Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Majorca Couriers

Alcúdia (Majorca), 15th April 1714

--A heavy responsibility is going to weigh upon you, dear Sir Dalmau --tells Princess Elisenda to her interlocutor, while examines him attentively. Still in his early forties, Sir Sebastià Dalmau is a determined-looking man, a successful businessman who in the hardest days of war didn't hesitate even a minute to spend a fabulous sum in financing the Principality's war effort, besides of raising a cavalry troop of his own --the renowned Faith Dragoons Regiment. Once war finally came to an end, Dalmau transferred his regiment ownership to the General Deputation and went back to civilian life. He had in mind some kind of banking enterprise, but a surprise proposal from Princess Elisenda seduced him.

The man draws a slight smile and assents with elegance: --I do assume the burden, Your Highness. Please correct me if wrong: I am expected to build and run a Courier Company joining both private and public invest, whose main task is to be keeping a permanent sea link among the Principality, Majorca, Roussillon and Sardinia. Our ships will be allowed to carry and trade other kinds of cargo, provided that Mail is given absolute priority. Our headquarters are to be in Palma town, and the most immediate target of the new company consists in setting two sea lines; the one linking Palma to Barcelona town and Collioure in Roussillon, while the other will connect Palma to Cagliari in Sardinia. Eventual profits will be partaged between Majorca's Gran i General Consell and myself. Is it so, Your Highness?

Pleased, Princess Elisenda smiles too and assents: --I wouldn't be able to explain it better in so few words, Sir.

Dalmau nods slowly and starts speaking in a low voice, as if thinking aloud: --Such courier ships must be fast, faster than average. I have already spotted a couple of good xebecs that would be perfect for the job. Purchase agreements are nearly closed, but I thought it compulsory to let you know first. On the other hand, such Courier service will require some... er... protection.

Princess Elisenda assents expectantly.

--Honestly, I'm reluctant to risk ships speed by overarming them. For I was thinking of just 8 guns, or 10 at most; such is the maximum armament our xebecs would tolerate without a speed decrease. This means that waters safety should be granted by anyone else, Your Highness. --he wisely adds.

--I've been thinking about this, too --Princess Elisenda replies--. Majorcan authorities have agreed to build a galleys fleet in a reasonably short term, but meanwhile we'll have to dip defense resources from anywhere. A small galliot is to be purchased in the next days, with the aim of putting it under the Courier Company direct management. This will be my humble contribution to the Company.

--Great, that will help for sure.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Facing unrest

Perpignan, 12th April 1714

Coming from south, a cart crosses fast the Castellet gates of Perpignan, capital town of Roussillon province, and climbs to downtown like a shot. It passes fast by Commerce square and gets into Argenteria, or Silversmiths', street. Then it suddenly stops close to a stylish caffè recently open. One single man leaves the cart, a middle-aged chevalier elegantly dressed in a senior military uniform, entirely red. the man steadily crosses the caffè door and gets in.

Other officers are awaiting him in a private lounge, and courteously welcome his arrival: --Ah bonjour, dear Viscount of Galmoy!

--Good evening, Sirs. I should apologize for the delay; the road from Roses was nearly impracticable!

Up to five senior officers of Louis XIV's armies have gathered that day, all them with garrison duties in Roussillon province: Adrien M. Duke of Noailles who owns the Horse regiment bearing his name; Nicolas G. Marquis of Villennes and colonel of Médoc Infantry; Pierce Butler Viscount of Galmoy, who leads the Irish regiment of his name; chevalier Jean-Baptiste F. de Johanne de La Carre, colonel of Royal-Roussillon Cavalry, and Augustin la Brulle de Ximenès, colonel of Royal-Roussillon Infantry. Some faces there are showing curiosity or uncertainty, while others reflect a stern determination.

It is Johanne de la Carre who speaks first: --Sirs, I've been acknowledged that Princess Elisenda is going to land on Collioure harbour next week, with the aim to take charge as Vicereyne of Roussillon. I'm afraid this province is going to fall into her hands now, so that only God knows what is she willing to do from now on.

--Well Sirs, I see no cause for alarm there. Not that prematurely, at least --Ximenès prudently answers.

It's Noailles who speaks now: --Honestly, I can hardly stand too the idea of being given orders by a former enemy; if this is what you meant, Johanne.

