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sword, showed no mercy to age or sex, put many to death with the most wanton, ingenious, and horrible tortures, and brought off the brave Cotabanama, one of the five sovereign caciques of the island, in chains to San Domingo, where he was ignominiously hanged by Ovando for the crime of defending his territory and his native soil against usurping strangers.
But the most atrocious act of Ovando, and one that must heap odium on his name wherever the woes of the gentle natives of Hayti create an interest, was the punishment he inflicted on the province of Xaragua for a pretended conspiracy. The exactions of tribute in this once happy and hospitable province had caused occasional quarrels between the inferior caciques and the Spaniards: these were magnified by alarmists, and Ovando was persuaded that there was a deep-laid plot among the natives to rise upon their oppressors. He immediately set out for Xaragua, at the head of nearly four hundred well-armed soldiers, seventy of whom were steelclad horsemen. He gave out that he was going on a visit of friendship, to make arrangements about the payment of tribute.
Behechio, the ancient cacique of the province, was dead, and his sister, Anacaona, had succeeded to the government. She came forth to meet Ovando, according to the custom of her nation, attended by her most distinguished subjects, and her train of damsels, waving palm branches, and dancing to the cadence of their popular areytos. All her principal caciques had been assembled to do honour to her guests, who for several days were entertained with banquets and national games and dances. In return for these exhibitions, Ovando invited Ana
caona, with her beautiful daughter Higuenamota, and her principal subjects, to witness a tilting match by the cavalry in the public square. When
all were assembled, the square crowded with unarmed Indians, Ovando gave a signal, and instantly the horsemen rushed into the midst of the naked and defenceless throng, trampling them under foot, cutting them down with their swords, transfixing them with their lances, and sparing neither age nor sex. Above eighty caciques had been assembled in one of the principal houses. It was surrounded by troops, the caciques were bound to the posts which supported the roof, and put to cruel tortures, until, in the extremity of anguish, they were made to admit the truth of the plot with which their queen and themselves had been charged. When self-accusation had thus been tortured from them, a horrible punishment was immediately inflicted; fire was set to the house, and they all perished miserably in the flames.
As to Anacaona, she was carried to San Domingo, where the mockery of a trial was given her, in which she was found guilty, on the confessions wrung by torture from her subjects, and on the testimony of their butchers, and she was barbarously hanged by the people whom she had so long and so signally befriended.
After the massacre at Xaragua, the destruction of its inhabitants still went on; they were hunted for six months amidst the fastnesses of the mountains, and their country ravaged by horse and foot, until, all being reduced to deplorable misery and abject submission, Ovando pronounced the province restored to order, and, in commemoration of his
triumph, founded a town near the lake, which he called Santa Maria de la Verdadera Paz (St. Mary of the True Peace).
Such was the tragical fate of the beautiful Anacaona, once extolled as the Golden Flower of Hayti; and such the story of the delightful region of Xaragua; a place which the Europeans, by their own account, found a perfect paradise, but which, by their vile passions, they filled with horror and desolation.
These are but brief and scanty anecdotes of the ruthless system which had been pursued, during the absence of the admiral, by the commander Ovando, this man of boasted prudence and moderation, who had been sent to reform the abuses of the island, and above all to redress the wrongs of the natives. system of Columbus may have borne hard upon the Indians, born and brought up as they were in untasked freedom, but it was never cruel or sanguinary. He had fondly hoped, at one time, to render them civilized, industrious, and tributary subjects to the crown, zealous converts to the faith, and to derive from their regular tributes a great and steady revenue. How different had been the event! The five great tribes which had peopled the mountains and the valleys, at the time of the discovery, and had rendered by their mingled villages and hamlets, and tracts of cultivation, the rich levels of the vegas so many" painted gardens," had almost all passed away, and the native princes had perished chiefly by violent and ignominious deaths." I am informed," said he, in a letter to the sovereigns, "that since I left this island, six parts out of seven of the natives are dead, all through ill-treatment
and inhumanity; some by the sword, others by blows and cruel usage, others through hunger; the greater part have perished in the mountains, whither they had fled, from not being able to support the labour imposed upon them."
He found his own immediate concerns in great confusion. His rents and arrears were either uncollected, or he could not obtain a clear account and a full liquidation of them; and he complained that Ovando had impeded his agents in their management of his concerns. The continual misunderstandings which took place between him and the governor, though always qualified on the part of the latter with courtly complaisance, induced Columbus to hasten his departure. He caused the ship in which he had returned from Jamaica to be repaired and fitted out, and another hired, in which he offered a passage to such of his late crews as chose to reThe greater part preferred to remain in San Domingo: as they were in great poverty, he relieved their necessities from his own purse, and advanced money to those who accompanied him for the expenses of their voyage. All the funds he could collect were exhausted in these disbursements, and many of the men thus relieved by his generosity had been among the most violent of the rebels.
On the 12th of September he set sail, but had scarcely left the harbour when the mast of his ship was carried away in a sudden squall. He embarked, therefore, with his family in the other vessel, commanded by the Adelantado, and sent back the damaged ship to port. Fortune continued to persecute him to the end of this his last and most disastrous expedition. Throughout the voyage he
experienced tempestuous weather, suffering at the same time the excruciating torments of the gout, until, on the 7th of November, his crazy and shattered bark anchored in the harbour of San Lucar. From thence he proceeded to Seville, to enjoy a little tranquillity of mind and body, and to recruit his health after his long series of fatigues, anxieties, and hardships.