“And He said that same year off Aleppo, `Learn to command ships. Learn in King Reinier’s war and in what other war Genoa makes. Learn to direct men and patiently to hear them, winding in and out of their counsels, keeping thyself always wiser than they.’ Well, I studied, and learned, and can command a ship or ships, and know navigation, and can make maps and charts with the best, and can rule seamen, loving them the while. Long ago, I went to that school which He set, and came forth magister! Long after His first speaking, I was at Porto Santo, well named, and there He said, `Seek India, going westward.’ " He turned his face to the sun. “I have been going to India fifty-six years.”
Juan Lepe asked, “Why, on yesterday, were you not content with the King and Queen’s terms? They granted honor and competence. It was the estate of a prince that you asked.”
Some moments passed before he answered. The sun was shining, the road white and dusty, the mountains of Elvira purple to the tops and there splashed with silver. When he spoke, his voice was changed. Neither now nor hereafter did he discourse of money-gold and nobility flowing from earthly kings with that impersonal exaltation with which he talked of his errand from God to link together east and west. But he drew them somehow in train from the last, hiding here I thought, an earthly weakness from himself, and the weakness so intertwined with strength that it was hard to divide parasite from oak.
“Did you see,” he asked, “a boy with me? That was my son Diego whom I have left with a friend in Santa Fe. Fernando, his half-brother, is but a child. I shall see him in Cordova. I have two brothers, dear to me both of them, Diego and Bartholomew. My old father, Dominico Colombo, still lives in Genoa. He lives in poverty, as I have lived in poverty these many years. And there is Pedro Correo, to whom I owe much, husband of my wife’s sister. My wife is dead. The mother of Fernando is not my wife, but I love her, and she is poor though beautiful and good. I would have her less poor; I would give her beautiful things. I have love for my kindred,—love and yearning and care and desire to do them good, alike those who trust me and those who think that I had failed them. I do not fail them!”