In his many years at sea he must many times have met men who had put to sea out of fear of land. He would have sailed with many whose names, he knew, were not those given them at birth. He must have learned to take reasons for granted and to go on—where he wished to go on. So we gazed at each other.
“I had written down,” he said, “that you greatly helped the sick, and upon Bernardo Nunez’s going to the Nina, became our physician. But I will write no more of you, and that written will pass in the flood of things to come.” After a moment, he ended with deliberation, “I know my star to be a great star, burning long and now with a mounting flame. If yours is in any wise its kin, then there needs must be histories.”
IT was a strange thing how utterly favoring now was the wind! It blew with a great steady push always from the east, and always we ran before it into the west. Day after day we experienced this warm and steadfast driving; day after day we never shifted sail. The rigging sang a steady song, day and night. The crowned woman, our figurehead, ran, light-footed, over a green and blue plain, and where the plain ended no man might know! “Perhaps it does not end!” said the mariners.
Of the hidalgos aboard I like best Diego de Arana who had cast off his melancholy. He was a man of sense, candid and brave. Roderigo Sanchez sat and moved a dull, good man. Roderigo de Escobedo had courage, but he was factious, would take sides against his shadow if none other were there. Pedro Gutierrez had been a courtier, and had the vices of that life, together with a daredevil recklessness and a kind of wild wit. I had liking and admiration for Fray Ignatio, but careful indeed was I when I spoke with him!
The wind blew unchanging, the stark blue shield of sea, a water-world, must be taken in the whole, for there was no contrasting point in it to catch the eye. Sancho, forward, in a high sweet voice like a jongleur’s voice, was singing to the men an endless ballad. Upon the poop deck Escobedo and Gutierrez, having diced themselves to an even wealth or poverty, turned to further examination of the Admiral’s ways. Endlessly they made him and his views subject of talk. Roderigo Sanchez listened with a face like an owl, Diego de Arana with some irony about his lips. I came and stood beside the latter.
They were upon the beggary of Christopherus Columbus. “How did the Prior of La Rabida—?”
“I’ll tell you, for I heard it. One evening at vesper bell comes our Admiral—no less a man!—to Priory gate with a young boy in his hand. Not Fernando his love-child, but Diego the elder, who was born in Lisbon. All dusty with the road, like any beggar you see, and not much better clad, foot-sore and begging bread for himself and the boy. And because of his white hair, and because he carried himself in that absurd