The True Story of Christopher Columbus
The End Of The Story
Any one who is sick, as some of you may know, is apt to be anxious and fretful and full
of fears as to how he is going to get along, or who will look out for his family. Very often
there is no need for this feeling; very often it is a part of the complaint from which the
sick person is suffering.
In the case of Columbus, however, there was good cause for this depressed and anxious
feeling. King Ferdinand, after Queen Isabella's death, did nothing to help Columbus. He
would not agree to give the Admiral what he called his rights, and though Columbus kept
writing letters from his sick room asking for justice, the king would do nothing for him.
And when the king's smile is turned to a frown, the fashion of the court is to frown, too.
So Columbus had no friends at the king's court. Diego, his eldest son, was still one of the
royal pages, but he could do nothing. Without friends, without influence, without
opportunity, Columbus began to feel that he should never get his rights unless he could
see the king himself. And sick though he was he determined to try it.
It must have been sad enough to see this sick old man drag himself feebly to the court to
ask for justice from the king whom he had enriched. You would think that when King
Ferdinand really saw Columbus at the foot of the throne, and when he remembered all
that this man had done for him and for Spain, and how brave and persistent and full of
determination to do great things the Admiral once had been, he would at least have given
the old man what was justly due him.
But he would not. He smiled on the old sailor, and said many pleasant things and talked
as if he were a friend, but he would not agree to anything Columbus asked him; and the
poor Admiral crawled back to his sick bed again, and gave up the struggle. I have done
all that I can do, he said to the few friends who remained faithful to him; I must leave it
all to God. He has always helped me when things were at the worst.
And God helped him by taking him away from all the fret, and worry, and pain, and
struggle that made up so much of the Admiral's troubled life. On the twentieth of May,
1506, the end came. In the house now known as Number 7 Columbus Avenue, in the city
of Valladolid; in Northern Spain, with a few faithful friends at his side, he signed his will,
lay back in bed and saying trustfully these words: Into thy hands, O Lord, I commit my
spirit! the Admiral of the Ocean Seas, the Viceroy of the Indies, the Discoverer of a New
World, ended his fight for life. Christopher Columbus was dead.
He was but sixty years old. With Tennyson, and Whittier, and Gladstone, and De Lesseps
living to be over eighty, and with your own good grandfather and grandmother, though
even older than Columbus, by no means ready to be called old people, sixty years seems
an early age to be so completely broken and bent and gray as was he. But trouble, and
care, and exposure, and all the worries and perils of his life of adventure, had, as you
must know, so worn upon Columbus that when he died he seemed to be an old, old man.