Part 4 out of 7
In his turn the Admiral was ready for all that Guacanagari
could tell him. "Gold?" His eyes were upon the
Indian's necklet. Removing it, the cacique laid it in the
god's hand. All Indians now understood that we made
high magic with gold, getting out of it virtues beyond their
comprehension. In return the Admiral gave him a small
brazen gong and hammer. "Where did they get the gold?"
Again like the Cuban chief this cacique waved his hand to
the mountains. "Cibao!" and then turning he too pointed
to the south. "Much gold there," said Diego Colon. "Inland,
in the mountains," quoth the Admiral, "and evidently,
in very great quantity, in some land to the south! This is
not Cipango, but I think that Cipango lies to the south."
He asked who ruled Hayti that we called Hispaniola. We
understood that there were a number of caciques, but that
for a day's journey every way it was Guacanagari's country.
"A cacique who ruled them all?" No, there was no such
"Had ships like ours and clothed men ever before come
No, never! But then he seemed to say that there was
undoubtedly a tradition. Gods had come, and would come
again, and when they did so great things would follow!
But no cacique nor priest nor any knew when the gods
The Admiral made some question of Caribs. Again there
was gesture southward, though it seemed to us that something
was said of folk within this great island who were
at least like Caribs. And where was the most gold and
the greatest other wealth that they knew of? Again south,
though this time we thought it rather south by west. The
Admiral sighed, and spoke of Cuba. Yes, Guacanagari
knew of Cuba. Had it end far yonder to the westward, or
no end? Had any one ever come to its end? The cacique
thought not, or knew not and assumed deliberation. Luis
and I agreed that we had not met among these Indians
any true notion of a continent. To them Hayti was vast,
Cuba was vast, the lands of the Caribs, wherever they were,
were vast, and vast whatever other islands there might be.
To them this was the _OEcumene_, the inhabited and inhabitable
world, Europe--Asia--Africa? Their faces stayed
blank. Were these divisions of heaven?
Guacanagari would entertain and succor us. This canoe
--oh, the huge marvel!--was too crowded! Yonder lay his
town. All the houses that we might want were ours, all
the hammocks, all the food. And he would feast the gods.
That had been preparing since yesterday, A feast with
dancing. He hoped the great cacique and his people from
far nearer heaven than was Guacanagari would live as long
as might be in his town. Guarico was his town. A big,
easy, amiable, likeable man, he sat in nakedness only not
utter, save for that much like a big hidalgo offering sympathy
and shelter to some fire-ousted or foe-ousted prince!
As for the part of prince it was not hard for the Admiral
to play it. He was one naturally.
He thanked the cacique to whom, I could see, he had taken
liking. Seven houses would be enough. To-night some of
us would sleep upon the beach beside the heaped goods.
To-morrow we would visit Guacanapri. The big, lazy,
peaceable man expressed his pleasure, then with a wide and
dignified gesture dismissing all that, asked to be shown
GUACANAGARI'S town was much perhaps as was
Goth town, Frank town, Saxon town, Latin town,
sufficient time ago. As for clothed and unclothed,
that may be to some degree a matter of cold or warm
weather. We had not seen that ever it was cold in this
Guacanagari feasted us with great dignity and earnestness,
for he and his people held it a momentous thing our
coming here, our being here. Utias we had and iguana,
fish, cassava bread, potato, many a delicious fruit, and
that mild drink that they made. And we had calabashes,
trenchers and fingers, stone knives with which certain officers
of the feast decorously divided the meat, small gourds for
cups, water for cleansing, napkins of broad leaves. It was
a great and comely feast. But before the feast, as in Cuba,
I should say that three hundred young men and maidens
danced. They advanced, they retreated, they cowered, they
pressed forward. They made supplication, arms to heaven
or forehead to ground, they received, they were grateful,
they circled fast in ease of mind, they hungered again and
were filled again, they flowed together, they made a great
square, chanting proudly!
Fray Ignatio beside me glowered, so far as so good a
man could glower. But Juan Lepe said, "It is doubt and
difficulty, approach, reconciliation, holy triumph! They
are acting out long pilgrimages and arrivals at sacred cities
and hopes for greater cities. It is much the same as in
Seville or Rome!" Whereupon he looked at me in astonishment,
and Jayme de Marchena said to Juan Lepe, "Hold
Dance and the feast over, it became the Admiral's turn.
He was set not to seem dejected, not to give any Spaniard
nor any Indian reason to say, "This Genoese--or this
god--does not sustain misfortune!" But he sat calm,
pleased with all; brotherly, fatherly, by that big, easy,
contented cacique. Now he would furnish the entertainment!
Among us we had one Diego Minas, a huge man and as
mighty a bowman as any in Flanders or England. Him
the Admiral now put forward with his great crossbow and
long arrows. A stir ran around. "Carib! Carib!" We
made out that those mysterious Caribs had bows and arrows,
though not great ones like this. Guacanagari employed
gestures and words that Luis Torres and I strove
to understand. We gathered that several times in the
memory of man the Caribs had come in many canoes, warred
dreadfully, killed and taken away. More than that, somewhere
in Hayti or Quisquaya or Hispaniola were certain
people who knew the weapon. "Caonabo!" He repeated
the name with respect and disliking. "Caonabo, Caonabo!"
Perhaps the Caribs had made a settlement.
Diego fastened a leaf upon the bark of a tree and from
a great distance transfixed it with an arrow, then in succession
sent four others against the trunk, making precisely
the form of a cross. The Indians cried, "Hai! Hai!"
But when the four harquebus men set up their iron rests,
fixed the harquebuses, and firing cut leaves and twigs from
the same tree, there was a louder crying. And when there
was dragged forth, charged with powder and fired, one of
the lombards taken from the _Santa Maria_, wider yet sprang
the commotion. Pedro Gutierrez and a young cavalier from
the _Nina_ deigned to show lance play, and Vicente Pinzon
who had served against the Moors took a great sword and
with it carved calabashes and severed green boughs. The
sword was very marvelous to them. We might have danced
for them for Spain knows how to dance, or we might have
sung for them, for our mariners sing at sea. But these
were not the superior things we wished to show them.
Guacanagari, big and easy and gentle, said, "Live here,
you who are so great and good! We will take you into
the people. We shall be brothers." We understood them
that the great white heron was their guardian spirit and
would be ours. I said, "They do not think of it as just
those stalking, stilly standing birds! It is a name for something
hovering, brooding, caring for them."
The Viceroy spoke with energy. "Tell them of Father,
Son and Holy Ghost!"
Fray Ignatio stood and spoke, gentle and plain. Diego
Colon made what headway he could. Guacanagari listened,
attentive. The Franciscan had a certainty that presently
he might begin to baptize. His face glowed. I heard him
say to the Admiral, "If it be possible, senor, leave me
here when you return to Spain! I will convert this chief
and all his people--by the time you come again there shall
be a church!"
"Let me ponder it yet a while," answered the other.
He was thoughtful when he went back to the _Nina_.
Vicente Pinzon, too, was anxious for light. "This ship
is crowded to sinking! If we meet wretched weather, or if
sickness break out, returning, we shall be in bad case!"
Roderigo Sanchez also had his word. "Is it not very important,
senor, that we should get the tidings to the Sovereigns?
And we have now just this one small ship, and so
far to go, and all manner of dangers!"
"Aye, it is important!" said the Admiral. "Let me
think it out, senor."
He had not slept at all, thought Juan Lepe, when next
morning he came among us. But be looked resolved, hardy
to accomplish. He had his plan, and he gave it to us in
his deep voice that always thrilled with much beside the
momentary utterance. We would build a fort here on shore,
hard by this village, felling wood for it and using also the
timbers of the _Santa Maria_. We would mount there her
two guns and provide an arsenal with powder, shot, harquebuses
and bows. Build a fort and call it La Navidad, because
of Christmas day when was the wreck. It should
have a garrison of certainly thirty men, a man for each
year of Our Lord's life when He began his mission. So
many placed in Hispaniola would much lighten the _Nina_,
which indeed must be lightened in order with safety to recross Ocean-Sea. For yes, we would go back to
Go, and come again with many and better ships, with hidalgos
and missionary priests, and very many men! In the
meantime so many should stay at La Navidad.
"In less than a year--much less, I promise it--I the
Admiral will be here again at La Navidad, when will come
happy greeting between brothers in the greatest service of
our own or many ages! Sea and land, God will keep us
so long as we are His!"
All loved Christopherus Columbus that day. None was to
be forced to stay at La Navidad. It was easy to gain
thirty; in the end there tarried thirty-eight.
The building of the fort became a pleasurable enterprise.
We broke up with singing the Santa Maria, and
with her bones built the walls. Guacanagari and his people
helped. All was hurried. The Admiral and Viceroy, now
that his mind was made up, would depart as soon as might
We built La Navidad where it might view the sea, upon
a hillside above a brown river sliding out to ocean. Beyond
the stream, in the groves, a quarter-league away, stood the
hundred huts of Guarico. We built a tower and storehouse
and wall of wood and we digged around all some kind
of moat, and mounted three lombards. All that we could
lift from the Santa Maria and what the _Nina_ could spare
us of arms, conveniences and food went into our arsenal
and storehouse. We had a bubbling spring within the enclosure.
When all was done the tower of La Navidad,
though an infant beside towers of Europe, might suffice
for the first here of its brood. It was done in a week from
Who was to be left at La Navidad? Leave was given to
volunteer and the mariners' list was soon made up, good
men and not so good. From the poop there volunteered
Pedro Gutierrez and Roderigo de Escobedo. The Admiral
did not block their wish, but he gave the command not to
Escobedo who wished it, but to Diego de Arana whom
he named to stay, having persuaded him who would rather
have returned with the _Nina_. But he could trust Diego de
Arana, and, with reason, he was not sure of those other hidalgos.
