This address was spun out as long as possible; but even so it was followed by an interval in which, we may be sure, Columbus anxiously eyed the serene orb of night, and doubtless prayed that Regiomontanus might not have made a mistake in his calculations. Some of the Indians were alarmed, some of them contemptuous; but it was pretty clearly realised on both sides that matters between them had come to a head; and probably if Regiomontanus, who had worked out these tables of figures and calculations so many years ago in his German home, had done his work carelessly or made a mistake, Columbus and his followers would have been massacred on the spot. But Regiomontanus, God bless him! had made no mistake. Sure enough, and punctually to the appointed time, the dark shadow began to steal over the moon’s disc; its light gradually faded, and a ghostly darkness crept over the face of the world. Columbus, having seen that all was right with the celestial machinery, had retired to his cabin; and presently he found himself besieged there in the dark night by crowds of natives frantically bringing what provisions they had and protesting their intention of continuing to bring them for the rest of their lives. If only the Admiral would ask his God to forgive them, there was no limit to the amount of provisions that he might have! The Admiral, piously thankful, and perhaps beginning to enjoy the situation a little, kept himself shut up in his cabin as though communing with the implacable deity, while the darkness deepened over the land and the shore resounded with the howling and sobbing of the terrified natives. He kept a look-out on the sky; and when he saw that the eclipse was about to pass away, he came out and informed the natives that God had decided to pardon them on condition of their remaining faithful in the matter of provisions, and that as a sign of His mercy He would restore the light. The beautiful miracle went on through its changing phases; and, watching in the darkness, the terrified natives saw the silver edge of the moon appearing again, the curtain that had obscured it gradually rolling away, and land and sea lying visible to them and once more steeped in the serene light which they worshipped. It is likely that Christopher slept more soundly that night than he had slept for many nights before.
RELIEF OF THE ADMIRAL
There was no further difficulty about provisions, which were punctually brought by the natives on the old terms; but the familiar, spirit of sedition began to work again among the unhappy Spaniards, and once more a mutiny, led this time by the apothecary Bernardo, took form—the intention being to seize the remaining canoes and attempt to reach Espanola. This was the point at which matters had arrived, in March 1504, when as the twilight was falling one evening a cry was raised that there was a ship in sight; and presently a small caravel was seen standing in towards the shore. All ideas of mutiny were forgotten, and the crew assembled in joyful anticipation to await, as they thought, the coming of their deliverers. The caravel came on with the evening breeze; but while it was yet a long way off the shore it was seen to be lying to; a boat was lowered and rowed towards the harbour.