The Pinta had the wind depending on it, and it came to the Gulf launched towards the Nina. Christopher Columbus waited for him an hour, as long as it was necessary to make a good impression, then he made a maneuver on board to return to the branch that he had left that morning. La Pinta understood that he was doing this, not being able to fight with the contrary wind, that she served him so well, and followed him in the bay. Two hours later, the two woods were juxtaposed, and Martino Alonzo Pinzon climbed aboard the Captain’s ship.
It was then a strange dialogue between him and the almirante; a dialogue in which the one made speeches at a loss, and the other responded to monosyllables. Martino Alonzo knew well that he had to justify his desertion; and bundled up reasons for reasons, to prove it involuntary; he spoke of the great things he had done, unable to find the almirante, of very rich regions he had visited; he apologized, and looked as if he were waiting for a prize, if not for his merit, for the good fortune he had witnessed. The almirante let him say; he held back his anger, and silently accepted the apology; to all the other he replied with short nods.
Some peculiarities of the story of Martino Alonzo confirmed the opinion that he had voluntarily deserted, moved as it was from a feeling of greed. Separating himself from the Nina, he had sailed to the east, looking for an imaginary island of which the savages on the Pinta were magnifying his treasures. After having lost some time in the middle of a group of islets (perhaps the Caiche) had been brought to the coast of Haiti, where he had stopped three weeks, trafficking in more places with the natural ones, and more particularly in a river fifteen leagues distant from the riser in which the almirante had remained, after the shipwreck of the Santa Maria. Martino Alonzo had amassed gold in large numbers, placing half of it as captain, distributing the other to his men, of whom he intended to ensure loyalty and discretion. Made a considerable booty, he left the river, taking with him four natural and two young women he took by force, intending to sell them in Spain. He claimed that he had not been aware of the presence of a ship in the waters of Haiti; and he protested that he had moved in search of the admirer, when he saw him in the waters of Montecristo.
Christopher Columbus did not tell him to believe or even not to believe his apologies. Lost confidence in Pinzon, he resolved to return to Spain without spending time on other discoveries. And to dispose of the trip, he sent to supply wood and water on the banks of a river that put his mouth in the harbor. It was the river Jaco, according to the name it had from the natives; Christopher Columbus called it Rio Gold, for the specks of marcassita that abounded in its sands, and that well simulated the precious metal. Today it is called the Santiago.
The old Tolteomec had taken too strong a resolution for love of his daughter, and his mind endured her badly. Sitting continually on the foredown castle, by the permission of Mr. almirante, who wanted to distinguish him from the other natural minor, he did nothing else, during the day, looking at the land from which he left. Until now, the Nina, between going and not going at all, remained in the west from the Montecristo peninsula, Guacanagari’s brother had a comfort in his own pain; the earth from which he turned away, he still had it before his eyes. But on the morning of January 9th, when the earth wind had awakened from the beginning, the caravel again unfurled the sails and moved to go further. Turning the promontory of Montecristo, he no longer saw the strip of land dear to him, he no longer saw the hills, the hills, the yokes rising from the sea beach to the mountains of Cibao, towering from the center of his native island .
Abarima was almost always next to him, to console that sad pain. But she did not feel the malice of the country, and did not mean the heartbreak that her father hid under that melancholy aspect of ancient simulacrum. Much more willingly than on the ground, she looked into the caravel’s interior, always hoping to see Cosma, the most impotent Cosma, who always pretended she had serious chores, and snobbed as much as possible to find herself near the daughter of Tolteomec.
Also, on those four tables, and against the opinion of Damiano, avoiding it was difficult. In any case it was impossible not to be continually under the eyes of others. From the first day, Cosma had to pass once before the beautiful wilderness. Surely she thought that the blond sailor had gone ahead to approach her; and he waited for his greeting, and looked at him steadily with his great eyes of indigo.
“Cosmos!” She whispered, as he passed by, to go to the foremast.
Cosma turned around, saw her, or, to say more truly, could no longer pretend not to have seen her, he pressed his lips to a smile, gave a modest nod, and passed. He had to go up, to untangle a sail; he could not therefore stay with her. Abarima followed him closely with his eyes, all the while he stood there; he saw him descend; he hoped he would pass by again to her; but it was a vain hope, hers. Cosma had had time to pretend another need for service. What did he look on the other side of the prow? Perhaps a sheet was too slow, and wanted to be better tied. Cosma worked with religious care around an ankle; then she went down from that part to the deck, going towards the stern, whence she did not want to move, until she remained with her father on the foredown castle.
Abarima had no reason to complain. Cosma had never spoken to her; staying away from her, he did nothing unusual. And nobody could complain about it, aboard the caravel; all were especially concerned with her and with the old Tolteomec, recognizing in them two people of that royal family of the Spanish island, from whom everyone had had the most joyful welcome. Moreover, Mr. almirante treated his guests with the utmost courtesy; from time to time, when the care of the command allowed him, he stopped to exchange a few words with them, showing them to keep them in high esteem.
