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Title: Christopher Columbus - Life Stories for Young People
Author: Campe, Joachim Heinrich
Language: English
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Life Stories for Young People


Translated from the German of



George P. Upton

Translator of “Memories,” “Immensee,” etc.

With Five Illustrations

[Illustration: A. C. McCLURG & CO.]

A. C. McClurg & Co.

A. C. McClurg & Co.

Published September, 1911

The · Plimpton · Press
[W · D · O]
Norwood · Mass · U · S · A

                          Translator’s Preface

There are five representatives of the Columbus family more or less
famous in the history of exploration, _viz._, Christopher, the
discoverer of America; Bartolomeo, brother of Christopher, governor of
Isabella and founder of San Domingo; Diego, brother of Christopher, who
accompanied him on his second voyage and subsequently entered the
priesthood; Diego, son of Christopher, and his successor as governor of
Hispaniola; Ferdinand, illegitimate son of Christopher, who accompanied
his father on his fourth voyage and became his biographer; and Colon,
grandson of Christopher, who was made Duke of Veraqua, Marquis of
Jamaica, and Captain-general of Hispaniola; but all of them shine in the
reflected light of Christopher, except his brother Bartolomeo, who,
while not as skilful a navigator and explorer as his brother, was a
great soldier, an experienced administrator, and the principal support
of Christopher in his many difficulties and hardships.

The story of Columbus, apart from his discovery of America and his many
thrilling adventures in the West Indies, should be one of absorbing
interest to youth. It is the story of a man who in his youthful days
conceived a vast project, for his time, adhered to it with inflexible
resolution though confronted with obstacles which would have discouraged
any ordinary man, suffered privations and hardships of the most trying
kind, meeting threats against his life, shipwreck, physical ailments,
poverty, malicious attacks of bitter enemies, shameful calumnies, the
disgrace of being sent to Spain in fetters by Bobadilla, his jealous and
cruel rival, and the ingratitude and dishonesty of the King of Spain,
and yet accomplished a purpose even greater than that which first
inspired him, for he died not knowing that he had discovered a new
continent. He supposed to the last that the region he had found was the
East Indies. The great navigator, seaman, and explorer passed his last
days in poverty and neglect, and the rewards which the King had promised
were enjoyed not by him but by his son Diego. But his fame is immortal.

                                                                G. P. U.

Chicago, _July, 1911_.


  Chapter                                                           Page
  I Portuguese Voyages of Discovery—The Youth of Columbus—His
          Arrival at Lisbon                                           11
  II Columbus’ Scheme Rejected in Lisbon—He Goes to Madrid and Has
          an Interview with Ferdinand and Isabella, after which he
          Endures Bitter Disappointments                              22
  III Three Vessels Fitted Out for Columbus—The First Voyage of
          Discovery is Made from Palos, August 3, 1492—Columbus on
          the Open Sea                                                30
  IV Ocean Phenomena, Unknown to Columbus and his Crew, Increase
          the Fear of the Latter                                      35
  V “Land, Land!”                                                     38
  VI Columbus Discovers Several Islands, among them Guanahani,
          Cuba, and Haiti—Traffic with the Natives                    44
  VII Prince Guakanahari—The Admiral’s Vessel Wrecked—Forty-three
          Men Remain Behind—The Return Voyage Begins                  52
  VIII The Return Voyage—Storm on the Way—Arrival at the Azores,
          Lisbon, and Palos                                           60
  IX Columbus’ Second Journey in 1493—Several Islands
          Discovered—The Spaniards Find their Fort Destroyed and
          the Colonists Dead                                          67
  X New Discoveries—Columbus in Great Danger—Uprising of the
          Natives                                                     75
  XI The Natives are Subjugated—Columbus is Traduced in Spain—He
          Returns to Europe and Suffers Many Hardships on the
          Voyage                                                      82
  XII Columbus is Graciously Received by Ferdinand and
          Isabella—His Enemies Unable to Shake their Confidence in
          Him—The Third Voyage in 1498—Discovery of the Island of
          Trinidad at the Mouth of the Orinoco                        87
  XIII Wretched Condition of the Colony—Vasco da Gama Sails around
          the Cape of Good Hope to the East Indies—Ojeda’s
          Undertaking—Cabral Discovers Brazil                         93
  XIV Columbus Again Calumniated at the Spanish Court—Bobadilla is
          Ordered to San Domingo on a Tour of Investigation—He
          Sends Columbus Back to Spain in Fetters—Columbus
          Vindicated by his Sovereigns—Ovando Sails to the New
          Countries with a Fleet of Thirty-two Vessels               101
  XV Ovando Calls the Audacious Bobadilla to Account—Columbus
          Undertakes his Fourth Voyage in 1502                       108
  XVI Columbus Vainly Attempts to Find the Passage between the
          Atlantic and Pacific Oceans                                115
  XVII Columbus Abandons the Hope of Discovering a Passage to the
          Pacific and Returns to Jamaica, where his Vessels are
          Exposed to Great Danger—Two Boats are Sent to Haiti for
          Help                                                       122
  XVIII Conspiracy against Columbus at Jamaica—He Returns to Spain
          and Vainly Seeks Reinstatement—He Dies at Valladolid in
          1506                                                       131
  XIX Diego, Columbus’ Son, Secures the Rights Coming to him from
          his Father—The Spaniards Extend their Authority in
          Central America and Rule Cruelly—Ponce de Leon’s
          Discovery of Florida                                       144
    Appendix                                                         154


  Christopher Columbus                                    _Frontispiece_
  Columbus Planning the Discovery of America                          28
  In Sight of the New World                                           42
  Landing of Columbus                                                 44
  The Return of Columbus from his First Voyage                        68

                          Christopher Columbus

                               Chapter I
  Portuguese Voyages of Discovery—The Youth of Columbus—His Arrival at

The ancient Greeks were not the only nation which imagined there was a
region in the Atlantic Ocean, an island beyond the Pillars of Hercules,
the sea highway, now called the Straits of Gibraltar. The traditions of
other people tell of a land where only happy mortals dwell. Greek poetry
assigned this region to the ocean, which was supposed to surround the
world as it was known at that time. The Romans also believed in this
distant western land, and in the Christian Middle Ages these same
traditions were carefully preserved. It was told that many an adventurer
sought these Islands of the Blest but never returned home.

The seafarers of the Middle Ages must have been timid navigators for
they never reached the open sea but contented themselves with cruising
along its shore. At last the Genoese and Venetians, whose cities were
very prosperous in the fourteenth century, because of their expanding
commerce, ventured out of the Straits of Gibraltar. Their course,
however, was not southward but north of the straits which connect the
Mediterranean Sea with the ocean, for it is well known that the
Venetians in 1318 reached Antwerp by vessel.

Simultaneously with these efforts of the Italians to reach the north,
the Portuguese were striving to discover a passage to the rich Indies in
vessels manned almost entirely by Italian sailors. The Genoese also
undertook independent voyages of discovery. Two ships which passed
through the Straits of Gibraltar at the close of the thirteenth century
never came back. A Genoese expedition at the beginning of the fourteenth
century discovered the Canary Islands, but the explorers declared they
were not the Islands of the Blest. Before the year 1335 a Portuguese
vessel returned to Lisbon from the Canaries with products of the soil
and kidnapped natives. In July, 1341, two large and well armed vessels,
under command of a Genoese and a Florentine, reached the Canaries in
five days from Lisbon. They held possession of the islands until
November. It is also known that Europeans stopped for some time at
Teneriffe,[1] where they found almost naked but fierce natives who lived
in stone houses, tilled the soil, and worshipped idols. About the close
of the fourteenth century thirteen friars attempted the conversion of
the natives of the larger Canaries but were massacred by the savages.

About this time the islands of Madeira and the Azores were discovered
but they were uninhabited. The Canaries alone had inhabitants, called
Guanches.[2] These Guanches lived upon seven islands, but, as there were
no means of communication between them, they knew little of each other.
Their dialects indeed were so different that they could not understand
one another. Wheat and barley were cultivated. The natives on the
islands of Gomera and Palma went naked, lived in caves, and subsisted
upon roots and goats’ milk, and were dangerous enemies with their stone
weapons and horn-tipped spears. The natives on the larger Canaries were
the most civilized and had two large cities and thirty-three
communities. Their two kings were at constant variance. The warlike
Guanches were only subjugated after fierce encounters, for they climbed
with the ease of goats and were such fleet runners that they could
overtake the hare. When asked about their origin, they replied: “After
the submission of our ancestors the gods placed us in these islands,
left us here, and forgot us.”

Remarkable success crowned the explorations of the Portuguese owing to
the enterprise and zeal of the Infante, Henry,[3] third son of King John
the First, who was surnamed by posterity “The Navigator.” His lean,
angular person hardly bespoke his real greatness. His perseverance and
indomitable resolution were apparent alone in his clear, open look. He
was a man of great abstemiousness. Wine never passed his lips. He spent
his revenues upon exploration and conquests on the west coast of Africa.
The voyages of the Portuguese discoverers began in the Autumn of 1415
but the first navigators returned after reaching Cape Bajador, for they
dared not venture out into the open sea because of the breakers and
dangerous ledges. Four years later two explorers, driven out to sea by a
storm, reached the island of Porto Santo, previously discovered by the
Italians, and from there went to Madeira, or the “Forest Island,” as it
was called. It was not until 1434 that Cape Bajador was circumnavigated
by a daring man who had offended the Infante and by this exploit
regained his favor. He brought back flowers in earthen vessels to prove
that floral beauty was not lacking on the other side of the dreaded

Further attempts were made in succeeding years. The Portuguese
continually advanced and once brought home fish nets which they had
taken from the natives to prove that the lands beyond the Cape were
inhabited. Soon they penetrated to regions where they found gold-dust
and other valuable products, which were taken in honor of the Infante.
In consideration of the tremendous expense and the incalculable exertion
involved in these voyages the matter of profit was alone taken into
account. Naturally no heed was paid to their scientific importance.
Explorations beyond the Cape at last proved very profitable and many
vessels returned with large cargoes of slaves, for Europeans at that
time were not ashamed of man-stealing. They hunted their human victims
openly and even used dogs to run down their prey. Slavery was not
abhorrent to them. They thought it natural that God should reward their
man-stealing with success. A chronicle of the year 1444 says: “At last
it pleased God to compensate them for their great suffering in His
service with a glorious day’s efforts, for altogether, in men, women,
and children, they captured one hundred and sixty-five head.”

An important discovery in the year 1445 removed many erroneous
conceptions. Dinas Diaz in that year sailed farther south than any
navigator had gone before. He passed Cape Blanco, reached the southern
line of the Great Desert, and found a region green with palms, and
people with black skins. The spot he discovered was called the “Green
Cape.” He proved that the theory that the tropics were uninhabitable was
false. Aristotle had maintained that the tropical regions must be
unpeopled because the overpowering heat of the sun’s rays would destroy
all vegetation. Other scholars, among them Ptolemy, were of the same
opinion. The theory indeed was so universally accepted at the beginning
of the fifteenth century that many a bold adventurer was deterred from
making explorations in that direction.

In the same year, however, the Senegal, which Diaz had passed
unobserved, was discovered on a second voyage. The river was declared to
be a branch of the Egyptian Nile. In the following year the Portuguese
met with a serious disaster on the African coast. Two vessels, owing to
the misplaced confidence of their commanders in the negroes, ventured
too near and were greeted by a shower of poisoned arrows. The wounded
explorers died after reaching Lisbon, two months later, without having
seen anything but sky and water. This disaster, however, did not deter
other brave navigators from undertaking further explorations beyond the
Green Cape, though they dreaded the poisoned arrows of the natives more
than any hardships or perils of the sea.

About this time the Azores were colonized by the Portuguese, for these
islands had been so little disturbed by man that even the birds could
easily be taken by the hand. Henry, the Infante, bestowed the islands
upon the explorers as an hereditary tenure.

In the second half of the fifteenth century, during the reign of Alfonso
the Fifth, we have very inadequate reports of the progress of Portuguese
exploration. We know, however, that the explorers advanced along the
rivers of West Africa, especially the Gambia, which stream they ascended
to transact business with caravans from the Soudan. It was at that time
the European world began traffic in the great and rich resources of
Central Africa. On the thirteenth of November, 1460, the Infante died,
and the prosperity which had attended Portuguese explorations
languished. History has honored him with the surname “Navigator,” though
he took no personal part in exploration. Under his encouragement, the
Portuguese, who before his time had timidly returned home from Cape
Bajador, became bold seafarers. Discoveries rapidly advanced in his
lifetime but Alfonso the Fifth wasted his inheritance. He gave no
thought to new explorations for those already made were yielding him
rich returns. The sugar plantations in Madeira brought him large
profits, slaves were exchanged for horses, and the coast supplied great
store of gold-dust, musk, ivory, and ginger. Notwithstanding their
discouragement, the explorers pushed farther south. Before the close of
the fifteenth century they found the Zaira, the Congo of our maps. King
John the Second, like “Navigator” Henry, was greatly interested in sea
voyages and the sciences. Under his patronage Bartholomew Dias, in 1486,
left Lisbon with two small vessels and a supply boat, sailed south, and
passed the mouth of the Congo. As the wind was contrary he put out to
sea but was so driven about by storms that at last he found the coast of
Africa on his left. He had rounded the southern extremity of the Dark
Continent and, finding land, he kept on in a northerly direction.[4] His
sailors, however, refused to go farther and insisted he should return.
As he could not conciliate them, he began the home voyage reluctantly,
passing again the mysterious cape, which he named Tormentoso, the name
being subsequently changed by John the Second to Good Hope, and reached
Lisbon in December, 1487, after an absence of sixteen months and
seventeen days. Dias was poorly rewarded for his great discovery. He was
not given command of a fleet a second time, but served as a simple
captain under Cabral,[5] the discoverer of Brazil, and, in rounding the
Cape of Good Hope during a fearful storm, May 23, 1500, was drowned.

Even before Dias had found the Cape of Good Hope an Italian explorer,
named Cristoforo Colombo, appeared at the court of John the Second. When
subsequently he made Spain his home, he was called Colon.[6] He is best
known by his Latin name, Columbus. This extraordinary man was born at
Genoa in the year 1456.[7] Genoese contemporaries assure us his father,
Domenico, was a wool-comber. Domenico had four children: three sons,
Cristoforo, Bartolomeo, and Giacomo (Diego),[8] and one daughter, of
whom it is only known that she married an Italian innkeeper. From his
earliest youth Christopher loved the sea. As a lad he showed promise of
being a skilful sailor and brave man. He was active and courageous, had
no delight in indolence or effeminate luxuries, and despised all
delicacies which tickle the palate and weaken the health. His highest
ambition was to secure all the knowledge he could so as to be of some
service to his fellow men. In a short time he learned the Latin
language, in which all the scientific books of the time were written,
and, although a boy in those days could learn but very little of the
sciences, compared with what can be done to-day, yet he acquired
sufficient knowledge of them to become an authority. His father, who was
comfortably well off, sent him to the University of Pavia where he
studied geography, geometry, astronomy, and drawing. At fourteen he had
made such advances that he was qualified to become a ship captain and go
to sea. He exerted his utmost effort to investigate the ocean and its
routes. The saying, “as the twig is bent, the tree’s inclined,” well
applies to him. He determined to become a great seafarer and from his
earliest youth adhered to the determination until it was fully realized.

Our young hero had his first experience in the Mediterranean Sea, for
the voyages of his people at that time did not extend farther. It was
much too confined a sphere, however, for a spirit which burned with the
desire to accomplish unprecedented achievements. After a voyage to the
northern ocean, during which he reached Iceland and gathered valuable
experience, he entered the service of a kinsman, a sea-captain, who had
fitted out a few vessels at his own expense, with which he cruised at
one time against the Venetians, at another against the Turks, seeking to
capture their galleys. Upon one of their cruises, the young Columbus
would have lost his life had not Providence preserved it for high
purposes. In a stubborn fight with the Venetians, in which our young
hero performed prodigies of valor, his ship as well as those with which
it was engaged took fire. Columbus found himself in a desperate
situation but even with death staring him in the face he had no fear. He
boldly plunged into the sea, clutched a floating oar, and with its help
swam safely to the shore, two miles distant. He landed upon the
Portuguese coast and, as soon as he had rested, made his way to Lisbon.

This event had a marked influence upon his future career, for in the
Portuguese capital his knowledge and ability were of great service in
securing friends among seafarers, with whom plans were discussed for the
discovery of a passage to the East Indies. An event soon happened which
greatly promoted the ambitious purpose of his life. He married Felipa
Perestrelli, daughter of a sea-captain, one of the early colonists and
first governor of Porto Santo. This gave him possession of the diaries
and charts of his experienced father-in-law, and as he studied them day
and night his desire to visit these newly discovered islands grew
stronger. He once more went on shipboard, made a voyage to Madeira, and
for some time carried on a lucrative business, visiting the Canaries,
the African coast, and the Azores in the meantime.

                               Chapter II
    Columbus’ Scheme Rejected in Lisbon—He Goes to Madrid and Has an
  Interview with Ferdinand and Isabella, after which he Endures Bitter

During the short voyages which Columbus made from the Canary Islands he
was still busy with the great scheme upon which he was engaged in
Lisbon. He often said to himself: “There must be a nearer route by sea
to the Indies than that attempted by the Portuguese. If one sails from
here across the ocean in a westerly direction he must at last reach a
country which is either India or some region adjacent to it. Is not the
earth round? And if round, must not God have created countries upon the
other side of it, upon which men and other creatures live? Is it at all
likely that the whole hemisphere is covered by the ocean? No! No! India
certainly is a vaster region than people believe. It must stretch far
from the east toward Europe. Then if one sails straight to the west he
must eventually reach it.” This was not his only reasoning. Several
other considerations strengthened his belief and this one among them: A
Portuguese navigator once, sailing far to the west, found curiously
wrought sticks floating in the sea, which came from the westward. This
fact convinced him there must be an inhabited country in that direction.
Columbus’ father-in-law, on one of his voyages, found similar sticks
which had been driven by the west winds. Felled trees of a kind unknown
there had been found on the west shores of the Azores, evidently blown
there by west winds. The bodies of two men had been washed ashore on
these same coasts, with strange, broad faces, evidently not Europeans,
and unlike the people of Asia and Africa.

Columbus carefully gathered all these facts, pondered over them day and
night, and, after comparing with them such information as he found in
old as well as contemporary authors, became thoroughly convinced that
his theories were correct. He remembered, however, that “to err is
human” and that four eyes are better than two. Thinking it unwise to
rely upon his own opinions alone, he consulted a man whose learning and
wisdom made his advice of the highest value. This was Toscanelli, a
Florentine physician, born in 1397. He was very old at this time, but he
had already declared his belief to Alfonso the Fifth that a voyage
across the Atlantic Ocean to the East Indies was perfectly practical,
and had sent a chart to Lisbon upon which the distance and choice of
routes was traced. Toscanelli approved the scheme of Columbus and not
only gave him much valuable advice but urged him to put his plans in
operation as soon as possible.

Columbus was now fully determined to set about his work but he needed
assistance in his preparations. Some government must help him and to
which one should he give the preference? He promptly decided that his
own dear fatherland should participate in the honor of his discoveries.
He submitted his scheme to the Genoese Council and asked for the
necessary assistance. The Council, however, attached no importance to
it, regarded him as an inexperienced man, and rejected his proposals. He
was discouraged by its decision but, feeling that he had at least
performed his duty to his fatherland, he went to Lisbon to submit his
plans to the Court, which at this time was more friendly to expeditions
than any other. He waited upon King John the Second and asked permission
of him and his Council to carry out the scheme upon which he had been
engaged so many years. His proposition was favorably considered but
subsequently his plan was stolen little by little and he found himself
the victim of most despicable treachery. The Portuguese hastily fitted
up a vessel and placed it in command of another leader, who sailed away
on Columbus’ course; but he had neither the latter’s skill nor courage
and, after a short western voyage, abandoned the undertaking as hopeless
and returned to Lisbon. Indignant at such treachery, Columbus forsook a
Court which had treated him so meanly and went with his son, Diego, to
Madrid. As his wife had died some time before this he never returned to
Lisbon. Fearing possibly that his scheme might not be accepted at the
Spanish Court, he sent his brother Bartolomeo, who was familiar with all
the details of his plan, to England, to ascertain whether he could
expect help in that quarter.

