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Tales of the Enchanted Islands of the Atlantic

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Author Topic: Tales of the Enchanted Islands of the Atlantic  (Read 4757 times)
Lisa Wolfe
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« Reply #120 on: January 27, 2009, 11:46:48 pm »

p. 220

XX
BIMINI AND THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH

When Juan Ponce de Leon set forth from Porto Rico, March 13, 1512, to seek the island of Bimini and its Fountain of Youth, he was moved by the love of adventure more than by that of juvenility, for he was then but about fifty, a time when a cavalier of his day thought himself but in his prime. He looked indeed with perpetual sorrow--as much of it as a Spaniard of those days could feel--upon his kinsman Luis Ponce, once a renowned warrior, but on whom age had already, at sixty-five, laid its hand in earnest. There was little in this slowly moving veteran to recall one who had shot through the lists at the tournament, and had advanced with his short sword at the bull fight,--who had ruled his vassals, and won the love of high-born women. It was a vain hope of restored youth

p. 221

which had brought Don Luis from Spain to Porto Rico four years before; and, when Ponce de Leon had subdued that island, his older kinsman was forever beseeching him to carry his flag farther, and not stop till he had reached Bimini, and sought the Fountain of Youth.

"For what end," he said, "should you stay here longer and lord it over these miserable natives? Let us go where we can bathe in those enchanted waters and be young once more. I need it, and you will need it ere long."

"How know we," said his kinsman, "that there is any such place?"

"All know it," said Luis. "Peter Martyr saith that there is in Bimini a continual spring of running water of such marvellous virtue that the water thereof, being drunk, perhaps with some diet, maketh old men young." And he adds that an Indian grievously oppressed with old age, moved with the fame of that fountain, and allured through the love of longer life, went to an island, near unto the country of Florida, to drink of the desired fountain, . . . and having well drunk and washed himself for many

p. 222

days with the appointed remedies, by them who kept the bath, he is reported to have brought home a manly strength, and to have used all manly exercises. "Let us therefore go thither," he cried, "and be like him."

They set sail with three brigantines and found without difficulty the island of Bimini among the Lucayos (or Bahamas) islands; but when they searched for the Fountain of Youth they were pointed farther westward to Florida, where there was said to be a river of the same magic powers, called the Jordan. Touching at many a fair island green with trees, and occupied by a gentle population till then undisturbed, it was not strange if, nearing the coast of Florida, both Juan Ponce de Leon and his more impatient cousin expected to find the Fountain of Youth.

They came at last to an inlet which led invitingly up among wooded banks and flowery valleys, and here the older knight said, "Let us disembark here and strike inland. My heart tells me that here at last will be found the Fountain of Youth." "Nonsense," said Juan, "our way lies by water."

p. 223

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