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Page:The despatches of Hernando Cortes.djvu/177

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CONQUEST OF MEXICO. 155 ground ; that we should every day do them much in- jury, destroy many lives, burn and lay waste the city ; and that we should persevere until nothing was left of it or them. They answered, that they were well aware much harm would befal them, and that many of them would lose their lives ; but that they were still deter- mined to make an end of us, even if they should all perish in the attempt ; that I might see how the streets, public squares and terraces were j&Ued with people, who were so numerous that they had made a calculation that if twenty-five thousand of them should fall to one of ours, we would be first exterminated, so small was our num- ber compared with theirs ; that all the causeways leading into the city had been destroyed, (which was so far true that only one of them remained,) and thus we had no way of escape but by water ; that they knew well we had few- provisions and but little fresh water, and that ere long we should perish with hunger, even if they did not kill us. They were, indeed, quite right, in say- ing that had we nothing else to contend with, hunger and want would soon put an end to our lives. We exchanged many other words, each party sustaining his own side. As soon as it was dark, I sallied forth with a number of Spaniards, and as I found the people were taken by sur- prise, we obtained possession of one street, in which we burned more than three hundred houses. While the enemy were assembling in that quarter in its defence, I speedily turned into another street, where I also burned several houses, especially certain terraces that adjoined our quarters, from which we had experienced much an- noyance. Thus the events of that night struck great terror into the enemy; and during the same night I caused the engines that had created confusion in our