George M. (George Makepeace) Towle.

Pizarro : his adventures and conquests online

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glittered in his hand.

" It is an emerald ! ' cried a keen-eyed monk
named Reginaldo, who had gone with Pizarro to
convert the natives : " that is, it looks like one.
But it can be easily tested. Pound it with a ham-
mer. If it breaks, it is no true jewel ; but, if it
resists the stroke, it is precious indeed."

The soldier did as he was bidden, and the
stone crumbled under the hammer. Several simi-
lar stones found in the huts were subjected to
the same test, and all of them broke ; and the
ignorant soldiers thus destroyed a number of jew-
els which, at home, would have brought enormous
prices. The monk knew better than to advise
them as he did ; for he carefully kept all the
emeralds he could lay his hands on, and secreted
them about his person. His advice, indeed, was


a shrewd way of making the emeralds more scarce,
so that those he kept would be more rare and
valuable when he returned to Panama.

The ships rejoined Pizarro at Coaque. He put
on board a considerable portion of the treasures
he had seized in the village ; and, having divided
the rest equally among the men, he sent the ships
home with a glowing account of the prospects of
the expedition.

It was on leaving Coaque, and marching south-
ward towards Tumbez, that the Spaniards began to
suffer some of the serious hardships of their ex-
pedition. They were forced to trudge over sandy
roads under a blazing sun, and their heavy armor
and thick clothing added greatly to their discom-
fort. They grew ill with horrid ulcers, which
proved in some cases fatal, and which caused great
suffering to nearly every man in the company.
They found but few villages, and those few were
poverty-stricken. Their eyes, moreover, were,
greeted by neither food nor treasure.

Pizarro kept his line of march close to thq
coast. He knew that it was possible that re-
enforcements or supplies might come for him from
Panama any day, and he was anxious not to miss
them when they came.


One day, sure enough, he espied a ship bear-
ing down from the north. He ordered his stand-
ard-bearers to run along the shore, and wave their
banners. These were soon perceived by the ship,
which swung in towards the shore, and anchored.
She proved to be laden with food, and to have
brought several officers sent out by the emperor
to accompany Pizarro on his expedition.

Nor was this the only instance of good fortune
which happened to the intrepid chief ; for, on
arriving a few days after at a little harbor called
Puerto Vieja, he was there rejoined by another
ship, bringing a re-enforcement of thirty men to
his little army. These men were commanded by
a brave and veteran cavalier named Belalcazar.

But Pizarro had now to contend with an-
other difficulty. Puerto Vieja, unlike the country
through which the Spaniards had been passing,
was a beautiful spot. Tropical trees, affording
abundant shade, grew in profusion almost to the
water's edge. The region round about, moreover,
abounded in luscious fruits and vegetables. In
the distance, the giant range of the Cordilleras
loomed to the clouds ; and the snow-crested peak
of Chimborazo, the mightiest of all, towered in
sublime grandeur almost directly opposite.


In such a spot some of the Spanish soldiers
felt that they might happily establish themselves,
and settle down ; and these begged Pizarro to pro-
ceed no farther, but to avail himself of the locality;
to remain there, and form a colony.

But Pizarro had no other thought, no less an am-
bition, than that of conquering Peru. His was
not the gentle temper that could be content to
rest in peace and plenty on the borders of the
promised land. As he himself was discouraged
by no obstacle, terrified by no danger, he scouted
the idea that the expedition should end so tamely ;
and he appealed to his men with all his simple
and rugged eloquence to follow him on to the
glorious goal which he foresaw awaited them.

There was not a soldier in all his little army
that was not devotedly attached to him : he had
quite won their hearts by sharing their every toil
and peril ; and one and all promptly gave up their
scheme, and with a single voice called out for him
to lead on, and they would follow.

A rapid march soon brought the adventurers to
the shores of the Bay of Guayaquil. Pizarro now
recognized every landmark. Here, in the bay,
was the Island of Santa Clara, where he had


anchored. Nearer still, the long wooded Island of
Puna, with its Indian villages, appeared to the
view. In the dim distance, on the opposite shore,
could just be descried the dome of the Temple of
the Sun, which rose above the other buildings of

Once more the bold cavalier found himself at
the very frontier of Peru. This time, at least, he
had men enough to attempt a determined attack ;
and Tumbez was the first object at which to
aim it.

