“All seamen were to be given good pay,” said Sancho. “And if anybody going was in debt, or even if he had done a crime—so that it wasn’t treason or anything the Holy Office handles—he couldn’t be troubled or held back, seeing it was royal errand. That is very convenient for some.”
Pedro lost patience. “You’d make the best of Hell itself!”
“He’d deny,” put in Fernando, “Holy Writ that says there shall be sorrows!”
They embarked upon loud blame of Sancho, instance after instance. At last I cut them across. “What further happened at Palos?”
They put back to that port. “Oh, it didn’t seem so bad that day! One and another thought, `Perhaps I’ll go!’ Him they call The Admiral is a big figure of a man, and of course we that use the sea get to know how a good captain looks. We knew that he had sailed and sailed, and had had his own ship, maybe two or three of them! Then too the Pinzons and the Prior of La Rabida answered for him. A lot of us almost belong to the Pinzons, having signed to fish and voyage for them, and the Prior is a well-liked man. The alcalde folds up the letter as though he were in church, and they all come down the steps and go away to the alcalde’s house which is around the corner. It wasn’t until they were gone that Palos began to ask, `Where were three ships and maybe a hundred and fifty men going?’ "
“We found out next day,” said Fernando. “The tide went out, but it came back bearing the sound of where we were going!”
“Then what happened in Palos?”
“What happened was that they couldn’t get the ships and they couldn’t get the men! Palos wouldn’t listen. It was too wild, what they wanted to do! It wouldn’t listen to the Prior and it wouldn’t listen to Doctor Garcia Fernandez, and it wouldn’t even listen to Captain Martin Alonso Pinzon. And when that happens—! So for a long time there was a kind of angry calm. And then, lo you! we find that they have written to the Queen and the King. There come letters to Palos, and they are harsh ones!”
“I never heard harsher from any King and Queen!” said Fernando.
“There weren’t only the letters, but they’d sent also a great man, Senor Juan de Penelosa, to see that they got obedience. Upshot is we’ve got to go, ships and men, or else be laid by the heels! As for Palos, her old sea privileges would be taken from her, and she couldn’t face that. Get those ships ready and stock them and pipe sailors aboard, or there’d be our kind Queen and King to deal with!”
“Wherever it is, we’re going. Great folk are too tall and broad for us!”
“So there comes another crowd in the square, before the church. Out steps Captain Martin Pinzon, and he cries, `Men of Palos, for all you doubt it, ’tis a glorious thing that’s doing! Here is the Nina that my brothers and I own. She’s going with Don Cristoval the Admiral, and the men who are bound to me for fishing and voyaging are going, and more than that, there is going Martin Alonso Pinzon, for I’ll ask no man to go where I will not go!’