CHAPTER 27: The Story of What Had Happened to the Others

NOW I HEARD HERE how Dorantes and the eleven with him had left the island of Malhado [around late April, 1529) and stumbled upon the barge in which the Comptroller and the fnars had sailed, bottom up on the seashore [at the mouth of the San Bernardo, according to data given in the Joint Report]; how, making their way down the coast, they had encountered four large, swift streams [the same four Cabeza de Vaca mentions crossing a few years later, though they were much higher at the season the Dorantes party passed them; the Joint Report specifies that Dorantes and Castillo reached the first of the four streams two leagues after gaining the mainland; the second, three after that; and the third, three or four after that; it was at this third that they found the remains of the Enríquez-Suárez barge; another five or six leagues after that they reached the fourth large stream; and in another fifteen, Matagorda Bay, which they too recognized as Pineda's Espíritu Santo]; and how four of their number drowned when the rafts they were using to cross [the Brazos, or second large stream, according to the Joint Report] swept out to sea. [The Joint Report says two men drowned thus.]

So they proceeded [another four days (Joint Report)] to the bay [which the Joint Report notes was nearly a league across and formed a point of land jutting nearly four leagues into the sea toward Pánuco, with great white sand dunes visible a long distance inland; which bay] they got over [in two days' time] with extreme difficulty. [Instead of taking the trail that cut inside that long point of land - Matagorda Peninsula - via the north shore of the bay and then across the Colorado, as Cabeza de Vaca's guides had directed him and Oviedo, the guideless Dorantes party kept right along the coast until they found themselves stranded at the tip of Matagorda Peninsula, whence they made their way in a broken canoe the Joint Report says they found there, through Cavallo Pass in the middle of the vast bay.] By the time they reached this inlet [Matagorda Bay], they had lost two men in the sixty leagues they had traveled [nearer thirty-five leagues, or a little more than one hundred miles from Galveston Island, but faintness always made the distances seem about double what they were]; the remainder were nearly dead, having eaten nothing the whole while but crabs and kelp.

Walking along the peninsula at this bay, they found Indians eating blackberries who, at sight of the sojourners, withdrew to a cape opposite. While the Dorantes party were wracking their brains for some way to get across the water, they saw an Indian crossing over toward them and, with him, a Christian, whom they recognized as Figueroa [of Toledo], one of the four we had sent ahead from the Island of Doom [in 1528].