« PrécédentContinuer »
"in the apparel of Spain" told them in their own tongue that there was a Christian town fifteei/ leagues inland; "they felt as though life had been newly given them; many, leaping on shore, kissed the ground; and, all on bended knees, with hands raised above them, and their eyes to heaven, remained untiring in giving thanks to God." Weatherbeaten and toil-worn, they entered the town, each man clad in deerskins "dressed and dyed black" and carrying his pack on his back; and all went directly to the church to return thanks for their preservation and to take part "in the divine offices which for a long season had not been listened to by them." The three hundred and ten men were warmly received by their countrymen and treated to the best the country provided.
In October, that Maldonado who had waited in vain at Pensacola Bay to deliver to Don Hernando Dona Isabel's letters and had twice since sought for him along the Florida coast, arrived at Vera Cruz. And he bore back to Cuba the news of Don Hernando's fate. When Dona Isabel learned of her husband's death she withered under the blow and died within a few days. And there was no man now in the Spanish islands who desired to tempt heaven in the barren land of Florida.
COKONADO, CABRILLO, AND VIZCAINO
Meanwhile other Spanish explorers were trying to pierce the Northern Mystery by way of the Pacific slope.
West as well as east, and somewhere in the north, must lie the waters of the Strait of Anian,: that direct passage from the Atlantic to China, if indeed the northwestern territory did not actually abut on Asia. So reasoned the Spanish dons. To the northwest, some said, was an island inhabited solely by giantesque Amazons. Inland were the Seven Cities, situated on a great height. Their doors were studded with turquoises, as if feathers from the wings of the blue sky had dropped and clung there. Within those jeweled cities were whole streets of goldsmiths, so great was the store of shining metal to be worked.
Indians were ever great story-tellers, delighting to weave the tales most pleasant to their hearers. It was an Indian slave of Nufio de Guzman who regaled that credulous official of New Spain with fanciful description of the Pueblo towns of New Mexico. The myth led Guzman north, to the ruthless conquest of Sinaloa and the founding of Culiacan, still the capital city of that Mexican state.
Then, in 1535, came Antonio de Mendoza from i Old Spain to be the first Viceroy of New Spain. Mendoza had soon set his heart on the acquisition of those Seven Cities. The arrival of Vaca and I / his companions in the City of .Mexico, out of the
— — ,—
mysterious north, in July, 1536, added fuel to Mendoza's desires. An expedition must be fitted out immediately, to be led by Vaca's companion Dorantes — since Vaca himself was resolved to go to Spain. This plan came to nothing for the time 'being, but Vaca left the Moor Estevanico to serve Mendoza.
Three years passed before Mendoza could prepare another expedition. Francisco Vasquez de Coronado was then (1539) made Governor of New Galicia and military head of the force designed to spread the power of Spain northward. To the Franciscan Fray Marcos de Niza was given the spiritual leadership of the expedition. Fray Marcos had already seen strenuous service, for he had been with Pizarro in the conquest of Peru. He had also written several works about the country. He had high acquirements in theology, cosmography, and navigation; and he was a hardy traveler, having tramped from Guatemala to Mexico.
To Culiacan Fray Marcos and Coronado journeyed in company. Coronado there halted to establish his authority over the outposts of New Galicia. Fray Marcos, with the Moor Estevanico, some Mexican Indians, and a few other natives who had come with Vaca's little band to Mexico, went on. Estevanico, having wandered through parts of the northern land with Vaca, was relied upon not alone to guide the friars but to insure the friendship of the Indians.
At Vacapa, somewhere in Sonora, Fray Marcos paused and, "on Passion Sunday after dinner," sent Estevanico ahead to learn what he could. Should Estevanico hear tidings of but a fair country he was to send to the friar a small cross; for great tidings, a cross "two handfuls long"; and, should he discover a country richer than Mexico, he was to send a great cross. Imagine the pleasureable agitation in the friar's breast, when, four days later, some of the Indians who had gone with the Moor came in bearing a cross "as high as a man " and a message urging Fray Marcos to follow at once. Estevanico had found a new people, who had told him of "the greatest thing in the world." He was now at a town but thirty days' journey from the turquoise doors of the Seven Cities which, he had learned, were called Cibola; and beyond Cibola there were other rich provinces, each one of which was "a much greater matter than those seven cities." So, as ever in these tales, the splendor within reach was already dimmed by the splendor beyond! To Cibola,1 therefore, the friar set out on the second day after Easter.
He is supposed to have gone directly north up the Sonora valley, though it may have been the Yaqui valley. As he went, from time to time he planted crosses; for "it appeared to me suitable from here on to perform acts of possession." He heard from the Indians on his route more details of Cibola and of the cities beyond. And he was much surprised to learn that the natives of those
1 Cibola is believed to be a Spanish form of the word Shivrina, by which the Zuni called their tribal range. The Spaniards later called the buffalo Cibola. It is customary for writers to state that Guzman and Fray Marcos set out to find the Seven Cities of Cibola, but it was not till Estevanico sent back his report that the name Cibola was known to the Spaniards.