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Page:The despatches of Hernando Cortes.djvu/228

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206 liETTERS OF CORTES. degree of order and regularity on the march. Already the Indians were beginning to utter loud cries from their dwellings and small villages, calling upon the whole country to pour forth its population, and attack us on the bridges and in the difficult passes on our route. But we advanced so rapidly that before they had time to rally their forces, we had already descended to the plain. They, however, planted several squadrons of Indians in the road on our front, and I gave orders for fifteen of the horsemen to attack them, who rushed upon them with their lances and destroyed many without any loss on our part. We continued our route to the city of Tesaico, which is one of the largest and most beautiful cities in all this country. As the foot soldiers were somewhat weary, and it was now evening, we lodged at a small place called Coatepeque, which is subject to that city, from which it is three leagues distant; we found it deserted by the inhabitants. That night we thought how very large and populous were this city and province, (the latter called Aculuacan,) which, it may be safely be- lieved, contained at one time more than a hundred and fifty thousand men,* and from whom we were exposed to an attack. With but ten horsemen I commenced the watch, and went its rounds the first quarter, and took care that all the people should be well prepared against the enemy. The next day, (Monday, the last day of December,) we resumed our march in the usual order ; and at a quarter of a league from Coatepeque, being all in great perplexity, reasoning with ourselves whether the Tesai-

  • Tezcuco at the present day is a populous city, and there are numerous vil-

lages in its suburbs, together With handsome farm-houses, or haciendas. — L.