Soto and his men accordingly took up their quarters in the town of Vitangue at the latter end of the year 1541. As during their abode at this place, the Spaniards often went out to kill deer, rabbits, and roe-bucks, all of which were plentiful and good in the surrounding country, they were frequently on these occasions way-laid by the Indians, who discharged their arrows at them from ambushments and then made their escape. A great deal of snow fell during the winter, but as the Spaniards had abundance of fire-wood and provisions, among which was excellent fruit, they lived in tolerable comfort and in plenty. The cacique of the province, desirous of becoming acquainted with the strength and numbers of the Spaniards, that he might know how best to attack them, sent several messages to the general under pretence of offering to visit him. At first the Spaniards admitted these people into their quarters even under night; but at length Soto began to suspect some sinister purpose, by the frequency of these messages, and gave orders that no more of them should be admitted at night, reproving those who did not chastise and turn back these unseasonable visitors. In consequence of these orders, one of the centinels killed an Indian who impudently endeavoured to force his way into the town next night, for which he was much commended by the general.
[Footnote 182: At this place the text returns to the true date of 1541, quite conformable with the whole tenor of the narrative, and fully confirming our observations respecting erroneous dates in the text on former occasions.—E.]
Towards the end of winter, several parties were sent out in different directions to endeavour to procure Indians for carrying the baggage, who brought in very few. Upon this Soto set out himself on a similar expedition, with 100 horse and 150 foot. After a march of twenty leagues into the province of Naguaten, which was very populous, he attacked a town by surprise one morning at day-break, and returned with many prisoners. In April 1542, the Spaniards broke up from their winter quarters at Vitangue, and in seven days through a fruitful country arrived without opposition at the chief town of Naguaten, where they found abundance of provisions, and remained seventeen days. On the sixth day after their arrival, a message was brought from the cacique, to excuse himself for not having visited the general and offering his services. Soto received this messenger with much civility, and sent back a courteous answer. Next day four chiefs came attended by 500 servants with a large quantity of provisions, saying they had been sent by their lord to attend upon the general, but the cacique never made his appearance.