Part 6 out of 7
Again I felt that this was cordial to him. I had spoken
out of my conviction, and he knew it. "No," he said. "I
do not believe it. I will never believe it of the Queen!
Look you! I have thought it out in the night. The night
is good for thinking out. You would not believe how many
enemies I have in Spain. Margarite and Father Buil are
but two of a crowd. Fonseca, who should give me all aid,
gives me all hindrance. I have throngs of foes; men who
envy me; men who thought I might give them the golden
sun, and I could not; hidalgos who hold that God made
them to enjoy, standing on other men's shoulders, eating
the grapes and throwing down the empty skins, and I made
them to labor like the others; and not in Heaven or Hell
will they forgive me! And others--and others. They have
turned the King a little their way. I knew that, ere I went
to find that great new land where are pearls, that slopes
upward by littles to the Height of the World and the Earthly
Paradise. Turned the King, but not the Queen. But now
I make it they have worked upon her. I make it that she
does not know the character of Don Francisco de Bobadilla. I make it that, holding him to be far wiser than
is, she with the King gave him great power as commissioner.
I make it that they gave him letters of authority, and a
last letter, superseding the Viceroy, naming him Governor
whom all must obey. I make it that he was only to use this
if after long examination it was found by a wise, just man
that I had done after my enemies' hopes. I make it that
here across Ocean-Sea, far, far from Spain, he chose not
to wait. He clucked to him all the disaffected and flew with
a strong beak at the eyes of my friends." He moved his
arms and his chains clanked. "I make it that this severity
is Don Francisco de Bobadilla's, not King Ferdinand's, not
--oh, more than not--the good Queen's!"
Juan Lepe thought that he had made out the probabilities,
probably the certainties.
"If I may win to Spain!" he ended. "It all hinges on
that! If I may see the Sovereigns--if I may see the good
Queen! I hope to God he will soon chain me in a ship and
Had he seen Don Francisco de Bobadilla?
No, he had not seen Don Francisco de Bobadilla. He
thought that on the whole that Hidalgo and Commander of
Calatrava was afraid.
Outside of the fortress that afternoon Juan Lepe kept
company with one who had come with the fire-new Governor,
a grim, quiet fellow named Pedro Lopez. He and
Luis Torres had been neighbors in Spain; it was Luis who
brought us together. I gave him some wine in Doctor Juan
Lepe's small room and he told readily the charges against
the Viceroy that Bobadilla, seizing, made into a sheaf.
Already I knew what they were. I had heard them. One
or two had, I thought, faint justification, but the mass, no!
Personal avarice, personal greed, paynim luxury, arrogance,
cruelty, deceit--it made one sorrowfully laugh who knew
the man! Here again clamored the old charge of upstartness.
A low-born Italian, son of a wool-comber, vindictive
toward the hidalgo, of Spain! But there were new charges.
Three men deposed that he neglected Indian salvation. And
I heard for the first time that so soon as he found the Grand
Khan he meant to give over to that Oriental all the islands
and the main, and so betray the Sovereigns and Christ and
every Spaniard in these parts!
The Adelantado arrived in San Domingo. He came with
only a score or two of men, who could have raised many
more. Don Francisco de Bobadilla saw to it that he had
word from his great brother, and that word was "Obedience."
The Adelantado gave his sword to Don Francisco.
The latter loaded the first with chains and put him aboard
a caravel in the harbor. He asked to be prisoned with his
brother; but why ask any magnanimity from an unmagnanimous
Out in the open now were all the old insurgents. Guevara
and Requelme bowed to the earth when the Governor
passed, and Roldan sat with him at wine.
THE caravel tossed in a heavy storm. Some of her
mariners were old in these waters, but others, coming
out with Bobadilla, had little knowledge of our breadths
of Ocean-Sea. They had met naught like this rain, this
shaken air, these thunders and lightnings. There rose a cry
that the ship would split. All was because they had chained
Don Alonso de Villejo, the Captain taking Christopherus
Columbus to Spain, called to him Juan Lepe. "Witness
you, Doctor, I would have taken away the irons so soon as
we were out of harbor! I would have done it on my own
responsibility. But he would not have it!"
"Yes, I witness. In chains in Hispaniola, he will come
to Spain in chains."
"If the ship goes down every man must save himself. He
must be free. I have sent for the smith. Come you with
We went to that dusky cabin in the ship where he was
prisoned. "It is a great storm, and we are in danger,
senor!" said Villejo. "I will take away these irons so
The Admiral's silver hair gleamed in the dusk. He moved
and his gyves struck together. "Villejo!" he said, "if I
lie to-night on the floor of Ocean-Sea, I will lie there in these
chains! When the sea gives up its dead, I will rise in them!"
"I could force you, senor," said Villejo.
The other answered, "Try it, and God will make your
hands like a babe's!"
Villejo and the smith did not try it. There was something
around him like an invisible guard. I knew the feel of it,
and that it was his will emerged at height.
"Remember then, senor, that I would have done it for
you!" Villejo touched the door. The Admiral's voice came
after. "My brother, Don Bartholomew, he who was responsible
to me and only through me to the Sovereigns,
free him, Villejo, and you have all my thanks!"
We went to take the gyves from Don Bartholomew. It
would have been comfort to these brothers to be together in
prison--but that the Governor of Hispaniola straitly forbade.
When Villejo had explained what he would do, the
Adelantado asked, "What of the Admiral?"
"I wish to take them from him also. But he is obstinate
in his pride and will not!"
"He will go as he is to the Queen and Spain and the
world," said Juan Lepe.
"That is enough for me," answered the Adelantado. "I
do not go down to-night a freed body while he goes down a
chained.--Farewell, senor! I think I hear your sailors
Villejo hesitated. "Let them have their will, senor,"
said Juan Lepe. "Their will is as good as ours."
Don Bartholomew turned to me. "How fares my brother,
Doctor? Is he ill?"
"He is better. Because he was ill I was let to come with
him. But now he is better."
"Give him my enduring love and constancy," said the
Adelantado. "Good night, Villejo!" and turned upon his
side with a rattling of his chain.
Returning to the Admiral, Juan Lepe sat beside him
through the night. The tempest continuing, there were
moments when we thought, It may be the end of this life!
We thought to hear the cry "She sinks!" and the rush of
At times when there fell lulls we talked. He was calmly
"It seems to me that the storm lessens. I have been
penning in my mind, lying here, a letter to one who will
show it to the Queen. Writing so, I can say with greater
freedom that which should be said."
"What do you say?"
He told me with energy. His letter related past events
in Hispaniola and the arrival of Bobadilla and all that took
place thereupon. He had an eloquence of the pen as of
speech, and what he said to Dona Juana de la Torre moved.
A high simplicity was his in such moment, an opening of
the heart, such as only children and the very great attain.
He told his wrongs, and he prayed for just judgment, "not
as a ruler of an ordered land where obtain old, known,
long-followed laws, and where indeed disorder might cry
`Weakness and Ill-doing!' But I should be judged rather
as a general sent to bring under government an enemy people,
numerous, heathen, living in a most difficult, unknown and
pathless country. And to do this I had many good men,
it is true, but also a host that was not good, but was factious,
turbulent, sensual and idle. Yet have I brought these strange
lands and naked peoples under the Sovereigns, giving them
the lordship of a new world. What say my accusers? They
say that I have taken great honors and wealth and nobility
for myself and my house. Even they say, O my friend!
that from the vast old-and-new and fairest land that I have
lately found, I took and kept the pearls that those natives
brought me, not rendering them to the Sovereigns. God
judge me, it is not so! Spain becometh vastly rich, and
the head of the world, and her Sovereigns, lest they should
scant their own nobility, give nobility, place and wage to
him who brought them Lordship here. It is all! And out
of my gain am I not pledged to gather an army and set it
forth to gain the Sepulchre? Have I fallen, now and again,
in all these years in my Government, into some error? How
should I not do so, being human? But never hath an error
been meant, never have I wished but to deal honestly and
mercifully with all, with Spaniards and with Indians, to
serve well the Sovereigns and to advance the Cross. I call
the saints to witness! All the way has been difficult, thorns
of nature's and my enemies' planting, but God knoweth, I
have trodden it steadily. I have given much to the Sovereigns,
how much it is future days brighter than these will
show! I have been true servant to them. If now, writing
in chains, upon the caravel _Santa, Marta_, I cry to them for
justice, it is because I do not fear justice!"
He ceased to speak, then presently, "I would that all
might see the light that I see over the future!--Thou seest
it, Juan Lepe."
"Aye, I see light over the future."
By littles the storm fell. Ere dawn we could say, "We
shall outlive it!" He slept for an hour then waked. "I
was dreaming of the Holy Land--but do you know, Juan
Lepe, it was seated here in the lands we found!"
"Seated here and everywhere," I said. "As soon as we
see it so and make it so."
"Aye, I know that the sea is holy, and so should be all
the land! The prophet sees it so--"
The dawn came faintly in upon us. All was quieter, the
footing overhead steady, not hasting, frightened. Light
strengthened. A boy brought him breakfast. He ate with
appetite. "You are better," I said, "and younger."
"It is a strange thing," he answered, "but so it had been
from my boyhood. Is the danger close and drear, is the
ship upon the reef, then some one pours for me wine! Some
one, do I say? I know Whom!"
I began to speak of the Adelantado. "Aye, there he is
the same! `Peril--darkness? Well, let's meet it!' We
are alike, we three brothers, alike and different. Diego
serves God best in a monastery, and I serve best in a ship
with a book and a map to be followed and bettered. Bartholomew
serves best where he has been, Adelantado and Alcayde.
He is powerful there, with judgment and action. But
he is a sea master too, and he makes a good map.--I thank
God who gave us good parents, and to us all three mind
and a firm will! The inheritance passes to my sons. You
have not seen them? They are youths of great promise!
