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1497

The Story of America's Name.

49

bers of which lay about, some dead, some alive, some roasting on the coals. Vespucius did not know what they were, and describes them as “serpents about the size of a kid, with hard, filthy skins, dog snouts, and long, coarse feet armed with large nails.”

At length the natives grew less timid, and finally welcomed the discoverer, and treated him so hospitably that he remained nearly a fortnight, visiting their inland villages and picking up all the information he could. When he returned, hundreds of the people followed him to the shore, and even insisted upon going aboard his ship.

As they climbed over the gunwales and swarmed about the decks, suddenly Vespucius gave the signal to have the cannon fired. The artillery thundered forth its smoke, and in a second every one of the red-skinned crowd dived into the water like frogs off a log. Reassuring them, at length, by explanations, the admiral completely won the confidence of this peaceful tribe, and when parting-time came, they exchanged presents with him. From this place he sailed north-west, exploring the coast, and finally put into the bay of Cumana, Venezuela, where he remained thirty-seven days, making inland journeys and getting acquainted with the natives.

These entertained prodigious notions of the white man's power and prowess, and, when Vespucius began to talk of going away, begged him as a favor to punish their enemies, who lived, they said, on an island in the sea, and every year came and killed and ate a great many of their tribe. The navigator promised to avenge their wrongs, at which they were much pleased, and offered to accompany him on the expedition, but he refused to take more than seven of them.

When Vespucius arrived at the island, the warlike cannibals came down to the shore in battle array, carrying bows, arrows, lances, and clubs, and were painted and feathered in true Indian style. A severe fight followed. . At first the Spaniards got no advantage, for the savages pressed them so closely that they could not use their swords. At last the edge of Castilian steel sent the naked foe scampering back to the woods and mountains.

Vespucius tried to make friends with these cannibals, but that was out of the question now. Their voice was still for war, and the admiral finally determined to give them enough of it. He fought them two days, took two hundred and fifty of them prisoners, burned their town, and sailed away.

On the 15th of October, 1498, Vespucius was back in Cadiz, whence he started. His two hundred and fifty cannibal prisoners he sold for slaves, justifying the act, according to the morality of his times, on the ground that they were enemies taken in war.

This is the voyage in which the discovery of America was made which gave it its name.

CHAPTER III.

SEEKING HOMES IN THE NEW LAND.

In comparison with the great empires of the East, America's history begins at a very recent date. Yet if we note the events of that history in connection with English history, we seem to be carried far back into the past. It was during the reign of Henry VII. of England that America was discovered, that Acadia was first seen by the Cabots, that Americus Vespucius made the famous voyage that gave to the western world its name. It was during the reign of Henry VIII. that Florida was visited by Ponce de Leon (1512), that the Pacific Ocean was discovered by Balboa (1513), that Cortez beheld the shining cities of the Aztecs and captured Montezuma (1521), that Cartier gazed on the St. Lawrence, and De Soto on the Mississippi. It was during the reign of Elizabeth that Sir Walter Raleigh made his expeditions, that Gosnold discovered Cape Cod (1602), that Quebec was founded by

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HENRY VIII.

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