Then came through every peril that might be Pedro Ledesma, from the ships. They waited! Break through— come down!
The Margarita could never pass the bar that now the falling water left exposed. We made rafts, we dismantled her and took what we could; we left her in Veragua for Quibian to walk her deck and sail her if he might. Through danger in multitude, with our rafts and two boats, with the loss of six men, we went down the Bethlehem. Some of ours wept when they saw the ships, and the Admiral wept when he and the Adelantado met.
Away from Veragua!
Is it only the Spaniards who suffer, and for what at the last, not at the first, did Quibian fight? In that strong raid when we thought Quibian perished had been taken captive brothers and kinsmen of that cacique. These were prisoned upon the Juana, to be taken to Spain, shown, made Christian, perhaps sold, perhaps—who knows?—returned to their land, but never to freedom.
While the Juana tossed where Bethlehem met the sea, these Indians broke in the night time up through hatchway and made for the side to throw themselves over. But the watch gave a great cry and sprang upon them, and other Spaniards came instantly. All but two were retaken. These two, wrenching themselves free, sprang away into rough water and dark night, and it is most likely that they drowned, being a mile from shore. But the others were thrust back and down under hatch which then was chained so that they might not again lift it. But in the morning when the captain of the Juana went to look, all, all were dead, having hanged themselves.
WE left one of our ships in the Bethlehem and we lost another upon this disastrous coast ere we got clear for Jamaica.
We were sea specters. We had saved our men from the San Sebastian as from the Margarita. Now all were upon the Consolacion and the Juana. Fifty fewer were we than when we had sailed from Cadiz, yet the two ships crept over-full. And they were like creatures overcome with eld. Beaten, crazed, falling apart.
On the Eve of Saint John we came to Jamaica.
The ships were riddled by the teredo. We could not keep afloat to go to Hispaniola. At Santa Gloria we ran them in quiet water side by side upon the sand. They partly filled, they settled down, only forecastle and poop above the blue mirror. We built shelters upon them and bridged the space between. The ocean wanderers were turned into a fort.
Jamaica, we thanked all the saints, was a friendly land. They brought us cassava and fruit, these Indians; they swarmed about us in their canoes. The gods in trouble, yet still the gods!
We were forty leagues from Hispaniola, and we had no ship!
Again there volunteered Diego Mendez. We ourselves had now but one Christian boat. But there existed canoes a-plenty. Chose one, with six Indians to row! Leave Diego Mendez with one other Spaniard of his choice to cross the sea between us and Hispaniola, get to San Domingo, rouse all Christian men, even Don Nicholas de Ovanda, procure a large ship or two smaller ones, return with rescue!