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Page:The despatches of Hernando Cortes.djvu/32

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14 INTRODUCTION. The return of Pedro de Alvarado, with ocolar proofs of the riches of the country discovered by Grijalva, led the governor, as ah-eady mentioned, to plan another expedition, to be pro- vided with men and arms for the reduction of the natives, and an assortment of cheap merchandise for traffic. He first ap- plied to his relative Baltazar Bermudez to take the command, but as this person required an outfit of three thousand ducats for arming and victualling the ships, Velasquez objected to so large a sum, saying that the expenses would in that way exceed the profits of the enterprise. The truth was, says Gomara, he had a penurious disposition, and sought to have the benefit that would result from such an expedition without taking his share of the cost of fitting it out. He had pursued the same course with that of Grijalva, in which one ship had been provided by Francisco de Montejo, and several other cavaliers, amongst whom were Alonso Hernandez Portocarrero, Alonso de Avila, and Diego de Ordas, had embarked at their own charge. Ber- mudez thus declining the proffered command, the governor spoke to Cortes on the subject, proposing to share equally with him the expenses of the armament, as they were already joint partners with Andres de Duero, a merchant, in whose business they had together invested a considerable sum of money. At the same time, knowing his diligence, discretion, and energy of character, he desired Cortes to take command of the ships, and superintend the aff'airs of the voyage, it being in some respects a mercantile adventure. Not supposing that the enterpi'ise would involve a large expenditure of money, and being ambi- tious of distinction, Cortes consented to the proposed partner- ship and accepted the command of the expedition ; after which, having concluded upon the terms of their agreement, they des- patched one of the companions of Alvarado to the island of Hispaniola, to obtain from the royal audience a license to traffic. The audience consisted of ecclesiastics, friars of the order of St. Jerome, named Luis de Figueroa, Alonso de Santo Domingo, and Bernaldino de Manzanedo, who exercised the supreme control in the absence of Diego Columbus, the gov- ernor, then in Spain. A license was granted by them recogniz- ing Hernando Cortes as commander, and jointly concerned