This part of the house was dark in the inky flood of shadow; and before I had come to a recess in the wall, I heard the discreet scratching of a finger-nail on a door. A streak of light darted and disappeared, like a signal for the murmurs of two voices. I recognized the woman's at once. It belonged to one of Seraphina's maids, a pretty little quadroon a favourite of hers called La Chica.
The Laguna Chica is a cove surrounded by perpendicular mountains, and connected with the gulf of Cariaco only by a narrow channel twenty-five fathoms deep. It seems, like the fine port of Acapulco, to owe its existence to the effect of an earthquake. A beach shows that the sea is here receding from the land, as on the opposite coast of Cumana.
Then, too, my mouth isn't big enough for me to "tongue" it properly. When I told Dinky-Dunk this he said: "Of course it isn't! What d'you suppose I've been calling you Boca Chica for?" And I've just discovered "Boca Chica" is Spanish for "Little Mouth" and me with a trap, Matilda Anne, that you used to call the Cave of the Winds! Now Dinky-Dunk vows he'll have a Victrola before the winter is over!
That channel between Corregidor and San José Point is known as the Boca Grande, and is nearly two miles wide. The middle channel, or the one situated between the two islands, is shallow, and but little used. The third, which separates Caballo Island from Limbones Point, is nearly three miles in width, at least twenty fathoms deep, and known as the Boca Chica.
The currents which, during a great part of the year, especially when the bendavales blow with violence, ascend from south-west to north-east, throw sand into the Boca Chica, and even into the bay itself.
Our chief, not relishing this kind of complaisance in the Spaniard's, was wise enough to retreat on board with the remains of his army, which, from eight thousand able men landed on the beach near Bocca Chica, was now reduced to fifteen hundred fit for service.
They obtained, however, a good view of the Boca Chica, or harbour entrance, and took careful note of the fact that it was effectually commanded, at its narrowest and most difficult point, by a battery built on the very beach itself, and a fort, or castle, crowning the crest of a hill immediately above.
Having cannonaded the fort during the space of four hours, we were all ordered to slip our cables, and sheer off; but next day the engagement was renewed, and continued from the morning till the afternoon, when the enemy's fire from Bocca Chica slackened, and towards evening was quite silenced.
Perquique! but at once it would change sound and be transformed into Perqueque or Parquique, and these phonetic modifications were extended to infinity. The origin of this word Perquique, which cannot be found in the dictionary, was as follows: The cream tarts sold by the man in the white cap brought five centimos apiece and he would cry "A perra chica! A perra Chica! Only five pesetas apiece!
She stopped short, seeming to enjoy the surprised look on our faces at finding that she was willing to discuss the matter so intimately. "After the Indian had shown the Spaniard the treasure in the mound," she pursued, "the Indian told the Spaniard that he had given him only the little fish, the peje chica, but that some day he would give him the big fish, the peje grande.