Then he had a curious idea. Columbus was a great reader of the Bible; some of the Bible scholars of his day said that the Garden of Eden was in a far Eastern land where a mighty river came down through it from the hills of Paradise; as Columbus saw the beautiful land he had reached, and saw the great river sending down its waters to the sea, he fitted all that he saw to the Bible stories he knew so well, and felt sure that he had really discovered the entrance to the Garden of Eden.
He would gladly have sailed across the broad bay and up the great river to explore this heavenly land; but he was ill with gout, he was nearly blind from his sore eyes, his ships were shaky and leaky, and he felt that he ought to hurry away to the city of Isabella where his brothers, Bartholomew and Diego, were in charge of affairs and were, he knew, anxiously waiting for him to come back.
So at last he turned away from the lovely land that he thought must be Paradise and steered toward Hayti. On the nineteenth of August he arrived off the coast of Hayti. He sent a messenger with news of his arrival, and soon greeted his brother Bartholomew, who, when he heard of the Admiral's arrival, sailed at once to meet him.
Bartholomew Columbus had a sad story to tell his brother Christopher. Things had been going badly in Hayti, and the poor Admiral grew sicker and sicker as he listened to what Bartholomew had to tell.
You have heard it said that there are black sheep in every flock. There were black sheep in this colony of Columbus. There were lazy men and discontented men and jealous men, and they made great trouble, both in the city of Isabella and in the new town which Bartholomew bad built in another part of the island and called Santo Domingo.
Such men are sure to make mischief, and these men in Hayti had made a lot of it. Columbus had staid so long in Spain that these men began to say that they knew he was certainly in trouble or disgrace there, that the king and queen were angry with him, and that his offices of viceroy and admiral were to be taken away from him. If this were so, they were going to look out for themselves, they said. They would no longer obey the commands of the Admiral's brothers, Bartholomew and Diego, whom he had left in charge.
So they rose in rebellion, and made things so uncomfortable for the two brothers that the colony was soon full of strife and quarreling.
The leader of this revolt was one of the chief men in the colony. His name was Roldan. When Columbus and Bartholomew sailed into the harbor of Santo Domingo, on the thirtieth of August, they found that Roldan and his followers had set up a camp for themselves in another part of the island, and given out that they were determined never to have anything more to do with the three Columbus brothers.
This rebellion weakened the colony dreadfully. Things looked desperate; so desperate indeed that Columbus, after thinking it all over, thought that the only way to do was to seem to give in to Roldan and patch up some sort of an agreement by which they could all live together in peace. But all the same, he said, I will complain to the king and have this rebel Roldan punished.
So the Admiral wrote Roldan a letter in which he offered to forgive and forget all that he had done if he would come back and help make the colony strong and united again. Roldan agreed to do this, if he could have the same position he held before, and if Columbus would see that his followers had all the land they wanted. Columbus agreed to this and also gave the rebels permission to use the poor natives as slaves on their lands. So the trouble seemed to be over for a while, and Columbus sent two of his ships to Spain with letters to the king and queen. But in these letters he accused Roldan of rebellion and tried to explain why it was that things were going so badly in Hayti.
But when these ships arrived in Spain the tidings they brought and the other letters sent by them only made matters worse. People in Spain had heard so many queer things from across the sea that they were beginning to lose faith in Columbus. The men who had lost health and money in the unlucky second voyage of the Admiral were now lazy loafers about the docks, or they hung about the court and told how Columbus had made beggars of them, while they hooted after and insulted the two sons of Columbus who were pages in the queen's train. They called the boys the sons of "the Admiral of Mosquitoland."
Then came the ships with news of Roldan's rebellion, but with little or no gold. And people said this was a fine viceroy who couldn't keep order among his own men because, no doubt, he was too busy hiding away for his own use the gold and pearls they knew he must have found in the river of Paradise he said he had discovered.
Then came five shiploads of Indian slaves, sent to Spain by Columbus, and along with them came the story that Columbus had forgiven Roldan for his rebellion and given him lands and office in Hayti.
King Ferdinand had never really liked Columbus and had always been sorry that he had given him so much power and so large a share in the profits. The queen, too, began to think that while Columbus was a good sailor, he was a very poor governor. But when she heard of the shiploads of slaves he had sent, and found out that among the poor creatures were the daughters of some of the chiefs, or caciques, of the Indians, she was very angry, and asked how "her viceroy" dared to use "her vassals" so without letting her know about it. Things were indeed beginning to look bad for Columbus. The king and queen had promised that only members of the Admiral's family should be sent to govern the island; they had promised that no one but himself should have the right to trade in the new lands. But now they began to go back on their promises. If Columbus cannot find us gold and spices, they said, other men can. So they gave permission to other captains to explore and trade in the western lands. And as the complaints against the Admiral kept coming they began to talk of sending over some one else to govern the islands.
More letters came from Columbus asking the king and queen to let him keep up his slave-trade, and to send out some one to act as a judge of his quarrel with Roldan. Then the king and queen decided that something must be done at once. The queen ordered the return of the slaves Columbus had sent over, and the king told one of his officers named Bobadilla to go over to Hayti and set things straight. And he sent a letter by him commanding Columbus to talk with him, to give up all the forts and arms in the colony and to obey Bobadilla in all things.
Bobadilla sailed at once. But before he got across the sea matters, as we know, had been straightened out by the Admiral; and when Bobadilla reached Hayti he found everything quiet there. Columbus had made friends with Roldan (or made believe that he had), and had got things into good running order again.
This was not what Bobadilla had reckoned upon. He had expected to find things in such a bad way that he would have to take matters into his own hand at once, and become a greater man than the Admiral. If everything was all right he would have his journey for nothing and everybody would laugh at him. So he determined to go ahead, even though there was no necessity for his taking charge of affairs. He had been sent to do certain things, and he did them at once. Without asking Columbus for his advice or his assistance, he took possession of the forts and told every one that he was governor now. He said that he had come to set things straight, and he listened to the complaints of all the black sheep of the colony—and how they did crowd around him and say the worst things they could think of against the Admiral they had once been so anxious to follow.
