Part 5 out of 7
The Viceroy stiffly withstood the party that was not his,
and upon some slur and insolence took from a man his office.
Followed a week of glassy smoothness. Then suddenly, by
chance, was discovered the plot of Bernal Diaz de Pisa--the
first of many Spanish conspiracies. It involved several hundred men and was no less a thing than the
seizure in the dark
night of the ships and the setting sail for Spain, there to
wreck the fame of Christopherus Columbus and if possible
obtain the sending out of some prince over him, who would
beam kindly on all hidalgos and never put them to vulgar
work. A letter was found in Bernal Diaz's hand, and if
therein any ill was left unsaid of the Admiral and Viceroy,
I know not what it might be! The "Italian", the "Lowborn",
the "madly arrogant and ambitious", the "cruel"
and "violent", the "tyrant" acted. Bernal Diaz was made
and kept prisoner on Vicente Pinzon's ship. Of his following
one out of ten lay in prison for a month. Of the seamen
concerned three were flogged and all had their pay
One might say that Isabella was builded. Columbus himself
stood and moved in better health. Now he would go
discovering on dry land, to Alonso de Ojeda's glee, glee indeed
of many. The mountains of Cibao, where might be
the gold,--and gold must be had!
And we might find Caonabo, and what peoples were behind
our own mountains, and perhaps come upon Guacanagari.
We went, four hundred men and more, an army with
banners. We wished to impress, and we took any and all
things that might help in that wise. Drum and trumpet
beat and sang. Father Buil was not with us. But three of
his missionaries accompanied us, and they carried a great
crucifix. There were twenty horses, and terrible were these
to this land as the elephants of the Persians to the Greeks.
And much we marveled that Cuba and Hayti had no memory
nor idea of elephants. A throng of Indians would go with
us, and in much they carried our supplies. It was first
seen clearly at this time, I think, the uses that might be
drawn from our heathen subjects. Alonso de Ojeda, Juan
Ponce de Leon and Pedro Margarite rode with the Admiral.
Others followed on black and bay and white horses. Juan
Lepe marched with the footmen. He was glad to find Luis
Before setting out we went to mass in the new church.
Candles burned, incense rose in clouds, the friars chanted,
the bell rang, we took the wafer, the priest lifted the chalice.
The sun rose, the trumpets rang, we were gone. South,
before us, the mountain line was broken by a deep notch.
That would be our pass, afar, and set high, filled with an
intense, a burning sapphire. We had Indian guides.
Day, evening, camp and night. Dawn, trumpets, breakfast
and good understanding and jollity. After breakfast
the march, and where was any road up the heights? And
being none we would make one and did, our hidalgos toiling
with the least. By eve we were in the high pass, level
ground under our feet, above us magnificent trees. We
called it the Pass of the Hidalgos. We threw ourselves down
and slept. At sunrise we pushed on, and presently saw what
Juan Lepe once before had seen, the vast southward-lying
plain and the golden mountains of Cibao.
There rose a cry, it was so beautiful! The Admiral
named it Vega Real, the Royal Plain.
Sweating, panting, we came at last down that most difficult
descent into rolling forest and then to a small bright stream,
beside it garden patches and fifty huts. The inhabitants
fled madly, we heard their frightened shouts and the screaming
of children. Thereafter we tried to keep in advance a
small body of Indians, so that they might tell that the gods
were coming, but that they would not injure.
Acclivity and declivity fell away. We were fully in an
enormous, fertile and populous plain.
The horses and the horsemen! At first they thought that
these were one. When some cowering group was surrounded
and kept from breaking away, when Alonso de Ojeda or
another leaped from steed to earth, from earth again to
steed, they moaned with astonishment and some relief. But
the horses, the horses--never to have seen any great four-footed things, and now these that were proud and
earth and neighed and--De Ojeda's black horse--reared,
curvetted, bounded, appeared to threaten! The eyes, the
mane, the great teeth!--There grew a legend that they
were fed upon men's flesh, red men's flesh!
How many red men were in Quisquaya I do not know. In
some regions they dwelled thickly, in others were few folk.
In this wide, long, laughing plain dwelled many, in clean
towns sunk among trees good to look at and dropping fruit;
by river or smaller stream, with plantings of maize, batata,
cassava, jucca, maguey, and I know not what beside. If
the stream was a considerable one, canoes. They had parrots;
they had the small silent dogs. In some places we saw
clay pots and bowls. They wove their cotton, though not
very skillfully. They crushed their maize in hand mills. We
found caciques and butios, and heard of their main cacique,
Gwarionex. But he did not come to meet us; they said he
had gone on a visit to Caonabo in Cibao. They brought us
food and took our gifts in exchange; they harangued us in
answer to our harangues; they made dances for us. The
children thronged around, fearless now and curious. The
women were kind. Old men and women together, and sometimes
more women than men, sat in a council ring about some
There was no quarrel and no oppression upon this adventure.
I look back and I see that single journey in Hispaniola
a flower and pattern of what might be.
They gave us what gold they had--freely--and we gave
in return things that they prized. But always they said
Cibao for gold.
We rode and marched afoot, with many halts and turns
aside, five leagues across plain. A large river barred our
way,--the Yaqui they called it. Here we spent two days
in a village a bowshot from the water. We searched for
gold, we sent from Indian to Indian rumor that it was the
highest magic, god-magic that of all things in the world we
most desired and took it from their hands, yet still we paid
for it in goods for which they lusted, and we neither forced
nor threatened force. And though we were four hundred,
yet there might be in the Royal Plain forty thousand, and
their hue and their economy was yet prince in the land, and
the Spaniard a visitor. And there commanded the four hundred
a humane man, with something of the guilelessness of
We crossed the Yaqui in canoes and upon rafts. White,
brown and black, the horses swam the stream. Again nigh
impenetrable forest, again villages, again clear singing and
running waters. But ever the mountains came closer. At
last we entered hilly country and the streams pushed with
rapidity, flowing to the Yaqui, flowing to the sea. Now we
began to find gold. It glistened in the river sands. Sometimes
we found nuts of it, washed from the rocks far above.
There came upon us the gold fever. Mines--we must open
mines! Fermin Cedo, our essayer, would have it that it
was not Ophir, but at that time he was hardly believed.
The Admiral wrote a letter about these golden mines.
An Indian brought him a piece of amber; another, a
lump of blue stone. We found jasper, we were sure of
We came to a natural rampart, wide at top, steeply descending
on three sides, set in a loop of a little clear river
named Yanique. "Ho!" cried Alonso de Ojeda. "Here is
the cradle for the babe! Round tower, walls, barbican
yonder, and Mother Nature has dug the moat!" He sent
his voice across to the Viceroy. "A fort, senor, a fort!"
Council was held by the Yanique. A fort,--a luckier than
La Navidad! Men left here to collect gold, establish a road,
keep communication with Isabella which in turn should forward
supplies and men. The returning fleet might bring
two thousand--nay, five thousand men! It would certainly
bring asses and mules as well as horses. We should have
burden-bearers. Moreover, a company of Indians might be
trained to come and go as carriers. Train them, set some
sort of penalty for malfeasance.
"They should be taught to mine for us," said Pedro
Margarite. "Pay them? Of course--of course! But do
not pay them too much. Do not we protect them from
Caribs and save their souls to boot? Take it as tribute!"
It was the first time the word was said, in Spanish, here.
We built a fort much after the model of La Navidad
and named it St. Thomas. When after days it was done,
and commandant must be chosen, the Viceroy's choice fell
upon Pedro Margarite. And that was great pity. But he
could not know Margarite then as afterwards he came to
know him. Fifty-six men he left with Margarite, and the
rest of us marched home across the Vega and the northern
mountains to Isabella.
Sickness. Quarrels. Idleness, vanity, dissensions and
accusations. Heat, more sickness, wild quarrels.
Tidings from Margarite at St. Thomas. The Indians
would no longer bring food. Caonabo was threatening from
the higher mountains. The Viceroy wrote to Margarite.
Compel the Indians to bring food, but as it were to compel
Quarrels--quarrels at Isabella. Two main parties and
all the lesser ones. Disease and scarcity. Fray Geronimo
arrived from St. Thomas. He had stories. The Viceroy
grew dark red, his eyes lightened. Yet he believed that what
was told pertained to men of Margarite, not to that cavalier
himself. He wrote to Margarite--I do not know what.
But presently a plan arose in his mind and was announced.
Don Alonso de Ojeda was to command St. Thomas. Don
Pedro Margarite should have a moving force of several
hundred Castilians, mainly for exploration, but at need for
other things. Going here and there about the country, it
might impress upon Caonabo that the Spaniard though
gentle by nature, was dangerous when aroused.
Alonso de Ojeda, three hundred men behind him, went
forth on his black horse, to trumpet and drum, very gay
and ready to go. In a week he sent into Isabella six Indians
in chains. These had set upon three of Margarite's
men coming with a letter to the Viceroy and had robbed
them, though without doing them bodily injury. Alonso de
Ojeda had cut off their ears and sent them all in heavily
chained. The Viceroy condemned them to be beheaded, but
when they were on their knees before the block reprieved
them, one by one. He kept them chained for a time for
all visiting Indians to see, then formally pardoned them
and let them go.
Matters quieted. Sickness again sank, a flood retiring,
leaving pools. Alonso de Ojeda and Pedro Margarite reported
peace in Hispaniola. The Admiral came forth from
his house one day and said quietly to this one and that one
that now he meant again to take up Discovery.
He gave authority in Isabella to Don Diego, and made him
a council where sat Father Buil, Caravajal, Coronel and
Juan de Luxan. Then out of five ships we took the _Cordera_,
the _Santa Clara_ and the _San Juan_, and we set sail on April
THE island, we learned, was named Jamaica. The Admiral
called it Santiago, but it also rests Jamaica.
