Diego de Arana said, “You have had a full life, senor!”
He was cousin, I had been told, to that Dona Beatrix whom the Admiral cherished, mother of his youngest son, Fernando. The Admiral had affection for him, and Diego de Arana lived and died, a good, loyal man. “A full outward life,” he went on, “and I dare swear, a full inward one!”
“That is God’s truth!” said the Admiral. “You may well say that, senor! Inside I have lived with all who have lived, and discovered with all who have discovered!”
I remember as a dream this last day upon the Santa Maria. Beltran the cook had scalded his arm. I dressed it each day, and dressing it now, half a dozen idling by, watching the operation, I heard again a kind of talk that I had heard before. Partly because I had shipped as Juan Lepe an Andalusian sailor and had had my forecastle days, and partly because men rarely fear to speak to a physician, and partly because in the great whole there existed liking between them and me, they talked and discussed freely enough what any other from the other end of ship could have come at only by formal questioning. Now many of the seamen wanted to know when we were returning to Palos, and another number said that they would just as soon never return, or at least not for a good while! But they did not wish to spend that good while upon the ship. It was a good land, and the heathen also good. The heathen might all be going to burn in hell, unless Fray Ignatio could get them baptized in time, and so numerous were they that seemed hardly possible! Almost all might have to go to hell. But in the meantime, here on earth, they had their uses, and one could even grow fond of them—certainly fond of the women. The heathen were eager to work for us, catch us coneys, bring us gold, put hammocks for us between trees and say “Sleep, senor, sleep!” Here even Tomaso Passamonte was “senor” and “Don.” And as for the women—only the skin is dark—they were warm-hearted! Gold and women and never any cold nor hunger nor toil! The heathen to toil for you—and they could be taught to make wine, with all these grapes dangling everywhere? Heathen could do the gathering and pressing, and also the gold hunting in rocks and streams. Spain would furnish the mind and the habit of command. It were well to stay and cultivate Hispaniola! The Admiral and those who wanted to might take home the ships. Of course the Admiral would come again, and with him ships and many men. No one wanted, of course, never to see again Castile and Palos and his family! But to stay in Hispaniola a while and rest and grow rich,—that was what they wanted. And no one could justly call them idle! If they found out all about the land and where were the gold and the spices, was there not use in that, just as much use as wandering forever on the Santa Maria?
Mother earth was kind, kind, here, and she didn’t have a rod like mother country and Mother Church! They did not say this last, but it was what they meant.