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he would be carried to the palace of Cortes. When this extraordinary news spread, the people murmured and began to grow violent. Muteczuma immediately made a sign that they should lay down their arms and be silent. He persuaded every one that he was acting voluntarily. With tears in their eyes the great lords and his attendants accompanied their master.
Some days later Cortes asked Muteczuma to summon Coalcopoca and his associates in the conspiracy, and to have them punished, in order that his own innocence might be made clear to the Spanish sovereign. Again Muteczuma obeyed, and calling some of his accustomed officials, y he confided his secret seal to them as a symbol of \dC supreme authority. He further instructed them that, in case the guilty men refused to come, they should appeal to the vassal states of the neighbourhood and bring them by force. The cacique Coalcopoca, one of his sons and fifteen lords came in response to this summons. At first they declared they had acted without Muteczuma's assent. Cortes ordered a gigantic pyre to be constructed in the main square, and there, in the presence of Muteczuma and all the inhabitants, Coalcopoca, his son and his other accomplices were burned alive as a punishment for their crime of high treason. As they were being led to execution, the condemned men confessed that they had only obeyed Muteczuma's orders.
Cortes, who only sought a pretext for taking possession of the empire of Muteczuma who was in his power, had him put in chains and overwhelmed him with threats and upbraidings. The unfortunate sovereign, bewildered by the sudden turn things had taken, and likewise overcome by fear, completely lost his courage. Nevertheless he was released, but after being accused of the crime which had been committed. Muteczuma declared that he had deserved punishment. He appeared as meek as a lamb, and seemed to obey severer behests than the rules of grammar dictated to little children, enduring everything with patience in order to prevent a rising of his subjects and their chieftains. Any burden imposed upon him seemed less heavy than a revolt of his people. It might be thought that he sought to imitate Diocletian, who preferred rather to take poison than again seize the reins of the empire he had abdicated.
Cortes afterwards spoke to Muteczuma as follows: "I hope you will keep your word and your oath of obedience, as well as the treaties you have signed with the powerful king of Spain. The better to enforce your royal will, you may return to your palace where you formerly lived in such regal pomp." Muteczuma refused, saying: "That can by no means be done, for I should be urged by my chiefs and tormented by their insistence. They are disposed to provoke an uprising. I see and I know they gnash their teeth, for they are vexed because I have received you and your companions and this crowd of allies who are our enemies. I shall be more tranquil and more secure in your midst, than were I exposed to the importunities of my people."
From time to time Muteczuma visited his pleasure houses which he had built at great cost, and which I shall describe at length. During some days he and Cortes lived under the same roof, Cortes in the character of guest, and Muteczuma in that of master of the house. This state of things lasted during the day time, but when evening fell Muteczuma, instead of returning to the ancient palace of his ancestors, went to the residence of Cortes. When descending from his litter he made many presents to his attendants and also to the Spaniards, and was pleased to sit with the Spaniards at table, calling them about him, talking and smilingly addressing amiable speeches to them.
f About this time Cortes asked Muteczuma to show him the gold mines whence his ancestors had obtained their gold. The sovereign answered that he would gladly do so, and ordered expert workmen to be summoned without delay. These men were despatched in different directions, in company with Spaniards selected by Cortes to make reports on what they saw.
They first visited the gold mines of a province called Zuzulla.1 This mine is eighty leagues distant from the capital, Tcmistitan. The Spaniards collected some gold in the beds of three rivers in those parts without difficulty, though they had brought with them no tools for sifting the sands. The natives take no other trouble to obtain gold, content to gather it from the river bottoms, and to pick up the grains they find amongst the gravel.
The entire region between the capital and the gold-mines is, according to the Spaniards' report, full of splendid cities. Other Spaniards were sent into a region called Tamaculappa, where the inhabitants are richer and better dressed than those of Zuzulla, for their country is more fertile. Cortes sent still others to a province called Malinaltepec, sixty leagues distant from the royal lake, and nearer to the sea. Gold was found there in a large river. Others went to a mountainous country called Tenis, whose inhabitants are valiant warriors. They fight with lances thirty cubits long. The cacique of this country called Coatelimacco does not recognise Muteczuma's authority; he told the Spaniards they might cross his borders but that he would not permit the subjects of Muteczuma to do so. Indeed Coatelimacco received the Spaniards amiably and treated them magnificently. The land of Tenis is watered by eight streams, in two of which gold is found. The cacique sent envoys to Cortes, offering his submission and that of his people. Some Spaniards were sent into a province called Tachintepec, where they discovered two streams containing gold and noticed that the country was adapted for the establishment of a colony. Once assured of the fertility of Tachintepec, Cortes asked Muteczuma, in the name of his powerful sovereign, for authorisation to build a residence there, where the Spaniards who went in search of gold might find shelter. The king consented, and ordered his architects to lose no time. His orders were executed with such diligence that in less than two months the residence, capable of sheltering any chief whatsoever and all his family, was finished. Absolutely nothing was wanting.
1 Gonzalo de Umbria, Diego de Ordaz, and Pizarro went with Montezuma's people to the state of Oaxaca, but their expedition was without important results.
While the house was building, numerous measures of maize, from which they make bread, was sown, as vulgar parlance has it, in the twinkling of an eye; and at the same time beans and young vegetables, not to mention two thousand feet of those trees whose nuts are used for money, and which I shall later on describe. I am well aware that people of feeble imagination will accuse me of being fantastic when I speak of trees bearing money. In addition to this very commodious house, three others destined for servants were built. Large ponds of fresh water for breeding fish and different species of aquatic birds, especially ducks, were formed. Five hundred were taken there the very first day, for their feathers are used in the manufacture of different kinds of stuffs. Each year in the spring their plumes are plucked. Chickens, larger than our peacocks and of as delicate a flavour, were added; some were for eating and the others were for propagating the species, and altogether they numbered thirteen hundred. All the necessary tools for agriculture need not be mentioned.
Cortes writes that this rapidly constructed residence would be worth, if sold, more than eighty thousand castellanos, and he adds that not in the whole of Spain could such a beautiful domain be found. I relate what has been told me. J,
When asked later concerning a port large enough for our vessels, Muteczuma answered that he knew nothing of such things, for he had never interested himself in maritime affairs. He however showed Cortes a drawing of the coast where the latter might choose whatever place suited him, and at the same time he sent men of expert knowledge to inspect the positions.
The cacique of the province of Guazacalco, who was Mutcczuma's enemy, was quite willing to receive the Spaniards but refused to receive Muteczuma's subjects. From the time he had heard of our power and warlike virtues, after the submission of the people of Potenchan he declared he wished to become our friend, and that the Spaniards were welcome. He indicated the mouth of a large river where the water is deep enough for the largest ships. He even took the initiative in proposing to found there a colony, and his subjects built six houses in the native style on the river bank. He promised more when the work should begin, and he invited the Spaniards to stop permanently in his territory, promising that if they consented, they should live in his capital. In token of the alliance he desired he offered gifts, though they were of little value, and sent messengers to Cortes tendering his submission.
Let us now return to Muteczuma's affairs. While Muteczuma was kept a prisoner, or to put it less roughly, while he was detained in dissembled captivity, Catamazin, ruler of the province of Hacoluacan, whose capital is Tezcuco, rebelled. This ruler, who was Muteczuma's subject and kinsman, declared he would no longer obey Cortes or Muteczuma, and proudly defied both. He is ruler of four cities which are subject to Muteczuma. His country is called Nahautecal, for naliau means four, and tecal means a ruler. Your Beatitude is well acquainted with the system in our European kingdoms, where certain princes, though obedient to the emperors in Germany and to the kings in