“It’s a wise man who holds his own council and refuses a stranger’s liquor, especially if it’s offered by a Frenchman,” Macias said. The wise old man holding the scope was alert to the drinker’s intentions. Sal acted like a disciplined soldier; he made a slight bow and backed away from the men. He had to remind himself he held an important commission from Father Serra.
He turned to look back toward the horizon. A reunion with his lifelong friend, Blas, filled his thoughts.
After several more days and more attempts to approach Sal with liquor, cards and other pastimes, the three Frenchmen forgot trying to start a conversation. They slinked between the other passengers, lingering dangerously close to unguarded pockets and purses. Whenever Sal turned his back, the Frenchmen brushed against his bundled cargo and tried to figure out what types of treasures he delivered for the church. They watched for an opportunity to snatch goods from the cart, but old Macias kept an eye on the men when Sal moved away from his cart.
Macias was slow but sly. He was easy to overlook as a guard, or an ally. During the entire voyage, Sal took little notice of this aged protector, Macias. He watched for more dramatic signs and blessings.
The passage from Mazatlán to San Diego lasted five days. The sea blustered and threatened the over-crowded vessel, and the passengers found little shelter on the crowded deck. With each sunrise, Sal took note of the passing hills that displayed more greenery the farther north they traveled.
On the fifth sunrise, the winds calmed to a breeze, and the ship cut a good wake. Gleaming silver dolphins appeared alongside, escorting the vessel northward. Sal convinced himself that their presence was a good omen for things to come.
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