Days of the Discoverers eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 247 pages of information about Days of the Discoverers.
the island, but one of his ships had sprung a leak and he had put back.  When he saw an Indian canoe coming he had sent scouts to see what it might be.  They now led Jeronimo Aguilar and his Indian companions into the presence of the captain-general and his staff.  Aguilar saluted Cortes in the Indian fashion, by carrying his hand from the ground to his forehead as he knelt crouching before him.  But Cortes, when he understood who this man was, raised him to his feet, embraced him and flung about his shoulders his own cloak.  Aguilar became his interpreter, and thus was the prophecy fulfilled concerning the gods of Taxmar.

[Illustration:  “CORTES FLUNG ABOUT HIS SHOULDERS HIS OWN CLOAK.”—­Page 146]

NOTE

The story of Jeronimo Aguilar follows the actual facts very closely.  The account of his adventures will be found in Irving’s “Life of Columbus” and other works dealing with the history of the Spanish conquests.

A LEGEND OF MALINCHE

    O sorcerer Time, turn backward to the shore
      Where it is always morning, and the birds
    Are troubadours of all the hidden lore
      Deeper than any words!

    There lived a maiden once,—­O long ago,
      Ere men were grown too wise to understand
    The ancient language that they used to know
      In Quezalcoatl’s land.

    Though her own mother sold her for a slave,
      Her own bright beauty as her only dower,
    Into her slender hands the conqueror gave
      A more than queenly power.

    Between her people and the enemy—­
      The fierce proud Spaniard on his conquest bent—­
    Interpreter and interceder, she
      In safety came and went.

    And still among the wild shy forest folk
    The birds are singing of her, and her name
    Lives in that language that her people spoke
      Before the Spaniard came.

    She is not dead, the daughter of the Sun,—­
      By love and loyalty divinely stirred,
    She lives forever—­so the legends run,—­
      Returning as a bird.

    Who but a white bird in her seaward flight
      Saw, borne upon the shoulders of the sea,
    Three tiny caravels—­how small and light
      To hold a world in fee!

    Who but the quezal, when the Spaniards came
      And plundered all the white imperial town,
    Saw in a storm of red rapacious flame
      The Aztec throne go down!

    And when the very rivers talked of gold,
      The humming-bird upon her lichened nest
    Strange tales of wild adventure never told
      Hid in her tiny breast.

    The mountain eagle, circling with the stars,
      Watched the great Admiral swiftly come and go
    In his light ship that set at naught the bars
      Wrought by a giant foe.

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Days of the Discoverers from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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