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[88]

III.—Cabeza de Vaca's Captivity.

[the eighty men taken by the Indians were soon reduced by death to fifteen. These were made slaves, and were severely treated.]


I was obliged to remain with the people of the island more than a year; and because of the hard work they put upon me, and their harsh treatment, I determined to flee from them, and go to those of Charruco, who inhabit the forests and country of the main; for the life I led was insupportable. Beside much other labor, I had to get out roots from below the water, and from among the cane where it grew in the ground. From this employment I had my fingers so worn, that, did a straw but touch them, it would draw blood. Many of the canes were broken, so that they often tore my flesh; and I had to go in the midst of them with only the clothing on me I have mentioned.

Accordingly, I put myself to work to get over to the other Indians; and afterward, while I was with them, affairs changed for me somewhat more favorably. I set myself to trafficking, and strove to turn my employment to profit in the ways I could best contrive; and by this means I got from the Indians food and good treatment. They would beg me to go from one part to another for things of which they have need; for, in consequence of continual hostilities, they cannot travel the country, nor make many exchanges. With my merchandise and trade I went into the interior as far as I pleased; and I travelled along the coast forty or fifty leagues. The chief of my wares was pieces of sea-snails and their

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Cabeza Vaca (1)
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