“What of the Voyage?” asked Juan Lepe.
“That’s the enterprise that will go through. Now that Portugal and Vasco da Gama are actually in at the door, it behooves us—more and more it behooves us,” said Bartolomeo Colombo, “to find India of All the Wealth! Spain no less than Portugal wants the gold and diamonds, the drugs and spices, the fine, thin, painted cloths, the carved ivory and silver and amber. `Land, land, so much land!’ says King Ferdinand. `But wealth? It is all out-go! Even your Crusade were a beggarly Crusade!’ "
“Ha! That hurt him!” quoth Fray Juan Perez.
“Says the King. `Pedro Alonso Nino has made
the most profitable voyage of any who have sailed from
Cadiz.’ `From Cadiz, but not from Palos,’ answers the
“Ha! Easy ’tis when he has shown
the way!” said
Fray Juan Perez.
Don Bartholomew drew with the Prior’s stick in the sand at our feet. “He conceives it thus. Here to the north is Cuba, stretching westward how far no man knoweth. Here to the south is Paria that he found—no matter what Ojeda and Nino and Cabral have done since!—stretching westward how far no man knoweth, and between is a great sea holding Jamaica and we do not know what other islands. Cuba and Paria curving south and north and between them where they shall come closest surely a strait into the sea of Rich India!” He drew Cuba and Paria approaching each the other until there was space between like the space from the horn of Spain to the horn of Africa. “Rich India—now, now, now—gold on the wharves, canoes of pearls, not cotton and cassava, is what we want in Spain! So the King says, `Very good, you shall have the ships,’ and the Queen, `Christ have you in his keeping, Master Christopherus!’ So we go. All his future hangs, he knows, on finding Rich India.”
“How soon do we go?”
“As soon as he can get the ships and the men and the supplies. He wants only three or four and not great ones. Great ships for warships and storeships, but little ships for discovery!”
“Aye, I hear him!” said Fray Juan Perez.
But it was not until March that we sailed on his last
THE ships were the Consolacion, the Margarita, the Juana and the San Sebastian, all caravels and small ones, the Consolacion the largest and the flagship. The Margarita, that was the Adelantado’s ship, sailed badly. There was something as wrong with her as had been with the Pinta when we started from Palos in ’92.
The men all told, crews and officers and adventurers,
were less than two hundred.
Pedro de Terreros, Bartholomew Fiesco, Diego Tristan, Francisco de Porras were the captains of the caravels Juan Sanchez and Pedro Ledesma the chief pilots. Bartholomew Fiesco of the Consolacion was a Genoese and wholly devoted to the greater Genoese. We had for notary Diego Mendez. There were good men upon this voyage, and very bold men.