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  • 1922
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The Governor was a shrewd, political, strong man,–not without his generosities to white men. But no dreamer! He put down faction, but there was now less faction to put down. All had been united in mastering the Indian, and now with peace the getting of wealth was regularized. He had absolutely the ear of King Ferdinand, and help from Spain whenever he called for it. Yes, he was fairly liked by the generality. And had I noticed the growth in cowls and processions? Mother Church was moving in.

The next day I met again Bartolome de Las Casas.

September now–and a ship from Spain, bringing the news that the Queen was ill. There was another who was ill, and that was the Admiral of the Ocean-Sea:

“I must go–and we quarrel here, this Governor-in-my- place and I–I must go, rest at La Rabida with you, Doctor, and Fray Juan Perez to help me. Then I must go to court and see the Queen.”

The Adelantado said, “Both you and the Queen will get well. What, brother, your voyages are just begun! But let us sail now for Spain. I think well of that.”

And the son Fernando, Yes, yes, let us go home, father, and see Diego!


IT was Seville, and an inn there, and the Admiral of the Ocean-Sea laid in a fair enough room. His gout manacled him, and another sickness crept upon him, but he could think, talk and write, and at times, for serenity and a breath of pleasure, read. He was ever a reader.

About him, all day long, came people. They called themselves friends, and many were friends. But some used that holy word for robber-mask. Others were the idlest wonder-seekers, never finding wonder within, always rushing for it
without. His heart, for all his much experience, or perhaps because of that, was a simple heart. He took them for what they said they were, for friends, and he talked of the Indies and all his voyages past and to come, for he would yet find Ciguarre and retake the Sepulchre.

He had not much money. All his affairs were tangled. Yet he rested Admiral of the Ocean-Sea, and in name, at least, Viceroy of the Indies. He was much concerned over his mariners and others who had returned with him to Spain. All their pay was in arrears. He wrote begging letters for them, and with his sons forever in his mind, for himself. Don Diego, Don Fernando, they were pleasant, able youths.

Fray Juan Perez came to Seville. He was worldly comfort, but ghostly comfort too. The Admiral talked of Ciguarre and Jerusalem, but also now of the New Jerusalem and the World-to-come.

Late in November, at Medina del Campo Santo died the Queen!

He told me a dream or a vision that day. There was, he said, a fair, tranquil shore, back of a fair, blue haven, and his wife and his mother, long dead, walked there in talk. Back of the shore rose, he said, a city with wonderful strong walls and towers and a perpetual sweet ringing of church bells. It seemed to climb to one great palace and church, set about with orchards, with many doves. The whole mounted like Monsalvat. The city seemed to be ready for some one. They were hanging out tapestries and weaving garlands and he heard musicians. Everywhere shone a light of gladness. He returned to the seashore, and walking with his wife and mother, asked them about the city. They said that it was the Queen’s City. Then, he said, he seemed to hear trumpets, and far on the horizon made out a sail.– Then city and shore and all were gone, and it was dark, starry night, and he was in the Azores, alone, with a staff in his hand that he had drawn from the sea.

It was Fray Juan Perez who brought him news of her death. “Queen Isabella!” he said and turned to the wall and lay there praying.

One day there came to see him Amerigo Vespucci who sailing with Ojeda, knew Paria. They talked of that Vastness to the south. The Venetian thought it might be a continent wholly unknown alike to the ancients and the moderns. “Known,” answered the Genoese, “in the far, far past! But unknown, I grant, for so long that it has become again new. All a New World.”

“How should we map it?” said the other. “Faith of God! I should like to see the maps a hundred years from now!”

He had something to say of Sebastian Cabot who was finding northward for King Henry of England. But laying a fine small hand upon the Admiral’s mighty one, he called him “_magister et dominus_, Christopherus Columbus.”

Winter wore away. With the spring he seemed to be better in health. He left his bed. But the physician, Juan Lepe, believed that ports and havens, new lands, and service of an order above this order were even now coloring and thrilling within.

When all spring was singing high, the Admiral, having had a letter from the king, said he would go to court. His sons would have had him travel in a litter, but he waved that away. The Adelantado procured him a mule, and with his sons and brother and a small train beside he started, the King being at Segovia. He had a hardly scraped together purse of gold, and all his matters seemed dejected. Yet his family riding with him rode as nobles of Spain, and his son, Don Diego, should one day become Governor of Hispaniola. Earthly speaking, for all his feeling “All is vain!” he had made his family. Unlike many families so made, this one was grateful.

On the road to Segovia, stayings, restings and meetings were cordial enough to him, for here flocked the people to see the Discoverer. If they heard his voice they were happy; if some bolder one had a moment’s speech with him that fortunate went off with the air of, “My children’s children shall know of this!” There returned in this springtide travel sunniness, halcyon weather, bright winds of praise. The last health of the present body was his upon this journey. Health and strength harked back. All noted it. Jayme de Marchena held it for the leap of the flame before sinking, before leaving the frame of this world. But his sons and Don Bartholomew cried, “Why, father, why, brother, you will outlive us yet!”

He rode firmly; he looked about with bright, blue-gray eyes; his voice had the old, powerful thrill. It was happiness to him when the simple came crowding, or when in some halt he talked with two or three or with a solitary. The New Lands and the Vast Change, and it would affect all our life, this way, that way and the other way.

But when we came to Segovia, the King was dead, not alive, to Christopherus Columbus. Not dead to the Indies, no! But dead to their old discoverer. We had chilly weather, miserable, and all the buds of promise went back. Or rather there were promises, cold smiles, but even he, the Genoese, saw at last that these buds were _simulacra_, never meant to bloom.