Of all these lands, outside of the low, small islands
to which we came first, Cuba seemed to us the peaceable
land. Jamaica gave us almost Carib welcome. Its folk had
the largest canoes, the sharpest, toughest lances. Perhaps
they had heard from some bold sea rover that we had come,
but that we were not wholly gods!
Our crossbow men shot amongst them. The arrows failed
to halt them, but when we sent a bloodhound the dog did
our work. It was to them what griffon or fire-breathing
dragon might be to a Seville throng. When the creature
sprang among them they uttered a great cry and fled.
Jamaica is most beautiful.
For not a few days we visited, sailing and anchoring,
lifting again and stopping again. Once the people were
pacified, they gave us kindly enough welcome, trading and
wondering. We slipped by bold coasts and headlands which
we must double, mountains above us. They ran by inland
paths, saving distance, telling village after village. When
we made harbor, here was the thronged beach. Some of
these people wore a slight dress of woven grass and palm
leaves, and they used crowns of bright feathers. We got
from them in some quantity golden ornaments. But south
for gold, south--south, they always pointed south!
The _Cordera_, the _Santa Clara_ and the _San Juan_ set sail
out of the Harbor of Good Weather, in Santiago or Jamaica.
A day and a night of pleasant sailing, then we saw
the great Cuba coast rise blue in the distance. The weather
There was first a marvelous green hush, while clouds
formed out of nothing. We heard a moaning sound and we
did not know its quarter. The sea turned dead man's
color. Then burst the wind. It was more than wind; it
seemed the movement of a world upon us. Bare of all
sails, we labored. We were driven, one from the other.
The mariners fell to praying.
A strange light was around us, as though the tempest
itself made a light. By it I marked the Admiral, upright
where he could best command the whole. He had lashed
himself there, for the ship tossed excessively. His great
figure stood; his white, blowing hair, in that strange light,
made for him a nimbus. It was strange, how the light seemed
to seize that and his brow and his gray-blue eyes. Below
the eyes his lips moved. He was shouting encouragement,
but only the intention could be heard. The intention was
heard. He looked what he was, something more than a bold
man and a brave sea captain, and there streamed from him
comfort. It touched his mariners; it came among them
like tongues of flame.
Darkness increased. We were now among lightnings like
javelins and loud thunder. Then fell the rain, in torrents,
in drops large as plums. It was as though another ocean
was descending upon us.
It lasted and we endured. After long while came lessening
in that weight of rain, and then cessation. Suddenly
the tempest was over. There shone a star -- three stars and
on topmast and bowsprit Saint Elmo's lights.
Our mariners shouted, "Safe--safe! Saint Elmo!"
Suddenly, over all the sky, were stars shining. The Admiral
raised his great voice. "Sing, all of us!
Sancta Maria!' "
With the morning the _Santa Clara_ and the _San Juan_,
beaten about, some injury done, but alive! And the coast
of Cuba, nearer, nearer, tall and blue--and at last very tall
and green and gold.
Off Cuba and still off Cuba, the southern coast now, as
against the northern that once we tried for a while. Sail
and come to land, stay a bit, and shake out sails once
Wherever we tarried we found peaceable if vastly excited
Indians. But still naked, but still unwise as to gold
and spices, traders and markets. Cambalu, Quinsai and
Zaiton of the marble bridges!
" `Somewhere,' saith Messer Marco, `in part the country
is savage, filled with mountains, and here come few
strangers, for the king will not have them, in order that his
treasures and certain matters of his kingdom come not into
the world's knowledge.' And again he saith, `The folk here
are naked.'--What wonder then," said the Admiral, "that
we find these things! Yea, I feel surprised at the incessancy,
but I check myself and think, how vast is Asia, and what
variousness must needs be!"
But we moved in a cloud of differences, and while on
the one hand this world was growing familiar, on the other
the sense increased. "How vast indeed must be Asia, if
all this and yet we come not--and now it is going on two
years--to any clear hint of other than this!"
He himself, the Admiral, began to feel this strangeness.
Or rather, he had long felt it and fought the feeling, but
now strongly it came creeping over.
We were among the hugest number of small islands. Starboard
loomed, until it was lost in the farness, that coast
that we were following, but the three ships were in a half-land, half-water world. We wandered in this
keeping with difficulty our way, so crooked and narrow the
channels, so many the sandbars. From deck it minded me
of that sea of weed we met in the first passage.
Waves of fragrance struck us. "Ha!" cried the Admiral.
"Can you not smell cinnamon, spikenard, nutmeg,
cloves and galingal?" His faith was so strong that we did
smell. From one of these islands, the _Cordera_ lying at
anchor and a boat going ashore, we took a number of pigeons.
So unafraid were these birds that our men approached them
easily and beat them down with a pike. We had them for
supper, and when their crops were opened, the cook found
and brought to the Admiral a number of brown seeds. The
Admiral dropped them into clear water, then smelled and
tasted. "Cloves? Are they not cloves?" He gave to Juan
de la Cosa and to me who also tasted and thought they might
be cloves. But we did not find their tree, and we saw no
signs of ever a merchant of Cathay or Mangi or Ind.
Christopherus Columbus leaned upon the rail of the _Cordera_.
In this islet world we lay at anchor for the night.
"Do you know what it is," he asked, "to have a word color
the whole day long?" He glanced around, but none was
very near. "My Word to-day is _magic_. I'd not give it to
any but you, and I drop my voice in saying it. I'll sail on
through magic and against magic, for I have Help from
Above! But I'll not lay a fearsome word among those who
are not so accorded! All say India hath high magic, and
the Grand Khan takes from that country his astrologers
and sorcerers. I have read that at Shandu, if there be long
raining, they will mount a tower by the palace and wave it
back, so that the falling rain makes but a pleasant wall
around the king's fair garden that itself rests in sunshine.
Also that without touching them they cause the golden
flagons to fill with red wine and to move through air, with
no hand upon them, to the king's table. That was long ago.
We have had no news of them of late. They may do now
more marvelous, vaster things."
"And the moral?"
"I said, `They do them there.' Perhaps this is there."
"I take you!" I said and half-laughed. "We may be in
Cathay all this while, under the golden roofs, with the bells
strung from the eaves. Yonder line of cranes standing in
the shallow water, watching us, may, God wot, be tall magicians
in white linen and scarlet silk!"
He crossed himself. The cranes had lifted themselves
and flown away. "If they heard--"
"Are you in earnest?"
He put his hands over his eyes. "Sometimes I think it
may be fact, sometimes not! Sorcery is a fact, and who
knows how far it may go? At times my brain is like to
crack, I have so cudgeled it!"
That he cudgeled it was true, and though his brain never
cracked and to the end was the best brain in a hundred, yet
from this time forth I began to mark in him an unearthliness.
These islands we named the Queen's Gardens, and escaping
from them came again to clean coast. On we went for
two days, and this part of Cuba had many villages, at sea
edge or a little from the water, and all men and women were
friendly and brought us gifts.
I remember a moonlight night. All were aboard the _Cordera_,
the _Santa Clara_ and the _San Juan_, for we meant to
sail at dawn. We had left a village yet dancing and feasting.
The night was a miracle of silver. Again I stood beside
Christopherus Columbus; from land streamed their
singing and their thin, drumming and clashing music. At
hand it is rather harsh than sweet, but distance sweetened
"What will be here in the future--if there are not already
here, after your notion, great cities and bridges and
shipping, and only our eyes holden and our hands and steps
made harmless? Or nearly harmless, for we have slain
He had made a gesture of deprecation. "Ah, that, I
hardly doubt, was my fancy! But in the future I see them,
"Do you see them, from San Salvador onward and everywhere,
"Necessarily--seeing that the Holy Father hath given
the whole of the land to Spain." He looked at the moon
that was so huge and bright, and listened to the savage
music. "If we go far enough--walking afar--who
knoweth what we shall find?" He stood motionless. "_I_
do not know. It is in God's hands!"
"Do you see," I asked, "a great statue of yourself?"
"Yes, I see that."
The moon shone so brightly it was marvel. Land breeze
brought perfume from the enormous forest. "It is too fair
to sleep!" said the Admiral. "I will sit here and think."
He slept little at any time. His days were filled with action.
Never was any who had more business to attend to!
Yet he was of those to whom solitude is as air,--imperiously
a necessity. Into it he plunged through every crack and
cranny among events. He knew how to use the space in
which swim events. But beside this he must make for himself
wide holdings, and when he could not get them by day
he took from night.
We came again to a multitude of islets like to the Queen's
Gardens. And these were set in a strange churned and
curdled sea, as white as milk. Making through it as best
we might, we passed from that silverness and broken land
into a great bay or gulf, so deep that we might hardly find
bottom, and here we anchored close to a long point of Cuba
covered thick with palms.
We went ashore for water and fruit. Solitary--neither
man nor woman! We found tracks upon the sand that some
among us would have it were made by griffons. One of
our men had the thought that he might procure some large
bird for the Admiral's table. Taking a crossbow he passed
alone through the palms into the deeper wood. He was gone
an hour, and when he returned it was in haste, with a chalk
face and great eyes. I was seated in the boat with the master
of the _Cordera_ and heard his tale. He had found what he
thought a natural aisle of the forest and had stolen down
it, looking keenly for pigeon or larger bird. A tree with
drooping branches stood across the aisle, he said. He went
around the trunk, which was a great one, and it was as
though he had turned into the nave of the cathedral. There
was space, but trees like pillars on either side, and at the
end three great trees covered to the tops with vine and purple
grapes. And here he saw before him, under the greatest
tree, a man in a long white gown like a White Friar.
The sight halted him, turned him, he averred, to stone.
Two more men in white dresses but shorter than that of
the first, came from among the trees and he saw behind
these a number in like clothing. He could not tell, now
he thought of it, if they were carrying lances or palms.
We had looked so long for clothed folk that it was the
white clothes he thought of. The same with their faces--
he could not tell about them--he thought they were fair.
