3 - How Columbus Gained a Queen For His Friend
When you wish very much to do a certain
thing it is dreadfully
hard to be patient; it is harder still to have to wait.
had to do both. The wars against the Moors were of much
interest to the king and queen of Spain than was the finding
new and very uncertain way to get to Cathay. If it had
for the patience and what we call the persistence of Columbus,
America would never have been discovered--at least not
He staid in Spain. He grew poorer and, poorer. He was
friendless. It seemed as if his great enterprise must be
up. But he never lost hope. He never stopped trying. Even
failed he kept on hoping and kept on trying. He felt certain
sometime he should succeed.
As we have seen, he tried to interest the rulers of different
countries, but with no success. He tried to get help from
home-town of Genoa and failed; he tried Portugal and failed;
tried the Republic of Venice and failed; he tried the king
queen of Spain and failed; he tried some of the richest
powerful of the nobles of Spain and failed; he tried the
England (whom he got his brother, Bartholomew Columbus,
to go and
see) and failed. There was still left the king of France.
would make one last attempt to win the king and queen of
his side and if he failed with them he would try the last
rulers of Western Europe, the king of France.
He followed the king and queen of Spain as they went from
to place fighting the Moors. He hoped that some day, when
wished to think of something besides fighting, they might
of him and the gold and jewels and spices of Cathay.
The days grew into months, the
months to years, and still the war
against the Moors kept on; and still Columbus waited for
chance that did not come. People grew to know him as "the
explorer" as they met him in the streets or on the
of Seville or Cordova, and even ragged little boys of the
sharp-eyed and shrill- voiced as all such ragged little
are, would run after this big man with the streaming white
and the tattered cloak, calling him names or tapping their
little foreheads with their dirty fingers to show that
knew that he was "as crazy as a loon."
At last he decided to make one more attempt before giving
in Spain. His money was gone; his friends were few; but
remembered his acquaintances at Palos and so he journeyed
see once more his good friend Friar Juan Perez at the Convent
Rabida on the hill that looked out upon the Atlantic he
anxious to cross.
It was in the month of November, 1491, that he went back
Convent of Rabida. If he could not get any encouragement
he was determined to stay in Spain no longer but to go
try the king of France.
Once more he talked over the finding of Cathay with the
and the sailors of Palos. They saw how patient he was;
persistent he was; how he would never give up his ideas
had tried them. They were moved by his determination. They
to believe in him more and more. They resolved to help
of the principal sea captains of Palos was named Martin
Pinzon. He became so interested that he offered to lend
money enough to make one last appeal to the king and queen
Spain, and if Columbus should succeed with them, this Captain
Pinzon said that he would go into partnership with Columbus
help him out when it came to getting ready to sail to Cathay.
This was a move in the right direction. At once a messenger
sent to the splendid Spanish camp before the city of Granada,
last unconquered city of the Moors of Spain. The king and
of Spain had been so long trying to capture Granada that
camp was really a city, with gates and walls and houses.
called Santa Fe. Queen Isabella, who was in Santa Fe, after
delay, agreed to hear more about the crazy scheme of this
persistent Genoese sailor, and the Friar Juan Perez was
He talked so well in behalf of his friend Columbus that
became still more interested. She ordered Columbus to come
see her, and sent him sixty-five dollars to pay for a mule,
suit of clothes and the journey to court.
About Christmas time, in the year 1491, Columbus, mounted
his mule, rode into the Spanish camp before the city of
But even now, when he had been told to come, he had to
Granada was almost captured; the Moors were almost conquered.
last the end came. On the second of January, 1492, the
king gave up the keys of his beloved city, and the great
banner was hoisted on the highest tower of the Alhambra--the
handsomest building in Granada and one of the most beautiful
the world. The Moors were driven out of Spain and Columbus's
chance had come.
So he appeared before Queen Isabella and her chief men
them again of all his plans and desires. The queen and
advisers sat in a great room in that splendid Alhambra
told you of. King Ferdinand was not there. He did not believe
Columbus and did not wish to let him have either money,
sailors to lose in such a foolish way. But as Columbus
before her and talked so earnestly about how he expected
the Indies and Cathay and what he hoped to bring away from
Queen Isabella listened and thought the plan worth trying.