Ferdinand of Arragon was the ruler of Spain at this time (1484). His
cautious and suspicious nature led him to regard with disfavor any
scheme which was in the least doubtful. His consort, Isabella of
Castile, was much bolder, but she depended entirely upon her husband and
would not engage in anything that met with his disapproval.
Unfortunately also at this time the King was at war with the Moors, who
were in power at Grenada. Under such circumstances what could Columbus
expect from the King? Eventually he was hospitably received by Ferdinand
and Isabella and was listened to attentively. Before making a decision
one way or the other, however, the King decided to submit the scheme to
other advisers who unfortunately had not sufficient knowledge to examine
it intelligently. They interposed silly objections. One maintained that
the ocean between Europe and the Indies was so immeasurably vast that
even the most favorable voyage from Europe to the nearest land would
take at least three years. Another, in view of the roundness of the
earth, insisted that one sailing west would be going down hill and that
when he wished to return he would have to come up hill, which would be
impossible, however propitious the wind might be. Others were insolent
enough to ask him whether he imagined he was the only wise man among the
millions of the world, and, if there really was land on the other side,
how it happened that it had remained unknown for centuries.

Columbus needed all his resolution and patience to endure the ignorance
and insolence of his critics, but he retained his composure and answered
each foolish objection seriously. But of what avail was it? After
striving in vain for five years to convince these and other ignoramuses
that his scheme was feasible, he had the added mortification of learning
that the King sided with them. He received from the Court the
unfavorable reply that so long as the war with the Moors continued the
King could not consider any other undertaking. Columbus, of course, was
disappointed and had lost much valuable time, but he steadfastly adhered
to his purpose. Far from abandoning it, he applied to two Spanish
dukes[9] who were wealthy enough to fit up a small exploring squadron.
They were lacking, however, in faith and courage and did not care to
engage in a scheme which was too expensive for the King. Columbus was
again disappointed but concealed his vexation and, without wasting any
more time on useless applications, made preparations to bid farewell to
Spain (1491) and go to the King of France from whom he had received an
encouraging letter while at the Spanish Court. He started for that
country with his son Diego. Arrived at the flourishing seaport of
Palos[10] he knocked at the door of a Franciscan monastery[11] and asked
the doorkeeper for bread and water for his exhausted son. The learned
Brother, Juan Perez de Marchena, guardian of the monastery, who was
father confessor to the Queen, observed the wanderers. He entered into
conversation with Columbus, who acquainted him in a most interesting
manner with his plans and his misfortunes. The Brother listened to his
statements with eager attention, believed his scheme reasonable, and
urged him to remain until he could write to the Queen and receive her

Columbus assented. The Brother wrote the letter and made such a
convincing statement as to the feasibility of the scheme that Isabella
suddenly changed her mind and wrote a reply, urging Columbus to return
to the Court. The sorely tried and much disappointed man took heart
again and obeyed the Queen’s summons. Isabella received him graciously
and expressed the hope that his scheme would prove successful; but,
alas, the timid, wavering King marred all. He called the same
ignoramuses in council again and, as they made the same report, he would
hear nothing of western voyages and notified Isabella to break off the
intercourse with Columbus.

Columbus’ spirit, however, was stronger than that of his enemies. He
roused himself anew and was making preparations to go to England and
offer her King the great reward which three governments had
contemptuously refused, when the news came that the Moors had been
vanquished and their power in Spain ended. Ferdinand and Isabella were
delighted with the outcome of the struggle which made them rulers of all
Spain. Two friends of Columbus took advantage of the situation to urge
his scheme upon the Queen’s consideration and convince her that the
royal authority would be greatly extended by it. Owing to the zeal and
enthusiasm with which they espoused his cause, the King and Queen at
last decided to make no further opposition. A messenger was despatched
to Columbus and he was brought back in triumph to the Court, where the
Queen impatiently awaited him. Forgetting all his sickening
disappointments and blighted hopes, Columbus submitted his terms and
when they were finally accepted he felt that at last his dearest wishes
were realized. He asked for himself and his heirs elevation to the
nobility, the rank of admiral, the authority of vice-royalty over all he
should discover, and a tenth of all gains by conquest in trade.


It is not strange the King was reluctant to give up any part of such
valuable revenues and to concede such important privileges, especially
as the new country might be larger than the mother country, and the
representative of the King more powerful than the King himself—but
Isabella was fully determined to recognize Columbus’ undertaking and
would not listen to any objections. She said: “I will pledge my crown of
Castile for the success of this scheme and my jewels also if sufficient
money is not raised to carry it out.”

                              Chapter III
 Three Vessels Fitted Out for Columbus—The First Voyage of Discovery is
        made from Palos, August 3, 1492—Columbus on the Open Sea

Columbus was overjoyed at the success which at last crowned his efforts
and at once began actively fitting out the necessary vessels. Those
which the King placed at his disposal were so small and poorly built
that no man but Columbus would have trusted himself in them upon a vast,
unknown sea whose dangerous spots were uncharted. The vessel which he
commanded was named the _Santa Maria_; the second, the _Pinta_; and the
third, the _Nina_. The last two were hardly larger than good-sized
boats. The little squadron was provided with subsistence for twelve
months and ninety men.[12] The cost of the expedition was not more than
5300 ducats, a sum which at that time seemed so large to the
impoverished Court that the whole undertaking might have been abandoned
had it not been that the citizens of Palos provided two of the vessels,
the King sending only one. At last all the preparations were made and
the vessels lay at their anchors ready to sail.

Before weighing anchor, however, Columbus considered it a duty to invoke
the favor of the Creator of the ocean, the Creator and Ruler of all the
earth, for the expedition which he had so much at heart, for it was also
his purpose to spread the knowledge of the only true God in the ignorant
wilderness whither Divine Providence was to conduct him. Accompanied by
all his companions, Columbus went in solemn procession to a monastery in
the vicinity of Palos and there publicly implored divine help, his
seamen following his pious example. Then they returned, full of
confidence in the Most High. The next morning, August 3, 1492, they set
sail in God’s name amid the cheers of a great multitude of spectators.
Columbus commanded the larger vessel, the _Santa Maria_, and the two
brothers, Martin and Vicente Pinzon, the two smaller vessels.

According to Columbus’ plans the fleet was to sail first to the
Canaries, but on the second day out a slight accident happened which
might have ruined the expedition if Columbus had been as weak as his
superstitious comrades. The rudder of the _Pinta_ was broken, purposely,
it is believed, by the helmsman, who was afraid of the voyage and hoped
in this manner to force Columbus to go back. The crew declared that the
accident foretold disaster. “We shall be lost,” they shouted, “if we do
not go back at once.”

“But why?” asked Columbus.

“Why?” they replied. “Heaven has already shown clearly enough by this
broken rudder that it will be disastrous if we do not abandon the
undertaking at once.”

“I really do not know,” answered Columbus, “how you have learned that
this unexpected event is a sign of coming disaster. So far as I know, a
broken rudder only means that we must mend it.”

“The Admiral is a freethinker,” the seamen whispered to each other; “he
does not believe in signs.”

Columbus, who knew their thoughts, realized the necessity of overcoming
as far as possible the superstition of his ignorant companions, as a
hundred opportunities might occur for similar outbreaks. He explained
the matter to them in detail and showed them how unreasonable it was to
regard it as a sign of future disaster, for God had never promised He
would make the future known by signs. Wisely and mercifully Heaven had
concealed the future from us. Therefore it was useless and foolish to
expect disaster because of any sign. All that a wise and pious man could
do was to perform his duties faithfully and industriously all his days,
trusting in divine oversight and having no fear of the future. “Let this
be the rule to govern us throughout our voyage,” said he. By
representations of this kind Columbus, although he could not entirely
remove their superstitious fears, rendered them less dangerous. Nothing
further of particular consequence happened and at last they came to
anchor at the Canary Islands. There the necessary repairs were made and
on the sixth of September they weighed anchor and started upon their
great western voyage over the uncharted sea.

Little progress was made the first day, as they were becalmed, but on
the second, some say the third, the Canaries disappeared from view. They
were hardly out of sight of land when the seamen began to lose courage.
They wept, beat their breasts, and cried aloud as if they were going to
instant destruction. Columbus stood steadfast as a rock in the ocean,
undisturbed by their deafening wails, and showing such composure and
confidence that the cowards plucked up a little courage. He made them
ashamed of their weakness, and so clearly explained to them the honor
and profit which they would receive at the end of the voyage that all
were inspired by his words and promised to follow wherever he should

Columbus devoted most of his time on the deck of his vessel to the
plummet and instruments of observation. The plummet, a heavy piece of
lead, attached to a long rope, was let down into the water to ascertain
its depth, and thus avoid the danger of stranding. The exact location of
the vessel at any given time was ascertained in Columbus’ day by the
astrolabe,[13] with the help of the location of the stars and their
distance from each other. To-day mariners have much more perfect
instruments for observation. Columbus made all his measurements and
observations himself. He gave only a few hours to sleep and rest, in the
meantime exhibiting such composure as to impress even the weakest of his
sailors with confidence in him and his undertaking. Only to such a man
was this great task possible. In the hands of a man of less courage,
foresight, and ability it must have failed.

                               Chapter IV
Ocean Phenomena, Unknown to Columbus and His Crew, Increase the Fear of
                               the Latter

On the second day after leaving the Canary Islands they made but
eighteen miles, owing to light winds. As Columbus foresaw that nothing
would intimidate his ignorant crew so much as the length of the voyage,
he decided to play an innocent trick upon them by keeping one reckoning
of distance for himself and another for them. He told them therefore
that they had sailed only the first fifteen miles westward.

On the twelfth of September, six days after their departure, they had
sailed one hundred and fifty miles to the west of the Canary Island of
Ferro. On that day they observed the trunk of a great tree which
evidently had been drifting about a long time. The sailors took it for a
sign that land was not far distant and felt much encouraged, but the
encouragement did not last long, for after sailing about fifteen miles
farther a strange thing happened which astonished them all and even
excited the wondering Columbus—the compass needle, which had steadily
pointed to the pole star, changed a whole degree to the west from its
customary direction. The phenomenon was new to Columbus, as well as to
his sailors. The latter were greatly excited and declared the earth was
out of joint, for the needle no longer pointed right. The distance which
they had traversed already seemed to them endless although their leader
insisted that he was not a third of a mile out of his reckoning, but now
all seemed hopeless since the needle, their only guide, had abandoned
them. Columbus, whose ingenuity in discovering methods of reassuring his
weak companions was inexhaustible, invented a plausible reason for this
unexpected phenomenon which quieted them though it was far from being
satisfactory to himself. In an ingenious manner he altered the action of
the compass so that the needle pointed right again.

Hardly had the crew recovered from this shock before a new trouble
arose. They had come to the region of the trade-winds, which were
unknown at that time. They shuddered as they thought that if these winds
continued to blow they might never reach home again. One unfortunate
thing followed another. On the sixteenth of September their fear was
greatly increased. They suddenly observed that the ocean, as far as the
eye could reach, was covered so completely with a green weed that it
seemed as if they were sailing over a vast meadow.[14] In some places it
was so thick they could hardly make their way through it. The sailors
said to themselves, “We have come to the end of the navigable ocean.
Under this sea-weed there must be reefs and shallows which will wreck
our vessels. Why should we, wretched unfortunates, longer consent to
follow this foolhardy leader?” Columbus again quieted them and inspired
fresh hope. He said to them, “Why should you be troubled about a matter
which shows that we are now approaching the wished-for goal? Does not
vegetation grow by the sea? Is it not certain that we are not far from
the shores where this sea-weed grew?”

The crew was greatly encouraged by his words, especially as at the same
time various birds were seen flying to the west. Fear changed to hope
again and so they sailed on once more with glad anticipation of a
fortunate end to their undertaking.

                               Chapter V
                             “Land, Land!”

The hope which the floating sea-weed and the flight of birds had aroused
among the seamen soon vanished, for, although they had now sailed seven
hundred and seventy miles to the west, no land had yet been seen.
Fortunately no one except the Admiral knew how to calculate the
distance. Columbus continued to conceal a considerable part of it and
announced that they had sailed five hundred and fifty miles.

But even this distance from the fatherland seemed much too long to them.
They began anew to sigh and groan and murmur, lamented their credulity
in accepting Columbus’ idle assurances, and uttered bitter reproaches
against Queen Isabella for having allowed them to risk their lives in
such a foolhardy venture. They resolved that now was the time for them
to return, in case the incessant east wind did not render it impossible,
and that their leader must be compelled to abandon his scheme. The
boldest among them even advised throwing him overboard, thereby ridding
themselves of such a dangerous leader, and assured the others that upon
their return to Spain a thorough investigation would justify them for
the death of a man who had toyed with the lives of so many.

Columbus realized the danger hanging over him but was not alarmed.
Conscious of the overwhelming importance of his plans and confiding in
the protection of the Almighty, he appeared among his sailors like one
inspired with success. With gentle earnestness he rebuked them for their
conduct and sought in every way his knowledge of human nature suggested
to rouse their hopes and courage anew. At one time he reminded them of
their duty by cordial and flattering appeals; at another he displayed
the masterful authority of a leader and threatened them with the
displeasure of the Queen, as well as the severest penalties, if they
dared to hold back when so near the successful result of a glorious

It is the prerogative of great spirits to bend the hearts of weaker and
ordinary men like wax. He succeeded in quieting his companions, and the
heavens themselves aided him. The wind, which hitherto had been
persistently east, changed to the southwest, so that return was
impossible even if they attempted to carry out their purpose. The
Admiral called their attention to this and, as many other signs of land
appeared, fresh hope was awakened and they sailed on once more in the
name of God.

On the twenty-fifth of September Martin Alonzo Pinzon, commander of the
_Pinta_, which was in the lead, came alongside of the Admiral’s vessel
and informed him he believed land was only about fifteen miles away to
the north. At the word “land” the greatest excitement prevailed. They
thanked God by singing a _Gloria in Excelsis_ and begged the Admiral to
change his course and sail to the northward. But Columbus was convinced
Pinzon was in error and would not change. He persisted in carrying out
his plan to keep steadily to the west and the result proved he was

On the following day a multitude of birds were seen, which convinced
Columbus that they had not flown far and that they were evidences of the
land he was rapidly approaching. The plummet, however, indicated a depth
of two hundred fathoms which conflicted with his conviction, for the
depth of the sea should diminish with approach to shore. On the
following evening singing birds lit on the masts, remaining there all
night, and flying toward the west at daybreak. Shortly after this they
saw a new and remarkable sight—a school of flying-fish skimming the
surface of the water. Some of them fell upon the decks and were picked
up by the seamen, who curiously noted the long fins which answer for
wings. On the same day the sea was covered with weeds, another hopeful
sign that land was near. But the goal seemed to recede day by day, and
the higher their expectations were raised the greater was their
disappointment in not realizing them. The spirit of unrest and even
mutiny broke out anew on all three vessels, and even the officers sided
with the crews against the Admiral.

Threatened upon every side and forsaken by all, Columbus stood amidst
the tumult of his excited companions like a lone oak in the tempest and
composedly faced the fury of the mutineers who desired his death, or,
what was tenfold worse than death, the abandonment of his project. Once
more he employed every resource to quiet them but it was useless. They
cursed him and threatened death if he did not at once return to the
fatherland. In these desperate circumstances he at last realized the
necessity of compromising with them. Accordingly he promised that he
would yield to their demands if they would obey his orders three days
longer. Should he not discover land by that time he would take them back
to Spain. Great as was their anger against their leader, they had to
acknowledge the fairness of the proposition and the agreement was made.

In the meantime Columbus was certain that he could not lose, for the
signs of land were so numerous he was confident he should reach it by
the end of the stipulated time. For several days the plummet had shown
decreasing depth and the kind of earth it brought up could only come
from the near land. Whole flocks of birds, which were not capable of
long flights, flew to the west. Floating branches covered with fresh red
berries were observed, the air grew milder, and the wind, especially at
night, was very changeable. So assured was the Admiral now of success
that on the following evening he reminded the crew of their duty of
gratitude to God for their protection on this dangerous voyage, and
ordered that they should lay to, as he was anxious not to make a landing
at night. He also reminded them of the Queen’s promise of a bounty of
ten thousand _maravedis_ to the one who first discovered land, and
promised to add a like sum to it. The crew remained on deck all night
watching with anxiously beating hearts for a sight of land.

It was two hours before midnight when Columbus, standing on the
quarter-deck, thought that he saw a light in the distance. He called one
of the royal pages and pointed it out to him as well as to another who
accompanied him. All three noticed that the light moved from one place
to another and they decided it must be carried by some traveller.
Columbus was so delighted with this certain proof that his great journey
was at an end that he did not close his eyes that night.

About two hours after midnight on Friday, October 12, the loud shout of
“Land, land!” was sent up on the _Pinta_, which was in the advance, and
all hearts were rejoiced. Between fear and hope they waited for the dawn
to convince them it was not a dream. Every minute seemed an hour, every
hour a day. At last the eastern sky began to glow. The sun rose in
splendor and all together the crew of the _Pinta_ with joyous voices
sang, “Lord, God, we praise Thee.” Those on the other vessels joined
with them in their thankful outburst as the long-looked-for land lay
before their eyes.

              [Illustration: _IN SIGHT OF THE NEW WORLD_]

Hardly had the song of gratitude ended when they bethought themselves of
the duty they owed their commander. With overflowing hearts and tearful
eyes they prostrated themselves at his feet and implored his pardon.
Wonderful as his steadfastness had been when confronting their fury,
still more wonderful was his composure as he overlooked their behavior
and promised to forget it.

                               Chapter VI
  Columbus Discovers Several Islands, among them Guanahani, Cuba, and
                     Haiti—Traffic with the Natives

Columbus first landed upon one of the islands commonly known as the
Bahamas.[15] One of them is called Guanahani, and this is the one first
discovered. Columbus named it San Salvador, the Island of Deliverance,
but it is no longer known by that name. The delighted mariners stood for
some time and gazed with astonished eyes at a part of the world they had
never seen before, now brightly illuminated by the rising sun. They
could hardly satisfy themselves with the sight of this smiling, fruitful
land, interspersed with beautiful forests and gracefully winding
streams. Columbus ordered the boats lowered and, stepping into one, was
rowed ashore, with banners flying, to the sound of martial music,
followed by his leaders and an armed force. As they neared the shore
they observed a great crowd of natives, who gazed with surprise at the
European vessels lying together off the beach. When they reached land,
Columbus, richly clad, with drawn sword in hand, was the first to step
upon the soil of the New World discovered by him. His companions knelt,
kissed the ground, and, still kneeling, vowed obedience to their great
leader, now Vice-king of the new country. After this expression of their
joy they set up a crucifix on the shore and, kneeling before it, offered
thanks to God for His mercy. Then with the customary ceremonial they
took possession in the name of the King and Queen of Spain.