De Arana stayed and fulfilled his trust, and died a brave
man. Fray Ignatio would stay. "Bring me back, Senor, a
goodly bell for the church of La Navidad! A bell and a
Juan Lepe would stay. There needed a physician. But
also Jayme de Marchena would stay. He thought it out.
Six months had not abolished the Holy Office nor converted
to gentleness Don Pedro nor the Dominican.
But the Admiral had assigned me to return with the
_Nina_. I told him in the evening between the sunset and
the moonrise what was the difficulty. He was a man profoundly
religious, and also a docile son of the Church. But
I knew him, and I knew that he would find reasons in
the Bible for not giving me up. The deep man, the whole
man, was not in the grasp of bishop or inquisitor or papal
He agreed. "Aye, it is wiser! I count two months to
Spain, seeing that we may not have so favorable a voyage.
Three or maybe four there, for our welcome at court, and
for the gathering a fleet--easy now to gather for all will
flock to it, and masters and owners cry, `Take my ship--
and mine!' Two months again to recross. Look for me it
may be in July, it may be in August, it may be in September!"
The Viceroy spoke to us, gathered by our fort, under
the banner of Castile, with behind us on hill brow a cross
gleaming. Again, all that we had done for the world and
might further do! Again, we returning on the _Nina_ or
we remaining at La Navidad were as crusaders, knights
of the Order of the Purpose of God! "Cherish good--
oh, men of the sea and the land, cherish good! Who
betrays here betrays almost as Judas! The Purpose of God
is Strength with Wisdom and Charity which only can make
joy! Therefore be ye here at La Navidad strong, wise and
He said more, and he gave many an explicit direction,
but that was the gist of all. Strength, wisdom and charity.
Likewise he spoke to the Indians and they listened and
promised and meant good. An affection had sprung
between Guacanagari and Christopherus Columbus. So different
they looked! and yet in the breast of each dwelled much
guilelessness and the ability to wonder and revere. The
Viceroy saw in this big, docile ruler of Guarico however
far that might extend, one who would presently be baptized
and become a Christian chief, man of the Viceroy of Hispaniola,
as the latter was man of the Sovereigns of Spain. All
his people would follow Guacanagari. He saw Christendom
here in the west, and a great feudal society, acknowledging
Castile for overlord, and Alexander the Sixth as its spiritual
Guacanagari may have seen friends in the gods, and
especially in this their cacique, who with others that they would
bring, would be drawn into Guarico and made one and whole
with the people of the heron. But he never saw Guacanagari
displanted--never saw Europe armed and warlike,
hungry and thirsty.
The _Nina_ and La Navidad bade with tears each the other
farewell. It was the second of January, fourteen hundred
and ninety-three. We had mass under the palm trees, by
the cross, above the fort. Fray Ignatio blessed the going,
blessed the staying. We embraced, we loved one another, we
parted. The _Nina_ was so small a ship, even there just
before us on the blue water! So soon, so soon, the wind
blowing from the land, she was smaller yet, smaller, smaller,
a cock boat, a chip, gone!
Thirty-eight white men watched her from the hill above
the fort, and of the thirty-eight Juan Lepe was the only one
who saw the Admiral come again.
THE butio of this town had been absent for some reason
in the great wood those days of the shipwreck and
the building of La Navidad. Now he was again here,
and I consorted with him and chiefly from him learned
their language. The Admiral had taken Diego Colon to
Spain, and to Spain was gone too Luis Torres, swearing
that he would come again. To Spain was gone Sancho, but
Beltran the cook stayed with us. Pedro and Fernando also.
Time passed. With the ending of January the heat increased.
The butio knew all manner of simples; he was
doctor and priest together. He had a very simple magic.
He himself did not expect it to reach the Great Spirit, but
it might affect the innumerable _zemes_ or under and under-
under spirits. These barbarians, using other words for
them, had letter-notion of gnome, sylph, undine and salamander.
All things lived and took offense or became propitious.
Effort consisted in making them propitious. If
the effort was too great one of them killed you. Then you
went to the shadowy caves. There was a paradise, too,
beautiful and easy. But the Great Spirit could not be hurt
and had no wish to hurt any one else, whether _zemes_ or men.
To live with the Great Spirit, that was really the Heron
wish, though the little herons could not always see it.
This butio--Guarin his name--was a young man with
eyes that could burn and voice that fell naturally into a
chant. He took me into the forest with him to look for a
very rare tree. When it was found I watched him gather
plants from beneath it and scrape bits off its bark into a
small calabash. I understood that it was good for fever,
and later I borrowed from him and found that he had
grounds for what he said.
La Navidad and Guarico neighbored each other. The
Indians came freely to the fort, but Diego de Arana made
a good _alcayde_ and he would not have mere crowding within
our wooden wall. Half of our thirty-eight, permitted at a
time to wander, could not crowd Guarico. But in himself
each Spaniard seemed a giant. At first a good giant, profoundly
interesting. But I was to see pleased interest become
a painful interest.
Women. The first complaint arose about the gods or the
giants and women. Guacanagari came to La Navidad with
Guarin and several old men his councilors. Diego de Arana
received them and there was talk under the great tree within
our gate. Then all the garrison was drawn up, and in the
presence of the cacique Arana gave rebuke and command,
and the two that had done the outrage had prison for
a week. It was our first plain showing in this world that
heaven-people or Europeans could differ among themselves
as to right and wrong, could quarrel, upbraid and punish.
But here was evidently good and bad. And what might be
the proportion? As days went by the question gathered in
this people's bosom.
It was not that their women stood aloof from our men.
Many did not so in the least! But it was to be free will and
actual fondness, and in measure.--But there were those
among us who, finding in lonely places, took by force. These
Diego de Arana was to collect the gold that was a royal
monopoly. Trading for gold for one's self was forbidden.
Assuredly taking it by force--assuredly all robbery of that
or anything else--was forbidden. But there came a robbery,
and since it was resisted, murder followed. This
was a league from Guarico and from La Navidad. The
slain Indian's companion escaping, told.
This time Diego de Arana went to Guarico and Guacanagari. He took with him a rich present, and he
the guilty men were punished. "You do not slay them?"
asked Guacanagari. Arana shook his head. He thought
we were too few in this land to be ridding of life the violent
and lustful. But the Indians seemed to think that he said
that he could not. They still doubted, I think, our mortality.
As yet they had seen no mighty stranger bleed or die.
Arana would have kept his garrison within the walls.
But indeed it was not healthful for them there, and at the
very word of confinement faction rose. There were now
two parties in La Navidad, the Commandant's party and
The heat increased. It was now March. An illness fell
among us. I took Guarin into counsel and gave in water the
bitter inner bark of that tree shredded and beaten fine. Those
who shook with cold and burned with fever recovered.
Fray Ignatio was among those who sickened. He left
after some days his hammock, but his strength did not come
back to him. Yet, staff in hand, he went almost daily to
Guarico. Then, like that! Fray Ignatio died. He died
--his heart stopped--on the path between Guarico and
La Navidad. He had been preaching, and then, Guarin told
me, he put his hand to his side, and said, "I will go home!"
He started up the path, but at the big tree he dropped. Men
and women ran to him, but the butio was dead.
We buried Fray Ignatio beneath the cross on the hilltop.
The Indians watched, and now they knew that we could
The heat increased.
At first Diego de Arana sent out at intervals exploring
parties. We were to learn, at least, Guacanagari's country.
But the heat was great, and so many of those left at La
Navidad only idle and sensual. They would push on to a
village--we found in Guacanagari's country many hamlets,
but no other town like Guarico--and there they would
stop, with new women, new talk, and the endless plenty
to eat and sleep in the shade. When, at their own
sweet will, they returned to La Navidad, the difficulties
had been too great. They could not get to the high mountains
where might or might not be the mines. But what
they did was to spread over the country scandalous news of
At last Arana sorted out those who could be trusted
at least to strive for knowledge and self-control and sent
these. But that weakened him at La Navidad, draining
him of pure blood and leaving the infected, and by mid-April he ceased any effort at exploration. It must
until the Admiral returned, and he began to be hungry indeed
for that return.
Escobedo and Pedro Gutierrez were not hungry for
it--not yet. These two became the head and front of ill,
encouraging every insubordinate, infuriating all who suffered
penalties, teaching insolence, self-will and license. They
drew their own feather to them, promising evil knows what
freedom for rapine.
All the silver weather, golden weather, diamond weather
since we had left Gomera in the Canaries--how many ages
since!--now was changed. We had thought it would last
always, but now we entered the long season of great heat
and daily rain. At first we thought these rains momentary,
but day after day, week after week, with stifling heat, the
clouds gathered, broke, and came mighty rain that at last
ceased to be refreshing, became only wearying and hateful.
It did not cool us; we lived in a sultry gloom. And the
garrison of La Navidad became very quarrelsome. La Navidad
showed the Indians Europeans cursing one another,
giving blows, only held back by those around from rushing
at each other, stabbing and cutting. Finally they saw Tomaso
Passamonte kill one Jacamo. Diego de Arana hung Tomaso
Passamonte. But what were the Indians to think? Not
what they thought when first we came from the winged
canoes to their beaches.
The last of April fell the second sickness and it was far
worse than the first. Eleven men died, and we buried them.
When it passed we were twenty-five Spaniards in Hispaniola,
and we liked not the Indians as well as we had done, and
they liked not us. Oh, the pity--pity--pity, the pity and
Guacanagari came to visit the commandant, none with
him but the butio Guarin, and desiring to speak with
Arana out of the company. They talked beneath the big
tree, that being the most comfortable and commodious council
chamber. Don Diego was imperfect yet in the tongue
of Guarico, and he called Juan Lepe to help him out.
