Said Fray Juan Perez, “Not to do that, Juan Lepe, were to cry aloud for another shipwreck!”
He used the tone of priest, thrusting in speech as priests often do, where there is no especial need of speech. But I understood that that was a mask, and could read kinsmanly anxiety in a good man’s heart. I said, “I will find Sebastian Jaurez, and I will go to church, Senors. A ship is a ship, and a voyage a voyage!”
“This, Juan Lepe,” said the Admiral in that peculiarly warm and thrilling voice of his, “is such a voyage as you have never been!”
I made reply, “So be it! I would have every voyage greater than the last.” And as they put their steeds into motion, walked behind them downhill and over sandy ways into Palos. There I found Sebastian Jaurez who signed me in. I put into my pocket the coin he gave me and drank with him a stoup of wine, and then I went to church.
It was a great shadowy church and I found it full. Jaurez piloted me to where just under pulpit were ranged my fellow mariners, a hundred plain sailormen, no great number with which to widen the world! A score or so of better station were grouped at the head of these, and in front of all stood Christopherus Columbus. I saw again Martin Alonso Pinzon who had entered the Prior’s room at La Rabida, and with him his two brothers Francisco and Vicente. Martin Pinzon would be captain of the Pinta and Vicente of the Nina. And there were Roderigo Sanchez of Segovia, Inspector-General of Armament, and Diego de Arana, chief alguazil of the expedition, and Roderigo de Escobedo, royal notary, and with these three or four young men of birth, adventuring for India now that the war with the Moor was done. And there were two physicians, Garcia Fernandez and Berardino Nunez. And there was the Franciscan, Fray Ignatio, who would convert the heathen and preach before the Great Khan.
The Admiral of Ocean-Sea stood a taller man than any there, tall, muscular, a great figure. He was richly dressed, for as soon as he could he dressed richly. A shaft of light struck his brow and made his hair all glowing silver. His face was lifted. The air about him to my eyes swam and quivered and was faintly colored.
Fray Juan Perez preached the sermon and he used great earnestness and now and again his voice broke. He talked of God’s gain that we went forth upon, reaping in a field set us. One thing came forth here that I had not before heard.
“And the unthinkable wealth that surely shall be found and gained, for these countries to which you sail have eight-tenths of the world’s riches, shall put Castile and Leon where of old stood Pagan Rome, and shall make, God willing, of this very Palos a new Genoa or Venice! And this man, your Admiral, how hath he proposed to the Sovereigns to use first fruits? Why, friends, by taking finally and forever from Mahound, and for Holy Church and her servant the Spains, the Holy Sepulchre!”