“Then up beside him starts his brothers Vicente and Francisco, and they say they are going too. Fray Ignatio stands on the church steps and cries that there are idolaters there, and he will go to tell them about our Lord Jesus Christ! Then the alcalde gets up and says that the Sovereigns must be obeyed, and that the Santa Maria and the Pinta shall be made ready. Then the pilots Sancho Ruiz and Pedro Nino and Bartolomeo Roldan push out together and say they’ll go, and others follow, seeing they’ll have to anyhow! So it went that day and the next and the next, until now they’ve pressed all they need. So I say, we are here, brother, flopping in the net!”
“When does he sail?”
“Day after to-morrow, ’tis said. But we who don’t live in Palos have our orders to be there to-night. Aren’t you going too, mate?”
I answered that I hadn’t thought of it, and immediately, out of the whole, there rose and faced me, “You have thought of it all the time!”
Sancho spoke. “If you’ll go with us to Captain Martin Pinzon, he’ll enter you. He’d like to get another strong man.”
I said, “I don’t know. I’ll have to think of it. Here is Palos, and yonder the headland with La Rabida.”
We entered the town. They would have had me go with them wherever they must report themselves. But I said that I could not then, and at the mouth of their street managed to leave them. I passed through Palos and beyond its western limit came again to that house of the poorest where I had lodged six months before and waking all night had heard the Tinto flowing by like the life of a man. Long ago I had had some training in medicine, and in mind’s medicine, and three years past I had brought a young working man living then in Marchena out of illness and melancholy. His parents dwelled here in this house by the Tinto and they gave me shelter.
RISING at dawn, I walked to the sea and along it until I came at last to those dunes beneath which I had stretched myself that day of grayness. Now it was deep summer, blue and gold, and the air all balm and caressing. The evening before I had seen the three ships where they rode in river mouth. They were caravels, and only the Santa Maria, the largest, was fully decked. Small craft with which to find India, over a road of a thousand leagues —or no road, for road means that men have toiled there and traveled there—no road, but a wilderness plain, a water desert! The Arabians say that Jinn and Afrits live in the desert away from the caravans. If you go that way you meet fearful things and never come forth again. The Santa Maria, the Pinta and the Nina. The Santa Maria could be Master Christopherus’s ship. Bright point that was his banner could be made out at the fore.
Palos waterside, in a red-filtered dusk, had been a noisy place, but the noise did not ring genially. I gathered that this small port was more largely in the mood of Pedro and Fernando than in that of Sancho. It looked frightened and it looked sullen and it looked angry.