                 [Illustration: _LANDING OF COLUMBUS_]

During these ceremonies the natives crowded around the Spaniards, gazing
in mute astonishment now upon the vessels and again upon the
extraordinary beings who had come from them. They saw but knew not what
they were seeing, for of all the ceremonies going on before their eyes
they understood not one. Had these poor creatures known what was in
store for them they would have filled the air with lamentations or have
shed their innocent blood in defending themselves against these
strangers whom they now regarded with admiration and awe. The longer
they stood and gazed the more incomprehensible was everything they saw
and heard. The white faces of the Europeans, their beards, their
costume, their weapons, and their actions were strange to them. As they
heard the roar of cannon and rattle of musketry they huddled together as
if seeking shelter from a thunder storm. They thought that these
strangers, armed with thunder and lightning, were not human but
superhuman beings, children of their divinity, the sun, who had
condescended to visit the earth. Some of them regarded the sun, the
all-animating, mighty, and beneficent orb, as God himself. Others
believed in many deities with human figures, and the rest were so weak
mentally that they had no idea of the origin of the world and no
knowledge of its daily phenomena. These poor creatures knew nothing of a
God and lived in ignorance of whence they came or of what was to become
of them. The Spaniards in their turn were as greatly astonished at what
they beheld as the natives. The shrubs, plants, and trees were totally
unlike those of Europe. The natives seemed to be of an entirely
different race from them in their physical appearance and manner of
life. They were of a dark copper color, their hair was black and long,
their chins beardless, their stature medium, their features strange and
peculiar, their manner gentle, and their bodies strangely marked and
painted. Some were almost—others completely—naked, except that they wore
ornaments of feathers, shells, and disks of gold in their ears and noses
and upon their heads. At first they were afraid, but after a little,
when they were given presents of beads, ribbons, and other trifles, they
felt so much confidence in their celestial guests that toward evening,
when the Spaniards returned to their vessels, many of them accompanied
them in little canoes, hollowed out of the trunks of trees, some to
gratify their curiosity still further, others to exchange gifts. They
gave the Spaniards cotton yarn, which they were skilled in making,
arrows with tips made of fish bone, fruits, and parrots of various
kinds. They were so eager to get the European trifles that they gathered
the pieces of broken knick-knacks lying upon the deck and gladly
exchanged twenty-five pounds of cotton yarn for a couple of copper coins
which were of no use to them. The novelty of these articles and the fact
that they belonged to the white people invested them with great value in
their esteem.

On the next day Columbus went ashore again, everywhere followed by the
natives. He was specially anxious to find out where the gold came from.
They assured him it was not on their island but farther south. He
decided to act upon this information, for he had assured the King of
Spain and his avaricious Court that his discoveries would enrich them.
Consequently he went on board again, took seven natives with him as
guides, and sailed southward. He observed several new islands but
visited only the three largest, which he named Santa Maria del
Concepcion, Ferdinand, and Isabella. But he found no gold there. Every
one he asked declared it could be found farther south, so he remained
there no longer but sailed south again. After a comparatively short
voyage he discerned a country different from any he had yet seen, not
only in size but in general character. It was not level like the others
but had many mountains and valleys, forests, brooks, and rivers. He was
in doubt whether it was part of the mainland or a large island. After
several days’ observations he was convinced it was an island, called by
the natives Cuba. He came to anchor at the mouth of a large river, as he
was anxious to get a near view of the people and their country. All of
them fled to the mountains at sight of the vessels, leaving their cabins
empty. Only one of them had the courage to row out in a small skiff and
go aboard. After his confidence had been secured by some little gifts,
Columbus sent two Spaniards and one of the natives of Guanahani whom he
had taken with him to learn something about the region and conciliate
the natives, for he was very anxious they should not flee every time
they saw the vessels. The two Spaniards proceeded inland about twelve
miles and upon their return submitted the following report to the

“We found a great part of the country under cultivation and exceedingly
productive. Indian corn or maize and a kind of root, which, when baked,
tastes like bread, grows in the fields. We came at last to a village of
at least fifty wooden dwellings and about a thousand people. The leaders
came out to meet us and when they heard we had natives on board and what
kind of people we were, they embraced us and conducted us to their
largest house. We sat upon chairs shaped like an animal, its tail
serving for the back and its eyes and ears fashioned of gold. When we
were seated the natives sat near us on the floor, kissed our hands and
feet, and paid us such homage it was easy to see they thought we were
superhuman and celestial beings. They gave us to eat of their baked
root, which had the flavor of chestnuts. We noticed that all who waited
upon us were men. After a little they withdrew and several women
entered, who bestowed the same marks of homage as the men. When at last
we made ready to return, many of the natives asked permission to
accompany us, but we declined, taking with us only the King and his son,
who have come with us as a special mark of honor.”

The Admiral expressed his gratitude to the two and entertained them on
board his vessel most hospitably. In reply to inquiries as to the
locality of the gold country they pointed to the east, but could not
understand why white men should be so eager to find a metal which to
them was valueless except as an ornament. The whites wondered still more
at the simplicity of these people. Columbus shortened his stay, as he
was anxious to start in the direction they had indicated and search for
the much coveted gold in a country which was called Haiti by the

Columbus left Cuba November 19 and took twelve of the natives with him
with the intention of carrying them to Spain when he returned. They left
their fatherland without much regret, for he had left nothing undone to
make their condition agreeable. As the winds were contrary and Columbus’
large vessel could make only slow progress, Alonzo Pinzon, captain of
the _Pinta_, having the swiftest of the ships, determined to slip away
from the Admiral, get to the gold country first, and fill his sacks
before the rest got there. Columbus knew Pinzon’s purpose and signalled
him to wait, but Pinzon paid no heed and sailed away as fast as he could
to satisfy his greed for gold.

The Admiral had to submit to what he could not change but, as it soon
became so stormy that it was dangerous to keep out to sea, he was forced
to return to Cuba and anchor again in a secure harbor. He passed the
time in making closer observations of the country and the natives. He
noticed one peculiarity in their eating, which at first disgusted the
Spaniards. They were particularly fond of a kind of large spider, worms
which they found in rotting wood, and half cooked fish, which they ate
ravenously. After a little some of the Spaniards tried to eat them but
had to abandon the experiment. As soon as the weather favored, Columbus
started anew to seek for Haiti and his faithless comrade, Pinzon. He had
but sixteen miles to go and was soon there. He arrived at Haiti December
6, and named the island Hispaniola, or Little Spain. Upon his arrival
the natives fled to the woods and nothing was seen or heard of the
_Pinta_. The Admiral shortly left the harbor into which he had run and
began a cruise along the coast to the north. He soon reached another
harbor and there his desire to get acquainted with the natives was
gratified. In general appearance and habits they resembled the natives
of Guanahani and Cuba. They went unclad, were copper colored, and were
simple, gentle, and ignorant like the others. They also thought the
Spaniards were not human but celestial beings. They wore more gold
ornaments than the others and cared so little for gold that they
willingly exchanged it for beads, pins, bells, and other trifles. But
when Columbus inquired for the place where it was to be found, they
pointed to the east, so once more he set sail in the hope of finding the
source of this inexhaustible treasure.

                              Chapter VII
 Prince Guakanahari—The Admiral’s Vessel Wrecked—Forty-three Men Remain
                    Behind—The Return Voyage Begins

While the ships were lying at anchor in an inlet of the same island of
Hispaniola the cacique who ruled that region heard of the arrival of
these wonderful white men and condescended to make the Admiral a visit.
His retinue was quite imposing. He himself was borne in a litter by four
men, his princely body almost as destitute of clothing as those of his

The cacique went on board without the slightest hesitation and,
observing that the Admiral was seated at table, entered the cabin,
accompanied by two old men who appeared to be his councillors, and sat
down familiarly but respectfully by the side of Columbus, the old men
reclining at his feet. The Admiral offered him food and wine, which he
tasted, sending what was left to his people on deck. After the meal was
finished he presented the Admiral with some gold ornaments and a
skilfully made girdle, Columbus, in turn, presenting him a string of
amber beads and a pair of red slippers, besides a rug and a flask of
orange-flower water. The cacique was so delighted that he assured
Columbus everything in his country was at Columbus’ disposal.

The attitude of the cacique toward his own people was very stately but
with the Spaniards he was quite familiar. He paid close attention to
everything and expressed great admiration for all that he saw. Toward
evening he expressed the desire to go ashore again. His wish was
gratified and, the more deeply to impress him, the Admiral saluted his
departure with cannon. Thereupon he declared they must be of heavenly
origin for they could control the thunder and lightning. The awe with
which his servants regarded them was so great that they kissed the
footprints left by the Spaniards. As the cacique’s country, however, did
not contain the rich gold mines, which were now the only object of
Columbus’ quest, he weighed anchor again and sailed still farther

All the information received by Columbus was to the effect that the gold
was in a mountainous country ruled by a powerful cacique. Thither he
hastened but, had he known of the serious disaster which was to happen
on his short voyage, he would have given up the gold itself rather than
pay such a heavy cost for the effort of finding it. On this voyage they
came to a cape, where the sea was so calm they might easily have
anchored a short distance from shore. He had not slept for two days and
nature at last claimed her rights. Entrusting the tiller to a helmsman,
he urged him to be careful, and went below to take a little rest. Hardly
had he fallen asleep before the careless sailors imitated his example,
deserted their posts, and went to sleep also. Even the helmsman, who
thought there was no danger in such quiet waters, disregarded his
superior’s orders, turned his duties over to an ignorant cabin-boy, and
went to sleep. This boy was the only one awake on the vessel. While all
were sleeping the ship was driven by a strong current toward the shore.
A sudden shock forced the tiller from the boy’s hands. Awakened by his
shouts, Columbus rushed upon deck, saw the rocks, and instantly knew
that the vessel had struck upon them. There was immediate confusion.
Columbus alone kept his presence of mind and made preparations to save
the vessel. He ordered a boat’s crew to drop anchor at some distance
away so that they might, if possible, warp it off the rocks. The boat’s
crew were so frightened, however, that his orders were not obeyed. They
thought only of their own safety and rowed to the _Nina_. Its commander,
however, refused to take on board the men who had been so forgetful of
duty as to leave their commander in the lurch. Columbus in the meantime
cut the masts and threw everything overboard that was useless, hoping to
lighten the vessel, but its keel was split and the water poured in so
fast and continuously that at length the Admiral and crew abandoned it
and rowed to the _Nina_.

On the next morning he sent a message to the cacique telling him of the
disaster which had occurred and asking the assistance of his people in
saving the valuables on board the wrecked vessel. The cacique, whose
name was Guakanahari, was greatly distressed by the news and, shedding
tears over it, hastened to the relief of the unfortunate Europeans,
accompanied by many of his people.

These kindly natives did not improve the opportunity to steal but
exerted themselves to the utmost to save everything. They collected a
number of canoes and, by their united exertions, everything of
importance was taken ashore. The noble Guakanahari took charge of the
valuables and from time to time sent one of his kinsmen, who implored
Columbus with tearful eyes not to grieve, for the cacique would give him
all he had if it were necessary. The latter took the valuables to his
own house and stationed a strong guard to watch them until they should
be needed by Columbus, although it seemed unnecessary, for the natives
deplored the disaster as keenly as if it had happened to themselves. In
the report which Columbus made to the Court of Spain he paid a glowing
tribute to these noble natives. “In reality, Your Majesty,” he said,
“these people are so gentle and peaceful, I can assure you there can be
no better people in the world. They love their neighbors as themselves.
Their demeanor is always pleasant and agreeable. They are invariably
cheerful and kind and they speak to you with a smile. Though it is true
that they go naked, Your Majesty may be assured that they are modest and
exemplary in their habits. Their King is treated with the highest
respect and he himself is so noble and generous that it is a great
pleasure to have known him. He and his people will always live in my
pleasant memory.”

When Guakanahari discovered how fond of gold the Europeans were, he made
them many golden presents to console them for their misfortune and
promised to get more for them from a place he called Cibao.[16] Many of
his people also brought gold and were delighted to exchange it for
European knick-knacks. One of them, holding a large piece in one hand,
extended the other to a Spaniard, who placed a bell in it. The native
dropped the gold and fled, thinking he had cheated the white man and
would be looked upon as a thief.

The Spaniards now began to enjoy their stay there but in the meantime
Columbus was harassed by anxiety night and day. His best vessel was
lost. The faithless Pinzon had deserted him. The only one of his vessels
left was so small and poorly built that it would not accommodate his men
nor was it sufficiently seaworthy for the long return voyage. At last he
decided that he would take a few men and try to go back, notwithstanding
all dangers, so that the news of his discovery should reach the Court,
and leave the others as colonists in Hispaniola. His decision was
universally approved and a sufficient number expressed their willingness
to remain. The cacique was greatly pleased when he learned that the
celestial visitants were going to remain and protect him and his people
against their enemies. According to his statement a savage, warlike
race, called Caribs, lived on certain islands to the southeast. From
time to time, he asserted, his country was invaded by them and, as his
people were too weak to resist them and dared not remain in their
vicinity, they had to flee to the mountains.[17]

Columbus promised to protect them and, to impress them with his power,
ordered his people to perform some military manœuvres in their presence.
They were greatly astonished, but when the cannon which had been taken
off the wrecked vessel were fired, they were so frightened that they
threw themselves upon the ground and covered their faces. Guakanahari
himself was greatly alarmed and his fear was not allayed until Columbus
assured him that the thunder should harm only his enemies. That he might
fully realize its destructive effect he aimed a cannon at the wrecked
vessel and fired. The ball went through it and struck the water on the
other side. This sight so amazed the cacique that he went home, being
firmly convinced his guests were from the skies and that they controlled
the thunder and lightning.

Several days were now spent in the erection of a small fort and the
kindly natives lent all possible assistance, little dreaming, however,
that they were forging the fetters which one day would bind them.
Whenever the Admiral was on shore the cacique lavished favors upon him
which he generously requited. Once he received Columbus with a golden
crown on his head and conducted him to a richly decorated house. Then he
took off the crown and with great reverence placed it upon Columbus. The
latter took a necklace of small pearls which he was wearing and placed
it around the cacique’s neck. Then he took off his handsome cloak and
put it on the Prince, and placed a silver ring upon his finger. Not
content with this, he drew off a pair of red buskins and gave them to
him. With this interchange of tokens of good-will a bond of friendship
was established between them.

The fort was finished in ten days and Columbus selected forty-three men
who were to garrison it under command of the nobleman, Diego de Cerana.
He ordered them to render him absolute obedience to preserve the
good-will of Guakanahari and his people in every way and to acquaint
themselves with their language. The place where he left them he named La

After this, Columbus went on board the little vessel and on January 4,
1493, weighed anchor. A bold venture! In a small, unseaworthy vessel he
determined to recross the vast and still little known ocean. To remove
every vestige of doubt at the suspicious Court and convince the King of
the truth of his discoveries, he took with him as evidence not only gold
but several of the natives, besides unknown birds of various species. On
his voyage eastward he kept his course for some time along the coast of
Hispaniola to get a view of the adjacent region. On the second day he
saw a vessel in the distance. He at once sailed in its direction and
found it to be the vessel of the faithless Pinzon, of which he had had
no trace for six weeks. Pinzon came on board and tried to convince
Columbus it was all the fault of stormy weather which had driven him out
to sea. Columbus knew this was false but, naturally magnanimous, he
affected to believe it and took him into his favor, highly pleased that
the results of his great discoveries no longer depended upon the safety
of one small vessel. Pinzon also had been cruising along the coast of
Hispaniola but in a different direction, bartering for gold.

                              Chapter VIII
 The Return Voyage—Storm on the Way—Arrival at the Azores, Lisbon, and

A fresh west wind, which fortunately had sprung up, carried the vessels
swiftly along and the joyful crews already fancied themselves in Spain
telling their astonished listeners the story of the wonders of the New
World. Then suddenly a storm cloud arose in the western sky. The storm
rapidly approached. It grew darker and darker and the frightened
sailors, in anxious expectancy of what might happen, stood around the
deck watching the Admiral who, with his customary composure, issued the
necessary orders.

Now the waves of the broad ocean began to rise, the vessels were tossed
about, the cordage rattled, and the wind howled fearfully through the
rigging. It lightened, then again was dark as night. It thundered and a
tempest of rain beat upon the tossing vessels. The storm burst upon them
in all its fury. The lightning flashed, the thunders crashed, the waves
rushed along, the winds howled, and the reeling vessels were now hurled
high in air by the mighty billows and now plunged into deep abysses. The
sailors were overcome with fear. Some of them fell upon their knees and
prayed with uplifted hands that their lives might be spared. Others
stood or lay prostrate, paralyzed with fright, and appeared more dead
than alive; still others sought shelter in superstitions and promised if
Heaven would save them they would make a barefooted pilgrimage to some
church dedicated to the Virgin in the first Christian country they
reached. They were really in a desperate plight. They swung as it were
between death and life and every mountainous wave which lifted them upon
its mighty crest and hurled them down again into the watery abyss seemed
to them the messenger of their doom. In vain Columbus sought to employ
every means of safety suggested by his skill and experience; in vain he
tried to encourage them and to rouse them to activity. They were
soulless bodies capable of no effort while the storm raged on with
irresistible fury. At last, when he was convinced that human help was
impossible, he betook himself with sorrowing heart to his cabin to
provide in some way that his great discoveries should not be lost to the
world. Nothing troubled him so much as the thought that the important
intelligence he was taking to Europe might be lost. It pierced his great
heart like a sharp two-edged sword and moved him to think not so much of
himself and his own safety as of some means to avert what in his
estimation was the greatest of calamities. With death staring him in the
face this unterrified man was still capable of thinking clearly and
quietly, of formulating concise decisions, and putting them into effect.

Columbus took a parchment, inscribed upon it an account of his
discoveries, wrapped it in oilcloth and sealed it with wax. This packet
he placed in a well protected cask and threw it into the ocean, hoping
it would be washed ashore where some one was living who would open it
and thus become acquainted with his discoveries. Some time after this he
fastened a second cask with a similar package to the stern of his vessel
so that it should go with him if the vessel went down with him and his

In the meantime, to increase the terror of the frightful death which
menaced the crew every moment, the darkest and most cruel of all nights
came on. No mild stars, such as bring hope to the despairing, shone in
the heavens. Sky and sea were enveloped in dense darkness and the raging
hurricane continued without the least abatement of its fury. Thus they
alternated between life and death, only half alive. But the dreadful
night passed at last and in the first glimmer of dawn, to the
unspeakable delight of the wretched crew, land was seen in the distance.
The Azores lay before their eyes but, as the storm had not yet abated,
Columbus could not get near the shore. They had longed for a speedy
landing but, in view of the danger, they found it necessary to hold off
for four days. The _Pinta_ had disappeared and it was uncertain whether
it had gone down or whether Pinzon had taken advantage of the storm and
the darkness to forsake the Admiral and reach Spain with the first news
of the discoveries. At last the storm subsided and Columbus lost no time
in coming to anchor. Several Portuguese came to the vessel and offered
food for sale and inquired whence they had come and whither they
proposed to go.

Learning from them that there was an oratory of the Virgin not far from
the shore, Columbus permitted half of his men to land and fulfil the
promise they had made. He himself had grown lame in both hips owing to
his long watching and painful exertions and had to remain on board, but
he ordered them to return as soon as possible so that the others might
go ashore and perform their vows also. They promised to obey him,
disrobed themselves, and went barefooted to the oratory. Several hours
passed but none of them came back. He waited hour after hour but no one
appeared. At last it was night and still no one came. He grew suspicious
but, to learn the true state of affairs, had to wait until morning.
Morning came and then he was astonished to discover that the Portuguese
had overpowered the pilgrims and placed them under arrest. Columbus was
extremely indignant at this treacherous conduct and, as his protests
were useless, he at last threatened that he would not sail until he had
taken a hundred Portuguese prisoners and laid waste the island. His
threat made an impression upon them. They sent messengers to inquire in
the name of the governor whether he and his vessels were in the service
of the Spanish court. When Columbus had convinced them of this by his
letter of credentials they released the prisoners. The governor, it is
said, had instructions from his King to seize the person of Columbus, if
he could, and imprison him and his people and then quietly take
possession of the countries discovered by him. But as this could not be
done, because Columbus remained on board, he thought it wiser to give up
the prisoners and pretend that they had not known they were Spaniards.
Delighted with the fortunate settlement of this troublesome business,
Columbus again set sail, pleased with the prospect that all hardships
and dangers were ended. But Heaven had decreed that his steadfastness
must once more be tested.

