But the Adelantado said in my ear. “There will be a vast to-do! Maybe I’ll sail the Margarita to the end.” He was the prophet!
It was late June. Hispaniola rose, faint, faint, upon the horizon. All crowded to look. There, there before us dwelled countrymen, fellow mariners, fellow adventurers forth from the Old into the New! It was haven; it was Spain in the West; it was Our Colony.
The Admiral gazed, and I saw the salt tears blind his eyes. His son was beside him. He put his hand upon the youth’s shoulder. “Fernando, there it is—I found and named it Hispaniola!”
The weather hung perilously still, the sea glass. It was so clear above, below, around, that we seemed to see by added light, and yet there was no more sunlight. All the air had thinned, it seemed, away. Every sail fell slack. Colors were slightly altered. The Admiral said, “There is coming a great storm.”
The boy Fernando laughed. “Why, father!”
“Stillness before the leap,” said the Admiral. “Quiet at home because the legions have gone to muster.”
It was hard to think it, but too often had it been proved that he was in the secret of water and air. Now Bartholomew Fiesco the Genoese said. “Aye, aye! They say on the ships at Genoa that when it came to weather, even when you were a youngster, you were fair necromancer!”
The sky rested blue, but the sea became green oil. That night there were all around us fields of phosphorescence. About midnight these vanished; it was very black for all the stars, and we seemed to hear a sighing as from a giant leagues away. This passed, and the morning broke, silent and tranquil, azure sky and azure sea, and not so sharply clear as yesterday. The great calm wind again pushed us.
Hispaniola! Hispaniola! Her mountains and her palms before us.
We coasted to the river Hayna and the Spanish city of San Domingo. Three hours from sunset down in harbor plunged our anchors, down rattled our sails.
The Consolacion’s long boat danced by her side. The Admiral would send to land but one boat, and in it for envoy Pedro de Terreros, a well-speaking man and known to Don Nicholas de Ovando. Terreros was envoy, but with him the Admiral sent Juan Lepe, who through the years in Hispaniola had tried to heal the sick, no matter what their faction. The Admiral stayed upon the Consolacion, the Adelantado upon the Margarita.
The harbor was filled with ships. We counted eighteen. We guessed that they were preparing for sailing, the little boats so came and went between. And our entry had caused excitement. Ship and small boat hailed us, but to them we did not answer. Then came toward us from the shore a long boat with the flag of Spain and in it an official.