Authors: Annamaria Alfieri
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.
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.
Book design by Rich Arnold
City of silver / Annamaria Alfieri.—1st ed.
1. Nuns—Peru—Fiction. 2. Murder—Investigation—
Fiction. 3. Silver mines and mining—Peru
4. Potosí (Bolivia)—History—17th century—Fiction.
5. Peru (Viceroyalty)—History—Fiction. I. Title.
PS3601. L3597C57 2009
First Edition: August 2009
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
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.
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.
THE CITY OFFICIALS OF POTOSÍ
Francisco Rojas de la Morada,
Alcalde Municipal, head of the Cabildo (City Council)
Tester of the Currency
Jerónimo Antonio Taboada,
member of the Cabildo, ally of Morada
member of the Cabildo, ally of Morada
THE FAMILY TOVAR
Antonio de Bermeo y de Novarra Tovar,
Captain of the Corpus Christi Mine
Mayordomo of the Ingenio Tovar (mine and smelting works)
miner in Tovar’s employ
his wife, cook in the Tovar household
IN THE CONVENT OF SANTA ISABELLA DE LOS SANTOS MILAGROS
Mother Maria Santa Hilda,
Mistress of Novices
Sister of the Order
Hippolyta de Escobedo,
THE MEN OF THE CHURCH
Padre Junipero Pimentel,
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
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.