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cumstance, that while the enemies of the admiral were thus, as it were, before his eyes, swallowed up in the raging sea, the only ship enabled to pursue her voyage was the frail bark freighted with his property. Many of the superstitious seamen, who, from the sagacity displayed by Columbus, in judging of the signs of the elements, and his variety of scientific knowledge, looked upon him as endowed with supernatural powers, fancied he had conjured up this storm by magic spells, for the destruction of his enemies. The evils in this, as in most of the cases called temporal judgments, overwhelmed the innocent with the guilty. In the same ship with Bobadilla and Roldan, perished the captive Guarionex, the unfortunate cacique of the vega.
After repairing the damages sustained by his ships in the storm, Columbus steered for Terra Firma, but the weather falling perfectly calm, he was swept away to the north-west by the currents, until he arrived on the southern coast of Cuba. The wind springing up fair, he resumed his course, and standing to the south-west was enabled on the 30th of July to make the island of Guanaga, a few leagues distant from the coast of Honduras. While the Adelantado was on shore at this island, a canoe arrived of an immense size, on board of which sat a cacique with his wives and children, under an awning of palm leaves. The canoe was paddled by twenty-five Indians, and freighted with various merchandise, the rude manufactures and natural productions of the adjacent countries. There were hatchets and other utensils of copper, with a kind of crucible for the melting of that metal; various vessels neatly formed of clay, marble, and hard
wood; mantles of cotton, worked and dyed with various colours; and many other articles which indicated a superior degree of art and civilization than had hitherto been discovered in the new world.
The Indians, as far as they could be understood, informed the admiral that they had come from a country rich, cultivated, and industrious, situated to the west, and urged him to steer in that direction. Well would it have been for Columbus had he followed their advice. Within a day or two he would have arrived at Yucatan; the discovery of Mexico, and the other opulent countries of New Spain, would have necessarily followed; the Southern Ocean would have been disclosed to him, and a succession of splendid discoveries would have shed fresh glory on his declining age, instead of its sinking amidst gloom, neglect, and disappointment.
The admiral's whole mind, however, was at present intent upon discovering the supposed strait that was to lead him to the Indian Ocean. He stood, therefore, southwardly for some mountains which he descried not many leagues distant, and made Cape Honduras, and from thence proceeded eastwardly, beating against contrary winds, and struggling with the currents which sweep that coast. There was an almost incessant tempest, with heavy rain and awful thunder and lightning. His vessels were strained so that their seams opened; the sails and rigging were rent, and the provisions damaged by the rain and the leakage. The sailors were exhausted with fatigue, and harassed with terror. Several times they confessed their sins to each other, and prepared for death. During a great part of this time, Columbus suffered extremely from the
gout, and his complaint was aggravated by watchfulness and anxiety. His illness did not prevent his attending to his duties; he had a small cabin or round house constructed on the stern, from whence, even when confined to his bed, he could keep a look out, and regulate the sailing of the ships. Many times he was so ill that he thought his end approaching, and his anxious mind was distressed at the thoughts that his brother Don Bartholomew, and his son Fernando, were exposed to the same dangers and hardships. Often, too, his thoughts reverted to his son Diego, and the cares and misfortunes into which his death might plunge him. At length, after struggling for upwards of forty days to make a distance of about seventy leagues, he arrived, on the 14th of September, at a cape where the coast made a sudden bend, and turned directly south. Doubling this cape, he had immediately an easy wind, and swept off with flowing sail, in consequence of which he gave it the name of Gracias a Dios, or Thanks to God.
For three weeks he continued coasting what is at present called the Mosquito shore, in the course of which a boat with its crew was swallowed up by the sudden swelling of a river. He had occasional interviews with the natives, but a mutual distrust prevailed between them and the Spaniards. The Indians were frightened at seeing a notary of the fleet take out pen, ink, and paper, and proceed to write down the information they were communicating; they supposed he was working some magic spell, and to counteract it, they scattered a fragrant powder in the air, and burnt it so that the smoke should be borne towards the Spaniards. The super
stitious seamen looked upon these counter charms with equal distrust. They suspected the people of this coast to be great enchanters, and that all the delays and hardships they had experienced were in consequence of the ships being under some evil spell, wrought by their magic arts. Even Columbus, and his son and historian Fernando, appear to have been tinctured with this superstition, which indeed is characteristic of the age.
On the 5th of October, Columbus arrived at what is at present called Costa Rica (or the Rich Coast), from the gold and silver mines found in after years among its mountains. Here he began to find ornaments of pure gold among the natives. These increased in quantity when he came to what has since been called the coast of Veragua, where he was assured that the richest mines were to be found. sailing along these coasts he received repeated accounts of a great kingdom in the west, called Ciguare, at the distance of several days' journey, where, as far as he could understand the imperfect explanations of his interpreters, the inhabitants wore crowns and bracelets and anklets of gold, and employed it in embroidering their garments, and orna-. menting and embossing their furniture. They were armed also like the Spaniards, with swords, bucklers, and cuirasses, and were mounted on horses. The country was described also as being commercial, with seaports, in which ships arrived armed with cannon. Above all, Columbus understood that the sea continued round to this kingdom of Ciguare, and that ten days beyond it was the Ganges.
These were evidently rumours of the distant kingdom of Mexico, imperfectly interpreted to
Columbus, and shaped and coloured by his imagination. He concluded that this country must be some province belonging to the Grand Khan, and must lie on the opposite side of a peninsula, and that he would soon arrive at a strait leading into the Indian Sea which washed its shores. The supposed vicinity of the Ganges caused no surprise, as he had adopted the opinion of certain ancient philosophers, who gave the world a smaller circumference than was generally imagined, and but fifty-six miles and two-thirds to a degree of the equinoctial line.
With these erroneous but ingenious ideas, Columbus continued to press forward in search of the imaginary strait, contending with adverse winds and currents, and meeting with great hostility from the natives; for the Indians of these coasts were fierce and warlike, and many of the tribes are supposed to have been of Carib origin. At sight of the ships, the forests would resound with yells and war whoops, with wooden drums, and the blast of conchs, and on landing the shores would be lined with savage warriors armed with clubs, and lances, and swords of palm wood.
At length, having discovered and named Puerto Bello, and continued beyond Cape Nombre de Dios, Columbus arrived at a small and narrow harbour, to which he gave the name of El Retrete, or The Cabinet. Here he had reached the point, to which Bastides, an enterprising voyager, coasting from the eastward, had recently explored. Whether Columbus knew or not of the voyage of this discoverer does not clearly appear, but here he was induced to give all further attempt to find the strait. The seamen were disheartened by the constant opposition