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stranger among the Spaniards, and regarded by the leading men with jealousy. Still Columbus considered the threatened combination of the caciques as but imperfectly formed; he trusted to their want of skill and experience in warfare, and conceived that by prompt measures, by proceeding in detail, punishing some, conciliating others, and uniting force, gentleness, and stratagem, he might succeed in dispelling the threatened storm.
His first care was to send a body of armed men to the relief of Fort Magdalena, menaced with destruction by Guatiguana, the cacique of the Grand River, who had massacred the Spaniards quartered in his town. Having re
. lieved the fortress the troops overran the territory of Guatiguana, killing many of his warriors, and carrying others off captives : the chieftain himself made his escape.* He was tributary to Guarionex, sovereign cacique of the Royal Vega. As this Indian prince reigned over a great and populous extent of country, his friendship was highly important for the prosperity of the colony, while there was imminent risk of his hostility, from the unbridled excesses of the Spaniards who had been quartered in his dominions. Columbus sent for him therefore and explained to
* Herrera, decad. i., lib. ii., cap. 16.
him that these excesses had been in violation of his orders, and contrary to his good intentions towards the natives, whom it was his wish in every way to please and benefit. He explained likewise that the expedition against Guatiguana was an act of mere individual punishment, not of hostility against the territories of Guarionex. The Cacique was of a quiet and placable disposition, and whatever anger he might have felt was easily soothed. To link him in some degree to the Spanish interest, Columbus prevailed on him to give his daughter in marriage to the Indian interpreter, Diego Colon.* As a stronger precaution against any hostility on the part of the Cacique, and to insure tranquillity in the important region of the Vega, he ordered a fortress to be erected in the midst of his territories, which he named Fort Conception. The easy Cacique agreed without hesitation to a measure fraught with ruin to himself, and future slavery to his subjects.
The most formidable enemy remained to be disposed of, -Caonabo. His territories lay
* P. Martyr, decad. i., lib. iv. Gio. Battista Spotorno, in his Memoir of Columbus, has been led into an error by the name of this Indian, and obseryes that Columnbus had a brother named Diego, of whom he seemed to be ashamed, and whom he married to the daughter of an Indian chief.
in the central and mountainous parts of the island, rendered difficult of access by rugged rocks, entangled forests, and frequent rivers. To make war upon this subtle and ferocious chieftain, in the depths of his wild woodland territory, and among the fastnesses of his mountains, where, at every step, there would be danger of ambush, would be a work of time, peril, and uncertain issue. In the meanwhile the settlements would never be secure from his secret and daring enterprises, and the working of the mines would be subject to frequent interruption. While perplexed on this subject, Columbus was relieved by an offer of Alonso de Ojeda, to take the Carib chieftain by stratagem, and deliver him alive into his hands. The project was wild, hazardous, and romantic, characteristic of Ojeda, who was fond of distinguishing himself by extravagant exploits and feats of desperate bravery.
Choosing ten old and hardy followers, well armed and well mounted, and invoking the protection of his patroness, the Virgin, whose image as usual he bore with him as a safeguard, Ojeda plunged into the forest and made his way above sixty leagues into the wild territories of Caonabo, whom he found in one of his inost populous towns,
the same now called Maguana, near the town of San Juan. Approaching the Cacique with great deference as a sovereign prince, he professed to come on a friendly embassy from the Admiral, who was Guamiquina or chief of the Spaniards, and who had sent him an invaluable present.
Caonabo had tried Ojeda in battle ; he had witnessed his fiery prowess, and had conceived a warrior's admiration of him. He received him with a degree of chivalrous courtesy, if such a phrase may apply to the savage state and rude hospitality of a wild warrior of the forest. The free, fearless deportment, the great personal strength, and the surprising agility and adroitness of Ojeda in all manly exercises, and in the use of all kinds of weapons, were calculated to delight a savage, and he soon became a great favorite with Caonabo.
Ojeda now used all his influence to prevail upon the Cacique to repair to Isabella, for the purpose of making a treaty with Columbus, and becoming the ally and friend of the Spaniards. It is said that he offered him, as a lure, the bell of the chapel of Isabella. This bell was the wonder of the island. When the Indians heard it ringing for mass, and beheld the Spaniards hastening toward the chapel, they imagined that it talked, and that the white men obeyed it. Regarding with superstition all things connected with the Spaniards, they looked upon this bell as something supernatural, and in their usual phrase, said it had come from Turey or the skies. Caonabo had heard the bell at a distance, in his prowlings about the settlement, and had longed to see it; but when it was proffered to him as a present of peace, he found it impossible to resist the temptation. He agreed therefore to set out for Isabella ; but when the time came to depart, Ojeda beheld with surprise a powerful force of warriors assembled and ready to march. He asked the meaning of taking such an army on a mere friendly visit; the Cacique proudly replied that it did not befit a great prince, like himself, to go forth scantily attended. Ojeda was little satisfied with this reply; he knew the warlike character of Caonabo, and his deep.subtlety ; he feared some sinister design; a surprise of the fortress of Isabella, or an attempt upon the person of the Admiral. He knew also that it was the wish of Columbus, either to make peace with the Cacique, or to get possession of his person without the alternative of open warfare. He had recourse to a stratagem, therefore, which has an air of fable and romance, but which is