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admirably depicted the scene, though, by a strange error, giving the credit to Cortez instead of Balboa:
" Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
He stared at the Pacific and all his men
Silent, upon a peak in Darien."
Twelve men were sent on in advance to seek the easiest and shortest path to the sea, one of them a man destined to become still more famous than Balboa,-Francisco Pizarro, the future conqueror of Peru. Reaching the shore, they found on it two stranded canoes, into which stepped two of the men, Blaze de Atienza and Alousa Martine, calling on their comrades to witness that they were the first to embark on that sea.
For three days the remaining men waited advices from their pioneers, and then followed the guides sent them to the shore, Balboa, armed with his sword and buckler, rushing into the water to his middle, and claiming possession of that vast sea and all its shores in the name of his king, for whom he pledged himself to defend it against all comers.
Such was the discovery of the great South Sea, as Balboa named it, the Pacific Ocean, as Magellan soon after called it. The people of the coast told the Spaniards of a rich and mighty kingdom that lay to the south, and whose people had tame
animals to carry their burdens. The form of these they drew on the sand, their long necks convincing Balboa that they were camels, and that the land indicated must be Asia. They really represented the llama of Peru, an animal resembling the camel in form.
After remaining for some time on the coast, gathering all the information he could obtain, Balboa led his travel-worn men back to Darien, resolved to return with a stronger force next year and seek that distant land of gold. But this exploit was left for Pizarro, one of the ablest and bravest of the men who took part in this pioneer expedition.
It was the 18th of January, 1514, when the adventurers reached their starting-point at Santa Maria, when the people heard of his discovery with the utmost joy. Messengers were at once sent to Spain, with an account of the remarkable exploit, which was received with an enthusiasm little. less than had been the news of the discovery of the New World. If Columbus had discovered a new land, Balboa had matched it with the discovery of a new ocean, added to which was the story of a land of gold, for whose conquest Balboa asked for a reinforcement of a thousand men.
Unfortunate as Columbus had been, the new discovery was destined to still greater ill-fortune, as we shall soon see. Before his messengers reached Spain a new governor, Pedrarias de Avila, had been appointed and had set sail, with fifteen ves
sels and fifteen hundred men. Balboa had nearly five hundred men under bis command, but he at once submitted to the decision of his king and accepted Pedrarias as his superior. The fifteen hundred new men landed in that pestilential climate, in the unhealthy season, paid bitterly for their imprudence. A violent disease attacked them; scarcity of provisions made it worse; and within a month more than six hundred of them had died, while others hastened away from that noxious spot.
At length news came that the king fully appreciated the splendid discovery of Balboa ; letters of high praise were received, and he was appointed Adelantado, or admiral of the South Sea, Pedrarias being ordered to support him in all his operations. The rivals now became reconciled, their union being made firmer by Pedrarias giving his daughter in marriage to Balboa.
The adventurer now began active preparations for an exploration of the South Sea, materials for ship-building being conveyed, with the greatest labor, across the isthmus, and two brigantines constructed. There was no lack of volunteers for the expedition, and the vessels were launched and sailed to the Pearl Islands, the inclement weather alone preventing them from going on to the coast of Peru.
Thus there seemed a great career opening before Balboa at the very moment when adverse fate was gathering darkly around him. Pedrarias had grown jealous of his daring exploits and the fame that seemed his coming meed, and, cherishing
treacherous designs, by a crafty message induced him to return to Acla, his new capital.
On arriving there, Balboa was at once seized by order of the governor, thrown into prison, and put on trial on a charge of disloyalty to the king and an intention to revolt against his superior. The judge was forced to condemn him to death, and the fatal sentence was at once carried into effect, the great discoverer being beheaded on the public square of Acla.
Thus, in blood and treachery, ended the career of one of the ablest of the bold adventurers of Spain.
THE ROMANTIC STORY OF THE
PRINCE OF TEZCUCO.
ABOUT a hundred years before the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs, there reigned over the kingdom of Tezcuco, in the valley of Mexico, a monarch whose history is as interesting and romantic as any that can be found in the annals of Europe. His story was preserved by his descendants, and its principal events are as follows :
The city of Tezcuco, the capital of the Acolhuans, stood on the eastern borders of the lake on whose opposite side was Mexico, the Aztec capital. About the year 1418 the Acolhuans were attacked by a kindred race, the Tepanecs, who, after a desperate struggle, captured their city, killed their monarch, and subjugated their kingdom. The heir to the crown, the young Prince Nezahualcoyotl, concealed himself in the foliage of a tree when the triumphant foe broke into the palace, and from his hiding-place saw his father killed before his eyes. This was the opening event in a history as full of deeds of daring and perilous escapes as that of the “Young Chevalier of English history.”
The young prince did not long remain at liberty. Soon after his flight from the city he fell into the hands of his foes, and was brought back and thrown into a dungeon. This led to the first romantic