Open main menu

Page:The despatches of Hernando Cortes.djvu/134

This page needs to be proofread.


112 LETTERS OF CORTES. and are navigated by canoes. All the streets at inter- vals have openings, through which the water flows, cross- ing from one street to another ; and at these openings, some of which are very wide, there are also very wide bridges, composed of large pieces of timber, of great strength and well put together ; on many of these bridges ten horses can go abreast. Foreseeing that if the inha- bitants of this city should prove treacherous, they would possess great advantages from the manner in which the city is constructed, since by removing the bridges at the entrances, and abandoning the place, they could leave us to perish by famine without our being able to reach the main land — as soon as I had entered it, I made great haste to build four brigantines, which were soon finished, and were large enough to take ashore three hundred men and the horses, whenever it should become necessary. This city has many public squares, in which are situ- ated the markets and other places for buying and selling. There is one square twice as large as that of the city of Salamanca, surrounded by porticoes, where are daily assembled more than sixty thousand souls, engaged in buying and selling ; and where are found all kinds of merchandise that the world affords, embracing the ne- cessaries of life, as for instance articles of food, as well as jewels of gold and silver, lead, brass, copper, tin, pre- cious stones, bones, shells, snails, and feathers. There are also exposed for sale wrought and unwrought stone, bricks burnt and unburnt, timber hewn and unhewn, of different sorts. There is a street for game, where every variety of birds found in the country are sold, as fowls, partridges, quails, wild ducks, fly-catchers, widgeons, tur- tle-doves, pigeons, reedbirds, parrots, sparrows, eagles, hawks, owls, and kestrels ; they sell likewise the skins