Somewhere on the Spanish Atlantic Coast, March 1812
The sleepy fishing village of Los Tahat on the windswept Atlantic Coast is unremarkable except for the old medieval lighthouse which overlooks the Port – and the lighthouse has definitely seen better days and is in truth only of interest to small children playing out imaginary adventure stories, colonies of nesting seabirds and a few antiquarians – and the monastery of St Rodger, and the attached cell of anchorite Sister Felicita Fecundita, led by its charismatic prior Abbe Rhode.
There is, of course, the unwelcome presence of the French: a small garrison with their gun batteries to protect the bay, which every day nervously scan the sea for the presence of the British fleet and the hills for the terrifying Spanish guerrillas. Led by Capitaine Samedi le Chevalier de Fevre they are feeling particularly isolated and alone as a result of the recent storm which brought down the bridge linking Los Tahat with the outside world. The garrison has been rebuilding the bridge but every night it seems as if their day’s work is somehow being undone.
However, within Los Tahat there are many secrets. What is the true relationship of local bandit leader “El Efantz” with the village? Is it just one of parasite and unwilling host or something more sinister? Why does the dark presence of Monsieur Noe-Moor Camembert – hated agent of the French occupiers – so often cast its shadow over Los Tahat? What do the young women find to smile and giggle about to themselves as they go about their daily chores?
Will the French engineers ever complete the repairs to the bridge or are the locals right when they cross themselves and blame “los duende” – spirits who live in the salt marsh -for every mishap and setback? How is it that despite her reclusive lifestyle Sister Fecundita has produced no fewer than twenty children in the last two decades?
Can they truly be miraculous signs of the divine as the Abbe maintains- a unique blessing on the good Catholic folk of Los Tahat that sets it above the godless rabble in nearby Los Tashoe and Los Taglove?
It is the first rays of dawn – 4 bells in the morning watch [06:00-06:30) – if one were of a nautical frame of mind. Los Tahat is beginning to stir…
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