He talked of her great nature, and her goodness to him. Of how she understood when the King would not. Of how she would never listen to his enemies, or at the worst not listen long.
He turned upon his bed in the warm Indian night. I asked him if I should read to him but he said, not yet. He had talked since the days of his first seeking with many a great lord, aye, and great lady. But the Queen was the one of them all who understood best how to trust a man! Differences in mind arose within us all, and few could find the firm soul behind all that! She could, and she was great because she could. He loved to talk with her. Her face lighted when he came in. When others were by she said “Don Cristoval”, or “El Almirante”, but with himself alone she still said “Master Christopherus” as in the old days.
At last he said, “Now, let us read.” Each time he came from Spain to Hispaniola he brought books. And when ships came in there would be a packet for him. I read to him now from an old poet, printed in Venice. He listened, then at last he slept. I put out the candle, stepped softly forth past Gonsalvo his servant, lying without door.
An hour after dawn a small cavalcade appeared before the fort. At first we thought it was the Adelantado from Xaragua. But no! it was Alonzo de Carvajal with news and a letter from San Domingo, and in the very statement ran a thrilling something that said, “Hark, now! I am Fortune that turns the wheel.”
Carvajal said, “senor, I have news and a letter for your ear and eye alone!”
“From my brother at San Domingo?”
“Aye, and from another,” said Carvajal. “Two ships have come in.”
With that the Admiral and he went into Commandant’s house.
The men at Concepcion made Carvajal’s men welcome. “And what is it?” “And what is it?” They had their orders evidently, but much wine leaked out of the cask. If one wished the Viceroy and his brothers ill, it was found to be heady wine; if the other way round, it seemed thin, chilly and bitter. Here at Concepcion were Admiral’s friends.
After an hour he came again among us, behind him Carvajal.
Now, this man, Christopherus Columbus, always appeared most highly and nobly Man, most everlasting and universal, in great personal trouble and danger. It was, I hold, because nothing was to him smally personal, but always pertained to great masses, to worlds and to ages. Now, looking at him, I knew that trouble and danger had arrived. He said very little. If I remember, it was, “My friends, the Sovereigns whom we trust and obey, have sent a Commissioner, Don Francisco de Bobadilla, whom we must go meet. We ride from Concepcion at once to Bonao.”
We rode, his company and Carvajal’s company.
Don Francisco de Bobadilla! Jayme de Marchena had some association here. It disentangled itself, came at last clear. A Commander of the Order of Calatrava—about the King in some capacity—able and honest, men said. Able and honest, Jayme de Marchena had heard said, but also a passionate man, and a vindictive, and with vanity enough for a legion of peacocks.