George M. (George Makepeace) Towle.

Pizarro : his adventures and conquests online

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raise men, collect money, and be off once more
for the southern seas ! "



Pizarro, meanwhile, was still at Chuchama with
the fifty men who had survived the first expedition.
Almagro hastened to him with the good news.
The faithful Luque lost no time in procuring
sufficient funds. Two ships, larger and more
stanch than those used before, were purchased,
and speedily stored ; and Almagro succeeded in
enlisting a force of a hundred and ten stalwart
Spaniards, one and all eager to try their fortunes
in the new venture.

Just before the ships were ready to set sail, the
three friends made a solemn contract among them-
selves. They agreed to divide equally all the
lands that might be conquered, and all the treas-
ures that might be acquired by the expedition.
This contract was confirmed by an imposing re-
ligious ceremony, which was witnessed by a great
concourse of people.

It was in the spring of 1526 that the two ves-
sels, one commanded by Pizarro and the other by
Almagro, set out upon their dangerous voyage.
Every heart on board beat high with eager hope,
and the spirits of all were cheered by the soft and
favorable breezes that sped them rapidly south-
ward. Pizarro was full of courage and confidence


as the ships ploughed the waters of the Pacific,
and more than ever believed that his perseverance
would soon be crowned with great good fortune.

As there was no object to be gained by casting
anchor at the several places which Pizarro had vis-
ited on his first expedition, they steered directly
for the River of San Juan, the farthest point
southward reached by Almagro.

Here Pizarro gave the order to put in. Land-
ing his soldiers, he attacked a native hamlet which
he espied on a neighboring hill, and succeeded in
seizing not only a number of golden trinkets, but
several stalwart young savages. These he re-
garded as valuable captives ; for he foresaw that
they would be useful to him as guides and inter-
preters. They submitted to be taken on board
ship, and stared about them, when they had got
there, with an air of complete stupefaction.

Pizarro saw every evidence about him that the
country on the borders of which he had landed
both abounded with treasure, and was thickly in-
habited by a warlike race. With his little force
of one hundred and sixty men, however, though
they were trained and brave soldiers, and were
supplied with fire-arms, he could not venture to


cope with the hordes of even undisciplined In-
dians of whom his scouts brought in such formida-
ble stories.

He resolved, therefore, that Almagro should
return in his ship to Panama for more soldiers,
while he himself made his headquarters on the
banks of the San Juan. At the same time he
thought it prudent that his trusty pilot Ruiz
should take the other ship, and reconnoitre the
coast still farther southward.

Almagro and Ruiz accordingly put to sea again,
soon parting, and going their different ways.

Left alone in the strange land, surrounded by
barbarians whose movements were any thing but
friendly, with a supply of provisions which would
not last very long, Pizarro could not, nevertheless,

wait idly for the return of his comrades. He

made the most of his time by leading excursions
into the interior, ascertaining as well as he could
the character of the country, and the numbers and
decree of intelligence of the natives.

o o

Many of these excursions proved dismal and
dangerous. He was forced to penetrate through
forests where it was almost as dark as night ; he
found himself often in dark ravines, and then in


densely tangled marshes; and, as he ascended
now and then a precipitous hill, he beheld the
towering crests of the Cordilleras forming an
impassable barrier before him. As the soldiers
trudged with difficulty over the rough crags or
among the brambles, they would be stung by huge
snakes, and would fall dying in intense agony in
the path of their companions ; while sometimes
they were ferociously assailed by savage bands,
and only escaped with the loss of several of their

Then their provisions gave out, and they were
obliged to live on wild cocoanuts and bitter man-
groves ; and, to add to their tortures, they were
attacked by dense swarms of large mosquitoes,
which covered them with excruciating bites, and
compelled them, for want of a better protection, to
bury themselves up to their chins in the sand.

