« PrécédentContinuer »
attempts to reach Florida by land from Mexico, under a total misapprehension as to distance and direction. His plans consummated under the orders of Las Casas, Fray Luís went to Spain to urge the great project with the King. His petition was soon granted. When he returned to Mexico (1548) he had the royal authority to establish a mission at some point in Florida where Spaniards had not yet spilled native blood. In 1549 Fray Luís and his three companions sailed from Vera Cruz in an unarmed vessel. At Havana he took on board a converted native girl named Magdalena, who was to act as interpreter and guide. Perhaps it was almost impossible for the pilot to distinguish one inlet from another, with certainty, on that much indented coast line, where the low shore presents no variation to the eye for miles; for, instead of landing at a new point, the monks first touched Florida soil in the vicinity of Tampa Bay. And the natives about Tampa Bay were hostile with memories of De Soto. There were empty huts nearby and a background of forest in which it seemed nothing stirred. Fray Diego went ashore and climbed a tree at some distance from the beach. Immediately a score of Indians emerged from the forest. Fray Luís, despite the pilot's warnings, with Magdalena and an oblate named Fuentes, hurried after Diego, through water to their waists. “Our Lord knows what haste I made lest they should slay the monk before hearing what we were about,” Fray Luís writes. He paused to fall on his knees and pray for grace and divine help, ere he climbed the bank. Then he took out of his sleeves some of the trinkets he had brought; because, he writes, “deeds are love, and gifts shatter rocks.” After these gifts, the natives were willing that the friars and Magdalena should kneel among them reciting the litanies; and, to Fray Luís’s joy, they also knelt and appeared pleased with the prayers and the rosaries. They seemed so friendly, indeed, that Fray Luís permitted Fray Diego, Fuentes, and Magdalena to remain with them and to go on a day and a half's journey by land to a good harbor of which the Indians had told them. He and Fray Gregorio returned to the ship. It took the pilot eight days to find the new harbor and eight more to enter it. It was on the feast of Corpus Christi that the ship dropped anchor. Fray Luís and Fray Juan landed and said Mass. To their apprehension they saw no signs of Fray * Lowery, Spanish Settlements, p. 420.
Diego and Fuentes, nor of Indians. On the next day as they searched, an Indian came out of the woods carrying, in token of peace, a rod topped with white palm leaves; and he appeared to assure Fray Luís that Fray Diego and his companions were safe and would be brought to him. On the next day as Fray Luís, with Fray Juan and Fray Gregorio, rowed towards the shore the natives waded to meet them bringing fish and skins to trade for trinkets. One savage would take nothing but a little wooden cross which he kissed as he had seen the monks do — much to the delight of Fray Luís. If the pious monk's joy at this incident was dimmed a few moments later, when he waded inshore and discovered Magdalena naked among the tribeswomen, it kindled again at her assurance that Diego and Fuentes were safe in the cacique's house. How little truth was in her words Fray Luís learned when he returned to the ship. There he found a Spaniard, once a soldier of De Soto's army, who had been enslaved by the Indians of this tribe. This man informed him that the Indians had already slain Fray Diego and the oblate Fuentes; he had held Diego's scalp in his hands.
To pleas that he forsake his mission and sail away to safer shores, Fray Luís had but one answer. Where his comrades in the faith, acting under his orders, had fallen, there would he remain. Though storms prevented him from landing for two days, he refused to accept the assertions of his shipmates
- that the storms were sent by God to keep him from a death among savages. And, at last, through the lashing and roaring of sea and wind, he came again to shore. Armed natives painted for war could be seen grouped on the bank above the slope to the beach. “For the love of God wait a little; do not land,” Fray Gregorio entreated. But Fray Luís had already leaped into the water. He turned back once, on reaching the beach, but it was to call to Gregorio or Juan to bring to him a small cross he had forgotten. When Gregorio cried, “Father, for mercy's sake, will not your reverence come for it, as there is no one here who will take it to you,” Fray Luís went on towards the hill. At its foot he knelt in prayer for a few moments, then began the ascent. Midway the Indians closed about him, swinging their clubs. He cried out once, loudly, before their blows struck him down. Those in the boat heard his cry, and saw the savages clubbing and slashing at his body as they thrust it down the hill. Then a shower of
* Lowery, Spanish Settlements, p. 425.
arrows falling upon their boat made them pull away in haste to the ship. The next day the vessel set sail and, three weeks later, anchored off Vera Cruz.
Philip II had come to the throne the master of Europe. His father, Charles V, had been not only sovereign ruler of Spain, of the Netherlands, of Naples, of a part of central Italy, of Navarre, and Emperor of Germany by election, but he had hoped to become master of England also and to leave in his heir's hands a world all Spanish and all Catholic. Philip II inherited his father's power and his father’s dream. If his natural abilities were less, his obstinacy and his zeal were greater. He had seen the march of Spanish power not unattended by affronting incidents. In 1520 a monk named Luther had defied Philip's father, the Emperor, to his face. The Reformation was spreading. Huguenots were powerful in the domestic politics of France; and France was threatening Spain’s American possessions. Her fishermen had passed yearly in increasing numbers between the Banks of Newfoundland and their home ports. And a mariner of several cross-sea voyages, one Jacques Cartier, had discovered the St. Lawrence River and