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Page:The despatches of Hernando Cortes.djvu/41

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INTRODUCTION. 23 From this place Cortes pursued his route to the river Tabas- co, where Grijalva had met with a most liberal and kind recep- tion from the natives.* On their arrival at the mouth of that river, the large ships not being able to pass the bar came to anchor. The Spaniards were at once struck with the appear- ance of boats filled with Indians ; some armed, and all much superior in aspect to those of the islands. Leaving a sufficient force to guard the ships, Cortes embarked the rest in the brigan- tines and small boats, with several pieces of artillery, and rowed up the river against a strong current. After proceeding a little more than half a league, he discovered a large town with houses built of sun-dried bricks and covered with thatched roofs. It was surrounded by a wall of timber, of great strength and pro- vided with loopholes, through which arrows, stones and darts were discharged in time of war. Accosting some of the ca- noes, through the interpreter Aguilar, Cortes requested leave to land for supplies of fresh water and provisions, of which they were in want, and would pay well. The boatmen promised to take a message to the town and bring an answer. They went, and soon returned bringing five or six boats filled with bread, and a few turkeys, which they told the Spaniards to accept as a gift. Cortes replied that these were entirely inadequate to their wants, on account of the number of persons in the large ships below, which they had not seen ; and he begged they would send word to allow him to enter the town and obtain his supplies. The Indians asked one night to consider his request and returned to the town ; while Cortes went to a little island in the river, where he waited till morning for their answer. Both practised some deception ; the Indians wanting the time in or- der to carry away their eflfects and women and children to the mountains during the night, and to rally their warriors ; while Cortes sent for the rest of his force that had been left in the ships to come up to the island ; and caused a search to be made on the river for a fording place. Neither party knew what the other was doing during the night. The men came from the ships, and a ford was found within less than half a

  • This river was long called from its discoverer the Rio de Grijalva : which it

still bears on some maps.