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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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Posts: 4699

« Reply #120 on: January 27, 2009, 11:47:00 pm »

"Then leave me here with my men," said Luis. He had brought with him five servants, mostly veterans, from his own estate in Spain.

A fierce discussion ended in Luis obtaining his wish, and being left for a fortnight of exploration; his kinsman promising to come for him again at the mouth of the river St. John. The men left on shore were themselves past middle age, and the more eager for their quest. They climbed a hill and watched the brigantines disappear in the distance; then set up a cross, which they had brought with them, and prayed before it bareheaded.

Sending the youngest of his men up to the top of a tree, Luis learned from him that they were on an island, after all, and this cheered him much, as making it more likely that they should find the Fountain of Youth. He saw that the ground was pawed up, as if in a cattle-range and that there was a path leading to huts. Taking this path, they met fifty Indian bowmen, who, whether large or not, seemed to them like giants. The Spaniards gave them beads and hawk-bells, and each received in return an arrow, as a token

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of friendship. The Indians promised them food in the morning, and brought fish, roots, and pure water; and finding them chilly from the coldness of the night, carried them in their arms to their homes, first making four or five large fires on the way. At the houses there were many fires, and the Spaniards would have been wholly comfortable, had they not thought it just possible that they were to be offered as a sacrifice. Still fearing this, they left their Indian friends after a few days and traversed the country, stopping at every spring or fountain to test its quality. Alas! they all grew older and more worn in look, as time went on, and farther from the Fountain of Youth.

After a time they came upon new tribes of Indians, and as they went farther from the coast these people seemed more and more friendly. They treated the white men as if come from heaven,--brought them food, made them houses, carried every burden for them. Some had bows, and went upon the hills for deer, and brought half a dozen every night for their guests; others killed hares and rabbits by arranging themselves in a circle and striking down the game with billets of wood as

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it ran from one to another through the woods. All this game was brought to the visitors to be breathed upon and blessed, and when this had to be done for several hundred people it became troublesome. The women also brought wild fruit, and would eat nothing till the guests had seen and touched it. If the visitors seemed offended, the natives were terrified, and apparently thought that they should die unless they had the favor of these wise and good men. Farther on, people did not come out into the paths to gather round them, as the first had done, but stayed meekly in their houses, sitting with their faces turned to the wall, and with their property heaped in the middle of the room. From these people the travellers received many valuable skins, and other gifts. Wherever there was a fountain, the natives readily showed it, but apparently knew nothing of any miraculous gift; yet they themselves were in such fine physical condition, and seemed so young and so active, that it was as if they had already bathed in some magic spring. They had wonderful endurance of heat and cold, and

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