Chapter VII 
CORTES DESCENDS FROM THE TABLELAND- NEGOTIATES WITH NARVAEZ-
PREPARES TO ASSAULT HIM- QUARTERS OF NARVAEZ-
ATTACKED BY NIGHT- NARVAEZ DEFEATED
TRAVERSING the southern causeway, by which they had entered the
capital, the little party were soon on their march across the
beautiful valley. They climbed the mountain-screen which Nature has so
ineffectually drawn around it; passed between the huge volcanoes that,
like faithless watch-dogs on their posts, have long since been
buried in slumber; threaded the intricate defiles where they had
before experienced such bleak and tempestuous weather; and, emerging
on the other side, descended the eastern slope which opens on the wide
expanse of the fruitful plateau of Cholula.
They heeded little of what they saw on their rapid march, nor
whether it was cold or hot. The anxiety of their minds made them
indifferent to outward annoyances; and they had fortunately none to
encounter from the natives, for the name of Spaniard was in itself a
charm,- a better guard than helm or buckler to the bearer.
In Cholula, Cortes had the inexpressible satisfaction of meeting
Velasquez de Leon, with the hundred and twenty soldiers intrusted to
his command for the formation of a colony. That faithful officer had
been some time at Cholula, waiting for the general's approach. Had
he failed, the enterprise of Cortes must have failed also. The idea of
resistance, with his own handful of followers, would have been
chimerical. As it was, his little band was now trebled, and acquired a
confidence in proportion.
Cordially embracing their companions in arms, now knit together
more closely than ever by the sense of a great and common danger,
the combined troops traversed with quick step the streets of the
sacred city, where many a dark pile of ruins told of their
disastrous visit on the preceding autumn. They kept the high road to
Tlascala; and, at not many leagues' distance from that capital, fell
in with Father Olmedo and his companions on their return from the camp
of Narvaez. The ecclesiastic bore a letter from that commander, in
which he summoned Cortes and his followers to submit to his authority,
as captain-general of the country, menacing them with condign
punishment, in case of refusal or delay. Olmedo gave many curious
particulars of the state of the enemy's camp. Narvaez he described
as puffed up by authority, and negligent of precautions against a
foe whom he held in contempt. He was surrounded by a number of pompous
conceited officers, who ministered to his vanity, and whose braggart
tones, the good father, who had an eye for the ridiculous, imitated,
to the no small diversion of Cortes and the soldiers. Many of the
troops, he said, showed no great partiality for their commander, and
were strongly disinclined to a rupture with their countrymen; a
state of feeling much promoted by the accounts they had received of
Cortes, by his own arguments and promises, and by the liberal
distribution of the gold with which he had been provided. In
addition to these matters, Cortes gathered much important intelligence
respecting the position of the enemy's force, and his general plan
At Tlascala, the Spaniards were received with a frank and friendly
hospitality. It is not said whether any of the Tlascalan allies
accompanied them from Mexico. If they did, they went no further than
their native city. Cortes requested a reinforcement of six hundred
fresh troops to attend him on his present expedition. It was readily
granted; but, before the army had proceeded many miles on its route,
the Indian auxiliaries fell off, one after another, and returned to
their city. They had no personal feeling of animosity to gratify in
the present instance, as in a war against Mexico. It may be, too, that
although intrepid in a contest with the bravest of the Indian races,
they had too fatal experience of the prowess of the white men to
care to measure swords with them again. At any rate, they deserted
in such numbers that Cortes dismissed the remainder at once, saying,
good-humouredly, "He had rather part with them then, than in the
hour of trial."
The troops soon entered on that wild district in the neighbourhood
of Perote, strewed with the wreck of volcanic matter, which forms so
singular a contrast to the general character of beauty with which
the scenery is stamped. It was not long before their eyes were
gladdened by the approach of Sandoval and about sixty soldiers from
the garrison of Vera Cruz, including several deserters from the enemy.
