Perhaps you may desire, Most Holy Father, to know what my sentiments are respecting these events. My opinion is a simple one. It is evident from the military style in which Vasco and his men report their deeds that their statements must be true. Spain need no longer plough up the ground to the depth of the infernal regions or open great roads or pierce mountains at the cost of labour and the risk of a thousand dangers, in order to draw wealth from the earth. She will find riches on the surface, in shallow diggings; she will find them in the sun-dried banks of rivers; it will suffice to merely sift the earth. Pearls will be gathered with little effort. Cosmographers unanimously recognise that venerable antiquity received no such benefit from nature, because never before did man, starting from the known world, penetrate to those unknown regions. It is true the natives are contented with a little or nothing, and are not hospitable; moreover, we have more than sufficiently demonstrated that they receive ungraciously strangers who come amongst them, and only consent to negotiate with them, after they have been conquered. Most ferocious are those new anthropophagi, who live on human flesh, Caribs or cannibals as they are called. These cunning man-hunters think of nothing else than this occupation, and all the time not given to cultivating the fields they employ in wars and man-hunts. Licking their lips in anticipation of their desired prey, these men lie in wait for our compatriots, as the latter would for wild boar or deer they sought to trap. If they feel themselves unequal to a battle, they retreat and disappear with the speed of the wind. If an encounter takes place on the water, men and women swim with as great a facility as though they lived in that element and found their sustenance under the waves.
It is not therefore astonishing that these immense tracts of country should be abandoned and unknown, but the Christian religion, of which you are the head, will embrace its vast extent. As I have said in the beginning, Your Holiness will call to yourself these myriads of people, as the hen gathers her chickens under her wings. Let us now return to Veragua, the place discovered by Columbus, explored under the auspices of Diego Nicuesa, and now abandoned; and may all the other barbarous and savage provinces of this vast continent be brought little by little into the pale of Christian civilisation and the knowledge of the true religion.
I had resolved, Most Holy Father, to stop here but I am consumed, as it were, with an internal fire which constrains me to continue my report. As I have already said, Veragua was discovered by Columbus. I should feel that I had robbed him or committed an inexpiable crime against him were I to pass over the ills he endured, the vexations and dangers to which he was exposed during these voyages. It was in the year of salvation 1502 on the sixth day of the