De Orbe Novo, Volume 1 (of 2) eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 449 pages of information about De Orbe Novo, Volume 1 (of 2).

[Note 9:  Columbus sailed on March 10, 1496.]



Acting upon the parting counsel of his brother, the Adelantado, Bartholomew Columbus, constructed a blockhouse at the mines, which he called El Dorado,[1] because the labourers discovered gold in the earth with which they were building its walls.  It required three months to manufacture the necessary tools for washing and sifting the gold, but famine obliged him to abandon this enterprise before it was terminated.  At a place sixty miles farther on, where he and the greater part of his soldiers went, he succeeded in procuring from the islanders a small quantity of the bread they make, to such a bad state were affairs at that time reduced.  Unable to prolong his stay, he left ten men at El Dorado, furnishing them with a small part of the bread that remained.  He moreover left with them an excellent hunting dog for chasing the game, which I have above said resembles our rabbits, and which are called utias; after which he left to return to Concepcion.  It was at that time that the tribute from the caique Guarionex and one of his neighbours called Manicavex was due.  The Adelantado remained there the whole month of June, and obtained from the caciques, not only the sum total of the tribute, but also provisions necessary to support himself and the 400 men of his escort.

[Note 1:  The name first given to the place was San Cristobal.]

About the calends of July three caravels arrived, bringing provisions—­wheat, oil, wine, and salted pork and beef.  In obedience to the orders from Spain, they were distributed amongst all the Europeans, but as some of the provisions had rotted, or were spoiled by the damp, people complained.  Fresh instructions from the sovereigns and from the Admiral were sent to Bartholomew Columbus by these ships.  After frequent interviews with the sovereigns, Columbus directed his brother to transfer his residence to the southern coast of the island, nearer to the mines.  He was likewise ordered to send back to Spain, in chains, the caciques who had been convicted of assassinating the Christians, and also those of their subjects who had shared their crimes; Three hundred islanders were thus transported to Spain.[2]

[Note 2:  This transport marks the beginning of the slave trade in America.]

After having carefully explored the coast, the Adelantado transferred his residence and built a lofty blockhouse near a safe harbour, naming the fort Santo Domingo, because he had arrived at that place on a Sunday.  There flows into that harbour a river, whose wholesome waters abound in excellent fish, and whose banks are delightfully wooded.  This river has some unusual natural features.  Wherever its waters flow, the most useful and agreeable products flourish, such as palms and fruits of all kinds.  The trees sometimes

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