The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus

By Washington Irving | Go to book overview

anything would be given in exchange for gold; upon hearing this some of them ran to a neighboring river, and gathering and sifting its sands, returned in a little while with considerable quantities of gold dust. One old man brought two pieces of virgin ore, weighing an ounce, and thought himself richly repaid when he received a hawk's bell. On remarking that the admiral was struck with the size of these specimens, he affected to treat them with contempt, as insignificant, intimating by signs that in his country, which lay within half a day's journey, they found pieces of gold as big as an orange. Other Indians brought grains of gold weighing ten and twelve drachms, and declared that in the country whence they got them, there were masses of ore as large as the head of a child.* As usual, however, these golden tracts were always in some remote valley, or along some rugged and sequestered stream; and the wealthiest spot was sure to be at the greatest distance—for the land of promise is ever beyond the mountain.


CHAPTER X.
EXCURSION OF JUAN DE LUXAN AMONG THE MOUNTAINS—CUSTOMS
AND CHARACTERISTICS OF THE NATIVES—COLUMBUS RETURNS
TO ISABELLA.

[ 1494.]

While the admiral remained among the mountains, superintending the building of the fortress, he dispatched a young cavalier of Madrid, named Juan de Luxan, with a small band of armed men, to range about the country, and explore the whole of the province, which, from the reports of the Indians, appeared to be equal in extent to the kingdom of Portugal. Luxan returned, after a few days' absence, with the most satisfactory accounts. He had traversed a great part of Cibao, which he found more capable of cultivation than had at first been imagined. It was generally mountainous, and the soil covered with large round pebbles of a blue color, yet there was good pasturage in many of the valleys. The mountains, also,

____________________
*
Peter Martyr, decad. i. lib. iii.

-253-

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