The sea, though rough, was not too perilous, and never a signal of distress had been seen nor heard.
“Lost? Is the Pinta lost?”
“Lost! No!—But, yes. Willfully lost!”
It was Roderigo Sanchez who knew not much of the sea who asked, and the Admiral answered. But having spoken it that once, he closed his strong lips and coming down from deck said he would have breakfast. All that day was guessing and talk enough upon the Santa Maria; silent or slurred talk at last, for toward noon the Admiral gave sharp order that the Pinta should be left out of conversation. Captain Martin Pinzon was an able seaman. Perhaps something (he reminded us of the rudder before the Canaries) had gone wrong. Captain Pinzon may have thought the island was the nearer land, or he may have returned to Cuba, but more to the north than were we. He looked for the Pinta. again in a reasonable time. In the meantime let it alone!
So soon as the sea allowed, Vicente Pinzon came in his boat to the Santa Maria, but he seemed as perplexed as we. He did not know his brother’s mind. But Martin Pinzon forever and always was a good sea captain and a Castilian of his word, knowing what was proper observance to his Admiral. If he did this or that, it would be for good reasons. So Vicente, and the Admiral was cordial with him, and saw him over rail and down side with cheerful words. He was cheerful all that day in his speech, cheerful and suave and prophesying good in many directions. But I knew the trouble behind that front.
In some ways the Pinta was the best of our ships. Martin Pinzon was a bold and ready man, and those aboard with him devoted to his fortunes. He did not lack opinions of his own, and often they countered the Admiral’s. He was ambitious, and the Admiral’s rights were so vast and inclusive that there seemed not much room to make name and fame. Much the same with riches! What Martin Pinzon had loaned would come back to him beyond doubt, back with high interest and a good deal more. But still it would seem to him that room was needed. In his mind he had said perhaps many times to the Admiral, “Do not claim too much soil! Do not forget that other trees want to grow!”
Martin Pinzon might have put back to Spain, but who knew the man would not think that likely. Far more probable that he might be doing discovery of his own. Perhaps he would rejoin us later with some splendid thing to his credit, claim that Spain could not deny!
Cuba coast rose high and near. It is a shore of the fairest harbors! We made one of these into which emptied a little river. He named haven and river Saint Catherine. In the bed of this stream, when we went ashore, we found no little gold. He took in his hand grains and flakes and one or two pieces large as beans. It was royal monopoly, gold, and every man under strict command—to bring to the Admiral all that was found. Seamen