At a gentle pressure on the reins from the coachman, the horses pulling the four-in-hand slowed from a languid trot to an even more languid walk.
Sensing the change in pace, Don Rafael-Vidkun de Cerveza leaned over and drew back the door-curtain. "What the devil could be the matter this time -- another bridge washed out, roadway flooded, highwaymen, trolls, what?" he said.
Havelocke, who had been dozing in a corner of the opposite bench, arms folded, came awake on the instant and straightened in the seat.
A young officer of the carriage's escort, a cornet of the blanco horse regiment Norte del Alasqua, reined up next to the carriage as it bumped along and saluted the dim face in the window. "Forgive my intrusion, excellency, but we are less than a mile from the frontier at San Bruno. I thought it would be your wish to know."
de Cerveza, pique forgotten or abandoned, nodded in businesslike acknowledgement. "Very good, cornet. Please return to your station," he said, nodding again as the officer saluted and spurred away.
"Madre de Dios," de Cerveza said, "I feared we'd never get here." Havelocke's only reply was a smile that could have meant anything.
6 months ago