He would let nothing in the canoe be touched. Instead he had placed aboard a pot of honey and a flask of wine and three pieces of cloth, then with a strong shove it was sent landward, and the tide making in, it came to shore. We saw two venture from the wood and draw it up on beach.
In a little while came around a point of shore a canoe with one Indian who made toward us, using his oar very dexterously, and when he entered our shadow holding up cotton and fruit. It was to be seen that he had had no communication with the men of the large canoe.
The Admiral himself called out encouragingly and snatching the first small thing at hand held it up. The Indian scrambled on board. He stood, as fine a piece of bronze as any might see, before the Genoese, as great a figure as might be found in all Italy—all Spain—all Europe.
The elder touched the younger, the white man the red man, as a king, a father, might have touched a prince, a son. He himself took the youth over our ship, showing him this, showing him that, had the music play for him, brought him to Fray Ignatio who talked of Christ, pointing oft to heaven. (To my thinking this action, often repeated, was one of the things that for so long made them certain we had come from the skies.) In the cabin he gave the Indian a cup of wine and a biscuit dipped in honey. He gave him a silken cap with a tassel and himself put round his throat one of our best strings of beads, and into his hand not one but three of the much-coveted hawk bells. He was kinder than rain after drought. First and last, he could well lend himself to the policy of kindness, for it was not lending. Kindness was his nature.
In an hour this Indian, returned to his canoe, was rowing toward shore with a swelling heart and a determined loyalty. He touched the island, and we could trust him to be missionary, preaching with all fervor of heaven and the gods.
Whatever the other’s defection, he more than covered it, the return of the canoe aiding. Santa Maria de la Concepcion became again friendly. But the Admiral that evening gave emphatic instruction to Martin and Vicente Pinzon and all the gathered Spaniards. Just here, I think, began the rift between him and many. Many would have by prompt taking, as they take in war. Were not all these heathen and given? But he would have another way round, though often he compromised with war; never wanting war but forced by his time and his companions. Sometimes, in the future, forced by the people we came among, but far oftener forced by greed and lust and violence of our own. Alas, again! Alas, again and again!