The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus

By Washington Irving | Go to book overview

them an easy wind and free navigation. Doubling the point, they swept off with flowing sails and hearts filled with joy; and the admiral, to commemorate this sudden relief from toil and peril, gave to the Cape the name of Gracias a Dios, or Thanks to God.*


CHAPTER III.
VOYAGE ALONG THE MOSQUITO COAST, AND TRANSACTIONS AT
CARIARI.

[ 1503.]

After doubling Cape Gracias a Dios, Columbus milled directly south, along what is at present called the Mosquito shore. The land was of varied character, sometimes rugged, with craggy promontories and points stretching into the sea, at other places verdant and fertile, and watered by abundant streams. In the rivers grew immense reeds, sometimes of the thickness of a man's thigh: they abounded with fish and tortoises and alligators basked on the banks. At one place Columbus passed a cluster of twelve small islands, on which grew a fruit resembling the lemon, on which account he called them the Limnonares.

After sailing, about sixty-two leagues along this coast, being greatly in want of wood and water, the squadron anchored on the 16th of September, near a copious river, up which the boats were sent to procure the requisite supplies. As they were returning to their ships, a sudden swelling of the sea, rushing in and encountering the rapid current of the river, caused a violent commotion, in which one of the boats was swallowed up, and all on board perished. This melancholy event had a gloomy effect upon the crews, already dispirited and careworn from the hardships they had endured, and Columbus, sharing their dejection, gave the stream the sinister nameof El rio del Desastre, or the River of Disaster.

Leaving this unlucky neighborhood, they continued for sev-

____________________
*
Las Casas, lib. ii. cap. 21. Hist. del Almirante, cap. 91.
P. Martyr, decad. iii. lib. iv. These may have been the lime, a small and extremely acid species of the lemon.
Las Casas, lib. ii. cap. 21. Hist. del Almirante, cap. 91. Jounal of Porras.

-518-

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