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Historical Tales - The Romance of Reality - Volume III


by Charles Morris




Edition 1, (October 9, 2006)





Philadelphia and London
J. B. Lippincott Company





Copyright, 1904, by J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY.
Copyright, 1908, by J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY.





[Illustration: DEPARTURE OF COLUMBUS.]

DEPARTURE OF COLUMBUS.





ILLUSTRATIONS


DEPARTURE OF COLUMBUS.
A TROPICAL RIVER SCENE.
CATHEDRAL OF SAN DOMINGO.
LANDING-PLACE OF CORTEZ, VERA CRUZ.
FLOATING GARDENS ON THE CHENAMPAS.
AZTEC IDOLS CARVED IN STONE.
DEATH OF ATAHUALPA, FROM A PAINTING IN THE CATHEDRAL AT CALLAO.
COFFEE PLANT IN BLOSSOM.
THE HARBOR OF VALPARAISO.
A TROPICAL BUNGALOW AND PALMS.
THE CITY OF PANAMA.
INDIANS OF THE PLATEAU.
SOUTH AMERICAN NATIVE HUT.
BRIDGE ENTERING QUITO.
RIO JANEIRO AND HARBOR.
INDIAN SPINNING AND WEAVING.
THE GOVERNOR-GENERAL’S PALACE, HAVANA.
OLDEST HOUSE IN THE UNITED STATES, SANTA FE.
ON THE BORDER OF LAKE CHALCO.
HOUSE OF MAXIMILIAN AT QUERETARO.





CONTENTS


THE ISLES OF BEAUTY BEYOND THE SEAS.
ALONSO DE OJEDA AND THE CARIB CACIQUE.
THE EARLY DAYS OF A FAMOUS CAVALIER.
BALBOA AND THE DISCOVERY OF THE PACIFIC.
THE ROMANTIC STORY OF THE PRINCE OF TEZCUCO.
THE FAMOUS RETREAT OF CORTEZ AND THE SPANIARDS.
PIZARRO AND THE INCA’S GOLDEN RANSOM.
GONZALO PIZARRO AND THE LAND OF CINNAMON.
CORONADO AND THE SEVEN CITIES OF CIBOLA.
THE FAITHFUL MIRANDA AND THE LOVERS OF ARGENTINA.
LANTARO, THE BOY HERO OF THE ARAUCANIANS.
DRAKE, THE SEA-KING, AND THE SPANISH TREASURE-SHIPS.
SIR WALTER RALEIGH AND THE QUEST FOR EL DORADO.
MORGAN, THE FREEBOOTER, AND THE RAID ON PANAMA.
A DRAMA OF PLUNDER, MURDER, AND REVENGE
THE WONDERFUL MARCH OF THE FREEBOOTERS
THE CRUELTY OF THE SPANIARDS TO THE INDIANS.
CUDJOE, THE NEGRO CHIEF, AND THE MAROONS OF JAMAICA.
TOUSSAINT L’OUVERTURE AND THE REVOLUTION IN HAYTI.
BOLIVAR THE LIBERATOR, AND THE CONQUEST OF NEW GRANADA.
HIDALGO THE PATRIOT, AND THE GRITO DE DOLORES.
PAEZ, THE LLANERO CHIEF, AND THE WAR FOR FREEDOM.
THE HANNIBAL OF THE ANDES AND THE FREEDOM OF CHILI.
COLONY, EMPIRE, AND REPUBLIC; REVOLUTION IN BRAZIL.
FRANCIA THE DICTATOR, THE LOUIS XI. OF PARAGUAY.
TACON THE GOVERNOR AND MARTI THE SMUGGLER.
KEARNEY’S DARING EXPEDITION AND THE CONQUEST OF NEW MEXICO.
THE SECOND CONQUEST OF THE CAPITAL OF MEXICO.
WALKER THE FILIBUSTER, AND THE INVASION OF NICARAGUA.
MAXIMILIAN OF AUSTRIA AND HIS EMPIRE IN MEXICO.
MACEO AND THE STRUGGLE FOR CUBAN INDEPENDENCE.
LIEUTENANT HOBSON AND THE SINKING OF THE "MERRIMAC."






THE ISLES OF BEAUTY BEYOND THE SEAS.


The 12th of October, 1492, ranks very high among the important dates in
the history of the world. For on that day men from Europe, then the centre
of civilization, first gazed on a rich new land beyond the seas, a great
virgin continent, destined to become the seat of flourishing civilizations
and to play a leading part in the later history of the world. Little did
Columbus and his companions, when they saw before them on that famous
morning a beautiful island, rising like a pearl of promise from the
sparkling tropical sea, dream of what time held in store for that
new-found land, foreordained to become the "New World" of the nations, the
hope of the oppressed, and the pioneer dwelling-place of liberty and
equality.

But we are here concerned with only what they saw, and this was a green
and populous island, so covered with fresh verdure that it seemed to their
eyes like a continual orchard. An orchard it was, for many of the trees
were laden with new and strange fruits, of rare color and attractive form.
Never had they breathed air more pure and fresh, and never had they beheld
seas of such crystal clearness or verdure of more emerald hue; and it is
not surprising that their eyes sparkled with joy and their souls were
filled with wonder and delight as they gazed on this entrancing scene
after their long and dreaded journey over a vast and unknown ocean.

