THE SON OF
MOLLY ELLIOT SEAWELL
“THE LIVELY ADVENTURES OF GAVIN HAMILTON”
“THE ROCK OF THE LION”
“A VIRGINIA CAVALIER” ETC.
HARPER & BROTHERS PUBLISHERS
NEW YORK AND LONDON
COPYRIGHT, 1912, BY HARPER & BROTHERS
PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
PUBLISHED SEPTEMBER, 1912
|II.||The Dawning of the Light||24|
|III.||The Castle of Langara||49|
|IV.||The Last Sigh of the Moor||72|
|V.||The Splendor of the Dawn||102|
|VI.||The Harbor Bar is Passed||134|
|VII.||The Joyous Hearts of Youth||160|
|VIII.||Sunrise off the Bar of Saltes||191|
|THEN, RISING, THE ADMIRAL TOOK HIS SON IN HIS ARMS||Frontispiece|
|FRAY PIÑA GLANCED WITHIN THE ROOM AND THOUGHT
THEY WERE MAKING ACQUAINTANCE VERY FAST
|GARCILOSA SUDDENLY GAVE HIS ANTAGONIST A THRUST
UPON THE SWORD-ARM
|THE SIGNING OF THE DOCUMENTS OF AGREEMENT||“||126|
VERY few liberties have been taken with history, and these few are merely of detail. The signing of the final pact with the Spanish sovereigns by Columbus really took place on the plains of Santa Fé, outside of Granada, but it is represented, for dramatic effect, as taking place in the Alhambra. Also, the celebrated order of Columbus directing his captains, after sailing seven hundred and fifty leagues due west, to make no more sail after midnight was given at the Canaries instead of at Palos. Irving’s Life of Columbus, the best yet written, has been strictly followed in dates.
M. E. S.
SON OF COLUMBUS
N a bright October noon in 1491 two lads sat in a small tower room in the monastery of La Rabida, talking together with that profound interest which two human beings feel, who have recently met and whose lives will be closely united for some time to come. One of them was Don Felipe de Langara y Gama, already, at sixteen, the head of one of the greatest ducal families in Castile. The other was Diego, the eldest son of the Genoese navigator and map-maker, by name, Christopher Columbus, or, as the Spaniards called him, Christobal Colon.
The lads were fine types of two extremes of [Pg 2]station. Diego was a model of sturdy strength for his age. He inherited the piercing blue eyes of the Genoese navigator—those commanding eyes, once seen, were unforgettable. His fair skin was freckled by living much in the open, and his wide, frank mouth expressed resolution as well as a charming gaiety of heart. Diego, however, could be serious enough when occasion required. He had known more in his short life of the rubs of fortune, of hope deferred, of splendid dreams and heartbreaking disappointments, of courts, of camps, of penury, of luxury, than many men know in the course of a long span of years.
Don Felipe, born in a palace and knowing that at sixteen he would inherit the wealth and splendid honors of his dead father, the Duke de Langara y Gama, was yet all simplicity and good sense. His slight figure was more muscular than it appeared, and the softness of his black eyes belied the firmness of his character.
Both lads alike were dressed with extreme plainness, the grandee of Spain wearing no better clothes than the son of the Genoese [Pg 3]captain. They were so absorbed in each other that they had no eyes for the glowing scene visible through the iron-studded door, open wide upon the parapet. Below them lay the green gardens and orchards of the monastery. Beyond, stretched the town and the port of Palos, where the masts and hulls of the caravels and other vessels of the time were outlined against the deep sea and blue sky. Some of these vessels were unloading, and others were taking on their cargoes, the sailors singing cheerfully as they worked. Farther off still, the “white horses” of the blue Atlantic dashed wildly over the bar of Saltes, the sun glittering upon the crested waves. Over the whole of the Andalusian coast and the rolling hills beyond was that atmosphere of peace and plenty which made Andalusia to be called the Granary, the Wine Cellar, the Gold Purse, and the Garden of Spain.
The two lads were quite oblivious of all this, and even of the nearness of their instructor, Fray Piña, the young ecclesiastic who had charge of them, and who was at that moment leaning over the parapet outside the open door. Fray Piña glanced within the [Pg 4]room; he could not hear what Diego and Don Felipe were saying, but it was evident from their attitudes—both leaning eagerly across the rough table, strewn with writing implements and the manuscript books of the period—that they were deeply interested in each other.
“They are making acquaintance very fast,” thought Fray Piña to himself. “It is best to leave them alone. Don Felipe needs the companionship of just such a boy as Diego, and Diego needs the companionship of just such a boy as Don Felipe.”
It was this very point which the boys were discussing.
“And so,” Don Felipe was saying, “my mother, Doña Christina, who is obliged to be much at court, because she is a lady-in-waiting to Queen Isabella, said the court was not a good place in which a youth should be wholly brought up, especially a faithless youth like me. Nor does my mother think it well to have my sister, Doña Luisita, at court yet, as she is but fourteen; so Luisita remains with her governess at the castle of Langara when my mother attends the Queen. And my mother asked Fray Piña to take charge of me for a [Pg 5]year, with another youth of my age, and without rank; and we should be schooled together, and dress plainly, and be disciplined.”
Fray Piña Glanced within the Room and Thought They were Making Aquaintance Very Fast
FRAY PIÑA GLANCED WITHIN THE ROOM AND THOUGHT
THEY WERE MAKING ACQUAINTANCE VERY FAST
“I think Fray Piña is the man for discipline,” replied Diego, laughing. “And I suppose your lady mother knew that Fray Piña would treat us exactly alike—you, a grandee of Spain, and I, the son of the Genoese navigator, Christobal Colon, as the Spaniards call my father. But look you, Don Felipe, I am the son of the greatest man who ever trod Spanish earth, and some day the world will know my father to be that man.”
As Diego said this he straightened up and looked Don Felipe in the eye; he expected his statement to be questioned. Don Felipe, however, surprised him by saying, quietly:
“So Fray Piña told Doña Christina, my mother.”
A flush of gratified pride shone in Diego’s frank face.
“My father will still be the bravest navigator that ever lived, even if he never returns from his voyage,” continued Diego, proudly. “All the other navigators in the world have been satisfied to creep along the shores, never [Pg 6]going out of sight of land. My father means to steer straight into the uncharted seas, sailing due west. He will have but two nautical instruments, a compass and an astrolabe, but he will have the stars by night and the sun by day, and God’s hand to help him—for my father is a man who fears God and nothing else. He will steer due west, and will come to a great continent with vast ranges of mountains, superb rivers, larger and longer than any we know, huge bodies of water, mines of gold and silver and minerals of all sorts, strange birds, animals, and peoples—everything far more splendid than this old Europe. All the seafaring men believe in my father—far more than the learned men do—because the sailors know that my father understands more about the seas than any living man. Already, although my father is not an admiral, the captains and the pilots and the sailors at Palos call him the Admiral. Every mariner in the port of Palos bows low to my father.”
“But he will be an admiral before he sails,” said Don Felipe, catching Diego’s enthusiasm.
“Yes,” answered Diego, “he demands that he shall become the Admiral of the Ocean Seas, [Pg 7]Viceroy and Captain-General over all the lands he discovers. And also my father asks, if he goes on this great errand for Spain, that I shall be taken to the court with you and become a page-in-waiting to Prince Juan, the heir to the thrones of Arragon and Castile. Is that much to ask? Well, my father will do ten thousand times more for Spain.”
“Perhaps,” said Don Felipe, after a pause, “that is why we are to be schooled together and then go to court together. Are you frightened at the thought of the court?”
“No,” answered Diego, sturdily.
“I never heard,” said Don Felipe, “of a foreigner and the son of a man without rank being page to a royal prince.”
“It is the first time,” said Diego, calmly, “and it will not often be repeated. If the other pages, sons of the greatest nobles of Castile and Arragon, dare to say anything to me about it I have my answer ready. I will say, ’I am the son of a man who never said or did a base thing in his life, who is courteous to a beggar, and not abashed in the presence of kings and queens—for I have seen my father in the presence of King Ferdinand and [Pg 8]Queen Isabella—who honors God, and who is the very boldest man that ever sailed blue water.”
“That is right,” said Don Felipe, “but I can tell you, Diego, there are a great many things at court that are not pleasant. You think Fray Piña is strict. He is not half as strict as the master of the pages at court. For when anything goes wrong Fray Piña will listen to an excuse, but the master of the pages listens to no excuses. The pages of honor are required to be on duty long hours and are not permitted to read or do anything except to watch their royal masters and mistresses. They must rise early and stay up late. They can have no games or amusements except those which are permitted the royal princes. I warrant, Diego, there will be many times when you will long for the fields and orchards of La Rabida, the fishing in the summer, and being able to play with any boy you may like, and to read a pleasant book when so inclined.”
“That may be true,” replied Diego, stoutly, “but we shall have the horse exercise and the sword exercise; we shall see much of soldiers, and we shall enjoy living like men instead of [Pg 9]like boys. But, after all,” he cried, laughing, “I am not yet at court. The King and Queen are still considering whether they shall help my father. Only of one thing I am certain—that my father will one day be a great discoverer.”
“I know it, too,” said Don Felipe, with boyish confidence. “The very first time I beheld your father I felt as I never did toward any man before. I watched him, and listened to him, thinking to myself, ’When I am an old man the boys will ask me, “Tell me when did you first see the great Admiral?”’ And I want you to tell me how you first came to this place.”
“I remember it all well enough, although I was but a little lad of seven—just as old as my little brother Fernando is now. I even remember things before that—the life I led with my father, going from place to place on foot, sleeping at the humblest inns and in the huts of peasants, nobody willing to listen to my father. Then my father made for the sea, there to take ship for England, and when we reached the monastery gate I was half dead, I was so hungry and tired. My father rang the bell [Pg 10]and asked a little milk for me. It was brought me by Brother Lawrence, the lay brother here; he was a young man then. Oh, you will like Brother Lawrence—he is here still. While I was drinking the milk, the Prior, Juan Perez, passed through the courtyard where we sat and stopped and spoke to my father. I tell you this, Don Felipe, no matter whether people believed in my father or not in those days, they always treated him with personal respect. The Prior got in conversation with my father, and in a little while told Brother Lawrence to take care of me. Oh, what a happy day that was! All day Brother Lawrence took care of me, playing ball in the orchard and teaching me to fish in the fish-pond, and at night he put me to bed on a little pallet in a room where my father was to sleep. All day the Prior had been with my father, and I recollect that I was waked by my father coming into the room, and the Prior followed him. It was as if he could not leave my father. Then I went off to sleep, and in the middle of the night I again waked, and my father and the Prior were still bending over the maps and [Pg 11]talking. I remember, however, I was such a little boy, that I thought we should have to leave that happy place at daybreak and take the road once more in weariness. But in the morning my father asked me:
“’Diego, do you like this place?’
“And I said yes, and I was so sorry we were going away, and he said:
“’We shall remain here some days, my little Diego.‘
“That made me so happy! We stayed here fourteen days. I played all day long in the orchard and by the fish-pond with Brother Lawrence. And then there were other boys, the two Pinzons, Martin and Alonzo, and the son of the physician Dr. Garcia, and the sons of the pilot Fernando Rodriguez.”
Diego suddenly stopped talking. He had the instinctive good sense not to talk too much about himself.
“Go on,” cried Don Felipe, “I want to know every word about your father, everything that happened, so when I am an old man I shall be able to tell people about the great Admiral.”
Diego’s eyes shone, and he kept on.
“All the seafaring men in Palos, especially the great ship-owners the Pinzons and the pilot Rodriguez, were called to the monastery by the Prior, and they all listened to my father and wondered and admired, and told the Prior my father was right and by sailing to the westward he would discover land. So, then, the Prior wrote a letter to the great Queen Isabella, whom he knew, and sent it to her by Rodriguez the pilot. Rodriguez came back saying the Queen commanded my father to come to her at Cordova. He went to Cordova, and took me along. I was sorry to leave Brother Lawrence and the boys I played with every day. I do not recollect much about Cordova, I was such a little lad. I thought I should see the great Queen Isabella with her crown on and King Ferdinand with his scepter, and how surprised I was when I saw only a gentle lady, very simply dressed, sitting with the King in a small room. They were, however, on a dais, and I sat down on the steps. Presently I fell asleep, and when I waked up my head was on the Queen’s knee, and she was looking down at me with smiling eyes. I do not [Pg 13]remember my own mother; but when I looked into the eyes of Queen Isabella I knew what a mother’s eyes were like. She was ever kind to me later, in all the many times that my father wearily went to court and followed the King and Queen about, even when encamped with their soldiers.”
“When will your father return?” asked Don Felipe.
“I do not know; but it will be soon, I think.”
As Diego spoke there was a sound of clattering hoofs on the stones of the courtyard.
“That is my father!” said Diego.
At that moment Fray Piña turned from the parapet and entered the room. Instantly both lads bent over their books as if they had no thought but study. Fray Piña smiled slightly; they had not looked at a book since their tutor had been out of the room.
Fray Piña took up a treatise on mathematics and began to question the two boys. Neither of them did very well, their thoughts being with the Admiral in the courtyard and the news he might bring from Granada, where the siege of the Moorish city was in progress, [Pg 14]and the success he might have had with the Spanish sovereigns. But Fray Piña went on relentlessly. Diego felt as if he could scarcely remain in his seat; and Don Felipe’s eyes wandered everywhere, his wits going with his eyes. At last a knock was heard at the door, and the ruddy, good-natured, boyish face of Brother Lawrence, the young lay brother who worked in the garden and milked the cows and attended to the mules, appeared at the door.
“His Excellency Christobal Colon,” he said, giving Columbus the name the Spaniards called him, “has arrived, and begs Fray Piña to excuse Diego for an hour.”
“You are excused,” said Fray Piña; and the next moment was heard the sound of Diego’s footsteps as he rushed down the stone stairs, two at a time, and dashed into the sunny courtyard.
Standing in the courtyard talking with the Prior, Juan Perez, was Columbus. From him had Diego inherited the tall, slim, but muscular figure. The hair of the great Admiral was quite white; his complexion was weather-beaten; his eyes were the eyes of a [Pg 15]man born a captain. All masters of men have the indomitable eye—the eye whose glance conveys the command of a master before the lips can speak the word. In Columbus the power to command was writ large all over him—not only to command others, but to command himself.
Suddenly the little Fernando, seven years old, led by Brother Lawrence, came into the courtyard and ran forward, and at the same moment Diego appeared. Instantly the Admiral’s stern face softened. He took the little boy in his arms, kissing and blessing him, and then clasped Diego to his breast.
Diego caught his father in a strong embrace, and rubbed his smooth, boyish cheek against the Admiral’s bronzed face.
The Admiral, as he was already popularly called, returned warmly the boy’s caress, and then, holding him off at arm’s length, said to him:
“How have you behaved since last I saw you?”
“Not very well,” answered Diego, candidly, looking into his father’s eyes. “It is so hard to study in sunny weather, and Don Felipe [Pg 16]and I went fishing and overstayed our time twice.”
The Admiral said nothing; and the Prior, a grave, handsome man, but not unkindly in his aspect, looked hard at Diego.
“Then,” said Diego, after a pause, and forcing himself to speak, “the first day Don Felipe came I found the Prior’s mule at large, and Don Felipe and I got Fray Piña’s mule out of the stable and ran races until we were caught and stopped.”
“And punished,” added the Prior, quietly. “But there has been no lying or deceit or anything base in the conduct of your son, Christobal Colon.”
“Then,” answered the Admiral, “the rest is easily forgiven. Return now to your studies, and when I have finished my conversation with the Prior, and when Fray Piña will give you leave, then will I speak with you at length.”
The Admiral was more indulgent to the little Fernando, who remained, clinging to his father’s hand.
Diego returned to the tower room quickly. He might have lagged, but he knew that the [Pg 17]Admiral’s silent watchfulness followed him. When he sat down again at the table he made an honest effort to concentrate his mind on what Fray Piña was saying, and managed to do so until the mathematical lesson was over. Then was it time to go to the refectory for dinner. The refectory was a large, bare room except for a long table at which the monks dined. At the farther end sat the Prior with the Admiral, as the guest of honor, on his right. No conversation was allowed, and after grace was said one of the monks at a reading-desk read aloud from the Scriptures while the simple meal went on. Diego heard not one word of what was being read. He could only fix his eyes upon his father, across whose gray head a beam of sunlight shone like an aureole. The Admiral, however, put strict attention to the reading. It was as if his extraordinary mind, like everything about him, were under the control of his will and, as a revolving light, could be turned at pleasure upon any subject.
When dinner was over, the two youths expected, as usual, to be given an hour’s recreation in the sunny orchard in which was [Pg 18]a fish-pond, that was Diego’s delight. But he was bitterly disappointed when Fray Piña said to him:
“It was this day a week ago that you and Don Felipe raced the mules. Let us go up to the study now and spend that wasted hour in mathematics.”
Diego and Don Felipe exchanged rueful glances, but said nothing. Fray Piña had a deadly ingenuity in paying off for all their pranks, and had no doubt waited for this day when the orchard and the fish-pond and the blue sky called to the lads, “Come and be happy.” Instead, however, of talking and fishing and frolicking, as they usually did at that hour, the two lads spent the time being put through their paces by Fray Piña. By the time they had answered one question another was propounded, and the blackboard in the tower room was covered with figures. It was a sort of mental exercise for Fray Piña himself, and when the hour was over Diego and Don Felipe were thoroughly tired out with hard work and incessant figuring.
Fray Piña himself looked weary, and his [Pg 19]black hair lay damp upon his forehead under his skull-cap.
“You have both done well,” he said, “and showed more proficiency than I expected. You may now have two hours’ recreation instead of one. The Prior’s mule and mine are both in the stable, but I apprehend they are both safe.”
Diego and Don Felipe hung their heads at this, but were glad to rush into the fresh, bright air once more.
In the kitchen garden, next the orchard, they found Brother Lawrence, of whom both were fond. One of their favorite amusements was to engage in wrestling bouts with Brother Lawrence. Diego was strong for his age, and Don Felipe was a skilful wrestler; but they were no match for the brawny lay brother, who, with his cassock tucked up, laid the two youths out on the grass at his pleasure.
At last came the message for which Diego had been longing, to go to his father in the Admiral’s room. Diego first ran to the little room which he occupied with Don Felipe, and washed off the stains he had encountered with the green earth, and put on a collar of [Pg 20]clean linen—the Admiral was irreproachably neat and always rebuked sternly the least untidiness on the part of Diego. In a few minutes Diego found himself in the guest-chamber with a window looking seaward. The Admiral was gazing out toward the Atlantic with an expression of concentration. His eyesight was extraordinarily strong and clear, and at fifty-three he could see farther than Diego’s young eyes. He turned as Diego entered and clasped the boy in his arms. Grave as was the great Admiral, no man had more in him of tenderness. The Admiral seated himself in a great chair, and Diego, drawing up a stool, put his arm about his father’s neck and prepared to listen.
“The time has come, Diego,” said the Admiral, “when King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella will redeem their promise. They told me that when the end of the war to drive the Moors from Spain was in sight, they would then provide me with ships for my enterprise. The Moors are now in their death struggle in the city of Granada, their last stronghold. The city is encompassed on every side; every gate is commanded and no [Pg 21]provisions can enter. Nor can the Moors make any sortie beyond the Vega, because the armies of Castile and Arragon are encamped about them, and the town of Santa Fé stands guard over the main gate of Granada, called the Gate of Justice. The Moors cannot hold out longer than the first of the year, and I think it well to be upon the spot to remind the King and the Queen of their promise. I have seen and talked with Doña Christina de Langara y Gama, the mother of Don Felipe. She is a woman of wisdom and good heart, and she thinks it will be well to have Don Felipe and you go to Santa Fé. It will be a lesson in learning and valor to you both and will give you the opportunity of seeing great events and greater persons. If my request is granted, that you be made a page of honor to Prince Juan, I would wish that you should see something first of the persons to whom you may be attached. I have great confidence in Doña Christina, who has promised to take an interest in you while I am on my voyage. It is arranged that Fray Piña and Don Felipe shall spend some weeks at the castle of Langara, and Doña Christina [Pg 22]has asked that you remain there while I go on to Santa Fé. I shall go to Santa Fé alone, not knowing what my plans are until I have an audience with the King and the Queen. Doña Christina is now at Langara, but after some days she will proceed to Santa Fé to attend the Queen.”
Diego could scarcely believe his ears for joy. In an instant he realized the splendid prospect: he was to go to Granada, to witness the end of the siege, to see the King and the Queen, soldiers and statesmen—it seemed like a glorious dream to a spirited and imaginative boy. His face glowed so that his father smiled.
“Does Don Felipe know?” gasped Diego.
“I do not know,” answered the Admiral, smiling; “but I do know that you long to tell him. I had many other things to say to you; but I have not the heart to keep you. Go—”
Before the Admiral could finish his sentence Diego had darted out of the room. He caught sight, as he passed a window, of Don Felipe sitting on a bench near the fish-pond reading a book in the waning afternoon light. The [Pg 23]first thing Don Felipe knew Diego had dashed upon him, snatched the book from his hand, and was saying, joyfully:
“Don Felipe! Don Felipe! We are to go to Granada to see the end of the siege! We may see fighting—think of it, Don Felipe! We shall see soldiers, Don Felipe! And make a fine journey! And my father says your mother, Doña Christina, has asked that we may stay some weeks at the castle of Langara, Don Felipe!”
The Admiral, passing the same window through which Diego had seen Don Felipe, glanced out and saw the two lads dancing wildly, their arms about each other, Don Felipe’s cap, with the insignia of his rank, on Diego’s head, and Diego’s cap, with no design at all, on Don Felipe’s head. The sight brought a smile to the Admiral’s face.
THE DAWNING OF THE LIGHT
SOON it was time for supper, and all assembled once more in the great, bare refectory. Diego and Don Felipe felt as if they were in a dream, so dazzled were they by the prospect before them. They had known what the Admiral had demanded, and with the sanguine nature of youth they thought that all the Admiral asked would be conceded, and already reckoned the great voyage to have been accomplished. But to go to Granada, to see the close of the stupendous struggle, to be present in the hour of victory, was more than they had dreamed. Nevertheless, though lost in rosy visions, they did not forget to eat their simple supper. When it was over and they went out into the courtyard, the Admiral passed them, holding by the hand the little Fernando.
“Go now,” said the Admiral to the child, [Pg 25]“and find Brother Lawrence, that he may put you to bed, where you must sleep soundly until the birds call you in the morning.”
The child, used to prompt obedience, went away; and then the Admiral said to the two youths:
“Come, Don Felipe and Diego, and walk with me to the seashore, and I will tell you some of the wonderful things of the sea.”
Don Felipe’s heart throbbed with pleasure. He felt a strange sense of being honored when he was treated as a son by the Admiral.
It was then about six o’clock on a warm October evening. Not yet was the sun gone, and the western sky was all opal and gold and crimson. The rosy light reddened the far-off sea, and the white billows gleamed with an opaline light.
The Admiral walked between the two lads along the sandy road to the little town of Palos. Softly the bells of the little church of St. George were ringing, their mellow music mingling with the distant echo of waves beating the bar off the harbor. As the sound of bells reached them the Admiral remained silent; Diego knew that his father was making [Pg 26]a silent prayer, a thing he often did. Presently he spoke:
“I love to hear the melody of church bells mingling with the sound of the sea, for the sea has a majestic voice like the voice of God.”
Then the Admiral began telling them some of the marvels of the sea, speaking in plain and sailor-like language. Soon they entered the one long street of the town of Palos. The day’s labor was over for all, except the crews of some Neapolitan vessels loading in haste in order to catch the tide that would take them over the bar, the sailors working cheerfully, singing as they toiled. The women were standing at their doorways, their children about them, while the workmen were returning from their labors. Many were seafaring men who had made many voyages. They all turned and looked curiously after the Admiral, every one saluting him with respect. When his back was turned some smiled; and some predicted evil, saying:
“That man will take away with him some of the best mariners of Palos, and they will never be seen again.”
“We shall try to go upon that bold voyage.”
The Admiral returned all salutations with dignity and courtesy. Then, with the two lads, he entered the Church of St. George, which was already dark. Before the altar burned the undying sanctuary lamp. An old priest was leaving the altar, followed by a small fisher-boy not much bigger than the little Fernando and wearing a white surplice over a scarlet cassock. When they were gone the Admiral and Diego and Don Felipe were in the church alone.
The Admiral knelt, as did the two youths, the Admiral kneeling so long that Diego and Don Felipe began to look with yearning toward the open door of the church, through which the cheerful sounds of evening floated. The voice of the night watchman calling the hour was heard as he marched up and down the street carrying a lantern on a pole. Sounds of music and dancing rang from the courtyard of a little tavern near by, where a pack-train of mules had just arrived and the muleteers were making merry. The two youths were not often allowed out of the monastery at [Pg 28]that hour, and they longed with the longing of boyhood to see the life and the gaiety of the town. A half-hour passed, and Diego and Felipe had remained admirably quiet; but now the limit of boyish endurance was reached. Don Felipe began to cough, and Diego knocked over a footstool which made a fearful clatter in the stillness of the darkened church. The Admiral rose and walked out, followed by Diego and Don Felipe. Never had the little seaport looked gayer or more picturesque. From many balconies and casements came the sounds of singing, and a handsome cavalier in a velvet mantle was coming down the street strumming his guitar and rehearsing the song he intended to sing under the window of his lady-love.
On the quay some sailors were dancing to their own singing. All these sights and sounds were delightful to Diego and Don Felipe; and the Admiral, who had not forgotten that he was once a boy himself, indulged them in watching these pleasant sights.
