While the NBA Lockout hits the doldrums and many players contemplate the spices and gold of far off lands, we reflect on some of our world's earliest explorers and their contributions to history:
When they sailed west from Spain, the five Brothers Columbus felt as if they were embarking not so much as emissaries and viceroys but as kings themselves. In a journal belonging to one of the brothers were the words: "We will enter the Garden of Eden that surely awaits us as the Four Horsemen of Revelations," to which a hurried hand added later, "only there are five of us and we happen to be neither evil nor pestilent." Then, after the fleet split, the winds died and the sun grew hot, and the men thirsty.
And the gallant pilgrims took to chopping off every hand that did not greet them holding gold. Many hands were cut. When Francisco de Bobadilla found the Brothers Columbus governing over the island of Hispaniola, he fount them to be gluttons, bloodying the soil, starving the Natives, and imprisoning all misanthropic agitators. Bobadilla deemed the colony a failure, and clapped all five brothers in irons. As they were marched to the prison, a series of dirt cells dug out of the earth and lined and covered with stones, three of the brothers Columbus, except for Joshua Childress, cursed Christopher. Joshua Childress was too busy playing with the fingers of a hand that hung around his neck, a hemp rope, that was coated in congealed blood, passing through the stump of the wrist.
As they came into the prison, the Brothers Columbus are recorded giving their names as was requested by Bodilla's guardsmen.
"Sir Christopher Columbus and rightful Governor of Hispaniola."
"Sir Bartholomew Columbus and rightful heir to the Governorship of Hispaniola."
"Sir Giovanni Pellegrino and second heir to the Governorship of Hispaniola."
"Sir Giacomo and the third heir to the Governorship of Hispaniola."
A long pause. "Who me?"
With a dignified bow, "King of Hispaniola, Joshua Childress Colombo." The other four grumbled as they ducked their heads and entered.
After seven nights and seven days, Bobadilla came for the Brothers Columbus, saying to the lead guard of his dirt and stone dungeon, "Bring me every man bearing the name Columbus." There were many prisoners, and the guards had to step over their tangled limbs and braided chains in the dark, turning up a face here and shoving a face down there, until they found every man that Bobadilla had requested. Then, still in shackles, the men boarded a ship in the darkness just before dawn and sailed East, not as emissaries and viceroys, but as criminals and thieves.
When the light cleaved through the stone roof of the jail, one of the Brothers Columbus found himself in a cell all alone. He rubbed his eyes with unwashed hands and looked around him, coming to smile at a rotten melon in the corner of the chamber, rats gnawing on the white rinds, drops of juice causing their gray fur to glisten in the early light.
The prisoner crawled across the rocky floor and dug both hands into the snarl of melon and rodent. Then he sat in the lotus position, like a man discovering India, and let the rat crawl up and down his arm--an armlet of fur and fleshy tail--while slurping mushed melon out of the other. Joshua Childress Colombo, whether he was left by a clerical error, lost in the dark, or abandoned by his brothers, was truly the King of Hispaniola.
Art by Michael Langston.
Click here for the Real Life Historical Account of Explorer Koberigo Vespucci.
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