|A Gentleman of Elvas Account|
A Gentleman of Elvas, a Portugese officer with Hernando de Soto, wrote about DeSoto's Expedition. Published in Volume I of the University of Alabama's The DeSoto Chronicles.INDEXED BY STATE: Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, Escape
TRAIL TO THIS POINT A different translation of Elvas, by Buckingham Smith
GLOSSARY TABLE OF INDIAN PLACE NAMES USED BY VARIOUS CHRONICLERS
1 LEAGUE = 2.6 STATUATE MILES
TRUE RELATION OF THE HARDSHIPS SUFFERED BY
TRANSLATED BY JAMES ALEXANDER ROBERTSON
GOVERNOR HERNANDO DE SOTO &
CERTAIN PORTUGUESE GENTLEMEN
DURING THE DISCOVERY OF THE
PROVINCE OF FLORIDA.
NOW NEWLY SET FORTH
BY A GENTLEMAN
FLORIDA STATE HISTORICAL SOCIETY - DELAND 1933
HOW THE GOVERNOR WENT FROM PACAHA TO
QUIGUATE AND TO COLIGOA AND
ARRIVED AT CAYAS.
The governor rested in Pacaha for forty days. During all that time, the two caciques gave him service of abundance of fish, blankets, and skins, and they tried to see which of them could perform the greater services. At the time of his departure, the cacique of Pacaha gave two of his sisters to him,
saying that if he would remember him he should take them as wives as a testimonial of love. The name of the one was Macanoche, and of the other Mochila.
They were very well disposed, tall of body and plump in figure. Macanoche was of good appearance, and in her address and face appeared a lady; the other was robust. The cacique of Casqui ordered the bridge repaired, and the governor gave a turn through his land and lodged in the open field, near his town, whither he [the cacique] came with a quantity of fish and two Indian women whom he exchanged with two Christians for two shirts. He gave a guide and tamemes. The governor went to sleep at one of his towns and next day at another near a river, where he ordered canoes brought for him in which to cross and with his permission returned.
The governor took his way toward Aquiguate. On the fourth of August, he reached the town where the cacique was living. On the way, the latter sent him a service of many blankets and skins, but not daring to remain in the town went away. The town was the largest which had been seen in Florida.
The governor and his men were lodged in half of it; and a few days afterward seeing that the Indians were going about deceitfully, he ordered the other half burned, so that it might not afford them protection, if they came to attack him at night, and be an obstacle to his men of horse in resisting them.
An Indian well attended by many Indians came saying that he was the cacique. He [the governor] delivered him to his guard that they might look after him. Many Indians went off and came bringing blankets and skins.
Seeing poor opportunity for carrying out his evil thought, the pretended cacique going out of the house one day with the governor, started to run away so swiftly that there was no Christian who could overtake him; and plunged into the river which was a crossbow shot's distance from the town.
As soon as he had crossed to the other side, many Indians who were walking about there, uttering loud cries, began to shoot arrows. The governor crossed over to them immediately with men of horse and of foot, but they did not dare await him. On going in pursuit of them, he arrived at a town which had been abandoned, and on beyond it a swamp where the horses could not cross.
On the other side were many Indian women. Some men of foot crossed over and captured many of the women and a quantity of clothing. The governor returned to the camp; and soon after on that night a spy of the Indians was captured by those who were on watch. The governor asked him whether he would take them to the place where the cacique was. He said yes, and he [the governor] went immediately to look for him [the cacique] with twenty men of horse and fifty of foot.
After a march of a day and a half he found him [the cacique] in a dense wood, and a soldier, not knowing him, gave him a cutlass stroke on the head. He [the cacique) cried out not to kill him saying that he was the cacique. He was taken captive and with him one hundred and forty of his people. The governor went to Quiguate and told him that he should make his Indians come to serve the Christians; and after waiting for some days hoping for them to come, but they not coming, he sent two captains, each one on his own side of the river, with horse and foot.
They captured many Indians, both men and women. Upon seeing the hurt they received, because of their rebellion, they came to see what the governor might order them. Thus they came and went frequently and brought gifts of clothing and fish. The cacique and two of his wives were left unshackled in the governor's house, being guarded by the halberdiers of the governor's guard. The governor asked them in what direction the land was more densely populated. They said that on the lower part of the river toward the south were large settlements and caciques who were lords of wide lands and of many people, and that there was a province called Coligoa toward the northwest, situated near some mountain ridges.
It seemed advisable to the governor and to all the rest to go first to Coligoa, saying that perhaps the mountains would make a difference in the land and that gold or silver might exist on the other side of them. Both Auiguate and Casqui and Pacaha were flat and fertile lands, with excellent meadow lands along the rivers where the Indians made large fields. From Tascaluca to the great river, the distance was about three hundred leagues, the land being very low and with many marshes. From Pacaha to Quiguate, the distance is about one hundred and ten leagues.
The governor left the cacique of Quiguate in his town; and an Indian who guided him through large pathless forests conducted him for seven days through an uninhabited region where they lodged each night amid marshes and streamlets of very shallow water. So plentiful were the fish that they killed them by striking them with clubs; and the Indians whom they took along in chains roiled the water with the mud of the waters, and the fish, as if stupefied would come to the surface, and they caught as many as they wished.
The Indians of Coligoa had not heard of Christians, and when they [the Christians] came within sight of the town so that they [the Indians] saw them, they took to flight up a river which flowed near the town. Some plunged into the river, but Christians who went along both banks captured them. Many Indians were captured there, both men and women, and among them, the cacique.
At his command, many Indians came three days afterward bearing gifts of blankets and deerskins and two cowhides. They said that five or six leagues beyond toward the north were many cattle, but because the land was cold, it was poorly populated; that the best land they knew of, as being more plentifully supplied with food and better inhabited, was a province toward the south called Cayas. From Quiguate to Coligoa, the distance was about forty leagues.
That town of Coligoa was situated at the foot of a mountain in a field of a river half the size of the Caya River which flows through Estremadura. It was a fertile land and so abundant in maize that the old was thrown out in order to store the new. There was also a great quantity of beans and pumpkins, the beans being larger and better than those of Spain; and the pumpkins likewise. When roasted the latter have almost the taste of chestnuts. The cacique of Coligoa gave a guide to Cayas and remained in his town.
We traveled for five days and reached the province of Palisema. The house of the cacique was found with coverlings of colored deerskins drawn over with designs, and the floor of the house was covered with the same material in the manner of carpets. The cacique left it so, in order that the governor might lodge in it as a sign that he was desirous of peace and his friendship, but he did not dare remain. The governor, upon seeing that he had gone away, sent a captain with horse and foot to look for him. He [the captain] found many people, but because of the roughness of the land they captured only some women and young persons. It was a small and scattered settlement and had very little maize. On that account, the governor left it immediately. He came upon another settlement called Tatalicoya, taking with him the cacique who guided him to Cayas.
From Tatalicoya it is a distance of four days' journey to Cayas. When he reached Cayas and saw the scattered settlement, because of the information he had received, namely, that it was well populated land, he believed that the cacique was lying to him and that that was not the province of Cayas. He threatened the cacique, bidding him to tell him where he was; and both the latter and the other Indians who had been captured near that place asserted that that settlement was that of Cayas, and the best settlement of that province; and that although the houses were separated from one another, the populated land was considerable, and it had many people and many maize fields. The name of the settlement was Tanico.
