Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors]


THE person intrusted with the reconnoitring expedition to Acla was Andres Garabito, in whose fidelity and discretion Vasco Nuñez had implicit confidence. His confidence was destined to be fatally deceived. According to the assertions of contemporaries, this Garabito cherished a secret and vindictive enmity against his commander, arising from a simple but a natural cause. Vasco Nuñez had continued to have a fondness for the Indian damsel, daughter of the cacique Careta, whom he had received from her father as a pledge of amity. Some dispute arose concerning her on one occasion between him and Garabito, in the course of which he expressed himself in severe and galling language. Garabito was deeply mortified at some of his expressions, and being of a malignant spirit, determined on a dastardly revenge. He wrote privately to Pedrarias, assuring him that Vasco Nuñez had no intention of solemnizing his marriage with his daughter, being completely under the influence of an Indian paramour; that he made use of the friendship of Pedrarias merely to further his own selfish views, intending, assoon as his ships were ready, to throw off all allegiance, and put to sea as an independent commander. This mischievous letter Garabito had written immediately after the last departure of Vasco Nuñez from Acla. Its effect upon the proud and jealous spirit of the Governor may easily be conceived. All his former suspicions were immediately revived. They acquired strength during a long interval that elapsed without tidings being received from the expedition. There were designing and prejudiced persons at hand, who perceived and quickened these jealous feelings of the Governor. Among these was the Bachelor Corral, who cherished a deep grudge against Vasco Nuñez for having once thrown him into prison for his factious conduct; and Alonzo de la Puente, the royal treasurer, whom Vasco Nuñez had affronted by demanding the repayment of a loan. Such was the tempest gradually gathering in the factious little colony of Darien. The subsequent conduct of Garabito gives much confirmation to the charge of perfidy advanced against him. When he arrived at Acla, he found that Pedrarias remained in possession of the government; for his intended successor had died in the very harbor. The conduct and conversation of Garabito was such as to arouse suspicion; he was arrested, and his papers and letters were sent to Pedrarias. When examined, he readily suffered himself to be wrought upon by threats of punishment and promises of pardon, and revealed all that he knew, and declared still more what he suspected and surmised, of the plans and intentions of Vasco Nuñez. The arrest of Garabito, and the seizure of his letters, produced a great agitation at Darien. It was considered a revival of the ancient animosity between the Governor and Vasco Nuñez, and the friends of the latter trembled for his safety. Hernando de Arguello especially was in great alarm. He had embarked the most of his fortune in the expedition, and the failure of it would be ruinous to him. He wrote to Vasco Nuñez, informing him of the critical posture of affairs, and urging him to put to sea without delay. He would be protected at all events, he said, by the Jeronimite Fathers of San Domingo, who were at that time all-powerful in the New World, and who regarded his expedition as calculated to promote the glory of God as well as the dominion of the King.” This * In consequence of the eloquent representations

made to the Spanish government by the venerable Las Casas, of the cruel wrongs and oppressions pracletter fell into the hands of Pedrarias, and convinced him of the existence of a dangerous plot against his authority. He immediately ordered Arguello to be arrested ; and now devised means to get Vasco Nuñez within his power. While the latter remained on the shores of the South Sea with his brigantines, and his band of hearty and devoted followers, Pedrarias knew it would be in vain to attempt to take him by force. Dissembling his suspicions and intentions, therefore, he wrote to him in amicable terms, requesting him to repair immediately to Acla, as he wished to confer with him about the impending expedition. Fearing, however, that Vasco Nuñez might suspect his motives and refuse to comply, he at the same time ordered Francisco Pizarro to muster all the armed force he could collect, and seek and arrest his late patron and commander wherever he might be found.

tised upon the Indians in the colonies, the Cardinal Ximenes, in 1516, sent out three Jeronimite Friars, chosen for their zeal and abilities, clothed with full powers to inquire into and remedy all abuses, and to take all proper measures for the good government, religious instruction, and effectual protection of the natives. The exercise of their powers at San Domingo made a great sensation in the New World, and, for a time, had a beneficial effect in checking the oppressive and licentious conduct of the colonists.

So great was the terror inspired by the arrest of Arguello, and by the general violence of Pedrarias, that though Vasco Nuñez was a favorite with the great mass of the people no one ventured to warn him of the danger that attended his return to Acla.

[ocr errors][merged small]

THE old Spanish writers who have treated of the fortunes of Vasco Nuñez, record an anecdote which is worthy of being cited, as characteristic of the people of the age. Among the motley crowd of adventurers lured across the ocean by the reputed wealth and wonders of the New World, was an Italian astrologer, a native of Venice, named Micer Codro. At the time that Vasco Nuñez held supreme sway at Darien, this reader of the stars had cast his horoscope and pretended to foretell his destiny. Pointing one night to a certain star, he assured him that in the year in which he should behold that star in a part of the heavens which he designated, his life would be in eminent jeopardy; but should he survive this year of peril, he would become the richest and most renowned captain throughout the Indies.

« AnteriorContinuar »