Farther Discovery of Hispaniola: Simplicity of the Natives: Kind reception from the Cacique Guacanagari. The Admiral loses his ship, and resolves to settle a Colony in the Island.
Next day the admiral sent nine armed Spaniards, with an Indian of St Salvador to serve as interpreter, to the womans habitation, which was four leagues to the south-east of where the ships then lay. They here found a town of 1000 scattered houses; but it was quite deserted, as all the inhabitants had fled into the woods. The Indian interpreter was sent after them, and at length persuaded them to return, by saying much in praise of the Spaniards. They returned accordingly to the town, trembling with fear and amazement, laying their hands on the heads of the Spaniards, out of honour and respect, entreating of them to eat, and to remain with them for the night. Abundance of people now collected; some of them carrying the woman on their shoulders in triumph to whom the admiral had given a shirt, and her husband came among them, on purpose to return thanks for the honourable gift. The Spaniards now returned to the ships, reporting that the country abounded in provisions, that the natives were whiter and better-looking than those of the other islands; but that the gold country lay still more to the eastwards. By their description the men were not of large size, yet brawny and well set, without beards, having wide nostrils and broad smooth ungraceful foreheads, which were so shaped at their birth as a beauty, for which reason, and because they always went bareheaded, their skulls were hard enough to break a Spanish sword. Here the admiral observed the length of the day and night, and found that twenty half-hour glasses run out between sun-rise and sun-set, making the day consequently ten hours long; but he believed the seamen had been negligent and had made a mistake, and that the day was somewhat more than eleven hours. Though the wind was contrary, he resolved to leave this place, and continue his course to the eastwards through the channel between Tortuga and Hispaniola, where he found an Indian fishing in a canoe, and wondered his small vessel was not swallowed up, as the waves rose very high; he accordingly took both Indian and canoe into the ship, where he treated him well, and sent him on shore afterwards with some toys. This man commended the Spaniards so much that many of the natives resorted to the ships; but they had only some small grains of gold hanging at their noses, which they freely parted with. Being asked whence that gold came, they made signs that there was plenty of it farther on. On the admiral inquiring for Cipango, which he still expected to find in these seas, they thought he had meant Cibao, and pointed to the eastwards, as the place in the island which produced most gold.