They thought he perished, seeing him no more for all their moving about and bringing the boat to the land. Juan Sanchez was certain he sank, bound as he was. With other captives and with a great mass of golden ornaments, came back to the ships the Adelantado. The Indian camp was broken, dispersed.
The rains began to fall. The river swelled; the fort and store place and other houses were builded.
The eighty who were to stay and the something under that number who were to go prepared to say farewell. We went to mass under three palm trees, before our fort on the river Bethlehem. That over, those who were to go went aboard the three ships, and the sails were made, and they began to sing as they passed down the Bethlehem. The Margarita and we watched their going.
They went a league, and then another—we thought they were wholly gone. But out of the river, though the skies were clear, again rushed against them an enemy wind. They lay at anchor in river mouth, waiting on propitiousness. But we, up the river, thought they were gone. That night, before dawn, Quibian attacked us.
We had several killed, and the Adelantado was hurt in the breast, and many others had their wounds. But we thundered with our cannon and we loosed two bloodhounds and we charged. For a time the brown, naked foe fought desperately, but at last he broke. Far streamed five hundred fleeing particles into the gloomy, the deep, the matted forest. Up the river came a long boat, and we found it to hold Diego Tristan and eight men sent by the Admiral with a forgotten word for the Adelantado. Much we rejoiced that the ships were not clean gone!
Diego Tristan took our news. The Adelantado—his hurt was slight—wrote again to the Admiral. Again we said farewell to Diego Tristan. The long boat passed a turn in the Bethlehem; out of our sight. Once we thought we heard a faint and distant shouting, but there was no telling. But in five hours there staggered into fort Juan de Noya who alone lived of that boatful, set upon by Quibian. Diego Tristan dead, and seven men.
All that night we heard in the wood those throbbing Indian drums and wild-blowing shells.
They were Caribs, now we were sure, and Quibian lived and preached a holy war. Though we had driven them off, we heard them mustering again. If we could not get food —perhaps not water?
Sixty of ours came to the Adelantado. In truth, all might have come, for massacre, slow or swift, was certain if we stayed in Veragua. I read that the Adelantado, who was never accused of cowardice or fickleness, was himself determined. The settlement below the golden mines of golden Veragua must wait a little.
We took our wounded and with the Adelantado, turned Mars in these three days, came down to the Bethlehem, to a pebbly shore from which the water had shrunken. Here at least was our ship with us, and the river that bore to the sea. Here, for the weather was ferocious and Quibian howling around us, we built what shelter we might. Here in much misery we waited days for the long and wild storm to cease. We hoped the Admiral was yet at the mouth of the Bethlehem, but could not do more than hope.