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city they would have made a fine appearance. He took some things with him for a suitable present to Guacanari; for, they had already received a considerable quantity of gold from him, and it was proper to make some return for his courtesy. When the Admiral, with his captains and men of note, arrived at the house in which Guacanari was, they found him lying in his bed, which was made of cotton, like a net, and suspended in the air, as is the custom of these people.
He did not rise, but made a salutation in his bed as well as he knew how. He spoke with much feeling, and with tears in his eyes, of the death of the Christians, and began to tell how some of them had died of disease, and how others had gone to Caonaboa's country to seek for gold mines, and had been put to death there, and the rest had been attacked and slain in their own town. From the appearance of the dead bodies, this might have happened two months before.
At this time, Guacanari gave the Admiral eight marks and a half of gold, and five or six belts, set with stones of various colors, and a cap, wrought in the same style ; which last he gave him with great veneration. Among those who were present, were the Doctor Chanca from Seville, and another surgeon of the squadron ; and the admiral told Guacanari that these were men skilful in curing diseases and injuries, and that he had better show them his wound. He answered that he would gladly do so. The Doctor told him it would be necessary that he should, if possible, go out of the house, which was too dark for him to see well; which he immediately did, (I believe, rather from embarrassment than from inclination,) leaning upon the Doctor. When he was seated, the surgeon came, and began to unbind him; and then Guacanari told the Admiral that the wound had been made by a stone. The bandages being removed, the doctor and the surgeon examined him, and found nothing the matter with that leg, more than with the other; though he pretended that it was very painful. This certainly increased the suspicions of these two men ; but with all this, a cautious man could not easily determine what was the truth in this matter, the facts, from which to judge, being involved in such obscurity; for certainly there were many things to show that a hostile people had been there. The
Admiral himself did not know what to do; but it seemed to him, as to many others, that for the present, until the truth could be satisfactorily ascertained, it would be best to dissemble, for that after the truth should be known, whoever chose might seek satisfaction.
In the evening, Guacanari went with the Admiral to the ships, and they showed him the horses, and other things on board, at which he was greatly astonished, as something very strange. He took some refreshment on board, and returned, the same evening, to his house. The Admiral told him that he wished to live there with him, and to build houses there: he answered, that this pleased him, but that the place was unhealthy, on account of its being damp, which it certainly was. All this passed through interpreters, two Indians, who had been carried to Seville by the Admiral, and brought back by him: and these two were all that remained of seven, that left Seville, five having died on the voyage ; and these escaped by a miracle, having been in great danger. The next day, they remained at anchor in the harbor. Guacanari wished to know when the Admiral would leave; he sent him word that he should depart the next day; and the same day Guacanari's brother, before spoken of, and others, came to the ship, and brought gold with them. There were in the ship ten of the captive women, that had been taken in the islands of Berriquen ; and this brother of Guacanari spoke to them, and suggested to them a plan, which they put in execution that night, as follows: when the men were in their first sleep, they let themselves down, very quietly, into the water, and swam to land; and when it was discovered, two of them had already escaped, and the rest
gone so far that the boats could recover only four, whom they took as they came out of the water. The distance which they swam was a long half-league. The next morning, the Admiral sent to tell Guacanari to send back these women, who had escaped the preceding evening, or direct instant search to be made for them; but when the messengers came to the village, they found it deserted, and not a single person in it.
This day, the squadron remained in port, the weather not being favorable for going out. The next morning, the Admiral sent all the boats in search of a harbor; and they
coasted along, looking a favorable spot for a settlement. The Indians of this neighborhood had not become familiar with the Castilians, and they came to a village from which all the inhabitants had fled: here they found, at a distance from the huts, stretched out upon the mountain, an Indian, wounded in the shoulders by a dart, so that the breath was expelled through the wound, which had prevented his fleeing farther. The natives of this island of Hispaniola (called by them Ayte) fight with darts, or sharp sticks, which they throw with straps, as our boys do here in Castile. They throw them very far, and with sufficient accuracy to do great mischief to people who have no armor. This wounded Indian told the Admiral that Caonboa and his men had wounded him, and had burned the dwellings of Guacanari; so that, with their imperfect knowledge of the facts, and the uncertainty of the whole matter, the Admiral and all the rest were left in doubt, and could not satisfy themselves how the death of the Christians had happened.
