Page images

“ The matchlocks in the air! We are overwhelmed with a powerful army!”

[graphic][subsumed][merged small]

Narvaez heard the cry, but fought with un. daunted courage. Estevan and Sandoval gained the

platform and engaged the foes in a hand-to-hand fight. The standard-bearer of Varvaez was run throngh and feil dead at his feet. Varvaez received several wounds, for his short sword was no match against the long pikes of his assailants. At last Esteran, aiming a thrust at his face, drove his pike through the bars of his visor and into the left eye of the unhappy cavalier, destroying the sight of it forever.

“Santa Maria! I am slain!" cried Narvaez.

“Victory!" shouted the followers of Cortez, and the battle was over.

Next morning, Narvaez, Salvatierra, and two or three more of the leaders were brought before Cortez in chains. It was a moment of deep humiliation for the former commander, in which the anguish of body, keen as it was, was forgotten in that of the spirit.

“You have great reason, Señor Cortez," said the discomfited knight, “to thank fortune for having given you the day so easily, and put me in your power.”

“I have much to be thankful for,” the general answered; “but as for my victory over you, I esteem it as one of the least of my achievements since coming into this country.” He then ordered the wounds of the prisoners to be cared for, and sent them under a strong guard to Vera Cruz.



YOUNG Estevan and his mother still lived at St. Jago, though the father, having excited the hatred of the governor, dared not return. There were few opportunities for acquiring an education in the New World at this period. Learning was immured in the cloister, and convents were the schools. The priest, in the New World, was a missionary rather than a professor. Las Casas had undertaken to teach the lad some of the principles of grammar, reading and writing; but it was the great desire of his mother that he might be educated at Salamanca in Spain.

One other member of the household we must not forget; it is little Christoval, the child of Balboa. She grew more beautiful and winning every year, developing from childhood to maidenhood, fulfilling every promise of beauty and grace. Her large, dark eyes had about them a sad and drooping expression peculiar to tropical beauties. She was seldom known to smile, save when in Christopher's presence, and she was often known to heave bitter sighs when he was away.

Though he had grown to be a big, stout lad, and she was a coy little maiden, they still wandered about the beach as of yore, hand in hand. One day they had gone to their favorite stone and seated themselves to listen to the wash of waves upon the sands.

“Has it ever occurred to you, Christoval,” he asked, “that we are almost grown?”

“No," she answered uneasily.

“I will soon be a man and you a woman. We can no longer wander in the woods in search of wild flowers and birds' nests, nor pick up shells on the sea-shore, nor play with toys and swings, for more serious thoughts must henceforth occupy our minds. There are great things in store for both

[ocr errors]

“What are you going to do?" she asked, fixing her great, sad eyes on him.

“My plans in life are not fully laid. I want to go to Mexico, but mother has other views.

“What are they?"
“She wants to send me to Spain.”

“Far, far away across the seas to the land from whence my father came?”

The girl's hands were clasped and there was a

slight convulsive twitching of the fingers, but by no other means did she evince the agony she suffered.

“Don't you want me to go ?” he asked.

For a moment she was strangely silent; then, in the mellow tone of her mother's people, she answered.

“I don't know.”
“You will be very lonely, Christoval?"

“Yes, but what is the Indian girl, that you should be mindful of her? Are not the hearts of all my race breaking ?”

“You are also a Spanish girl.”

“Nevertheless they would have made a slave of me, had you not rescued me from the bloodhounds. Perhaps, when you are gone away, they may even yet make a slave of me.”

Laughing at her fears, Christopher assured her that there was no further danger. But the sad fate of her mother's race was enough to make Christoval sad, despite his assurances. Tens of thousands of her mother's unfortunate people had yielded to slavery's blighting effects and had gone to that mysterious land from whence there is no return. Could voices come back from that echoless shore, the wailing of wronged spirits would forever disturb the sleep of their Spanish butchers.

A gentle breeze blew over the sea, toying with

« PreviousContinue »