Christopher Columbus and the New World by Filson Young - HTML preview

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When Columbus weighed anchor on the 12th of November he took with him six captive Indians. It was his intention to go in search of the island of Babeque, which the Indians alleged lay about thirty leagues to the east-south-east, and where, they said, the people gathered gold out of the sand with candles at night, and afterwards made bars of it with a hammer. They told him this by signs; and we have only one more instance of the Admiral's facility in interpreting signs in favour of his own beliefs. It is only a few days later that in the same Journal he says, "The people of these lands do not understand me, nor do I nor any other person I have with me understand them; and these Indians I am taking with me, many times understand things contrary to what they are." It was a fault at any rate not exclusively possessed by the Indians, who were doubtless made the subject of many philological experiments on the part of the interpreter; all that they seemed to have learned at this time were certain religious gestures, such as making the Sign of the Cross, which they did continually, greatly to the edification of the crew.

In order to keep these six natives in a good temper Columbus kidnapped "seven women, large and small, and three children," in order, he alleged, that the men might conduct themselves better in Spain because of having their "wives" with them; although whether these assorted women were indeed the wives of the kidnapped natives must at the best be a doubtful matter. The three children, fortunately, had their father and mother with them; but that was only because the father, having seen his wife and children kidnapped, came and offered to go with them of his own accord. This taking of the women raises a question which must be in the mind of any one who studies this extraordinary voyage—the question of the treatment of native women by the Spaniards. Columbus is entirely silent on the subject; but taking into account the nature of the Spanish rabble that formed his company, and his own views as to the right which he had to possess the persons and goods of the native inhabitants, I am afraid that there can be very little doubt that in this matter there is a good reason, for his silence. So far as Columbus himself was concerned, it is probable that he was innocent enough; he was not a sensualist by nature, and he was far too much interested and absorbed in the principal objects of his expedition, and had too great a sense of his own personal dignity, to have indulged in excesses that would, thus sanctioned by him, have produced a very disastrous effect on the somewhat rickety discipline of his crew. He was too wise a master, however, to forbid anything that it was not in his power to prevent; and it is probable that he shut his eyes to much that, if he did not tolerate it, he at any rate regarded as a matter of no very great importance. His crew had by this time learned to know their commander well enough not to commit under his eyes offences for which he would have been sure to punish them.

For two days they ran along the coast with a fair wind; but on the 14th a head wind and heavy sea drove them into the shelter of a deep harbour called by Columbus Puerto del Principe, which is the modern Tanamo. The number of islands off this part of the coast of Cuba confirmed Columbus in his profound geographical error; he took them to be "those innumerable islands which in the maps of the world are placed at the end of the east." He erected a great wooden cross on an eminence here, as he always did when he took possession of a new place, and made some boat excursions among the islands in the harbour. On the 17th of November two of the six youths whom he had taken on board the week before swam ashore and escaped. When he started again on his voyage he was greatly inconvenienced by the wind, which veered about between the north and south of east, and was generally a foul wind for him. There is some difference of opinion as to what point of the wind the ships of Columbus's time would sail on; but there is no doubt that they were extremely unhandy in anything approaching a head wind, and that they were practically no good at all at beating to windward. The shape of their hulls, the ungainly erections ahead and astern, and their comparatively light hold on the water, would cause them to drift to leeward faster than they could work to windward. In this head wind, therefore, Columbus found that he was making very little headway, although he stood out for long distances to the northward. On Wednesday, November 21st, occurred a most disagreeable incident, which might easily have resulted in the Admiral's never reaching Spain alive. Some time in the afternoon he noticed the Pinta standing away ahead of him in a direction which was not the course which he was steering; and he signalled her to close up with him. No answer, however, was made to his signal, which he repeated, but to which he failed to attract any response. He was standing south at the time, the wind being well in the north-east; and Martin Alonso Pinzon, whose caravel pointed into the wind much better than the unhandy Santa Maria, was standing to the east. When evening fell he was still in sight, at a distance of sixteen miles. Columbus was really concerned, and fired lombards and flew more signals of invitation; but there was no reply. In the evening he shortened sail and burned a torch all night, "because it appeared that Martin Alonso was returning to me; and the night was very clear, and there was a nice little breeze by which to come to me if he wished." But he did not wish, and he did not come.

