296 LETTERS OF CORTES. to annoy us ; and as the road was crowded also with our allies who had been routed, much delay was there- by occasioned, enabling the enemy to come up on both sides by water, and to take and destroy as many as they pleased. The captain who was with me, Antonio de Quinones, said to me, " Let us leave this place and save your life, since you know that without you none of us can escape ;" but he could not induce me to go. When he saw this, he seized me in his arms, that he might force me away ; and although I would have been better satisfied to die than live, yet by the importunity of this captain and of my other companions, we began to re- treat, making our way with our swords and bucklers against the enemy, who pressed hard upon us. At this moment there came up a servant of mine on horseback, and made a little room ; but presently he received a blow in his throat from a lance thrown from a low ter- race, that brought him to the ground. While I was in the midst of this conflict, sustaining the attacks of the enemy, and waiting for the crowd on the narrow cause- way to reach a place of safety, one of my servants brought me a horse to ride upon. But the mud on the causeway, occasioned by the coming and going of per- sons by water, was so deep that no one could stand, especially with the jostlings of the people against one another in their efforts to escape. I mounted the horse, but not to fight, as this was im- possible on horseback ; but if it had been practicable, I should have found on the little island, opposite the nar- row causeway, the eight horsemen I had left there, who were unable to do more than to effect their return ; which, indeed, was so dangerous that two mares on w'hich two of my servants rode fell from the causeway
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