Spanish Voyages of Discovery

By Washington Irving | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XX. SECOND EXPEDITION OF VASCO NUÑEZ IN QUEST OF THE GOLD TEMPLE OF DOBAYBA.

THE rich mines of Dobayba and the treasures of its golden temple had continued to form a favourite theme with the Spanish adventurers. It was ascertained that Vasco Nuñez had stopped short of the wealthy region on his former expedition, and had mistaken a frontier village for the residence of the cacique. The enterprise of the temple was therefore still to be achieved; and it was solicited by several of the cavaliers in the train of Pedrarias with all the chivalrous ardour of that romantic age. Indeed, common report had invested the enterprise with difficulties and danger sufficient to stimulate the ambition of the keenest seeker of adventure. The savages who inhabited that part of the country were courageous and adroit. They fought by water as well as by land, forming ambuseades with their canoes in the bays and rivers. The country was intersected by dreary fens and morasses, infested by all kinds of reptiles. Clouds of gnats and musquitoes filled the air; there were large bats also, supposed to have the baneful properties of the vampire; alligators lurked in the waters, and the gloomy recesses of the fens were said to be the dons of dragons!*

Besides these objects of terror, both true and fabulous, the old historian, Peter Martyr, makes mention of another monstrous animal said to infest this golden region, and which deserves to be cited, as showing the imaginary dangers with which the active minds of the discoverers peopled the unexplored wilderness around them.

According to the tales of the Indians, there had occurred shortly before the arrival of the Spaniards a violent tempest, or rather hurricane, in the neighbourhood of Dobayba, which demolished houses, tore up trees by the roots, and laid waste whole forests. When the tempest had subsided, and the affrighted inhabitants ventured to look abroad, they found that two monstrous animals had been brought into the country by the hurricane. According to their accounts, they were not

____________________
*
P. Martyr.

-153-

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