Emperor of Gondwanaland

Emperor of Gondwanaland by Paul di Filippo

Book: Emperor of Gondwanaland by Paul di Filippo Read Free Book Online
Authors: Paul di Filippo
English Christening as Metacomet. He it was who had Brew’d all the Storm amongst his Kith and Kin, he it was who had Wrought such clever Strategems against us, oft o’erwhelming our Superior Forces by Guile and Cunning. Now, ’tis true, Philip seemed helpless, a Portrait of the Chastized as we read of in Amos : “he who is stout of heart among the Mighty shall flee away naked in that day.”
    Yet just so long as Philip lived, so long would our Future Safety be uncertain. Prospects that the Renegade could Regroup his forces and return Some Far-off Day to Harangue and Belabor us again were all too Large, especially if he turned for help to our Rivals, the French and Dutch. (And may I interpolate here, Reader, Merest Mention of the well-known Irruption Twelve Years Later of just such Salvage Deviltry around Saco, Pemmaquid, Casco, and Elsewhere as proof of the Undying Enmity of these Redskins, as chronicled in my own humble tome, Deccenium Luctuosum ?)
    Moreover, there weighed in the Balance evidence of King Philip’s Supernatural Allegiances. Many and many a time had reports come of Uncanny Forces at work on the side of the Salvages. Ill-faced Omens had oft abounded before Various Indian Attacks, viz., Uncouth Storms, the clouding of the Moon and the Sun, St. Elmo’s Fire, the Appearance of Unnatural Beasts, and the Disappearance of Common Game Animals. Such Tokens of the Dark Allies invoked by the Indians unnerved us, rightly so, and made Philip’s Death all the more Imperative.
     
    It was in this Spirit, and with this Aim, that a group of Statesmen, Militiamen, and Common Citizenry stood eagerly upon Hammett’s Wharf that August Day in Newport, chief Establishment of the Plantations of Rhode Island, awaiting our Savior from across the Sea.
    Standing atop a Tarry Piling and thus elevated above the Mass, with the Undimmed Eyes of Youth I was the first to spot the Ship we all anticipated, and gave a loud “Hulloo!”
    “Here she comes! The Black Gull approaches!”
    A general Stir went up among the Crowd congregated under the Unnaturally Blazing Sun. Even my own Father, ever a Figure of Stern Sobriety, evidenced a more agitated Mien ’neath his formal Wig, betokening a Ferment of Hope and Trepidation, than I had ever before seen him exhibit. He turned to Major Pynchon and said, “Let us pray that Kane has seen fit to answer our pleas. If this ship indeed bears that most fierce and noble of Puritans, we are saved, forsooth.”
    I clambered down from my Bituminous Perch, as the Stout Full-rigged Vessel drew e’en closer, and from the expectantly gathered Souls there began to arise a general unseemly Hubbub. Major Sanford and Captain Goulding, Major Gookin and Captain Church, took it upon themselves to quiet the Ladies and Husbandmen and their Babes, lest Solomon Kane receive a Wrongful Impression of our Character, deeming us less Stoic than the situation demanded.
    Before much longer, Hawsers flew thro’ the Air from the creeping Ship and the Black Gull was Warped into place alongside Hammett’s Wharf. Navvies heaved a Gangplank up and over to bridge the Gap twixt Ship and Shore, and a Collective Suspension of Breath preceded the actual appearance of Solomon Kane.
    When the Man Himself materialized like one of the Four Spirits of heaven mentioned in Zechariah, that Suspension turned to a Gasp.
    Used as we all were to the Sober, Respectful, Crowfeather Garb of our Preachers and Leaders, we still received a Shock upon first sighting Solomon Kane. For he was Attired in a Manner that had not been General for at least a Hundred Years. His Unadorned, Close-fitting Garments harked back to the days of Good Queen Bess. From Slouch Hat to Unseasonable Mantle to Worn Boots, he presented a Stygian Form. Exceedingly tall, with long arms and broad shoulders, Kane exhibited features both Saturnine and Powerfully Focus’d. A kind of Dark Pallor lent him a Ghosttly Visage, counterpointed but not relieved by the Thick Hedgerow of

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