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off their hats, repeat a prayer with great devotion. They imagined, therefore, that this bell had some mysterious power; that it had come from "Turey," or the skies, and was the zemi of the white men; that it talked to them, and they obeyed its orders. Caonabo had longed to see this bell, and when it was proffered to him as a present of peace, he found it impossible to resist the temptation.
He agreed to visit the admiral at the harbour; but when the time came to depart, Ojeda beheld with surprise a powerful army ready to march. He remonstrated on taking such a force on a mere friendly visit, to which the cacique proudly replied, "that it was not befitting a great prince like him to go forth scantily guarded." Ojeda feared some sinister design, and, to outwit the cacique, had resort to a stratagem which has the air of a romantic fable, but is recorded by all the cotemporary historians, and accords with the adventurous and extravagant character of the man, and the wild stratagems incident to Indian warfare.
As the army had halted one day near the river Yegua, Ojeda produced a set of manacles of polished steel, so highly burnished that they looked like silver. These he assured Caonabo were ornaments worn by the Castilian monarchs on high festivities, and were sent as a present to him. He proposed that Caonabo should bathe in the river, after which he should be decorated with these ornaments, mounted on the horse of Ojeda, and conducted back in the state of a Spanish monarch to astonish his subjects. The cacique was dazzled with the splendour of the shackles, and pleased with the idea of bestriding one of those tremendous animals so dreaded
by his countrymen. He bathed in the river, mounted behind Ojeda, and the shackles were adjusted. The Spaniards then pranced among the astonished savages, and made a wide sweep into the forest, until the trees concealed them from sight. They then drew their swords, closed round Caonabo, and threatened him with instant death, if he made the least noise or resistance. They bound him with cords to Ojeda, to prevent his falling or effecting an escape; then putting spurs to their horses, they dashed across the Yegua, made off through the woods with their prize, and, after a long, rugged, and perilous journey, entered Isabella in triumph; Ojeda bringing the wild Indian chieftain bound behind him a captive.
Columbus could not refrain from expressing his great satisfaction when this dangerous foe was delivered into his hands. The haughty Carib met him with a lofty and unsubdued air, disdaining to conciliate him by submission, or to deprecate his vengeance for his massacre of the garrison of La Navidad. He even boasted that he had secretly reconnoitred Isabella, with the design of wreaking on it the same destruction. He never evinced the least animosity against Ojeda for the artifice by which he had been captured. He looked upon it as the exploit of a master spirit, to pounce upon him, and bear him off in this hawk-like manner, from the very midst of his fighting men, for there is nothing that an Indian more admires in warfare than a deep-laid and well-executed stratagem. Whenever Columbus entered the prison of Caonabo, all present rose according to custom, and paid him reverence. The cacique alone remained sitting. On
the contrary, when Ojeda entered, though small in person, and without external state, Caonabo immediately rose and saluted him with profound respect. On being asked the reason of this, the proud Carib replied, that the admiral had never dared to come personally to his dominions and capture him ; it was only through the valour of Ojeda he was his prisoner; to the latter alone, therefore, he should pay reverence.
Columbus, though struck with the natural heroism of this savage, considered him too dangerous an enemy to be left at large. He maintained him, therefore, a close prisoner in a part of his own dwelling, until he could be shipped to Spain, but treated him with great kindness and respect. One of the brothers of the cacique assembled an army in hopes of surprising the fortress of St. Thomas, and capturing a number of Spaniards, for whom he might obtain Caonabo in exchange; but Ojeda received intelligence of his design, and coming upon him suddenly, attacked him with his little troop of horse, routed his army, killed many of his warriors, and took him prisoner.
Battle of the Vega-Imposition of Tribute.
THE arrival of four ships about this time, commanded by Antonio Torres, bringing out a physician and apothecary, various mechanics, millers, and husbandmen, and an ample supply of provisions, diffused universal joy among the suffering Spaniards. Columbus received a highly flattering letter from the sovereigns, approving of all that he had done, informing him that all differences with Portugal had been amicably adjusted, and inviting him to return to Spain, or to send some able person in his place, furnished with maps and charts, to be present at a convention for adjusting the dividing line of discovery between the two powers. Columbus hastened the return of the ships, sending his brother Diego to attend the convention, and to counteract the misrepresentations which he was aware had been sent home of his conduct, and which would be enforced by Margarite and Friar Boyle. He remitted, by the ships, all the gold he could collect, with specimens of fruits and valuable plants, and five hundred Indian captives, to be sold as slaves in Seville. It is painful to find the glory of Columbus sullied by such violations of the laws of humanity, but the customs of the times must plead his apology.
In the recent discoveries along the coast of Africa, the traffic in slaves had formed one of the greatest sources of profit; and in the wars with the enlightened and highly civilized Moors of Granada, the Spaniards were accustomed to make slaves of their prisoners. Columbus was goaded on, likewise, by the misrepresentations of his enemies, to try every means of indemnifying the sovereigns for the expenses of his enterprises, and to produce them a revenue from the countries he had discovered.
The admiral had now recovered his health, and the colonists were in some degree refreshed and invigorated by the supplies brought by the ships, when Guacanagari brought intelligence that the allied caciques, headed by Manicaotex, brother and successor to Caonabo, had assembled all their forces in the vega, within two days' march of Isabella, with an intention of making a grand assault upon the settlement. Columbus immediately determined to carry the war into the territories of the enemy, rather than wait for it to be brought to his door.
The whole sound and effective force he could muster, in the present sickly state of the colony, did not exceed two hundred infantry and twenty horse. There were twenty blood-hounds also, animals scarcely less terrible to the Indians than the horses, and infinitely more destructive. Guacanagari, also, brought his people into the field, but both he and his subjects were of an unwarlike character; the chief advantage of his co-operation was, that it completely severed him from his fellow caciques, and secured him as an ally.
It was on the 27th of March, 1495, that Columbus issued forth from Isabella with his little