Suddenly, it seemed, Pan had fallen upon him and put him
forth in terror. He had turned and raced through the
forest, here to the sea. He did not think the white-clad
men had seen him.
We took him to the Admiral who listened, then brought
his hands together. "Hath it not--hath it not, I ask you
--sound of Prester John?"
With the dawn he had men ashore, and there he went
himself, with him Juan de la Cosa and Juan Lepe. The
crossbowman--it was Felipe Garcia--showed the way.
We found indeed the forest aisle and nave, and the three
trees and the purple grapes, a vast vine with heavy clusters,
but we found no men and no sign of men.
The Admiral was not discouraged. "If he truly saw
then, and I believe he did, then are they somewhere--"
We beat all the neighborhood. Solitary, solitary! He
divided the most determined of us--so many from each
ship--into two bands and sent in two directions. We were
to search, if necessary, through ten leagues. We went, but
returned empty of news of clothed men. We found desolate
forest, and behind that a vast, matted, low growth,
impenetrable and extending far away. At last we determined
that Felipe Garcia had seen white cranes. Unless it were
We sailed on and we sailed on. The _Cordera_, the _Santa
Clara_ and the _San Juan_ were in bad case, hurt in that
storm between Jamaica and Cuba, and wayworn since in
those sandy seas, among those myriad islets. Our seamen
and our shipmasters now loudly wished return to Isabella.
He pushed us farther on and farther on, and still we did
not come to anything beyond those things we had already
reached, nor did we come either to any end of Cuba. And
what was going on in Hispaniola--in Isabella? We had
sailed in April and now it was July.
It became evident to him at last that he must turn. The
Viceroy and the Admiral warred in him, had long warred
and would war. Better for him had he never insisted upon
viceroyship! Then, single-minded, he might have discovered
to the end of his days.
We turned, the _Cordera_, the _Santa Clara_ and the _San
Juan_, and still he believed that the long, long coast of Cuba
was the coast of the Asia main. He saw it as a monster
cape or prolongation, sprouting into Ocean-Sea as sprouts
Italy into Mediterranean. Back--back--the way we had
come, entering again that white sea, entangled again among
a thousand islets!
At last we came again to that Cape of the Cross to which
we had escaped in the Jamaica tempest. One thing he would
yet do in this voyage and that was to go roundabout homeward
by Jamaica and find out further things of that great
and fair island. We left Cuba that still we thought was
the main. Santiago or Jamaica rose before us, dark blue
mountains out of the dark blue sea. For one month we
coasted this island, for always the weather beat us back
when we would quit it, setting our sails for Hispaniola.
We came to Hayti upon the southern side, and because
of some misreckoning failed of knowing that it was Hayti,
until an Indian in a canoe below us, called loudly "El Almirante!"
And yet Isabella was the thickness of the island
from us, and the weather becoming foul, we beat about
for long days, struggling eastward and pushed back, and
again parting upon a stormy night one ship from the others.
The _Cordera_ anchored by a tall, rocky islet and rode out the
storm. Here, when it was calm, we went ashore, but found
no man, only an unreckonable number of pigeons. The
Admiral lay on clean, warm sand and rested with his eyes
shut. I was glad we were nigh to Isabella and his house
there, for I did not think him well. He sat up, embracing
his great knees and looking at the sea and the _Cordera_.
"I have been thinking, Doctor."
"For your health, my Admiral, I wish you could rest a
while from thinking!"
"We were upon the south side of Mangi. I am assured
of that! Could I, this time, have sailed on--Now I see
He dropped his hands from his knees and turned full
toward me. I saw that lying thus for an hour he had gathered
strength and now was passed, as he was wont to pass
after quiet, into a high degree of vision, accompanied by
forth-going energy. "Now I see, and as soon as I may,
I will do! Beyond Mangi, Champa. Beyond Champa, the
coast trending southward, India of the Ganges and the
Golden Chersonese. Land of Gold--Land of Gold!--are
they not forever pointing southward? But it is not of gold
--or wholly gold--that now I think! _Aurea Chersonesus_
maketh a vast peninsula, greater maybe than Italy, Greece
and Spain taken together. But I will round it, and I will
come to the mouth of Ganges! Then again, I read, we go
southward! There is the Kingdom of Maabar where Saint
Thomas is buried, and the Kingdom of Monsul where the
diamonds are found. Then we come to the Island of Zeilan,
where is the Tomb of our Father Adam. Here are sapphires,
amethysts, topaz, garnet and rubies. There is a
ruby here beyond price, large as a man's two fists and a
well of red fire. But what I should think most of would
be to stand where Adam laid him down.--Now from the
Island of Zeilan I sail across the India sea. And I go still
south, three hundred leagues, and I find the great island of
Madagascar whose people are Saracens and there is the
rukh-bird that can lift an elephant, and they cut the red
sandal there and find ambergris. Then lifteth Zanzibar
whose women are monsters and where the market is in
elephant teeth. And so I come at last to the extremity of
Africa which Bartholomew Diaz found--my brother, Don
Bartholomew being with him--and named Good Hope.
So I round Good Hope, and I come home by Cape Bojador
which I myself have seen. I will pass Fez and Ercilla and
the straits and Cadiz. I will enter the River Sagres at
Palos, for there was where I first put forth. The bells of
La Rabida will ring, for a thing is done that was never done
before, and that will not cease to resound! I shall have
sailed around the earth. Christopherus Columbus. Ten
ships. Ten chances of there being one in which I may come
"There have been worse dreams!" said Juan Lepe.
"I warrant you! But I am not dreaming."
He rose and stood with arms outstretched, crosswise.
" `Nought is hid,' saith Scripture, `but shall be found!'
Here is Earth. Do you not think that one day we shall go
all about it? Aye, freely, freely! With zest and joy, discovering
that it is a loved home. For every road some man
or men broke the clods!"
They hailed us from the _Cordera_. One had seen from
topmast the _Santa Clara_.
Still we sailed by the south coast of Hispaniola. We
knew now that it was not Cipango. But it was a great
island, natheless, and one day might be as Cipango. Beata,
Soana, Mona were the little islands that we found. We
sailed between them and our great island, and at last we
came to the corner and turned northward, and again after
days to another corner and sailed west once more, with hopes
now of Isabella. It was the first week in September.
In a great red dawn, Roderigo, the Admiral's servant,
roused Juan Lepe. "Come--come--come, Doctor!"
I sprang from my bed and followed him. Christopherus
Columbus lay in a deep swoon. Round he came from that
and said, "Roderigo, tell them that I am perfectly well, but
wish to see no one!" From that, he came to recognize me.
"Doctor, I am tired. God and Our Lady only know how
tired I am!"
His eyes shut, his head sank deep into the bed. He said
not another word, that day nor the next nor the next. Roderigo
and I forced him to swallow a little food and wine, and
once he rose and made as if to go on deck. But we laid
him down again and he sank into movelessness and a sleep
of all the faculties. Juan de la Cosa took care of the _Cordera_.
So we sighted Isabella and in the harbor four caravels
that had not been there when we had sailed in April.
TWO men came into the cabin, Don Diego Colon, left
in charge of Hispaniola, and with him a tall, powerful,
high-featured man, gray of eye and black and silver
of hair and short beard. As he stood beside the bed, one
saw that he must be kinsman to the man who lay upon it.
"O Bartholomew! And is this the end?" cried Don Diego,
and I knew that the stranger was that brother, Bartholomew,
for whom the Admiral longed.
These three brothers! One lay like a figure upon a tomb
save for the breathing that stirred his silver hair. One,
Don Diego, tall, too, and strong, but all of a gentle, quiet
mien sank on his knees and seemed to pray. One, Don
Bartholomew, stood like rock or pine, but he slowly made the
sign of the cross, and I saw his gray eyes fill.
It seemed to me that the Admiral's eyelids flickered.
"Speak to him again," I said. "Take his hand."
Bartholomew Columbus, kneeling in the _Cordera's_ cabin,
put his arm about his great brother. That is what he called
him,--"Christopher, my great brother, it is Bartholomew!
Don't you know me? Don't you remember? I must go to
England, you said, to see King Henry. To tell him what
you could do--what you have done, my great brother!
Don't you remember? I went, but I was poor like you who
are now Viceroy of the Indies--and I was shipwrecked
besides and lost the little that we had scraped--do you
remember?--and must live like you by making maps and
charts, and it was long before I saw King Henry!--
Christopher, my great brother! He lies like death!"
I said, "He is returning, but he is yet a long way off.
"But King Henry said at last, `Go bring us that brother
of yours, and we think it may be done!' And he gave me
gold. So I would come back to Spain for you, and I reached
Paris, and it was the summer of 1493. Christopher, my
great brother, don't you hear me? For it was at Paris that
I heard, and it came like a flood of glory, fallen in one
moment from Heaven! I heard, `Christopherus Columbus!
He has found the Indies for King Ferdinand and Queen
Isabella!'--Don't you hear, Christopher? All the world
admiring--all the world saying, `Nothing will ever go just
the same way again!' You have done the greatest thing,
my great brother! Doctor, is he dying?"
"He will not die," I said. "You are cordial to him,
though he hears you yet from leagues and leagues away.
"Christopher, from Paris I got slowly, slowly, so
slowly I thought it!--to Seville. But I was not poor.
They gave me gold, the French King gave it, their nobles,
their bishops. I walked in that glory; it flooded me from
you! All your people, Christopher, your sons and your
brothers and our old father. You build us again, you are
our castle and great ship and Admiral! When I came to
Barcelona, how they praised you! When I came to Toledo,
how they praised you! When I came to Seville, how they
praised you! But at Seville I learned that I was too late,
and you were gone upon your second voyage. Then I went
to Valladolid and the Queen and the King were there, and
they said, `He has just sailed, Don Bartholomew, from
Cadiz with sixteen ships--your great brother who hath
crossed Ocean-Sea and bound to us Asia!'--But, sweet
Jesu, what entertainment they gave me, all because I had
lain in our old wooden cradle at Genoa a couple of years or
so after you!--Genoa!--They say Genoa _aches_ because
she did not send you. Christopher, do you remember the
old rock by the sea--and you begged colors from Messer
Ludovico and painted upon it a ship and we called it the
The Admiral's eyes opened slowly like a gray dawn; he
moved ever so slightly in the bed, and his lips parted.
