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by gardens from one another, and are of stone covered with plaster, built by architects of real talent. The habitable parts of these houses are reached by staircases with six or seven steps. Nobody is allowed to rest his beams or carpenter work upon the roof of his neighbour, and all the houses are separated by an interval of at least three feet. The majority are covered with thatch made of straw or marsh reeds. Many are roofed with square, flat Stones. The barbarians admit that there were forty thousand of them engaged in the battle'; if they were defeated by a handful of men it was because of the horses, a novel feature of war with which they were not acquainted, and the cannon. Our horsemen had thrown themselves upon the enemy's rear, dispersing their companies, striking to the right and left, as shepherds do among disorderly sheep. Astonished by this novelty, the unfortunate creatures hesitated, and never again found the opportunity of using their arms. Thus they believed in the fable told of the centaurs, that man and horse were one animal. The Spaniards remained in possession of the town for twenty-two days, living luxuriously and under shelter, while the barbarians were perishing of hunger in the open country, not daring to attack them. They chose the strongest part of the town for a citadel, but never went to sleep without having first posted a guard for the night; for they were on the alert, fearing an attack of the natives and their cacique Tanosco. This town is called Potonchan, but in honour of the victory they won there, they named it Victoria. Astonishing things are told of the magnificence, the size and the beauty, of the country houses built by the natives round about, for their pleasure. They are constructed like ours, with courtyards shaded from the sun and with sumptuous apartments.
* The battle of Ceutla was fought on March 25th. Andres de Tapia states that 48,000 Indians were in the engagement, but these figures are based on no actual count and merely represent the idea of multitude. In the Cronica of Gomara, as well as in Tapia's Relacion, the victory is attributed to the intervention of St. James, the patron saint of Spain. Bernal Diaz does not question the miraculous apparition but observes with truly Christian humility that he was too miserable a sinner to be worthy to behold it.
Thanks to the interpreters and the prisoners taken in the battle, the cacique and his principal officers were prevailed upon to return and sue for peace. Having consented to this step, all the people returned to their homes, and peace was made on condition that they renounced the horrible human sacrifices in honour of the dead, and the odious demons whose idols they adored, and henceforth lifted up their souls to the Lord Jesus, Father of heaven and earth, born of a virgin and crucified for the salvation of the human race. They destroyed their idols, and confessed themselves subjects of the King of Spain. They promised everything, and the Spaniards instructed them as much as was possible in so short a time, distributing presents amongst them, and afterwards dismissing them. These natives believe that the Spaniards are envoys from Heaven, since being so few they dared to give battle to so great a multitude. They presented the Spaniards with a few articles of gold and twenty female slaves."
* Among these women was Marina of Painalla, an Aztec girl whose mother had some years previously sold her to some Indians of Xicalango in order to secure the girl's inheritance to a son by her second husband. Marina was taken to Tabasco and finally fell to the share of Portocarrero when the female booty was divided amongst the Spaniards. Knowing the language of the coast tribes which resembled that of Yucatan, she was able to communicate with Aguilar; Aztec was her mother tongue, and when the envoys from Montezuma appeared, it was speedily discovered that only through Marina could Cortes negotiate intelligibly with the Mexicans. Marina was thereupon promoted to the commander's tent, where she remained during the entire conquest, her importance daily increasing. She is described by Bernal Diaz as a woman of remarkable beauty and superior character. She betrayed her people and was faithful to the
Everything being thus settled, Cortes left to explore other countries along the same coast. They visited the gulf noted by Alaminos during the voyage of Grijalva, and named it the Bay of San Juan; bay in the Spanish being the same thing as gulf. A mile from the bank was a walled town, containing about five hundred houses, built upon a hill. The inhabitants offered hospitality and the half of their town, if the Spaniards cared to stay permanently. It is probable that they were frightened by what had happened to the inhabitants of Potonchan, the news of which had reached them, and they hoped to secure protection of such heroes against their neighbours, for they likewise are afflicted by that malady which never disappears, and is in some fashion inborn in humanity; like all men, they thirst for dominion. The Spaniards refused to stop there permanently but agreed to make a halt." When they returned to the coast the people followed them and quickly built huts of green branches covered by improvised roofs against the rain. On that spot the Spaniards pitched their camp. To provide them with occupation Cortes commanded the pilot Alaminos and Francisco Montejo to explore the country towards the west, and meantime his weary men rested and those who had been wounded at Potonchan were cared for.
