ã€€ã€€Waiting then for a clear day, Mendez struck northward, on the passage,which was long for such frail craft, to San Domingo. It was eight monthsbefore Columbus heard of them. Of those eight months, the history is ofdismal waiting, mutiny and civil war. It is pathetic, indeed, that a littlebody of men, who had been, once and again, saved from death in the mostremarkable way, could not live on a fertile island, in a beautiful climate,without quarrelling with each other.
ã€€ã€€Columbus went to sea when he was fourteen years of age, and servedthere almost continuously for twenty-three years. The strain of a sea-faringlife, from so tender an age, is not conducive to literary exactness. Still, forthe very reason of this sea experience, the "log" should be correct.
ã€€ã€€Five hundred Indians, who came to be taught the language, enteringSpain as slaves, were but a poor return for the expenses in which thenation, not to say individuals, had been involved. The people of Spain,therefore, so far as they could show their feeling, were prejudiced againstColumbus and those who surrounded him. They heard with incredulity theaccounts of Cuba which he gave, and were quite indifferent to thegeographical theories by which he wanted to prove that it was a part ofAsia. He believed that the rich mines, which he had really found inHispaniola, were the same as those of Ophir. But after five years ofwaiting, the Spanish public cared but little for such conjectures.
ã€€ã€€But his success was not immediate, even now. Fernando de Talavera,who had had the direction of the wise council of Salamanca, was nowArchbishop of Grenada, whose see had been conferred on him after thevictory. He was not the friend of Columbus. And when, at what seemedthe final interview with king and queen, he heard Columbus claim theright to one-tenth of all the profits of the enterprise, he protested againstsuch lavish recompense of an adventurer. He was now the confessor ofIsabella, as Juan Perez, the friendly prior, had been before. Columbus,however, was proud and firm. He would not yield to the terms prepared bythe archbishop. He preferred to break off the negotiation, and again retiredfrom court. He determined, as he had before, to lay his plans before the King of France.
ã€€ã€€Columbus met with many reverses, and died, one might almost say, abroken-hearted man. But history has been just to him, and has placed himin the foremost rank of the men who have set the world forward. And,outside of the technical study of history, those who like to trace the lawson which human progress advances have been proud and glad to see thathere is a noble example of the triumph of faith.
ã€€ã€€"I determined to wait till the next afternoon, and then to start for thesouthwest, for many of them told me that there was land to the south andsouthwest and northwest, and that those from the northwest came often tofight with them, and so to go on to the southwest to seek gold and preciousstones.
ã€€ã€€After these agreeable courtesies, the little fleet raised its anchors andsailed west. Columbus sent one caravel to investigate the river. Findingthat he should not succeed in that direction, and that he had no availableway either north or south, he leaves by the same entrance by which he hadentered. The water is still very fresh, and he is satisfied, correctly as weknow, that these currents were caused by the entrance of the great river ofwater.