One of our men cried “Wizards!” The Admiral spoke from the stern of the long boat. “And what if they be wizards? We may answer, `We are Christians!’ "
The furious din continued but now we were nearer. “Besides,” he said, “those are great shells and drums.”
Our rowers held off. Out of the forest on to the narrow beach started several hundred shell-blowing, drum-beating barbarians, marvelously feathered and painted and with bows and arrows and wooden swords.
An arrow stuck in the side of our boat, others fell short. The Admiral rose, tall, broad-shouldered, though lean as winter where there is winter, with hair as white as milk. He held in his hand a string of green beads and another of hawk bells which he made to ring, but he did not depend more upon them than upon what he held within him of powerful and pacific. He sent his voice, which he could make deep as a drum and reaching as one of those great shells. “Friends—friends! Bringing Christ!”
An arrow sang past him. His son would have drawn him down, but, “No—no!” and “Friends—friends! Bringing Christ!”
And whether they thought that “Christ” was the beads and the bell, or whether the bowman in him did send over good will and make it to enter their hearts, or whether it was somewhat of both, they did suddenly grow friendly. Whereupon we landed.
Gold! We took much gold from this place. One of our men, touched by the sun, sat and babbled. “Oh, the faithful golden coast! Oh, the gold that is to come! Great golden ships sailing across blue sea! A hundred—no, a thousand—what do I say? A million Indians with baskets long and wide on their backs and the baskets filled with gold! The baskets are so great and the gold so heavy that the Indians are bowed down till they go on all fours. Gold, —a mountain of pure gold and every Spaniard in Spain and a few Italians—golden kings—” When we had all we could get, up sail and on!
Sail on and on along the golden coast of Veragua! Come to a river and land, for all that again we heard drums and those great shells strongly blown. Make peace and trade. And here again was gold, gold, gold. We were now assured that the main was far richer than any island. Turbulent hope,—that was the chief lading now of the four ships. Gold! Gold! Golden moon disks and golden rude figures. We found a lump of gold wrought like a maize ear.
What was beyond that, by itself under trees, we found an ancient, broken, true wall, stone and lime. The stones were great ones, set truly, with care. The wall was old; the remainder of house, if house or temple there had been, broken from it. Now the forest overran all. We did not know when or by whom it was built, and we found no more like it. But here was true masonry. All of us said that the world of the main was not the world of the islands.
Ciguarre. These Indians declared it was Ciguarre we should seek. Now that we were in Veragua—seek Ciguarre.