“Necromancers! That’s them that show you a thing and then blow it away—”
I said, “Do you not know that all of us are the only necromancers?”
“Did you see,” asked Sancho, “the glistering in the water? Are we going to lie to after midnight? Saint George! I would like to plunge in and swim!”
On poop deck, Diego de Arana called me to him. “Well, Doctor, how goes it?” He and I rested good friends. I said, “Why, it goes well.”
“I was thinking, watching the moon, how little I ever dreamed, being no sea-going man, of such a thing as this. Who knows his fate? A man’s a strange matter!”
“He is a ballad,” I answered., “One stave leads to another and the story mounts.”
“I cannot think what to-morrow may show us!”
“Nor can I! But it will be important. We enter by a narrow strait great widths of the future.”
“There will be great changes, doubtless. Our world is growing little. Everybody feels that we must push out! It isn’t only Spain, but all kingdoms.”
Pedro Gutierrez joined us. “You are a learned
Doctor! What like are the women of Cipango?”
The moon, past the full yet strong enough to silver this vast shield, rose higher. The sails of the Pinta and the Nina were curves of pearl, our sails above us pale mountains. The light dimmed our lanterns. Crowned woman at our prow would be bathed in it as she ran across Ocean-Sea. It washed our decks, pricked out our moving men. They cast shadows. The master had served out an extra draught of wine. It was hardly needed. We were all lifted, with visions drumming in our heads. Fray Ignatio stood against the mast, and I knew that he felt a pulpit and was making his sermon. After a time, Diego de Arana and Pedro Gutierrez moving away, I was alone. Mind and heart tranquilized, and into them stepped Isabel, and she and I, hand in hand, walked fields of the west.
The moon shone. The Admiral’s voice came from above us where he watched from the castle. “Come up here, one or two of you!” Gutierrez was nearest the ladder. He mounted and I after him, and we stood one on either hand the Admiral. He pointed south of west. “A light!” His voice was an ocean. “It is as it should be. I, Christopherus Columbus, have first seen the Shore of Asia!”
We followed his extended hand. Clear under sail we saw it, dimmed by the moon, but evident, a light as it were of a fire on a beach. Diego de Arana came up also and saw it. It was, we thought, more than a league away, a light that must be on land and made by man. It dwindled, out it went into night and there ran only plain silver. We waited while a man might have swam from us to the Pinta, then forth it started again, red star that was no star. Some one below us cried, “Ho, look!” The Admiral raised his voice, it rang over ship. “Aye! I saw it a time ago, have seen it thrice! I, the Admiral, saw first.” Men were crowding to the side to look, then it went out as though a wave had crept up and drenched it. We gazed and gazed, but it did not come again.