It was a most important reinforcement, not more on account of the
numbers of the men than of the character of the commander. He had been
compelled to fetch a circuit, in order to avoid falling in with the
enemy, and had forced his way through thick forests and wild
mountain passes, till he had fortunately, without accident, reached
the appointed place of rendezvous, and stationed himself once more
under the banner of his chieftain. At the same place, also, Cortes was
met by Tobillos, a Spaniard whom he had sent to procure the lances
from Chinantla. They were perfectly well made, after the pattern which
had been given; double-headed spears, tipped with copper, and of great
Cortes now took a review of his army,- if so paltry a force may be
called an army,- and found their numbers were two hundred and
sixty-six, only five of whom were mounted. A few muskets and crossbows
were sprinkled among them. In defensive armour they were sadly
deficient. They were for the most part cased in the quilted doublet of
the country, thickly stuffed with cotton, the escaupil, recommended by
its superior lightness, but which, though competent to turn the
arrow of the Indian, was ineffectual against a musket-ball. Most of
this cotton mail was exceedingly out of repair, giving evidence, in
its unsightly gaps, of much rude service, and hard blows. Few, in this
emergency, but would have given almost any price- the best of the gold
chains which they wore in tawdry display over their poor
habiliments- for a steel morion or cuirass, to take the place of their
own hacked and battered armour.
The troops now resumed their march across the tableland, until,
reaching the eastern slope, their labours were lightened, as they
descended towards the broad plains of the tierra caliente, spread
out like a boundless ocean of verdure below them. At some fifteen
leagues' distance from Cempoalla, where Narvaez, as has been
noticed, had established his quarters, they were met by another
embassy from that commander. It consisted of the priest, Guevara,
Andres de Duero, and two or three others. Duero, the fast friend of
Cortes, had been the person most instrumental, originally, in
obtaining him his commission from Velasquez. They now greeted each
other with a warm embrace, and it was not till after much
preliminary conversation on private matters, that the secretary
disclosed the object of his visit.
He bore a letter from Narvaez, couched in terms somewhat different
from the preceding. That officer required, indeed, the
acknowledgment of his paramount authority in the land, but offered his
vessels to transport all who desired it, from the country, together
with their treasures and effects, without molestation or inquiry.
The more liberal tenor of these terms was, doubtless, to be ascribed
to the influence of Duero. The secretary strongly urged Cortes to
comply with them, as the most favourable that could be obtained, and
as the only alternative affording him a chance of safety in his
desperate condition. "For, however valiant your men may be, how can
they expect," he asked, "to face a force so much superior in numbers
and equipment as that of their antagonists?" But Cortes had set his
fortunes on the cast, and he was not the man to shrink from it. "If
Narvaez bears a royal commission," he returned, "I will readily submit
to him. But he has produced none. He is a deputy of my rival,
Velasquez. For myself I am a servant of the king, I have conquered the
country for him; and for him I and my brave followers will defend
it, to the last drop of our blood. If we fall, it will be glory enough
to have perished in the discharge of our duty."
His friend might have been somewhat puzzled to comprehend how
the authority of Cortes rested on a different ground from that of
Narvaez; and if they both held of the same superior, the governor of
Cuba, why that dignitary should not be empowered to supersede his
own officer in case of dissatisfaction, and appoint a substitute.
But Cortes here reaped the full benefit of that legal fiction, if it
may be so termed, by which his commission, resigned to the
self-constituted municipality of Vera Cruz, was again derived
through that body from the crown. The device, indeed, was too palpable
to impose on any but those who chose to be blinded.
Duero had arranged with his friend in Cuba, when he took command
of the expedition, that he himself was to have a liberal share of
the profits. It is said that Cortes confirmed this arrangement at
the present juncture, and made it clearly for the other's interest
that be should prevail in the struggle with Narvaez. This was an
important point, considering the position of the secretary. From
this authentic source the general derived much information
respecting the designs of Narvaez, which had escaped the knowledge
of Olmedo. On the departure of the envoys, Cortes intrusted them
with a letter for his rival, a counterpart of that which he had
received from him. This show of negotiation intimated a desire on
his part to postpone if not avoid hostilities, which might the
better put Narvaez off his guard. In the letter he summoned that
commander and his followers to present themselves before him without
delay, and to acknowledge his authority as the representative of his
sovereign. He should otherwise be compelled to proceed against them as
rebels to the crown! With this missive, the vaunting tone of which was
intended quite as much for his own troops as the enemy, Cortes
dismissed the envoys. They returned to disseminate among their
comrades their admiration of the general and of his unbounded
liberality, of which he took care they should experience full measure,
and they dilated on the riches of his adherents, who, over their
wretched attire, displayed with ostentatious profusion, jewels,
ornaments of gold, collars, and massive chains winding several times
round their necks and bodies, the rich spoil of the treasury of
The army now took its way across the level plains of the tierra
caliente. Coming upon an open reach of meadow, of some extent, they
were, at length, stopped by a river or rather stream, called Rio de
Canoas, "the River of Canoes," of no great volume ordinarily, but
swollen at this time by excessive rains; it had rained hard that
day. The river was about a league distant from the camp of Narvaez.
