CHAPTER 20: News of Other Christians
THAT VERY DAY, I saw an Indian wearing a trinket which I knew we had not given. Inquiring whence it came, we learned from our hosts' signs that it had come from men like ourselves, who bivouacked farther back. At this, I sent two Christians, with two Indians for guides, to contact them.
It so happened that the latter were at that moment on their way to see us; for the Indians had told them of us as us of them. My detail met them therefore nearby.
They turned out to be Captains Andrés Dorantes and Alonso del Castillo with their entire crew [of 48]. When they came up, they were appalled at our appearance and sad that they had no other clothes than what they then wore.
They told us that their barge had capsized a league and a half from here the 5th of this month [i.e., the day before Cabeza de Vaca's barge was cast ashore] and that they escaped without losing a thing.
We decided to repair their barge, so that those who were strong enough and willing could resume the voyage, while the others stayed until their health allowed them to walk along the coast, and one day God our Lord should bring us all alike to a land of Christians.
We set directly to work but, before we could wrest the barge out of the water, Tavera, a gentleman of our company, died; and then the unseaworthy barge sank.
With most of us naked and the weather discouraging walking or swimming across rivers and coves - also with no food supply or even anything to carry one in - we resigned ourselves to remaining where we were for the winter.
We did, however, decide that four of our most robust men should set out now for Pánuco, which we believed close. Should God our Lord prosper them, they could report our destitute existence on this island. The four were: Alvaro Fernández, a Portuguese carpenter and sailor; a certain Méndez; Figueroa, an hidalgo from Toledo; and Astudillo of Zafra - all excellent swimmers. They took with them an Indian of the island of Auia [which presumably was the Indian name of Galveston, though another island could possibly have been meant].