Open main menu

Page:The despatches of Hernando Cortes.djvu/40

This page needs to be proofread.


22 INTRODUCTION. told that a canoe under sail was crossing from Yucatan in the direction of the ships ; and rising from the table he discovered the canoe bending its way to the shore. He immediately dis- patched a party of men to watch her landing, who, concealing themselves near the shore, saw four tawny savages (as they ap- peared) leave the canoe ; they were armed with bows and ar- rows, and on seeing the Spaniards approach them with drawn swords, three of them fled, but the fourth called the others back, telling them in the Indian tongue to have no fears. He then ad- dressed the Spaniards in their own language, and inquired if they were Christians ; on their answering in the afiirmative, and that they were Spaniards, tears of joy filled his eyes ; he then asked if it was not Wednesday, for he had a prayer-book in which he prayed every day, and begged them to thank God for his delivery. Kneeling down devoutly, stretching out his hands, and turning his eyes towards Heaven, while tears bathed his cheeks, he made his humble prayer to God, giving him hearty thanks for his deliverance out of the hands of infidels and savages, and his restoration to the society of Christians and his own countrymen. The Spanish soldiers then embraced him, and conducted him to Cortes, by whom he was joyfully received and supplied with suitable apparel. His name was Geronimo de Aguilar. Cortes finally sailed from Cozumel on the fourth of March, having received a supply of wax and honey from the natives, who parted with him in the most friendly manner. Steering towards Yucatan, he ran in near the coast, which he closely followed to the northwest, examining with the boats and smaller vessels every little bay and river in quest of the missing ship. In this way they reached Campeachy, in the neighborhood of which, on entering a bay formed by a small group of islands, the missing ship was found in good condition, and so complete- ly land-locked that Cortes gave the bay the name of Puerto Escondido, which it still bears.* The ship's company hailed the arrival of their companions with great joy, having feared the loss of the rest of the fleet. They had been supplied with game for food by a greyhound, which had been left on the coast by one of the former expeditions.

  • At least there is a bay of that name in the same neighborhood.