Martin Alonso has in fact shown himself at last in his true colours. He has got the fastest ship, he has got a picked company of his own men from Palos; he has got an Indian on board, moreover, who has guaranteed to take him straight to where the gold is; and he has a very agreeable plan of going and getting it, and returning to Spain with the first news and the first wealth. It is open mutiny, and as such cannot but be a matter of serious regret and trouble to the Admiral, who sits writing up his Journal by the swinging lamp in his little cabin. To that friend and confidant he pours out his troubles and his long list of grievances against Martin Alonso; adding, "He has done and said many other things to me." Up on deck the torch is burning to light the wanderer back again, if only he will come; and there is "a nice little breeze" by which to come if he wishes; but Martin Alonso has wishes quite other than that.

The Pinta was out of sight the next morning, and the little Nina was all that the Admiral had to rely upon for convoy. They were now near the east end of the north coast of Cuba, and they stood in to a harbour which the Admiral called Santa Catalina, and which is now called Cayo de Moa. As the importance of the Nina to the expedition had been greatly increased by the defection of the Pinta, Columbus went on board and examined her. He found that some of her spars were in danger of giving way; and as there was a forest of pine trees rising from the shore he was able to procure a new mizzen mast and latine yard in case it should be necessary to replace those of the Nina. The next morning he weighed anchor at sunrise and continued east along the coast. He had now arrived at the extreme end of Cuba, and was puzzled as to what course he should take. Believing Cuba, as he did, to be the mainland of Cathay, he would have liked to follow the coast in its trend to the south-west, in the hope of coming upon the rich city of Quinsay; but on the other hand there was looming to the south-west some land which the natives with him assured him was Bohio, the place where all the gold was. He therefore held on his course; but when the Indians found that he was really going to these islands they became very much alarmed, and made signs that the people would eat them if they went there; and, in order further to dissuade the Admiral, they added that the people there had only one eye, and the faces, of dogs. As it did not suit Columbus to believe them he said that they were lying, and that he "felt" that the island must belong to the domain of the Great Khan. He therefore continued his course, seeing many beautiful and enchanting bays opening before him, and longing to go into them, but heroically stifling his curiosity, "because he was detained more than he desired by the pleasure and delight he felt in seeing and gazing on the beauty and freshness of those countries wherever he entered, and because he did not wish to be delayed in prosecuting what he was engaged upon; and for these reasons he remained that night beating about and standing off and on until day." He could not trust himself, that is to say, to anchor in these beautiful harbours, for he knew he would be tempted to go ashore and waste valuable time exploring the woods; and so he remained instead, beating about in the open sea.

As it was, what with contrary winds and his own indecision as to which course he should pursue, it was December the 6th before he came up with the beautiful island of Hayti, and having sent the Nina in front to explore for a harbour, entered the Mole Saint Nicholas, which he called Puerto Maria. Towards the east he saw an island shaped like a turtle, and this island he named Tortuga; and the harbour, which he entered that evening on the hour of Vespers, he called Saint Nicholas, as it was the feast of that saint. Once more his description flounders among superlatives: he thought Cuba was perfect; but he finds the new island more perfect still. The climate is like May in Cordova; the tracts of arable land and fertile valleys and high mountains are like those in Castile; he finds mullet like those of Castile; soles and other fish like those in Castile; nightingales and other small birds like those in Castile; myrtle and other trees and grasses like those in Castile! In short, this new land is so like Spain, only more wonderful and beautiful, that he christens it Espanola.

