the party whom famine, autumnal fevers, fatigue and
the arrows of the savage bowmen had spared, embarked for the river Palmas
Former navigators had traced the outline of the coast, but among the voyagers there was not a single expert mariner.
One shallop was commanded by Alonso de Castillo
and Andres Dorantes
, another by Cabeza de Vaca
The gunwales of the crowded vessels rose but a handbreadth above the water, till after creeping for seven days through shallow sounds, Cabeza seized five canoes of the natives, out of which the Spaniards made guard boards for their five boats.
During thirty days more
they kept on their way, suffering from hunger and thirst, imperilled by a storm, now closely following the shore, now avoiding savage enemies by venturing upon the sea. On the thirtieth of October, at the hour of vespers, Cabeza de Vaca
, who happened then to lead the van, discovered one of the mouths of the river now known as the Mississippi
and the little fleet was snugly moored among islands at a league from the stream, which brought down such a flood that even at that distance the water was sweet.
They would have entered the ‘very great river’ in search of fuel to parch their corn, but were baffled by the force of the current and a rising north wind.
A mile and a half from land they sounded, and with a line of thirty fathoms could