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the name of the country, the latter replied Yucatan, a word which means in their own language, "I do not understand you." The Spaniards imagined that this was the name of the country; and because of that unforeseen circumstance the country will always be called Yucatan. The name given by the Indians to this country is Eccampi. The Spaniards discovered a fortified town on the bank, of such importance that they named it Cairo, after the capital of Egypt. It possesses houses with towers, magnificent temples, regular streets, squares and market-places. The houses are built of stone or brick, held together with mortar and skilfully built. Access to the first courts and habitations is had by stairs of six or seven steps. The roofs are not made of tiles, but of thatch or bundles of grass.
Presents were mutually exchanged between the Spaniards and the natives, the barbarians giving beautifully worked buckles and necklaces, in exchange for which they received silk stuffs, woollen garments, glass beads, and copper bells. These gifts were graciously received because they came from strangers, but they attached no great value to them, because they make much more brilliant objects themselves out of certain stones. The natives wore clothing, not of wool, because they have no sheep, but made of a thousand different kinds of cotton dyed in divers colours. 'The women are covered from the waist to the heels, and they envelop their breasts in several veils, and take modest care that neither their legs nor their feet shall be visible. The natives visit the temples, to which paved streets lead, starting from the residence of the principal people of the community. They worship idols, and some of them, but not all, are circumcised. They have laws, and are extremely honest in trading, which they carry on without money. Crosses' have been seen amongst them; and when they were asked, through interpreters, the meaning of that emblem, some of them answered that a very beautiful man had once lived amongst them, who had left them this symbol as a remembrance of him; others said that a man more radiant than the sun had died upon that cross.
1 Whether the existence of these and other crosses in Mexico and Central America is to be ascribed to some remote and passing Christian influence or not, has been much discussed with a wealth of argument for and against this theory. The celebrated cross of Palenque is now held by the best authorities to symbolise the four winds; as the symbol of Quetzalcoatl, god of the air and particularly associated with the rain-bringing winds, the cross was the emblem of fertility. Consult Icazbalceta, Documentor para la Historia de Mejeco, torn, i., pp. 306, 307; Torquemada, Monorchia Indiana, torn, iii., p. 134; Las Casas, Hist. Apologetics, p. 123; Mota Padilla, Hist, de la Nueva Galicia, p. 36; Zelia Nuttall, Fundamental Principles of Old and New World Civilisations; Beauvois, Migrations d'Europe pendant le moyen dge.
THE Spaniards remained some days in that country. They noticed that the Indians began to tire of their presence; for visitors who prolong their stay are never agreeable. They, therefore, collected their supplies, and pushed straight on westwards, following the coasts of the provinces called by the natives Corus and Matam, and stopping nowhere, save for wood and water. The barbarians along the coasts admired the great size of the floating hulks, and both men and women came from all directions with their children to look at them. From on board their vessels the Spaniards likewise beheld with astonishment the buildings, especially the temples resembling fortresses, which stood near the shore. They finally decided to anchor one hundred and ten leagues farther on in a province called Campeche, whose capital had as many as three thousand inhabitants. The meeting was cordial on both sides, the barbarians regarding with amazement the agility of the sailors, the size of the vessels, their sails, tackle, and all the rest. When they heard the thunder of the cannon and smelt the smoke and sulphurous odour, they thought a thunderbolt had fallen from heaven. The cacique was pleased to receive the Spaniards in his palace and to offer them magnificent hospitality. They sat down to a sumptuous repast, where they were served with peacocks, fat chickens, wild birds from the mountains, woods, and swamps; partridges, quails, doves, ducks, geese, and wild game such as boar, deer, and hare; not to mention wolves, lions, tigers, and foxes.1
The natives conducted them with a royal escort to a large square just outside the village, where they showed them a square platform built of marble and approached by four steps. The floor was of hard bitumen in mosaic pattern; and upon this platform there stood the statue of a man surrounded by four quadrupeds of unknown species, resembling fierce dogs, in the attitude of tearing out the bowels of the marble man. Just near to the statue there was a serpent made of bitumen and small stones, forty-seven feet in length and as large round as an ox, which seemed to devour a lion made of marble. It was splashed with newly shed blood. In the immediate neighbourhood there were three beams set in the ground, and three others leaning obliquely upon stones. This is the place of punishment for criminals, as was proven by the Spaniards seeing marks of blood in many of the streets, broken arrows, and the bones of victims thrown into a neighbouring court. The houses of Campeche are built of lime and bitumen. The Spaniards gave the name of Lazarus to the cacique, because they landed there on the feast-day of that saint.
Pursuing their course to the west, the Spaniards landed fifteen leagues farther on, in the province of Aguanil, whose capital is Moscobo and the cacique Chiapoton;2 a word pronounced with the accent on the last syllable. This cacique was ill-disposed towards the Spaniards and sought to draw them into an ambuscade when they were taking in a supply of fresh water. The latter were told there was a spring on the other side of the hill, reached by narrow paths; but the natives had painted their faces and were armed with bows and arrows. * The Spaniards circumvented their plot, and refused to go any farther; but when they were scattered, and off their guard a thousand barbarians attacked them and overcame them. They fled towards the coast, but the ground being swampy, they sank into the mud, and twenty-two of them were killed with arrows. Almost all the others were wounded and the commander of the expedition, Francisco Fernandez, is said to have received thirty-three wounds.' Hardly anybody escaped unhurt, and had they gone as far as the hill they would have perished to the last man. The discouraged survivors returned to the island of Fernandina whence they had sailed, where they were received by their companions with tears and sighs both for the lost and the wounded.
1 The narration throughout may be profitably compared with that of Bernal Diaz in his Historia Verdadera. Mr. Maudslay's admirable English translation, published by the Hakluyt Society in 1910, renders this valuable old chronicle easily accessible.
1 Champoton; the Indian names throughout the decades are mostly misspelled.