Before seeking out a practical ford, by which to cross it, Cortes
allowed his men to recruit their exhausted strength by stretching
themselves on the ground. The shades of evening had gathered round;
and the rising moon, wading through dark masses of cloud, shone with a
doubtful and interrupted light. It was evident that the storm had
not yet spent its fury. Cortes did not regret this. He had made up his
mind to an assault that very night, and in the darkness and uproar
of the tempest his movements would be most effectually concealed.
Before disclosing his design, he addressed his men in one of those
stirring, soldierly harangues, to which he had recourse in emergencies
of great moment, as if to sound the depths of their hearts, and, where
any faltered, to re-animate them with his own heroic spirit. He
briefly recapitulated the great events of the campaign, the dangers
they had surmounted, the victories they had achieved over the most
appalling odds, the glorious spoil they had won. But of this they were
now to be defrauded; not by men holding a legal warrant from the
crown, but by adventurers, with no better title than that of
superior force. They had established a claim on the gratitude of their
country and their sovereign. This claim was now to be dishonoured;
their very services were converted into crimes, and their names
branded with infamy as those of traitors. But the time had at last
come for vengeance. God would not desert the soldier of the Cross.
Those, whom he had carried victorious through greater dangers, would
not be left to fail now. And, if they should fail, better to die
like brave men on the field of battle, than, with fame and fortune
cast away, to perish ignominiously like slaves on the gibbet.- This
last point he urged upon his hearers; well knowing there was not one
among them so dull as not to be touched by it.
They responded with hearty acclamations, and Velasquez de Leon,
and de Lugo, in the name of the rest, assured their commander, if they
failed, it should be his fault, not theirs. They would follow wherever
he led.- The general was fully satisfied with the temper of his
soldiers, as he felt that his difficulty lay not in awakening their
enthusiasm, but in giving it a right direction. One thing is
remarkable. He made no allusion to the defection which he knew existed
in the enemy's camp. He would have his soldiers, in this last pinch,
rely on nothing but themselves.
He announced his purpose to attack the enemy that very night, when
he should be buried in slumber, and the friendly darkness might
throw a veil over their own movements, and conceal the poverty of
their numbers. To this the troops, jaded though they were by incessant
marching, and half famished, joyfully assented. In their situation,
suspense was the worst of evils. He next distributed the commands
among his captains. To Gonzalo de Sandoval he assigned the important
office of taking Narvaez. He was commanded, as alguacil mayor, to
seize the person of that officer as a rebel to his sovereign, and,
if he made resistance, to kill him on the spot. He was provided with
sixty picked men to aid him in this difficult task, supported by
several of the ablest captains, among whom were two of the
Alvarados, de Avila and Ordaz. The largest division of the force was
placed under Christoval de Olid, or according to some authorities,
Pizarro, one of that family so renowned in the subsequent conquest
of Peru. He was to get possession of the artillery, and to cover the
assault of Sandoval by keeping those of the enemy at bay, who would
interfere with it. Cortes reserved only a body of twenty men for
himself, to act on any point that occasion might require. The
watchword was Espiritu Santo, it being the evening of Whitsunday.
Having made these arrangements, he prepared to cross the river.
During the interval thus occupied by Cortes, Narvaez had
remained at Cempoalla, passing his days in idle and frivolous
amusement. From this he was at length roused, after the return of
Duero, by the remonstrances of the old cacique of the city. "Why are
you so heedless?" exclaimed the latter; "do you think Malinche is
so? Depend on it, he knows your situation exactly, and, when you least
dream of it, he will be upon you."