"Brother," he whispered.
We got him from the _Cordera_ to Hispaniola shore, and
so in a litter to his own house in Isabella. All our town
was gathered to see him carried there. He began to improve.
The second day he said to Don Bartholomew, "You
shall be my lieutenant and deputy. Adelantado--I name
Don Bartholomew said bluntly, "Is not that hard upon
"No, no, Bartholomew!" answered Don Diego, who was
present. "If it were question of a prior of Franciscans, now!
But Christopher knows and I know that I took this stormy
world but for lack of any other in blood to serve him. Our
Lady knows that I never held myself to be the man for the
place! Be Adelantado and never think of me!"
The Admiral upon his bed spoke. "We have always
worked together, we Colombos. When it is done for the
whole there is no jealousy among the parts. I love Diego,
and I think he did well, constraining his nature to it, here
among the selfish, the dangerous and factious! And others
know that he did well. I love him and praise him. But
Bartholomew, thou art the man for this!"
Accordingly, the next noontide, trumpets, and a proclamation
made before the great cross in the middle of our town.
The Viceroy's new-come brother had every lieutenant power.
I do not know if he ever disappointed or abused it. He
became great helper to his great brother.
These three! They were a lesson in what brothers might
be, one to the other, making as it were a threefold being.
Power was in this family, power of frame and constitution,
with vital spirit in abundance; power of will, power of mind,
and a good power of heart. Their will was good toward
They had floods to surmount and many a howling tempest
to out-endure. By and large they did well with life,--very
well. There was alloy, base metal of course, even in the
greatest of the three. They were still men. But they were
such men as Nature might put forward among her goodly
The Viceroy lay still in his bed, for each time he would
rise came faintness and old fatigue. The Adelantado acted.
There was storm in Hispaniola, storm of human passions.
I found Luis Torres, and he put me within leg-stride of the
Margarite! It seemed to begin with Don Pedro Margarite.
He and his men had early made choice between the
rich, the fruitful, easy Vega and the mountains they were
to pierce for gold and hunt over for a fierce mountain
chief. In the Vega they established themselves. The Indians
brought them "tribute", and they exacted over-tribute,
and reviled and slew when it pleased them, and they took
the Indian women, and if it pleased them they burned a
village. "Sorry tale," said Luis. "Old, sorry tale!"
Indians came to Isabella and with fierce gesture and eyes
that cast lances talked to Don Diego. Don Diego sent a
stern letter to Don Pedro Margarite. Don Pedro answered
that he was doing soldier's duty, as the Sovereigns would
understand when it came before them. Don Diego sent
again, summoning him upon his allegiance to Isabella. He
chose for a month no answer to that at all, and the breezes
still brought from the Vega cries of anger, wails of sorrow.
Then he appeared suddenly in Isabella.
Don Diego would have arrested him and laid him in prison
to await the Admiral's return. But with suddenness, that
was of truth no suddenness, Margarite had with him three
out of four of our hidalgos, and more than that, our Apostolic
Vicar of the Indies! Don Diego must bend aside, speak
him fair, remonstrate, not command. The Viceroy of the
Indies and Admiral of Ocean-Sea? Dead probably!--and
what were these Colombos? Italian wool-combers! But here
stood hidalgos of Spain!--"Old story," said Luis Torres.
"Many times, many places, man being one in imperfection."
A choppy sea had followed Margarite's return. Up and
down, to and fro, and one day it might seem Margarite was
in control, and the next, Don Diego, but with Margarite's
wave racing up behind. Then appeared three ships with men
and supplies and Don Bartholomew! Margarite saw Don
Diego strengthened. He was bold enough, Margarite! on
a dark night, at eve, there were so many ships before Isabella
but when morn broke they were fewer by two. Margarite
and the Apostolic Vicar and a hundred disaffected were
departed the Indies! "Have they gotten to Spain? And
what do they say? God, He knoweth!--There have been
great men and they have been stung to death."
"Ay, ay, the old story!" I said, and would learn about
the pacification of the Indians.
"Why, they are not pacified," answered Luis. "Worse
follows worse. Pedro Margarite left two bands in the
Vega, and from all I hear they turned devils. It looked like
peace itself, didn't it, this great, fair, new land, when first
we stepped upon it, and raised the banner and then the cross?
It's that no longer. They're up, the Indians, Caonabo and
three main caciques, and all the lesser ones under these. In
short, we are at war," ended Luis. "Alonso de Ojeda at
the moment is the Cid. He maneuvers now in the Vega."
I looked around. We were sitting under palm trees, by
the mud wall of our town. Beyond the forest waved in the
wind, and soft white clouds sailed over it in a sky of essential
sapphire. "There's an aspect here of peace!"
"That is because Guacanagari, from his new town, holds
his people still. For that Indian the scent of godship has
not yet departed! He sees the Admiral always as a silver-haired hero bringing warmth and light. He is like a
for fidelity!--But I saw three Indians from outside his
country curse him in the name of all the other tribes, with a
kind of magical ceremony. Is he right, or is he wrong,
Juan Lepe? Or is he neither the one nor the other, but
Something moves him from above?"
"Have you never seen again the butio, Guarin?"
We sat and looked at the rich forest, and at that strange,
rude, small town called Isabella, and at the blue harbor with
the ships, and the blue, blue sea beyond. Over us--what
is over us? Something seemed to come from it, stealing
down the stair to us!
The fourth day after his return, Don Francisco de Las
Casas, Don Juan Ponce de Leon, and others told to the
Viceroy, lying upon his bed in his house, much what Luis
Torres told Juan Lepe. "Sirs," he said, when they had
done, "here is my brother, Don Bartholomew, who will take
order. He is as myself. For Christopherus Columbus, he
is ill, and must be ill awhile."
The sixth day came Guacanagari, and sat in the room and
talked sorrowfully. Caonabo, Gwarionex, Behechio, Cotubanama,
said, "Were these or were these not gods, yet would
The Admiral said, "The Future is the god. But there
are burrs on his skirt!"
Guacanagari at last would depart. He stood beside the
bed and the silver-haired great cacique from heaven. The
Admiral put forth a lean, knotted, powerful hand and laid
it on the brown, slim, untoiled hand. "I wish peace," he
said. "My brother Bartholomew and I will do what we
can do to gain it. Good peace, true peace!"
Without the room, I asked the cacique about Guarin. He
was gone, he said, to the mountains. He would not stay
with Guacanagari, and he would not go to Caonabo or
Gwarionex. "All old things and ways are broken," said
Guacanagari. "All our life is broken. I do not know what
we have done. The women sit and weep. And I, too, sometimes
The seventh day came in Alonso de Ojeda from St.
The Viceroy and the Adelantado and Ojeda talked alone
together in the Viceroy's house. But next day was held a
great council, all our principal men attending. There it
was determined to capture, if possible, Caonabo, withdrawing
him so from the confederacy. The confederacy might then
go to pieces. In the meantime use every effort to detach
from it Gwarionex who after Guacanagari was our nearest
great cacique. Send a well-guarded, placating embassy to
him and to Cotubanama. Try kindness, kindness everywhere,
kind words and good deeds!--And build another
fort called Fort Concepcion.
Take Caonabo! That was a task for Alonso de Ojeda!
He did it. Five days after the council, the Viceroy being
now recovered and bringing strength to work that needed
strength, the Adelantado vigorously helping, Isabella in a
good mood, the immediate forest all a gold and green peacefulness,
Don Alonso vanished, and with him fourteen picked
men, all mounted.
For six weeks it was as though he had dropped into the
sea, or risen into the blue sky above eyesight.
Then on a Sunday he and his fourteen rode into town.
We had a great church bell and it was ringing, loudly, sonorously.
He rode in and at once there arose a shout, "Don
Alonso de Ojeda!" All his horsemen rode with him, and
rode also one who was not Castilian. On a gray steed a
bare, bronze figure--Caonabo!
The church bell swung, the church bell rang. Riding
beneath the squat tower, all our people pouring forth from
our poor houses upon the returned and his captive, the
latter had eyes, it seemed to me, but for that bell. A
curious, sardonic look of recognition, appraisal, relinquishment,
sat in the Indian's face. From wrist to wrist of Caonabo
went a bright, short chain. The sun glittered upon the
bracelets and the links. I do not know--there was for a
moment--something in the sound of the bell, something
in the gleam of the manacles, that sent out faint pity and
horror and choking laughter.
All to the Viceroy's house, and Don Alonso sitting with
Christopherus Columbus, and Caonabo brought to stand before
them. Indians make much of indifferent behavior, taunting
calm, when taken. It is a point of honor, meeting death
so, even when, as often befalls, their death is a slow and hard
one. Among themselves, in their wars, it is either death
or quick adoption into the victor's tribe. They have no
gaols nor herds of slaves. Caonabo expected death. He
stood, a strong, contemptuous figure. But the Viceroy
meant to send him to Spain--trophy and show, and to be
made, if it could be, Christian.
IT did not end the war. For a fortnight we thought that
it had done so. Then came loud tidings. Caonabo's
wife, Anacaona, had put on the lioness. With her was
Caonabo's brother Manicoatex and her own brother Behechio,
cacique of Xaragua. There was a new confederacy,
Gwarionex again was with it. Only Guacanagari remained.
Don Alonso marched, and the Adelantado marched.
At dawn one morning, four sails. We all poured forth
to watch them grow bigger and yet bigger. Four ships from
Cadiz, Antonio de Torres commanding, and with him colonists
of the right kind, mechanics and husbandmen.
