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South American Fights and Fighters - And Other Tales of Adventure
by Cyrus Townsend Brady
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There was one palace somewhat inferior to the rest, attached to which was a beautiful garden with balconies extending over it, supported by marble columns, and having a floor formed of jasper elegantly {159} laid. There were apartments in this palace sufficient to lodge two princes of the highest rank with their retinues. There were likewise belonging to it ten pools of water, in which were kept the different species of water birds found in this country, of which there is a great variety, all of which are domesticated; for the sea birds there were pools of salt water, and for the river birds, of fresh water. The water is let off at certain times to keep it pure, and is replenished by means of pipes. Each species of bird is supplied with the food natural to it, which it feeds upon when wild. Thus fish is given to birds that usually eat it; worms, maize and the finer seeds, to such as prefer them. And I assure Your Highness, that to the birds accustomed to eat fish, there is given the enormous quantity of ten arrobas[5] every day, taken in the salt lake. The emperor has three hundred men whose sole employment is to take care of these birds; and there are others whose only business is to attend to the birds that are in bad health.

Over the pools for the birds there are corridors and galleries to which Muteczuma resorts, and from which he can look out and amuse himself with the sight of them. There is an apartment in the same palace, in which are men, women, and children, whose faces, bodies, hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes are white from birth. The cacique has another very beautiful palace, with a large courtyard, paved with handsome flags, in the style of a chess-board. There were also cages, about nine feet in height and six paces square, each of which was half covered with a roof of tiles, and the other half had over it a wooden grate, skilfully made. Every cage contains a bird of prey, of all the species {160} found in Spain, from the kestrel to the eagle, and many unknown there. There were a great number of each kind, and in the covered part of the cages there was a perch, and another on the outside of the grating, the former of which the birds used in the night-time, and when it rained; and the other enabled them to enjoy the sun and air. To all these birds fowl were daily given for food, and nothing else. There were in the same palace several large halls on the ground floor, filled with immense cages built of heavy pieces of timber, well put together, in all or most of which were kept lions, tigers, wolves, foxes and a variety of animals of the cat tribe, in great numbers, which were also fed on fowls. The care of these animals and birds was assigned to three hundred men. There was another palace that contained a number of men and women of monstrous size, and also dwarfs, and crooked and ill-formed persons, each of which had their separate apartments. These also had their respective keepers. As to the other remarkable things that the ruler had in his city for amusement, I can only say that they were numerous and of various kinds.

He was served in the following manner. Every day as soon as it was light, six hundred nobles and men of rank were in attendance at the palace, who either sat or walked about the halls and galleries, and passed their time in conversation, but without entering the apartment where his person was. The servants and attendants of these nobles remained in the courtyards, of which there were two or three of great extent, and in the adjoining street, which was also spacious. They all remained in attendance from morning until night; and when his meals were served, the nobles were likewise served with equal profusion, and their {161} servants and secretaries also had their allowance. Daily his larder and wine-cellar were open to all who wished to eat and drink. The meals were served by three or four hundred youths, who brought on an infinite variety of dishes; indeed, whenever he dined or supped the table was loaded with every kind of flesh, fish, fruit, and vegetables that the country provided. As the climate is cold, they put a chafing-dish with live coals under every plate and dish to keep them warm. The meals were served in a large hall where Muteczuma was accustomed to eat, and the dishes quite filled the room, which was covered with mats and kept very clean. He sat on small cushions curiously wrought in leather. During the meals there were present, at a little distance from him, five or six elderly caciques, to whom he presented some of the food. And there was constantly in attendance one of the servants, who arranged and handed the dishes, and who received from others whatever was wanted for the supply of the table. Both at the beginning and end of every meal, they furnished water for the hands, and the napkins used on these occasions were never used a second time; this was the case also with the plates and dishes, which were not brought again, but new ones in place of them; it was also the same with the chafing-dishes. He is also dressed every day in four different suits, entirely new, which he never wears a second time. None of the caciques ever enter his palace with their feet covered, and when those for whom he sends enter his presence, they incline their heads and look down, bending their bodies; and when they address him they do not look in his face; this arises from excessive modesty and reverence. Whenever Muteczuma appeared in public, which was seldom the case, all those who {162} accompanied him or whom he accidentally met in the streets, turned away without looking toward him, and others prostrated themselves until he passed. One of the nobles always preceded him on these occasions, carrying three slender rods erect, which I suppose was to give notice of the approach of his person. And when they descended from the litters, he took one of them in his hands, and held it until he reached the places where he was going. So many and various were the ceremonies and customs observed by those in the service of Muteczuma, that more space than I can spare would be required for the details, as well as a better memory than I have to recollect them; since no sultan or other infidel lord, of whom any knowledge now exists, ever had so much ceremonial in their courts.