Bobadilla listened to all their stories. He proceeded to use the power the king and queen had given him to punish and disgrace Columbus—which was not what they meant him to do. He moved into the palace of the Admiral; he ordered the Admiral and his brothers to come to him, and when they came expecting to talk things over, Bobadilla ordered that they be seized as prisoners and traitors, that they be chained hand and foot and put in prison.
Columbus's saddest day had come. The man who had found a new world for his king and queen, who had worked so hard in their service and who had meant to do right, although he had made many mistakes, was thrust into prison as if he were a thief or a murderer. The Admiral of the Ocean Seas, the Viceroy of the Indies, the grand man whom all Spain had honored and all the world had envied, was held as a prisoner in the land he had found, and all his powers were taken by a stranger. He was sick, he was disappointed, he was defeated in all his plans. And now he was in chains. His third voyage had ended the worst of all. He had sailed away to find Cathay; he had, so he believed, found the Garden of Eden and the river of Paradise. And here, as an end to it all, he was arrested by order of the king and queen he had tried to serve, his power and position were taken from him by an insolent and unpitying messenger from Spain; he was thrown into prison and after a few days he was hurried with his brothers on board a ship and sent to Spain for trial and punishment. How would it all turn out? Was it not a sad and sorry ending to his bright dreams of success?
CHAPTER XI. HOW THE ADMIRAL CAME AND WENT AGAIN.
I suppose you think Bobadilla was a very cruel man. He was. But in his time people were apt to be cruel to one another whenever they had the power in their own hands. The days in which Columbus lived were not like these in which we are living. You can never be too thankful for that, boys and girls. Bobadilla had been told to go over the water and set the Columbus matters straight. He had been brought up to believe that to set matters straight you must be harsh and cruel; and so he did as he was used to seeing other people in power do. Even Queen Isabella did not hesitate to do some dreadful things to certain people she did not like when she got them in her power. Cruelty was common in those days. It was what we call the "spirit of the age." So you must not blame Bobadilla too much, although we will all agree that it was very hard on Columbus.
So Columbus, as I have told you, sailed back to Spain. But when the officer who had charge of him and whose name was Villijo, had got out to sea and out of Bobadilla's sight, he wanted to take the chains off. For he loved Columbus and it made him feel very sad to see the old Admiral treated like a convict or a murderer. Let me have these cruel chains struck off, Your Excellency, he said. No, no, Villijo, Columbus replied. Let these fetters remain upon me. My king and queen ordered me to submit and Bobadilla has put me in chains. I will wear these irons until my king and queen shall order them removed, and I shall keep them always as relics and memorials of my services.
It always makes us sad to see any one in great trouble. To hear of a great man who has fallen low or of a rich man who has become poor, always makes us say: Is not that too bad? Columbus had many enemies in Spain. The nobles of the court, the men who had lost money in voyages to the Indies, the people whose fathers and sons and brothers had sailed away never to return, could not say anything bad enough about "this upstart Italian," as they called Columbus.
But to the most of the people Columbus was still the great Admiral. He was the man who had stuck to his one idea until he had made a friend of the queen; who had sailed away into the West and proved the Sea of Darkness and the Jumping-off place to be only fairy tales after all; who had found Cathay and the Indies for Spain. He was still a great man to the multitude.
So when on a certain October day, in the year 1500, it was spread abroad that a ship had just come into the harbor of Cadiz, bringing home the great Admiral, Christopher Columbus, a prisoner and in chains, folks began to talk at once. Why, who has done this? they cried. Is this the way to treat the man who found Cathay for Spain, the man whom the king and the queen delighted to honor, the man who made a procession for us with all sorts of birds and animals and pagan Indians? It cannot be. Why, we all remember how he sailed into Palos Harbor eight years ago and was received like a prince with banners and proclamations and salutes. And now to bring him home in chains! It is a shame; it is cruel; it is wicked. And when people began to talk in this way, the very ones who had said the worst things against him began to change their tone.
As soon as the ship got into Cadiz, Columbus sent off a letter to a friend of his at the court in the beautiful city of Granada. This letter was, of course, shown to the queen. And it told all about what Columbus had suffered, and was, so full of sorrow and humbleness and yet of pride in what he had been able to do, even though he had been disgraced, that Queen Isabella (who was really a friend to Columbus in spite of her dissatisfaction with the things he sometimes did) became very angry at the way he had been treated.
She took the letter to King Ferdinand, and at once both the king and the queen hastened to send a messenger to Columbus telling him how angry and sorry they were that Bobadilla should have dared to treat their good friend the Admiral so. They ordered his immediate release from imprisonment; they sent him a present of five thousand dollars and asked him to come to court at once.
On the seventeenth of December, 1500, Columbus came to the court at Granada in the beautiful palace of the Alhambra. He rode on a mule. At that time, in Spain, people were not allowed to ride on mules, because if they did the Spanish horses would not be bought and sold, as mules were so much cheaper and were easier to ride. But Columbus was sick and it hurt him to ride horseback, while he could be fairly comfortable on an easy-going mule. So the king and queen gave him special permission to come on mule-back.
When Columbus appeared before the queen, looking so sick and troubled, Isabella was greatly affected. She thought of all he had done and all he had gone through and all he had suffered, and as he came to the steps of the throne the queen burst into tears. That made Columbus cry too, for he thought a great deal of the queen, and he fell at her feet and told her how much he honored her, and how much he was ready to do for her, if he could but have the chance.
Then the king and queen told him how sorry they were that any one should have so misunderstood their desires and have treated their brave and loyal Admiral so shamefully. They promised to make everything all right for him again, and to show him that they were his good friends now as they always had been since the day he first sailed away to find the Indies for them and for Spain.
