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hospitality to our men during two days. He presented them with gold necklaces valued at three thousand castellanos, as one of his colleagues had already done, and with forty slaves. Four leagues farther on, Cortes reached the borders of another lake whose waters were fresh, or at least hardly brackish. A city built half on land and half in the water stands on its banks, and near by rises a lofty mountain. At this place Cortes encountered twelve lords, one of whom was carried on a litter on men's backs. He was only twenty-five years old, and when he descended from his litter the men of his escort hastened to clear the road of stones and to scatter straw before him, as he marched to salute Cortes. When he had saluted the general in Muteczuma's name, he begged the former not to suspect his sovereign of indifference or negligence in not having come personally to meet him; the reason being that he was ill. He himself had been sent to act as escort. The general answered with fair words and presented the lords with some small gifts. They returned delighted.'

Cortes followed close after them and came to another town composed of fifteen hundred houses and standing in a fresh-water lake. The only means of communication with the mainland was by boat.1 These boats are dug out of a single tree-trunk and resemble the canoes used by the islanders; these little boats are called ascales. Advancing amidst the waters of the lake, Cortes observed a causeway, built a lance's length above the level of the water leading to another town of about two thousand people. He was received there with many honours, and the inhabitants invited him to stop for the night, but the nobles of his escort opposed this plan, and conducted him the same evening to another and much larger town on the shores of the salt lake, called Iztapalapa. This town is governed by Muteczuma's brother, Tacatepla, 1 and lies four leagues distant from the former town. Three leagues distant from Iztapalapa, in another direction, stands the town of Coluacan, which gives its name to the province of Colua. Thus the Spaniards who had heard of that town gave the name to the entire country when they entered it. Iztapalapa numbers eight thousand houses, most of them important ones, and Coluacan has about as many. The cacique of Coluacan was at that time with Muteczuma's brother, and offered valuable presents to Cortes.

'This noble was Cacamatzin nephew of Montezuma. Both Cortes and Bcrnal Diaz describe the particulars of this meeting.

1 This town was Cuitlahuac, now called Tlahua, to which the Spaniards gave the name of Venezuela—little Venice.

It is reported that the palace of the cacique of Iztapalapa is a very remarkable building, constructed of stones cemented together with mortar. The wood work is also very artistic and some of the beams are of royal dimensions. The interior apartments and sleeping chambers are hung with tapestries, beautiful beyond all praise. This royal residence likewise contains gardens filled with various trees, vegetables, fruits, and sweet-scented flowers; not to mention vast ponds swarming with different species of fish and covered with families of every sort of aquatic bird. There is a marble flight of stairs leading down to the bottom of these ponds. Marvellous tales are told of the arbours bordered by hedges, which protect the fruit orchards. These hedges are so disposed as to please in a thousand different ways, just as about the houses of the more cultivated of our cardinals and in many other places are found myrtle, rosemary, and box; everything pleases the eye. Cortes goes into minute details on this point, which weary; let us therefore omit them, and take the hero, Cortes, into the town of Temistitan and to the arms of Muteczuma, who was not, however, so anxious to embrace him.

1 The ruler's name was in reality Cuitlahuatzin.


FROM Iztapalapa to Temistitan, the capital of the great King Muteczuma, the way leads over an artificial causeway built at immense cost, and standing at two lances' length above the level of the water. This causeway serves the purpose of a bridge, for Iztapalapa is built half on the water and half on land. On one side of the causeway stand two towns, partly built in the water, and on the other side stands one; the first town is called Messicalcango, the second Coluacan, which I have before mentioned, and the third Uvichilabusco.' It is said that the first of these towns has more than three thousand houses, the second six, and the third four. They are adorned with magnificent temples ornamented with towers and dedicated to their idols.

All the towns on the causeway are engaged in the manufacture of salt for the use of all the tribes of the empire; water from the salt lake is brought by means of canals onto a field,where it is condensed, the salt baked and afterwards shaped into cakes or loaves to be carried to the fairs or markets, where it is exchanged for foreign products. Only the subjects of Muteczuma are allowed to sell this salt, all who do not recognise his authority being deprived of it. For that reason the Tascaltecans and the people of Guazuzingo and many others ate their food without salt for, as we have said, they were enemies of Muteczuma.

1 These three towns were Mcxicalzingo, Coyohuacan, and Huichilobusco.

There are other causeways serving as bridges to unite the land cities to those built in the lakes. These causeways join like so many streets. On the causeway which starts from Iztapalapa there is a junction with another, and at this meeting-place of the two causeways there stands a fort, provided with two impregnable towers.1 From this point there is only one causeway, leading to Temistitan.

At intervals along these causeways there are laid movable wooden bridges, which are raised whenever there is a fear of war. I think these breaks in the causeways have been arranged to facilitate the collection of duties. For, is it not for precisely the same motive that we see the gates of towns closed during the night, even in time of peace? Once the bridges are raised the waters flow through the open passages. • According to what is reported, the phenomenon of the ebb and flow may be observed; a thing truly extraordinary, Holy Father, both in my own opinion and in that of others who hold it to be impossible, since they have never heard mention of similar novelties.

This lake city, or if you choose, the site of this salt lake, is more than seventy leagues distant from the sea. Two chains of lofty mountains and two great valleys separating them lie between the sea and the lake, and nevertheless, if the truth has been told, the lake is subject to the ebb and flow precisely like the sea; but nobody has been able to discover whether the sea enters or leaves this lake. When the tide rises, the salt water pours into the freshwater lake, through a narrow passage between the two hills, while at the ebb-tide the fresh water flows back into the salt lake; but this fresh water never becomes too salt to drink, nor does the salt water ever lose its savour. I have given enough particulars concerning the lakes, causeways, bridges, and fortresses.

1 The fortress of Xoloc, where Cortes, afterwards fixed his headquarters during the siege of the city.

The Spaniards were delighted to behold what they had so long desired to see. The more cautious among the inhabitants of Temistitan did not share their sentiments, for they feared their guests would trouble their Elysian repose. The people felt differently, however, and thought there could be nothing more agreeable than to witness novelties, not preoccupying themselves about the future. For this reason a thousand men, dressed in gala costume, met Cortes two marches distant from the capital. Each one saluted him according to the national etiquette, which prescribes touching the ground with the right hand, and then, in token of submission, kissing the spot of earth touched by their hand.1 All these noblemen belonged to the court, and behind them the much-desired sovereign approached. The causeway, as I have already said, is a league and a half long, and some aver it to be two leagues in length. It is so straight that it would be impossible to trace a straighter line on paper. Any one with good sight looking straight ahead of him could see, from the fort whence Cortes set out to meet Muteczuma, the entrance of the city. The king advanced in the middle of the causeway, the others in the procession walking on both sides and carefully keeping their distance. All were barefooted. Two princes sustained Muteczuma under his arms; the one was this brother, the cacique of Iztapalapa, and the other was one of the principal lords. This does not mean that Muteczuma required their support, but it is their custom to render this homage to their sovereigns, so that they should seem to be upheld by the great.

When Muteczuma approached, Cortes sprang from his horse and advanced towards the King to embrace him, but the great officials intervened, for amongst them it is con

1 The hand, not the earth it touched, was kissed; the salutation being very similar to the Oriental gesture indicative of carrying dust to the forehead.

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