A family that is able and at one, loving and aiding each the
other, honoring its past and providing for its future, becomes,
I tell you, an Oak that cannot be felled--an Ark
that rides the waters!"
As he moved, his chains made again their dull noise. "Do
they greatly gall you?"
"Yes, they gall! Flesh and spirit. But I shall wear
them until the Queen saith, `Away with them!' But ever
after I shall keep them by me! They shall hang in my
house where forever men shall see them! In my son's
house after me, and in his son's!"
Alonso de Villejo visited him. "The tempest is over,
senor. I take it for good augury in your affair!"
Juan Lepe upon the deck found beside him a man whom
he knew. "What d'ye think? At the worst, in the middle
night, there came to Don Alonso and the master the old
seamen and would have him freed so that he might save us!
They said that they had seen his double upon the poop,
looking at the sea and waving his arm. Then it vanished!
They wanted the whole man, they wanted the Admiral! The
master roared at them and sent them back, but if it had come
to the worst--I don't know!"
Cadiz--the _Santa Marta_ came to Cadiz. Before us had
arrived Bobadilla's ships, one, two and three. What he found
to say through his messengers of the Admiral and Viceroy
was in the hands and eyes and ears of all. He said at the
height of his voice, across the ocean from Hispaniola, violent
and villainous things.
Cadiz--Spain. We crowded to look.. Down plunged
anchor, down rattled sails, around us came the boats. The
Admiral and the Adelantado rested in chains. The corregidor
of Cadiz took them both thus ashore and to a house
where they were kept, until the Sovereigns should say,
"Bring them before us!"
Juan Lepe the physician was let to go in the boat with
him. Juan Lepe--Jayme de Marchena. It was eight years
since I had quitted Spain. I was older by that, grizzled,
bearded and so bronzed by the Indies that I needed no
Moorish stain. I trusted God that Don Pedro and the Holy
Office had no longer claws for me.
Cadiz, and all the people out, pointing and staring. I remembered
what I had been told of the return from his first
voyage, and the second voyage. Then had been bells and
trumpets, flowers, banners, grandees drawing him among
them, shouts and shouts of welcome!
He walked in gyves, he and the Adelantado, to the house
of his detention. Once only a single voice was raised in a
shout, "El Almirante!" We came to the house, not a
prison, though a prison for him. In a good enough room
the corregidor sought to have the chains removed. The Admiral
would not, keeping back with voice and eye the men
who wished to part them from him. When the Sovereigns
knew, and when the Sovereigns sent--then, but not before!
Seven days in this house. Then word from the Sovereigns,
and it was here indignant, and here comforting.
The best was the Queen's word; I do not know if it was
so wholly King Ferdinand's. There were letters to the alcalde
and corregidor. Release the Admiral of the Ocean-Sea!
Don Francisco de Bobadilla had grossly misunderstood!
Soothe the Admiral's hurt. Show him trust and
gratitude in Cadiz that was become through him a greater
city! Fulfill his needs and further him upon the way to
Granada. Put in his purse two thousand ducats. But the
letter that counted most to Christopherus Columbus was
one to himself from the Queen.
Juan Lepe found him with it in his hand. From the
wrist yet hung the chain. Tears were running down his
cheeks. "You see--you see!" he said. "I thank thee,
Christ, who taketh care of us all!"
They came and took away his chains. But he claimed
them from the corregidor and kept them to his death. Came
hidalgos of Cadiz and entreated him away from this house
to a better one. Outside the street was thronged. "The
Admiral! The Admiral! Who gave to Spain the Indies!"
Don Bartholomew was by him, freed like him. And there
too moved a slender young man who had come from Granada
with the Queen's letter, Don Fernando, his eldest son.
A light seemed around them. Juan Lepe thought, "Surely
they who serve large purposes are cared for. Even though
they should die in prison, yet are they cared for!"
JUAN LEPE lay upon the sand beyond Palos. The Admiral
was with the court in Granada, but his physician,
craving holiday, had borne a letter to Juan Perez, the
Prior of _Santa Maria_ de la Rabida.
I thought the Admiral would go again seafaring, and that
I would go with him. Up at La Rabida, Fray Juan Perez
was kind. I had a cell, I could come and go; he did
not tell Palos that here was the Admiral's physician, who
knew the Indies from the first taking and could relate
wonders. I lived obscure, but in Prior's room, by a light
fire, for it was November, he himself endlessly questioned
Ocean before me, ocean, ocean! Lying here, those years
ago, I had seen ocean only. Now, far, far, I saw land, saw
San Salvador, Cuba that might be the main, Hayti, Jamaica,
San Juan, Guadaloupe, Trinidad, Paria that again seemed
main. Vast islands and a world of small islands, vast mainlands.
Then no sail was seen on far Ocean-Sea; now out
there might be ships going from Cadiz, coming, returning
from San Domingo. Eight years, and so the world was
I thought, "In fifty years--in a hundred years--in two
hundred? What is coming up the long road?"
Ocean murmured, the tide was coming in. Juan Lepe
waited till the sands had narrowed, till the gray wave foamed
under his hand. Then he rose and walked slowly to La
After compline, talk; Fray Juan Perez, the good man,
comfortable in his great chair before the fire. He had hungered
always, I thought, for adventure and marvel. Here
it happened--? And here it happened--?
To-night we fell to talk of the Pinzons--Martin who
was dead, and Vicente who now was on Ocean-Sea, on a
voyage of his own--and of others who had sailed, and
what they found and where they were. We were at ease
about the Admiral. We had had letters.
He was in Granada, dressed again in crimson and gold,
towering again with his silver head, honored and praised.
When first he came into the Queen's presence she had
trembled a little and turned pale, and there was water in her
eyes. "Master Christopherus, forgive us! Whereupon,"
said the letter, "I wept with her."
Apparently all honors were back; he moved Admiral and
Viceroy. His brothers, his sons, all his house walked in a
spring sun. He had been shown the letters from Bobadilla,
and he who was not lengthy in speech had spoken an hour
upon them. His word rang gold; Christ gave it, he said,
that his truth was believed. Don Francisco de Bobadilla
would quit Hispaniola--though not in chains.
Fray Juan Perez stirred the fire. Upon the table stood a
flask of wine and a dish of figs. We were comfortable in
Days passed, weeks passed, time passed. Word from
the Admiral, word of the Admiral, came not infrequently
to white La Rabida. He himself, in his own person, stood
in bright favor, the Queen treasuring him, loving to talk
with him, the Court following her, the King at worst only
a cool friend. But his affairs of office, Fray Juan Perez
and I gathered, sitting solicitous at La Rabida, were not in
so fair a posture. He and his household did not lack.
Monies were paid him, though not in full his tithe of all
gains from his finding. What never shook was his title of
The Admiral. But they seemed, the Sovereigns, or at least
King Ferdinand, to look through "Viceroy" as though it
were a shade. And in Hispaniola, though charged, reproved,
threatened, still stayed Bobadilla in the guise of Governor!
"They cannot leave him there," I said. "If the Colombos
are not men for the place, what then is Bobadilla?"
Fray Juan Perez stirred the fire. "King Ferdinand, I
say it only to you and in a whisper, has not a little of the
King of the Foxes! Not, till he has made up his mind,
doth he wish there a perfect man. When he has made it
up, he will cast about--"
"I do not think he has any better than the Adelantado!"
" `Those brothers are one. Leave him out!' saith the
King. I will read you his mind! `Master Christopherus
Columbus hath had too much from the beginning. Nor is
he necessary as he was. When the breach is made, any
may take the fortress! I will leave him and give him
what I must but no more!' He will send at last another
than Bobadilla, but not again, if he can help it, the old Viceroy!
Of course there is the Queen, but she has many sorrows
these days, and fails, they say, in health."
"It may be," said Juan Lepe. "I myself were content
for him to rest The Admiral only. But his mind is yet a
hawk towering over land and sea and claiming both for
prize. He mingles the earthly and the heavenly."
"It is true," said Fray Juan Perez, "that age comes upon
him. And true, too, that King Ferdinand may say, `Whatever
it was at first, this world in the West becomes far too
vast a matter for one man and the old, first, simple ways!' "
"You have it there," I answered, and we covered the
embers and went to bed in La Rabida.
Winter passed. It was seen that the Admiral could not
sail this week nor the next.
Juan Lepe, bearded, brown as a Moor, older than in the
year Granada fell, crossed with quietness much of Castile
and came on a spring evening to the castle of Don Enrique
de Cerda. Again "_Juan Lepe from the hermitage in the
Seven days. I would not stay longer, but in that time the
ancient trees waved green again.
Don Enrique had been recently to Granada. "King Ferdinand
will change all matters in the West! Your islands
shall have Governors, as many as necessary. They shall
refer themselves to a High Governor at San Domingo, who
in his turn shall closely listen to a Council here."
"Will the High Governor be Don Cristoval Colon?"
"No. I hear that he himself agrees to a suspension of
his viceroyalty for two years, seeing well that in Hispaniola
is naught but faction, everything torn into `Friends of the
Genoese' and `Not friends!'. Perhaps he sees that he cannot
help himself and that he less parts with dignity by acceding.
I do not know. There is talk of Don Nicholas de Ovanda,
Commander of Lares. Your man will not, I think, be sent
before a steady wind for Viceroy again--never again. If
he presses too persistently, there can always be found one
or more who will stand and cry, `He did intend, O King--
he doth intend--to make himself King of the Indies!'
And King Ferdinand will say he does not believe, but it is
manifest that that thought must first die from men's minds.
The Queen fails fast. She has not the voice and the hand
in all matters that once was so."