Then a singular thing happened.
You would think if you wished for
something very much that you would be ve up a good deal
sake of getting it. Columbus had worked and waited for
years. He had never got what he wanted. He was always being
disappointed. And yet, as he talked to the queen and told
what he wished to do, he said he must have so much as a
for doing it that the queen and her chief men were simply
at his--well, what the boys to-day call "cheek"--that
have nothing to do with him. This man really is crazy,
This poor Genoese sailor comes here without a thing except
very odd ideas. and almost "wants the earth" as
a reward. This is
not exactly what they said, but it is what they meant.
His few friends begged him to be more modest. Do not ask
they said, or you will get nothing. But Columbus was determined.
I have worked and waited all these years, he replied. I
what I can do and just how much I can do for the king and
of Spain. They must pay me what I ask and promise what
I say, or
I will go somewhere else. Go, then! said the queen and
advisers. And Columbus turned his back on what seemed almost
last hope, mounted his mule and rode away.
Then something else happened. As Columbus rode off to
French king, sick and tired of all his long and useless
the Spanish court, his few firm friends there saw that,
they did something right away, all the glory and all the
this enterprise Columbus had taught them to believe in
lost to Spain. So two of them, whose names were Santangel
Quintanilla, rushed into the queen's room and begged her,
wished to become the greatest queen in Christendom, to
this wandering sailor, agree to his terms and profit by
What if he does ask a great deal? they said. He has spent
life thinking his plan out; no wonder he feels that he
have a good share of what he finds. What he asks is really
compared with what Spain will gain. The war with the Moors
cost you ever so much; your money-chests are empty; Columbus
fill them up. The people of Cathay are heathen; Columbus
help you make them Christian men. The Indies and Cathay
of gold and jewels; Columbus will bring you home shiploads
treasures. Spain has conquered the Moors; Columbus will
In fact, they talked to Queen Isabella so strongly and
earnestly, that she, too, became excited over this chance
glory and riches that she had almost lost, Quick! send
Columbus. Call him back! she said. I agree to his terms.
Ferdinand cannot or will not take the risk, I, the queen,
it all. Quick! do not let the man get into France. After
Bring him back!
And without delay a royal messenger, mounted on a swift
was sent at full gallop to bring Columbus back.
All this time poor Columbus felt
bad enough. Everything had gone
wrong. Now he must go away into a new land and do it all
again. Kings and queens, he felt, were not to be depended
and he remembered a place in the Bible where it said: "Put
your trust in princes." Sad, solitary and heavy-hearted,
jogged slowly along toward the mountains, wondering what
of France would say to him, and whether it was really worth
Just as he was riding across the little bridge called
of Pinos, some six miles from Granada, he heard the quick
hoof-beats of a horse behind him. It was a great spot for
robbers, and Columbus felt of the little money he had in
traveling pouch, and wondered whether he must lose it all.
hoof-beats came nearer. Then a voice hailed him. Turn back,
back! the messenger cried out. The queen bids you return
Granada. She grants you all you ask.
Columbus hesitated. Ought he to trust this promise, he
Put not your trust in princes, the verse in the Bible had
If I go back I may only be put off and worried as I have
before. And yet, perhaps she means what she says. At any
will go back and try once more.
So, on the little Bridge of Pinos,
he turned his mule around and
rode back to Granada. And, sure enough, when he saw Queen
Isabella she agreed to all that he asked. If he found Cathay,
Columbus was to be made admiral for life of all the new
oceans into which he might sail; he was to be chief ruler
the lands he might find; he was to keep one tenth part
of all the
gold and jewels and treasures he should bring away, and
have his "say" in all questions about the new
lands. For his part
(and this was because of the offer of his friend at Palos,
Captain Pinzon) he agreed to pay one eighth of all the
of this expedition and of all new enterprises, and was
one eighth of all the profits from them.
So Columbus had his wish at last.
The queen's men figured up how
much money they could let him have; they called him "Don
Christopher Columbus," "Your Excellency" and "Admiral," and
once he set about getting ready for his voyage.