Page images

erected by him she loved, she paused and leaned far over the side of the vessel. The glad waves leaped upward as if eager to kiss her heated brow, and the gentle breeze played with her hair. She carefully put back those silken tresses, and, raising her eyes to God, murmured in her tenderest accents: . “Thou great, divine Ruler, forgive me. It is

better thus! I could not endure it; this jealous madness would destroy my soul and his happiness. I cannot see him caressed by another, him, whom I was so foolish as to believe all my own. How calm and peaceful those waters look! how inviting, O placid sea, are your dimpled waves! When they roll above the troubled

breast of poor Christoval, then will she be at peace. Estevan, earth, sky, moon and stars, a last farewell!”

The helmsman heard a splash, and, looking out across the side of the vessel, he saw a ripple in the waves fast drifting astern. There was no cry, no struggle, and, supposing it but the splash of a playful dolphin, he made no investigation of the incident. The craft sped merrily on, while the beautiful daughter of Vasco Nuñez de Balboa sank beneath the waves forever.





ONCE more to St. Jago we must invite the reader. A brigantine has entered the peaceful harbor and dropped anchor. There are few demonstrations of joy as the battle-scarred, gray-visaged veterans land and make their way from the seashore to the town. Their haggard visages and weather-beaten features tell a frightful story of suffering and hardships in the wilderness. The news had reached Cuba of the death and strange burial of De Soto. Wild stories had been borne on the breeze, as it were, of battles with all manner and form of man and beast in the wilderness. Tales of suffering and heroic devotion, which would have harrowed the soul of the bravest and brought tears to the eyes of the strongest, were recounted.

One of these strange stories which soon became current, not only in New Spain, but all over the civilized world, was the narrative of a young Indian boy named Nicosia, who was strangely attached to Estevan, one of De Soto's favorite officers. Those who had known the quiet youth never tired relating nis heroism and devotion to the man whom he loved, and how he had often saved his life at the risk of his own. The story-tellers went on to relate that one night on the voyage across the gulf, Nicosia mysteriously fell overboard and perished. The captain over whom he had so long been a guardian angel knew nothing of his death until next morning, when he wrung his hands in the bitterness of his grief and wept for the lost one. That was all. Nicosia's secret was securely kept, and no one ever thought of connecting the lost Indian boy with Christoval Balboa.

Estevan was one of the crew of the brigantine. As he ascended the hill, he seemed a score of years older than when, four years before, he bade adieu to wife and relatives, to depart with the governor to the subjugation of Florida. A settled melancholy had come over his face, and he felt as one who knew that his race had been run, as one whose life had been clouded with some deep sorrow. He had but just landed, and, as yet, had heard nothing from home. He knew not who would greet him in that beautiful mansion where he had left his loved ones.

Tidings of the arrival of the returned explorers spread like wildfire through the town soon after their disembarkation, and people everywhere turned

out to gaze upon the wildly-clad, half-starved survivors, as they wandered about the streets in quest of friends and relatives whom they once had known. Estevan had passed the limits of the little city when he met the first face familiar to him. It was his brother Philip, now grown to a great, stout man.

He called to him; but it was several moments before Philip could recognize in the sun-browned, battle-hardened, weather-beaten veteran, the handsome brother of a few years ago.

“Brother! Christopher!” Philip cried at last, rushing to his brother and clasping him in his arms.

“Does mother live?” he asked as soon as he could command his voice.


“I must see her at once, brother—only to bid her adieu, however, for I must hasten to Panama.”

Philip gazed at him for a moment with a look of sorrow and amazement. He began to say something, to interpose some objection to his brother returning only to take his leave, when Estevan put an end to it all by commanding him to lead the way to his mother at once. Philip went before him, and, on reaching the portals of the oldfashioned Spanish house, called to his mother who was within, and announced the welcome news, the arrival of his brother.

“Christopher! Christopher!” cried a matronly

« PreviousContinue »