Tuesday, July 5, 2011

"To his credit, the Admiral did choose the parallel of our course," Alonso defended while staring down the cross-staff. "I suppose that in the end, he would have taken the prize for himself anyway, Rodrigo."

Grumbling toward the islands the lookout kept his voice low, avoiding abandonment upon the Far Indies. "Colon is rotten to the core of his being-- and if we survive this journey, may God spit on him upon the return to Spain." Juan did not reply, carefully squinting at the sun's position through the apparatus.

They were now six weeks beyond the Canaries and four days after the night-time sighting of San Salvador. Since the landing the following morning, the Queen's colors were planted on the silent beachhead and brief explorations were made; San Salvador was an unsettling beauty of an island-- perhaps the pre-lapsarian Paradise of Genesis, but unexpectedly empty. Alonso himself had been on the first excursion and found little beyond the birds' calls and forest.

The island itself had been small-- all three ships had circled San Salvador twice before nightfall wherein the crews watched the shallow, blue sea rock the hazy horizon. The next five islands had been much of the same-- small, quiet, and devoid of man's touch. Nature's bounty was indeed overflowing in beast and bird and fish, but these sweltering Edens showed little to offer when the investors had been promised the wealth of Cipangu.

The curses to watching the big ship sink went unanswered. De Triana's hope had been to claim the King's prize to make the journey worthwhile. Much of the family had been lost in the purges of Seville, and the name had lost all but its noble history. Having shed the titles, this had been his only hope to retain the place of a Jew in the court, as had been their status under the now unspeakable Andalusian kingdom.

Alanso freed him from the self-pity "Did you notice that the birds now fly south? I think we ought to change course-- the rest of the Indias had ought to be a hundred miles or so that way."

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