We sent off Diego Mendez with strong farewells and blessings. The vast blue sea and air withdrew and covered from sight the canoe.
A week—two weeks. Grew out of the azure a single canoe, and approached. “Diego Mendez—Diego Mendez!”
It was he alone, with a tale to tell of storm and putting ashore and capture after battle by Jamaicans no longer friendly, and of escape alone. But he would go again if so be he might have with him Bartholomew Fiesco. They went, with heavily paid Indians to row the staunchest canoe we could find. This time the Adelantado with twenty kept them company along the shore to end of the island, where the canoe shot forth into clear sea, and the blue curtain came down between the stranded and the going for help. The Adelantado returned to us, and we waited. The weeks crept by.
Great heat and sickness, and the Indians no longer prompt to bring us supplies. Sooner or later, each of these dark peoples found a Quibian or Caonabo.
The most of us determined that Diego Mendez and Fiesco and their canoe were lost. Hispaniola knew nothing of us —nothing, nothing! Suddenly the two Porras brothers led a mad mutiny. “Leave these rotting ships—seize the canoes we need—all of us row or swim to Hispaniola!”
There were fifty who thought thus. The Admiral withstood them with strong words, with the reasoning of a master seaman, and the counsel now—his white and long hair, and eld upon him—of Jacob or Isaac or Abraham. But they would not, and they would not, and at last they departed from us, taking—but the Admiral gave them freely —the dozen canoes that we had purchased, crowding into these, rowing away with cries from that sea fortress, melancholy indeed, in the blinding light.
They vanished. The next day fair, the next a mad storm. Two weeks, and news came of them. They were not nigh to Hispaniola; wrecked, they lost five men, but got, the rest of them, to land, where they now roved from village to village. Another week, and the Indians who came to us and whom we kept friendly, related with passionate and eloquent word and gesture evils that that band was working. Pedro Margarite—Roldan—over and over again!
After much of up and down those mutineers came back to us. They could not do without us; they could not get to Hispaniola in Indian canoes. The Admiral received them fatherly.
No sail—no sail. Long months and no sail. Surely Diego Mendez and Bartholomew Fiesco were drowned! Hispaniola, if it thought of us at all, might think us now by Ganges. Or as lost at sea.
Christopherus Columbus dreamed again, or had a vision again. “I was hopeless. I wept alone on a desert shore. My name had faded, and all that I had done was broken into sand and swept away. I repined, and cried, `Why is it thus?’ Then came a ship not like ours, and One stepped from it in light and thunder. `O man of little faith, I will cover thy eyes of to-day!’ He covered them, and I saw.— And now, Juan Lepe, I care not! We will all come Home, whether or no the wave covers us here.”