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Page:The despatches of Hernando Cortes.djvu/261

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CONQUEST OF MEXICO. 239 and ready to be launched into the water — a matter of vast importance. Accordingly, as I had told the Chal- conians, we resumed the march that day at evening, and arrived at a village of theirs, where we were joined by more than forty thousand men of war, our allies, and took up our quarters for the night. As I was informed by the inhabitants of this village that the enemy were expecting me in the field, I ordered all the men to be in readiness at the dawn of day. The next morning, having heard mass, we began our march j I led the van with twenty horse, ten remaining in the rear, and as in this manner we passed through a defile between the steep sierras, at two P. M. we reached a very lofty and rough acclivity, on the summit of which were many women and children, and the sides were covered with men of war. They immediately began to sound the alarm, and making many signals with smoke, discharged their slings upon us, and also a shower of stones, arrows, and darts ; so that in approaching the place we received much injury. Although we saw that the enemy dared not to wait for us in the field, it appeared to me that it would look like cowardice to go forward without giving them something they would not relish, although such was the plan of our march ; and in order that our friends might not suppose we did this from want of courage, I began to take a look round the hill, which was about a league in circuit. I found it so well defended, that to think of gaining it seemed like madness, although I could do so by investing it, and compelling the enemy to yield from mere want ; but I could not spare the time necessary for this purpose. Being thus somewhat perplexed, I at length resolved to scale the declivity in three places, which I had noted, and I ordered Cristobal Corral an ensign of sixty foot-