It was a story of Caonabo, cacique of Maguana that ran
into the great mountains of Cibao, that cacique of whom
we had already heard as being like Caribs. Caonabo had
sent quite secretly two of his brothers to Guacanagari. He
had heard ill of the strangers and thought they were demons,
not gods! He advised the cacique of Guarico to surprise
them while they slept and slay them. It was in his experience
that all who ate and slept could be slain. If his brother
Guacanagari needed help in the adventure, Caonabo would
give it. He would even come in person.
Diego de Arana said, "What did you answer, O Cacique."
Guacanagari spoke at some length of our Great Cacique
and his longing that he might return. Everything had gone
well while he was here! "He will return," said Arana.
"And he has your word."
Guacanagari stated that he meant to keep his word. He
had returned answer to Caonabo that there had been misfortunes
but that the mighty strangers were truly mighty,
and almost wholly beneficent. At any rate, he was not
prepared to slay them, did not wish to slay them.
Arana spoke vigorously, pointing out to the cacique all
the kindliness that had attended our first intercourse. The
unhappinesses of February, March and April he attributed
to real demons, not to our own fiend but to small powers
at large, maleficent and alarmed, heathen powers in short,
jealous of the introduction of the Holy Catholic religion.
Guacanagari seemed to understand about these powers. He
looked relieved. But Guarin who was with him regarded
the sea and I saw his lip curl.
The commandant wished to know if there were any danger
of Caonabo, alone, descending upon us from the mountains.
But no! Maguana and Guarico were friends. They
had not always been so, but now they were friends. De
Arana looked doubtfully, and I saw him determine to keep
watch and ward and to hold the men within or near to fort.
But Guacanagari sat serene. He repeated that there were
always preliminaries before wars, and that for a long time
there had only been peace between Guarico and Maguana.
"Caonabo is Carib," said the young copper priest. The
cacique answered, "Carib long ago. Not now."
At sunset, the rain ceasing for a little, the earth smoking,
the west a low, vaporous yellow, the swollen river sounding,
Diego de Arana had summoned by the drum every man in
La Navidad. He stood beneath our banner and put his
hand upon the staff and spoke earnestly to those gathered
before him, in their duty and out of their duty. He told
of Caonabo, and of his own sense that Guacanagari was
too confident. He told of Guacanagari's fidelity to the Admiral,
and he appealed to every Christian there to be at
least as faithful. We were few and far from Spain, and
we had perhaps more than we could conceive in trust. "Far
from Spain, but no farther than we will from the blessed
saints and the true Christ. Let us put less distance there,
being few in this land and in danger!"
He knew that he had a dozen with him, and looked straight
The latter said, "Live in the open and die there, if need
be! To live in this rat hole, breathing plague, is dying
already! Caonabo is a fable! These people! Spaniards
have but to lift voice and they flee!"
He received from his following acquiescent sound. Spoke
Pedro Gutierrez. "Guacanagari wishes to bottle us here;
that is the whole of it. Why play his game? I never saw
a safer land! Only La Navidad is not safe!"
Those two had half and perhaps more than half of the
garrison. Arana cried, "Don Roderigo de Escobedo and
Don Pedro Gutierrez, you serve the Queen ill!"
"You, Senor," answered Gutierrez, "serve my Lady Idle
Fear and my Lord Incapacity!"
Whereupon Arana put him in arrest and he lay that night
in prison. The cloud was black over La Navidad.
IT did not lighten. Escobedo waited two days, then in
the dark night, corrupting the watch, broke gaol for
Pedro Gutierrez and with him and nine men quitted
La Navidad. Beltran the cook it was who heard and procured
a great smoking torch, and sent out against them a
voice like a bull of Bashan's. Arana sprang up, and the
rest of us who slept. They were eleven men, armed and
alert. There were shouts, blows, a clutching and a throwing
off, a detaining and repelling. In the east showed long
ghost fingers, the rain held away. They were at the gate
when we ran upon them; they burst it open and went forth,
leaving one of their own number dead, and two of them
who stayed with Arana desperately hurt. We followed
them down the path, through the wood, but they had the
start. They did not go to Guarico, but they seized the boat
of the _Santa Maria_ which the Admiral had left with us and
went up the river. We heard the dash of their oars, then
the rain came down, with a weeping of every cloud.
The dead man they left behind was Fernando. I had seen
Pedro in the gate, going forth.
Fourteen men, two of whom were ill and two wounded,
stayed at La Navidad. Arana said with passion, "Honest
men and a garrison at one! There is some gain!"
That could not be denied. Gain here, but how about it
It was May. And now the rain fell in a great copious
flood, huge-dropped and warm, and now it was restrained
for a little, and there shone a sun confused and fierce. Earth
and forest dripped and streamed and smoked. We were
Andalusians, but the heat drained us. But we held, we fourteen
men. Arana did well at La Navidad. We all did
what we could to live like true not false Castilians, true not
false Christians. And I name Beltran the cook as hero and
mighty encourager of hearts.
We went back and forth between La Navidad and Guarico,
for though the Admiral had left us a store of food we got
from them fruit and maize and cassava. They were all
friendly again, for the fourteen withheld themselves from
excess. Nor did we quarrel among ourselves and show
them European weakness.
Guacanagari remained a big, easy, somewhat slothful,
friendly barbarian, a child in much, but brave enough when
roused and not without common sense. He had an itch for
marvels, loved to hear tales of our world that for all one
could say remained to them witchcraft and cloudland, world
above their world! What could they, who had no great
beasts, make of tales of horsemen? What could their huts
know of palace and tower and cathedral, their swimmers of
stone bridges, their canoes of a thousand ships greater far
than the_ Santa Maria_ and the _Nina_? What could Guarico
know of Seville? In some slight wise they practiced barter,
but huge markets and fairs to which traveled from all quarters
and afar merchants and buyers went with the tales of
horsemen. And so with a thousand things! We were the
waving oak talking to the acorn.
But there were among this folk two or three ready for
knowledge. Guarin was a learning soul. He foregathered
with the physician Juan Lepe, and many a talk they had,
like a master and pupil, in some corner of La Navidad, or
under a palm-thatched roof, or, when the rain held, by river
or sounding sea. He had mind and moral sense, though
not the European mind at best, nor the European moral
sense at highest. But he was well begun. And he had
beauty of form and countenance and an eager, deep eye.
Juan Lepe loved him.
It was June. Guacanagari came to La Navidad, and his
brown face was as serious as a tragedy. "Caonabo?" asked
Diego de Arana.
A fortnight before this the cacique, at Arana's desire,
had sent three Indians in a canoe up the river, the object
news if possible of that ten who had departed in that direction.
Now the Indians were back. They had gone a long
way until the high mountains were just before them, and
there they heard news from the last folk who might be
called Guarico and the first folk who might be called Maguana.
The mighty strangers had gone on up into the
mountains and Caonabo had put them to death.
It appeared that they had seized women and had beaten
men whom they thought had gold which they would not
give. They were madmen, Escobedo and Gutierrez and
all with them!
Guacanagari said that Caonabo had invited them to a feast.
It was spread in three houses, and they were divided so,
and around each Spaniard was put a ring of Indians. They
were eating and drinking. Caonabo entered the first house,
and his coming made the signal. Escobedo and Pedro
Gutierrez were in this house. They raised a shout, "Undone,
Spaniards!" But though they were heard in the
other houses--these houses being nothing more than booths
--it was to no use. There followed struggle and massacre;
finally Gutierrez and Escobedo and eight men lay dead.
But certain Indians were also killed and among them a son
It was July. We began to long toward the Admiral's
return. A man among us went melancholy mad, watching
the sea, threatening the rain when it came down and
hid the sea, and the Admiral might go by! At last he threw
himself into ocean and was drowned. Another man was
bitten by a serpent, and we could not save him. We were
twelve Spaniards in La Navidad. We rested friends with
Guarico, though now they held us to be nothing more than
demigods. And indeed by now we were ragged!
Then, in a night, it came.
Guacanagari again appeared. It had reached him from
up the river that Caonabo was making pact with the cacique
of Marien and that the two meant to proceed against us.
Standing, he spoke at length and eloquently. If he rested
our friend, it might end in his having for foes Maguana
and Marien. There had been long peace, and Guarico did
not desire war. Moreover, Caonabo said that it was idle
to dread Caribs and let in the mighty strangers! He said
that all pale men, afraid of themselves so that they covered
themselves up, were filled with evil _zemes_ and were worse
than a thousand Caribs! But Caonabo was a mocker and a
hard-of-heart! Different was Guacanagari. He told us
how different. It all ended in great hope that Caonabo would
think better of it.
We kept watch and ward. Yet we could not be utterly
cooped within La Navidad. Errands must be done, food
be gathered. More than that, to seem to Guarico frightened,
to cry that we must keep day and night behind wall with
cannon trained, notwithstanding that Caonabo might be
asleep in the mountains of Cibao, would be but to mine
our own fame, we who, for all that had passed, still seemed
to this folk mighty, each of us a host in himself! And as
nothing came out of the forest, and no more messengers of
danger, they themselves had ceased to fear, being like children
in this wise. And we, too, at last; for now it was
late August, and the weather was better, and surely, surely,
any day we might see a white point rise from blue ocean,
--a white point and another and another, like stars after
long clouded night skies!
So we watched the sea. And also there was a man to
watch the forest. But we did not conceive that the dragon
would come forth in the daytime, nor that he could come
at any time without our hearing afar the dragging of his
body and the whistling of his breath.
It was halfway between sunrise and noon. Five of us
were in the village, seven at La Navidad. The five were
there for melons and fruit and cassava and tobacco which
we bought with beads and fishhooks and bits of bright cloth.
Three of the seven at La Navidad were out of gate, down
at the river, washing their clothes. Diego Minas, the archer,
on top of wall, watched the forest. Walking below, Beltran
the cook was singing in his big voice a Moorish song
that they made much of year before last in Seville. I had a
book of Messer Petrarca's poems. It had been Gutierrez's,
who left it behind when he broke forth to the mountains.
