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Page:The despatches of Hernando Cortes.djvu/399

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CONQUEST OP MEXICO. 377 to the place in your Majesty's name the inhabitants of several villages ; and having appointed alcaldes and re- gidores, I left there my lieutenant as captain together with thirty horse and one hundred foot, and also a shallop and fishing boat, that had been brought to me from Vera Cruz, to enable them to provide themselves with supplies. A servant of mine had sent me from the same place a ship loaded with meat, bread, wine, oil, vinegar, and other things, which was wholly lost, and three of the crew yet remained on a small island in the sea five leagues from land; for when I afterwards sent a brigantine, they were found alive, having sustained themselves by feeding upon sea-wolves, and a fruit which they called figs.* I assure your Majesty that this expedition cost me alone more than 30,000 pesos of gold, as can be made to appear to your Majesty by the rendition of the ac- counts ; and it cost my companions as much more for horses, provisions, arms, and horse-shoes, the latter being worth at that time their weight in gold, and twice their weight in silver. But when we considered that so great an extent of country was reduced to your Majesty's ser- vice, it appeared to us a happy result, even should a greater expense have been incurred ; because, besides placing these Indians under the imperial sway of your Majesty, a ship had afterwards arrived there with many people on board and a great supply of provisions, and discharged her cargo, which they could not have done under other circumstances ; for if peace had not been established, not a soul could have escaped. Such had been the fate of another ship, whose company were all

  • Probably the nopal or Indian fig, the fruit of a species of cactus. The sea-

wolves {Habos marinos') were doubtless seals, sometimes called sea-dogs.