A number of fishwives, their skirts tucked up about their hips, stood watching the dancing sailors and laughing. Diego, moved by a [Pg 29]sudden impulse, ran up to a fat old fishwife, and seizing her by the hand rushed into the middle of the dancers and began the fandango. At that even the grave Admiral laughed.
Don Felipe made no move to join the dancers; but another fishwife, much stouter than the friend of Diego, suddenly made a dash for him, crying:
“Come along, you pretty boy, and dance with me like a gentleman!”
Don Felipe, with perfect grace and politeness, gave the fishwife his hand as though she were a court lady, and danced the fandango well and gracefully.
The Admiral, leaning against a stone wall, watched the merry scene. He was too wise to check the effervescent spirits of the two lads, and waited with as much patience for them to finish their frolic as they had waited for him to finish his prayers in the church. After half an hour, however, when the church bells chimed seven o’clock, the Admiral turned and walked away from the town toward the shore, where there were only a few fishermen’s huts. By the time he was clear of the quays he heard footsteps [Pg 30]behind him, and Diego and Don Felipe were running at top speed to join him.
“I hope,” said the Admiral, turning pleasantly to the two youths, “that you enjoyed your dancing. When I was your age I did the same thing; I grew sober at an early age, but I do not like too much sobriety in early youth.”
“But, my father,” said Diego, taking his father affectionately by the arm, “you gave up dancing very early; but did you give up the love of fighting quite so soon? I have heard something about the time you tried to provoke a fight with the Florentine fleet and dashed among them shouting, ‘Viva San Giorgione!’ the battle-cry of the Genoese.”
“It was a rash and foolish thing,” replied the Admiral; “but I did many rash and foolish things in my youth. Genoa seemed then on the verge of war with Florence, and I was in command of a decked vessel in the Genoese fleet, under the command of my uncle Giovanni. We were going up the Mediterranean with a fair wind when we discovered the Florentine fleet of nine vessels coming down toward us on the same tack. My vessel, the San Giorgione, [Pg 31]was a fast sailer both on and off the wind and answered the helm beautifully. It came into my head that it would be a good thing for the cause of my country if we could destroy the Florentine fleet then and there; but we could not attack them without provocation. Like a rash young man, I thought it would be well to give the Florentines provocation enough to attack us; so, knowing well the capacity of my vessel, I steered directly under the quarter of the Florentine flag-ship. The Florentine admiral was standing on the poop as we brushed past; when we came abreast of him I shouted, ‘Viva San Giorgione!’ as if the battle were on, and expected an answering cry from the Florentines. But, mark you, the admiral was a steady man, not to be provoked by a wild young captain such as I was then. He raised his cap to me and shouted back, smiling, ‘Viva San Giorgione!’ with the greatest politeness. It was the last thing I expected, and disconcerted me much. I have often admired the coolness and restraint of the Florentine admiral who would not allow himself to be moved by a piece of boyish insolence. After [Pg 32]all, there was no outbreak of war between the two governments; but there might have been if the Florentine admiral had not been so wise and master of himself.”
Don Felipe had never seen Diego and his father together before, and Diego’s affectionate familiarity with the Admiral impressed Don Felipe deeply. His first feeling toward the Admiral had been one of awe, for there was a dignity and majesty in his bearing that struck all who saw him. But also there was a gentle unbending and sympathy with youth. Don Felipe soon felt no more afraid of the Admiral than did Diego, and when the Admiral stopped and gazed out toward the ocean, leaning an arm upon the shoulder of each of the youths, Don Felipe felt his heart swell with gratification and affection.
Don Felipe asked the Admiral many questions, to which he responded and told them things of the deepest interest.
The monastery of La Rabida closed its gates at half-past eight o’clock, and a few minutes before the closing the Admiral and Diego and Don Felipe walked under the gray archway. The two lads went immediately [Pg 33]to the small, bare room which they shared together, and each was soon in his hard little bed. But neither could sleep. Both were excited by the thought of their coming journey; and Don Felipe was eager to see his mother, Doña Christina, and his young sister, Doña Luisita.
“Is the castle of Langara very grand?” asked Diego, in a whisper.
“Not very,” answered Don Felipe, who was too sensible to boast of the splendors to which he was accustomed. “But I love to be there, because the life is very quiet and pleasant. My sister Luisita and I spent all our childhood there. I long to see my sister—the sweetest sister in the world. She is not kept so close with her governess as most girls, and we are much together when I am at home. Oh, you will like Luisita!”
Diego said nothing. Don Felipe was his comrade; but he realized that Don Felipe’s sister was a young lady of high rank, and he felt a natural delicacy in speaking of her.
“Fray Piña is to go with us,” Diego whispered, after a while, in a slightly complaining whisper.
“Then we shall have to work at our books,” promptly whispered back Don Felipe. “All that I fear is that the siege of Granada may be over before we get there.”
Next morning preparations were begun for the journey to the castle of Langara, in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and later, to Granada. On the following morning, in the cool, sweet October dawn, the cavalcade set forth. First rode the Admiral and Fray Piña, with the good Prior, Juan Perez, who was to ride one stage of the journey with them. All were mounted on the steady and sure-footed mules which were ordinarily used for traveling. Diego and Don Felipe were also on mule-back.
Soon the sea was left behind, and the party began to mount the foothills. They traveled steadily, and did not draw rein, except to breathe the mules, until nearly eleven o’clock. Then, in a glade a little way off from the highroad, they stopped for rest and their midday meal. When it was over, their elders talked gravely together before the Prior returned to La Rabida.
Diego and Don Felipe were left to them[Pg 35]selves. They had no notion of resting quietly, and wandered about the forest, their arms entwined, putting into words their splendid dreams of adventure, which they were careful not to let their elders overhear. Don Felipe was talking of the prospect of once more seeing his mother, Doña Christina, and his sister, Doña Luisita.
“How glad Luisita will be to see me again!” he cried, a dozen times. “You see, Luisita leads a very retired life; she has not so many things to interest her as I have, and, although I love her just as much as she loves me, I think she is lonelier without me than I am without her.”
“I wonder,” said Diego, “if we will find at the castle your cousin, Don Tomaso de Gama, the daredevil knight of whom you have so often told me? I should like to meet him, you may depend upon it.”
“I hope we shall,” cried Don Felipe. “He is the finest knight in the world, and so gay and handsome—oh, everybody likes Don Tomaso!”
Presently they were called to make their respects to the Prior, who was returning to [Pg 36]La Rabida; this they did with much politeness. They loved the good Prior; but they were glad they were not going back with him.
At three o’clock they resumed their journey. They traveled all the afternoon, the road ever rising. At nightfall they stopped at a humble inn, only frequented by the poorest class of travelers; but there was nothing better in the neighborhood. Diego thought the supper the worst he had ever tasted, the small, close rooms dark and dirty, and he felt inclined to speak of these discomforts. Everything at La Rabida was plain, but clean and wholesome. But he noticed that the Admiral and Fray Piña made no complaint, and Don Felipe, accustomed to the splendors of a court and a castle, said no word showing dissatisfaction; and Diego was shamed into keeping silence.
Next morning they resumed their journey. It was but three days to Granada; but the castle of Langara lay a long distance to the northward, and it was a good four days’ journey to reach it. The weather remained beautifully clear, although the autumn air grew sharp as they climbed farther [Pg 37]into the mountains. Diego and Don Felipe enjoyed every step they traveled, and when they reached another bad inn, the second night, were secretly delighted that there was no room for them, so they had to sleep, rolled in their cloaks and blankets, on a little balcony open to the sky, with the quiet stars shining down upon them.
The third night the two lads again slept out, this time in the courtyard of an inn. It was expected that they would reach the castle of Langara by six o’clock on the fourth evening. They were now well into the Sierra Nevada Mountains and were climbing a rocky road which led to a plateau upon which the castle stood. The trees were quite leafless, and they could see at intervals the great gray mass of the castle, which seemed much nearer than it was by road, as the highway ran around the base of the plateau and was ever on the rise.
The daylight was not quite gone, and a crescent moon hung in the heavens, while a rosy glow flooded the western sky, and a band of gold on the horizon marked the departure of the royal sun.
As the travelers rode steadily on they heard upon the stony path ahead the clatter of a horse’s iron-shod hoofs coming at a hard gallop, and in a few minutes a cavalier came into view and rode straight for the Admiral.
“It is my cousin, Don Tomaso de Gama, called by some the Daredevil Knight,” whispered Don Felipe to Diego.
The appearance of Don Tomaso was most attractive to young eyes. He was extremely handsome, with a sparkle in his eyes; his horsemanship was superb, and his manner, in speaking to the Admiral, graceful, though somewhat more debonair than was usual with those who addressed him.
Don Tomaso, pulling up his horse, a powerful chestnut, bowed politely to the Admiral, and said:
“I believe I am addressing Admiral Christobal Colon. I come from the noble lady Doña Christina, who sends me in advance to say that she is expecting with much eagerness you and your party, and that the castle and all that is in it are at your disposal. Oh! Hulloa! Yonder is little Felipe! How are you, lad?”
The Admiral bowed and smiled, while Don Felipe was secretly anxious for fear Don Tomaso had not treated the Admiral with the deference to which he was accustomed.
Having been introduced to the rest of the party, Don Tomaso rode beside the Admiral and entered into conversation with him. All, including Diego and Don Felipe, noticed a marked change that came over Don Tomaso as he conversed with the Admiral. The somewhat saucy manner of the Daredevil Knight grew every moment more respectful and he finally brought a smile to the Admiral’s grave face by frankly saying:
“I do not wonder that you can treat with kings and princes as an equal. You are the first man I ever met of whom I was really afraid—but I grew afraid of you before you had spoken three times to me!”
The party now entered a narrow road, leading by many windings to the castle gates. It was very dark and overhung with rocks and trees and capable of being defended. When they came out upon an open place in front of the fortress-like castle and faced the drawbridge, which was down, Don Tomaso [Pg 40]took from his doublet a silver trumpet and gave three ringing blasts upon it. A warder on the tower of the main gateway replied with a single loud trumpet-call.
Lights were moving in the castle, and upon the highest point of the parapet there were figures faintly seen in the fast-falling darkness.
“I see my mother and Luisita on the parapet!” cried Don Felipe, seizing Diego’s arm.
Once inside the gateway the party dismounted, their tired mules were led away, and they crossed on foot a splendid courtyard with majestic piles of buildings all around it. Diego had never seen anything so fine in his life.
They entered the castle by a low and heavy archway with swinging lanterns overhead, while servants carried torches on the tips of long pikes.
There, standing under the central lantern, stood the Duchess de Langara y Gama. Diego’s first impression of her was of a mingling of dignity with kindness, grace with stateliness. She was still beautiful, although no longer young, and the resemblance of Don Felipe to [Pg 41]her was marked. Her dress was of dark-blue velvet, and her hair was adorned with jewels. Next her stood Doña Luisita, a charming young girl of fourteen, the image of Don Felipe, with soft dark eyes and a skin like ivory. Over her rich black hair was a thin white veil that fell to the edge of her white gown. As Doña Luisita stood under the mellow light of lanterns and torches, her white gown and flowing veil showing against the dark background, her hands clasped as she gazed toward Don Felipe, she seemed to Diego like an angel, all whiteness and purity. Don Felipe, standing next to Diego, held his arms out wide to his sister. The two could scarcely keep apart while their elders made ceremonious greetings.
“Welcome,” said Doña Christina to the Admiral, adding the picturesque Spanish phrase: “My house and all that is in it are yours.”
The Admiral bowed profoundly and kissed Doña Christina’s hand and that of Doña Luisita, who was introduced to him. Then Don Felipe advanced and was folded in the arms of his mother and sister. The rest of [Pg 42]the party were introduced, Don Felipe saying, as the Admiral presented Diego:
“This is my good friend and comrade, Diego.”
Nothing could exceed the kindness of Doña Christina’s manner to Diego; and Doña Luisita made him a low bow in return for his.
Doña Christina, turning to the Admiral, said:
“My son is now the head of the house, and must take his father’s place. He is inexperienced; but, like me, he feels honored by your presence under our roof. I know very well the high esteem in which the Queen holds you and wishes all to hold you.”
The Admiral expressed his thanks, and then, Doña Christina leading the way, they ascended a wide stone stair, and still another stair, where the apartments for the Admiral and Fray Piña were prepared.
“You are to sleep in the same room with me,” whispered Don Felipe in Diego’s ear. “I asked my mother to arrange it so.”
After saying that supper would be served as soon as the travelers were refreshed, Doña [Pg 43]Christina went to her own part of the castle. Doña Luisita had mysteriously disappeared. Don Felipe threaded his way through many halls and corridors, all very splendid, past sumptuous chambers, until he came to a large room with many small windows. It was comfortably furnished, but without luxury.
“This was my room always,” said Don Felipe. “There is a room next it where I studied, and my sister often studied there with me. Below are my mother’s apartments and my sister’s. It is surprising how fast my sister is becoming a woman.”
Diego said nothing of Doña Luisita, rather to Don Felipe’s surprise.
As soon as the lads were washed and dressed, after their long day’s travel, they were summoned to supper. It was served in a splendid hall, hung with armor and with tapestries. The table was long, for the household was large. At the head of the table sat Doña Christina, with the Admiral on her right and Doña Luisita on her left. Next Doña Luisita sat her governess, whose name, Señora Julia Enriquez, Don Felipe whispered to Diego. She was very grave in manner and appear[Pg 44]ance, but not unhandsome. Don Felipe, taking the seat of his dead father, was at the foot of the table, and Fray Piña was placed on his right.
The supper was sumptuous and ceremonious. Doña Christina was all kindness to the Admiral, and her good sense and dignity were displayed in her conversation.
When supper was over Doña Christina retired to her apartment; and Don Felipe, after seeing that all his guests were comfortable in their rooms, went to his own, where he found Diego.
“I think,” said Diego, gravely, “that Señora Julia is the sternest and severest lady I ever saw. She must be worse than Fray Piña.”
Don Felipe laughed aloud at this.
“Señora Julia takes it out in looking stern. She is the mildest creature on earth. My mother says the only fault to be found with her is that she is too easy, and, especially, has ever let me torment her, poor lady, and has returned it with kindness. I will say, though, that I should not have been so tormenting to her if I had [Pg 45]not loved her and did not know that she has loved me from a child. If she had told my mother of some of my pranks—well, it would have gone hard with me! Now I am going to my mother, who has sent for me. Go you with me to the library, where you will find many books and manuscripts—for I know that you love books almost as well as adventure.”
Don Felipe then took Diego to a library, large for those days. It was lighted with lamps hung from the ceiling.
“Here,” said Don Felipe, handing Diego a small manuscript volume of verse, “are the works of your Italian poet, Petrarca. I know you know Italian better than Spanish.”
“Yes,” replied Diego, seizing the little book. “Just as you know Spanish better than Italian—because it is your native tongue.”
Don Felipe went off, leaving Diego in the dim library. Diego looked about him in delight. Never had he seen so many books together in his life.
He began to read the volume of poems and grew so absorbed that he did not hear [Pg 46]Don Felipe open the door, and only knew of his presence when Don Felipe, slapping him on the shoulder, cried:
“Come out of the clouds, Diego! My mother wishes to speak with you. She has something to tell us both.”
Diego went willingly enough. In a small, high-ceiled room close by was Doña Christina with Doña Luisita and Señora Julia.
“I hope you will be happy while you are here,” said Doña Christina to Diego. “I have talked with the Admiral, your father, and he tells me that he must depart to-morrow to seek the King and the Queen at Santa Fé. After considering it, as I shall not be obliged to attend the Queen for a month, the Admiral and I have agreed that it is better for you and Don Felipe to remain here with me during that month. Then we can travel to Santa Fé together.”
The first sensation of Diego and Don Felipe was one of disappointment; their dream was to see the fall of the city of Granada. Doña Christina, however, unconsciously reconciled them to this delay by adding:
“All the information we have from Gra[Pg 47]nada shows that the city can scarcely be finally reduced before December, and during that long time both of you will be better off here than at Santa Fé.”
It was not so bad after all—that was the unspoken thought in the minds of Diego and Don Felipe, and the meaning of the exchange of glances.
Doña Christina talked to Diego, telling him many interesting things concerning the castle, and was pleased with his admiration of the library. Then she rose, saying:
“I have many matters to attend to even at this hour, and I will leave you with Señora Julia.”
As soon as Doña Christina left the room Señora Julia sustained the reputation Don Felipe had given her. Don Felipe inquired concerning a certain old gentleman in the neighborhood who was supposed to admire Señora Julia very much. The poor lady was deeply embarrassed, and Doña Luisita came to the rescue by saying:
“Do not mind my brother, dear Señora Julia. He only says such things because they make you blush. Do not pay the least attention to him.”
In spite of her ferocious appearance, Señora Julia proved no restraint on the three young people, who laughed and talked merrily together, Señora Julia joining with them. Diego had never before been thrown with a girl of Doña Luisita’s rank, and he was surprised and charmed at her gentle and unassuming manner. She was full of curiosity about the great voyage the Admiral wished to take, and was well informed on the geography of the world as it was then known. Several times Señora Julia said it was time for her to take Doña Luisita to her apartment; but every time Don Felipe, with much impudence but great affection, held her by force and would not let her rise from her chair. At last Señora Julia said, in consternation:
“This is the hour that Doña Christina always comes to this room to say good night to Doña Luisita.”
This was enough. Don Felipe and Diego scampered off as fast as they could run to their own room.
THE CASTLE OF LANGARA
THE Admiral was to start early in the morning, and Diego and Don Felipe earnestly hoped that Fray Piña would accompany him. But to their secret chagrin they found that Fray Piña was to remain at the castle with them. They knew very well the meaning of this—hard study during many hours of the day, while the woods and mountains called to them to be explored, while the fish in the streams remained unmolested. There would be little hunting or fishing, and not much time to spend over the books of poetry and romance in the library. In addition, Don Tomaso de Gama was to travel with the Admiral to Santa Fé, from whence he had only been absent a short time. Both youths bitterly regretted his departure, and that they would not have the delight of listening to his tales of adventure, his merry [Pg 50]songs, nor enjoy his gallant and dashing manners and company.
By daybreak Diego and Don Felipe were up and dressed. Already, below in the courtyard, they could hear the tramping of the travelers’ mules. Diego went to the Admiral’s room, and with him descended to the courtyard. Early as it was, Doña Christina was present to say farewell to her guests. The Admiral thanked her with his usual grave courtesy for her hospitality and, especially, her kindness in asking Diego to remain and share Don Felipe’s studies with Fray Piña. Don Tomaso, his foot in his stirrup, cried:
“What a happy time you will have, Diego and Don Felipe—no distractions from study—history, geography, astronomy, and mathematics in the morning, and mathematics, astronomy, geography, and history in the afternoon! Now, at Santa Fé, I shall have a very hard time—watching the besieged city of Granada, making sorties against the gates, living in a tent, jousting with other knights by way of pastime, riding in the tilt-yard—all the hardships and the pleasures of a soldier’s life.”
Don Tomaso, laughing at the long faces of Diego and Don Felipe, flung himself joyously on his horse. The Admiral kissed and blessed both of the youths, and said, by way of consolation:
“All will not be over at Granada in one short month.”
Then the cavalcade rode off. Diego and Don Felipe were in terror for fear Fray Piña would call them to their studies at once; but even the stern instructor had a little mercy on them for two days, in which they were quite free.
The two lads started out on foot in the clear October sunrise to climb the near-by mountains, to ford the streams, to enjoy themselves in that expenditure of energy which is the glorious patrimony of youth. Don Felipe had to show all of his haunts to Diego, and together the two boys climbed and walked and slid down steep places and waded mountain streams, with the utmost enjoyment to themselves. Both knew something about plants, thanks to Fray Piña, and they were surprised and delighted to find some beautiful pink orchids having their second bloom[Pg 52]ing of the year. Diego gathered them, roots and all, carefully, with much earth, saying:
“These will I take to Doña Christina.”
“And I will take some to my sister, for her garden. You should see Luisita’s garden. She loves it well.”
They did not return to the castle until near sunset, and were tired, hungry, and dirty, but very happy. Don Felipe led the way to the back of the castle, where, sheltered from the north by high stone walls, was a warm spot, in which a formal little Italian garden was laid out. Here was Doña Christina with Doña Luisita and Señora Julia. Luisita ran forward to greet them and at once noticed the plants Diego was so carefully carrying.
“I never saw that flower bloom in the autumn!” she cried.
Diego had the readiness to offer her some at once, saying:
“The rest are for the noble lady, Doña Christina.”
Then he won for himself the undying esteem of Señora Julia by presenting her with one of the plants.
Doña Christina, who was very observant, [Pg 53]thought well of Diego for remembering the old governess, and as the three young people were busily planting the flowers, she said to Señora Julia:
“The youth Diego is well mannered. He knows how to behave to his elders.”
“Truly he is,” replied Señora Julia. “No youth can be called well mannered who does not observe politeness to the old and the obscure.”
Soon it was time for supper; and Diego and Don Felipe, washed and dressed and combed, were ready for it. The meal was not splendid and ceremonious as the night before, only the family being present, except Diego and Fray Piña; but Diego thought it one of the pleasantest hours he had ever passed. Family life was unknown to him; the recollection of his mother, of his early childhood in Lisbon, of the modest home in which the great Admiral toiled to support his wife and child, and to assist from his narrow means his venerable father, and to help in the education of his younger brothers, was, to Diego, like a faint and far-off dream. He had known many phases and vicissitudes of life in his [Pg 54]short span of years, and had not been unhappy on the whole. But this sweet domestic life, the society of ladies at meals, the gentle restraint of their presence, was wholly new and delightful to him. The conversation was chiefly in the hands of Doña Christina, Señora Julia, Fray Piña, and the chaplain, with two or three other persons, officers of the great household maintained by the family of de Langara y Gama. Occasionally Doña Christina referred courteously to Diego or Don Felipe; but they were for the most part quiet listeners to the intelligent conversation of their elders, Doña Luisita too, being attentive to all that was said.
After supper Diego and Don Felipe had a delicious hour in the library, Diego reading with Don Felipe his newly found treasure, the poems of Petrarca. Don Felipe was glad to improve his Italian by this reading, but laughed at Diego for being so passionately fond of the sonnets.
Then came an hour most delightful of all to Diego, motherless and homeless as he had long been. Don Felipe and he were summoned to the room of Doña Christina. There, [Pg 55]every night, it was Doña Christina’s practice to spend an hour with her children, and Diego was included with the utmost kindness in this little family circle. Doña Christina’s kind heart was touched at the thought of Diego’s lack of home life and home affection; Fray Piña had given her an excellent impression of the boy, and with the generosity of a warm heart Doña Christina wished to make Diego happy and good, as she desired to make her own children. She therefore treated him as a son, and Diego responded with the depth of gratitude and affection of a strong nature.
Doña Christina encouraged the lads to talk freely of their hopes and plans, Doña Luisita listening intently. Diego did not lose Doña Christina’s respect by his high anticipations, his firm confidence that his father was about to make the greatest discoveries the world has ever known.
“I have but one thing of which to be proud,” said Diego, frankly, to Doña Christina; “that is my father. I am not of great family like Don Felipe. I am the son of a poor man. I am not old enough to have [Pg 56]done anything on my own account. But when I think of my father—his courage, his perseverance during nearly eighteen years, of his knowledge—for Fray Piña says my father is the ablest mathematician in Spain—of the way my father commands the respect of all, from the great Queen Isabella down to Brother Lawrence, the servant—my heart swells so with pride my breast can hardly hold it.”
“That is the right kind of pride,” quietly responded Doña Christina. “I know what the great Queen thinks of the Admiral, your honored father. I was proud to have a man of so much learning, courage, and virtue under my roof.”
Then began for Diego a time of new and unusual happiness, for it was more than mere pleasure. He was very sanguine, as the young must be, of the success of his father at court. King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella had promised that as soon as the fearful struggle with the Moors was over they would redeem the promise they had made and provide the Admiral with the vessels and men he had asked for his voyage—a force so [Pg 57]pitifully small for an enterprise so great that it staggered the imagination. And already it was known that the city of Granada was unable to hold out longer than the first of the year. Diego and Don Felipe gloried in the prospect of seeing the great military pageants that would mark the fall of the Moorish power in Spain; and Diego was enough of a Spaniard to feel a patriotic pride in the thought of driving the foreign invaders from the soil of Spain. So they had splendid dreams of what they would see at Santa Fé, the city built in a day, as it were, across the narrow valley from Granada and commanding its main gates, and where the armies of Castile and Arragon were encamped. Meanwhile was a month of joy which was not seriously impaired by the fact that the two lads spent their mornings in hard study under the iron rule of Fray Piña. After twelve o’clock they were free to explore the mountains, to hunt, to follow the streams—all the healthy pleasures of an outdoor life. Their respect for Fray Piña was increased by the vast knowledge he had of plants and animals, of sports and of the history of the region. [Pg 58]Sometimes they rode, sometimes they walked, always they enjoyed themselves. In the evening, when they returned, after they had made themselves presentable, they had the pleasant family supper in the great hall. Afterward they went to the library and read for a while, and then Doña Christina would have them in her private room, where, with Doña Luisita and Señora Julia, Fray Piña and the chaplain, they had a delightful hour of conversation and reading. Often Doña Christina would ask Fray Piña to read to them some interesting book. Fray Piña was well informed on astronomy, and on clear nights would give Diego and Don Felipe lessons in the science of the stars. Doña Luisita was also a pupil in these lessons. Doña Christina and the chaplain became so interested that they too would join the group, of whom Doña Luisita and Señora Julia were a part, on the highest point of the main tower of the castle. There, in the sharp autumn nights, they would assemble, warmly wrapped in heavy riding cloaks, and listen to the mellow voice of Fray Piña explaining the mysteries of the palpitating stars and the serene [Pg 59]planets that made the dark-blue sky radiant. Often in after life and among different scenes the memory came back to Diego of those hours spent on the tower by night, when earth seemed far away and Doña Luisita’s eyes, so softly bright, shone like stars.