--Not just this is what worries me, dear Duke --La Carre replies--, but also the fear to see how that woman deconstructs with impunity all our latter decades efforts for integrating this province into France.

--Perhaps we should stop her feet in advance, I'd say --Marquis of Villennes emphatically states.

--I'm with Ximenès in the inopportuneness of any... er... act of rebellion now, dear Sirs --Galmoy then phlegmatically says--. Please recall that it's King Louis himself who has appointed that Lady for the task you so much blame. So if anyone disobeyed her, he would be disobeying His Royal Majesty too.

--Let's be patient at her for some time still, Sirs. Let's watch and see before deciding what to do --Ximenès insists.

--Maybe you're right, Sirs --La Carre moodily replies-- Have for sure however that some action will be needed to stop her, sooner or later.

It sounded neatly threatening.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Overwhelmed with work

Barcelona, 9th April 1714

Once arrived to his mansion in Montcada street, Marquis of Vilana drops himself onto a comfortable couch, sighing heavily. After having spent the whole week in a series of painstaking negotiations with high representatives of the main cities of Catalonia, he's dead tired but happy.

After an entirely new set of Ordinances for the new Nation's army had been issued, replacing those issued by King Charles III (*) in 1706, it was now the turn for the discussion and eventual approval of a bill regulating (and eventually limiting) the creation and activities of civic militias like rural Sometents and urban Coroneles. At first, cities were quite reluctant to see limited their ancestral right to raise such militias on their own, so negotiations turned harsh at times. However, Vilana's diplomatic expertise managed to pave the way step by step, so that a general agreement was finally met among all attendants --even those from the radical Busca party. Ultimate approval by the Parliament of the militias draft bill was now ensured.

According to the plan devised by Princess Elisenda's High Staff, only towns equal or larger than 4,800 inhabitants would be capable to raise militia units large enough to perform side by side with regular regiments; this meant only seven towns of Catalonia entitled for adequately maintaining a Coronela Regiment (see map at right). Three out of these towns had to be temporarily dispensed due to be already contributing to the maintenance of a regular Army unit (Tortosa, Manresa and Girona), and another two had already raised one such militia (Barcelona and Mataró). In the end, two new cities were now due to organize a Coronela of its own, in exchange for some tax reduction: Tarragona and Vic.

Not so easy was to persuade the involved towns to keep a core of those militias permanently raised, so as to perform as local garrison and police. After some discussion, a consensus was met on a permanent minimum of 1 company for each battalion. Even more difficult was later to get their acquiescence to issues thorny to them, where a public regulation was considered invasive. In the end, it was agreed that all new Coronela units would follow a common uniformity (based on grey rather than blue) and flags usage, while those units already existing would be temporarily spared such duties --and corresponding expenses!

So our good Marquis feels reasonably happy now... until he recalls the mountain of documents overcrowding his desk! "Oh dear...!" --he says, sighing heavily again. "Elisenda, Elisenda... you're going to bury me under your projects pile!", he thinks. Then he laughs loud, even happier than before.

(*) That is, Charles VI of the Holy Empire.
[As usual, our National Library has been conveniently updated with the informations related to this thread. So you can check the Army organization and regiments detail in those pages respectively devoted to the Catalan Army and Navy.]

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

The Vicereyne

Palma, 6th April 1714

After having left the Marquis of Vilana as Her lieutenant during Her absence, earlier in this week Princess Elisenda journeyed to Majorca island, with the aim to chair as Vicereyne of this insular kingdom on behalf of Emperor Charles --thus replacing the Marquis of Rubí, who has just taken charge in turn of the Viceroyalty of Sardinia.

Once in the island, Princess Elisenda deployed an intense activity in all fronts, covering not just protocolary and administrative affairs, but also learning firsthand some other aspects of Majorcan economy and self-defence. Before the week had come to an end, She had already taken some important decisions on various subjects. Her very first decree not just renewed the so-called Gran i General Consell --an assembly of the Majorcan representatives in the Catalan Parliament--, but increased its powers too. "from now on, Majorcans are'nt going to be ruled by the same Monarch as Catalans; so that, despite still sharing the shelter of our common Constitutions and Parliament, there will be in the future matters that will compete to Majorcans solely and their relationship with the Emperor their monarch --and we Catalans shouldn't meddle unless required" --she argued.

