VI.—Daring deed of Diego Mendez.[taken from the last will of Diego Mendez. These adventures happened on the fourth voyage of Columbus, in 1502.]
When we were shut in at the mouth of the River Belen, or Yebra, through the violence of the sea, and the winds which drove up the sand, and raised such a mountain of it as to close up the entrance of the port, his lordship1 being there greatly afflicted, a multitude of Indians collected together on shore to burn the ships, and kill us all, pretending that they were going to make war against other Indians. . . . Upon his consulting me as to the best manner of proceeding so as clearly to ascertain what was the intention of the people, I offered to go to them with one single companion; and this task I undertook, though more certain of death than of life in the result. After journeying along the beach up to the River of Veragua, I found two canoes of strange Indians, who related to me more in detail, that these people were indeed collected together to burn our ships, and kill us all, and that they had forsaken their purpose in consequence of the boat which had come up to the spot, but that they intended to return after two days to make the attempt once more. I then asked them to carry me in their canoes to the upper part of the river, offering to remunerate them if they would do so. But they excused themselves, and advised me by no means to go, for that both myself and my companion would certainly be killed.