When, at last, late in November, the day of departure from the castle of Langara came and Diego and Don Felipe were to take the road to Granada, Diego was amazed to find that he was sorry to leave. Doña Christina was going with them to begin her tour of duty as lady-in-waiting to Queen Isabella. Doña Luisita was to remain at the castle for the present in care of Señora Julia and the chaplain. On the last of their pleasant evenings Doña Luisita was very sad; and when they took their last lesson in astronomy, and were all together for the last time, tears dropped from Doña Luisita’s dark eyes. All tried to comfort her, because it was not pleasant to be left behind.
“Never mind, Doña Luisita,” said Diego, “we will not forget you, Don Felipe and I, and, if Doña Christina will let us, we will put a little line at the foot of her letters—and [Pg 60]I will try and make you some pictures of Granada, although I cannot draw and paint as well as Don Felipe.”
Don Felipe, too, made many promises; and Doña Luisita submitted patiently, for Doña Christina, being a wise woman, was accustomed to exact prompt and uncomplaining obedience from both Doña Luisita and Don Felipe.
On the cold, dark morning they rode away Doña Luisita showed a brave spirit and kept back her tears with smiles. Doña Christina and two of her waiting women were to travel on the sure-footed mules, as ladies did in those times. Besides Fray Piña and Diego and Don Felipe, there went for protection, six men armed with harquebuses and mounted, and the chief steward and his assistant. These last rode ahead to secure accommodations for the party, as they would be four nights upon the road.
When the moment of farewell came in the gray of the early morning, Diego felt strangely sad. Doña Luisita was clasped first in her mother’s arms and then in Don Felipe’s. Diego made bold to kiss her hand.
As the party clattered across the drawbridge, which was hauled up after them, and watched the lowering of the flag on the keep, signifying that the head of the house was absent, Diego turned and gave a last look at the spot in which he had been so happy.
“You look as if you did not want to see the fall of Granada,” said Don Felipe. “After all, we shall have many more pleasant days together at Langara.”
“I hope so,” replied Diego, from the bottom of his heart.
Diego carried in the breast of his leathern jacket a treasure which had been given him by Doña Christina as a souvenir of his happy hours in the library of the castle. This was the little manuscript volume of Petrarca, which Diego had read for the first time with so much delight at Langara.
The party traveled on slowly but steadily. After a while the dark morning brightened and the sun shone gloriously.
It is a privilege of youth to rally quickly from sadness. So it was that after a while Diego’s heart was light again, and he began to enjoy already, in anticipation, a return [Pg 62]some day to the castle. Don Felipe’s good spirits were contagious. The two youths were full of health, and of eager and ardent soul, each with a good horse under him, and traveling toward a scene of splendid adventures. Diego surprised himself by bursting into a song, with a refrain:
Merrily, merrily we go, my steed and I,
Soon will we return,
We will return, we will return!
At every stage of their journey they were met with news of the impending triumph of the Spanish arms. The country was ablaze with patriotism. For nearly eight hundred years the Moors had occupied Spanish territory, had built great cities and fortresses, and had maintained a great court at Granada, in the magnificent palace of the Alhambra, grander than that of the Spanish sovereigns themselves. The Moors were aliens and of another race; they had a different civilization, Oriental in character and totally unlike the Christian civilization. Never, during all these eight hundred years, had there been peace in Spain; nor would there ever be [Pg 63]peace until the foreign invaders were driven out. Gradually they had been hemmed in, their large cities taken, their fortresses forced to surrender, until now, under Boabdil, a weak and effeminate king, Granada alone remained to them. This had been invested on every side, no provisions had been carried to the city and garrison for many months, and it was only a question of a few weeks when it must surrender. The Spanish sovereigns did not intend to carry the city by assault, not wishing to injure the women and children or to endanger the city by fire, but to reduce it by steady and incessant attacks. That hour was near at hand.
The Castilian army had borne its share in the campaign and siege, and its Queen, Isabella of Castile, who had administered the civil government of Arragon as well as Castile while King Ferdinand was in the field, was to join him at Granada.
The party from the castle of Langara reached the neighborhood of Santa Fé early in the morning of the day Queen Isabella was to arrive, and thus were to witness the meeting between the Queen of Castile and the King [Pg 64]of Arragon; for, although they were husband and wife, they were independent sovereigns, and met first as such.
Early in the bright November morning, upon the last stage of their journey, the party from the castle was met by the Admiral coming from Santa Fé to greet them. They met in the narrow pass of Pinos, about six miles from Santa Fé. Already the highway was crowded with the advance-guard of Queen Isabella’s party, together with the great concourse which always flocks toward the scene of coming exciting events. The Admiral was accompanied by Don Tomaso de Gama and Alonzo de Quintanilla, an accountant to Queen Isabella, and who was the steady friend of the Admiral. As soon as they met Doña Christina they all dismounted and respectfully greeted her. Then the Admiral embraced Diego; and when greetings with all were exchanged they set forward briskly. Doña Christina wished to reach Santa Fé and put on the splendid attire of a court lady, in which to greet her Queen. Don Tomaso, too, must return quickly, as well as Alonzo de Quintanilla. The Admiral decided to [Pg 65]return with them, so that Diego and Don Felipe, with Fray Piña alone, standing on a rocky height directly overlooking the road, witnessed the splendid pageant of the meeting of the sovereigns. The multitude of persons was very great and of all sorts, from peasants to great nobles with their long trains of attendants. None suspected that the fair-haired and blue-eyed youth standing by the grave young ecclesiastic was the son of the man most talked of in Spain at that moment, for the whole country was awake and alive to the projects of the Admiral, who was derided by some, denounced by others, strongly supported by a few, and eagerly discussed by all. Nor was it known that the slim, handsome, black-eyed lad was one of the first grandees of Spain, inheritor of a great dukedom with all its wealth, honors, and responsibilities.
On every hand the sights and sounds were enchanting to Diego and Don Felipe. Before them rose the splendid walled city of Granada, the Moorish flag with its silver crescent floating from the highest point of the citadel. The gilded domes and minarets of the doomed [Pg 66]city glittered in the noonday light. On one side the ground fell away abruptly into a long, narrow gorge, through which the little river Xeni flowed, bridged in many places. On the opposite heights the improvised city of Santa Fé stretched away, grimly watchful of the Moorish stronghold. Beyond that still were the long lines of the encamped armies of Castile and Arragon. All the troops were under arms to greet the Queen. In a large open space between the armies was a splendid pavilion, of painted linen outside and luxuriously equipped inside, which King Ferdinand had caused to be prepared for his Queen. Over it hung the Gonfalon, the gorgeous banner of the two kingdoms, bearing on one side the Castilian coat-of-arms and on the other that of Arragon. From this camp first came a vast cavalcade of royal princes, nobles, knights, and soldiers, halberdiers and harquebusiers to meet the Queen and her party. Among them rode a number of ladies, of whom Doña Christina was one.
As the procession wound its way over the plain toward the narrow road that led from the plateau into the lower country, music [Pg 67]rang out, flags and banners fluttered gaily, and the armored knights seemed clad in gold, as the sunlight gleamed upon their coats of chain mail. First came a band of musicians playing the national hymns, followed by the trumpeters with their silver trumpets. Then came the heralds in their gorgeously embroidered coats, followed by a group of the chief officers of state and the highest nobles in Spain, all superbly mounted. Next came the ecclesiastics, headed by the great Cardinal Pedro Gonzalez de Mendoza, afterward the firm friend of the Admiral. In an open space, surrounded by the princes of his house, rode King Ferdinand, a man of splendid appearance, a soldier as well as a statesman. He rode a magnificent charger and was all smiles, bowing to the applause of the thousands of spectators. After him rode Prince Juan, who, to Diego and Don Felipe, was so far the most interesting person who had yet appeared. He was about their own age, extremely handsome, with an expression the most winning, a true son of his mother, the great Queen Isabella. Diego thought it would not be hard [Pg 68]to serve so gallant and so gentle a young man.
Behind them came a guard of honor, consisting of the foremost knights in Spain. Toward the end rode three young knights abreast who deeply interested Diego. The first was his friend, Don Tomaso de Gama, looking every inch a knight. On one side rode a dark young man, not handsome, but with a soldier’s eye. This was Gonzalez de Cordova, afterward the celebrated general who won deathless glory in Italy. On the other side rode the most beautiful knight Diego had ever seen. He looked the embodiment of beauty, such as the Greek sculptors gave to their young gods. It was Ponce de Leon, later on to discover Porto Rico and Florida in his search for the fabled Bimini—the fountain of perpetual youth. It was Don Felipe who gave Diego the names of these and many others in the gorgeous cavalcade.
When the procession reached the edge of the plateau it halted, the music was hushed, and a deep silence of expectancy followed. Presently, from the narrow gorge beneath, [Pg 69]floated the sweet sound of the silver trumpets, which was the signal of the Queen’s approach. Instantly from the brazen throats of the King’s trumpets came a joyous response. Soon the head of the Queen’s procession came into view. It was as splendid, though not so large, as that of the King. The Queen, after the fashion of the time, was mounted on a mule, splendidly caparisoned. Queen Isabella wore a superb riding costume of black velvet with a hat and feathers, and across her breast and on her slender arms was a delicate gold chain armor, showing that this great and noble Queen, this tender wife and devoted mother, was also a warrior and a sovereign. On her right, similarly mounted, was the Princess Katharine, afterward the noble and unfortunate wife of the eighth Henry of England.
When Queen Isabella reached the plateau King Ferdinand spurred his charger forward, but stopped when about twenty yards off and dismounted, approaching his wife with deep respect. Although devotedly attached to each other, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella were yet independent sovereigns, and the [Pg 70]great Queen was the last person in the world to abate any of the honors and dignity due to her country and herself as its Queen.
Prince Juan and every one else dismounted.
The King, first taking off his plumed helmet and sweeping the ground with it, bowed low to his wife. Queen Isabella, who had also dismounted, removing her hat from her head, revealed her beautiful chestnut hair, coifed with jewels, and returned the King’s bow ceremoniously. Then walking toward each other, they met, and the King kissed the Queen formally on the cheek, as one sovereign kisses another on meeting. When that was over, however, the King and Queen embraced and kissed heartily as husband and wife. Prince Juan, after ceremoniously saluting his mother, was also kissed and embraced. The young Princess Katharine was then clasped in the arms of her father and her brother.
Then, again remounting, the two processions united and took their way toward Santa Fé. The loud acclaims increased as the joint armies of Castile and Arragon beheld the Queen whom they both adored; and, long after the [Pg 71]procession had become a mere moving speck in the distance, the far-off sound of cheers and of swords drawn and driven back to their scabbards still floated across the little plain.
The sight of Ferdinand in all his splendor impressed Diego deeply; but when his young eyes fell upon Queen Isabella a feeling of reverence stole into his heart which could only be compared with what he felt for his father. Here was a woman, a Queen, a saint, a gentlewoman, the soul of courtesy, the model of integrity, proud where she should be proud, meek where she should be meek, nobly ambitious for her country, the mother of her people, ready to lead her soldiers in battle like a king, and then kneeling by them and binding up their wounds as would a mother—Diego’s mind was lofty enough to render full tribute to this Queen, one of the most glorious women who ever lived.
THE LAST SIGH OF THE MOOR
THE short November afternoon was melting into twilight when Diego and Don Felipe, with Fray Piña, took their way on horseback across the plateau to the town of Santa Fé. The plain was still thronged with persons going homeward after the great spectacle of the day, and with those who dwelt in Santa Fé or were encamped outside.
The Admiral had engaged lodgings for the party in a tall, old house, one of those in the original small town where he himself lodged. It was in a crooked and retired street, but Diego and Don Felipe were delighted to find that one window of the room which they shared together, under the roof, looked toward the plain upon which were encamped the armies of Castile and Arragon, while another gave a view of the deep and narrow valley [Pg 73]that lay between Santa Fé and the beleaguered city of Granada. Directly before them lay the “Gate of Justice,” one of the main gates of the city, and from its towers they could hear, in the clear November air, the shrill cry of the muezzin, the Moslem call to prayer. “Prayer is better than sleep—than sleep—than sleep.”
After the traveler’s supper, at which were present the Admiral and his friend, Alonzo de Quintanilla, Diego and Don Felipe were willing enough to go to their room. They felt as if they were living under a spell of enchantment. The splendid personages they had seen, the great events of which they were to be spectators, the pomp and glory of war, impressed their young imaginations powerfully. Although tired with their long day of travel and excitement, they could not sleep. So an hour passed. They rose at last, and, as they were gazing out of the window toward the camp, at ten o’clock they noticed in the middle of the camp, lying a mile away, a great mass of flame shoot skyward. Instantly the camp was roused, and there was a great commotion in the town. [Pg 74]De Quintanilla ran out of the house and, mounting his horse, still standing at the door, galloped away toward the camp. The fire, though violent, soon burned itself out, and in an hour De Quintanilla returned with the news that the beautiful tents erected by the King for Queen Isabella, the Princess Katharine, and their suites, had mysteriously caught fire while the Queen was at prayer in the tent arranged as a chapel. She had made an almost miraculous escape, and by her courage and presence of mind not a life had been lost, although the splendid row of tents, hung with rich brocades and gorgeously furnished, were only a heap of ashes.
“The Queen,” said De Quintanilla, to the listening group, “showed as ever the spirit of ten men-at-arms, being composed and even smiling, and saying that the humblest tent in the army is enough to shelter her, for she is a soldier like the rest of the army.”
The next morning Diego and Don Felipe were not surprised when Fray Piña began at once the same routine that had been followed at La Rabida and at the castle of Langara. It was irksome to them and tantalizing to be [Pg 75]held down to books and studies in their narrow little room, while living in the midst of a great camp with all its charms and fascinations for brave and imaginative boys. But they knew too much to appeal against it, for Fray Piña’s stern rule was upheld by the Admiral and by Doña Christina. Still they enjoyed their new life and felt as if they were living every minute of it.
The arrival of Queen Isabella had put new vigor into everything. The armies were impatient to take the city of Granada by storm; but King Ferdinand, a capable soldier, would not consider this. From spies and the Moorish prisoners occasionally captured, both the King and the Queen knew that there was utter demoralization within the walls of Granada. The weak and effeminate spirit of the Moorish King, Boabdil, would not listen to the counsels of those who were willing to die with honor in an attempt to break out of the city. His eldest son, a boy of seven, had been captured by the Spaniards when an effort was made secretly to transport the child to the coast. This had broken the heart of Boabdil. He had no idea of civilized warfare, and would [Pg 76]not believe the messages sent him that the boy was well cared for, and Queen Isabella charged herself with his welfare. The word “Kismet”—“It is fate,” paralyzed King Boabdil. He waited where his ancestors had fought boldly and had taken desperate chances with unshaken courage.
Although there was still hard fighting to be done, the presence of the Queen and her ladies led to many splendid entertainments, jousts, and tilts. Neither Diego nor Don Felipe, nor any of their party, saw anything of these brilliant gaieties. The Admiral lived in retirement, except when he went to attend men in power, whose understanding and approval of his plans he wished to secure before making his final appeal to the sovereigns after the city should have fallen. He soon found that, although King Ferdinand was not averse to the enterprise, he was quite willing to let the money for the expedition come out of the coffers of Castile instead of Arragon, and that the ships should be named by Castilians. Alonzo de Quintanilla was a hard-working accountant who went to his daily labor early and remained late. In the [Pg 77]evening he, and the Admiral, Fray Piña, and the two lads, supped together; their talk was not of festivals, but of the chances of the great voyage of the Admiral.
Sometimes, however, the party was increased by the presence of Luis de St. Angel, also an accountant of the Queen, and Father Diego de Deza, tutor to Prince Juan and one of the most scientific men of the age. To him, in later life, the Admiral bore tribute in writing as one of the two men without whom he could never have got the support of the Court of Spain in his enterprise. The second man so immortalized was Juan Perez.
With the two ecclesiastics and Alonzo de Quintanilla the Admiral held long conferences, not only on scientific subjects, but on the best method of urging his plan upon the King and the Queen when the time should be ripe.
It was plain to the quick intelligence of Diego and Don Felipe that the two ecclesiastics, both of them able mathematicians and astronomers, frankly conceded the superiority in mathematics and astronomy to the Admiral, and their faith in his ideas was strengthened continually by the evidences of his ex[Pg 78]traordinary attainments, as well as his great natural powers and lofty and unsullied character.
There were two others who sometimes joined this circle of remarkable men. One was Don Tomaso, who brought with him the beautiful knight, Ponce de Leon. In spite of his surpassing good looks, Ponce de Leon was an intelligent man, and had, for his own pleasure, studied navigation. He would talk much with the Admiral and Fray Piña, studying maps and making astronomical calculations, while the Daredevil Knight, twirling his mustaches, clanking his sword, and rattling his great spurs, would charm Diego and Don Felipe with stories of jousts at arms, for the favor of the ladies, and splendid balls at which those same ladies danced with gallant gentlemen.
Doña Christina was in attendance upon Queen Isabella, who, with the King, lived in the midst of the camp in tents almost as splendid as those which had been destroyed by fire the first night of the Queen’s arrival. It was arranged that Don Felipe should visit his mother once a week; and the first visit [Pg 79]he paid Doña Christina he asked permission to bring Diego, which was granted. This gave Diego great joy. Not only did he wish to see the kind and gentle Doña Christina, but he longed ardently to see the splendid encampment, and the great Queen, for whom he had a reverence and affection dating back to the days of his first visit to La Rabida, and to whom he looked as the one person who would open the way of glory to his father.
On the appointed day the two youths, with Fray Piña, set out on foot for the camp. They were both dressed alike, suitably, but with much simplicity. As the two started off from the door of their lodgings Diego looked back, and a sudden pang went to his heart. His father, who stood watching him, was shabbily dressed, although with that extraordinary neatness which always distinguished him. It suddenly came home to Diego the patient sacrifices made for him by his father, and a passionate desire welled up in his heart that some day he might repay that father, so noble in every way, and yet with the tenderness of a woman. But more cheerful [Pg 80]thoughts filled Diego’s ardent young mind as he and Don Felipe, with Fray Piña, passed through the great encampment and finally came to the tents occupied by the Queen and her ladies. Doña Christina received them with the greatest kindness, making courteous inquiries of the Admiral and expressing much satisfaction when Fray Piña told her of the good conduct of Don Felipe and Diego.
“You shall be rewarded,” said Doña Christina. “In an hour the Queen sets forth to review the Castilian troops, and, if Fray Piña will permit, you may both see that splendid sight.”
The heart of Diego leaped with joy, and he and Don Felipe exchanged delighted glances.
It was not Doña Christina’s duty to attend the Queen that day. When the blowing of the silver trumpets in the clear December noon announced that the Queen was about to issue from her tent, Fray Piña and the two lads went out and stood at a respectful distance watching the splendid sight. The Queen’s charger, a superb war horse, was led out, and a brilliant array of knights and the [Pg 81]gorgeous body-guard awaited her. Queen Isabella issued from her tent escorted by her ladies. She wore a handsome but simple riding costume and the same light but beautiful corselet and arm-pieces of glittering chain mail. On her delicate, fair head was a small and resplendent casque with purple plumes. She was that day the sovereign and the soldier. As she caught sight of Fray Piña she bowed to him courteously and spoke a word to Doña Christina, who beckoned to Fray Piña and the two youths. Diego could have shouted for joy when he found himself approaching the Queen. She spoke first to Fray Piña, and then to Don Felipe, saying:
“I am pleased to hear, Don Felipe, that your conduct is good and that you have learned how to obey, which is a necessary thing for all who wish to live creditably in the world.”
Then, turning to Diego, she said, sweetly:
“And this is Diego, the son of the great captain whom I esteem highly. I remember this youth as a little lad when first his father came to me at Cordova seven years ago.”
Then the remembrance of Diego falling [Pg 82]asleep on the steps of the dais came to the Queen, and she smiled, saying:
“You were but a little lad then, and fell asleep with your head upon my knee. All youths of your age are dear to me, for in them I see the hope of Spain.”
With that the great Queen bowed in dismissal, and, mounting, showed perfect horsemanship as she put her horse to the gallop and rode off, followed by her retinue.
The two boys, with Fray Piña, scampered through the camp and were able to reach a point where they had a full view of the Castilian troops drawn up in splendid order upon the open plain. The Queen’s appearance was greeted with thundering cheers, with the clash of lances in the bright air, the joyous rattling of swords in their scabbards and salvos of artillery, and the playing of the national hymn. Queen Isabella rode up and down the ranks inspecting everything with a keen eye and sharp judgment, questioning the officers with the knowledge of a king as well as of a queen. When the inspection was over, the troops marched past, saluting their sovereign; and the Queen, with the great [Pg 83]standard of Castile held above her, gracefully acknowledged every salute. The march-past over, the Queen then visited the sick quarters of the camp, going through the hospital tents, cheering and encouraging the poor inmates. When this was over and the Queen, with her retinue, returned to the royal tents, it was late in the afternoon. Fray Piña and the two lads were already in Doña Christina’s tent to see the Queen dismount. Doña Christina, within the tent, opened the door. She held by the hand a little black-eyed, dark-skinned, sad-looking boy about the age of little Fernando.
“This,” she said, to Fray Piña, in Spanish, which the child did not understand, “is the son of King Boabdil, held as a hostage. Every day the Queen has the little boy brought to her, or visits him privately to show him some kindness. To-day she will come into this tent to speak to him.”
In another minute the Queen entered unceremoniously from the adjoining tent. The little boy’s sad face brightened as he saw her, and, letting go of Doña Christina’s hand, he went willingly to the Queen and respect[Pg 84]fully kissed her hand. The Queen, putting her arm around his shoulder, gave him a little toy, a horse, carved and painted, and said to him a few words in the Moorish tongue. The boy, silent and undemonstrative, was yet not unfeeling, and his face showed a faint pleasure.
The Queen then entered into a short conversation with Fray Piña. She was fond of the society of learned men, and always treated them with much respect. Fray Piña, with quick art, brought in the name of the Admiral, saying that Father de Deza and himself profited much by the Admiral’s superior scientific knowledge.
“We are but postulants, madam,” he said, “in mathematics and astronomy when compared with the Genoese navigator. This Father de Deza and I often say to each other.”
The Queen looked fixedly at Fray Piña, showing herself impressed by such words from such men. Then, in a few moments, she left the tent, accompanied by Doña Christina, who still held the little prisoner by the hand.
Diego and Don Felipe then walked back [Pg 85]through the sharp December afternoon to their lodgings in the town. The brilliant military spectacle they had seen made them long for more of the same kind. They were at the age when they chafed for action, not realizing how little prepared they were for it and that the stern rule under which they lived was the best school for them. Still, so strong was the pressure brought to bear upon them by Fray Piña and by the Admiral that they did well at their studies.
Meanwhile, they were not the only ones whose patience was painfully tried. The Admiral had the promise of the King and the Queen that as soon as the struggle with the Moors was over they would arrange for the great voyage. It was only a question of time now when the city of Granada must surrender. The arrival of the Queen had put new force into an attack already vigorous. The Spaniards gave the Moors no rest by day or night. First at one gate and then at another, they made desperate assaults, overwhelming the Moorish troops and driving them back with terrible loss into the city.
The Admiral, hoping that his sublime projects would immediately follow the fall of Granada, was eager to make his arrangements that he might begin his voyage early in the summer. But at the moment when, after eighteen years of desperate and determined struggle, the dayspring of hope was at hand, an unexpected difficulty arose. Fernando de Talavera, Archbishop of Toledo, who was destined to be the first Archbishop of Granada, a man of honesty, but without enthusiasm, who had heretofore befriended the Admiral, strongly opposed the honors which the Admiral claimed in the event of his success. Diego and Don Felipe knew this, not from the mouth of the Admiral, who scorned to make any complaint, but from the conversation of those around them. Diego saw his father go forth every day to wait in the anterooms of the great, who seemed to have no time to listen to him. The events passing before them were so brilliant and dazzling that they put off the more stupendous thing, the discovery of a new world. Every day, in the evening, when the Admiral returned, he showed unbroken patience; but Diego [Pg 87]knew that no progress had been made. Once he heard his father say to Fray Piña:
“I will wait here patiently until the fall of the city. If then no one will listen to me, I shall leave Spain, and another country shall have the glory of my discoveries.”
All through December the cordon was tightened around the city, the loss inflicted on the Moors greater, their sorties more desperate and more disastrous. It was hoped that by Christmas the standard of the Cross would float over the great mosque in the Alhambra; but still the city held out desperately. On Christmas Day, however, an adventure happened that thrilled Diego and Don Felipe and all who saw it. On that day the fighting had been unusually severe all around the city of Granada, except on the plateau of the Gate of Justice, which faced Santa Fé. At midday, as the Admiral, with Fray Piña and Diego and Don Felipe, stood at an open window watching the fighting, they saw three carts, apparently loaded with provisions, steal out of a small ravine close to the Gate of Justice, and then trot rapidly to the gate. The carts were evidently seen [Pg 88]and their burdens noted, for the postern-gate was instantly opened. The first cart entered and became at once wedged in such a manner that the gate could not be shut. Suddenly a knight clad in a light and glittering chain armor and mounted on a superb black horse dashed up the acclivity, followed by fifteen other knights, all picked men. The Admiral and Fray Piña recognized the leader, the gallant Hernando Perez del Pulgar, a cousin of the Prior, Juan Perez, and a man renowned for his daring even among the fearless and brilliant knights of Spain. He carried on his lance-head a fluttering piece of linen; and, dashing at the narrow opening, his horse leaped over the cart, and was followed by another knight, whom Diego and Don Felipe saw was Don Tomaso de Gama. Fourteen other knights rode into the gateway and disappeared.
