Through the day our anchors held in our Bay of Comfort, and we blessed our Admiral. But at eve the Margarita, the Juana and the San Sebastian lost bottom, feared breaking against the rocky shore and stood out for sea room. The Consolacion stayed fast, and at dawn was woe to see nothing at all of the three. In the howling tempest and the quarter light we knew not if they were sunk or saved.
With the second evening the hurricane sank; at dawn the seas, though running high, no longer pushed against us like white-maned horses of Death. We waited till noon, then the sea being less mountainous, quitted the Bay of Comfort and went to look for the three ships.
The Juana and the San Sebastian we presently sighted and rejoiced thereat. But the Margarita! We saw her nowhere, and the Admiral’s face grew gray. His son Fernando pressed close to him. “My uncle is a bold man, and they say the second seaman in the world! Let’s hope and hope—and hope!”
“Why, aye!” said the Admiral. “I’m a good scholar in hope. I told them in San Domingo the ship was not seaworthy. What cared they for that? They were willing that all of my name should drown! God judge between us!”
The Juana came close and shouted that at eve they had seen the Adelantado in great trouble, close to shore. Then came down the night and once or twice they thought they made out a light but they were not sure.
In this West the weather after a hurricane is weather of heaven. We coasted in a high sea, but with safety under a sky one sapphire, and with a right wind,—and suddenly, rounding a palmy headland, we saw the Margarita riding safe in a little bay like the Bay of Comfort. The Admiral fell upon his knees.
The Margarita was safe indeed but was so crazed a ship! The San Sebastian, too, was in bad case. Hispaniola truly, but some leagues from San Domingo, and a small, desert, lonely bay! We rested here because rest we must, and mended our ships. Days—three days—a week. The Admiral and the Adelantado kept our people close to the ships. There was no Indian village, but a party sent to gather fruit found two Indians biding, watching from a thicket. These, brought to the Admiral, proved to be from a village between us and San Domingo. They had been in that town after the hurricane. It had uprooted the great tree before the Governor’s house and thrown down a part of the church.
“Had the fleet sailed?”
Yes, it seemed. The day before the storm. But these men knew nothing of its fortunes. He kept the Indians with us until we sailed, so as not to spread news of where we were, then gave them presents and let them go.
But on the day we set to sail we did not sail, for along the coast and into our bay came a small caravel, going with men to our fort in Xaragua. The captain—Ruy Lopez it was—met us as a wonder, San Domingo having held that the hurricane must have sunk us, the sea swallowed us up. He anchored, took his boat and came to the Admiral upon the Consolacion.