Days of the Discoverers eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 311 pages of information about Days of the Discoverers.

    Sails upon the gray world’s edge
      Like mute phantoms come and go,—­
    Life and honor men will pledge—­
      (Ay de mi, Cristofero!)
    For the pearls and gems and gold
    That the burning Indies hold. 
    Or the Guinea coast they dare
    With its fever-poisoned air
    For the slaves they capture so
      (Ay de mi, Cristofero!)

    In our chamber small to-night,
      Fair as love’s immortal glow,
    Shines our silver censer-light—­
      (Ay de mi, Cristofero!)
    What is this that holds thee fast
    In old histories of the past? 
    Put the time-stained parchments by,
    Men have sought where dead men lie
    For the secret thou wouldst know—­
      All too long, Cristofero!



Juan de la Cosa, captain of the Santa Maria, was prowling about the beach of Gomera in a thoroughly dissatisfied frame of mind.  His own ship, the Gallego before the Admiral re-christened her and made her his flagship, was riding trim as a mallard within sight of his eye.  She would never have kept the fleet waiting in the Canaries for a little thing like a broken rudder.

It was the Pinta that had done this, and it was the veteran pilot’s private opinion that she would behave much better if her owners, Gomez Rascon and Christoval Quintero, had been left behind in Palos.  But what can you do when you have seized a ship for the service of the Crown, and turned her over to a captain who is a rival ship-owner, and her owners wish to serve in her crew and not elsewhere?  They cannot be blamed for liking to keep an eye on their property!

“Capitano!” piped a voice at his elbow.  He looked around, and then he looked down.  An undersized urchin with not much on but a pair of ragged breeches stared up at him boldly, hands behind his back.  “Do you know what ails your ship over there?” He nodded sideways at the disgraced Pinta.

The accent was that of Bilbao in the captain’s own native province, Vizcaya.  Ordinarily he would have cuffed the speaker heels over head for impudence, but the dialect made him pause.  Besides, he wanted to hear something to confirm his suspicions.

“She is no ship of mine,” he growled, “and anyway, what do you know about it?”

“I know much more than they think I do.  The calkers did not half do their work before she left port.  I’d like to sail in her if she were properly looked after.  But when a man goes out on the dolphins’ track he likes to come home again, you know.”

“A man!  Do babes take a ship round Bojador?  And who may you call yourself, zagallo (strong youth)?”

“I am Pedro, son of Pedro who was an escaladero (climber) at the siege of Alhama.  He was killed on the way home, and my mother died of grief, so that I get my bread where the saints put it.  People say that they unlocked all the jails to get you your crew for the Indies, and now I see that it is true.”

Project Gutenberg
Days of the Discoverers from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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