Door was opened. “His Excellency the Governor will see you now.”
Why tarry over a short story? Don Nicholas de Ovando pleaded smoothly the Sovereign’s most strict command which in any to disobey were plain malfeasance! As he spoke he looked dreamily toward blue harbor and the Consolacion. And as to a ship! Every ship, except two or three, old and crippled and in the hands of the menders, no whit better it was certain than the Margarita, was laded and on the point of sailing. Literally he had none, absolutely not one! He understood that Jamaica was expressly named to the Admiral for resting and overhauling. Careen the Margarita there and rectify the wrong—which he trusted was not great. If ships had been idle and plentiful—but he could not splinter any from the fleet that was sailing to-morrow. He was sorry—and trusted that the Admiral was in health?
Terreros said, “His ship is worse off than you think, Excellency. He has great things to do, confided into his hands by the Sovereigns who treasure him who found all. Here is emergency. May we carry to him invitation to enter San Domingo for an hour and himself present his case?”
But no—but no—but no! Thrice that!
The Governor rose. Audience was over.
For the rest he was courteous—asked of the voyage— and of the Admiral’s notion of the Strait. “A great man!” he said. “A Thinker, a Seer.” He sent him messages of courtesy three-piled. And so we parted.
This was the Governor of whom one said long afterwards,
“He was a good governor for white men, but not for Indians.”
As life and destiny would have it, in the place without the Governor’s house I met him who was to say it. Terreros and I with the same escort were for the water side, the Consolacion’s long boat. The crowd kept with us, but His Excellency’s soldiers held it orderly. Yet there were shouts and messages for the Admiral, and for this one and that one aboard our ships. Then came a young man, said a word to the officer with us, and put out his hand to mine. It was that Bartolome de Las Casas with whom I had walked the white road, under moon, before the inn between Seville and Cordova.
THE Admiral took it with some Italian words under breath. Then he wheeled and left the cabin. A minute later I heard the master from the Consolacion hail the Margarita that lay close by. “Margarita, ahoy! Orders! Clap on sail and follow!” The trumpet cried to the Juana and the San Sebastian, “Make ready and follow!”