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Page:The despatches of Hernando Cortes.djvu/81

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CONQUEST OF MEXICO. 69 vince, and on behalf of many other caziques or chiefs, that I would admit them into the royal service of your Highness, and to my friendship, and would pardon their past errors, as they had not known us, nor understood who we were ; adding that they had already exerted their utmost strength, both by day and night, to avoid becoming subject to any power whatever; for at no period had this province ever been so, nor did it now own, nor had it at any former time acknowledged, a master ; that they had lived free and unrestrained from time immemorial to the present moment ; that they bad always successfully defended themselves against the great power of Muteczuma, and his father and ances- tors, who had subjected the whole earth, but had never been able to reduce them to subjection, although they had hemmed them in on all sides, so that there was no passage left for them out of their own territory ; that they were deprived of the use of salt,* because it was not produced in any part of their country, nor were they able to go and procure it elsewhere ; and for the same reason they were destitute of cotton cloth, as the cotton plant does not grow with them on account of the coldness of the climate, as well as of many other things of which they were in want, by reason of their being confined within such narrow limits. Nevertheless, they preferred to suffer these privations, and considered it better for them, in order to enjoy their freedom and be subject to no one ; and that in regard to myself, their feelings were

  • The salt which the Indians use is called by them Tequesquit ; it is saltpetre,

and is gathered on the surface of the ground at the present day for the same purpose, and also to be converted into gunpowder. An extensive commerce is carried on in this salt by the Mexicans of Yitapaluca and Yxtapalapa, which means the places where salt or Yxtatl is gathered ; and at this day the people of Yxtapalapa are thus occupied. — ^L.