They stayed two days in the harbour of Saint Nicholas, and then began to coast eastwards along the shores of Espaniola. Their best progress was made at dawn and sunset, when the land breeze blew off the island; and during the day they encountered a good deal of colder weather and easterly winds, which made their progress slow. Every day they put in at one or other of the natural harbours in which that beautiful coast abounds; every day they saw natives on the shores who generally fled at their approach, but were often prevailed upon to return and to converse with the natives on board the Admiral's ship, and to receive presents and bring parrots and bits of gold in exchange. On one day a party of men foraging ashore saw a beautiful young girl, who fled at their approach; and they chased her a long way through the woods, finally capturing her and bringing her on board. Columbus "caused her to be clothed"—doubtless a diverting occupation for Rodrigo, Juan, Garcia, Pedro, William, and the rest of them, although for the poor, shy, trembling captive not diverting at all—and sent her ashore again loaded with beads and brass rings—to act as a decoy. Having sown this good seed the Admiral waited for a night, and then sent a party of men ashore, "well prepared with arms and adapted for such an affair," to have some conversation with the people. The innocent harvest was duly reaped; the natives met the Spaniards with gifts of food and drink, and understanding that the Admiral would like to have a parrot, they sent as many parrots as were wanted. The husband of the girl who had been captured and clothed came back with her to the shore with a large body of natives, in order to thank the Admiral for his kindness and clemency; and their confidence was not misplaced, as the Admiral did not at that moment wish to do any more kidnapping. The Spaniards were more and more amazed and impressed with the beauty and fertility of these islands. The lands were more lovely than the finest land in Castile; the rivers were large and wide, the trees green and full of fruit, the grasses knee-deep and starred with flowers; the birds sang sweetly all night; there were mastic trees and aloes and plantations of cotton. There was fishing in plenty; and if there were not any gold mines immediately at hand, they here sure to be round the next headland or, at the farthest, in the next island. The people, too, charmed and delighted the Admiral, who saw in them a future glorious army of souls converted to the Christian religion. They were taller and handsomer than the inhabitants of the other islands, and the women much fairer; indeed, if they had not been so much exposed to the sun, and if they could only be clothed in the decent garments of civilisation, the Admiral thought that their skins would be as white as those of the women of Spain—which was only another argument for bringing them within the fold of the Holy Catholic Church. The men were powerful and apparently harmless; they showed no truculent or suspicious spirit; they had no knowledge of arms; a thousand of them would not face three Christians; and

"so they are suitable to be governed and made to work and sow and do everything else that shall be necessary, and to build villages and be taught to wear clothing and observe our customs."

At present, you see, they are but poor happy heathens, living in a paradise of their own, where the little birds sing all through the warm nights, and the rivers murmur through flowery meadows, and no one has any knowledge of arms or desire of such knowledge, and every one goes naked and unashamed. High time, indeed, that they should be taught to wear clothing and observe our customs.

The local chief came on a visit of state to the ship; and the Admiral paid him due honour, telling him that he came as an envoy from the greatest sovereigns in the world. But this charming king, or cacique as they called him, would not believe this; he thought that Columbus was, for reasons of modesty, speaking less than the truth—a new charge to bring against our Christopher! He believed that the Spaniards came from heaven, and that the realms of the sovereigns of Castile were in the heavens and not in this world. He took some refreshment, as his councillors did also, little dreaming, poor wretches, what in after years was to come to them through all this palavering and exchanging of presents. The immediate result of the interview, however, was to make intercourse with the natives much freer and pleasanter even than it had been before; and some of the sailors went fishing with the natives. It was then that they were shown some cane arrows with hardened points, which the natives said belonged to the people of 'Caniba', who, they alleged, came to the island to capture and eat the natives. The Admiral did not believe it; his sublime habit of rejecting everything that did not fit in with his theory of the moment, and accepting everything that did, made him shake his head when this piece of news was brought to him. He could not get the Great Khan out of his head, and his present theory was that this island, being close to the mainland of Cathay, was visited by the armies of the Great Khan, and that it was his men who had used the arrows and made war upon the natives. It was no good for the natives to show him some of their mutilated bodies, and to tell him that the cannibals ate them piecemeal; he had no use for such information. His mind was like a sieve of which the size of the meshes could be adjusted at will; everything that was not germane to the idea of the moment fell through it, and only confirmative evidence remained; and at the moment he was not believing any stories which did not prove that the Great Khan was, so to speak, just round the corner. If they talked about gold he would listen to them; and so the cacique brought him a piece of gold the size of his hand and, breaking it into pieces, gave it to him a bit at a time. This the Admiral took to be sign of great intelligence. They told him there was gold at Tortuga, but he preferred to believe that it came from Babeque, which may have been Jamaica and may have been nothing at all.

