Monday, January 14, 2013
Christmas Eve in Discomfort
Weather: frosty all day; with a light breeze and intermittent flakes
Surprisingly, it hasn't gotten any colder ... except that it no longer becomes warmer during the daylight hours. Over the last twenty days, there has been only one without any precipitation ... but there is still the occasional drizzle, one day in 3, in the afternoon. It is not enough to melt the snow, and its presence is just numbing in the extreme. But making a check for the entire party, and still exempting the possibility of damage for travel (which I took up working on again this last weekend, but you're still free from that nightmare), the party remains entirely healthy.
There's been no movement at all from the ground since the arrival of the goods twenty days ago. Lazaro has re-emerged from his hut, but he continues to be in a sour mood. The party spends most of their days trying to keep warm, but the reading lesson continues as best it can.
Christmas is approaching, and on the Eve, a single man approaches the bottom of the waterfall and the guard responsible rings a bell, summoning the camp.
A basket is sent down. It comes up again, virtually empty, except that it contains a small letter. It is looked at by Lazaro, who hands it to Andrej to read ... who opens it (presumably) as it is addressed to him. After a brief glance, in which he can read some of the letter, he passes it along to Lukas or Maximillian, who can read it out loud.
"To His Archdeacon Father Andrej of Cumana ... we have received your request for 2,000 pieces of gold to ransom you and your companions from the Epirot Bandit Hadji Lazaro of Tyrol, examining the matter closely and addressing the circumstances within and withal the matters pertaining to, and we have resolved upon the method of disseminating a security which will, in substance, provide for you the means of eschewal that the church rightly sees as the only possible result in this circumstance. Please act in whatever means you see appropriate,
May God Be With You,
Father Ranko Stipanov, Prefect of the Fourth District of Fiume,
Director of the Croat Bank of Fiume
Writing on behalf of the Cardinal of Fiume, his holiness Zrinko Ivanec the VI
"What is the answer?" asks Lazaro.