The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus

By Washington Irving | Go to book overview

hardships which yet surrounded them were forgotten for a time in mutual congratulations. The admiral was so much impressed with a sense of the high services rendered by Diego Mendez, throughout the late time of danger and disaster, that he gave him the command of the caravel, vacant by the death of the unfortunate Diego Tristan.*


CHAPTER X.
DEPARTURE FROM THE COAST OF VERAGUA—ARRIVAL AT JAMAICA
—STRANDING OF THE SHIPS.

[ 1503.]

The wind at length becoming favorable, Columbus set sail, toward the end of April, from the disastrous coast of Veragua. The wretched condition of the ships, the enfeebled state of the crows, and the scarcity of provisions determined him to make the best of his way to Hispaniola, where he might refit his vessels and procure the necessary supplies for the voyage to Europe. To the surprise of his pilot and crews, however, on making sail, he stood again along the coast to the eastward, instead of steering north, which they considered the direct route to Hispaniola. They fancied that he intended to proceed immediately for Spain, and murmured loudly at the madness of attempting so long a voyage, with ships destitute of stores and consumed by the worms. Columbus and his brother, however, had studied the navigation of those seas with a more observant and experienced eye. They considered it advisable to gain a considerable distance to the east, before standing across for Hispaniola, to avoid being swept away, far below their destined port, by the strong currents setting constantly to the west. The admiral, however, did not impart his reasons to the pilots, being anxious to keep the knowledge of his routes as much to himself as possible, seeing that there were so many adventurers crowding into the field, and ready to follow

____________________
*
Hist. del Almirante, cap. 99, 100. Las Casas, lib. ii. cap. 29. Relacion por Diego Mendez. Letter of Columbus from Jamaica. Journal of Porras, Navarrete, Colec. tom. i.
Hist. del Almirante. Letter from Jamaica.

-552-

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