Many proposals, much of order, came with Torres. The
Admiral had gracious letters from the Queen, letters somewhat
cooler from King Ferdinand, a dry, dry letter from
Fonseca. Moreover Torres brought a general letter to all
colonists in Hispaniola. The moral of which was, Trust
and Obey the Viceroy of the Indies, the Admiral of the
"Excellent good!" said Luis Torres. "Don Pedro Margarite
and the Apostolic Vicar had not reached Cadiz when
Don Antonio sailed!"
The Admiral talked with me that night. Gout again crippled
him. He lay helpless, now and then in much pain.
"I should go home with Antonio de Torres, but I cannot!"
"You are not very fit to go."
"I do not mean my body. My will could drag that on
ship. But I cannot leave Hispaniola while goes on formal
war. But see you, Doctor, what a great thing their Majesties
plan for, and what courtesy and respect they show me! See
how the Queen writes!"
I knew that it was balm and wine to him, how she wrote.
The matter in question was nothing more or less than an
amicable great meeting between the two sovereigns and the
King of Portugal, the wisest subjects of both attending.
A line was to be drawn from top to bottom of Ocean-Sea,
and Portugal might discover to the east of it, and Spain to
the west! The Holy Father would confirm, and so the
mighty spoil be justly divided. Every great geographer
should come into counsel. The greatest of them all, the
Discoverer, surely so! The Queen urged the Admiral's presence.
But he could not go. Sense of duty to his Viceroyship
held him as with chains. Then Bartholomew? But Bartholomew
was greatly needed for the war. He sent Don
Diego, a gentle, able man who longed for a cloister and a few
hundred monks, fatherly, admirably, to rule.
Antonio de Torres stayed few weeks in Hispaniola. The
Viceroy and Admiral would have his letter in the royal
hands. Torres took that and took gold and strange plants,
and also six hundred Indian captives to be sold for slaves.
War went on in Hispaniola, but not for long. We had
horses and bloodhounds and men in armor, trained in the
long Moorish strife. There was a battle in the Vega that
ended as it must end.
Behechio and Anacaona fled to the high mountains. Manicoatex
and Gwarionex sued for peace. It was granted, but
a great tribute was imposed. Now all Hayti must gather
gold for Spain.
Now began, a little to-day and a little to-morrow, long
woe for Hayti! It was the general way of our Age. But
our Age sinned.
The year wheeled to October. Juan Aguado came with
four caravels to Isabella, and he brought letters of a different
tenor from those that Torres brought. We heard in
them the voice of Margarite and the Apostolic Vicar.
But now the Admiral was well again, the Indians defeated,
Hispaniola basking in what we blithely called peace.
Aguado came to examine and interrogate. He had his letters.
"Cavaliers, esquires and others, you are to give Don
Juan Aguado faith and credit. He is with you on our part
to look into--"
Aguado looked with a hostile eye toward Viceroy and
Adelantado. Where was a malcontent he came secretly if
might be, if not openly, to Aguado. Whoever had a grudge
came; whoever thought he had true injury. Every one who
disliked Italians, fire-new nobles, sea captains dubbed Admirals
and Viceroys came. Every one who had been restrained
from greed, lust and violence came. Those who
held an honest doubt as to some one policy, or act, questioned,
found their mere doubt become in Aguado's mind
damning certainty. And so many good Spaniards dead in
war, and so many of pestilence, and such thinness, melancholy,
poverty in Isabella! And where was the gold? And
was this rich Asia of the spices, the elephants, the beautiful
thin cloths and the jewels? The friends of Christopherus
Columbus had their say also, but suddenly there arose all
"When he sails home, I will sail with him!" said the Admiral,
"My name is hurt, the truth is wounded!"
In the third week of Aguado's visit, arose out of far
ocean and rushed upon us one of those immense tempests
that we call here "hurricane". Not a few had we seen
since 1492, but none so great, so terrible as this one. Eight
ships rode in the harbor and six were sunk. Aguado's four
caravels and two others. Many seamen drowned; some got
"How will I get away? I must to Spain!" cried Aguado.
The Admiral said, "There is the _Nina_."
The _Nina_ must be made seaworthy, and in the end we
built a smaller ship still which we called the _Santa Cruz_.
Aguado waited, fretting. Christopherus Columbus kept
toward him a great, calm courtesy.
It was at this moment that Don Bartholomew found,
through Miguel Diaz, the mines of Hayna, that was a great
river in a very rich country. The Adelantado brought to
Isabella ore in baskets. Pablo Belvis, our new essayer,
pronounced it true and most rich. Brought in smaller measures
were golden grains, knobs as large as filberts, golden
collars and arm rings from the Indians of Bonao where
flowed the Hayna.
"Ophir!" said the Admiral. "Mayhap it is Ophir!
Then have we passed somewhere the Gulf of Persia and
With that gold he sailed, he and Aguado and two small
crowded ships. With him he carried Caonabo. It was early
March in 1496.
But Juan Lepe stayed in Hispaniola, greatly commended
by the Admiral to the Adelantado. A man might attach
himself to the younger as well as the elder of these brothers.
Don Bartholomew had great qualities. But he hardly
dreamed as did Christopherus Columbus. I loved the latter
most for that--for his dreams.
Days and days and days! We sought for gold in the
Hayna country and found a fair amount. And all Hayti
now, each Indian cacique and his country, must gather for
us. _Must_, not may. We built the fortress of San Cristoval,
and at last, to be nearer the gold than was Isabella,
the Adelantado founded the city of San Domingo, at the
mouth of the Ozema, in the Xaragua country. Spaniards
in Hispaniola now lived, so many in Isabella, so many in
San Domingo, and garrisons in the forts of St. Thomas,
Concepcion, and San Cristoval.
Weeks--months. July, and Pedro Alonzo Nino with
three caravels filled with strong new men and with provisions.
How always we welcomed these incoming ships
and the throng they brought that stood and listened and
thought at first, after the sea tossing and crowding, that
they were come to heaven! And Pedro Nino had left Cadiz
in June, three days after the arrival there of the _Nina_ and
the _Santa Cruz_. "June! They had then a long voyage!"
--"Long enough! They looked like skeletons! If the
Admiral's hair could get whiter, it was whiter."
He had letters for the Adelantado from the great brother,
having waited in Cadiz while they were written.
Juan Lepe had likewise a letter. "I was in the _Nina_,
Don Juan de Aguado in the Santa Cruz. We met at once
head winds that continued. At first I made east, but at last
of necessity somewhat to the southward. We saw Marigalante
again and Guadaloupe, and making for this last, anchored
and went ashore, for the great relief of all, and for
water and provision. Here we met Amazons, wearing plumes
and handling mightily their bows and arrows. After them
came a host of men. Our cannon and arquebuses put them
to flight but three of our sailors were wounded. Certain prisoners
we took and bound upon the ships. In the village
that we entered we found honey and wax. They are Cannibals;
they eat men. After four days we set sail, but met
again tempest and head winds, checking us so that for
weeks we but crept and crawled over ocean. At last we
must give small doles of bread and water. There grew
famine, sickness and misery. I and all may endure these
when great things are about. But they blame me. O God,
who wills that the Unknown become the Known, I betake
myself to Thy court! Famine increased. There are those,
but I will not name them, who cried that we must kill the
Indians with us and eat them that we might live. I stood
and said, `Let the Cannibals stand with the Cannibals!'
But no man budged.--I will not weary thee, best doctor,
with our woes! At last St. Vincent rose out of sea, and
we presently came to Cadiz. Many died upon the voyage,
and among them Caonabo. In the harbor here we find
Pedro Alonzo Nino who will bear my letters.
"In Cadiz I discover both friends and not friends. The
sovereigns are at Burgos, and thither I travel. My fortunes
are at ebb, yet will the flood come again!"
Time passed. Hispaniola heard again from him and
again. When ships put forth from Cadiz -and now ships
passed with sufficient regularity between Spain in Europe
and Spanish Land across Ocean-Sea-he wrote by them.
He believed in the letter. God only knows how many he
wrote in his lifetime! It was ease to him to tell out, to
dream visibly, to argue his case on fair paper. And those
who came in the ships had stories about him-El Almirante!
Were his fortunes at ebb, or were they still in flood?
There might be more views here than one. Some put in
that he was done for, others clamored that he was yet
But he wrote to the Adelantado and also to Juan Lepe
that he sat between good and bad at court. The Queen
was ever the great head of the good. We knew from him
that Pedro Margarite and Father Buil and Juan Aguado
altered nothing there. But elsewhere now there were warm
winds, and now biting cold. And warm and cold, he could
not get the winds that should fill his sails. He begged for
ships--eight he named--that he might now find for the
sovereigns main Asia--not touch here and there upon Cuba
shore, but find the Deep All. But forever promised, he was
forever kept from the ships! True it was that the sovereigns
and the world beside were busy folk! There were
Royal Marriages and Naples to be reconquered for its king.
We heard of confirmations of all his dignities and his
tithes of wealth. He was offered to be made Marquess,
but that he would not have. "The Admiral" was better
title. But he sued for and obtained entail upon his sons
and their sons forever of his nobility and his great Estate
in the West. "Thus," he wrote, "have I made your fortunes,
sons and brothers! But truly not without you and
your love and strengthening could I have made aught! A
brother indeed for my left hand and my right hand, and to
beckon me on, two dear sons!"
TWO years! It was March, 1496, when he sailed in the
_Nina_. It was the summer of 1498 when Juan Lepe
was sent as physician with two ships put forth from
San Domingo by the Adelantado upon a rumor that the
Portuguese had trespassed, landing from a great carrack
upon Guadaloupe. Five days from Hispaniola we met a
hurricane that carried us out of all reckoning. When stillness
came again we were far south. No islands were in
sight; there was only the sea vast and blue. There seemed
to breathe from it a strangeness. We were away and away,
said our pilots, from the curve, like a bent bow, of the Indian
islands. A day and a night we hung in a dead calm.
