An excerpt from “Triangle: A Memoir of Black Caesar”
Daniel Carnes spotted the fleet of ships approaching from the north early in the day. He watched, from hiding, as they anchored just offshore. One of the ships, a larger, naval sloop had familiar lines, looking much like Black Caesar’s ship, Grande Maronage. He couldn’t be sure, the ship was anchored too far out for any detail to be clear, but he had a sense that he was right in his estimation. He didn’t recognize the other ships anchored with her, two frigates, one large and one small, along with two naval sloops and two smaller merchant sloops.
It was clear to him, by the lack of markings, or colors, that this was a fleet of pirates. Their close presence worried him, considering the Queen’s Dowry that he guarded, hidden in the dry well of the abandoned mission. He’d spent his days since the storm, many months now, awaiting rescue, but he was careful in choosing a rescuer, not trusting a fleet of pirates, more hoping for a small boat with one, or two fishermen who could be easily overcome, or perhaps tricked into leaving their boat on the beach, unattended, for him to take.
He kept a close eye on the fleet of ships throughout the day and into the afternoon, watching dories from the other ships, plying back and forth to the familiar sloop, until darkness fell around them. In the dark, Daniel came out of hiding, following the narrow creek from its source near the old mission, to its outflow at the beach, there, to keep watch, in case any should come ashore in the night. His caution was not disappointed. Sometime after midnight, gaging by the position of the stars, he was awakened by the sound of oars banging against the hull of a small boat, one he could barely make out against the backdrop of white sand that formed the beach. Within minutes of the alarm, a black giant strode past him carrying a heavy leather satchel, following the creek inland, toward the crumbling ruin of the mission.
There was no doubt in Daniel’s mind that it was Black Caesar who’d come ashore. Still fearing the man for his size, his strength and his mean disposition, Daniel waited until Caesar had gone a safe distance before beginning to follow him. He watched from a place of hiding among the ruins, as Caesar searched through the overgrown gardens. He could barely contain his panic at the coincidence that Caesar found the old well hidden beneath a dense covering of vines and bramble. His mind reeled at the thought that Henri had somehow discovered him, that by some magic he had divined the location of the Queen’s Dowry, sailed hundreds of miles and, now, walked across this island directly to its place of hiding, without hesitation, in the dark. What were the chances of such a coincidence? Then he remembered the witch, Oguna, her Obeah magic and her divining power. He was frantic, his heart pounded in his throat. He thought to call out, to somehow distract Caesar, but fear grasped his vocal chords. As he was trying to think of some way to overcome the giant, he was surprised and relieved to see Caesar suddenly withdraw from the well, leaving the ruins empty-handed.
In the morning, Daniel lifted the heavily planked cover from the well, fastened another length of rope to the root of a vine and climbed down to the sandy bottom of the well, where he discovered the heavy satchel Caesar had been carrying. It lay on top of the dowry chest, a length of old, rotted rope draped over them both. He opened the leather satchel and gasped, seeing the amount of gold coin and silver plate it contained, more than a hundred pounds. He couldn’t believe his luck.
Apparently, Henri knew nothing of the dowry and hadn’t noticed the chest lying in the darkness, at the bottom of the well. His stumbling upon this hiding place was, indeed, an unfathomable coincidence, not witch’s magic at all. The addition of the satchel nearly doubled the value of Daniel’s stash and now, if he could just survive long enough to find his way off this island, he would be rich beyond all his wildest dreams.