Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

The Isles Of Beauty Beyond The Seas
by [?]

The 12th of October, 1492, ranks very high among the important dates in the history of the world. For on that day men from Europe, then the centre of civilization, first gazed on a rich new land beyond the seas, a great virgin continent, destined to become the seat of flourishing civilizations and to play a leading part in the later history of the world. Little did Columbus and his companions, when they saw before them on that famous morning a beautiful island, rising like a pearl of promise from the sparkling tropical sea, dream of what time held in store for that new-found land, foreordained to become the “New World” of the nations, the hope of the oppressed, and the pioneer dwelling-place of liberty and equality.

But we are here concerned with only what they saw, and this was a green and populous island, so covered with fresh verdure that it seemed to their eyes like a continual orchard. An orchard it was, for many of the trees were laden with new and strange fruits, of rare color and attractive form. Never had they breathed air more pure and fresh, and never had they beheld seas of such crystal clearness or verdure of more emerald hue; and it is not surprising that their eyes sparkled with joy and their souls were filled with wonder and delight as they gazed on this entrancing scene after their long and dreaded journey over a vast and unknown ocean.

Not less strange to the new-comers were the people who flocked in numbers from the woods and ran to the shore, where they stood gazing in simple wonder on the ships, winged marvels which had never met their eyes before. No clothing hid their dusky, copper-colored skins, of a hue unknown to their visitors, and they looked like the unclad tenants of some new paradise. Their astonishment turned into fright when they saw boats leave these strange monsters of the deep, in them men clad in shining steel or raiment of varied color. Their white faces, their curling beards, their splendid clothing, as it appeared to these simple denizens of the forest, and especially the air of dignity of their leader, with his ample cloak of scarlet, added to their amazement, and they viewed the strangers as divine visitors, come to them from the skies.

Not less was their surprise when they saw the wonderful strangers kneel and kiss the soil, and then uplift a great and gleaming banner, of rich colors and designs that seemed magical to their untaught eyes. And deep was their delight when these strange beings distributed among them wonderful gifts,–glass beads, hawk’s bells, and other trifles,–which seemed precious gems to their untutored souls. They had nothing to offer in return, except tame parrots, of which they had many, and balls of cotton-yarn; but the eyes of the Spaniards sparkled with hope when they saw small ornaments of gold, which some of them wore. Happy had it been for all the natives of the New World if this yellow metal had not existed among them, for it was to bring them untold suffering and despair.

Such was the island of San Salvador, as Columbus named this first-seen land; but, leaving it, let us go with him in his voyage through that island-sprinkled sea, and use his eyes in taking in the marvels with which it was sown. Familiar as these islands have become to many of us, to him they were all new, beautiful, and strange, a string of tropic pearls or rare emeralds spread out along those shining waters of the South.

On leaving San Salvador, the Spaniards, their hearts elate with joy and pride in their discovery, hardly knew whither to go. They seemed drawn to the right and the left alike. They found themselves in an archipelago of beautiful islands, green and level, rising on all sides and seemingly numberless. To us they are the great green cluster of the Bahamas, but to Columbus, who fancied that he had reached the shores of Asia, they were that wonderful archipelago spoken of by Marco Polo, in which were seven thousand four hundred and fifty-eight islands, abounding with spices and rich in odoriferous trees and shrubs.