But all the courtesies of the admirer, if they could temper the regret of the old prince of Haiti, were not enough to make him forget for a moment what he lost. Tolteomec sighed, and his eyes were often bathed in tears. In those moments, on the other, he turned to one side, because his daughter did not notice anything. But what he tried to hide from his eyes, it was easy to guess from the gesture.
“My father!” Said Abarima on the second day of their embarkation on the great canoe of white men. “You cry, and you no longer love your creature.
-No, child, you’re wrong, -you answered the old man.-If you did not love you, we would not be here. But I think that the great Spirit is indignant with us, that we abandon the land of our fathers, the land where your mother sleeps.-
Abarima bowed his head and did not say a word. Did you also feel a little remorse? or did he recognize that his father was hurt at the reason of that infantile caprice, for which she had wanted to follow the white men in Azatlan? Perhaps his thought had not come this far; but certainly she was beginning to think she had made a beautiful dream, to which the truth of things did not answer.
And was that his Cosma? was that the marvelous son of the sky who had appeared to her from the bush one day, remaining there, among the trunks of the trees, in an act of admiration for her? He had not spoken to her; he had not even approached her, as she would have liked; but finally, is it always necessary for the hand to shake the hand, and the image of the one be seen reflected in the eyes of the other? Even up there, twenty paces away from her, Cosma, Damiano’s friend, had looked at her, had paid her the tribute that man always pays to beauty, and that beauty is always willing to please. Then, having placed his index finger on his lips, he had moved away, returning to the way from which he had come. What did that gesture mean? It could be the hint of a kiss popped from afar; it could be an invitation to silence; however it was, it was a secret between them, a sweet secret that some confidences of Cusqueia had soon explained to her, “Cosma said you are beautiful.” These were the words of the interpetre; few words, but clear. And Abarima had dreamed of being loved by the man of the golden hair; for him he had despised Damiano; poor creature, not yet tempered to civilian uses, who teach not to leave one to be sure of the other! The rustic sincerity of his nature was freely manifested; the poor Damiano, believing himself firm in the arcades, had found himself in a ditch. Even for him it had been a bad awakening; even for him the truth of things seemed too different from the splendor of the dream.
But God measures the cold to the shorn lamb. And how our Damiano laughed, after having badly chewed that betrayal of the capricious Abarima! While his companion Cosma was studying to stay away from the daughter of Tolteomec, paying dearly a little war ploy, Damiano passed and passed continuously next to his good friends in Haiti, handing smiles and handshakes. Perhaps he appeared more cheerful than truth. But those who had to judge the sincerity of his joyfulness were savages, people not used to the wise artifices with which, in Azatlan, they are wont to hide the wrinkles of the face and those of the heart.
Tolteomec, in a good sense, had nothing to elaborate on; he had to stick to what the appearance showed.
-You are happy, -he told Damiano, -you are happy, to return to your land.
– Yes! very happy, “said Damiano.” They want to make a big party for me, when I get there. The cacìco and the elders of Genoa will meet me, they will admire me as a rare beast. And to get the air, I’ll tie the hair on the back of my head, planting some parrot feathers inside it, which I’ve brought with me. ”
Damiano laughed, and Tolteomec sighed.
-What do you regret, my old friend? You will see our land of Europe; you will be welcomed by the king and queen of Spain; you will know the customs and habits of white men; when you return full of experience to your bohio of Haiti, everyone will have to recognize in you a well of wisdom; everyone will hang from your lips. And the young people of Haiti, when they see Abarima dressed in silk and velvet …. You have no idea, lovely creature, of silk and velvet! Imagine your cloak of cotton, but it is softer, shinier, more …. I do not know, and that you make beautiful folds from the side to the foot, while you draw the bust up to the root of the neck; whence some superfine laces will come out …. You do not know lace, Abarima taorib? You’ll see what a lot of stuff! Azatlan’s daughters are crazy about lace. I think they would even put them in the salad. There are those of Venice, and those of Flanders, which give the dizziness, only to see them. For eight arms of those laces, to adorn the garment, the daughters of Azatlan would give the soul to the black spirits, and the rest over the market.-
Damiano’s chat had been interrupted by a cry, which came from the mast school tree. The watchman sailor surely had seen something. They all thought of the beautiful before she had seen a dry one. In those waters, the case was quite frequent. But no, it was not a dry one; the sailor had seen the other, on the edge of the water; three swimmers, three rarities, at that distance from the coast; hence the suspicion that they were three poor survivors.
All the seafaring of the Nina had run to the head of the band, on the shrouds, on the stern and bow castles, to see what the watchman had indicated. Even the almirante had left his room, to get on the stern castle.