Beltran's voice suddenly ceased. Diego the archer above
him on wall had cried down, "Hush, will you, a moment!"
Diego de Arana came up. "What is it?"
"I thought," said the archer, "that I heard a strange
shouting from toward village. Hark ye! There!"
We heard it, a confused sound. "Call in the men from
the river!" Arana ordered.
Diego Minas sent his voice down the slope. The three
below by the river also heard the commotion, distant as
Guarico. They were standing up, their eyes turned that
way. Just behind them hung the forest out of which slid,
dark and smooth, the narrow river.
Out of the forest came an arrow and struck to the heart
Gabriel Baraona. Followed it a wild prolonged cry of many
voices, peculiar and curdling to the blood, and fifty--a
hundred--a host of naked men painted black with white
and red and yellow markings. Guarico did not use bow
and arrow, but a Carib cacique knew them, and had so
many, and also lances flint or bone-headed, and clubs with
stones wedged in them and stone knives. Gabriel Baraona
fell, whether dead or not we could not tell. Juan Morcillo
and Gonzalo Fernandez sent a scream for aid up to La
Navidad. Now they were hidden as some small thing by
furious bees. Diego de Arana rushed for his sword. "Down
and cut them out!"
Diego Minas fired the big lombard, but for fear of hurting
our three men sent wide the ball. We looked for terror
always from the flame, the smoke and great noise, and so
there was terror here for a moment and a bearing back in
which Juan and Gonzalo got loose and made a little way up
path. But a barbarian was here who could not long be
terrified. Caonabo sent half his horde against Guarico, but
himself had come to La Navidad. That painted army rallied
and overtook the fleeing men.
Shouting, making his swung sword dazzle in light, Diego
de Arana raced down path, and Diego Minas and Beltran
the cook and Juan Lepe with him. Many a time since then,
in this island, have I seen half a dozen Christians with their
arms and the superstitious terror that surrounded them put
to flight twenty times their number. But this was early,
and the spirit of these naked men not broken, and Caonabo
faced us. It was he himself who, when three or four had
been wounded by Arana, suddenly rushed upon the commandant.
With his stone-headed club he struck the sword
away, and he plunged his knife into Arana's breast. He
died, a brave man who had done his best at La Navidad.
Juan Morcillo and Gonzalo Fernandez and Diego Minas
were slain. I saw a lifted club and swerved, but too late.
Blackness and neither care nor delight. Then, far off,
a little beating of surf on shore, very far and nothing to do
with anything. Then a clue of pain that it seemed I must
follow or that must follow me, and at first it was a little
thin thread, but then a cable and all my care was to thin
it again. It passed into an ache and throb that filled my
being like the rain clouds the sky. Then suddenly there
were yet heavy clouds but the sky around and behind. I
opened my eyes and sat up, but found that my arms were
bound to my sides.
"We aren't dead, and that's some comfort, Doctor, as
the cock said to the other cock in the market pannier!"
It was Beltran the cook who spoke and he was bound like
me. Around us lay the five dead. A score of Indians
warded us, mighty strangers in bonds, and we heard the
rest up at the fort where they were searching and pillaging.
Guarico, and the men there?
We found that out when at last they were done with La
Navidad and they and we were put on the march. We came
to where had been Guarico, and truly for long we had smelled
the burning of it, as we had heard the crying and shouting.
It was all down, the frail houses. I made out in the loud
talking that followed the blending of Caonabo's bands what
had been done and not done. Guacanagari, wounded, was
fled after fighting a while, he and his brother and the butio
and all the people. But the mighty strangers found in the
village, were dead. They had run down to the sea, but
Caonabo's men had caught them, and after hard work killed
them. Juan Lepe and Beltran, passing, saw the five bodies.
I do not think that Caonabo had less than a thousand
with him. He had come in force, and the whole as silent
as a bat or moth. We were to learn over and over again
that "Indians" could do that, travel very silently, creatures
of the forest who took by surprise. Well, Guarico was destroyed,
and Guacanagari and Guarin fled, and in all Hispaniola
were only two Spaniards, and we saw no sail upon the
sea, no sail at all!
WE turned from the sea. Thick forest came between
us and it. We were going with Caonabo to the
mountains. Beltran and I thought that it had been
in question whether he should kill us at once, or hold us in
life until we had been shown as trophies in Maguana, and
that the pride and vanity of the latter course prevailed. After
two days in this ruined place, during which we saw no
Guarico Indian, we departed. The raid was over. All their
war is by raid. They carried everything from the fort
save the fort itself and the two lombards. In the narrow
paths that are this world's roads, one man must walk after
another, and their column seems endless where it winds and
is lost and appears again. Beltran and I were no longer
bound. Nor were we treated unkindly, starved nor hurt in
any way. All that waited until we should reach Caonabo's
Caonabo was a most handsome barbarian, strong and
fierce and intelligent, more fierce, more intelligent than Guacanagari.
All had been painted, but the heat of the lowland
and their great exertion had made the coloring run and
mix most unseemly. When they left Guarico they plunged
into the river and washed the whole away, coming out clear
red-brown, shining and better to look upon. Caonabo
washed, but then he would renew his marking with the
paint which he carried with him in a little calabash.
A pool, still and reflecting as any polished shield, made his
mirror. He painted in a terrific pattern what seemed meant
for lightning and serpent. It was armor and plume and
banner to him. I thought of our own devices, comforting
or discomforting kinships! He had black, lustrous hair, no
beard--they pluck out all body hair save the head thatch
--high features, a studied look of settled and cold fierceness.
Such was this Carib in Hispaniola.
Presently they put a watch and the rest all lay down and
slept, Beltran beside me. The day had been clear, and now
a great moon made silver, silver, the land around. It
shone upon the Spanish sailor and upon the Carib chief
and all the naked Manguana men. I thought of Europe,
and of how all this or its like had been going on hundred
years by hundred years, while perished Rome and quickened
our kingdoms, while Charlemagne governed, while the Church
rose until she towered and covered like the sky, while we
went crusades and pilgrimages, while Venice and Genoa
and Lisbon rose and flourished, while letters went on and
we studied Aristotle, while question arose, and wider knowledge.
At last Juan Lepe, too, went to sleep.
Next day we traveled among and over mountains. Our
path, so narrow, climbed by rock and tree. Now it overhung
deep, tree-crammed vales, now it bore through just-
parted cliffs. Beltran and Juan Lepe had need for all their
strength of body.
The worst was that that old tremor and weakness of one
leg and side, left after some sea fight, which had made Beltran
the cook from Beltran the mariner, came back. I saw his
step begin to halt and drag. This increased. An hour later,
the path going over tree roots knotted like serpents, he
stumbled and fell. He picked himself up. "Hard to keep
deck in this gale!"
When he went down there had been an exclamation from
those Indians nearest us. "Aiya!" It was their word for
rotten, no good, spoiled, disappointing, crippled or diseased,
for a misformed child or an old man or woman arrived
at helplessness. Such, I had learned from Guarin, they
almost invariably killed. It was why, from the first, we
hardly saw dwarfed or humped or crippled among them.
We had to cross a torrent upon a tree that falling had
made from side to side a rounded bridge. Again that old
hurt betrayed him. He slipped, would have fallen into the
torrent below, but that I, turning, caught him and the Indian
behind us helped. We managed across. "My ship," said
Beltran, "is going to pieces on the rocks."
The path became ladder steep. Now Beltran delayed all,
for it was a lame man climbing. I helped him all I could.
The sun was near its setting. We were aloft in these
mountains. Green heads still rose over us, but we were
aloft, far above the sea. And now we were going through a
ravine or pass where the walking was better. Here, too, a
wind reached us and it was cooler. Cool eve of the heights
drew on. We came to a bubbling well of coldest water and
drank to our great refreshment. Veritable pine trees, which
we never saw in the lowlands, towered above and sang. The
path was easier, but hardly, hardly, could Beltran drag himself
along it. His arm was over my shoulder.
Out of the dark pass we came upon a table almost bare
of trees and covered with a fine soft grass. The mountains
of Cibao, five leagues--maybe more--away, hung in emerald
purple and gold under the sinking sun. The highest
rocky peaks rose pale gold. Below us and between those
mountains on which we stood and the golden mountains
of Cibao, spread that plain, so beautiful, so wide and long,
so fertile and smiling and vast, that afterwards was
called the Royal Plain! East and west one might not see
the end; south only the golden mountains stopped it. And
rivers shone, one great river and many lesser streams. And
we saw afar many plumes of smoke from many villages,
and we made out maize fields, for the plain was populous.
_Vega Real_! So lovely was it in that bright eve! The very
pain of the day made it lovelier.
The high grassy space ran upon one side to sheer precipice,
dropping clear two hundred feet. But there was camping
ground enough--and the sun almost touched the far,
The Indians threw themselves down. When they had
supper they would eat it, when they had it not they would
wait for breakfast. But Caonabo with twenty young men
came to us. He said something, and my arms were caught
from behind and held. He faced Beltran seated against a
pine. "Aiya!" he said. His voice was deep and harsh, and
be made a gesture of repugnance. There was a powerfully
made Indian beside him, and I saw the last gleam of the
sun strike the long, sharp, stone knife. "Kill!" said the
A dozen flung themselves upon Beltran, but there was no
need, for he sat quite still with a steady face. He had time
to cry to Juan Lepe, who cried to him, "That's what I say!
Good cheer and courage and meet again!"
He had no long suffering. The knife was driven quickly
to his heart. They drew the shell to the edge of the precipice
and dropped it over.
It was early night, it was middle night, it was late night.
They had set no watch, for where and what was the danger
here on this mountain top?
