George M. (George Makepeace) Towle.

Pizarro : his adventures and conquests online

. (page 11 of 16)
Online LibraryGeorge M. (George Makepeace) TowlePizarro : his adventures and conquests → online text (page 11 of 16)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

high-roads, marched rapidly through the land as
far as a great town called Pachacamac, where he
found a splendid temple erected to a great Peru-
vian deity of the same name. Everywhere on the
way he was received with a friendly welcome that
amazed him. Sometimes the Peruvian villagers
would come out to meet him, singing and dancing,
and playing upon curious instruments ; sometimes
he found banquets already spread, with which to
regale him and his comrades. Nowhere was there
the least sign of hostility to his advance.

Arriving at Pachacamac, Hernando marched
straight to the great temple of which he had
heard so much ; and the simple natives trembled
with horror to see the Spaniards tramp boldly into
the sacred edifice, tear down the image of their
god, and shatter it to pieces on the pavement.
This Hernando did because he professed to be
horrified by the idolatry of the Peruvians, and
wished to show them how easily a Christian could
destroy their most dread deities.

Having found, to his sore disappointment, that
the treasures of Pachacamac, which had lured him


thither, had been hurriedly removed and hidden by
the priests, he resumed his march, and, crossing
the Cordilleras, reached another famous place,
called Xauxa.

On this march Hernando was more and more
amazed at every step to find how abundant were
gold and silver in Peru. While crossing the
mountains, some of the horses lost their shoes ;
and as Hernando found no iron, but plenty of
silver, he had silver shoes made for them.

He had scarcely arrived at Xauxa, which proved
to be a large and prosperous town, when he
heard that a great Peruvian general, named Chall-
cuchima, with no less than thirty-five thousand
men, was encamped a few miles distant. This
news was alarming ; but Hernando Pizarro was as
brave and bold as his brother, and he promptly
sent to the general, and asked him to visit him at
Xauxa. This Challcuchima did ; and so far from
thinking of attacking the Spaniards, even with his
large force, he allowed Hernando to persuade him
to return with him, and visit the captive sovereign
at Caxamalca.

Callcuchima was a noble, soldierly-looking old
man, with flowing white hair, and a stalwart, erect


frame. As he passed with Hernando Pizarro
along the broad high-road that led from Xauxa to
Caxamalca, borne on a high litter, and surrounded
by a numerous array of attendants, the simple
people crowded by the roadside, and greeted him
with the respect and awe due to his high military
rank. It was evident that he was one of the
chief men of Peru.

It seems strange that so powerful and brave a
general should consent to leave a force of thirty-
five thousand men, and submissively follow a mere
handful of Spaniards to a place where the captors
of his sovereign were in command. But it must
be remembered that all Peru was panic-stricken
by Pizarro's bold stratagem and miraculous suc-
cess. The people looked upon the Spaniards,
who had so easily overcome the Child of the
Sun, as beings more than human. Their terrible
weapons, their horses, those monsters upon which
they rode, appeared to prove that they were a
higher order of beings. This terror and fright
extended throughout the empire, and for a while
paralyzed all resistance.

The march back to Caxamalca * was made
rapidly and without obstacle. Hernando hastened


to tell his brother of the wonderful things he had
seen ; of the submission of the people every-
where ; of the shattering of the idol at Pachaca-
mac ; of the abundance of gold, silver, and gems
which he had found at every turn ; and of his
success in bringing Callcuchima, the ablest of the
Inca's generals, back with him.

The interview between the captive Inca and his
faithful old warrior was very touching. Before
entering the presence of his unhappy sovereign,
Callcuchima reverentially took off his shoes, un-
covered his gray head, and placed a bundle on his
back. Approaching the Inca, he prostrated him-
self on the ground, and humbly kissed the royal
feet and hands. Then raising his hands aloft, as
the tears streamed down his wrinkled cheeks, he
exclaimed with a sob,

" Ah, would that I had been here ! then this
great misfortune would never have happened."

The Inca, however, betrayed no emotion. He
greeted the old soldier calmly, and, after a brief
interview, dismissed him with a haughty wave of
his hand. This was the way in which he thought
it fitting to treat all, even the highest, of his sub-
jects ; and the fact of his being a captive in no


way altered either their abject obeisance or his
proud demeanor.