No wonder that the courage even of the bravest
sank, and that they loudly bewailed their misera-
ble plight and their folly at leaving home to meet
with such unparalleled suffering. But once more
Pizarro betrayed the heroism of his nature. By
his unfaltering spirits and patience, and his tact
in dealing with his men, he soothed their anger,


and banished their despair, until the welcome sails
of Ruiz's ship appeared in sight, and brought
succor and new reason to hope for brilliant tri-

Ruiz made their hearts thrill with the story of
his adventures southward of the San Juan. He
had found countries better cultivated than any
they had hitherto seen, and natives much more
civilized than those by whom they were sur-
rounded. He had seen Indian vessels, rude, to be
sure, when compared with Spanish caravels, but so
well built as to show that the inhabitants had
some knowledge of the art of navigation. The
people, too, whom he found in the boats, wore
woollen cloths of delicate texture, worked in
many colors ; and they had balances with which
to weigh gold, silver, and gems. He had con-
trived to approach and talk with these natives, and
they had given him tempting pictures of the lands
that lay between the ocean and the mountains,
of the sides of the hills covered with sheep, of the
towns adorned by stately temples and palaces, and
of the broad roads that extended for many leagues
across the country.

That there might be no doubt of what he said,


Ruiz had brought with him several Indians, who
were very quick and intelligent, and by vivacious
signs and gestures confirmed to Pizarro what his
faithful pilot had narrated.

Pizarro' s longing for the return of Almagro was
soon satisfied ; for Ruiz had not been back many
days, before the other ship, coming from Panama,
made its appearance, and was greeted with the
liveliest demonstrations of joy.

Almagro had made a prosperous voyage to the
isthmus, and brought back with him a force of
eighty men, some of whom had just arrived from
Spain eager for adventure and conquest. On ar-
riving at Panama he had found Pedrarias gone,
and a new governor, named Don Pedro de los
Rios, in his place. Fortunately, this new govern-
or "did not have Pedrarias's jealous and grasping
disposition. He aided Almagro in recruiting his
soldiers and re-provisioning his ship, and sent him
away with cordial good wishes.

It was without regret that Pizarro and his com-
rades left the place where they had suffered so
much, and with gay hearts they once more set
sail. The ships took a southerly course ; and
it seemed probable that at last the brave Span-


iards .were on the point of achieving a really great

But misfortune seemed to pursue Pizarro at
every step. If he escaped one peril, he speedily
encountered another. No sooner did he begin to
rejoice at his triumph over one obstacle than a
new difficulty presented itself.

Having survived the danger of famine and mas-
sacre, it was now the turn of the tempest to
threaten him with destruction. The ships had
only been at sea a few days when they were
assailed by violent gales, and contrary winds made
their progress slow and labored. Then storms of
terrific fury burst upon them in quick succession,
making it absolutely necessary that they should
seek the shelter of some port.

Happily, Ruiz had already explored that part of
the ocean, and one day recognized an island where
he had staid several days. He assured Pizarro
that it possessed a good harbor : whereupon the
captain ordered the ships to run into it. At this
island, which was named Gallo, they remained a
fortnight ; after which, the storms subsiding, they
continued to sail until they reached a bay on the
coast, which Pizarro called the Bay of St. Mat-


thew, having arrived there on the day of that

They did not stop long in this bay, but, keep-
ing on their way down the coast, were delighted
to observe that the country bordering on the
ocean gave constantly-increasing evidences of cul-
tivation and thrift.

One bright morning, as the ships were skim-
ming over a rippling sea, Pizarro espied on the
shore a large village, with better houses and a
more civilized aspect than any he had before seen.
There were regular streets, and the Indians whom
he espied passing to and fro fairly glittered with
golden ornaments. The natives on board told
him that the name of the town was Tacamez, a
famous place in those parts ; and that the pretty
winding river that flowed just beyond abounded
in large and beautiful emeralds.

Had Pizarro been familiar with the geography
of the region he was traversing, he would have
been rejoiced to know that he was now on the
very borders of the Peruvian Empire ; but he was
feeling his way, and was really ignorant that he
was so near the goal of his ambition.

His first impulse was to land. Just as he had


done so with a force of soldiers, a great multitude
of natives, armed with javelins and bows and ar-
rows, rushed down towards the shore, and gathered
close together in hostile array. His situation was
now extremely perilous. It seemed as if he and
his men must speedily be annihilated. An amus-
ing accident, however, saved them.

