Afterword

[CASTILLO DID NOT SAIL to Spain with Cabeza de Vaca but did sail at some other time, only to return to Mexico, where he married a well-to-do widow and was granted half the rents of the Indian town of Tehuacán. As a citizen of Mexico City, he slips quietly from history's sight.

When Dorantes's unseaworthy ship returned to Mexico, the Viceroy Mendoza offered him a commission to explore to the north. He did serve Mendoza in the conquest of Jalisco but, according to the chronicler of De Soto's expedition, Dorantes awaited a joint command with Cabeza de Vaca. He married a land-rich widow, Dofia Maria de Ia Torre, by whom he had a large family, including three sons who rose to prominence in the enjoyment of their inherited wealth. He had first settled with Mendoza by selling him Estevénico.

This lusty Arab from the Atlantic shore of Morocco (by the way, called "brown" by Diego de Guzmán, who saw him in Sinaloa) became, then, the guide for Fray Marcos of Nice, Father Provincial of the Franciscans of New Spain, who commanded an expedition to the pueblo country as a forerunner of Coronado. Estevénico collected an escort of Indians in the old manner as he strode north, flaunting his sacred gourd rattle. But he introduced a new twist: He required the villages along his way to give him turquoises and beautiful women. In his confidence and his eagerness to be the sole discoverer of the pueblos, he had got eighty leagues ahead of Fray Marcos when he reached Háwikuh, the southernmost of the seven pueblos, about fifteen miles southwest of Zuñi, New Mexico. The shrewd elders of Háwikuh, however, concluded that he must be a spy preceding would-be conquerors; they suspected his statement that he came from a country where people are white, when he was so dark; and they resented his demand for turquoises and women. They put him to death.

Cabeza de Vaca did not know the fate of Juan Ortiz, who came of a noble family of Seville and who happened to be among the twenty or thirty sailors Narváez sent back to Cuba in a pinnace for emergency provisions. Señora Narváez, in Cuba, saw to the loading and hastened the pinnace back to Sarasota Bay. There Ortiz and a friend, over the protests of their fellows, went ashore to pick up what appeared to be a letter from the Governor in a forked stick. Indians seized the two and killed the friend when he offered resistance. They prepared an elaborate execution for Ortiz, but a girl of the tribe effectively interceded (about eighty years before Captain John Smith near Jamestown) . Set to guarding dead bodies from wolves at night, Ortiz gained esteem by a lucky dart-throw which felled a wolf that was carrying off the corpse of a child of a leading tribesman. He came close to execution again anyway, sometime later; the girl who had first saved his life saved it again with a timely warning. He fled south to a rivalcacique, Mocozo; De Soto's lieutenant (and a kinsman of Cabeza de Vaca), Baltasar de Gallegos, found him in an open field near Charlotte Harbor with ten or twelve Indians, his arms tattooed just like theirs. When the cavalry detail charged, Ortiz cried out that he was a Christian and these Indians had kept him alive. The cavalrymen delightedly carried them to De Soto behind their saddles. Ortiz died while the expedition wintered at Autiamque, thirty miles south of Fort Smith, Arkansas, sometime before 6 March 1542, much lamented by De Soto, who thereby lost his only interpreter.

Vasco Porcallo de Figueroa, the prominent gentleman of Trinidad, Cuba, who, we have seen, lost a brother on the Narváez expedition (he should not be confused with Figueroa, the excellent swimmer from Toledo), was made captain-general by De Soto when De Soto "busted" the philanderer who had held that office. The new appointment proved a boon to the commissary, for Porcallo donated a great many hogs and loads of cassava bread. He, however, fell out with De Soto on the west coast of Florida; for all he was interested in was slaves for his plantation and mines, and the dense forests and extensive bogs prevented the seizures he had hoped to make. He headed back to his Cuban holdings in 1539.

The good alcalde mayor, Captain Melehoir Diaz, accepted a command under Coronado in 1540. Early that fall, he and a detachment of his, out of Sonora, crossed the lower Colorado on rafts, and, somewhere on the west coast of the Gulf of California one day, a soldier's greyhound started chasing some of the sheep of the train. The captain hurled a lance at the dog from a running horse at high speed; the lance stuck solidly in the ground; the horse overran it, and it punctured Díaz's bladder. On the twentieth day that his men carried him while retreating through hostile territory he died.

The official communiqué of his death came from none other than the Guzmán henchman, Diego de Alcaraz, whom Cabeza de Vaca met on the Sinaloa and fell out with so heatedly that he was arrested. Díaz had left Alcaraz in command at Sonora, where he continued in his callous ways with impunity. Late in 1541, however, he lay sick at Suya, on the San Pedro near the Arizona border, his riffraff followers having largely deserted him to fall back on Culiacán, when stealthy Indians, apparently Sobaipuri, surprised the village near dawn. They mortally wounded Alcaraz as a few aides helped him away.