“What does it mean?” said Diego, turning to Fray Piña.
“It means, I fear,” replied Fray Piña, “that those sixteen gallant gentlemen are lost to Spain; they will never return.”
“I think they will,” replied the Admiral. [Pg 89]“Hernando Perez del Pulgar is a daring man, but prudent withal. He has not entered the Moorish city to be trapped along with his companions; some of them will return.”
As the Admiral spoke they saw the carts push slowly through the gateway and become strongly jammed with each other.
“See,” said the Admiral, “the gate remains open. There is a stratagem, you may depend.”
By that time the word had sped from mouth to mouth through the town of Santa Fé and among the encamped soldiers of what was going on, and, like the Admiral, all saw that the postern-gate was purposely blocked and kept open by the supposed food-carts. Thus all eyes were fixed upon the open gateway, visible in the bright noon. The King and the Queen had been informed, and had come from their tents, surrounded by the court, to watch the exciting event happening before their eyes. Ten minutes passed, ten minutes of agonized tension and breathless anxiety, and then the black charger of Del Pulgar appeared before the open gate, and, making a magnificent leap over the carts, which [Pg 90]acted as a wedge in the gate, the knight appeared shouting the battle-cry of Spain:
“Santiago for Spain!”
He still carried his lance; but the fluttering piece of white linen was no longer there. He dashed down the declivity, followed by the fifteen knights, their numbers counted by tens of thousands of anxious eyes. As the last of the sixteen men leaped the cart a great cry went up from the city and camps of Santa Fé:
“Santiago, Santiago for Spain!” burst from the watching multitudes.
Many of the women were weeping with excitement and triumph. As the sixteen men disappeared in the valley Don Felipe found himself clasping Diego, both of them shouting in their high, boyish voices:
“Santiago, Santiago for Spain!”
At that moment Alonzo de Quintanilla burst into the room with the great news.
“The brave knight, Del Pulgar,” he said, “meaning to do honor to Christ on this Christmas Day, had a Christian prayer painted on a piece of linen to nail upon the doors of the great mosque in Granada. He arranged [Pg 91]a stratagem by which a gate of the city should be open, and then, riding in with his companions, he galloped up to the door of the great mosque and nailed upon it with his dagger the Christian prayer. The Moors were so taken by surprise that they could not stop him. Not one of the sixteen knights received a scratch.”
The eyes of the Admiral shone bright. He loved deeds of valor, and the daring of the young knights pleased him well.
While the elders of the party were discussing the splendid dash of Del Pulgar and the possibilities of the siege, Diego, who was standing at the open window, silently motioned to Don Felipe to join him. They saw a Moorish officer ride out from the Gate of Justice and walk his horse up and down the plateau of the Vega. He wore the heavy turban, under which the Moors had a small steel skull-cap, and he had on a breastplate and his arm-pieces of solid armor. He carried no lance or shield, but only a great curved sword, such as the Moors used. His horse was a milk-white Arabian with a long and flowing mane and tail, dyed purple at [Pg 92]the ends. From the horse’s tail floated, tied with bands of red and yellow, the Spanish colors, a piece of white linen. A cry of rage and horror went up from the watching multitudes of Santa Fé; it was the Christian prayer that had been nailed to the door of the mosque by Hernando Perez del Pulgar, and which the Moorish warrior had torn down and was dragging at his horse’s heels in full sight of the Christian city and armies.
The Admiral and Fray Piña and Alonzo de Quintanilla turned to the window and saw what was happening. Great crowds were already assembled, and the streets of Santa Fé and the walls of Granada were black with people. The Moorish warrior passed slowly toward the edge of the valley, or rather ravine, and, reining up his horse, dashed an iron glove as far as he could throw it toward Santa Fé. The challenge did not remain long unanswered. Across the bridge of the Xeni and up the rocky roadway a Spanish cavalier was seen urging his horse.
“That is Manuel Garcilosa,” said Alonzo de Quintanilla. “I know him well. He is not of noble birth; but, by Heaven! he will [Pg 93]be ennobled if he rescues the Christian prayer from the Moor.”
Garcilosa, like the Moor, had neither lance nor shield, but a sword, which, like most of the Spanish swords, was a Toledo blade, made of the finest strength and temper.
Arrived on the plateau, Garcilosa stopped to breathe his horse, a noble chestnut. Man and horse stood motionless, as if cast in bronze. The Moor advanced warily, his horse at the trot. Garcilosa, his sword in rest, seemed waiting for the onslaught. When the Moorish warrior was within twenty yards of Garcilosa, he gave his horse the spur, and the chestnut sprang forward like an arrow released from the bow. The Moor also put spurs to his horse to meet the shock, but Garcilosa was too quick for him. The Arabian horse swerved a little, answering a touch of the bridle; but the chestnut, dashing full at him, man and horse were ridden down. The white horse had fallen upon his master; but with the intelligence of the Arabian he struggled to his feet in an instant. The Moorish warrior rose, too, as Garcilosa dismounted. Then followed a des[Pg 94]perate combat on foot. The Moor was the heavier man; the Spanish gentleman the more active. They fought in a narrow circle, the clashing of their swords ringing out in the clear December air. Blood streamed from the faces of both, and presently the Moor was seen to stagger. Garcilosa suddenly gave his antagonist a thrust upon the sword-arm which brought him to the ground. Then, running to the Arabian, which stood perfectly still, Garcilosa, first tearing away the Christian prayer and putting it in his breast, took his Toledo blade and cut off the flowing tail of the Arabian horse. Cries resounded from the people on the walls of the city. The horse was of the breed of the Prophet Mohammed, and to cut off his tail was reckoned sacrilege.
The Moor still lay insensible on the ground; and Garcilosa, vaulting into the saddle upon the white horse, gave his own chestnut steed a thwack with the sword, which sent him flying back down the road he knew, followed by his master on the Arabian steed, hard galloping. Once more shouts and cries of “Santiago, Santiago for Spain!” rent the air.
Garcilosa Suddenly Gave His Antagonist a Thrust Upon the Sword Arm
GARCILOSA SUDDENLY GAVE HIS ANTAGONIST A THRUST
UPON THE SWORD-ARM
When Garcilosa rode into Santa Fé he was met by a messenger from the King and the Queen. With Del Pulgar he received the thanks of both and the cheers of the men and the tears of the women. That day Garcilosa was ennobled, becoming Don Garcilosa del Vega, in commemoration of the spot on which he fought his gallant fight.
On January 1, 1492, the offer of surrender was made by King Boabdil. The following day the Moorish king and all his followers passed out of Granada and left Spain free from the foreign invaders after nearly eight hundred years. The joy and triumph of the day inspired every heart, even the torturing soul of the great Admiral, who was forgotten and overlooked in the universal excitement. All the highest nobles and grandees of Spain—the warriors, the statesmen, the scholars, all that made Spain great—were assembled on that January day to see the surrender of Boabdil. Only one man, and he the greatest of them all, was not provided with a place and a position. That was the Admiral, Christobal Colon. Diego, however, sharing as he did everything with Don Felipe, was enabled [Pg 96]by the thoughtfulness of Doña Christina to see the inspiring spectacle.
The surrender of King Boabdil to the Spanish sovereigns was to take place near a little stone building, until that time a Mohammedan mosque. On that day it had been consecrated as a Christian chapel, the chapel of San Sebastian.
Early in the morning the two lads, with Fray Piña, walked through the town, which was wild with jubilation, down the rocky path to the place assigned for them. Already vast crowds of persons were assembled. The Spaniards had taken possession of the city the day before, and Fernando de Talavera had been created Archbishop of Granada. To him was allotted the honor of raising the standard of Spain over the great mosque, now to become a Christian cathedral. Some expressed pity for the unfortunate Moorish king; but Fray Piña, a man of lion heart, had only contempt for him.
“He has no courage,” said Fray Piña, to the two lads, watching the enormous concourse coming together and the marching across the plain of the armies of Castile and [Pg 97]Arragon. “Instead of showing his people an example of fortitude in adversity, he mounted his mule and rode all through the streets of Granada beating his breast and tearing his beard and wailing: ‘Woe is me! Woe is me!’ and inciting the people to shrieks and bewailing. Do you think our great Queen Isabella in the place of the Moorish king would have so acted? No; she would have met disaster with the same calmness that she meets triumph. No cry would have come from her lips, no beating of the breast, no tearing of the hair. She would have been the same great queen in defeat as well as in triumph.”
Every moment in the bright January day the multitude grew larger and more brilliant. The sound of martial music filled the air as the victorious armies assembled and the sun glittered upon the casques, the shining arms, and the splendid standards. Presently the royal procession appeared. The King and the Queen, with their son, Prince Juan, and their daughter, the Princess Katharine, all superbly mounted and surrounded by a magnificent train of nobles, knights, and ecclesiastics, rode across the plain toward the little chapel [Pg 98]by the side of the rocky road. As Diego and Don Felipe were watching the glorious sight they heard Doña Christina’s voice close by them. She was leaning out of a closed litter, with the curtains slightly drawn back. Within the litter a glimpse could be caught of the little Moorish boy, the son of King Boabdil.
Fray Piña, with Don Felipe and Diego, obeying a signal from Doña Christina, advanced to the litter.
“The Queen,” whispered Doña Christina, “directed that the little boy be brought here, so at the moment of King Boabdil’s surrender the poor King may have a moment’s joy in seeing his child alive and well. Remain by me until the Queen calls for me.”
The King and the Queen were now approaching very near. The face of King Ferdinand shone with triumph; and Queen Isabella, although calmness and dignity itself, had a glorious light in her eyes and a flush in her cheek deeper than any one had ever seen there before. Her patriotism as a Castilian, her pride as a sovereign, her earnestness as a Christian, were all exalted by the driving forth from her kingdom of the enemies of the [Pg 99]people and of the Christian religion. It was, indeed, a stupendous event for Spain.
The sound of music, the cheering, and all excited conversation quickly ceased, as from the Gate of Justice of the city on the heights came forth a cavalcade. A silence like death seemed to fall upon the world, which was broken by a sudden, loud crash of masonry. At the request of King Boabdil, the gate behind him had been forever closed by the destruction of the towers of masonry on each side of the gateway, thus blocking it up forever. Every heart was thrilled by the sound, preternaturally loud in the clear January day. The procession of the conquered wound its slow way down the hillside, across the bridge, and up again, until it reached the Spanish sovereigns. Then Boabdil, a miserable, downcast object, without dignity or fortitude, slipped from his horse and would have prostrated himself upon the ground and kissed the hand of King Ferdinand; but this the King magnanimously forbore, himself dismounting as did the Queen, out of courtesy to the fallen monarch. At the same time the Moorish vizier handed to King Ferdinand [Pg 100]the keys of the city of Granada. The King passed them to Queen Isabella, as Granada was in the territory claimed by Castile. These the Queen in turn gave to Prince Juan, heir to the thrones of Castile and Arragon, who handed them in his turn to the Count de Tendila, the new Spanish governor of the city of Granada. At that moment Doña Christina, slipping from the litter and holding by the hand the little Moorish prince, led him to the Queen and placed his hand in hers. As King Boabdil made his obeisance to her, Queen Isabella placed the hand of the child in that of the father. The little boy gave a sharp cry of joy, and the poor weeping Boabdil caught his son to his breast. Then, in the midst of a death-like silence, every eye saw rising slowly over the citadel of Granada the red and yellow standard of Spain, the Gonfalon, until it floated over the flag of the Crescent, which came down quickly. A great shout that seemed to shake the earth, a crashing of music, a roaring of artillery, broke forth as if the whole world rejoiced. The King and the Queen, going into the Christian chapel of San Sebastian, until that morning a Moor[Pg 101]ish mosque, fell on their knees and gave thanks to God for the liberation of their country from the invader and for the triumph of the Christian religion.
The event was up to that time the most glorious in the history of Spain and the most important. But a day was about to dawn for Spain more brilliant, more imposing, more full of triumph than any country on the globe has ever known, a day never yet surpassed in all the countries upon which the sun has risen since.
THE SPLENDOR OF THE DAWN
THE Spanish court, the army, and the whole nation gave itself up to gladness at the driving from Spanish soil of the Moorish invaders. The city of Granada had to be invested, its government established, the people who remained provided for, and all of the vast details settled of a new acquisition. The court remained at Santa Fé, although often giving audiences and holding splendid functions in the magnificent palace of the Alhambra in the city of Granada. There were great reviews of troops, receptions of ambassadors, gorgeous religious ceremonials in the consecration of the Moorish mosques into Christian churches. Through it all Diego and Don Felipe pursued their quiet, studious life under the stern rule of Fray Piña. Every day the Admiral went upon his usual round, visit[Pg 103]ing those persons who were interested in his scheme and those in power whom he hoped to interest in it. Father Diego de Deza and Alonzo de Quintanilla remained his steadfast friends. At last, one day, a fortnight after the surrender of Granada, De Quintanilla brought the joyful news that the King and the Queen were prepared to redeem their promise to the Admiral, that when the war with the Moors had reached a conclusion they would assist him in his enterprise.
Diego and Don Felipe were wild with delight. To them it seemed as if the voyage were already made and concluded, the Admiral returning loaded with honors and Diego made a grandee of Spain. They watched the Admiral set forth, plainly but suitably dressed, and with that incomparable air of dignity and composure that always made him a marked man. All during the morning Fray Piña found his pupils inattentive and more disposed to reverie than work; but under his sharp admonition they were compelled to pay attention.
It was a little after noon when the sound of steps was heard upon the stairs, and the [Pg 104]Admiral and Alonzo de Quintanilla entered the room. De Quintanilla appeared deeply agitated, and for the first time there were indications of subdued anger on the Admiral’s part; but his voice, in speaking, was composed.
“All is over,” he said to Fray Piña; “I have appeared for the last time before the great council. They recognize the value of my enterprise; but under the leadership of Fernando de Talavera, the Archbishop of Granada, an honest man but narrow, they declare that my claims are extravagant and should not be allowed. I, in my turn, declared that if I return I shall give to Spain far more than what I claim—the title of Admiral of the Ocean Seas and Viceroy and Captain-General of all the lands I discover, and my son Diego to be page-in-waiting to Prince Juan in my absence and to become a grandee of Spain if I return successful. If the spirit of pride be in this, it is a just and honorable pride. I ask only what I shall acquire by my own strength. Those things have been refused me in advance. Now, after nine years of effort, I shall make no [Pg 105]further appeal to the Court of Spain. Perhaps the King of France will be as generous and more just than the sovereigns of Spain.”
The shock of painful surprise kept all silent until Fray Piña spoke in a low voice.
“This is indeed a calamitous decision for Spain.”
“True,” said Alonzo de Quintanilla, “but I will say that the Admiral’s course is but just. He treated with the representatives of the King and the Queen with a noble haughtiness, proving himself their equal, and demanded firmly, as they recognized the magnificence of his scheme, that he, at least, should have those honors which must go to some one. Shall he, the discoverer, be under the authority of a viceroy or another admiral? They thought he would be intimidated, that in his anxiety to carry the matter through he would yield what he thought his due; but he would not.”
And then, growing scarlet in the face, De Quintanilla suddenly brought his fist down on the table and shouted:
“Upon the heads of those persons, and es[Pg 106]pecially upon the Archbishop of Granada, will lie the loss of a new world to Spain!”
The Admiral remained silent for a moment, and then with his usual calmness began to make arrangements for his immediate departure with Diego for France. Diego and Don Felipe were stunned. They knew not until the moment of separation came how quickly and strongly the bond of brotherhood had been forged between them. Their elders left them alone, the Admiral telling Diego to pack at once his few books and clothes, as they were to mount and ride within three hours. It took but a short time to collect Diego’s books and clothes, Don Felipe helping, and neither lad saying much. It seemed to them an eternal separation, and it was indeed doubtful if they would ever meet again. Don Felipe drew from his finger a little ring made of two hoops entwined. He took them apart and, placing one on Diego’s finger, he put the other back on his own.
“As long as we wear each the half of this ring,” he said, “we shall be friends still, no matter how far separated.”
At last, with his small belongings packed in a portmanteau and his cloak around him, Diego with Don Felipe went down the stair, their arms entwined about each other’s shoulders. At the door stood a horse for the Admiral and another for Diego, both equipped for hard travel. There were but three persons to say farewell to the Admiral—Fray Piña, Alonzo de Quintanilla, and Luis de St. Angel, controller of the ecclesiastical revenues. All showed marks of the deepest grief and chagrin at the loss of the honor and glory for which they had hoped for their country. No word of remonstrance was said, however, as the Admiral made his farewells. No one could have judged from his composure that this meant the wreck and ruin of eighteen years of constant and earnest effort, nine of which had been spent in Spain. The farewells were soon said, Diego and Don Felipe kissing each other on the cheek silently. As Diego flung himself into the saddle and rode off, tears were dropping upon his face; but he said no word.
They rode rapidly in the cold January afternoon and were soon clear of the town. [Pg 108]Many persons recognized the Admiral and looked after him curiously, not understanding the meaning of his sudden departure. When the Admiral and Diego reached the highroad they rode still faster. The sky was overcast, and a fine, small rain began to fall. They met few travelers, and those mostly seeking shelter. When they had ridden nearly an hour and were nearing the pass at the foot of the mountain of Elvira, where many desperate battles had been fought between the Moors and the Christians, the tears were still dropping upon Diego’s face; the whole world seemed dark to him. The Admiral then said to him, gently:
“I see you have a good heart, for you are still grieving for Don Felipe.”
“Yes,” answered Diego, “and for you, my father.”
“It is as God wills,” replied the Admiral, upon whose lips those words were often heard.
The gorge grew dark in the winter twilight, and the rough road was slippery with rain and snow. They had just crossed the bridge of Pinos when behind them they heard the clattering of horses’ hoofs coming at a [Pg 109]sharp gallop. Neither the Admiral nor Diego turned to see who was coming. Suddenly, the rider, on his steaming horse, came alongside and, laying a bold hand upon the Admiral’s bridle, brought the horse back on his haunches. In the gloom of the evening the Daredevil Knight, Don Tomaso de Gama, was recognized.
“I come, Christobal Colon, with the command of her Majesty, the Queen, that you are to turn about and ride back to Santa Fé with me—now—this instant—in the present moment.”
Even as Don Tomaso spoke he turned the head of the Admiral’s horse around; but the Admiral checked him.
“I honor and respect her Majesty, the Queen,” he said, sharply; “but I owe her no allegiance. I was born a subject of the Duke of Genoa, and I am a naturalized subject of the King of Portugal.”
“That is all very well, Christobal Colon, born a subject of the Duke of Genoa and a naturalized subject of the King of Portugal, but I have ten good men-at-arms within a stone’s throw, and if you will not ride back [Pg 110]with me holding the reins in your own hand you shall ride back with your hands tied behind your back and a man-at-arms on each side of you holding your bridle.”
At that Diego heard what he had known but seldom in his life, a clear laugh from the grave Admiral. The impudence of the young knight, the threat of force against a man accustomed to command all, like the Admiral, could not but move to laughter. Don Tomaso, suiting the action to the word, gave the Admiral’s horse a sharp cut, and before they knew it all three were trotting rapidly back across the bridge. The Admiral held the reins in his own hands; but the Daredevil Knight kept a firm grip upon the bridle.
“And for what does her Majesty, the Queen, wish me to return?” asked the Admiral.
“I do not know,” responded Don Tomaso. “I have not been accustomed to ask the King and the Queen their reasons; but I know that Luis de St. Angel went straight to her Majesty, Queen Isabella, and told her plainly that she was throwing away the greatest honor and glory that ever awaited any sovereign and any country in not granting you the terms [Pg 111]to which you were justly entitled, and that you must be brought back to Santa Fé by force, if necessary. He was reinforced by that stern tutor of Prince Juan, Father de Deza. After a short conference with the Queen, St. Angel and De Quintanilla ran to me and said:
“‘Go you and fetch Christobal Colon back, and tell him all shall be as he wishes. We send you, knowing you to be a daring fellow, and not to be overawed by Christobal Colon, as most men are.’ So here I am, carrying back the Admiral of the Ocean Seas, the Viceroy and Captain-General of all the lands you discover, and your son, Don Diego, grandee of the first rank in Spain.”
Diego listened, almost dazed by Don Tomaso’s words. Presently the Admiral spoke as the horses kept up their sharp trot through the pass, growing darker every moment.
“Where are your ten men-at-arms, Don Tomaso?”
“I have no men-at-arms,” answered Don Tomaso, coolly, “but I have a good harquebus; if you ask for my order, this shall be my order.”
At that Don Tomaso drew his harquebus and leveled it straight at the Admiral, who laughed again and put it aside.
“I wish you were a seaman, Don Tomaso,” he said. “I should make you my first lieutenant.”
After riding for nearly an hour in the darkness they saw the lights of Santa Fé, and soon they were clattering through the streets. The Admiral was about to take the way to his lodgings when the Daredevil Knight again laid his hand upon the bridle.
“No,” he said, “we cross the Vega and ride straight to the Queen’s pavilion, where her Majesty awaits you.” Then, having assumed the direction of the Admiral, the Daredevil Knight also gave orders to Diego. “Go you,” he said, “back to your lodgings. Your father will return sometime before midnight—perhaps.”
Diego leaned over and caught his father’s hand and kissed it. He had no words in which to express the tumult of joy and pride in his soul.
Ten minutes afterward he dismounted from his spent and dripping horse in front [Pg 113]of the lodgings he had left only a few hours before. The next moment he was dashing up the long, dark, narrow stairs. He stopped for a moment outside the door of the little room in which he had lived and studied for many weeks with Don Felipe and softly opened the door. Don Felipe sat at the table, upon which a rushlight burned, making a little glow in the darkness. He was neither reading nor writing, but leaning his head upon his hands, looking the image of forlornness. Diego slipped in softly and threw himself upon Don Felipe.
“All is as we wished!” he shouted. “It is glorious, glorious, I tell you! When the Queen heard my father was indeed gone she sent Don Tomaso galloping after him, who brought him back. The Queen will do for my father all he asks. He is now on his way to the Queen, and you and I, Don Felipe, are here together once more!”
In one day the whole face of the world seemed to have changed for Diego. The Admiral, who, but a little while before, could count on only a few steady friends like Alonzo de Quintanilla and Luis de St. Angel, both [Pg 114]accountants to the Queen, and Father de Deza, was now treated with the greatest outward respect by all. Fernando de Talavera, Archbishop of Granada, withdrew his opposition to the Admiral, which had been based solely upon what he considered too high honors to be demanded in the event of success. He believed in the Admiral as a great navigator and looked for the success of the expedition.
One of the points tenaciously upheld by the Admiral was that certain honors should be given his sons, especially Diego, as the elder. That the enterprise would result in immortal glory for himself the Admiral never doubted; but with the passionate love of his children was the natural desire that they should have a place and a degree of consideration. For this reason, after many long consultations with Father de Deza, tutor to Prince Juan, the Admiral had required that Diego should be ennobled by the title of Don and should be made a page-in-waiting to Prince Juan. It was by this steadfast maintenance of the dignity of his position that the Admiral, a foreigner and penniless but for [Pg 115]the Queen’s pension, made it apparent that he understood in advance the enormous gift he was about to make to Spain. All he asked for Diego was conceded to him at once on his return to Santa Fé.
At any other time the thought of the singular change in his life from poverty and uncertainty into a footing of equality with the grandees of Spain would have impressed Diego more deeply; but the thought uppermost in his mind was the great voyage upon which his father was to set forth. Everything seemed small beside it.
It seemed to Diego and Don Felipe as if they had entered upon a new world since the pleasant autumn days at La Rabida.
They had witnessed one of the greatest and most splendid events of the age in the driving-out of the Moors from Spain, and they were brought close to the contemplation of an enterprise so vast that the imagination was bewildered. In the midst of it they lived the ordinary life of youths of their age under a strict master and stern discipline, but they saw and heard men and things that fall to the lot of few young souls.
The winter passed like a dream. Everywhere was the coming voyage of the Admiral talked of, and the King and the Queen supported him loyally. Especially was this true of Queen Isabella, whose lofty and resolute character made her very steadfast in all her undertakings. Diego saw but little of his father in those fleeting months between January and April. Once it had been difficult for the Admiral to obtain audiences of those in power; now he could not see all who flocked to his plain lodgings. It was then expected that he would be able to collect his squadron and sail before the first of June. On a glorious April day the King and the Queen were to sign the agreement between themselves as independent sovereigns and the Genoese captain, to whom they were to give the noble title of Admiral of the Ocean Seas, and Viceroy and Captain-General of all lands to the westward. The great event was to take place at the Alhambra, in Granada, and it was on that day that Diego and Don Felipe first saw the dazzling and overwhelming beauty of the palace of the Moorish kings. The splendor of the “Red Palace,” as the [Pg 117]Alhambra means, the glory of its architecture, the magnificence of its halls and courts and fountains, the treasures of gold and silver and jewels used in decorating its vaulted ceilings and marble walls, amazed all who saw them, from the King and the Queen down to the private soldiers and servants.
On this spring morning, April 17, 1492, Diego and Don Felipe were to be of the group that was to accompany the Admiral into the presence of the King and the Queen, where the agreements were to be formally signed and sealed.
The Queen, with characteristic delicacy, had advanced a sum of money to the Admiral which enabled him to make a good appearance for himself and for Diego. Gorgeous dress would have been out of place upon Columbus, whose personality made all accessories appear trivial. On that day he wore a plain costume of black satin with a small collar of lace and a cloak of black cloth. At his side was a plain sword. Diego and Don Felipe were dressed alike in dark-blue cloth with handsome shoes of Cordovan leather and black satin cloaks. The Prior of La Rabida, [Pg 118]Juan Perez, the first friend the Admiral had found in Spain and the most devoted, was to be present on this great day, which was one of triumph to him. With him he was to bring the little Fernando, in the care of Brother Lawrence. The party from La Rabida reached Santa Fé on the night of April 16th, and were joyfully greeted. Fernando was delighted to see his father and brother again, and was charmed with the sight of the knights and soldiers.
