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[43] in the glittering array of burnished armor; and the
Chap. II.} 1538.
Castilians, brilliant with hopes, were ‘very gallant with silk upon silk.’ Soto gave directions as to the armament; from the numerous aspirants, he selected for his companions six hundred men in the bloom of life, the flower of the peninsula; many persons of good account, who had sold estates for their equipments, were obliged to remain behind.1

The fleet sailed as gayly as if it had been but a holiday excursion of a bridal party. In Cuba, the precaution was used to send vessels to Florida to explore a harbor; and two Indians, brought as captives to Havana, invented such falsehoods as they perceived would be acceptable. They conversed by signs; and the signs were interpreted as affirming that Florida abounded in gold. The news spread great contentment; Soto and his troops were restless with longing for the hour of their departure to the conquest of ‘the richest country which had yet been discovered.’2 The infection spread in Cuba; and Vasco Porcallo, an aged and a wealthy man, lavished his fortune in magnificent equipments.3

Soto had been welcomed in Cuba by long and bril-

1539 May.
liant festivals and rejoicings. At length, all preparations were completed; leaving his wife to govern the island, he and his company, full of unbounded expectations, embarked for Florida; and, in about a fortnight, his fleet anchored in the Bay of Spiritu Santo.4 The soldiers went on shore; the horses, between two and

1 Port. Rel. c. II. and III.; Vega, l. i. c. v. and VI. When the authorities vary, I follow that which is east highly colored, and give the smaller number. Vega says there were a thousand men, and he strengously vindicates his own integrity and love of truth. He wrote from the accounts of eye-witnesses, whom he examined; he was not himself an eye-witness.

2 Portuguese Relation, c. i.

3 Vega, l. i. c. XII.

4 Portuguese Relation, c. VII.; Vega, l. i. part i. c. i. 23.

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