While Hernando was marching to Pachacamac
and back, Pizarro sent another expedition in a
different direction. All the treasure that Ata-
hualpa had promised had not arrived, and Pizarro
was resolved to lose no portion of the booty. So,
demanding of the Inca a safe-conduct, he de-
spatched three cavaliers, who were accompanied by
the Inca's brother, to Cuzco, the capital of Peru,
to hasten the sending forward of the ransom, and
to observe and report what they saw on the way
and in the city.

Soon after Hernando's arrival, these cavaliers
also returned. They had fully as marvellous a
tale to tell as Hernando. Thanks to the Inca's
orders to his people, they had everywhere been
received with honor and hospitality. The great
road to Cuzco they described as a wonder of en-
gineering science ; and they had been carried over
it, almost the entire way, a distance of six hun-
dred miles, in chairs on the shoulders of the
natives. They had passed through many large,
handsome, flourishing towns ; and on their arrival
at Cuzco they had been welcomed with feasts and


sports, and had been luxuriously lodged in a splen-
did palace. They described Cuzco in the most
glowing colors. They declared that the walls of
the Temple of the Sun were actually plated with
massive gold, and that they themselves had taken
from it no less than seven hundred golden plates.

These cavaliers, indeed, brought back from
Cuzco an immense quantity of gold and silver,
which they had taken, despite the feeble resist-
ance of the natives, from the temples and con-
vents. Their story, and the fresh evidences they
produced of the incalculable wealth of Peru, only
whetted the cupidity of the Spaniards the more,
and made them more than ever eager to complete
the conquest of the country.

Just about the time of the return of Hernando
and the cavaliers, an event occurred which was
destined to have a powerful influence on Pizarro's
future career in Peru.

Almagro, Pizarro's friend at Panama, had heard
rumors of his earlier successes, and had at last
managed to raise a force of a hundred and fifty
men. With these he hurriedly set sail from Pana-
ma, and after a stormy voyage, in which he and
his men were nearly lost, succeeded in reaching


the little colony of St. Michael, which, as we have
seen, Pizarro had planted. There he heard the
thrilling story of the Inca's defeat and capture.

This news rilled Almagro with impatience to
reach Caxamalca, and share Pizarro's splendid for-
tune. If the truth must be told, Almagro had
long suspected that Pizarro did not intend to give
him his due portion of the plunder and power of
the conquest. He feared that the commander's
real purpose was to reap all its fruits for himself ;
and for this doubt he seems to have had only too
good reason.

Pizarro was surprised, when, one day, his old
friend marched into Caxamalca at the head of a
hundred and fifty foot-soldiers and fifty cavalry-
men, the latter having joined him on the way.

Pizarro welcomed Almagro with a most cordial
greeting, and was delighted to see his little army
increased by so goodly a force of stalwart Span-
iards. It was whispered in his ear, indeed, that
Almagro had really come, not to aid him, but to
compel him to divide his authority and his treas-
ure. But Pizarro paid but little heed to this
warning ; and, establishing Almagro in the best
quarters Caxamalca afforded, he began at once


to concert with him plans for advancing to Cuzco,
and taking full possession of Peru.

A most pleasant task remained to be fulfilled
before they left Caxamalca. This was to divide
up the great mass of treasure which had been
collected as -the ransom of the Inca. Several of
the buildings in the great square were heaped up
and filled with this treasure. It consisted of a
great variety of articles of gold and silver. There
were not only goblets, basins, vases, table-plate,
utensils, the golden slabs that had panelled the
walls of the temples, and the heavy golden bars
which had formed their cornices, but solid golden
fountains, and birds, vegetables, and fruits carved
in the precious metal.

In order to divide these dazzling riches, it was
necessary to melt them all down into square in-
gots, or bars ; and when this had been done, and
the whole had been weighed, it was found that the
value of the gold in possession of the Spaniards
was about what the stupendous sum of fifteen
millions of dollars is at the present time ! The
silver amounted also to a very considerable sum.

The division of the spoils was then made with
the most solemn ceremony. First, a fifth of the


whole was deducted and set apart for Pizarro's
sovereign, the Emperor Charles V., which Her-
nando Pizarro was ordered to carry for him to
Spain. Then Pizarro received the principal share,
which in itself was a large fortune, besides the
massive throne of gold on which Atahualpa had
been brought to Caxamalca. Next came Her-
nando, De Soto, and the other principal cavaliers,
whose shares were much less than that of Pizarro,
but were nevertheless very large. The rest of
the spoil was divided among the cavalry, infantry?
and other Spaniards, various sums having been
set apart for the Christian church established
at Caxamalca, and for the little colony of St.

