Book V, Chapter VI
Of the reasoning offered by Captain Francisco de Barionuevo to certain companions with whom he traveled through a dangerous and difficult path going to meet with the Cacique Enrique, guided by a captain of the same Enrique.
Translated by Abby Tarwater ’21
“Gentlemen: I came here with you with no other purpose than to serve God and the Emperor, our Lord; and it will not be good for any of you to show any fear, since you are noblemen and accustomed to greater dangers. What is more, there is nothing to fear here, and he who wants to turn back can return to where our companions are and wait for me there: and he who wants to follow me and do what must be done, do as I do; because I will not take a step back, even to escape death: this is what I, and you, came here for, to gain honor, not to lose it.”
And thus, being the leader, he continued on his way, a sword in his belt, a short spear in his hand, and no other defensive or offensive weapon, wearing a burlap or linen doublet, breeches, canvas gaiters from the knees down, and rope-soled sandals. And thus, as a good captain and spirited gentleman, exhorting his company, they all followed him until they reached a cove or inlet no further than two crossbow shots from where Enrique was. And tired from the long walk, he sat under a tree, from where he could see Enrique and the Indians with him on the other side of the cove. And he had good reason to rest, because to reach that spot they had often crawled and scampered under trees and bushes; but the pretense of resting also allowed him and those with him to catch their breath and better understand and ascertain the layout of the land where Enrique was and consider their options, as they prepared for any eventuality. And from there he sent a mestizo from his company and the Indian captain Martín de Alfaro across the water and ordered them to tell Enrique that he had stopped there because he was tired, and not for any other reason: and that if Enrique was apprehensive, he should know that there was nothing for him to fear, since as he could see he had arrived there with only the few Christians with him. But if Enrique was not persuaded, he would return to the savanna or flatlands, and Enrique could come with his canoes to talk to him safely, as he preferred; because he had come on behalf of His Majesty to speak to him and bring him peacefully back to the King’s service, as the Emperor, our Lord, wanted him as his own, and wished to grant him favors, and he brought him a letter from His Majesty; and not to fear anything, because the Emperor would forgive all things past if he returned to his service and fealty, as stated in the royal letter he had written. And to this purpose he sent other reassuring words, encouraging peace and friendship; and as the mestizo and Captain Martín de Alfaro went to Enrique and told him what has been said, he then began to hurry his Indians, calling them scoundrels, because they did were not hurrying to open the overgrown path. And then the mestizo and the captain (as was said) returned to Barrionuevo, and they invited him and all his people to join Enrique: and he then sent word to the Spaniards he had left behind in the savanna with the friendly Indians; and once they arrived, he set out to join Enrique through the path that had already been cleared for him. And the Indians opening the path moved forward towards Barrionuevo, slashing and opening the path as the Christians worked on opening a path ahead of them. When Captain Francisco de Barrionuevo and the Christians reached Enrique, they found a large shady tree and under it a cotton blanket spread over the ground; and as soon as they saw one another, they approached and embraced with much pleasure, and holding hands, went to sit on that blanket. And there Tamayo, the Indian leader responsible for most of the damage done on the island, came to embrace Captain Barrionuevo, and after him he embraced all of Enrique’s Indians, who were six leading captains, subordinates and servants of this Cacique Enrique, and the other remaining Indians, renegades and men of war, up to seventy well-armed men, and most of them with spears, swords and shields. They wore the shields around the body, from the armpits to the hips, tied together by many cotton strings or cords, very tight and thick, instead of breastplates, dyed or painted a certain red color, like ochre, or a darker red, called bija, with many plumes, and arrayed as they usually did for battles and war. And Captain Francisco de Barrionuevo told the Christians to sit by his side, at some distance from himself, and Enrique told his Indians to sit on the other side. This done, Captain Francisco de Barrionuevo, with much pleasure and gentle countenance, explained his reasoning to him in the following way.
Image retrieved from John Carter Brown Library at Brown University.