304 LETTERS OF CORTES. eighteen horse and one hundred foot, and one bowman ; who accordingly departed with these troops and a party of the Otumies, our allies. God knows the danger which they encountered in this expedition, and also to which we who remained behind were exposed; but as it was the best policy for us to exhibit greater courage and resolu- tion than ever, and even to die in arms, we concealed our weakness as well from our allies as from the enemy ; and often, very often, have I heard the Spanish soldiers de- clare, that they only wished it would please God to spare their lives, and make them conquerors of the city, although they should derive no interest nor advantage from it ; from which it will be seen to what extremity we were reduced, and on what a slender chance we held our per- sons and lives. The alguazil mayor proceeded that day to a town of the Otumies, on the frontiers of Marinalco, where he slept; and the next morning resumed his march, and arrived at an encampment of the Otumies, which he found deserted and partially burnt. Advancing to more level ground, he discovered a large body of the enemy near a stream, who had just set fire to another town ; as soon as they saw him, they began to fly ; and on the road they took, our people found in their rear large quantities of maize and the roasted flesh of children, which they had for pro- visions, but abandoned as soon as they saw the Spaniards. Having passed a stream that flowed in front of the plain, the enemy began to hold up, when the alguazil mayor with his horsemen attacked and routed them ; in their fright they took the road to Matalcingo, which was about three leagues distant. The cavalry continued the pur- suit until they shut themselves up in the town, where they waited the coming of the Spanish infantry and our
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