We took our supper together in a wide, low room, looking out upon the road. Don Francisco and Juan Lepe talked and the young man listened. Juan Lepe talked but his eyes truly were for this young man. It was not that he was of a striking aspect and better than handsome, though he was all that—but I do not know—it was the future in his countenance! His father addressed him as Bartolome. Once he said, “When my son was at the University at Salamanca,” and again, “My son will go out with Don Nicholas de Ovando.” Juan Lepe, sitting in a brown study, roused at that. “If you go, senor, you will find good memories around the name of Las Casas.”
The young man said, “I will strive in no way to darken them, senor.”
He might be a year or two the younger side of thirty. The father, it was evident, had great pride in him, and presently having sent him on some errand—sending him, I thought, in order to be able to speak of him—told me that he was very learned, a licentiate, having mastered law, theology and philosophy. He himself would not return to Hispaniola, but Bartolome wished to go. He sighed, “I do not know. Something makes me consent,” and went on to enlist Doctor Juan Lepe’s care if in the island ever arose any chance to aid—
The son returned. There was something—Juan Lepe knew it—something in the future.
Later, Don Francisco having gone to bed, the young man and I talked. I liked him extraordinarily. I was not far from twice his age, as little man counts age. But he had soul and mind, and while these count age it is not in the short, earthly way. He asked me about the Indians, and again and again we came back to that, pacing up and down in the moonlight before the Spanish inn.
The next morning parting. They were going to
I to the sea.
The doves flew over the cloister of La Rabida. The bells rang; in the small white church sang the brothers, then paced to their cells or away to their work among the vines. Prior had a garden, small, with a tree in each corner, with a stone bench in the sun and a stone bench in the shade, and the doves walked here all day long. And here I found the Adelantado with Fray Juan Perez.
The Admiral was well?
Aye, well, and next month would come to Seville.
We sat under the grape arbor and he told me much, the Prior listening for the second time. The doves cooed and whirred and walked in the sun and shadow. According to Don Bartholomew, half in his pack was dark and half was light.
Ovando? We heard again of all that. He was
out, Don Nicholas de Ovando, with a great fleet.
The Adelantado possessed a deal of plain, strong sense. “I do not think that Cristoforo will ever rule again in Hispaniola! King Ferdinand has his own measure and goes about to apply it. The Queen flinches now from decisions. —Well, what of it? After all, we were bred to the sea, I have a notion that his son Diego—an able youth—may yet be Viceroy. He has established his family, if so be he does not bring down the structure by obstinating overmuch! He sees that, the Admiral, and nods his head and steps aside. As for native pride and its hurt he salves that with great enterprises. It is his way. Drouth? Frost? Out of both he rises, green and hopeful as grass in May!”