CHAPTER VII. HOW A BOY BROUGHT THE ADMIRAL TO GRIEF. Continued…
Here he was obliged to land and meet the king of Portugal—that same King John who had once acted so meanly toward him. King John would have done so again had he dared. But things were quite different now. Columbus was a great man. He had made a successful voyage, and the king and queen of Spain would have made it go hard with the king of Portugal if he dared trouble their admiral. So King John had to give a royal reception to Columbus, and permit him to send a messenger to the king and queen of Spain with the news of his return from Cathay.
Then Columbus went on board the Nina again and sailed for Palos. But his old friend Captain Alonso Pinzon had again acted badly. For he had left the Admiral in one of the storms at sea and had hurried homeward. Then he sailed into one of the northern ports of Spain, and hoping to get all the credit for his voyage, sent a messenger post-haste to the king and queen with the word that he had returned from Cathay and had much to tell them. And then he, too, sailed for Palos.
On the fifteenth of March, 1493, just seven months after he had sailed away to the West, Columbus in the Nina sailed into Palos Harbor. The people knew the little vessel at once. And then what a time they made! Columbus has come back, they cried. He has found Cathay. Hurrah! hurrah! And the bells rang and the cannons boomed and the streets were full of people. The sailors were welcomed with shouts of joy, and the big stories they told were listened to with open mouths and many exclamations of surprise. So Columbus came back to Palos. And everybody pointed him out and cheered him and he was no longer spoken of as “that crazy Italian who dragged away the men of Palos to the Jumping-off place.”
And in the midst of all this rejoicing what should sail into the harbor of Palos but the Pinta, just a few hours late! And when Captain Alonso Pinzon heard the sounds of rejoicing, and knew that his plans to take away from Columbus all the glory of what had been done had all gone wrong, he did not even go to see his old friend and ask his pardon. He went away to his own house without seeing any one. And there he found a stern letter from the king and queen of Spain scolding him for trying to get the best of Columbus, and refusing to hear or see him. The way things had turned out made Captain Alonso Pinzon feel so badly that he fell sick; and in a few days he died.
But Columbus, after he had seen his good friend Juan Perez, the friar at Rabida, and told him all his adventures, went on to Barcelona where King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella were waiting for him. They had already sent him letters telling him how pleased they were that he had found Cathay, and ordering him to get ready for a second expedition at once. Columbus gave his directions for this, and then, in a grand procession that called everybody to the street or window or housetop, he set off for Barcelona. He reached the court on a fine April day and was at once received with much pleasure by the king and queen of Spain.
Columbus told them where he had been and what he had seen; he showed them the gold and the pearls and the birds and curiosities he had brought to Spain as specimens, of what was to be found in Cathay; he showed them the ten painted and “fixed-up” Indians he had stolen and brought back with him.
And the king and queen of Spain said he had done well. They had him sit beside them while he told his story, and treated this poor Italian wool-weaver as they would one of their great princes or mighty lords. They told him he could put the royal arms alongside his own on his shield or crest, and they bade him get together at once ships and sailors for a second expedition to Cathay—ships and sailors enough, they said, to get away up to the great cities of Cathay, where the marble temples and the golden palaces must be. It was their wish, they said, to gain the friendship of the great Emperor of Cathay, to trade with him and get a good share of his gold and jewels and spices. For, you see, no one as yet imagined that Columbus had discovered America. They did not even know that there was such a continent. They thought he had sailed to Asia and found the rich countries that Marco Polo had told such big stories about.
Columbus, you may be sure, was “all the rage” now. Wherever he went the people followed him, cheering and shouting, and begging him to take them with him on his next voyage to Cathay.
He was as anxious as any one to get back to those beautiful islands and hunt for gold and jewels. He set to work at once, and on the twenty-fifth of September, 1493, with a fleet of seventeen ships and a company of fifteen hundred men, Columbus the Admiral set sail from Cadiz on his second voyage to Cathay and Cipango and the Indies. And this time he was certain he should find all these wonderful places, and bring back from the splendid cities unbounded wealth for the king and queen of Spain.