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Ch. 12: Pearls

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UNITED STATES, CANADA AND MEXICO
245
somewhat discolored by the fire and smoke. The Indians were apt also to further injure pearls thus obtained by boring them with a heated copper instrument.
"De Soto, having gratified his curiosity, returned to his quarters to partake of his morning meal. While thus engaged a soldier entered with a large pearl in his hand. He had stewed some oysters, and in eating them, felt the pearl between his teeth. Not having been injured by fire or smoke, it re­tained its beautiful whiteness, and was so large and perfect in its form that several Spaniards, who pretended to be skilled in those matters, declared it would be worth 400 ducats. The sol­dier would have given it to the governor to present to his wife, Dofia Isabel de Bobadilla, but De Soto declined the generous offer, advising him to preserve it until he should arrive at Havana, when he could purchase horses and other necessaries with it; moreover, as a reward for his liberality, De Soto in­sisted upon paying the fifth of the value due the Crown."1
During the course of the weary march of the expedition through the mountains of Upper Georgia, the following circum­stance is related by the same historian.
"A foot-soldier, calling to a horseman who was his friend, drew forth from his wallet a linen bag in which were six pounds of pearls, probably filched from one of the Indian sepulchers. These he offered as a gift to his comrade, being heartily tired of carrying them on his back, though he had a pair of broad shoulders capable of bearing the burden of a mule. The horse­man refused to accept so thoughtless an offer. ' Keep them yourself,' said he. ' You have most need of them. The governor intends shortly to send messengers to Havana, when you can forward these presents and have them sold, and obtain three or four horses with the proceeds, so that you need no longer go on foot.' Juan Terron was piqued at having his offer refused. ' Well,' said he, ' if you will not have them, I swear I will not carry them, and they shall remain here.' So saying, he untied the bag, and whirling it around, as if he were sowing seed,
1 The foregoing is taken from Theodore Irving's Conquest of Florida under Hernando De Soto (London, 1835), Vol. 2, p. 14, and is from Pierre Richelet's translation made in 1831. De la Vega's entire work, translated from the same source, appears in the History of Hernando De Soto and Florida, by Barnard Shipp (Philadelphia, 1881).
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