"He is one who dies for loyalties," I said. "He reverences
all simply the crowns of Castile and Leon. For his
own sake I am not truly so anxious to have him Viceroy
again! They will give him ships and let him discover until
"Ah, I don't think there is any doubt about that!" he
We talked somewhat of that great modern world, evident
now over the horizon, bearing upon us like a tall, full-rigged
ship. All things were changing, changing fast. We talked
of commerce and inventions, of letters and of arts, of religion
and the soul of man. Out of the soil were pushing
everywhere plants that the old called heretical.
Seven days. We were, as we shall be forever, friends.
But Juan Lepe would go back to La Rabida. He was, for
this turn of life, man of the Admiral of the Ocean-Sea. So
we said farewell, Enrique de Cerda and Jayme de Marchena.
Three leagues Seville side of Cordova I came at eve to
a good inn known to me of old. Riding into its court I
found two travelers entering just before me, one a well-formed hidalgo still at prime, and the other a young
evidently his son. The elder who had just dismounted
turned and I recognized Don Francisco de Las Casas. At
the same instant he saw me. "Ha, Friend! Ha, Doctor!"
We took our supper together in a wide, low room, looking
out upon the road. Don Francisco and Juan Lepe talked
and the young man listened. Juan Lepe talked but his
eyes truly were for this young man. It was not that he
was of a striking aspect and better than handsome, though
he was all that--but I do not know--it was the future in
his countenance! His father addressed him as Bartolome.
Once he said, "When my son was at the University at
Salamanca," and again, "My son will go out with Don
Nicholas de Ovando." Juan Lepe, sitting in a brown study,
roused at that. "If you go, senor, you will find good memories
around the name of Las Casas."
The young man said, "I will strive in no way to darken
He might be a year or two the younger side of thirty.
The father, it was evident, had great pride in him, and
presently having sent him on some errand--sending him,
I thought, in order to be able to speak of him--told me that
he was very learned, a licentiate, having mastered law,
theology and philosophy. He himself would not return to
Hispaniola, but Bartolome wished to go. He sighed, "I
do not know. Something makes me consent," and went
on to enlist Doctor Juan Lepe's care if in the island ever
arose any chance to aid--
The son returned. There was something--Juan Lepe
knew it--something in the future.
Later, Don Francisco having gone to bed, the young man
and I talked. I liked him extraordinarily. I was not far from
twice his age, as little man counts age. But he had soul and
mind, and while these count age it is not in the short, earthly
way. He asked me about the Indians, and again and again
we came back to that, pacing up and down in the moonlight
before the Spanish inn.
The next morning parting. They were going to Cordova,
I to the sea.
The doves flew over the cloister of La Rabida. The bells
rang; in the small white church sang the brothers, then
paced to their cells or away to their work among the vines.
Prior had a garden, small, with a tree in each corner, with
a stone bench in the sun and a stone bench in the shade,
and the doves walked here all day long. And here I found
the Adelantado with Fray Juan Perez.
The Admiral was well?
Aye, well, and next month would come to Seville. A new
We sat under the grape arbor and he told me much, the
Prior listening for the second time. The doves cooed and
whirred and walked in the sun and shadow. According to
Don Bartholomew, half in his pack was dark and half was
Ovando? We heard again of all that. He was going
out, Don Nicholas de Ovando, with a great fleet.
The Adelantado possessed a deal of plain, strong sense.
"I do not think that Cristoforo will ever rule again in
Hispaniola! King Ferdinand has his own measure and goes
about to apply it. The Queen flinches now from decisions.
--Well, what of it? After all, we were bred to the sea,
I have a notion that his son Diego--an able youth--may
yet be Viceroy. He has established his family, if so be he
does not bring down the structure by obstinating overmuch!
He sees that, the Admiral, and nods his head and steps
aside. As for native pride and its hurt he salves that with
great enterprises. It is his way. Drouth? Frost? Out of
both he rises, green and hopeful as grass in May!"
"What of the Voyage?" asked Juan Lepe.
"That's the enterprise that will go through. Now that
Portugal and Vasco da Gama are actually in at the door,
it behooves us--more and more it behooves us," said Bartolomeo
Colombo, "to find India of All the Wealth! Spain
no less than Portugal wants the gold and diamonds, the
drugs and spices, the fine, thin, painted cloths, the carved
ivory and silver and amber. `Land, land, so much land!'
says King Ferdinand. `But _wealth_? It is all out-go! Even
your Crusade were a beggarly Crusade!' "
"Ha! That hurt him!" quoth Fray Juan Perez.
"Says the King. `Pedro Alonso Nino has made for us
the most profitable voyage of any who have sailed from
Cadiz.' `From Cadiz, but not from Palos,' answers the
"Ha! Easy 'tis when he has shown the way!" said
Fray Juan Perez.
Don Bartholomew drew with the Prior's stick in the
sand at our feet. "He conceives it thus. Here to the north
is Cuba, stretching westward how far no man knoweth.
Here to the south is Paria that he found--no matter what
Ojeda and Nino and Cabral have done since!--stretching
westward how far no man knoweth, and between is a great
sea holding Jamaica and we do not know what other islands.
Cuba and Paria curving south and north and between them
where they shall come closest surely a strait into the sea
of Rich India!" He drew Cuba and Paria approaching
each the other until there was space between like the space
from the horn of Spain to the horn of Africa. "Rich
India--now, now, now--gold on the wharves, canoes of
pearls, not cotton and cassava, is what we want in Spain!
So the King says, `Very good, you shall have the ships,'
and the Queen, `Christ have you in his keeping, Master
Christopherus!' So we go. All his future hangs, he knows,
on finding Rich India."
"How soon do we go?"
"As soon as he can get the ships and the men and the supplies.
He wants only three or four and not great ones.
Great ships for warships and storeships, but little ships for
"Aye, I hear him!" said Fray Juan Perez. "September
But it was not until March that we sailed on his last
THE ships were the _Consolacion_, the _Margarita_, the
_Juana_ and the _San Sebastian_, all caravels and small
ones, the _Consolacion_ the largest and the flagship.
The _Margarita_, that was the Adelantado's ship, sailed badly.
There was something as wrong with her as had been with
the _Pinta_ when we started from Palos in '92.
The men all told, crews and officers and adventurers,
were less than two hundred.
Pedro de Terreros, Bartholomew Fiesco, Diego Tristan,
Francisco de Porras were the captains of the caravels Juan
Sanchez and Pedro Ledesma the chief pilots. Bartholomew
Fiesco of the _Consolacion_ was a Genoese and wholly devoted
to the greater Genoese. We had for notary Diego Mendez.
There were good men upon this voyage, and very bold men.
The youth Fernando Colon sailed with his father. He was
now fourteen, Don Fernando, slim, intelligent, obedient and
loving always to the Admiral.
Days of bright weather, days and days of that marvelous
favorable wind that blows over Ocean-Sea. The twenty-
fifth of May the Canaries sank behind us. On and on, all
the sails steady.
We were not first for Hispaniola. All must be strange,
this voyage! Jamaica, not San Domingo, was our star.
Rest there a moment, take food and water, then forth and
away. West again, west by south. He was straitly forbidden
to drop anchor in any water of Hispaniola. "For
why?" said they. "Because the very sight of his ships
will tear asunder again that which Don Nicholas de Ovando
The _Margarita_, that was next to the _Consolacion_ in greatness,
sailed so infirmly that mercy 'twas the seas were
smooth. It was true accident. She had been known at
Palos, Cadiz and San Lucar for good ship. But at Ercilla
where we must stop on the Sovereigns' business, a storm
had beaten her upon the shore where she got a great wound
in her side. That was staunched, but all her frame was
wrenched and she never did well thereafter. In mid-June
we came to an island of the Caribs which they called Mantineo.
Here we rested the better part of a week, keeping
good guard against the Caribs, then sailed, and now north
by west, along a vast curve, within a world of islands.
They are great, they are small, they are of the extremest
beauty! San Martin, Dominica, Guadaloupe, San Juan--
the Boriquen whence had come, long ago, that Catalina whom
Guacanagari aided--and untouched at, or under the horizon,
many another that the Admiral had named; _Santa Maria_ la
Antigua, Santa Cruz, Santa Ursula, Montserrat, Eleven
Thousand Virgins, Marigalante and all beside. What a
world! Plato his Atlantis. How truly old we are God
The _Margarita_ sailed most badly. At San Juan that is the
neighbor great island to Hispaniola, council, two councils,
one following the other. Then said the Admiral, "We are
to find the Strait that shall at last carry us to clothed Asia
of all the echoes, and to find we have but four small ships
and one of them evidently doomed. And in that one sails
my brother. What is the Sovereigns' command? `Touch
not on your outward way at Hispaniola!' What is in their
mind here? `Hale and faring well, you have no need.'--
But if we are not hale and faring well by a fourth of our
enterprise? They never meant it to a drowning man, or
one whose water cask was empty! Being Christian, no!
We will put into San Domingo and ask of Don Nicholas de
Ovando a ship in place of the _Margarita_."
Whereat all cheered. We were gathered under palms,
upon a fair point of land in San Juan le Bautista. Next day
we weighed anchor, and in picture San Domingo rose before
He felt no doubt of decent welcome, of getting his ship.
Fifteen sail had gone out with Ovando. Turn the cases
around, and he would have given Ovando welcome, he would
give him a good ship. How much more then Christopherus
Columbus! The enterprise was common in that all stood
to profit. It was royal errand, world service! So he thought
and sailed in some tranquillity of mind for San Domingo.
But the Adelantado said in my ear. "There will be a
vast to-do! Maybe I'll sail the _Margarita_ to the end." He
was the prophet!
