This group about Juan Lepe, survivor of La Navidad, talked like seasoned finders and takers. For the most part they were young men and hidalgos, fighters against the Moors, released by the final conquest of those paynims, out now for further wild adventure and for gold with which to return, wealthy and still young, to Spanish country, Spanish cities, Spanish women! They had the virtue and the vice of their sort, courage, miraculous generosities and as miraculous weaknesses. Gold, valor, comradeship—and eyes resting appraisingly upon young Guarico women there upon the silver beach with Guarico men.
I heard one cry “Master Juan Lepe!” and turning found Luis Torres. We embraced, we were so glad each to see the other. My hidalgos were gone, but before I could question Luis or he me, there bore down upon us, coming together like birds, half a dozen friars. “We bring twelve —number of the Apostles!” said Luis. “Monks and priests. Father Bernardo Buil is their head. The Holy Father hath appointed him Vicar here. You won’t find him a Fray Ignatio!”
A bull-necked, dark-browed, choleric looking man addressed me. His Benedictine dress became him ill. He should have been a Captain of Free Lances in whatever brisk war was waging. He said, “The survivor, Juan Lepe?—We stopped at your La Navidad and found ruin and emptiness. There must have been ill management— gross!”
“They are all dead,” I answered. “None of us manage the towers so very well!”
He regarded me more attentively. “The physician, Juan Lepe. Where did you study?”
“In Poitiers and in Paris, Father.”
“You have,” he said, “the height and sinew and something of the eye and voice of a notable disappeared heretic, Jayme de Marchena, who slipped the Dominicans. I saw him once from a doorway. But that the Prior of La Rabida himself told me that he had accurate knowledge that the man was gone with the Jews to Fez, I could almost think —But of course it is not possible, and now I see the differences.”
I answered him with some indifferent word, and we came to the Haytiens, and how many had Fray Ignatio made Christian? “I knew him,” said the Benedictine. “A good man, but weak, weak!”
Juan Lepe asked of the Indians the Admiral had taken to Spain. “But six reached us alive. We instructed them and baptized them. A great event—the Grand Cardinal and the King and the Queen attending! Three died during the summer, but blessedly, being the first of all their people in all time to enter heaven. A great salvation!”
He looked at the forest and mountains, the sands, the Guaricos, as at a city he was besieging.
“Ha!” said Father Buil, and with his missionaries moved up the beach.
Luis and I began to talk. “No need to tell me that Spain gave you welcome!"’