One side went down in a precipice, one sloping less steeply
we had climbed from the pine trees and the well, one of a
like descent we would take to-morrow down to the plain,
but the fourth was mountain head hanging above us and
thick wood,--dark, entangled, pathless. And it chanced
or it was that Juan Lepe lay upon the side toward the peak,
close to forest. The Indians had no thought to guard me.
We lay down under the moon, and that bronze host slept,
naked beautiful statues, in every attitude of rest.
The moon shone until there was silver day. Juan Lepe
was not sleeping.
There was no wind, but he watched a branch move. It
looked like a man's arm, then it moved farther and was a
full man,--an Indian, noiseless, out clear in the moon,
from the wood. I knew him. It was the priest Guarin,
priest and physician, for they are the same here. Palm
against earth, I half rose. He nodded, made a sign to rise
wholly and come. I did so. I stood and saw under the
moon no waking face nor upspringing form. I stepped
across an Indian, another, a third. Then was clear space,
the wood, Guarin. There was no sound save only the constant
sound of this forest by night when a million million
He took my hand and drew me into the brake and wilderness.
There was no path. I followed him over I know
not what of twined root and thick ancient soil, a powder
and flake that gave under foot, to a hidden, rocky shelf
that broke and came again and broke and came again. Now
we were a hundred feet above that camp and going over
mountain brow, going to the north again. Gone were Caonabo
and his Indians; gone the view of the plain and the
mountains of Cibao. Again we met low cliff, long stony
ledges sunk in the forest, invisible from below. I began
to see that they would not know how to follow. Caonabo
might know well the mountains of Cibao, but this sierra
that was straight behind Guarico, Guarico knew. It is a
blessed habit of their priests to go wandering in the forest,
making their medicine, learning the country, discovering,
using certain haunts for meditation. Sometimes they are
gone from their villages for days and weeks. None indeed
of these wild peoples fear reasonable solitude. Out of all
which comes the fact that Guarin knew this mountain. We
were not far, as flies the bird, from the burned town of
Guarico, from the sea without sail, from the ruined La
Navidad. When the dawn broke we saw ocean.
He took me straight to a cavern, such another as that in
which Jerez and Luis Torres and I had harbored in Cuba.
But this had fine sand for floor, and a row of calabashes,
and wood laid for fire.
Here Juan Lepe dropped, for all his head was swimming
The sun was up, the place glistered. Guarin showed how
it was hidden. "I found it when I was a boy, and none but
Guarin hath ever come here until you come, Juan Lepe!"
He had no fear, it was evident, of Caonabo's coming. "They
will think your idol helped you away. If they look for you,
it will be in the cloud. They will say, `See that dark mark
moving round edge of cloud mountain! That is he!' "
I asked him, "Where are Guacanagari and the rest?"
"Guacanagari had an arrow through his thigh and a
deep cut upon the head. He was bleeding and in a swoon.
His brother and the Guarico men and I with them took
him, and the women took the children, and we went
away, save a few that were killed, upon the path that we
used when in my father's time, the Caribs came in canoes.
After a while we will go down to Guacanagari. But now
He looked at me, and then from a little trickling spring
he took water in a calabash no larger than an orange and
from another vessel a white dust which he stirred into it,
and made me drink. I did not know what it was, but I
went to sleep.
But that sleep did not refresh. It was filled with heavy
and dreadful dreams, and I woke with an aching head and
a burning skin. Juan Lepe who had nursed the sick down
there in La Navidad knew feebly what it was. He saw in
a mist the naked priest, his friend and rescuer, seated upon
the sandy floor regarding him with a wrinkled brow and
compressed lips, and then he sank into fever visions uncouth
and dreadful, or mirage-pleasing with a mirage-ecstasy.
Juan Lepe did not die, but he lay ill and like to die for
two months. It was deep in October, that day at dawn
when I came quietly, evenly, to myself again, and lay most
weak, but with seeing eyes. At first I thought I was alone
in the cavern, but then I saw Guarin where he lay asleep.
That day I strengthened, and the next day and the next.
But I had lain long at the very feet of death, and full
strength was a tortoise in returning. So good to Juan Lepe
Now he was with me, and now he went away to that
village where was Guacanagari. He had done this from
the first coming here, nursing me, then going down through
the forest to see that all was well with his wounded cacique
and the folk whose butio he was. They knew his ways and
did not try to keep him when he would return to the mountain,
to "make medicine." So none knew of the cavern or
that there was one Spaniard left alive in all Hayti.
I strengthened. At last I could draw myself out of cave
and lie, in the now so pleasant weather, upon the ledge
before it. All the vast heat and moisture was gone by;
now again was weather of last year when we found San
I could see ocean. No sail, and were he returning, surely
it should have been before this! He might never return.
When Guarin was away I sat or lay or moved about a
small demesne and still prospered. There were clean rock,
the water, the marvelous forest. He brought cassava cake,
fruit, fish from the sea. He brought me for entertainment
a talking parrot, and there lived in a seam of the rock a
beautiful lizard with whom I made friends. The air was
balm, balm! A steady soft wind made cataract sound in
the forest. Sunrise, noon, sunset, midnight, were great
It was November; it was mid-November and after.
Now I was strong and wandered in the forest, though
never far from that cliff and cavern. It was settled between
us that in five days I should go down with Guarin
to Guacanagari. He proposed that I should be taken formally
into the tribe. They had a ceremony of adoption,
and after that Juan Lepe would be Guarico. He would
live with and teach the Guaricos, becoming butio--he and
Guarin butios together. I pondered it. If the Admiral
came not again it was the one thing to do.
I remember the very odor and exquisite touch of the
morning. Guarin was away. I had to myself cave and
ledge and little waterfall and great trees that now I was
telling one from another. I had parrot and lizard and spoke
now to the one and now to the other. I remember the
butterflies and the humming birds.
I looked out to sea and saw a sail!
It was afar, a white point. I leaned against the rock for
I was suddenly weak who the moment before had felt strong.
The white point swelled. It would be a goodly large ship.
Over blue rim slipped another flake. A little off I saw a
third, then a fourth. Juan Lepe rubbed his eyes. Before
there came no more he had counted seventeen sail. They
grew; they were so beauteous. Toward the harbor sailed
a fleet. Now I made out the flagship.
O Life, thou wondrous goddess of happenings!
An hour I sat on cliff edge and watched. They were
making in, the lovely white swans. When they were fairly
near, when in little time the foremost would bring to, down
sail and drop anchor, Juan Lepe, gathering his belongings
together, bidding the lizard farewell and taking the parrot
with him on shoulder, left cavern and cliff and took Guarin's
path down through the forest.
Halfway to level land he met Guarin coming up; the
two met beneath a tree huge and spreading, curtained with
a vine, starred with flowers. "He has come!" cried the
Indian. "They have come!" In his voice was marveling,
The sun in the sky shone, and in the bay hung that wonder
of return, the many ships for the _Nina_. Juan Lepe and
Guarin went on down through wood to a narrow silver
beach, out upon which had cast itself an Indian village.
Guacanagari was not here. He waited within his house
for the Admiral. But his brother, and others of Guarico,
saw me and there rose a clamor and excitement that for the
moment took them from the ships. Guarin explained and
Juan Lepe explained, but still this miraculous day dyed also
for them my presence here. I had been slain, and had come
to life to greet the Great Cacique! It grew to a legend. I
met it so, long afterwards in Hispaniola.
ONE by one were incoming, were folding wings, were
anchoring, Spanish ships. Three were larger each
than the _Santa Maria_ and the _Pinta_ together; the
others caravels of varying size. Seventeen in all, a fleet,
crowded with men, having cannon and banners and music.
Europe was coming with strength into Asia! The Indians
on the beach were moved as by an unresting wind. They
had terror, they had delight, and some a mere stupidity of
staring. The greatest ship, the first to anchor, carried the
banner of Castile and Leon, and the Admiral's banner.
Now a boat put off from her, boats also from the two ships
next in grandeur.
As they came over the blue wave Juan Lepe stepped down
sand to water edge. Not here, but somewhat to the west,
before La Navidad would one look for this anchoring. He
thought rightly that the Admiral came here from La Navidad,
where he found only ruin, but also some straying Indian
who could give news. So it was, for presently in the
foremost boat I made out two Guarico men. They had told
of Caonabo and of Guacanagari's fortunes, and of every
Spaniard dead of that illness or slain by Caonabo. They
would put Juan Lepe among these last, but here was Juan
Lepe, one only left of that thirty-eight.
The boat approached. I saw the bared head, higher than
any other, the white hair, the blue-gray eyes, the strong
nose and lips, the whole majestic air of the man, as of a
great one chosen. Master Christopherus--Don Cristoval
--_el Almirante_! One of the rowers, and that was Sancho
with whom I had walked on the Fishertown road, first saw
me and gave a startled cry. All in the boat turned head.
I heard the Admiral's voice, "Aye, it is! It is!"
Boat touched sand, there was landing. All sprang out.
The Admiral took me in his arms. "You alone--one
I answered, "One only. The most died in their duty."
He released me. "senors, this is senor Juan Lepe, that
good physician whom we left. Now tell--tell all--before
we go among this folk!"
By water edge I told, thirty men of Spain around me.
A woeful story, I made it short. These men listened, and
when it was done fell a silence. Christopherus Columbus
broke it. "The wave sucks under and throws out again,
but we sail the sea, have sailed it and will sail it!--Now
were these Indians false or fair?"
I could tell how fair they had been--could praise Guarico
and Guacanagari and Guarin. He listened with great satisfaction.
"I would lay my head for that Indian!"
Talk with him could not be prolonged, for we were in
a scene of the greatest business and commotion. When I
sought for Guarin he was gone. Nor was Guacanagari yet
at hand. I looked at the swarming ships and ship boats,
and the coming and coming upon the beach of more and
more clothed men, and at the tall green palms and the feathered
mountains. This host, it seemed to me, was not so
artlessly amazed as had been we of the _Santa Maria_, the
_Pinta_ and the _Nina_, when first we came to lands so strange
to Europe. Presently I made out that they had seen others
of these islands and shores. Coming from Spain they had
sailed more southerly than we had done before them. They
had made a great dip and had come north-by-west to Hispaniola.
