The Admiral kept his word to his men. They would all be free men, free to return to their homes. They would face no charges and no consequences for the mutiny they took part in.
Francisco de Parras would be the only exception. He was put in chains as soon they reached Santo Domingo. The citizens came out to greet the rescue ship. It was still a small craft and there was hardly any space for anyone.
“Come, dear Admiral. Come, and welcome. We will take you immediately to my residence where you can recover.”
“My many thanks, dear Governor. As you can see there are men here with more urgent needs. I beg you allow them to disembark first so they may be treated.” The Admiral stood by the mainmast to speak with the Governor.
His men stepped ashore single file. They were a miserable lot. Their skin burnt to a crispy dark brown. They were nearly naked and after all that time marooned over a year on Jamaica. They had no meat to hold their bones together. Many of them got down on her knees and shouted out prayers of gratitude. Some were too weak and weary to bow down, so they stood and made the sign of the cross or mumbled their own private prayers.
Carlitos stood by Han and the rest of the grommets. Together they watched their fellow survivors being escorted. Eventually the ship was emptied and they were the last to leave. Han put his hand on Carlitos’ shoulder.
“You good boy. You brave boy. You will be a man of honor.”
He now spoke to all the boys.
“All of you brave boys. You go your way and become brave men.”
He stepped off the ship and walked away. He seemed to know where he was going as he disappeared out of sight.
Borrego, Migue, Chavalo, and Chuy stared at the city that was growing beyond the wharf. Carlitos turned to them. They did not seem lost, nor worried. Then he understood. This is where they belong. This ship will be their new home.
Borrego stepped down to the fogata. There was a small pile of kindling and he started a fire. Migue also knew what to do, he rummaged about until he found some grain they could cook. Chavalo, and Chuy also rummaged about. They found some wine and cups and bowls.
Carlitos watched them. Their bonds of friendship were broken now. They were grommets and he was once again, Master Carlos. He felt a lump in his throat, another lonesome farewell. They would do well on their new ship. Without a word he stepped off the ship and walked away from the wharf.
On June 25, 1504 the Admiral of the Ocean Sea, Cristopher Columbus, stepped foot on the wharf of Santo Domingo. His fourth and final voyage came to an end.
Carlitos felt his stomach growling. He could smell food, and it smelled delicious, coming from the tavern called Brasserie Pat’e Palo. He could smell the meal being prepared at the Governor’s home. He had no money and no place to go. He saw a tree in the Plaza. It was getting dark, and he was miserably tired, exhausted actually. He sat himself down and leaned against the tree.
“Nena, please sing me a sleepy song.”
He did not have to wait. He was already asleep.
Nena the Fairy