Not finding a healthy site for a settlement in this region, the Admiral determined to return, by the coast, to the place where he had first touched on his arrival from Castile; because the accounts of gold had reference to that quarter. The weather was so unfavorable, and the way so long, that three months had passed before they landed : and it pleased our Lord that, in consequence of this bad weather, which did not suffer them to go farther, they should land in the best place that could have been selected, where there was a large harbor, and a good and abundant fishery, of which they stood much in need, for they had become tired of their meat, and could obtain none in all this island, which was so richly adapted to produce everything. Close at hand was a large river, and hard by another, of considerable size, of very excellent water. Here he commenced building a city, to which he gave the name of Isabella, upon the river emptying into the sea, in a very beautiful situation, where an open plain extended to the water, bounded by a ridge of sharp rocks, so that on this side there was no need of any other defence. The other side was surrounded by a thicket, so close that a rabbit could hardly make his way through it, and so green, that at no season could it be set on fire. They began by sowing a variety of garden-seeds, which they had
brought from home; and they grew more in eight days than they would have done in Castile in twenty. The laying out and commencement of the settlement having been made, the Admiral set about forming acquaintances with the captains or kings of the region, who are there called Caciques. They brought him their articles of food, and many Indians were continually coming to barter, with gold, or loaded with maize, which is an excellent vegetable, like colewort, growing under ground, from which they prepare various kinds of food which are very nourishing, and upon which these people sustain themselves, in the room of bread. . There is another vegetable, which they call ajes, and which likewise grows under ground; and another called cazari ; with many other kinds of vegetables and fruits, all very different from those which we have here in Castile.
What could be learned concerning this people, was, that they were very simple and ignorant, and felt no shame in going about naked as they were born. The women, for the most part, wore a mantle of cotton, bound about the hips, or a skirt made of the leaves of trees. Their ornament consisted in painting themselves, some black, others white, and red, and other colors, in such variety, that it was a laughable thing to see them. Their heads were shaved in spots, and in spots locks of hair were left, in more ways than can be described: and whatever our men did to their heads, they thought it would bring good luck if they should do it to theirs. Indeed, it seemed that these people, if they could have understood our language, would have wished at once to become Christians; for whatever they saw the Christians do, they did the same ; kneeling, clasping their hands, repeating the paternoster, the ave-maria, and other prayers, crossing themselves, and saying that they wished to be Christians. They were in fact idolaters, for in their houses were images of various sorts, all very deformed and ugly. They also carried these shut up in cases, and in belts of cotton; and being asked what they were, they answered “ Ture,"
" which means something belonging to heaven; and if the Christians would take these images away from them, telling them they were a detestable thing, and they should throw them in the fire, they manifested much sorrow, and it seemed that they felt much devotion towards them. They
thought, moreover, that the Castilians, and everything which they had, had all come from heaven, and they called them all “ Turey,” which means, in their language, heaven.
As soon as they had established themselves, and commenced their settlement, the Castilians spread themselves over this region, and soon saw the admirable things which were to be found in this island, or rather, this province. They found that there were trees, which bore wool, and very fine too, so that those who understand the art say that very rich cloths may be made from it; and these trees are so numerous that whole caravels might be freighted with the wool. It is difficult to gather it, because the trees are very thorny ; but a way of doing it might easily be devised. They saw an immense quantity of cotton, upon trees, which produce it perpetually, and which are of the size of a peachtree: also trees which bore wax, like that of bees in color and taste, and burning like it, – there being little difference between the two. There are an infinite number of trees producing excellent and very fine turpentine: a great deal of gum tragacanth, also very good: and trees, which appeared to the naturalists who went out in the fleet, to be the same which bear the nutmeg, except that they were without fruit; and they judged them to be the same from the taste and smell of the twigs and the bark. They saw a root of ginger, which an Indian carried suspended from his neck : there are also aloes, not like those which have been seen in Castile, but undoubtedly a species of the same plant. They found, also, a kind of cinnamon, though not so fine as that which is brought by way of Alexandria; which may be owing to its not being gathered at the proper season, or perhaps to the nature of the soil. There are likewise the lemon-colored myrobalans, but they found none exceptunder the tree, and the ground being very moist, these were spoiled: they had a very bitter taste, which they supposed to be owing to their being spoiled ; for in everything except the taste, they were like the genuine myrobalans. There is pepper, also, very good, and twice as strong as that wbich we use.
It grows upon bushes, like a garden-plant, is not so hard as that which is brought to us from Alexandria, and a little larger, and is considered very medicinal and very valuable by the Indians, who plant and gather it.