“If—and if—and if” cried the Admiral. “For Christ, His sake, laugh at yourselves!”
On, on, we went before that warm and potent wind, so steadfast that there must be controlling it some natural law. Ocean-Sea spread around, with that weed like a marsh at springtide. Then, suddenly, just as the murmuring faction was murmuring again, we cleared all that. Open sea, blue running ocean, endlessly endless!
The too-steady sunshine vanished. There broke a cloudy dawn followed by light rain. It ceased and the sky cleared. But in the north held a mist and a kind of semblance of far-off mountains. Startled, a man cried “Land!” but the next moment showed that it was cloud. Yet all day the mist hung in this quarter. The Pinta approached and signaled, and presently over to us put her boat, in it Martin Pinzon. The Admiral met him as he came up over side and would have taken him into great cabin. But, no! Martin Pinzon always spoke out, before everybody! “Senor, there is land yonder, under the north! Should not we change course and see what is there?”
“It is cloud,” answered the Admiral. “Though I do not deny that such a haze may be crying, `Land behind!’ "
“Let us sail then north, and see!”
But the Admiral shook his head. “No, Captain! West —west—arrow straight!”
Pinzon appeared about to say, “You are very wrong, and we should see what’s behind that arras!” But he checked himself, standing before Admiral and Don and Viceroy, and all those listening faces around. “I still think,” he began.
The other took him up, but kept considerate, almost deferring manner. “Yes, if we had time or ships to spare! But now it is, do not stray from the path. Sail straight west!”
“We are five hundred leagues from Palos.”
“Less than that, by our reckoning. The
Palos, the nearer India!”
“We may be passing by our salvation!”
“Our salvation lies in going as we set forth to go.” He made his gesture of dismissal of that, and asked after the health of the Pinta. The health held, but the stores were growing low. Biscuit enough, but bacon almost out, and not so many measures of beans left. Oil, too, approached bottom of jars. The Nina was in the same case.
“Food and water will last,” said the Admiral. “We have not come so far without safely going farther.”
Martin Alonso Pinzon was the younger man and but captain of the Pinta_, while the other stood Don and Admiral, appointed by Majesty, responsible only to the Crown. But he had been Master Christopherus the dreamer, who was shabbily dressed, owed money, almost begged. He owed large money now to Martin Pinzon. But for the Pinzons, he could hardly have sailed. He should listen now, take good advice, that was clearly what the captain of the Pinta thought! Undoubtedly Master Christopherus dreamed true to a certain point, but after that was not so followable! As for Cristoforo Colombo, Italian shipmaster, he had, it was true, old sea wisdom. But Martin Pinzon thought Martin Pinzon was as good there!—Captain Martin Alonso said good-by with some haughtiness and went stiffly back over blue sea to the Pinta.