At ten o’clock next morning, when Diego and Don Felipe were ready to start, they were sent for to go to the Admiral’s room. On the table lay two swords with sword-belts.
“Don Felipe and my son,” said the Admiral, “the time has now come when you must wear swords, not as boys, but as men. I give you these praying you to consider the solemn meaning of a sword. A sword means courage, truth, and honor. Courage is the greatest virtue in the world, for on it all other virtues are built. It does not avail a man to love the truth unless he has the courage to speak it. The beginning of lying is cowardice. Sin has many tools; but a lie is the [Pg 119]handle that fits them all. So must you ever be ready to draw your swords in the cause of truth. A man should reverence his sword as a symbol of his honor. When he is disgraced his sword is taken from him and broken, signifying that he has no more honor. Do you understand this?”
“Yes,” instantly and clearly replied both youths.
The Admiral then, taking the first sword, clasped it around the waist of Don Felipe, who, drawing it from its scabbard, kneeled and kissed it reverently. Then, the Admiral belting the second sword around Diego’s body, Diego, too, kneeled and kissed the sword. Both were vividly impressed with the Admiral’s words and the deep meaning he had attached to them.
“It is a good thing, though not of obligation,” said the Admiral, “that when a young man receives his sword he shall take it to the church and, laying it on the altar, shall spend the night in prayer and contemplation, asking the help and guidance of God in his future life.”
“That will we do, my father,” answered Diego.
“This very night,” added Don Felipe.
The gift of the swords seemed at once to make men of the two youths. They were too intelligent not to understand the full meaning of what they had received.
Below in the street well-caparisoned horses were awaiting them. The Admiral, accompanied by his unfailing friends, De Quintanilla and Luis de St. Angel and Juan Perez, the Prior of La Rabida, rode in advance. Behind him came Fray Piña, while Brother Lawrence, mounted on a steady mule, carried in his arms the little Fernando. Diego and Don Felipe brought up the rear. The eyes of the curious crowd of soldiers and citizens were turned upon the cavalcade. They no longer ridiculed the Admiral, but regarded him with fear, as a person likely to draw to him many ardent souls in his voyage into the unknown. Many remarked, however, upon the beauty of the little Fernando and the manly and noble appearance of Diego. They rode through the town of Santa Fé, across the bridge of the Xeni, and climbed the broad acclivity down which the abject Moorish king had traveled on a January day. [Pg 121]Neither Diego nor Don Felipe had been within the walls of Granada, and they were deeply interested in the strange and gorgeous architecture of the city, the barred windows of the women’s quarters, and the mosques, now converted into Christian churches.
At the Gate of the Pomegranates the Alhambra really begins, that marvel of beauty, palace and citadel in one, with walls a mile in circumference, and containing within itself wonderful varieties of loveliness. At this gate the party dismounted and proceeded on foot through the gardens and courtyards leading to the Hall of Ambassadors, where the King and the Queen in state would pledge themselves to the Admiral and sign and seal their agreements. Never had any of them seen anything like the splendors of the glorious courts and superb corridors. The gardens were blooming in all the beauty of the late April, and in the trees and shrubbery were the rare birds caught and tamed for the pleasure of the Moorish kings.
Through long, arched colonnades of gleaming malachite they passed; through the exquisite gardens watered by the icy waters [Pg 122]of the Darro, trickling in silver streams or in crystal waterfalls. In every beautiful courtyard great fountains played, making showers of diamonds in the April sun of Andalusia. The air was drenched with the perfume of violets and hyacinths, jasmine and myrtle blooming in splendid profusion.
At the entrance to the magnificent Court of the Lions they were met by a brilliant group of court officials, and passed from one superb apartment to another until they reached the splendid Hall of Ambassadors.
The scene was worthy of the stupendous event that was to take place in it. The walls of polished marble, inlaid with arabesques, its graceful columns, its lofty and beautiful ceilings, its riot of color, was overwhelming in its beauty. Here had the Moorish kings exercised their despotic power; here had they treated with haughty contempt the ambassadors of the Christian nations. Upon this glorious throne-room had been spent the vast sums wrung from the toilers of the land and sea, the money gained by piracy, robbery, and the ransom of Christian captives. Driven forth at last from it, their places had been taken by [Pg 123]great and enlightened Christian monarchs. Ferdinand of Arragon was a brilliant soldier, a statesman, shrewd in affairs, and of enlightened views according to his time. The name of Isabella of Castile makes a blaze of splendor upon the page of history. Not less desirous than Ferdinand for the glory and material welfare of her country, Isabella had a loftier mind, a nobler conception of all things, than any monarch of the age. She looked to the spread of the Christian religion, to the civilization of the new peoples in those far lands which Columbus might discover. It was her great and magnanimous mind which caused the introduction into the compact with Columbus of that clause providing that the inhabitants of the new world to be discovered should have the same protection of law as the Spaniards themselves.
At the farther end of the Hall of Ambassadors, upon the great gilded throne of the Moorish kings, sat in throne chairs King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, Prince Juan and Princess Katharine seated below them, and surrounded by a huge company of officials, statesmen, soldiers, and ecclesiastics. At [Pg 124]the steps of the throne was a small table with pens and inkhorns and a great document inscribed upon many leaves of parchment. It was the agreement between the courts of Arragon and Castile with Columbus, and it was in that hour to be signed by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella and the great Admiral.
It is the prerogative of men of the first order of genius that those nearest to them, who see them oftenest, should have greater reverence for them than those who do not know them so well. So it was with Columbus. Never had those who had been associated with him through his eighteen years of toil, poverty, disappointment, broken hopes, and baffled plans admired him so much as at the moment when he entered the great hall. The friends who escorted him fell back. Columbus, taking the hand of the little Fernando, placed it in that of Diego and advanced alone to the foot of the throne, where he knelt respectfully. All present, from the King and the Queen down to Diego and Don Felipe, showed a visible agitation and tremulous emotion at what was about to [Pg 125]take place, except one person; that was the great Admiral himself. He, a man of the people, a foreigner without fortune, with no endowment but his genius, his courage, his virtue, was about to be invested, in case of his successful return, with honors and dignities that dwarfed those of the highest nobles present and placed him one step in advance of all of them. King Ferdinand’s keen face wore an expression of triumph he could not conceal. The cost of the expedition was small, and the King had become convinced that the chances of a stupendous return were very great. Queen Isabella was inspired with a profound and noble enthusiasm; she had eagerly offered to pledge her jewels, and on this offer the amount of money had been raised necessary for the expedition.
The Queen’s face was unusually pale; but her eyes, of a dark and beautiful blue, were shining, and she leaned forward in her chair, returning with a deep bow the reverence made her by the Admiral. He alone was perfectly composed, and gave no sign either of triumph or of nervousness. When he rose from his knees, a chair was placed for him, and then Luis de St. Angel read in a loud voice the terms of the agreement which was to be signed. These were as follows:
1. That Columbus should have for himself during his life, and his heirs and successors forever, the office of admiral in all the lands and continents which he might discover or acquire in the ocean, with similar honors and prerogatives to those enjoyed by the high admiral of Castile in his district.
2. That he should be viceroy and governor-general over all the said lands and continents, with the privilege of nominating three candidates for the government of each island or province, one of whom should be selected by the sovereigns.
3. That he should be entitled to reserve for himself one-tenth of all pearls, precious stones, gold, silver, spices, and all other articles and merchandise, in whatever manner found, bought, bartered, or gained within his admiralty, the costs being first deducted.
4. That he, or his lieutenant, should be the sole judge in all causes and disputes arising out of traffic between those countries and [Pg 126]Spain, provided the high admiral of Castile had similar jurisdiction in his district.
5. That he might then, and at all times, contribute an eighth part of the expenses in fitting out vessels to sail on this enterprise and receive an eighth part of the profits.
The Signing of the Documents of Agreement
THE SIGNING OF THE DOCUMENTS OF AGREEMENT
Splendid, indeed, were these terms, but all present knew that the great Admiral would accept nothing less; and they respected him the more for his steady defense of his rights. When the reading was over, Luis de St. Angel, taking the copies in duplicate, ascended the steps of the throne and laid them first before King Ferdinand, who signed them. He then handed them to Queen Isabella, who also signed them, after which she clasped her hands and engaged a moment in silent prayer. Then the documents were handed to Columbus, and he, in his turn, signed them. A tremor ran through the whole of the great company; the tension was relaxed. The King and the Queen descended from the throne and, followed by Prince Juan and Princess Katharine and a splendid train, passed out of the hall. Luis de St. Angel made a sign to Columbus, who remained [Pg 128]standing as did the rest of the company. In a minute or two St. Angel returned, and speaking a word to Columbus, the Admiral motioned to Diego, who followed his father and St. Angel. They crossed the vast hall and entered a small, high-ceiled room where the King and the Queen awaited them with Fernando de Talavera, Archbishop of Granada, and Doña Christina, as lady-in-waiting to the Queen. There were also present Prince Juan and Princess Katharine. The Admiral, on being greeted by the King and the Queen, expressed in a few words his deep sense of gratitude. The Queen then said:
“We are now prepared to fulfil the request you made of us some months ago, and to issue letters patent giving your eldest son the title of Don, and making him a page-in-waiting to our son, Prince Juan, and granting him an allowance for his maintenance. I, myself, Christobal Colon, will not forget your son during your absence and will keep informed of his conduct and progress in study. Doña Christina will represent me. For your younger son we shall also provide suitably, though he is not of an age to be at court.”
“I earnestly thank your Majesties,” replied the Admiral, “especially for the gracious offer you make of keeping informed concerning my son’s conduct and progress. It shall be my constant prayer and hope that my son may never be unworthy of your Majesties’ kindness. And my thanks are also made to the noble lady, Doña Christina.”
Diego then advanced and made his obeisance to the sovereigns, Queen Isabella giving him her hand to kiss. Nobility of soul and kindness of heart radiated from the Queen, and Diego felt that he would be ten times a traitor if he did not do his best to deserve her good opinion. The King and Queen then engaged in earnest conversation with the Admiral, and Diego had time to observe Prince Juan at closer range than ever before. He was a handsome, slender youth, strongly resembling his illustrious mother in the frankness and nobility of his countenance; but his slenderness and delicacy foreboded that his life would not be long, although he lived to be knighted upon the field of battle by his father. The Princess Katharine, destined also for a tragic fate as the wife of the eighth [Pg 130]Henry of England, though then but fourteen years of age, also resembled the Queen, and had a dignity and a fearlessness of character that was to sustain her through her stormy and unfortunate life. Diego felt all confidence when he looked into the honest and kindly eyes of Prince Juan, and thought to himself: “This must be a noble prince, being the son of his mother.”
After a short conference the Admiral was dismissed, and in a little while Diego had rejoined Don Felipe and Fray Piña and Brother Lawrence with the little Fernando. Leaving the splendid palace, they rode back through the soft, bright April noon to their lodgings in Santa Fé. Diego said nothing of what had passed until he found himself alone in the small, plain room he shared with Don Felipe. Then he told Don Felipe all.
“If I should ever forget the kindness of the great Queen, or fail to live as she expects me to, I think I should have the blackest heart in the world,” he said. “Besides giving me honors and money, she gave me kindness, and your mother, Doña Christina, has said that she will have a care for me as for [Pg 131]you. What a good woman your mother must be, Don Felipe!”
“The best on earth,” answered Don Felipe. “As good as Queen Isabella.”
Diego then unbuckled his sword and laid it on the table, and Don Felipe did the same. Then came a long pause before Diego spoke.
“This is the first day,” he said, “that we have worn swords as men. Ought we not to consecrate them with prayer as knights do?”
“Yes,” answered Don Felipe. “My mother has told me that my father, when first he was girt with a sword, spent the night in prayer on his knees before the altar of the Cathedral of Seville.”
“Then,” replied Diego, gravely, “let us ask that we may lay our swords upon the altar of San Sebastian this night and pray earnestly that we may be worthy to wear our swords in honor.”
That night at ten o’clock Diego and Don Felipe walked through the quiet streets of Santa Fé, the darkness lighted only by the watchmen’s lanterns and the watch fires of the sleeping camp, and the silence broken only by the warders’ call and the sentries’ [Pg 132]challenge. The night was illuminated by a great white moon hanging high in the blue heavens and making the world all white except for the black shadows of the rocks and hills and forests. The two youths soon reached the narrow road that led to the little stone chapel, so lately converted from a Mohammedan mosque into a place of Christian worship. They were expected, and at the tap on the door from the hilt of Diego’s sword the door was quickly opened from within and closed after them, leaving them alone in the solemn darkness of the little church, lighted only by the faint glow of the sanctuary lamp. Diego and Don Felipe, advancing reverently, drew their swords and laid them on the altar steps, and then, retiring to a little distance, knelt with reverence. Through the long hours of the night they remained on their knees, their minds filled with solemn and glorious thoughts, striving to understand their obligations to God and men, and fortifying their souls with good and honorable resolutions. The hours slipped by with strange quickness. A deep and subtle change was taking place in the heart of each. [Pg 133]In those hours they became men. When, at last, the darkness gave place to the pallid dawn, they rose from their knees and passed silently out of the church. As they breathed the fresh April air and saw the sky, flushed with the sudden glory of the sunrise, a new life seemed infused into their bodies and their souls. They swung rather than walked up the steep roadway. They felt capable of all things.
THE HARBOR BAR IS PASSED
THE days that followed were crowded with events for all. Even Fray Piña was forced to suspend the studies of Diego and Don Felipe, that he might act as secretary to the Admiral. He, the man once avoided, was sought by all. Many adventurous souls, like Ponce de Leon, wished to sail upon the great voyage; but the Admiral was careful in making his choice, not taking all who applied. As in all enterprises of the sort, men of the higher grades were found; but the Admiral feared difficulties in getting foremast men, the sailors to do the actual work of the promised vessels. This problem was postponed until the vessels were purchased and the enlistments were to be made at Palos and Huelva, places renowned for producing a race of hardy mariners.
Every day the Admiral held long confer[Pg 135]ences with the King and the Queen and their advisers. The high respect with which the sovereigns, and especially Queen Isabella, treated the Admiral won for him that kind of popularity which follows the favor of the great. All who pretended to be scientists or mathematicians were eager to be seen in the company of the Admiral. But Columbus knew human nature too well to value highly this kind of favor and maintained an equal behavior to all. Only those were admitted to his confidence whom he knew well, like Juan Perez, Father de Deza, Alonzo de Quintanilla, Luis de St. Angel, and a few others equally sincere. Among the great dignitaries of the court the Cardinal Pedro Gonzalez de Mendoza had always shown a profound esteem for the character and attainments of the Admiral, and to him and certain other learned men the Admiral felt deeply grateful.
The Admiral worked hard at his plans, and every facility was now afforded him. On May 8, 1492, Queen Isabella redeemed her promise concerning Diego by appointing him a page-in-waiting to Prince Juan, giving him the title of Don, and at the same time pro[Pg 136]viding a modest pension for his maintenance at court. Thenceforth Diego was Don Diego. Also Don Felipe, by virtue of his rank and age, was made a page-in-waiting to Prince Juan.
The Admiral, who was to leave Granada in four days, and who then expected to sail within a fortnight, asked that Diego be allowed to remain with him until his departure. To this the Queen readily assented, and Don Felipe, who earnestly desired to witness the sailing of the Admiral, was also permitted to return to La Rabida with Diego. Both youths were to report at the same time to the court. While not yet in attendance upon Prince Juan, Diego and Don Felipe often saw him. He seemed to them the embodiment of honor, courtesy, and modesty.
Although left more to themselves than they had ever dreamed possible, Diego and Don Felipe observed their hours of study without any compulsion. So inspiring is the association with noble characters that young minds thrown with these lofty types of men insensibly become lofty-minded too. It is true that the two youths did not make the same [Pg 137]progress in their studies as when regularly schooled; many of their hours were passed in those brilliant dreams of the future which are a part of the heritage of youth. But both became deeply interested in astronomy and mathematics, sciences of which they heard much in those days of preparation, and really did well at them. That which was best, however, was their voluntary regulation of their lives, according to their accustomed rules, when there was no one to compel them.
On the twelfth day of May, 1492, Diego once more crossed the bridge of Pinos on his way to Palos; but in very different case from that in which he had crossed it on the January night when the Admiral was halted and turned back by the Daredevil Knight, Don Tomaso de Gama. Don Tomaso was with them now, as he ardently wished to witness the departure of the Admiral, which it was supposed then to be a matter of a few days. Alonzo de Quintanilla went as the representative of the sovereigns, and Fray Piña acted as secretary to the Admiral. Little Fernando and Brother Lawrence completed the party. Both Diego and Don Felipe had hoped for a stop, [Pg 138]if of a night only, at the castle of Langara, where Doña Luisita had remained in the care of Señora Julia. But as it was out of the direct route to Palos, no one thought of it except the two youths. After the sailing of the ships, they were to join the court wherever it might be; and then Doña Luisita, being now fifteen, was to be with Doña Christina at court.
The May day was bright and beautiful, and all were in high spirits, even the Admiral’s grave face showing a new animation, and his piercing eyes radiated light. As for Diego and Don Felipe, they could scarcely forbear caroling aloud as they trotted along on their spirited horses in the golden morning. The little Fernando, whom Brother Lawrence held before him upon his sturdy mule, laughed, talked, and sung incessantly without being checked by any one. Diego’s confidence that his father would return triumphant became more than ever a fixed conviction. The thought of the separation gave him pain; but the pain was compensated by the anticipation of the glory that awaited the Admiral’s return.
Diego had hung at his saddle-bow the little manuscript volume of the poems of Petrarca, which had been given him by Doña Christina. As he rode along he read the soft lines to Don Felipe, who did not understand Italian so well as Diego, whose native tongue it was. Diego became so absorbed in his reading that he let the reins lie upon his horse’s neck, while Don Felipe, equally careless, leaned over, taking one foot out of the stirrup in order to look at the page Diego was reading. Suddenly, Don Felipe’s horse stepped into a deep mud-puddle in the road and came down on his knees. The next thing Don Felipe knew he was floundering in the puddle. Meanwhile, Diego’s horse made a spring to cross the puddle, and Diego, quite unprepared for it, slipped off and went down, even more ignominiously than Don Felipe, on his back with his heels in the air. In an instant both scrambled to their feet, their faces scarlet with mortification, but so covered with mud that their color was unknown. The horses stood still, as if pitying them, and the whole party, led by the Daredevil Knight, burst into laughter at their predicament. [Pg 140]Their chagrin was increased by the Daredevil Knight sarcastically advising them to change their horses for old steady-going mules such as ladies rode in traveling. In vain Diego and Don Felipe strove to get the mud off their faces, out of their hair, and from their clothes. Their bath in the mud-puddle by no means improved their appearance. They mounted and rode on, therefore, unable to reply to the jokes and good-natured taunts of the rest of the party. They were exceedingly careful after that and were not again unhorsed, nor did Diego again tie the book of his favorite poet to his saddle-bow.
Every moment of the journey was enjoyed, however, by the two youths, in spite of their misadventure in the mud-puddle. They liked the rapid travel in the soft May air, and at night, instead of sleeping at the inns like their elders, they wrapped themselves in their blankets and cloaks and slept in the open under the palpitating stars. They talked of many things in those two quiet nights spent on the road. They were studying astronomy, and they pictured to themselves the ship of the Admiral ploughing its way [Pg 141]along into the wide, unknown ocean, and guided by the planets in their courses. They mutually resolved that when the Admiral went upon his second voyage they would take no denial and would go with him.
At last, at nightfall on a warm May evening, they reached La Rabida. Once more Diego and Don Felipe slept in the little tower room and recalled, before they slept, the great and exciting events which had happened since they left that quiet place seven months back. In the morning they waked early, because on that day at ten o’clock proclamation was to be made from the steps of the Church of St. George in Palos of the commands of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella concerning the voyage.
By sunrise the whole of Palos, of the neighboring towns of Moguer and Huelva, and the country-side with its towns and villages, was astir, palpitating with excitement. For them the voyage meant much. Each family feared and dreaded that some of the adventurous spirits among them would want to go upon the expedition. It was expected that the [Pg 142]ships would be found and manned and made ready to sail within a fortnight.
The seafaring people of the Andalusian coast were brave and adventurous; but the proposed voyage appalled them. Never in the history of the world had anything been known like it. The mariners could face ordinary and even extreme danger: but to set forth into the boundless wastes of unknown seas; to meet mysterious dangers, perhaps to be engulfed in great abysses; or to sail on and on until they died of thirst and starvation; to find land, it might be, peopled with savages who would murder them on landing; to encounter frightful monsters on land and sea which might devour them—these and many other horrors terrified the souls of the bravest sailors of the time. Only once in a great period of time a man is born with the stupendous courage of Christopher Columbus.
The whole population of the region had begun pouring into Palos very early in the morning. All classes were represented—mariners and peasants, cavaliers on horseback, great nobles with their retinues, mer[Pg 143]chants and ecclesiastics on mule-back—all eager to hear the royal proclamation. It was known that the sovereigns had given orders to impress men and ships, and no man knew whether he or some of his family might not be impressed for the voyage or be compelled to furnish the ships or any part of their equipment.
At half-past nine in the brilliant May morning the cavalcade was to set forth from La Rabida; but long before that Diego and Don Felipe, with Brother Lawrence carrying the little Fernando, had started for Palos and had taken their places on the porch of the little stone Church of St. George. Diego held the little Fernando’s hand with a feeling in his heart that for the first time he was to take his father’s place toward the little lad.
The vast and excited multitudes that thronged about the church and crowded all the streets leading to it were in themselves a great picture.
A strange hush fell upon all when the head of the cavalcade from La Rabida appeared at the top of the street leading to the church. First rode the Admiral, wearing the costume [Pg 144]of black satin with the black cloak in which he had attended the Queen, and with his sword at his side. On his right rode Alonzo de Quintanilla, the Queen’s accountant, who was to make the proclamation in the name of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. On the Admiral’s left rode his steady friend, Juan Perez, Prior of the monastery. Behind them rode other persons of distinction, including the three Pinzon brothers, wealthy ship-owners, Dr. Garcia, and the pilot Rodriguez, who had been the messenger sent by Juan Perez to Queen Isabella more than nine years before.
The Admiral and his friends dismounted, and were received by the mayor and other officials of the little town of Palos. They then took their places upon the porch of the church; a fanfare of trumpets rang out; and the mayor, commanding silence in the great multitude, ordered attention and obedience to the orders of their Majesties King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, to be read by Alonzo de Quintanilla, their deputy on that occasion. Then De Quintanilla, standing next the Admiral, read in a ringing voice the commands of King Ferdinand and Queen [Pg 145]Isabella. The authorities of Palos were to have two caravels ready for sea within ten days after this notice, and to place them and their crews at the disposal of Columbus, who was empowered to procure and fit out a third vessel. The crews of all three were to receive the ordinary wages of seamen employed in armed vessels and to be given four months’ pay in advance. They were to sail in such direction as Columbus, under the royal authority, should command, and were to obey him in all things, with merely one stipulation, that neither he nor they were to go to St. George la Mina, on the coast of Guinea, nor any other of the lately discovered possessions of Portugal. A certificate of their good conduct, signed by Columbus, was to be the discharge of their obligation to the crown.
Orders were likewise read, addressed to the public authorities and the people of all ranks and conditions in the maritime borders of Andalusia, commanding them to furnish supplies and assistance of all kinds at reasonable prices for the fitting out of the vessels; and penalties were denounced on such as should [Pg 146]cause any impediment. No duties were to be exacted for any articles furnished to the vessels; and all civil and criminal processes against the person or property of any individual engaged in the expedition were to be suspended during his absence and for two months after his return.
When the reading was finished it was received with a deep and awful silence by the listening throngs. The mayor of Palos broke this stillness by making the usual official announcement of his readiness to obey the orders of the King and the Queen. Then, with ceremonious farewells, the Admiral and his party, joined by Diego and Don Felipe and Brother Lawrence with the little Fernando, set out toward La Rabida.
As they passed through the crowded streets they could not but observe the fear and dismay which had taken possession of the people. Not until then had they fully realized the desperate nature of the proposed voyage, and the knowledge that force would be used if necessary in order to provide vessels and crews made each one fear that he might be obliged to go upon this appalling voyage. [Pg 147]The men of Palos, Moguer, and Huelva, and indeed all that part of the Andalusian coast, were among the boldest mariners of their day; but it was given to but one man, and that man Columbus, to advance without fear into the trackless and unknown ocean. The time, ten days, seemed frightfully short, and had been made so purposely that the people should not have time to become panic-stricken. But panic-stricken they were; and at the first moment of triumph to Columbus, when he stood, in the May morning, on the steps of the Church of St. George, began for him another period of new and dreadful trial which lasted almost three months.
Never had Diego understood the unparalleled steadfastness of his father as in those trying days of La Rabida. Every day some new difficulty arose. Vessels suitable for the service mysteriously disappeared. The sailors and seafaring people of the coast said:
“We are not cowards, but we are not bold enough to sail where no keel has ever before floated, where we know neither winds nor tides nor the country for which we are steering, except that it is on the other end of the [Pg 148]world. We can die but once, and we would rather die at home.”
The feeling against Columbus grew so strong that when he appeared in the streets of Palos the people fled from him. Even on those rare occasions when Diego and Don Felipe had the privilege of walking in the town in the evening with the Admiral, and on the seashore, Diego was pointed at, the people saying:
“Poor lad; little good will it do him to be a royal page at court for a while! He is already an orphan, and so will the little boy be fatherless, and he only seven years old.”