Among his soldiers were several who were on
horseback. Now, the Indians had never seen a
horse, and supposed the rider and his horse to
be one animal. A soldier happened to fall off his
steed ; and this so amazed and frightened the
savages, who thus saw the animal appear to divide
in two pieces, that they retreated in all haste to
the town.

But Pizarro was convinced that, even now, his
force was not large enough to struggle with such
formidable numbers of savages as, it was clear,
inhabited the country. He therefore proposed to
Almagro that he himself should return to Pan-
ama for re-enforcements.

For the first time the friends angrily disagreed.
Almagro declared that he would not remain while
Pizarro went back ; and Pizarro hotly upbraided
Almagro for always wishing to leave him behind,


to suffer the miseries of those strange regions,
while Almagro himself went to Panama. The dis-
pute became so bitter that the two captains were
on the point of striking each other, when Ruiz
and the treasurer Ribera interposed and pacified

At last Pizarro yielded ; and it was decided that
he should remain, and that Almagro should return
for more men. The Island of Gallo, which they
had already visited, was selected as the refuge of
Pizarro and his comrades ; and this decision was
announced to the men.

A great clamor at once arose among them.
Many were disheartened and discouraged by their
past hardships, and declared that they would not
again stay to become the prey of famine and of
the poisoned arrows of the savages. They at last
seemed to be pacified, however ; and Almagro set

It happened that several of the soldiers, finding
that they could not openly escape, secretly wrote
letters to their friends in Panama, describing their
miseries, and concealed these letters in some bales
of cotton which Almagro carried \\ith him. When
Almagro arrived at Panama, these letters were


found by those to whom they were sent ; and one
of them found its way into the hands of the gov-
ernor. He was very much exasperated at its con-
tents, which betrayed to him that the men had
suffered dreadfully, and that, as yet, no very bril-
liant discoveries had been made.

The governor sternly rebuked Almagro for con-
cealing from him the true state of things, and
declared, that not only should no more men be
sent out, but that he would at once despatch some
ships to bring back Pizarro and the men left with
him on the Island of Gallo.

This he did. Two vessels were sent out under
the command of a Spaniard named Tafur, and
meanwhile Almagro was detained at Panama.

When Tafur reached the Island of Gallo, he
found Pizarro and his comrades in a wretched
plight. They had exhausted their provisions, and
worn their clothes to rags ; while perpetual storms
had continually drenched them, there being no
good shelter where they were.

The men were frantic with delight when they
saw Tafur's ship. They revelled in the ample
provisions he had brought ; and, when he an-
nounced that he had come to carry them all home


again, they received the news with the wildest
demonstrations of joy.

But Pizarro was determined not to go back.
He was incensed at the governor's conduct, and
was ready to risk his life in preventing the execu-
tion of his orders. Having come thus far, he
resolutely refused to return to Panama, and thus
confess his failure. Having caught a glimpse of a
land abounding in riches, his heart was set on
reaping the reward of his trials and courage.

Commanding his men to assemble on the shore,
in a firm but quiet tone he thus addressed them :

" Comrades, you have two paths between which
to decide. One is full of perils and privations,
exhausting toil, storms and famine, the poisoned
arrow, the midnight attack of countless and ruth-
less savages ; but it leads to Peru, with its untold
wealth, the lasting glory and power of its con-
quest. The other road leads home, to Panama
with its ease and indolence, and to contempt, pov-
erty, and obscurity. Each one of you may choose
which way to take. For my part, I remain."

Pizarro then drew his sword, and, bending down,
traced a deep, long line in the sand.

"Those of you," he said, pointing to the line,


" who decide to go back to Panama, stay where
you are ; but those of you who will stand by your
captain, who are brave enough to still share his
dangers and his triumphs, follow me, and cross
this line." As he said this, he stepped across the
line, and, drawing himself up proudly, waited.

For a moment there was complete silence.
The men glanced at each other, and at the im-
movable face, of their commander. Some hung
their heads, and slunk off to the rear. Others
seemed to be hesitating. Then the faithful pilot
Ruiz, glancing behind him as if to appeal to his
comrades to follow him, strode over the line.
After another moment of silence, a second passed
it; then a third; then a fourth. When all had
crossed who made up their minds to stay with
Pizarro, he found that he had thirteen gallant and
devoted followers.

