Page:Romance of History, Mexico.djvu/23

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THE AWAKENING OF SPAIN

adventurous souls stirred a like passion for discovery. With some, greed was the master motive; of these was the King of Portugal himself, who dreamed night and day of a sea-passage round Africa to the Indies, which would bring to his treasury the untold wealth of the East. To this end he toiled unceasingly to prepare an expedition which should double the Stormy Cape, re-christened the "Cape of Good Hope." Yet in his feverish striving he flung to the winds a chance of gaining the glory and riches for which his soul was athirst.

To the Court of Portugal, whence all men's eyes turned so eagerly to the East, came the Genoese Christopher Columbus, with his strange creed"—Look to the unknown West if you would reach the golden East!" John listened, but was not convinced. There might be land, as Columbus urged, beyond the great Atlantic, and it might be part of the Indies, but it was after all only a vague possibility, and he could not at such a moment, when he needed every resource for his own project, support so wild a scheme.

Denied by Portugal, Columbus turned to Spain, where reigned Ferdinand of Aragon and his wife, Isabella of Castile. He chanced on an unlucky time, when the joint sovereigns of Christian Spain were straining every nerve to capture Granada, and to wrest from the Moslem his last foothold in their land. Cold and distrustful, the king would have naught to say to the mad dreamer; but Isabella, more generous in nature, was fired by the splendour of the dream. She would help this Genoese, for

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