The camp was made in the best part of it near a river. The day on which the governor reached there with some men of horse, he went a league farther on and, although he found no Indians, found on a road many skins which the cacique had left there for him to find as a sign of peace; for this is the custom of that land.
HOW THE GOVERNOR WENT TO SEE THE PROVINCE OF
TULLA AND WHAT BEFELL HIM THERE.
The governor abode in the province of Cayas for a month. During that interval, the horses grew fat and throve more than after a longer time in any other region because of the abundance of maize and the leaf thereof, which is, I think, the best that has been seen. They drank from a very warm and brackish marsh of water, and they drank so much that it was noticed in their bellies when they were brought back from the water. Thitherto the Christians had lacked salt, but there they made a good quantity of it in order to carry it along with them.
The Indians carry it thence to other regions to exchange it for skins and blankets. They gather it along the river, which leaves it on top of the sand when the water falls. And since they cannot gather it without more sand being mixed with it, they put it into certain baskets which they have for this purpose, wide at the top and narrow at the bottom. They hang the baskets to a pole in the air and put water in them, and they place a basin underneath into which the water falls. After being strained and set on the fire to boil, as the water becomes less, the salt is left on the bottom of the pot. On both sides of the river, the land had cultivated fields and there was an abundance of maize. The Indians did not dare to cross [the river] to the place where we were. When some [Indians] appeared, some soldiers who saw them called to them.
The Indians crossed the river and came with them [the soldiers] to the place where the governor was. He asked them for their cacique. They declared that he was friendly, but that he did not dare to appear. Thereupon, the governor ordered that he be told to come to see him and to bring a guide and interpreter for the region ahead, if he wished to be his friend; and that if he did not do this, he would go to fetch him and his hurt would be greater. He waited three days, and seeing that he [the cacique] did not come, went to look for him, and brought him back a prisoner with one hundred and fifty of his Indians.
He [the governor] asked him whether he had knowledge of any great cacique and where the most populated land was. He [the cacique] said that the best populated land thereabout was a province situated to the south, a day and a half away, called Tulla, that he could give him a guide, but that he did not have an interpreter,
for the speech of Tulla was different from his; and because he and his forebears had always been at war with the lords of that province, they had no converse, nor did they understand each other.
Thereupon, the governor set out for Tulla with men of horse and fifty foot in order to see whether it was a land through which he might pass with all his men. As soon as he arrived and was perceived by the Indians, the land was summoned. When fifteen or twenty Indians had gathered together, they came to attack the Christians. On [the Indians'] seeing that they [the Christians] handled them roughly, and that when they took to flight the horses overtook them, they climbed on top of the houses, where they tried to defend themselves with their arrows; and when driven from some [of the housetops] would climb on top of others; and while they [the Christians) were pursuing some [of the Indians], others [of the Indians] would attack them [the Christians] from another direction. In this way, the running lasted so long that the horses became tired
and could no longer run. The Indians killed one horse there and wounded several. Fifteen Indians were killed there, and captives were made of forty women and young persons; for they [the Christians] did not leave any Indian alive who was shooting arrows if they could overtake him.
The governor determined to return to Cayas before the Indians should have time to gather themselves together. Thereupon, that evening, after having marched part of the night, in order to get some distance from Tulla, he went to sleep on the road, and reached Cayas next day. Three days after that he set out with all his men for Tulla, taking the cacique with him. Among all the Indians of the latter, he did not find a single one who understood the speech of Tulla. He was three days on the way, and the day he reached the town, he found it abandoned, for the Indians did not dare await him. But as soon as they knew he was in Tulla, at the hour of dawn of the first night, they came in two bands from two different directions with their bows and arrows and long poles resembling pikes. As soon as they [the Indians] were perceived, both those of horse and those of foot sallied out against them and there many Indians were killed, and some Christians and horses wounded.
Some Indians were captured, six of whom the governor sent to the cacique with their right hands and their noses cut off. He ordered them to tell him that if he did not come to make his excuses and obey him, he would go to get him; and that he would do to him and to as many of his men as he found what he had done to those whom he sent to him. He gave him the space of three days in which to come. This he gave them to understand the best he could by signs as he had no interpreter. After three days came an Indian whom the cacique sent laden with cowhides. He came weeping bitterly, and coming to the governor cast himself at his feet. He [the governor] raised him up, and he made him talk, but no one could understand him. The governor told him by signs that he should return and tell the cacique to send him an interpreter whom the people of Cayas could understand. Next day, three Indians came laden with cowhides and three days after that twenty Indians came.
Among them was one who understood those of Cayas. After a long discourse of excuses from the cacique and praises of the governor, he concluded by saying that he and the others were come thither on behalf of the cacique to see what his lordship ordered; and that he was ready to serve him. The governor and all the men were very glad, for they could in no wise travel without an interpreter. The governor ordered him under guard and told him to tell the Indians who had come with him to return to the cacique and tell him that he pardoned him for the past and that he thanked him greatly for his gifts and for the interpreter whom he had sent him and that he would be glad to see him and for him to come next day to see him.
The cacique came after three days and eighty Indians with him. Both he and his men entered the camp weeping in token of obedience and repentance for the past mistake, after the manner of that land. He brought many cowhides as a gift, which were useful because it was a cold land, and were serviceable for coverlets as they were very soft and the wool like that of sheep. Nearby to the north were many cattle. The Christians did not see them nor enter their land, for the land was poorly settled where they [the cattle] were, and had little maize. The cacique of Tulla made his address to the governor in which he excused himself and offered him his land and vassals and person. No orator could more elegantly express the message or address both of that cacique and of all those who came to the governor in their behalf.
HOW THE GOVERNOR WENT FROM TULLA TO AUTIAMQUE,
WHERE HE WINTERED.
The governor informed himself of the land in all directions and learned that there was a scattering of population toward the west and large towns toward the southeast, especially in a province called Autiamque, ten days' journey from Tulla - a distance of about eighty leagues - and that it was a land abounding in maize. [Ed. DeSoto's army marched at a rate of four leagues per day, on average, not eight, as implied here.]
Since winter had already come and on account of the cold, rains, and snows, they could not travel during two or three months of the year; fearing lest they could not feed themselves for so long a time because of its scattered population; also because the Indians said there was a large body of water near Autiamque - and according to what they said, the governor believed it to be an arm of the sea - and because he now wished to give information of himself in Cuba, for it was three years and over since Dona Isabel, who was in the Havana, or any other person in a Christian land, had heard of him, and now two hundred and fifty men and one hundred and fifty horses were wanting: he determined to go to winter at Autiamque, and in the following summer to reach the sea and build two brigantines and send one of them to Cuba and the other to New Spain, so that the one which should go safely might give news of him; hoping from his property in Cuba to refit, take up his expedition again, and explore and conquer [the land] farther west than he had yet reached, whither Cabeza de Vaca had gone.
He dismissed the two caciques of Tulla and Cayas, and set out toward Autiamque.
For five days he proceeded through very rough ridges and reached a village called Quipana, where he was unable to capture any Indian because of the roughness of the land and because the town was located among ridges. At night he set an ambush in which two Indians were captured. They said that Autiamque was six days' journey away and that another province called Guahate (today's Little Rock) lay a week's journey southward - a land plentifully abounding in maize and of much population. But since Autiamque was nearer and more of the Indians mentioned it to him, the governor proceeded on his journey in search of it. He reached a town called Anoixi in three days and sent a captain with thirty horse and fifty foot on ahead. The latter surprised the Indians unawares and captured many Indian men and women.
