All this struggling for the due payment of eighths and tenths makes wearisome reading, and we need not follow the Admiral into his distinctions between one kind of tenth and another. There is something to be said on his side, it must be remembered; the man had not received what was due to him; and although he was not in actual poverty, his only property in this world consisted of these very thirds and eighths and tenths. But if we are inclined to think poorly of the Admiral for his dismal pertinacity, what are we to think of the people who took advantage of their high position to ignore consistently the just claims made upon them?
There is no end to the Admiral’s letter-writing at this time. Fortunately for us his letter to the Pope has been lost, or else we should have to insert it here; and we have had quite enough of his theological stupors. As for the Queen’s will, there was no mention of the Admiral in it; and her only reference to the Indies showed that she had begun to realise some of the disasters following his rule there, for the provisions that are concerned with the New World refer exclusively to the treatment of the natives, to whose succour, long after they were past succour, the hand of Isabella was stretched out from the grave. The licence to travel on mule-back which the Admiral asked for was made necessary by a law which had been passed forbidding the use of mules for this purpose throughout Spain. There had been a scarcity of horses for mounting the royal cavalry, and it was thought that the breeding of horses had been neglected on account of the greater cheapness and utility of mules. It was to encourage the use and breeding of horses that an interdict was laid on the use of mules, and only the very highest persons in the land were allowed to employ them.
“Very dear son,—I wrote you at length and sent it by Don Ferdinand, who left to go yonder twenty-three days ago to-day, with the Lord Adelantado and Carbajal, from whom I have since heard nothing. Sixteen days ago to-day I wrote you and sent it by Zamora, the courier, and I sent you a letter of credit for these merchants endorsed by Francisco de Ribarol, telling them to give you the money you might ask for. And then, about eight days ago, I sent you by another courier a letter endorsed by Francisco Soria, and these letters are directed to Pantaleon and Agostin Italian, that they may give it to you. And with these letters goes a copy of a letter which I wrote to the Holy Father in regard to the affairs of the Indies, that he might not complain of me any more. I sent this copy for his Highness to see, or the Lord Bishop of Palencia, so as to avoid false representations. The payment of the people who went with me has been delayed. I have provided for them here what I