“So far,” I answered, “that I see not why we call these brown, naked folk Indians.”
“What else would you call them?”
“I do not know that.”
“Why, then, let us still call them Indians.” He drummed upon the rail before him, then broke out, “Christ! I think we do esteem hard, present, hand-held gold too much!”
“I say yes to that!”
He said, “We should hold to the joy of Discovery and great use hereafter—mounting use!”
“Here is virgin land, vast and beautiful, with a clime like heaven, and room for a hundred colonies such as Greece and Rome sent out! Here is a docile, unwarlike people ready to be industrious servitors and peasants, for which we do give them salvation of their souls! It is all Spain’s, the banner is planted, the names given! We are too impatient! We cannot have it between dawn and sunset! But look into the future—there is wealth beyond counting! No great amount of gold, but enough to show that there is gold.”
I followed the working of his mind. It was to smile somewhat sorrowfully, seeing his great difficulties. He was the born Discoverer mightily loving Discovery, and watching the Beloved in her life through time. But he had to serve Prince Have-it-now, in the city Greed. I said, “Senor, do not put too much splendor in your journal for the King and Queen and the Spanish merchants and the Church and all the chivalry that the ended war releases! Or, if you prophesy, mark it prophecy. It is a great trouble in the world that men do not know when one day is talked of or when is meant great ranges of days! Otherwise you will have all thirsty Spain sailing for Ophir and Golden Chersonesus, wealth immediate, gilding Midas where he stands! If they find disappointment they will not think of the future; they will smite you!”
I knew that he was writing in that book too ardently, and that he was even now composing letters to great persons to be dispatched from what Spanish port he should first enter, coming back east from west, over Ocean-Sea, from Asia!
But he had long, long followed his own advice, stood by his own course. The doing so had so served him that it was natural he should have confidence. Now he said only, “I do the best I can! I have little sea room. One Scylla and Charybdis? Nay, a whole brood of them!”
I could agree to that. I saw it coming up the ways that they would give him less and less sea room. He went on, “Merchandise has to be made attractive! The cook dresses the dish, the girl puts flowers in her hair. . . . Yet, in the end the wares are mighty beyond description! The dish is for Pope and King—the girl is a bride for a paladin!”
Again he was right afar and over the great span. But they would not see in Spain, or not many would see, that the whole span must be taken. But I was not one to chide him, seeing that I, too, saw afar, and they would not see with me either in Spain.