Open main menu

Page:The despatches of Hernando Cortes.djvu/121

This page needs to be proofread.


CONQUEST OF MEXICO- 99 for establishing farming stations, and procuring gold ; on this account I requested Muteczuma to establish a plan- tation there for your Majesty. He accordingly set to work for this purpose with so much diligence, that within two months from the time I spoke to him on the subject, six- ty fanegas of maize, and ten of beans were planted, to- gether with two thousand cacoa trees,* which bear a fruit resembling the almond, that is sold after being ground, and is held in such estimation, that it is used as money throughout all the country, and employed in pur- chases in the markets and every where else.t He had also erected four very good houses, in one of which be- side the apartments there was a pool of water, in which they placed five hundred geese, there held in high esti- mation, as they make a profitable use of their feathers, which they strip off every year and weave into thin cloth. They also placed there fifteen hundred domestic fowls ; and altogether the improvements were valued by Spaniards who saw them at different times, exclusively of the soil, at 20,000 pesos of gold. I likewise inquired of Muteczuma if there were on the coast of the sea any river or bay into which ships could enter, and lie with safety. He answered that he did not know, but that he would cause a chart of the coast to be painted, showing the rivers and bays, and that I might send Spaniards to examine them, for which purpose he would despatch suitable persons with them as guides ; and he did so. The next day they brought me a chart of the whole coast, painted on cloth ; on which appeared a river that

  • This is the Cacao, of which chocolate is made. — L.

t Even at the present day it is common in shops to give cacoa seeds in place of copper money, when the amount is less than a silver coin of the value of half a real, or six cents. — L.