Not less strange to the new-comers were the people who flocked in numbers
from the woods and ran to the shore, where they stood gazing in simple
wonder on the ships, winged marvels which had never met their eyes before.
No clothing hid their dusky, copper-colored skins, of a hue unknown to
their visitors, and they looked like the unclad tenants of some new
paradise. Their astonishment turned into fright when they saw boats leave
these strange monsters of the deep, in them men clad in shining steel or
raiment of varied color. Their white faces, their curling beards, their
splendid clothing, as it appeared to these simple denizens of the forest,
and especially the air of dignity of their leader, with his ample cloak of
scarlet, added to their amazement, and they viewed the strangers as divine
visitors, come to them from the skies.

Not less was their surprise when they saw the wonderful strangers kneel
and kiss the soil, and then uplift a great and gleaming banner, of rich
colors and designs that seemed magical to their untaught eyes. And deep
was their delight when these strange beings distributed among them
wonderful gifts,—glass beads, hawk’s bells, and other trifles,—which
seemed precious gems to their untutored souls. They had nothing to offer
in return, except tame parrots, of which they had many, and balls of
cotton-yarn; but the eyes of the Spaniards sparkled with hope when they
saw small ornaments of gold, which some of them wore. Happy had it been
for all the natives of the New World if this yellow metal had not existed
among them, for it was to bring them untold suffering and despair.

Such was the island of San Salvador, as Columbus named this first-seen
land; but, leaving it, let us go with him in his voyage through that
island-sprinkled sea, and use his eyes in taking in the marvels with which
it was sown. Familiar as these islands have become to many of us, to him
they were all new, beautiful, and strange, a string of tropic pearls or
rare emeralds spread out along those shining waters of the South.

On leaving San Salvador, the Spaniards, their hearts elate with joy and
pride in their discovery, hardly knew whither to go. They seemed drawn to
the right and the left alike. They found themselves in an archipelago of
beautiful islands, green and level, rising on all sides and seemingly
numberless. To us they are the great green cluster of the Bahamas, but to
Columbus, who fancied that he had reached the shores of Asia, they were
that wonderful archipelago spoken of by Marco Polo, in which were seven
thousand four hundred and fifty-eight islands, abounding with spices and
rich in odoriferous trees and shrubs.

On went the Spanish caravels, sailing over bright and placid waters scarce
ruffled by the gentle breeze, and touching at isle after isle, each of
which seemed to the voyagers more beautiful than the last. Besting under
the shade of warm and verdant groves, while his men sought to fill their
water-casks from the purest and coolest springs, the admiral found the
scene around him entrancing to his vision, "the country as fresh and green
as the month of May in Andalusia; the trees, the fruits, the herbs, the
flowers, the very stones, for the most part, as different from those of
Spain as night from day."

[Illustration: A TROPICAL RIVER SCENE.]

A TROPICAL RIVER SCENE.


One isle, which he honored with the name of Isabella, after his patron,
the Spanish queen, surpassed in charm all he had yet seen. Like them all,
it was covered with rich vegetation, its climate delightful, its air soft
and balmy, its scenery so lovely that it seemed to him "as if one would
never desire to depart. I know not where first to go, nor are my eyes ever
weary of gazing on the beautiful verdure."

Fresh water was abundant, and he ordered all the casks of the ships to be
filled. He could not say enough in praise of what he saw. "Here are large
lakes, and the groves about them are marvellous, and in all the island
everything is green, and the herbage as in April in Andalusia. The singing
of the birds is such that it seems as if one would never wish to leave
this land. There are flocks of parrots which hide the sun, and other
birds, large and small, of so many kinds, and so different from ours, that
it is wonderful; and besides, there are trees of a thousand species, each
having its particular fruit, and all of marvellous flavor, so that I am in
the greatest trouble in the world not to know them, for I am very certain
that they are each of great value."

As he approached this island, he fancied that the winds bore to his senses
the spicy odors said to be wafted from the islands of the East Indian
seas. "As I arrived at this cape," he said, "there came off a fragrance so
good and soft of the flowers or trees of the land that it was the sweetest
thing in the world."

Not only were the islands the homes of birds of brilliant plumage and
flowers of gorgeous hue, but the very seas seemed to their new visitors
like tropical gardens, for the fish with which they abounded rivalled the
birds and flowers in brilliancy of color. The scales of some of them
glittered like precious stones, and gleams of gold and silver seemed to
come from them as they swam around the ships, while the dolphins taken
from the water changed color like the chameleon.

The natives who had been taken on board the ships made signs which seemed
to indicate that more wonderful islands were yet to be seen, with cities
and kings and queens, and abundance of gold and gems; or, at least, the
Spaniards understood this from their signs, as they pointed to the south
when gold was shown them and they were asked where it could be found. Far
to the south was a great island which they named Cuba, and another which
they called Bohio. Cuba, as their signs appeared to show, was of vast
extent and abounded with gold, pearls, and spices, and Columbus determined
to sail for it, hoping there to find the wealth which he and his
companions so ardently craved.



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