It was late June. Hispaniola rose, faint, faint, upon the
horizon. All crowded to look. There, there before us
dwelled countrymen, fellow mariners, fellow adventurers
forth from the Old into the New! It was haven; it was
Spain in the West; it was Our Colony.
The Admiral gazed, and I saw the salt tears blind his
eyes. His son was beside him. He put his hand upon the
youth's shoulder. "Fernando, there it is--I found and
named it Hispaniola!"
The weather hung perilously still, the sea glass. It was
so clear above, below, around, that we seemed to see by
added light, and yet there was no more sunlight. All the
air had thinned, it seemed, away. Every sail fell slack.
Colors were slightly altered. The Admiral said, "There
is coming a great storm."
The boy Fernando laughed. "Why, father!"
"Stillness before the leap," said the Admiral. "Quiet
at home because the legions have gone to muster."
It was hard to think it, but too often had it been proved
that he was in the secret of water and air. Now Bartholomew
Fiesco the Genoese said. "Aye, aye! They say
on the ships at Genoa that when it came to weather, even
when you were a youngster, you were fair necromancer!"
The sky rested blue, but the sea became green oil. That
night there were all around us fields of phosphorescence.
About midnight these vanished; it was very black for all
the stars, and we seemed to hear a sighing as from a giant
leagues away. This passed, and the morning broke, silent
and tranquil, azure sky and azure sea, and not so sharply
clear as yesterday. The great calm wind again pushed us.
Hispaniola! Hispaniola! Her mountains and her palms
We coasted to the river Hayna and the Spanish city of
San Domingo. Three hours from sunset down in harbor
plunged our anchors, down rattled our sails.
The _Consolacion's_ long boat danced by her side. The
Admiral would send to land but one boat, and in it for envoy
Pedro de Terreros, a well-speaking man and known to Don
Nicholas de Ovando. Terreros was envoy, but with him
the Admiral sent Juan Lepe, who through the years in
Hispaniola had tried to heal the sick, no matter what their
faction. The Admiral stayed upon the _Consolacion_, the
Adelantado upon the _Margarita_.
The harbor was filled with ships. We counted eighteen.
We guessed that they were preparing for sailing, the little
boats so came and went between. And our entry had caused
excitement. Ship and small boat hailed us, but to them we
did not answer. Then came toward us from the shore a
long boat with the flag of Spain and in it an official.
Our wharf! Juan Lepe had left it something more than
a year and a half ago. San Domingo was grown, many
Spaniards having sailed for the west in that time. I saw
strangers and strangers, though of Spanish blood. Walking
with the officer and his people to the Governor's house
gave time for observation and swift thought. Throng was
forming. One had early cried from out it, "That's the
doctor, Juan Lepe! 'Tis the Admiral out there!" That
it was the Admiral seemed to spread. San Domingo buzzed
like the air about a hive the first spring day. Farther on,
out pushed a known voice. "Welcome, welcome, Doctor!"
I looked, and that was Sancho. Luis Torres was in Spain.
I had seen him in Cadiz. The crowd was thickening--
men came running--there was cry and query. Suddenly
rose a cheer. "The Admiral and the Adelantado in their
little ships!" At once came a counter-shout. "The Genoese!
I saw--I saw--I saw that there was some wisdom in
The Governor's house that used to be the Viceroy's house.
State--state! They had cried out upon the Genoese's
keeping it--but Don Nicholas de Ovando kept more. While
we waited in the antechamber I saw, out of window and the
tail of my eye, files of soldiery go by. Ovando would not
have riot and disturbance if twenty Admirals hung in the
offing! He kept us waiting. He would be cool and distant
and impregnable behind the royal word. Juan Lepe
saw plainly that that lavish and magnanimous person aboard
the _Consolacion_ would not meet here his twin. The Adelantado
must still, I thought, sail the _Margarita_. And yet,
looking at all things, that exchange of ships should have
been made. A Spaniard, wheresoever found, should have
cried "Aye!" to it.
The Governor's officer who still kept by us was not averse
to talk. All those preparing ships in the harbor? Why,
they were the returning fleet that brought Don Nicholas
in. Sailing to-morrow--hence the hubbub on land and
water. They had a lading now! He gazed a moment at us,
and as we seemed sober folk, saw no reason why we should
not have the public news. Forth it came like water out of
bottle. Bobadilla was returning. "A prisoner?" "Why,
hardly that! Roldan, too." "A prisoner?" "Why, not
precisely so." Many of the old regime--Bobadilla's regime
--were returning and Roldan men likewise. Invited to go,
in fact, though with no other harsh treatment. One of
the ships would be packed with Indian rebels, Gwarionex
among them. Chained, all these. The notable thing about
the fleet, after all that, was the gold that was going! A
treasure fleet! Bobadilla _had_ gathered gold for the crown.
He was taking, they said, a sultan's ransom. He had one
piece that weighed, they said, five thousand castellanos.
Roldan too had gold. And the Governor was sending no
man knew how much. More than that--" He looked
at us, then, being a kindly soul, quoth, "Why shouldn't the
Admiral know? Alonso de Carvajal has put on board the
_Santa Clara_ for the Admiral's agent in Cadiz five thousand
pieces--fully due, as the Governor had allowed."
Door was opened. "His Excellency the Governor will
see you now."
Why tarry over a short story? Don Nicholas de Ovando
pleaded smoothly the Sovereign's most strict command
which _in any_ to disobey were plain malfeasance! As he
spoke he looked dreamily toward blue harbor and the
_Consolacion_. And as to a ship! Every ship, except two or
three, old and crippled and in the hands of the menders,
no whit better it was certain than the _Margarita_, was laded
and on the point of sailing. Literally he had none, absolutely
not one! He understood that Jamaica was expressly named
to the Admiral for resting and overhauling. Careen the
_Margarita_ there and rectify the wrong--which he trusted
was not great. If ships had been idle and plentiful--but
he could not splinter any from the fleet that was sailing
to-morrow. He was sorry--and trusted that the Admiral
was in health?
Terreros said, "His ship is worse off than you think,
Excellency. He has great things to do, confided into his
hands by the Sovereigns who treasure him who found all.
Here is emergency. May we carry to him invitation to
enter San Domingo for an hour and himself present his
But no--but no--but no! Thrice that!
The Governor rose. Audience was over.
For the rest he was courteous--asked of the voyage--
and of the Admiral's notion of the Strait. "A great man!"
he said. "A Thinker, a Seer." He sent him messages of
courtesy three-piled. And so we parted.
This was the Governor of whom one said long afterwards,
"He was a good governor for white men, but not for Indians."
As life and destiny would have it, in the place without
the Governor's house I met him who was to say it. Terreros
and I with the same escort were for the water side,
the _Consolacion's_ long boat. The crowd kept with us, but
His Excellency's soldiers held it orderly. Yet there were
shouts and messages for the Admiral, and for this one and
that one aboard our ships. Then came a young man, said
a word to the officer with us, and put out his hand to mine.
It was that Bartolome de Las Casas with whom I had
walked the white road, under moon, before the inn between
Seville and Cordova.
THE Admiral took it with some Italian words under
breath. Then he wheeled and left the cabin. A minute
later I heard the master from the _Consolacion_ hail the
_Margarita_ that lay close by. "_Margarita_, ahoy! Orders!
Clap on sail and follow!" The trumpet cried to the Juana
and the _San Sebastian_, "Make ready and follow!"
Our mariners ran to make sail. But the long boat waited
for some final word that they said was going ashore. Terreros
would take it. We were so close that we saw the
yet watching crowd, wharf and water side, and the sun
glinting upon Ovando's order-keeping soldiery. The Admiral
called me to him. I read the letter to the Governor,
Terreros would deliver to our old officer, probably waiting
on the wharf to see us quite away. The letter--there
was naught in it but the sincerest, gravest warning that a
hurricane was at hand. A great one; he knew the signs.
It might strike this shore late to-morrow or the next day
or the next. Wherefore he begged his Excellency the Governor
to tarry the fleet's sailing. Let it wait at least three
days and see if his words came not true! Else there would
be scattering of ships and destruction--and he rested his
Excellency's servant. _El Almirante_.
Terreros went, delivered that letter, and returned to the
_Juana_. And our sails were made and our anchors lifted, and
it was sunset and clear and smooth, and every palm frond
of San Domingo showed. Eighteen ships in harbor, and
fifteen, they said, going to Spain, and around and upon them
all bustle of preparation. One saw in fancy Bobadilla and
Roldan and Gwarionex and the much gold, including that
piece of virgin ore weighing five thousand castellanos. Fifteen
ships preparing for Spain, and San Domingo, of which
the Adelantado had laid first stone, and a strange, green,
sunset sky. And the _Consolacion_, the _Margarita_, the Juana
and the _San Sebastian_ away to the west, to the sound of
music, for the Admiral cried to our musicians, "Play, play
in God's name!"
Night passed. Morning broke. So light was the wind
that the shore went by slowly. There gathered an impatience.
"If we must to Jamaica, what use in following every curve
of Hispaniola that is forbid us?" At noon the wind almost
wholly failed, then after three hours of this rose with a
pouncing suddenness to a good breeze. We rounded a point
thronged with palms. Before us a similar point, and between
the two that bent gently each to the other, slept a
deep and narrow bight. "Enter here," said the Admiral.
We anchored. There was again a strange sunset, green
and gold in the lower west, but above an arc of clouds
dressed in saffron and red. And now we could hear, though
from very far off, a deep and low murmur, and whether it
was the forest or the sea or both we did not know. But
now all the old mariners said there would be storm, and we
were glad of the little bay between the protecting horns.
The Admiral named it Bay of Comfort. The _Consolacion_
_Margarita_, _Juana_, _San Sebastian_, lay under bare masts, deep
within the bight.