Two days later, the governor arrived at another town called Catamaya and made camp in the open field of the town. Two Indians came with a false message from the cacique in order to ascertain what he was going to do. The governor told them to tell their lord that he should come to talk with him. The Indians went away but did not return, nor was there any other message from the cacique. Next day the Christians went to the town, which was without people, and took what maize they needed. They went to sleep on that day in a forest and next day reached Autiamque. They found considerable maize hidden away, as well as beans, nuts, and dried plums, all in great quantity. They seized some Indians who were collecting their clothing, and who had already placed their women in safety.
That land was cultivated and well peopled. The governor lodged in the best part of the village and immediately ordered a wooden stockade to be built about the place where the camp was established at some distance from the houses, so that the Indians without might not harm it with fire. Having measured off the land by paces, he allotted to each one the amount that was proper for him to build, in proportion to the number of Indians he had. Thereupon, the wood was brought in by them, and within three days the stockade was built of very high timbers set close together in the ground and with many boards placed crosswise. Near this village flowed a river of Cayas and above and below it was densely populated.
Indians came there on behalf of the cacique with gifts of blankets and skins, and a lame cacique subject to the cacique of Autiamque, lord of a town called Tietiquaquo, came frequently to visit the governor and brought him gifts of what he had. The cacique of Autiamque sent to ask the governor how long he intended to remain in his land. Upon seeing that he was a guest for more than three days, he sent no more Indians to him, nor any further message; but, on the contrary, he conspired with the lame cacique to revolt. Forays were made in which many Indians, both men and women, were seized, and the lame cacique was captured. The governor, in consideration of the gifts he had received from him, rebuked and warned him, and gave him back his liberty, giving him two Indians to carry him on their shoulders. The cacique of Autiamque, desirous of driving the governor from his land, set spies on him.
An Indian coming during the night to the gate of the stockade, a soldier who was on guard saw him and, taking position behind the gate, thrust at him as he entered it and knocked him down; and in that condition brought him to the governor. On asking him why he had come, he fell down dead without being able to answer. Next night, the governor ordered a soldier to sound to arms and to say that he had seen Indians, in order to ascertain how soon they would hasten to the alarm. And both there and in other places, he did the same at various times when he thought his men were growing careless.
Those who were slow in standing by, he reproved. And both on this account and because of what was his duty toward him, each one strove to be the first to respond when the alarm was given. They stayed three months in Autiamque, and had great abundance of maize, beans, walnuts, dried plums, and rabbits, which until then they had no skill in killing. In Autiamque, the Indians showed them how they snared them, namely, by means of stout springs which lift the feet off the ground and a noose of strong cord fastened to which is a joint of cane which runs to the neck of the rabbit, so that it can not gnaw the cord. Many were taken in the maize fields, especially when it froze or snowed.
The Christians were there a month amid snow during which they never left the town. When firewood was needed, the governor with those of horse going frequently to and from the woods, a distance of two crossbow flights from the town, made a road by which those of foot went in a line. During that time, some Indians, whom they were now taking along unshackled, killed many rabbits with their snares and arrows. The rabbits were of two kinds-some like those of Spain and others of the same color, form and size as large hares, but larger and with larger loins.
HOW THE GOVERNOR WENT FROM AUTIAMQUE TO
NILCO AND THENCE TO GUACHOYA.
On Monday, March six of the year 1542, the governor set out from Autiamque to go in search of Nilco, which the Indians said was near the great river, with the intention of reaching the sea and obtaining aid of men and horses; for he now had only three hundred fighting men and forty horses, and some of them lame and useful only for making a body of horse. For a year, because of lack of iron they brought them along all unshod; but because they [the horses] were now accustomed to going in a flat country, this did not make their need felt much.
In Autiamque died Juan Ortiz, which the governor felt deeply, for without an interpreter, not knowing where he was going, he feared lest he enter a region where he might get lost. After that, a youth who had been seized in Cutifachiqui, and who now knew something of the language of the Christians, served as interpreter. So great a misfortune was the death of Juan Ortiz, with regard to the exploring or trying to leave the land, that to learn from the Indians what he stated in four words, with the youth the whole day was needed; and most of the time he understood just the opposite of what was asked, so that many times it came about that the road they took one day, and at times, two or three days, they would return on, and they would wander about lost from one side of those woods to the other.
From Autiamque, it took the governor ten days to reach a province called Ayays. He reached a town near the river which flowed through Cayas and Autiamque. There he ordered a piragua to be constructed, by which he crossed the river. After crossing, such weather occurred that he could not march for four days because of the snow. As soon as it stopped snowing, he marched for three days through an unpopulated region and a land so low and with so many swamps and such hard going that one day he marched all day through water that in some places reached to the knees and in others to the stirrups, and some passages were swum over.
He came to a deserted village, without maize called Tutelpinco. Near it was a lake which emptied into the river and had a strong current and force of water. As five Christians, accompanied by a captain whom the governor had sent, were crossing it in a canoe, the canoe overturned. Some caught hold of it [the canoe] and others of trees which were in the lake. One Francisco Bastian, an honorable person, a native of Villanueva de Barcarota, was drowned there. The governor went for a day along the lake looking for a crossing place, but he did not find it all that day nor any road leading from any other direction.
Returning at night to the town, he found two peaceful Indians who showed him the crossing and the road he must take. Reed frames and rafts were made there from reeds and wood from the houses, on which they crossed the lake. They marched for three days and reached a town of the district of Nilco, called Tianto. Thirty Indians were captured there, among them being two of the principal men of that town. The governor sent a captain on ahead to Nilco with horse and foot, so that the Indians might not have any opportunity to carry off the food.
They went through three or four large towns, and in the town where the cacique lived - located two leagues from where the governor remained - they found many Indians with their bows and arrows, and in appearance as if they wished to give battle, and who were surrounding the town. As soon as they saw that the Christians were coming toward them without any hesitation, they set fire to the cacique's house and escaped over a swamp that lay near the town, where the horses could not cross.
Next day, Wednesday, March 29, the governor reached Nilco. He lodged with all his men in the cacique's town which was located on a level field, and which was all populated for a quarter of a league; while a league and a half-league distant were other very large towns where there was a quantity of maize, beans, walnuts, and dried plums. This was the most populous region which had been seen in Florida and more abounding in maize, with the exception of Coca and Apalache.
An Indian came to the camp, accompanied by others, and in the cacique's name presented the governor with a blanket of marten skins and a string of pearl beads. The governor gave him some "margaridetas" - a kind of bead much esteemed in Peru - and some other trifles with which he was much pleased. He promised to return two days later, but he never did return. On the other hand, Indians came in canoes at night and carried off all the maize they could and set up their huts on the other side of the river in the thickest part of the forest, so that if they [the Spaniards] should go in search of them, they might escape. The governor, on seeing that he [the Indian] did not come at the promised time, ordered an ambush to be made at some bar-
bacoas near the swamp where the Indians came for maize. Two Indians were captured there, who told the governor that the one who came to visit them was not the cacique, but one sent at the latter's command under pretense that it was he, in order to ascertain whether the Christians were off their guard, and whether they planned to settle in that region or go on farther.