Of course this made Columbus feel much better. He had left Hayti in fear and trembling. He had come home expecting something dreadful was going to happen; he would not have been surprised at a long imprisonment; he would not even have been surprised if he had been put to death—for the kings and queens and high lords of his day were very apt to order people put to death if they did not like what had been done. The harsh way in which Bobadilla had treated him made him think the king and queen had really ordered it. Perhaps they had; and perhaps the way in which the people cried out in indignation when they saw the great Admiral brought ashore in chains had its influence on Queen Isabella. King Ferdinand really cared nothing about it. He would gladly have seen Columbus put in prison for life; but the queen had very much to say about things in her kingdom, and so King Ferdinand made believe he was sorry and talked quite as pleasantly to Columbus as did the queen.
Now Columbus, as you must have found out by this time, was as quick to feel glad as he was to feel sad. And when he found that the king and queen were his friends once more, he became full of hope again and began to say where he would go and what he would do when he went back again as Viceroy of the Indies and Admiral of the Ocean Seas. He begged the queen to let him go back again at once, with ships and sailors and the power to do as he pleased in the islands he had found and in the lands he hoped to find.
They promised him everything, for promising is easy. But Columbus had once more to learn the truth of the old Bible warning that he had called to mind years before on the Bridge of Pinos: Put not your trust in princes.
The king and queen talked very nicely and promised much, but to one thing King Ferdinand had made up his mind—Columbus should never go back again to the Indies as viceroy or governor. And King Ferdinand was as stubborn as Columbus was persistent.
Not very much gold had yet been brought back from the Indies, but the king and queen knew from the reports of those who had been over the seas and kept their eyes open that, in time, a great deal of gold and treasure would come from there. So they felt that if they kept their promises to Columbus he would take away too large a slice of their profits, and if they let him have everything to say there it would not be possible to let other people, who were ready to share the profits with them, go off discovering on their own hook.
So they talked and delayed and sent out other expeditions and kept Columbus in Spain, unsatisfied. Another governor was sent over to take the place of Bobadilla, for they soon learned that that ungentlemanly knight was not even so good or so strict a governor as Columbus had been.
Almost two years passed in this way and still Columbus staid in Spain. At last the king and queen said he might go if he would not go near Hayti and would be sure to find other and better gold lands.
Columbus did not relish being told where to go and where not to go like this; but he promised. And on the ninth of May, 1502, with four small caravels and one hundred and fifty men, Christopher Columbus sailed from Cadiz on his fourth and last voyage to the western world.
He was now fifty-six years old. That is not an age at which we would call any one an old man. But Columbus had grown old long before his time. Care, excitement, exposure, peril, trouble and worry had made him white-haired and wrinkled. He was sick, he was nearly blind, he was weak, he was feeble—but his determination was just as firm, his hope just as high, his desire just as strong as ever. He was bound, this time, to find Cathay.
And he had one other wish. He had enemies in Hayti; they had laughed and hooted at him when he had been dragged off to prison and sent in chains on board the ship. He did wish to get even with them. He could not forgive them. He wanted to sail into the harbor of Isabella and Santo Domingo with his four ships and to say: See, all of you! Here I am again, as proud and powerful as ever. The king and queen have sent me over here once more with ships and sailors at my command. I am still the Admiral of the Ocean Seas and all you tried to do against me has amounted to nothing.
This is not the right sort of a spirit to have, either for men or boys; it is not wise or well to have it gratified. Forgiveness is better than vengeance; kindliness is better than pride.
At any rate, it was not to be gratified with Columbus. When his ships arrived off the coast of Hayti, although his orders from the king and queen were not to stop at the island going over, the temptation to show himself was too strong. He could not resist it. So he sent word to the new governor, whose name was Ovando, that he had arrived with his fleet for the discovery of new lands in the Indies, and that he wished to come into Santo Domingo Harbor as one of his ships needed repairs; he would take the opportunity, he said, of mending his vessel and visiting the governor at the same time.
Now it so happened that Governor Ovando was just about sending to Spain a large fleet. And in these ships were to go some of the men who had treated Columbus so badly. Bobadilla, the ex-governor, was one of them; so was the rebel Roldan who had done so much mischief; and there were others among the passengers and prisoners whom Columbus disliked or who hated Columbus. There was also to go in the fleet a wonderful cargo of gold—the largest amount yet sent across to Spain. There were twenty-six ships in all, in the great gold fleet, and the little city of Santo Domingo was filled with excitement and confusion.
We cannot altogether make out whether Governor Ovando was a friend to Columbus or not. At any rate, he felt that it would be unwise and unsafe for Columbus to come into the harbor or show himself in the town when so many of his bitter enemies were there. So he sent back word to Columbus that he was sorry, but that really he could not let him come in.
How bad that must have made the old Admiral feel! To be refused admission to the place he had found and built up for Spain! It was unkind, he said; he must and would go in.
Just then Columbus, who was a skillful sailor and knew all the signs of the sky, and all about the weather, happened to notice the singular appearance of the sky, and saw that there was every sign that a big storm was coming on. So he sent word to Governor Ovando again, telling him of this, and asking permission to run into the harbor of Santo Domingo with his ships to escape the coming storm. But the governor could not see that any storm was coming on. He said: Oh! that is only another way for the Admiral to try to get around me and get me to let him in. I can't do it. So, he sent back word a second time that he really could not, let Columbus come in. I know you are a very clever sailor, he said, but, really, I think you must be mistaken about this storm. At any rate, you will have time to go somewhere else before it comes on, and I shall be much obliged if you will.
Now, among the twenty-six vessels of the gold fleet was one in which was stored some of the gold that belonged to Columbus as his share, according to his arrangement with the king and queen. If a storm came on, this vessel would be in danger, to say nothing of all the rest of the fleet. So Columbus sent in to Governor Ovando a third time. He told him he was certain a great storm was coming. And he begged the governor, even if he was not allowed to come up to Santo Domingo, by all means to keep the fleet in the harbor until the storm was over. If you don't, there will surely be trouble, he said. And then he sailed with his ships along shore looking for a safe harbor.
