Our mariners ran to make sail. But the long boat waited for some final word that they said was going ashore. Terreros would take it. We were so close that we saw the yet watching crowd, wharf and water side, and the sun glinting upon Ovando’s order-keeping soldiery. The Admiral called me to him. I read the letter to the Governor, Terreros would deliver to our old officer, probably waiting on the wharf to see us quite away. The letter—there was naught in it but the sincerest, gravest warning that a hurricane was at hand. A great one; he knew the signs. It might strike this shore late to-morrow or the next day or the next. Wherefore he begged his Excellency the Governor to tarry the fleet’s sailing. Let it wait at least three days and see if his words came not true! Else there would be scattering of ships and destruction—and he rested his Excellency’s servant. El Almirante.
Terreros went, delivered that letter, and returned to the Juana. And our sails were made and our anchors lifted, and it was sunset and clear and smooth, and every palm frond of San Domingo showed. Eighteen ships in harbor, and fifteen, they said, going to Spain, and around and upon them all bustle of preparation. One saw in fancy Bobadilla and Roldan and Gwarionex and the much gold, including that piece of virgin ore weighing five thousand castellanos. Fifteen ships preparing for Spain, and San Domingo, of which the Adelantado had laid first stone, and a strange, green, sunset sky. And the Consolacion, the Margarita, the Juana and the San Sebastian away to the west, to the sound of music, for the Admiral cried to our musicians, “Play, play in God’s name!”
Night passed. Morning broke. So light was the wind that the shore went by slowly. There gathered an impatience. “If we must to Jamaica, what use in following every curve of Hispaniola that is forbid us?” At noon the wind almost wholly failed, then after three hours of this rose with a pouncing suddenness to a good breeze. We rounded a point thronged with palms. Before us a similar point, and between the two that bent gently each to the other, slept a deep and narrow bight. “Enter here,” said the Admiral.
We anchored. There was again a strange sunset, green and gold in the lower west, but above an arc of clouds dressed in saffron and red. And now we could hear, though from very far off, a deep and low murmur, and whether it was the forest or the sea or both we did not know. But now all the old mariners said there would be storm, and we were glad of the little bay between the protecting horns. The Admiral named it Bay of Comfort. The Consolacion Margarita, Juana, San Sebastian, lay under bare masts, deep within the bight.
The next day, an hour before noon, arrived that king hurricane.
They are known now, these storms of Europe’s west and Asia’s east. Take all our Mediterranean storms and heap them into one!