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relsome disposition; had already fought many duels, in which he had invariably killed his man. In a rencontre between the youthful De Soto and the veteran Captain Perez, there could be no doubt in the inind of the governor as to the result. He therefore smiled very blandly upon Captain Perez, and said in language which the captain fully understood :
“Well, my friend, if you, who are a veteran soldier, can endure the insolence of this young man, De Soto, I see no reason why an infirm old man like myself should not show equal forbearance."
Captain Perez was not at all reluctant to take the hint. It was only giving him an opportunity to add another to the list of those who had fallen before his sword. The challenge was immediately given. De Soto's doom was deemed sealed. Duels in the Span ish army were fashionable, and there was no mora. sentiment which recoiled in the slightest degree fror. the barbaric practice.
The two combatants met with drawn swords in: the presence of nearly all the officers of the colonia! army, and of a vast concourse of spectators. The stripling De Soto displayed skill with his weapon svhich not only baffled his opponent, but which excitel the surprise and admiration of all the on-lookars. For two hours the deadly conflict continued, without any decisive results. De Soto had received
several :riflir.g wounds, while his antagonist was unharmed. At length, by a fortunate blow, he inflicted such a gash upon the right wrist of Perez, that his sword dropped from his hand. As he attempted to catch it with his left hand, he stumbled and fell to the ground. De Soto instantly stood over him with his sword at his breast, demanding that he should ask for his life. The proud duellist, thus for the first time in his life discomfited, was chagrined beyond en. durance. In sullen silence, he refused to cry for mercy. De Soto magnanimously returned his sword to its scabbard, saying: “The life that is not worth asking for, is not worth taking.”
He then gracefully bowed to the numerous spec: tators and retired from the field, greeted with the en thusiastic acclaim of all who were present. This achievement gave the youthful victor prominence above
Perez was so humiliated by his defeat, that he threw up his commission and returned to Spain. Thus the New World was rid of one of the vilest of the adventurers who had cursed it.
The region of the peninsula, and the adjoining territory of South America, were at that time quite densely populated. The inhabitants seem to have been a happy people, not fond of war, and yet by no means deficient in bravery. The Spanish colonists were but a handful among them. But the war horse bloodhounds, steel coats of mail and gunpowder, gave them an immense, almost resistless superiority.
There was at this time, about the year 1521, ari Indian chief by the name of Uracca, who reigned over quite a populous nation, occupying one of the northern provinces of the isthmus. He was a man of unusual intelligence and ability. The outrages which the Spaniards were perpetrating roused all his energies of resentment, and he resolved to adopt desperate measures for their extermination. He gathered an army of twenty thousand men. In that warm c'imate, in accordance with immemorial usage, they went but half clothed. Their weapons were mainly bows, with poisoned arrows; though they had also javelins and clumsy swords made of a hard kind of wood.
The tidings of the approach of this army excited the greatest consternation at Darien. A shower of poisoned arrows from the strong arms of twenty thousand native warriors, driven forward by the energies of despair, even these steel-clad adventurers could not contemplate without dread. The Spaniards had taught the natives cruelty. They had hunted them down with bloodhounds; they had cut off their hands with the sword; they had fed their dogs with their infants ; had tortured them at slow fires and casi their children into the flames. They could not ex: pect that the natives could be more merciful than the Spaniards had been.
Don Pedro, instead of waiting the arrival of his foes, decided to assail the army on its march, hoping to take it by surprise and to throw consternation into the advancing ranks. He divided his
He divided his army of attack into two parties. One division of about one hundred men, he sent in two small vessels along the western coast of the isthmus, to invade the villages of Uracca, hoping thus to compel the Indian chief to draw back his army for the defence of his own territories. This expedition was under the command of General Espinosa
The main body of the Spanish troops, consisting of about two hundred men, marched along the eastern shore of the isthmus, intending eventually to effect a junction with the naval force in the realms of the foe. The energetic, but infamous Francisco Pizarro, led these troops. A very important part of his command consisted of a band of dragoons, thirty or forty in number, under the leadership of De Soto. His steel-clad warriors were well mounted, with housings which greatly protected their steeds from the arrows of the natives.
The wary Indian chieftain, who developed during the campaign military abilities of a high order, had his scouts out in all directions. They discerned :) the distant horizon the approach of the two vessels, and swift runners speedily reported the fact to Uracca. He immediately marched with a force in his judgment sufficiently strong to crush the invaders, notwithstanding their vast superiority in arms.
The Spaniards entered a sheltered bay skirted by a plain, which could be swept by their guns, and where the Indian warriors would have no opportunity to hide in ambush. Uracca allowed the Spaniards to disembark unopposed. He stationed his troops, several thousand in number, in a hilly country, several leagues distant from the place of landing, which was broken with chasms and vast boulders, and covered with tropical forest. Here every Indian could fight behind a rampart, and the Spaniards could only approach in the scattered line of skirmishers. The proud Spaniards advanced in their invading march with as much of war's pageantry as could be assumed. They hoped that nodding plumes and waving banners, and trumpet peals, would strike with consternation the heart of the Indians.
Uracca calmly awaited their approach. His men were so concealed that Espinosa could form no judgment of their numbers or position. Indeed he was scarcely conscious that there was any foe there who would venture to oppose his march. Accustomed as