It was a small force with which to conquer an
empire ; but Pizarro's stout soul never faltered at
the prospect. He knew, that, far away in Pan-
ama, his good friends Almagro and Luque were
using all their energies to send him aid ; and,
after all, to get rid of the faint-hearted and muti-
nous among his men was at least some gain.


Tafur sailed away ; and Pizarro, with his thir-
teen comrades, remained on the Island of Gallo.
But he had already discovered that this island was
not favorable for a long sojourn. Unhappily he
had sent away his other ship soon after Almagro
had sailed, so that he was now without any means
of transportation whatever.

This difficulty was soon overcome. His men
set lustily to work, and in a few hours had com-
pleted a strong raft. Upon this they placed their
provisions, arms, and utensils ; and, huddling to-
gether on the remaining space, they pushed out to

They were upon the raft several days. Fortu-
nately the weather was calm, and they were able
to reach the Island of Gorgona, seventy miles
north of Gallo, without accident. Here Pizarro
resolved to establish his little company as best
he could, and to wait patiently till assistance from
Almagro should arrive.

Huts were built beside a pretty stream, which
afforded them good water to drink and cook with ;
and the men found plenty of rabbits and pheas-
ants, which they shot and brought in, and served
up in tempting dishes.


At first their residence on the Island of Gorgona
was very pleasant. But ere long the tempests
beat in their huts ; the sun, when it was fair,
blazed remorselessly down upon them ; and they
were tortured by the swarms of mosquitoes and
other insects that assailed them by day and night.

For seven months they endured miseries not
less terrible than those they had before suffered.
It seemed as if relief would never come. But
Pizarro was now surrounded by stout and resolute
fellows, who bore up as bravely as he himself
against every mishap and anguish that afflicted

At last a small vessel came in sight. Pizarro
rushed down to the shore, and waved to it to show
where he was. The people on the vessel luckily
saw him : the prow was turned towards the island ;
and the little band waded out into the sea, and
clambered on board.

Pizarro found, as he had supposed, that the
vessel had been sent out by Almagro ; but he
was greatly disappointed to discover that she had
brought no soldiers. The Governor of Panama,
while he had allowed Almagro to send Pizarro
provisions and ammunition, had sternly refused to
permit any more men to embark.


The provisions, at least, were mosi: welcome ;
and the adventurers partook of them with great
gusto. It was something, moreover, to procure a
fresh supply of powder and guns ; and the little
vessel was quite large enough to transport the
little band wherever they wished to go.

Pizarro soon made up his mind what to do.
Leaving two of his men, who were ill, in the care
of some friendly Indians on the Isle of Gorgona,
he embarked with the remaining eleven, and took
his way southward, even with so small a force, in
the direction of the golden land which he was
sure existed, and of which he was confident, that,
sooner or later, he would make the conquest.




IT was a rash but heroic act for Pizarro to
set out in a single little vessel and with
only eleven men, and to venture into a
country, which, it seemed probable, was inhabited
by millions of brave and warlike men.

But he could not bear the thought of going
back to Panama until he could at least carry the
certain news that a great and rich empire really
existed in South America ; and both he and his
men were not only willing, but eager, to risk their
lives in exploring regions farther southward than
they had yet gone.

The little ship kept steadily on, past the Island
of Gallo, the Point of Tacamez, and another point
which Pizarro named St. Helena; and, after a
voyage of three weeks, the adventurers entered,


one afternoon, one of the most beautiful bays they
had ever seen. The Indians whom Pizarro had
brought with him as interpreters told him that it
was the Gulf of Guayaquil, and, pointing across
the water to a verdant and fertile shore, exclaimed
that there was the kingdom of Quito, the most
northerly part of the Peruvian Inca's dominions.

Pizarro stood still on his deck, and gazed long
and silently upon the borders of the land he had
suffered so much to reach, and he longed so
ardently to conquer. Visions of fabulous wealth,
of vast power and glory, dizzied his brain ; and he
thought bitterly of his ill fortune in not having
a force large enough on the spot with which to
attempt the contemplated conquest.

