It was truly the hope that upheld many on a voyage that they chose to think a witches’ one. He talked now out of Marco Polo and he clad what that traveler had said in more gorgeous attire. He meant nothing false; his exalted imagination saw it so. He was painter of great pageants, heightening and remodeling, deepening and purifying colors, making humdrum and workaday over to his heart’s desire. The Venetian in his book, and other travelers in their books, had related wonders enough. These grew with him, it might be said—and indeed in his lifetime was often said—into wonders without a foot upon earth. But if one took as figures and symbols his gold roofs and platters, temples and gardens, every man a merchant in silks and spices, strange fruit-dropping trees and pearls in carcanets, the Grand Khan and Prester John—who could say that in the long, patient life of Time the Admiral was over-esteeming? The pity of it was that most here could not live in great lengths of time. They wanted riches now, now! And they wanted only one kind of riches; here and now, or at the most in another month, in the hands and laps of Pedro and Fernando and Diego.
THERE grew at times an excited feeling that he was a prophet, and that there were fabulously great things before us. As I doctored some small ill one day in the forecastle, a great fellow named Francisco from Huelva would tell me his dream of the night before. He had already told it, it seemed, to all who would listen, and now again he had considerable audience, crowding at the door. He said that he dreamed he was in Cipango. At first he thought it was heaven, but when he saw golden roofs he knew it must be Cipango, for in heaven where it never rained and there were no nights, we shouldn’t need roofs. One interrupted, “We’d need them to keep the flying angels from looking in!”
“It was Cipango,” persisted Francisco, “for the Emperor himself came and gave me a rope of pearls. There were five thousand of them, and each would buy a house or a fine horse or a suit of velvet. And the Emperor took me by the hand, and he said, `Dear Brother—’ You might have thought I was a king—and by the mass, I was a king! I felt it right away! And then he took me into a garden, and there were three beautiful women, and one of them would push me to the other, and that one to the third, and that to the first again, as though they were playing ball, and they all laughed, and I laughed. Then there came a great person with five crowns on his head, and all the light blazed up gold and blue, and somebody said, `It’s Prester John’!”
His dream kept a two-days’ serenity upon the ship. It came to the ear of the Admiral, who said, " `In dreams will I instruct thee.’—I have had dreams far statelier than his.”
Pedro Gutierrez too began to dream,—fantastic things which he told with an idle gusto. They were of wine and gold and women, though often these were to be guessed through strange, jumbled masks and phantasies. “Those are ill dreams,” said the Admiral. “Dream straight and high!” Fray Ignatio, too, said wisely, “It is not always God who cometh in dreams!”