But his theory was that it existed on Espanola only in small pieces because that country was so rich that the natives had no need for it; an economic theory which one grows dizzy in pondering. At any rate "the Admiral believed that he was very near the fountainhead, and that Our Lord was about to show him where the gold originates."

On Tuesday, December 18th, the ships were all dressed in honour of a religious anniversary, and the cacique, hearing the firing of the lombards with which the festival was greeted, came down to the shore to see what was the matter. As Columbus was sitting at dinner on deck beneath the poop the cacique arrived with all his people; and the account of his visit is preserved in Columbus's own words.

"As he entered the ship he found that I was eating at the table below the stern forecastle, and he came quickly to seat himself beside me, and would not allow me to go to meet him or get up from the table, but only that I should eat. I thought that he would like to eat some of our viands and I then ordered that things should be brought him to eat. And when he entered under the forecastle, he signed with his hand that all his people should remain without, and they did so with the greatest haste and respect in the world, and all seated themselves on the deck, except two men of mature age whom I took to be his counsellors and governors, and who came and seated themselves at his feet: and of the viands which I placed before him he took of each one as much as may be taken for a salutation, and then he sent the rest to his people and they all ate some of it, and he did the same with the drink, which he only touched to his mouth, and then gave it to the others in the same way, and it was all done in wonderful state and with very few words, and whatever he said, according to what I was able to understand, was very formal and prudent, and those two looked in his face and spoke for him and with him, and with great respect.

"After eating, a page brought a belt which is like those of Castile in shape, but of a different make, which he took and gave me, and also two wrought pieces of gold, which were very thin, as I believe they obtain very little of it here, although I consider they are very near the place where it has its home, and that there is a great deal of it. I saw that a drapery that I had upon my bed pleased him. I gave it to him, and some very good amber beads which I wore around my neck and some red shoes and a flask of orange-flower water, with which he was so pleased it was wonderful; and he and his governor and counsellors were very sorry that they did not understand me, nor I them. Nevertheless I understood that he told me that if anything from here would satisfy me that all the island was at my command. I sent for some beads of mine, where as a sign I have a 'excelente' of gold upon which the images of your Highnesses are engraved, and showed it to him, and again told him the same as yesterday, that your Highnesses command and rule over all the best part of the world, and that there are no other such great Princes: and I showed him the royal banners and the others with the cross, which he held in great estimation: and he said to his counsellors that your Highnesses must be great Lords, since you had sent me here from so far without fear: and many other things happened which I did not understand, except that I very well saw he considered everything as very wonderful."

Later in the day Columbus got into talk with an old man who told him that there was a great quantity of gold to be found on some island about a hundred leagues away; that there was one island that was all gold; and that in the others there was such a quantity that they natives gathered it and sifted it with sieves and made it into bars. The old man pointed out vaguely the direction in which this wonderful country lay; and if he had not been one of the principal persons belonging to the King Columbus would have detained him and taken him with him; but he decided that he had paid the cacique too much respect to make it right that he should kidnap one of his retinue. He determined, however, to go and look for the gold. Before he left he had a great cross erected in the middle of the Indian village; and as he made sail out of the harbour that evening he could see the Indians kneeling round the cross and adoring it. He sailed eastward, anchoring for a day in the Bay of Acul, which he called Cabo de Caribata, receiving something like an ovation from the natives, and making them presents and behaving very graciously and kindly to them.

