But the Admiral had the great man’s mark. He could acknowledge service and be quite simply and deeply grateful for it. He was grateful to Martin Pinzon who had aided him from his first coming to Palos, and also I think he loved the younger man’s great blond strength and beauty. He had all of Italy’s quickness to beauty, be it of land or sea, forest, flower, animal or man. But now and again, even so early as this, he must put out hand to check Pinzon’s impetuous advice. His brows drew together above gray eyes and eagle nose. But for the most part, on Gomera, they were very friendly, and it was a sight to see Admiral and captains and all the privileged of the expedition sit at wine with the commandant.
Juan Lepe had no quarrel with any of them. Jayme
Marchena swept this voyage into the Great Voyage.
The Pinta was nearly ready when there arrived a small ship from Ferro bringing news that three large Portuguese ships had sailed by that island. Said the commandant, “Spain and Portugal are at peace. They would not dare to try to oust us!” He came to waterside to talk to the Admiral. “Not to fight you,” said the Admiral, “but me! King John wishes to keep India, Cipango and Cathay still veiled. So he will get time in which to have from the Holy Father another bull that will place the Portuguese line west and west until he hath the whole!” He raised his hand and let it fall. “I cannot sail to-morrow, but I will sail the day after!”
We were put to hard labor for the rest of that day, and through much of the moonlit night. By early morning again we labored. At mid-afternoon all was done. The Pinta, right from stem to stern, rode the blue water; the Nina had her great square sails. The Guanches stored for us fresh provisions and rolled down and into ship our water casks. There was a great moon, and we would stand off in the night. Nothing more had been seen of the Portuguese ships, but we were ready to go and go we should. All being done, and the sun two hours high, we mariners had leave to rest ashore under trees who might not for very long again see land or trees.
There was a grove that led to a stream and the waterfall where we had filled the casks. I walked through this alone. The place lay utterly still save for the murmuring of the water and the singing of a small yellowish bird that abounds in these islands. At the end of an aisle of trees shone the sea, blue and calm as a sapphire of heaven. I lay down upon the earth by the water.
Finding of India and rounding the earth! We seemed poor, weak men, but the thing was great, and I suppose the doers of a great thing are great. East—west! Going west and yet east.—The Jew in me had come from Palestine, and to Palestine perhaps from Arabia, and to Arabia—who knew?—perhaps from that India! And much of the Spaniard had come from Carthage and from Phoenicia, old Tyre and Sidon, and Tyre and Sidon again from the east. From the east and to the east again. All our Age that with all lacks was yet a stirring one with a sense of dawn and sunrise and distant trumpets, now was going east, was going Home, going east by the west road. West is home and East is home, and North and South. Knowledge extendeth and the world above is fed.