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Page:The despatches of Hernando Cortes.djvu/310

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288 LETTERS OF CORTES. determined to pass over and take a bridge where more than sixty paces of the causeway had been broken up and filled with water to the depth of nine or ten feet. He carried his purpose into effect the same day, and aided by the brigantines, crossed the water and gained the bridge, pursuing the enemy, who took to flight. Pedro de Alvarado then hastened to close up the breach so that the cavalry could pass ; and also because I had cautioned him every day, both in writing and verbally, not to gain an inch of ground without rendering it perfectly safe for the horse to come and go, that they might join in the at- tacks. As soon as the inhabitants saw that only forty or fifty Spaniards and a few of our allies had crossed to that side, and that the horse were unable to get over, they turned upon them so suddenly that our people retreated and threw themselves into the water ; and three or four Spaniards were taken prisoners by the enemy, who im- mediately carried them to be sacrificed [in the temple] ; several of our allies were also slain. At last, Pedro de Alvarado made good his retreat to his camp. When on that day I returned to my quarters and heard what had happened, nothing in the world could have grieved me more ; because it was the means of giving fresh courage to the enemy, and leading them to believe that we should not dare to make another attempt to carry the city. The reason that Pedro Alvarado wished to take that ill-advised step was, as I have said, that he saw a large part of the Indian force already in his power, and that the rest gave indications of weakness ; but it was chiefly on account of the importunities of the people in his division, who urged him to capture the market- place, as if that was taken the whole city would be carried, and all the strength and expectations that the