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Page:The despatches of Hernando Cortes.djvu/72

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£(} LETTERS OF COIITE&. a ravelin, for about forty paces. Thus the entrance was circuitous, and not direct. Having inquired the object of this wall, I was informed that it was erected on ac- count of this place being the frontiers of the province of Tascalteca, [Tlascala,] whose inhabitants were enemies of Muteczuma and always at war with him.* The na- tives of this valley begged me, since I was going to visit Muteczuma their sovereign, that I would not pass through the territory of his enemies, as perchance they might prove unfriendly and do me much injury ; and promised to conduct me through the dominions of Muteczuma without at any time leaving his jurisdiction, where we should be always well received. But the Cempoallans bade me do no such thing ; assuring me that they had given this advice in order to divert me from the friend- ship of that province ; and that the people of Muteczuma were all of a designing and treacherous character, and would lead me into places from which I should be un- able to extricate myself I followed the advice of the Cempoallans, as I had formed a more favorable opinion of them than of the others ; and, accordingly, I pursued the route to Tascalteca, proceeding with all the caution in my power. Taking six horsemen, I rode in advance half a league and more ; not thinking of what I was about to encounter, but for the purpose of reconnoitering the country, and ascertaining if there was any obstacle to my progress, that I might have time to concert the necessary measures and get the people in readiness.

  • lTi6 length of this wall was six miles. Bemal Dias says, that the stones of

which it was composed were united by a bitumen so strong that it was necessa- ry to use pick-axes to separate them. See also Clavigero, book vii. sec. 26.