1492 eBook

Mary Johnston
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 376 pages of information about 1492.
and powerfully tried all his life with a thousand strains and buffetings!  It seemed still to hold; he looked a muscular, sinewy, strong and ruddy man.  But there were signs that a careful eye might find.  He lay upon the bench in the cabin and I, who was his physician, brought him wine and biscuit and made him eat and drink who, I knew, had not touched food since the evening before; after which I told him to close eyes and go away to Genoa and boyhood.  He shut them, and I sitting near brought my will as best I could to the quieting of all heavy and sorrowful waves.

But then the cacique came.  So small was the Nina that we could hear well enough the word of his arrival.  The Admiral opened his eyes and sat stiffly up.  He groaned and took his head into his hands, then dropped these and with a shake of his shoulders resumed command.  So many and grievous a sea had dashed over him and retreated and he had stood!  What he said now was, “The tide of the spirit goes out; the tide comes back in.  Let it come back a spring tide!”

Guacanagari entered.  This cacique, whose fortunes now began to be intertwined with ours, had his likeness, so far as went state and custom, to that Cuban chieftain whom Luis Torres and I had visited.  But this was an easier, less strongly fibred person, a big, amiable, indolent man with some quality of a great dog who, accepting you and becoming your friend, may never be estranged.  He was brave after his fashion, gifted enough in simple things.  In Europe he would have been an. easy, well-liked prince or duke of no great territory.  He kept a simple state, wore some slight apparel of cotton and a golden necklet.  He brought gifts and an unfeigned sympathy for that death upon the sand bar.

He and the Admiral sat and talked together.  “Gods from heaven?”—­“Christian men and from Europe,” and we could not make him, at this time, understand that that was not the same thing.  We began to comprehend that “heaven” was a word of many levels, and that they ascribed to it everything that they chose to consider good and that was manifestly out of the range of their experience.

In his turn the Admiral was ready for all that Guacanagari could tell him.  “Gold?” His eyes were upon the Indian’s necklet.  Removing it, the cacique laid it in the god’s hand.  All Indians now understood that we made high magic with gold, getting out of it virtues beyond their comprehension.  In return the Admiral gave him a small brazen gong and hammer.  “Where did they get the gold?” Again like the Cuban chief this cacique waved his hand to the mountains.  “Cibao!” and then turning he too pointed to the south.  “Much gold there,” said Diego Colon.  “Inland, in the mountains,” quoth the Admiral, “and evidently, in very great quantity, in some land to the south!  This is not Cipango, but I think that Cipango lies to the south.”  He asked who ruled Hayti that we called Hispaniola.  We understood that there were a number of caciques, but that for a day’s journey every way it was Guacanagari’s country.

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1492 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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