The Napo grew broader and deeper as the little company rapidly floated down, until it became a mile wide. Three days after they left Pizarro, they saw before them a river, many times larger than the Napo, which the Indians called Parana-tinega, King of Waters ; but we call it the Amazon. There was no cultivation, little food could be obtained, and the Indians were hostile instead of friendly. What was to be done ? Behind them was the wilderness, before them the promised land. The journey back would be -difficult and dangerous ; the temptation to explore the wonderful river was too great to resist. One man alone was faithful to Pizarro, and he was left on the bank while Orellano sailed down the river. The wonder of the explorers daily increased as other rivers larger than the Napo flowed into the Amazon, now on the north, more frequently on the south. Month after month passed, the river grew so broad that they could not see from one side to the other.
Great islands were passed, channels running parallel with the main stream larger than any river they had ever seen. Still on they went, till after several months they reached the Atlantic Ocean. Then they sailed north in their little boat, skirting the coast to Trinidad, where they found a vessel which bore them to Spain. They recounted the story of the great river ; the wonderful country through which they passed ; and the rich mines of which they had heard. They told fabulous tales of the Amazonians they had encountered, strong and masculine women, armed with bows and arrows, living by themselves, admitting men into their country only one month in the year, killing or sending away the male children and training the girls to become amazons and warriors.
Orellano was received by the Queen ; his treachery was forgotten and a new expedition was sent out under his command ; but he died before reaching the river.
Meantime, Pizarro and his followers slowly and with difficulty made their way down the Napo, taking as many months to reach the Amazon as Orellano had taken days. They looked in vain for their companions, but found only the solitary man who had been left behind, scarcely alive, and from him learned of Orellano’s desertion. Further explorations being impossible, they turned back, reached Quito two years after their departure, their horses gone, their arms broken or rusted, the skins of wild
animals their only clothing. The charnel house seemed to have given up its dead, as they glided onward like a troop of spectres.” Half of the Indians had perished, and of the three hundred and fifty cavaliers only eighty were left.
Such was the end of an expedition which for dangers and hardships, length of duration, and constancy displayed. is probably unmatched in the annals of American discovery.
Guiana is the only country of South America not inhabited by the Latin race. It was acquired for Great Britain by one who acted contrary to his instructions in attacking a power, Spain, with which his own country was at peace.