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Mary Johnston
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 304 pages of information about 1492.

The second man spoke with a whine.  “I had rather a Barbary pirate were coming aboard!  I had rather be took slave and row a galley!”

The third, a young man, had a whimsical, dark, fearless face.  “But we be going to see strange things and serve the Queen!  That’s something!”

“The Queen is just a lady.  She don’t know anything about deep and fearful seas!”

“Where are you going,” I asked, “and with whom?”

The angry man answered, “The last of that is the easiest, mate!  With an Italian sorcerer who has bewitched the great!  He ought to be burned, say I, with the Jews and heretics!  We are going with him, and we are going with Captain Martin Pinzon, whom he hath bewitched with the rest!  And we are going with three ships, the Santa Maria, the Pinta and the Nina.”

The third said, “The Santa Maria’s a good boat.”

“There isn’t any boat, good or bad,” the first answered him, “that can hold together when you come to heat that’ll melt pitch and set wood afire!  There isn’t any boat, good or bad, that can stand it when a lodestone as big as Gibraltar begins to draw iron!”

The second, whose element was melancholy, sighed, “I’ve been north of Ireland, Pedro, and that was bad enough!  The lookout saw a siren and the Infanta Isabella was dashed on the rocks and something laughed at us all night!”

“Ireland’s nothing at all to it!” answered the angry man, whose name was Pedro.  “I’ve heard men that know talk!  The Portuguese going down Africa coast got to Cape Bojador, but they’ve never truly gotten any further, though I hear them say they have!  They sent a little carrack further down, and it had to come back because the water fell to boiling!  There wasn’t any land and there wasn’t any true sea, but it was all melted up together in fervent heat!  Like hot mud, so to speak.  It’s hell, that’s what I say; it’s hell down there!  Moreover, there ain’t any heaven stretched over it.”

“What does it mean by that?” asked the second.

“It means, Fernando, that there wouldn’t be any sky, blue nor gray nor black, nor clouds, nor air to breathe!  There wouldn’t be any thunder and lightning nor rain nor wind, and at night there wouldn’t be stars, no north star, nor any!  It would just be—­I don’t know what!  Fray Ignatio told me, and he said the name was `chaos’.”

“That was south.  That wasn’t west.”

“West is just as bad!”

Fernando also addressed the young man, the third, calling him Sancho.  “If there were anything west for Christian men, wouldn’t the Holy Father at Rome have sent long ago?  We are all going to die!”

“But they didn’t know it was round,” said Sancho.  “Now we do, and that’s the difference!  If you started a little manikin just here on an orange and told him to go straight ahead, he’d come around home, wouldn’t he?”

“You weary me, Sancho!” cried the first.  “And what if you did that and it took so long that you come back to Fishertown old and bald and driveling, and your wife is dead and all the neighbors!  Much good you’d have from knowing it was round!”

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