It was at this time that Columbus made the acquaintance of a man whose character shines like a jewel amid the dismal scenes that afterwards accompanied the first bursting of the wave of civilisation on these happy shores. This was the king of that part of the island, a young man named Guacanagari. This king sent out a large canoe full of people to the Admiral's ship, with a request that Columbus would land in his country, and a promise that the chief would give him whatever he had. There must have been an Intelligence Department in the island, for the chief seemed to know what would be most likely to attract the Admiral; and with his messengers he sent out a belt with a large golden mask attached to it. Unfortunately the natives on board the Admiral's ship could not understand Guacanagari's messengers, and nearly the whole of the day was passed in talking before the sense of their message was finally made out by means of signs. In the evening some Spaniards were sent ashore to see if they could not get some gold; but Columbus, who had evidently had some recent experience of their avariciousness, and who was anxious to keep on good terms with the chiefs of the island, sent his secretary with them to see that they did nothing unjust or unreasonable. He was scrupulous to see that the natives got their bits of glass and beads in exchange for the gold; and it is due to him to remember that now, as always, he was rigid in regulating his conduct with other men in accordance with his ideas of justice and honour, however elastic those ideas may seem to have been. The ruffianly crew had in their minds only the immediate possession of what they could get from the Indians; the Admiral had in his mind the whole possession of the islands and the bodies and souls of its inhabitants. If you take a piece of gold without giving a glass bead in exchange for it, it is called stealing; if you take a country and its inhabitants, and steal their peace from them, and give them blood and servitude in exchange for it, it is called colonisation and Empire-building. Every one understands the distinction; but so few people see the difference that Columbus of all men may be excused for his unconsciousness of it.

Indeed Columbus was seeing yellow at this point in his career. The word "gold" is scattered throughout every page of his journal; he can understand nothing that the natives say to him except that there is a great quantity of gold somewhere about. He is surrounded by natives pressing presents upon him, protesting their homage, and assuring him (so he thinks) that there are any amount of gold mines; and no wonder that the yellow light blinds his eyes and confounds his senses, and that sometimes, even when the sun has gone down and the natives have retired to their villages and he sits alone in the seclusion of his cabin, the glittering motes still dance before his eyes and he becomes mad, maudlin, ecstatic . . . . The light flickers in the lamp as the ship swings a little on the quiet tide and a night breeze steals through the cabin door; the sound of voices ashore sounds dimly across the water; the brain of the Admiral, overfilled with wonders and promises and hopes, sends its message to the trembling hand that holds the pen, and the incoherent words stream out on the ink. "May our Lord in His mercy direct me until I find this gold, I say this Mine, because I have many people here who say that they know it."

On Christmas Eve a serious misfortune befell Columbus. What with looking for gold, and trying to understand the people who talked about it, and looking after his ships, and writing up his journal, he had had practically no sleep for two days and a night; and at eleven o'clock on the 24th of December, the night being fine and his ship sailing along the coast with a light land breeze, he decided to lie down to get some sleep. There were no difficulties in navigation to be feared, because the ship's boats had been rowed the day before a distance of about ten miles ahead on the course which they were then steering and had seen that there was open water all the way. The wind fell calm; and the man at the helm, having nothing to do, and feeling sleepy, called a ship's boy to him, gave him the helm, and went off himself to lie down. This of course was against all rules; but as the Admiral was in his cabin and there was no one to tell them otherwise the watch on deck thought it a very good opportunity to rest. Suddenly the boy felt the rudder catch upon something, saw the ship swinging, and immediately afterwards heard the sound of tide ripples. He cried out; and in a moment Columbus, who was sleeping the light sleep of an anxious shipmaster, came tumbling up to see what was the matter. The current, which flows in that place at a speed of about two knots, had carried the ship on to a sand bank, but she touched so quietly that it was hardly felt. Close on the heels of, Columbus came the master of the ship and the delinquent watch; and the Admiral immediately ordered them to launch the ship's boat—and lay out an anchor astern so that they could warp her off. The wretches lowered the boat, but instead of getting the anchor on board rowed off in the direction of the Nina, which was lying a mile and a half to windward. As soon as Columbus saw what they were doing he ran to the side and, seeing that the tide was failing and that the ship had swung round across the bank, ordered the remainder of the crew to cut away the mainmast and throw the deck hamper overboard, in order to lighten the ship. This took some time; the tide was falling, and the ship beginning to heel over on her beam; and by the time it was done the Admiral saw that it would be of no use, for the ship's seams had opened and she was filling.

