Page:The Story of Mexico.djvu/169

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eral of his relatives. They all refused it. It was then that he addressed himself to Fernando Cortés.

There is a story that Cortés was in love with a young lady named Doña Catalina Juarez, who afterwards became his wife, and that the governor, Velasquez, also devoted to the Doña, subjected his brilliant rival to a terrible persecution, and even had him seized and put in prison, that Cortés escaped and took refuge in the church, a few days afterwards he was again seized, and then incarcerated in a ship with a chain about his foot. Escaping in a skiff and afterwards by swimming he reached the shore and again hid himself in a sanctuary. In the end he married Doña Catalina, goes this tale, was reconciled with the governor, and made Alcalde of Santiago de Cuba.

However this may have been, Cortés received and accepted the commission now offered. His reputation for bravery and great popularity gathered about him young and old, the bold spirits of Cuba, some among them former companions of Grijalva in his expedition; Bernal Diaz, the first historian of the Conquest, Olid, Alvarado, and other men of the greatest bravery, destined to play great parts in the epic of the New World.

Velasquez, even before the departure of his commander, began to distrust him, jealous again of his great powers, but they parted on good terms, and Cortés embarked at San Jago de Cuba on the 18th November, 1518. He had not gone far when an emissary of Velasquez was sent after the expedition to arrest Cortés, but encouraged by his companions,