I heard names of islands given by the Admiral, Dominica,
Marigalante, Guadaloupe, Santa Maria la Antigua,
San Juan. They had anchored by these, set foot
upon them, even fought with people who were Caribs, Caribals
or Cannibals. They had a dozen Caribs, men and
women, prisoners upon the _Marigalante_ that was the Admiral's
This group about Juan Lepe, survivor of La Navidad,
talked like seasoned finders and takers. For the most part
they were young men and hidalgos, fighters against the
Moors, released by the final conquest of those paynims, out
now for further wild adventure and for gold with which to
return, wealthy and still young, to Spanish country, Spanish
cities, Spanish women! They had the virtue and the vice
of their sort, courage, miraculous generosities and as miraculous
weaknesses. Gold, valor, comradeship--and eyes resting
appraisingly upon young Guarico women there upon the
silver beach with Guarico men.
I heard one cry "Master Juan Lepe!" and turning found
Luis Torres. We embraced, we were so glad each to see
the other. My hidalgos were gone, but before I could
question Luis or he me, there bore down upon us, coming
together like birds, half a dozen friars. "We bring twelve
--number of the Apostles!" said Luis. "Monks and
priests. Father Bernardo Buil is their head. The Holy
Father hath appointed him Vicar here. You won't find him
a Fray Ignatio!"
A bull-necked, dark-browed, choleric looking man addressed
me. His Benedictine dress became him ill. He
should have been a Captain of Free Lances in whatever
brisk war was waging. He said, "The survivor, Juan
Lepe?--We stopped at your La Navidad and found ruin
and emptiness. There must have been ill management--
"They are all dead," I answered. "None of us manage
the towers so very well!"
He regarded me more attentively. "The physician, Juan
Lepe. Where did you study?"
"In Poitiers and in Paris, Father."
"You have," he said, "the height and sinew and something
of the eye and voice of a notable disappeared heretic,
Jayme de Marchena, who slipped the Dominicans. I saw
him once from a doorway. But that the Prior of La Rabida
himself told me that he had accurate knowledge that
the man was gone with the Jews to Fez, I could almost think
--But of course it is not possible, and now I see the differences."
I answered him with some indifferent word, and we came
to the Haytiens, and how many had Fray Ignatio made
Christian? "I knew him," said the Benedictine. "A good
man, but weak, weak!"
Juan Lepe asked of the Indians the Admiral had taken
to Spain. "But six reached us alive. We instructed them
and baptized them. A great event--the Grand Cardinal
and the King and the Queen attending! Three died during
the summer, but blessedly, being the first of all their people
in all time to enter heaven. A great salvation!"
He looked at the forest and mountains, the sands, the
Guaricos, as at a city he was besieging.
"Ha!" said Father Buil, and with his missionaries moved
up the beach.
Luis and I began to talk. "No need to tell me that Spain
gave you welcome!"'
"The royalest ever! First we came to Lisbon, driven
in by storm, and had it there from King John, and then to
Palos which, so to speak, went mad! Then through Spain
to Barcelona, where was the court, and all the bells in every
town ringing and every door and window crowded, and here
is the Faery Prince on a white charger, his Indians behind
him and gold and parrots and his sailors! Processions and
processions--alcalde and alcayde and don and friar and
priest, and let us stop at the church and kneel before high
altar, and vow again in seven years to free the Sepulchre!
He hath walked and ridden, waked and slept, in a great, high
vision! Most men have visions but he can sustain vision."
"Aye, he can!"
"So at last into Barcelona, where grandees meet us, and
so on to the court, and music as though the world had turned
music! And the King and Queen and great welcome, and,
`Sit beside us, Don Cristoval Colon!' and `Tell and tell
again', and `Praise we Most High God!' "
"It is something for which to praise! Ends of the earth
beginning to meet."
"Aye! So we write that very night to the Pope to be
confirmed that the glory and profit under God are to Castile
and Aragon. But the Queen thought most of the heathen
brought to Christ. And the Admiral thinks of his sons
and his brothers and his old father, and of the Holy Sepulchre
and of the Prophecies, and he has the joy of the
runner who touches the goal!--I would you could have
seen the royalty with which he was treated--not one day
nor week but a whole summer long--the flocking, the bowing
and capping, the `Do me the honor--', the `I have a
small petition.' Nothing conquers like conquering!"
"He had long patience."
"Aye. Well, he is at height now. But he has got with
him the old disastrous seeds.--Fifteen hundred men, and
among them quite a plenty like Gutierrez and Escobedo!
But there are good men, too, and a great lot of romantical
daredevils. No pressing this time! We might have brought
five thousand could the ships have held them. `Come to the
Indies and make your fortune!'--`Aye, that is my desire!' "
I said, "I am looking now at a romantical daredevil
whom I have seen before, though I am sure that he never
"Don Alonso de Ojeda? He is feather in cap, and sometimes
cap, and even at stress head within the cap! Without
moving you've beckoned him."
There approached a young man of whom I knew something,
having had him pointed out by Enrique de Cerda in
Santa Fe. I had before that heard his name and somewhat
of his exploits. In our day, over all Spain, one might find or
hear of cavaliers of this brand. War with the Moor had
lasted somewhat longer than the old famed war with Troy.
It had modeled youth; young men were old soldiers. When
there came up a sprite like this one he drank war like wine.
A slight young man, taut as a rope in a gale, with dark
eyes and red lips and a swift, decisive step, up he came.
"Oh, you are the man who lived out of all your fort?
How did you manage it?"
"I had a friend among these friendly Indians who rescued
"Yes! It is excellent warfare to have friends.--You
have seen no knight nor men-at-arms, nor heard of such?"
"Not under those names."
"How far do you think we may be from true houses
and cities, castles, fortresses?"
"I haven't the least idea. By the looks of it, pretty far."
"It seems to me that you speak truth," he answered.
"Well, it isn't what we looked for, but it's something! Room
yet to dare!" Off he went, half Mercury, half Mars,
and a sprig of youth to draw the eyes.
"Was there nothing ever heard," I asked Luis, "of the
_Pinta_ and Martin Pinzon?"
"He is dead."
"You saw the wreck?"
"No, not that way, though true it is that he wrecked
himself! I forget that you know nothing. We met the
_Pinta_ last January, not a day from here, with Monte Cristi
there yet in sight. When he came aboard and sat in the
great cabin I do not know what he said, except that it was
of separation by that storm, and the feeling that two parties
discovering would thereby discover the more, and the better
serve their Majesties. The Admiral made no quarrel with
him. He had some gold and some news of coasts that we
had not seen. And he did not seem to think it necessary
to seem penitent or anything but just naturally Martin
Pinzon. So on we sailed together, he on the _Pinta_ and the
Admiral on the _Nina_. But that was a rough voyage home
over Ocean-Sea! Had we had such weather coming, might
have been mutiny and throat-cutting and putting back,
Cathay and India being of no aid to dead men! Six times
at least we thought we were drowned, and made vows,
kneeling all together and the Admiral praying for us, Fray
Ignatio not being there. Then came clear, but beyond
Canaries a three days', three nights' weather that truly drove
us apart, the _Pinta_ and the _Nina_. We lost each other in the
darkness and never found again. We were beaten into the
Tagus, the _Pinta_ on to Bayonne. Then, mid-March, we came
to Palos, landed and the wonder began. And in three days
who should come limping in but the _Pinta_? But she missed
the triumph, and Martin Pinzon was sick, and there was
some coldness shown. He went ashore to his own house,
and his illness growing worse he died there. Well, he had
"Aye," I answered, with a vision of the big, bluff, golden-haired man.
"Vicente Pinzon is here; his ship the _Cordera_ yonder.
What's the stir now? The Admiral will go to see Guacanagari?"
That, it seemed, was what it was, and presently came
word that Juan Lepe should go with him. A body of cavaliers
sumptuously clad, some even wearing shining corselet,
greaves and helm, was forming about him who was himself
in a magnificent dress. Besides these were fifty of the
plainer sort, and there lacked not crossbow, lance and arquebus.
And there were banners and music. We were going
like an army to be brotherly with Guacanagari. Father
Buil was going also, and his twelve gowned men. "Who,"
I asked Luis, "is the man beside the Admiral? He seems
"He is. It is his brother, Don Diego. He is a good
man, able, too, though not able like the Admiral. They
say the other brother, Bartholomew, who is in England or
in France, is almost as able. How dizzily turns the wheel
for some of us! Yesterday plain Diego and Bartholomew,
a would-be churchman and a shipmaster and chart-maker!
Now Don Diego--Don Bartholomew! And the two sons
watching us off from Cadiz! Pages both of them to the
Prince, and pictures to look at! `Father!' and `Noble
father! and `Forget not your health, who are our Dependance!' "
Waiting for all to start, I yet regarded that huge dazzle
upon the beach, so many landed, so many coming from
the ships, the ships themselves so great a drift of sea birds!
As for those dark folk--what should they think of all
these breakers-in from heaven? It seemed to me to-day
that despite their friendliness shown us here from the first,
despite the miracle and the fed eye and ear and the excitement,
they knew afar a pale Consternation.
At last, to drum and trumpet, we passed from shining
beach into green forest. I found myself for a moment beside
Diego Colon--not the Admiral's brother, but the young
Indian so named. Now he was Christian and clothed, and
truly the Haitiens stared at him hardly less than at the
Admiral. I greeted him and he me. He tried to speak in
Castilian but it was very hard for him, and in a moment we
slipped into Indian.
I asked him, "How did you like Spain?"
He looked at me with a remote and childlike eye and began
to speak of houses and roads and horses and oxen.
