The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus

By Washington Irving | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV.
ARRIVAL AT THE HARBOR OF LA NAVIDAD—DISASTER OF THE
FORTRESS.

[ 1493.]

On the 22d of November the fleet arrived off what was soon ascertained to be the eastern extremity of Hayti, or, as the admiral had named it, Hispaniola. The greatest excitement prevailed throughout the armada, at the thoughts of soon arriving at the end of their voyage. Those who had been here in the preceding voyage remembered the pleasant days they had passed among the groves of Hayti; and the rest looked forward with eagerness to scenes painted to them with the captivating illusions of the golden age.

As the fleet swept with easy sail along the green shore, a boat was sent to land to bury a Biscayan sailor, who had died of the wound of an arrow received in the late skirmish. Two light caravels hovered near the shore to guard the boat's crew, while the funeral ceremony was performed on the beach, under the trees. Several natives came off to the ship, with a message to the admiral from the cacique of the neighborhood, inviting him to land, and promising great quantities of gold; anxious, however, to arrive at La Navidad, Columbus dismissed them with presents and continued his course. Arriving at the gulf of Las Flechas, or, as it is now called, the gulf of Semana, the place where, in his preceding voyage, a skirmish had occurred with the natives, he set on shore one of the young Indians of the place, who had accompanied him to Spain, and had been converted to Christianity. He dismissed him finely apparelled and loaded with trinkets, anticipating favorable effects from his accounts to his countrymen of the wonders he had seen, and the kind treatment he had experienced. The young Indian made many fair promises, but either forgot them all, on regaining his liberty and his native mountains, or fell a victim to envy caused by his wealth and finery. Nothing was seen or heard of him more.* Only one Indian of those who had been to Spain now remained in the

____________________
*
Herrera, Hist. Ind., decad. i. lib. ii, cap. 9.

-222-

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