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Page:The despatches of Hernando Cortes.djvu/98

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70 LETTERS OF CORTES. not turn the smoke from its course.* As I have desired to render your Highness a very minute account of every thing in this part of the world, I wished to ascertain the cause of this phenomenon, as it appeared to me, and I despatched ten of my companions, such as I thought suitable for this purpose, with several natives of the country for guides, charging them to use every endeavor to ascend the mountain and find out the cause of that smoke, whence and how it was produced. They went, and struggled with all their might to reach the summit, but were unable on account of the great quantity of snow that lay on the mountain, and the whirlwinds of ashes that swept over it, and also because they found the cold above insupportable ; but they reached very near the summit, and while they were there, the smoke began to issue forth with so* much force and noise that it seemed as if the whole Sierra was crumbling to the ground ; so they descended, and brought with them a considerable quantity of snow and icicles, that we might see them, as it was something quite new in this region on account of its being in so warm a latitude, according to the opinion of our pilots, who place it in 20°, which is the same parallel as the Island of Espanola, where the heat is at all times extreme. While on their way to the mountain, the party discovered a road, and inquired of their Indian companions where it led, who told them ta Culua, [Mexico,] and that it was a good road, while the other, which the Culuans wished us to take, was not a good one. The Spaniards followed this road until they began to ascend the mountain, between which and the other elevation it passed ; and from it they discovered the plains of Culua, and the great city of Temix-

  • The Indians call this volcano Popocatepetl, or the Mountain that smokes.