a blackamoor from Barbary
, bore up against every
ill, and though scattered among various tribes, took thought for each other's welfare.
The brave Cabeza de Vaca
, as self-possessed a hero as ever graced a fiction, fruitful in resources and never wasting time in complaints of fate or fortune, studied the habits and the languages of the Indians, accustomed himself to their modes of life; peddled little articles of commerce from tribe to tribe in the interior and along the coast for forty or fifty leagues, and won fame in the wilderness as a medicine man of wonderful gifts.
In September, 1534, after nearly
six years captivity, the great forerunner among the pathfinders across the continent, inspired the three others with his own marvellous fortitude, and, naked and ignorant of the way, without so much as a single bit of iron, they planned their escape.
Cabeza has left an artless account of his recollections of the journey; but his memory sometimes called up incidents out of their place, so that his narrative is confused.
He pointed his course far inland, partly because the nations away from the sea were more numerous and more mild; partly that if he should again come among Christians, he might describe the land and its inhabitants.
Continuing his pilgrimage through
more than twenty months, sheltered from cold, first by deer skins, then by buffalo robes
, he and his companions passed through Texas
as far north as the Canadian River
, then along Indian paths, crossed the watershed to the valley of the Del Norte
; and borne up by cheerful courage against hunger, want of water on the plains, cold and weariness, perils from beasts and perils from red men, the voyagers went from town to town in New Mexico
, westward and still to the west,