GENTLEMAN OF ELVAS
CHAPTER XXII: HOW THE GOVERNOR WENT FROM ALIMAMU TO QUIZQUIZ AND THENCE TO A LARGE RIVER.
Three days having passed since they had looked for some maize (and it was little that was found in proportion to what was needed), and for this reason, even though rest was needed because of the wounded, on account of the great need of finding a place where there was maize, the governor was obliged to set out immediately for Quizquiz. He marched seven days through an unpopulated region of many swamps and thick woods, but all passable on horseback except several marshes or swamps which were crossed by swimming. He reached the town of Quizquiz without being perceived. He seized all the people of the town before they got out of their houses. The cacique's mother was captured there, and then he [the governor] sent to him [the cacique] one of the Indians who had been seized there, bidding him come to see him and [saying] that he would give him his mother and all the other people who had been taken there. For reply, he [the cacique] said that his Lordship should order them released and sent [to him] and that he would come to visit and serve him. Inasmuch as his men were ill and weary for lack of maize and the horses were also weak, he [De Soto] determined to pleasure him, in order to see whether he could have peace with him. So he ordered the mother and all the others released and dispatched them and sent them [to the cacique] with words of kindness. Next day when the governor was awaiting the cacique, many Indians came with their bows and arrows with the intention of attacking the Christians. The governor ordered all the horsemen to be armed and mounted and all in readiness. When the Indians saw that they were on guard, they stopped a crossbow flight from the spot where the governor was, near a stream, and after they had stayed there for a half hour, six of the principal Indians came to the camp and said that they were come to see what people they were and that they had learned from their ancestors that a white race would inevitably subdue them; and that they were about to return to the cacique to tell him to come immediately to render obedience and service to the governor. And after offering him six or seven skins and blankets which they brought they took leave of him and, together with the others who were waiting on the shore, returned. The cacique did not again come, nor did he send another message. Inasmuch as there was little maize in the town where the governor was, he moved to another town located a half league from the large river [the Mississippi River], where maize was found in abundance. He went to see the river and found there was an abundance of timber near it from which piraguas [canoes] could be constructed and an excellently situated land for establishing the camp. He immediately moved thither, houses were built, and the camp was established on a level place, a crossbow flight from the river. All the maize of all the towns behind was collected there, and the men set to work immediately to cut timber and square the planks for canoes. Immediately the Indians came down the river, landed, and told the governor that there were vassals of a great lord called Aquixo, who was lord of many towns and people on the other side of the river. On his behalf they informed him [the governor] that he [the cacique] would come the next day with all his men to see what his Lordship would command him. Then next day, the cacique came with two hundred canoes full of Indians with their bows and arrows, painted with red ocher and having great plumes of white and many colored feathers on either side [of the canoes] and holding shields in their hands with which they covered the paddlers, while the warriors were standing from prow to stern with their bows and arrows in their hands. The canoe in which the cacique came had an awning spread in the stern and he [the cacique] was seated under the canopy. Also other canoes came bearing other Indian notables. The chief [of each canoe] from his position under the canopy, controlled and gave orders to the other men. All the canoes were together and came to within a stone's throw from the bluff. From there, the cacique told the governor, who was walking along the river with others whom he had brought with him, that he had come to visit him and to serve and obey him, for he had heard that he was the greatest and most powerful lord of all the earth and that he should bethink him in what to command him. The governor thanked him and asked him to land so that they might better be able to talk, but without answering this, he [the cacique] ordered three canoes to come up in which he brought a quantity of fish and loaves made of the pulp of plums in the shape of bricks. All having been received, he [the governor] thanked him and again asked him to land. But since his intent was to see whether he might do some damage by means of that pretense, upon seeing that the governor and his men were on their guard, they began to withdraw from land. With loud cries, the crossbowmen who were ready, shot at them and struck five or six. They withdrew in splendid order; no one abandoned his paddle even though the one near him fell. Flaunting themselves, they retired. Afterward they came frequently and landed, and when they [the Christians] went toward them, they would return to their canoes. Those canoes were very pleasing to see, for they were very large and well built; and together with the awnings, the plumes of feathers, the shields, and banners, and the many men in them, they had the appearance of a beautiful fleet of galleys. During the thirty days the governor was there, they made four piraguas, in three of which, one early morning three hours before it became light, he ordered a dozen horse to enter, four to each one -- men whom he was confident would succeed in gaining the land in spite of the Indians and assure the crossing or die in doing it -- and with them some of foot -- crossbowmen and rowers -- to place them on the other side. In the other piragua, he ordered Juan de Guzmin to cross with men of foot, he having become captain in place of Francisco Maldonado. And because the current was strong, they went up stream along the shore for a quarter of a league and in crossing they were carried down with the current of the river and went to land opposite the place where the camp was. At a distance of two stones' throw before reaching shore, the men of horse went from the piraguas on horseback to a sandy place of hard sand and clear ground where all the men landed without any accident. As soon as those who crossed first were on the other side, the piraguas returned immediately to where the governor was and, in two hours after the sun was up, all the men finished crossing. It [the crossing] was nearly a half league wide, and if a man stood still on the other side, one could not tell whether he were a man or something else. It [the river] was of great depth and of very strong current. Its water was always turgid and continually many trees and wood came down it borne along by the force of the water and current. It had abundance of fish of various kinds, and most of them different from those of the fresh waters of Spain as will be told hereafter.