"Company, I surmise. There are two to be dispatched. Or
perhaps only given a good fright. Or maybe you can use your blade to
leave the sign of the cross on their faces, or something of the kind.
You will know what to do."
"Who are they?"
Now Saldaña shook his head, as if he had said more than
he wanted. "Everything in its time. Besides, my only role is to act as
The captain drained his jug, thinking hard. In those
days, fifteen four-doubloon pieces, in gold, came to more than seven
hundred reales. Enough to get him out of difficulty, buy new
linens and a suit of clothes, pay off his debts . . . set his life in
order a little. Spruce up the two rented rooms where he and I lived on
the upper floor of a courtyard behind the tavern, facing the Calle del
Arcabuz. Eat hot food without depending on the generous thighs of
Caridad la Lebrijana.
"And also," Saldaña added, seeming to follow the thread
of the captain's thoughts, "this job will put you in contact with
important people. Good for the future."
"My future," the captain echoed, absorbed in his
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