The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus

By Washington Irving | Go to book overview

court, the glittering armies, and, above all, the bull-fights. The Indians all listened in mute amazement, but the old man was particularly excited. He was of a curious and wandering disposition, and had been a great voyager, having according to his account, visited Jamaica, and Hispaniola, and the remote parts of Cuba.* A sudden desire now seized him to behold the glorious country thus described, and, old as he was, he offered to embark with the admiral. His wife and children, however, beset him with such lamentations and remonstrances, that ho was obliged to abandon the intention, though he did it with great reluctance, asking repeatedly if the land they spoke of were not heaven, for it seemed to him impossible that earth could produce such wonderful beings.


CHAPTER VI.
COASTING VOYAGE ALONG THE SOUTH SIDE OF JAMAICA.

[ 1494.]

Columbus remained for several days at anchor in the river, to which, from the mass performed on its banks, he gave the name of Rio de la Misa. At length, on the 16th of July, he took leave of the friendly cacique and his ancient counsellor, who beheld his departure with sorrowful countenances. He took a young Indian with him from this place, whom he afterward sent to the Spanish sovereigns. Leaving to the left the Queen's Gardens, he steered south for the broad open sea and deep blue water, until having a free navigation he could stand eastward for Hispaniola. He had scarcely got clear of the islands, however, when he was assailed by furious gusts of wind and rain, which for two days pelted his crazy vessels, and ' harassed his enfeebled crews. At length, as he approached Cape Cruz, a violent squall struck the ships, and nearly threw them on their beam ends. Fortunately they ware able to take in sail immediately, and, letting go their largest anchors, rode out the transient gale. The admiral's ship was so strained by

____________________
*
Hist. del Almirante, cap. 57.
Peter Martyr, decad. i. lib. iii.

-295-

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