In defence matters, Princess Elisenda appointed Pere F. Pisà, who was a trusted local officer, as the new General in Chief of the small army garrisoning the kingdom. "As small they can be, forces under your command must be able to secure and protect commerce and individuals, let these be hinterland roads or navigation routes; the Balearic Sea must be the safest waters of the Mediterranean", She strictly determined to the new General. They jointly outlined an improvement plan that settled as prioritary the building of a fast galleys fleet that would perform as coast guards, while funds would be sought alongside to re-create a Marine Infantry regiment to crew the ships. A second priority would be the creation of a future Artillery Academy around the field guns company already existing --funds for making it possible had already been raised by Palma town Municipality.

But Princess Elisenda wouldn't stop there, in Her first week in Majorca. Right after having expressed Her will to visit other significant towns of the island to exchange views with local authorities, She still had time to issue a decree regulating the use of flags --on fortresses, administrative buildings and individuals on land. After some doubts, She finally decided not to alter current practices on sea for the moment. "Better allowing civilian ships to keep fleeing their traditional ensigns, while retaining the Imperial banners too for military vessels", she thought.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Night watch

Cagliari, 2nd April 1714

Amidst the calm night of Cagliari town, a human figure in dark cloak keeps quiet and silent behind a corner, as if watching something he was. He then listens a faint rubbing sound behind him, and turns around startled.

--Stand still, Niccolò. It's me. --says a soothing voice. The man recognizes the voice and relaxes. When both men meet behind the corner, it becomes clear they are dressing in some kind of dark uniform, inclusive of a black cloak and a long halberd, and both are holding a lantern --now extinguished not to be watched in the night. They are night watchmen of the city.

--What were you going to show me, Niccolò? --says the second man.

--Can you see that large building ahead, captain? --Niccolò answers-- The one with two torches at main door's lintel.

--Yes I see it. Isn't that the Bacallar family manor house?

--That's right. Well, the matter is that this house was abandoned three years ago, when the Two Crowns were ultimately expelled from the island. It was deserted by its owner, Vincenzo Bacallar, who was by then military governor of Sardinia. It has since remained empty and lifeless... until last week, when an old man re-occupied it along with a couple of youngsters, perhaps servants to him. --Niccolò says, triomphantly.

--Hum, suspectful indeed --replies the captain.

Then the large house door opens discreetly. The figure of an old man emerges and closes the door again with care, so as not to make unnecessary noises. The night watchers react quickly and, when the man is about to start walking and get lost in the darkness, they stop him.

--Listen, sir. Would you mind to join us?

--Am I arrested perhaps? --the man replies in a fearful voice.

He is given no answer.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Slowdown there? By no means!

A long, specially hot Summer is coming to an end at last... While players of our current 1714 what-if setting enjoyed their holidays, I had to remain stuck to Minairons miniatures --a self employee never rests, you know. So that I decided to take some advantage of this calm August for finishing up some much needed projects. One of these is my WSS Austro-Catalan Artillery, that has finally been completed with the some much needed limbers:

By late Spring I had the idea of purchasing some ready painted pieces for such limbers, rather than buying and painting new models. I then discarded to waste time (and spend money!) seeking them on eBay, but decided to give a try to Hinds figures Ltd instead --and I'm very happy for having done so! We agreed to trade a number of WSS infantry, guns, limbers, gabions and carts in exchange for some Republican Roman and Carthaginian units I wanted to get rid of. Limbers and carried guns in the pictures above come from such exchange. I just had to repaint in yellow what had been originally in red, and give some final touches to horses.

As for deployed guns themselves, I currently already had three of them from various makes --with Roundway and Minifigs crews, as you can see. The one in the middle is a heavy cannon, flanked by its right by a light gun. The other one is medium sized, so that it was used in our previous 1713 campaign alternatively as a light or heavy cannon, depending on needings.

My Austro-Catalan artillery is completed by a siege or fortress set consisting of four heavy cannons from Peter Pig. Again, crewmen are a more or less consistent mix of Minifigs, Roundway and Essex figures. I've never had the need to use these artilleries yet, happily enough!

