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Source global Wall Street Journal     time 2021-02-28 08:13:52
Typefacelarge in Small
  On the second of January, 1504, Francesco de Porras broke into thecabin. He complained bitterly that they were kept to die in that desolateplace, and accused the Admiral as if it were his fault. He told Columbus,that they had determined to go back to Spain; and then, lifting his voice,he shouted, "I am for Castile; who will follow me?" The mutinous crewinstantly replied that they would do so. Voices were heard whichthreatened Columbus's life.

  The Lady Juana read this letter to Isabella. Her own indignation, whichprobably had been kindled by the general news that Columbus had beenchained, rose to the highest. She received him, therefore, when he arrivedat court, with all the more cordiality. Ferdinand was either obliged topretend to join with her in her indignation, or he had really felt distressedby the behavior of his subordinate.

  At the moment when Columbus landed, there was an instant oftranquility. But the natives, whom he remembered only six years ago as sohappy and cheerful and hospitable, had fled as far as they could. Theyshowed in every way their distrust of those who were trying to becometheir masters. On the other hand, soldiers and emigrants were eager toleave the island if they could. They were near starvation, or if they did notstarve they were using food to which they were not accustomed. Theeagerness with which, in 1493, men had wished to rush to this land ofpromise, was succeeded by an equal eagerness, in 1498, to go home fromit.

  The chief sent a canoe in search of Martin Pinzon and the Pinta, to tellthem of the disaster. But the messengers returned without finding them. Atthe camp, which was to be a city, all was industriously pressed, with theassistance of the friendly natives. Columbus, having no vessel but the littleNina left, determined to return to Europe with the news of his discovery,and to leave nearly forty men ashore.

  From the second to the ninth of November, 1502, the little fleet lay atanchor in the spacious harbor, which he called Puerto Bello, "the beautifulharbor." It is still known by that name. A considerable Spanish city grewup there, which became well known to the world in the last century by theattack upon it by the English in the years 1739 and 1742.

  The Duke of Medina Celi was so much interested in them, that at onetime he proposed to give Columbus the direction of four vessels which he had in the harbor of Cadiz. But, of a sudden, he changed his mind. Theenterprise was so vast, he said, that it should be under the direction of thecrown. And, without losing confidence in it, he gave to Columbus anintroduction to the king and queen, in which he cordially recommendedhim to their patronage.

  The great problem was always before him, how he should connect hisdiscoveries with the knowledge which Europe had before of the coast ofAsia. Always it seemed to him that the dominions of the Great Khan werewithin his reach. Always he was eager for that happy moment when heshould find himself in personal communication with that great monarch,who had been so long the monarch of the East--who, as he thought, wouldprove to be the monarch of the West.

  'Land!' Immediately a servant of Columbus replied, 'The Admiral had saidthat already.' Soon after, Columbus said, 'I said so some time ago, and thatI saw that fire on the land.' " And so indeed it happened that Thursday, attwo hours after midnight, the Admiral called a gentleman namedEscobedos, officer of the wardrobe of the king, and told him that he sawfire. And at the break of day, at the time Columbus had predicted the daybefore, they saw from the largest ship the island which the Indians callGuanahani to the north of them.


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