But the people in Santo Domingo put no faith in the Admiral's "probabilities." There will be no storm, the captains and the officers said. If there should be our ships are strong enough to stand it. The Admiral Columbus is getting to be timid as he grows older. And in spite of the old sailor's warning, the big gold fleet sailed out of the harbor of Santo Domingo and headed for Spain.
But almost before they had reached the eastern end of the island of Hayti, the storm that Columbus had prophesied burst upon them.
It was a terrible tempest. Twenty of the ships went to the bottom. The great gold fleet was destroyed. The enemies of Columbus—Bobadilla, Roldan and the rest were drowned. Only a few of the ships managed to get back into Santo Domingo Harbor, broken and shattered. And the only ship of all the great fleet that got safely through the storm and reached Spain all right was the one that carried on board the gold that belonged to Columbus. Was not that singular?
Then all the friends of Columbus cried: How wonderful! Truly the Lord is on the side of the great Admiral!
But his enemies said: This Genoese is a wizard. He was mad because the governor would not let him come into the harbor, and he raised this storm in revenge. It is a dangerous thing to interfere with the Admiral's wishes.
For you see in those days people believed in witches and spells and all kinds of fairy-book things like those, when they could not explain why things happened. And when they could not give a good reason for some great disaster or for some stroke of bad luck, they just said: It is witchcraft; and left it so.
CHAPTER XII. HOW THE ADMIRAL PLAYED ROBINSON CRUSOE.
While the terrible storm that wrecked the great gold fleet of the governor was raging so furiously, Columbus with his four ships was lying as near shore as he dared in a little bay farther down the coast of Hayti. Here he escaped the full fury of the gale, but still his ships suffered greatly, and came very near being shipwrecked. They became separated in the storm, but the caravels met at last after the storm was over and steered away for the island of Jamaica.
For several days they sailed about among the West India Islands; then they took a westerly course, and on the thirtieth of July, Columbus saw before him the misty outlines of certain high mountains which he supposed to be somewhere in Asia, but which we now know were the Coast Range Mountains of Honduras. And Honduras, you remember, is a part of Central America.
Just turn to the map of Central America in your geography and find Honduras. The mountains, you see, are marked there; and on the northern coast, at the head of a fine bay, you will notice the seaport town of Truxillo. And that is about the spot where, for the first time, Columbus saw the mainland of North America.
As he sailed toward the coast a great canoe came close to the ship. It was almost as large as one of his own caravels, for it was over forty feet long and fully eight feet wide. It was paddled by twenty-five Indians, while in the middle, under an awning of palm-thatch sat the chief Indian, or cacique, as he was called. A curious kind of sail had been rigged to catch the breeze, and the canoe was loaded with fruits and Indian merchandise.
This canoe surprised Columbus very much. He had seen nothing just like it among the other Indians he had visited. The cacique and his people, too, were dressed in clothes and had sharp swords and spears. He thought of the great galleys of Venice and Genoa; he remembered the stories that had come to him of the people of Cathay; he believed that, at last, he had come to the right place. The shores ahead of him were, he was sure, the coasts of the Cathay he was hunting for, and these people in "the galley of the cacique" were much nearer the kind of people he was expecting to meet than were the poor naked Indians of Hayti and Cuba.
In a certain way he was right. These people in the big canoe were, probably, some of the trading Indians of Yucatan, and beyond them, in what we know to-day as Mexico, was a race of Indians, known as Aztecs, who were what is called half-civilized; for they had cities and temples and stone houses and almost as much gold and treasure as Columbus hoped to find in his fairyland of Cathay. But Columbus was not to find Mexico. Another daring and cruel Spanish captain, named Cortez, discovered the land, conquered it for Spain, stripped it of its gold and treasure, and killed or enslaved its brave and intelligent people.
After meeting this canoe, Columbus steered for the distant shore. He coasted up and down looking for a good harbor, and on the seventeenth of August, 1502, he landed as has been told you, near what is now the town of Truxillo, in Honduras. There, setting up the banner of Castile, he took possession of the country in the name of the king and queen of Spain.
For the first time in his life Columbus stood on the real soil of the New World. All the islands he had before discovered and colonized were but outlying pieces of America. Now he was really upon the American Continent.
But he did not know it. To him it was but a part of Asia. And as the main purpose of this fourth voyage was to find a way to sail straight to India—which he supposed lay somewhere to the south—he set off on his search. The Indians told him of "a narrow place" that he could find by sailing farther south, and of a "great water." beyond it. This "narrow place" was the Isthmus of Panama, and the "great water" beyond it was, of course, the Pacific Ocean. But Columbus thought that by a "narrow place" they meant a strait instead of an isthmus. If he could but find that strait, he could sail through it into the great Bay of Bengal which, as you know and as he had heard, washes the eastern shore of India.
So he sailed along the coasts of Honduras and Nicaragua trying to find the strait he was hunting for. Just look at your map and see how near he was to the way across to the Pacific that men are now digging out, and which, as the Nicaragua Canal, will connect the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans. And think how near he was to finding that Pacific Ocean over which, if he could but have got across the Isthmus of Panama, he could have sailed to the Cathay and the Indies he spent his life in trying to find. But if he had been fortunate enough to get into the waters of the Pacific, I do not believe it would have been so lucky for him, after all. His little ships, poorly built and poorly provisioned, could never have sailed that great ocean in safety, and the end might have proved even more disastrous than did the Atlantic voyages of the Admiral.
He soon understood that he had found a richer land than the islands he had thus far discovered. Gold and pearls were much more plentiful along the Honduras coast than they were in Cuba and Hayti, and Columbus decided that, after he had found India, he would come back by this route and collect a cargo of the glittering treasures.
The land was called by the Indians something that sounded very much like Veragua. This was the name Columbus gave to it; and it was this name, Veragua, that was afterward given to the family of Columbus as its title; so that, to-day, the living descendant of Christopher Columbus in Spain is called the Duke of Veragua.
