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[51] resolute onset on this night or the next, the Spaniards
Chap. II.} 1541.
would have been unable to resist. But in a respite of a week, forges were erected, swords newly tempered; and good ashen lances were made, equal to the best of Biscay. When the Indians attacked the camp, they
Mar. 15.
found ‘the Christians’ prepared.

All the disasters which had been encountered, far from diminishing the boldness of the governor, served only to confirm his obstinacy by wounding his pride. Should he, who had promised greater booty than Mexico or Peru had yielded, now return as a defeated fugitive, so naked that his troops were clad only in skins and mats of ivy? The search for some wealthy

April 25.
region was renewed; the caravan marched still further to the west. For seven days, it struggled through a wilderness of forests and marshes; and, at length, came to Indian settlements in the vicinity of the Mississippi. The lapse of nearly three centuries has not changed the character of the stream; it was then described as more than a mile broad; flowing with a strong current, and, by the weight of its waters, forcing a channel of great depth. The water was always muddy; trees and timber were continually floating down the stream.1

The Spaniards were guided to the Mississippi by natives; and were directed to one of the usual crossing places, probably at the lowest Chickasa Bluff,2 not far from the thirty-fifth parallel of latitude.3 The arrival of the strangers awakened curiosity and fear. A multitude of people from the western banks of

1 Portuguese Account, c. XXII. Vega, l. IV. c. III. I never rely on Vega c. v. alone.

2 Portuguese Account, c. XXXII. and XXXIII. taken in connection with the more diffuse account of Vega, l. IV.

3 Belknap, i. 192: ‘Within the thirty-fourth degree.’ Andrew Ellicott's Journal, 125: ‘Thirty-four degrees and ten minutes.’ Martin's Louisiana, i. 12: ‘A little below the lowest Chickasaw Bluff.’ Nuttall's Travels in Arkansas, 248: ‘The lowest Chickasaw Bluff.’ McCulloh's Researches, 526: ‘Twenty or thirty miles below the mouth of the Arkansas River.’

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