Open main menu

Page:The despatches of Hernando Cortes.djvu/302

This page needs to be proofread.


280 LETTERS OF CORTES. their idols and their houses. That they might become more sensible of their situation, I this day set fire to those noble edifices in the great square, where on the former occasion when they expelled us from the city the Spanish troops and myself were quartered. These buildings were so extensive that a prince with more than six hundred persons in his family and domestic retinue would have found ample space for their accommodation. There were others adjacent to these, which although somewhat smaller were more gay and elegant, and served Muteczuma for aviaries, in which he had every variety of birds known in that country. Although it grieved me much, yet as it grieved the enemy more, I determined to burn these palaces ; whereupon they manifested great sorrow, as well as their allies from the cities on the lake, because none of them had supposed we should be able to penetrate so far into the city. This struck them: with terrible dismay. Having set fire to these buildings, as it was now eve- ning, I assembled our force to return to the camp ; and when the inhabitants saw that we were retreating, they pursued us in great numbers, and coming up in a furious manner, fell upon our rearguard. But the streets being throughout favorable for the movements of horses, the cavalry turned about to charge upon them, and pierced many of them with their lances ; yet they did not cease rushing upon our rear uttering loud cries. This day they showed some feeling and not a little dismay, espe- cially when they saw the people of Tezcuco, Chalco, Suchimilco, and the Otumies entering the city, burning and destroying it and fighting against them ; all of them calling out by name the province to which they belonged ; and in another quarter the Tlascallans, who, as well as