But a handful of brave and intelligent men remained staunch to the Admiral, especially the Pinzons, the Prior, Juan Perez, the pilot Rodriguez, and Dr. Garcia. They had not the power, however, to compel compliance with the commands of the Spanish sovereigns. When the July days came there were still neither ships nor men provided, and instead of being able to start early and to return before the winter set in, as the Admiral confidently hoped, it looked as if the whole summer would be gone before the little squadron [Pg 149]could be assembled. Early in July Queen Isabella, hearing of the difficulties in the way, sent an officer of her household, Juan de Peñalosa, with still more peremptory orders; but these were no better obeyed than the first. Then Martin Alonzo Pinzon and his brothers, Vicente and Francisco, all experienced seamen and wealthy ship-owners, accepted an offer to go as commanders under the Admiral and to furnish a share of the equipment. This had some effect in overcoming the fear and opposition, and at last three small vessels were secured—the Santa Maria, which the Admiral chose for his flag-ship, the Pinta, and the Niña. Two of these were caravels, open boats with a high poop and stern, and only one of the vessels was decked. Even then there were fresh perplexities. The calkers among the impressed crews did the work badly of calking the ships, and when they were ordered to do it over again they deserted in a body. The Pinzons and a few other high-hearted men were inspired by the dauntless courage of the Admiral; and by almost superhuman efforts, through wearisome nights and days, the three [Pg 150]vessels were put in readiness and a hundred and twenty men all told, including a royal notary, a physician, and a surgeon, were secured by the first of August.
In all the anxieties of those terrible preceding months Diego and Don Felipe had apparently led the same secluded and studious life which they had begun in the autumn, for they had resumed their studies under Fray Piña; but they lived in a tumult of soul which nothing but strong wills and a stern discipline could have controlled. Each morning they saw persons coming to the monastery to confer with the Admiral, to protest, to complain, to deceive him, and to defy him. Each evening they saw him weary, but not discouraged; saddened, but unshaken of soul. The two youths, from the door of the tower room opening upon the parapet, could see much of what was passing, and it was of a kind to excite and agitate them. They came to feel even a sort of gratitude to Fray Piña for the hours of study so rigidly maintained, in which they could for a little while forget some of the painful things surrounding them. A change was perceptible after the Pinzons [Pg 151]took the matter in hand; but there was only a melancholy acquiescence, a dogged submission, in the faces of those who were forced to go upon the voyage of deathless glory, so little do men know where honor lies.
The Admiral had fixed upon Wednesday, the first of August, as the day to sail; but on that day it fell dead calm, and there was no prospect of going to sea. On Thursday it remained calm until late in the afternoon, when a breeze sprung up that grew stronger as night fell and gave promise of continuance. Then the Admiral sent forth the order that the ships, which lay outside the bar of Saltes would sail on Friday morning, half an hour before sunrise. Many of the sailors were superstitious about sailing on the Friday; but the Admiral’s strong soul was above such petty and groundless fears, and his order was that every man of the crews should report on board by daybreak. All through that agitating day Diego did not see the Admiral except when they supped together in the refectory, where no word was spoken, as usual, during the meal, except for the reading of the Scriptures. Never had the Admiral ap[Pg 152]peared calmer or more unshaken. When the simple meal was over and all were leaving the refectory, the Admiral called Diego and said:
“My son, to-night at nine o’clock come to me in my chamber. There will I speak with you.”
All through that day Diego had felt as if he were in a dream. He had not the least doubt of his father’s return, but when the moment of parting came he felt all the sharpness of its pain. Not even Don Felipe could comfort him then. He spent the time from supper until nine o’clock sitting on the parapet outside the tower room, his eyes fixed upon the far-off ocean, illuminated by a great white moon. Don Felipe sat within the room, his heart full of sympathy for Diego, who said nothing to him; but when his eye fell upon his friend a little sense of comfort stole into his heart. It was Don Felipe who came out upon the parapet and said:
“Diego, it is close to nine o’clock.”
Diego rose and went down the long corridor to his father’s room and knocked at the door, which the Admiral immediately [Pg 153]opened. The room was in a corner of the monastery, and through its four small windows the moon made patches of white light upon the stone floor. On a little pallet by the Admiral’s bed the little Fernando slept peacefully.
Diego sat down on a bench beside his father, his arm around the Admiral’s neck, and he was not ashamed of the tears that dropped upon his cheeks.
“What I have to say to you is brief,” said the Admiral, “but never to be forgotten, whether I return or not. First, it is that you shall be a Christian; that includes everything—honor, probity, all that makes a man, and especially courage, for God hates a coward. Then I confide to you your brother. You are to set him an example in every way and to be tender with him, remembering that he is so young a child. In my absence he is to remain here under the charge of the Prior, and good Brother Lawrence to take care of him. The noble lady, Doña Christina, has promised to keep informed concerning the child, and if he should be ill to take care of him. The Prior is to communicate with her [Pg 154]as often as possible concerning the child. The noble lady and the Prior will have a care for the child; but to you, his brother, I intrust him in the end.”
“I swear to you, my father,” answered Diego, “to do as you have commanded by my brother, and I will try to live so that when we next meet, whether it be in this world or in the other, I can look you in the eye, as I do now, and say I have kept my word to you.”
“There speaks my son,” replied the Admiral. “Now, concerning to-morrow, the most important day in my life. I shall confess myself this night to the Prior, and I desire you to do the same, and hope that Don Felipe may do likewise. At daybreak, in the Church of St. George, I desire that you receive Holy Communion with me and with all those who sail with me. We go not as unbelievers, but as men humbly asking God’s help in crossing His oceans, guided by His stars by night and His sun by day, and sustained by His protecting hand. Go now and sleep.”
“Give me your blessing, and I will go,” replied Diego.
Then, kneeling by little Fernando’s pallet, the Admiral blessed both his sons, a hand upon the head of each. Diego rose, soothed and comforted. He felt that he must show the same cool courage as his father, and the Admiral’s words “God hates a coward” remained fixed in his mind.
Diego returned to the parapet outside of the tower room, from which he watched the far-off sea. There was little sleep in the monastery or in Palos that night.
The wind still held, and the August night grew chill; but Diego did not know it. Don Felipe, however, brought his cloak and wrapped it around him. The moon swung high in the dark-blue sky and made a path of glory across the sea that reached to heaven. As Diego heard the chime of the midnight bell of the monastery he saw a dark figure come out of the iron gate and walk quickly down the white road toward the little town. It was the Admiral, who spent the night on his knees in the Church of St. George.
At daybreak Diego and Don Felipe, with Fray Piña, the Prior, and all of the monks of the monastery, including the lay brothers, [Pg 156]Brother Lawrence carrying the little Fernando in his arms, walked in the cool, sweet dawning to Palos and into the church. Every one of the one hundred and twenty men of all classes who were to sail upon the great voyage was in the church, which was also filled with their relatives and friends, even the church porch being crowded and the narrow street packed with persons. A deep and solemn silence pervaded. The wives and families of the officers, especially the Pinzons, showed calmness and courage in order to sustain the more ignorant and timid. The Prior, Juan Perez, from the steps of the altar within the church, spoke with deep and solemn feeling to those who were to sail within an hour. The Admiral, taking Diego by the hand, advanced at the proper time to the Communion rail, where he received the Blessed Sacrament, as did all of his men and many other persons, with the deepest reverence, including Diego and Don Felipe. When the short religious service was over the men filed out of the church and, after a last farewell to their families and friends, marched straight to the shore; the Admiral wished to make those [Pg 157]last painful moments as brief as possible. The vessels were lying in midstream off the bar of Saltes, and their boats were at the quay ready to take the crews out. Hundreds of other boats lay in the stream to accompany them a short distance to sea.
The Admiral, on reaching the quay where his own boat awaited him, was surrounded by his captains, Martin Alonzo Pinzon and Vicente Pinzon, and his three pilots, Sancho Ruiz, Pedro Alonzo Niño, and Bartolomeo Roldan.
Every eye was fixed upon the Admiral. All realized that upon him, upon his courage, his science, and his judgment, rested the lives and fortunes of every man with him. Never had the Admiral appeared so serenely great. Fortified by a deep religious faith, conscious of his own powers, he faced the unknown with an indomitable courage. None who beheld him on that day doubted that this man, Columbus, was born a captain.
“Here,” said he, to his companions and pilots, in a clear voice that made itself heard afar, “do I give you my order as your Admiral, and it is to be strictly obeyed. If you should become separated from me and [Pg 158]beyond the reach of signals, lay your course due west, and when you have sailed seven hundred and fifty leagues from this port make no more sail after midnight, for there will be land off your quarter. Do you understand?”
“And we will obey,” shouted the captains and the pilots, led by the strong voice of Martin Pinzon.
The boldness of this stern order thrilled and captivated the awed and sullen throngs, and an involuntary cheer broke from them. The Admiral smiled and raised his hat in salute.
He stepped into his boat, followed by Diego and the little Fernando, and led the procession down the bright river to the vessels tugging at their anchors off the bar. As the Admiral’s boat reached the side of the Santa Maria the Admiral stood up and, taking the little Fernando in his arms, kissed and blessed him. Then he clasped Diego in his arms, kissing and blessing him likewise, without agitation on either side. Diego felt as if the wine of courage were pouring into his veins. He was so quiet, so smiling, so at ease, that [Pg 159]he seemed worthy to be the son of his father. The little Fernando wept when the Admiral, from the Santa Maria’s poop, waved his hand back at the child; but Diego, taking the boy in his arms, said cheerfully:
“Do not weep, Fernando. Our father will return, bringing you wonderful things never seen before in Spain, and he will at once ask if you have been good and brave. If you weep you will be neither good nor brave.”
The little boy was soothed by Diego’s calmness, and waved his small hand cheerfully back at his father.
The boats returned to the quays, which were crowded with a multitude of persons, who made way respectfully for the sons of the Admiral. The ships then hoisted their sails, and with a fair wind slipped out into the open sea. The sky was glowing, and the earth and sea basked in a rose-red light shot with gold. As the three little vessels became white specks upon the horizon, where the blue sea met the bluer sky, the great sun suddenly burst forth in splendor; the vessels disappeared in the golden light which flooded the world with glory.
THE JOYOUS HEARTS OF YOUTH
“DIEGO, DIEGO, wake up! Suppose you should be caught napping like this; you would have a hard time with the master of the pages, I can tell you!”
Diego opened his eyes, sprang to his feet, assumed a military attitude, and was all awake in a moment. It was Don Felipe who spoke, and they were in a splendid corridor of the palace at Barcelona. It was magnificently carpeted from the looms of Granada; and long, narrow windows let in a flood of sunshine upon splendid pictures on the walls, which were decorated with trophies of arms, the great curved simitars of the Moors with jeweled handles, Moorish shields and breastplates cunningly wrought with gold, and marvelous daggers and other arms. White statues gleamed against the dark-red walls, [Pg 161]and everywhere were the beauty and splendor of a royal palace.
As Don Felipe spoke the great carved doors at the farther end of the corridor were thrown wide, and Queen Isabella, with a glittering suite of ladies and gentlemen in attendance, was seen about to enter. At the threshold, however, the Queen paused. The great Cardinal, Pedro Gonzalez de Mendoza, the first subject in Spain, appeared, followed by his secretary. The Cardinal saluted the Queen with profound respect, who engaged in conversation with him. Both Diego and Don Felipe recognized the Cardinal at once, a tall, handsome man of commanding appearance, wearing a black robe edged with scarlet and a black and scarlet skull-cap, while around his neck hung a gold chain from which depended a superb cross of jewels.
Diego and Don Felipe, standing side by side, their right hands upon their sword-hilts, their left hands raised at the salute, could yet talk without being heard by the Queen and her train at the end of the long corridor.
“I told you,” said Don Felipe, in a whisper, without turning his head, “that you would [Pg 162]find the master of the pages a much more difficult person than Fray Piña. Suppose you had been caught asleep while waiting for the Queen?”
“I should have been mortified beyond words,” whispered Diego, as motionless as Don Felipe. “But the truth is that, with rising at four o’clock and having the horse exercise and the sword exercise and then studying and standing many hours and doing many errands and sitting up late at night, I am sometimes half dead for want of sleep.”
“It is not an easy business, being at court,” was Don Felipe’s answer.
Then, as they saw the Queen advancing, they remained respectfully silent. The Queen was dressed as usual with quiet splendor, but wearing few jewels. She wore a robe of crimson cloth, and her beautiful auburn hair was as usual coifed with pearls. Doña Christina walked a short distance behind the Queen.
As she approached, talking in a low voice with the Cardinal, who walked by her side, and followed by Doña Christina and a number of ladies and gentlemen of the court, the [Pg 163]Queen was so absorbed in what she was saying that she did not observe either Diego or Don Felipe. Her voice was pitched low, almost a whisper; but both youths heard her say distinctly to the Cardinal:
“And so, my Lord Cardinal, the rumor has come from Portugal that the caravels were seen entering the Tagus on the fourth day of March. It is unconfirmed, and in some respects improbable. Why should the Admiral land in Portugal before coming to Spain?”
“He may have put in by stress of weather or for repairs, madam,” the Cardinal replied, in a low and earnest voice. “Many unforeseen things might induce the Admiral to make the first port possible if, indeed, he has returned from that strange voyage.”
The Queen glanced backward and seemed to grow suddenly conscious of the presence of Diego and Don Felipe. Diego’s ruddy face had turned deadly pale, although he still maintained his rigid military attitude.
“Come here, Don Diego,” said the Queen, stopping, “and you, Don Felipe. Tell me when does the exercise in the manège begin for Prince Juan and the pages?”
“In half an hour, madam,” responded Diego, advancing and bowing low as the Queen spoke.
“Then we shall have the pleasure of seeing the exercises in the manège,” said the Queen, in her usual gracious manner. “Doña Christina, will you say to the Princess Katharine and to Doña Luisita that they may be present to see the exercises in the manège?”
The Queen resumed her earnest conversation with the Cardinal, and the rest of the suite passed on. When the great doors at the other end of the corridor had closed after the royal train, Don Felipe said to Diego:
“You heard the Queen’s words, and what the Cardinal replied?”
“Yes,” answered Diego. “It seemed as if my heart stopped beating. Now it thumps hard enough, I can tell you.”
“But there is no time to count heart-beats,” said Don Felipe. “We have not a moment to spare if we are to be ready in half an hour for the manège.”
Without another word both ran the long length of the corridor, through various winding passages, and up a narrow stairway until [Pg 165]they came to the rooms of Prince Juan, where Diego knocked. Prince Juan, who was alone, himself opened the door. He inherited his mother’s noble simplicity of character, and, while fully understanding the duties of his position, he treated his pages, all youths of his own age, like companions of his own rank.
“The Queen and her ladies will be present in the manège,” breathlessly burst out Don Felipe, “and we thought your Highness would wish to know it.”
“Certainly I should. Many thanks, Felipe,” cried Prince Juan. “When the Queen honors our exercises we must show at our best.”
Prince Juan ran down the stairs, breakneck, followed by Diego and Don Felipe, through the winding passages, across the wide courtyard, into a long colonnade that led to the great circular riding-school. It was an immense space covered with tan-bark, with galleries for spectators. Adjoining it was a large room surrounded with alcoves, in which the arms and riding paraphernalia were kept. This room was soon filled with the pages, twenty youths, all lithe, active, and eager to show their accomplishments before the Queen. [Pg 166]All, including Prince Juan, disappeared within their alcoves, where there were valets to assist them in changing their clothes. They kept up, meanwhile, much talk and laughter, Prince Juan joining as an equal in their merry preparation. One only, Don Diego de Colon, usually the merriest of them all, was silent. In a few minutes they trooped out, dressed in leather surcoats and riding-breeches and boots with huge spurs, and wearing light helmets. Prince Juan was dressed exactly like the others, except that on his helmet was engraved a small crown, and on the breast of his jacket of Cordovan leather was also a small crown embroidered in gold. The young prince noticed the silence and pallor of Diego, and, going up to him, put his arm kindly within Diego’s, saying:
“What is the matter, Don Diego? You are as solemn as an owl.”
“There is a report abroad, so I heard her Majesty the Queen say to the Cardinal de Mendoza, that the ships of my father, the Admiral, had been seen in the Tagus. That is enough to make one silent, is it not, your Highness?”
“Indeed it is,” replied Prince Juan. “For my part, I often dream at night that the Admiral has returned and has discovered a new world for Spain. Ah, Don Diego, what a great day that will be for Spain!”
There was no time to say more as the trumpet-call sounded for the riding-hall, into which the pages now marched. The grooms were bringing in the chargers, the finest breeds of Andalusia, celebrated for its horses, their coats like satin, their muscles like steel, their hoofs black and polished. The horses knew well enough for what they were brought, and were keen for the sport. Before mounting, Don Tomaso de Gama, the Daredevil Knight, reckoned the most accomplished horseman in Spain and master of the riding-school, appeared. He, too, wore riding-dress and a glittering casque. He gave the order at once to mount, that they might have a warming-up canter before the Queen and her ladies arrived. Then began a quick gallop around the circular space, the horses’ hoofs sounding softly on the tan-bark. In a few minutes the signal was given to retire, and the young horsemen all filed out through an arched [Pg 168]gateway into the great courtyard of the stables beyond.
At this moment the Queen, preceded and followed by her ladies and attended by several gentlemen and escorted by the Cardinal, entered the ladies’ gallery. The Queen sat with Doña Christina on one side of her and the Cardinal on the other. Many ladies were sitting on chairs behind her, and on the step below the Queen’s chair the Princess Katharine and Doña Luisita sat on silken cushions. Doña Luisita looked no longer a child, but a charming young lady.
Four trumpeters with silver trumpets were stationed at the farther side of the great circular hall, and at a signal from the Queen played a fanfare. At that the doors under the archway were flung open, and the long line of pages entered headed by Prince Juan. As he dashed through the great archway, sitting square and steady upon a splendid black horse, the Queen’s eyes lighted up with pleasure at the appearance of this gallant youth.
When Prince Juan came abreast of the Queen’s gallery, he pulled up quickly, the [Pg 169]horse rising for a moment on his haunches and then standing like a statue, as Prince Juan saluted first the Queen and then the other ladies present. The same thing was done by each of the twenty pages, every charger acting with an intelligence almost human. When the Daredevil Knight, the master of riding, brought up the rear of the line, his horse, too—a sinewy chestnut charger—stood on his haunches and then came down gracefully on his knees as if making an obeisance to the Queen, then rose and stood as still as a bronze horse. The Queen was charmed with this pretty trick of horsemanship, and, leaning over, bowed and smiled and waved her hand to the Daredevil Knight. Then the exercises began, Prince Juan always riding first and the Daredevil Knight last. They galloped around the ring twice to show their manner of ordinary riding. Then the grooms brought four rings, which they hung at the four quarters of the circle; and the pages, with glittering lances, rode around, taking the rings as they went. Some took all the rings, while others took only three or sometimes two. Next a stuffed horse with a [Pg 170]manikin mounted on him was rolled in; and each young horseman, galloping by at full speed, had to knock off the manikin’s head with a single blow of the sword, and again passing it had to dismount at full speed, taking up the head, and mount again. This was most exciting, and some of the pages failed to get the head. Prince Juan, however, succeeded in getting it each time. There were various other tricks of horsemanship shown which amused and delighted the Queen and her ladies, especially the Princess Katharine and Doña Luisita. In one of the feats, Prince Juan galloping past the gallery, his horse apparently shied and unseated him. A cry of dismay went up which changed to a burst of applause when Prince Juan sprang back and stood up on his horse’s back, galloping around the tan-bark in that fashion, followed by all the other pages. All through Diego and Don Felipe acquitted themselves with credit. It was usually the pleasantest hour of the day with them all, this hour in the manège, and when there were no spectators it was a time of jokes and merriment. But Diego felt as if he were in another world. He went through his part [Pg 171]well, but mechanically, and his look was so grave that Doña Luisita whispered to the Princess Katharine:
“What can be the matter with Don Diego to-day? His body may be here, but his mind is somewhere else.”
When all was over the Queen sent for Don Tomaso and questioned him upon the proficiency of her son and his companions. The Daredevil Knight, who was as frank as he was brave, assured the Queen that Prince Juan was an admirable horseman, but there were several of the pages who surpassed him. Don Felipe he considered the best horseman of them all.
“I believe what you tell me,” replied Queen Isabella, “for I see that you tell the truth and are no flatterer and do not tell me that my son excels all, although I see that he does well.”
The nobility of the Queen was such that all about her were encouraged to tell the truth, and not to seek to deceive by flattery and falsehood.
It was nearly six o’clock when the pages left the riding-hall, and in a half-hour they [Pg 172]were washed and dressed in their ordinary clothes and were seated at supper at the long table in their dining-hall. Everything was good but plain, as it was the wish of the King and the Queen to bring Prince Juan up as a soldier rather than a courtier. At one end of the table sat the great Duke of Medina Cœli, governor of the pages; and at the other end sat Don Tomaso de Gama, the Daredevil Knight. The Duke was a rigid governor, and made no difference in his discipline between Prince Juan and any of the other youths under his charge. The sovereigns interfered in no way with this discipline, and Prince Juan had to ask permission from the stern Duke for everything he wished to do, as much as any of his attendant pages. Nevertheless, the governor had a kindly heart. He encouraged the pages to talk at their meals, using this as a means of discovering their natural temper and disposition. They often spoke with the enthusiastic hopes of boyhood of the return of the Admiral; their patriotism was aroused in his favor; and they looked forward with eager confidence to the day when he would add a magnificent empire to the [Pg 173]Kingdom of Spain. This had secured for Diego perfect good-will among his companions, none of whom had ever taunted him with his humble origin or had spoken of his father except with the highest respect.
On this evening a singular silence prevailed at the pages’ supper. The young men spoke in undertones among themselves, and Diego was conscious that strange looks were cast upon him. When supper was over and the pages, with Prince Juan, retired to their study-hall, where they had an hour of study, Diego found out the cause of the silence and suppressed excitement. The pages crowded around him; and Prince Juan, acting as spokesman, said:
“Two reports have come this day, Diego; one that Captain Martin Alonzo Pinzon has landed at Bayonne, and the other that your father, the Admiral, has returned in a caravel which is anchored in the Tagus. I do not know who was the messenger that brought the letter from Captain Pinzon, nor the person who brought the news from Portugal.”
“But it is true, my Prince!” shouted Diego, raising his arms in triumph above his head. [Pg 174]“I know it, I feel it! For a fortnight past I have had the feeling that my father was nearing land. The stories of the dreadful storms and tempests have not frightened me. Each day my father has been in my mind, and I dream every night of him. Ah, my Prince, it is true!”
Then, seizing Don Felipe in his strong arms, the two youths hugged each other and rubbed their cheeks together in a rapture of boyish affection. Their companions around them broke into an involuntary cheer, led by Prince Juan. They were young and sanguine, and found it easy to believe in anything which redounded to the glory and honor of their country.
Over the noise a ringing voice was heard at the door, that of the Daredevil Knight.
“The presence of Don Diego de Colon is required by the governor of the pages.”
An instant silence fell upon the shouting and cheering youths. They could see through the open door the soldierly figure of the governor, who in general permitted no noisy outbreaks; but to-night he said no word and uttered no rebuke. The door closed imm[Pg 175]ediately after Diego, and the Duke said to him:
“Come with me at once, Don Diego, to the presence of her Majesty.”
Diego followed the Duke and Don Tomaso as they rapidly walked through the halls and corridors of the palace toward the wing occupied by the Queen and the King. Nothing was said except a brief inquiry made by the Duke of Don Tomaso as to when King Ferdinand might be expected to return from a hunting expedition upon which he had that day started.
“In five days the King will return,” was Don Tomaso’s reply.
When they reached the door of the Queen’s private apartments it was opened at once by Doña Christina. The Queen was alone except for her favorite lady-in-waiting and Cardinal Mendoza. For the first time in all the years that Diego had seen the Queen, she showed deep agitation. Usually of calm demeanor, she was that night extremely restless, sometimes sitting in her stately chair, again rising and walking about the small but richly furnished room lighted with silver [Pg 176]lamps. As soon as Diego entered, the Queen spoke to him kindly, saying to the Duke:
“Tell Don Diego what we have heard.”
Then the Duke spoke.
“A Portuguese merchant has just arrived, reporting that on the third of March, the weather off the mouth of the Tagus being very wild and stormy, a caravel was seen in great distress. The tempest continued very violent all that day, and the caravel was in great danger of being dashed to pieces on the rock of Cintra. The people watched it all day, making many prayers for the mariners in such peril, but unable to be of any assistance to them. The storm continued the best part of the night, but subsided, and the next morning broke fair and sunny. The caravel had survived and was entering the mouth of the Tagus with a fair wind. It was said to be the Niña with the Admiral, your father, in command, and several men of a strange race on board with animals and objects hitherto unknown. The merchant says that a large Portuguese ship-of-war, commanded by Don Alonzo d’Acunha, one of the greatest captains in Portugal, was anchored in the Tagus, and [Pg 177]that Don Alonzo sent a boat to the caravel commanding that her captain report on board the Portuguese ship to give an account of himself. The caravel’s commander refused to go, sending word in reply that he outranked Don Alonzo d’Acunha, being under letters patent of the King of Arragon and the Queen of Castile, Admiral of the Ocean Seas, Viceroy and Captain-General of all lands to the westward. He therefore desired that Don Alonzo d’Acunha, as his inferior in rank, should pay him a visit of ceremony.”
“That was my father!” cried Diego, forgetful of all etiquette, his soul in a tumult of pride and joy.
