De Orbe Novo, Volume 1 (of 2) eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 385 pages of information about De Orbe Novo, Volume 1 (of 2).
winds.  The Spaniards believe the natives live thus in the trees because inundations are frequent, for these trees are so tall that no human arm could reach them with a stone.  I no longer feel surprised at what Pliny and other writers record about trees in India which, by reason of the fertility of the soil and the abundant waters, attain such a height that no one could shoot an arrow over them.  It is, moreover, commonly believed that the soil of this country and the supply of water are equal to that of any other land under the sun.  The above-named trees were found by measuring to be of such a size that seven or eight men, with extended arms, could hardly reach around them.  The natives have cellars underground where they keep stores of the wines we have before mentioned.  Although the violence of the wind cannot blow down their houses or break the branches of the trees, they are still swayed about from side to side, and this movement would spoil the wine.  Everything else they require, they keep with them in the trees, and whenever the principal chiefs or caciques breakfast or dine, the servants bring up the wine by means of ladders attached to the tree trunks, and they are just as quick about it as our servants who, upon a level floor, serve drinks from a sideboard near the table.

Approaching the tree of Abibaiba a discussion began between him and the Spaniards; the latter offering him peace and begging him to come down.  The cacique refused and begged to be allowed to live in his own fashion.  Promises were succeeded by threats, and he was told that if he did not come down with all his family they would either cut down or set fire to the tree.  A second time Abibaiba refused, so they attacked the tree with axes; and when the cacique saw the chips flying he changed his mind and came down, accompanied by his two sons.  They proceeded to discuss about peace and gold.  Abibaiba declared that he had no gold, and that as he had never needed it, he had taken no pains to get it.  The Spaniards insisting, the cacique said:  “If your cupidity be such, I will seek gold for you in the neighbouring mountains and when I find it I will bring it to you; for it is found in those mountains you behold.”  He fixed a day when he would return, but neither then nor later did he reappear.

The Spaniards came back, loaded with the supplies and the wines of the cacique, but without the gold they had counted upon.  Nevertheless Abibaiba, his subjects, and his sons gave the same information concerning the gold mines and the Caribs who live upon human flesh, as I have mentioned, as did those at Comogra.  They ascended the river another thirty miles and came to the huts of some cannibals but found them empty, for the savages, alarmed by the approach of the Spaniards, had taken refuge in the mountains, carrying everything they possessed on their backs.

BOOK V

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De Orbe Novo, Volume 1 (of 2) from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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