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Page:The despatches of Hernando Cortes.djvu/349

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CONQUEST OF MEXICO. S27 addicted to a cruelty exceeding what had ever been known in any generation, and violating in a greater de- gree the lavis of nature and humanity. Our allies took this day an immense quantity of spoil, which we could in no wise prevent, for we were but nine hundred Span- iards, while they amounted to more than one hundred and fifty thousand men, and no care or attention on our part sufficed to prevent them from plundering, although we did all in our power. One reason why I had been desirous on previous days to effect an arrangement with the inhabitants, was, that they might not throw their trea- sure into the water, and thus lead our allies to commit depredations on whatever they could find ; as I feared that by this means j^our Majesty would gain but a small portion of the great wealth contained in this city ac- cording to my previous representations. It being now late in the day, and the pestilential odor of the dead bodies becoming insupportable, from their having lain about the streets for several days, we returned to our camp. The same evening I planned that on our return to the city the next da}, we should take with us three pieces of ordnance, as I feared that the enemy being crowded into so narrow quarters, and having no room to move, would endeavor to drown the Spaniards without striking a blow, when they sought to carry their defences by storm ; and on this account I proposed to annoy them with the guns from a distance, whenever they should sally forth against us. I also ordered the alguazil mayor to be in readiness with the brigantines on the following day to enter a large basin which was situated amongst the houses of the city, where all their canoes were collected ; and as so few houses remained to the enemy, in which the lord of the city could take refuge, it might happen that he would embark