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Page:The despatches of Hernando Cortes.djvu/43

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Introduction. 25 land fofce coming upon them unawares, entered the town on the side where it was not defended ; the enemy seeing this, left the river side of the town to defend the other, and in the mean time Cortes entered, and took possession of the market place, and drove the inhabitants out of the town. The Spaniards searched the houses, but found nothing but Indian corn, tur- keys, some articles of cotton, and a few grains of gold. Cortes took up his quarters in the temple, which afforded space enough to contain all the Spaniards, as it had a court and several large and elegant halls. This was the first city taken by force of arms in the course of the expedition. After another engagement the caciques waited upon Cortes j bringing presents of gold, cotton mantles, and ornaments of feathers, and twenty female slaves ; and having made many excuses for their conduct, submitted cheerfully to the power of the superior beings by whom they had been conquered. They also brought cassava bread, turkeys, fruits, and other pro- visions, together with a considerable amount of gold. Cortes received them kindly and made them some small presents in return, which they valued highly. It was remarked on this occasion, that the Indians were struck by the neighing of the horses, and imagining that they spoke, inquired of the Spa* niards what they said ; who replied that they were offended on account of their having fought against them. The simple In- dians then asked the horses their pardon, and gave them roses and turkey-hens to eat.* Departing from Tabasco, the expedition continued its cruise in a north-westerly direction, keeping close in with the land, until they arrived at a river which they called Alvarado, from the captain of that name, who was the first to enter it ; this name it still bears. From thence they followed the coast un- til they reached the islands of Sacrificios and S. Juan de Ulua, opposite the present city of Vera Cruz. This part of the Mexican coast was called Chalchiucoecan by the Indians, great numbers of whom flocked down to the

  • Gom. Cron. c. xxi. Cortes in his second letter calls the river Tabasco the

Rio Grande, and the town Potonchan. See p. 69. Goraara also gives the same name to the town. In his fourth letter, Cortes mentions the river under the names of Victoria and Grijalva. See p. 361. 4