Almagro and his soldiers, not having taken part
thus far in the conquest, did not share equally
with the others ; but a goodly amount was never-
theless divided among them. The good priest
Luque, Pizarro's and Almagro's partner in the
expedition, had died at Panama ; and his share
was, therefore, absorbed by the others.

The Inca had now fulfilled his promise, and
paid his full ransom. He therefore eagerly de-
manded his liberty. But Pizarro, with many brave


and good qualities, was unscrupulous. Though he
had solemnly agreed to set Atahualpa free on pay-
ment of the ransom, he now refused to do so.
His excuse was, that it would be dangerous to let
the Inca depart, lest he should assemble an army,
arouse his empire, and fall upon the Spaniards
and destroy them.

A rumor now reached Pizarro's ears, which
made him more than ever determined not to re-
lease the Inca, and which gave rise to a yet darker
project in the conqueror's mind.

He learned that the Peruvians were rapidly
mustering and preparing to attack him, and that
these preparations were being made by the secret
orders of the Inca himself. A Peruvian noble,
who desired to win Pizarro's friendship, came to
him stealthily one night, and said,

" Atahualpa has sent to Quito and other prov-
inces, with orders to collect troops and march
against you, and kill you all. The army is now
very near this place. It will come at night, and
attack and set fire to the camp. There are two
hundred thousand men in this army, and thirty
thousand Caribs besides, who eat human flesh."

Pizarro at once summoned the captive Inca to


his presence ; and, when Atahualpa with grave
and gloomy countenance appeared, he exclaimed,
" What is this treason you have done to me ? I
have treated you with honor and indulgence, and
have been a brother to you ; and you now betray
my trust."

" Why do you laugh at me ? ' responded the
Inca with a disdainful smile. " When you speak
to me, you are always joking. What am I, and all
my people, that we should trouble such valiant
men as you are ? Do not speak such folly to



Pizarro, however, was by no means convinced
of Atahualpa's innocence : besides, he needed
some such excuse as the rumors of an attack
afforded to still keep the Inca a close prisoner.

Every precaution was taken to prevent a sur-
prise. Reports kept coming in of a Peruvian
rising, and the Spaniards held themselves ready
to repel an assault on their camp at an instant's
warning. The guard was doubled ; the soldiers
slept on their arms ; and De Soto was sent to
reconnoitre the country in the direction where the
hostile force was supposed to be gathering.

A great clamor now rose in the camp against


the poor Inca. The officers and soldiers loudly
demanded that he should be put to death, and
this demand was warmly seconded by Almagro
and the new-comers. At first Pizarro warmly re-
sisted it. He called to mind his solemn promise
made to Atahualpa to set him free when the ran-
som was paid. But he found the camp, with very
few exceptions, united against him. The Span-
iards swore that the Inca should be killed, even if
it were done by stealth. They declared that he
was the cause of their present peril, and that so
long as he lived there would be no safety.

Pizarro finally found himself compelled to yield
to the ferocious clamor of his comrades. He
reluctantly consented that the Inca should be
tried on the charges of inciting an attack by his
subjects upon the Spaniards, and of having caused
his brother Huascar to be assassinated.

The trial was a very brief one ; for the cause of
the unfortunate Atahualpa was already lost, and
his doom sealed. Then came the moment for
passing sentence upon him.

The Inca sat on a bench in the square before
his relentless judges, Pizarro and Almagro ; while
a group of soldiers formed a circle around them.


Here and there in the group might have been
seen a Peruvian, in the curious dress of his coun-
try, looking on eagerly, though he could under-
stand little of what was going forward. The
Inca's eyes were cast on the ground. He had
quite lost heart, and felt but too sure what would
be his fate ; yet he preserved the same serenity
and dignity that he was wont to hold in the midst
of his gorgeous court.

Despite the protests of a few of the Spaniards,
he was found guilty, and was sentenced, as a hea-
then, to be burned in the centre of the square.