The fearful storm broke out anew, the vessel was driven from its course,
the sails were torn, the masts wavered, and at every shock of the waves
the despairing crew expected to be lost. In this desperate condition,
which had now lasted two days, the crew suddenly perceived rocks, upon
which the old and shattered vessel was being driven. Had it continued in
that direction a moment longer it would have been destroyed, but
Columbus’ presence of mind did not forsake him in this appalling crisis.
A skilful turn which he made at just the right time saved the vessel and
all on board. He soon recognized that he was on the Portuguese coast and
certainly at the mouth of the Tagus, so he decided to come to anchor.

At daybreak he sent messengers, one to Madrid to notify the King of
Spain of his safe arrival, the other to the King of Portugal at Lisbon
to ask permission to come up the Tagus to the city and repair his
vessel. Permission being granted, he sailed without delay to Lisbon. The
news of the approach of the famous vessel rapidly spread through the
city, and all who could, ran to the harbor. The shore was crowded with
people and the river with boats, for every one was eager to see the
wonderful man who had achieved such an extraordinary undertaking. Some
thanked God for the favor He had shown the bold navigator, others
deplored the misfortune of their fatherland in rejecting his services.
The King of Portugal himself could not now refuse to pay his respects to
Columbus notwithstanding his deep regret that by this man’s discoveries
Spain would greatly increase its power and secure possessions which, but
for the folly of his advisers, he might have had. He ordered his
subjects to pay Columbus all possible honor, to provide his men with
subsistence, and also wrote a very complimentary letter, inviting him to
call upon him. Columbus hastened to accept the royal invitation. Upon
his arrival the entire Court, by command of the King, went out to meet
him. During the interview the King insisted that Columbus should speak
sitting, and with covered head, and displayed a lively interest in the
account of the discoveries and sought by flattering appeals to induce
him to engage in his service. It was in vain, however. He might have
offered him half of his kingdom without causing him to waver in his
devotion to the Court to which he had dedicated his services. After a
courteous withdrawal and the necessary repairs to his vessel he again
set sail for the same Spanish port (March 15) which he had left seven
months and eleven days before.

                               Chapter IX
    Columbus’ Second Journey in 1493—Several Islands Discovered—The
       Spaniards Find their Fort Destroyed and the Colonists Dead

Hardly had the news of Columbus’ approach reached Palos before the
people rushed to the harbor to see with their own eyes whether it was
true. As the vessel drew near and they recognized upon its deck, one his
son, another his brother, a third his friend, and a fourth her husband,
a universal outburst of joy rent the air, thousands of arms were
outstretched in welcome to the loved strangers, and thousands more shed
tears of joy.

As Columbus stepped ashore he was greeted by the roar of cannon, the
jubilant clang of bells, and the enthusiastic shouts of the multitude.
Unmoved by what would have turned the heads of ordinary men, he made it
his first duty to declare that the fortunate outcome of his great
undertaking was due not to himself but to God. He went immediately to
the church in which he had implored the divine favor before his
departure, accompanied by his sailors and all the people. After publicly
acknowledging his obligations to the Almighty, he proceeded to
Barcelona, a city in Catalonia, where the King and Queen of Spain were
holding Court. Pinzon had arrived at another Spanish port several days
before Columbus, with the intention of being the first to announce the
news to the Court, but the King had ordered him not to appear except in
the company of Columbus. Thereupon the conceited Pinzon was so
disappointed that he fell ill and died in a few days.

At every place along his route Columbus was welcomed by extraordinary
multitudes from the neighboring regions and heard his name pass
admiringly from mouth to mouth. At last he reached Barcelona, where the
King and Queen impatiently awaited him. The whole Court household went
out to pay him honor. The streets were so densely crowded that it was
almost impossible for him to make his way. The procession moved in the
following order: Several Indians, in their native costumes, whom
Columbus had taken with him, were in the advance; behind them, men
carried the gold plates, gold-dust, and gold ornaments which he had
brought; then followed others with samples of the products of the newly
discovered region, such as balls of cotton yarn, chests of pepper,
parrots carried upon long reeds, stuffed animals, and a multitude of
other objects which had never been seen in Europe before; at last came
Columbus himself, the cynosure of all eyes.


To pay especial honor to Columbus Their Majesties had caused a
magnificent throne to be erected in the public square where they awaited
him. As he approached them with the intention of kneeling as usual at
the foot of the throne, the King extended his hand to him to be kissed
and requested him to sit by his side upon a chair placed there for him.
Thereupon he modestly told the story of his discoveries and displayed
the proofs of them in the objects he had brought. When he had finished
his story, both Their Majesties and the multitude of assembled
spectators knelt and thanked God that these great discoveries, so rich
in advantage to Spain, had been made in their day. Thereupon all the
honors which Columbus had asked as reward were granted. He and his whole
family were ennobled, and whenever the King rode out, the much-loved
Admiral rode at his bridle, an honor which up to that time had been
enjoyed only by princes and the royal family. But what pleased him most
was the royal order that an entire fleet for a second expedition should
be equipped.

In the meantime the King sent an ambassador to Rome praying the Pope
that he would confirm the Spaniards in possession of the newly
discovered regions and all that might yet be discovered by them in the
ocean. The Pope, Alexander VI, drew upon a globe a line of demarcation
from one pole to another, at a distance of a hundred miles from the
Azores, and issued a bull declaring that all land discovered beyond that
line should belong to Spain. At that time it was the rule that a prince
could hold possession of a newly discovered country only when the Pope,
as the divine representative upon earth, had confirmed it.

The fleet was fitted out so rapidly that in a short time seventeen
excellent vessels waited at Cadiz in readiness to sail. The desire to
secure possessions and honor induced an incredible number of men of all
classes to apply for participation in the expedition, but Columbus, not
being able to accommodate all of them, selected fifteen hundred and paid
special attention to the provisioning of the fleet and the procuring of
all articles necessary to colonization. All sorts of implements were
provided, besides animals unknown in the new world, such as horses,
mules, and cows, all the European species of corn, and seeds of many
herbs and plants which he believed would grow in that latitude. As he
still labored under the delusion that the region discovered by him was a
part of India, he gave it the name of West Indies to distinguish it from
the real India, because to reach it he had to sail west from Europe. The
Indies lying to the eastward were at that time called the East Indies.

Everything being ready, the fleet set sail from Cadiz September 25,
1493. Columbus at first directed his course toward the Canary Islands
and arrived there October 5. There he took aboard fresh water, wood, and
cattle, besides some swine, and set sail again from Ferro, October 13.
In twenty days, aided by favoring winds, the fleet had covered a
distance of eight hundred miles. On the second of November, thirty-six
days after their departure from Spain, the fleet came to anchor off an
island which Columbus named Dominica, because he discovered it on the
Sunday which in the later Latin was called “Dies Dominica,” or the “Day
of the Lord.” Dominica is one of the Lesser Antilles or Caribbean
Islands. As he could not find good anchorage there he sailed farther on
and shortly discovered several other islands, some of them of
considerable size, such as Marie Galante, Guadeloupe, Antigua, Porto
Rico, and St. Martin.

Upon Guadeloupe they observed a magnificent waterfall plunging over a
lofty and jagged cliff with a roar that could be heard three miles away.
At first no natives were visible, as they had deserted their huts and
fled to the mountains. At last some of the Spaniards who had been sent
out brought in two boys who asserted they were not born on the island
but had been forcibly carried away, by these natives, from a neighboring
island. Soon six women were found who piteously implored help, saying
that they had been seized and condemned to slavery. The dreadful news
was learned from them that the natives of this island were in the habit
of roasting and eating male prisoners taken in their battles, and that
the women were carried off by them notwithstanding their piteous
appeals. Columbus found that what these women and the cacique,
Guakanahari, had told him previously of the barbarous practices of these
islanders, was true. Almost everywhere that he landed he met with a
hostile reception and everywhere he found traces of the inhuman practice
of cannibalism. With horror they saw the bones and skulls of slaughtered
human beings lying around almost every dwelling. This and his desire as
soon as possible to gladden the Spaniards who had been left at
Hispaniola, induced Columbus not to remain longer at these newly
discovered islands, especially as it was useless to try to communicate
with the natives. He resumed his voyage therefore and, on the
twenty-first of the same month, safely arrived at a spot which was only
a day’s journey from Fort Navidad.

Some of the crew sent ashore returned with the alarming news that they
had found the dead bodies of two men on the beach fastened to a piece of
wood in the shape of a cross. They could not decide whether they were
Europeans or natives as decomposition had made them unrecognizable. This
news made Columbus anxious as to what might be disclosed on the
following day. He passed a restless night and as soon as the morning
broke hastened to discover whether his fears were groundless or not. As
he approached the heights of La Navidad he sprang into a boat and was
rowed to the shore. How great was his astonishment not to find the
Spaniards he had left there nor the fort they had erected, only some
fragments of it, torn clothes, broken weapons, and utensils! The sight
told him all and, as further evidence of the dreadful fate of the
vanished colonists, eleven corpses were found a little distance away,
showing the signs of murder. As they were deploring the fate of these
unfortunates and considering plans of revenge, the brother of
Guakanahari met them and gave them a detailed account of the calamity.

It was substantially as follows: Hardly had Columbus sailed when the men
left behind disregarded the excellent advice and the instructions he had
given them. Instead of treating the natives in a kindly manner they
became so unjust and practised so many excesses that the natives, who
had regarded these white men as celestial visitors, found that they not
only were not better but were much worse than the dark-skinned men. The
white commander attempted to restrain them but they paid no heed to his
orders or his warnings, refused to obey him, and overran the island,
committing robberies and deeds of violence. At last they began to ravage
the territory of the cacique of Cibao, where the gold was found.
Infuriated by their atrocities, he and his people at last took up arms
and overpowered them, then surrounded the fort and fired it. Some of the
Spaniards were killed in its defence, others took to their boats but
were soon drowned. He further stated that his brother, who had remained
faithful, notwithstanding all these outrages, took up arms for the
Spaniards but received a wound in a battle with the cacique of Cibao and
was still suffering from it.

Columbus’ men were eager to take a bloody revenge but he was too wise
and humane to consent to any such scheme. He tried to convince them how
necessary it was to the safety of this island and the new colony to
conciliate and secure the good-will of the natives. He visited
Guakanahari and found him still suffering from a wound made not with
European but native weapons. The loyal, steadfast conduct of the cacique
confirmed the truth of his story. He also sought to convince Columbus in
every possible way of his unswerving loyalty and presented him with
eight hundred little shells upon which the natives set a high value,
besides a hundred gold plates, and three gourds filled with grains of
gold, for all of which Columbus gave him several European trifles.

After this, Columbus conducted his people to a more comfortable and
healthier region where, near the mouth of a little stream, he decided to
establish a regularly fortified city in which those remaining would have
a safe and convenient dwelling-place. No one was allowed to be an idle
spectator. By the united efforts of so many hands the first little city
built by Europeans in the New World arose and was named Isabella by
Columbus, in honor of his Queen.

                               Chapter X
    New Discoveries—Columbus in Great Danger—Uprising of the Natives

During the building of the city of Isabella Columbus had to contend with
a thousand difficulties which only a spirit like his could overcome. The
Spaniards, who were naturally lazy, became still less inclined to put
forth unnecessary exertion in that hot climate, and loudly protested
against a manner of life the demands of which they had not foreseen.
They had gone there with glowing expectations of securing great
treasures and had been promised an easy, pleasant life, whereas they had
to toil day after day with hired men in the blazing sunshine. Again, the
unhealthy atmosphere induced sickness and little by little a deprivation
of those necessities of life which were indispensable to these European
weaklings. Where were the golden mountains which, it was promised them,
they should visit? They had no chance to go, for the Admiral was fully
determined to complete the work of building the city before he allowed
them to penetrate the interior of the island.

These were the causes of the discontent which increased day by day and
at last led to a conspiracy against the life of Columbus. Fortunately
the fire was discovered while it was still smouldering. The ringleaders
were overpowered, some of them were punished, and others were sent to
Spain to be made an example of. At the same time Columbus besought the
King to send him speedily reinforcements of men, besides fresh stocks of
provisions. In the meantime, to remove the dissatisfaction and quell the
mutinous spirit of his men, he allowed a part of them to make an inland
expedition under command of the chevalier Ojeda, and later he conducted
one himself, to impress the natives with the sight of a European
military force. With this end in view he marched his men in close ranks,
with banners flying and with field music playing, and also had his
cavalry execute manœuvres which astonished the natives who had never
seen horses before and thought horse and rider were one. The Indians
fled to their cabins when they beheld the Spaniards and imagined
themselves secure when they had fastened the entrances with fragile
bamboos. Their route lay through the gold region of Cibao. All that the
natives had said about this region was found correct. The mines were not
worked, for the natives would make no effort to find a metal for which
they had no use, but in every stream the Spaniards found gold grains
which the water had loosened from the mountains and washed down.

Delighted with their discovery the Spaniards returned to Isabella. The
city was in a wretched plight, the means of subsistence were fast
disappearing, for the work of building had left no time for cultivating
the land, and sickness was rapidly spreading in that hot, unhealthy
region. Fortunately this was not the first time Columbus had had to
struggle against difficulties. Previous experience had increased his
skill in overcoming them and the repeated dangers to which he had been
exposed had made him all the more resolute and steadfast in meeting each
new one. Once more he set about overcoming these and restoring quiet. As
soon as this was accomplished he decided to go in quest of new
discoveries. Appointing his second brother, Don Diego, regent, and
placing Pedro de Margrite in command of those remaining behind as
captain-general, he himself, with one large and two small vessels, or
caravels, put out to sea and sailed to the west. The first important
discovery on this voyage was the island of Jamaica. As soon as he had
come to anchor he sent a boat’s crew to ascertain whether there was
sufficient depth of water for him to enter the harbor. The crew soon
encountered a great number of canoes filled with armed natives who
strove to prevent a landing. As they could not effect it peaceably they
greeted them with such a shower of arrows that the crew had to retreat.
As the harbor eventually was found secure Columbus entered it, made some
repairs on his vessels, and spent the rest of the time in examining the
country. Its conditions seemed to him superior to those of Hispaniola.
He made no delay, therefore, in taking possession of it in the name of
the King of Spain. From there he sailed to Cuba to see whether that
country, previously discovered by him, was an island or part of the
mainland. In doing this he encountered a succession of dangerous
mishaps, compared with which his previous ones were insignificant. He
met with a terrible storm in the most dangerous part of a region
entirely unknown to him. He found himself in the midst of rocks and sand
bars which threatened the instant destruction of his vessels. He also
ran into shallows which made his vessels leak so badly that it required
the exertion of his entire crew at the pumps to keep them from sinking.
He also had to contend with the dangers of hunger and thirst, and, if by
chance they secured subsistence, he was the last to avail himself of it,
as he was more solicitous for his companions than for himself. He also
had to struggle against the dissatisfaction and despondency of his men,
who assailed him with reproaches though he had shared so courageously
all their deprivations and dangers.

At various landings which he made in Cuba he learned from the natives
that it was an island. In some places the air was so full of birds and
butterflies that the sun was obscured and the day was as dark as if
there were a storm. At the north side of the island they found the ocean
thickly filled with little, low islands, to which he gave the general
name of the Queen’s Garden. Among these islands they met a canoe filled
with fishermen who came on board the Admiral’s vessel to make him a
present of their catch. In return Columbus made them some little
presents to ensure their friendship.

The unceasing and almost superhuman wear of mind and body at last
seriously affected his health. Utterly exhausted and unable to sleep, he
fell into a lethargy which deprived him of sense and memory. Fearing
that he might not recover, they hastened to get back to Isabella as best
they could. There he found a remedy for his troubles more potent then
any physicians could provide. His favorite brother, Bartolomeo, who had
been sent by the King with more men and supplies, had arrived. Thus he
had double cause for joy. These two brothers, who were devotedly
attached to each other and had similar tastes, had been separated
thirteen long years. Bartolomeo’s arrival could not have been more
fortunate. The Admiral’s illness and the wretched condition of affairs
at Hispaniola required the services of just such an intelligent, brave,
and experienced man and, had he not come just when he did, there is
little doubt Columbus and the entire colony would have perished. This
unexpected good fortune not only worked Columbus’ recovery but placed
him in a position to prevent the destruction of the new colony. During
his absence everything had been thrown into confusion. Two-thirds of the
colony had fallen victims to the diseases common in that latitude.
Margrite, who had been made captain-general, had become a rebel, but as
he could not carry out his purposes, had escaped to Spain upon one of
the vessels with Buil, his fellow-conspirator. The soldiers under his
command were scattered over the island without a leader and had
committed all kinds of outrages. Because of this the natives had become
embittered toward the Spaniards and had murdered many of them.

Such were the conditions which threatened the destruction of the young

The worst of all was the fact that the natives, hitherto so peaceful and
friendly, at last began to realize the danger which menaced them. Made
wiser by their experiences, they looked into the future and saw, with a
shudder, that a longer stay of these strangers, whom they at first had
reverenced, meant famine and slavery for them. With the idle life to
which they were accustomed, and in that hot climate, very little food
was required for daily subsistence. A handful of maize and a little
roasted cassava[18] were all they needed. Now, they noticed with
surprise, that one Spaniard ate more at one meal than four of them would
eat in a whole day, from which they concluded that it would not be long
before everything on the island would be consumed and they would be left
victims of hunger.

These observations and the daily spectacle of deeds of violence
committed by the Spaniards, at last convinced the natives they must
either throw off the yoke or forever wear it. They had courage enough to
make the attempt. They took up arms and united themselves under their
caciques into a large army, numbering about one hundred thousand.
Columbus did not shrink before the danger confronting the colony though
he deeply deplored the bitterness which had been caused among the
natives by the outrages committed by his inferiors. His chief hope, that
these poor and ignorant heathen might be led to accept the Christian
religion, was now dissipated and he realized that blood must be shed
among those who might have lived together peaceably. In the midst of
these discouragements the faithful Guakanahari visited him and tendered
him his sympathy and help. This steadfast friend of the Europeans had
already incurred the enmity of the other caciques for protecting the
strangers; and hence, in self-defence, it became necessary for him to
side with the Spaniards. Columbus cordially thanked him and accepted the
service of his warriors.

                               Chapter XI
 The Natives are Subjugated—Columbus is Traduced in Spain—He Returns to
            Europe and Suffers Many Hardships on the Voyage

With the two armies confronting one another the time had come which must
decide for either the lives of the Spaniards or the freedom of the
natives. Upon the one side were a hundred thousand Indians, armed with
clubs, spears, and arrows, the latter tipped with bone or flint. Upon
the other were only two hundred infantry and twenty cavalrymen,
supported by a small force of Indians under the command of Guakanahari.
The contrast was great, but what the Europeans lacked in numbers they
made up in the science of war, as well as in their weapons, horses, and
hounds—that hunted Indians as if they were game. The risk was equally
great on both sides and the issue of the battle apparently uncertain.
Columbus attacked the Indians fiercely. The roar of musketry, the
neighing of horses, and bellowing of the hounds so bewildered the
savages that after a brief and unorganized resistance they took to
flight. Some of them fell by the sword, others were trampled upon by the
horses or torn by the hounds, while others were taken prisoners. The
rest fled to the forest. Thus was it decided that these innocent people
should bow their necks to the yoke of European slavery. Columbus lost no
time in taking advantage of his victory. He traversed the whole region
and wherever he went established his authority without a shadow of
resistance. In a few months the entire populous island was under Spanish

Margrite and Buil, the two deadly enemies of Columbus, meanwhile had
reached Spain. He knew that they would spare no pains to belittle his
services in every way they could and to convince the suspicious King of
Spain that the discoveries made by him were of very small account. He
saw a storm coming which would certainly overwhelm him if he did not
take measures to avert it. The only means of doing this was to send the
Spanish Court some conspicuous proof of the wealth which he had promised
would accrue from his discoveries; and to place himself in a position to
furnish such proof, he found it necessary to make extortionate demands
upon the poor Indians for contributions. He ordered that the islanders
living in the gold region should bring to him quarterly a certain
quantity of gold-dust and all the others twenty-five pounds of cotton
wool. This was more than the poor people could furnish. As they had been
accustomed from youth to a life of idleness, it became unendurable for
them to search for gold and gather cotton wool day after day like
slaves. Their sustenance was growing scarcer each week and yet the
Europeans cruelly drove them to their tasks. As they could not furnish
what was demanded of them, even with their utmost exertions, they
determined to carry out a plan possible only for those in a desperate
condition. Counting upon the gluttony of the Europeans, they thought it
feasible to compel them to leave the island if they stopped planting
maize and cassava. They unanimously destroyed their crops and fled into
unapproachable mountain places, where they subsisted upon fruits and
wild turnips, but the unfortunates were soon the victims of their own
scheme. They quickly felt the pangs of that hunger which they thought
would overcome their oppressors. Some of them were swept away in a
lamentable manner, others were carried off by contagious diseases, and
the remainder were so exhausted that they could not bear the burdens
imposed upon them. As far as the Spaniards were concerned they did not
suffer much from this desperate scheme, for by their own exertions and
by the arrival of subsistence from Europe they were protected from utter
want. The hope of the poor natives, that they might survive the
intruders, perished.