Thereupon, the governor sent a captain across the river with men of horse and foot, but on crossing they were perceived by the Indians, and for that reason, he [the captain] could not capture more than ten or twelve Indians, men and women, with whom he returned to the camp.
That river which flowed through Anilco was the same that flowed through Cayas and Autiamque and emptied into the large river which flowed through Pacaha and Aquixo hard by the province of Guachoya.
The lord of the upper part came in canoes to make war on the lord of Nilco. Sent by him, an Indian came to the governor and told him that he was his servant and as such he should consider him and that two days later he would come to kiss the hands of his Lordship. He came at that time with some of his principal Indians who
accompanied him. With words of great promise and courtesy, he presented many blankets and deerskins to the governor. The governor gave him some trifles and showed him great honor. He questioned him about the settlement down the river. He said that he knew of none other except his own; and that on the other side was a province of a cacique called Quigualtam.
He took his leave of the governor and returned to his town. A few days later, the governor made up his mind to go to Guachoya, in order to ascertain there whether the sea were nearby, or whether there were any settlement nearby where he might subsist himself while brigantines were being built which he intended to send to the land of Christians. As he was crossing the river of Nilco, Indians came up it in canoes from Guachoya, and when they saw him, thinking that he was going after them to do them some hurt, they turned back down the river and went to warn the cacique. The latter, abandoning the town with all his people, with all they could carry off, on that night crossed over to the other side of the great river.
The governor sent a captain and fifty men in six canoes down the river, while he, with the rest of his men, went overland. He reached Guachoya on Sunday, April 17, and lodged himself in the cacique's town, which was surrounded by a stockade, a crossbow flight from the river. There, the river was called Tamaliseu, at Nilco, Tapatu, at Coca, Mico, and at the port, Ri [i.e., River].
OF THE MESSAGE SENT BY THE GOVERNOR TO
QUIGUALTAM AND OF THE ANSWER GIVEN
BY THE LATTER; AND OF WHAT
HAPPENED DURING THIS TIME.
As soon as the governor reached Guachoya, he sent Juan de Anasco up the river with as many men as could get into the canoes; for when they were coming from Anilco, they saw newly made huts on the other side. Juan de Aiiasco went and brought back the canoes laden with maize, beans, dried plums, and many loaves made from the pulp of the plums. On that day, an Indian came to the governor in the name of the cacique of Guachoya and said that his lord would come next day. On the following day, they saw many canoes coming from downstream. They assembled together for the space of an hour on the other side of the great river, debating as to whether they should come or not. At last, they made up their minds and crossed the river. The cacique of Guachoya came in them, bringing with him many Indians bearing a considerable quantity of fish, dogs, skins, and blankets.
As soon as they landed at the town, they went immediately to the town to the governor's lodging and presented the gifts to him; and the cacique spoke as follows: "Powerful and excellent lord; May your Lordship pardon me for the mistake I made in going away and not waiting in this town to receive you and serve you; for the obtaining of this opportune occasion was, and is, a great victory for me. But I feared what I should not have feared and on that account did what it was not proper to do. However, since hasty actions cause unfavorable results, and I had acted without deliberation, as soon as I reflected on this, I made up my mind not to follow the advice of the foolish, which is to persist in their error, but to imitate the wise and prudent ones in changing one's opinion; and I am come to see what your Lordship might command me in order to serve you in so far as my possibility suffices."
The governor welcomed him with much hospitality and gave him thanks for his gifts and promises. He asked him [the cacique] whether he had any knowledge of the sea. He said he did not, nor of any settlement down the river from that place, except that there was a town of one of his principal Indians subject to him two leagues away, and on the other side three days' journey downstream the province of Quigualtam, who was the greatest lord of that region. It seemed to the governor that the cacique was lying to him in order to turn him aside from his towns, and he sent Juan de Anasco downstream with eight horse to see what population there was and to ascertain whether there were any knowledge of the sea. He was gone for a week and on his coming said that during that whole time he could not proceed more than fourteen or fifteen leagues because of the great arms leading out of the river, and the canebrakes and thick woods lying along it; and that he found no settlement.
The governor's grief was intense on seeing the small prospect he had for reaching the sea; and worse, according to the way in which his men and horses were diminishing, they could not be maintained in the land without succor. With that thought, he fell sick, but before he took to his bed, he sent an Indian to tell the cacique of Quigualtam that he was the son of the sun and that wherever he went all obeyed him and did him service. He requested him to choose his friendship and come there where he was, for he would be very glad to see him; and in token of love and obedience that he should bring him something of what was most esteemed in that land. By the same Indian, he [the cacique] answered him saying that with respect to what he [the governor] said about being the son of the sun, let him dry up the great river and he would believe him. With respect to the rest [that the governor said], he was not accustomed to visit any one. On the contrary, all of whom he had knowledge visited and served him and obeyed him and paid him tribute, either by force or of their own volition.
Consequently, if he [the governor] wished to see him, let him cross there. If he came in peace he would welcome him with special good will; if he came in war, he would await him in the town where he was, for not for him or any other would he move one foot backward. When the Indian came with this reply, the governor was already in bed, badly racked by fever. He was very angry that he was not in condition to cross the river forthwith and go in quest of him [the cacique] to see whether he could not lessen that arrogant demeanor. However, the river was now very powerful there, being about half a league wide and sixteen brazas deep, and very furious because of its strong current. On both sides of it were many Indians; and his strength was now no longer so great that he did not need to take advantage of cunning rather than force. The Indians of Guachoya came daily with fish, so many that the town was filled with them. The cacique said that the cacique of Quigualtam was going to come on a certain night to do battle with the governor. The governor, believing that he [the cacique of Guachoya] was planning thereby to drive him out of his land, ordered him placed under guard.
That night and every other night a very strict watch was kept. Asking him why Quigualtam did not come, he [the cacique] said that he had come, but saw that he [the governor] was on the watch and he did not dare to attack him. He [the cacique] importuned him [the governor] frequently, to order his captains to cross to the other side of the river and [said] that he would give him many men to attack Quigualtam. The governor told him that as soon as he got well, he would go to look for him [Quigualtam]. Noting how many Indians came to the town daily, and how many people were in that land, and fearing lest some of them conspire with others and plan some treason against him, and because the town, having no gates by which advantage could be
taken, had some openings which had not been completely closed: he left them in that condition without repairing the stockade in order that the Indians might not think he feared them.
He ordered that men of horse be stationed at them and at the gates. All night long the horses were left bridled and from each company mounted men rode by couples and went to visit the sentinels who were stationed on the roads at their posts outside the town, and the crossbowmen who were guarding the canoes on the river. In order that the Indians might fear him, the governor determined to send a captain to Nilco, which those of Guachoya had told him was inhabited, in order that by treating them cruelly, neither the one town nor the other should dare attack him. He sent Nuno de Tobar with fifteen horse and Juan de Guzman, captain of men of foot, with his men upstream in the canoes. The cacique of Guachoya sent for canoes and for many Indian warriors who went with the Christians. A captain of the Christians, Nuno de Tobar, by name, with the
men of horse went overland.