Dawn broke. "Sail, ho! Sail, ho!"
We thought that it might be the Portuguese and made
preparation. Three ships lifted over the blue rim. There
was now a light wind; it brought them nearer, they being
better sailers than the _Santa Cruz_ and the _Santa Clara_. We
saw the banner. "Castile!" and a lesser one. "El Almirante!"
Now we were close together. The masters hailed, "What
ships?"--"From Hispaniola!"--"From Cadiz. The
Admiral with us! Come aboard, your commander!"
That was Luis Mendez, and in the boat with him went
Juan Lepe. The ships were the _Esperanza_, the _San Sebastian_
and the _San Martin_, the first fairly large and well decked,
the others small. They who looked overside and shouted
welcome seemed a medley of gentle and simple, mariners,
husbandmen, fighting men and hidalgos.
The Admiral! His hair was milk-white, his tall, broad
frame gaunt as a January wolf. Two years had written in
his face two years' experience--fully written, for he was
sensitive to every wind of experience. "Excellency!"--
"Juan Lepe, I am as glad of you as of a brother!--And
what do you do, senors, here?"
Luis Mendez related. "I think it false news about the
Portuguese," said the Admiral and gave reasons why. "Then
shall we keep with you, sir?"
"No, since you are sent out by my brother and must give
him account. Have you water to spare? We will take that
from you. I am bound still south. I will find out what is
Further talk disclosed that he had left Spain with six
ships, but at the Canaries had parted his fleet in two, sending
three under Alonzo de Caravajal upon the straight
course to Hispaniola, and himself with three sailing first to
the Green Cape islands, and thence southwest into an unknown
So desolate, wide and blue it looked when the next day we
parted,--two ships northward, three southward! But Juan
Lepe stayed with the _Esperanza_ and the Admiral. As long
since, between the _Santa Maria_ and the _Pinta_, there had been
exchange of physicians, so now again was exchange between
the _Santa Cruz_ and the _Esperanza_.
Days of blue sea. The _Esperanza_ carried a somewhat
frank and friendly crew of mariners and adventurers. Now
he would sail south, he said, until he was under the Equator.
Days of stark blue ocean. Then out of the sea to the south
rose a point of land, becoming presently three points, as it
were three peaks. The Admiral stared. I saw the enthusiasm
rise in his face. "Did I not write and say to the
Sovereigns and to Rome that in the Name of the Holy
Trinity, I would now again seek out and find? There!
Look you! It is a sign! Trinidad--we will name it
The next morning we came to Trinidad, and the palms
trooped to the water edge, and we saw sparkling streams,
and from the heights above the sea curls of smoke from
hidden huts. We coasted, seeking anchorage, and at last
came into a clear, small harbor, and landing, filled our water
casks. We knew the country was inhabited for we saw the
smokes, but no canoes came about us, and though we met
with footprints upon the sand the men who made them
never returned. We weighed anchor and sailed on along the
southern coast, and now to the south of us, across not many
leagues of blue water, we made out a low shore. Its ends
were lost in haze, but we esteemed it an island, and he
named it Holy Island. It was not island, as now we know;
but we did not know it then. How dreamlike is all our
finding, and how halfway only to great truths! Cuba we
thought was the continent, and the shore that was continent,
we called "island."
Now we came to a long southward running tongue of
Trinidad. Point Arenal, he named it. A corresponding
tongue of that low Holy Island reached out toward it, and
between the two flowed an azure strait. Here, off Point
Arenal, the three ships rested at anchor, and now there
came to us from Holy Island a big canoe, filled with Indians.
As they came near the _Esperanza_ we saw that they
were somewhat lighter in hue than those Indians to whom
we were used. Moreover they wore bright-colored loin
cloths, and twists of white or colored cotton about their
heads, like slight turbans, and they carried not only bows
and arrows to which we were used, but round bucklers to
which we were not used. They looked at us in amazement,
but they were ready for war.
We invited them with every gesture of amity, holding
out glass beads and hawk bells, but they would not come
close to us. As they hung upon the blue water out of the
shadow of the ship, the Admiral would have our musicians
begin loudly to play. But when the drums began, the fife
and the castanets, the canoe started, quivered, the paddlers
dipped, it raced back to that shore whence it came, that shore
that we thought island.
"Lighter than Haytiens!" exclaimed the Admiral. "I
have thought that as we neared the Equator we should find
Afterwards he expanded upon this. "Jayme Ferrer thinks
as I think, that the nearer we come to the Equator the more
precious grow all things, the more gold, the more diamonds,
rubies and emeralds, the more prodigal and delicious the
spices! The people are burnt black, but they grow gentler
and more wise, and under the line they are makers of white
magic. I have not told you, Juan Lepe, but I hold that now
we begin to come to where our Mother Earth herself climbs,
and climbs auspiciously!"
"That we come to great mountains?"
"No, not that, though there may be great mountains. But
I have thought it out, and now I hold that the earth is not
an orb, but is shaped, as it were, like a pear. It would take
an hour to give you all the reasons that decide me! But
I hold that from hereabouts it mounts fairer and fairer, until
under the line, about where would be the stem of the pear,
we come to the ancient Earthly Paradise, the old Garden
I looked to the southward. Certainly there is nowhere
where there is not something!
He gazed over the truly azure and beauteous sea, and
the air blew soft and cool upon our foreheads, and the
fragrance which came to us from land seemed new. "Would
you not look for the halcyons? Trinidad! Holy Island!
We approach, I hold, the Holy Mountain of the World.
And hark to me, Juan Lepe, make vow that if it be permitted
I will found there an abbey whence shall arise perpetual
orison for the souls of our first parents!"
We found that night that the ships swung, caught in a
current issuing from the strait before us. In the morning
we made sail and prepared to pass through this narrow
way between the two lands, seeing open water beyond. We
succeeded by great skill and with Providence over us, for
we met as it were an under wall of water ridged atop with
strong waves. The ships were tossed as by a tempest, yet
was the air serene, the sky blue. We came hardly through
and afterwards called that strait Mouth of the Serpent.
Now we were in a great bay or gulf, and still the sea shook
us and drove us. Calm above, around, but underneath an
agitation of waters, strong currents and boilings. Among
our mariners many took fright. "What is it? Are there
witches? We are in a cauldron!"
Christopherus Columbus himself took the helm of the
_Esperanza_. Many a man in these times chose to doubt
what kind of Viceroy he made, but no man who ever sailed
with him but at last said, "Child of Neptune, and the
greatest seaman we have!"
We outrode danger and came under land to a quiet anchorage,
the _San Sebastian_ and the _San Martin_ following
us as the chickens the hen. Still before us we saw that
current ridge the sea. The Admiral stood gazing upon the
southward shore that hung in a dazzling haze. Now we
thought water, now we thought land. He called to a ship
boy and the lad presently brought him a pannikin of water
dipped from the sea. The Admiral tasted. "Fresh! It is
He stood with a kindling face. "A river runs into sea
from this land! Surely the mightiest that may be, rushing
forth like a dragon and fighting all the salt water! So great
a river could not come from an island, no, not if it were
twice as large as Hispaniola! Such a river comes downward
with force hundreds of leagues and gathers children to itself
as it comes. It is not an island yonder; it is a great main!"
We called the gulf where we were the Gulf of the Whale.
Trinidad stood on the one hand, the unknown continent on
the other. After rest in milky water, we set sail to cross
the width of the Whale, and found glass-green and shaken
water, but never so piled and dangerous as at the Mouth of
the Serpent. So we came to that land that must be--we
knew not what! It hung low, in gold sunlight. We saw no
mountains, but it was covered with the mightiest forest.
Anchoring in smooth water, we took out boats and went
ashore, and we raised a cross. "As in Adam we all die,
so in Christ we be alive!" said the Admiral, and then,
"What grandeur is in this forest!"
In truth we found trees that we had not found in our
islands, and of an unbelievable height and girth. Upon the
boughs sat parrots, and we were used to them, but we were
not used to monkeys which now appeared, to our mariners'
delight. We met footprints of some great animal, and presently,
being beside a stream, we made out upon a mud bank
those crocodiles that the Indians call "cayman." And never
have I seen so many and such splendid butterflies. All this
forest seemed to us of a vastness, as the rivers were vast.
There rang in our ears "New! New!"
And at last came an Indian canoe--two--three, filled
with light-hued, hardly more than tawny, folk, with cloth
of cotton about their middles and twisted around their heads,
with bows and arrows and those new bucklers. But seeing
that we did not wish to fight, they did not wish to fight either;
and there was all the old amaze.
Gods--gods--gods! We sought the Earthly Paradise,
and they thought we came therefrom.
Paria. We made out that they called their country Paria.
They had in their canoes a bread like cassava, but more
delicate, we thought, and in calabashes almost a true wine.
We gave them toys, and as they always pointed westward
and seemed to signify that there was _the_ land, we returned
after two hours to the ships and set ourselves to follow the
coast. Two or three of this people would go with the
We came to that river mouth that troubled all this sea.
What shall I say but that it was itself a sea, a green sea,
a fresh sea? We crossed it with long labor. The men of
Paria made us understand that their season of rain was
lately over, and that ever after that was more river. Whence
did it come? They spoke at length and, Christopherus Columbus
was certain, of some heavenly country.
The dawn came up sweet and red. The country before us
had hills and we made out clearings in the monster forest,
and now the blue water was thronged with canoes. We
anchored; they shot out to us fearlessly. The Jamaica canoe
is larger and better than the Haytien, but those of this
land surpass the Jamaican. They are long and wide and
have in the middle a light cabin. The rowers chant as they
lift and dip their broad oars. If we were gods to them,
yet they seemed gay and fearless of the gods. I thought
with the Admiral that they must have tradition or rumor,
of folk higher upon the mount of enlightenment than themselves.
