The Account: Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca's Relación

By Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca; Martin A. Favata et al. | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER EIGHT
How We Left Aute

The following day we left Aute and marched all day until we got to where I had been. The march was extremely difficult because we did not even have sufficient horses to carry the sick 1 nor did we know how to cure them. It was very pitiful and painful to see the affliction and want that was on us. When we arrived we saw that there was little we could do to continue onward, because there was no place to pass through. Besides, even if there had been a good passage, our men could not have gone on because most of them were sick, and there were too few able-bodied men. I will not talk about this at great length here, since each person can imagine what we went through in this land that was so strange and so bad and so totally lacking in resources either for staying or for leaving. We nevertheless never lost confidence in the idea that God our Lord would provide the surest relief.

Something else happened that made our situation worse still: the majority of the cavalrymen began to leave secretly, thinking that they could save themselves. They abandoned the Governor and the sick men who were totally weak and helpless. But among them there were many noble and well-bred men who did not wish to see this happen without reporting it to the Governor and to Your Majesty's officers. Since we decried their objectives and set before them what a bad time this was to desert their captain and the sick and weak men, and especially to leave Your Majesty's service, they agreed to stay and share everything without abandoning one another.

When the Governor saw this, he called them all and one by one requested their advice for leaving that awful country and seeking some help, for there was none to be found in it. 2 Since a third of the men were quite sick and with every passing hour more were succumbing to illness, we were certain that we would all get sick and die, and the situation was made more serious by the place we were in. Seeing all these and many other obstacles and suggesting many solutions, we all agreed on one, very difficult to carry out. It was to build boats in which we could leave. It seemed impossible to everyone because we did not know how to build them and had no tools, iron,

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