42 LETTERS OF CORTES. and built a town one league from where the ships lay ; adding that he would accompany them to the place and apprise me of their arrival ; and that if their ships were in want of repairs, they could be made in the harbor, to which he would pilot them in his boat ; at the same time pointing out where it was. They replied, that they had already seen the harbor, having passed before it, and would do as he suggested. The captain then returned with his boat, but the ships had not followed, nor entered the harbor ; they had, however, sailed along the coast, and the captain was at a loss to know their design ; he had, therefore, made me acquainted with the circum- stances. I immediately returned to Vera Cruz, where I learned that the ships lay at anchor on the coast three leagues below, and that no one had landed from them. I then went down to the shore with a number of men to reconnoitre the ships, and having got within about a league of them I met three of their men, amongst whom was one that styled himself a notary ; he had taken the other two with him, as he told me, to witness a certain notification which the captain required him to serve on me, and which he had brought there for the purpose, set- ting forth a certain claim on his part ; the substance of it was, that he had discovered this country and intended to colonize it; he therefore required that I should estab- lish with him a line of demarcation ; and that he pro- posed to make a settlement at a place five leagues down the coast near the former Nautical, a city twelve leagues from Vera Cruz, now called Almeria. I answered, that the captain must come with his ships to the port of Vera Cruz, where we would talk together, and I should understand better the purpose he had in view : that if he was in want of any thing for his ships
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