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befallen were they to be on their return, such of them as came back. An accessory party was sent by sea, along the Pacific coast, under Hernando de Alarcon, to aid, as far as it could, in the success of the army. But in spite of all Alarcon's efforts, he failed to get in communication with Coronado and
On the 7th of July, after following the monk's route through the mountain wilderness, the expedition came within two days’ march of the first city of Cibola. It was evident from the signal-fires on the hills and other signs of hostility that the Spaniards would have to fight; but for this the cavaliers of that day seem to have been always ready, and the next day Coronado moved forward towards the desired goal.
At length the gallant little army was before Hawaikuh, the city on which Fray Marcos had gazed with such magnifying eyes, but which now was seen to be a village of some two hundred houses. It lay about fifteen miles southwest of the present Zuñi. The natives were ready for war. All the old men, with the women and children, had been sent away, and the Spaniards were received with volleys of arrows.
The houses were built in retreating terraces, each story being smaller than that below it, and from these points of vantage the arrows of the natives came in showers. Evidently the place was only to be taken by assault, and the infantry was posted as to fire on the warriors, while a number of dis
mounted horsemen sought to scale the walls by a ladder which they had found. This proved no easy task. Coronado’s glittering armor especially made him a shining mark, and he was so tormented with arrows and battered with stones as he sought to ascend that he was wounded and had to be carried from the field. Others were injured and three horses were killed, but in less than an hour the place was carried, the warriors retreating in dismay before the impetuous assault.
Glad enough were the soldiers to occupy the deserted houses. Their food had given out and they were half starved, but in the store-rooms they found "that of which there was greater need than of gold or silver, which was much corn and beans and chickens, better than those of New Spain, and salt, the best and whitest I have seen in all my life.” The chickens seem to have been wild tur. keys, kept by the natives for their plumage. But of the much-desired gold and silver there was not a trace.
The story of all the adventures of the Spaniards in this country is too extended and not of enough interest to be given here. It must suffice to say that before their eyes the Seven Cities of Cibola faded into phantoms, or rather contracted into villages of terraced houses like that they had captured. Food was to be had, but none of the hoped-for spoil, even the turquoises of which so much had been told proving to be of little value. Expeditions were sent out in different directions, some of them
discovering lofty, tower-like hills, with villages on their almost inaccessible summits, the only approach being by narrow steps cut in the rock. Others came upon deep cañons, one of them discovering the wonderful Grand Cañon of the Colorado River. In the country of Tiguex were twelve villages built of adobe, some on the plain and some on the lofty heights. The people here received the Spaniards peaceably and with much show of welcome.
In Tiguex was found an Indian slave, called by the Spaniards El Turco, from his resemblance to the Turks, who said he had come from a rich country in the east, where were numbers of great animals with shaggy manes, -evidently the buffalo or bison, now first heard of. Some time later, being brought into the presence of Coronado, El Turco had a more wonderful story to tell, to the effect that "In his land there was a river in the level country which was two leagues wide, in which were fishes as big as horses, and large numbers of very big canoes with more than twenty rowers on a side, and carrying sails; and their lords sat on the poop under awnings, and on the prow they had a great golden eagle. He said also that the lord of that country took his afternoon nap under a great tree on which were hung a large number of little gold bells, which put him to sleep as they swung in the air. He said also that every one had their ordinary dishes made of wrought plate, and the jugs, plates, and bowls were of gold.”
No doubt it was the love of the strangers for the yellow metal that inspired El Turco to these alluring stories, in the hope of getting rid of the unwelcome visitors. At any rate, this was the effect it had. After wintering in the villages of the Tiguas, which the Spaniards had assailed and taken, they set out in the following April in search of Quivira, the land of gold, which El Turco had painted in such enticing colors. Against the advice of El Turco, they loaded the horses with provisions, the imaginative Indian saying that this was useless, as the laden animals could not bring back the gold and silver. Scarcely to his liking, the romancing Indian was taken with them as a guide.
On for many leagues they went until the Pecos River was crossed and the great northern plains were reached, they being now in a flat and treeless country, covered with high grasses and peopled by herds of the great maned animals which El Turco had described. These strange creatures were seen in extraordinary numbers, so abundant that one day, when a herd was put to flight, they fell in such a multitude into a ravine as nearly to fill it up, so that the remainder of the herd crossed on the dead bodies.
Various tribes of Indians were met, the story they told not at all agreeing with that of El Turco, who accordingly was now put in chains. Coronado, not wishing to subject all his companions to suffering, but eager still to reach the fabled Quivira, at length sent all his followers back except thirty horsemen and six foot-soldiers, with whom he continued his journey to the north, the bisons supplying them with abundance of food.
For six weeks they marched onward, crossing at the end of thirty days a wide stream, which is thought to have been the Arkansas River, and at last reached Quivira, which seems to have lain in the present State of Kansas. A pleasing land it was of hills and dales and fertile meadows, but in place of El Turco's many-storied stone houses, only rude wigwams were to be seen, and the civilized people proved to be naked savages. The only yellow metal seen was a copper plate worn by one of the chiefs and some bells of the same substance. The utmost Coronado could do was to set up a cross and claim this wide region in the name of his master; and his chief satisfaction was in strangling El Turco for his many embellished lies.
We shall not describe the return journey, though it was not lacking in interesting incidents. Finally, having lost many of their horses, being harassed by the Indians, and suffering from want of provisions, the way-worn army reached known soil in the valley of Culiacan. Here all discipline was at an end, and the disorganized army straggled for leagues down the valley, all Coronado's entreaties failing to restore any order to the ranks.
At length the sorely disappointed commander presented himself before the viceroy Mendoza, with scarcely a hundred ragged followers who alone remained with him of the splendid cavalcade with which he had set out.