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interesting part of the expedition we have set out to describe; but, as it is a side issue, we must deal with it very briefly. Launched on the mighty and unknown river, in a rudely built barque, it is a marvel that the voyagers escaped shipwreck in the descent of that vast stream, the navigation being too difficult and perilous, as we are told by Condamine, who descended it in 1743, to be undertaken without the aid of a skilful pilot. Yet the daring Spaniards accomplished it safely. Many times their vessel narrowly escaped being dashed to pieces on the rocks or in the rapids of the stream. Still greater was the danger of the voyagers from the warlike forest tribes, who followed them for miles in canoes and fiercely attacked them whenever they landed in search of food.
At length the extraordinary voyage was safely completed, and the brigantine, built on the Napo, several thousand miles in the interior, emerged on the Atlantic. Here Orellana proceeded to the island of Cubagna, from which he made his way, with his companions, to Spain. He had a wonderful story to tell, of nations of Amazons dwelling on the banks of the great river, of an El Dorado said to exist in its vicinity, and other romances, gathered from the uncertain stories of the savages.
He found no difficulty, in that age of marvels and credulity, in gaining belief, and was sent out at the head of five hundred followers to conquer and colonize the realms he had seen. But he died on the outward voyage, and Spain got no profit from his
discovery, the lands of the Amazon falling within the territory assigned by the Pope to Portugal.
Orellana had accomplished one of the greatest feats in the annals of travel and discovery, though his glory was won at the cost of the crime of deserting his companions in the depths of the untrodden wilderness. It was with horror and indignation that the deserted soldiers listened to the story of Vargas, and found themselves deprived of their only apparent means of escape from that terrible situation. An effort was made to continue their journey along the banks of the Amazon, but after some days of wearying toil, this was given up as a hopeless task, and despair settled down upon their souls.
Gonzalo Pizarro now showed himself an able leader. He told his despairing followers that it was useless to advance farther, and that they could not stay where they were, their only hope lying in a return to Quito. This was more than a thousand miles away, and over a year had passed since they left it. To return was perilous, but in it lay their only hope.
Gonzalo did all he could to reanimate their spirits, speaking of the constancy they had shown, and bidding them to show themselves worthy of the name of Castilians. Glory would be theirs when they should reach their native land. He would lead them back another route, and somewhere on it they would surely reach that fruitful land of which so much had been told them. At any rate,
every step would take them nearer home, and nothing else was left them to do.
The soldiers listened to him with renewed hope. He had proved himself so far a true companion, sharing all their perils and privations, taking his lot with the humblest among them, aiding the sick and cheering up the despondent. In this way he had won their fullest confidence and devotion, and in this trying moment he reaped the benefit of his unselfish conduct.
The journey back was more direct and less difficult than that they had already taken. Yet though this route proved an easier one, their distress was greater than ever, from their lack of food beyond such scanty fare as they could pick up in the forest or obtain by force or otherwise from the Indians. Such as sickened and fell by the way were obliged to be left behind, and many a poor wretch was deserted to die alone in the wilderness, if not devoured by the wild beasts that roamed through it.
The homeward march, like the outward one, took more than a year, and it was in June, 1542, that the survivors trod again the high plains of Quito. They were a very different looking party from the well-equipped and hope-inspired troop of cavaliers and men-at-arms who had left that upland city nearly two and a half years before. Their horses were gone, their bright arms were rusted and broken, their clothing was replaced by the skins of wild beasts, their hair hung long and matted down their shoulders, their faces were blackened by the
tropical sun, their bodies were wasted and scarred. A gallant troop they had set out; a body of meagre phantoms they returned. Of the four thousand Indians taken, less than half had survived. Of the Spaniards only eighty came back, and these so worn and broken that many of them never fully recovered from their sufferings. Thus in suffering and woe ended the famous expedition to the Land of Cinnamon.
CORONADO AND THE SEVEN
CITIES OF CIBOLA.
THE remarkable success of Cortez and Pizarro in Mexico and Peru went far to convince the Spaniards that in America they had found a veritable land of magic, filled with wonders and supremely rich in gold and gems. Ponce de Leon sought in Florida for the fabled Fountain of Youth. Hernando de Soto, one of the companions of Pizarro, attempted to find a second Peru in the north, and became the discoverer of the Mississippi. From Mexico other adventurers set out, with equal hopes, in search of empire and treasure. Some went south to the conquest of Central America, others north to California and New Mexico. The latter region was the seat of the fancied Seven Cities of Cibola, the search for which it is here proposed to describe.
In 1538 Francisco Vasquez de Coronado was appointed governor of New Galacia, as the country lying north of Mexico was named, and sent out a certain Fray Marcos, a monk who had been with Pizarro in Peru, on a journey of exploration to the north. With him were some Indian guides and a negro named Estevanico, or Stephen, who had been one of the survivors of the Narvaez expedition to Florida and had travelled for years among the Indians of the north. He was expected to be of