« EelmineJätka »
What was to become of them should their provisions fail ?
Their ships were too weak and defective even for the great voyage they had already made, but if they were still to press forward, adding at every moment to the immense expanse behind them, how should they ever be able to return, having no intervening port where they might victual and refit?
They had already penetrated unknown seas, untraversed by a sail, far beyond where man had ever before ventured. They had done enough to gain for themselves a character for courage and hardihood in undertaking such an enterprise, and persisting in it so far. How much farther were they to go in search of a merely conjectured land ? Were they to sail on until they perished, or until all return became impossible? In such case they would be the authors of their own destruction.
Columbus was not ignorant of the mutinous disposition of his crew, but he still maintained a serene and steady countenance, soothing some with gentle words, endeavoring to stimulate the pride or avarice of others, and openly menacing the refractory with signal punishment should they do any thing to impede the voyage.
On the 25th of September, the wind again became favorable, and they were able to resume their course directly to the west. While Columbus, his pilot, and several of his experienced mariners were studying
map, and endeavoring to make out from it their actual position, they heard shout from the Pinta, and looking up beheld Martin Alonzo Pinzon mounted on the stem of his vessel, crying, “Land! Land! Señor, I claim my reward !" He
pointed at the same time to the south-west, where there was indeed an appearance of land in the distance. Upon this, Columbus threw himself upon his knees, and returned thanks to God.
The seamen now mounted to the mast-head, or climbed about the rigging, straining their eyes in the direction pointed out. The conviction became so general of land in that quarter, and the joy of the people so ungovernable, that Columbus found it necessary to vary from his usual course, and stand all night to the south-west.
The morning light however put an end to their hopes, as to a dream. The fancied land proved to be nothing but an evening cloud, and had vanished in the night. With dejected hearts they once more resumed their western course, from which Columbus would never have varied but in compliance with their clamorous wishes.
For several days they continued on with the same favorable breeze, tranquil sea, and mild, delightful weather. The water was so calm that the sailors amused themselves with swimming about the vessel. Dolphins began to abound, and flyingfish, darting into the air, fell upon the decks. The continued signs of land diverted the attention of the crews, and insensibly allured them onward.
On the 1st of October, according to the reckoning of the pilot of the admiral's ship, they had come five hundred and eighty leagues west since leaving the Canary Islands. On the following day the weeds floated from east to west, and
on the third day no birds were to be seen.
The crews now began to fear that they had passed between islands, from one to the other of which the birds had been flying. Columbus had also some doubts of the kind, but refused to alter his westward course. The people again uttered menaces and murmurs, but on the following day they were visited by such flights of birds and the various indications of land became so numerous, that from a state of despondency they passed to one of confident expectation.
Notes. - Christopher Columbus (1436-1506), the discoverer of America, was a native of Gěn'oa, Italy. He early developed a taste for geography and astronomy, and afterward became a sailor. His idea that there must be a passage to India by following a westerly course across the ocean finally found credence with the King and Queen of Spain, and they assisted him to make his remarkable voyage in 1492, which resulted in the discovery of America, and made his name famous. The ingratitude of kings is shown in the fact that Columbus was allowed to die in abject poverty.
Măr a vē' dias,old Spanish coins of very small value; 10,000 maravedies of silver would be equal to about $35.
On the morning of the 7th of October, at sunrise, several of the admiral's crew thought that they beheld land in the west, but so indistinctly that no one ventured to proclaim it. The Niña, however,
being a good sailer, pressed forward to ascertain the fact. In a little while a flag was hoisted at her mast-head, and a gun discharged, these being the preconcerted signals for land.
New joy was awakened throughout the little squadron, and every eye was turned to the west. As they advanced, however, their cloud-built hopes faded away, and before evening the fancied land had again melted into air. The crew
now sank into a state of dejection proportioned to their recent excitement; but
circumstances occurred to arouse them.
Columbus having observed great flights of small field birds going toward the south-west, concluded they must be secure of some neighboring land, where they would find food and a resting place. He knew the importance which the Portuguese voyagers attached to the flight of birds, by following which they had discovered most of their islands. He determined therefore n the evening of the 7th of October, to alter his course to the west-south-west, the direction in which the birds generally flew.
For three days they stood in this direction, and the farther they went the more frequent and encouraging were the signs of land. Flights of small birds of various colors, some of them such as sing in the fields, came flying about the ships, and then continued toward the south-west, and others were heard flying by in the night. Tunnies played about in the smooth sea, and a heron, a pelican, and a duck were seen, all bound in the same direction.
All these, however, were regarded by the crew as so many delusions beguiling them on to destruc
tion; and when, on the evening of the third day, they beheld the sun go down upon a shoreless horizon, they broke forth into turbulent clamor. They insisted upon returning home, and abandoning the voyage as hopeless.
Columbus endeavored to pacify them by gentle words and promises of large rewards; but finding that they only increased in clamor, he assumed a decided tone. He told them it was useless to murmur; the expedition had been sent by the sovereigns to seek the Indies, and, happen what might, he
determined to persevere, until, by the blessing of God, he should accomplish the enterprise.
Columbus was now at open defiance with his crew, and his situation became desperate. Fortunately the manifestations of the vicinity of land were such on the following day as no longer to admit of doubt. Besides a quantity of fresh weeds, such as grow in rivers, they saw a green fish of a kind which keeps about rocks; then a branch of thorn with berries on it, and recently separated from the tree, floated by them; then they picked up a reed, a small board, and, above all, a staff artificially carved.
All gloom and mutiny now gave way to sanguine expectation; and throughout the day each one was eagerly on the watch, in hopes of being the one to discover the long-sought-for land. The breezes had been fresh all day, with more sea than usual, and they had made great progress.
At sunset they had stood again to the west, and were plowing the waves at a rapid rate, the Pinta keeping the lead from her superior sailing.