The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus

By Washington Irving | Go to book overview

heart. They saw gold glittering around them, to be had with. out labor, and every enjoyment to be procured without cost. Captivated by these advantages, many of the seamen represented to the admiral the difficulties and sufferings they must encounter on a return voyage, where so many would be crowded in a small caravel, and entreated permission to re main in the island.*


CHAPTER X.
BUILDING OF THE FORTRESS OF LA NAVIDAD.

[ 1492.]

The solicitude expressed by many of his people to be left behind, added to the friendly and pacific character of the natives, now suggested to Columbus the idea of forming the germ of a future colony. The wreck of the caravel would afford materials to construct a fortress, which might be defended by her guns and supplied with her ammunition; and he could spare provisions enough to maintain a small garrison for a year. The people who thus remained on the island could explore it, and make themselves acquainted with its mines, and other sources of wealth; they might, at the Same time, procure by traffic a large quantity of gold from the natives; they could learn their language, and accustom themselves to their habits and manners, so as to be of great use in future intercourse. In the mean time the admiral could return to Spain, report the success of his enterprise, and bring out reinforcements.

No sooner did this idea break upon the mind of Columbus than he set about accomplishing it with his accustomed promptness and celerity. The wreck was broken up and brought piecemeal to shore; and a site chosen, and preparations made for the erection of a tower. When Guacanagari was informed of the intention of the admiral to leave a part of his men for the defence of the island from the Caribs, while he returned to his country for more, he was greatly overjoyed. His subjects manifested equal delight at the idea of retaining these wonder-

____________________
*
Primer Viage de Colon. Navarrete, tom. i. p. 116.

-153-

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