I'm about to complete a similar set of Bourbon Spanish artilleries. I hope to have them completed and depicted before my current game players are fully back from holidays!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

New appointments

To all players, 29th March 1714

A circular has been delivered by Vienna to its embassies and foreign chancelleries, acknowledging of the following appointments by His Imperial Majesty Charles VI:

  • New Governor of Flanders and Milan: Prince Eugene of Savoy
  • Viceroy of Naples: Prince Wirich Philipp von Daun, replacing Carlo Borromeo Arese
  • Viceroy of Sardinia: Marquis Josep Antoni of Rubí, replacing Count Antoni Roger of Erill
  • Vicereyne of Majorca: Princess Elisenda of Catalonia, replacing Marquis Josep Antoni of Rubí

Such appointments pursuant the agreements of Rastatt, by which the forementioned territories fall into Imperial authority from now on.

Friday, July 08, 2016

Fealty or expropriation (2)

Madrid, 27th March 1714

--Have I well understood, marquis? --says King Philip V, staring at Marquis of Aitona with a disgrunted expression-- Do you mean to be asking for my permission, for you to pay homage to that "so-called" princess Elisenda?

Visibly uncomfortable, Marquis of Aitona gazes intensely to Giulio Alberoni in a silent plea for help; but the by-then bishop remains unmoved and silent.

--Ehem... --starts the marquis-- As Your Majesty probably knows, most of my possessions fall within the Principality of Catalonia boundaries; not just the marquisate of Aitona itself is affected, but also the county of Osona, the viscounties of Cabrera and Bas, as well as several minor baronies belonging to my lineage... Princess Elisenda has formally requested my fealty for these, as this document certifies...

Timidly, the marquis handles the mentioned document to king Philip. But He refuses to take it, as if contaminated it was. Otherwise, the king answers haughtily:

--No marquis, by no means. I shall not give my consent to it. And I urge you to ignore the pretentious missive of this rebel and slick woman, on behalf of the due loyalty to your true Sovereign.

Desolate, the marquis manages to look impassive while he bows and leaves the room. It's now when Bishop Alberoni finally breaks his silence and softly asks: --Your Majesty, would You mind to listen a surely profitable suggestion?

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Elisenda I

Barcelona, 21st March 1714

For the coronation ceremony, it was chosen the barcelonese church of Santa Maria del Mar. This was an intentional choice, for it was the same emplacement used seven years ago by Archduke Charles. Ceremony was marked by austerity, for Princess Elisenda rejected any wealth ostentation in these post-war times, not to offend the people. Thus, her own princely crown was little more than a nice diadem, while the orbs globe she would hold on left hand during ceremony was made of gold plated copper. Not even her robes differed that much from those she used to wear in other circumstances.

The only important expense that Elisenda considered essential was the Royal Sword she ought to hold in the right hand, the legendary «Tisó» of James I the Conqueror. As the original Kings of Aragon ceremonial sword had long ago passed to thicken Spain's own Royal Treasury, Princess Elisenda ordered a most faithful copy to be forged in best steel and gold plated grip, to be well balanced too as if conceived for war. She was unwilling to hold just a jewel piece there but a perceivably powerful weapon, so as to convey among attendants a feeling of strength and determination --her own determination to preserve the Nation's regained independence.

Ceremony took place on March 21 in the morning as scheduled, with abundant presence of local authorities and common people –but enjoying very scarce attendance of foreign dignataries, even from the Holy Empire itself or other Allied Nations. Princess Elisenda could have grieved by such absences --but she didn't at all, for in fact she already expected such setback. The new Nation would be carefully tested and observed from now on, so that a long, solitary journey was expected from them for a while. Her people were alone, she was alone herself.

“Well, as the saying says, better off alone than in bad companies”, Princess Elisenda ironically thought. “No need to continually waste time in explanations for everything we do. And it's the time now to start doing the things by ourselves”.


(Official portrait of Princess Elisenda I)

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Exposed coast

Cagliari (Sardinia), 18th March 1714

Colonel Carles Llorach taps nervously on the table without a word, while Lieutenant Colonel Josep d'Erill glances at him with concern. It's this latter who in the end dares to break silence:

--Something should be done, Carles --Erill cautiously points out.

--I know I know, Josep --the alluded promptly answers--. The matter is "what" can be done, current circumstances given. Since your father had to resign for health reasons, this island misses a much needed viceroy. We aren't empowered for taking measures other than using our scarce resources as wisely as we can. How is the Regiment deployed right now?