But as Columbus sailed south, along what is called "the Mosquito Coast," the weather grew stormy and the gales were severe. His ships were crazy and worm-eaten; the food was running low; the sailors began to grumble and complain and to say that if they kept on in this way they would surely starve before they could reach India.
Columbus, too, began to grow uneasy. His youngest son, Ferdinand, a brave, bright little fellow of thirteen, had come with him on this voyage, and Columbus really began to be afraid that something might happen to the boy, especially if the crazy ships should be wrecked, or if want of food should make them all go hungry. So at last he decided to give up hunting for the strait that should lead him into the Bay of Bengal; he felt obliged, also, to give up his plan of going back to the Honduras coast for gold and pearls. He turned his ships about and headed for Hayti where he hoped he could get Governor Ovando to give him better ships so that he could try it all over again.
Here, you see, was still another disappointing defeat for Columbus. For after he had been on the American coast for almost a year; after he had come so near to what he felt to be the long-looked-for path to the Indies; after most wonderful adventures on sea and land, he turned his back on it all, without really having accomplished what he set out to do and, as I have told you, steered for Hayti.
But it was not at all easy to get to Hayti in those leaky ships of his. In fact it was not possible to get there with them at all; for on the twenty-third of June, 1503, when he had reached the island of Jamaica he felt that his ships would not hold out any longer. They were full of worm-holes; they were leaking badly; they were strained and battered from the storms. He determined, therefore, to find a good harbor somewhere on the island of Jamaica and go in there for repairs. But he could not find a good one; his ships grew worse and worse; every day's delay was dangerous; and for fear the ships would sink and carry the crews to the bottom of the sea, Columbus decided to run them ashore anyhow. This he did; and on the twelfth of August, 1503, he deliberately headed for the shore and ran his ships aground in a little bay on the island of Jamaica still known as Sir Christopher's Cove. And there the fleet was wrecked.
The castaways lashed the four wrecks together; they built deck-houses and protections so as to make themselves as comfortable as possible, and for a whole year Columbus and his men lived there at Sir Christopher's Cove on the beautiful island of Jamaica.
It proved anything but beautiful for them, however. It makes a good deal of difference, you know, in enjoying things whether you are well and happy. If you are hungry and can't get anything to eat, the sky does not look so blue or the trees so green as if you were sitting beneath them with a jolly picnic party and with plenty of lunch in the baskets.
It was no picnic for Columbus and his companions. That year on the island of Jamaica was one of horror, of peril, of sickness, of starvation. Twice, a brave comrade named Diego Mendez started in an open boat for Hayti to bring relief. The first time he was nearly shipwrecked, but the second time he got away all right. And then for months nothing was heard of him, and it was supposed that he had been drowned. But the truth was that Governor Ovando, had an idea that the king and queen of Spain were tired of Columbus and would not feel very bad if they never saw him again. He promised to send help, but did not do so for fear he should get into trouble. And the relief that the poor shipwrecked people on Jamaica longed for did not come.
Then some of the men who were with Columbus mutinied and ran away. In fact, more things happened during this remarkable fourth voyage of Columbus than I can begin to tell you about. The story is more wonderful than is that of Robinson Crusoe, and when you are older you must certainly read it all and see just what marvelous adventures Columbus and his men met with and how bravely the little Ferdinand Columbus went through them all. For when Ferdinand grew up he wrote a life of his father, the Admiral, and told the story of how they all played Robinson Crusoe at Sir Christopher's Cove.
At last the long-delayed help was sent by Governor Ovando, and one day the brave Diego Mendez came sailing into Sir Christopher's Cove. And Columbus forgave the rebels who had run away; and on the twenty-eighth of June, 1504, they all sailed away from the place, that, for a year past, had been almost worse than a prison to them all.
On the fifteenth of August, the rescued crews sailed into the harbor of Santo Domingo. The governor, Ovando, who had reluctantly agreed to send for Columbus, was now in a hurry to get him away. Whether the governor was afraid of him, or ashamed because of the way he had treated him, or whether he felt that Columbus was no longer held so high in Spain, and that, therefore, it was not wise to make much of him, I cannot say. At any rate he hurried him off to Spain, and on the twelfth of September, 1504, Columbus turned his back forever on the new world he had discovered, and with two ships sailed for Spain.
He had not been at sea but a day or two before he found that the ship in which he and the boy Ferdinand were sailing was not good for much. A sudden storm carried away its mast and the vessel was sent back to Santo Domingo. Columbus and Ferdinand, with a few of the men, went on board the other ship which was commanded by Bartholomew Columbus, the brother of the Admiral, who had been with him all through the dreadful expedition. At last they saw the home shores again, and on the seventh of November, 1504, Columbus sailed into the harbor of San Lucar, not far from Cadiz.
He had been away from Spain for fully two years and a half. He had not accomplished a single thing he set out to do. He had met with disappointment and disaster over and over again, and had left the four ships that had been given him a total wreck upon the shores of Jamaica. He came back poor, unsuccessful, unnoticed, and so ill that he could scarcely get ashore.
And so the fourth voyage of the great Admiral ended. It was his last. His long sickness had almost made him crazy. He said and did many odd things, such as make us think, nowadays, that people have, as we call it, "lost their minds." But he was certain of one thing—the king and queen of Spain had not kept the promises they had made him, and he was determined, if he lived, to have justice done him, and to make them do as they said they would.
They had told him that only himself or one of his family should be Admiral of the Ocean Seas and Viceroy of the New Lands; they had sent across the water others, who were not of his family, to govern what he had been promised for his own. They had told him that he should have a certain share of the profits that came from trading and gold hunting in the Indies; they had not kept this promise either, and he was poor when he was certain he ought to be rich.
So, when he was on land once more, he tried hard to get to court and see the king and queen. But he was too sick.
He had got as far as beautiful Seville, the fair Spanish city by the Guadalquivir, and there he had to give up and go to, bed. And then came a new disappointment. He was to lose his best friend at the court. For when he had been scarcely two weeks in Spain, Queen Isabella died.
