They had floods to surmount and many a howling tempest to out-endure. By and large they did well with life,—very well. There was alloy, base metal of course, even in the greatest of the three. They were still men. But they were such men as Nature might put forward among her goodly fruit.
The Viceroy lay still in his bed, for each time he would rise came faintness and old fatigue. The Adelantado acted.
There was storm in Hispaniola, storm of human passions. I found Luis Torres, and he put me within leg-stride of the present.
Margarite! It seemed to begin with Don Pedro Margarite.
He and his men had early made choice between the rich, the fruitful, easy Vega and the mountains they were to pierce for gold and hunt over for a fierce mountain chief. In the Vega they established themselves. The Indians brought them “tribute”, and they exacted over-tribute, and reviled and slew when it pleased them, and they took the Indian women, and if it pleased them they burned a village. “Sorry tale,” said Luis. “Old, sorry tale!”
Indians came to Isabella and with fierce gesture and eyes that cast lances talked to Don Diego. Don Diego sent a stern letter to Don Pedro Margarite. Don Pedro answered that he was doing soldier’s duty, as the Sovereigns would understand when it came before them. Don Diego sent again, summoning him upon his allegiance to Isabella. He chose for a month no answer to that at all, and the breezes still brought from the Vega cries of anger, wails of sorrow. Then he appeared suddenly in Isabella.
Don Diego would have arrested him and laid him in prison to await the Admiral’s return. But with suddenness, that was of truth no suddenness, Margarite had with him three out of four of our hidalgos, and more than that, our Apostolic Vicar of the Indies! Don Diego must bend aside, speak him fair, remonstrate, not command. The Viceroy of the Indies and Admiral of Ocean-Sea? Dead probably!—and what were these Colombos? Italian wool-combers! But here stood hidalgos of Spain!—“Old story,” said Luis Torres. “Many times, many places, man being one in imperfection.”
A choppy sea had followed Margarite’s return. Up and down, to and fro, and one day it might seem Margarite was in control, and the next, Don Diego, but with Margarite’s wave racing up behind. Then appeared three ships with men and supplies and Don Bartholomew! Margarite saw Don Diego strengthened. He was bold enough, Margarite! on a dark night, at eve, there were so many ships before Isabella but when morn broke they were fewer by two. Margarite and the Apostolic Vicar and a hundred disaffected were departed the Indies! “Have they gotten to Spain? And what do they say? God, He knoweth!—There have been great men and they have been stung to death.”
“Ay, ay, the old story!” I said, and would learn about the pacification of the Indians.