And Ojeda was not the only person in Spain who was enticed by Columbus’s glowing descriptions to go and look for the pearls of Paria. There was in fact quite a reunion of old friends of his and ours in the western ocean, though they went thither in a spirit far different from that of ancient friendship. Pedro Alonso Nino, who had also been on the Paria coast with Columbus, who had come home with the returning ships, and whose patience (for he was an exceedingly practical man) had perhaps been tried by the strange doings of the Admiral in the Gulf of Paria, decided that he as well as any one else might go and find some pearls. Nino is a poor man, having worked hard in all his voyagings backwards and forwards across the Atlantic; but he has a friend with money, one Luis Guerra, who provides him with the funds necessary for fitting out a small caravel about the size of his old ship the Nifta. Guerra, who has the money, also has a brother Christoval; and his conditions are that Christoval shall be given the command of the caravel. Practical Niflo does not care so long as he reaches the place where the pearls are. He also applies to Fonseca for licence to make discoveries; and, duly receiving it, sails from Palos in the beginning of June 1499, hot upon the track of Ojeda.
They did a little quiet discovery, principally in the domain of human nature, caroused with the friendly natives, but attended to business all the time; with the result that in the following April they were back in Spain with a treasure of pearls out of which, after Nifio had been made independent for life and Guerra, Christoval, and the rest of them had their shares, there remained a handsome sum for the Crown. An extremely practical, businesslike voyage this; full of lessons for our poor Christopher, could he but have known and learned them.
Yet another of our old friends profited by the Admiral’s discovery. What Vincenti Yafiez Pinzon has been doing all these years we have no record; living at Palos, perhaps, doing a little of his ordinary coasting business, administering the estates of his brother Martin Alonso, and, almost for a certainty, talking pretty big about who it was that really did all the work in the discovery of the New World. Out of the obscurity of conjecture he emerges into fact in December 1499, when he is found at Palos fitting out four caravels for the purpose of exploring farther along the coast of the southern mainland. That he also was after pearls is pretty certain; but on the other hand he was more of a sailor than an adventurer, was a discoverer at heart, and had no small share of the family taste for sea travel. He took a more southerly course than any of the others and struck the coast of America south of the equator on January 20, 1500. He sailed north past the mouths of the Amazon and Orinoco through the Gulf of Paria, and reached Espanola in June 1500. He only paused there to take in provisions, and sailed to the west in search of further discoveries; but he lost two of his caravels in a gale and had to put back to Espanola.