Having now determined to undertake the siege of Mexico, Cortes left a garrison of twenty men, mostly sick and invalids in Frontera, under the command of Juan de Orozco, and marched with the rest of the army into the country of Tlascala, where he gave orders to cut down a quantity of timber, with which to construct a number of vessels to command the lake of Mexico. These ships were to be built under the direction of Martin Lopez, an excellent shipwright, and a valiant soldier, in which he was assisted by Andres Nunez, and old Ramirez, who was lame from a wound. Lopez conducted matters with great spirit, insomuch that in a very short time he had all the timber cut down, shaped, and marked out for the vessels, ready to be put together. The iron work, anchors, cables, sails, cordage, and all other necessaries for the vessels were procured from Villa Rica, whence all the smiths were sent up to the army to give their assistance. As pitch was unknown among the natives, four sailors were sent to the pine forests of Huetzotzinco, to obtain a supply of that article, in which they succeeded.
On our arrival at Tlascala, we learnt that our good friend and faithful ally Maxicatzin had fallen a sacrifice to the small-pox. Cortes lamented the death of this good man as that of a father, and put on mourning out of respect to his memory, in which he was imitated by many of our officers and soldiers. As there was some difficulty in regard to the succession, Cortes conferred the vacant dignity on the legitimate son of the deceased chief, as he had desired a short time before his death, on which occasion he had strictly enjoined all his family and dependents to persevere in their alliance with us, as we were undoubtedly destined to rule their country according to their ancient traditions. The other chiefs of the Tlascalans offered their best services, in providing timber for our vessels, and engaged to aid us with all their military force in prosecuting the war against Mexico. Cortes accepted their offer with every mark of gratitude and respect; and even prevailed on the elder Xicotencatl, one of their principal caciques, to become a Christian, who was accordingly baptised with great ceremony, by the name of Don Lorenzo de Vargas.
Just as we were about to begin our march, intelligence came from Villa Rica of the arrival of a vessel from Spain and the Canaries, loaded with military stores, horses, and merchandize, and having thirteen soldiers on board. The owner, who was likewise on board, was one Juan de Burgos, but the vessel was commanded by Francisco Medel. Cortes sent immediate orders to purchase the whole cargo, and all the people came up to join us to our great satisfaction. Among these were one Juan del Espinar, afterwards a very rich man, and two others named Sagredo, and Monjaraz a Biscayan, who had two nephews of the same name in our army. Monjaraz never went upon any expedition or engagement along with us, always feigning to be