i CONQUEST OF MEXICO. 375 men to enter the town by the road to the right, while I with ten others took the other course leading down to- wards the lake ; the remaining ten horse were to bring up the rearguard, and had not yet arrived. On entering the place there appeared to be a great number of people concealed in ambush within the houses, in order to take us by surprise ; who attacked us with such spirit, that they killed a horse and wounded almost all the others be- sides many Spaniards. They fought with great method, and the battle lasted a long time ; although repulsed three or four times, they formed again each time, and kneeling upon the ground in a circle, without speaking or uttering any sound, waited for us to come up, when they poured into us a shower of arrows, which flew so thick that if we had not been protected by armor not one of us would have escaped unhurt. At length it pleased our Lord that some of the enemy, who were nearest to a stream that flowed into the lake along which I had march- ed all day, threw themselves into the water, when others behind them also began to run towards the stream, and thus a general rout took place, though they only fled to the other side of the river. Thus we remained until night closed in, they on one side and we on the other side of the river, which was too deep for us to cross in pur- suit of them, though we were not sorry to have them pass it. So we returned to the town, which was about a sling's throw from the river; where we stayed that night as well guarded as possible, and consumed the horse the enemy had killed, having no other provision. The next day, as the inhabitants did not appear, we took a road that led to three or four towns, in which no people were found, nor any thing else except some store-rooms for wine, con-
Page:The despatches of Hernando Cortes.djvu/397
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