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Printable Columbus Day Story for kids - The True Story of Christopher ColumbusColumbus Day Stories

The True Story of Christopher Columbus
- A Chapter Book

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

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Christopher Columbus True Stories for Teachers
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Home > Holidays > Columbus Day > The True Story of Christopher Columbus > Chapter 3

Chapter 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. Columbus had to do both. The wars against the Moors were of much greater interest to the king and queen of Spain than was the finding of a new and very uncertain way to get to Cathay. If it had not been for the patience and what we call the persistence of Columbus, America would never have been discovered--at least not in his time.

He staid in Spain. He grew poorer and, poorer. He was almost friendless. It seemed as if his great enterprise must be given up. But he never lost hope. He never stopped trying. Even when he failed he kept on hoping and kept on trying. He felt certain that 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 his old home-town of Genoa and failed; he tried Portugal and failed; he tried the Republic of Venice and failed; he tried the king and queen of Spain and failed; he tried some of the richest and most powerful of the nobles of Spain and failed; he tried the king of England (whom he got his brother, Bartholomew Columbus, to go and see) and failed. There was still left the king of France. He would make one last attempt to win the king and queen of Spain to his side and if he failed with them he would try the last of the rulers of Western Europe, the king of France.

He followed the king and queen of Spain as they went from place to place fighting the Moors. He hoped that some day, when they wished to think of something besides fighting, they might think 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 the chance that did not come. People grew to know him as "the crazy explorer" as they met him in the streets or on the church steps of Seville or Cordova, and even ragged little boys of the town, sharp-eyed and shrill- voiced as all such ragged little urchins are, would run after this big man with the streaming white hair and the tattered cloak, calling him names or tapping their brown little foreheads with their dirty fingers to show that even they knew that he was "as crazy as a loon."

At last he decided to make one more attempt before giving it up in Spain. His money was gone; his friends were few; but he remembered his acquaintances at Palos and so he journeyed back to see once more his good friend Friar Juan Perez at the Convent of Rabida on the hill that looked out upon the Atlantic he was so anxious to cross.

It was in the month of November, 1491, that he went back to the Convent of Rabida. If he could not get any encouragement there, he was determined to stay in Spain no longer but to go away and try the king of France.

Once more he talked over the finding of Cathay with the priests and the sailors of Palos. They saw how patient he was; how persistent he was; how he would never give up his ideas until he had tried them. They were moved by his determination. They began to believe in him more and more. They resolved to help him. One of the principal sea captains of Palos was named Martin Alonso Pinzon. He became so interested that he offered to lend Columbus money enough to make one last appeal to the king and queen of Spain, and if Columbus should succeed with them, this Captain Pinzon said that he would go into partnership with Columbus and 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 was sent to the splendid Spanish camp before the city of Granada, the last unconquered city of the Moors of Spain. The king and queen of Spain had been so long trying to capture Granada that this camp was really a city, with gates and walls and houses. It was called Santa Fe. Queen Isabella, who was in Santa Fe, after some delay, agreed to hear more about the crazy scheme of this persistent Genoese sailor, and the Friar Juan Perez was sent for. He talked so well in behalf of his friend Columbus that the queen became still more interested. She ordered Columbus to come and see her, and sent him sixty-five dollars to pay for a mule, a new suit of clothes and the journey to court.

About Christmas time, in the year 1491, Columbus, mounted upon his mule, rode into the Spanish camp before the city of Granada. But even now, when he had been told to come, he had to wait. Granada was almost captured; the Moors were almost conquered. At last the end came. On the second of January, 1492, the Moorish king gave up the keys of his beloved city, and the great Spanish banner was hoisted on the highest tower of the Alhambra--the handsomest building in Granada and one of the most beautiful in 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 and told them again of all his plans and desires. The queen and her advisers sat in a great room in that splendid Alhambra I have told you of. King Ferdinand was not there. He did not believe in Columbus and did not wish to let him have either money, ships or sailors to lose in such a foolish way. But as Columbus stood before her and talked so earnestly about how he expected to find the Indies and Cathay and what he hoped to bring away from there, 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 for the sake of getting it. Columbus had worked and waited for seventeen years. He had never got what he wanted. He was always being disappointed. And yet, as he talked to the queen and told her what he wished to do, he said he must have so much as a reward for doing it that the queen and her chief men were simply amazed at his--well, what the boys to-day call "cheek"--that they would have nothing to do with him. This man really is crazy, they said. This poor Genoese sailor comes here without a thing except his 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 so much, they said, or you will get nothing. But Columbus was determined. I have worked and waited all these years, he replied. I know just what I can do and just how much I can do for the king and queen 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 her advisers. And Columbus turned his back on what seemed almost his last hope, mounted his mule and rode away.

Then something else happened. As Columbus rode off to find the French king, sick and tired of all his long and useless labor at the Spanish court, his few firm friends there saw that, unless they did something right away, all the glory and all the gain of this enterprise Columbus had taught them to believe in would be lost to Spain. So two of them, whose names were Santangel and Quintanilla, rushed into the queen's room and begged her, if she wished to become the greatest queen in Christendom, to call back this wandering sailor, agree to his terms and profit by his labors.

What if he does ask a great deal? they said. He has spent his life thinking his plan out; no wonder he feels that he ought to have a good share of what he finds. What he asks is really small compared with what Spain will gain. The war with the Moors has cost you ever so much; your money-chests are empty; Columbus will fill them up. The people of Cathay are heathen; Columbus will help you make them Christian men. The Indies and Cathay are full of gold and jewels; Columbus will bring you home shiploads of treasures. Spain has conquered the Moors; Columbus will help you conquer Cathay.

In fact, they talked to Queen Isabella so strongly and so earnestly, that she, too, became excited over this chance for glory and riches that she had almost lost, Quick! send for Columbus. Call him back! she said. I agree to his terms. If King Ferdinand cannot or will not take the risk, I, the queen, will do it all. Quick! do not let the man get into France. After him. Bring him back!

And without delay a royal messenger, mounted on a swift horse, 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 over again. Kings and queens, he felt, were not to be depended upon, and he remembered a place in the Bible where it said: "Put not your trust in princes." Sad, solitary and heavy-hearted, he jogged slowly along toward the mountains, wondering what the king of France would say to him, and whether it was really worth trying.

Just as he was riding across the little bridge called the Bridge 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 his traveling pouch, and wondered whether he must lose it all. The hoof-beats came nearer. Then a voice hailed him. Turn back, turn back! the messenger cried out. The queen bids you return to Granada. She grants you all you ask.

Columbus hesitated. Ought he to trust this promise, he wondered. Put not your trust in princes, the verse in the Bible had said. If I go back I may only be put off and worried as I have been before. And yet, perhaps she means what she says. At any rate, I 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 seas and oceans into which he might sail; he was to be chief ruler of all 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 was to 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 expenses of this expedition and of all new enterprises, and was to have 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 at once he set about getting ready for his voyage.

 

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