Pizarro had no sooner arrived on the shore
opposite Puna than a number of boats came off,
and some Indians landed. It soon appeared that
at their head was the chief, or, as they called him,
the " cacique," of the island ; and that his errand
was to invite Pizarro and his company to take up
their abode upon it. Pizarro communicated with
the cacique through the Indians he had taken to
Panama, and had brought back with him to act as

After heartily thanking the cacique for his
hospitality, Pizarro said,

" I gladly accept your invitation ; but how can
so large a number of men, with their arms and
baggage, be carried to the island ? "


"Easily," replied the cacique. "I will cause
some balsas to be built, and upon them a large
number of men can cross at once."

" And what are balsas ? '

" We will soon show you."

Under the cacique's orders, several Indians
began to cut some long light poles. These they
fastened together firmly, crosswise, like a raft ;
and, when this had been done, they fixed some
boards on top. The shape of these balsas, when
finished, was like a hand stretched out flat. A sail
was hoisted in the centre, and then the cacique
invited the Spaniards to embark.

Four balsas proved sufficient to carry over the
men, horses, and baggage ; for two of them held
fifty men each. Meanwhile Pizarro crossed in a
small boat with the cacique and several other
leading Indians.

They soon reached the verdant and picturesque
shore of Puna, where a great crowd of natives,
decked out with cloaks of brilliant colors and
gold ornaments, had gathered to welcome them.
Pizarro was almost deafened with the din of the
rude musical instruments that greeted his arrival ;
and was amused to see the wild capers of the


natives, who threw up their legs and arms in a
perfect frenzy, in treating him to an Indian dance.

Along the road that led from the shore to the
centre of the island a profusion of fruits and
vegetables had been collected, with which to
regale the strangers ; and, as may well be believed,
they fell to with a lusty appetite.

Their hunger appeased, the cacique led them to
a hillock, with an opening in the forest which ex-
tended down the side to the shore ; and here he
begged Pizarro to make his quarters.

This cordial reception from the natives of Puna
pleased Pizarro very much. He thought it would
be a good thing to have them as his allies ; since
he was now resolved to attack Tumbez, and knew
that the Puna men were the bitter enemies of
that town.

For some time the Spaniards remained peacea-
bly on the island, living on the fat of the land, and
obeyed as superiors by the Indians. But one
day a faithful Indian, one of the interpreters
Pizarro" had brought with him, went to the cap-
tain's tent, and said in a mysterious tone,

" Be warned in time, master. These people
pretend to be your friends ; but they are plotting


some perfidy against you. The cacique comes to
you with bows and smiles and sweet words ; but
he is secretly assembling his warriors and drilling
them in the woods, and they are busy in the
villages making arrows and javelins."

Pizarro, aroused to the danger, sent some men
out to watch the Indians, and observe what they
could in the villages. They soon returned to con-
firm the interpreter's suspicions. There were in-
deed warriors concealed in the woods and houses,
and arms were being busily made. It appeared
that the Indians intended to attack the Spanish
camp on the following night.

Not a moment was to be lost. Pizarro at once
sent a small force into the village where the

cacique and other chiefs lived. The Spaniards

surrounded the cacique's house, and, having easily
overcome his guard, seized him, bound him hand
and foot, and sent him to the camp. Then they
ransacked the house, and several others near
by, and found many golden ornaments, jewels, and
fine cloths. The natives fled in dismay into the

Content with their success, the Spaniards re-
turned with their booty to the camp.


But Pizarro knew that the whole population of
the island would now be fired with anger against
him, and would speedily seek their revenge. He
posted a circle of sentinels all around his camp,
and they kept careful watch throughout the night.

This was, as it proved, a wise precaution. Sure
enough, just before dawn, a wild roar of voices
was heard at the edge of the wood, mingled with
the deafening sound of warlike instruments ; and
presently a swarm of savages issued from behind
the trees. They advanced upon several sides, and
a shower of arrows and darts fell upon the

Pizarro leaped forward, and commanded his men
to respond with a volley of powder and shot. A
short and sharp encounter ensued ; and several
Spaniards, among them Pizarro's brother Her-
nando, fell to the ground, crying out and writhing
in their pain. But, though there were only a hun-
dred and fifty Spaniards, and many thousands of
Indians, the battle soon ended in a complete
victory for Pizarro.

