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 insects waken.
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 with weariness.
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 rest!”