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Page:The despatches of Hernando Cortes.djvu/105

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CONQUEST OF MEXICO- 83 sand houses ; it is situated on the shore of a large salt lake, one-half of it being built upon the water, and one- half on terra lirma.* The governor or chief of the city has several new houses, which, although they are not yet finished, are equal to the better class of houses in Spain — being large and well constructed, in the stone work, the carpentry, the floors, and the various appendages necessary to render a house complete, excepting the re- liefs and other rich work usual in Spanish houses. There are also many upper and lower rooms— cool gardens, abounding in trees and odoriferous flowers ; also pools of fresh water, well constructed, with stairs leading to the bottom. There is also a very extensive kitchen gar- den attached to the house, and over it a belvidere with beautiful corridors and halls ; and within the garden a large square pond of fresh water,t having its walls formed of handsome hewn stone ; and adjacent to it there is a promenade, consisting of a tiled pavement so broad that four persons can walk on it abreast, and four hundred paces square, or sixteen hundred paces round ; enclosed on one side towards the wall of the garden by canes, intermingled with verges, and on the other side by shrubs and sweet-scented plants. The pond contains a great variety offish and water-fowl, as wild ducks,| teal,

  • Iztapalapa preserves to this day the same name, and many remains of the

houses here described by Cortes ; since in taking earth from the middle for bricks, several high platforms are seen on which buildings were erected to protect the inhabitants in case of an inundation. — L. t The site of this pond [alberca] is, at the present day, covered by the lake Tezcuco, but there are still seen the remains and fragments of the edifice de- scribed above. — L. t Innumerable ducks and geese are at the present day killed on the lake in various ways ; one mode is with a large handgun, called by the Indians, Esme- ril ; another is, for the Indians to cover their heads with a hollow pumpkin, and concealing the body beneath the water, they seize the ducKs with the hdnd fan- other is, by taking them in nets during the night — Li