The Queen, who was walking about the room restlessly while the Duke spoke, instead of rebuking the lad, came up to him and, laying a hand upon his shoulder, said, smiling proudly:
“And there your father showed the true and lofty spirit of a Spanish admiral. Small might be his ship, but great must be his soul. Happy am I in having an admiral who knows so well how to maintain the honor of his flag.”
The Queen sat down, her face aglow, her eyes sparkling; and, turning to Doña Christina, she put her hand in that of her lady-in-waiting and said:
“We are but women; but we have hearts like men.”
Diego stood throbbing and palpitating and longing to hear more. The Duke continued quickly:
“The merchant left Portugal soon after this happened. There are, however, some discrepancies in his story. He says that the caravel was the Niña, while the Admiral sailed in the Santa Maria. The merchant also says that the caravel’s commander was to proceed to Lisbon instead of coming direct to a Spanish port. Again, at almost the same moment the Portuguese merchant appeared, a messenger came bearing a letter from Captain Martin Alonzo Pinzon, at the port of Bayonne, saying that land was found to the westward; but that he was separated from the Admiral many weeks ago and knows not if he still survives. All might be explained except the persistence with which the Portuguese merchant insists that the commander [Pg 179]of the caravel was undoubtedly going to Lisbon, and that he saw, before leaving, the preparations to travel thence by land.”
Then the Cardinal said:
“If the King of Portugal commanded the Admiral to come to Lisbon, he could scarcely refuse. And, in that event, how poignant must be the regret of the King of Portugal, who abandoned the glorious project offered him by the Admiral and left it to your Majesty and King Ferdinand to reap the glory of it.”
“Ah!” cried the Queen. “Once more have you, my Lord Cardinal, spoken words of wisdom. One thing seems certain, two of the ships have returned. How unfortunate it is the King is not here! However, if more definite news comes, I will send messengers for the King. You may go now, Don Diego. I will send a messenger to La Rabida telling the Prior, Juan Perez, of what we have heard.”
Then Diego’s soul became possessed with courage. He went up to the Queen’s chair and, kneeling on one knee, said:
“Will your Majesty pardon me for what [Pg 180]I am about to ask? May I go with that messenger to La Rabida? My father gave his word that unless driven elsewhere by stress of weather he would make his first landing in Spain at the port of Palos. I saw him depart, my Queen, and a voice like the voice of God spoke in my heart, saying, ‘He will return with immortal glory.’ His first thought next his sovereigns will be for his sons, for me and my little brother. If my father lands at Palos and I am not there, it will give him a pang, for my father loves his children with all his heart. May I go, my Queen? Oh, let me go, let me go, my Queen!”
Diego, in his eagerness, had laid his hand upon the Queen’s robe. Her eyes, ever kind, grew more kindly; but while maintaining her own authority well she never forgot the authority of others. She turned to the Duke and said, smiling:
“My Lord Duke, can you spare this young man from his duties and studies for a little while. It is an occasion which so far has never arisen but this once in the life of a royal page.”
“If your Majesty requests it,” replied the [Pg 181]Duke, “leave shall be given to Don Diego, and I agree with your Majesty that the occasion is so great that Don Diego may well be excused.”
Diego, overjoyed, kissed the Queen’s hand and thanked the Duke. The Queen nodded by way of dismissal. It was then obviously time for Diego to retire; but he stood irresolutely glancing toward the door, but apparently unwilling to leave. He looked imploringly at Doña Christina, who, smiling, went toward him. The next moment the Duke smiled and the Queen laughed outright as they heard Diego say to Doña Christina, in a loud whisper:
“Oh, how much would Don Felipe like to see the caravel come in!”
“I am sure he would,” responded Don Felipe’s mother, amused at Diego’s straight-forward simplicity.
Then Diego, looking around and seeing only smiling faces, went and knelt before the Queen.
“Your Majesty,” he said, “together Don Felipe and I saw the caravel depart. Don Felipe believed in my father as much as I do, [Pg 182]and if he had not we should not have been like brothers, but we should have fought like tigers. Don Felipe was ever good to me from the beginning. He was a grandee of Spain, and I was the son of a poor Genoese navigator; but Don Felipe never let me feel the difference between us. He has ever been the best of friends and comrades to me, and now for me to see the caravel come in and Don Felipe not to—”
Diego sighed heavily, while the Queen and all present could not forbear smiling.
“Could you, my Lord Duke, grant the request of this young man?” asked the Queen.
The Duke hesitated a moment, and Diego thought he would be refused. He rose, the picture of dejection, and, hanging his head, said mournfully:
“Poor, poor Felipe!”
The Queen at that laughed once more. Diego, turning to Doña Christina, said sadly:
“Madam, I would ask you to plead for Don Felipe with the Duke; but if the Duke will not grant the Queen’s request I am afraid he will not listen to any one else.”
“But I shall obey the Queen’s wishes,” [Pg 183]said the Duke. “I will give Don Felipe leave also; but you are to start upon your return two days after the caravel arrives.”
A thrill ran through Diego, his eyes shone, his mouth opened wide with delight; and Queen Isabella, who understood youth well, nodded to him again as a sign of dismissal. Diego retained his senses enough to make an obeisance to the Queen and low bows to the Cardinal, the Duke, and Doña Christina. Then, slipping out of the door, he ran like a deer back to the hall of the pages. As he entered it Prince Juan sprang forward and, clasping him around the neck, shouted:
“Tell us all, all, all!”
The other pages, with Don Felipe, clustered around; and Diego, with Prince Juan’s arm about his neck, poured forth the story told by the Portuguese merchant, and also the news that the Pinta had arrived at Bayonne.
“And the Duke has given me leave, and Don Felipe, too, to go to Palos immediately to see the caravel come in. I knew that it would be so hard for him to stay here when I went to Palos and saw all the people crowd[Pg 184]ing the quays and shores and the caravel come sailing in with my father on the poop.”
“And why,” cried Prince Juan, shaking Diego, “cannot I see that glorious sight as well as you and Don Felipe?”
“Because your Highness is a royal prince,” answered Diego. “Your Highness cannot run about the country as we do. We are not heirs to thrones, we are not so important, and so we have more liberty.”
The door opened, and Father de Deza, tutor to Prince Juan and master of studies, entered. Instantly all sat down and took their books, Prince Juan with the others, but the minds of all were elsewhere speculating upon the glorious discovery, the gain of new worlds for Spain.
It was the way of the Duke to act quickly, and the next day by noon Diego and Don Felipe were starting off with a party consisting of Don Tomaso de Gama, Alonzo de Quintanilla, the Queen’s accountant, and a dozen men-at-arms. De Quintanilla was to make official records of the return of the ship, to take charge of important papers, and carried a letter from Queen Isabella to the Admiral.
As the cavalcade trotted out of the courtyard of the palace, Prince Juan, watching from a window and surrounded by all the pages, wore a melancholy countenance; he longed to be of the travelers. From another window on a level with the heads of Diego and Don Felipe watched Doña Christina and Doña Luisita. The last picture impressed upon Diego’s mind, as he rode out of the courtyard in the cavalcade, was Doña Luisita’s soft and beautiful eyes gazing after him. But his absence was not likely to be longer than eight or ten days, and never did a young man set out on a journey which meant more of hope and happiness than did Diego. The return of his father not only meant the sight of the best and tenderest of fathers returning from a long and hazardous voyage, but it meant a triumph for the Admiral so great that Diego was dazzled as he contemplated it. How insignificant appeared the greatest title by that of the Admiral of the Ocean Seas, Viceroy and Captain-General of all Lands to the Westward! It meant unending fame for the Admiral and splendor for all his descendants. Diego remained silent as they [Pg 186]passed through the narrow streets of the town of Barcelona, skirted the harbor, bright in the spring sun, and the blue Mediterranean beyond. Soon they were in the open country. It was the ninth day of March, and the vegetation in the sunny climate of southern Spain was already well advanced. When they struck the highway through the forests there was a faint, delicate green upon the trees, and the sweet and pungent odor of the coming leaves perfumed the air. In the fields the peasants tilled the rich earth and laughed and sang as they toiled.
Don Tomaso was the leader likely to be most popular with youths of the age of Diego and Don Felipe. He rode ahead, trolling in his rich voice the canzonets and popular ballads of the day—all relating to love and war. His famous chestnut horse seemed proud of being bestridden by so superb a horseman, and whinnied with delight and caracoled as they traveled rapidly along the highway. At evening the Daredevil Knight scorned inns and castles, saying:
“Let us sleep like soldiers in our cloaks, and not seek soft beds like ladies and carpet knights.”
Diego and Don Felipe were willing enough for this, and their supper around the campfire seemed to them the most delicious meal they had ever eaten. The Daredevil Knight, whose flow of spirits and energy seemed inexhaustible, told them stories of his adventures in camps and in the tilt-yard and in tournaments in France as well as in Spain. When they at last settled to sleep, wrapped in their cloaks and blankets, Diego put a stick of wood under his head by way of being more comfortable. The Daredevil Knight, seeing this, rose and kicked the log away, crying indignantly:
“You are too fond of luxury, Don Diego, if you cannot sleep without a pillow under your head; you are not fit for a soldier.”
Diego remained meekly silent; and Don Felipe, who was reaching out for another stick of wood to use for the same purpose, withdrew his hand and appeared to be sleeping soundly. Neither slept much, however; their veins throbbed with excitement; and, as they watched the quiet stars overhead, the thought of the story told by those stars to the Admiral on the trackless ocean thrilled [Pg 188]them both. They were late in falling asleep, and slept so soundly that they were only awakened by Don Tomaso’s kicks and reproaches for being such sluggards. The sun was just rising, their morning meal was prepared, their horses groomed, and everything ready for their departure. Mindful of his father’s habits of singular neatness, Diego boldly said:
“Before we start I must wash in yonder brook.”
“I washed half an hour ago,” replied the Daredevil Knight. “If we had depended on you and Don Felipe an enemy might have come and surprised us all and carried you both off without waking you, I suppose. Oh, very enterprising knights will you and Don Felipe make!”
Neither Diego nor Don Felipe minded Don Tomaso’s jokes; but they privately arranged to be up in advance of him next morning. That day was a repetition of the rapid and joyous travel of the day before. They were passing through the richest parts of Spain, with many castles and splendid residences in sight, and they encountered noblemen and [Pg 189]gentlemen upon the road who urged Don Tomaso to stop at least for dinner or supper in their houses. But to each one Don Tomaso gave courteously the same reply:
“I travel on urgent business for her Majesty the Queen, and I cannot stop except for needed rest and refreshment.”
He made no mention of the names of either Diego or Don Felipe, not wishing any one to suspect his errand in advance.
That night they slept again in the open on the banks of the Guadalquivir, which narrowed suddenly at that point. Next morning, by break of day Diego and Don Felipe were awake and, rising noiselessly, were careful not to disturb any of the other sleepers; and, going to the banks of the river, a short distance off, had a bath so cold it made them shiver, but soon brought a warm glow to their healthy young bodies. When they returned to their companions all were up and awake except Don Tomaso, to the great joy of Diego and Don Felipe. The Daredevil Knight lay snoozing peacefully. They even ate their morning meal without awaking him, and at last, when Alonzo de Quintanilla called [Pg 190]to Don Tomaso, Diego and Don Felipe were sitting on their horses as if ready to start. Don Tomaso sprang up in great confusion and made a hurried toilet and a still more hurried breakfast. When they finally started off in the glorious spring sunrise, Don Tomaso said, laughing, to Diego and Don Felipe:
“You have once caught me napping; I predict that I will catch each of you a thousand times.”
That day they drew near the coast, and on the next, about four o’clock, when the afternoon sun was at its richest, they caught the far-off gleam of the blue Atlantic.
SUNRISE OFF THE BAR OF SALTES
THE sight of the monastery and the thought of seeing his little brother and the good Prior and Fray Piña filled the heart of Diego with joy. He had an imaginative mind, and he lived over in thought and spoke to Don Felipe of the extraordinary change that had taken place in his fortunes since the day, nearly eight years before, when his father, a poor and unhonored and unsuccessful applicant at the courts of kings, jeered at and disbelieved, and Diego, himself a little ragged and barefooted boy, had stopped at La Rabida to ask for a dole of bread. Now, he was returning as Don Diego, a page-in-waiting to the heir to the thrones of Arragon and Castile; his father returning as Admiral of the Ocean Seas and Viceroy and Captain-General of all lands to the westward, a title far transcending that of any grandee of Spain and second [Pg 192]only to the title of royalty, the arrival of this great man breathlessly awaited not only by kings and queens, but by the whole Spanish people. No more amazing picture of the vicissitudes of fortune had ever been presented to the human mind.
The party pushed on rapidly to the monastery and drew up before the courtyard within half an hour. There, all was placid; no hint of the return of the Admiral’s caravel or that of Captain Martin Alonzo Pinzon had reached the neighborhood of Palos. Diego, looking about the silent old stone building, the orchard, and the fish-pond basking in the afternoon glow, and the monks at their business of work or prayer, felt that a thunderbolt was to fall among them.
The Prior, Juan Perez, came out at once when he heard the clattering of the horses’ hoofs. One glance at Diego’s radiant face and De Quintanilla’s look of triumph aroused a strong hope in the Prior’s heart. The Daredevil Knight flung himself off his horse and, courteously greeting the Prior, drew him aside and told in a whisper the news they had heard, and that they had come to await the [Pg 193]arrival of the caravel at Palos, which might be expected at any moment. Juan Perez, a man of deep and sincere piety as well as of strong understanding, fell on his knees in the courtyard and gave loud and fervent thanks to God for the news that had been brought. When he arose he sent for Fray Piña, who came quickly; and to him the great event was confided. Diego and Don Felipe were glad to see their old instructor once more, and actually had the grace to thank him for his strictness and sternness. They had learned some courtly ways from being at court.
Alonzo de Quintanilla, a prudent man, seizing Juan Perez by the arm, said:
“But no word of this must get abroad in Palos; it would excite the people too much. I bear letters to the families of the three Pinzon brothers telling them of the safe arrival of Captain Martin Alonzo Pinzon at Bayonne; but that is to be kept secret for the present. I shall not go to the houses of the Pinzons to give their families the joyful news until nightfall, so that I may not be recognized and thereby the whole coast be aroused and excited.”
“Then,” said Juan Perez, “you will have time to go with me and the brothers to the chapel, where we shall give thanks to God for the success of this great enterprise.”
Diego asked that the little Fernando be sent for, and soon the boy was seen running along, his little hand within Brother Lawrence’s big paw. Diego took the child in his arms, and kissed him with a heart overflowing with tenderness. He felt then more like a father to little Fernando than an elder brother. The Admiral had never ceased to impress upon Diego his sense of responsibility toward his younger brother, and Diego, whose heart was naturally tender, glowed with affection for the child. Fernando’s first question was:
“Diego, when will our father come back?”
“Very soon,” whispered Diego, “and he will bring you, Fernando, beautiful play-things and strange little animals for pets unlike any you have ever seen before.”
The Prior directed Brother Lawrence to ring the great courtyard bell that all the brothers might assemble in the chapel. When the solemn call of the bell was heard the [Pg 195]monks, in their coarse robes and sandals, left their work and marched silently into the little stone chapel where Don Tomaso and Diego, with little Fernando, and Don Felipe and De Quintanilla and the men-at-arms were already assembled. The Prior, speaking from the altar steps, said simply that he had heard good news of great import to Spain, and he desired all to unite in thanks to God for what had been vouchsafed them. Diego joined with a sense of deep gratitude in these thanksgivings; and little Fernando, his hands clasped, whispered in Diego’s ear:
“I prayed every night and morning that our father would return, and now he is coming, so I shall thank God just as you do.”
The quiet monastery was thrilled with subdued excitement; but nothing passed beyond its stone walls.
De Quintanilla waited until the darkness fell before leaving on foot to visit the families of the Pinzons.
Diego and Don Felipe were given the same little tower room in which they had last slept almost a year and a half before. They were no longer pupils of Fray Piña; but they [Pg 196]had learned to regard his stern justice with respect.
“He was very hard with us,” said Don Felipe; “but not so hard as the master of the pages.”
“No, he was not,” said Diego, laughing.
The last night they had spent together at the monastery Diego had slept scarcely at all, and the long night hours had passed in watching the moonlit sea upon which his father was to set forth at sunrise. This night, too, he spent huddled in his cloak on the parapet. Don Felipe, also wrapped in a long and heavy mantle—for the spring night was sharp—sat with him. The beautiful afternoon had been succeeded by a lowering night in which low-lying black clouds scurried across a pale night sky, veiling the moon and the stars. As the dawn approached, however, the sky cleared beautifully. Diego, going within the room, waked the little Fernando, and with his own hands, willing but awkward, washed and dressed the little boy, saying:
“Fernando, we must go to the seashore now and watch for our father’s vessel.”
Something within Diego seemed driving [Pg 197]him to the seashore. As soon as the little boy was dressed Diego said to Don Felipe:
“Come with me, Felipe, and do not leave me during this day, for I feel that great glory for my father and great happiness for my brother and me are impending, and I want to have you near me.”
The two youths, Diego holding the little Fernando by the hand, passed out of the monastery gates just as the pearl and amethyst of the dawn was turning to rose and gold. They walked rapidly, too rapidly for the little boy, whom Diego took in his arms and carried. The town of Palos was awaking, and workmen and sailors were appearing upon the streets, and women were opening their houses. As Diego passed a house a woman recognized him and, pointing to him, cried out angrily:
“There goes the son of Colon, the Genoese who feared neither God nor the devil, and sailed away into the unknown seas taking with him my husband and my brother.”
As she spoke she burst into loud weeping. The passers-by, startled by her passionate sobbing, stopped and gathered about her. [Pg 198]Not one consolatory or encouraging word was uttered, and lowering and menacing looks were cast on Diego. An old man cried out, fiercely:
“Yes! Colon the foreigner, Colon the Genoese adventurer, came to this town of Palos, and to Moguer and to Huelva, and by force took away more than a hundred men from us to be lost in an unknown ocean. My son—my only son—was taken. Never shall I see him again!”
Others joined in the imprecations upon the Admiral. Diego, putting down little Fernando on the ground, stood and with crossed arms boldly faced the excited and angry people in the street.
“Yes!” he shouted, in a ringing voice. “The devil is not feared by my father, because my father is an upright man and a Christian; nor does he fear the sea, because he is the boldest and most expert seaman that ever sailed the ocean floors. He fears God alone. He will return, and that soon, with the greatest honor and glory the world has ever seen; and you, men of Palos, who might have gone with him and did not, will regret it all your [Pg 199]lives; and the women and the children of Palos and Moguer and Huelva will live to boast that it was these towns chiefly that supplied those who sailed with Christobal Colon, Admiral of the Ocean Seas and Viceroy and Captain-General of all lands to the westward. Do you remember that when my father sailed, he gave the order that when the ships had sailed seven hundred and fifty leagues to the westward no sail should be made after midnight, knowing that land would then be off their quarter? They were the words of a captain who knew how to lay his course and what he should find at the end of it. Look you, I and my brother would not change places to-day with the sons of the greatest man in Spain, for it will soon be seen that we are the sons of the greatest and boldest man in the world!”
As Diego proceeded, his voice grew firmer. A deep enthusiasm possessed his soul; his words, rapid and vehement, cut the air like swords. The people, astounded at such language from a beardless youth, remained silent. After a deep pause Diego added:
“Watch then, you men and women of Palos, [Pg 200]the bar of Saltes this day; and when you see my father’s ship standing up the river, go down on your knees and ask pardon for all you have said against my father.”
Then Don Felipe shouted in a loud voice:
“You who revile and execrate the name of Christobal Colon to-day, to-morrow will hail him as the greatest man in the world. For my part I, Don Felipe Langara y Gama, grandee of Spain of the first rank, reckon it an honor to call the son of Christobal Colon my friend.”
With that Don Felipe threw his arm around Diego’s neck, and the two marched defiantly down the street, little Fernando walking in front of them. Diego hugged Don Felipe openly, and rubbed his cheek against that of his friend. The people of Palos, used to the distinction of rank, were impressed by Don Felipe’s words, and gazed curiously but silently at the two youths.
When they reached the waterside Diego said, with a strange look in his eyes, to Don Felipe:
“I have often thought as I lay in my bed at night, or as I attended the Prince in the [Pg 201]palace, or sat at meat with other pages, or worked at my books, ‘At this moment my father is watching for sight of land. If it be daylight his eyes are fixed upon the horizon, watching for the dark line of the land to appear. If it be night-time he is standing on the poop watching, watching, watching for a light on shore.’ And so I shall watch all day for the sight of my father’s ship, and when night comes I will stay upon the quay still watching for him.”
As Diego spoke the sky, which had been rosy red, grew blue and brilliant as the sun suddenly burst out in great magnificence; the world seemed bathed in the golden glory. Diego had not once taken his eyes from the blue billows of the Atlantic rushing in over the bar of Saltes. And then—and then, he saw a speck upon the horizon, a vessel carrying all hard sail and standing straight for the bar. Diego’s heart almost leaped out of his body. He seized Don Felipe and shouted:
“Is that a caravel I see?”
Then the little Fernando began to jump about and dance, shouting:
“That is my father’s ship!”
Diego stood as if turned to stone, his eyes fixed upon the advancing vessel. It could not be distinguished from any other vessel of its class; but when it reached the bar of Saltes it came about, for the water was low on the bar. And far down the river Diego saw, as did Don Felipe and little Fernando, the great Gonfalon, the crimson and yellow standard of Spain, flung to the breeze, which blew it out bravely so that all could see the sign of glory. Then, over the crystal water, came a single loud gun, the signal for a pilot to come aboard.
It was as if the breaking out of the great standard and the boom of the solitary gun waked the whole of Andalusia. Instantly the entire population of Palos, of Moguer, of Huelva, and the country-side seemed rushing to the seashore and watching in the glorious sunrise the banner of Spain flying from the caravel. It was all so rapid that Diego was stunned by it, the excited crowds of people, the sudden presence of Juan Perez and De Quintanilla, the surging multitudes cheering, weeping, laughing, the women shrieking with joy and falling into each other’s arms, the [Pg 203]men mad with excitement, every pilot of Palos running for his boat to have the honor of bringing the caravel up the river. Men and women whose names Diego did not know embraced him, and would have shoved him into a boat to go to meet his father; but Diego, although his soul was in a tumult, retained his outward calmness. He would meet his father on Spanish soil and would see that glorious landing. The boats, some under sail and others with rowers, sped down the river and swarmed about the caravel; but none was allowed to board her except the pilot, Sebastian Rodriguez, one of the Admiral’s earliest and most steadfast friends. To Rodriguez was given the honor of bringing the caravel over the bar. The cheers and cries of the people echoed down the river, and the wind brought back the shouts from the boats surrounding the immortal ship. The tide came in slowly, and it was not until high noon that Rodriguez was able to take the vessel over the bar. It was a wait of six hours in the clear March sunshine; but to the assembled multitudes it seemed a mere fragment of time. Every hour added to the [Pg 204]cheering and excited crowds that thronged the shore. The church bells over the whole district rang joyously, salutes were fired, and bands of musicians played and sang religious and patriotic hymns. Diego, holding his little brother by the hand, and with Don Felipe next him, watched the caravel as it came slowly up the river in the midst of a universal joy and applause that echoed to the deep-blue sky above them. On the poop, under the royal standard, stood the Admiral splendidly dressed in crimson, his attitude calm and unmoved, but full of that sublime dignity which had ever marked him. The boat of the pilot Rodriguez, which was towing astern, was brought alongside and the Admiral, with Rodriguez and the Queen’s notary, came over the side and were pulled to the shore.
The crowd fell back, leaving the sons of Columbus to meet him first. A profound and solemn silence fell upon them as the Admiral, when his foot touched Spanish earth, kneeled down and kissed the ground and gave thanks to God. The vast multitude followed his example, Diego and the little Fernando being [Pg 205]the first to kneel. Then, rising, the Admiral took his sons in his arms and kissed and blessed them. Next he embraced the Prior, Juan Perez, and De Quintanilla. Both were strong men; but they wept freely. The Admiral did not forget Don Felipe.
The men from the Niña had poured ashore, and were greeted with tears and cries and wild embraces as men returning from the dead. A procession was rapidly formed, headed by the mayor and the officials of the town of Palos and the ecclesiastics, to escort Columbus and his men to the Church of St. George, where a solemn Te Deum was to be sung. The procession was preceded by a beautiful youth in a red cassock and a white surplice bearing a great glittering cross. He was followed by the ecclesiastics in their robes and by the officials. Then came the Admiral holding with his right hand Diego and with his left the little Fernando, and escorted by Alonzo de Quintanilla, the Queen’s representative, on one side, and Juan Perez on the other. Behind them stretched thousands of persons, only a few of whom could get into the little church. The multitudes crowding [Pg 206]about it fell on their knees and joined in the singing of the solemn hymn of thanks. A supernatural joy filled every heart; in that of the Admiral the humble thanksgiving of a Christian took precedence of the stupendous triumph of the greatest discovery the world had ever known.
A scant forty-eight hours was allowed Diego before beginning the return journey to Barcelona. It was the shortest two days Diego had ever known. Apart from the deep and penetrating joy of seeing his father and the splendid glow of pride which naturally filled Diego’s heart, he, like Don Felipe, was consumed with curiosity concerning the strange new lands to the west, the men of a race never before seen in Europe, whom the Admiral had brought back, the specimens of birds, plants, minerals, and animals hitherto unknown. But there was little time for that. The whole of Spain seemed roused in a single day, and the Admiral was overwhelmed with throngs of great people coming and sending to him and the enthusiasm of vast numbers of people half crazed with joy and pride in the man whom they had opposed and thwart[Pg 207]ed and whose sublime purpose they had tried in every way to defeat. The great and magnanimous soul of the Admiral could easily ignore the past; he made no reproaches and bore his stupendous honors with the same dignity he had borne contumely, neglect, and treachery.
