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Mary Johnston
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 304 pages of information about 1492.

Then one morning when the sun rose, it lit a novel thing.  Seaweed or grass or herbage of some sort was afloat about us.  Far as the eye might reach it was like a drowned meadow, vari-colored, awash.  All that day we watched it.  It came toward us from the west; we ran through it from the east.  Now it thinned away; now it thickened until it seemed that the sea was strewn with rushes like a castle floor.  With oars we caught and brought into ship wreaths of it.  All night we sailed in this strange plain.  A yellow dawn showed it still on either side the Santa Maria, and thicker, with fewer blue sea straits and passes than on yesterday.  The Pinta and the Nina stood out with a strange, enchanted look, as ships crossing a plain more vast than the plain of Andalusia.  Still that floating weed thickened.  The crowned woman at our prow pushed swathes of it to either side.  Our mariners hung over rail, talking, talking.  “What is it—­and where will it end?  Mayhap presently we can not plough it!”

I was again and again to admire how for forty years he had stored sea-knowledge.  It was not only what those gray eyes had seen, or those rather large, well molded ears had heard, or that powerful and nervous hand had touched.  But he knew how to take, right and left, knowledge that others gathered, as he knew that others took and would take what he gathered.  He knew that knowledge flows.  Now he stood and told that no less a man than Aristotle had recorded such a happening as this.  Certain ships of Gades—­that is our Cadiz—­driven by a great wind far into River-Ocean, met these weeds or others like them, distant parents of these.  They were like floating islands forever changing shape, and those old ships sailed among them for a while.  They thought they must have broken from sea floor and risen to surface, and currents brought other masses from land.  Tunny fish were caught among them.

And that very moment, as the endless possibilities of things would have it, one, leaning on the rail, cried out that there were tunnies.  We all looked and saw them in a clear canal between two floating masses.  It brought the Admiral credence.  “Look you all!” he said, “how most things have been seen before!”

“But Father Aristotle’s ship—­Was he `Saint’ or `Father’?”

“He was a heathen—­he believed in Mahound.”

“No, he lived before Mahound.  He was a wise man—­”

“But his ships turned back to Cadiz.  They were afraid of this stuff—­that’s the point!”

“They turned back,” said the Admiral.  “And the splendor and the gold were kept for us.”

A thicker carpet of the stuff brushed ship side.  One of the boys cried, “Ho, there is a crab!” It sat indeed on a criss-cross of broken reeds, and it seemed to stare at us solemnly.  “Do not all see that it came from land, and land to the west?”

“But it is caught here!  What if we are caught here too?  These weeds may stem us—­turn great crab pincers and hold us till we rot!”

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