She was not what would be considered in these days either a particularly good woman, or an especially good queen. She did many cruel things; and while she talked much about doing good, she was generally looking out for herself most of all. But that was not so much her fault as the fault of the times in which she lived. Her life was not a happy one; but she had always felt kindly toward Columbus, and when he was where he could see her and talk to her, he had always been able to get her to side with him and grant his wishes.
Columbus was now a very sick man. He had to keep his bed most of the time, and this news of the queen's death made him still worse, for he felt that now no one who had the "say" would speak a good word for the man who had done so much for Spain, and given to the king and queen the chance to make their nation great and rich and powerful.
CHAPTER XIII. THE END OF THE STORY.
Any one who is sick, as some of you may know, is apt to be anxious and fretful and full of fears as to how he is going to get along, or who will look out for his family. Very often there is no need for this feeling; very often it is a part of the complaint from which the sick person is suffering.
In the case of Columbus, however, there was good cause for this depressed and anxious feeling. King Ferdinand, after Queen Isabella's death, did nothing to help Columbus. He would not agree to give the Admiral what he called his rights, and though Columbus kept writing letters from his sick room asking for justice, the king would do nothing for him. And when the king's smile is turned to a frown, the fashion of the court is to frown, too.
So Columbus had no friends at the king's court. Diego, his eldest son, was still one of the royal pages, but he could do nothing. Without friends, without influence, without opportunity, Columbus began to feel that he should never get his rights unless he could see the king himself. And sick though he was he determined to try it.
It must have been sad enough to see this sick old man drag himself feebly to the court to ask for justice from the king whom he had enriched. You would think that when King Ferdinand really saw Columbus at the foot of the throne, and when he remembered all that this man had done for him and for Spain, and how brave and persistent and full of determination to do great things the Admiral once had been, he would at least have given the old man what was justly due him.
But he would not. He smiled on the old sailor, and said many pleasant things and talked as if he were a friend, but he would not agree to anything Columbus asked him; and the poor Admiral crawled back to his sick bed again, and gave up the struggle. I have done all that I can do, he said to the few friends who remained faithful to him; I must leave it all to God. He has always helped me when things were at the worst.
And God helped him by taking him away from all the fret, and worry, and pain, and struggle that made up so much of the Admiral's troubled life. On the twentieth of May, 1506, the end came. In the house now known as Number 7 Columbus Avenue, in the city of Valladolid; in Northern Spain, with a few faithful friends at his side, he signed his will, lay back in bed and saying trustfully these words: Into thy hands, O Lord, I commit my spirit! the Admiral of the Ocean Seas, the Viceroy of the Indies, the Discoverer of a New World, ended his fight for life. Christopher Columbus was dead.
He was but sixty years old. With Tennyson, and Whittier, and Gladstone, and De Lesseps living to be over eighty, and with your own good grandfather and grandmother, though even older than Columbus, by no means ready to be called old people, sixty years seems an early age to be so completely broken and bent and gray as was he. But trouble, and care, and exposure, and all the worries and perils of his life of adventure, had, as you must know, so worn upon Columbus that when he died he seemed to be an old, old man. He was white-haired, you remember, even before he discovered America, and each year he seemed to grow older and grayer and more feeble.
And after he had died in that lonely house in Valladolid, the world seems for a time to have almost forgotten him. A few friends followed him to the grave; the king, for whom he had done so much, did not trouble himself to take any notice of the death of his Admiral, whom once he had been forced to honor, receive and reward. The city of Valladolid, in which Columbus died, was one of those fussy little towns in which everybody knew what was happening next door, and talked and argued about whatever happened upon its streets and in its homes; and yet even Valladolid hardly seemed to know of the presence within its gates of the sick "Viceroy of the Indies." Not until four weeks after his death did the Valladolid people seem to realize what had happened; and then all they did was to write down this brief record: "The said Admiral is dead."
To-day, the bones of Columbus inclosed in a leaden casket lie in the Cathedral of Santo Domingo. People have disputed about the place where the Discoverer of America was born; they are disputing about the place where he is buried. But as it seems now certain that he was born in Genoa, so it seems also certain that his bones are really in the tomb in the old Cathedral at Santo Domingo, that old Haytian city which he founded, and where he had so hard a time.
At least a dozen places in the Old World and the New have built monuments and statues in his honor; in the United States, alone, over sixty towns and villages bear his name, or the kindred one of Columbia. The whole world honors him as the Discoverer of America; and yet the very name that the Western Hemisphere bears comes not from the man who discovered it, but from his friend and comrade Americus Vespucius.
Like Columbus, this Americus Vespucius was an Italian; like him, he was a daring sailor and a fearless adventurer, sailing into strange seas to see what he could find. He saw more of the American coast than did Columbus, and not being so full of the gold-hunting and slave-getting fever as was the Admiral, he brought back from his four voyages so much information about the new-found lands across the sea, that scholars, who cared more for news than gold, became interested in what he reported. And some of the map-makers in France, when they had to name the new lands in the West that they drew on their maps—the lands that were not the Indies, nor China, nor Japan—called them after the man who had told them so much about them—Americus Vespucius. And so it is that to-day you live in America and not in Columbia, as so many people have thought this western world of ours should be named.
And even the titles, and riches, and honors that the king and queen of Spain promised to Columbus came very near being lost by his family, as they had been by himself. It was only by the hardest work, and by keeping right at it all the time, that the Admiral's eldest son, Diego Columbus, almost squeezed out of King Ferdinand of Spain the things that had been promised to his father.
But Diego was as plucky, and as brave, and as persistent as his father had been; then, too, he had lived at court so long—he was one of the queen's pages, you remember that he knew just what to do and how to act so as to get what he wanted. And at last he got it.
