Page:Romance of History, Mexico.djvu/189

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CHAPTER XVI

SPANIARD AGAINST SPANIARD

It was the month of May 1520. More than a year had gone swiftly by since the adventurers on a cool, clear February day first set sail from Cuba. Strange had been their adventures and strenuous their deeds, and now for six months they had been quartered in the very heart of a mighty and hostile city, its king their prisoner in all but name.

Rumours of their startling success and of the treasure ship sent to Spain had come to the ears of Velasquez, and inflamed still further his bitter resentment against Cortés. He resolved to spare neither time nor money in equipping a fleet and army strong enough to annihilate the force of his rebellious officer and to conquer the golden Mexico.

All Cuba was alive with the bustle of preparation, and the hammers of the shipwrights resounded on many a quivering plank. Eighteen ships were fitted out; and nine hundred men, allured by lavish promises of reward, enlisted under the Governor's banner. Of these, eighty were horsemen and eighty gunners. It was an armada of which Velasquez felt justly proud, and he decided at first to take the

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