Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 36.djvu/105

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95
THE LUCAYAN INDIANS.

late, and the Lucayan race was as if it had never been. The hammock, the first gift of the New World to civilization, is their only monument, and the word the sole remnant of their language.

Columbus says that, on Saturday, October 13th, the second day, "A great crowd came, each bringing something, giving thanks to God, and entreating or beseeching us to land. We understood that they asked us if we had come down from heaven"; and before the children, who were led to the beach to welcome the celestial visitors who had been borne to them on white wings out of the blue dome which bounded their world, had grown to man-hood, they perished, with all their race, in a foreign land.

Where shall we find a sadder story than this? The evil was done long ago; there is now no remedy; but as the recollection thrills our pulse, and our generous sympathies are awakened, how eagerly do we ask the question: "What manner of men were the Lucayans? What were they like?"

These questions I am now able to answer, at least imperfectly,

PSM V36 D105 Lucayan skull from the bahamas.jpg

and the skull which is here figured once belonged to a person who may possibly have been among those who welcomed Columbus.

Like all coral islands, the Bahamas abound in caves, and these were used in some way by the Ceboynas, perhaps as burial-places, possibly as refuges from the blood-hounds of the Spaniards. The floor of these caves consists of red clay, rich in phosphates and of commercial value, and within recent years it has been removed