Alarmed at these suggestions and those of his friends, Narvaez
at length put himself at the head of his troops, and, on the very
day on which Cortes arrived at the River of Canoes, sallied out to
meet him. But, when he had reached this barrier, Narvaez saw no sign
of an enemy. The rain, which fell in torrents, soon drenched the
soldiers to the skin. Made somewhat effeminate by their long and
luxurious residence at Cempoalla, they murmured at their uncomfortable
situation. "Of what use was it to remain there fighting with the
elements? There was no sign of an enemy, and little reason to
apprehend his approach in such tempestuous weather. It would be
wiser to return to Cempoalla, and in the morning they should be all
fresh for action, should Cortes make his appearance."
Narvaez took counsel of these advisers, or rather of his own
inclinations. Before retracing his steps, he provided against
surprise, by stationing a couple of sentinels at no great distance
from the river, to give notice of the approach of Cortes. He also
detached a body of forty horse in another direction, by which he
thought it not improbable the enemy might advance on Cempoalla. Having
taken these precautions, he fell back again before night on his own
He there occupied the principal teocalli. It consisted of a
stone building on the usual pyramidal basis; and the ascent was by a
flight of steep steps on one of the faces of the pyramid. In the
edifice or sanctuary above he stationed himself with a strong party of
arquebusiers and crossbowmen. Two other teocallis in the same area
were garrisoned by large detachments of infantry. His artillery,
consisting of seventeen or eighteen small guns, he posted in the
area below, and protected it by the remainder of his cavalry. When
he had thus distributed his forces, he returned to his own quarters,
and soon after to repose, with as much indifference as if his rival
had been on the other side of the Atlantic, instead of a
That stream was now converted by the deluge of waters into a
furious torrent. It was with difficulty that a practicable ford
could be found. The slippery stones, rolling beneath the feet, gave
way at every step. The difficulty of the passage was much increased by
the darkness and driving tempest. Still, with their long pikes, the
Spaniards contrived to make good their footing, at least, all but two,
who were swept down by the fury of the current. When they had
reached the opposite side, they had new impediments to encounter in
traversing a road never good, now made doubly difficult by the deep
mire and the tangled brushwood with which it was overrun.
Here they met with a cross, which had been raised by them on their
former march into the interior. They hailed it as a good omen; and
Cortes, kneeling before the blessed sign, confessed his sins, and
declared his great object to be the triumph of the holy Catholic
faith. The army followed his example, and, having made a general
confession, received absolution from Father Olmedo, who invoked the
blessing of heaven on the warriors who had consecrated their swords to
the glory of the Cross. Then rising up and embracing one another, as
companions in the good cause, they found themselves wonderfully
invigorated and refreshed. The incident is curious, and well
illustrates the character of the time,- in which war, religion, and
rapine were so intimately blended together. Adjoining the road was a
little coppice; and Cortes, and the few who had horses, dismounting,
fastened the animals to the trees, where they might find some
shelter from the storm. They deposited there, too, their baggage and
such superfluous articles as would encumber their movement. The
general then gave them a few last words of advice. "Everything,"
said he, "depends on obedience. Let no man, from desire of
distinguishing himself, break his ranks. On silence, despatch, and,
above all, obedience to your officers, the success of our enterprise
Silently and stealthily they held on their way without beat of
drum or sound of trumpet, when they suddenly came on the two sentinels
who had been stationed by Narvaez to give notice of their approach.
This had been so noiseless, that the videttes were both of them
surprised on their posts, and one only, with difficulty, effected
his escape. The other was brought before Cortes. Every effort was made
to draw from him some account of the present position of Narvaez.
But the man remained obstinately silent; and, though threatened with
the gibbet, and having a noose actually drawn round his neck, his
Spartan heroism was not be vanquished. Fortunately no change had taken
place in the arrangements of Narvaez since the intelligence previously
derived from Duero.
