It was August. He knew that Don Bartholomew in Hispaniola craved his return. The three ships, too, were weatherworn, with seams that threatened gaping. And as for our adventurers and the husbandmen and craftsmen, they were most weary of the sea. The mariners were used to it, the Admiral had lover’s passion for it, but not they! Here before us, truly, loomed a promising great land, but it was not our port; our port was San Domingo! There, there in Hispaniola, were old Castilians in plenty to greet and show. There were the mines that were actually working, gold to pick up, and Indians trained to bring it to you! There, for the enterprising and the lucky, were gifts of land, to each his repartimentio! There was companionship, there was fortune, there was ease! Others were getting, while we rode before a land we were too few to occupy. They went in company to the Admiral. We had discovered. Now let us go onto Hispaniola! The ships—our health.
When it came to health it was he who had most to endure.
The gout possessed him often. His brow knotted with pain; his voice, by nature measured and deep, a rolling music, became sharp and dry. He moved with difficulty, now and then must stay in bed, or if on deck in a great chair which we lashed to the mast. But now a trouble seized his eyes. They gave him great pain; at times he could barely see. Bathe them with a soothing medicine, rest them. But when had he rested them, straining over the ocean since he was a boy? He was a man greatly patient under adversity, whether of the body or of the body’s circumstance, but this trouble with the eyes shook him. “If I become blind—and all that’s yet to do and find! Blessed Mother of God, let not that happen to me!”
I thought that he should go to Hispaniola, where in the Adelantado’s house in San Domingo he might submit to bandaging, light and sea shut out.
At last, “Well, well, we will turn! But first we must leave this gulf and try it out for some distance westward!”
We left this water by a way as narrow as the entering strait, as narrow and presenting the like rough confusion of waters, wall against wall. We called it the Mouth of the Dragon. Mouth of the Dragon, Mouth of the Serpent, and between them the Gulf of the Whale or of Paria. Now was open sea, and south of us ran still that coast that he would have mount to the Equator and to that old, first Garden Land where all things yet were fair and precious! “I can not stay now, but I will come again! I will find the mighty last things!” His eyes gave him great pain. He covered them, then dropped his hands and looked, then must again cover.
A strange thing! We were borne westward ever upon a vast current of the sea, taking us day and night, so that though the winds were light we went as though every sail was wholly filled.
Christopherus Columbus talked of these rivers in ocean. “A day will come when they will be correctly marked. Aye, in the maps of our descendants! Then ships will say, `Now here is the river so and so,’ as to-day the horseman says, `Here is the Tagus, or the Guadalquiver!’ "