VII. The Meeting with Montezuma

It was early in the morning of November the 8th, 1519, when Cortes, at the head of his little army, rode over one of the long causeways and into the city to his first meeting with Montezuma. As no one can tell better than he what happened, I here insert his own account of the episode:

"The next day after my arrival at this city, I departed on my route, and having proceeded half a league, I entered upon a causeway that extends two leagues through the centre of the salt lake, until it reaches the great city of Temixtitan (Mexico), which is built in the middle of the lake. . . .

"I pursued my course over the above-mentioned causeway, and having proceeded half a league before arriving at the body of the city of Temixtitan, I found {163} at its intersection with another causeway, which extends from this point to terra firma, a very strong fortress with two towers, surrounded by a double wall, twelve feet in height, with an embattled parapet, which commands the two causeways, and has only two gates, one for the entering and the other for departure. There came to meet me at this place nearly a thousand of the principal inhabitants of the great city, all uniformly dressed according to their custom in very rich costumes; and as soon as they had come within speaking distance, each one, as he approached me, performed a salutation in much use among them, by placing his hand upon the ground and kissing it; and thus I was kept waiting about an hour, until all had performed the ceremony. Connected with the city is a wooden bridge ten paces wide, where the causeway is open to allow the water free ingress and egress, as it rises and falls; and also for the security of the city, as they can remove the long and wide beams of which the bridge is formed, and replace them whenever they wish; and there are many such bridges in different parts of the city, as Your Highness will perceive hereafter from the particular account I shall give of it.

"When we had passed the bridge, the Senor Muteczuma came out to receive us, attended by about two hundred nobles, all barefooted, and dressed in livery, or a peculiar garb of fine cotton, richer than is usually worn; they came in two processions in close proximity to the houses on each side of the street, which is very wide and beautiful, and so straight that you can see from one end of it to the other, although it is two-thirds of a league in length, having on both sides large and elegant houses and temples. Muteczuma came through {164} the centre of the street, attended by two lords, one upon his right and the other upon his left hand, one of whom was the same nobleman who, as I have mentioned, came to meet me in a litter, and the other was the brother of Muteczuma, lord of the city of Iztapalapa, which I had left the same day; all three were dressed in the same manner, except that Muteczuma wore shoes, while the others were without them. He was supported in the arms of both, and as we approached, I alighted and advanced alone to salute him; but the two attendant lords stopped me to prevent my touching him, and they and he both performed the ceremony of kissing the ground; after which he directed his brother who accompanied him to remain with me; the latter accordingly took me by the arm, while Muteczuma, with his other attendant, walked a short distance in front of me, and after he had spoken to me, all the other nobles also came up to address me, and then went away in two processions with great regularity, one after the other, and in this manner returned to the city. At the time I advanced to speak to Muteczuma, I took off from myself a collar of pearls and glass diamonds, and put it around his neck. After having proceeded along the street, one of his servants came bringing two collars formed of shell fish, enclosed in a roll of cloth, which were made from the shells of colored prawns or periwinkles, held by them in great esteem; and from each collar depended eight golden prawns, finished in a very perfect manner and about a foot and a half in length. When these were brought Muteczuma turned toward me and put them around my neck; he then returned along the street in the order already described, until he reached a very large and splendid palace, in which we were to be quartered, {165} which had been fully prepared for our reception. He there took me by the hand and led me into a spacious saloon, in front of which was a court, through which we entered. Having caused me to sit down on a piece of rich carpeting, which he had ordered to be made for himself, he told me to await his return there, and then went away. After a short space of time, when my people were all bestowed in their quarters, he returned with many and various jewels of gold and silver, feather work and five or six thousand pieces of cotton cloth, very rich and of varied texture and finish. After having presented these to me, he sat down on another piece of carpet they had placed for him near me, and being seated he discoursed as follows:

"'It is now a long time since, by means of written records, we learned from our ancestors that neither myself nor any of those who inhabit this region were descended from its original inhabitants, but from strangers who emigrated hither from a very distant land; and we have also learned that a prince, whose vassals they all were, conducted our people into these parts, and then returned to his native land. He afterward came again to this country, after the lapse of much time, and found that his people had inter-married with the native inhabitants, by whom they had many children, and had built towns in which they resided; and when he desired them to return with him, they were unwilling to go, nor were they disposed to acknowledge him as their sovereign; so he departed from the country, and we have always heard that his descendants would come to conquer this land and reduce us to subjection as his vassals; and according to the direction from which you say you have come, namely the quarter where the sun rises, and from what {166} you say of the great lord or king who sent you hither, we believe and are assured that he is our natural sovereign, especially as you say that it is a long time since you first had knowledge of us. Therefore, be assured that we will obey you, and acknowledge you for our sovereign in place of the great lord whom you mention, and that there shall be no default or deception on our part. And you have the power in all this land, I mean wherever my power extends, to command what is your pleasure, and it shall be done in obedience thereto, and all that we have is at your disposal. And since you are in your own proper land and your own house, rest and refresh yourself after the toils of your journey, and the conflicts in which you have been engaged, which have been brought upon you, as I well know, by all the people from Puntunchan to this place; and I am aware that the Cempoallans and the Tlascalans have told you much evil of me, but believe no more than you see with your own eyes, especially from those who are my enemies, some of whom were once my subjects, and having rebelled upon your arrival, make these statements to ingratiate themselves in your favor. These people, I know, have informed you that I possessed houses with walls of gold, and that my carpets and other things in common use were of the texture of gold; and that I was a god, or made myself one, and many other such things. The houses, as you see, are of stone and lime and earth.' And then he opened his robes and showed his person to me, saying: 'You see that I am composed of flesh and bone like yourself, and that I am mortal and palpable to the touch,' at the same time pinching his arms and body with his hands. 'See,' he continued, 'how they have deceived you. It is true that I have some things of gold, which {167} my ancestors have left me; all that I have is at your service whenever you wish it. I am now going to my other houses where I reside; you will be here provided with everything necessary for yourself and your people, and will suffer no embarrassment, as you are in your own house and country.' I answered him in respect to all that he had said, expressing my acknowledgments, and adding whatever the occasion seemed to demand, especially endeavoring to confirm him in the belief that Your Majesty was the sovereign they had looked for; and after this he took his leave, and having gone, we were liberally supplied with fowls, bread, fruits and other things required for the use of our quarters. In this way I was for six days amply provided with all that was necessary, and visited by many of the nobility."

It throws a somewhat amusing light on the interview when we note that the presents exchanged were of great value on Montezuma's part, while the gift of Cortes was a collar of cheap imitation diamonds!

The emotions of the Spaniards at this singular meeting between the immeasurable distance of the past and present were so strong that even the rough soldier felt it. "And when we beheld," says Bernal Diaz, "so many cities and towns rising up from the water, and other populous places situated on the terra firma, and that causeway, straight as a level, which went into Mexico, we remained astonished, and said to one another that it appeared like the enchanted castles which they tell of in the book of Amadis, by reason of the great towers, temples, and edifices which there were in the water, all of them work of masonry. Some of our soldiers asked if this that they saw was not a thing in a dream."

