St. Augustine, La Florida
End of October, 1702
The man felt his strength slipping away. He stumbled awkwardly down the riverbank. Every muscle in his body ached. His head throbbed and his senses had dulled. He could barely stay awake. He felt like he was going to fall facedown and not get up. The only thing driving him forward was his fear of being caught.
Looking back over his shoulder, he strained to see if anyone followed in the woods. A rustling noise erupted in a patch of underbrush. Shifting uneasily to the ground, he rolled awkwardly under a patch of palmettos. Mosquitoes buzzed along his ears, nose, and every exposed area of his body but he dared not move. Long, sharp palmetto blades bit against his skin but he turned his mind away from his wretched shelter, spit the sandy grit from his mouth, and pressed his lips together, daring not to breathe. Noise would carry to enemy ears. Had the heathen Indians tracked him across the river? Unable to take another step, he curled up in a ball.