1492 eBook

Mary Johnston
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 376 pages of information about 1492.

But others among us could not expect such as this after the quiet night; no light before us save that one so soon quenched, no stir of boat at all or large or small; an unearthly quiet, a low land still as a sleeping marsh under moon.

The light brightened.  The water about us turned a blue that none there had ever seen, so turquoise, so cerulean, so penetrable by the eye!  Before us gentle surf broke on a beach bone-white.  The beach with little rise met woodland; thick it seemed and of a vivid greenness and fairly covering the island.  It was island, masthead told us, who saw blue ribbon going around.  Moreover, there were two others, no greater, upon the horizon.  Nor, though the woodland seemed thick as pile of velvet, was it desolate isle.  We made out in three places light plumes of smoke.  Now some one uttered a cry, “Men!”

They were running out of the wood, down upon the white beach.  There might be a hundred.

“Naked men!  They are dark—­They are negroes!”—­ “Or magicians!”

The Admiral lifted his great voice.  “Mariners all!  India and Cathay are fringed with islands, as are many parts of Europe.  A dozen of you have sailed among the Greek islands.  There may be as many here as those.  This is a small island and its folk simple.  They are not Negroes, but the skin of the Indian is darker than ours, and that of Cipango and Cathay is yellow.  As for clothing, in all warm lands the simpler folk wear little.  But as for ma-gicians, there may be magicians among them as there are among all peoples, but it is falseness and absurdity to speak of all as magicians!  Nonsense and cowardice!  The man who cried that goes not ashore to-day!”

Not Great India before us nor Golden Cipango!  But it was land—­land—­it was solid, there were folk!  How long had flowed the sea around us, for this was the twelfth of October, five weeks since Gomera and above two months since Palos had sunk away and we had heard the last faint bell of La Rabida!  And there had been strong doubt if ever we should see again a white beach, or a tree, or a kindly fire ashore, or any men but those of our three ships, or ever another woman or a child.  But land—­land!  Here was land and green woods and crowds of strange folk.  The mariners laughed, and the tears stood in their eyes and friends embraced.  And they grew mightily respectful to the Admiral.

So many were to go ashore in the first boat, and so many in the second.  The Pinta and the Nina were lowering their boats.  Our hidalgos aboard, Diego de Arana, Roderigo Sanchez and the rest, had also fine apparel with them—­ seeing that the Grand Khan would have a court and our Sovereigns must be rightly represented—­and this morning they suited themselves only less splendidly than did the Admiral.  The great banner of Castile and Leon was ready for carrying.  Trumpet, drum and fife should land.  Fray Ignatio was ready—­oh, ready!  His liquid dark eyes had an unearthly

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1492 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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