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Page:The despatches of Hernando Cortes.djvu/286

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264 LETTERS OF CORTES. this combat twenty-j&ve Spaniards were wounded, but a most brilliant victory was obtained. As the people of Iztapalapa had made signals of smoke from the towers of their idols, situated on a very lofty elevation very near the city, the Mexicans and inhabit- ants of the other cities on the lakes knew that I was entering the lake with the brigantines ; and all at once an immense fleet of canoes was assembled to attack us, and discover what sort of things the brigantines were ; so far as we could judge they exceeded five hundred in number. As soon as I saw that they were bending their course directly towards us, I with the men who had landed on the hill went on board in much haste, and I ordered the commanders of the brigantines by no means to move, since the canoes were determined to attack us, and would believe that from fear we did not venture out to meet them ; so in great force the enemy began to direct their course towards us. But when within about two bow-shots they halted and remained quiet ; and in the mean time, while I was anxious tha,t the first encounter we had with them should be marked by a signal victory, and inspire them with great dread of the brigantines, which were the key of the whole war, as both the enemy and our- selves would suffer most by water — it pleased our Lord that while we were looking at one another, a wind arose from the land favorable to an attack upon them, and I instantly gave orders to the commanders to break through the fleet of canoes, and pursue them until they took re- fuge in the city of Temixtitan. As the wind was fair, we bore down upon the midst of them, and although they fled as fast as possible, we broke an immense num- ber of canoes, and destroyed many of the enemy in a style worthy of admiration. In the chase we followed