For a moment Atahualpa seemed overcome by
the decision of his judges. Tears rolled slowly
down his swarthy cheeks ; and, turning to Pizarro,
he said in a beseeching tone,

"What have I done to be doomed to such a
fate? and from you too, who have been be-
friended and welcomed by my subjects, and with
whom I have shared my riches ! Even I, the
once mighty Inca of Peru, implore you to spare
my life."

Pizarro blushed, and turned away. Even his
stern heart was reproved and melted. But his
resolve was not shaken.


The sun had gone down, and it was quite dark,
when the Inca, chained hand and foot, was slowly
led from his quarters to the centre of the square.
Once more his face was calm, and his bearing
proud and kingly. At this last moment he dis-
dained to show emotion, or to plead again for life
and liberty. He stepped as firmly and with as
much dignity as if he had been leading a proces-
sion to the Temple of the Sun.

The square, lit up by flickering torches which
were held by lines of soldiers ranged around it,
presented a weird and awe-striking scene.

The Inca reached the fatal stake, to which he
was securely bound; and the fagots were piled
around him till they reached his waist.

At this moment the monk Vicente advanced,
and urged Atahualpa to renounce idolatry, and
become a Christian.

" If you do this," said the monk, " you will not
be burned, but will be strangled, and thus die
like a Christian."

The Inca hesitated a moment, and then sorrow-
fully bowed his head as a sign that he consented.
The monk hastily performed the ceremony of
baptism, and, raising his hands aloft, called upon
Heaven to have mercy upon the Inca's soul.


Then a noose was drawn around the Inca's
neck, attached to a stick behind. Atahualpa
raised his dark eyes to the firmament, and clasped
his hands tightly. The stick to which the noose
was attached was suddenly twisted : a spasm shot
through the noble frame of the Peruvian mon-
arch, and in another instant his head dropped
upon his breast.

Atahualpa was no more.




HE poor Inca had scarcely been buried
when De Soto returned from the expedi-
tion which he had undertaken to find out
whether there really was a Peruvian army advan-
cing against the Spaniards.

Pizarro then learned, too late, that he had put
Atahualpa to death on a false accusation. De
Soto had found no army gathered for a hostile
purpose. The country was everywhere quiet, and
he had met with nothing but friendly welcome
wherever he had gone. It was clear that there
was no intention of attacking the Spaniards, and
that Atahualpa had not instigated any resistance
to them.

This news filled Pizarro with shame and regret ;
but reflecting that he could no longer restore Ata-


hualpa to life, and that, after all, he would always
have been dangerous had he been spared, the
conqueror tried to drive the dead Inca from his
thoughts, and to turn his attention to the task yet
before him.

It happened that among the Peruvian prisoners
at Caxamalca was a young brother of Atahualpa.
His name was Toparca ; and he was a mild and
gentle person, who easily submitted to the strong
will of Pizarro. This prince Pizarro resolved to
declare the successor of his brother, as Inca of
Peru. He thought it wise and prudent that there
should be a new Inca, and that he should be
under his control. The true heir to the throne
was Manco, who, like Huascar, was a half-brother
of Atahualpa ; but Manco was in another part of
the empire, and Pizarro knew too little of him to
acknowledge him as Inca.

So young Toparca was duly crowned in the
great square with the diadem of scarlet fringe,
the token of Peruvian sovereignty, which had been
snatched from Atahualpa's brow ; and the Peru-
vians were all brought before him, and required to
do him humble homage as their future ruler.

At last the time had arrived to resume the


career of conquest which had been so brilliantly
begun. Pizarro found that he now had at his dis-
posal a force of not less than five hundred veteran
soldiers, of whom one hundred and sixty were cav-
alry. They were well armed, and used to hard-
ship ; and one and all were eager to push forward
in pursuit of the almost limitless wealth which
they believed to be gathered in the heart of the

Leaving a sufficient garrison to hold Caxamalca,
Pizarro set forth upon the broad highway which
led directly along the slopes of the Cordilleras to
the Peruvian capital. The young Inca Toparca
and the aged Peruvian general Challcuchima ac-
companied the expedition to Cuzco. Pizarro rode
on a fiery white charger, in a full suit of armor and
with plumed cap, at the head of his army. At a
little distance behind came two litters, borne upon
the shoulders of sturdy Peruvians, and bearing
Toparca and Challcuchima, who were surrounded
by a gayly-dressed crowd of attendants, as if they
were still potentates, instead of being the puppets
of Pizarro.

