Spanish Voyages of Discovery

By Washington Irving | Go to book overview

always swept clean, and decorated it with cotton hangings, laboured by their own hands, and with various votive offerings. They composed couplets or areytos in honour of the Virgin, which they sang to the accompaniment of rude musical instruments, dancing to the sound under the groves which surrounded the hermitage.

A further anecdote concerning this relique may not be unacceptable. The venerable Las Casas, who records these facts, informs us that he arrived at the village of Cueybás sometime after the departure of Ojeda. He found the oratory preserved with the most religious care, as a sacred place, and the picture of the Virgin regarded with fond adoration. The poor Indians crowded to attend mass, which he performed at the altar; they listened attentively to his paternal instructions, and at his request brought their children to be baptized. The good Las Casas, having heard much of this famous relique of Ojeda, was desirous of obtaining possession of it, and offered to give the cacique in exchange an image of the Virgin which he had brought with him. The chieftain made an evasive answer, and seemed much troubled in mind. The next morning he did not make his appearance.

Las Casas went to the oratory to perform mass, but found the altar stripped of its precious relique. On inquiring, he learnt that in the night the cacique had fled to the woods, bearing off with him his beloved picture of the Virgin. It was in vain that Las Casas sent messengers after him, assuring him that he should not be deprived of the relique, but on t*he contrary, that the image should likewise be presented to him. The cacique refused to venture from the fastnesses of the forest, nor did he return to his village and replace the picture in the oratory until after the departure of the Spaniards.


CHAPTER XII. ARRIVAL OF Ojeda AT JAMAICA -- HIS RECEPTION BY JUAN DE ESQUIBEL.

WHEN the Spaniards were completely restored to health and strength, they resumed their journey. The cacique sent a large body of his subjects to carry their provisions and knap

____________________
*
Las Casas, Hist. Ind., c. 61, MS. -- Herrera, Hist. Ind. d. i. l. ix. c. xv.

-67-

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