Spanish Voyages of Discovery

By Washington Irving | Go to book overview

selves. Nor was the supply of fresh water less grateful to their parched and fevered palates.

When sufficiently revived, they all abandoned the desolate island, and set sail for the river Bolen, exulting as joyfully as if their troubles were at an end, and they were bound to a haven of delight, instead of merely changing the scene of suffering and encountering a new variety of horrors.

In the meau time Lope de Olano had been diligently preparing for the approaching interview with his commander, by persuading his fellow officers to intercede in his behalf, and to place his late conduct in the most favourable light. He had need of their intercessions. Nicuesa arrived, burning with indignation. He ordered him to be instantly seized and punished as a traitor; attributing to his desertion the ruin of the enterprise and the sufferings and death of so many of his brave followers. The fellow captains of Olano spoke in his favour; but Nicuesa turned indignantly upon them: "You do well," cried he, "to supplicate mercy for him; you, who, yourselves, have need of pardon! You have participated in his crime; why else have you suffered so long a time to elapse without compelling him to send one of the vessels in search of me?"

The captains now vindicated themselves by assurances of their belief in his having foundered at sea. They reiterated their supplications for mercy to Olano; drawing the most affecting pictures of their past and present sufferings, and urging the impolicy of increasing the horrors of their situation by acts of severity. Nicuesa at length was prevailed upon to spare his victim; resolving to send him, by the first opportunity, a prisoner to Spain. It appeared, in truth, no time to add to the daily blows of fate that were thinning the number of his followers. Of the gallant armament of seven hundred resolute and effective men that had sailed with him from San Domingo, four hundred had already perished by various miseries; and of the survivors, many could scarcely be said to live.


CHAPTER V. SUFFERINGS OF Nicuesa AND HIS MEN ON THE COAST OF THE ISTHMUS.

THE first care of Nicuesa, on resuming the general command, was to take measures for the relief of his people, who were

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