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sidered sacrilege to touch the sovereign. The people who marched on both sides formed ranks, and one by one, according to the order of precedence, they advanced to pay the usual homage to Cortes, after which they took their places, without there being the slightest confusion. After this exchange of warm salutations, Cortes advanced towards the king, and taking from his neck a collar of no value that he wore, he placed it upon the king's neck. As a matter of fact it was made of different coloured beads and partly of an alloy of gold and copper. This gift, however, pleased Muteczuma, who in return gave Cortes two necklaces of precious stones, from which hung suspended shells arid crabs worked in gold.
All who had advanced to meet Cortes having been received, the entire company took the direction of the great city, of which it is only possible to speak with astonishment. They returned in the same order they had come; that is to say, the procession marched on both sides of that wonderful causeway of which the middle was reserved to Muteczuma and the Spaniards.
Most horrible to behold and lamentable to report! On both sides of the causeway there arose from the waters of the lake numerous magnificent towers which served as temples; here and there upon the summits of these towers victims were immolated, either bought slaves, or natives whose lives were offered for that purpose in lieu of taxes. It was so inexpressibly horrible that most of the men declare that as they marched by those towers they shivered.
They finally reached a large palace adorned with royal luxury, which was formerly the residence of Muteczuma's ancestors. Muteczuma led Cortes into a court and placed him upon a throne, after which he withdrew to another palace. He ordered an abundant and magnificent repast to be served to the men and commanded that each of them should receive the most lavish hospitality. Some hours after this banquet, Muteczuma returned to Cortes accompanied by his chamberlains and personal servants, bearing cotton dresses embroidered in gold and dyed with various colours. It is incredible to relate, but we will explain later on why the fact is true; eye-witnesses declare there were six thousand costumes, and Cortes himself gives the same figure. At the same time numerous presents of gold and silver articles were brought.
Near to Cortes another similarly decorated chair was placed, on which Muteczuma took his seat and, calling about him the great lords of his kingdom, he delivered the following address which was taken down by the interpreters who understood Geronimo de Aguilar: "O ye men, illustrious for your courage and your clemency to suppliants, I wish and hope that your arrival within our walls may be beneficial for all. You are welcome in this country." Turning then towards the great lords he continued: "We have known from the traditions of our ancestors that we are strangers in this country. At a time beyond the recollection of any living man, a great prince, mounted on a ship, brought our ancestors to this land. It is not known whether he came voluntarily or was driven hither by a tempest. Leaving his companions here he returned to his own country. When he was about to depart, he wished to take with him those whom he had brought hither; but his men had built houses, had married native women by whom they had children, and were happy in prosperous and peaceful homes. Our ancestors refused to return or to any longer obey his orders. They had chosen amongst themselves a council and chiefs for the people, under whose authority they lived. It is reported also that this prince left them with threatening words. Up to this time no one has come to claim the rights of this first prince.
"Thus I beg and counsel you, O chiefs of my kingdom, to yield to the general of this powerful sovereign the same obedience as to myself, and to pay to him, as he shall demand, the tributes you owe to me."
Turning then to Cortes he added these words: "From what I have just said, it appears that the sovereign who has sent you here descends from that prince; come then amongst us with all confidence; rest from your fatigues, which I know have been considerable since you have been in this country, and restore your exhausted strength. Everything we possess belongs to you. The obedience of the kingdoms subject to me is due to you, whoever you may be, sent hither for this purpose. All that has been told about me at Cempoal, at Tascalteca and at Guazuzingo you must consider as having been inspired by hostile sentiments. Acquaintance with facts will show that these peoples have lied, in giving imaginary descriptions of my palaces built of gold, of my flowers, of my furniture made of gold, and of myself as being a god rather than a man. My palaces are of stone, my flowers are natural plants, my furniture is covered with cotton stuff, as you may see for yourselves. It is true that I have in my treasury many golden ornaments. They are all yours to use as you wish, in the name of your powerful sovereign. As for my imaginary divinity and immortality, behold my arms and my legs and see if they are not flesh and bone. You see for yourself." Speaking thus and weeping, he uncovered his legs and arms.
When he had finished this speech, Cortes comforted him with gentle words, after which he withdrew. Whether his face expressed satisfaction or his heart felt gladness, let those who have enjoyed power and suffered its loss decide. Let those who, without a joyous heart, receive uninvited guests imposed on them by violence, express their opinion. It was, moreover, easy to observe in the expression on the faces of those great lords present, who had listened to this discourse with eyes bent upon the ground. With tearful eyes, breaking into sobs and sighs, they remained a long time silent and sorrowful after listening to the speech; after which they promised to obey Muteczuma's orders. Such a sudden and important resolution could not be taken without troubling men's minds. When the council broke up, each returned to his home; but this is enough concerning this subject.
Let us now describe the consequences of this interview, disastrous and deplorable for Muteczuma, his vassals, and officials, as I shall later show; excellent, however, for the spread of religion, for we confidently hope that those sanguinary sacrifices will be one day abolished, and that these people will embrace the doctrines of Christ.
The first six days passed tranquilly. Each succeeding day was marked by such lamentable catastrophes as no people or sovereign ever endured. In fact, hardly had six days passed when Cortes, either aided by chance or profiting by an occasion he had sought, announced that he had just received letters of the commander' of the citadel left for the protection of the colony of Vera Cruz, announcing that Coalcopoca,2 cacique of the province where Cortes had founded a colony called Almiria, had just committed an abominable action which must not be left unavenged. Coalcopoca had sent messengers to inform Escalante that he had not thus far come to salute him or to make oath of obedience to the great King whose power Cortes described, because he would have to cross the territory of hostile people, whose attacks he feared. He therefore asked that some Spaniards should be sent to act as his escort on this journey; hoping that his enemies would not dare to attack him if so accompanied. The commander, trusting the messenger, sent four Spaniards to Coalcopoca to escort him through the hostile country; but hardly had these Spaniards arrived within the cacique's jurisdiction, than they were attacked . two of them were killed by these brigands and the others only escaped, covered with wounds.
1 Juan de Escalante. 'Quauhpopoca.
Convinced that this assassination had been accomplished by the command of Coalcopoca, the Spanish governor organised a punitive expedition against him, taking with him only two horsemen, some musketeers, cannon, and infantry, numbering in all fifty Spaniards; but he had called to his assistance the hostile neighbours of Coalcopoca. With this force he attacked the cacique's town, meeting with a desperate resistance; and during the assault seven Spaniards and a much larger number of the allies were slain. The town was finally captured and pillaged, many of its defenders being killed or taken prisoners. Coalcopoca fled and escaped pursuit.
Cortes promptly seized upon this pretext for dethroning the wretched Muteczuma. He feared that either some disaster might overtake him, or that Muteczuma might weary of the insolence of the Spaniards, which he was unable to check now that they were living in the midst of luxury. He likewise feared that his hosts might be driven desperate by the duration and inconvenience of his stay. He therefore paid a visit to Muteczuma, to whom he said: "It has been reported to me by letter that Coalcopoca, your vassal, has plotted this treason against the governor of Vera Cruz, not only with your knowledge, but in obedience to your orders. I do not believe this; but in order to dispel any suspicions from my sovereign's mind, to whose ears the news of this treachery has come, it is necessary that you should change your residence from your palace to the one in which I reside in order that I may report that you are in my power. Nothing, however, will be changed in the government of your city or kingdom."
Muteczuma realised the rapid diminution of his authority; nevertheless he obeyed, and ordered the litter in which