In the meantime the storm which Columbus saw rising in the distance at
last burst upon him. Margrite and Buil had so belittled the importance
of his discoveries and pictured his accomplishment in such odious colors
that the Spanish Court lost its confidence in him. The King decided to
send a representative to the West Indies to investigate affairs and
report. This man, Juan Aguado, was far from having the ability or
insight to discharge such a duty. Puffed up with his new importance,
Aguado came to Hispaniola and hastened to impress the Admiral with his
dignity. He met Columbus in a most contemptuous manner and invited
all—Spaniards as well as natives—who had any complaints to make, to
appear before him. He eagerly seized upon every charge which the
discontented brought against Columbus, without inquiring into its truth
or falsity, so that he might collect a mass of individual complaints
which should exhibit the man whom he hoped to destroy in the worst
possible light. Columbus, as we know, could endure much, but this new
affliction bore heavily upon him. He resolved to go to Spain at once and
make a personal explanation to the King and Queen, leaving the issue to
their sense of justice. In pursuance of his plan he appointed his
brother Bartolomeo as _adelantado_, or governor of the island, during
his absence, and a certain man, named Roldan, to have military command.
This was unfortunate as the latter was an unprincipled adventurer.

On the tenth of May[19] Columbus left the island with two new vessels
and two hundred and twenty men. To make as speedy a voyage as possible
he steered in a direct course for Spain. He did not know how much this
would prolong the voyage. He had to learn by unfortunate experience what
every seaman now knows, how uncertain the trade-winds make such a
course. It is well known now that vessels returning from the West
Indies, in order to evade these contrary winds, must steer farther
north. He soon discovered the difficulties of the course he had selected
but, as he was not accustomed to yield to obstacles, he pushed on all
the more resolutely. His voyage was so greatly protracted, however, that
after three months he had little prospect of reaching its end. His
troubles were still further increased by the diminution of his supplies,
and at last his crew were reduced to a very small portion of bread.
Hunger at last made them so furious that they were resolved to slaughter
the Indians on board or, if that were not allowed, to throw them
overboard so that the rest might have enough to eat. In this crisis
Columbus once more showed that humane feeling which was always
characteristic of him. He firmly refused to permit it and explained to
them that these unfortunate Indians were their companions, sharers in a
common necessity, and had as much right to food as themselves. By these
and similar representations he appeased them temporarily. Before they
had time to renew their inhuman demands Heaven itself interposed and
ended all troubles. The coast of Spain was in sight!

                              Chapter XII
 Columbus is Graciously Received by Ferdinand and Isabella—His Enemies
      Unable to Shake their Confidence in Him—The Third Voyage in
  1498—Discovery of the Island of Trinidad at the Mouth of the Orinoco

Serenely conscious of the value of his services, but with that modesty
which is characteristic of all noble spirits, the calumniated
world-discoverer approached the throne of his sovereign to establish his
innocence of the false accusations made against him. But it was not
necessary for him to defend himself, for his mere countenance impressed
his royal judges at once with the esteem in which they had previously
held his services, as well as with shame for their own credulity. As
soon as he had shown them a part only of the valuable products he had
brought with him, all their suspicions vanished and they strove to
compensate him by every mark of honor. All that Columbus now proposed
was granted, the rights which he already held in the newly discovered
countries were confirmed, and new ones added. His most urgent desire was
the secure establishment of the colony he had founded at Hispaniola and
to procure as many men for this purpose as he considered indispensable.
Besides this he wanted a sufficient number of farm laborers and artisans
of every kind so that he might be able to meet all the requirements of
the colony.

Unfortunately it was not easy to find many Spaniards who were ready to
sail with the Admiral to the New World, for many of the emigrants had
returned home and were not as enthusiastic over the new countries as
they might have been. The gold there could be obtained only by working
for it and these Spaniards did not like to work. Besides this the
climate of Hispaniola was not agreeable to many of them. They had come
back with bleached and yellow skins and satirically said that they
brought back more gold in their faces than in their pockets. To procure
men for the settlement of Hispaniola, Columbus advised that the prisons
should be opened and that convicts sentenced to death or the galleys
should be sent to Hispaniola where they could be useful in the adjacent
mines. An order was at once issued to courts of justice in Spain that
all such criminals should be sent to the West Indies. In this way
Columbus conveyed to the New World many bad persons who naturally gave
him much trouble.

Notwithstanding the issue of the royal order that Columbus should be
provided with everything he asked, the equipment of the fleet progressed
very slowly, for the money promised him could not be raised at once and
those opposed to the undertaking put many obstacles in his way, which
retarded the progress of the business. At last, however, two freight
vessels left for Hispaniola in January, 1498, but Columbus had to wait
until the thirtieth of May before he could weigh anchor with six vessels
deficiently manned. He had now determined to take an entirely new
course, hoping to discover the real Indies. With this purpose in view,
after he reached the Canary Islands he sailed in the same direction to
the island of the Green Cape, which the Portuguese had discovered.
Immediately after leaving the Canaries he sent half of his vessels
directly to Hispaniola to take fresh provisions to the colony and
ordered their captains to make the voyage as quickly as possible. After
passing the island of the Green Cape, which is called the Salz Island,
he anchored near a small, barren one where the Portuguese sent their
lepers to be cured. Upon this small island there are multitudes of
turtles which swim there from the African coast to lay their eggs in the
sand. These animals are very easily caught. When placed upon their backs
they cannot move. It had been found that to eat their flesh and wash in
their blood was a sure cure for leprosy, so those afflicted with that
disease were sent there to be healed. Besides these turtles there was an
immense number of goats upon this island, which had sprang from eight
goats once brought there by a Portuguese. There was neither tree nor
stream on the island and the poor lepers were forced to drink foul rain
water which collected in holes. There were at that time only seven of
them on the island.

From there Columbus steered to the southward until he reached the
equator, where his fleet was becalmed. The sun’s rays beat down upon
their heads fiercely and they could find no shelter from its blazing
heat. The wine-casks split, all the water aboard was foul, the
provisions rotted, the vessels themselves grew so hot that the
despairing sailors expected every instant they would take fire. Besides
his own troubles and the despair of his exhausted companions, he was
afflicted by gout, induced by his anxiety and sleeplessness. He lay
racked with pain, troubled with anxiety over the dangerous condition of
his vessels, tormented with the heat, without the comfort of a drink of
fresh water. At last the heavens had pity upon him and sent such an
abundant rain that the men could hardly remain upon deck. It did not
greatly abate the terrible heat, but they secured a supply of fresh
water, and, as the calm disappeared, hope once more arose in their
half-lifeless breasts. They eagerly implored him not to persist in
sailing farther south and this time he yielded and took a southwesterly

After sailing several days in that direction, upon the first of August,
1498, the welcome shout of “Land, land!” was heard from the mast-head.
It was heavenly music in the ears of the hungry and exhausted seamen who
had been tossing about so long. The island which they observed was
covered with three hill-tops and so Columbus named it Trinidad, which
name it still bears. It lies not far from the mouth of the Orinoco
River, which empties into the sea with such force that the fleet was
very unsafe. The waves dashed and broke against them fiercely and one
vessel had the misfortune to be caught in this mighty wave rush, and for
a time was in great danger of being destroyed. Finding himself in the
midst of a terrible battle of the waves which tossed his vessels up and
down, to the right and left, as if they had been feathers, he had to
exert all his skill to escape from this dangerous spot through a channel
which had such a cruel aspect that he named it La Boca del Drago (the
Dragon’s Throat).

Columbus was now fully convinced he had reached the mainland, for no
island could contain such a mighty river as the Orinoco. He steered
still farther to the west along the coast and landed at different
places. He found that the natives of this country had many of the
characteristics of those in Hispaniola, only they were more intelligent
and courageous and were of whiter skin. They were also decorated with
gold ornaments and costly pearls, which they willingly exchanged for
European trifles. One of them came to Columbus upon one occasion without
any attendants, while he was on shore seeking fresh air as a relief from
his ailment. He boldly approached the Admiral’s camp, removed his red
silk cap, and placed a gold crown on his head in its place. Columbus
decided the native must be a cacique and took pains that he should be
properly treated.

These Indians wore a soft woollen cloth wound about the head, and their
bodies from the waist to the knee were covered with a similar cloth.
They had long but well-kept hair and their weapons were shields, bows,
and arrows. Columbus would gladly have remained there long enough to
ascertain something of the nature of the inland country but the wretched
condition of his vessels and his continued indisposition forced him to
abandon further investigation and sail to Hispaniola. Upon this voyage
he discovered the island of Margarita, which has become so famous for
its pearl fisheries.

Worn out with illness and the incessant strain upon him, he at last
reached the colony, to take a long rest from his cares and troubles.

                              Chapter XIII
Wretched Condition of the Colony—Vasco da Gama Sails around the Cape of
Good Hope to the East Indies—Ojeda’s Undertaking—Cabral Discovers Brazil

The time for rest and recovery had not yet come for poor Columbus.
Unforeseen blows, new difficulties, new anxieties, new labors and
dangers, so great that they would have tested the endurance of a well
man and exhausted any man not worn down with trouble, were awaiting him.
His noble brother, Bartolomeo, during his absence had conducted an
expedition to a favorable and not far distant region and had begun the
erection of a new city, which he named San Domingo in honor of his
father, Domenico. This city, which still flourishes, has been for a long
time one of the most important in the West Indies and the whole island
has gradually come to take its name. While laying out the new city,
Bartolomeo, with a part of his men, advanced into parts of the island
where Columbus had never been, leaving behind him the captain-general
Roldan in command of those remaining. This evil-disposed man betrayed
the confidence reposed in him and proved himself guilty of blackest

Roldan had long waited an opportunity to overthrow the Columbus family
and make himself ruler of the island. The departure of Bartolomeo and
the absence of his great brother seemed to offer just that opportunity.
He improved it to the utmost of his ability, sought to turn the
Spaniards left behind against Bartolomeo and his younger brother, Diego,
and succeeded so well that most of them came over to his side. They
chose him for their leader, took up arms against the _adelantado_, his
plan being to seize all the supplies and take the fort at San Domingo by
storm. This plan, however, was fortunately thwarted by the vigilance of
some of the officers who had been left to protect the fort, and the
leaders were forced to retreat to another part of the island. There they
strove to win the natives to their side and so far succeeded that in a
short time the whole island was in the throes of revolution.

Such was the desperate condition of the spot where Columbus had planned
to rest! Still further to aggravate his troubles, he learned that the
three vessels sent by him with supplies from the Canaries had not
arrived. It seemed certain to him that they had been lost by some
disaster or another upon the ocean. For a time everything seemed as good
as hopeless for Columbus. Storms and ocean currents had driven these
vessels out of their prescribed course and, after being tossed about in
unknown regions of the ocean, they at last reached Hispaniola, but upon
that coast where Roldan and his followers had settled. The cunning
Roldan concealed his seditious undertaking from the captains of the
three vessels and induced them to send a part of their crews on shore,
whom he agreed to conduct to San Domingo. These men, the offscourings of
the Spanish prisons, gladly enlisted under his banner, as it would give
them a chance to rob and plunder. This was the first unpleasant result
of the course which Columbus had inconsiderately taken.

Several days after the Admiral’s arrival the three vessels appeared at
San Domingo but without bringing the men he so much needed. Most of them
had gone and most of the supplies had been consumed. Roldan, the
ingrate, chuckled over Columbus’ weakness and boasted of his own
authority. Columbus’ soul was filled with deep and bitter indignation.
He magnanimously decided, however, not to pay any attention to the
injury done him but rather to arrange an interview and see if the
thankless Roldan and his erring followers could not be induced through
kindness to return to their duties. To accomplish this he announced that
all who were sorry for their offences should be forgiven as soon as they
returned to their allegiance. Besides this he made the same promise to
Roldan and assured him he should be restored to his former dignity. By
this kindly condescension and after many urgent communications, he
carried out his purpose and had the satisfaction of quelling this
dangerous outbreak without shedding a drop of blood.

Thereupon he sent a vessel to Spain to inform the Court of his discovery
of the mainland and of his suppression of the uprising, with the
evidences of the products which he had found there, consisting of
pearls, gold, and a great quantity of many-colored cloths, besides
finely woven fabrics. He sent his diary, in which he had kept the course
of his vessels and all the important events which had occurred. Roldan,
on the contrary, as well as his accomplices, did not fail to send
information to the King of a nature to calumniate the Admiral and to
justify his own shameless conduct. Unfortunately the King was unjust
enough to put more credence in his statements than in those of the brave
Admiral, notwithstanding the one uttered the truth and the other
shameful calumnies.

In the meantime the King of Portugal, deeply regretting that he had so
mistaken Columbus and rejected his proposals, resolved to spare no cost
in discovering the long-sought passage to the East Indies. To retrieve
his mistake he fitted out an expedition and entrusted its command to the
skilful and experienced mariner, Vasco da Gama.

Difficulties which appeared insurmountable confronted this undertaking,
but fortunately Da Gama had the same stamp of greatness as Columbus. No
difficulties, however great, could deter him from the execution of a
purpose once formed. It mattered not to him that the African coasts were
unknown, that they abounded in rocks and sand bars, that the sun beat
down with heat so fierce as to threaten the burning of the vessels, that
storms raged and menaced them. He met all these obstacles with an
unconquerable spirit, kept resolutely on, and at last reached the
southernmost point of Africa, the Cape of Good Hope. That was only the
starting-point for such an ambitious spirit as Vasco da Gama. He pushed
farther ahead, sailed around to the other side of Africa, and at last
reached the city of Melinda, upon the coast of Zanzibar. He was greatly
surprised to find, in place of barbarians such as he had encountered all
along the African coast, a highly civilized nation resembling in some
respects the Asiatics. They carried on an extensive trade with
foreigners, were Mohammedan in religion, and were acquainted with many
of the arts of civilization. Eager to accomplish the real purpose of his
expedition, he still sailed on and, on the twentieth of May, 1498, had
the good fortune to reach the coast of India. He landed at the city of
Calicut, in the Malabar district, on the Indian Ocean. He was no more
surprised at the richness of the country and the value of its products
than at its orderly administration and the polished manners of its
people. Unfortunately he had nothing on his vessel which he could
exchange for these valuable products, for the mere trifles which the
savages prized so highly were of little account to these people. He did
not remain there long, therefore, but turned back to inform the King of
the fortunate outcome of his undertaking.

Thus, at about the same time Columbus discovered the New World, another
world, though known already, but of little practical advantage, was
brought into close communication with Europe by navigation. From this
time on wealth poured in great streams into little Portugal. It was not
without envy that the Spaniards observed the rich treasure their
neighbors were enjoying while they had not yet been able to pay the
expenses of discovering their new possessions. The enthusiasm for making
discoveries now spread more and more. Kings and republicans, nobles and
burghers sought to make fortunes, to fit out expeditions, and gain
adventures either for themselves or others. Among these the chevalier
Ojeda, who had accompanied Columbus on his second voyage, persuaded some
merchants of Seville to equip four vessels and despatch them on voyages
of discovery under his command. He obtained permission to make these
voyages, and a contract which violated the provisions of the one which
the Court had made with Columbus. The Bishop of Badajos, who, as Prime
Minister, had charge of all West Indian affairs, was a sworn enemy of
Columbus and took advantage of his sickness to give Ojeda his diary and
charts, to be used on the voyage. This Ojeda was accompanied by a
well-known Italian nobleman, Amerigo Vespucci, or, in Latin, Americus
Vespucius. With the help of the diary of Columbus, Ojeda reached the
island of Trinidad, and, after many adventures, arrived at Hispaniola,
where he made common cause with Roldan, but returned to Spain after he
had been betrayed by him. Ojeda’s voyage, though it was of little
importance, brings Americus Vespucius into notice. In what capacity he
accompanied Ojeda is not clear. He himself maintains he made the voyage
in the service of the Crown. In his description of it he is not always
truthful. He overestimates his own importance, and yet it is evident
from his writings that he was very fond of adventure and natural beauty.
Americus Vespucius did not propose that the newly discovered country
should be named for him. He was not so foolish as that. The name was
first given to it after his death, because it was first made well known
in his writings.

Realizing the important gains to be made from the passage discovered by
Da Gama, the King of Portugal fitted out a great fleet which was loaded
with European goods with which to carry on a lucrative business, and a
man named Cabral was appointed its commander. As he knew how unsafe it
was to sail along the African coast, he steered, as soon as he was on
the other side of the equator, to the west, and, after keeping in that
direction for some time, suddenly and much to his astonishment found
himself on the coast of a great country. By accident he had discovered
the rich Brazil. He took possession of it in the name of the King and
sent one of his vessels back with the agreeable news. In this way was
one part of America after another discovered, demonstrating more and
more how correct were the grounds upon which Columbus’ conjectures

                              Chapter XIV
Columbus Again Calumniated at the Spanish Court—Bobadilla is Ordered to
 San Domingo on a Tour of Investigation—He Sends Columbus Back to Spain
in Fetters—Columbus Vindicated by his Sovereigns—Ovando Sails to the New
              Countries with a Fleet of Thirty-two Vessels

Roldan and his followers did everything in their power to escape
responsibility for the disorder which had occurred and fasten the blame
upon Columbus. At the same time many malcontents returned to Spain angry
because, in place of the riches they had expected, they had encountered
only hardships and poverty. All of these people regarded Columbus as the
sole cause of their blasted hopes, and accusations and curses were
heaped upon him all over Spain. Encouraged by his powerful enemies, they
overwhelmed the King and Queen with petitions for compensation for their
losses and with complaints of the injustice and oppression they alleged
they had suffered from him. Their ragged attire and pale, famished
appearance aroused sympathy for them and lent their statements the
appearance of truth. Whenever the King and Queen appeared in public a
swarm of these unfortunates, instigated by the Admiral’s enemies,
surrounded them, implored the royal mercy, and inveighed against
Columbus. Is it surprising that a naturally credulous and suspicious
King at last believed their accusations? Is it surprising also that the
Queen herself, who had hitherto been Columbus’ steadfast patron, at last
took sides against him?

