154 LETTERS OF CORTES. the mean time I began to ascend the stairs, followed by certain Spaniards. While they who were above dis- puted the ascent with great courage, and even over- turned three or four of my followers, by the aid of God and his glorious Mother, for whose house this tower had been designated, and whose image had been placed in it, we succeeded in ascending, and engaged with the enemy on the upper area, until I compelled them to leap down to a lower terrace that surrounded it, one pace in width. Of these terraces the tower had three or four, about sixteen feet one above the other. Some of the enemy fell to the very bottom, who, besides the injury received from the fall, were slain by the Spanish soldiers stationed around the base. Those who remained on the upper terraces fought so desperately that we were more than three hours engaged with them before they were all despatched ; thus all perished, not one escaping. And your sacred Majesty may be assured, that so arduous was the attempt to take this tower, that if God had not broken their spirits, twenty of them would have been sufficient to resist the ascent of a thousand men, although they fought with the greatest valor, even unto death. I caused this tower and the others within the temple to be burned, from which they had removed the images we had placed in them. The fierceness of the enemy was somewhat abated by the capture of this position ; and while they relaxed their exertions throughout the city to a considerable degree, I directed my attention to the neighboring terrace, and called to the chiefs who had before conferred with me, but were now somewhat dismayed by what they had witnessed. They immediately appeared, when I said to them that they saw their inability to maintain their
Page:The despatches of Hernando Cortes.djvu/176
This page needs to be proofread.