The Viceroy and the Adelantado and Ojeda talked alone together in the Viceroy’s house. But next day was held a great council, all our principal men attending. There it was determined to capture, if possible, Caonabo, withdrawing him so from the confederacy. The confederacy might then go to pieces. In the meantime use every effort to detach from it Gwarionex who after Guacanagari was our nearest great cacique. Send a well-guarded, placating embassy to him and to Cotubanama. Try kindness, kindness everywhere, kind words and good deeds!—And build another fort called Fort Concepcion.
Take Caonabo! That was a task for Alonso de Ojeda! He did it. Five days after the council, the Viceroy being now recovered and bringing strength to work that needed strength, the Adelantado vigorously helping, Isabella in a good mood, the immediate forest all a gold and green peacefulness, Don Alonso vanished, and with him fourteen picked men, all mounted.
For six weeks it was as though he had dropped into the sea, or risen into the blue sky above eyesight.
Then on a Sunday he and his fourteen rode into town. We had a great church bell and it was ringing, loudly, sonorously. He rode in and at once there arose a shout, “Don Alonso de Ojeda!” All his horsemen rode with him, and rode also one who was not Castilian. On a gray steed a bare, bronze figure—Caonabo!
The church bell swung, the church bell rang. Riding beneath the squat tower, all our people pouring forth from our poor houses upon the returned and his captive, the latter had eyes, it seemed to me, but for that bell. A curious, sardonic look of recognition, appraisal, relinquishment, sat in the Indian’s face. From wrist to wrist of Caonabo went a bright, short chain. The sun glittered upon the bracelets and the links. I do not know—there was for a moment—something in the sound of the bell, something in the gleam of the manacles, that sent out faint pity and horror and choking laughter.
All to the Viceroy’s house, and Don Alonso sitting with Christopherus Columbus, and Caonabo brought to stand before them. Indians make much of indifferent behavior, taunting calm, when taken. It is a point of honor, meeting death so, even when, as often befalls, their death is a slow and hard one. Among themselves, in their wars, it is either death or quick adoption into the victor’s tribe. They have no gaols nor herds of slaves. Caonabo expected death. He stood, a strong, contemptuous figure. But the Viceroy meant to send him to Spain—trophy and show, and to be made, if it could be, Christian.
IT did not end the war. For a fortnight we thought that it had done so. Then came loud tidings. Caonabo’s wife, Anacaona, had put on the lioness. With her was Caonabo’s brother Manicoatex and her own brother Behechio, cacique of Xaragua. There was a new confederacy, Gwarionex again was with it. Only Guacanagari remained. Don Alonso marched, and the Adelantado marched.