Page:Romance of History, Mexico.djvu/238

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THE ROMANCE OF MEXICO

cries Bernal Diaz; "how we closed foot to foot, and with what fury the dogs fought us! such wounding as there was amongst us with their lances and clubs and two-handed swords, while our cavalry, favoured by the plain ground, bore down their opponents with couched lances, still fighting manfully, though they and their horses were all wounded; and we of the infantry, negligent of our hurts, redoubled our efforts to bear them down with our swords. . . . Then to hear the valiant Sandoval, how he encouraged us, crying out, 'Now, gentlemen, is the day of victory!' Yet in spite of their valour, complete destruction threatened the little band, who seemed like an island in the midst of a raging sea."

Suddenly Cortés beheld but a little distance away the golden banner of the commander-in-chief, who was borne in a litter and surrounded by a guard of young caciques.

"Gentlemen!" he cried to Sandoval, Alvarado, Olid, Avila, and other cavaliers, "there is our mark! Follow and support me!"

"Christo y Santiago!" rang out the battle-cry, and by the very fury of their charge the cavaliers made a path to their goal. Flinging to right and left the guard of warriors, Cortés sprang on the litter and hurled the commander to the ground, where he was speedily despatched by a young cavalier, who offered to his heroic general the golden banner. The news of this miraculous deed and their commander's death spread such panic among the Aztecs that they immediately broke and fled, hotly pursued by Spaniards and Tlascalans, who, forgetting

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