162 LETTERS OF CORTES. mares and horses, and more than two thousand Indians, our auxiharies ; amongst the latter were the son and daughters of Muteczuma, and the other caciques whom we had taken prisoners. The same night* about mid- night, thinking that we were not perceived, we sallied forth from the building very secretly, leaving in it many lighted fires, without knowing our route, nor where to go, except that one of the Tascaltecalt Indians who guided us, promised to lead us to his country, if the enemy did not embarrass the route. But guards had been stationed around who noticed our movements, and gave the alarm to the multitudes of people dwelling in that vicinity, of whom great numbers were collected, who pursued us until day-light, when five horsemen who went before as runners attacked some squadrons of people on the road, and killed a number of them ; these fled, supposing that there was a greater number of horse and foot than ap- peared. When I saw that the number of the enemy was increasing on all sides, I made a disposition of our force, and out of those remaining unhurt I formed squadrons, and placed them in front and rear, and on the flanks ; I put the wounded in the centre ; and I also arranged the position of the horse. During the whole of that day we were engaged in fighting in every direction, so that du- ring the whole night and day we did not advance more than three leagues. It pleased our Lord when the night came to show us a tower and a good house on a hill, where we entrenched ourselves ; and that night the ene- left us undisturbed, except that near the dawn of day there was a sudden alarm that only sprung from the
- This is still called lu noche triste, the sorrowful night.
t It might better have been supposed to be a guardian angel, either St Peter, as sonje have imagined, or St. James the Apostle, as in the battle of las Navas de Tolosa, in the form of a shepherd. — L.