That could not be denied. Gain here, but how about it yonder?
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!