The next morning, Antonio’s fleet touched based at the quay situated on the north side of Goa on the banks of Mandovi river. Mondovi river was the only sea route to enter Goa. Hundreds of people had arrived to herald in the new captain of the royal Portuguese navy.
The crowd cheered as Captain Antonio in his naval suit got off the ship followed by his men. Roars of ‘Hail Antonio’ filled the air as the soldiers walked down the gangway. Antonio walked the first and raising his hand, saluted the crowd. The crowd went berserk and raised slogans and waved flags in the air.
Antonio looked around the place dotted with palm trees bordering the river. Across he could see a huge lush green forest. At the other end of the quay, traders who had been busy a short while earlier loading and unloading their merchandise all paused in their track at the sight of royalty. They raised a slogan loudly as Antonio’s eyes fell on them. It was years ago that he had left this place and now he felt as if the placed beckoned him with open arms. It felt nice to be back.
Pascal Costa appeared from behind the stacked crates to watch Antonio. He decided to visit him but as he took a step, one of the ships sounded its horn. He turned back to find his friend, Captain Juan waving out to him. He hesitated for a second and turned back and headed towards the ship. The ship was about to sail. He boarded the planks and walked to the deck and peered over. He saw an escort from the palace walk over and salute Antonio and then shook hands with him. Words were exchanged and then Antonio and his troops were then led to the waiting horses and chariots. Antonio took the strong stallion in the lead, the others followed suit as the climbed aboard the other horses and chariots.
The cavalcade then traveled down the dusty road led by Antonio in the lead, the escort just behind him and directing him loudly over the din. Crowd thronged the roadside to get a glimpse of Antonio and as he passed them, they hailed him. Girls blushed as his eyes fell on them. He smiled and waved out to them causing them to giggle and laugh.
As he traveled, he let his eyes take in the sight of Goa. There was not much of a difference between Goa and Lisbon. He felt like he was still in Lisbon as he watched the small towns pass by followed by markets and the villages.
Rosalin was with Kayani amongst the crowd at the roadside near her village. But for Rosalin, wanting a glimpse of Antonio was too boring a task as she impatiently fidget with herself as they stood by the side of the road. She knew she’d get a chance to meet the man in person itself since her father knew the Viceroy.
Kayani suddenly pulled at her hand. ‘Hey, I think they are coming.’
’Come on Kayani, I am not interested in seeing the Viceroy’s son. For all I know, deve ser um homem aborrecido feiohe (He must be an ugly boring man.) She replied wearisomely with a flick of her hand as if Antonio didn’t interest her at all.
‘Shoo. I heard he is young and very debonair and the best part is, he is still a bachelor.’
Rosalin’s expression changed and she turned around to look slyly at Kayani. ‘Bachelor? That sounds interesting. But my dear Kayani, your marriage is already fixed, so why are you so keen on seeing him?’ She asked her with a teasing smile.
‘Stop it Rosa. I am not interested in marrying him. I just want to see how he looks.’ She looked hard at Rosalin and then continued. ‘Why do I have this feeling that you already know things about him?’
‘Oh I do know a thing or two about him.’ Rosalin replied shrugging her shoulder nonchalantly.
Kayani smiled and raised her eyebrows at her. ‘‘Rosa, I don’t like that glint in your eyes?’
Rosalin laughed. ‘Trust me. It’s not what you think. Now you stay here and drool over him while I run home.’
Rosalin turned around and waded through the strong crowd. Kayani called out to her but Rosalin just yelled back. ‘I’ll see you in the village.’
Kayani smiled to herself. She then turned her attention back on the road as the cavalcade came down the bend with Antonio in the lead. She looked at him in awe, an imposing figure. She was totally taken by the sight of Antonio as he raced past on his stallion.
The cavalcade traveled down the dusty path and past a village and then the road suddenly started to climb. They were going up a small hill. Finally, they reached the St. Ignatius church and raced past it. Antonio quickly did a sign of the Cross as he passed the church. An elderly priest was busy polishing some stained glasses of the Church window. He looked up to the sound of horse beats and saw the cavalcade go past. He left aside his tasks and silently watched them go.
The cavalcade traveled the other side of the hill and up. He could make out that the dusty road let to the fortified palace in the distance, an imposing structure. The road was decorated and soldiers were lined along the path right up to the palace gate. As they neared the gate, musicians started to play as if on cue. The cavalcade went through the gate and came to a thundering stop at the palace entrance. Antonio smartly jumped off his stallion and rushed in through the huge door. The soldiers at the entrance saluted him but he ignored then and just ran past them.
He entered the hall to find a small elegant crowd waiting patiently for him. As walked in smartly with long strides, everyone stood to attention and saluted him. Across the hall, Viceroy Fonseca was seated on his grand and inquisitively decorated chair. Viceroy Fonseca was a huge man with a great walrus moustache. He was in his visceral coat and knee-high leather boots that had sparkling golden spurs at the tip of its base. Around his waist, hung a long steel rapier in its scabbard.
Viceroy Fonseca got up from his chair and slowly walked a pace or two towards Antonio. Antonio strode over and standing in front of him, smartly saluted him, a wide grin on his face. They embraced each other. Viceroy then held his son at arm’s length and looked at him with deep pride. ‘My son, this is the proudest moment in my life.’
Antonio bowed his head low and bending his knee a bit, softly whispered. ‘Yes Pai.’
Viceroy lifted him gently and turning him around, put his arm around his shoulder and patted him. ‘Now that you are here, I, and all of Goa is surely in safe hands now.’
The Viceroy then looked at the gathered crowd in the hall. ‘Friends, this is my son Antonio. He has been appointed the Captain of the Royal Fleet of the Indies by His Highness King Juan II. Please welcome him.’
The crowd broke into a round applause. Musicians started to play again while soldiers out in the courtyard, fired their guns in the air to herald in Captain Antonio.