17 Chapter XXXIV: Of Sending for the Christians (Excerpt)

Of Sending for the Christians

Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca

Five days having elapsed, Andres Dorantes and 
Alonzo del Castillo arrived with those who had been 
sent after them. They brought more than six hundred 
persons of that community, whom the Christians had 
driven into the forests, and who had wandered in con- 
cealment over the land. Those who accompanied us 
so far, had drawn them out, and given them to the 
Christians, who thereupon dismissed all the others 
they had brought with them. Upon their coming to 
where I was, Alcaraz begged that we would summon 
the people of the towns on the margin of the river, 
who straggled about under cover of the woods, and 
order them to fetch us something to eat. This last 
was unnecessary, the Indians being ever diligent to 
bring us all they could. Directly we sent our messen- 
gers to call them, when there came six hundred souls, 
bringing us all the maize in their possession. They 
fetched it in certain pots, closed with clay, which they 
had concealed in the earth. They brought us what- 
ever else they had ; but we, wishing only to have the 
provision, gave the rest to the Christians, that they 
might divide among themselves. After this we had 
many high words with, them ; for they wished to make 
slaves of the Indians we brought...
[G]oing with us, [the Indians] feared neither Christians nor 
lances. Our countrymen became jealous at this, and 
caused their interpreter to tell the Indians that we 
were of them, and for a long time we had been lost; 
that they were the lords of the land who must be 
obeyed and served, while we were persons of mean 
condition and small force. The Indians cared little or 
nothing for what was told them; and conversing 
among themselves said the Christians lied : that we 
had come whence the sun rises, and they whence it 
goes down : we healed the sick, they killed the 
sound ; that we had come naked and barefooted, 
while they had arrived in clothing and on horses 
with lances; that we were not covetous of anything, 
but all that was given to us, we directly turned to give, 
remaining with nothing; that the others had the
only purpose to rob whomsoever they found, bestow- 
ing nothing on any one...
Even to the last, I could not convince the Indians that 
we were of the Christians...


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