Fray Ignatio was among those who sickened. He left after some days his hammock, but his strength did not come back to him. Yet, staff in hand, he went almost daily to Guarico. Then, like that! Fray Ignatio died. He died —his heart stopped—on the path between Guarico and La Navidad. He had been preaching, and then, Guarin told me, he put his hand to his side, and said, “I will go home!” He started up the path, but at the big tree he dropped. Men and women ran to him, but the butio was dead.
We buried Fray Ignatio beneath the cross on the hilltop. The Indians watched, and now they knew that we could die.
The heat increased.
At first Diego de Arana sent out at intervals exploring parties. We were to learn, at least, Guacanagari’s country. But the heat was great, and so many of those left at La Navidad only idle and sensual. They would push on to a village—we found in Guacanagari’s country many hamlets, but no other town like Guarico—and there they would stop, with new women, new talk, and the endless plenty to eat and sleep in the shade. When, at their own sweet will, they returned to La Navidad, the difficulties had been too great. They could not get to the high mountains where might or might not be the mines. But what they did was to spread over the country scandalous news of scandalous gods.
At last Arana sorted out those who could be trusted at least to strive for knowledge and self-control and sent these. But that weakened him at La Navidad, draining him of pure blood and leaving the infected, and by mid-April he ceased any effort at exploration. It must wait until the Admiral returned, and he began to be hungry indeed for that return.
Escobedo and Pedro Gutierrez were not hungry for it—not yet. These two became the head and front of ill, encouraging every insubordinate, infuriating all who suffered penalties, teaching insolence, self-will and license. They drew their own feather to them, promising evil knows what freedom for rapine.
All the silver weather, golden weather, diamond weather since we had left Gomera in the Canaries—how many ages since!—now was changed. We had thought it would last always, but now we entered the long season of great heat and daily rain. At first we thought these rains momentary, but day after day, week after week, with stifling heat, the clouds gathered, broke, and came mighty rain that at last ceased to be refreshing, became only wearying and hateful. It did not cool us; we lived in a sultry gloom. And the garrison of La Navidad became very quarrelsome. La Navidad showed the Indians Europeans cursing one another, giving blows, only held back by those around from rushing at each other, stabbing and cutting. Finally they saw Tomaso Passamonte kill one Jacamo. Diego de Arana hung Tomaso Passamonte. But what were the Indians to think? Not what they thought when first we came from the winged canoes to their beaches.