The winner of the 2004 essay contest was a sophomore at Notre Dame Preparatory School in Macomb Twp, Ml Her participation was sponsored by Stony Creek Chapter, NSDAR
A brilliant sphere of neon has been flung violently against the pinkish sky up ahead, its abandoned specks of light illuminating my quill and parchment through the darkness. Above the tremulous waters on which we sailed I see the dawn rising in majesty, ceremoniously unwinding rolling tufts of cotton from the pinks, yellows and purples of the heavens. It does so slowly and carefully, as if wishing to grant my weary men a few more hours of their blissful sleep, their first sleep on firm earth since we left Spain on the distant horizon.
My body does not sleep, however, for my mind reels from restlessness as I try to fathom the happenings of these recent hours. I cannot eat, for even now a coiling, morbid recollection of fear tightens around my stomach, a fear of death by sailors turned mutinous by the long months at sea. How close I was to losing my head, as it had been promised as compensation if land was not sighted in three days. I can only think with relief of the moment a lad above the masts cried “Land Ahoy!”
As commander of this expedition I led the men to shore. How strange it was to feel land beneath our feet after so many months at sea! We placed a cross in the clay of the earth and gave thanks to our Lord. As we kissed the ground tears of gratefulness welled in the eyes of the husky sailors.
Only after raising my eyes did I glimpse creatures in the trees, naked and inquisitive, though unmistakably human. They moved in procession, closer and closer to us. These must be the people of India, I thought with wonder. Indeed, Indians. The leaders were identifiable by the bright colors painted across their dark-tones bodies, and they greeted us with gifts of maize and fruit. Such a warm salutation by these people was surely unanticipated by my men, but they quickly stepped back into the Pinta and found our items to trade. Emerging with gifts they offered necklaces to these Indian people as gifts of friendship.
The Indians have disappeared into the trees, leaving as quietly as they came. I now find it perplexing that such silence exists on the Asian continent. Nature’s hum resonates throughout the land, creating an atmosphere completely unlike that of bustling Spain. In the distance I see only cone-shaped homes and smoke rising from the earth. Where are the gold-roofed dwellings Marco Polo wrote of with such fervor? .Where is the commotion of the Silk Road? I can only wonder what this continent holds.
My men did not stir, though the dawn advances upon us with a steady rhythm. Meanwhile, I cannot help but marvel at the future, in its treasury a newly discovered westward route to India. The riches soon to be amassed by Spain are incomprehensible! Also, in the privacy of my own journal, I will not veil my exhilaration at the fortune that surely awaits me at King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella’s feet.
This day has been assiduously awaited, but never did I doubt it would come. This is a day of glory for Spain’s praiseworthy monarchs, who unlike those of Portugal, believed in a chance on the horizon, and resolutely granted the funds and men to secure it. With this newly discovered westward link to the fortune of the Silk Road, a new dawn will arise in Spain, a dawn un like that of any other, for with it will arise a gleaming sun twinkling of gold and silver.
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