The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus

By Washington Irving | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII
VOYAGE ALONG THE SOUTH SIDE OF HISPANIOLA, AND RETURN
TO ISABELLA.

[ 1494.]

On the 19th of August Columbus lost sight of the eastern extremity of Jamaica, to which he gave the name of Cape Farol, at present called Point Morant. Steering eastward, he beheld, on the following day, that long peninsula of Hispaniola, known by the name of Cape Tiburon, but to which he gave the name of Cape San Miguel. He was not aware that it was a part of the island of Hayti, until, coasting along its southern side, a cacique came off on the 23d of August, and called him by his title, addressing him with several words of Castilian. The sound of these words spread joy through the ship, and the weary seamen heard with delight that they were on the southern coast of Hispaniola. They had still, however, many toilsome days before them. The weather was boisterous, the wind contrary and capricious, and the ships were separated from each other. About the end of August Columbus anchored at a small island, or rather rock, which rises singly out of the sea opposite to a long cape, stretching southward from the centre of the island, to which he gave the name of Cape Beata. The rock at which he anchored had the appearance, at a distance, of a tall ship under sail, from which circumstance the admiral called it "Alto Velo." Several seamen were ordered to climb to the top of the island, which commanded a great extent of ocean, and to look out for the other ships. Nothing of them was to be seen. On their return the sailors killed eight sea-wolves, which were sleeping on the sands; they also knocked down many pigeons and other birds with sticks, and took others with the hand; for in this unfrequented island, the animals seemed to have none of that wildness and timidity produced by the hostility of man.

Being rejoined the two caravels, he continued along the coast, passing the beautiful country watered by the branches Neyva, where a fertile plain, covered with villages and groves, extended into the interior. After proceeding some distance farther to the east, the admiral learnt from the natives who came off to the ships that several Spaniards from the settlement had penetrated to their province. From all that he could learn from these people, everything appeared to be going

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