The next day, an hour before noon, arrived that king
They are known now, these storms of Europe's west and
Asia's east. Take all our Mediterranean storms and heap
them into one!
Through the day our anchors held in our Bay of Comfort,
and we blessed our Admiral. But at eve the _Margarita_,
the _Juana_ and the _San Sebastian_ lost bottom, feared breaking
against the rocky shore and stood out for sea room. The
_Consolacion_ stayed fast, and at dawn was woe to see nothing at all of the three. In the howling tempest
quarter light we knew not if they were sunk or saved.
With the second evening the hurricane sank; at dawn
the seas, though running high, no longer pushed against us
like white-maned horses of Death. We waited till noon,
then the sea being less mountainous, quitted the Bay of
Comfort and went to look for the three ships.
The _Juana_ and the _San Sebastian_ we presently sighted
and rejoiced thereat. But the _Margarita_! We saw her
nowhere, and the Admiral's face grew gray. His son Fernando
pressed close to him. "My uncle is a bold man, and
they say the second seaman in the world! Let's hope and
"Why, aye!" said the Admiral. "I'm a good scholar
in hope. I told them in San Domingo the ship was not
seaworthy. What cared they for that? They were willing
that all of my name should drown! God judge between
The _Juana_ came close and shouted that at eve they had
seen the Adelantado in great trouble, close to shore. Then
came down the night and once or twice they thought they
made out a light but they were not sure.
In this West the weather after a hurricane is weather
of heaven. We coasted in a high sea, but with safety under
a sky one sapphire, and with a right wind,--and suddenly,
rounding a palmy headland, we saw the _Margarita_ riding
safe in a little bay like the Bay of Comfort. The Admiral
fell upon his knees.
The _Margarita_ was safe indeed but was so crazed a ship!
The _San Sebastian_, too, was in bad case. Hispaniola truly,
but some leagues from San Domingo, and a small, desert,
lonely bay! We rested here because rest we must, and
mended our ships. Days--three days--a week. The Admiral
and the Adelantado kept our people close to the ships.
There was no Indian village, but a party sent to gather
fruit found two Indians biding, watching from a thicket.
These, brought to the Admiral, proved to be from a village
between us and San Domingo. They had been in that town
after the hurricane. It had uprooted the great tree before
the Governor's house and thrown down a part of the church.
"Had the fleet sailed?"
Yes, it seemed. The day before the storm. But these
men knew nothing of its fortunes. He kept the Indians
with us until we sailed, so as not to spread news of where
we were, then gave them presents and let them go.
But on the day we set to sail we did not sail, for along
the coast and into our bay came a small caravel, going with
men to our fort in Xaragua. The captain--Ruy Lopez it
was--met us as a wonder, San Domingo having held that
the hurricane must have sunk us, the sea swallowed us up.
He anchored, took his boat and came to the Admiral upon
"senor, I am glad to see you living!"
"Yes, I live, senor. Are you well in San Domingo?"
"Well in body, but sick at heart because of the fleet."
"Because of the fleet?"
"The fleet, senor, was a day away when the hurricane
burst. Half the ships were split, lost, sunken! The others,
broken, returned to us. One only went on to Spain. The
gold ships are lost. Only, they say, the gold that pertains to
you, goes on safely on that one to Cadiz. Gwarionex the
Indian is drowned, and Bobadilla and Roldan are drowned."
THE Indians called it Guanaja, but the Admiral, the
Isle of Pines. It was far, far, from Hispaniola, far,
far, from Jamaica, over a wide and stormy sea, reached
after many days of horrible weather. Guanaja, small, lofty,
covered with rich trees among which stood in numbers the
pines we loved because they talked of home. To the south,
far off, across leagues of water, we made out land. Mainland
it seemed to us, stretching across the south, losing itself
in the eastern haze. The weather suddenly became blissful.
We had sweet rest in Guanaja.
A few Indians lived upon this small island, like, yet in
some ways unlike all those we knew. But they were rude
and simple and they talked always of gods _to the west_. We
had rested a week when there came a true wonder to us
_from the west_.
That was a canoe, of the mightiest length we had yet
seen, long as a tall tree, eight feet wide, no less, with twenty-
five rowing Indians--tall, light bronze men--with cotton
cloth about their loins. Middle of this giant canoe was
built a hut or arbor, thatched with palm. Under this sat a
splendid barbarian, tall and strong, with a crown of feathers
and a short skirt and mantle of cotton. Beside him sat two
women wrapped in cotton mantles, and at their feet two
boys and a young maid. All these people wore golden ornaments
about their necks.
It was in a kind of amaze that we watched this dragon
among canoes draw near to and pass the ships and to the
shore where we had built a hut for the Admiral and the
Adelantado and the youth Fernando, and to shelter the rest
of us a manner of long booth. It seemed that it was upon a
considerable voyage, and wanting water, put in here. The
Guanaja Indians cried, "Yucatan! Yucatan!"
The Admiral stepped down to meet these strangers. His
face glowed. Here at last was difference beyond the difference
of the Paria folk!
We found that they were armed,--the newcomers.
Strangely made swords of wood and flint, lances, light
bucklers and _hatchets of true copper_. They were strong
and fearless, and they seemed to say, "Here before us is
great wonder, but wonder does not subdue our minds!"
Their language had, it is true, the flow and clink of Indian
tongues, yet was greatly different. We had work to
understand. But they were past masters of gesture.
The Admiral sent for presents. Again, these did not
ravish, though the cacique and his family and the rowers
regarded with interest such strange matters. But they
seemed to say, "You yourselves and your fantastic high
canoes made, it is evident, of many trees, are the wonder!"
But we, the Spaniards, searching now through ten years
--long as the War of Troy--for Asia in which that Troy
and all wealth beside had been placed, thought that at last
we had come upon traces. In that canoe were many articles
of copper, well enough wrought; a great copper bell, a
mortar and pestle, hatchets and knives. Moreover in Yucatan
were potters! In place of the eternal calabash here were
jars and bowls of baked clay, well-made, well-shaped, marked
with strange painted figures. They had pieces of cotton
cloth, well-woven and great as a sail. Surely, with this
stuff, before long the notion of a sail would arise in these
minds! We saw cotton mantles and other articles of dress,
both white and gayly dyed or figured. Clothing was not to
them the brute amaze we had found it with our eastern
Indians. Matters enough, strange to our experience, were
being carried in that great canoe. We found they had a
bread, not cassava, but made from maize, and a drink much
like English ale, and also a food called cacao.
Gold! All of them wore gold, disks of it, hanging upon
their breasts. The cacique had a thin band of gold across
his forehead; together with a fillet of cotton it held the
bright feathers of his head dress.
They traded the gold--all except the coronal and a sunlike
plate upon the breast of the cacique--willingly enough.
It seemed from Yucatan, on some embassy to another
coast or island. Yucatan. West--west! And beyond
Yucatan richer still; oh, great riches, gold and clothing and
--we thought it from their contemptuous signs toward our
booths and their fingers drawn in the air--true houses and
Farther on--farther on--farther west! Forever that
haunting, deluding cry--the cry that had deluded since
Guanahani that we called San Salvador. Now many of our
adventurers and mariners caught fire from that cacique's
wide gestures. The Adelantado no less. "Cristoforo, it
looks satisfaction at last!" And the young Fernando,--
"Father, let us sail west!"
The Admiral was trying to come at that Strait. Earnestly,
through Juan Lepe and through a Jamaican that we had with
us, he strove to give and take light. Yucatan? Was there
sea beyond Yucatan? Did sea like a river cut Yucatan?
Might a canoe--might canoes like ours--go by it from
this sea to that sea?
But nothing did we get save that Yucatan was a great
country with sea here and sea there. "A point of the main
like Cuba!" said the Admiral. Behind it, to the north of it,
it seemed to us, the greater country where were the gold,
the rich clothing, the temples. But we made out that Yucatan
from sea to sea was many days' march. And as for
the country beyond it, that went on, they thought, forever.
They called this country Anahuac and they meant the same
that years afterward Hernando Cortes found. But we did
not know this. We did not know that strange people and
their great treasure.
The Admiral looked out to sea. "I have cried, `West--
west--west!' through a-many years! Yucatan! But I
make out no sea-passage thence into Vasco da Gama's India!
And I am sworn to the Queen and King Ferdinand this time
to find it. So it's south, it's south, brother and son!"
So, our casks being full, our fruit gathered, the sky clear
and the wind fair, we left the west to others and sailed to
find the strait in the south. When we raised our sails that
dragon canoe cried out and marveled. But the cacique with
the coronal asked intelligent questions. The Admiral showed
him the way of it, mast and spar and sail cloth, and how
we made the wind our rower. He listened, and at the last
he gave Christopherus Columbus for that instruction the
gold disk from his breast. I do not know--Yucatan might
have gone on from that and itself developed true ship. If it
had long enough time! But Europe was at its doors.
The canoe kept with us for a little, then shouted to see the
fair breeze fill our sails and carry us from them.
It was mid-August. We came to a low-lying land with
hills behind. Here we touched and found Indians, though
none such as Yucatan seemed to breed. It was Sunday and
under great trees we had mass, having with us the Franciscan
Pedro of Valencia. From this place we coasted three
days, when again we landed. Here the Indians were of a
savage aspect, painted with black and white and yellow and
uttering loud cries. We thought that they were eaters of
men's flesh. Likewise they had a custom of wearing earrings
of great weight, some of copper, some of that mixed
gold we called guanin. So heavy were these ornaments
that they pulled the ear down to mid-throat. The Admiral
named this place the Coast of the Ear.
On we sailed, and on, never out of sight of land to starboard.
Day by day, along a coast that now as a whole bent
eastward. And yet no strait--no way through into the sea
into which poured the Ganges.