The other sentinel, who had escaped, carried the news of the
enemy's approach to the camp. But his report was not credited by the
lazy soldiers, whose slumbers he had disturbed. "He had been
deceived by his fears," they said, "and mistaken the noise of the
storm, and the waving of the bushes, for the enemy. Cortes and his men
were far enough on the other side of the river, which they would be
slow to cross in such a night." Narvaez himself shared in the same
blind infatuation, and the discredited sentinel slunk abashed to his
own quarters, vainly menacing them with the consequences of their
Cortes, not doubting that the sentinel's report must alarm the
enemy's camp, quickened his pace. As he drew near, he discerned a
light in one of the lofty towers of the city. "It is the quarters of
Narvaez," he exclaimed to Sandoval, "and that light must be your
beacon." On entering the suburbs, the Spaniards were surprised to find
no one stirring, and no symptom of alarm. Not a sound was to be heard,
except the measured tread of their own footsteps, half-drowned in
the howling of the tempest. Still they could not move so stealthily as
altogether to elude notice, as they defiled through the streets of
this populous city. The tidings were quickly conveyed to the enemy's
quarters, where, in an instant, all was bustle and confusion. The
trumpets sounded to arms. The dragoons sprang to their steeds, the
artillerymen to their guns. Narvaez hastily buckled on his armour,
called his men around him, and summoned those in the neighbouring
teocallis, to join him in the area. He gave his orders with
coolness; for, however wanting in prudence, he was not deficient in
presence of mind or courage.
All this was the work of a few minutes. But in those minutes the
Spaniards had reached the avenue leading to the camp. Cortes ordered
his men to keep close to the walls of the buildings, that the
cannon-shot might have free range. No sooner had they presented
themselves before the inclosure than the artillery of Narvaez opened a
general fire. Fortunately the pieces were pointed so high that most of
the balls passed over their heads, and three men only were struck
down. They did not give the enemy time to reload. Cortes shouting
the watchword of the night, "Espiritu Santo! Espiritu Santo! Upon
them!" in a moment Olid and his division rushed on the artillerymen,
whom they pierced or knocked down with their pikes, and got possession
of their guns. Another division engaged the cavalry, and made a
diversion in favour of Sandoval, who with his gallant little band
sprang up the great stairway of the temple. They were received with
a shower of missiles, arrows and musketballs, which, in the hurried
aim, and the darkness of the night, did little mischief. The next
minute the assailants were on the platform, engaged hand to hand
with their foes. Narvaez fought bravely in the midst, encouraging
his followers. His standard-bearer fell by his side, run through the
body. He himself received several wounds; for his short sword was
not match for the long pikes of the assailants. At length, he received
a blow from a spear, which struck out his left "Santa Maria!"
exclaimed the unhappy man, "I am slain!" The cry was instantly taken
up by the followers of Cortes, who shouted, "Victory!"
Disabled, and half-mad with agony from his wound, Narvaez was
withdrawn by his men into the sanctuary. The assailants endeavoured to
force an entrance, but it was stoutly defended. At length a soldier,
getting possession of a torch, or firebrand, flung it on the
thatched roof, and in a few moments the combustible materials of which
it was composed were in a blaze. Those within were driven out by the
suffocating heat and smoke. A soldier, named Farfan, grappled with the
wounded commander, and easily brought him to the ground; when he was
speedily dragged down the steps, and secured with fetters. His
followers, seeing@ the fate of their chief, made no further
During this time, Cortes and the troops of Olid had been engaged
with the cavalry, and had discomfited them, after some ineffectual
attempts on the part of the latter to break through the dense array of
pikes, by which several of their number were unhorsed and some of them
slain. The general then prepared to assault the other teocallis, first
summoning the garrisons to surrender. As they refused, he brought up
the heavy guns to bear on them, thus turning the artillery against its
own masters. He accompanied this menacing movement with offers of
the most liberal import; an amnesty of the past, and a full
participation in all the advantages of the Conquest. One of the
garrisons was under the command of Salvatierra, the same officer who
talked of cutting off the ears of Cortes. From the moment he had
learned the fate of his own general, the hero was seized with a
violent fit of illness which disabled him from further action. The
garrison waited only for one discharge of the ordnance, when they
accepted the terms of capitulation. Cortes, it is said, received, on
this occasion, a support from an unexpected auxiliary. The air was
filled with cocuyos,- a species of large beetle which emits an intense
phosphoric light from its body, strong enough to enable one to read by
it. These wandering fires, seen in the darkness of the night, were
converted by the excited imaginations of the besieged, into an army
with matchlocks. Such is the report of an eye-witness. But the
facility with which the enemy surrendered may quite as probably to
be referred to the cowardice of the commander, and the disaffection of
the soldiers, not unwilling to come under the banners of Cortes.