A message came from the Admiral at head of column. I
went to him. Men looked at me as I passed them. I was
ragged now, grizzle-bearded and wan, and they seemed to
say, "Is it so this strange land does them? But those first
ones were few and we are many, and it does not lie in our
fortune! Gold lies in ours, and return in splendor and
happiness." But some had more thoughtful eyes and truer
sense of wonder.
We found Guacanagari in a new, large, very clean house,
and found him lying in a great hammock with his leg bound
with cotton web, around him wives and chief men. He sat
up to greet the Admiral and with a noble and affecting air
poured forth speech and laid his hand upon his hidden hurt.
Now I knew, because Guarin had told me so, that that
wound was healed. It had given trouble--the Caribs poisoned
their darts--but now it was well. But they are
simpler minded than we, this folk, and I read Guacanagari
that he must impress the returning gods with his fidelity.
He had proved it, and while Juan Lepe was by he did not
need this mummery, but he had thought that he might need.
So, a big man evidently healthful, he sighed and winced and
half closed his eyes as though half dying still in that old
contest when he had stood by the people from the sky. I
interpreted his speech, the Admiral already understanding,
but not the surrounding cavaliers. It was a high speech or
high assurance that he had done his highest best.
"Do I not believe that, Guacanagari?" said the Admiral,
and thinking of Diego de Arana and Fray Ignatio and others
and of the good hope of La Navidad, tears came into his
He sat upon the most honorable block of wood which was
brought him and talked to Guacanagari. Then at his gesture
one brought his presents, a mirror, a rich belt, a knife, a pair
of castanets. Guacanagari, it seemed, since the sighting of
the ships, had made collection on his part. He gave enough
gold to make lustful many an eye looking upon that scene.
The women brought food and set before the Spaniards
in the house. I found Guarin and presently we came to
be standing without the entrance--they had no doors;
sometimes they had curtains of cotton--looking upon that
strange gathering in the little middle square of the town.
So many Spaniards in the palm shadows, and the women
feeding them, and Alonso de Ojeda's hand upon the arm of
a slender brown girl with a wreath of flowers around her
head. Father Buil was within with the Admiral, truculently
and suspiciously regarding the idolater who now had left
the hammock and seemed as well of a wound as any there!
But here without were eight or ten friars, gathered together
under a palm tree, making refection and talking
among themselves. One devout brother, sitting apart and
fasting, told his beads.
Said Guarin, "I have been watching him. He is talking
to his _zeme_.--They are all butios?"
"Yes. Most of them are good men."
"What is going to happen here to all my people? Something
is over against me and my people, I feel it! Even
the cacique has fear."
"It is the dark Ignorance and the light Ignorance, the
clothed Ignorance and the naked Ignorance. I feel it too,
what you feel. But I feel, O Guarin, that the inner and
true Man will not and cannot take hurt!"
He said, "Do they come for good?"
I answered, "There is much good in their coming. Seen
from the mountain brow, enormous good, I think. In the
long run I am fain to think that all have their market here,
you no less than I, Guacanagari no less than the Admiral."
"I do not know that," he said. "It seems to me the
sunny day is dark."
I said, "In the main all things work together, and in the
end is honey."
Out they came from palm-roofed house, the Admiral of
the Ocean-Sea and Viceroy of what Indies he could find
for Spain and Spain could take, and the Indian king or
grandee or princeling. Perceiving that what he did was
appreciated for what it was, Guacanagari had recovered his
lameness. The cotton was no longer about his thigh; he
moved straight and lightly,--a big, easy Indian.
It was now well on in the afternoon, but he would go with
the Mighty Stranger, the Great Cacique his friend, to see
the ships and all the wonders. His was a childlike craving
for pure novelty and marvel.
So we went, all of us, back through vast woodland to
cerulean water. Water was deep, the _Marigalante_ rode close
in, and about and beyond her the _Santa Clara_, the _Cordera_,
the _San Juan_, the _Juana_, another _Nina_, the _Beatrix_ and
many another fair name. They were beautiful, the ships
on the gay water and about them the boats and the red
We went to the _Marigalante_, I with the Admiral. Dancing
across in the boat there spoke to me Don Diego Colon,
born Giacomo Colombo, and I found him a sober, able man,
with a churchly inclination. Here rose the Marigalante,
and now we were upon it, and it was a greater ship than the
_Santa Maria_, a goodly ship, with goodly gear aboard and
goodly Spaniards. Jayme de Marchena felt the tug of
blood, of home-coming into his country.
FINDING young Sancho upon the _Marigalante_, I kept
him beside me for information's sake. He, too, had
his stories. And he asked me how Pedro and Fernando
In this ship were two sets of captives, animals brought
from Spain and Indians from those fiercer islands to the
south. The _Monsalvat_ that was a freight ship had many
animals, said Sancho, cattle and swine and sheep and goats
and cocks and hens, and thirty horses. But upon the _Marigalante_,
well-penned, the Admiral had a stallion and two
mares, a young bull and a couple of heifers, and two dogs
--bloodhounds. The Caribs were yonder, five men in all.
He took me to see them. They were tall, strong, sullen
and desperate in aspect, hardier, fiercer than Indians of
these northward lands. But they were Indians, and their
guttural speech could be made out, at least in substance.
They asked with a high, contemptuous look when we meant
to slay and eat them.
"They eat men's flesh, every Caribal of them! We saw
horrid things in Guadaloupe!"
Away from these men sat or stood seven women. "They
were captives," said Sancho. "Caribs had ravished them
from other islands and they fled in Guadaloupe to us."
These women, too, seemed more strongly fibred, courageous,
high of head than the Hayti women. There was among
them one to whom the others gave deference, a chieftainess,
strong and warlike in mien, not smoothly young nor after
their notions beautiful, but with an air of sagacity and pride.
A ship boy stood with us. "That is Catalina," he said.
The woman looked at him with disdain and what she
said was, "Young fool with fool-gods!"
"They came to us for refuge," said Sancho. "We think
they are Amazons. There was an island where they fought
us like men--great bow-women! Don Alonso de Ojeda
first called this one Catalina, so now we all call her Catalina.
At first they liked us, but now that they are safe away from
Caribs--all but these five and they can't hurt them--
they sit and pine! I call it ungrateful, Catalina!"
We moved away. There came from the great cabin where
they had wine and fine sweet cakes the Admiral and Guacanagari,
with them Don Diego and three or four cavaliers.
Guarin was not with the cacique, upon the _Marigalante_.
He would not come. I had a vision of him, in the forest,
seated motionless, communing with the deepest self to
which he could reach, seeking light with the other light-seekers.
Christopherus Columbus beckoned me and I went the
round of the ship with him and others and his guest, this
far-away son of Great India. So, presently, he was taken to
view the horses and the cattle. Whoever hath seen lions
brought to a court for show hath seen some shrinking from
too-close and heard timorous asking if the bars be really
strong. And the old, wild beasts at Rome for the games.
If one came by chance upon them in a narrow quarter
there might be terror. And the bull that we goad to madness
for a game in Spain--were barriers down would come
a-scrambling! This cacique had never seen an animal larger
than a fox or a dog, Yet he stood with steadiness, though
his glance shot here and there. The stallion was restless
and fiery-eyed; the bull sent forth a bellow. "Why do they
come? What will they do here? Will you put them in the
forest? The people will be afraid to wander!"
He looked away to sky and sea and shore. "It grows
toward night," he said. "I will go back to my town."
The Admiral said, "I would first show you the Caribs,"
and took him there where they were bound. The Haytien
regarded them, but the Caribs were as contemptuously silent
as might have been Alonso de Ojeda in like circumstances.
Only as Guacanagari turned away, one spoke in a fierce,
monotonous voice. "You also, Haytien, one moon!"
"You lie! Only Caribs!" Guacanagari said back.
The cacique stood before the woman whom they called
Catalina. She broke into speech. It was cacique to
cacique. She was from Boriquen--she would return in a
canoe if she were free! Better drown than live with the
utterly un-understandable--only that they ate and drank
and laid hold of women whether these would or would not,
and were understandable that far! Gods! At first she
thought them gods; now she doubted. They were magicians.
If she were free--if she were free--if she were free!
Home--Boriquen! If not that, at least her own color and
Guacanagari stood and listened. She spoke so fast--the
Admiral never became quite perfect in Indian tongues, and
few upon the _Marigalante_ were so at this time. Juan Lepe
understood. But just as he was thinking that in duty bound
he must say to the Admiral, "She is undermining reputation.
Best move away!" Guacanagari made a violent gesture
as though he would break a spell. "Where could they
come from with all that they have except from heaven?
Who can plan against gods? It is sin to think of it! _El
Almirante_ will make you happy, Boriquen woman!"
We left the women. But Guacanagari himself was not
happy, as he had been that Christmas-tide when first the
gods came, when the _Santa Maria_ was wrecked and he gave
The Admiral did not see that he was unhappy. The Admiral
saw always a vast main good, and he thought it pearl
and gold in every fiber. As yet, he saw no rotted string,
no snarl to be untangled. It was his weakness, and maybe,
too, his strength.
The sunset hung over this roadstead and the shore. The
mountains glowed in it, the nearer wood fell dark, the beach
showed milky white, a knot of palms upon a horn of land
caught full gold and shone as though they were in heaven.
Over upon the _Cordera_ they were singing. The long cacique-canoe shot out from the shadow of the
Sun dipped, night cupped hands over the world. The long
day of excitement was over. Mariners slept, adventurers
gentle and simple, the twelve friars and Father Buil. Seventeen
ships, nigh fifteen hundred men of Europe, swinging
with the tide before the land we were to make Spanish.
The watch raised a cry. Springing from his bed Juan Lepe
came on deck to find there confusion, and under the moon
in the clear water, swimming forms, swimming from us
in a kind of desperate haste and strength. There was shouting
to man the boat. One jostling against me cried that
they were the captive Indians. They had broken bonds,
lifted hatch, knocked down the watch, leaped over side.