The Indians turned and ran, and were instantly
followed up by Pizarro's little body of cavalry,
who pursued them for some distance, striking
them down two and three at a time as they fled.


Pizarro did not neglect to make the most of his
triumph. He sent his troops all over the island,
attacking and plundering the villages, seizing pro-
visions, and, wherever they were resisted, dealing
deadly havoc among the natives. Many of the
natives fled to their boats, and, leaving all they
possessed behind them, fled to the mainland.
Those who submitted to the Spaniards, however,
were spared ; though Pizarro ordered their move-
ments to be narrowly watched.

It remained to deal with the cacique and other
chiefs who had been taken prisoners. The latter
charged that the treachery to the Spaniards was
the work of the cacique; but he, on the other
hand, declared that it was they who had instigated
him to attack Pizarro, and that he was forced to
enter into the plot against his will.

Pizarro came to the conclusion, after sharply
questioning them, that the cacique's story was
the true one. Sparing him, therefore, the captain
sternly commanded the other chiefs to be be-
headed. It was a cruel and barbarous act ; but
Pizarro, in doing as he did, followed the rough
custom of his time, and resolutely took the harsh
measures which seemed necessary to achieve his


He then set the cacique at liberty, and made
him solemnly promise to be his ally, and to gather
his scattered subjects together again.

It was full time to resume his progress towards
Peru ; and the first task was to subdue Tumbez,
the domes and buildings of which he could dimly
descry on the shore from his camp at Puna.

Getting together such boats as he could find,
and bringing the four balsas, or rafts, once more
into service, he embarked his little army, horses,
and supplies, one bright spring day, and set out
for the mainland. The balsas went on ahead
with the plunder captured at Puna, while the
boats followed with the main force ; and in a few
hours Pizarro found himself again off the harbor
of Tumbez, and on the very borders of the domin-
ions of the Inca of Peru.




|N coming near the shore, Pizarro's surprise
was great to see nothing of his rafts,
which had gone on ahead with his bag-
gage and military stores ; and still greater, when
the streets of Tumbez, instead of being alive, as
on his first visit, with a throng of curious and
friendly natives, appeared to be completely de-

Here and there an Indian was seen hurrying
along the shore or through the streets : otherwise
the town was solitary and silent. Pizarro at once
conjectured that the people of Tumbez, learning
his approach with a larger force than before, had
become alarmed, and fled. But what had become
of his rafts, and the men who had gone upon
them ?


Landing as soon as he could, and ordering his
soldiers to disembark, he sent out reconnoitring
parties to search for the Indians, and find out the
cause of this sudden disappearance.

Pretty soon several natives, who had been
caught running away by one of the parties, were
brought to Pizarro, who caused them to be ques-
tioned by his interpreters.

From them he learned that his rafts had been
seized and broken up, the goods carried off, and
the men on them hurried into the woods, and there

Meanwhile other scouts came in to tell Pizarro
that Tumbez was not only deserted by its inhab-
itants, but that most of its buildings had been
destroyed, and the treasures taken away out of

Among the parties sent out to reconnoitre was
one commanded by Hernando Pizarro, comprising
forty cavalry and eighty foot -soldiers. Pizarro
caused a large raft to be constructed, upon which
Hernando and his force crossed a broad and wind-
ing river which flowed just south of Tumbez.
After scouring the country for some time, Her-
nando came in sight of an Indian encampment.


He attacked this encampment without delay,
and easily routed the Indians ; and, after pursuing
them for some distance, he sent a messenger to
their chief to ask him to make peace.

"I am afraid of the Spaniards," was the chief's
reply; "and I dare not trust myself with them,
unless they promise that I shall not be killed."

Hernando at once responded,

"You will not be injured, but may go with me
to our captain without fear ; and he will pardon
you for your offences against him."

The chief and some of his chief men then tim-
idly approached Hernando's camp, whence they
were conducted back to Pizarro. When Pizarro
saw the chief, who proved to be the governor or
"cacique' of Tumbez, a - dark frown settled on
his face.