When Countess Francesca arrived in Cagliari a few days ago, bringing with her terrible news about a Barbary pirate attack on a Southeastern village, Cagliaritan society was plunged into shock. Pirate activity on Sardinian shores had declined in previous years, something that likely had much to do with the lately proliferation of large warships in the Mediterranean. Now that War of the Spanish Succesion was over and most powers had begun downsizing their armies and withdrawing their fleets, pirates had seen a new opportunity and re-started operations on the already overpunished coastal villages. The small force garrisoning the island wasn't prepared for this --not that soon, while still awaiting arrival of a new viceroy.

--Well, our Regiment's deployment is still conceived for facing an eventual major menace from overseas. The Two Crowns, I mean. Four companies here in Cagliari, while the other five companies are garrisoning walled towns such as Alghero, Sassari, Oristano, Bosa and Castel Aragonès. --Erill opens arms wide, as meaning he understands in advance what Llorach might reply to him.

Llorach simply nods: --We must change it. Cagliari no longer needs four companies inside. Let's reassign one in the Southwest, and split another two companies along the Eastern coast. Word should be sent to sheriffs and local Lords requesting them to properly allocate the troops.

Erill nods too and answers: --This should help --his face showing some skepticism, though.

Colonel Llorach stops silent again, thinking for a while before adding: --Let's do something else: I'm going to sail aboard one of our galleys with a small detachment, with the aim to inspect each one of the watchtowers along the Eastern coast, for I suspect some must have been neglected. Otherwise those damned pirates wouldn't have been able to fall that unadverted upon those unfortunate villagers. Please send a courier to Alghero town, ordering their garrison to perform a similar inspection along the Western coast using their own galley.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Building a scale fleet

One of the campaigns we are planning for a future in our Defiant Principality setting is supposed to run around the adventures of a group of Catalan settlers in the Spanish Main. Having this in mind I've calmly started to build a fleet of 1/450 scale ships from various Nations. The idea there is to reach a point where I can put on tabletop some of the most likely ships the adventurers may meet in the Antilles. I've started with the traditional arch-enemy of the Principality, whose ships are the most prone to get engaged by our revengeful gamers... I've managed to complete a first batch of three models: a brig, a full-rigged ship and a sloop. Three else are on the way --I'm finishing assembly process right now.

Here you have the Spanish brig:



And this is the full-rigged ship:



Some captions of the growing fleet:


After some trial and error, this has been my first ever serious experience at assemblying and painting scale sailships, so plentiful of some unavoidable planning mistakes, palette misjudgements and other kinds of error. Nevertheless, I'm quite satisfied with them --take it as the newbie satisfaction at the mere thing of having survived the experience!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Fealty or expropriation

From now on, I'll be always including a small map like this, on top of each scene where any of our characters appears. Its purpose is to emphasize graphically where the scene is located, and thus to help our campaign gamers determine if the scene contents can be of his own interest. As this one is showing, current scene is located in the Principality of Catalonia --while the previous scene was located in Sardinia Kingdom.


Barcelona, 17th March 1714

Around noon as agreed the day before, Princess Elisenda enters the General Deputation Palace and heads to the boardroom, preceded by a solicitous usher. All six Deputies(*) are already awaiting there for Her, expectant. The Princess responds to their shows of respect showing a warm smile:

--I'm most honored Sirs, please sit down. --and She sits at the same time.

After a few polite preliminaries, then Princess Elisenda asks: --So Mr. Solanell, have you taken a decision about your current appointment?

--I'm afraid I have no margin for deciding myself, Your Highness --the alluded responds--. It's General Deputation's own Bylaw that prescribes charges term to a maximum of three years. We were elected by the Parliament on July 1710 and only the exceptional war status has allowed us to extend the appointment for some months; but now we should resign in the shortest possible time. As a matter of fact --he concludes--, the Parliament has already sheduled the poll date. Next April 23rd, if not wrong. --the other Deputies nod.

--Oh I understand. If such is prescribed, it must be followed- --She quickly nods too--. Have you had time for thinking around the decree I told you about, then?

