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usurper, and his forces were routed ; and the prince, who so lately fled for his life, was now proclaimed king
11. He at once set about reforming abuses and making wise laws for his kingdom. He established a society devoted to the encouragement of science and art. He gave prizes for the best literary composition (for these people had a sort of picture writing), as he was himself a poet, like King David. Some of his poems, which were of a religious character, have been preserved and translated. The Tezcucans, like the Aztecs, were idolaters, who indulged in cruel rites, but this wise and good king endeavored to wean his people from them, declaring, like David, that above all idols, and over all men, ruled an unseen spirit who was the one God.
12. The king used to disguise himself and go about among his people, in order to learn who were happy, how the laws were administered, and what was thought of his government. On one such occasion he fell in with a boy gathering sticks in a field.
13. “Why do you not go into yonder forest, where you will find plenty of wood ?” asked the disguised monarch.
14. “Ah!" cried the boy, “ that forest belongs to the king, and he would have me killed if I should
take his wood : for that is the law."
• Is he so hard a man as that ?" "Ay, that he is—a very hard man, indeed, who denies his people what God has given them.”
15. “ It is a bad law," said the king, “and I advise you not to mind it. Come, there is no one here to see you; go into the forest and help yourself to the sticks." No, indeed! I will not,” exclaimed the boy.
16. “Are you afraid some one will come and find you? Do not fear! I will keep watch for you,” urged the king
17. “Will you take the punishment in my place if I chance to be caught? No, no !” cried the boy, shaking his head: “I should risk my life if I took the king's wood.”
18. “But I tell you it will be no risk," said the king. “I will protect you. Go and get some wood.”
19. Upon that the boy turned and looked him boldly in the face. “I believe you are a traitor," he cried,—“an enemy of the king; or else you want to get me into trouble. But you can't. I know how to take care of myself; and I shall show respect to the laws, though they are bad.”
20. The boy went on gathering sticks, and in the evening went home with his fuel. The next day his parents were astonished to receive a summons
to appear, with their son, before the king. As they went tremblingly into his presence, the boy recognized the man with whom he had talked the day before, and he turned deadly pale.
21. “If that be the king,” he said, “ then we are no better than dead folks.” But the king descended from his throne, and smilingly said, “Come here, my son.
Come here, good people, both. Fear nothing. I met this lad in the fields yesterday, and tried to persuade him to disobey the law. But I found him proof against all temptation. I have sent for you to tell you what a good and honest son you have, and that the law is to be changed so that poor people can go anywhere in the king's forests and gather the wood they find on the ground."
22. He then dismissed the lad and his parents, with presents which made them rich for the rest of their lives.
23. A descendant of the king, who wrote in Spanish a history of his reign, has related many other interesting anecdotes of Nezahualcoyotl. They are not all to his credit, and certainly he was not a perfect prince; but, living as he did in an age filled with all kinds of cruelty and superstition, this monarch of a half-civilized race displayed some virtues that were rare enough in those days, even among the princes and monarchs of the Old World.
1. Spaniards, Europeans, oriental, calendar, artificial, horticulture, stratagem, wielding, romantic, enlightened, confederates, extraordinary, recognize, resembled, occasionally, usurper, translated, idolaters, indulged, persuade.
2. Was Nezahualcoyotl an American? Who were Americans then ? Are the people of Mexico Americans ? Do you suppose the United States may have been inhabited by a people similar to these before the Indians lived here? In what respect were these people uncivilized ? Were there no horses in America when Columbus came here? When was powder invented ?
XXII. THE BRAVE BRETHREN OF JUDAH.
1. It was the saddest time the Jews had ever known, and there seemed to be no help, far or near. They could have no hope except in the promises that God would never fail His people, and in the prophecies that, though bad times should come, good ones would follow them.
2. The time was about one hundred and eighty years
before the Christian Era. The Jews had returned from their captivity in Babylon, and built again their city and temple at Jerusalem; but their country belonged to a greater power, and they had a foreign governor and paid tribute to a king who was their master.
3. The king of Syria, who was at this time Antiochus, was fierce and passionate, and one of his
chief desires was that the Jews should forsake their faith in the one God and devote their many temples to the worship of the heathen deities.
4. Many of the Jews joined in Greek sports, which, though they might be innocent to the Greeks, should have been revolting to a people who had been better taught. Worst of all, the false high priest, Menelaus, led the king into the temple and told him all that would most dishonor it and grieve the Jews; so that a little altar to the Roman god Jupiter was set up on the top of the brazen altar for sacrifice for sin, and a hog, an unclean beast to the Jews, was offered, and its blood sprinkled everywhere, after which the golden vessels and all the sacred, precious things were taken away.
5. The Greeks, who were sure of being protected by the cruel king, went through the towns to set up idol worship, and put to death any who kept the Sabbath day or observed any law of Moses. When they came to a little city called Modin, near Joppa, on some hills not far from the Mediterranean Sea, and sent out orders to all the men of the town to meet them in the market place, they were told of Mattathias, who was of a priestly family and so much respected that all the other inhabitants of the place were sure to do anything in which he would be their leader.
6. He came at their summons, a grand and noble