Sal a saint. Now he insulted him, calling him bedraggled. It dawned on Sal: he recognized the voice. The chubby Brother was Blas! The friends were reunited at last!
“And you are the fattest walking vow of poverty I’ve ever laid eyes on,” Sal said.
Blas still wore a ridiculous robe, pretending to be one of the Brothers. “Un abrazo.” Sal wanted to hug Blas, but too much emotion in public embarrassed him. Pretending to be men, but quarreling like boys, they grabbed each other in a welcoming bear hug.
“¡Gracìas a Dìos, you are here, my friend!” It didn’t matter who said it first; they both thanked God. Sal knew he would remember this reunion as one of the happiest moments in his miserable life.
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