Pedro Gutierrez spoke. “They’ll promise anything for a hawk bell!”
“What do they understand and what do they not understand? What do they say and what do they not say?” That was Martin Pinzon. “Between them all we are fooled!”
The Admiral, who was gazing inland after the dark pointing finger, turned and spoke. “At the root of all things sit Patience and Make Trial!
“Well, I know,” answered Pinzon, “that if these ships be not careened and mended we shall have trouble! Weather changes. There will be storm!”
He was right as to ships and weather, and the Admiral knew it and said as much. I never saw him grudge recognition to Martin Pinzon. It has been said that he did, but I never saw it.
That night, on board the Santa Maria there was held a great council. At last it was settled that we should rest here a week and overhaul the ships, and that while that was doing, there should be sent two or three with Indian guides to find, if might be, this river and this town. And there were chosen, and given a week to go and come, Juan Lepe, Luis Torres and a seaman Roderigo Jerez, with Diego Colon, the Fernandina youth. Likewise there would go two Indians of this village, blithe enough to show their country to the gods and the gods to their country.
The next day being Sunday, Fray Ignatio preached a sermon to the Indians. He assumed, and at this time I think the Admiral assumed, that these folk had no religion. That was a mistake. I doubt if on earth can be found a people without religion.
Men and women they watched and listened, still, attentive, knowing that it had somehow to do with heaven. After sermon and after we had prayed and sung, we fashioned and set up a great cross upon cliff brow. Again the Indians watched and seemed to have some notion of what we did.
The remainder of the day we rested, and on Monday early Roderigo Jerez, Luis Torres and Juan Lepe with Diego Colon and two Cuba men made departure, We had a pack of presents and a letter from the Admiral. For we might meet some administrator or commandant or other, from Quinsai or Zaiton or we knew not where. This was the first of many—ah, so many—expeditions, separations from main body and return, or not return, as the case might be!
FOREST endless and splendid! We white men often saw no path, but the red-brown men saw it. It ran level, it climbed, it descended; then began the three again. It was lost, it was found. They said, “Here path!” But we had to serpent through thickets, or make way on edge of dizzy crag, or find footing through morass. We came to great stretches of reeds and yielding grass, giving with every step into water. It was to toil through this under hot sun, with stinging clouds of insects. But when they were left behind we might step into a grove of the gods, such firmness, such pleasantness, such shady going or happy resting under trees that dropped fruit.