Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you. — Pericles

Story of the Thirteen Colonies - Helene Guerber

Home Again

Columbus set out on his return journey in January, but he was obliged to go very slowly, because the wind was often against him, and because one of his vessels was badly crippled. In the middle of February a terrible storm separated the two ships, and Columbus, fearing his vessel would sink, and the news of his discovery perish with him, wrote out two accounts of his journey. These were inclosed in cakes of wax, which were put into empty casks. One of them was cast into the sea, but the other was left on deck, so it could float off if the boat sank.

The storm grew so fierce that Columbus and his men vowed to go in procession to the first church they saw after landing, and return thanks, if they were only spared. When the storm-tossed navigators finally reached the Azores, therefore, they tried to keep this promise; but the people were so unkind that they imprisoned those who landed. Columbus managed to recover his men, but on the way from those islands to Spain another tempest overtook him, and it was only after much tossing that the Nina  at last reached Portugal.

As soon as he landed, Columbus sent a messenger to Ferdinand and Isabella to announce his safe return, and the success of his undertaking. The very people who had once made fun of him now eagerly listened to all he had to say, and their hearts were full of envy at the thought that the newly discovered islands would belong to Spain, and not to Portugal. It is even said that some one basely proposed to murder Columbus and send out ships to take possession of the land in the name of Portugal.

[Illustration] from Story of the Thirteen Colonies by Helene Guerber

The king, however, would not consent, and Columbus, sailing away again, finally entered the port of Palos, whence he had started so many months before. As soon as the people heard that he had succeeded, they were almost wild with joy, and rang all the bells in the city. One of the Pinzons, who had hoped that Columbus's vessel had gone down in the storm, came into Palos just then with the Pinta. He had intended to claim all the honors of the new discovery, and was greatly disappointed when he found that Columbus had reached port before him.

As the court was at Barcelona, Columbus immediately went there, with his Indians, parrots, and other curiosities, and all along the road people came in crowds to stare at him. They gazed in wonder at the Indians, who, in their turn, were bewildered by all the strange sights they beheld.

The royal couple received Columbus in state, and, after he had bent the knee before them in homage, made him sit down in their presence—a great honor—and relate his adventures. Columbus gave them glowing descriptions of the new islands, told them he had found the road to India, and promised that they should soon be rich. This news caused such rejoicing that the royal couple went to give solemn thanks in the chapel.

Honors were now showered upon Columbus, who was welcomed and feasted everywhere. In fact, people made such a fuss over him that some of the courtiers became jealous. A story is told about one of these men who sneeringly remarked at a banquet that even if Columbus had not discovered the road across the ocean, there were plenty of brave Spaniards who could have done so. Columbus seemed to pay no special attention to this taunt, but quietly taking an egg from a dish placed in front of him, he asked the guests if they could make it stand on end. All tried, and failed. When they finally declared the feat impossible, Columbus struck the egg on the table hard enough to break its shell slightly. Then, leaving it standing there, he calmly said that everything was equally easy after you knew how to do it.

The news brought by Columbus made a sensation everywhere; but while all the people were talking about his discoveries, he was actively preparing to cross the Atlantic again, intending this time to, reach India. Instead of three miserable little ships, and very small crews, he now had a fleet of seventeen vessels, carrying about fifteen hundred men.

The second expedition set sail in September, 1493, and, after stopping at the Canary Islands, steered across the Atlantic to the eastern West Indies. There Columbus found a fierce race of Caribs, of whose attacks the Indians had complained to him the year before. The Spaniards explored these islands, lost their way at times in the forest, and once came to the homes of some cannibal Caribs. When they saw a heap of human bones, left over from a horrible feast, they shuddered with dread at the thought of falling into the hands of these cruel men.


Front Matter

Our Country Long Ago
The Barbarous Indians
The Mounds
Where the Northmen Went
The Northmen in America
Queer Ideas
Prince Henry the Navigator
Youth of Columbus
Columbus and the Queen
"Land! Land!"
Columbus and the Savages
Home Again
Columbus Ill-treated
Death of Columbus
How America Got its Name
The Fountain of Youth
"The Father of Waters"
The French in Canada
French and Spanish Quarrels
The Sky City
Around the World
Nothing but Smoke
Smith's Adventures
The Jamestown Men
Smith Wounded
Pocahontas Visits England
Hudson and the Indians
The Mayflower
Plymouth Rock
The First Thanksgiving
Snake Skin and Bullets
The Beginning of Boston
Stories of Two Ministers
Williams and the Indians
The Quakers
The King-Killers
King Phillip's War
The Beginning of New York
Penn and the Indians
The Catholics in Maryland
The Old Dominion
Bacon's Rebellion
A Journey Inland
The Carolina Pirates
Charter Oak
Salem Witches
Down the Mississippi
La Salle's Adventures
Indians on the Warpath
Two Wars with the French
Washington's Boyhood
Washington's Journey
Washington's First Battle
Stories of Franklin
Braddock's Defeat
Wolfe at Quebec
England and her Colonies
The Stamp Tax
The Anger of the Colonies
The Boston Tea Party
The Minutemen
The Battle of Lexington
Bunker Hill
The Boston Boys
The British leave Boston
Declaration of Independence
A Lady's Way of Helping
Christmas Eve
The Fight at Bennington
Burgoyne's Surrender
Winter at Valley Forge
The Quaker Woman
Putnam's Adventures
Indian Cruelty
Boone in Kentucky
Famous Sea Fights
The "Swamp Fox"
The Poor Soldiers
The Spy
A Traitor's Death
Two Unselfish Women
Surrender of Cornwallis
British Flag hauled down
Washington's Farewell