Spanish Voyages of Discovery

By Washington Irving | Go to book overview
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THE VOYAGE OF DIEGO DE NICUESA.

CHAPTER I. KICUESA SAILS TO THE WESTWARD -- HIS SHIPWRECK AND SUBSEQUENT DISASTERS.

WE have now to recount the fortunes experienced by the gallant and generous Diego de Nicuesa, after his parting from Alonzo de Ojeda at Carthagena. On resuming his voyage he embarked in a caravel, that he might be able to coast the land and reconnoitre; he ordered that the two brigantines, one of which was commanded by his lieutenant, Lope de Olano, should keep near to him, while the large vessels, which drew more water, should stand further out to sea. The squadron arrived upon the coast of Veragua, in stormy weather, and, as Nicuesa could not find any safe harbour, and was apprehensive of rocks and shoals, he stood out to sea at the approach of night, supposing that Lope de Olano would follow him with the brigantines according to his orders. The night was boisterous, the caravel was much tossed and driven about, and when the morning dawned, not one of the squadron was in sight.

Nicuesa feared some accident had befallen the brigantines; he stood for the land and coasted along it in search of them until he came to a large river, into which he entered and came to anchor. He had not been here long when the stream suddenly subsided, having merely been swoln by the rains. Before he had time to extricate himself the caravel grounded, and at length fell over on one side. The current rushing like a torrent strained the feeble bark to such a degree, that her seams yawned, and she appeared ready to go to pieces. In this moment of peril a hardy seamen threw himself into the water to carry the end of a rope on shore as a means of saving the crew. He was swept away by the furious current and perished in sight of his companions. Undismayed by his fate,

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