To-night we fell to talk of the Pinzons—Martin who was dead, and Vicente who now was on Ocean-Sea, on a voyage of his own—and of others who had sailed, and what they found and where they were. We were at ease about the Admiral. We had had letters.
He was in Granada, dressed again in crimson and gold, towering again with his silver head, honored and praised. When first he came into the Queen’s presence she had trembled a little and turned pale, and there was water in her eyes. “Master Christopherus, forgive us! Whereupon,” said the letter, “I wept with her.”
Apparently all honors were back; he moved Admiral and Viceroy. His brothers, his sons, all his house walked in a spring sun. He had been shown the letters from Bobadilla, and he who was not lengthy in speech had spoken an hour upon them. His word rang gold; Christ gave it, he said, that his truth was believed. Don Francisco de Bobadilla would quit Hispaniola—though not in chains.
Fray Juan Perez stirred the fire. Upon the table stood a flask of wine and a dish of figs. We were comfortable in La Rabida.
Days passed, weeks passed, time passed. Word from the Admiral, word of the Admiral, came not infrequently to white La Rabida. He himself, in his own person, stood in bright favor, the Queen treasuring him, loving to talk with him, the Court following her, the King at worst only a cool friend. But his affairs of office, Fray Juan Perez and I gathered, sitting solicitous at La Rabida, were not in so fair a posture. He and his household did not lack. Monies were paid him, though not in full his tithe of all gains from his finding. What never shook was his title of The Admiral. But they seemed, the Sovereigns, or at least King Ferdinand, to look through “Viceroy” as though it were a shade. And in Hispaniola, though charged, reproved, threatened, still stayed Bobadilla in the guise of Governor!
“They cannot leave him there,” I said. “If the Colombos are not men for the place, what then is Bobadilla?”
Fray Juan Perez stirred the fire. “King Ferdinand, I say it only to you and in a whisper, has not a little of the King of the Foxes! Not, till he has made up his mind, doth he wish there a perfect man. When he has made it up, he will cast about—”
“I do not think he has any better than the Adelantado!”
" `Those brothers are one. Leave him out!’ saith the King. I will read you his mind! `Master Christopherus Columbus hath had too much from the beginning. Nor is he necessary as he was. When the breach is made, any may take the fortress! I will leave him and give him what I must but no more!’ He will send at last another than Bobadilla, but not again, if he can help it, the old Viceroy! Of course there is the Queen, but she has many sorrows these days, and fails, they say, in health.”
“It may be,” said Juan Lepe. “I myself were content for him to rest The Admiral only. But his mind is yet a hawk towering over land and sea and claiming both for prize. He mingles the earthly and the heavenly.”