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garrison, and with the remainder and his little troop of horse set off boldly to meet the savages. The brother of Caonabo, when he saw the Spaniards approaching, showed some military skill, disposing his army in five battalions. The impetuous attack of Ojeda, however, with his handful of horsemen, threw the Indian warriors into sudden panic. At the furious onset of these steel-clad beings, wielding their flashing weapons and bestriding what appeared to be ferocious beasts of prey, they threw down their weapons and took to flight. Many were slain, more were taken prisoners, and among the latter was the brother of Caonabo, bravely fighting in a righteous yet desperate cause.*

* Oviedo, Cronica de los Indias, lib. iii., cap. I. Charlevoix, Hist. St. Domingo, lib. ii., p. 131.

Chapter V.




HE colony was still suffering greatly from want of provisions; the European stock was nearly exhausted, and such

was the idleness and improvidence of the colonists or the confusion into which they had been thrown by the hostilities of the natives, or such was their exclusive eagerness after the precious metals that they seem to have neglected the true wealth of the island, its quick and productive soil, to have been in constant danger of famine, though in the midst of fertility.

At length they were relieved by the arrival of four ships, commanded by Antonio Torres, which brought an ample supply of provisions. There were also a physician and an apothecary, whose aid was greatly needed in the sickly

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state of the colony; but above all, there were mechanics, millers, fishermen, gardeners, and husbandmen,-the true kind of population for a colony.

Torres brought letters from the sovereigns (dated August 16, 1494,) of the most gratifying kind, expressing the highest satisfaction at the accounts sent home by the Admiral, and acknowledging that everything in the course of his discoveries had turned out as he had predicted. They evinced the liveliest interest in the affairs of the colony, and a desire of receiving frequent intelligence as to his situation, proposing that a caravel should sail each month from Isabella and Spain. They informed him that all differences with Portugal were amicably adjusted, and acquainted him with the conventional agreement with that power relative to a geographical line, separating their newly discovered possessions; requesting him to respect this agreement in the course of his discoveries. As in adjusting the arrangement with Portugal, and in drawing the proposed line, it was important to have the best advice, the sovereigns requested Columbus to return and be present at the convention; or, in case that should be inconvenient, to send his brother Bartholomew, or any other person whom he should consider fully competent, furnished with

such maps, charts, and designs, as might be of service in the negotiation.*

There was another letter, addressed generally to the inhabitants of the colony, and to all who should proceed on voyages of discovery, commanding them to obey Columbus as implicitly as they would the sovereigns themselves, under pain of their high displeasure, and a fine of ten thousand maravedis for each offence.

Such was the well-merited confidence reposed at this moment by the sovereigns in Colum:bus, but which was soon to be blighted by the insidious reports of worthless men. He was already aware of the complaints and misrepresentations which had been sent home from the colony, and which would be enforced by Margarite and Friar Boyle. He was aware that his standing in Spain was of that uncertain kind which a stranger always possesses in the service of a foreign country, where he has no friends or connections to support him, and where even his very merits increase the eagerness of envy to cast him down. His efforts to promote the working of the mines, and to explore the resources of the island, had been impeded by the misconduct of Margarite and the disorderly life of the Spaniards in general, yet he apprehended that the very evils which they *Herrera, decad. i., lib. ii., cap. 17.

had produced would be alleged against him, and the want of profitable returns be cited to discredit and embarrass his expeditions.

To counteract any misrepresentations of the kind, Columbus hastened the return of the ships, and would have returned with them, not merely to comply with the wishes of the sovereigns in being present at the settlement of the geographical line, but to vindicate himself and his enterprises from the aspersions cf his enemies. The malady, however, which confined him to his bed prevented his departure; and his brother Bartholomew was required to aid, with his practical good sense, and his resolute spirit, in regulating the disordered affairs of the island. It was determined, therefore, to send home his brother Diego, to attend to the wishes of the sovereigns, and to take care of his interests at court. At the same time, he exerted himself to the utmost to send by the ships satisfactory proofs of the value of his discoveries. He remitted by them all the gold that he could collect, with specimens of other metals, and of various fruits and valuable plants, which he had collected either in Hispaniola or in the course of his voyage. In his eagerness to produce immediate profit, and to indemnify the sovereigns for those expenses which bore

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