The Account: Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca's Relación

By Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca; Martin A. Favata et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER THIRTY-THREE
How We Saw Traces of Christians

After we clearly saw traces of Christians and realized that we were so near them, we gave great thanks to God our Lord for willing that we should be brought out of our sad and wretched captivity. Anyone considering the length of time we spent in that land and the dangers and afflictions we suffered can imagine the delight we felt. That night I asked one of my companions to go after the Christians, who were going to the area of the country where we had assured the people of protection, which was a three-day journey. They reacted negatively to this idea, excusing themselves because it would be difficult and they were tired, although any one of them could have done it more easily because they were younger and stronger. When I saw their unwillingness, the following morning I took the black man and eleven Indians and, following the trail of the Christians, went by three places where they had slept. That day I traveled ten leagues. 1 The following morning I caught up with four Christians on horseback who were quite perturbed to see me so strangely dressed and in the company of Indians. They looked at me for a long time, so astonished that they were not able to speak or ask me questions. I told them to take me to their captain. So we went to a place half a league from there, 2 where Diego de Alcaraz, 3 their captain, was. After I spoke to him, he told me that he had quite a problem because he had not been able to capture Indians for many days. He did not know where to turn, because he and his men were beginning to suffer want and hunger. I told him that I had left Dorantes and Castillo behind, ten leagues from there, with many people who had brought us there. Then he sent three horsemen and fifty of the Indians they were bringing along, and the black man returned with them to guide them. I remained there and asked them to witness the month, day and year that I had arrived there, 4 and the manner in which I arrived, and they did so. There are thirty leagues 5 from this river 6 to the Christian town called San Miguel, 7 under the jurisdiction of the province called New Galicia. 8

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