{168}

Fiske thus felicitously alludes to it: "It may be well called the most romantic moment in all history, this moment when European eyes first rested upon that city of wonders, the chief ornament of a stage of social evolution two full ethnical periods behind their own. To say that it was like stepping back across the centuries to visit the Nineveh of Sennacherib or hundred-gated Thebes, is but inadequately to depict the situation, for it was a longer step than that. Such chances do not come twice to mankind, for when two grades of culture so widely severed are brought into contact, the stronger is apt to blight and crush the weaker where it does not amend and transform it. In spite of its foul abominations, one sometimes feels that one would like to recall the extinct state of society in order to study it. The devoted lover of history, who ransacks all sciences for aid toward understanding the course of human events, who knows in what unexpected ways one progress often illustrates other stages, will sometimes wish it were possible to resuscitate, even for one brief year, the vanished City of the Cactus Rock. Could such a work of enchantment be performed, however, our first feeling would doubtless be one of ineffable horror and disgust, like that of the knight in the old English ballad, who, folding in his arms a damsel of radiant beauty, finds himself in the embrace of a loathsome fiend."

What the emotions of the Mexicans were we have no account, but it is not difficult to imagine them. Amazement as at the visitation of a god, fear begot of this gross superstition, apprehension of what might be the result of the coming of these strange monsters, curiosity mingled with admiration; and as they looked at the long lines of fierce, dauntless, implacable {169} Tlascalans who accompanied the Spaniards, their hereditary enemies, there must have swelled in their savage breasts feelings of deep and bitter hatred.

Outwardly, however, all was calm. The Spaniards marched through the flower-decked streets to the great palace of Ayxacatl, which had been assigned to them as a residence, and which was spacious and commodious enough to take them all in, bag and baggage, including their savage allies. It is one of the singular contradictions of the Aztec character that with all of their brutal religion and barbarism, they were passionately fond of flowers and like other barbarians rejoiced in color. "Flowers were used in many of the religious festivals, and there is abundant evidence, moreover, that the Mexicans were very fond of them. This is illustrated in the perpetual reference to flowers in old Mexican poems: 'They led me within a valley to a fertile spot, a flowery spot, where the dew spread out in glistening splendor, where I saw various lovely fragrant flowers, lovely odorous flowers, clothed with the dew, scattered around in rainbow glory; there they said to me, 'Pluck the flowers, whichever thou wishest; mayst thou, the singer, be glad, and give them to thy friends, to the chiefs, that they may rejoice on the earth.' So I gathered in the folds of my garments the various fragrant flowers, delicate, scented, delicious.'"

The will of Montezuma was supreme. Nothing dimmed the warmth and generosity of his splendid hospitality. There were no frowning looks, no mutterings of discontent, everything was joyous and pleasant, at least outwardly, yet not one of the Christians was blind to the peril in which he stood, or doubted that the least accident might precipitate an outbreak {170} which would sweep them all from off the face of the earth.

For six days the Spaniards remained the guests of the Mexican Emperor. Visits were exchanged, religious discussions were indulged in, and Cortes was only constrained from overthrowing their idols in the temples which he visited, and substituting Christian emblems therein by force, by the prudent counsel of the worthy priests, men remarkable for their wisdom and their statesmanship, who accompanied him. Continual efforts were made to convert Montezuma, but without results.

That monarch, who was of a cheerful and jovial nature, professed great friendship for and interest in the Spaniards, whom he often visited and to whom he accorded many privileges. Such a condition of affairs, however, could not last very long. The suspense was intolerable to a man of action like Cortes and to the men who followed him as well. They were not good waiters. Something had to be done.

Into the mind of this Spanish soldier of fortune there leaped a bold design. He decided upon a course of action, as amazing in its character, so far-reaching in its result, that its conception and its execution almost thrust him into the ranks of the demi-gods. This project was nothing less than the seizure of the person of Montezuma in the midst of his capital, a city of three hundred thousand people, among whom were thousands of fierce and highly trained veteran warriors who counted their lives as nothing in the Emperor's need. Undoubtedly such an action was the basest of treachery, but Cortes had put himself in such a position that the nakedness of such an action did not prevail with him for a moment. He quieted his conscience with the {171} old reasoning that Montezuma was a heathen, and that oaths to him were by no means binding.