Owing to the pressure brought upon them, Ferdinand and Isabella decided
to send a commissioner to the West Indies with authority to investigate
the Admiral’s administration. Francisco de Bobadilla was the man
proposed by the enemies of Columbus, and he obtained the important
position. He had full authority to remove Columbus and in his heart was
determined to do so. He also received permission, as soon as he was
convinced the charges were true, not only to remove him but to undertake
the government of the island himself. He further was conceded authority
to take possession of all the defences, vessels, storehouses, and
property of every kind, to fill all positions, and to send back to
Spain, for appearance before their sovereign, all persons, without
regard to rank, whose dismissal would in his opinion help to restore
order in the island. Unfortunately Bobadilla was a man completely
unfitted for such a task. He seems to have been a weak, presumptuous
person, puffed up with insolence by the brief authority which had been
so undeservedly conferred upon him. He regarded Columbus from that time
forward as a convicted malefactor. At the time this direful messenger
was selected Columbus had succeeded in his efforts to restore peace and
order in all the island districts. The discontented were satisfied, all
Spaniards and natives had obediently submitted to the laws, the rich
mines were opened, and the development of the country had begun

When Bobadilla arrived at San Domingo, Columbus was still absent in a
distant part of the island, seeing that some of his instructions were
carried out. A sense of justice should have led his judge to await his
return before taking action against him. But what did such a man as
Bobadilla care about justice? He had not come to hear Columbus’
explanations but to condemn him and usurp his place. As soon as he
landed he went directly to the house of the Admiral and announced that
it was his own from that time forward. Then he took possession of all
his belongings. After doing this he publicly announced that the King had
sent him to depose the governor, and to settle all grievances which any
person had against him. Not satisfied with this, he at once released all
whom Columbus had arrested and invited them to make complaints of the
injustice they had suffered.

Having done this, the infamous Bobadilla sent a messenger to Columbus
with the order to appear immediately before his tribunal and give an
account of his conduct. At the same time he sent him a royal document
showing that he had full authority for his order. A bolt out of the
clear sky could not have astonished Columbus more than this unexpected
news. He could not trust his own eyes but read the document over and
over again—a document black with infamy—but he could not make it other
than it was. He, the acknowledged discoverer of the New World, guilty of
no offence, was ordered to appear before the tribunal by a worthless man
not fit to lick the dust from his feet! Columbus was crushed down under
the weight of this outrage. But he did not hesitate an instant as to his
duty. He had soldiers and his brother Bartolomeo with him and it would
have been easy to answer this unjust judge, sword in hand. But his noble
spirit despised any method of protecting himself which was not
consistent with the obedience which he considered due to his superiors,
though they were guilty of an atrocious act of injustice. He hesitated
not an instant but went to San Domingo without a murmur, honorably to
accept the penalty. Having arrived, he waited upon Bobadilla. “Place him
in chains,” said the tyrant, without assigning any reason, “and take him
away.” The inhuman order was executed. Columbus was fettered and taken
to a vessel in haste. Thus was a man rewarded, for whom, if he had lived
in the days of the old Greeks and Romans, statues would have been
erected, divine honors awarded, and temples built.

Thus was Columbus degraded, and in this shameful manner he was removed
from a country which he had secured for his King at the cost of a
thousand hardships and at great personal danger. He received this last
hard blow of adverse fate with quiet dignity and with a calmness which
declared his innocence and greatness of spirit more eloquently than any
apology he could have uttered. He was hurried away; but the cup of his
sorrows was not yet emptied. His patience was to be put to a still
severer test, for Bobadilla had not yet exhausted the full measure of
his cruelty. He realized that his noble prisoner would only half suffer
so long as he knew that he was the only victim and that his brothers
were still free. He placed them also in chains and specially ordered
that they should have no communication with each other. Then he went
through the pretence of a trial and sentenced them to death, but he had
not the courage to carry out his murderous purpose, for he feared he
might not be able to justify himself. He hoped that his powerful friend,
the Bishop of Badajos, Columbus’ deadly enemy, would see that the death
sentence was executed. To this end he sent a report of the proceedings
to Spain with the prisoners.

Hardly was the vessel under way which was taking Columbus to Spain when
the captain, who still retained his respect for him, approached him to
remove the fetters, but Columbus refused to have them taken off. “Let
them remain,” he said, “I am wearing these fetters by the orders of my
superiors; I will continue to wear them until they remove them; they
will find me obedient now as I always have been.” So the fetters
remained until he reached Spain. Bobadilla had ordered that the
prisoners upon arrival should be delivered to the Bishop of Badajos, so
that they should have no opportunity to secure the sympathy of their
patron, Queen Isabella. But an honorable man, named Martin, secretly
left the vessel and carried a letter from Columbus to the Queen
informing her of what had happened. The Court was astounded at the news,
for it had never expected that Bobadilla would so far exceed the
authority vested in him. They recognized the indignity of this treatment
and foresaw that it would shock all Europe. A messenger was sent at once
with the command that Columbus and his brothers should be released. At
the same time he was requested to appear at Court and money was sent him
so that he might be suitably clothed and present himself in a manner
befitting his rank. Columbus acceded to the request of the royal pair
and waited upon them. Entering the apartment in which they were awaiting
him, he prostrated himself before them. He was so overcome with the
monstrous injustice he had suffered that it was a long time before he
could speak. At last he recovered himself, strengthened by his
consciousness of innocence, and protested against the slanders of his
malicious enemies. He made a long explanation in which he so completely
established his innocence that Ferdinand and Isabella were entirely
convinced by it. They expressed their regret for what had occurred and
assured him that it had been done without their knowledge. To confirm
this assurance, they removed Bobadilla from his position and made
reparation to Columbus by marks of affection and promises of future
protection. When a little later it became necessary to choose a
successor to Bobadilla, it was unmistakably apparent that the prejudice
of the King and Queen against Columbus was not entirely eradicated, for
Nicholas de Ovando was chosen. He was given a fleet of thirty-two
vessels, a company of two thousand five hundred persons—many of them
from distinguished families—and, besides this, everything that was
necessary for the maintenance and prosperity of the colony. It was in
vain that Columbus appealed for the rights which had been granted to him
at the beginning of his great undertaking. It was in vain that he
protested against this fresh injustice of removing him from his position
after he had been pronounced innocent, as if he were a convicted
criminal. His protests met with evasive replies, or remained unnoticed.
He felt the deepest indignation and could not conceal it. Wherever he
went he took his fetters as an evidence of the black ingratitude with
which his services had been requited. He kept them hanging in his rooms
and ordered that they should be buried in the grave with him.

                               Chapter XV
Ovando Calls the Audacious Bobadilla to Account—Columbus Undertakes his
                         Fourth Voyage in 1502

Never had so strong a fleet been sent to the West Indies as that
consigned to Ovando, the new governor. While he was sailing away with
his thirty-two vessels and two thousand five hundred men, Columbus had
to remain at home with the mortification of seeing another reap what he
had sown with so many inexpressible hardships. Soon after Ovando’s
departure a terrible storm arose which dispersed his vessels. The news
reached Spain that the fleet was lost. The King, overcome with distress
at this new misfortune which had consigned so many of his best and
bravest subjects to a watery grave, secluded himself in his palace
several days. Fortunately, however, the report proved untrue. The fleet
outrode the storm. Only one vessel was lost and the others reached their
destination at the right time.

Ovando arrived at Hispaniola just at the right time. Had he been delayed
longer the new colony might have been ruined by Bobadilla’s foolish and
unjust administration. He had hoped to establish himself in secure
possession by pandering to the rabble in every unlawful way. To
accomplish this end he revoked all of Columbus’ wise regulations and
permitted every one to conduct himself in the most unlicensed manner.
His predecessor had striven to protect the poor Indians from Spanish
outrages, but he left them exposed to violence of every kind. He divided
them among his covetous followers as slaves and the poor creatures were
assigned to tasks far beyond their strength. The burden of this labor
and the cruel severity which they had to endure at the hands of their
taskmasters killed many of these naturally weak creatures and threatened
to destroy them all.

The first act of Ovando was the removal of Bobadilla, who was sent to
Spain, together with Roldan, to give an account of his misconduct. By
royal command he did away with slavery by declaring all the Indians
free. The unlicensed manner of life followed by the Spaniards was
checked by new and rigid laws. Permission was given for the mining of
gold but upon condition that half the product should belong to the King
or the master of the island.

Meanwhile Columbus, bowed down by the weight of his troubles, appeared
from time to time at the Court, which continued to turn a deaf ear to
his complaints. He did not plead for grace but for justice. With the
royal contract in his hands, he implored the fulfilment of the promise
made to him that he should be the vice-sovereign of the newly discovered
regions. He was convinced that on his last voyage he had found the coast
of the mainland. His former supposition that this land was a part of
India, if not entirely removed, was greatly weakened. He now conjectured
that between the mainland and India there might be a great ocean
separating one from the other. He further thought it possible that in
the region of the Isthmus of Darien there might be a strait through
which a passage could be found into this ocean and thence to the Indies.

It seemed to him a matter of the highest importance to ascertain whether
there was such a passage. If so, how much easier and more direct it
would be to sail for the Indies in that direction than by the passage
discovered by the Portuguese around Africa! Great as was the injury done
to him by the King, his desire to benefit the world by fresh discoveries
was still greater, greater even than his indignation at being superseded
and refused his rights. He magnanimously resolved to forget all that had
been done to him and in his old age to risk once more the dangers and
hardships of a new voyage. He announced his purpose to the Court, which
was only too delighted at the opportunity of ridding itself of his
troublesome presence. The sight of this deserving and greatly maligned
man was a daily reproach to the King and Queen and they were only too
glad to be free from it. Hence they willingly accepted his offer. They
also cherished a belief that his voyage might have fortunate results for
them. The order to fit out an expedition was promptly issued.

What an apology for a fleet! Four wretched little vessels, the largest
of which was not half as large as an ordinary freight vessel,
constituted all the material entrusted to him for so great an
undertaking. With this little fleet he must navigate a far-distant
unknown ocean and find a way to those East Indies from which he had
promised to bring rich treasures. What a wretched outfit for the
accomplishment of so vast an undertaking! Any other man would have
abandoned such a seemingly impossible project, but Columbus thought of
his first voyage and had no hesitation in trusting his life this time to
vessels as weak as those were with which he first crossed the ocean
between Europe and the West Indies. He went on board courageously,
accompanied by his brother Bartolomeo and his thirteen-year-old second
son, Ferdinand, who afterward wrote the history of his life.

On the ninth of May, 1502, ten years after his first voyage, the
gray-haired navigator set sail from Cadiz and steered for the Canary
Islands. The voyage thus far was very fortunate, except that one of his
vessels, the largest one, was such a slow sailer that it was very
difficult to keep up with the others. He therefore first directed his
course to Hispaniola that he might exchange this useless vessel for
another. As soon as he reached the island he sent a messenger to Ovando,
acquainting him with the reasons for his arrival and asking permission
to enter the harbor. The governor, however, did not believe he had the
right to grant this request as a different course had been laid out for
him, and he had been forbidden to go to Hispaniola. So the Admiral had
to submit to a humiliation which he must have expected. Notwithstanding
his indignation he called the attention of Ovando to the fact, of which
he was certain from long experience, that a violent storm was
approaching. He begged for permission therefore to enter the harbor and
remain there until the storm subsided. The governor at this time was
about to send a considerable fleet to Spain. Columbus’ proposal,
however, was disregarded. His petition was rejected, his advice spurned,
and his warning was laughed at as the fancy of a conceited, knavish
weather prophet. Meanwhile the Spanish homeward-bound fleet set sail.

But the Heavens avenged the slight which had been put upon Columbus. The
storm which he had foreseen came in all its fury. Columbus saved himself
by keeping close in to shore and his vessels escaped. Ovando’s richly
laden fleet, however, on its way to Spain, became the prey of the storm.
Roldan and Bobadilla paid the penalty of their treachery to Columbus and
perished in the waters. When the Admiral learned later that they were
among the drowned, he had no doubt that an overruling Power had thus
punished these traitors. With righteous indignation Columbus left the
island, which he had discovered and which had been refused him as a
shelter from a terrible storm, and sailed westward for the mainland. He
was beset by many dangers on this voyage but finally had the good
fortune to reach an island called Guanaja, lying not far from the main
coast of Honduras. As soon as he had come to anchor he sent his brother
Bartolomeo with some armed men ashore to make investigations. As
Bartolomeo approached the beach he met a large Indian boat much more
skilfully built than any he had ever seen before in that region. It was
of considerable length, eight feet wide, and covered in the middle with
a roof of palm leaves which gave it the appearance of a large gondola.
The wives and children of the Indians were on board, besides twenty-five
men. As soon as they were overtaken they gave themselves up as
prisoners, without resistance, although they were armed. Their cargo was
examined and found to consist of woollen stuffs, some pieces of
clothing, and great bands of cloth which served as draperies for the
women, large wooden swords sharpened on both sides, besides copper
hatchets and some other articles made of metal. Their food was of the
same kind as that in Hispaniola except that they had a drink made of
maize, resembling beer, and a small stock of cocoa beans of which they
were very fond and which also served for money. These were the first
beans of the kind ever seen by Europeans. Another remarkable thing about
these savages was the modest manner in which they attired themselves.

The Admiral was delighted to have these natives in his power, as he
hoped to learn from them much that he wished to know. He treated them
generously, exchanged European articles for their own, and gave them to
understand they could go back with their boat whenever it pleased them.
One old man, who seemed to be the most distinguished among them,
remained on board a long time and much useful knowledge was gained from
him which was of service in further communications with the natives.

Columbus learned from this old man that there was a great region farther
to the west which produced gold in abundance. The people in that region
wore golden circlets on their heads and heavy gold rings on their
fingers, arms, and ankles. They had tables, chairs, and chests of gold;
and corals, spices, and other valuable articles could be found there in
great quantities. This region was no other than the rich Mexico. But
great as was the Admiral’s desire to secure these treasures, his desire
to effect the purpose of his voyage by discovering the straits, which he
hoped to find not far away, was still greater. After much consideration
he abandoned the idea of obtaining these treasures which he was assured
were so near. Without paying heed to the complaints of his companions he
directed his course along the shore of the mainland toward the east.

                              Chapter XVI
 Columbus Vainly Attempts to Find the Passage between the Atlantic and
                             Pacific Oceans

In pursuance of his plan Columbus sailed from the coast of Honduras to
the eastward, hoping to find the straits which the natives assured him
were in that direction. On their eastern journey along the coast they
saw men who were very different from those they had met before and at
the same time more uncivilized. They went entirely naked, ate raw meat
and fish, and their ears were distended even to their shoulders by the
many things they wore in them. They were tattooed with pictures of deer,
lions, and other animals all over their bodies. The most important of
the natives were distinguished from the others by white and red head
coverings of woollen stuff. Some were black, others red, and still
others painted their lips, nostrils, and eyes with stripes of various

From there he sailed farther on, making, however, but a short distance
each day as the wind was almost continually contrary and he was greatly
troubled by the currents. At last he reached a cape, stretching toward
the south, and there the wind was so favorable that he coasted along
without difficulty. Columbus, who never was lacking in gratitude toward
the only Source of all good, named this cape Gracias á Dios, or “Thanks
to God.” In one place where they lay at anchor for several days they
encountered boats filled with armed savages who looked as if they
intended to prevent them from making a landing. As soon as they were
convinced, however, of the friendly intentions of the Spaniards, they
approached with the utmost confidence and offered to sell their weapons
of various kinds, crossbows, canes of a black hardwood—tipped with fish
bone,—clubs, waistcoats of wool, and little pieces of pale gold which
they wore on their necks. The Admiral presented them with various
European playthings without taking anything for them. This seemed to
dissatisfy them and when the Spaniards also declined their repeated
invitation to go ashore they regarded it as a sign of mistrust. For this
reason they shortly sent an old man of distinguished appearance,
accompanied by two young maidens wearing gold necklaces, as ambassadors
to the Spaniards. The old man appeared with a banner in his hand, which
doubtless was a flag of truce, and desired to be conducted to the
Admiral. Columbus received them courteously, provided them with food and
clothing, and sent them back to shore delighted with their friendly

On the next day Columbus’ brother went ashore and saw all the presents
which had been given to the natives lying in a heap, probably because it
was not their custom to accept gifts without making gifts in return. As
he landed, two of the foremost natives took him by the arms and
requested him to sit between them on the grass. He did as they wished,
asked them various questions with the help of an interpreter, and
ordered his secretary to take down their answers in writing. Hardly had
the savages noticed pen, paper, and ink before they sprang up excitedly
and ran up to their fellows who were looking on near by. The poor
superstitious people fancied that the secretary was a magician, that the
writing materials were the instruments of his magic, and that he would
do them harm. Every effort was made to convince them of their folly but
they would not venture to come near the Spaniards until they had averted
the danger in their peculiar way, which was as follows: They threw a
kind of powder at them which gave out a smoke, and this smoke, which
they probably believed had the power of averting magic, they managed so
that it should touch the one whom they regarded as the master magician.
Immediately after this Bartolomeo went with them to their village. The
most remarkable thing he saw was a large wooden structure which served
as a burial-place. He found several corpses in it wrapped in woollen
cloths, one of which was embalmed. Upon each one of the graves there was
a board upon which were figures of animals. Upon some there were
likenesses of the deceased, ornamented in various ways. On the next day
the Admiral detained several natives on board in order to obtain further
information from them, which led the others to believe that he intended
to keep them until they were ransomed. Accordingly they sent messengers
to him with two young wild hogs as a ransom for the prisoners. The
Admiral sought to make them understand their comrades were not prisoners
and that a ransom was not necessary. He bought the hogs from them,
whereupon they returned contented.

After another cruise of several days the Admiral reached the mouth of a
stream, came to anchor, and sent a boat’s crew ashore, but a multitude
of armed natives resisted their landing. Over a hundred sprang waist
deep into the water, threateningly brandished their lances, blew horns,
beat a kind of drum, dashed water at the Spaniards, and spit at them as
a sign of their contempt and aversion. The Spaniards had orders to
maintain a friendly attitude toward them. They made no reply to the
hostile actions of the natives but contented themselves with watching
the spectacle at a safe distance until the leaders were weary of their
useless operations, when, in place of a battle, communication was opened
up with them, and an exchange of several little trifles was made for
sixteen plates of gold, valued at one hundred and fifty ducats.

On the next day the natives changed their views of the peaceful attitude
of the Spaniards toward them. They attributed it to cowardice and even
went so far with their audacity as to hurl their spears at the
approaching boats. Finding it necessary to give them a lesson they could
understand, a cannon was fired and at the same time one of the savages
was wounded by an arrow, which created a panic among them. The Spaniards
availed themselves of the opportunity to land without inflicting further
injury upon the fugitives. They made signals to them in the hope of
inducing them to return. As the natives were now convinced that the
white strangers would not harm them, they came back, laid down their
arms, and exchanged their gold quietly and peacefully.

After learning the nature of the region and its products the Admiral
continued his course along the coast, still hoping to find the straits.
On this voyage he at last came to a gulf with a spacious and secure
harbor. The natives there had built an apparently large town, which was
densely populated and surrounded by well-cultivated land. Columbus named
this place Porto Bello on account of its beautiful harbor. The natives
were universally friendly and brought fine-spun cloths, besides all
kinds of food, which they gladly exchanged for nails, needles, and
bells, and other similar trifles. From there Columbus sailed eight miles
farther to that region where now is the city of Nombre de Dios. As the
stormy weather compelled him to remain there several days he spent the
time in repairing his vessels, which had now become badly damaged. After
this he resumed his voyage but bad weather forced him to run into a
little harbor which he named the “Refuge.” The natives there were also
very friendly at first but the insulting behavior of a sailor provoked
them to hostility. Confiding in their numbers, they made a concerted
attack and attempted to board the vessels. The Admiral tried to induce
them to abandon their purpose but, as his good offices were of no avail,
he had a cannon fired in hopes that its mere noise would intimidate
them. He was mistaken, however. When the natives saw that no damage was
done, they became even bolder and replied to the cannon with shouts of
derision. Seeing that it was necessary to make some impression upon them
and show them what the cannon could do, he had a large one heavily
loaded and aimed at a hill where a multitude of the natives were
collected. The ball flew through the crowd. They saw to their dismay
that the thunder could also hit and they fled in consternation into the
woods. These natives were the handsomest he had yet seen. They were
slim, had well-shaped limbs, and none of them the protruding paunches
which were common among the savages. The harbor was filled with large
alligators which used to come down to the shore to sleep. These animals
gave out an aroma which filled the air. Although they seemed to be
timid, they would strive, when attacked, to seize and devour their

At last Columbus began to despair of finding the passage between the
Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. As he was also threatened by furious storm
winds he decided to turn back, and sailed to a spot which he called
Veragua and in which, according to the natives, there were rich gold
mines. A terrible storm, which lasted several days, and the rapid
diminishing of his supplies made this short voyage one of his most
troublesome and dangerous. The entire supply of food which remained,
after being at sea eight months, consisted of some poor remnants of ship
biscuit which had become so tainted by the hot, damp weather of the
region that it was unfit to eat. Notwithstanding this, the disgusting
stuff was eagerly devoured, but those eating it would go off into dark
corners so as not to see what they were putting into their mouths. In
this wretched plight they looked askance at the great number of sharks
swimming around the vessels. The superstitious followers of Columbus
regarded these monsters as signs of misfortune. But in spite of their
superstitious fears and in spite of the disgust which Europeans have for
such oily flesh, these famished people devoured shark meat with still
greater zest because it tasted better than maggoty biscuit.