The body of cavalry posted, it will be remembered, by Narvaez on
one of the roads to Cempoalla, to intercept his rival, having
learned what had been passing, were not long in tendering their
submission. Each of the soldiers in the conquered army was required,
in token of his obedience, to deposit his arms in the hands of the
alguacils, and to take the oaths to Cortes as Chief justice and
Captain General of the colony.
The number of the slain is variously reported. It seems probable
that no more than twelve perished on the side of the vanquished, and
of the victors half that number. The small amount may be explained
by the short duration of the action, and the random aim of the
missiles in the darkness. The number of the wounded was much more
The field was now completely won. A few brief hours had sufficed
to change the condition of Cortes from that of a wandering outlaw at
the head of a handful of needy adventurers, a rebel with a price
upon his head, to that of an independent chief, with a force at his
disposal strong enough not only to secure his present conquests, but
to open a career for still loftier ambition. While the air rung with
the acclamations of the soldiery, the victorious general, assuming a
deportment corresponding with his change of fortune, took his seat
in a chair of state, and, with a rich embroidered mantle thrown over
his shoulders, received, one by one, the officers and soldiers, as
they came to tender their congratulations. The privates were
graciously permitted to kiss his hand. The officers he noticed with
words of compliment or courtesy; and, when Duero, Bermudez the
treasurer, and some others of the vanquished party, his old friends,
presented themselves, he cordially embraced them.
Narvaez, Salvatierra, and two or three of the hostile leaders were
led before him in chains. It was a moment of deep humiliation for
the former commander, in which the anguish of the body, however
keen, must have been forgotten in that of the spirit. "You have
great reason, Senor Cortes," said the discomfited warrior, "to thank
fortune for having given you the day so easily, and put me in your
power."- "I have much to be thankful for," replied the general; "but
for my victory over you, I esteem it as one of the least of my
achievements since my coming into the country!" He then ordered the
wounds of the prisoners to be cared for, and sent them under a
strong guard to Vera Cruz.
Notwithstanding the proud humility of his reply, Cortes could
scarcely have failed to regard his victory over Narvaez as one of
the most brilliant achievements in his career. With a few scores of
followers, badly clothed, worse fed, wasted by forced marches, under
every personal disadvantage, deficient in weapons and military stores,
he had attacked in their own quarters, routed, and captured the entire
force of the enemy, thrice his superior in numbers, well provided with
cavalry and artillery, admirably equipped, and complete in all the
munitions of war! The amount of troops engaged on either side was,
indeed, inconsiderable. But the proportions are not affected by
this: and the relative strength of the parties made a result so
decisive one of the most remarkable events in the annals of war.
1. So says Oviedo--and with truth; "Si aquel capitan Juan Velasquez de Leon no estubiera mal con su pariente Diego Velasquez, é se pasara con los 150 Hombres, que havia llevado á Guaçacalco, á la parte de Pánfilo de Narvaez su cuñado, acabado oviera Cortés su oficio." Hist. de las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 12.
2 Rel. Seg. de Cortés, ap. Lorenzana, pp. 123, 124.--Bernal Diaz, Hist. de la Conquista, cap. 115-117.--Oviedo, Hist. de las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 12.
3. But, although irresistible against cavalry, the long pike of the German proved no match for the short sword and buckler of the Spaniard, in the great battle of Ravenna, fought a few years before this, 1512. Machiavelli makes some excellent reflections on the comparative
merit of these arms. Arte della Guerra, lib. 2, ap. Opere, tom. IV. p. 67.
4. Bernal Diaz, Hist. de la Conquista, cap. 118.
"Tambien quiero dezir la gran necessidad que teniamos de armas, que por vn peto, ó capacete, ó casco, ó babera de hierro, dieramos aquella noche quato nos pidiera por ello, y todo quato auiamos ganado." Cap. 122.
5. "Yo les respondí, que no via provision de Vuestra Alteza, por donde le debiesse entregar la Tierra; é que si alguna trahia, que la presentasse ante mí, y ante el Cabildo de la Vera Cruz, segun órden, y costumbre de España, y que yo estaba presto de la obedecer, y cumplir; y que hasta tanto, por ningun interese, ni partido haria lo que él decia; ántes yo, y los que conmigo estaban, moririamos en defensa de la Tierra, pues la habiamos ganado, y tenido por Vuestra Magestad pacífica, y segura, y por no ser Traydores y desleales á nuestro Rey ..... Considerando, que morir en servicio de mi Rey, y por defender, y amparar sus Tierras, y no las dejar usurpar, á mí, y á los de mi Compañía se nos seguia farta gloria." Rel. Seg. de Cortés, ap. Lorenzana, pp. 125-127.