" Why have you, whom I treated so well when
I was here before, massacred the brave comrades


whom I left under your protection ? ' he angrily
asked. " And what have you done with the men
who came on the raft ? '

The chief trembled with fear : his teeth chat-
tered, and his knees knocked together. He feared
lest Pizarro was about to order him to be shot.


"I beg you, great stranger, listen to me, and
spare me," he faltered. " It was not I, but some
of my principal men, who dealt foully with the

Pizarro commanded the principal men who had
been captured to be brought face to face with the
cacique. When they arrived, he said,

" Point out those who committed this atrocious

The chief glanced from one to the other, and
then, falling at Pizarro's feet, begged him not to
take his life ; adding,

" I swear to you, mighty lord, that I do not see
the men here who did it."

Pizarro looked at him scornfully, and ordered
him and the other Indians to be kept close pris-
oners. He reflected that the cacique might, after
all, be of more use to him alive than dead, and
resolved to spare him, but to take care that he
had no chance to betray him.

The Spanish commander had taken up his resi-
dence in two large and quite comfortable houses,
which were surrounded by two high walls, and had
open courts and doors just like European dwell-
ings. But he did not remain long at Tumbez.


There was no treasure to obtain, and the provis-
ions he had brought were becoming exhausted.

Assembling his men one day, Pizarro told them
that they were now in the dominions of the great
Inca of Peru.

" There are great dangers and difficulties yet
before us," he said ; " but they are of a different
sort from those which have hitherto impeded us.
We are approaching the mountains, which we
shall have to cross ; and beyond them we shall
at last come face to face with the might of the
Peruvian monarch. We are few, and his soldiers
are many and brave ; but we have fire-arms, disci-
pline, and glorious hopes. The stirring action of
war is before us : let us hasten on to meet it ! '

" Long live the captain ! Lead us forward, and
we will follow ! ' shouted his men in reply, wav-
ing their hands.

Leaving the cacique, whom he had now bound
to him in friendship by his leniency, to gather his
people together again at Tumbez, and also a
detachment of Spaniards to guard the place,
Pizarro set out at the head of his men, keeping
his march near the seacoast.

Not long before, he had been joined by the


famous Hernando de Soto, who was destined
afterwards to discover the Mississippi River. De
Soto had brought with him a hundred cavaliers
and some horses, which were a most welcome
re-enforcement to Pizarro's little army ; while De
Soto's own intrepid valor and indomitable spirit
were worth more to him than many men.

As the Spaniards marched along, they ab-
stained from offering any violence to the natives
in the villages by which they passed. This was a
wise stroke of policy on the part of Pizarro : for
he had cut himself off from all communication with
Panama ; and, if he were defeated in his conflict
with the Inca, he would need the friendship of
the Indians in his rear to secure a safe retreat

Besides, by treating them kindly, he was able to
procure provisions easily from them, and good
quarters at his halting-places. A long but not
very difficult tramp brought the brave little army
to a beautifully green and fertile valley, through
which a river ran to the sea a few leagues beyond.
Struck by the loveliness of the spot, and its ex-
cellent situation for defence, Pizarro resolved to
found a colony there. He sent back to Tumbez,


and ordered the ships in which De Soto had
come to sail around to the bay at the mouth of
the river ; and soon his men were busily at work
cutting timber, and gathering heavy blocks of
stone, which were speedily transformed into hand-
some buildings, among them a church, some
storehouses, and fortifications.

Pizarro formed a government for the colony,
and divided up the fertile pastures and meadows
round about among the settlers whom he ap-
pointed to remain there ; and after naming the
town " St. Michael," after the saint upon whose
day it was established, he again gave the order to
push forward. The Spaniards crossed the river on
two rafts ; the horses, held by their bridles, swim-
ming at the sides.

A broad sandy desert stretched out before
them, beyond the river ; but the soldiers were re-
freshed by their sojourn at St. Michael, and felt
re-assured at leaving a place of retreat and de-
fence behind them; while the prospect of ere
long measuring their prowess with the legions of
the Inca infused new vigor and alacrity into their

Pizarro's force now consisted of about two hun-


dred men, fifty having been left at St. Michael ;
a pigmy army indeed to assail a vast, rich, and
warlike empire.