At a distance of two leagues before reaching Nilco, he awaited Juan de Guzman and at night they crossed the river at that place. Those of horse arrived first. At daybreak next morning, in sight of the
town they came upon a spy, who, on seeing the Christians, ran away uttering loud cries in order to give the alarm to those of the town. Nuno de Tobar and those who accompanied him set such a pace that before the Indians of the town had all come out, they were on them. The land was open, that part which was peopled being about a quarter of a league [in extent]. There were about five or six thousand souls in that settlement. And since many of the people came out of the houses and went fleeing from one house to the other, and many Indians were gathering together in all directions, there was not a single one of the horse who did not find himself alone among many. The captain had ordered that no male Indian's life should be spared. So great
was their confusion that not an Indian shot at a Christian. The cries of the women and little children were so loud that they deafened the ears of those who pursued them.
A hundred or so Indians were killed there and many were badly wounded with the lances, who were let go in order that they might strike terror into those who did not happen to be there. There were men there so cruel and such butchers that they killed old men and young men and all they came upon without any one offering them little or much resistance. Those who trusted in themselves, who went to prove themselves wherever there was any resistance, and who were considered as such men, broke through the Indians, overthrowing many with the stirrup and breasts of their horses; and some they lanced and let them go in that condition; but on seeing a child or a woman, they would capture and deliver such a person to those of foot.
Those who were cruel, because they showed themselves inhuman, God permitted their sin to confront them, very great cowardice assailing them in the sight of all at a time when there was greater need of fighting, and when at last they came to die. Of the Indians at Nilco, eighty women and children were seized, and much clothing. The Indians of Guachoya stopped before reaching the town and stayed outside, beholding how the Christians dealt [se avinhal with the people of Nilco; and seeing them defeated and those of horse going about lancing them, they went to the houses to loot, and from the booty loaded their canoes with clothing and went to Guachoya before the Christians came. And full of wonder at what they had seen done to the Indians of Anilco, they told their cacique with great fear everything as it had happened.
HOW THE ADELANTADO, DON HERNANDO DE SOTO,
DIED AND HOW LUIS MOSCOSO DE ALVARADO
WAS CHOSEN GOVERNOR.
The governor realized within himself that the hour had come in which he must leave this present life. He had the royal officials summoned, and the captains and principal persons. To them he gave a talk, saying that he was about to go to give an accounting before the throne of God of all his past life; and that since He [God] was pleased to take him at such a time, and to arrive at a time when he could perceive his death, he a very unworthy servant gave Him many thanks; and to all those present and absent, to whom he confessed his great obligation for their singular virtues, love, and loyalty toward himself, which he had well proven in the hardships they had suffered.
This he had always had in mind and had hoped to recompense and to reward when God should be pleased to give leisure to his life with greater prosperity of his estate. He asked them to pray God for him and in His mercy to pardon him his sins, and place his soul in glory. He asked them to give him release and remission from the obligation in which he stood to them and of what he was owing to them all; and to pardon any feelings of offense they might have received from him.
In order to avoid any disunion that might arise at his death with regard to the one who was to act as governor, he asked them to consider it fitting to elect one of the principal and capable persons to govern, in whom they all might be satisfied, and before whom having been elected they should take oath to obey him. For this, he would be very grateful, for it would soften somewhat his grief and the sorrow he felt at leaving them in so great confusion as he was doing in a land in which they did not know where they were.
Baltasar de Gallegos answered him in the name of all, and first consoling him, spoke to him of how brief was the life of this world and of how many hardships and sufferings; that he who earliest left it, to him God showed signal mercy; saying to him [also] many other things proper at such a time; and lastly, that since God was pleased to take him to himself, although his death, with much reason they greatly grieved over, it was necessary and proper for him as it was for all to conform to the will of God. And as to the governor whom he ordered them to choose, let his Lordship appoint him whom he might delegate and they would obey him.
Therefore, he [the governor] appointed Luis de Moscoso de Alvarado as their captain general, and by all those who were present he was immediately sworn and elected as governor. Next day, May 21 died the magnanimous, virtuous, and courageous captain, Don Hernando de Soto, governor of Cuba and adelantado of Florida, whom fortune exalted as she is wont to do with others, so that he might fall from a greater height. He died in a land and at a time when his illness had very little solace.
The danger of being lost in that land, which stared all of them in the face, was the reason why each one himself had need of consolation and why they did not visit him and wait upon him as was fitting. Luis de Moscoso determined to conceal his death from the Indians, for Hernando de Soto had given them to understand that the Christians were immortal. Also because they knew him to be bold, wise, and courageous, if they should learn of his death, they would be emboldened to attack them [the Spaniards] even though they were at peace, because of their nature and their entire lack of constancy. They [the Indians] believe everything told them. The adelantado had made them believe that [he knew] certain things which had happened among them in secret, which he had succeeded in discovering without their knowing how or in what manner, and that the face which appeared within the mirror (which he showed them) told him whatever they were planning and thinking about.
Consequently, they did not dare by word or deed to attempt anything which might be to his hurt. As soon as he died, Luis de Moscoso ordered him [i.e., his corpse] to be placed secretly in a house where he was kept for three days; and from thence he ordered him to be buried at night inside at a gate of the town. And
since the Indians had seen that he was sick and found him missing, they suspected what might have happened; and passing by where he was buried and seeing the earth had been disturbed, looked and talked among them-
Luis de Moscoso, having learned this, ordered him disinterred at night, and a considerable quantity of sand was placed with the blankets in which he was shrouded, and he was taken in a canoe and cast into the middle of the river. The cacique of Guachoya asked for him, inquiring what had been done with his brother and lord, the governor. Luis de Moscoso told him that he had gone to the sky as he had often done before; and since he was to stay there for some days, he had left him in his stead.
The cacique believed that he [De Soto] was dead and ordered two young and well-built Indians to be taken there. He said it was the custom in that land when any lord died to kill Indians to accompany him and serve him on the way; and on this account, those [Indians] had come thither at his order; and he told Luis de Moscoso to have them beheaded so that they might accompany and serve his brother and lord. Luis de Moscoso told him that the governor was not dead but that he had gone to the sky and that he had taken from among his soldiers Christians who were sufficient for his service; and that he requested him to order those Indians freed and from thenceforth not to follow so evil a custom.
Thereupon, he ordered them set free and commanded them to go to their homes. One of them refused to go saying that he did not wish to remain under the power of any one who had sentenced him to death undeservedly, and that he desired to serve, while life lasted, him who had freed him. Luis de Moscoso ordered the property of the governor to be sold at auction, namely, two men slaves, two women slaves, three horses, and seven hundred hogs. For each horse or slave, two or three thousand cruzados were given, which were to be paid at the first melting of gold or silver, or from their repartimientos.
They pledged themselves that, even though there might be nothing in the land, they would make payment within a year, and for that purpose, those who had no property in Spain gave bonds. For a hog, two hundred cruzados, pledged in the same way [were given). Those who had property in Spain bought more timidly and bought less. Thenceforward, most of the men had hogs and reared and ate them. They observed Fridays and Saturdays and the vespers of holidays, which they had not done before; for two or three months would pass without their eating meat, and they had eaten it on any day they could get it.
HOW GOVERNOR LUIS DE MOSCOSO DEPARTED FROM
GUACHOYA AND WENT TO CHAGUATE AND
THENCE TO AGUACAY.
