A prize had been offered to the sailor who first saw land, and all eagerly watched for it night and day. At last, early one morning, a gun was fired from the Pinta, and all knew that land had been sighted. The sailors were filled with the wildest joy, and crowded around Columbus with expressions of gratitude and admiration, in great contrast to the distrustful manner in which they had treated him a few days before. The land they were approaching was very beautiful. It was a green, sunny island with pleasant groves in which birds were singing. Beautiful flowers were blooming all around and the trees were laden with fruit. The island was inhabited, too, for groups of strange-looking men were seen running to the shore. At length the ships cast anchor, the boats were lowered, and Columbus, clad in rich scarlet and carrying in his hand the royal banner of Spain, was taken ashore. As soon as he stepped on the beach, Columbus knelt down and gave thanks to God. He then planted the banner of Spain in the ground and took possession of the country in the name of Ferdinand and Isabella.
This island he called San Salvador, because he and his crew had been saved from a watery grave, and also because October 12 was so named in the Spanish calendar. Columbus supposed San Salvador to be one of the islands near the coast of Asia, but it is one of the Bahamas. Thus was America discovered on the 12th of October, 1492. The natives of this island were different from any people the Spaniards had ever seen. They were of a reddishbrown color, and had high cheek bones, small black eyes, and straight black hair. They were entirely naked, and their bodies were greased and painted. Their hair was decorated with feathers, and many of them were adorned with curious ornaments. They were at first very much afraid of the white men and kept far away. But gradually they lost their fear and brought the Spaniards presents of bananas and oranges. Some of them gathered courage enough to touch the Spaniards and pass their hands over them, as if to make certain that they were real beings. These men, whose skin