The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus

By Washington Irving | Go to book overview

to be seen. Either conscious of the suspicions of the Spaniards, and apprehensive, of their hostility, or desirous to enjoy his prize unmolested, the cacique had removed with all his effects, his household, and his followers, and had taken refuge with his island beauty in the interior. This sudden and mysterious desertion gave redoubled force to the doubts heretofore entertained, and Guacanagari was generally stigmatized as a traitor to the white men, and the perfidious destroyer of the garrison.*


CHAPTER VI.
FOUNDING OF THE CITY OF ISABELLA—MALADIES OF THE
SPANIARDS.

[ 1493.]

The misfortunes of the Spaniards both by sea and land, in the vicinity of this harbor, threw a gloom round the neighborhood. The ruins of the fortress, and the graves of their murdered countrymen, were continually before their eyes, and the forests no longer looked beautiful while there was an idea that treachery might be lurking in their shades. The silence and dreariness, also, caused by the desertion of the natives, gave a sinister appearance to the place. It began to be considered by the credulous mariners as under some baneful influence or malignant star. These were sufficient objections to discourage the founding of a settlement, but there were others of a more solid nature. The land in the vicinity was low, moist, and unhealthy, and there was no stone for building; Columbus determined, therefore, to abandon the place altogether, and found his projected colony in some more favorable situation. No time was to be lost; the animals on board the ships were suffering from long confinement; and the multitude of persons, unaccustomed to the sea, and pent up in the fleet, languished for the refreshment of the land. The lighter caravels, therefore, scoured the coast in each direction, entering the rivers and harbors, in search of an advantageous site. They were in-

____________________
*
Peter Martyr, decad. i. lib. ii. Letter of Dr. Chanca. Cura de los Palacios, cap. 120, ms.

-234-

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