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 the blame!
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.”