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Authors: Annamaria Alfieri

City of Silver

 

CITY OF SILVER

 

 

ANNAMARIA ALFIERI

 

 

Minotaur Books
New York

 

 

This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictiously.

 

A THOMAS DUNNE BOOK FOR MINOTAUR BOOKS.

 

An imprint of St. Martin’s Publishing Group.

 

CITY OF SILVER. Copyright © 2009 by Annamaria Alfieri. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. For information, address St. Martin’s Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010.

[http://www.thomasdunnebooks.com] www.thomasdunnebooks.com

[http://www.minotaurbooks.com] www.minotaurbooks.com

Book design by Rich Arnold

 

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

 

Alfieri, Annamaria.

City of silver / Annamaria Alfieri.—1st ed.

p. cm.

ISBN-13: 978-0-312-38386-2

ISBN-10: 0-312-38386-X

1. Nuns—Peru—Fiction. 2. Murder—Investigation—

Fiction. 3. Silver mines and mining—Peru

(Viceroyalty)—History—17th century—Fiction.

4. Potosí (Bolivia)—History—17th century—Fiction.

5. Peru (Viceroyalty)—History—Fiction. I. Title.

PS3601. L3597C57 2009

813'. 6—dc22

2009010489

 

First Edition: August 2009

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

 

For David

 

 

Acknowledgments

 

 

THANK YOU TO:

Toni Plummer, my editor, and Nancy Love, my agent, for making this happen; Robert Knightly, the best writing buddy ever; Katherine Hogan Probst, Ph.D., life-long friend, and Latin scholar; and especially Steve Strobach and Naty Reyes, who took me to Potosí.

 

Historical Note

 

 

THOUGH THE CHARACTERS and plot of this story are fictional, the background history and the city of Potosí are real. In 1650, as part of the Spanish Viceroyalty of Peru, it was the largest city in the Western Hemi sphere, with a population equal to that of London. In 1987, UNESCO declared Potosí a Patrimonio de la Humanidad (Patrimony of Humanity). Its glorious architectural masterpieces, which are the scenes of this novel, still exist. Many of them have been lovingly restored and can be visited in this, the world’s highest city, at an altitude of more than 4,000 meters (more than 13,000 feet), in what is now Bolivia.

 

Potosí
Alto Perú
1650

 

 

Dramatis Personae

 

 

THE CITY OFFICIALS OF POTOSÍ

Francisco Rojas de la Morada,
Alcalde Municipal, head of the Cabildo (City Council)

Ana,
his wife

Inez,
his daughter

Gemita,
his daughter

Felipe Ramirez,
Tester of the Currency

Jerónimo Antonio Taboada,
member of the Cabildo, ally of Morada

Juan Téllez,
member of the Cabildo, ally of Morada

THE FAMILY TOVAR

Antonio de Bermeo y de Novarra Tovar,
Captain of the Corpus Christi Mine

Pilar,
his wife

Beatriz,
his daughter

Domingo Barco,
Mayordomo of the Ingenio Tovar (mine and smelting works)

Santiago Yana,
miner in Tovar’s employ

Rosa,
his wife, cook in the Tovar household

IN THE CONVENT OF SANTA ISABELLA DE LOS SANTOS MILAGROS

Mother Maria Santa Hilda,
Abbess

Sor Olga,
Mistress of Novices

Sor Monica,
Sister Herbalist

Sor Eustacia,
Sister of the Order

Hippolyta de Escobedo,
postulant

Juana,
a maid

THE MEN OF THE CHURCH

Padre Junipero Pimentel,
Jesuit Priest

Don Fray Faustino Piñelo de Ondegardo de Léon,
Bishop of Potosí

Fray Ubaldo DaTriesta,
local Commissioner of the Holy Tribunal of the Inquisition

Fray Pedro de la Gasca,
Grand Inquisitor for New Spain

THE KING’S EMISSARY

Doctor Francisco de Nestares,
President of the Charcas, Visitador General

 

Those who think it is not easy for a woman to succeed in whatever she attempts are mistaken, for many women have surpassed men in valor, in use of arms, and in knowledge
.

A man who has acquired great wealth through excessive greed, taking advantage of the sweat of the poor, might better have met his obligations
.

Peace is the offspring of Justice, and one cannot obtain where the other is not meted out
.

 

—Bartolomé Arzáns de Orsúa y Vela

 

Potosí, 1676–1736

 

 

CITY OF SILVER

 

One

 

 

SANTIAGO YANA APPROACHED the mine by night. He had climbed the steep, winding path worn smooth over a hundred years by the hooves of llamas and mules and the barely shod feet of thousands of Indians like himself. Up the Cerro Rico in the weak gray light of the waning moon. His barrel chest heaved. He gulped the icy, rarefied air. Below, the great stone-and-stucco city of Potosí sprawled out at the base of this silver mountain, like the train on a Spanish woman’s gown. On the near side of the river, an occasional torch flickered in the yards of the refineries. Across, in the grid of streets surrounding the central plaza, dull candlelight glowed in the windows of the many rich houses. Spaniards burned wax as if it were cheap as stones.

Santiago paused at the mouth of the mine. Always before, he had gone down in daylight, with his comrades. Standing shoulder to shoulder among them, he sensed himself as part of one large animal, a beast courageous enough to descend the deep main shaft. At the bottom, he became a digit on that powerful creature’s hand, making it possible for him to thread himself
through the tight, dusty tunnels and, in the gloom and the din of iron banging on stone, to tear away chunks of silver to be refined and sent to the King of Spain.

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