There were some who rejoiced at the death of Don Hernando de Soto, considering it as certain that Luis de Moscoso (who was fond of leading a gay life) would rather prefer to be at ease in a land of Christians than to continue the hardships of the war of conquest and discovery, of which they had long ago become awearied because of the little profit obtained.246 The governor ordered the captains and principal men to assemble in order to consult them and plan what should be done.
Having obtained information of the population all thereabout, he learned that there was a more populous land toward the west and that the river below Quigualtam was uninhabited and had little food. He asked each to express his opinion in writing and to sign his opinion with his name, so that having the opinions of them all, he might make up his mind whether to descend the river or to penetrate inland. It seemed advisable to all to take the road overland toward the west, for New Spain lay in that direction; and they considered as more dangerous and of greater risk the voyage by sea; for no ship could be built strong enough to weather a storm, and they had no master or pilot, and no compass or sailing chart, and they did not know how far away the sea was, nor had they any information of it; nor whether the river made some great bend through the land or whether it fell over any rocks where they would perish.
Some men who had seen the sailing chart found that the distance to New Spain along the coast in the region where they were was about five hundred leagues or so. They declared that even although they might have to make some detours by land, because of looking for a settlement, they would not be prevented from going ahead that summer except by some great uninhabited district which they could not cross. If they found food to pass the winter in some settlement, the following summer they would reach the land of Christians.
It might be also that by going by land, they would find some rich land from which they might get profit. Although the governor's desire was to leave the land of Florida in the shortest time possible, on seeing the difficulties which lay before him in making the voyage by sea he resolved to follow what seemed best to all. On Monday, June 5, he left Guachoya. The cacique gave him a guide to Chaguate and remained in his village...
...They passed through a province called Catalte and after passing through anuninhabited region for six days they reached Chaguete on the twentieth of the month. The cacique of that province had gone to visit the governor, Don Hernando de Soto, at Autiamque where he brought him gifts of skins, blankets and salt.
A day before Luis de Moscoso arrived at his village, a sick Christian got lost, and he suspected that the Indians had killed him. He [Moscoso] sent word to the cacique to have him looked for and sent to him, and said that he would consider him a friend as formerly; but that if he did not do so, there was no place of escape for him or his people, and that his land would be burned.
The cacique came forthwith and brought a rich gift of blankets and skins and the Christian, and made the following speech: "Excellent Lord: For all the treasure in the world, I would not desire the opinion you have of me. Who forced me to go to visit the excellent lord governor, your father, at Autiamque (which you should have remembered) where I offered myself with all loyalty, fidelity, and love to serve and obey him as long as I lived? Therefore, what could be the reason, after I had received favors from him and without you or he having done me any injury that I could be induced to do what I ought not do? Believe me, neither injury nor human interest were enough to make me act so, nor would it have blinded me. But since it is a natural thing in this life for many griefs to happen after one pleasure, fortune has pleased by your indignation to moderate the gladness which my heart felt at your coming, and that I should err wherein I thought to succeed, in sheltering that Christian who had become lost and in treating him in such manner as he can tell; for it seemed to me that by so doing I was rendering a service and I planned to go to deliver him to you at Chaguete, and to serve you in everything for which my strength sufficed. If I merit punishment from your hand on this account, I shall receive it as from a lord, as if it were a reward; for the love I bore to the excellent governor and that which I have for you has no limit. Therefore, whatever punishment you give me, you will do me a favor. And what I now ask of you is that you declare your will to me and those things in which I can best serve you."
The governor answered him saying that because he did not find him in that town he was angry at him, as it appeared to him that he had gone away as others had done; but since he now understood his loyalty and love, he would always consider him as a brother, and would favor him in all his affairs. The cacique accompanied him to the town where he was living, which was a day's journey thence. They passed through a small town where there was a lake where the Indians made salt. The Christians made some on a day they rested there from some briny water which rose near the town in pools like springs.
The governor stayed six days in Chaguete. There he got information of the people to the west. They told him that three days' journey from there was a province called Aguacay. The day he left Chaguete, a Christian named Francisco de Guzman, bastard son of a gentleman of Seville, remained behind. He went away to the Indians in fear lest they [the Christians] seize from him as a gaming obligation an Indian woman whom he had as a mistress and whom he took away with him. The governor marched for two days before he found he was not with them. He sent word to the cacique to look for him and send him to Aguacay, whither he was going, which he [the cacique] never did...
On behalf of the cacique of Aguacay, before reaching that province, fifteen Indians came to meet him on the way with a present of skins and fish and roasted venison. The governor reached his town on Wednesday,
July 4. He found the town abandoned and lodged therein. He stayed there for some time, during which he made several inroads, in which many Indians, both men and women, were captured. There they heard of the
south sea. There a considerable quantity of salt was made from the sand which they gathered in a vein of earth like slate and which was made as it was made in Cayas.
HOW THE GOVERNOR WENT FROM AGUACAY TO
NAGUATEX AND WHAT HAPPENED TO HIM.
On the day the governor left Aguacay, he went to sleep near a small town subject to the lord of that province. The camp was pitched quite near to a salt marsh, and on that evening some salt was made there. Next day he went to sleep between two ridges in a forest of open trees. Next day he reached a small town called Pato. The fourth day after he left Aguacay, he reached the first settlement of a province called Amaye. An Indian was captured there who said that it was a day and a half journey thence to Naguatex, all of which lay through an inhabited region.
Having left the village of Amaye, on Saturday, July 20, camp was made at midday beside a brook in a luxuriant grove between Amaye and Naguatex. Indians were seen there who came to spy on them. Those of horse rushed at them, killing six and capturing two.
On being asked by the governor why they had come, they said it was to ascertain what people he had and of what manner they were, and that they had been sent by their lord, the cacique of Naguatex; that the latter, with other caciques, who were in his company and under his protection, had made up their minds to give him battle that day. While this questioning and answering was going on, many Indians came in two bands from two directions. As soon as they saw they had been perceived, uttering loud cries they rushed upon the Christians with great fury, each band in its own part. But on seeing the resistance they met with from the Christians, they turned and fled, and in their flight many of them lost their lives.
While most of the horse were going in pursuit of them, quite forgetful of the camp, two other bands of Indians who had been concealed, attacked them. They were also resisted and had their pay as the first had. After the Indians had fled and the Christians had gathered together, they heard a loud cry at the distance of a crossbow flight from where they were. The governor sent twelve horse to see what it was. They found six Christians, two of horse and four of foot, among many Indians, those on horse with great difficulty defending those on foot. These had got lost from those who pursued the first two bands of Indians, and while returning to camp, met those with whom they were fighting. Both they and those who went to their aid killed many of the Indians.
They brought one Indian to camp alive, whom the governor asked who those were who had come to do battle with him. He said that they were the cacique of Naguatex and he of Maye and another of a province called Hacanac, lord of vast lands and many vassals; and that he of Naguatex came as captain and head of all. The governor ordered his right arm and his nostrils cut off and sent him to the cacique of Naguatex, ordering him to say that on the morrow he would be in his land to destroy him and that if he wished to forbid him entrance, he should await him.
That night he slept there and next day reached the village of Naguatex which was very extensive. He asked where the town of the cacique was and they told him it was on the other side of a river which ran through that district. He marched toward it and on reaching it saw many Indians on the other side waiting for him, so posted as to forbid his passage. Since he did not know whether it [the river] was fordable, nor where it could be crossed, and since several Christians and horses were wounded, in order that they might have time to recover in the town where he was, he made up his mind to rest for a few days.
