Christopher Columbus and the New World HTML version

The Conquest Of Espanola
We must now go back to the time when Columbus, having made what arrangements he
could for the safety of Espanola, left it under the charge of his brother James. Ojeda had
duly marched into the interior and taken over the command of Fort St. Thomas, thus
setting free Margarite, according to his instructions, to lead an expedition for purposes of
reconnoitre and demonstration through the island. These, at any rate, were Margarite's
orders, duly communicated to him by Ojeda; but Margarite will have none of them. Well
born, well educated, well bred, he ought at least to have the spirit to carry out orders so
agreeable to a gentleman of adventure; but unfortunately, although Margarite is a
gentleman by birth, he is a low and dishonest dog by nature. He cannot take the decent
course, cannot even play the man, and take his share in the military work of the colony.
Instead of cutting paths through the forest, and exhibiting his military strength in an
orderly and proper way as the Admiral intended he should, he marches forth from St.
Thomas, on hearing that Columbus has sailed away, and encamps no further off than the
Vega Real, that pleasant place of green valleys and groves and murmuring rivers. He
encamps there, takes up his quarters there, will not budge from there for any Admiral;
and as for James Columbus and his counsellors, they may go to the devil for all Margarite
cares. One of them at least, he knows—Friar Buil—is not such a fool as to sit down under
the command of that solemn-faced, uncouth young snip from Genoa; and doubtless when
he is tired of the Vega Real he and Buil can arrange something between them. In the
meantime, here is a very beautiful sunshiny place, abounding in all kinds of provisions;
food for more than one kind of appetite, as he has noticed when he has thrust his rude
way into the native houses and seen the shapely daughters of the islanders. He has a little
army of soldiers to forage for him; they can get him food and gold, and they are useful
also in those other marauding expeditions designed to replenish the seraglio that he has
established in his camp; and if they like to do a little marauding and woman-stealing on
their own account, it is no affair of his, and may keep the devils in a good temper. Thus
Don Pedro Margarite to himself.
The peaceable and gentle natives soon began to resent these gross doings. To robbery
succeeded outrage, and to outrage murder—all three committed in the very houses of the
natives; and they began to murmur, to withhold that goodwill which the Spaniards had so
sorely tried, and to develop a threatening attitude that was soon communicated to the
natives in the vicinity of Isabella, and came under the notice of James Columbus and his
council. Grave, bookish, wool-weaving young James, not used to military affairs, and not
at all comfortable in his command, can think of no other expedient than—to write a letter
to Margarite remonstrating with him for his licentious excesses and reminding him of the
Admiral's instructions, which were being neglected.
Margarite receives the letter and reads it with a contemptuous laugh. He is not going to
be ordered about by a family of Italian wool-weavers, and the only change in his conduct
is that he becomes more and more careless and impudent, extending the area of his