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[39b] of gold, which, if their gestures were rightly inter-
Chap. II.} 1528. May.
preted, came from the North. Disregarding, therefore, the most earnest advice of Cabeza de Vaca, he directed the ships to meet him at a harbor with which the pilot pretended acquaintance, and on the first of May, mustering three hundred men, of whom forty were mounted, he struck into the interior of the country. Then for the first time the low sandy soil, impregnated with lime, just lifted above the ocean, without hills, yet gushing with transparent fountains and watered by unfailing rivers, was traversed by white men, who were ignorant of where they were, or whither they were going, allured onwards by the prospect of gold.

The wanderers, as they passed along, gazed on trees astonishingly high, some riven from the top by lightning; the pine; the cypress; the sweet gum; the slender, gracefully tall palmetto; the humbler herbaceous palm, with its green chaplet of crenated leaves; the majestic magnolia, glittering in the light; live oaks of such growth, that now that they are vanishing under the axe, men hardly believe the tales of their greatness; multitudes of birds of untold varieties; and quadrupeds of many kinds, among them the opossum, then noted as having a pocket in its belly to house its young; the bear; more than one kind of deer; the panther, which was mistaken for the lion; but they found no rich town, nor a high hill, nor gold. When on rafts and by swimming, they had painfully crossed the strong current of the Withlacooche, they were so worn away by famine,

as to give infinite thanks to God for lighting upon a field of unripe maize. Just after the middle of June, they encountered the Sawanee, whose wide, deep and rapid stream delayed them till they could build a large canoe. Wading through swamps, made still

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