Because of the great heat, he made camp near the village, a quarter of a league from the river, in an open forest of luxuriant and lofty trees near a brook. Several Indians were captured there. He asked them whether the river was fordable. They said it was at times in certain places. Ten days later he sent two captains, each with fifteen horse up and down the river with Indians to show them where they could cross, to see what population lay on the other side of the river. The Indians opposed the crossing of them both as strongly as possible, but they crossed in spite of them. On the other side they saw a large village and many provisions; and returned to camp with this news.
HOW THE CACIQUE OF NAGUATEX CAME TO VISIT THE
GOVERNOR; AND HOW THE GOVERNOR LEFT
NAGUATEX AND WENT TO NONDACAO.
From the town of Naguatex, where the governor was, he sent word by an Indian to the cacique to come to serve and obey him and said that he would pardon him for the past; and that if he did not come he would go to look for him and give him the punishment he merited for what he had done against him. Two days later the Indian came and said that the cacique would come next day. The very day before he came he [the cacique] sent many Indians ahead, among whom were some of the principal men. He sent them to see in what mood they found the governor, in order to make up his mind with himself whether to go or not. The Indians reported he was coming and immediately returned.
The cacique came two hours later well attended by his men. They all came after this manner, one ahead of the other in double file, leaving a lane in the middle through which the cacique came. They reached the place where the governor was, all weeping after the manner of Tula which lay to the east not very far from that place. The cacique paid his respects fittingly and spoke as follows:
"Very exalted, very mighty Lord, to whom the whole world owes service and obedience: I venture to appear before your Lordship after having committed so enormous and vile an act, for which even because it passed through my mind I merit punishment, trusting in your greatness, that although I have not even deserved pardon, but because it is your custom, you will observe clemency toward me, considering how insignificant I am in comparison with your Lordship, so that you will not be mindful of my weaknesses, which, because of my evil, I have come to know for my greater good. I believe that you and your men must be immortal and that your Lordship is lord of the realm of nature, since everything submits to and obeys you, even the hearts of men. For, seeing the death and destruction of my men in the battle, which I fought with your Lordship through my ignorance and the counsel of a brother of mine, who was killed in the action, I immediately repented me in my heart of the mistake I had committed and desired to serve and obey you. I come, therefore so that your Lordship may punish me and order me as your own."
The governor answered him saying that he pardoned him for the past, that thenceforth and in the future he should act as he ought and that he would consider him his friend and protect him in all his affairs. Four days later he departed thence, but on reaching the river could not cross, as it had swollen greatly. This appeared a wonderful phenomenon to him because of the season then and because it had not rained for more than a month.
The Indians declared that it swelled often in that way without it having rained anywhere in the land. It was conjectured that it might be the sea which came up through the river. It was learned that the increase always came from above, and that the Indians of all that land had no knowledge of the sea. The governor returned to the place where he had been during the preceding days.
A week later, hearing that the river could be crossed, he passed to the other side and found a village without any people. He lodged in the open field and sent word to the cacique to come where he was and give him a guide for the forward journey. A few days later, seeing that the cacique did not come or send, he sent two captains, each in a different direction, to burn the towns and capture any Indians they might find. They burned many provisions and captured many Indians. The cacique, on beholding the damage that his land was receiving, sent six of his principal men and three Indians with them as guides who knew the language of the region ahead where the governor was about to go.
He immediately left Naguatex and after marching three days reached a town of four or five houses, belonging to the cacique of that miserable province, called Nisohone. It was a poorly populated region and had little maize. Two days later, the guides who were guiding the governor, if they had to go toward the west, guided them toward the east, and sometimes they went through dense forests, wandering off the road. The governor ordered them hanged from a tree, and an Indian woman, who had been captured at Nisohone, guided him, and he went back to look for the road. Two days later, he reached another wretched land called Lacane. There he captured an Indian who said that the land of Nondacao was a very populous region and the houses scattered about one from another as is customary in mountains, and that there was abundance of maize.
The cacique and his Indians came weeping like those of Naguatex, that being their custom in token of obedience. He made him [the governor] a gift of a great quantity of fish and offered to do as he should order. He took his leave of him and gave him a guide to the province of Soacatino.
HOW THE GOVERNOR WENT FROM NONDACAO TO
SOACATINO AND GUASCO, AND CROSSED
THROUGH AN UNPEOPLED REGION,
WHENCE FOR LACK OF A GUIDE
AND INTERPRETER, HE
RETURNED TO NILCO.
The governor departed from Nondacao for Soacatino and after he had marched for five days arrived at the province called Aays. The Indians who lived there had not heard of Christians, and as soon as they perceived that they had entered their lands, the country was aroused. As soon as fifty or a hundred had gathered together, they would go out on the road to fight. While some were fighting, others came and attacked them [the Christians] on another side, and when some [of the Christians] pursued [them], the Indians pursued them. The affair lasted the greater part of the day before they [the Christians] reached the village.
Some horses and Christians were wounded, but not so badly that it presented any obstacle to their march, for no one had a dangerous wound. Great damage was done the Indians. The day the governor departed thence, the Indian who was guiding him said that he had heard Nondacao say that the Indians of Soacatino had seen other Christians. At this all were very glad, as they thought it might be true and that they might have entered by way of New Spain, and that, if it were so, they would have it in their power to get out of Florida, since they had found nothing of profit, for they feared lest they get lost in some unpeopled region. That Indian led him [the governor] off the road for two days.
The governor ordered him to be tortured. He said that the cacique of Nondacao, his lord, had ordered him to lead him in that way, because they were his enemies; and that he had to do so, since his lord so ordered. The governor ordered him thrown to the dogs, and another one guided him to Soacatino, whither he arrived the next day. It was a very poor land and there was great lack of maize there.
He asked the Indians whether they knew of other Christians. They said they had heard it said that they were traveling about near there to the southward. He marched for twenty days through a very poorly populated region where they endured great need and suffering; for the little maize the Indians had they hid in the forests and buried it where, after being well tired out with marching, the Christians went about trailing it, at the end of the day's journey looking for what they must eat.
On reaching a province called Guasco, they found maize with which they loaded the horses and the Indians whom they were taking. Thence they went to another village called Naquiscoga. The Indians said they had never heard of other Christians. The governor ordered them put to the torture, and they said that they [the Christians] had reached another domain ahead called Nacacahoz and had returned thence toward the west whence they had come.
The governor reached Nacacahoz in two days and some Indian women were captured there. Among them was one who said that she had seen Christians and that she bad been in their hands but had escaped. The governor sent a captain and fifteen horse to the place where the Indian woman said she had seen them, in order to ascertain whether there were any trace of horses or any token of their having reached there. After having gone three or four leagues, the Indian woman who was guiding them said that all she had said was a lie; and so they considered what the other Indians had said about having seen Christians in the land of Florida. And inasmuch as the land thereabout was very poor in maize, and there was no tidings of any village westward, they returned to Guasco.
There the Indians told them that ten days' journey thence toward the west was a river called Daycao where they sometimes went to hunt in the mountains and to kill deer; and that on the other side of it they had seen people, but did not know what village it was. There the Christians took what maize they found and could carry and after marching for ten days through an unpeopled region reached the river of which the Indians had spoken.