He was made Viceroy over the Indies; he went across the seas to Hayti, and in his palace in the city of Santo Domingo he ruled the lands his father had found, and which for centuries were known as the Spanish Main; he was called Don Diego; he married a high-born lady of Spain, the niece of King Ferdinand; he received the large share of "the riches of the Indies" that his father had worked for, but never received. And the family of Christopher Columbus, the Genoese adventurer—under the title of the Dukes of Veragua—have, ever since Don Diego's day, been of what is called "the best blood of Spain."
If you have read this story of Christopher Columbus aright, you must have come to the conclusion that the life of this Italian sea captain who discovered a new world was not a happy one. From first to last it was full of disappointment. Only once, in all his life, did he know what happiness and success meant, and that was on his return from his first voyage, when he landed amid cheers of welcome at Palos, and marched into Barcelona in procession like a conqueror to be received as an equal by his king and queen.
Except for that little taste of glory, how full of trouble was his life! He set out to find Cathay and bring back its riches and its treasures. He did not get within five thousand miles of Cathay. He returned from his second voyage a penitent, bringing only tidings of disaster. He returned from his third voyage in disgrace, a prisoner and in chains, smarting under false charges of theft, cruelty and treason. He returned from his fourth voyage sick unto death, unnoticed, unhonored, unwelcomed.
From first to last he was misunderstood. His ideas were made fun of, his efforts were treated with contempt, and even what he did was not believed, or was spoken of as of not much account. A career that began in scorn ended in neglect. He died unregarded, and for years no one gave him credit for what he had done, nor honor for what he had brought about.
Such a life would, I am sure, seem to all boys and girls, but a dreary prospect if they felt it was to be theirs or that of any one they loved. And yet what man to-day is more highly honored than Christopher Columbus? People forget all the trials and hardships and sorrows of his life, and think of him only as one of the great successes of the world—the man who discovered America.
And out of his life of disaster and disappointment two things stand forth that all of us can honor and all of us should wish to copy. These are his sublime persistence and his unfaltering faith. Even as a boy, Columbus had an idea of what he wished to try and what he was bound to do. He kept right at that idea, no matter what might happen to annoy him or set him back.
It was the faith and the persistence of Columbus that discovered America and opened the way for the millions who now call it their home. It is because of these qualities that we honor him to-day; it is because this faith and persistence ended as they did in the discovery of a new world, that to-day his fame is immortal.
Other men were as brave, as skillful and as wise as he. Following in his track they came sailing to the new lands; they explored its coasts, conquered its red inhabitants, and peopled its shores with the life that has made America today the home of millions of white men and millions of free men. But Columbus showed the way.
CHAPTER XIV. HOW THE STORY TURNS OUT.
Whenever you start to read a story that you hope will be interesting, you always wonder, do you not, how it is going to turn out? Your favorite fairy tale or wonder story that began with "once upon a time," ends, does it not, "so the prince married the beautiful princess, and they lived happy ever after?"
Now, how does this story that we have been reading together turn out? You don't think it ended happily, do you? It was, in some respects, more marvelous than any fairy tale or wonder story; but, dear me! you say, why couldn't Columbus have lived happily, after he had gone through so much, and done so much, and discovered America, and given us who came after him so splendid a land to live in?
Now, just here comes the real point of the story. Wise men tell us that millions upon millions of busy little insects die to make the beautiful coral islands of the Southern seas. Millions and millions of men and women have lived and labored, died and been forgotten by the world they helped to make the bright, and beautiful, and prosperous place to live in that it is to-day.
Columbus was one of these millions; but he was a leader among them and has not been forgotten. As the world has got farther away from the time in which he lived, the man Columbus, who did so much and yet died almost unnoticed, has grown more and more famous; his name is immortal, and to-day he is the hero Columbus—one of the world's greatest men.
We, in America, are fond of celebrating anniversaries. I suppose the years that you boys and girls have thus far lived have been the most remarkable in the history of the world for celebrating anniversaries. For fully twenty years the United States has been keeping its birthday. The celebration commenced long before you were born, with the one hundredth anniversary of the Battle of Lexington (in 1875). It has not ended yet. But in 1892, We celebrated the greatest of all our birthdays—the discovery of the continent that made it possible for us to be here at all.
Now this has not always been so with us. I suppose that in 1592 and in 1692 no notice whatever was taken of the twelfth day of October, on which—one hundred and two hundred years before—Columbus had landed on that flat little "key" known as Watling's Island down among the West Indies, and had begun a new chapter in the world's wonderful story. In 1592, there was hardly anybody here to celebrate the anniversary—in fact, there was hardly anybody here at all, except a few Spanish settlers in the West Indies, in Mexico, and in Florida. In 1692, there were a few scattered settlements of Frenchmen in Canada, of Englishmen in New England, Dutchmen in New York, Swedes in Delaware, and Englishmen in Maryland, Virginia and the Carolinas. But none of these people loved the Spaniards. They hated them, indeed; for there had been fierce fighting going on for nearly a hundred years between Spain and England, and you couldn't find an Englishman, a Dutchman or a Swede who was willing to say a good word for Spain, or thank God for the man who sailed away in Spanish ships to discover America two hundred years before.
In 1792, people did think a little more about this, and there were a few who did remember that, three hundred years before, Columbus had found the great continent upon which, in that year 1792, a new republic, called the United States of America, had only just been started after a long and bloody war of rebellion and revolution.
