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and whose points are of precious stones attached by golden wires. There is also a large sceptre decorated with jewels, two golden rings, and an arm-band; deerskin sandals, sewn with golden thread and having white soles; a mirror made of brilliant stone, of the same bluish colour, surrounded with white gold. Let us finally note a transparent stone shaped in the form of a sphinx, a lizard wound round with gold, two large shells, two golden ducks, and numerous other birds,—two made of gold; four fish and a staff of copper, not to mention the feathers which commonly serve as ornaments; small shields and bucklers, twenty-four breast cuirasses of gold, and five of silver. There is another shield made of leather, ornamented with various coloured feathers and having in its centre a disk of wrought gold representing a zemes. Four other blades of gold surround this in the form of a cross, on which are represented different animals, such as lions, tigers, and wolves; hides of animals stuffed with twigs and wooden splints, over which the skin of the beast is stretched, ornamented with copper bells.
What shall be said of the carefully tanned hides of other animals? There are also large cotton cloths dyed with black, white, and yellow checks, which proves they are acquainted with the game of checkers. One of these cloths is black on one side, and red and white on the other; another such cloth is dyed in different colours. It has in its centre a black wheel surrounded by rays, and is decorated with brilliant feathers. I must still mention two other white draperies, bed-covers, tapestries, mantles such as the natives wear, shirts, and different very light head-dresses. There is a number of objects to examine which are pleasing rather than precious, but as I fear the enumeration of these things may tire rather than divert Your Holiness, I pass them over in silence, as I likewise do the different incidents of the voyages, the labours, the miseries, the dangers, the wonderful achievements, and all the misfortunes which each of our navigators has noted down in his log-book, and which have later been brought to our knowledge in our Royal India Council. Nevertheless, here are some particulars that I have chosen amongst the rest, and for which I am indebted to private correspondence.
The Spaniards who brought the gifts, and the captain, Fernando Cortes, who had formed the project of establishing a colony in those distant countries, were accused before the Royal India Council of having acted contrary to law and justice, in that they had not consulted the governor of Cuba, who had commissioned them by virtue of the powers he held from the King; and of having acted contrary to their instructions, and of having referred to the King without first offering their obedience to him. Thus the governor, Diego Velasquez, described them through his representatives, as fugitives, thieves, and traitors. The accused alleged in reply that they had displayed a spirit of obedience in referring to the superior justice of the King; moreover, that they had fitted out the fleet at their own expense, the governor of Cuba having given them nothing more than would a merchant selling his goods, and that, moreover, he had sold his merchandise too dear. Velasquez asked the death penalty for them, while they hoped on the contrary to be rewarded for the fatigues and dangers they had undergone. Both punishment and reward are postponed, until both parties shall be heard. Such is the decision.
Let us now return to the colonists of Darien, along the gulf of Uraba on the supposed continent. We have said that the Darien is a river emptying into the gulf on the west coast. The Spaniards founded a colony on the banks of this river, after having expelled the cacique by force of arms. In fulfilment of a vow made in the midst of battle, they gave to this colony the name of Santa Maria de la Antigua. We have related at the close of our Decades that the same year we stopped writing, twelve hundred soldiers had been sent to Darien under the command of Pedro Arias d'Avila; this was done in response to the solicitation of Vasco Nunez Balboa, the first discoverer of the unknown South Sea, and the first chief of Darien. Scarcely had he landed at Darien, and assumed the most extensive powers, than Pedro Arias sent several captains in command of troops in various directions.
I shall recount what happened to them in a few words, for the story is not pleasing; in fact it is quite the contrary. From the moment when we suspended our report, there has been nothing done but killing and being killed, massacring and being massacred. Balboa had been long ago named Adelantado by the Catholic King, and he could not long endure the official superiority of Pedro Arias. They became enemies and threw everything into confusion. The bishop, Juan Quevedo, who is a Franciscan monk, sought to intervene. Although Pedro Arias promised to give his daughter in marriage to Balboa, the rival leaders could not come to an understanding. Their hostility became bitterer, and finally assumed such a character that Pedro Arias profited by the first excuse furnished him by Balboa, to cite the latter before the judges. He condemned him and five other leaders to be strangled. Pedro Arias accused Balboa and his companions of wishing to desert and proceed to the South Sea, where he had built a squadron of four brigantines for exploring the southern coasts of the land supposed to be a continent. Vasco Nunez was believed to have spoken to his three hundred companions as follows: "My brave men, you have shared my labours and my dangers; I ask, do you wish to serve under another leader? Who can endure the insolence of this governor? Let us follow these shores which chance has revealed to us, and among the Elysian provinces of this vast land, let us choose one where we may live the remainder of our lives in freedom. Who would be able to find us, or if we were found, who could attack us?" These words were repeated to the governor. Pedro Arias recalled Vasco from the South Sea, and the latter, obeying, was put into irons. He denied the plot of which he was accused. Witnesses to prove the alleged crime were everywhere sought, and from the very first day, everything he said was turned to incriminate him. He was condemned to death and executed; and this was the outcome of the labours and dangers he had endured at the very moment when he believed himself to be on the eve of winning new titles to glory.1
Leaving his wife at Darien, Pedro Arias sailed with Vasco's little squadron to explore the new countries. We do not yet know if he has returned successful. Lopez Sosa, who was for a long time viceroy of the Canary Islands, has been already named to replace him as governor of Darien. The rage of Pedro Arias when he gets back may be imagined beforehand; he has accomplished no really glorious deed, and he is accused of having been too easy from the beginning and lacking in severity in punishing disorders. But we have said enough on this subject; let us return to some matters we have omitted.
1 For full information concerning the trial and execution of Balboa, consult Gaffarel's Vasco Nunez de Balboa.
I HAVE already spoken at length of the great and deep Dabaiba River which the Spaniards have named Rio Grande, and which flows into the sea at the head of the gulf of Uraba, by seven mouths similar to those of the Nile. According to the statements of the natives, the mountains round about it are rich in gold deposits. Vasco and other captains had organised parties for the exploration of this region and had embarked in boats of different sizes to ascend the river. For a distance of forty, fifty, and even eighty leagues they sailed without difficulty, but from thenceforward their fortune entirely changed. Oh, what a wonderful adventure! In fact, naked and unarmed savages attacked the clothed and armed Spaniards, and defeated them, killing the majority and wounding all the rest. These natives use poisoned arrows in fighting. The instant they see an uncovered part of an enemy's body, they pierce it with an infallible aim. They throw such volleys of javelins in the midst of the battle that the sun is obscured from the enemy's sight, as though by a cloud. They also have heavy swords of hard wood, which they use with courage in hand-to-hand engagements. Vasco himself was covered with wounds inflicted by them, and thus the river and region of Dabaiba were abandoned and left unexplored.
A few words more concerning Hispaniola, the metropolis of the other colonies. The Royal Government Council has been increased, five new judges having been sent to