« السابقةمتابعة »
offered Egidius Gonzales six golden statues each a cubit high, ancient monuments of the faith of his forefathers.
The cacique informed Gonzales that some fifty leagues from his palace there existed another kingdom whose cacique was called Nicoragua. When Gonzales had advanced to within a day's march of the residence of Nicoragua, he sent messengers ahead to deliver the same communications the Spaniards are accustomed to make to caciques before attacking them; namely, that they must be converted to Christianity and recognise the authority and jurisdiction of the great King of Spain, otherwise war and hostilities will be declared against them. The next day, four of Nicoragua's principal vassals came out to meet them and announced in the name of their cacique that they wished for baptism and peace. The Spaniards repaired to the house of Nicoragua, and not only he, but more than nine thousand of his subjects, received the waters of holy baptism. Nicoragua presented Egidius Gonzales with 15,000 golden pesos, in the form of different necklaces; in return Gonzales presented the king with a silk jacket, a linen shirt, and a red hat. Two crosses were set up in this territory: the first in the native temple itself, and the second just outside the village.
Marching always towards the west, Gonzales next came to a region six leagues farther on, where he found six villages, each containing about two thousand houses. While he was engaged in visiting the villages of that region, the news of his arrival spread, and a cacique called Diriangan, whose states lie farther to the west, came to see him. Diriangan was escorted by twenty women and five hundred men, preceded by ten standard bearers and five trumpeters. When he approached Gonzales, who awaited him seated on a throne arrayed in royal apparel, the trumpets sounded a fanfare; after which the standards were dipped. Each of the soldiers forming the escort carried one or two of those domestic birds resembling peacocks, which correspond among the natives to our chickens.
Here, with your permission, I will make a digression. It often happens that I repeat the same details and that I, who am a rude peasant, offer you, who are an ^Esculapius, medicines with which you are acquainted; in fact, most of what I offer you is already known to you, for you have learned these facts in my Decades. I repeat them because I may assume that these Decades will fall into the hands of seekers after knowledge, who are not only ignorant of these details, but who may be unable to recur to your explanations. Thanks to you, such people will there learn what they desire to know. You who are born for the benefit of many should not reproach me.'
The cacique Diriangan had his servants bring more than two hundred golden hatchets, each weighing eighteen pesos or a little over. The interpreters whom Egidius had with him and who understood our language, asked the cacique why he had come; to which he answered: "I wish to enter into relations with this new race of men, whose visit to this country was reported. I am willing to grant them everything they desire." The interpreters replied: "Become Christians, all of you"; and they enumerated the different conditions usually imposed upon other caciques, adding that they must acknowledge themselves vassals of the great King of Spain. The cacique said: 'We accept the two propositions, and we promise to return within three days to fulfil them'; after which he departed.
1 Ne me igitur accuses tu, qui natus es ad multorum utililatem. An apt translation for the compliment does not readily suggest itself.
A NUMBER of incidents worthy of narration occurred during the stay of the Spaniards with Nicoragua. In addition to what I have gathered from the letters of Egidius, these incidents have been described to me by the royal qucestor, commonly called treasurer, who shared largely in his labours, and whose name is Andreas Cerezeda. When he left, he consigned me his report in writing.
Our general, Egidius, and the cacique, Nicoragua, employed their idle hours in conversing with one another, through means of an interpreter whom Egidius had educated and who was born not far from Nicoragua's territory. This interpreter knew both languages sufficiently well. Nicoragua asked his guest what was thought in the kingdom of the powerful sovereign whose vassal he had become, of the cataclysm which, according to the ancient tradition of his forefathers, had swallowed up the entire earth with all its inhabitants and animals. "I believe the same," said Egidius. When asked whether he thought that another similar catastrophe was to be expected, he answered: "By no means; but just as men's crimes, and particularly their unnatural lusts, were once punished by this flood which destroyed all living creatures with but a few exceptions, so after a period of time unknown to men, fire will descend from heaven and reduce the universe to ashes." This statement astonished his listeners; and Nicoragua, turning to the interpreter, tremulously asked him whether this race of men whose wisdom they could not sufficiently admire, descended from heaven. The interpreter responded affirmatively, and the cacique continued naively inquiring whether they came straight down or after circling through the air. The interpreter who was born in the same country as Nicoragua, or near by, answered that he did not know. The cacique asked him to inquire of his master whether the earth would one day be shaken by a sudden convulsion; and to this Egidius replied that this was known only to the creator of heaven and earth and mankind.
The total destruction of the human race, the destination of souls liberated from their earthly prison, the time fixed for the conflict of destroying fires, the epoch when the sun, moon, and stars would cease to shine, the number, the distance, and the influences of the stars, and many other similar questions were proposed by the cacique. Egidius is a learned man, who delights in translating Latin works into the vulgar tongue, but his erudition was not equal to furnishing the cacique with any other than the following response: "The knowledge of these mysteries belongs to Divine providence."
The cacique likewise asked him questions relating to the winds, the cause of heat and cold, the difference between night and day, though this difference is hardly perceptible in those parts because of the vicinity of the equator. Almost all these questions Egidius answered as well as his knowledge permitted, and the replies to the others he referred to the Divine intelligence. Coming down to mundane matters, Nicoragua and his courtiers asked if it was permissible to drink, eat, love, play, sing, dance, and fight. The reply was as follows: "Eating, and drinking are necessary, but excess should be avoided, for everything in excess of our needs weakens the mind and diminishes the bodily strength; nothing else so develops vice, disputes, and hatred. It is likewise permissible to love, but only one single woman, to whom the man must be united in marriage bonds. To please God, the creator of all things, one must abstain from every kind of debauch. It is not forbidden either to sing, to take part in innocent games, or to dance."
As the natives asked nothing concerning ceremonies and human sacrifices, Gonzales himself introduced this subject, affirming that such sacrifice was highly displeasing to the Divinity. The most powerful King of Spain had further prescribed by law that whoever shall strike a man with his sword, shall in Ins turn be punished by the sword. The blood-sprinkled idols are images of deceiving demons who, because of their pride, were driven from heaven and precipitated into the infernal regions. They come forth at night, and appearing to innocent men they persuade them, by their maleficent arts, to do just the contrary of what they should. By listening to them souls are weaned from the love of their Creator, who seeks to win them to Himself by the exercise of charity and other virtues. Those who resist, instead of passing into the place of eternal delight which awaits them after the separation of the soul and the body, will be seized by those demons and, like them, will suffer eternal tortures and nameless torments.