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Mary Johnston
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 304 pages of information about 1492.

I answered, “I tell you what is in my mind, and I have got it, I think, from your inmost mind, out of which you will not let it come forth because you have had a great theory and think you must stand to it.  But what if this that you have underneath is a greater one?  What if the world truly is larger than Alfraganus or the ancients thought?  What if all this that we have found since the first island and that means only beginnings of what is to be found; what if it is not Asia at all?  What if it is a land mass, great as Europe or greater, that no one knew anything of?  What if over by the sunset there is Ocean-Sea again, true ocean and as many leagues to Asia as to Spain?  What if they cannot lead us to Quinsai, Cambaluc or Zaiton, or to the Ganges’ mouth, or Aurea Chersonesus, because they never heard of them, and they have no ships to pass again an Ocean-Sea?  What if it is all New, and all the maps have to be redrawn?”

He looked at me as I spoke, steadily and earnestly.  What Juan Lepe said was not the first entry into his mind of something like that.  But he was held by that great mass of him that was bound by the thinking of the Venerable.  He was free far and far beyond most, but to certain things he clung like a limpet.  “The Earthly Paradise!” he said, and he looked toward that Paria that we thought ran across our south.  “When our first parents left the Earthly Paradise, they and their sons and daughters and all the peoples to come wandered by foot into Chaldea and Arabia.  So it could not be!” His blue-gray eyes under that great brow and shock of white hair regarded the south.

This faery island—­the Garden he called it—­and the Cariari who came to us from the main.  One day they saw one of us take out pen and inkhorn and write down their answers to our many questions.  Behind us lay the blue sea, before us the deep groves of the islet; between us and the rich shade stood gathered a score of these Indians.  They looked at the one seated on the sand, industriously making black marks upon a white sheet.  The Indian speaking stopped short and put up an arm in an attitude of defense; another minute and they had all backed from us into the wood.  We saw only excited, huddled eyes.  Then one started forth, advancing over the sand, and he had a small gourd filled with some powder which he threw before him.  He scattered it ceremonially between us and himself and his fellows, a slow, measured rite with muttered words and now and then a sharp, rising note.

Cried Juan Sanchez the pilot, “What’s he doing?”

Juan Lepe answered before he thought, “He thinks the notary yonder is a magician and the pen his wand.  Something is being done to them!  Counter-magic.”

“Then they are enchanters!” cried Alonso de Zamorro.

Our great cluster gave back.  “Fix an arrow and shoot him down!” That was Diego de Porras.

The Adelantado turned sharply.  “Do no such thing!  There may be spells, but the worst spell here would be a battle!” We let fly no arrow, but the belief persisted that here was seen veritably at work the necromancy that all along they had guessed.

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