TLASCALA THE BRAVE—ALLIES AT THE POINT OF THE SWORD
THE cavalry dashed through the passage, which was, however, quite undefended, and the whole army entered unopposed the jealously guarded territory of Tlascala. The horsemen riding on had advanced some miles into the country when they perceived in the distance a small body of men retreating as if in fear. Swiftly the cavaliers gave chase, when suddenly the fugitives turned on their pursuers, and at the same moment hundreds of Tlascalans sprang up from ambush and joined in a fierce attack on the strangers. They showed no fear of the horses, two of which were killed and decapitated in triumph. Cortés and his cavaliers would soon have been overwhelmed had not the infantry rushed up at the critical moment and opened a hot fire on the enemy. At the flash and report of the guns the natives did indeed recoil, but they retired without panic and in good order.
Marching on through fields of maize and aloe the Spaniards encamped for the night in some deserted huts on the banks of a river. For their supper they were reduced to eating Indian dogs and wild figs.