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Page:The despatches of Hernando Cortes.djvu/175

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CONQUEST OF MEXICO. 153 to our doors, and took possession of the great temple, to the loftiest and most considerable tower of which nearly five hundred Indians, apparently persons of rank, ascended, taking with them a large supply of bread, water and other provisions, and a great quantity of stones. Most of them were armed with lances of large size, having points formed of flint, broader and not less sharp than ours ; and from this position they did much mischief to the people in the garrison, as it was very near. The Spanish soldiers attacked this tower two or three times, and attempted to ascend it ; but it was very lofty, and the passage up difficult on account of its having more than a hundred steps, and those above were well supplied with stones and other means of defence, and favored by our not having succeeded in gaining posses- sion of the neighboring terraces ; in consequence of these circumstances, every time our soldiers attempted the ascent, they came rolling down, many of them severely wounded, and the other portions of the enemy's force seeing this, took courage and penetrated to the very gar- rison without fear- Being sensible that if they continued their assaults while in possession of the tower, besides doing us much harm, they would be encouraged in the prosecution of the war, I sallied forth from the garri- son, although lame in my left hand from a wound I had received in- the engagement on the first day; and having tied a shield to my arm, I advanced to the tower, attended by a number of Spanish soldiers, and caused it to be surrounded at its base by a sufficient number of men, as was quite practicable. This pre- caution was not a useless one, as the troops stationed around the tower were attacked on all sides by the ene- my, who increased in numbers to faTor those within ; in