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The Romance of Rubber by United States Rubber Company
page 2 of 30 (06%)


If you were asked, "What did Columbus discover in 1492?" you would
have but one answer. But what he discovered on his second voyage
is not quite so easy to say. He was looking for gold when he
landed on the island of Hayti on that second trip. So his eyes
were blind to the importance of a simple game which he saw being
played with a ball that bounced by some half-naked Indian boys on
the sand between the palm trees and the sea. Instead of the
coveted gold, he took back to Europe, just as curiosities, some of
the strange black balls given him by these Indian boys. He learned
that the balls were made from the hardened juice of a tree.

The little boys and girls of Spain were used to playing with balls
made of rags or wool, so you may imagine how these bouncing balls
of the Indians must have pleased them. But the men who sent out
this second expedition gave the balls little thought and certainly
no value. Since Columbus brought back no gold, he was thrown into
prison for debt, and he never imagined that, four hundred years
later, men would turn that strange, gummy tree juice into more
gold than King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella and all the princes of
Europe ever dreamed of.

In the next century after Columbus's travels the Portuguese
founded the colony of Brazil on the continent of South America.
Their settlements were near the coast and they did not begin to
explore the great Amazon region for a hundred years or so. The
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