Anchoring off the Island of Santa Clara, Pizarro
narrowly questioned his Indians about the locality
of the region in which he had arrived. They told
him, that just opposite the island, on the shore of
the mainland, there stood a large town, named
Tumbez ; while on the other side was another
island, called Puna, the inhabitants of which were
hostile to the people on the coast.

The next morning Pizarro resolved to venture
nearer Tumbez, and if possible to land, and enter


the town, not as an enemy, but in a friendly
manner. The sails of the little ship were there-
fore hoisted, and it was not long before the adven-
turers found themselves opposite the town.

The sight which now met Pizarro's gaze filled
him with astonishment and admiration. Tumbez
was indeed an imposing place, with a strong
fortress perched on a craggy eminence, aque-
ducts, temples, palaces, convents, many houses
built of stone, and wide, well-paved, and graded
streets. The people, who flocked in great num-
ber along the shore, dressed in gay colors, and, as
Pizarro observed even at his distance, glittering
with rings, bracelets, and chains of gold and gems,
were of a higher type than any he had yet seen,
and manifested their wonder at beholding a Euro-
pean ship, so utterly unlike any thing they had be-
fore known, by running to and fro, shouting loudly,
and throwing up their swarthy hands and arms.

At this moment a large flat-boat, full of Indian
soldiers, pushed out from the shore. Their pur-
pose was not, however, to attack Pizarro ; but they
were setting out on an expedition against Puna.

Pizarro saw his opportunity, and, beckoning to
the Indians in the boat, asked several of the chiefs


to come on board his ship. This they did after
some hesitation. Through his own Indians, act-
ing as interpreters, he told them that he was no
foe to the natives, but had come on a friendly
errand ; and at last he persuaded them to post-
pone their expedition, go back to the town, send
him some provisions, and tell the governor that he
wished to despatch one of his men ashore.

The governor, sharing in the wonder of the
people, and convinced of Pizarro's good faith, at
once sent a boat-load of bananas, corn, sweet-
potatoes, pine-apples, cocoanuts, game, and fish,
to the strangers, with a message, which he sent
by a Peruvian noble of high rank, consenting that
a Spaniard should land, as Pizarro had asked.

This noble, who was very richly attired, and was
a tall and handsome man, with great dignity of
bearing, betrayed a lively curiosity to examine
every part of the wonderful ship. This Pizarro
cheerfully gratified, regaling him afterwards with
a bountiful dinner, and presenting him with an
iron hatchet.

The next morning Pizarro ordered one of his
men, named Molina, ashore, with some pork and
chickens for the governor, and with instructions


to observe every thing with the most minute
attention. With Molina went a negro who had
joined Pizarro from Panama. No sooner had Mo-
lina stepped on land than he was surrounded by
a crowd of chattering and excited natives. The
women gathered about him, and stared in amaze-
ment at his long brown beard and his fair skin;
while others, never having seen a black man, went
up to the negro, and tried to rub off his sooty
complexion, which they thought artificial, with
their fingers. The negro grinned at this, and
showed his white teeth ; which made the Indians
shout with laughter.

Just at this moment one of the cocks which
Molina had brought for the governor stretched
out his neck, and crowed with all his might. The
natives, who had never seen such a fowl, flocked
around him, and asked Molina "what the little
fellow was saying."

The Spaniard visited the governor, whom he
found in a handsome house, attended by a guard,
and served upon dishes of gold and silver ; and
was then conducted about . the town, in which
he saw and noted on every hand the evidence of
wealth, thrift, and artistic taste.


When Pizarro heard Molina's report, he re-
solved to send another of his comrades to observe
and confirm what the first had witnessed. Among
his little band was a noble-looking Greek cavalier,
named Candia, who had followed Pizarro's for-
tunes through every vicissitude. Candia was now
chosen to go on shore ; and buckling on a shin-
ing suit of armor, and carrying a gun on his
shoulder, he marched boldly and alone up the
principal street of Tumbez, followed by a vast
multitude of Indians.

They were especially curious about his gun,
which they begged him to "make speak." So he
set up a board, and fired at it. The sharp and

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Online LibraryGeorge M. (George Makepeace) TowlePizarro : his adventures and conquests → online text (page 5 of 16)