                              Chapter XVII
 Columbus Abandons the Hope of Discovering a Passage to the Pacific and
 Returns to Jamaica, where his Vessels are Exposed to Great Danger—Two
                    Boats are Sent to Haiti for Help

Before Columbus could reach the gold region of Veragua he was forced by
a gale to come to anchor for a shorter or longer time at different
places to weather the storms. At one of these places he beheld a curious
sight. The natives did not live on the ground like other people but in
houses in the air, built among the branches of trees. In reality it
seemed as if they lived like the birds. They chose this mode of living
to protect themselves from floods, wild animals, and their enemies. They
reached their habitations by ladders and, once they were at home, drew
them up, so that all access to them was cut off.

At last they reached Veragua, with expectations of rich booty, and came
to anchor at the mouth of a river which Columbus named Belen. They
shortly became acquainted with some of the natives and, learning from
them that at the distance of a few days’ journey up the stream there was
the city of a prince named Quibia, Columbus determined to sail up the
river. Having done so, he sent his brother, Bartolomeo, ashore to give
this Indian prince a fitting welcome. He had already been informed of
the arrival of the whites, came to meet Bartolomeo, and they greeted one
another with becoming friendliness. On the next day the prince visited
the Admiral, who received him in a manner befitting his rank, and
speedily made him his friend by a gift of some European trifles.

Bartolomeo in the meantime had made careful inquiries about the gold
mines and, learning their whereabouts, went to them. When the Spaniards
reached the spot they found some pure gold lying at the roots of a tree,
which was considered a sure sign that there must be an abundance of the
metal in the soil. After picking up the pieces lying about they
returned, bringing the news of their fortunate discovery to the Admiral,
who at once decided to establish a colony there and ordered the erection
of houses at the mouth of the river Belen. Work was begun
enthusiastically and in a short time wooden houses, covered with palm
leaves, were built. Columbus selected eighty men for colonists and made
his brother Bartolomeo their leader. They were provided with all the
tools and materials necessary to make life comfortable and safe. He also
left much fishing tackle with them as the waters in that region abounded
in excellent fish. Among others there was a kind of anchovy, which the
natives caught in a curious way. These fish when they were pursued by
others would leap out of the water upon the dry land. The Indians would
cover their canoes with a great quantity of palm leaves and row about
the river splashing their oars, and the fish, mistaking the foliage on
the canoes for land, would spring into them, where they were captured.

When all his arrangements had been completed and the Admiral was ready
to make his return voyage to Spain, he learned to his great surprise
that Prince Quibia, jealous at the settlement of Europeans in his
country, had planned to fire the houses of the colonists. He counselled
with his brother how to prevent this calamity, and both decided that it
was absolutely necessary to get the start of him by seizing the Prince
in person. Bartolomeo undertook to carry out their plan. Accompanied by
a strong force, he marched directly to the city of Veragua, where the
Prince’s dwelling stood upon a solitary eminence. When they had reached
it Quibia requested Bartolomeo not to come to his house as he would come
out to meet them. Bartolomeo took only five men with him and ordered the
rest to follow at a little distance and, as soon as he gave the signal
with a musket shot, to rush forward and seize the house and allow no one
to escape. The Prince came forward but at the very instant he was about
to receive his guest he found himself a prisoner. Thereupon the signal
was given, the Spaniards surrounded the house, and all who were in it
were taken prisoners without resistance. This deed was accomplished
quickly, but a new succession of reverses began for Columbus, which
lasted to the end of his life.

The Prince was taken to the vessel, bound hand and foot. It was night
when the boat was pushed off. The prisoner, who was fastened to it by
ropes, complained of severe pain in his hands because they were tied too
tightly. His humane captors loosened the rope but kept hold of it.
Waiting his opportunity the Prince suddenly jumped overboard. They
attempted in vain to drag him out again. His dexterity in swimming and
the darkness of the night enabled him to escape. Quibia at once laid his
plans to take a terrible revenge. He attacked the colony before it was
aware by stealing through the dense forests with his men. They rushed on
with wild cries and poured a shower of burning arrows upon the palm leaf
roofs of the new houses, hoping to pierce and burn them. The distance,
however, was too great. Thereupon ensued a desperate struggle which
would have resulted in the destruction of the colony if it had not been
saved by the courage of Bartolomeo, who charged into the very midst of
the enemy with a few men so furiously that at last they gave way after
some had been killed and some wounded. Among the latter was Bartolomeo
himself, who was wounded in the breast by an arrow, but not fatally.
They hoped that the Prince would be deterred by this victory from
further acts of hostility but they were disappointed. He sought revenge
more furiously than ever and undoubtedly the colony would have been the
victim of his wrath had not the colonists, who clearly saw the danger
enveloping them, decided to trust themselves to the mercy of the waves
on the worm-eaten, crazy vessels rather than expose themselves daily to
the fury of the savages. The Admiral, when informed of their decision,
realized that it was necessary, and took them on board his vessels in
canoes lashed together.

There was no resort left for the Admiral except to reach Hispaniola with
his crazy vessels, for it was impossible to go to Spain with them, but
the elements seemed to be in a conspiracy to thwart his purpose. A
fearful hurricane and thunder storm swept the ocean to its very depths
and hurled the vessels about so violently that the crews lost all
courage. Vainly Columbus sought to apply all those precautionary
measures which experience had taught him. They did not listen to his
commands and even if they had listened they were too terrified,
confused, and exhausted to execute them. One of his vessels was lost as
it approached the coast of the mainland and the others leaked so badly
that the united exertions of all on board barely availed to keep them
from sinking. In these desperate conditions Columbus steered for Cuba,
hoping that he might be able to make the necessary repairs there. But
this hope was denied him. A new and terrible storm drove him from the
coast with irresistible fury out to sea and dashed the two vessels
together so violently that all thought their last moment had come. But
Providence preserved Columbus’ life. His virtue was yet to be tried by
harder tests. The joints of his vessels withstood the strain and, in the
meantime having reached the coast of Jamaica, he ran them ashore to
prevent them from sinking. Then he rescued himself and his companions by
stranding them. Repairing them was no longer to be thought of for they
were utterly worthless. It was fortunate from the Admiral’s point of
view that they were not destroyed, as he had two reasons for preferring
that he and his companions should live upon the wrecks rather than
ashore. In the first place they would be more secure from attack by the
natives than on land, and in the second place he could prevent them from
acts of hostility caused by the outrages of his own people. He propped
up the stranded vessels as securely as he could, roofed over the decks,
and forbade his men to go ashore.

The natives soon discovered the vessels and in pursuance of the orders
of Columbus were greeted in a friendly manner. The result was that they
also displayed a friendly spirit and brought a profusion of articles of
food to exchange for the trifles which the Spaniards always carried.
They willingly exchanged two geese for a bit of tinsel, a loaf of their
bread for a glass bead, and for bells the most valuable things they had
for barter. Columbus in the meantime counselled with his friends as to
the best way of leaving the island. Only one course seemed feasible and
that was to request the governor of Hispaniola to send a vessel to take
them off. Then the question arose how to get in communication with him.
They had not a single boat left and Hispaniola was thirty miles distant
from Jamaica. At last a way was found. By his humane and friendly
attitude toward the natives Columbus so ingratiated himself that they
were willing to sell him one or more of their canoes. They were wretched
affairs, hardly deserving the name of boat, for they were hollowed out
of tree trunks and were shapeless, poorly made things which they could
hardly row ashore. The least gust of wind would upset them and the
smallest waves wash over them.

But notwithstanding the danger to life which seemed inevitable in
undertaking a long sea journey in one of these wretched affairs, two
daring men were found in Columbus’ crew willing to risk their lives in
an effort to rescue the Admiral and his men. One was named Mendez, the
other Fiesko; the one a Spaniard, the other a Genoese. Each had a canoe
of his own, and was accompanied by six Spaniards and some natives who
were to do the rowing. It was arranged that as soon as they were
fortunate enough to reach Hispaniola, Fiesko should return and inform
the Admiral, while Mendez should go to San Domingo and execute the duty
assigned him by Columbus. The daring navigators sailed away accompanied
by the blessings and good wishes of their companions left behind. After
they had been rowing continuously for two days and nights, exposed to
intolerable heat, they began to fear that they had lost their way and
were going by Hispaniola out into the open ocean. Their distress was
great for their stock of water was exhausted and they were suffering
horribly from heat, thirst, and exhaustion. Some of the natives dropped
dead at their oars and all the others dreaded a similar fate. The only
restorative they had was sea-water held in the mouth to cool the tongue.

At last their dreadful condition was relieved by a ray of hope. It was
night and, as the moon rose above the horizon, they observed at the
place of its rising an elevation which they recognized as a cliff. This
raised their hopes that they were near an island and encouraged them to
attempt rowing to it with all their strength. When they reached it they
found only a barren rock upon which apparently there was neither food
nor drink. But they jumped out of the canoes and wandered despairingly
about the rocky islet. In the clefts of the rocks they found an abundant
store of rain-water which was as pure and clear as the water of a
cistern. Unfortunately in their joy at finding this treasure they forgot
the wise rule of moderation. They drank, and drank too much. Some of
them paid the penalty with their lives, others with impaired health.

The most pressing necessity of our adventurers having been removed, a
still more serious question presented itself. What was to be done next?
Fortunately they found upon the shore of the island some fish washed up
by the sea, and as these sufficed for their immediate wants, both the
leaders decided to remain in the desolate place during the heat of the
day and start away again toward evening in their search for land. As
soon as evening came the unfortunates resumed their course, rowing all
night by moonlight. At daybreak—to their unspeakable joy—they reached
the west coast of Hispaniola.

                             Chapter XVIII
 Conspiracy against Columbus at Jamaica—He Returns to Spain and Vainly
           Seeks Reinstatement—He Dies at Valladolid in 1506

Day after day the companions of Columbus watched the region whence
Fiesko was to come with the news that Mendez had made a landing at
Hispaniola, but they watched in vain. Fiesko did not appear. Thereupon
they became desperate. They were sure both the adventurers had been lost
and all hope of release from the island vanished. The air was filled
with their complaints and these complaints at last changed to open
revolt. They shrieked, cursed, and threatened the life of Columbus, and
the dark hour seemed to have come when the great leader, who had
overcome so many dangers, should fall a victim to their blind rage.
Columbus was confined to his bed with a painful ailment, a large part of
his crew were in a similar plight. Those who were on their feet had
submitted themselves to the leadership of two brothers, named Porras.
The oldest of these, an unfeeling wretch, approached the Admiral’s bed
and savagely demanded to know why he did not go back to Spain. Columbus
replied with his customary composure that he had no way of returning,
much as he wished to do so; if any one of his men could show him the way
to do it, he would gladly go. Gracious as his answer was, it made not
the slightest impression upon the shameless Porras. He replied even more
ferociously that it was no time for pretences. For his part he was going
to sail. Thereupon he shouted to the assembled crowd: “Those who wish to
follow me, step forward.” His words were the sign for a universal
uprising on the vessel. Most of them at once declared that they were
ready to follow him. The Admiral, suffering as he was with the torments
of gout, sprang from his bed to calm the disturbance, but his attendants
who were justly afraid he would be murdered, restrained him. The
mutineers gave way and retired when his brother, Bartolomeo, rushed into
their midst, pike in hand, to punish them for their treachery. The
leaders of the revolt in the meantime seized ten small craft which the
Admiral had secured from the natives and sprang into them. This caused
the others who had taken no part in the uprising to waver in their
loyalty and most of them got into the boats and asked to be taken with
them. It was with the deepest concern that Columbus, his brother,
Bartolomeo, and his son Ferdinand watched this distressing spectacle.
The poor bedridden invalid saw himself deserted by almost all his crew.
The few faithful attendants gathered around his bed and engaged in
excited discussion, while he thanked them for their proof of loyalty and
encouraged them to remain steadfast in their duties and to look for a
speedy termination of their present wretched condition, assuring them
that in the future their honesty and loyalty would be rewarded.

The unfeeling mutineers in the meantime rowed with exultant shouts to
the eastern point of the island, thence passing over to Hispaniola. When
they went ashore they plundered and outraged the natives and shamelessly
advised them to hold the Admiral responsible, as he was the sole cause
of their trouble. If they could get no indemnity from him, they had
their permission to kill him. It was his intention to make them all
suffer and if they were smart they would get ahead of him. This greatly
embittered the Indians against their treacherous leaders. Next they
forced a large number of Indians, whom they had made prisoners, to go on
board and do the rowing.

They had hardly gone four miles after this when a furious wind arose and
made the sea so rough that their small craft began to fill with water.
In order to lighten them, the wretches determined to murder the Indians
and throw them overboard. Some of them had already been killed when the
others, growing desperate, flung themselves into the water and imploring
mercy swam along near the canoes. But with unheard-of cruelty, whenever
they became exhausted and to rest themselves would cling for a little
while to the canoes, these European monsters would push them off and
inhumanly leave them to die. No less than eighteen were thus sacrificed,
and the same dreadful fate would have overtaken all of them had not the
Spaniards doubted the possibility of reaching Jamaica without the help
of the few remaining.

Columbus in the meantime bore his great trouble with his customary
resolution and, sick as he was, looked after the other invalids with the
tenderness of a father. Heaven blessed his generous solicitude and
sympathy and in a short time the old man had the pleasure of seeing all
of them restored to health. But now he had to contend with a new danger.
The Indians, who had supplied him with provisions up to that time, began
to fear that these voracious Europeans would stay there forever and
consume everything they could produce. This fear and the outrages from
which they had suffered at the hands of the mutineers prejudiced them
against the whites, and the result was they stopped bringing supplies to
the vessels. Columbus, however, found a way of surmounting this
difficulty, for which he was indebted to his knowledge of astronomy. He
foresaw that an eclipse of the moon was at hand and he made use of this
knowledge to arouse anew the respect and hospitality of the natives.
With the help of one of the natives of Hispaniola he summoned the
headmen by the announcement that he had something of great importance to
communicate to them. When they appeared, he told them through an Indian
interpreter that he and his companions were people who knew the God that
made the heavens and the earth. This God, who protected the good and
punished the bad, would also punish them if they refused any longer to
supply food. As a sign of the punishment hanging over them, the moon the
next night would wear a red and wrathful face, showing them what trouble
they would bring upon themselves if they longer refused to be hospitable
to their guests. At first they laughed at the prophecy, but when the
moon began to grow dark and the darkness increased, there was universal
consternation among them. With shrieks and howls they implored the
Admiral to pray to his God that He would not punish them, sacredly
promising to supply him with everything necessary to life. Columbus
agreed to do as they wished and shut himself up in his cabin for the
moment, knowing that the darkness would soon disappear. Then he
reappeared and adjured the natives not to be troubled. God, he said, saw
with great pleasure that their sentiments had changed. He therefore
would not punish them and, as a sign of His graciousness, the moon would
lose its angry appearance and soon shine upon them with its friendly
beams. When this prophecy had been fulfilled they praised the Christian
God in their joyous surprise and generously provided the wonderful man,
who had foretold all this, with everything he needed.

Eight long dreary months had passed since Mendez and Fiesko had left for
Hispaniola and nothing had been heard of them. There was not the least
doubt they had perished and the companions of Columbus gave up all hope
of the expected assistance. In despair they contemplated deserting their
leader and joining the mutineers who were roaming about the island and
living upon their plunder. Just as they were about carrying out their
purpose, to their great surprise a European vessel was seen lying at
anchor not far from shore. It did not remain there long before its
captain came to the Admiral in a boat and gave him a letter from the
governor, together with a cask of wine and two sides of bacon. Hardly
had he done this when he sprang back into his boat, rowed to his vessel,
and sailed away. The letter which he brought contained nothing more than
some empty words.

Ovando, the governor of Hispaniola, was anxious that Columbus should
miserably perish, for he feared that the discoverer, if he returned to
Spain, might establish his rights and cause him to lose his position. He
wished to know, therefore, just how great the necessities of this man
were, whom he desired out of his way, and whether he could accomplish
his infamous purpose if he delayed sending a vessel to him for a long
time. This was the malicious reason, as some of the historians maintain,
for sending his representative with orders to observe the condition of
Columbus’ affairs and then sail away again. Others give a more
inoffensive reason. Ovando, they say, feared that Columbus was using the
stranding of his vessels as a pretext for coming to Hispaniola with a
good grace and then securing the sovereignty by force. It was on this
account that he had sent a spy to ascertain whether the affairs of the
Admiral were such as had been described. Columbus informed his men that
the vessel had sailed away because it was too small to take them and
their belongings, that Mendez and Fiesko had fortunately arrived at
Hispaniola and had orders to buy a larger vessel upon his account, which
would soon come to their relief. In reality he had received no news of
the fate of either of them.

Notwithstanding the fact that the brave Fiesko had been prostrated with
a fever contracted on the rocky island, true to his promise, he was
anxious to return to the Admiral and bring him news of the fortunate
outcome of their voyage. But not one of his companions could be induced
to make that perilous voyage again. Neither promises nor threats were of
any avail and he found himself forced to go to San Domingo against his
will. There he and Mendez repeatedly implored the governor to let them
buy a vessel for the relief of their leader, but the governor managed in
various ways to protract the business so that he might carry out his own
designs. Meanwhile Columbus had made many fruitless attempts to bring
the rebels back to their allegiance. They not only persisted in their
disloyalty but they demanded that the Admiral should give them half of
all the clothing and other articles on the stranded vessels. If he
refused to do this they threatened to take them by force. When the
refusal was actually made they prepared to execute their threat.

As Columbus was still sick he sent his brother Bartolomeo with an armed
force to meet them. He had orders to use his good offices and not to
begin hostilities until all other means were exhausted. Bartolomeo
carried out the order, but when he approached in a friendly way and
invited them to make peace they took it as a confession of weakness and
the battle began. Six of them had planned to attack Bartolomeo and not
to give up until they saw him fall. But Bartolomeo met them fearlessly
and, as he was faithfully supported by his little following, he charged
upon the rebels with such resistless force that in a short time he won a
complete victory. Several were put to the sword, others were taken
prisoners, and the rest escaped by flight. Among the prisoners who were
taken back to the vessels in chains was Porras, the leader of the
rebels, whom Bartolomeo had caught and disarmed with his own hands. He
himself received a wound in the hand. Shortly after this the fugitives
sent to the Admiral messages imploring his mercy, and the magnanimous
man, who was always more inclined to forgiveness than revenge, at once
granted their prayer. At last order was restored. Every one returned to
duty, every one was forgiven, and only the audacious leader of the
mutiny remained in chains as a fitting punishment.

