Spanish Voyages of Discovery

By Washington Irving | Go to book overview

him with great kindness, and graciously accepted his gold, for which he gave him beads, hawks' bells, and looking-glasses, making him, in his own conceit, the richest potentate on that side of the mountains.

Friendship being thus established between them, Vasco Nuñez remained at the village for a few days, sending back the guides who had accompanied him from Quaraqua, and ordering his people, whom he had left at that place, to rejoin him. In the mean time he sent out three scouting parties, of twelve men each, under Francisco Pizarro, Juan de Escary, and Alonzo Martin de Don Benito, to explore the surrounding country and discover the best route to the sea. Alonzo Martin was the most successful. After two days' journey he came to a beach, where he found two large canoes lying high and dry, without any water being in sight. While the Spaniards were regarding these canoes, and wondering why they should be so far on land, the tide, which rises to a great height on that coast, came rapidly in and set them afloat; upon this, Alonzo Martin stepped into one of them, and called his companions to bear witness that he was the first European that embarked upon that sea; his example was followed by one Blas de Etienza, who called them likewise to testify that he was the second.*

We mention minute particulars of the kind as being characteristic of these extraordinary enterprises, and of the extraordinary people who undertook them. The humblest of these Spanish adventurers seemed actuated by a swelling and ambitious spirit, that rose superior at times to mere sordid considerations, and aspired to share the glory of these great discoveries. The scouting party having thus explored a direct route to the sea coast, returned to report their success to their commander.

Vasco Nuñez being rejoined by his men from Quaraqua, now left the greater part of his followers to repose and recover from their sickness and fatigues in the village of Chiapes, and, taking with him twenty-six Spaniards, well armed, he set out on the twenty-ninth of September, for the sea coast, accompanied by the cacique and a number of his warriors. The thick forest which covered the mountains descended to the very margin of the sea, surrounding and overshadowing the wide and beautiful bays that penetrated far into the land. The whole coast, as far as the eye could reach, was perfectly

____________________
*
Herrera, Hist. Ind. d. i. 1. x. c. 2.

-125-

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