Don Luis de St. Angel was, I knew, Receiver of the Ecclesiastical Revenues for Aragon, a man who stood well with the King. The horsemen were close upon us. Suddenly the laugher cried, “Saint Jago! Here he is!”
We were now five mounted men and a trudger afoot. The cavalier who had laughed, a portly, genial person with a bold and merry eye, laughed again. “Well met, Don Cristoval. Well met, Admiral! I looked to find you presently! You sailed out of port at sunrise and I two hours later with a swifter ship and more canvas—”
" `Don’ and `Admiral’!” answered Master Christopherus, and he spoke with anger. “You jest in Spain! But in France it shall be said soberly—”
“No, no! Don and Admiral here! Viceroy and Governor here—as soon as you find the lands! Wealthy here— as soon as you put hand on the gold!” Don Luis de St. Angel’s laughter ceased. He became with portentous swiftness a downright, plain man of business. He talked, all of us clustered together on the Cordova road.
“The Archbishop kept me from that audience yesterday, leaving Don Alonso de Quintanella your only friend there! The Queen was tired, the King fretted. They thought they had come a long way, and there you stood, Master Christopherus, shaking your head! Don Alonso told me about it, and how hopeless it seemed! But I said, `If you conquer a land don’t you put in a viceroy? I don’t see that Don Cristoval isn’t as good as Don This One, or Don That One! I’ve a notion that the first might not oppress and flay the new subjects as might the last two! That is a point to be made to the Queen! As for perpetuity of office and privileges down the ages, most things get to be hereditary. If it grows to be a swollen serpent something in the future will fall across and cut it in two. Let time take care of it! As for wealth, in any land a man who will bear an eighth of the cost may fairly expect an eighth of the gain. This setting out is to cost little, after all. He says he can do it with three small ships and less than a hundred and fifty men. If the ships bring back no treasure, he will not be wealthy. If there is a little gain, the Spains need not grudge him his handful of doubloons. If there is huge gain, the King and Queen but for him would not have their seven eighths. The same reasoning applies to his tenth of all future gain from continents and islands. You will say that some one else will arise to do it for us on easier terms. Perhaps—and perhaps not for a century, and another Crown may thrust in to-morrow! France, probably. It is not impossible that England might do it. As for what is named overweening pride and presumption, at least it shows at once and for altogether. We are not left painfully to find it out. It goes with his character. Take it or leave it together with his patience, courage and long head. Leave it, and presently we may see France or England swallow him whole. He will find India and Cathay and Cipango, and France or England will be building ships, ships, ships! Blessed Virgin above us!’ said I, `If I could talk alone to the Sovereigns, I think I could clench it!’ "