At this point the miserable crew in the ship's boat came back, the loyal people on the Nina having refused to receive them and sent them back to the assistance of the Admiral. But it was now too late to do anything to save the ship; and as he did not know but that she might break up, Columbus decided to tranship the people to the Nina, who had by this time sent her own boat. The whole company boarded the Nina, on which the Admiral beat about miserably till morning in the vicinity of his doomed ship. Then he sent Diego de Arana, the brother of Beatriz and a trusty friend, ashore in a boat to beg the help of the King; and Guacanagari immediately sent his people with large canoes to unload the wrecked ship, which was done with great efficiency and despatch, and the whole of her cargo and fittings stored on shore under a guard. And so farewell to the Santa Maria, whose bones were thenceforward to bleach upon the shores of Hayti, or incongruously adorn the dwellings of the natives. She may have been "a bad sailer and unfit for discovery"; but no seaman looks without emotion upon the wreck of a ship whose stem has cut the waters of home, which has carried him safely over thousands of uncharted miles, and which has for so long been his shelter and sanctuary.

At sunrise the kind-hearted cacique came down to the Nina, where Columbus had taken up his quarters, and with tears in his eyes begged the Admiral not to grieve at his losses, for that he, the cacique, would give him everything that he possessed; that he had already given two large houses to the Spaniards from the Santa Maria who had been obliged to encamp on shore, and that he would provide more accommodation and help if necessary. In fact, the day which had been ushered in so disastrously turned into a very happy one; and before it was over Columbus had decided that, as he could not take the whole of his company home on the Nina, he would establish a settlement on shore so that the men who were left behind could collect gold and store it until more ships could be sent from Spain. The natives came buzzing round anxious to barter whatever they had for hawks' bells, which apparently were the most popular of the toys that had been brought for bartering; "they shouted and showed the pieces of gold, saying chuq, chuq, for hawks' bells, as they are in a likely state to become crazy for them." The cacique was delighted to see that the Admiral was pleased with the gold that was brought to him, and he cheered him up by telling him that there was any amount in Cibao, which Columbus of course took for Cipango. The cacique entertained Columbus to a repast on shore, at which the monarch wore a shirt and a pair of gloves that Columbus had given him; "and he rejoiced more over the gloves than anything that had been given him." Columbus was pleased with his clean and leisurely method of eating, and with his dainty rubbing of his hands with herbs after he had eaten. After the repast Columbus gave a little demonstration of bow-and-arrow shooting and the firing of lombards and muskets, all of which astonished and impressed the natives.

The afternoon was spent in deciding on a site for the fortress which was to be constructed; and Columbus had no difficulty in finding volunteers among the crews to remain in the settlement. He promised to leave with them provisions of bread and wine for a year, a ship's boat, seeds for sowing crops, and a carpenter, a caulker, a gunner, and a cooper. Before the day was out he was already figuring up the profit that would arise out of his misfortune of the day before; and he decided that it was the act of God which had cast his ship away in order that this settlement should be founded. He hoped that the settlers would have a ton of gold ready for him when he came back from Castile, so that, as he had said in the glittering camp of Santa Fe, where perhaps no one paid very much heed to him, there might be such a profit as would provide for the conquest of Jerusalem and the recovery of the Holy Sepulchre. After all, if he was greedy for gold, he had a pious purpose for its employment.