THE weather plagued us. The rains were cataracts,
the lightning blinding, the thunder loud enough to
wake the dead. Day after day, until this weather
grew to seem a veritable Will, a Demon with a grudge
The _Margarita_ sailed no better; she sailed worse. The
Admiral considered abandoning her, taking the Adelantado
upon the _Consolacion_ and dividing his crew among the three
ships. But the Adelantado's pride and obstinacy and seamanship
were against that. "I'll sail her, because San
Domingo thinks I can!"
Stormy days and nights, and the Admiral watching. "The
_Margarita_! Ho, look out! Do you see the _Margarita_?"
In the midst of foul weather came foully back the gout
that crippled him. I would have had him stay in his bed.
"I cannot! How do you think I can?" In the end he
had us build him some kind of shelter upon deck, fastening
there a bench and laying a pallet upon this. Here, propped
against the wood, covered with cloaks, he still watched the
sea and how went our ship and the other ships.
Day after day and day after day! Creeping eastward
along a bad shore, in the teeth of the demon. The seas, the
winds, the enormous rain wore us out. Men grew large-eyed. If we slept came a shriek and wakened us. We
put to land, but the wind turned and thrust us out again,
or we found no harbor. We seemed to be fixed in one place
while time rushed by us.
Forecastle began to say, "It is enchantment!" Presently poop echoed it. The boy Fernando brought it to his
father. "Alonso de Zamorra and Bernardo the Apothecary
say that demons and witches are against us."
"The Prince of the Power of the Air!" said the Admiral.
"It may be, child! Paynimry against Christianity.
We had a touch of the same quality once off Cuba. But
is it, or is it not, Christian men shall win! And send me
Bartholomew Fiesco. Such talk is injury. It bores men's
courage worse than the _teredo_ a ship's bottom!"
We thought the foul weather would never cease, and our
toil would never cease--then lo! at the point of despair
the sky cleared with a great clap of light, the coast turned
sharply, sheerly south--he named the great cape, Cape
Gracias a Dios--and we ran freely, West again.
Coming in three days to a wide river mouth, in we turned.
The shore was grown with reeds that would do for giants'
staffs. On mud banks we saw the crocodile, "cayman"
they call it. Again the sky hung a low, gray roof; a thin
wind whistled, but for all that it was deathly hot. Seeing
no men, we sent two boats with Diego Mendez up the stream.
They were not gone a half league, when, watching from the
_Consolacion_ we marked a strange and horrid thing. There
came without wind a swelling of the sea. Our ships tossed
as in tempest, and there entered the river a wall of sea
water. Meeting the outward passing current, there ensued
a fury with whirlpools. It caught the boats. Diego Mendez
saved his, but the other was seized, tossed and engulfed.
Eight men drowned.
The thing sank as it had come. The River of Disaster,
we named it, and left this strip of coast that seemed to us
gloomy and portentous. "_Wizardry! It's not to be lucky,
this voyage_." It was now late September.
Next day, we anchored, it being most clear and beautiful.
We lay beside a verdurous islet, between it and a green shore.
Here were all our fruits, and we thought we smelled cinnamon
and clove. Across, upon the main, stood a small
village. _Cariari_ the Indians there called themselves. They
had some gold, but not to touch that canoe from Yucatan.
Likewise they owned a few cotton mantles, with jars of
baked clay, and we saw a copper hatchet. But they did
not themselves make these things. They had drifted to
them, we thought, from a people far more skilled.
The Admiral cried, "When and when and when shall
we come to this people?"
I answered, "I tell you what is in my mind, and I have
got it, I think, from your inmost mind, out of which you
will not let it come forth because you have had a great
theory and think you must stand to it. But what if this
that you have underneath is a greater one? What if the
world truly is larger than Alfraganus or the ancients thought?
What if all this that we have found since the first island
and that means only beginnings of what is to be found;
what if it is not Asia at all? What if it is a land mass,
great as Europe or greater, that no one knew anything of?
What if over by the sunset there is Ocean-Sea again, true
ocean and as many leagues to Asia as to Spain? What if
they cannot lead us to Quinsai, Cambaluc or Zaiton, or to
the Ganges' mouth, or Aurea Chersonesus, because they
never heard of them, and they have no ships to pass again
an Ocean-Sea? What if it is all New, and all the maps
have to be redrawn?"
He looked at me as I spoke, steadily and earnestly. What
Juan Lepe said was not the first entry into his mind of
something like that. But he was held by that great mass
of him that was bound by the thinking of the Venerable.
He was free far and far beyond most, but to certain things
he clung like a limpet. "The Earthly Paradise!" he said,
and he looked toward that Paria that we thought ran across
our south. "When our first parents left the Earthly Paradise,
they and their sons and daughters and all the peoples
to come wandered by foot into Chaldea and Arabia. So
it could not be!" His blue-gray eyes under that great
brow and shock of white hair regarded the south.
This faery island--the Garden he called it--and the
Cariari who came to us from the main. One day they saw
one of us take out pen and inkhorn and write down their
answers to our many questions. Behind us lay the blue
sea, before us the deep groves of the islet; between us and
the rich shade stood gathered a score of these Indians. They
looked at the one seated on the sand, industriously making
black marks upon a white sheet. The Indian speaking
stopped short and put up an arm in an attitude of defense;
another minute and they had all backed from us into the
wood. We saw only excited, huddled eyes. Then one
started forth, advancing over the sand, and he had a small
gourd filled with some powder which he threw before him.
He scattered it ceremonially between us and himself and
his fellows, a slow, measured rite with muttered words and
now and then a sharp, rising note.
Cried Juan Sanchez the pilot, "What's he doing?"
Juan Lepe answered before he thought, "He thinks the
notary yonder is a magician and the pen his wand. Something
is being done to them! Counter-magic."
"Then they are enchanters!" cried Alonso de Zamorro.
Our great cluster gave back. "Fix an arrow and shoot
him down!" That was Diego de Porras.
The Adelantado turned sharply. "Do no such thing!
There may be spells, but the worst spell here would be a
battle!" We let fly no arrow, but the belief persisted that
here was seen veritably at work the necromancy that all
along they had guessed.
A party crossed to the main with the Adelantado and
pushed a league into as tall and thick and shadowy a forest as
ever we met in all our wanderings. Here we found no village,
but came suddenly, right in the wood, upon a very great
thatched hut, and in it, upon a stone, lay in state a dead
cacique. He seemed long dead, but the body had not corrupted;
it was saved by some knowledge such as had the
Egyptians. A crown of feathers rested upon the head and
gold was about the neck. Around the place stood posts and
slabs of a dark wood and these were cut and painted with
I do not know what of beast and bird and monstrous idol
forms. We stared. The place was shadowy and very
silent. At last with an oath said Francisco de Porras, "Take
the gold!" But the Adelantado cried, "No!" and going
out of the hut that was almost a house we left the dead
cacique and his crown and mantle and golden breastplate.
Two wooden figures at the door grinned upon us. We saw
now what seemed a light brown powder strewed around
and across the threshold. One of our men, stooping, took
up a pinch then dropped it hastily. "It is the same they
threw against us!"
"Wizardry! We'll find harm from them yet!" That
song crept in now at every turn.
We sailed from the Garden south by east along the endless
coast that no strait broke. At first fair weather ran
with us. But the _Margarita_ was so lame! And all our
other ships wrenched and worm-pierced. And the Admiral
was growing old before our eyes. Not his mind or
his soul but his frame.
He bettered, left his bed and walked the deck. And then
we came to the coast we called the Golden Coast, and his
hope spread great wings again, and if our mariners talked
of magic it was for a time glistening white.
Gold, gold! A deep bay, thronged at the mouth with
islets so green and fair, they were marvel to us who were
sated with islands great and small. We entered under overhanging
trees, and out at once to us shot twenty canoes.
The Indians within wore gold in amount and purity far
beyond anything in ten years. Oh, our ships could scarce
contain their triumph! The Admiral looked a dreamer who
comes to the bliss center in his dream. Gold was ever to
him symbol and mystery. He did not look upon it as a
buyer of strife and envy, idleness and soft luxury; but as
a buyer of crusades, ships and ships, discoveries and discoveries,
and Christ to enter heathendom.
Gold! Discs of great size, half-moons, crescent moons,
pierced for a cotton string. Small golden beasts and birds,
poorly carved but golden. They traded freely; we gathered
gold. And there was more and more, they said, at Veragua,
wherever that might be, and south and east it seemed to be.
Veragua! We would go there. Again we hoisted sail
and in our ships, now all unseaworthy, crept again in a bad
wind along the coast of gold,--Costa Rico. At last we
saw many smokes from the land. That would be a large
Indian village. We beat toward it, found a river mouth and
entered. But Veragua must have heard of us from a swift
land traveler. When a boat from each ship would approach
the land--it was in the afternoon, the sun westering fast
--a sudden burst of a most melancholy and awful din came
from the forest growing close to water side.
One of our men cried "Wizards!" The Admiral spoke
from the stern of the long boat. "And what if they be
wizards? We may answer, `We are Christians!' "
The furious din continued but now we were nearer. "Besides,"
he said, "those are great shells and drums."
Our rowers held off. Out of the forest on to the narrow
beach started several hundred shell-blowing, drum-beating
barbarians, marvelously feathered and painted and with
bows and arrows and wooden swords.
An arrow stuck in the side of our boat, others fell short.
The Admiral rose, tall, broad-shouldered, though lean as
winter where there is winter, with hair as white as milk.
He held in his hand a string of green beads and another of
hawk bells which he made to ring, but he did not depend
more upon them than upon what he held within him of
powerful and pacific. He sent his voice, which he could
make deep as a drum and reaching as one of those great
shells. "Friends--friends! Bringing Christ!"