The Spanish army must have looked finely, as
the horsemen, with their glistening sabres and


helmets, curvetted and caracoled along the broad
and even high-road, and as the ranks of the in-
fantry, in brightly-polished cuirasses, and with
their long guns, marched vigorously forward in
perfect line ; while a confused troop of Peruvians,
attached to the force as guides or servants, walked
on either side, and brought up the rear.

There was now but little rough climbing by
narrow paths over forbidding crags and up well-
nigh impassable steeps ; for, though much of the
way was among the mountains, the great road of
the Incas rendered the passage of even the diffi-
cult places comparatively easy. The march of
the army was mainly across pleasant and smiling
valleys, elevated plains that overlooked fairy-like
prospects, or by zigzag windings through gorges
and over mountain-spurs. Sometimes the Span-
iards reached heights where they shivered with the
cold ; but they speedily left them for more genial
regions below. At the end of the day's journey
they always found themselves at some town where
there was ample accommodation and shelter, where
they could rest their weary limbs beneath ample
roofs, and where there never lacked an abundance
of provisions.


Nor did Pizarro for many days perceive any
signs of resistance to his triumphant advance.
There was wild confusion among the Peruvians,
many of whom deserted the villages along his
route, carrying their treasure with them, and hid-
ing it away. In other places he was welcomed
with the humble submission due to a monarch.

It was after a long tramp that he and his com-
rades at last came in sight of Xauxa, nestling in
its beautiful valley. This was the town which
Hernando Pizarro had visited, and near which he
had found the old general Challcuchima at the
head of thirty-five thousand Peruvians. As the
Spaniards advanced towards the town, they for
the first time saw a large Peruvian force drawn
up in hostile array to oppose them. A rapid river
flowed through the valley between Pizarro's force
and Xauxa, and it was on the opposite bank of
this river that the Peruvian soldiers were posted.

Pizarro, however, never once thought of retreat-
ing, or even of pausing, but led his men boldly
forward. No bridge spanned the stream : so
Pizarro, waving to his troops to follow, plunged
into the water, and began to swim across. Soon
the river was alive with Spaniards buffeting the


waves. The Peruvians saw this bold action with
dismay ; and after hurriedly discharging a shower
of arrows and javelins, which fell for the most
part harmless among the Spaniards, they cried
out, and scampered away into the woods on the
edge of the town as fast as they could run.

Entering Xauxa without further opposition,
Pizarro took possession of the temple and some
of the larger buildings, where he quartered his
troops. He was now far on his way to the goal
of his march ; and he resolved to rest a while at
Xauxa, and to establish a garrison there.

Meanwhile the valiant De Soto was once more
sent out to reconnoitre the country in advance of
them. Taking sixty sturdy cavalrymen armed to
the teeth, he proceeded rapidly over the great
road, confident of overcoming any resistance he
might encounter.

De Soto had not gone far before he was called
upon to match Spanish valor against that of the
Peruvians. Everywhere he found that the villages
had been burned and deserted, the road choked up
with trees, the bridges torn down, and the treasure
carried off. One day, when he was riding at the
head of his horsemen through a narrow craggy


pass, he was suddenly surprised by a number of
Peruvians, who fell fiercely upon him from every
side. For a time it seemed as if the destruction
of his whole force was inevitable. They were
completely hemmed in ; and the arrows and spears
fell upon them like rain, maddening the horses,
and wounding the men, But De Soto did not
despair. Crying out to his soldiers to plunge for-
ward, he broke through the dense ranks of the
enemy, and safely gained an open plain.

But the danger was not yet over. The Peru-
vians emerged from the mountain-defiles in for-
midable numbers, and seemed bent on renewing
the attack. De Soto lost no time in sending a
message to Pizarro, apprising him of his danger ;
and happily, before the Peruvians were ready to
again assail him, the grateful shades of night fell
upon the scene.

Dawn was just breaking when De Soto's party,
who had been sleeping soundly despite their dan-
ger, heard the clarion-notes of bugles echoing
among the hills. They responded by the same
means ; and their hearts beat high with joy as
they saw Almagro at the head of a large company
of cavalry gallop out of the mountains, hastening

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 11 13 14 15 16

Online LibraryGeorge M. (George Makepeace) TowlePizarro : his adventures and conquests → online text (page 11 of 16)