Pizarro had learned that the Inca was posted
with a large force at a town called Caxamalca, on
the other side of the mountains ; and he had
formed the desperate resolve to advance directly
to that place, and to overcome the Peruvian mon-
arch by stratagem, or by force of arms, as it
might chance.

The desert was soon crossed. And now the
Spaniards found themselves passing through a
delightful country, endowed with the richest and
most luxuriant vegetation, full of luscious fruits,
watered by the most picturesque streams, and in-
habited by a gentle and thrifty people, who wel-
comed their coming with simple and eager hospi-
tality. For many leagues it was almost a holiday
march. By day they traversed shady roads or
teeming fields ; at night they rested in villages,
and sometimes in considerable towns, where they
lodged in the very palaces provided for the Inca
in his journeys through the empire.

As they approached nearer and nearer to the
lofty range of the Cordilleras, which they could


see looming in the dim south distance, and which
they knew they should have to climb in order to
reach their destination, a few of the Spaniards
seemed to falter in their courage.

Their chief observed this, and resolved, that, if
there was any discontent among his men, he would
find out at once how much there was, and put a
stop to it. When they were resting one day under
the grateful shade of a copse of wide-spreading
trees, Pizarro spoke :

" My comrades, I have not concealed from you
the perils and obstacles we are about to encounter.
Fame and fortune can only be won by bearing
them bravely, and overcoming them with unflag-
ging perseverance. Now choose, each man, what
you will do. All who wish to return to St. Michael
may do so : those alone who are entirely content
to follow me need go forward."

Nine men only availed themselves of this per-
mission ; the rest cried out eagerly that they
would advance with their intrepid chief to the end.

It was not many days before the Spaniards
began to find traces of the Inca's military
strength. They reached villages and towns where
there were Peruvian garrisons; but these mani-


fested no hostility towards the strangers, while
the caciques of the villages often welcomed them,
and made feasts in their honor.

At last, on coming to a town named Zaran,
Pizarro learned, that, some leagues farther on, a
large Peruvian force was drawn up as if in hostile
array. This news puzzled him. Was this force
awaiting his approach in order to attack him ?
Had the suspicions of the Inca been already
aroused ? and were the Spaniards about to be
challenged to a combat ?

Pizarro was as conspicuous for his prudence
and tact as for his valor. While he was ready to
risk his life and the lives of his men in order to
achieve the end he had in view, he was unwilling
to sacrifice a single soldier by needless risk.

He accordingly sent De Soto forward with a
small company of picked men to see what the
Peruvian force intended. Meanwhile Pizarro him-
self, with his main army, rested at Zaran.

So long was De Soto gone, that Pizarro feared
that he and his companions had been overpowered,
and perhaps massacred, by the Peruvians. His
joy was great, when, after an absence of a fort-
night, his faithful lieutenant made his appearance.

148 4 PIZARRO :

De Soto and his comrades were not, however,
alone. With them came a tall and stately Indian,
so brilliantly arrayed that the Spaniards gazed at
him with wonder. At the same time other Indians
appeared, bearing a number of heavy burdens.

The mystery of these arrivals was soon solved.
The tall Indian was no less a personage than the
brother of the Inca of Peru, whom the Inca had
sent as an envoy to Pizarro ; while the burdens
borne by his countrymen were presents from the
sovereign, and comprised two stone fountains,
some finely-woven and many-colored cloths, sheep,
deer, birds, dried fruits, honey, pepper, gold and
silver vases, emeralds, and a strange perfume made
of dried geese.

Pizarro welcomed his royal visitor with the re-
spect due to his rank, and, calling an interpreter,
bade the Indian sit down and talk with him. The
Indian gazed in wonder at the light complexions,
the attire, the glittering armor, and the weapons
of the Spaniards ; for he had never seen a Euro-
pean before De Soto and his party arrived in
the town where they had found him.

Then, turning with much dignity and grace to
Pizarro, he said,



" I have come by the command of my mighty

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Online LibraryGeorge M. (George Makepeace) TowlePizarro : his adventures and conquests → online text (page 7 of 16)