The Queen was gone. The Court wore the King’s color. Then the King went to Laredo to meet his daughter Juana, who was now Queen of Castile. With him went all of importance. Segovia became a dull and somewhat hostile water where rode at last anchor the ship of the Admiral.


DON FERNANDO met me at the door. “He is wandering –he thinks he is in Cordova with my mother.” He came from that and said he would get up and go to mass. Persuaded to lie quiet, he talked of his will, drawn before his third voyage, and said that he would have it read to him, and make a codicil.

This will. It ran at length through preamble and body.

“In the name of the most Holy Trinity who revealed it to me that I could sail westward across Ocean-Sea– “As it pleased God, in the year one thousand, four hundred and ninety-two, I discovered the Continent of the Indies and many islands. I returned to Cadiz to their Majesties who allowed my going a second voyage, and in this God gave me victory over the island of Hispaniola, which covers six hundred leagues, and I conquered it and made it tributary; and I discovered many islands dwelled in by Caribals or eaters of men’s flesh, and also Jamaica which I named Santiago, and three hundred and thirty leagues of Continent from south to west–“

He recited his rights, dignities, tithes, emoluments,– “whereto I have the sacred word of the Sovereigns.” Then came the heirship. All upon Don Diego and the heirs of his body, with lavish provision for the younger son, “having great qualities and most dear to me,” and for the brothers, but more especially the Adelantado. Followed gifts to friends and companions, and then far-flung benefactions.

Son and son’s son must give, year following year, a tenth of revenue from the Indies to the help of needy men.

“In the city of Genoa in Italy is to be maintained a man and his wife of the line of our family of which he is to be the root in that city, from whence all good may derive unto her, for I was born there and came from thence.”

The taking of the Sepulchre. Into the Bank of Saint George in Genoa, “that noble and potent city” was to be put what moneys could be saved and collected for the purpose, “and one day God will bring the purpose about.”

His heirs must support the Crown of Spain, “seeing that these Sovereigns, next to God, are responsible for my achieving the property, though true it is that I came into this country to invite them to the enterprise, and that a long while passed before they allowed me to execute it, but this should not surprise us as it was an undertaking of which all the world was ignorant and no one had any faith in it.” And if schism arose in Christendom, his heirs must to their uttermost support His Holiness the Pope, and give all and die, if need be, defending the Church of God. And, where it was possible and not contrary to the service and the claims of the Sovereigns of Spain, “let them give aid and service to that noble city of Genoa from which we all spring.”

Such and such moneys, accruing, were to be applied to making fit marriages for the daughters of the line.

And let Don Diego his son build in the island of Hispaniola a church and call it Santa Maria de la Concepcion, a church and a hospital and a chapel where masses might be said for the good of the soul of Christopherus Columbus. “Doubtless God will be pleased to give us revenue enough for this and all purposes.” And let them maintain in the island of Hispaniola four good teachers of theology to convert to the One Faith the inhabitants of the Indies, “to which end no expense should be thought too considerable.”

Many other things he provided for. He cared for that Dona Beatrix who had given him Fernando. Where he had met kindness, there he gave as best he might. Among other small bequests was a silver mark to a poor Jew who had done him service, who lived at the gate of the Ghetto in Lisbon. He gave to many, and closed his will and signed it with his signet letters and below these, EL ALMIRANTE.

After this there came a second leap of the flame. Queen Juana was with her husband, King Phillip, in Laredo,– Queen of Castile as had been the good Queen her mother. The Admiral, utterly revering the Queen who was gone, wrote to the daughter Queen a stately letter of high comfort and offer and promise of service. He would have the Adelantado, no less a man, bear this to Laredo. Don Bartholomew spoke aside to Juan Lepe. “If I do as he wished, I do not know if I will see him again.”

“I do not know,” I answered. “But his heart is set on…”

“Then I will go,” he said. “And many’s the time I have thought, `I shall never see him again’, and still we met.”

For several days after this I thought that after all he might recover. Perhaps even sail again on earthly discoveries. Then, in a night, came the unmistakable stroke upon the door.

He sank, and knew now that he was putting off the body. Fray Juan Perez stayed beside him. His sons and his brother Diego waited with reddened eyes. It was full May, and the bland wind strayed in and out of window and fluttered his many papers upon the great table. It was toward evening of Ascension Day. His son Fernando threw himself on the bed, weeping. The Admiral’s great hand fell upon the youth’s head. He looked to the window and said clearly, “A light–yonder is a light!” and after a moment, “_In manus tuas Domine coinmendo spiritum meum_.”

The sea by Palos and June in Andalusia. Juan Lepe, staying at La Rabida, walked along the sands and saw Life like a mighty, breathing picture. He stood by the sea and the ripples broke at his feet, and he felt and knew the Master of Life, there where feeling and knowing pass into Being.

He walked a mile beside Ocean-Sea, then sat down beneath ridged sand with the wind singing over. It sang, _Where now, Jayme de Marchena–where now–where now_?

I sat still. Spain rose behind me, Spain and Europe. Before me, out of sea, lifted the New Lands. There fell a moment of great calm and quiet. Then, fleeting, like a spirit, passed before me the Indian Guarin who had saved me after La Navidad. I saw his dark eyes, then he went. Still space without color or line or form, and outside, dreamily, dreamily, the ocean sounding below La Rabida. Then, in the clear field rose Bartolome de Las Casas. A quiet, singing voice ran through Jayme de Marchena, and he knew that he would return to Hispaniola and link his life with that younger life which apparently had work to do in the Indies.