The man remains silent for a few seconds, then turns gaze around his fellow Deputies and nods: --Yes Your Highness, we have. The extensive fiefs belonging to pro-Bourbon nobiliary lineages were seized by your predecessor King Charles III (God Saves Him) some years ago, and have thenceforth been administered by the General Deputation, as you know. We believe it makes sense to formally require those Lords to pledge their fealty to Your Highness as well as their allegiance to the Parliament, under penalty of being definitely expropriated from their fiefs...

Princess Elisenda is about to sigh of relief, but something makes her to hold breath: --...but...

--...we have been doing consultations among Parliament members, and they all think it fair your offer, in exchange for their support, of converting into free municipalities the main towns so far belonging to these feuds such as Sort, Cardona, Solsona, Cambrils and Palamós, but those deputies belonging to the Busca party also request a general emancipation of serfs, whatever the ultimate fate of those fiefs...

Princess Elisenda keeps silent for a while, thoughtful. Then she suddenly nods: --I do commit to this, Sirs. But it wouldn't be wise from myself to use this decree for extending the measure to all fiefs, inclusive to pro-Habsburg noblemen altogether with those who sided with the enemy. If Parliament consents, it will be done in a separate piece of Law establishing an orderly emancipation program, similar to that already running in my own Estates. You can start writing the draft at will, Sirs. We shall present both projects at once, just before your formal resignation.


(*) The General Deputation of Catalonia was composed by 3 Deputies elected by the Parliament amongst its members, one for each Arm (ecclesiastical, military or aristocratic, and royal or popular). This triad was complemented by another 3 members as "oïdors" or accountants. Traditionally, the ecclesiastical deputy was also the General Deputation speaker, or President. If curious, this is the list of Catalonia Generality Presidents between 1359-1714, and again 1931-2016.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Pirates!

Southeastern Sardinia, 14th March 1714

It was a beautiful sunny and calm Spring day in Sardinia. Taking advantage of the forecast splendid weather, Lady Francesca Countess of Santa Sofia had arranged a 2-day archaeologic excursion in countryside, along with a small entourage of scholars and friends of her, with the aim to explore some of the mysterious local nuraghi megaliths Lady Francesca was so keen of.

As a matter of fact, some of those young Countess friends weren't as interested in such "chaotic accumulations of old stones" (as they used to say privately) as in Lady Francesca herself. Not strangely though, because she was of that kind of women always attracting all eyes like a magnet. Besides of being a countess, she was still unmarried at her 27 age, so one of two among these young men were actually hanging around, expecting she could take a decision at regard one day or another. For she'd have to, or wouldn't she?

She knew and didn't care. Her time for such things hadn't arrived yet, albeit... well, there was one not that ugly in the end, or even two perhaps! She discreetely smiled at her own shamelessness and quickly forgot it, for the imposing nuraghe was already at their sight, on top of a hill a few hundred yards ahead. She excitedly accelerated pace:

--Here you have the nuraghe I told you about, Sirs! Isn't it beautiful? --She said triumphantly.

Little afterwards, the group had arrived in the megalith vicinity and started scattering around, in search of the small archaeological remains an eventual old flood might have revealed. Suddenly, one of the entourage scholars stopped and started looking in the distance, far beyond the hill where they stood.

--Isn't that a smoke column? --he asked loud enough to be heard by anyone.

The man was pointing to a hill extending to their right, between their own location and the coast line that one could guess should be some half mile away. A tall, dense column of black smoke was lazily rising up skyward.

--It seems as if from shore itself, doesn't it? --Francesca asked.

--Hum --one answered--. Unless wrong, there's a village in that direction.

Prisoner of an odd feeling, the group hurriedly climbed up the hill adjacent to theirs, and watched the landscape that stretched at their feet. As some of them had started suspecting, the small village below was burning in flames while a myriad of small black dots ran in all directions, as frightened ants whose nest had just been smashed. By the shore, two large galleys moored indolently. Several large boats roamed around, apparently carrying people from the village aboard the war sharks. Deep red ensigns waved at sterns, and bright green pennants hanged from masts, both showing a strange white device that looked like a scissor in the distance.

--"Zulfiqar", the double bladed sword --one muttered.

--Oh Lord, Barbary pirates? --a terrified Francesca asked.

--Let's go, go away!! --another one shouted-- Before they can spot us! ...authorities must be warned. Hurry up, for the sake of God!!