I agreed with a nod, and indeed there was never any shaking him here. Beneath his wide and lofty vision of a world filled out to the eternal benefit of all rested always this picture which I knew he savored like wine and warmth. His family, his sons, his brothers and kindred, the aged father in Genoa, all friends and backers—and he a warm sun in the midst of them, all their doubts of him dispelled, shining out upon them, making every field rich, repaying a thousand, thousandfold every trust shown him.
The day sang cool and high and bright, the mountains of Elvira had light snow atop. Master Christopherus began again to speak.
“There came ashore at Porto Santo some years ago a piece of wood long as a spar but thicker. Pedro Correo, who is my brother-in-law, saw it. It was graved all over, cut by something duller than our knives with beasts and leaves and a figure that Pedro thought was meant for an idol. He and another saw it and agree in their description. They left it on the beach at twilight, well out of water reach. But in the night came up a great storm that swept it away. It came from the west, the wind having blown for days from that quarter. I ask you will empty billows fell a tree and trim it and carve it? It is said that a Portuguese pilot picked up one like it off Cape Bojador when the wind was southwest. I have heard a man of the Azores tell of giant reeds pitched upon his shore from the west. There is a story of the finding on the beach of Flores the bodies of two men not like any that we know either in color or in feature. For days a west wind had driven in the seas. And I know of other findings. Whence do these things come?
“May there not be unknown islands west of Azores? They might come from there, and still to the west of them stream all Ocean-Sea, violent and unknown! The learned think the earth of such a size. Your Arabian holds it smaller. What if it is larger than the largest calculation?”
He said with disdain, “All the wise men at Salamanca before whom the King set me six years ago thought it had no end! Large or small, they called it blasphemy for me, a poor, plain seaman, son of a wool-comber and not even a Spanish wool-comber, to try to stretch mind over it! Ocean-Sea had never been overpassed, and by that token could not be overpassed! None had met its dangers, so dangers there must be of a most strange and fearful nature! But if you were put to sea at fourteen and have lived there long, water becomes water! A speck on the horizon will turn out ship or land. Wave carries you on to wave, day to night and night to day. At last there is port!”
All this time his horse had been cropping the scanty herbage. Now he raised his head. In a moment we too heard the horsemen and looking back toward Santa Fe saw four approaching. As they came nearer we made out two cavaliers talking together, followed by serving men. When they were almost at hand one of the leaders said something, whereat his fellow laughed. It floated up Cordova road, a wide, deep, rich laugh. Master Christopherus started. “That is the laugh of Don Luis de St. Angel!”