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

Story of the Thirteen Colonies - Helene Guerber

The Fountain of Youth

The Spaniards, as we have seen, immediately began planting colonies in the West Indies, and in a few years they took possession of all the islands, and made the natives their slaves. These poor creatures were forced to work hard for their new masters, who, thirsting for gold, made them wash the sands of all their streams, and toil without ceasing.

The Spaniards in Cuba and Haiti, hearing many tales of the gold to be found in the west, soon sent out several expeditions. They also planted a few colonies along the coast of Central America, but at first these did not thrive.

Among the colonists in Haiti there was a Spaniard named Balboa. He was poor but very daring, and wished to join an expedition bound for the mainland. As he could not pay for his passage, he hid in a cask and had himself carried on board ship as freight. When far out at sea Balboa crept out of his hiding place, won the captain's forgiveness, and soon made so many friends that he became a leader in the settlement they founded on the Isthmus of Darien, or Panama.

Balboa discovers the South Sea


After a time he learned from the natives that a great ocean lay on the other side of the ridge of mountains. He therefore made his way through the tangled underbrush and rank tropical growth, bidding his men wait at the foot of the mountain, while he climbed up alone.

On reaching the top, he gazed southward and beheld a great stretch of water, which he called the Great South Sea (1513). Falling down upon his knees, he gave thanks to God, and then made joyful signs to his followers to come up and join him.

Accompanied by these men, Balboa next went down the opposite slope, and, reaching the shore, waded out into the ocean, with a flag in one hand and his drawn sword in the other. Standing thus in the waters of the Great South Sea, he took possession of it in the name of Spain, declaring that all the countries it bathed belonged to his sovereigns.

That same year one of the former companions of Columbus, Ponce de Leon, started out from Puerto Rico. Like many other men of his time, he believed that all the stories he had heard were true, and that somewhere in the world there was a magic spring called the Fountain of Youth. He thought that if one drank of its waters, or bathed in them, one would be sure to become young again, and as he was rapidly growing old he longed to find and try it.

After vainly seeking the fountain on the newly discovered islands, he fancied, from what the natives told him, that it might be situated on the mainland, so he set out in quest of it. On Easter Sunday (Pascua florida), he landed in a beautiful country, which, in honor of the day, he called Florida. After taking possession of it for Spain, he began exploring; but although he drank from every spring, and bathed in every stream, he could not find the Fountain of Youth, and kept growing older and older.

After several years he made another journey to Florida, to continue his search, and to make a settlement; but as there were no roads through the dense forests and treacherous marshes, he and his men suffered greatly from hunger and heat. Finally Ponce de Leon was sorely wounded in a fight with the Indians, and his men carried him back to Cuba. There he died, a wrinkled old man, still regretting that he had not been able to find the Fountain of Youth. His friends, who admired his bravery, and often said he was as bold as his namesake the lion, wrote upon his tomb: "In this sepulcher rest the bones of a man who was Leon [lion] by name and still more by nature."

While Ponce de Leon was seeking the magic fountain, some of his countrymen were exploring the Gulf coast, from Florida to Mexico, under the leadership of Pineda. In 1519, also, a Portuguese, named Magellan, took a Spanish fleet down the coast of South America. After a time he came to the strait bearing his name, and, sailing through it, beheld the Great South Sea.

Magellan was such a brave seaman that he steered boldly across this unknown expanse of water. It was so much smoother than the Atlantic that he called it the Pacific, or "Peaceful "Ocean, a name which it has borne ever since, and which suits it much better than the one given by Balboa. After a journey of a year and a half, Magellan finally reached the Philippine Islands, where he was killed in a fight with the natives.

One of his officers now took command, and went on till he reached India. Thence, by way of the Cape of Good Hope, he came to Spain, sailing for the first time all around the globe. Besides proving that the earth is round, this voyage showed that South America is separated from India by a great stretch of water. Magellan's journey took three years, but now, thanks to steamboats and railroads, it can be made in about two months.