An arrow sang past him. His son would have drawn him
down, but, "No--no!" and "Friends--friends! Bringing
And whether they thought that "Christ" was the beads
and the bell, or whether the bowman in him did send over
good will and make it to enter their hearts, or whether it
was somewhat of both, they did suddenly grow friendly.
Whereupon we landed.
Gold! We took much gold from this place. One of our
men, touched by the sun, sat and babbled. "Oh, the faithful
golden coast! Oh, the gold that is to come! Great
golden ships sailing across blue sea! A hundred--no, a
thousand--what do I say? A million Indians with baskets
long and wide on their backs and the baskets filled with
gold! The baskets are so great and the gold so heavy that
the Indians are bowed down till they go on all fours. Gold,
--a mountain of pure gold and every Spaniard in Spain
and a few Italians--golden kings--" When we had all we
could get, up sail and on!
Sail on and on along the golden coast of Veragua! Come
to a river and land, for all that again we heard drums and
those great shells strongly blown. Make peace and trade.
And here again was gold, gold, gold. We were now assured
that the main was far richer than any island. Turbulent
hope,--that was the chief lading now of the four
ships. Gold! Gold! Golden moon disks and golden rude
figures. We found a lump of gold wrought like a maize
What was beyond that, by itself under trees, we found an
ancient, broken, true wall, stone and lime. The stones were
great ones, set truly, with care. The wall was old; the remainder
of house, if house or temple there had been, broken
from it. Now the forest overran all. We did not know
when or by whom it was built, and we found no more like
it. But here was true masonry. All of us said that the
world of the main was not the world of the islands.
Ciguarre. These Indians declared it was Ciguarre we
should seek. Now that we were in Veragua--seek Ciguarre.
So we sailed beyond Veragua hunting the strait which
we must pass through to Ganges and Ind of old history.
PUERTO BELLO! Beautiful truly, and a harbor
where might ride a navy. But no gold; and now
came back very evilly the evil weather. Seven days a
blast rocked us. We strained eyes to see if the _Margarita_
yet lived. The _San Sebastian_ likewise was in trouble. No
break for seven days. It was those enchanters of Cariari--
magic asleep for a while but now awake!
Storm. And two ships nigh to foundering. When wind
sank and blue came back, we left Puerto Bello and turned
again south by east, but now with crazy, crazy ships, weather-wrenched and worm-eaten, _teredo_ pierced.
They looked old,
so old, with their whipped and darkened sails. And when
we dropped anchor in some bight there was no gold, but
all night we heard that harsh blowing of shells and beating
Francisco and Diego de Porras, Alonso de Zamorra,
Pedro de Villetoro, Bernardo the Apothecary and others, the
most upon the _Consolacion_, others on the _Margarita_ and the
_Juana_, now began to brew mutiny.
We sailed on, and upon this forlorn coast we met no more
gold. Our ships grew so worn that now at any threat in
the sky we must look and look quickly for harborage, be
it good or indifferent bad. To many of us the coast now
took a wicked look. It was deep in November.
No gold. These Indians--how vast anyhow was India?--
were hostile, not friendly. Our ships were dying,
manifestly. If they sank under us and we drowned, the King
and Queen--if the Queen still lived--never would come
to know that Christopherus Columbus had found Veragua
thrice more golden even than Paria! Found Veragua, met
men of Yucatan; and heard of Ciguarre.
At last not only the mutinous but steadfast men cried, "If
there is a strait it is too far with these ships!"
For a time he was obstinate. _It must be found,--it must
be found!_ But one night there fell all but loss of the Margarita.
When next he slept he had a dream. "The good
Queen came to me and she had in her hand a picture of five
stout ships. Out of her lips came a singing voice. `Master
Christopherus, Master Christopherus, these wait for you,
riding in Cadiz harbor! But now will you slay your son
and your brother and all your men?' Then she said, `The
strait is hidden for a while,' and went."
That day we turned. "We will go back to Veragua and
lade with gold, and then we'll sail to Jamaica and to Hispaniola
where this time we shall be welcome! Then to Spain
where the Queen will give me a stronger fleet."
Our ships hailed the turning. Even the Adelantado, even
Diego Mendez and Juan Sanchez and Bartholomew Fiesco
who were of the boldest drew long breath as of men respited
Not so many have known and lived to tell of such weather
as now we met and in it rolled from wave to wave through
a long month.
Would we put to land we were beaten back. We had
never seen such waves, and at times they glowed with cold
fire. The sea with the wind twisted, danced and shouted.
We were deaf with thunder and blind with lightning. When
the rain descended, it was as though an upper ocean were
coming down. A little surcease, then return of the tempest,
like return of Polyphemus. Men died from drowning, and,
I think, from pure fright. One day the clouds drove down,
the sea whirled up. There was made a huge water column,
a moving column that fast grew larger. Crying out, our
sailors flung themselves upon their knees. It passed us
with a mighty sound, and we were not engulfed.
The Admiral said, "God tries us, but he will not destroy
The boy Fernando, in a moment's wild terror who was
ordinarily courageous as any, clung to him. "O my son!
I would that you were in La Rabida, safe beside Fray Juan
Perez! My son and my brother Bartholomew!"
Now came to us all scarcity of food and a misery of sickness.
Now two thirds would have mutinied had we not
been going back--but we were going back--creeping,
crawling back as the tempest would allow us.
Christmas! We remembered our first Christmas in this
world, by Guarico in Hispaniola, when the _Santa Maria_
sank. Again we found a harbor, and we lay there between
dead and alive, until early January. We sailed and on
Epiphany Day entered a river that we knew to be in golden
Veragua. The Admiral called it the Bethlehem.
Gold again, gold! Not on the Bethlehem, but on the
river of Veragua, not far away, to which the Admiral sent
the Adelantado and two long boats filled with our stoutest
men. They brought back gold, gold, gold!
The cacique of these parts was Quibian, a barbarian whom
at the last, not the first, we concluded to be true brother of
With threescore of our strongest, the Adelantado pushed
again up the river of Veragua, too rough and shallow for
our ships. He visited Quibian; he traded for gold; he was
taken far inland and from a hill observed a country of the
noblest, vale and mountain and Indian smokes. The mountains,
the Indians said, were packed with gold. He brought
back much gold, Indians bearing it for him in deep baskets
that they made.
Quibian paid us a visit, looked sullenly around, and left
us. Not in the least was he Guacanagari! But neither,
quite yet, did he turn into Caonabo.
The Admiral sat pondering, his hands before him between
his knees, his gray-blue eyes looking further than the far
mountains. Later, on the shore, he and the Adelantado
walked up and down under palm trees. The crews watched
them, knowing they were planning.
What they planned came forth the next day, and it was
nothing short of a colony, a settlement upon the banks of
the river Bethlehem.
Christopherus Columbus spoke,--tall, powerful, gaunt,
white-headed, gray-eyed, trusted because he himself so
trusted, suasive, filled with the power of his vision. His
frame was growing old, but he himself stayed young. His
voice never grew old, nor the gray-blue light from his eyes.
Here was gold at last, and Veragua manifestly richer than all
Hispaniola; aye, richer than Paria! Behind Veragua ran Ciguarre
that was fabulously rich, that was indeed India sloping
to Ganges. The Indians were friendly enough for all
their drum-beating and shell-blowing. Quibian's first frowning
aspect had been but aspect. A scarlet cloak and a sack
full of toys had made all right. There was rest on land,
with fruit and maize as we saw. Build a fort--leave a
ship--divide our force. A half would rest here, first settlers
of a golden country with all first settlers' advantage.
Half sail with Christopherus Columbus back to Spain--
straight to Spain--for supplies and men. He would return,
he swore it, with all speed. A ship should be left,
and beyond the ship, the Adelantado.--It was for volunteers
for the fortress and city of Veragua!
In the end eighty men said "We will stay." We began
to build. How long since we had built La Navidad!
The River Bethlehem, that had been full when we entered,
now was half empty of its waters. The _Consolacion_, the
_Juana_, and the _San Sebastian_ that were to depart for Spain
could not pass. The Admiral hung, fitted to go, but waiting
perforce for rains that should lift the ships so they might
pass the bar.
Again Juan Lepe was to stay--so surely would the staying
need a physician.
"It is March," said the Admiral. "God aiding, I and
Fernando shall be back in October at latest."
These Indians seemed to us to have Carib markings. Yet
they all professed amity and continuously brought in gold.
We began to build by the fort a storehouse for much gold.
Suddenly we found--Diego Mendez, bold enough and
a great wanderer, doing the finding--that Quibian's village
up the river of Veragua contained many too, many young
men and men in their prime, and that by day and night
these continued to pour in. It had--Diego Mendez thought
--much the aspect of a camp whose general steadily received
Next day came to the Admiral an Indian who betrayed
his people. Quibian never meant to have in Veragua a
swarm of white caciques! When he had about him every
young man, he was coming, coming, coming through the
The Admiral sent the Adelantado. That strong man chose
fourscore Spaniards, armed them and departed. By boat
and through thick forest he reached Quibian's village, descended
upon it like a hurricane and seized Quibian, much
as long ago--long, long ago it seemed to us--Alonso de
Ojeda had seized Caonabo.
Juan Sanchez the pilot held Quibian in the long boat
while the Adelantado still wrought upon the land. Juan
Sanchez was strong and wary, and watchful; so they swore
were all the Spaniards in the boat. Yet when night was
fallen that Indian, bound as he was, broke with a shout
from them all and leaped from boat into black river.
They thought he perished, seeing him no more for all
their moving about and bringing the boat to the land. Juan
Sanchez was certain he sank, bound as he was. With other
captives and with a great mass of golden ornaments, came
back to the ships the Adelantado. The Indian camp was
The rains began to fall. The river swelled; the fort and
store place and other houses were builded.
