“I have a sense,” he said, “that our stars are akin, yours and mine. I felt it the day Granada fell, and I felt it on Cordova road, and again that day below La Rabida when we turned the corner and the bells rang and you stood beside the vineyard wall. Should I not have learned in more than fifty years to know a man? The stars are akin that will endure for vision’s sake.”
I said, “I believe that, my Admiral.”
He sat in silence for a moment, then drew the log between us and turned several pages so that I might see the reckoning. “We have come well,” I said. “Yet with so fair a wind, I should have thought—”
He turned the leaves till he rested at one covered with other figures. “Here it is as it truly is, and where we truly are! We have oversailed all that the first show, and so many leagues besides.”
“Two records, true and untrue! Why do you do it so?”
“I have told them that after seven hundred leagues we should find land. Add fifty more for our general imperfection. But it may be wider than I think. We may not come even to some fringing island in eight hundred leagues, no, nor in more than that! If it be a thousand, if it be two thousand, on I go! But after the seven hundred is passed, it will be hard to keep them in hand. So, though we are covering more, I let them think we are covering only this.”
I could but laugh. Two reckonings! After all, he was not Italian for nothing!
“The master knows,” he said, “and also Diego de Arana. But at least one other should know. Two might drown or perish from sickness. I myself might fall sick and die, though I will not believe it!” He paused a moment, then said, looking directly at me, “I need one in whom I can utterly confide. I should have had with me my brother Bartholomew. But he is in England. A man going to seek a Crown jewel for all men should have with him son or brother. Diego de Arana is a kinsman of one whom I love, and he partly believes. But Roderigo Sanchez and the others believe hardly at all. There is Fray Ignatio. He believes, and I confess my sins to him. But he thinks only of penitents, and this matter needs mind, not heart alone. Because of that sense of the stars, I tell you these things.”
The next day it came to me that in that Journal which he meant to make like Caesar’s Commentaries, he might put down the change in the Santa Maria’s physicians and set my name there too often. I watched my chance and finding it, asked that he name me not in that book. His gray eyes rested upon me; he demanded the reason for that. I said that in Spain I was in danger, and that Juan Lepe was not my name. More than that I did not wish to say, and perchance it were wiser for him not to know. But I would not that the powerful should mark me in his Journal or elsewhere!
Usually his eyes were wide and filled with light as though it were sent into them from the vast lands that he continuously saw. But he could be immediate captain and commander of things and of men, and when that was so, the light drew into a point, and he became eagle that sees through the wave the fish. Had he been the seer alone, truly he might have been the seer of what was to be discovered and might have set others upon the path. But he would not have sailed on the Santa Maria!