Mendez and Fiesko meanwhile had unceasingly striven to induce the
governor of Hispaniola to allow them the privilege of buying a vessel
with which to fetch away Columbus and his people from Jamaica. He
hesitated long before granting this reasonable request but, at last,
fearing they might apply to the Spanish Court if he persisted in leaving
the Admiral helpless, he consented. Thus was Columbus relieved and at a
time when everything looked hopeless. After spending a whole year in the
struggle with poverty and calamity, the vessel arrived. All embarked
joyfully June 28, 1504, and sailed to San Domingo which they reached
August 13. The governor, concealing his real sentiments under the cloak
of pretension and flattery, ordered Columbus to be received with all
honor. At the same time, however, when this coward, because of his
fears, was pretending to honor Columbus, he was secretly venting his
spite against him in various malicious ways. He particularly arranged
that the leader of the mutineers, who was to be taken to Spain in
chains, should bring a suit for his immediate release, and at the same
time threatened to bring proceedings against those who remained faithful
to Columbus. The Admiral, who had borne many an injury at the hands of
this unscrupulous man with patience, felt strong enough to endure this
last outrage also. But he made all possible haste to leave a country
whose discovery had been his misfortune, and as soon as a second vessel
had been fitted out he sailed for Spain, September 12, 1504. The same
adverse fate which had followed him so persistently on his previous
voyage overtook him on this last one. A furious storm was so disastrous
to one of his vessels that he had to send it back to Hispaniola. The
other was so badly damaged that it was doubtful whether it could
accomplish the journey. Besides other mishaps it lost its fore and
mainmasts. Columbus nevertheless kept on his course undauntedly. With
his half-wrecked vessel he traversed seven hundred miles of the ocean
and finally reached, though with extreme difficulty, the harbor of St.
Lucas, in Andalusia, early in November in the year 1504. He had spent
only a few days in Spain, recovering from the fatigue of his journey,
when the news of a mournful event reached him. His patroness and only
protector, Isabella, died November 26, 1504. He had looked to her as his
last and only reliance in obtaining his rights. Now she was gone! What
could he expect from the prejudiced King, who had always shown himself
inimical to him?

Nevertheless, as soon as his health was in some measure restored, he
hastened to the Court to make a report of all that had occurred. But he
was coolly received. His just complaints of the many injuries he had
suffered from his enemies were not listened to, and his reasonable
request that his rights should be restored to him was evaded by shallow
pretexts. Thus was this great and well-deserving man condemned to devote
the evening of his life to the business of vainly trying to obtain
justice from an unjust judge and mercy from a merciless King. Heaven at
last put an end to his long and bitter suffering. Exhausted by the
trials and hardships he had undergone, he died at Valladolid on
Ascension Day, May 20, 1506, his last words being, “Into Thy hands, O
Lord, I commit my spirit.” His death was worthy of his life. He died
with a peaceful spirit and with that trust in God which had
characterized him during his whole life, even when it was darkest. His
joyful soul hastened to that judgment-seat before which even Kings must
appear. His earthly remains were at first deposited in the monastery of
St. Francis in Valladolid and six years later were taken to the
Carthusian monastery at Seville, where King Ferdinand erected a costly
memorial to the discoverer. From this place the body was removed in 1536
to the island of San Domingo, the scene of his principal discoveries,
and upon the cession of that island to the French it was taken to Cuba
where the ashes rest in the cathedral of its capital. Near the high
altar of this splendid structure his bust stands in a niche, and close
by it is a silver urn which contains all that is left of the renowned

In person Columbus was tall and shapely. His appearance was
distinguished. He had a long face, aquiline nose, soft blue eyes, and a
very fair complexion. In his youth his hair was auburn but, owing to his
many hardships and severe labors, it grew white early, for his life was
a continual alternation from fortune to misfortune, from calumny to
laudation, from the highest expressions of honor to the lowest
degradations. Few and fleeting were his hours of pleasure, for hardly a
day passed that he was not called upon to contend with physical pain or
troublesome mishaps or aggravating injuries. Otherwise he was strong in
his bodily constitution and was very powerful and agile. He had a
pleasing and attractive manner and was friendly and modest with every
one. He was courteous to strangers, affable to his attendants, merry
with his good friends and, what was especially characteristic of him, in
almost every situation of life he conducted himself in a manner that
commanded admiration. He lived moderately, dressed modestly, and
whenever in his various expeditions he was overtaken by adverse
circumstances, he allowed himself no comforts which were not shared by
his companions. In his youth he devoted himself industriously to the
sciences, in which he excelled the average scholars of his time. But
what is most worthy of commendation was the quiet, sincere piety which
he manifested upon every occasion. He was inclined to anger, but he so
far overcame this passion with the principles of his religion that he
could display an admirable gentleness and patience when exposed to the
coarse assaults of his unworthy adversaries.

Such was the man who was so grossly mistaken and misjudged by his
contemporaries but whose name is immortal and must ever arouse love and
admiration in the hearts of all who prize the nobility of virtue and
human greatness.

                              Chapter XIX
    Diego, Columbus’ Son, Secures the Rights coming to him from his
Father—The Spaniards Extend their Authority in Central America and Rule
              Cruelly—Ponce de Leon’s Discovery of Florida

Diego, Columbus’ eldest son, after the death of his great father, urged
the demand for the fulfilment of the contract made by the King, by
virtue of which the government of the West Indies was vested in his
family for all time, but it was all in vain. Ferdinand displayed the
same prejudice and injustice to the son that he had to the father. All
Diego’s representations and appeals for justice were disregarded. At
last he ventured to appeal from the King to the judge whose duty it was
to investigate and settle all questions pertaining to America. To the
everlasting glory of this tribunal be it said that the judge had the
courage to decide against the King and in favor of the heirs of
Columbus, and to declare that Diego must have the rights which were
denied his father. Notwithstanding this, in all likelihood the King
would have paid little attention to the decision had it not been that
Diego brought strong influence to bear upon him. Elevated in rank by the
decision of the highest court in the Spanish kingdom, he asked for the
hand of the daughter of one of the most distinguished men in the
country, niece of a Duke of Alva, and no objection was offered. This
powerful family urged the King so persistently and emphatically to carry
out his contract that he at last surrendered and conceded Diego’s
claims. Ovando was recalled and the Columbus family, victorious over
jealousy and injustice, embarked for Hispaniola.

Accompanied by his brother, his uncle, and his wife, Diego sailed for
Hispaniola with almost kingly pomp, and lived there in all the splendor
which was due to the great service his father had rendered Spain. A
great number of persons of rank followed him there. In a short time the
colony presented an entirely different aspect and many of the most
flourishing and distinguished families in Spanish America are
descendants of those who accompanied Diego.

During Ovando’s administration a certain Juan Ponce[20] sought
permission to establish a colony upon the island of Porto Rico,
discovered by Columbus, and his request was granted. He sailed thither,
accompanied by many adventurers, hoping to secure great treasures, as
the island was reported to be rich in gold. The natives resembled those
of Hispaniola in their good nature and faithfulness. They received the
whites in the most cordial manner, regarding them as celestial beings,
and one of their caciques, after the custom of the Indians, named
himself Juan Ponce Agueynaba, after the Spanish leader, as a mark of
eternal friendship. But these greatly honored celestial friends soon
threw off their masks and showed themselves so cruel and inhuman that
the natives discovered they were only men. To make sure that they were
really mortal, the leaders of these unfortunate people decided to make
the trial as thoroughly as possible with one individual. With this
purpose in view they waited an opportunity and soon found one.

A young Spaniard, wandering about the island and feeling himself
absolutely secure, came to the cabin of one of the headmen among the
natives to spend the night with him. He was graciously received and
hospitably entertained. The next morning his host assigned some Indians
to accompany him, partly to carry his bundles, and partly to act as
guides. They had been instructed in the meantime what to do. Coming to a
river, one of the Indians offered to carry the Spaniard across and took
him upon his back. When they were in the middle of the stream he
intentionally fell, managing to submerge the Spaniard. With the help of
his companions the Indian kept the victim under water until he was
drowned. Then they dragged his body ashore. But their conviction of the
immortality of the Spaniards was so strong that they were not even then
certain the young Spaniard was actually dead. Although the dead man gave
no sign of life they remained by him three days, unceasingly praying for
pardon, because they still feared that he might come to life again. At
last, when convinced he was actually dead, they hastened to bring the
joyful news to the cacique that the white men were mortal and could die.
He did not need to know more. He conveyed the news to the other caciques
and they at once courageously determined to get rid of their tyrants by
force. But what could a naked, unwarlike people accomplish against
trained warriors armed with swords and muskets and provided with horses
and hounds? They had a great advantage in point of numbers, for over a
hundred of them could surround and murder one Spaniard, but they paid
the penalty for it with the loss of their freedom and happiness, for
when the Spaniards discovered their plan of killing them individually,
Ponce massed his warriors, who were mostly veterans, hunted the Indians
in their hiding-places, slew them wherever he found them, and made
slaves of those who were not killed. While engaged in this murderous
business, reinforcements came from Hispaniola which impressed the
superstitious islanders with the belief that the dead Spaniards had come
to life again and that it was of no use longer to contend against those
who could not die. Victims of their own ignorance, they bowed their
necks under the hard yoke of slavery which was now mercilessly put upon

In their accounts of the Porto Rico slaughtering the historians of the
time cannot sufficiently praise the cunning and courage of a great
hound, named Bezerillo, and the astonishing deeds he performed. He knew,
they said, how to distinguish the Indian friends and enemies of his
masters. The Indians were more afraid of ten Spaniards with this dog
than of a hundred without him. Before the outbreak they used to give the
Spaniards all the provisions, gold, and even slaves they asked for to
save themselves from being harmed by the dog. The following story of his
cunning is also told: Some inhuman Spaniards took delight in tormenting
an old Indian woman whom they disliked. Upon one occasion they sent her
off with a letter. She had hardly set out before Bezerillo was let loose
to run her down. He fiercely pursued her but the woman threw herself
upon her knees, showed the dog the letter, and said: “O, gracious Sir
Hound! I pray your grace, spare me! I must deliver this letter to the
Christians!” The dog, as if he clearly understood her, wagged his tail
and trotted back to his masters without doing her any harm.

The happiness of these poor natives was gone forever. The discoveries
and conquests of the Spaniards rapidly increased. The first step which
Diego took for the extension of his sway and the increase of the royal
possessions was the founding of a colony on the island of Cubagua,
discovered by his father, to engage in pearl fisheries. These pearls
grow in certain mussels and oysters, not only in the sea but also in
rivers, and have to be taken from the bottom. Some think that they come
from a disease of the shellfish, but this much is certain, that the
material of the pearls at first is a juice which comes from the body of
the fish and gradually hardens. The pearl-fishers, who are mostly poor
men, dive into the water and bring them up. Diego conceived that the
work of these Indians, who were used to swimming and diving, could be
more profitably employed in this manner than in mining. He sent a number
of them with the necessary European overseers to Cubagua, where his
father had found that the waters abounded in pearls. The profits of the
fisheries both for the King and the governor were exceedingly large, but
the unfortunate natives employed in the fishing found the work so
unhealthy and dangerous that most of them were lost. The general
barrenness of the island soon compelled the colony to leave and settle
in the adjacent island of Margarita.

About this time Diego took possession of the island of Jamaica. A colony
was established and the natives soon found themselves destined to the
same fate which had overtaken their brethren in Hispaniola and Porto
Rico. Next in order came Cuba. Diego assigned its conquest to
Velasquez,[21] a man who had made himself famous on various occasions
during the lifetime of Columbus. A large number of people who hoped to
make their fortunes accompanied him and a landing was made at the
eastern point of the island. This region at that time was ruled by a
cacique named Hatuey who had escaped from slavery in Hispaniola and
settled there. A sworn enemy of the oppressors of his people, he had
long expected a visit from them and had arranged with spies in
Hispaniola to send him early news of their movements. He now saw the
dreaded calamity at his doors. He summoned his followers, announced the
danger which threatened them, and encouraged them to maintain their
liberty to the last drop of their blood. All courageously agreed to
follow him.

“This is well,” replied Hatuey, “but one thing more is necessary, my
good people, if our efforts to save ourselves from the tyrants are to be
successful. Do you know why they never come here to look for their God
among us? Do you know who their God is? See him here! This is he!”

As he said this he showed them a basket of gold, and assured them this
worthless metal was their God, for whom they were venturing everything
and seeking to hold possession of the island. “Let us hasten,” he said,
“to celebrate this deity of the Christians and secure His protection.”
Then in the Indian fashion they began singing and dancing around the
basket. The festivity was kept up until late into the night and did not
cease until the entire company had succumbed to weariness and
exhaustion. On the next day Hatuey summoned them together again and told
them that, notwithstanding the honors they had paid to this deity, he
was not sure they would be safe so long as He remained on the island.
“It is useless,” he exclaimed, “to hide Him. If you should swallow Him
they would cut you to pieces to find Him in your insides. So let us
throw Him into the sea so that He shall be no longer upon our island.”
His advice was promptly followed. They gathered all the gold they could
find and threw it into the ocean.

Notwithstanding this action the Spanish flags were soon waving on their
shores. Hatuey courageously hastened to meet the foe. A battle ensued.
The natives were soon beaten and put to flight. Hatuey himself was taken
prisoner and, as a terrible example to other caciques, was sentenced to
be burned alive. As he was standing at a pile of fagots, bound to a
stake, a Franciscan approached to describe heaven to him, the place of
the blessed after death.

“Do the Spaniards also go to this blessed place?” inquired Hatuey.

“Certainly,” replied the monk; “but only the good ones.”

“That is good for nothing,” answered Hatuey, “I will go to no place
where I shall be in danger of meeting one of them.”

This dreadful act of barbarity inspired the natives all over Cuba with
such fear that they no longer thought of resistance but willingly
subjected themselves to the Spanish yoke. Thus in a few days the
Spaniards conquered one of the greatest and most beautiful islands in
the world without losing a man. About this time various expeditions were
sent out to the mainland and preparations were made to establish
colonies and subject the natives.

Ponce, the conqueror of Porto Rico, heard from several natives a story
that was commonly believed by those simple people. According to this
story there was an island toward the north and a wonderful fountain upon
it whose water had the remarkable effect of making the person who drank
it young and strong again. Absurd as the story was, it so excited the
curiosity of the credulous Ponce that he determined to search for the
wonderful fountain.

With this purpose in view he set sail from Porto Rico, directing his
course northward toward the Lucayan Islands. After reaching the
twenty-sixth degree of north latitude he changed his course to the west
and found to his great delight a large, beautiful country, which we now
know to have been a part of North America, to which Ponce afterward gave
the name of Florida, either because it had such a blooming appearance or
because its discovery was made at the season which is known as Easter
day, or, as it is called in Spanish, “Pascua florida,” or “Flowery
Easter.” Thus a very silly story led to a most important discovery.

The attention of the Spaniards was shortly directed to another part of
the world, which had hitherto been entirely unknown to them. They
conjectured the existence of a country in the same latitude as that of
the great rich Mexico, but no one had yet tried to find it.

The famous man who opened up this country to Europeans was Cortes.


[1]The largest of the Canary Islands, traversed by mountains and
   containing the famous peak. The capital of the group, Santa Cruz de
   Santiago, is located there.

[2]The Guanches were a variety of the Berbers, and of Arab descent.

[3]Henry, surnamed “The Navigator,” was born March 4, 1394, and died
   Nov. 13, 1460. He was distinguished for his encouragement and
   patronage of discoverers.

[4]Dias, after sailing south in the open sea for thirteen days, sought
   land to the eastward and, not finding it, turned northward along the
   coast east of the Cape of Good Hope and reached a point beyond Algoa

[5]Cabral was the successor of Vasco da Gama in Portuguese exploration.

[6]Columbus’ name in Italian was Cristoforo Colombo; in Spanish,
   Cristoval Colon; in French, Christophe Colomb; in Latin,
   Christophorus Columbus.

[7]Other authorities assigned 1446 as the year of his birth. Some place
   it as early as 1436.

[8]Diego accompanied his brother on his second voyage. He became a
   priest in 1500.

[9]These dukes were Medina Sidonia and Medina Celi, both of whom favored
   the scheme at first, but eventually rejected it.

[10]A maritime town in Andalusia.

[11]The Monastery of La Rabida.

[12]Other authorities state that the crew of the _Santa Maria_,
   commanded by Columbus, numbered fifty men; that of the _Pinta_, under
   Martin Pinzon, thirty men; and that of the _Nina_, under Vicente
   Pinzon, twenty-four; and that the total number of the adventurers was
   one hundred and twenty.

[13]The astrolabe, an obsolete instrument, was used for taking the
   altitude of the sun and stars. It was superseded by Hadley’s quadrant
   and sextant.

[14]The Sea of Sargasso is so named for the sea-weed, _Sargassum
   bacciferum_, which covers it. It is situated in the North Atlantic
   Ocean and is similar in shape to an egg, the large end being toward
   Florida. It reaches from longitude 70 to longitude 40, being about
   600 miles southwest of the Azores. Its width lies between latitude 20
   and latitude 35. The Bermuda Islands are the only body of land within
   its area, they being near its northwest edge. It is estimated to be
   about 130,000 square miles in extent.

[15]This island has been variously stated as Turk’s Island, Cat Island,
   Mayaquanna, and Watling. The best authorities have decided in favor
   of Watling.

[16]Cibao is a mountainous region in the central part of San Domingo.
   Columbus supposed it to be the Japan of Marco Polo.

[17]The Caribs occupied Guiana and the region of the Orinoco and
   conquered the Caribbean Islands. Their descendants live in Honduras
   and Nicaragua. Our word “cannibal” is a corruption of “Carib.”

[18]The cassava is a plant about four feet high with broad leaves and a
   thick stem. The root is shaped like a turnip and is about six inches
   thick. Eaten raw it is insipid and unhealthy but when cooked is very

[19]Other authorities say the tenth of March.

[20]Ponce de Leon, born in Arragon in 1460, a Spanish soldier, conqueror
   of Porto Rico and discoverer of Florida.

[21]Velasquez accompanied Columbus to Española in 1493.


The following is a chronological statement of the principal events
treated of in this volume:

    (?)1436    Birth of Columbus.
    1470    Columbus arrives at Lisbon.
    1484    Columbus goes to Spain.
    1490    His scheme rejected.
    1492    Agreement signed with Ferdinand.
    1492    Discovery of America.
    1493    Columbus returns to Spain.
    1493    Second voyage.
    1495    Investigation of his administration.
    1496    Returns to Spain.
    1498    Third voyage.
    1500    Bobadilla sent to the West Indies.
    1500    Columbus sent to Spain in chains.
    1502    Ovando appointed governor of Hispaniola.
    1502    Fourth voyage.
    1504    Returns to Spain.
    1506    Death of Columbus.

                     LIFE STORIES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE

                    _Translated from the German by_
                            GEORGE P. UPTON

                          36 Volumes Now Ready

                          _American Explorers_

  Eric the Red and Leif the Lucky, and Other Pre-Columbian Discoveries
          of America

                     _Historical and Biographical_

  William of Orange
  Maria Theresa
  The Maid of Orleans
  Frederick the Great
  The Little Dauphin
  Herman and Thusnelda
  The Swiss Heroes
  Marie Antoinette’s Youth
  The Duke of Brittany
  Louise, Queen of Prussia
  The Youth of the Great Elector
  Emperor William First
  Elizabeth, Empress of Austria
  Prince Eugene
  Eugénie, Empress of the French
  Queen Maria Sophia of Naples

                          _Musical Biography_

  Johann Sebastian Bach
  Joseph Haydn


  Frithjof Saga
  The Nibelungs
  William Tell
  Arnold of Winkelried

                    Illustrated. Each 50 cents _net_
                      A. C. McCLURG & CO., Chicago

      *      *      *      *      *      *

Transcriber’s note:

--Silently corrected obvious typographical errors.

--Left non-standard spellings and dialect unchanged.

--The book cover image was created by the transcriber and is
  placed in the public domain.

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