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VASCO NUNEZ DE BALBOA,
ExPEDITION OF MORALES AND PIZARRO TO THE sHoRES OF THE PACIFIC OCEAN–THEIR VISIT to THE PEARL, ISLANDS—TREIR DISASTROUS RETURN AcROSS THE MOUNTAINs.
HE Bishop of Darien, encouraged by the success of his intercession, endeavored
to persuade the Governor to permit the
departure of Vasco Nuñez on his expedition to the South Sea. The jealousy of Pedrarias, however, was too strong to allow him to listen to such counsel. He was aware of the importance of the expedition, and was anxious that the Pearl Islands should be ex
plored, which promised such abundant treasures; but he feared to increase the popularity of Vasco Nuñez, by adding such an enterprise to the number of his achievements. Pedrarias therefore set on foot an expedition, consisting of sixty men, but gave the command to one of his own relations, named Gaspar Morales. The latter was accompanied by Francisco Pizarro, who had already been to those parts in the train of Vasco Nuñez, and who soon rose to importance in the present enterprise by his fierce courage and domineering genius. A brief notice of the principal incidents of this expedition is all that is necessary for the present narration. Morales and Pizarro traversed the mountains of the isthmus by a shorter and more expeditious route than that which had been taken by Vasco Nuñez, and arrived on the shores of the South Sea at the territories of a cacique named Tutibra, by whom they were amicably entertained. Their great object was to visit the Pearl Islands. The cacique, however, had but four canoes, which were insufficient to contain their whole party. One half of their number, therefore, remained at the village of Tutibrå, under the command of a captain named Peñalosa; the residue embarked in the canoes with Morales and Pizarro. After a stormy and perilous voyage, they landed on one of the smaller islands, where they had some skirmishing with the natives, and thence made their way to the principal island of the archipelago, to which, from the report of its great pearl fishery, Vasco Nuñez had given the name of Isla Rica. The cacique of this island had long been the terror of the neighboring coasts, invading the mainland with fleets of canoes, and carrying the inhabitants into captivity. His reception of the Spaniards was worthy of his fame. Four times did he sally forth to defend his territory, and as often was he repulsed by great slaughter. His warriors were overwhelmed with terror at the fire-arms of the Spaniards, and at their ferocious bloodhounds. Finding all resistance unavailing, the cacique was at length compelled to sue for peace. His prayers being granted he received the conquerors into his habitation, which was well built and of immense size. Here he brought them as a peaceoffering a basket curiously wrought and filled with pearls of great beauty. Among these were two of extraordinary size and value. One weighed twenty-five carats; the other was of thesize of a Muscadine pear, weighing upwards of three drachms, and of oriental color and lustre. The cacique considered himself more than repaid by a present of hatchets, beads,