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, awe, perturbation.
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.