406 LETTERS OF CORTES- vance the service of your imperial Majesty, I shall con- sider it a suflEicient recompense, even if it require also a sacrifice of my life, which shall ever be at your Majesty's disposal. Both in a former despatch, and in the present one, I have made mention to your Highness of four ships, which I had commenced building on the South Sea J and as it is a long time since the work was commenced, it may appear to your royal Highness that I have been some- what dilatory in not having them completed up to the present time ; I owe your sacred Majesty, therefore, some explanation of the delay. One cause is that the South Sea, at least that part of it where these ships are building, is two hundred leagues and more distant from the ports of the North Sea, where every thing is landed that comes into New Spain ; and the route is in part by mountain passes, and across large and full rivers ; and as all the materials necessary in building must be brought from thence, there being no other way to obtain them, the transportation which I have caused to be made is at- tended with much diflSculty. Add to this, that the house at the port where the ships are building, which contained all the requisite materials, such as sails, cables, rigging, nails, anchors, pitch, ; slush, oakum, tar, oil, &c., one night was set on fire, and every thing consumed except what was incapable of being burnt. I am now em- ployed in collecti!>g my materials anew ; for a vessel ar- rived here four months ago from Castile, bringing me every thing necessary for completing the ships, for which I had sent, fearing that some accident might happen. I assure your imperial Majesty that these ships, although they have not touched the water, have cost me more than 8000 pesos of gold beside extra expenses ; but, praise to
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