Page:Romance of History, Mexico.djvu/279

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CHAPTER XXIV

THE BRIDGE OF AFFLICTION

Very weary grew both officers and men of the long, toilsome siege, and very earnestly they urged their general to give up his plan of slowly starving the city into surrender. "Better far," they cried, "to encamp in the market-place than to retreat each evening to the causeways!" But the sure judgment of Cortés saw at once the weak points in such a course. They might become the besieged instead of the besiegers, and endure another Noche Triste! At last, however, yielding to the temper of his men, he gave a reluctant consent, and a simultaneous assault was agreed upon.

Cortés divided his own force into three companies, one to advance along each of the streets leading from the southern dyke to the market-place. Strict orders were given to the captains to secure retreat by filling up all breaches and levelling all barricades in their forward march. No needless risks were to be taken. "I knew," he says, "from the men they were they would advance to whatever spot I told them to gain, even if it cost them their lives."

Early on the appointed day Cortés, marching

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