Our wharf! Juan Lepe had left it something more than a year and a half ago. San Domingo was grown, many Spaniards having sailed for the west in that time. I saw strangers and strangers, though of Spanish blood. Walking with the officer and his people to the Governor’s house gave time for observation and swift thought. Throng was forming. One had early cried from out it, “That’s the doctor, Juan Lepe! ’Tis the Admiral out there!” That it was the Admiral seemed to spread. San Domingo buzzed like the air about a hive the first spring day. Farther on, out pushed a known voice. “Welcome, welcome, Doctor!” I looked, and that was Sancho. Luis Torres was in Spain. I had seen him in Cadiz. The crowd was thickening— men came running—there was cry and query. Suddenly rose a cheer. “The Admiral and the Adelantado in their little ships!” At once came a counter-shout. “The Genoese! The Traitors!”
I saw—I saw—I saw that there
was some wisdom in
The Governor’s house that used to be the Viceroy’s house. State—state! They had cried out upon the Genoese’s keeping it—but Don Nicholas de Ovando kept more. While we waited in the antechamber I saw, out of window and the tail of my eye, files of soldiery go by. Ovando would not have riot and disturbance if twenty Admirals hung in the offing! He kept us waiting. He would be cool and distant and impregnable behind the royal word. Juan Lepe saw plainly that that lavish and magnanimous person aboard the Consolacion would not meet here his twin. The Adelantado must still, I thought, sail the Margarita. And yet, looking at all things, that exchange of ships should have been made. A Spaniard, wheresoever found, should have cried “Aye!” to it.
The Governor’s officer who still kept by us was not averse to talk. All those preparing ships in the harbor? Why, they were the returning fleet that brought Don Nicholas in. Sailing to-morrow—hence the hubbub on land and water. They had a lading now! He gazed a moment at us, and as we seemed sober folk, saw no reason why we should not have the public news. Forth it came like water out of bottle. Bobadilla was returning. “A prisoner?” “Why, hardly that! Roldan, too.” “A prisoner?” “Why, not precisely so.” Many of the old regime—Bobadilla’s regime —were returning and Roldan men likewise. Invited to go, in fact, though with no other harsh treatment. One of the ships would be packed with Indian rebels, Gwarionex among them. Chained, all these. The notable thing about the fleet, after all that, was the gold that was going! A treasure fleet! Bobadilla had gathered gold for the crown. He was taking, they said, a sultan’s ransom. He had one piece that weighed, they said, five thousand castellanos. Roldan too had gold. And the Governor was sending no man knew how much. More than that—” He looked at us, then, being a kindly soul, quoth, “Why shouldn’t the Admiral know? Alonso de Carvajal has put on board the Santa Clara for the Admiral’s agent in Cadiz five thousand pieces—fully due, as the Governor had allowed.”