Terra Australis Incognita: The Spanish Quest for the Mysterious Great South Land

By Miriam Estensen | Go to book overview

Chapter Fourteen
KNIGHTHOODS AND A
CITY OF MARBLE

Following this altercation, the local people seem to have abandoned the area. Only by night were they seen on the beach, their fishermen’s lights moving along the shore. By day the Spaniards entered deserted villages, which they found clean and well arranged, the houses with few exceptions liberally stocked with food, to which the soldiers helped themselves— coconuts, plantains, nuts tasting like those of Castile, some type of sweet citrus fruit, potatoes, yams and pigs. The soil seemed rich and fertile and in the cool streams, the men, well guarded, bathed and washed their clothes. The Franciscans came ashore, also impressed by the apparent richness of the land. Each night, however, by Quirós’ order, everyone returned to the ships for safety’s sake, and it was this that quite possibly prevented the spread of malaria, which had devastated the colony at Santa

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