We built La Navidad where it might view the sea, upon a hillside above a brown river sliding out to ocean. Beyond the stream, in the groves, a quarter-league away, stood the hundred huts of Guarico. We built a tower and storehouse and wall of wood and we digged around all some kind of moat, and mounted three lombards. All that we could lift from the Santa Maria and what the Nina could spare us of arms, conveniences and food went into our arsenal and storehouse. We had a bubbling spring within the enclosure. When all was done the tower of La Navidad, though an infant beside towers of Europe, might suffice for the first here of its brood. It was done in a week from that shipwreck.
Who was to be left at La Navidad? Leave was given to volunteer and the mariners’ list was soon made up, good men and not so good. From the poop there volunteered Pedro Gutierrez and Roderigo de Escobedo. The Admiral did not block their wish, but he gave the command not to Escobedo who wished it, but to Diego de Arana whom he named to stay, having persuaded him who would rather have returned with the Nina. But he could trust Diego de Arana, and, with reason, he was not sure of those other hidalgos. De Arana stayed and fulfilled his trust, and died a brave man. Fray Ignatio would stay. “Bring me back, Senor, a goodly bell for the church of La Navidad! A bell and a font.”
Juan Lepe would stay. There needed a physician. But also Jayme de Marchena would stay. He thought it out. Six months had not abolished the Holy Office nor converted to gentleness Don Pedro nor the Dominican.
But the Admiral had assigned me to return with the Nina. I told him in the evening between the sunset and the moonrise what was the difficulty. He was a man profoundly religious, and also a docile son of the Church. But I knew him, and I knew that he would find reasons in the Bible for not giving me up. The deep man, the whole man, was not in the grasp of bishop or inquisitor or papal bull.
He agreed. “Aye, it is wiser! I count two months to Spain, seeing that we may not have so favorable a voyage. Three or maybe four there, for our welcome at court, and for the gathering a fleet—easy now to gather for all will flock to it, and masters and owners cry, `Take my ship— and mine!’ Two months again to recross. Look for me it may be in July, it may be in August, it may be in September!”
The Viceroy spoke to us, gathered by our fort, under the banner of Castile, with behind us on hill brow a cross gleaming. Again, all that we had done for the world and might further do! Again, we returning on the Nina or we remaining at La Navidad were as crusaders, knights of the Order of the Purpose of God! “Cherish good— oh, men of the sea and the land, cherish good! Who betrays here betrays almost as Judas! The Purpose of God is Strength with Wisdom and Charity which only can make joy! Therefore be ye here at La Navidad strong, wise and charitable!”