We do not find, however, that in that year of 1792 there were many, if any, public celebrations of the Discovery of America, in America itself. A certain American clergyman, however, whose name was the Rev. Elhanan Winchester, celebrated the three hundredth anniversary of the Discovery of America by Columbus. And he celebrated it not in America, but in England, where he was then living. On the twelfth of October, 1792, Winchester delivered an address on "Columbus and his Discoveries," before a great assembly of interested listeners. In that address he said some very enthusiastic and some very remarkable things about the America that was to be:
"I see the United States rise in all their ripened glory before me," he said. "I look through and beyond every yet peopled region of the New World, and behold period still brightening upon period. Where one contiguous depth of gloomy wilderness now shuts out even the beams of day, I see new States and empires, new seats of wisdom and knowledge, new religious domes spreading around. In places now untrod by any but savage beasts, or men as savage as they, I hear the voices of happy labor, and see beautiful cities rising to view. I behold the whole continent highly cultivated and fertilized, full of cities, towns and villages, beautiful and lovely beyond expression. I hear the praises of my great Creator sung upon the banks of those rivers now unknown to song. Behold the delightful prospect! See the silver and gold of America employed in the service of the Lord of the whole earth! See slavery, with all its train of attendant evils, forever abolished! See a communication opened through the whole continent, from North to South and from East to West, through a most fruitful country. Behold the glory of God extending, and the gospel spreading through the whole land!"
Of course, it was easy for a man to see and to hope and to say all this; but it is a little curious, is it not, that he should have seen things just as they have turned out?
In Mr. Winchester's day, the United States of America had not quite four millions of inhabitants. In his day Virginia was the largest State—in the matter of population—Pennsylvania was the second and New York the third. Philadelphia was the greatest city, then followed New York, Boston, Baltimore and Charleston. Chicago was not even thought of.
To-day, four hundred years after Columbus first saw American shores, one hundred and sixteen years after the United States were started in life by the Declaration of American Independence, these same struggling States of one hundred years ago are joined together to make the greatest and most prosperous nation in the world. With a population of more than sixty-two millions of people; with the thirteen original States grown into forty-four, with the population of its three largest cities—New York; Philadelphia and Chicago—more than equal to the population of the whole country one hundred years ago; with schools and colleges and happy homes brightening the whole broad land that now stretches from ocean to ocean, the United States leads all other countries in the vast continent Columbus discovered. Still westward, as Columbus led, the nation advances; and, in a great city that Columbus could never have imagined, and that the prophet of one hundred years ago scarcely dreamed of, the mighty Republic in 1892 invited all the rest of the world to join with it in celebrating the four hundredth anniversary of the Discovery of America by Columbus the Admiral. And to do this celebrating fittingly and grandly, it built up the splendid White City by the great Fresh Water Sea.
Columbus was a dreamer; he saw such wonderful visions of what was to be, that people, as we know, tapped their foreheads and called him "the crazy Genoese." But not even the wildest fancies nor the most wonderful dreams of Columbus came anywhere near to what he would really have seen if—he could have visited the Exposition at Chicago, in the great White City by the lake—a "show city" specially built for the World's Fair of 1893, given in his honor and as a monument to his memory.
Why, he would say, the Cathay that I spent my life trying to find was but a hovel alongside this! What would he have seen? A city stretching a mile and a half in length, and more than half a mile in breadth; a space covering over five hundred acres of ground, and containing seventeen magnificent buildings, into any one of which could have been put the palaces of all the kings and queens of Europe known to Columbus's day. And in these buildings he would have seen gathered together, all the marvelous and all the useful things, all the beautiful and all the delightful things that the world can make to-day, arranged and displayed for all the world to see. He would have stood amazed in that wonderful city of glass and iron, that surpassingly beautiful city, all of purest white, that had been built some eight miles from the center of big and busy Chicago, looking out upon the blue waters of mighty Lake Michigan. It was a city that I wish all the boys and girls of America—especially all who read this story of the man in whose honor it was built, might have visited. For as they saw all its wonderful sights, studied its marvelous exhibits, and enjoyed its beautiful belongings, they would have been ready to say how proud, and glad, and happy they were to think that they were American girls and boys, living in this wonderful nineteenth century that has been more crowded with marvels, and mysteries, and triumphs than any one of the Arabian Nights ever contained.
But, whether you saw the Columbian Exhibition or not, you can say that. And then stop and think what a parrot did. That is one of the most singular things in all this wonder story you are reading. Do you not remember how, when Columbus was slowly feeling his way westward, Captain Alonso Pinzon saw some parrots flying southward, and believing from this that the land they sought was off in that direction, he induced Columbus to change his course from the west to the south? If Columbus had not changed his course and followed the parrots, the Santa Maria, with the Pinta and the Nina, would have sailed on until they had entered the harbor of Savannah or Charleston, or perhaps the broad waters of Chesapeake Bay. Then the United States of to-day would have been discovered and settled by Spaniards, and the whole history of the land would have been quite different from what it has been. Spanish blood has peopled, but not uplifted, the countries of South America and the Spanish Main. English blood, which, following after—because Columbus had first shown the way—peopled, saved and upbuilt the whole magnificent northern land that Spain missed and lost. They have found in it more gold than ever Columbus dreamed of in his never-found Cathay; they have filled it with a nobler, braver, mightier, and more numerous people than ever Columbus imagined the whole mysterious land of the Indies contained; they have made it the home of freedom, of peace, of education, of intelligence and of progress, and have protected and bettered it until the whole world respects it for its strength, honors it for its patriotism, admires it for its energy, and marvels at it for its prosperity.
And this is what a flying parrot did: It turned the tide of lawless adventure, of gold-hunting, of slave-driving, and of selfish strife for gain to the south; it left the north yet unvisited until it was ready for the strong, and sturdy, and determined men and women who, hunting for liberty, came across the seas and founded the colonies that became in time the free and independent republic of the United States of America.
And thus has the story of Columbus really turned out. Happier than any fairy tale, more marvelous than any wonder book, the story of the United States of America is one that begins, "Once upon a time," and has come to the point where it depends upon the boys and girls who read it, to say whether or not they shall "live happily ever after."
The four hundred years of the New World's life closed its chapter of happiness in the electric lights and brilliant sunshine of the marvelous White City by Lake Michigan. It is a continued story of daring, devotion and progress, that the boys and girls of America should never tire of reading. And this story was made possible and turned out so well, because of the briefer, but no less interesting story of the daring, the devotion and the faith of the determined Genoese sailor of four hundred years ago, whom men knew as Don Christopher Columbus, the Admiral of the Ocean Seas.