The last days of the year were very busy ones for the members of the expedition. Assisted by the natives they were building the fort which, in memory of the day on which it was founded, Columbus called La Villa-de la Navidad. The Admiral spent much time with King Guacanagari, who "loved him so much that it was wonderful," and wished to cover him all over with gold before he went away, and begged him not to go before it was done. On December 27th there was some good news; a caravel had been seen entering a harbour a little further along the coast; and as this could only mean that the Pinta had returned, Columbus borrowed a canoe from the king, and despatched a sailor in it to carry news of his whereabouts to the Pinta. While it was away Guacanagari collected all the other kings and chiefs who were subject to him, and held a kind of durbar. They all wore their crowns; and Guacanagari took off his crown and placed it on Columbus's head; and the Admiral, not to be outdone, took from his own neck "a collar of good bloodstones and very beautiful beads of fine colours; which appeared very good in all parts, and placed it upon the King; and he took off a cloak of fine scarlet cloth which he had put on that day, and clothed the King with it; and he sent for some coloured buskins which he made him put on, and placed upon his finger a large silver ring"—all of which gives us a picturesque glimpse into the contents of the Admiral's wardrobe, and a very agreeable picture of King Guacanagari, whom we must now figure as clothed, in addition to his shirt and gloves, in a pair of coloured buskins, a collar of bloodstones, a scarlet cloak and a silver ring.

But the time was running short; the Admiral, hampered as he was by the possession of only one small ship, had now but one idea, which was to get back to Castile as quickly as possible, report the result of his discoveries, and come back again with a larger and more efficient equipment. Before he departed he had an affectionate leave-taking with King Guacanagari; he gave him another shirt, and also provided a demonstration of the effect of lombards by having one loaded, and firing at the old Santa Maria where she lay hove down on the sandbank. The shot went clean through her hull and fell into the sea beyond, and produced what might be called a very strong moral effect, although an unnecessary one, on the natives. He then set about the very delicate business of organising the settlement. In all, forty-two men were to remain behind, with Diego de Arana in the responsible position of chief lieutenant, assisted by Pedro Gutierrez and Rodrigo de Escovedo, the nephew of Friar Juan Perez of La Rabida. To these three he delegated all his powers and authority as Admiral and Viceroy; and then, having collected the colonists, gave them a solemn address. First, he reminded them of the goodness of God to them, and advised them to remain worthy of it by obeying the Divine command in all their actions. Second, he ordered them, as a representative of the Sovereigns of Spain, to obey the captain whom he had appointed for them as they would have obeyed himself. Third, he urged them to show respect and reverence towards King Guacanagari and his chiefs, and to the inferior chiefs, and to avoid annoying them or tormenting them, since they were to remain in a land that was as yet under native dominion; to "strive and watch by their soft and honest speech to gain their good-will and keep their friendship and love, so that he should find them as friendly and favourable and more so when he returned." Fourth, he commanded them "and begged them earnestly" to do no injury and use no force against any natives; to take nothing from them against their will; and especially to be on their guard to avoid injury or violence to the women, "by which they would cause scandal and set a bad example to the Indians and show the infamy of the Christians." Fifth, he charged them not to scatter themselves or leave the place where they then were, but to remain together until he returned. Sixth, he "animated" them to suffer their solitude and exile cheerfully and bravely, since they had willingly chosen it. The seventh order was, that they should get help from the King to send boat expeditions in search of the gold mines; and lastly, he promised that he would petition the Sovereigns to honour them with special favours and rewards. To this very manly, wise and humane address the people listened with some emotion, assuring Columbus that they placed their hopes in him, "begging him earnestly to remember them always, and that as quickly as he could he should give them the great joy which they anticipated from his coming again."

All of which things being done, the ships [ship—there was only the Nina] loaded and provisioned, and the Admiral's final directions given, he makes his farewells and weighs anchor at sunrise on Friday, January 4., 1493. Among the little crowd on the shore who watch the Nina growing smaller in the distance are our old friends Allard and William, tired of the crazy confinement of a ship and anxious for shore adventures. They are to have their fill of them, as it happens; adventures that are to bring to the settlers a sudden cloud of blood and darkness, and for the islanders a brief return to their ancient peace. But death waits for Allard and William in the sunshine and silence of Espanola.