THE FIRST VOYAGE ROUND THE WORLD

A little below the estuary of the La Plata, once thought to be an arm of the sea opening into the Pacific, the flotilla anchored at Port Desire. Here they obtained an ample supply of penguins for the crews of the five vessels—a bird which did not make a very delicious meal. Then they anchored in 49° 30' in a beautiful harbour, where Magellan resolved to winter, and which received the name of St. Julian's Bay. The Spaniards had been two months there, when one day they perceived a man who seemed to them to be of gigantic stature. At sight of them he began dancing and singing and throwing dust upon his head. This was a Patagonian, who allowed himself without resistance to be taken on board the vessels. He showed the greatest surprise at all he saw around him, but nothing astonished him so much as a large steel mirror which was presented to him. "The giant, who had not the least idea of the use of this piece of furniture, and who, no doubt, now saw his own face for the first time, drew back in such terror, that he threw to the ground four of our people who were behind him." He was taken back on shore loaded with presents, and the kind welcome which he had received induced eighteen of his companions, thirteen women and five men, to come on board. They were tall, and had broad faces, painted red except the eyes, which were encircled with yellow; their hair was whitened with lime, they were wrapped in enormous fur cloaks, and wore those large leather boots from which was given to them the name of Large-feet or Patagonians. Their stature was not, however, so gigantic as it appeared to our simple narrator, for it varies from 5ft. 10in. to 5ft. 8in., being somewhat above the middle height among Europeans. For arms they had a short massive bow, and arrows made of reed, of which the point was formed of a sharp pebble.

The captain, to retain two of these savages whom he wished to take to Europe, used a stratagem, which we should characterize as hateful in the present day, but which had nothing revolting about it for the sixteenth century, when Indians and negroes were universally considered to be a kind of brute beasts. Magellan loaded these Indians with presents, and when he saw them embarrassed with the quantity, he offered to each of them one of those iron rings used for chaining captives. They would have desired to carry them away, for they valued iron above everything, but their hands were full. It was then proposed to fasten the rings to their legs, to which they agreed without suspicion. The sailors then closed the rings, so that the savages found themselves in fetters. Nothing can give an idea of their fury when they discovered this stratagem, worthy rather of savages than of civilized men. The capture of others was attempted, but in vain, and in the chase one of the Spaniards was wounded by a poisoned arrow, which caused his death almost instantaneously. Intrepid hunters, these people wander about perpetually in pursuit of guanaquis and other game; they are endowed with such wonderful voracity "that what would suffice for the nourishment of twenty sailors, can scarcely satisfy seven or eight of them." Magellan, foreseeing that the stay here was likely to be prolonged, and perceiving that the country only presented meagre resources, gave orders to economize the provisions, and to put the men on fixed rations, that they might not experience too great privations before the spring, when they might reach a country where there was more game. But the Spaniards, discontented at the sterility of the place, and at the length and rigour of the winter, began to murmur. This land seemed to stretch southwards as far as the Antarctic pole, they said; there did not seem to be any strait; already several had died from the privations they had endured; lastly it was time to return to Spain, if the commander did not wish to see all his men perish in this place.

Magellan, fully resolved to die, or else to bring the enterprise he commanded to a successful issue, replied that the Emperor had assigned him the course which the voyage was to take, and he neither could nor would depart from it under any pretext, and that in consequence, he should go straight forward to the end of this land, or until he met with some strait. As to provisions, if they found them insufficient, his men might add to their rations the produce of their fishing or hunting. Magellan thought that so firm a declaration would impose silence on the malcontents, and that he would hear no more of privations, from which he suffered equally with his crews. He deceived himself completely. Certain of the captains, and Juan de Carthagena in particular, were interested in causing a revolt to break out. These rebels therefore began by reminding the Spaniards of their old animosity against the Portuguese. The captain-general being one of the latter nation, had never, according to them, tendered a whole-hearted allegiance to the Spanish flag. In order to be able to return to his own country and to gain pardon for what he had done wrong, he wished to commit some heinous crime, and nothing could be more advantageous to Portugal than the destruction of this fine fleet. Instead of leading them to the Archipelago of the Moluccas, of the riches of which he had boasted to them, he wished to take them into frozen regions, the dwelling-place of eternal snow, where he could easily manage that they should all perish; then with the help of the Portuguese on board the squadron, he would take back to his own country the vessels which he had seized.