“Ha, ha! Ha, ha!” This was Escobedo.
“The prior thinks, `This is an interesting madman.’ And being a charitable good man and lacking entertainment that evening, he brings the beggar in to supper and sits by him.”
Roderigo Sanchez opened his mouth. “All Andalusia knows Fray Juan Perez is a kind of visionary!”
“Aye, like to like! `Have you been to our Queen and the King? ’ `Aye, I have!’ saith the beggar, `but they are warring with the Moors and will pull Granada down and do not see the greater glory!’ "
All laughed at that, and indeed Gutierrez could mimic to perfection. We got, full measure, the beggar’s loftiness.
“So the siren sings and the prior leaps to meet her, or tarantula stings him and be dances! `I am growing mad too,’ thinks Fray Juan Perez, and begins presently to tell that last week he dreamed of Prester John. The end is that he and the beggar talk till midnight and the next morning they talk again, and the prior sends for his friends Captain Martin Alonzo Pinzon and the physician Garcia Fernandez. The beggar gains them all!”
“Do you think a beggar can do that?” I said. “Only a giver can do that.”
Pedro Gutierrez turned black eyes upon Juan Lepe, whom he resented there on the poop deck. “How could you have learned so much, Doctor, while you were making sail and washing ship?” He was my younger in every way, and I answered equably, “I learned in the same way that the Admiral learned while he begged.”
“Touched!” said Diego de Arana. “So that is the way the prior came into the business?”
“He enters with such vigor,” said Gutierrez, “that what does he do but write an impassioned letter to the Queen, having long ago, for a time, been her confessor? What he tells her, God knows, but it seems that it changes the world! She answers that for herself she hath grieved for Master Columbus’s departure from the court and the realm, and that if he will turn and come to Santa Fe, his propositions shall at last be thoroughly weighed. Letter finds the beggar with his boy honored guest of La Rabida, touching heads with Martin Pinzon over maps and charts and the `Book of Travels’ of Messer Marco Polo. There is great joy! The beggar hath the prior’s own mule and his son a jennet, and here we go to Santa Fe! That was last year. Now the boy that whimpered for bread at convent gate is Don Diego Colon, page to Prince Juan, and the Viceroy sails on the Santa Maria for the countries he will administer!”