1492 eBook

Mary Johnston
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 376 pages of information about 1492.

“A cacique who ruled them all?” No, there was no such thing.

“Had ships like ours and clothed men ever before come to them?”

No, never!  But then he seemed to say that there was undoubtedly a tradition.  Gods had come, and would come again, and when they did so great things would follow!  But no cacique nor priest nor any knew when the gods had come.

The Admiral made some question of Caribs.  Again there was gesture southward, though it seemed to us that something was said of folk within this great island who were at least like Caribs.  And where was the most gold and the greatest other wealth that they knew of?  Again south, though this time we thought it rather south by west.  The Admiral sighed, and spoke of Cuba.  Yes, Guacanagari knew of Cuba.  Had it end far yonder to the westward, or no end?  Had any one ever come to its end?  The cacique thought not, or knew not and assumed deliberation.  Luis and I agreed that we had not met among these Indians any true notion of a continent.  To them Hayti was vast, Cuba was vast, the lands of the Caribs, wherever they were, were vast, and vast whatever other islands there might be.  To them this was the OEcumene, the inhabited and inhabitable world, Europe—­Asia—­Africa?  Their faces stayed blank.  Were these divisions of heaven?

Guacanagari would entertain and succor us.  This canoe —­oh, the huge marvel!—­was too crowded!  Yonder lay his town.  All the houses that we might want were ours, all the hammocks, all the food.  And he would feast the gods.  That had been preparing since yesterday, A feast with dancing.  He hoped the great cacique and his people from far nearer heaven than was Guacanagari would live as long as might be in his town.  Guarico was his town.  A big, easy, amiable, likeable man, he sat in nakedness only not utter, save for that much like a big hidalgo offering sympathy and shelter to some fire-ousted or foe-ousted prince!  As for the part of prince it was not hard for the Admiral to play it.  He was one naturally.

He thanked the cacique to whom, I could see, he had taken liking.  Seven houses would be enough.  To-night some of us would sleep upon the beach beside the heaped goods.  To-morrow we would visit Guacanapri.  The big, lazy, peaceable man expressed his pleasure, then with a wide and dignified gesture dismissing all that, asked to be shown marvels.


GUACANAGARI’S town was much perhaps as was Goth town, Frank town, Saxon town, Latin town, sufficient time ago.  As for clothed and unclothed, that may be to some degree a matter of cold or warm weather.  We had not seen that ever it was cold in this land.

Guacanagari feasted us with great dignity and earnestness, for he and his people held it a momentous thing our coming here, our being here.  Utias we had and iguana, fish, cassava bread, potato, many a delicious fruit, and that mild drink that they made.  And we had calabashes, trenchers and fingers, stone knives with which certain officers of the feast decorously divided the meat, small gourds for cups, water for cleansing, napkins of broad leaves.  It was a great and comely feast.  But before the feast, as in Cuba, the dance.

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1492 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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