At the end of the second day couriers traveling at full speed by night and by day, and with frequent relays of horses, brought the Admiral a letter from the sovereigns. It was addressed to “Don Christobal de Colon, our Admiral of the Ocean Seas, Viceroy and Captain-General of all Lands to the Westward.” In it, after expressions of fervent gratitude the King and the Queen desired the Admiral to take time to refresh himself before attending the sovereigns, who would await at Barcelona his convenience.
On the second night after the arrival of the Admiral, he had his first long conversation with Diego, who was leaving at daybreak with Don Tomaso and Don Felipe. The Admiral questioned Diego closely as to his life at court. Diego was able to answer satisfactorily. His conduct had not been perfect, but it was not [Pg 208]stained by a single act of baseness. At saying good night, the Admiral said:
“Remember, do not on your return appear puffed up with pride and make your companions smile by references to your father, and otherwise comport yourself with pride, which is folly.”
“But, my father,” answered Diego, “do you think that I am not, after all, human, and that I am not filled with pride at the thought of being your son? I will try not to show it too much; but I have ever told all my companions, and said it before Prince Juan, that my father, the Genoese navigator, would one day be acclaimed not only the greatest man in Spain, but the greatest man in all the world. I think I have been very modest in claiming so little.”
Diego spoke with such fire and earnestness, and with so much of boyish simplicity, that even the grave Admiral was forced to smile at the boy’s idea of modesty.
“Take pattern,” he said, “by Don Felipe. That youth has always had everything that the highest rank, the greatest fortune, could confer, yet see how little boastful he is.”
“But Don Felipe’s father was not to be named in the same breath with my father,” replied Diego, sturdily, and wagging his head.
“Very well,” said the Admiral, still smiling, “if you grow too boastful and self-conscious, I think I can depend upon your young companions to bring you to your proper senses.”
“Yes,” replied Diego, after a pause, and looking with a clear, frank gaze into the eyes of the Admiral. “And another thing will make me guard my behavior and control my tongue, which will be this: that my father has done so much, not only for Spain, but for the whole world, that the discovery is so vast, it means so much to mankind, that for me, the son of the discoverer, to be boastful would be mean beyond comparison. I have learned much, my father, in the time that I have lived at court. I have heard the conversation of the great Queen with mighty men like the Cardinal Pedro Gonzalez de Mendoza and the Duke of Medina Cœli, and with statesmen and great generals and admirals and learned men. I have been under the care of the Duke de Medina Cœli, a man [Pg 210]reckoned fit to train the heir to the throne, and with the nineteen other royal pages, all selected for their character and intelligence. The Queen does not value rank exclusively, and means that the companions of Prince Juan shall all be worthy of his friendship. When you sailed away, my father, I was a boy; now I am a man, I think as a man and feel as a man, and I hope I shall be able to act as a man. I cannot help feeling in my heart that I am the son of the greatest man in the world; but I know that I, myself, have done nothing; I have only reaped the benefit of what you have done, beginning, even before I was born, those eighteen years of eternal struggle, of heartbreaking disappointments. Do you think that in this triumphant hour I have forgotten the days so far away now when I was a little ragged, barefoot boy holding your hand and toiling along the country roads as well as I could, and when I was tired and footsore being carried in your arms? You were often tired and footsore, too, were you not? And so in my mind I have a pride in you such as no son ever felt before in a father, and a deep joy, and it [Pg 211]only makes me feel my own nothingness, The only way I can ever prove myself worthy of being your son is by good conduct, and in that I will ever do my best.”
The Admiral listened with amazement as Diego proceeded. Here indeed was the transition in the mind and heart of a boy to the dignity of a man. Diego was no longer a mere lad to be guided and instructed. Much, it is true, was still for him to learn as men of intelligence learn from the beginning to the end of life; but his character was now fixed. He could stand alone, confident of his own integrity, looking boldly at the world around him, able to retrieve his own mistakes and to extricate himself from the perplexities of life and to protect himself amid its dangers. Something of this the Admiral said to him, clasping Diego to his breast. The father and the son, looking into each other’s eyes, so much alike, understood each other perfectly.
“I have never left any place so unwillingly in my life as I shall leave here to-morrow,” said Diego; “but I will not say one word of complaint, and I shall be ready to mount before any of those who return with me.”
“That shows that you have become indeed a man,” replied the Admiral. “It is the mark of manhood to do promptly and uncomplainingly the necessary and painful things of life. Boys and weaklings complain and protest and disobey; men obey silently and immediately if they are fit to be called men.”
Diego was as good as his word, and at daylight on the March morning he was on horseback before any of the party, even the Daredevil Knight. Some secondary thoughts came to console him. He had seen those strange beings, those wonderful productions, those birds and animals of the New World, and could tell Prince Juan and the pages of honor all about them. This natural feeling was shared by Don Felipe, who whispered to him, as they stood in the courtyard ready to depart:
“I have drawn pictures of the Indians to show Prince Juan, and also pictures of all the strange animals of which I could get sight.”
Diego was charmed at this. Don Felipe drew well, while Diego was but an indifferent [Pg 213]hand at it; and it had not occurred to him to make any pictures. He had, however, some little plants from the New World, which were meant for Doña Luisita’s garden at the castle of Langara.
THE party started off joyously; Don Tomaso was always joyous, but even the sober Alonzo de Quintanilla was full of gaiety. It was found impossible to prevent the people knowing that one of the two young men with Don Tomaso’s party was the son of the immortal man with whose fame the world was ringing. In every town through which they passed multitudes collected, wild with curiosity and enthusiasm, and eager to see not only the son of the Admiral, but the men who had seen and talked with those who had returned from the marvelous voyage. Along the highways crowds assembled, made up of all classes of persons, from the great nobles down to the humblest muleteer or peasant; all were filled with an overwhelming sense of what the great discovery meant, not only to Spain, but to the whole world. So large were [Pg 215]these concourses that travel became exceedingly slow; and Don Tomaso wished it to be as rapid as possible. He managed, however, to make up for the delays by traveling at night and resting only a few brief hours. To Diego and Don Felipe and all it seemed possible to do without sleep.
As the party neared the splendid city of Barcelona the crowds and enthusiasm seemed, if possible, to increase. Foreseeing what their entrance into Barcelona by daylight might be, Don Tomaso determined to steal into the city by night. Accordingly, on that last night they prepared as usual to bivouac at sunset, that they might get rid of the surging people for a little while. About nine o’clock the party quietly rose and slipped away upon the dark and silent highroad. The night was gloomy and the darkness impenetrable, but that best suited the purposes of the travelers. The road was straight and level; and, giving their horses the rein, they rode steadily until they reached the outlying gardens and villas of Barcelona. Soon they stood before the main gate of the city. Don Tomaso, riding up to the postern-gate, rapped gently with [Pg 216]the hilt of his sword. The warder in the tower asked his name and business.
“I am,” replied Don Tomaso, “Don Tomaso de Gama, and I bear a letter for their Majesties the King and the Queen. Open the small gate; we will dismount to enter.”
The warder came hastily down and, removing the bolts, chains, and bars from the small postern-gate, the party dismounted, and, leading their horses, entered the silent city. The warder, like all the people of Spain, was eager to know something of the wonderful rumors that agitated Barcelona.
“Is it true, sir,” he asked of Don Tomaso, who, once inside the walls, was preparing to mount, “that the Genoese captain has returned after finding a new world?”
“As true as my sword, which is of the best steel made in Toledo, and never misses fire,” answered Don Tomaso, flinging himself upon his horse and galloping off.
The echo of iron hoofs upon the stones of the street waked the whole city. The minds of men were at a tension, and every sound startled them. When the horsemen reached the palace, lights were still burning in the Queen’s [Pg 217]apartments, although it was past midnight. The sound of arriving horsemen aroused the whole palace. The gate was immediately opened, and Don Tomaso and his party, dismounting, entered. In the corridors they were met by all the officers of the palace, none of them fully dressed, some putting on their clothes and shoes, others barefooted and wrapped in blankets. None dared to stop them, because Don Tomaso was making direct for the Queen’s part of the palace. When they reached the Queen’s anteroom, guarded by halberdiers, the door opened and Doña Christina appeared. In place of her usual splendid and correct costume she wore a short black silk petticoat, while a large shawl wrapped around her concealed other deficiencies of her toilet. She was too much agitated to do more than to give a hasty greeting to Don Felipe and Diego, and in her excitement called Diego, Felipe, and Felipe, Diego.
“Her Majesty has sent for the King,” she said to Don Tomaso, “and desires that you will come in immediately. You bear a letter, I suppose, from the Admiral?”
All then entered the Queen’s room, while Doña Christina disappeared for a moment. She came back saying:
“The Queen desires to see you, Don Tomaso, and Señor de Quintanilla in private. Don Diego and Don Felipe may retire to bed.”
Diego and Don Felipe looked at each other in silent chagrin; but knew better than to protest.
They had hoped to be present at the interview of Don Tomaso and Alonzo de Quintanilla with the sovereigns, and were disappointed at being sent to bed, as it were. Nevertheless, their return was not without triumph. As they walked down the long corridor, now full of persons, for the palace was thoroughly aroused, they were stopped at every moment by eager questioners. Diego until then had been merely an object of curiosity, and even of prejudice on the part of some. Many persons of rank treated him haughtily and disapproved the conferring of the title of “Don” upon the son of an obscure Italian and putting him upon an equality with the greatest nobles of Spain. Now, they regarded him with extraordinary in[Pg 219]terest and respect. This youth, closely resembling his father, would one day inherit all the titles and dignities of the greatest man in the world at that time. Diego subtly realized this, and, instead of dazzling and unsettling him, gave him a better poise and a more sensible view of honors and distinctions. Midway of the crowd in the corridor they met the Duke de Medina Cœli, governor of the pages. Although stern in discipline, he was strictly just, and had never made the smallest distinction between Diego and the other pages, and was always careful to give him the title of “Don.” As Diego and Don Felipe stopped and respectfully saluted him, the Duke spoke kindly to Diego, congratulating him upon the glorious achievement of his father and hoping that Diego would prove worthy of him.
“I thank you, sir,” responded Diego, with a low bow, “and I shall try by my conduct not to discredit my honored father.”
Don Felipe, who was really more courageous with the Duke than Diego, whispered a request into his ear. The Duke smiled, and answered:
“You may go to Prince Juan’s room if you wish. No doubt he is awake like every one else in the palace. If he chooses to go with you to the dormitory of the pages to see what you have to show, I shall make no objection.”
The Duke passed on, and Diego and Don Felipe made straight for the apartments of Prince Juan. The Prince was under military discipline, and had no more privileges in regard to leaving his room than had any of the pages. Diego knocked at the Prince’s door, and it was opened, not by an attendant, but by Prince Juan himself. He caught Diego in his arms and hugged him, boy fashion, and then hugged Don Felipe.
“I have scarcely slept since the great news came!” cried Prince Juan. “Never did any country receive so great a gift as your father, Don Diego, has made my country. Tell me all, all, all, that you have seen and heard.”
“The governor bade me say that if your Highness wished to go into the pages’ dormitory he would permit it, and there we can show the pictures and tell the story as we have heard it,” said Don Felipe.
Prince Juan had in him that fine quality of wishing to share his pleasures with others. The thought of being surrounded by his friends and young companions while the story was told delighted him. He, with Diego and Don Felipe, rushed pell-mell into the long dormitory, simple as a barrack, where the pages slept on their hard, narrow beds. But they were not sleeping. They were gathered in groups at the narrow windows trying to make out from the commotion in the courtyard what had happened. When the door opened the dormitory was quite dark, but Prince Juan, seizing with his own hands a lamp that hung from the wall outside, carried it into the large, bare room. The three were greeted with shouts of delight, for when alone with Prince Juan, he was treated as a friend and comrade rather than a prince. Prince Juan, putting the lamp on the table, and with the twenty pages around it, began to examine the pictures that Don Felipe had drawn and painted, and to listen breathlessly to the story of what they had seen. When the gray dawn crept in at the windows they were still gathered around the table, although the [Pg 222]lamp had long since burnt itself out. Then, however, they scampered back to their beds, and Prince Juan ran to his apartment, for in a little while it would be time for the governor of the pages to glance in Prince Juan’s room and inspect the dormitory.
Although it was still March, and the Admiral was not expected to arrive at Barcelona until the middle of April, preparations for his reception were already begun. As the magnitude of the discovery of a new world grew more apparent the people seemed to be more and more dazzled by the great event. It not only meant an incalculable increase of power, territory, and wealth for Spain, but it was of great import to science and learning of all sorts. Geography had to be reconstructed, and astronomy would make a tremendous advance. The strange phenomenon of the variation of the compass excited all Europe, and the discovery of the trade-winds by the Admiral was of enormous benefit to commerce. It was indeed the revelation of a new and stupendous world to the Old World.
There were two persons, however, who, without forgetting the vast material and [Pg 223]scientific value of the discovery, fixed their minds upon a nobler ideal, the taking to the New World the Christian religion and civilization. These two were the Admiral himself and the great Queen Isabella. Daily letters were exchanged between these two lofty and kindred spirits, who could rise above the consideration of earthly grandeur, and who cherished splendid dreams of the reclamation and civilization of the unknown lands.
When it became known that the Admiral was to be received at Barcelona by their Majesties about the middle of April, all Spain, Italy, and France were aroused, for the event had so stirred men’s minds that it was communicated with unheard-of rapidity; even far-off England and Germany were thrilled to the centre. The King and the Queen, to do honor to the Admiral, determined to receive him in full sight of the people instead of in the palace. A huge temporary saloon open to the air was built in the great Plaza opposite the Cathedral. It was carpeted with magnificent Moorish carpets and blazed with cloth of gold and gorgeous tapestries brought from the Spanish palaces. At the end a [Pg 224]magnificent throne was erected with three chairs upon it, two throne chairs and one for the Admiral, who was to receive an honor never before granted to any but reigning sovereigns, to sit upon the throne with the King and the Queen. A grand Te Deum was to be sung, and all the greatest singers in Spain flocked to Barcelona that they might take part in the music. The streets became so crowded that it was difficult to make progress, and the country round about was converted into a camp by a tented army of travelers who could get no accommodations in the city.
Through it all Diego felt as if he were in a splendid dream. His heart swelled with joy; his prayers were all thanksgivings; but his mind remained steady and his conduct modest. To have shown a haughty and vainglorious spirit he felt would degrade him more than anything else in the world. His own sound sense and his father’s counsels prevented him from being unbalanced by the flatterers who surrounded him. Those who had jeered at him as being an upstart and a foreigner were now the ones who paid him court, as if he were a man grown, who could [Pg 225]not meet him without linking their arms in his, and who embarrassed him by the urgency of their invitations to banquets and feasts and jousts at arms and in the tilt-yard. Diego in his heart scornfully contrasted them with those of his friends like Don Felipe and the other pages who had treated him always with friendliness; with the Daredevil Knight, who had made no difference between the son of the Genoese captain and Don Felipe, heir to the honors of the house of Langara y Gama; of Doña Christina, who had shown him unvarying sweetness; and Doña Luisita, whose soft eyes had always smiled on him from the night he had first seen her, in her white gown and veil, standing in the archway of the castle of Langara, the light from the silvery lamp falling upon her slender white figure. But above all was the great Queen unchanged, because she had ever been the soul of gentleness and kindness to the motherless Diego.
It was a time of brilliant happiness for all, but to the son of the great Admiral it was a time of joy deeper than he had ever dreamed.
Four days before the arrival of the Admiral, [Pg 226]who was making his way amid acclamations from Cordova to Barcelona, Juan Perez, the Prior of La Rabida, arrived with Fray Piña and Brother Lawrence, bringing the little Fernando. It was the wish of the Admiral that both of his sons and his tried and true friends should be present in his hour of unprecedented triumph. Lodgings were prepared in the palace for the party from La Rabida. The palace was already crowded with members of the royal family and their attendants. The pages had to find quarters where best they could, their dormitory being given up to the great nobles in attendance on royalty. Diego and Don Felipe were glad of a little room to themselves, with a pallet on the floor for little Fernando, whom Brother Lawrence still faithfully attended.
“It is no use to find a sleeping place for me,” said Brother Lawrence to Diego, “for no one can sleep until the Admiral comes. I ever believed in your father, and when I saw the Prior with his head bending down over the maps for hours and days with the Admiral, I said to myself, ‘That Genoese captain will find something yet.’”
As Brother Lawrence could neither read nor write, his views on geography were not particularly valuable; but his faithfulness and devotion to Diego in his childhood, and to little Fernando now, made him a prized though humble friend. Fray Piña was perfectly unchanged, being the same calm, polished and somewhat stern young man; but Diego and Don Felipe had learned to understand and admire his justice and even his sternness, for he was no sterner with others than with himself.
“I should not be surprised,” said Diego to Don Felipe, on the night of the fourteenth of April, as they lay in their beds watching the stars shining through the window, the little Fernando sleeping on the floor, and Brother Lawrence snoring loudly on a bench outside the door—“I should not be surprised if Fray Piña were to send us word the first thing in the morning that he is prepared to give us a lesson in astronomy to-morrow instead of watching the great procession.”
“It would be exactly like him,” replied Don Felipe, laughing; “but for once I would not obey him.”
Half the night the two youths watched the night sky, dreading that clouds and storms might mar the most glorious day that had ever dawned for Spain. But the stars shone from a clear sky, and the April morning broke as beautiful as that August morning when the Santa Maria, the Pinta, and the Niña slipped away into the sunlit ocean, or on that glorious March day when the Niña passed the bar of Saltes, the great standard of Spain floating in triumph from her peak.
Scarcely an eye closed that night in Barcelona. Not only was every street, window, and balcony filled, but the roofs were black with persons passionately anxious to see the great pageant. The sun shone with unclouded splendor, and soft airs from the blue and glittering Mediterranean gently moved the flags and banners that were clustered thick over city and harbor. A great collection of vessels from every adjacent port and country made the spacious harbor of Barcelona a forest of shipping and extended in long lines on both sides of the coast.
The entrance of the Admiral was to take [Pg 229]place at ten o’clock in the morning. At that hour all was arranged in the great Plaza of the city. The King and the Queen, wearing their royal robes and mantles, and with crowns upon their heads, were seated on the throne in their great gilded chairs. Behind the King’s chair stood Prince Juan; and behind the Queen were grouped the Princess Katharine and the other royal children. Of the ladies-in-waiting of the Queen, Doña Christina held the place of honor, and among the young ladies of the highest rank was seated Doña Luisita. She was dressed in white and silver, and was in clear view of Diego, who, with little Fernando, was given a seat next the steps of the throne. The robes, jewels, and plumes of the ladies made a splendid glow of color. The cardinals, headed by the great Cardinal Pedro Gonzalez de Mendoza, the firm friend of the Admiral, made a blaze of glory in their scarlet robes, while all the bishops and archbishops of Spain in purple robes and white capes, their glittering mitres and crosiers shining in the April sun, with their train-bearers and attendants, were seated next the cardinals. [Pg 230]Among the ecclesiastics there were two plain, black-gowned figures, those of Juan Perez, Prior of La Rabida, and Father de Deza, tutor to Prince Juan, the two friends of whom the Admiral in life and in his will after his death spoke with gratitude which has immortalized them. Others who had stood by the Admiral, like Alonzo de Quintanilla and Luis de St. Angel, were given places of honor. The nobles, wearing their robes of state, the knights, resplendent in flashing armor, added magnificence to the scene. A solemn hush was upon the great company. All excitement and jubilation subsided as the deep and tremendous meaning of the day made itself felt.
All was in readiness by half-past nine o’clock; but long before that came from afar off a deep murmur like the distant roar of breakers on the seashore as the Admiral approached the gates of the city. The murmur grew, never loud, but deep, because it came from the hearts of the people. It seemed to rise from the earth and the sea and to extend to the limits of the horizon. Presently, in the glowing April morning, the head of the [Pg 231]advancing procession was seen as it entered the spacious Plaza. Then it parted to the right and the left, and the figure of the Admiral, mounted on a stately black horse, was seen advancing, while immediately behind him rode a color-bearer carrying the great Gonfalon of Spain that Columbus himself carried ashore and planted upon the soil of the New World. At sight of him, suddenly the silence was broken with a clashing of joy bells, the salvos of artillery, the solemn thunder of cathedral chimes, and the shrill acclaims of trumpets and clarions. The tongues of the people were unloosed, and a storm of applause that began in the Plaza of Barcelona and reached for leagues beyond on land and sea rose to Heaven. This lasted until the Admiral reached the foot of the broad, red-carpeted stairs that led to the great platform. There he dismounted and ascended the stairs.
Never had this majestic man appeared so majestic. His tall and stately figure, his hair already white, his carriage full of grace and dignity, would have made him a marked man among other men under any circum[Pg 232]stances; but, above all, his eyes, gravely triumphant, introspective, of unshakable steadiness, proclaimed him as a master of men, born a captain, and designed for command. Well might it be believed that this man stood ready to sail into the perilous and uncharted seas, to meet unknown dangers and horrors, to face and subdue mutineers who would have thrown him into the ocean and dared not, though they were many and he was but one, who kept his course due west, when even the hearts of his captains and his pilots fainted within them, remaining unshaken when the North Star seemed to tremble in its orbit. Brave and skilful mariners had there been before, but he was the bravest and the most skilful man who had ever sailed blue water.
These thoughts surged through the hearts of all who saw the immortal Admiral as he mounted the steps of the great platform, where was assembled the authority, the learning, the piety, the chivalry, and the beauty of Spain to do him honor—honor to him who for eighteen years had borne, with sublime courage and infinite patience, disappoint[Pg 233]ment, contumely, treachery, and ignominy. Now, at his approach, all rose, and every head was uncovered. The loftiest height of glory was his; and yet he remained undazzled, with a just pride before men, but with humility before God, for Columbus was, first of all, a Christian.
This man Columbus, a foreigner and penniless, had, by his stupendous genius and matchless courage, made Spain in one hour the greatest and most powerful nation in the world. The boundless territory and the incalculable riches with which Columbus had endowed the country brought with them new duties, new problems, vast responsibilities, and novel relations with all the countries of the known world. The more this amazing discovery of Columbus was analyzed the greater and deeper it appeared. Not only Spain, but the future of the human race, was powerfully and inevitably affected by the revelation of a new and mysterious world. These thoughts produced not only a sublime exaltation, but a solemn and sobering effect upon the vast multitudes assembled in Barcelona on that unforgettable day. Especially [Pg 234]was this true of the rulers of Spain. The expulsion of the Moorish invaders from Spanish soil had been justly regarded as a splendid national triumph and a great step forward in Christian civilization. To this was added a triumph greater than any known to ancient Rome, beside which all the acquisition of territory, all conquests of the world appeared trivial. It was this sublime thought that paled the cheeks of the great Queen Isabella, who, with eyes downcast upon her clasped hands, moved her lips continually in silent prayer. King Ferdinand, soldier and statesman, but cold and crafty, saw the vast achievement of Columbus from a nobler point of view than ever before. Prince Juan, true son of his mother, was, like her, pale and concentrated. It was more than the brilliant sunrise of Spanish glory; it was the greatest earthly event the world had ever known.
In the midst of a breathless silence Columbus advanced slowly and with dignity. When he reached the foot of the throne he stopped, modestly waiting for an invitation from his sovereigns to proceed further. The Queen, in her eagerness, moved forward and, stoo[Pg 235]ping, held out her hand. Columbus ascended the throne and kneeled before the sovereigns. The Queen, her hand still extended, raised him, saying:
“Welcome, Don Christobal Colon, our Admiral of the Ocean Seas, and Viceroy and Captain-General of all Lands to the Westward. We give you our thanks. So does all Spain.”
Columbus bowed low, and King Ferdinand repeated the words of the Queen.
Then, at a signal, the Te Deum burst forth, singers and instruments in a glorious outburst of music, the great organ from the open doors of the cathedral swelling out in melodious thunder. The King and the Queen and Columbus fell upon their knees, as did all present, and the multitudes and throngs in the streets and the watchers and listeners on land and sea. All remained kneeling while the majestic hymn of thanksgiving was sung. When a solemn silence succeeded, Queen Isabella, in a clear voice, gave thanks to God for the great discovery and asked the blessing of the Almighty upon the new lands to the westward. A deep and heartfelt amen surged from the lips and hearts of tens of thou[Pg 236]sands of persons. The Queen and the King, and all present, then rose from their knees and seated themselves, Columbus taking the seat of honor prepared for him by the side of Queen Isabella. The King and the Queen, after thanking him formally, desired him to give an account of his voyage, which he modestly recounted. When this was over, the procession passed before the sovereigns of those who had been upon the voyage, the Indians that had been brought back, the strange birds and animals and plants, Columbus briefly explaining them.
It was long past noon before the great ceremonies were finished, and the glittering assemblage rose to attend the magnificent banquet to be given in honor of Columbus at the royal palace. As Diego walked along, holding the hand of his little brother, his heart was almost oppressed with the glory he had seen. He felt as if he had been lifted into another and higher world for a time, and he yearned for the simple and familiar things of life. When he passed Don Felipe in the orderly assemblage, he looked toward his friend imploringly. Don Felipe slipped [Pg 237]his arm within that of Diego. Then Diego, glancing up, saw the beautiful dark eyes of Doña Luisita fixed upon him with soft brilliance. The tempest in his heart was calmed, his soul was soothed. After all that he had known of distresses and of triumphs, of miseries and of splendors, of poverty and of riches, of ignominy and of glory in his short life, he had never lacked for love or friendship. Could they remain his, life would be a glorious conflict, a splendid struggle to the last, ending with the hope of love eternal.