The eighty who were to stay and the something under
that number who were to go prepared to say farewell. We
went to mass under three palm trees, before our fort on the
river Bethlehem. That over, those who were to go went
aboard the three ships, and the sails were made, and they
began to sing as they passed down the Bethlehem. The
_Margarita_ and we watched their going.
They went a league, and then another--we thought they
were wholly gone. But out of the river, though the skies
were clear, again rushed against them an enemy wind. They
lay at anchor in river mouth, waiting on propitiousness. But
we, up the river, thought they were gone. That night, before
dawn, Quibian attacked us.
We had several killed, and the Adelantado was hurt in
the breast, and many others had their wounds. But we
thundered with our cannon and we loosed two bloodhounds
and we charged. For a time the brown, naked foe fought
desperately, but at last he broke. Far streamed five hundred
fleeing particles into the gloomy, the deep, the matted
forest. Up the river came a long boat, and we found it
to hold Diego Tristan and eight men sent by the Admiral
with a forgotten word for the Adelantado. Much we rejoiced
that the ships were not clean gone!
Diego Tristan took our news. The Adelantado--his hurt
was slight--wrote again to the Admiral. Again we said
farewell to Diego Tristan. The long boat passed a turn
in the Bethlehem; out of our sight. Once we thought we
heard a faint and distant shouting, but there was no telling.
But in five hours there staggered into fort Juan de Noya
who alone lived of that boatful, set upon by Quibian. Diego
Tristan dead, and seven men.
All that night we heard in the wood those throbbing Indian
drums and wild-blowing shells.
They were Caribs, now we were sure, and Quibian lived
and preached a holy war. Though we had driven them off,
we heard them mustering again. If we could not get food
--perhaps not water?
Sixty of ours came to the Adelantado. In truth, all might
have come, for massacre, slow or swift, was certain if we
stayed in Veragua. I read that the Adelantado, who was
never accused of cowardice or fickleness, was himself determined.
The settlement below the golden mines of golden
Veragua must wait a little.
We took our wounded and with the Adelantado, turned
Mars in these three days, came down to the Bethlehem, to
a pebbly shore from which the water had shrunken. Here
at least was our ship with us, and the river that bore to
the sea. Here, for the weather was ferocious and Quibian
howling around us, we built what shelter we might. Here
in much misery we waited days for the long and wild storm
to cease. We hoped the Admiral was yet at the mouth of
the Bethlehem, but could not do more than hope.
Then came through every peril that might be Pedro Ledesma,
from the ships. They waited! Break through--
The _Margarita_ could never pass the bar that now the falling
water left exposed. We made rafts, we dismantled her
and took what we could; we left her in Veragua for Quibian
to walk her deck and sail her if he might. Through danger
in multitude, with our rafts and two boats, with the loss
of six men, we went down the Bethlehem. Some of ours
wept when they saw the ships, and the Admiral wept when
he and the Adelantado met.
Away from Veragua!
Is it only the Spaniards who suffer, and for what at the
last, not at the first, did Quibian fight? In that strong raid
when we thought Quibian perished had been taken captive
brothers and kinsmen of that cacique. These were prisoned
upon the _Juana_, to be taken to Spain, shown, made Christian,
perhaps sold, perhaps--who knows?--returned to
their land, but never to freedom.
While the _Juana_ tossed where Bethlehem met the sea,
these Indians broke in the night time up through hatchway
and made for the side to throw themselves over. But the
watch gave a great cry and sprang upon them, and other
Spaniards came instantly. All but two were retaken. These
two, wrenching themselves free, sprang away into rough
water and dark night, and it is most likely that they drowned,
being a mile from shore. But the others were thrust back
and down under hatch which then was chained so that they
might not again lift it. But in the morning when the captain
of the _Juana_ went to look, all, all were dead, having
WE left one of our ships in the Bethlehem and we
lost another upon this disastrous coast ere we got
clear for Jamaica.
We were sea specters. We had saved our men from the
_San Sebastian_ as from the _Margarita_. Now all were upon
the _Consolacion_ and the _Juana_. Fifty fewer were we than
when we had sailed from Cadiz, yet the two ships crept
over-full. And they were like creatures overcome with eld.
Beaten, crazed, falling apart.
On the Eve of Saint John we came to Jamaica.
The ships were riddled by the _teredo_. We could not keep
afloat to go to Hispaniola. At Santa Gloria we ran them
in quiet water side by side upon the sand. They partly
filled, they settled down, only forecastle and poop above the
blue mirror. We built shelters upon them and bridged the
space between. The ocean wanderers were turned into a
Jamaica, we thanked all the saints, was a friendly land.
They brought us cassava and fruit, these Indians; they
swarmed about us in their canoes. The gods in trouble, yet
still the gods!
We were forty leagues from Hispaniola, and we had no
Again there volunteered Diego Mendez. We ourselves
had now but one Christian boat. But there existed canoes
a-plenty. Chose one, with six Indians to row! Leave Diego
Mendez with one other Spaniard of his choice to cross the
sea between us and Hispaniola, get to San Domingo, rouse
all Christian men, even Don Nicholas de Ovanda, procure
a large ship or two smaller ones, return with rescue!
We sent off Diego Mendez with strong farewells and
blessings. The vast blue sea and air withdrew and covered
from sight the canoe.
A week--two weeks. Grew out of the azure a single
canoe, and approached. "Diego Mendez--Diego Mendez!"
It was he alone, with a tale to tell of storm and putting
ashore and capture after battle by Jamaicans no longer
friendly, and of escape alone. But he would go again if
so be he might have with him Bartholomew Fiesco. They
went, with heavily paid Indians to row the staunchest canoe
we could find. This time the Adelantado with twenty kept
them company along the shore to end of the island, where
the canoe shot forth into clear sea, and the blue curtain
came down between the stranded and the going for help.
The Adelantado returned to us, and we waited. The weeks
Great heat and sickness, and the Indians no longer prompt
to bring us supplies. Sooner or later, each of these dark
peoples found a Quibian or Caonabo.
The most of us determined that Diego Mendez and Fiesco
and their canoe were lost. Hispaniola knew nothing of us
--nothing, nothing! Suddenly the two Porras brothers
led a mad mutiny. "Leave these rotting ships--seize the
canoes we need--all of us row or swim to Hispaniola!"
There were fifty who thought thus. The Admiral withstood
them with strong words, with the reasoning of a
master seaman, and the counsel now--his white and long
hair, and eld upon him--of Jacob or Isaac or Abraham.
But they would not, and they would not, and at last they
departed from us, taking--but the Admiral gave them freely
--the dozen canoes that we had purchased, crowding into
these, rowing away with cries from that sea fortress, melancholy
indeed, in the blinding light.
They vanished. The next day fair, the next a mad storm.
Two weeks, and news came of them. They were not nigh
to Hispaniola; wrecked, they lost five men, but got, the rest
of them, to land, where they now roved from village to
village. Another week, and the Indians who came to us
and whom we kept friendly, related with passionate and
eloquent word and gesture evils that that band was working.
Pedro Margarite--Roldan--over and over again!
After much of up and down those mutineers came back
to us. They could not do without us; they could not get to
Hispaniola in Indian canoes. The Admiral received them
No sail--no sail. Long months and no sail. Surely
Diego Mendez and Bartholomew Fiesco were drowned!
Hispaniola, if it thought of us at all, might think us now
by Ganges. Or as lost at sea.
Christopherus Columbus dreamed again, or had a vision
again. "I was hopeless. I wept alone on a desert shore.
My name had faded, and all that I had done was broken into
sand and swept away. I repined, and cried, `Why is it thus?'
Then came a ship not like ours, and One stepped from it
in light and thunder. `O man of little faith, I will cover
thy eyes of to-day!' He covered them, and I _saw_.-- And
now, Juan Lepe, I care not! We will all come Home,
whether or no the wave covers us here."
To mariners and adventurers he said at no time any word
of despair. He said, "A ship will come! For if--which
the saints forfend--Bartholomew Fiesco and Diego Mendez
have not reached San Domingo, yet come at last will some
craft to Jamaica! From our island or from Spain. How
many times since '92 has there been touching here? Of
need now it will be oftener and oftener!"
But still many pined with hope deferred.--And then,
out of the blue, arose first Diego de Escobar's small ship,
and later the two good ships sent by Don Nicholas de
The Admiral of the Ocean-Sea lodged in the Governor's
house in San Domingo. Who so courteous as Don Nicholas,
saving only Don Cristoval?
Juan Lepe found certain ones and his own eyes to tell
him of island fortunes. Here was Sancho, a bearded man,
and yet looked out the youth who had walked from Fishertown
to Palos strand. "Oh, aye! San Domingo's growing!
It's to be as great as Seville, with cathedral and fortress and
palace. White men build fast, though not so fast as the
"Oh, he makes things spin! He's hard on the Indians--
but then they've surely given us trouble!"
He told of new forts and projected towns and an increasing
stream of ships, from Spain to Spain again. "We're
here to stay--as long as there's a rock of gold or anything
that can be turned into gold! The old bad times
are over--and that old, first simple joy, too, Doctor!--
Maybe we'll all ship for Ciguarre."
But no. The colony now was firm, with thousands of
Spaniards where once had stood fivescore. Luis Torres sat
with me and he told me of Indian war,--of Anacaona
hanged and Cotubanama hanged, of eighty caciques burned
or hanged, of _peace_ at last. Now the Indians worked the
mines, and scraped the sands of every stream, and likewise
planted cotton and maize for the conquerors. They were
gathered in _repartimentios, encomiendas_, parceled out, so
many to every Spaniard with power. The old word "gods"
had gone out of use. "Master" was now the plain and