As they came over the blue wave Juan Lepe stepped down sand to water edge. Not here, but somewhat to the west, before La Navidad would one look for this anchoring. He thought rightly that the Admiral came here from La Navidad, where he found only ruin, but also some straying Indian who could give news. So it was, for presently in the foremost boat I made out two Guarico men. They had told of Caonabo and of Guacanagari’s fortunes, and of every Spaniard dead of that illness or slain by Caonabo. They would put Juan Lepe among these last, but here was Juan Lepe, one only left of that thirty-eight.
The boat approached. I saw the bared head, higher than any other, the white hair, the blue-gray eyes, the strong nose and lips, the whole majestic air of the man, as of a great one chosen. Master Christopherus—Don Cristoval —el Almirante! One of the rowers, and that was Sancho with whom I had walked on the Fishertown road, first saw me and gave a startled cry. All in the boat turned head. I heard the Admiral’s voice, “Aye, it is! It is!”
Boat touched sand, there was landing. All sprang out. The Admiral took me in his arms. “You alone—one only?”
I answered, “One only. The most died in their duty.”
He released me. “senors, this is senor Juan Lepe, that good physician whom we left. Now tell—tell all—before we go among this folk!”
By water edge I told, thirty men of Spain around me. A woeful story, I made it short. These men listened, and when it was done fell a silence. Christopherus Columbus broke it. “The wave sucks under and throws out again, but we sail the sea, have sailed it and will sail it!—Now were these Indians false or fair?”
I could tell how fair they had been—could praise Guarico and Guacanagari and Guarin. He listened with great satisfaction. “I would lay my head for that Indian!”
Talk with him could not be prolonged, for we were in a scene of the greatest business and commotion. When I sought for Guarin he was gone. Nor was Guacanagari yet at hand. I looked at the swarming ships and ship boats, and the coming and coming upon the beach of more and more clothed men, and at the tall green palms and the feathered mountains. This host, it seemed to me, was not so artlessly amazed as had been we of the Santa Maria, the Pinta and the Nina, when first we came to lands so strange to Europe. Presently I made out that they had seen others of these islands and shores. Coming from Spain they had sailed more southerly than we had done before them. They had made a great dip and had come north-by-west to Hispaniola. I heard names of islands given by the Admiral, Dominica, Marigalante, Guadaloupe, Santa Maria la Antigua, San Juan. They had anchored by these, set foot upon them, even fought with people who were Caribs, Caribals or Cannibals. They had a dozen Caribs, men and women, prisoners upon the Marigalante that was the Admiral’s ship.