The Viceroy stiffly withstood the party that was not his, and upon some slur and insolence took from a man his office. Followed a week of glassy smoothness. Then suddenly, by chance, was discovered the plot of Bernal Diaz de Pisa—the first of many Spanish conspiracies. It involved several hundred men and was no less a thing than the seizure in the dark night of the ships and the setting sail for Spain, there to wreck the fame of Christopherus Columbus and if possible obtain the sending out of some prince over him, who would beam kindly on all hidalgos and never put them to vulgar work. A letter was found in Bernal Diaz’s hand, and if therein any ill was left unsaid of the Admiral and Viceroy, I know not what it might be! The “Italian”, the “Lowborn”, the “madly arrogant and ambitious”, the “cruel” and “violent”, the “tyrant” acted. Bernal Diaz was made and kept prisoner on Vicente Pinzon’s ship. Of his following one out of ten lay in prison for a month. Of the seamen concerned three were flogged and all had their pay estopped.
One might say that Isabella was builded. Columbus himself stood and moved in better health. Now he would go discovering on dry land, to Alonso de Ojeda’s glee, glee indeed of many. The mountains of Cibao, where might be the gold,—and gold must be had!
And we might find Caonabo, and what peoples were behind our own mountains, and perhaps come upon Guacanagari. We went, four hundred men and more, an army with banners. We wished to impress, and we took any and all things that might help in that wise. Drum and trumpet beat and sang. Father Buil was not with us. But three of his missionaries accompanied us, and they carried a great crucifix. There were twenty horses, and terrible were these to this land as the elephants of the Persians to the Greeks. And much we marveled that Cuba and Hayti had no memory nor idea of elephants. A throng of Indians would go with us, and in much they carried our supplies. It was first seen clearly at this time, I think, the uses that might be drawn from our heathen subjects. Alonso de Ojeda, Juan Ponce de Leon and Pedro Margarite rode with the Admiral. Others followed on black and bay and white horses. Juan Lepe marched with the footmen. He was glad to find Luis Torres.
Before setting out we went to mass in the new church. Candles burned, incense rose in clouds, the friars chanted, the bell rang, we took the wafer, the priest lifted the chalice.
The sun rose, the trumpets rang, we were gone. South, before us, the mountain line was broken by a deep notch. That would be our pass, afar, and set high, filled with an intense, a burning sapphire. We had Indian guides.
Day, evening, camp and night. Dawn, trumpets, breakfast and good understanding and jollity. After breakfast the march, and where was any road up the heights? And being none we would make one and did, our hidalgos toiling with the least. By eve we were in the high pass, level ground under our feet, above us magnificent trees. We called it the Pass of the Hidalgos. We threw ourselves down and slept. At sunrise we pushed on, and presently saw what Juan Lepe once before had seen, the vast southward-lying plain and the golden mountains of Cibao.