It was, I held, a fever received while wandering through the ravines and woods of Gomera. Master Bernardo had in his cabin drugs and tinctures, and we breathed now all the salt of Ocean-Sea, and the ship was clean. I talked to Beltran the cook about diet, and I chose Sancho and a man that I liked, one Luis Torres, for nurses. Two others sickened this night, and one the next day, but none afterward. None died; in ten days all were recovered. Other ailments aboard I doctored also. Don Diego de Arana was subject to fits of melancholy with twitchings of the body. I had watched Isaac the Physician cure such things as this, and now I followed instruction. I put my hands upon the patient and I strengthened his will with mine, sending into him desire for health and perception of health. His inner man caught tune. The melancholy left him and did not return. Master Bernardo threw off the fever, sat up and moved about. But he was still weak, and still I tended the others for him.
The Pinta had signaled four men ill. But Garcia Fernandez, the Palos physician, was there with Martin Pinzon, and the sick recovered. The Nina had no doctor and now she came near to the Santa Maria and sent a boat. She had five sick men and would borrow Bernardo Nunez.
The Admiral spoke with Nunez, now nearly well. Then the physician made a bundle of drugs and medicaments, said farewell to all and kindly enough to me, and rowed away to the Nina. He was a friend of the Pinzons, and above the vanity of the greater ship. The sick upon the Nina prospered under him.
But Juan Lepe was taken from the forecastle, and slept where Nunez had slept, and had his place at the table in the great cabin. He turned from the sailor Juan Lepe to the physician Juan Lepe, becoming “Doctor” and “Senor.” The wheel turns and a man’s past makes his present.
A few days from Gomera, an hour after sunset, the night was torn by the hugest, flaming, falling star that any of us had ever seen. The mass drove down the lower skirt of the sky, leaving behind it a wake of fire. It plunged into the sea. There is no sailor but knows shooting stars. But this was a hugely great one, and Ocean-Sea very lonely, and to most there our errand a spectral and frightening one. It needed both the Admiral and Fray Ignatio to quell the panic.
The next day a great bird like a crane passed over the Santa Maria. It came from Africa, behind us. But it spoke of land, and the sailors gazed wistfully.
This day I entered the great cabin when none was there but the Admiral, and again he sat at table with his charts and his books. He asked of the sick and I answered. Again he sat looking through open door and window at blue water, a great figure of a man with a great head and face and early-silvered hair. “Do you know aught,” he asked, “of astrology?”
I answered that I knew a little of the surface of it.