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[40g] the second time for a distance of four degrees,
Chap. II.} 1540.
or eighty-five leagues, nearly a hundred miles, therefore, above the present boundary of the United States. His course was impeded by sand-bars; once, at least, it lay between rocky cliffs. His movements were watched by hundreds of natives, who were an exceedingly tall race, almost naked, the men bearing banners and armed with bows and arrows, the women cinctured with a woof of painted feathers, or a deerskin apron; having for their food pumpkins, beans, flat cakes of maize, baked in ashes, and bread made of the pods of the Mezquite tree. Ornaments hung from their ears and pierced noses, and the warriors, smeared with bright colors, wore crests cut out of deerskin. Alarcon, who called himself the messenger of the sun, distributed among them crosses; took formal possession of the country for Charles the Fifth; collected stories of remoter tribes that were said to speak more than twenty different languages; but hearing nothing of Coronado, he sailed back to New Spain, having ascertained that Lower California is not an island, and having in part explored the great river of the west. Fifteen leagues above its mouth, Melchior Diaz found a letter which Alarcon had deposited under a tree, announcing his discoveries and his return. Failing of a junction, Diaz went up the stream for five or six days, then crossed it on rafts, and examined the country that stretched towards the Pacific. An accidental wound cost him his life; his party returned to Sonora.

Nearly at the same time, the Colorado was discovered at a point much further to the north. The movements of the general and his companions were rapid and daring. Disappointment first awaited

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