« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
that afforded by a return to Panama. The appearance of Tafur, therefore, with two vessels, well stored, was greeted with all the rapture that the crew of a sinking wreck might feel on the arrival of some unexpected succor; and the only thought, after satisfying the immediate cravings of hunger, was to embark and leave the detested isle forever.
3. But by the same vessel letters came to Pizarro from his two confederates, Luque and Almagro, beseeching him not to despair in his present extremity, but to hold fast to his original purpose. To return under the present circumstances would be to seal the fate of the expedition ; and they solemnly engaged, if he would remain firm at his post, to furnish him in a short time with the necessary means for going forward.
4. A ray of hope was enough for the courageous spirit of Pizarro. It does not appear that he himself had entertained, at any time, thoughts of returning. If he had, these words of encouragement entirely banished them from his bosom, and he prepared to stand the fortune of the cast on which he had so desperately ventured. He knew, however, that solicitations or remonstrances would avail little with the companions of his enterprise; and he probably did not care to win over the more timid spirits who, by perpetually looking back, would only be a clog on his future movements. He announced his own purpose, however, in a laconic but decided manner, characteristic of a accustomed to act than to talk, and well calculated to make an impression on his rough followers.
5. Drawing his sword, he traced a line with it on the sand from east to west. Then turning towards the south, “ Friends and comrades !” he said, “on that side are toil, hunger, nakedness, the drenching storm, desertion, and death; on this side, ease and pleasure. There lies Peru with its riches; here Panama and its poverty. Choose, each man, what best becomes a brave Castilian. For my part, I go to the south.” So saying, he stepped across the line. He was followed by the brave pilot Ruiz; next by Pedro de Candia, a cavalier, born, as his name imports, in one of the isles of Greece. Eleven others successively crossed the line, thus intimating their willingness to abide the fortunes of their leader for good or for evil.
6. Fame, to quote the enthusiastic language of an ancient chronicler, has commemorated the names of this little band, “who thus, in the face of difficulties unexampled in history, with death rather than riches for their reward, preferred it all to abandoning their honor, and stood firm by their leader as an example of loyalty to future ages."
7. But the act excited no such admiration in the mind of Tafur, who looked on it as one of gross disobedience to the commands of the governor, and as little better than madness, involving the certain destruction of the parties engaged in it. He refused to give his sanction to it himself by leaving one of his vessels with the adventurers to prosecute their voyage, and it was with great difficulty that he could be persuaded even to allow them a part of the stores which he had brought
for their support. This had no influence on their determination, and the little party, bidding adieu to their returning comrades, remained unshaken in their purpose of abiding the fortunes of their commander.
8. There is something striking to the imagination in the spectacle of these few brave spirits, thus consecrating themselves to a daring enterprise, which seemed as far above their strength as any recorded in the fabulous annals of knight-errantry. A handful of men without food, without clothing, almost without arms, without knowledge of the land to which they were bound, without vessel to transport them, were here left on a lonely rock in the ocean with the avowed purpose of carrying on a crusade against a powerful empire, staking their lives on its success. What is there in the legends of chivalry that surpasses it?
9. This was the crisis of Pizarro's fate. There are moments in the lives of men, which, as they are seized or neglected, decide their future destiny. Had Pizarro faltered from his strong purpose, and yielded to the occasion, now so temptingly offered, for extricating himself and his broken band from their desperate position, his name would have been buried with his fortunes, and the conquest of Peru would have been left for other and more successful adventurers. But his constancy was equal to the occasion, and his conduct here proved him competent to the perilous post he had assumed, and inspired others with a confidence in him which was the best assurance of success.
W. H. PRESCOTT.
LXIII. — LIFE IN THE NEW SETTLEMENTS.
1. The early Catholic emigrants, in common with their brethren of other denominations, had to endure many privations and hardships. As we may well conceive, there were few luxuries to be found in the wilderness, in the midst of which they had fixed their new habitations. They often suffered even for the most indispensable necessaries of life. To obtain salt, they had to travel many miles to the licks, through a country infested with savages; and they were often obliged to remain there for several days, until they could procure a supply. .
2. There were then no regular roads in Kentucky. The forests were filled with a luxuriant undergrowth, thickly interspersed with the cane, and the whole closely interlaced with the wild pea-vine. These circumstances rendered them nearly impassable; and almost the only chance of effecting a passage through this vegetable wilderness, was by following the paths or traces made by the herds of buffalo and other wild beasts. Luckily these traces were numerous, especially in the vicinity of the licks, which the buffalo were in the habit of frequenting, to drink the salt water, or lick the earth impregnated with salt.
3. The new colonists resided in log-cabins, rudely constructed, with no glass in the windows, with floors of dirt, or, in the better sort of dwellings, of puncheons of split timber, roughly hewed with the axe. After they had worn out the clothing brought with them from the old settlements, both men and women were under the necessity of wearing buckskin or homespun apparel. Such a thing as a store was not known in Kentucky for many years: and the names of broadcloth, ginghams, and calicoes, were never even so much as breathed. Moccasins made of buckskin supplied the place of our modern shoes ; blankets thrown over the shoulder answered the purpose of our present fashionable coats and cloaks; and handkerchiefs tied around the head served instead of hats and bonnets. A modern fashionable bonnet would have been a matter of real wonderment in those days of unaffected simplicity.
4. The furniture of the cabins was of the same primitive character. Stools were used instead of chairs; the table was made of slabs of timber, rudely put together. Wooden vessels and platters supplied the place of our modern plates and chinaware; and a “ tin cup was an article of delicate furniture, almost as rare as an ironfork." The beds were either placed on the floor, or on bedsteads of puncheons, supported by forked pieces of timber, driven into the ground, or resting on pins let into auger-holes in the sides of the cabin. Blankets, and bear and buffalo skins, constituted often the principal bed-covering
5. One of the chief resources for food was the chase. All kinds of game were then very abundant; and when the hunter chanced to have a goodly supply of ammunition, his fortune was made for the year. The game was plainly dressed, and served up on wooden platters, with corn-bread, and the Indian dish — the well-known hom