Spanish Voyages of Discovery

By Washington Irving | Go to book overview

further, and to permit the departure of Vasco Nuñez on his expedition to the South Sea. The jealousy of Pedrarias, however, was too strong, to permit him to listen to such counsel. He was aware of the importance of the expedition, and was anxious that the Pearl Islands should be explored, which promised such abundant treasures; but he feared to increase the popularity of Vasco Nuñez, by adding such an enterprise to the number of his achievement. Pedrarias, therefore, set on foot an expedition, consisting of sixty men, but gave the command to one of his own relations, named Gaspar Morales. The latter was accompanied by Francisco Pizarro, who had already been to those parts in the train of Vasco Nuñez, and who soon rose to importance in the present enterprise by his fierce courage and domineering genius.

A brief notice of the prinicipal incidents of this expedition is all that is necessary for the present narration.

Morales and Pizarro traversed the mountains of the isthmus by a shorter and more expeditious route than that which had been taken by Vasco Nuñez, and arrived on the shores of the South Sea at the territories of a cacique named Tutibra, by whom they were amicably entertained. Their great object was to visit the Pearl Islands: the cacique, however, had but four canoes, which were insufficient to contain their whole party. One-half of their number, therefore, remained at the village of Tutibra, under the command of a captain named Peñalose; the residue embarked in the canoes with Morales and Pizarro. After a stormy and perilous voyage, they landed on one of the smaller islands, where they had some skirmishing with the natives, and thence made their way to the principal island of the Archipelago, to which, from the report of its great pearl fishery, Vasco Nuñez had given the name of Isla Rica.

The cacique of this island had long been the terror of the neighbouring coasts, invading the main land with fleets of canoes, and carrying off the inhabitants into captivity. His reception of the Spamards was worthy of his fame. Four times did he sally forth to defend his territory, and as often was he repulsed with great slaughter. His warriors were overwhelmed with terror at the fire-arms of the Spaniards, and at their ferocious bloodhounds. Finding all resistance unavailing, the cacique was at length compelled to sue for peace. His prayers being granted, he received the conquerors into his habitation, which was well built, and of immense size.

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