Columbus dispatches his embassy ashore to find and meet the local ruler, who he believes resides four days inland. The embassy consists of two crewmen—one who had once led a mission to meet an African ruler, the other conversant in Arabic—as well as one of the Guanahanían captives and a local Cuban guide.
When authorizing Columbus’s voyage in April 1492, Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand had provided Columbus with a passport to present to those he met confirming their authorization to send him across the ocean toward the regions of India. They also had furnished him a few letters of introduction to foreign princes, one addressed to the Grand Khan and others with the name of the prince left blank, expressing their greetings to the recipient and that Columbus was authorized to speak on their behalf.
The two crewmen of the embassy bear the letter of introduction to present to the local ruler, with instructions to explain that the Castilian sovereigns had sent Columbus to establish friendship and offer the sovereigns’ favors.