Fifty men embarked upon the two brigantines, the other soldiers remaining behind with the chief. Up to that time the gulf current had moderated, but hardly had the Spaniards advanced somewhat to the west, than they were seized, as it were, by a torrent rushing down from
Spaniards throughout. She bore Cortes one son, Martin, and a daughter; possibly other children. In 1524 she was married to a Spanish soldier Juan Xaramillo and in the year 1537 she was still living. Consult Alaman, Disertaciones Historicas; also MacNutt's Letters of Cortes. Appendix I. to Second Letter, vol. i. * Cortes landed on Good Friday which fell that year on April 21st.
a mountain. The force of the waters was such that in a very short time they were carried fifty leagues away from their companions. They were next caught in a countercurrent, and before them stretched a vast extent of sea, running contrary to the waves coming from the west; SO that it seemed as though two great rivers were flowing in opposite directions and coming into conflict with one another. The current flowing from the south seemed to resist, as does the first owner of the soil resist enemies who seek to invade his property. Along the horizon directly in front of them the Spaniards beheld the land, but neither to the right nor the left was anything visible. They drifted about in this terrible whirlpool, and were driven first in one direction and then in another by waves which threatened to engulf them. All hope was lost and doubt prevailed; finally they decided to sail back over the current that had brought them thither. They set all their sails and even used oars, but it was with the greatest difficulty they could master the current; and when they thought they had advanced two leagues, they found that in the course of one night they had been carried back four. With the help of God, they succeeded, but they had lost twenty-two days in the course of this little maritime expedition. Rejoining their companions they recounted what had happened, believing that they had found the extremity of the land of Coluacan, and of the supposed continent. They imagined the land sighted in the distance was a part of our continent or was joined to the southern part of the coast of Baccalaos, of which I have spoken at length in these Decades. This point is still doubtful, Most Holy Father; some day it will be explained. Meanwhile I report what has been related to me. While Alaminos and Francisco de Montejo sought to discover these secrets, the king of that country, called
Muteczuma, sent one of his vassals called Quitalbitor' who commanded a fortified town of which we have spoken, bearing a number of valuable presents, some beautifully wrought in gold and silver with precious stones. It was decided to send them to our sovereign. The project was also formed, but without consulting Diego Velasquez, the governor of Cuba, of founding a colony. The opinions on this point were divided, some believing that they had not the right to proceed thus, while others, and they were the majority, seduced by the artifices of Cortes, held the contrary view. It is in this connection that many stories circulated about the disloyalty of Cortes, a thing to be discussed at length later on. The decision reached was that no heed would be paid to the governor, and that the matter would be referred to a higher tribunal, that is to say, the King. The Spaniards applied to the cacique Quitalbitor for food. The site chosen for the colony was in the midst of a fertile tract twelve leagues distant from that place, and the commander Cortes, was elected governor. Cortes likewise appointed officials for the colony about to be founded.” Portocarrero and Montejo, about whom enough has been already said above, were chosen to carry the gifts to our King, the Emperor, with the pilot Alaminos to accompany them. Four great leaders and two women, who, according to the national usage, were assigned for their service, accompanied them. These natives are of a brownish colour. Both sexes pierce the ears and wear
* The messengers of Montezuma were Teuthlili, governor of Cuetlaxtla, and Quitlalpitoc who had discharged a similar mission to Grijalva. Consult Las Casas, Historia de las Indias, tom. iii., p. 1 19; Torquemada, Monarchia Indiana, tom. iv., cap. xvii.; Orozco y Berra, Conquista de Mexico, tom. iv., p. 139; MacNutt, Fernando Cortes, cap. iii.
* Read in this connection the letter of the magistrates of Vera Cruz, included under the title of First Letter in the Cartas de Relacion; MacNutt, Letters of Cortes; Prescott's Conquest of Mexico, tom. i., cap. v.; Orozco y Berra, Conquista de Mexico, tom. iv.