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Page:The despatches of Hernando Cortes.djvu/25

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INTBOBUCTION. 7 country we had discovered." No similar edifices had been previously seen in the new world, nor equal marks of civili- zation in other respects. Keeping in sight of the coast, the expedition continued its course to the north-west, until they arrived at Campeachy, where they were hospitably received by the natives, although finally admonished that they must leave the country. Here they saw also temples of stone with idols, and persons habited in long white mantles, with vessels in their hands containing burning coals, into which they cast a species of gum and thus perfumed the Spaniards, at the same time bidding them depart the country. A few leagues farther west they en- tered the river Champoton, on which was situated a large vil- lage called Potonchan, containing houses of stone and lime, and surrounded by fields of maize. Here they landed for the purpose of taking in water and cultivating the acquaintance of the people ; but whilst engaged in filling their casks from a spring, they were attacked by a large body of the natives, and compelled to retreat to their boats with a heavy loss, forty-seven of their number being killed, and all the rest but one wounded; two men were taken prisoners, and five more died of their wounds on board of the ships. By the advice of the pilot the expedition now stood over for Florida, where they arrived in four days ; here they landed near a creek, and took in water ; but Alaminos, who had visited the place befoi-e in company with Juan Ponce de Leon,* cautioned his companions to be on their guard against the natives, who soon made their appear- ance and drove them with some loss to their ships. They now returned to Cuba, where Cordova died in a few days fx'om the effects of his wounds. When the governor of Cuba, Diego Velasquez, saw the orna- ments of gold and other articles taken from the temples of Yucatan, and two young men in the costume of the country, all indicating greater wealth and cultivation than had been observed in any other part of the new world, his expectations were high- ly excited, and notwithstanding the disasters that had attended Cordova, another expedition was at once set on foot. The fame of the discoveiy soon spread abroad, with exaggerated

  • The famous adventurer who discovered Florida in 1512.