The Admiral builds a Fort in Hispaniola, and prepares for his return to Spain.
The admiral had sent a Spaniard in a canoe, to endeavour to find out the caravel Pinta, and to carry a letter to Martin Alonzo Pinzon, whom he kindly requested to rejoin him, without taking any notice of the fault he had committed in parting without leave. But the Spaniard returned, saying that he had gone above twenty leagues along the coast, without being able to find or hear of the Pinta: but if he had only proceeded five or six leagues farther he had not lost his labour. Some time afterwards, an Indian reported that he had seen the missing caravel in a river only two days before; yet he was not believed, since the others had not seen her. But it afterwards appeared that this man spoke truth; as be might have seen her from some high ground, and made haste to come with the news. The sailor who had gone in the canoe in search of the Pinta reported, that he had seen a cacique, about twenty leagues to the eastwards, who had two large plates of gold on his head, as had several of his attendants; but that, immediately on being spoken to by the Indians of the canoe, he took them off and concealed them. From this circumstance, the admiral imagined that Guacanagari had forbidden them to sell any gold to the Spaniards, wishing to have the whole of that trade to pass through his own hands. The building of the fort went on expeditiously, as the admiral went on shore daily to superintend and hasten the works, but always slept on board the caravel Ninna. As he went one day on shore in the boat, he thought he saw Guacanagari slip into his house, as if to avoid being seen; but he had done so apparently for the more state, having concerted to receive the admiral ceremoniously; for he sent his brother, who received the admiral with much civility, and led him by the hand into one of the houses appointed for the accommodation of the Christians, which was the largest and best in the town. They had here prepared a place for the admiral to sit in, adorned with large slips of the thin inner bark of palm trees, as large as a great calfs skin, and much of that shape and appearance; forming a clean cool alcove, large enough to cover a man, and to defend him from the rain. These broad slips of palm bark serve the Indians for many purposes, and are called Yaguas in their language. They here seated the admiral in a chair, having a low back and very handsome, such as are used by the Indians, and as black, smooth, and shining as if mode of polished jet. As soon as he was seated the brother gave notice to the cacique, who came presently, and hung a large plate of gold about the admirals neck, apparently with much satisfaction, and stayed with him till it grew late, when the admiral went on board the caravel as usual to sleep.