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 FOUR
How We Entered the Land

The following day the Governor decided to go inland to explore and see what was there. The Commissary, the Inspector and I went with him, along with forty men. Six of them rode horses, but these were of little use to us. We headed north until, at the hour of vespers, we arrived at a great bay which we thought went far inland. 1 We stayed there that night and returned the following day to where the ships and people were.

The governor ordered the brigantine to sail along the coast of Florida looking for the harbor which Miruelo, the pilot, had said he knew. But he had already erred and did not know where we were nor where the harbor was. The brigantine was ordered to find the harbor, and if unable, to cross back to Havana to look for the ship that Álvaro de la Cerda had, and to return to us with some provisions.

When the brigantine departed, we went inland again, this time with a few more people, and skirted the shore of the bay we had found. Having gone four leagues, we took four Indians and showed them corn 2 to see if they were familiar with it, since we had not yet seen sign of it. They told us they would take us to a place that had some. So they took us to their village at the head of the bay near there, and there they showed us some corn, which was not yet ready to be picked. There we found many merchandise boxes from Castile, each containing the body of a dead man. The bodies were covered with painted deerskins. This seemed to the Commissary to be a type of idolatry, and he burned the boxes with the bodies. 3 We also found pieces of linen and cloth and feather headdresses which seemed to be from New Spain. 4 We also found samples of gold. Through signs we asked the Indians where they had gotten those things. They indicated to us that very far from there was a province called Apalachee, 5 in which there was much gold, and they gestured that it had a great quantity of everything we valued. They said there was much in Apalachee.

Taking those Indians as guides, we departed. Ten or twelve leagues from there we found another village of fifteen dwellings, 6 where there was a

-35-

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