6. Such are the natural reflections of Oviedo, speculating on the matter some years later. "É tambien que me parece donaire, ó no bastante la escusa que Cortés da para fundar é justificar su ne gocio, que es decir, que el Narvaez presentase las provisiones que llevaba de S. M. Como si el dicho Cortés oviera ido á aquella tierra por mandado de S. M. ó con mas, ni tanta autoridad como llebaba Narvaez; pues que es claro é notorio, que el Adelantada Diego Velasquez, que embió á Cortés, era parte, segun derecho, para le embiar á remover, y el Cortés obligado á le obedecer. No quiero decir mas en esto por no set odioso á ninguna de las partes." Hist. de las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 12.
7. More than one example of this ruse is mentioned by Mariana in Spanish history, though the precise passages have escaped my memory.
8. Bernal Diaz, Hist. de la Conquista, cap. 119.
9. "É assimismo mandaba, y mandé por el dicho Mandamiento á todas las Personas, que con el dicho Narvaez estaban, que no tubiessen, ni obedeciessen al dicho Narvaez por tal Capitan, ni Justicia; ántes, dentro de cierto término, que en el dicho Mandamiento señalé, pareciessen ante mí, para que yo les dijesse, lo que debian hater en servicio de Vuestra Alteza: con protestacion, que lo contrario haciendo, procederia contra ellos, como contra Traydores, y aleves, y malos Vasallos, que se rebelaban contra su Rey, y quieren usurpar sus Tierras, y Señoríos." Rel. Seg. de Cortés, ap. Lorenzana, p. 127.
10. "Y aun llouia de rato en rato, y entonces salia la Luna, que quado allí llegámos hazia muy escuro, y llouia, y tambien la escuridad ayudó." Hist. de la Conquista, cap. 122.
l l. The Attorney of Narvaez, in his complaint before the Crown, expatiates on the diabolical enormity of these instructions. "El dho Fernando Corttés como traidor aleboso, sin apercibir al dho mi partte, con un diabólico pensamto é Infernal osadía, en contemtto é menosprecio de V. M. ó de sus provisiones R.s, no mirando ni asattando la lealtad qe debia á V. M., el dho Corttés dio un Mandamientto al dho Gonzalo de Sandobal para que prendiese al dho Pánfilo de Narvaez, é si se defendiese qe lo mattase." Demanda de Zavallos en nombre de Narvaez, MS.
12. Oviedo, Hist. de las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 12, 47.--Bernal Diaz, Hist. de la Conquista, cap. 122.--Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 2, lib. 10, cap. 1.
13. "Que hazeis, que estais mui descuidado? pensais que Malinche, y los Teules que trae Cosigo, que son assí como vosotros? Pues yo os digo, que quado no os cataredes, será aquí, y os matará." Bernal Diaz, Hist. de la Conquista, cap. 121.
14. Rel. Seg. de Cortés, ap. Lorenzana, p. 128.--Oviedo, Hist. de las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 47.--Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 2, lib. 10, cap. 2, 3.
15. "Ya que se acercaban al Aposento de Narvaez, Cortés, que andaba reconociendo, i ordenando á todas partes, dixo á la Tropa de Sandoval: Señores, arrímaos á las dos aceras de la Calle, para que las balas del Artillería pasen por medio, sin hacer daño." Ibid., dec. 2, lib. 10, cap. 3.
16. Demanda de Zavallos en nombre de Narvaez, MS.--Oviedo, Hist. de las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 47.
17. "Como hazia tan escuro auia muchos cocayos (ansí los llaman en Cuba) que relumbrauan de noche, é los de Narvaez creyéron que era muchas de las escopetas." Bernal Diaz, Hist. de la Conquista, cap. 122.
