But now the Admiral was well again, the Indians defeated, Hispaniola basking in what we blithely called peace. Aguado came to examine and interrogate. He had his letters. “Cavaliers, esquires and others, you are to give Don Juan Aguado faith and credit. He is with you on our part to look into—”
Aguado looked with a hostile eye toward Viceroy and Adelantado. Where was a malcontent he came secretly if might be, if not openly, to Aguado. Whoever had a grudge came; whoever thought he had true injury. Every one who disliked Italians, fire-new nobles, sea captains dubbed Admirals and Viceroys came. Every one who had been restrained from greed, lust and violence came. Those who held an honest doubt as to some one policy, or act, questioned, found their mere doubt become in Aguado’s mind damning certainty. And so many good Spaniards dead in war, and so many of pestilence, and such thinness, melancholy, poverty in Isabella! And where was the gold? And was this rich Asia of the spices, the elephants, the beautiful thin cloths and the jewels? The friends of Christopherus Columbus had their say also, but suddenly there arose all the enemies.
“When he sails home, I will sail with him!” said the Admiral, “My name is hurt, the truth is wounded!”
In the third week of Aguado’s visit, arose out of far ocean and rushed upon us one of those immense tempests that we call here “hurricane”. Not a few had we seen since 1492, but none so great, so terrible as this one. Eight ships rode in the harbor and six were sunk. Aguado’s four caravels and two others. Many seamen drowned; some got ashore half-dead.
“How will I get away? I must to Spain!” cried Aguado. The Admiral said, “There is the Nina.”
The Nina must be made seaworthy, and in the end we built a smaller ship still which we called the Santa Cruz. Aguado waited, fretting. Christopherus Columbus kept toward him a great, calm courtesy.
It was at this moment that Don Bartholomew found, through Miguel Diaz, the mines of Hayna, that was a great river in a very rich country. The Adelantado brought to Isabella ore in baskets. Pablo Belvis, our new essayer, pronounced it true and most rich. Brought in smaller measures were golden grains, knobs as large as filberts, golden collars and arm rings from the Indians of Bonao where flowed the Hayna.
“Ophir!” said the Admiral. “Mayhap
it is Ophir!
Then have we passed somewhere the Gulf of Persia and
With that gold he sailed, he and Aguado and two small crowded ships. With him he carried Caonabo. It was early March in 1496.
But Juan Lepe stayed in Hispaniola, greatly commended by the Admiral to the Adelantado. A man might attach himself to the younger as well as the elder of these brothers. Don Bartholomew had great qualities. But he hardly dreamed as did Christopherus Columbus. I loved the latter most for that—for his dreams.