Over there, on the expanse of the sea, perhaps a shot of arquebus, you could see three bodies that looked human. The heads were distinguished, erected on the water; and soon, approaching those bodies to the ship, they distinguished the black hair, sloping on the nape and on the temples. The faces were dark, and did not look like natural islands. After all, it was no longer possible to think of savages of those parts that were saved by swimming, having been submerged in their canoe. In the first place, they did not swim like lost people trying to save themselves; they swam like bold and happy people who play on the water. They often jumped out of the waves, fully showing their torso, up to the kidneys; and they also raised their arms, putting out certain extremities that did not resemble point in the hands of the Adam species, but rather in the fins of the fish.
“Sirens!” A sailor shouted. “The sirens, sir almirante.
“Oh hell!” Damiano exclaimed. “Here are some mythological people, whom I did not hope to get to know.
-Do you say, Pablo? -The almirante asked, turning to the sailor who had spoken a moment ago.
“I say, sir almirante, it’s the sirens. I know them, for having already seen them, once again, on the coast of Africa. Look at your hands, as they end up in fish fins. If then they jumped out of the water, one would see the tail.
“And they are three, like the old ones,” said Damiano, who had also advanced to the head of the band, as a spectator in the first places. “Not one more, not one less. But how can they be here, so far from their classics?
“There will be others, and not those,” answered Cosma, who had advanced by his side.
And then, “Pablo said,” do you see that they are so few, Sirens? They are rarely seen; but there are all seas.
“Sorry, Pablo,” Damiano replied. “I did not know what those Ulysses did not want to use the courtesy to listen to them while they were singing.
“This Ulysses must have been a man of judgment,” replied Pablo, shaking his head.
“In fact, this is his fame,” Damiano said. “He was the smartest man in antiquity. But why do you say you did good judgment, you who did not read Homer?
“I do not know who this Homer is,” said Pablo. “I know that the Sirens never appear to sing storms and shipwrecks.
– Oh hell, hell! This is not a gentle proceeding on the part of the Sirens. ”
Christopher Columbus had called Pablo on the quarterdeck, and Damiano had run after Pablo.
-What did you say? -He asked the sailor to the almirante.-Have you already seen?
“Yes, Mr. almirante; on the coast of Africa, ten years ago, and we had a bad weather, that I will remember it until I live.
“If it’s nothing but bad weather,” observed the almirante, “we can adapt to the prediction. To me, that I have never seen Sirene, this is a strange sight. You see, gentlemen, what agility of movements. They really look like marine nymphs who play on the waves.
-Oh by grace, there are leftovers! -Said Pablo.-But they are bad and traitor to marvel.
“They do not want to lie to their sex,” Damiano murmured, often thinking of his cases.
Another sailor advanced, English. He too had his stories around the Sirens. Mermaid, a woman of the sea, was known in her seas. And he narrated that some sixty or seventy years ago, in a village in western Finland, some girls had found a Mermaid entangled in the mud, and after taking it and dressed in their clothes, they had also taught it to spin. He ate like them, but he did not speak; it had lived for two or three years, and every time it passed in front of the church, the sign of the cross was very different.
After hearing the English sailor, it was appropriate to hear the Irishman, because there was also a fellow of St. Patrick in the seafaring boat of Christopher Columbus. And even the Irishman had his story of a siren of Correvrekin, who seduced the young, to take them with him into the abyss; not dissimilar in this from the Sirens of the Tyrrhenian coast, known and celebrated by Homer.
On the whole, all the news agreed in this, that the presence of the Sirens was not a good omen for those who saw them. And the sailors of Christopher Columbus, given his part to the curiosity, were not pleased with the spectacle that was offered to their eyes.
-Suvia, good friends, let’s not talk nonsense! -The almirante murmured. -We look carefully at these strange creatures that show us the Ocean, because all the wonders of the world must be observed, when the opportunity is offered. But we do not put ourselves in the head of objections, of vain fears; for good and bad weather, fortune and misfortune, do not depend on secondary beings, but only on the creator and arbiter of all that exists; in a word, from God. Let’s see rather, because these Sirens do not turn away from us, to take one. Ready to arm the palischermo, guys!
-Ah wow, I like this! -Said Damiano.-I still go there.-
Cosma, who had come close to him, grabbed him by the arm.
“In any case,” he whispered in his ear, “would you marry a mermaid?
“Ah yes, it’s true!” Damiano answered, laughing. “I’m so flammable! I will not go; you’re happy? The sooner I persuaded myself not to go, “he added quickly,” that the Siren could plant the brown, to turn to the blond. And you would not want to marry her; and it should be postponed to its element. Ah, wow, an idea! …
– Nothing, nothing, a crazy idea; do not mind, “said Damiano.
Meanwhile, the three Sirens continued to frolic in front of the caravel, from time to time leaping out of the chest out of the water, and winking at the seafarer, like cheerful girls from a sea port. But as soon as they saw the paliscreen thrown into the water, they seemed to understand the shot, because they immediately turned away; then they plunged wholeheartedly into the water, no more reappeared than far away, to dive from head and disappear.