18. Narvaez, or rather his attorney, swells the amount of slain on his own side much higher. But it was his cue to magnify the mischief sustained by his employer. The collation of this account with those of Cortés and his followers affords the best means of approximation to truth. "É allí le mattáron quince hombres qe muriéron de las feridas qe les diéron é les quemáron seis hombres del dho Incendio qe despues pareciéron las cabezas de ellos quemadas, é pusiéron á sacomano todo quantto ttenian los que benian con el dho mi partte como si fueran Moros y al dho mi partte robáron é saqueáron todos sus vienes, oro, é Platta é Joyas." Demanda de Zavallos en nombre de Narvaez, MS.
19. "Entre ellos venia Andres de Duero, y Agustin Bermudez, y muchos amigos de nuestro Capita, y assí como venia, ivan á besar las manos á Cortés, q estaua sentado en vna silla de caderas, con vna ropa larga de color como narajada, co sus armas debaxo, acopañado de nosotros. Pues ver la gracia con que les hablaua, y abraçaua, y las palabras de tatos cumplimietos que les dezia, era cosa de ver que alegre estaua: y tenia mucha razon de verse en aquel pu to tan señor, y pujate: y assí como le besaua la mano, se fuéro cada vno á su posada." Bernal Diaz, Hist. de la Conquista, cap. 122.
20. Ibid., loc. cit.
"Díxose que como Narvaez vido á Cortés estando así preso le dixo: Señor Cortés, tened en mucho la ventura que habeis tenido, é lo mucho que habies hecho en tener mi persona, ó en tomar mi persona. É que Cortés le respondió, e dixo: Lo menos que yo he hecho en esta tierra donde estais, es haberos prendido; é luego le hizo poner á buen recaudo é le tubo mucho tiempo preso." Oviedo, Hist. de las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 47.
21 Oviedo says, that military men discussed whether Velasquez de Leon should have obeyed the commands of Cortés rather than those of his kinsman, the governor of Cuba. They decided in favor of the former, on the ground of his holding his commission immediately from him. "Visto he platicar sobre esto á caballeros é personas militares sobre si este Juan Velasquez de Leon hizo lo que debia, en acudir ó no á Diego Velasquez, ó al Pánfilo en su nombre; É combienen los veteranos mílites é á mi parecer determinan bien la question, en que si Juan Velasquez tubo conducta de capitan para que con aquella Gente que él le dió ó toviese en aquella tierra como capitan particular le acudiese á él ó á quien le mandase. Juan Velasquez faltó á lo que era obligado en no pasar á Pánfilo de Narvaez siendo requerido de Diego Velasquez, mas si le hizo capitan Hernando Cortés, é le dió él la Gente, á él havia de acudir, como acudió, excepto si viera carta, á mandamiento expreso del Rey en contrario." Hist. de las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 12.
22. This ascendency the thoughtful Oviedo refers to his dazzling and liberal manners, so strongly contrasted with those of the governor of Cuba. "En lo demas valerosa persona ha seido, é para mucho; y este deseo de mandar juntamente con que fué mui bien partido é gratificador de los que le viniéron, fué mucha causa juntamente con ser mal quisto Diego Velasquez, para que Cortés se saliese con lo que emprendió, é se quedase en el oficio, é governacion." Ibid., MS., lib. 33, cap. 12.
23. It was in a conversation with Oviedo himself, at Toledo, in 1525, in which Narvaez descanted with much bitterness, as was natural, on his rival's conduct. The gossip, which has never appeared in print, may have some interest for the Spanish reader. "Que el año de 1525, estando Cesar en la cibdad de Toledo, ví allí al dicho Narvaez, é publicamente decia, que Cortés era vn traidor: É que dándole S. M. licencia se lo haria conocer de su persona á la suya, é que era hombre sin verdad, é otras muchas é feas palabras llamándole alevoso é tirano, é ingrato á su Señor, é á quien le havia embiado á la Nueva España, que era el Adelantado Diego Velasquez á su propia costa, é se le havia alzado con la tierra, é con la Gente é Hacienda, é otras muchas costa que mal sonaban. Y en la manera de su prision la contaba mui al reves de lo que está dicho. Lo que yo noto de esto es, que con todo lo que oí á Narvaez, (como yo se lo dixe) no puedo hallarle desculpa para su descuido, porque ninguna necesidad tenia de andar con Cortés en pláticas, sino estar en vela mejor que la que hizo. É á esto decia él que le havian vendido aquellos de quien se fiaba, que Cortés le havia sobornado." Ibid., lib. 33, cap. 12.