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Page:The despatches of Hernando Cortes.djvu/186

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164 LETTERS OF CORTES. considerable town two leagues distant, on the right of which there were a number of Indians, posted on the summit of a small hill. Thinking to take them prison- ers, as they were very near the road, and also to discover if there were any more people behind the hill, I proceeded with five horse and ten or twelve foot to attack them. We discovered that in the rear of the hill there was a large city with many inhabitants, with whom we en- gaged, until finding the ground somewhat rough and rocky, and the enemy numerous, while our own force was small, we were compelled to fall back on the town, where the army was left encamped. On this occasion I was badly wounded in the head by two stonesĀ ; and after my wounds had been dressed, I gave orders to leave the place, as it did not appear to be a safe position. Resu- ming our route, we were still followed by Indians in con^ siderable numbers, who attacked our troops with such vigor as to wound four or five Spaniards, and as many horsesĀ ; one horse was killed, and God only knows how great a loss it was to us, and how much sorrow his death occasioned in our ranks, as next to God our greatest security was in our horses. We derived some consolation from the flesh of this animal, which we eat, not leaving even his skin, or any other part of him, so great were our necessities j for since our departure from the great city we had eaten nothing but maize, boiled and roasted j and even this we were not always fully supplied with, being compelled to subsist in part on wild plants. Seeing that every day the enemy increased in numbers and vigor, while we were becoming enfeebled, I that night caused the wounded and infirm, whom we had so far car- ried on the backs and shoulders of the horses, to provide themselves with crutches and other means of assistance,