1492 eBook

Mary Johnston
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 376 pages of information about 1492.
when the Pinta signaled that the rudder was hung.  But by now the sky stretched straight lead, and the water ran white-capped.  We made no way till morning, when without a drop of rain all the cloud roof was driven landward and there sprang out a sky so blue that the heart laughed for joy.  The violent wind sank, then veered and blowing moderately carried us again southward.  All the white sails, white and new, were flung out, and we raced over a rich, green plain.  That lasted through most of the day, but an hour before sunset the Pinta again signaled trouble.  The rudder was once more worse than useless.

Again it was mended.  But when the next morning it happened the third time and a kind of wailing grumble went through the Santa Maria, there came pronouncement from the Admiral.  “The Canaries lie straight ahead.  In two days we shall sight them.  Very good! we shall rest there and make a new rudder for the Pinta.  The Nina will do better with square sails and we can change these.  Fresh meat and water and some rambling ashore!”

Beltran the cook had been to the Canaries, driven there by a perverse wind twenty years ago when he was boatswain upon a big carrack.  He said it was no great way and one or two agreed with him, but others declined to believe the Admiral when he said that in two days we should behold the volcano.  Some were found to clamor that the wind had driven us out of all reckoning!  We might never find the Canaries and then what would the Pinta do?  Whereas, if we all turned back to Palos—­

“If—­if!” answered Beltran the cook, who at first seemed strangely and humorously there as cook until one found that he had an injured leg and could not climb mast nor manage sail. " `If’ is a seaman without a ship!—­ He’s a famous navigator.”

“Martin Pinzon?”

“Him too.  But I meant our Admiral.”

“He hasn’t had a ship for years!”

“He was of the best when he had one!  I’ve heard old
Captain Ruy tell—­”

“Maybe he wasn’t crazy in those days, but he’s crazy now!”

That was Fernando.  I think it was from him that certain of the crew took the word “crazy.”  They used it until one would think that for pure variety’s sake they would find another!

The sixth day from Palos there lifted from sea the peak of Teneriffe.

This day, passing on some errand the open door of the great cabin, I saw the Admiral seated at the table.  Looking up, he saw me, gazed an instant, then lifted his voice.  Come in here!”

He sat with a great chart spread upon the table before him.  Beside it the log lay open, and he had under his hand a book in which he was writing.  Door framed blue sky and sea, a pleasant wind was singing in a pleasant warmth, the great cabin which, with the rest of the ship, he made to be kept very clean, was awash with light and fineness of air.  “Would you like to look at the chart?” he asked, and I came and looked over his shoulder.

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1492 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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