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and sometimes by large open spaces. There are, in these towns, courts of justice surrounded by walls, and also market-places. They also possess paved streets, ovens, furnaces, lime, and baked bricks. Their potters, carpenters, artisans and other workmen in the mechanical trades are capable. The cacique is called Tabasco, and the country Palmaria. The royal residence is called Potenchian, and numbers fifteen thousand houses. In receiving their new guests, with whom they desired to live peaceably, the Indians drew a little blood with a razor either from the tongue, the left hand, the arm, or some other part of the body; and this serves as a pledge of friendship, the operation being performed in the presence of the guest. The priests are celibates and observe chastity. Nobody has sexual relations before marriage, and to act otherwise would be a crime which only death could expiate. The morals of the women are admirably pure. Every powerful chief may take as many concubines as he pleases after marriage. A married woman taken in adultery is sold by her husband, but the cacique has the right to ransom her. It is forbidden to any unmarried person to sit at the same table with a married person, to eat from the same dish, drink from the same cup, or in any way to comport himself as an equal. During the months of August and September they fast for thirty-five days, not only from meat such as chickens and game, which they like, but also from fish or any other animal food. During this period they subsist on fruits and vegetables. The Spaniards passed some days amongst them, abundantly supplied with provisions. Upon leaving, they followed the same coast and visited a cacique to whom they gave the name of Ovando. As soon as this chief understood that the Spaniards wanted gold, he presented them with some bars of it melted. The captain having told him through his interpreters that he desired a large quantity, the next day the cacique brought a small golden statue of a man, also a golden fan and mask, beautifully worked and decorated with stones. He also distributed amongst them many beads for breast ornaments and others of divers kinds and variety adorned with precious stones. He invited them to magnificent banquets, served with great taste; and as the men were without protection from the weather, the cacique gave orders that cabins made of green branches should be quickly erected for them. He struck any of his slaves, who were slow about carrying the branches, with a sceptre which he carried in his hands. The slaves bowed their heads and submitted to the blows without complaint. When asked where he obtained so much gold, the cacique pointed with his finger to the neighbouring mountains and the streams flowing from them. The natives are so accustomed to swim in the rivers and lakes that they are as much at home in the water as on land. Whenever the humour takes them to collect gold, they dive into the river and bring up handfuls of sand, which they then sift from one hand to the other, taking out the gold. It is claimed that within a space of two hours they can fill a tube as long as your finger. Much might be said of the perfumes and soft odours of these countries, which incline people to idleness and luxury, but it is better to pass these over in silence. Such things contribute more to effeminacy than to the encouragement of virtue. The commander refused a boy twelve years old, but accepted a young girl wearing beautiful ornaments; in spite of his companions he dismissed the boy. Among the precious stones given by this cacique, one worth two thousand castellanos of gold was noted. The Spaniards finally quit this country, laden with gold and precious stones. The captain, Grijalva, sent one of the caravels to his uncle, the governor, to carry to Fernandina the news of the discovery and the treasure amassed. The other ships continued to follow the coast in a westerly direction, one of them, commanded by Francisco Montejo, keeping well in towards the shore, while the other two stood out more to sea. The natives were astonished at this novel spectacle, believing they were witnessing a miracle. Thirteen canoes approached the ship of Montejo, and conversation began through interpreters. After an exchange of amicable signs, the islanders invited the Spaniards to land, promising them a good reception if they would visit their cacique. Montejo responded that he could not accept the invitation, because his companions were too far distant; but he distributed some presents and sent them away well satisfied. The Spaniards afterwards sailed towards another populous town, the three caravels approaching the shore together. The natives, however, opposed their landing; armed with their shields, bows, quivers full of arrows, large wooden swords, and their lances with burnt points, they advanced, letting fly volleys of arrows. The Spaniards replied with cannonshot, and the natives, amazed and frightened by the explosion, took flight. A little later they sought to renew negotiations. Provisions were getting short, and the Spaniards found their ships damaged by the long voyage; so Grijalva determined to return to Fernandina. He was well satisfied with the result of his discoveries and acquisitions, but his companions were extremely dissatisfied." * Diego Velasquez disapproved of the conduct of Grijalva, who fell into permanent disfavour with the petulant and avaricious governor. He
afterwards joined Garay's luckless expedition to Panuco, and was finally killed during an Indian uprising at Villahermosa in Nicaragua.
E must now digress a little, in order to deW scribe a new expedition, after which we will return to the present subject. While equipping this squadron of four caravels, the same governor," Diego Velasquez, had simultaneously armed a fifth, which was to be accompanied by one single brigantine, carrying provisions and forty-five soldiers. The Spaniards used force against the natives who inhabited the coast of the neighbouring continent; these people are circumcised and worship idols. During their voyage the Spaniards passed a number of small islands, remarkable for the fertility of their soil and the abundance of their crops. These islands are called Guanaxa, Guitilla, and Guanagua"; and in one of them they captured three hundred natives of both sexes, who had in no wise molested them. They named this island Santa Marina. Crowding their prisoners upon the caravel, they returned to Fernandina while the brigantine, with a crew of twenty-five sailors, was ordered to continue this man-hunt. The caravel touched at a port called Carenas, distant about two hundred and forty leagues from the capital of Cuba, Santiago. It is known that the length of this island extends towards the west, and that it is divided in the middle by the Tropic of Cancer.
* Progubernator: Diego Velasquez was governor of Cuba, the title of viceroy being held by Diego Columbus. • Islands lying in the Bahama channel.
Fortune took upon herself to avenge the prisoners. Some of their jailers having landed, and only a few remaining on board the caravel, the islanders seized this opportunity to recover their freedom. They obtained possession of the arms of the Spaniards, fell upon them, killing six and driving the others overboard. Once masters of the caravel, which they had learned to sail, the islanders returned to their country. They first landed on a neighbouring island where they burned the caravel, taking care to keep the arms, and regained their native land in their own barques. They took the Spaniards who had been left in charge of the brigantine by surprise. Upon the shore there grew a large tree, on the top of which they set up a cross, and upon the upper part of its trunk they wrote in Spanish letters Vamos al Darien. Darien is the river on whose banks stands the capital of what is supposed to be a continent, Santa Maria de la Antigua.
As soon as the news of the disaster reached him, the governor of Fernandina hastened to send shiploads of soldiers to rescue the abandoned Spaniards. The decision was wise but tardy, for the catastrophe was complete. They saw the cross and, following the coast, they read the letters carved on the tree-trunk; but not venturing to attack the fugitives, who were desperate and better armed than themselves, they retired, not, however, without capturing in a neighbouring island five hundred prisoners of both sexes, as easily as if they had been hares. The excuse offered for this iniquitous proceeding was that the natives were circumcised. Hardly had they landed at Fernandina than they themselves had to undergo the same trials, for the prisoners attacked one of the two caravels with fury and, despite their desperate resistance, killed a number of the Spanish soldiers. Others threw themselves overboard and swam to the other caravel, which was not far distant. A general attack upon the caravel in the possession of the natives was then made,