Another shouted. No, the Caribs were safe. These were
The women--seven forms might be made out--were
not far from land. I felt tingling across to me their hope
and fear. Out of ship shadow shot after them our boat.
Strongly rowed, it seemed to gain, but they made speed
strongly, strongly. The boat got into trouble with the
shallows. The swimmers now stood and ran, now were
racers; in a moment they would touch the dry, the shining
beach. Out of boat sprang men running after them, running
across low white lines of foam. The women, that
strong woman cacique ahead, left water, raced across sand
toward forest. Two men were gaining, they caught at the
least swift woman. The dark, naked form broke from
them, leaped like a hurt deer and running at speed passed
with all into the ebony band that was forest.
Alonso de Ojeda burst into a great laugh. "Well done,
The Admiral's place could ever be told by his head over
all. Moreover his warm, lifted, powerfully pulsing nature
was capable of making around him a sphere that tingled
and drew. One not so much saw him as felt him, here,
there. Now I stood beside him where he leaned over rail.
"Gone," he said. "They are gone!" He drew a deep
breath. I can swear that he, too, felt an inner joy that they
had escaped clutching.
But in the morning he sent ashore a large party under
his brother, Don Diego. We received another surprise. No
Indians on the beach, none in the forest, and when they
came to the village, only houses, a few parrots and the
gardens, dewy fresh under the sun's first streaming. No
Indians there, nor man nor woman nor child, not Guacanagari,
not Guarin, not Catalina and her crew--none! They
were gone, and we knew not where, Quisquaya being a huge
country, and the paths yet hidden from us or of doubtful
treading. But the heaped mountains rose before us, and
Juan Lepe at least could feel assured that they were gone
there. They vanished and for long we heard nothing of
them, not of Guacanagari, nor of Guarin who had saved
Juan Lepe, not of Catalina, nor any.
This neighborhood, La Navidad and the shipwreck of the
_Santa Maria_, burned Guarico and now this empty village,
perpetual reminder that in some part our Indian subjects
liked us not so well as formerly and could not be made
Christian with a breath, grew no longer to our choice.
Something of melancholy overhung for the Admiral this part
of Hispaniola. He was seeking a site for a city, but now
he liked it not here. The seventeen ships put on sail and,
a stately flight of birds greater than herons, pursued their
way, easterly now, along the coast of Hispaniola.
Between thirty and forty leagues from the ruin of La
Navidad opened to us a fair, large harbor where two rivers
entered the sea. There was a great forest and bright protruding
rock, and across the south the mountains. When
we landed and explored we found a small Indian village that
had only vaguely heard that gods had descended. Forty
leagues across these forests is a long way. They had heard
a rumor that the cacique of Guarico liked the mighty
strangers and Caonabo liked them not, but as yet knew
little more. The harbor, the land, the two rivers pleased us.
"Here we will build," quoth the Viceroy, "a city named
CHRISTMASTIDE, a year from the sinking of the
_Santa Maria_, came to nigh two thousand Christian men
dwelling in some manner of houses by a river in a
land that, so short time before, had never heard the word
"Christmas." Now, in Spain and elsewhere, men and
women, hearing Christmas bells, might wonder, "What
are they doing--are they also going to mass--those
adventurers across the Sea of Darkness? Have they converted
the Indies? Are they moving happily in the golden,
spicy lands? Great marvel! Christ now is born there as
Juan Lepe chanced to be walking in the cool of the evening
with Don Francisco de Las Casas, a sensible, strong man,
not unread in the philosophers. He spoke to me of his son,
a young man whom he loved, who would sooner or later
come out to him to Hispaniola, if he, the elder, stayed here.
So soon as this we had begun to speak thus, "Come out to
Hispaniola." "Come out to Isabella in Hispaniola." What
a strong wind is life, leaping from continent to continent and
crying, "Home wherever I can breathe and move!" This
young man was Bartolome, then at Salamanca, at the University.
Bartolome de Las Casas, whom Juan Lepe should
live to know and work with. But this evening I heard the
father talk, as any father of any promising son.
With us, too, was Don Juan Ponce de Leon, who had a
story out of Mandeville of a well by the city of Polombe in
Prester John's country. If you drank of the well, though
you were dying you would never more have sickness, and
though you were white-bearded you would come young
The palms waved above Isabella that was building behind
the camp by the river. It was beginning, it was planned
out; the stone church, the stone house of the Viceroy were
already breast-high. A Spanish city building, and the bells
of Europe ringing.
Out sprang the noise of a brawl.--There was that in the
Admiral that would have when it could outward no less
than inward magnificence. He could go like a Spartan or
Diogenes the Cynic, but when the chance came--magnificence!
With him from Spain traveled a Viceroy's household.
He had no less than thirty personal servants and
retainers. Hidalgos here at Isabella had also servants,
but no one more than two or three. It was among these
folk that first arose our amazing jealousies and envies. Now
and again the masters must take part. Not the Viceroy
who in such matters went very stately, but certain of our
gentlemen. Loud and angry voices rose under the palms,
under a sky of pale gold.
Sent for, I found the Admiral lying on his bed, not yet
in his stone house but in a rich and large pavilion brought
out especially for the Viceroy and now pitched upon the
river bank, under palms. I came to him past numbers out
of that thirty. Idle here; they certainly were idle here!
With him I found a secretary, but when he could he preferred
always to write his own letters, in his small, clear,
strong hand, and now he was doing this, propped in bed,
in his brow a knot of pain. He wrote many letters. Long
afterwards I heard that it had become a saying in Spain,
"Write of your matters as often as Christopherus Columbus!"
I sat waiting for him to finish and he saw my eyes upon
yet unfolded pages strewing the table taken from the _Marigalante_
and set here beside him. "Read if you like," he said.
"The ships set sail day after to-morrow."
I took and read in part his letter to a learned man with
whom, once or twice, Jayme de Marchena had talked. It
was a long letter in which the Admiral, thinker to thinker,
set forth his second voyage and now his city building, and
at last certain things for the mind not only of Spain but of
France and Italy and England and Germany. "All lands
and all men whom so far we have come to," wrote the Admiral,
"are heathen and idolaters. In the providence of
God all such are given unto Christendom. Christendom
must take possession through the acts of Christian princes,
under the sanction of Holy Church, allowed by the Pope who
is Christ our King's Viceroy. Seeming hardship bringeth
great gain! Millions of souls converted, are baptized. Every
infant feeleth the saving water. Souls that were lost now
are found. Christ beameth on them! To that, what is it
that the earthly King of a country be changed?"
His quill traveled on over paper. Another sheet came
into my hand. I read it, then sat pondering. He sighed
with pain, pushed all aside and presently bade the secretary
forth. When the man was gone he told me of an agony
behind his eyes that now stabbed and now laid him in a
drowsiness. I did what I could for him then waited until
the access was over. It passed, and he took again his pen.
I said, "You advise that there be made a market for
Carib slaves, balancing thus the negroes the Portuguese are
bringing in, and providing a fund for our needs--"
He said, "They are eaters of men's flesh, intractable and
abominable, not like the gentler people we find hereabouts!
It is certain that before long, fleet after fleet coming, our
two thousand here growing into many thousands, more
cities than Isabella arising, commerce and life as in Europe
beginning--Well, these fiercer, Caribal islands will be overrun,
taken for Spain! What better to do with their people?
I do not wish to slay them and eat them!"
"How many Moors in Castile and Arragon, slaves and
none the worse for it, being baptized, being kindly enough
entreated! And now the Portuguese bring Negroes, and
are they the worse off, being taken from a deep damnation?
Long ago, I have read, the English were taken to Rome and
sold in the market place, and the blessed Gregory, seeing
them, cried, `Christ shall be preached in their nation!'
Whereupon he sent Augustine and all England was saved.--
Look you, this world is rude and worketh rudely! But it
climbs in the teeth of its imperfections!"
"I do not doubt that," I said. "When it wills to climb."
"I do but lay it before the Sovereigns," he answered.
"I do not know what they will think of it there. But truly
I know not what else to do with these Asiatics when they
withstand us! And even in slavery they must gain from
Christians! What matters masters when they find the True
Juan Lepe brooded still while the pen scratched and
scratched across the page. The noise ceased. I looked up
to see if he were in pain again, and met gray-blue eyes as
longing as a child's. "What I would," he said, "is that
the Lord would give to me forever to sail a great ship, and
to find, forever to find! The sea is wider than the land,
and it sends its waves upon all lands. Not Viceroy, but
the Navigator, the Finder--"
Juan Lepe also thought that there streamed his Genius.
Here he was able, but there played the Fire. But he, like
many another, had bound himself. Don Cristoval Colon--
Viceroy--and eighths and tenths!
TWELVE of our ships went home to Spain.
February wheeled by. March was here, and every
day the sun sent us more heat.
The Indians around us still were friendly--women and
all. From the first there was straying in the woods with
Indian women. Doubtless now, in the San Salvador islands,
in Cuba and in Hispaniola, among those Guaricos fled from
us to the mountains, would be infants born of Spanish
fathers. Juan Lepe contemplated that filling in the sea between
Asia and Europe with the very blood.
Sickness broke out. It was not such as that first sickness
at La Navidad, but here were many more to lie ill. Besides
Juan Lepe, we now possessed three physicians. They
were skillful, they labored hard, we all labored. Men died
of the malady, but no great number. But now among the
idle of mind and soul and the factious arose the eternal
murmur. Not heaven but hell, these new lands! Not wealth
and happy ease, but poverty and miserable toil! Not forever
new spectacle and greedy wonder, but tiresome river,
forest and sea, tiresome blue heaven, tiresome delving and
building, tiresome rules, restrictions, commandments, yeas
and nays! Parties arose, two main parties, and within each