Ten of horse, whom the governor had sent on ahead, crossed over to the other side, and went along the road leading to the river. They came upon an encampment of Indians who were living in very small huts. As soon as they saw them [the Christians], they took to flight, abandoning their possessions, all of which were wretchedness and poverty. The land was so poor that, among them all, they [the Christians] did not find half an "alqueire" of maize.
Those of horse captured two Indians and returned with them to the river where the governor was awaiting them. They continued to question them in order to learn from them the population to the westward, but there was no Indian in the camp who understood their language. The governor ordered the captains and principal persons summoned, in order to plan what he should do after hearing their opinions. Most of them said that in their opinion they should return to the great river of Guachoya, for there was plenty of maize at Anilco and thereabout. They said that during the winter they would make brigantines and the following summer they would descend the river in them to look for the sea, and once having reached the sea, they would coast along it to New Spain which, although it seemed a difficult thing, because of what they had already said, yet it was their last resort because they could not travel by land for lack of an interpreter.
They maintained that that land beyond the river of Daycao, where they were, was the land which Cabeza de Vaca said in his relation he had traversed, and was of Indians who wandered about like Arabs without having a settled abode anywhere, subsisting on prickly pears, the roots of plants, and the game they killed. And if that were so, if they entered it and found no food in order to pass the winter, they could not help but perish, for it was already the beginning of October (they would reach the Mississippi River in mid-November); and if they stayed longer, they could not turn back because of the waters and snows, nor could they feed themselves in such a poor land.
The governor, who was desirous now of being in a place where he could sleep out his full sleep, rather than to govern and conquer a land where so many hardships presented themselves to him, at once turned back to the place whence they had come.
HOW THEY RETURNED TO NILCO AND WENT TO
MINOYA, WHERE THEY SET ABOUT
MAKING SHIPS IN ORDER TO
GET OUT OF THE LAND OF
When the plan determined on was published in the camp, there were many who regretted it keenly, for they considered the journey by sea as doubtful on account of their lack of equipment, and as risky as the journey overland; and they hoped to find a rich land before reaching the land of Christians, because of what Cabeza de Vaca had told the emperor. This was that, while he had found cotton cloth, he had seen gold and silver and precious gems of much value. They had not yet reached the place where he had gone, for he had gone continually along the coast up to that point and they had gone inland.
If they traveled toward the west, they would of necessity have to come out whither he had gone.
For he said that he had traveled many days in a certain direction and had penetrated inland toward the north. Already at Guasco, they had found some turquoises and cotton blankets which the Indians gave them to understand by signs were brought from the west; and if they took that way, they would reach the land of Christians. But in addition to this they were greatly discontented, and it grieved many of them to turn back, for they would rather have risked death in the land of Florida than to leave it poor.
They were unable to prevent what had been determined upon, because the principal men were of the governor's mind. But afterward there was one who said he would willingly put out one of his own eyes if he could put out one of Luis de Moscoso, for it grieved him greatly to see him prosperous; for which he [Moscoso] would have maltreated both him and others, his friends, but he did not dare do it, seeing that two days later he [Moscoso] was to leave the command.
From Daycao, where they were, it was one hundred and fifty leagues to the great river - a distance they had
marched continually to the westward. On the backward journey, they found maize to eat with great difficulty, for where they had already passed the land was left devastated, and any maize which the Indians had, they had hidden.
The towns which they had burned in Naguatex, which was now regretted by them, had now been rebuilt and the houses were full of maize. This region is very well populated and well supplied with food. Pottery is made there of refined clay, which differs but little from that of Estremoz or Montemor.
At Chaguete (Vienna/Ruston, Louisiana), the Indians, by order of the cacique, came in peace and said that the Christian who had remained there had refused to come. The governor wrote to him and sent him ink and paper so that he could reply. The substance of the words of the letter was to declare to him his determination, namely, to leave the land of Florida, and to remind him that he was a Christian and should not desire to stay in the power of infidels; that he pardoned him the error he had committed in going to the Indians, and that he should come; and if they [the Indians] tried to detain him, he should so inform him [Moscoso] in writing.
The Indian went with the letter and came without other reply than on its back his name and rubric so that they might know he was alive. The governor sent twelve men of horse to look for him, but having his spies, he hid himself so that they could not find him. For lack of maize the governor could not stop longer to look for him. He left Chaguete and crossed the river before Aays (Centerville), and going down it came to a town called Chilano, which they had not seen until then (beyond the Brazos River - This statement should have come before the incident described at Chaguete, above).
Reaching Nilco, they found so little maize that it did not suffice for the building of ships. The cause of this was that when the Christians were at Guachoya at seed time, the Indians had not dared sow the lands of Anilco for fear of them; and they knew no other land thereabout where there was any maize. That was the most fertile land thereabout and where they had most hope of finding maize.
They were all thrown into confusion; and most of them thought it had been a bad plan to have turned back from Daycao and not to have followed their fortune by going ahead by land in the way they had taken, for it seemed impossible that they could escape by sea unless a miracle were performed for them; for there was neither pilot nor chart, they did not know where the river entered the sea, they had no information concerning the latter; they had nothing with which to make sails nor enough "henequen" (a plant like tow which grew there) and what they found they were keeping to calk the brigantines; nor was there anything with which to pitch them; nor could they build ships strong enough so that they would not be placed in great danger of any untoward happening.
They feared greatly the fate that had befallen Narvaez who had perished on that coast; and especially the disadvantage in not finding maize, for without it they could not sustain themselves; nor could they do anything of the things they had to accomplish. All were thrown into great confusion. For their relief they commended themselves to God and besought Him to show them how to save themselves.
By His goodness it was pleasing to Him that the Indians of Anilco should come in peace and say that at a distance of two days' journey thence, near the great river were two towns of which the Christians had never heard, called Aminoya, and that the region was fertile.
They did not know whether there was any maize there now or not, because there was war between them. But they would be very glad to go to destroy them with the help of the Christians. The governor sent a captain thither with men of horse and foot and the Indians of Anilco with him.
He reached Aminoya and found two large towns which were in an open and level region, at a half league's distance apart; and in them he captured many Indians and found a great quantity of maize. He immediately took up his lodging in one of them and sent word to the governor of what he had found, whereat all were very joyful. They left Anilco at the beginning of December.
On that journey, as on that before from Chilano, they suffered great hardship, for they had to cross many waters, and often it rained with a north wind and it became very cold; added to which they found themselves in the open fields with water below and above.
While on the way, if they found any dry land to rest on at night, they gave many thanks to God. Almost all the Indians of service died from these sufferings, and after they had reached Aminoya, many Christians, and most of them were ill with severe and dangerous diseases which were akin to lethargy.
There died Andre de Vasconcelos and two Portuguese of Elvas, who were of kin to him, who were brothers and called by the nickname of the Sotis. The Christians lodged in one of the towns, the one which appeared to them to be the better. It was surrounded with a stockade and was a quarter of a league from the great river.
The maize of the other town was withdrawn thither-in all estimated at six thousand "fanegas." For building ships there was there the best wood they had seen in all the land of Florida. Thereupon, all gave hearty thanks to God for so notable a mercy and took hope of their desire being realized, namely, that they would come into a Christian land.