54 LETTERS OF CORTES. The next day I again sallied forth — ^though in a different direction, before it was light, without being observed by the enemy — with the horse, a hundred foot, and the friendly Indians, when I destroyed more than ten towns, one of which contained about three thousand houses, where we encountered the town's-people alone, the forces of the enemy not being present. As we carried the banner of the cross,* and fought for our faith and in the service of your Sacred Majesty, God in his glorious providence gave us so great a victory, that we destroyed many people without ourselves receiving any injury. Early in the afternoon, when the forces of the enemy were yet assembled from all quarters, we returned victorious to our camp. The following day there came messengers from the leading men, saying that they wished to become the vassals of your Highness, and my allies, and begged that I would pardon their past errors. They brought with them a quantity of provisions, and certain ornaments of feathers, held in high esteem among them. I answered them, that they had done wrong, but I was willing to be their friend, and to overlook their past actions. The next day there arrived about fifty Indians, who appeared to be persons of high standing among their countrymen, and declared that they had come to bring us provisions ; at the same time they examined carefully the passages leading to and from our camp, and certain huts we had erected for barracks. The Cempoallans came to me and said it was easy to see that these men were enemies, and had come as spies to find out how they could injure us,
- One of the banners carried by Cortes is deposited in the office of the Sec-
retary of the Government, and the other is in tlxe Church of St. Francis, in Mexico ; the first represents the Virgin Mary, painted on damask, and the other, the cross. — L.