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Source global Wall Street Journal     time 2022-01-14 20:03:26
Typefacelarge in Small
  On the second of January, 1504, Francesco de Porras broke into thecabin. He complained bitterly that they were kept to die in that desolateplace, and accused the Admiral as if it were his fault. He told Columbus,that they had determined to go back to Spain; and then, lifting his voice,he shouted, "I am for Castile; who will follow me?" The mutinous crewinstantly replied that they would do so. Voices were heard whichthreatened Columbus's life.

  The king and queen were residing at Cordova, a rich and beautiful city,which they had taken from the Moors. Under their rule Cordova had beenthe most important seat of learning in Europe. Here Columbus tarried atthe house of Alonso de Quintinilla, who became an ardent convert to histheory, and introduced him to important friends. By their agency,arrangements were made, in which Columbus should present his views tothe king. The time was not such as he could have wished. All Cordova wasalive with the preparation for a great campaign against the enemy. ButKing Ferdinand made arrangements to hear Columbus; it does not appearthat, at the first hearing, Isabella was present at the interview. ButFerdinand, although in the midst of his military cares, was intereste in theproposals made by Columbus. He liked the man. He was pleased by themodesty and dignity with which he brought forward his proposals.

  The surgeon came to him and began to take off the bandage. Then he saidto the Admiral that the injury was caused by ciba, that is, by a stone. Whenit was unbandaged we managed to examine it. It is certain that he was nomore injured in that leg than in the other, although he pretended that it wasvery painful."The Spaniards did not know what to believe. But it seemed certain thatan attack of some enemy upon these Indians had taken place, and theAdmiral determined to continue upon good terms with them. Nor did hechange this policy toward Guacanagari. How far that chief had tried toprevent the massacre will never be known. The detail of the story wasnever fully drawn from the natives. The Spaniards had been cruel andlicentious in their dealing with the Indians. They had quarrelled amongthemselves, and the indignant natives, in revenge, had destroyed them all.

  "This island is very large and very flat and with very green trees, andmany waters, and a very large lake in the midst, without any mountain.

  But the fertility of the soil was the only favorable token which theisland first exhibited. The climate was enervating and sickly. The labor onthe new city was hard and discouraging. Columbus found that his colonistswere badly fitted for their duty, or not fitted for it at all. Court gentlemendid not want to work. Priests expected to be put on better diet than anyother people. Columbus--though he lost his own popularity--insisted onputting all on equal fare, in sharing the supplies he had brought from Spain.

  In seeking for good water, the Spaniards found a town, from which theinhabitants were going to fly. But some of them rallied, and one of themapproached the visitors. Columbus gave him some little bells and glass beads, with which he was much pleased. The Admiral asked him for water,and they brought it gladly to the shore in calabashes.

  His journal of the voyage ends with these words: "I see by this voyagethat God has wonderfully proved what I say, as anybody may convincehimself, by reading this narrative, by the signal wonders which he hasworked during the course of my voyage, and in favor of myself, who havebeen for so long a time at the court of your Highnesses in opposition andcontrary to the opinions of so many distinguished personages of yourhousehold, who all opposed me, treating my project as a dream, and myundertaking as a chimera. And I hope still, nevertheless, in our Lord, thisvoyage will bring the greatest honor to Christianity, although it has beenperformed with so much ease."

  Columbus was obliged to accede to terms as insolent as these, and therebels even added a stipulation, that if he should fail in fulfilling either ofthese articles, they might compel him to comply, by force or any othermeans. Thus was he hampered in the very position where, by the king'sorders, and indeed, one would say, by the right of discovery, he was thesupreme master.


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