Perhaps now and again there was contact. At any
rate, we did not meet here the stupefaction and the prostrations
of our first islands. We had again no common tongue,
but they proved masters of gesture. Gold was upon them,
and that in some amount, and what was extraordinary,
often enough in well-wrought shapes of ornament. A seaman
brought to the Admiral a golden frog, well-made,
pierced for a red cotton string, worn so about a copper-
colored neck. He had traded for it three hawk bells. The
Admiral's face glowed. "It has been wrought by those
who know how to work in metals! Tubal-cain!"
Moreover, now we found pearls. There came to us singing
a great canoe and in it a plumed cacique with his wife
and daughters. All wore twists of pearls around throat
and arms. They gave them freely for red, blue and green
beads, which to them were indeed rubies, sapphires and
emeralds.--Whence came the pearls? It seemed from the
coast beyond and without this gulf. Whence the gold? It
seemed from high mountains far behind the country of
Paria. It was dangerous in the extreme to go there!
"Because of the light which repels all darkness!" said the
Admiral. "When we go there, it must be gently and humbly
like shriven men."
It was August. He knew that Don Bartholomew in
Hispaniola craved his return. The three ships, too, were
weatherworn, with seams that threatened gaping. And as
for our adventurers and the husbandmen and craftsmen,
they were most weary of the sea. The mariners were used
to it, the Admiral had lover's passion for it, but not they!
Here before us, truly, loomed a promising great land, but
it was not our port; our port was San Domingo! There,
there in Hispaniola, were old Castilians in plenty to greet
and show. There were the mines that were actually working,
gold to pick up, and Indians trained to bring it to you!
There, for the enterprising and the lucky, were gifts of land,
to each his _repartimentio_! There was companionship, there
was fortune, there was ease! Others were getting, while
we rode before a land we were too few to occupy. They
went in company to the Admiral. We had discovered. Now
let us go onto Hispaniola! The ships--our health.
When it came to health it was he who had most to endure.
The gout possessed him often. His brow knotted with
pain; his voice, by nature measured and deep, a rolling
music, became sharp and dry. He moved with difficulty,
now and then must stay in bed, or if on deck in a great
chair which we lashed to the mast. But now a trouble seized
his eyes. They gave him great pain; at times he could
barely see. Bathe them with a soothing medicine, rest them.
But when had he rested them, straining over the ocean
since he was a boy? He was a man greatly patient under
adversity, whether of the body or of the body's circumstance,
but this trouble with the eyes shook him. "If I
become blind--and all that's yet to do and find! Blessed
Mother of God, let not that happen to me!"
I thought that he should go to Hispaniola, where in the
Adelantado's house in San Domingo he might submit to
bandaging, light and sea shut out.
At last, "Well, well, we will turn! But first we must
leave this gulf and try it out for some distance westward!"
We left this water by a way as narrow as the entering
strait, as narrow and presenting the like rough confusion
of waters, wall against wall. We called it the Mouth of
the Dragon. Mouth of the Dragon, Mouth of the Serpent,
and between them the Gulf of the Whale or of Paria. Now
was open sea, and south of us ran still that coast that he
would have mount to the Equator and to that old, first
Garden Land where all things yet were fair and precious!
"I can not stay now, but I will come again! I will find
the mighty last things!" His eyes gave him great pain.
He covered them, then dropped his hands and looked, then
must again cover.
A strange thing! We were borne westward ever upon a
vast current of the sea, taking us day and night, so that
though the winds were light we went as though every sail
was wholly filled.
Christopherus Columbus talked of these rivers in ocean.
"A day will come when they will be correctly marked. Aye,
in the maps of our descendants! Then ships will say, `Now
here is the river so and so,' as to-day the horseman says,
`Here is the Tagus, or the Guadalquiver!' "
Another thing he said was that to his mind all the islands
that we had found in six years, from San Salvador to Cubagua,
had once been joined together. Land from this shore
to Cuba and beyond. So the peoples were scattered.
He talked to us much upon this voyage of the great earth
and the shape of it, and its destinies; of the stars, the needle,
the Great Circle and the lesser ones, and the Ocean. He
had our time's learning, gained through God knows how
many nights of book by candle! And he had a mind that
took eagle flights with spread of eagle wings, and in many
ways he had the eagle's eye.
It was not Cipango and Cathay that now he talked of,
but of this great land-mass before us which he would have
rise to Equator and all Wonder. And he talked also of some
water passage, some strait lying to the westward, by which
we might sail between lands and islands to the further Indian
Ocean, and so across to the Sea of Araby, and then
around Africa by Good Hope and then northward, northward,
to Spain, coming into Cadiz with banners, having
sailed around the world!
He talked, and all the time his pain ate him, and he must
cover eyes to keep the sword-light out.
In middle August we turned northward from our New
Land, and a fortnight later we came to San Domingo, that
Christopherus Columbus had never seen, though to us in
Hispaniola it was an old town, having been builded above
The Viceroy and the Adelantado clasped hands, embraced;
tears ran down their bronzed cheeks.
Not later than a day after our anchoring, the ships being
unladed, all San Domingo coming and going, trumpets blew
and gathered all to our open place before the Viceroy's
house. Proclamation--Viceregal Proclamation! First,
thanks to God for safe return, and second, hearty approval
of the Adelantado, all his Acts and Measures.
There were two parties in San Domingo, and one now
echoed in a shout approval of the Adelantado, and the other
made here a dead silence, and here a counter-murmur. I
heard a man say, "Fool praises fool! Villain brother upholding
Now I do not think the Adelantado's every act was wise,
nor the Viceroy's either, for that matter. But they were
far, far, those brothers, from fool and villain!
The Proclamation arrived at long thunders against Francisco
Roldan his sedition. Here again the place divided as
before. Roldan, I had it from Luis Torres, was in Xaragua,
safe and arrogant, harking on Indian war, undermining
everywhere. Our line of forts held for the Adelantado,
but the two or three hundred Spaniards left in Isabella
were openly Roldan's men. The Viceroy, through the voice
of Miguel the Herald, recited, denounced and warned, then
left Francisco Roldan and with suddenness made statement
that within a few days five ships would sail for Spain, and
that all Spaniards whomsoever, who for reasons whatsoever
desired Home, had his consent to go! Consent, Free Passage,
and No Questioning!
Whereat the place buzzed loudly, and one saw that many
Many did go upon the ships that sailed not in a few days
but a few weeks. Some went for good reasons, but many
for ill. Juan Lepe heard afar and ahead of time the great
tide of talk when they should arrive in Spain! And though
many went who wished the Admiral ill, many stayed, and
forever Roldan made for him more enemies, open or secret.
He sent, it is true, upon those ships friends to plead his
cause. Don Francisco de Las Casas went to Spain and
others went. And he sent letters. Juan Lepe, much in his
house, tending him who needed the physician Long-Rest
and Ease-of-Mind, heard these letters read. There was
one to the Sovereigns in which he related with simple eloquence
that discovery to the South, and his assurance that
he had touched the foot of the Mount of all the World.
With this letter he sent a hundred pearls, the golden frog
and other gold. Again he took paper and wrote of the
attitude of all things in Hispaniola, of Roldan and evil
men, of the Adelantado's vigilance, justice and mercy, of
natural difficulties and the need to wait on time, of the
Indians. He begged that there be sent him ample supplies
and good men, and withal friars for the Indian salvation,
and some learned, wise and able lawyer and judge, much
needed to give the law upon a thousand complaints brought
by childish and factious men. And if the Sovereigns saw
fit to send out some just and lofty mind to take evidence
from all as to their servant Christopherus Columbus's deeds
and public acts and care of their Majesties' New Lands
and all the souls therein, such an one would be welcomed
by their Graces' true servant.
So he himself asked for a commissioner--but he never
thought of such an one as Francisco de Bobadilla!
So the ships sailed. Time passed.
UP and down went the great Roldan scission. Up and
down went Indian revolt, repression, fresh revolt,
fresh repression. On flowed time. Ships came in,
one bearing Don Diego; ships went out. Time passed.
Alonso de Ojeda, who by now was no more than half his
friend, returned to Spain and there proposed to the Sovereigns
a voyage of his own to that Southern Continent
that never had the Admiral chance to return to! The Sovereigns
now were giving such consent to this one and to that
one, breaking their pact with Christopherus Columbus. In
our world it was now impossible that that pact should be
letter-kept, but the Genoese did not see it so. Ojeda sailed
from Cadiz for Paria with four ships and a concourse of
adventurers. With him went the pilot Juan de la Cosa,
and a geographer of Florence, Messer Amerigo Vespucci.
It came to us in Hispaniola that Ojeda was gone. Now
I saw the Admiral's heart begin to break. Yet Ojeda in
his voyage did not find the Earthly Paradise, only went
along that coast as we had done, gathered pearls, and returned.
Time passed. Other wild and restless adventurers beside
Roldan broke into insurrections less than Roldan's. The
Viceroy hanged Moxica and seven with him, and threw into
prison Guevara and Requelme. Roldan, having had his long
fling--too powerful still to hang or to chain in some one
of our forts--Roldan wrote and received permission, and
came to San Domingo, and was reconciled.
Suddenly, after long time of turmoil, wild adventure and
uncertainty, peace descended. Over all Hispaniola the Indians
submitted. Henceforth they were our subjects; let
us say our victims and our slaves! Quarrels between Castilians
died over night. Miraculously the sky cleared. Miraculously,
or perhaps because of long, patient steering
through storm. For three months we lived with an appearance
of blossoming and prospering. It seemed that it might
become a peaceful, even a happy island.
The Viceroy grew younger, the Adelantado grew younger,
and Don Diego, and with them those who held by them
through thick and thin. The Admiral began to talk Discovery.
It was two years since there, far to the south, we
had passed in by the Mouth of the Serpent, and out by the
Mouth of the Dragon.
