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naked, these natives make stuffs to decorate their rooms and the suspended beds called hammocks. They have kings, whom they obey with such respect that if one of them ordered a man to throw himself over a precipice for no reason whatever save that he commanded, “I want you to throw yourself down,” the man would immediately obey. It is well, however, to know the limits of the royal power. The kings occupy themselves in planting, hunting, and fishing. Whatever is sown or planted or fished, and whatever has to do with hunting, or is manufactured in any way whatsoever, is done in accordance with the king's order. He distributes these tasks among his people according to his pleasure. Harvests are stored in royal granaries, to be divided during the remainder of the year, and are distributed among the different families according to their needs. The king there is like the queen bee—a treasurer and distributor among his subjects. so natives, therefore, enjoy a golden age, for they now neither meum nor tuum, that germ of all discords. When they are not busy with sowing or harvests, they are playing tennis, dancing, hunting, or fishing. Judicial matters, trials, disputes among neighbours, are absolutely unknown. The king's will is held to be law and this same custom prevails in all the islands. In all things they are contented with little) A kind of precious stone which the natives highly prize is found in the waters; it is taken from red shells. They wear it in their ears. Another much more valuable stone is taken from large snails, whose flesh is good to eat. In the head of each of these snails are deposited little diaphanous red pebbles, as brilliant as fire. People who have examined them declare their value to be equal to the red stone vulgarly called the ruby. The natives call the snail cahobi and the stone cahobici. Transparent yellow and black stones are also found in the earth, and of these they make necklaces and bracelets for adorning
their arms and necks and even their legs when they walk about naked. At least this was their custom when they lived in the archipelago. I shall now describe the archipelago and speak of the extermination of the inhabitants.
E believe, or rather we suppose, that the W Lucayas Islands were formerly joined to the large islands, and the natives themselves declare that there is such a tradition transmitted to them by their ancestors. Little by little, violent tempests submerged the lands, and separated them one from another by arms of the sea. The same is told by authors concerning the strait of Messina, lying between Italy and Sicily, which were formerly united. We know, indeed, that in many places the continent has increased in size and that it daily stretches out, pushing back the sea. Examples of this may be seen in the cities of Ravenna and Padua, which were near the sea, and are now far removed from it. On the other hand, the sea often encroaches on the continent. What we behold with our own eyes enables us to imagine what has happened elsewhere. It is stated that these islands formerly abounded in various products, which constituted their riches; I say formerly, for they are now deserted, as I shall later show. The islands of this archipelago are from twelve to forty miles in circumference, none being larger. They resemble what has been told of the Strophades and the Symplegades" of the Mediterranean, which were assigned as a residence to the proscripts of Rome at Giaro, Seripho, and many others; the difference being that the Lucayas * For the second time the author misplaces the Symplegades; the Strowere formerly very populous, while now they are deserted. The reason for this is that large numbers of the wretched islanders were transported to the gold-mines of Hispaniola and Fernandina, when the native inhabitants there were exterminated, exhausted by disease and famine, as well as by excessive labour. Twelve hundred thousand of them disappeared. I am ashamed to tell this story, but I must above all things be veracious. It is true that the Lucayans sometimes took vengeance on their oppressors by killing them, as I have explained at length in my first Decades. Some Spaniards, anxious as hunters pursuing wild beasts through the mountains and swamps to capture the Indians of that archipelago, embarked on two ships built at the cost of seven of them. They sailed from Puerto de Plata situated on the north coast of Hispaniola, and laid their course towards the Lucayas. Three years have passed since then, and it is only now, in obedience to Camillo Gillino, who wishes me to acquaint Your Excellency with some still unknown particulars concerning these discoveries, that I speak of this expedition. These Spaniards visited all the Lucayas but without finding the plunder, for their neighbours had already explored the archipelago and systematically depopulated it. Not wishing to expose themselves to ridicule by returning to Hispaniola empty-handed, they continued their course towards the north. Many people said they lied when they declared they had purposely chosen that direction. They were driven by a sudden tempest which lasted two days, to within sight of a lofty promontory which we will later describe. When they landed on this coast, the natives, amazed at the unexpected sight, regarded it as a miracle, for they had never seen ships. At first they rushed in crowds to the beach, eager to see; but when the Spaniards took to their shallops, the natives fled with the swiftness of the wind, leaving the coast deserted. Our compatriots pursued them and some of the more agile and swift-footed young men got ahead and captured a man and a woman, whose flight had been less rapid. They took them on board their ships and after giving them clothing, released them. Touched by this generosity, serried masses of natives again appeared on the beach. When their sovereign heard of this generosity, and beheld for the first time these unknown and precious garments, for they only wear the skins of lions and other wild beasts, he sent fifty of his servants to the Spaniards, carrying such provisions as they eat. When the Spaniards landed, he received them respectfully and cordially, and when they exhibited a wish to visit the neighbourhood, he provided them with guides and an escort. Wherever they showed themselves, the natives, full of admiration, advanced to meet them with presents, as though they were divinities to be worshipped. What impressed them most was the sight of the beards and the woollen and silk clothing. But what then! The Spaniards ended by violating this hospitality. For when they had finished their exploration, they enticed numerous natives by lies and tricks to visit their ships, and when the vessels were quickly crowded with men and women, they raised anchor, set sail, and carried these despairing unfortunates into slavery. By such means they sowed hatred and warfare throughout that entire peaceful and friendly region, separating children from their parents and wives from their husbands/ Nor is this all. Only one of the two ships returned, and of the other there has been no news. As the vessel was old, it is probable that she went down with all on board, innocent and guilty. This spoliation occasioned the Royal Council at Hispaniola much vexation, but it remained unpunished. It was first thought to send the prisoners back, but nothing was done, because the plan would have
phades lie in the Ionian Sea.