The islanders venerate another zemes, made of marble, which is of the feminine sex, and is accompanied by two male zemes who serve as attendants; one acting as herald to summon other zemes to the woman’s assistance when she wishes to raise storms or draw down clouds and rains; the other is supposed to collect the water which flows down from the high mountains into the valleys, and upon the command of the female zemes to let it loose in the form of torrents which devastate the country whenever the islanders have failed to pay her idol the honours due to it. One more thing worthy of remembrance and I shall have finished my book. The natives of Hispaniola were much impressed by the arrival of the Spaniards. Formerly two caciques, of whom one was the father of Guarionex, fasted for fifteen days in order to consult the zemes about the future. This fast having disposed the zemes in their favour, they answered that within a few years a race of men wearing clothes would land in the island and would overthrow their religious rites and ceremonies, massacre their children, and make them slaves. This prophecy had been taken by the younger generation to apply to the cannibals; and thus whenever it became known that the cannibals had landed anywhere, the people took flight without even attempting any resistance. But when the Spaniards landed, the islanders then referred the prophecy to them, as being the people whose coming was announced. And in this they were not wrong, for they are all under the dominion of the Christians, and those who resisted have been killed; all the zemes having been removed to Spain, to teach us the foolishness of those images and the deceits of devils, nothing remaining of them but a memory. I have brought some things to your knowledge, Most Illustrious Prince, and you will learn many others later, since you will probably leave to-morrow to accompany your great-aunt to Naples, in obedience to the orders of your uncle, King Frederick. You are ready to leave and I am weary. Therefore, fare you well, and keep the remembrance of your Martyr, whom you have constrained in the name of your uncle, Frederick, to choose these few from amongst many great things.
AND EPILOGUE TO THE DECADE
TO INIGO LOPEZ MENDOZA, COUNT OF TENDILLA, VICEROY OF GRANADA
I have been prompted by the letters of my friends and of high personages to compose a complete chronicle of all that has happened since the first discoveries and the conquest of the ocean by Columbus, and of all that shall occur. My correspondents were lost in admiration at the thought of these discoveries of islands, inhabited by unknown peoples, living without clothes and satisfied with what nature gave them, and they were consumed by desire to be kept regularly informed. Ascanio, whose authority never allowed my pen to rest, was degraded from the high position