The Viceroy, inspecting the now quiet Vega, rode to an
Indian village, near Concepcion. He had twenty behind him,
well-armed, but arms were not needed. The people came
about him with an eagerness, a docility. They told their
stories. He sat his horse and listened with a benignant
face. Certain harshnesses in times and amounts of their
tribute he redressed. Forever, when personal appeal came
to him, he proved magnanimous, often tender, fatherly and
brotherly. At a distance he could be severe. But when I
think of the cruelties and high-handedness of others here,
the Adelantado and the Viceroy shine mildly.
We rode back to Concepcion. I remember the jewel-like
air that day, the flowers, the trees, the sky. Palms rustled
above us, the brilliant small lizards darted around silver
trunks. "The fairest day!" quoth the Admiral. "Ease
at heart! I feel ease at heart."
This night, as I sat beside him, wiling him to sleep, for
he always had trouble sleeping--a most wakeful man!--
he talked to me about the Queen. Toward this great woman
he ever showed veneration, piety, and knightly regard. Of
all in Spain she it was who best understood and shared that
religious part in him that breathed upward, inspired, longed
and strained toward worlds truly not on the earthly map.
She, like him--or so took leave to think Juan Lepe--received
at times too docilely word of authority, or that which
they reckoned to be authority. Princes of the Church could
bring her to go against her purer thought. The world as
it is, dinging ever, "So important is wealth--so important
is herald-nobility--so important is father-care in these respects
for sons!" could make him take a tortuous and complicated
way, could make him bow and cap, could make
him rule with an ear for world's advice when he should
have had only his book and his ship and his dream and a
cheering cry "Onward!" Or so thinks Juan Lepe. But
Juan Lepe and all wait on full light.
He talked of her great nature, and her goodness to him.
Of how she understood when the King would not. Of how
she would never listen to his enemies, or at the worst not
He turned upon his bed in the warm Indian night. I
asked him if I should read to him but he said, not yet. He
had talked since the days of his first seeking with many a
great lord, aye, and great lady. But the Queen was the
one of them all who understood best how to trust a man!
Differences in mind arose within us all, and few could find
the firm soul behind all that! She could, and she was great
because she could. He loved to talk with her. Her face
lighted when he came in. When others were by she said
"Don Cristoval", or "El Almirante", but with himself
alone she still said "Master Christopherus" as in the old
At last he said, "Now, let us read." Each time he came
from Spain to Hispaniola he brought books. And when
ships came in there would be a packet for him. I read to
him now from an old poet, printed in Venice. He listened,
then at last he slept. I put out the candle, stepped softly
forth past Gonsalvo his servant, lying without door.
An hour after dawn a small cavalcade appeared before
the fort. At first we thought it was the Adelantado from
Xaragua. But no! it was Alonzo de Carvajal with news
and a letter from San Domingo, and in the very statement
ran a thrilling something that said, "Hark, now! I am
Fortune that turns the wheel."
Carvajal said, "senor, I have news and a letter for your
ear and eye alone!"
"From my brother at San Domingo?"
"Aye, and from another," said Carvajal. "Two ships
have come in."
With that the Admiral and he went into Commandant's
The men at Concepcion made Carvajal's men welcome.
"And what is it?" "And what is it?" They had their
orders evidently, but much wine leaked out of the cask. If
one wished the Viceroy and his brothers ill, it was found
to be heady wine; if the other way round, it seemed thin,
chilly and bitter. Here at Concepcion were Admiral's friends.
After an hour he came again among us, behind him Carvajal.
Now, this man, Christopherus Columbus, always appeared
most highly and nobly Man, most everlasting and universal,
in great personal trouble and danger. It was, I hold, because
nothing was to him smally personal, but always pertained
to great masses, to worlds and to ages. Now, looking
at him, I knew that trouble and danger had arrived. He
said very little. If I remember, it was, "My friends, the
Sovereigns whom we trust and obey, have sent a Commissioner,
Don Francisco de Bobadilla, whom we must go
meet. We ride from Concepcion at once to Bonao."
We rode, his company and Carvajal's company.
Don Francisco de Bobadilla! Jayme de Marchena had
some association here. It disentangled itself, came at last
clear. A Commander of the Order of Calatrava--about
the King in some capacity--able and honest, men said.
Able and honest, Jayme de Marchena had heard said, but
also a passionate man, and a vindictive, and with vanity
enough for a legion of peacocks.
We came to Bonao and rested here. I had a word that
night from the Admiral. "Doctor, Doctor, a man must
outlook storm! He grew man by that."
I asked if I might know what was the matter.
He answered, "I do not know myself. Don Diego says
that great powers have been granted Don Francisco de
Bobadilla. I have not seen those powers. But he has demanded
in the name of the Sovereigns our prisoners, our
ships and towns and forts, and has cited us to appear before
him and answer charges--of I know not what! I well
think it is a voice without true mind or power behind it--
I go to San Domingo, but not just at his citation!"
Later, in the moonlight, one of our men told me that
which a man of Carvajal had told him. All the Admiral's
enemies, and none ever said they were few, had this fire-new
commissioner's ear! A friend could not get within hail.
Just or unjust, every complaint came and squatted in a ring
around him. Maybe some were just--such as soldiers
not being able to get their pay, for instance. There was
never but one who lived without spot or blemish. But of
course we knew that the old Admiral wasn't really a tyrant,
cruel and a fool! Of course not. Carvajal's man was prepared
to fight any man of his own class who would say
that to his face! He'd fight, too, for the Adelantado. Don
Francisco de Bobadilla had no sooner landed than he began
to talk and act as though they were all villains. Don Diego
--whom it was laughable to call a villain--and all. He
went to mass at once--Don Francisco de Bobadilla--and
when it was over and all were out and all San Domingo
there in the square, he had his letters loudly read. True
enough! He is Governor, and everybody else must obey
him! _Even the Admiral!_
At dawn Juan Lepe walked and thought. And then he
saw coming the Franciscan, Juan de Trasiena and Francisco
Velasquez the Treasurer. That which Juan de Trasiena
and Francisco Velasquez brought were attested copies
of the royal letters.
I saw them. "Wherefore we have named Don Francisco
de Bobadilla Governor of these islands and of the main
land, and we command you, cavaliers and all persons whatever,
to give him that obedience which you do owe to us."
And to him, the new Governor: "Whomsoever you find
guilty, arrest their persons and take over their goods." And,
"If you find it to our service that any cavaliers or other
persons who are at present in these islands should leave
them, and that they should come and present themselves
before us, you may command it in our names and oblige
it." And, "Whomsoever you thus command, we hereby
order that immediately they obey as though it were ourselves."
"And if thus and thus is found to be the case,
the said Admiral of the Ocean-Sea shall give into your
hands, ships, fortresses, arms, houses and treasure, and he
shall himself be obedient to your command."
The Admiral said, "If it be found thus and thus! But
how shall he find it, seeing that it is not so?"
We rode to San Domingo, but not many rode. He would
not have many. "No show of force, no gaud of office!"
He rode unarmored, on his gray horse. The banner that
was always borne with him--"Yea, carry it still, until
he demands it!"
We were a bare dozen, but when we entered San Domingo
one might think that Don Francisco de Bobadilla feared
an army, for he had all his soldiers drawn up to greet us!
The rest of the population were in coigns, gazing. We saw
friends--Juan Ponce de Leon and others--but they were
helpless. For all the people in it, the place seemed to me
dead quiet, hot, sunny, dead quiet.
The Admiral rode to the square. Here was his house,
and the royal banner over it. He dismounted and spoke to
men before the door. "Tell Don Francisco de Bobadilla
that Don Cristoval Colon is here."
There came an officer with a sword, behind him a dozen
men. "Senor, in the name of the Sovereigns, I arrest
Christopherus Columbus gazed upon him. "For what,
The other, an arrogant, ill-tempered man, answered loudly
so that all around could hear, "For ill-service to our lord
the King and Queen, and to their subjects here in the Indies,
and to God!"
"God knows, you hurt the truth!" said the Admiral.
"Where is my brother, Don Diego?"
"Laid by the heels in the Santa Catarina," answered the
graceless man; then to one of the soldiers, "Take the banner
from behind him and rest it against the wall."
The Admiral said, "I would see Don Francisco de Bobadilla."
"That is as he desires and when he desires," the other
replied. "Close around him, men!"
The fortress of San Domingo is a gloomy place. They
prisoned him here, and they put irons upon him. I saw
that done. One or two of his immediate following, and I
his physician might enter with him.
He stood in the dismal place where one ray of light came
down from a high, small, grated window, and he looked at
the chains which they brought. He asked, "Who will put
He looked at the chains and at the soldier who brought
them. "Put them on, man!" he said. "What! Once thou
didst nail God's foot to a cross! As for me, I will remember
that One who saved all, and be patient."
They chained him and left him there in the dark.
I saw him the next day, entering with his gaoler. Had
he slept? "Yes."
"How did he find himself?"
"How does my body find itself? Why, no worse than
usual, nowadays that I am getting old! My body has been
unhappier a thousand times in storm and fight, and thirst
"Then mind and soul?" I asked.
"They are well. There is nothing left for them but
to feel well. I am in the hand of God."
I did what service for him I could. He thanked me.
"You've been ever as tender as a woman. A brave man
besides! I hope you'll be by me, Juan Lepe, when I die."
"When you die, senor, there will die a great servant of
I spoke so because I knew the cordial that he wanted.
His eyes brightened, strength came into his voice. "Do
you know aught of my brother the Adelantado?"
"No. He may be on his way from Xaragua. What would
you wish him to do, sir?"
"Come quietly to San Domingo as I came. This Governor
is but a violent, petty shape! But I have sworn to
obey the Queen and the King of the Spains. I and mine
I asked him if he believed that the Sovereigns knew this
outrage. I could believe it hardly of King Ferdinand, not
at all of the Queen.