The Famous Missions of California eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 49 pages of information about The Famous Missions of California.

The little party — or more correctly speaking — what was left of it, did not reach San Diego till the 25th of the following month, having in their march down suffered terribly from hunger, exposure, wet, fatigue and sickness.  Depressed themselves, they found nothing to encourage them in the mission and camp, where death had played havoc among those they had left behind them six months before, and where the provisions were so fast running low that only the timely reappearance of the San Antonio, long overdue, would save the survivors from actual starvation.  Perhaps it is hardly surprising that, under these circumstances, Portolà’s courage should have failed him, and that he should have decided upon a return to Mexico.  He caused an inventory of all available provisions to be taken, and calculating that, with strict economy, and setting aside what would be required for the journey back to San Fernando, they might last till somewhat beyond the middle of March, he gave out that unless the San Antonio should arrive by the 20th of that month, he should on that day abandon San Diego, and start south.  But if the governor imagined for a moment that he could persuade the padre presidente to fall in with this arrangement, he did not know his man.  Junipero firmly believed, despite the failure of Portolà’s expedition, that the harbour of Monterey still existed, and might be found; he even interested Vicente Vila in a plan of his own for reaching it by sea; and he furthermore made up his mind that, come what might, nothing should ever induce him to turn his back upon his work.  Then a wonderful thing happened.  On the 19th of March — the very day before that fixed by the governor for his departure, and when everything was in readiness for to-morrow’s march — the sail of a ship appeared far out at sea; and though the vessel presently disappeared towards the northwest, it returned four days later and proved to be none other than the San Antonio, bearing the much needed succour.  She had passed up towards Monterey in the expectation of finding the larger body of settlers there, and had only put back to San Diego when unexpectedly, (and as it seemed, providentially), she had run short of water.  It was inevitable that Father Junipero should see in this series of happenings the very hand of God — the more so as the day of relief chanced to be the festival of St. Joseph, who, as we have noted, was the patron of the mission enterprise.

The arrival of the San Antonio put an entirely new complexion upon affairs; and, relieved of immediate anxiety, Portolà now resolved upon a second expedition in quest of Monterey.  Two divisions, one for sea, the other for land, were accordingly made ready; the former, which included Junipero, started in the San Antonio, on the 16th of April; the latter, under the leadership of Portolà, a day later.  Strong adverse winds interfered with the vessel, which did not make Monterey for a month and a half.  The land-party,

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The Famous Missions of California from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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