So we sailed beyond Veragua hunting the strait which we must pass through to Ganges and Ind of old history.
PUERTO BELLO! Beautiful truly, and a harbor where might ride a navy. But no gold; and now came back very evilly the evil weather. Seven days a blast rocked us. We strained eyes to see if the Margarita yet lived. The San Sebastian likewise was in trouble. No break for seven days. It was those enchanters of Cariari— magic asleep for a while but now awake!
Storm. And two ships nigh to foundering. When wind sank and blue came back, we left Puerto Bello and turned again south by east, but now with crazy, crazy ships, weather-wrenched and worm-eaten, teredo pierced. They looked old, so old, with their whipped and darkened sails. And when we dropped anchor in some bight there was no gold, but all night we heard that harsh blowing of shells and beating of drums.
Francisco and Diego de Porras, Alonso de Zamorra, Pedro de Villetoro, Bernardo the Apothecary and others, the most upon the Consolacion, others on the Margarita and the Juana, now began to brew mutiny.
We sailed on, and upon this forlorn coast we met no more gold. Our ships grew so worn that now at any threat in the sky we must look and look quickly for harborage, be it good or indifferent bad. To many of us the coast now took a wicked look. It was deep in November.
No gold. These Indians—how vast anyhow was India?— were hostile, not friendly. Our ships were dying, manifestly. If they sank under us and we drowned, the King and Queen—if the Queen still lived—never would come to know that Christopherus Columbus had found Veragua thrice more golden even than Paria! Found Veragua, met men of Yucatan; and heard of Ciguarre.
At last not only the mutinous but steadfast men cried, “If there is a strait it is too far with these ships!”
For a time he was obstinate. It must be found,—it must be found! But one night there fell all but loss of the Margarita. When next he slept he had a dream. “The good Queen came to me and she had in her hand a picture of five stout ships. Out of her lips came a singing voice. `Master Christopherus, Master Christopherus, these wait for you, riding in Cadiz harbor! But now will you slay your son and your brother and all your men?’ Then she said, `The strait is hidden for a while,’ and went.”
That day we turned. “We will go back to Veragua and lade with gold, and then we’ll sail to Jamaica and to Hispaniola where this time we shall be welcome! Then to Spain where the Queen will give me a stronger fleet.”
Our ships hailed the turning. Even the Adelantado, even Diego Mendez and Juan Sanchez and Bartholomew Fiesco who were of the boldest drew long breath as of men respited from death.
Not so many have known and lived to tell of such weather as now we met and in it rolled from wave to wave through a long month.