Whether he quieted his conscience or not, something was necessary. He could not retire from Mexico after this ostensibly friendly visit. Such a withdrawal would not have suited his purposes at all, and it was more than possible that the moment he turned his back on the Aztec capital, he would be forced to fight for his life against conditions which would leave him little or no possibility of escape. It was really Montezuma's life and liberty or Cortes' life and liberty. In such an alternative, there was no hesitation.

VIII. The Seizure of the Emperor

Occasion was soon found for the seizure. A chief on the sea coast had attacked and killed some of the men left at Vera Cruz. It was alleged that this was done by the orders of Montezuma. Cortes accompanied by the hardiest and bravest of his companions, and after a night of prayer—singular with what good consciences they could pray for the success of the most nefarious undertaking!—visited Montezuma, and accused him of having instigated the crime. Montezuma denied it, and despatched messengers to the offending cacique, directing that he be put under close arrest and brought to the capital. This was all any reasonable man could expect, but Cortes and his companions were not reasonable.

In spite of the fact that the prompt action of the Aztec had deprived them of the faintest pretext, they nevertheless at last declared to the unhappy monarch that he must accompany them to the pueblo, which he had assigned to them, and remain in the custody of {172} the Spaniards until the matter had been decided. In vain Montezuma protested. His situation was unfortunate. He was surrounded by an intrepid body of steel-clad Spaniards, and although the room was filled with officers, courtiers and soldiers, he realized—indeed he was bluntly told—that the first act of hostility against the Spaniards would result in his immediate death. He made a virtue of a necessity, and complied with the Spaniards' demand. Forbidding his subjects, who were moved to tears—tears of rage and anger, most probably—to assist him, he submitted himself to the will of his captors, and went away with them. He had to go or he would have died then and there. Far better would it have been if he had chosen the nobler course, both for his fame and his empire.

The affairs of the government were carried on as usual by Montezuma, to whom his officers and his counsellors had free access. Cortes even permitted him to go to the Temple on occasion for the ordinary worship, but in every instance he was accompanied and practically surrounded by a body of one hundred completely armed and thoroughly resolute Spaniards. Cortes did not attempt to interfere in the least degree with the national administration, although it was patent to everybody that as he held the person of the Emperor, he could also command, if he so elected, the power of the empire.

Meanwhile, the Cacique Quahpopoca, who was guilty of the murder of the Spaniards on the coast, was brought into Mexico two weeks after the seizure of Montezuma. With a loyalty touchingly beautiful, he promptly declared that he had acted upon his own responsibility and that Montezuma had had {173} nothing whatever to do with it, which was, of course, highly improbable. The official clearing of Montezuma was complete; nevertheless, despite the testimony of Quahpopoca, Cortes actually put the Mexican monarch in double irons. It is true, the irons were removed almost immediately, and he was treated as he had been during his two weeks' captivity, with the greatest possible respect and deference, but the irons had not merely clasped the wrists and ankles of the unfortunate Aztec. They had entered his soul.

Quahpopoca was burned in the public square. The heaping fagots which surrounded the stake were made of javelins and spears collected by Cortes with intrepid audacity and far-seeing prudence, from the public armory. Vast numbers of them were used. The populace looked on in sullen and gloomy silence. Montezuma was not merely the ruler of the country, but in some senses he was a deity, and his capture, together with the capture of the great lords of his family, who, under ordinary circumstances would have succeeded to his throne, paralyzed the national, social, political and religious organization.

Cortes actually held his captive in this way until spring. The intervening months were not wasted. Expeditions were sent to all parts of the country to ascertain its resources and report upon them, so that, when the Spaniards took over the government, they would be prepared to administer it wisely and well. No such prudent and statesmanlike policy was inaugurated by any other conqueror. Cortes in this particular stands absolutely alone among the great adventurers, Spanish and otherwise. He was not a mere plunderer of the people, he was laying a foundation for an empire. Vast treasures were, nevertheless, collected. {174} Messengers were despatched to Charles V. with the letters which have already been quoted and with the royal share of the booty, which was great enough to insure them a favorable reception.

What Cortes would have done further can only be surmised. Something happened suddenly which forced his hand. In the spring, Montezuma received word through an excellent corps of messengers which supplied him daily with information from all parts of the empire, of the arrival of a strange Spanish force on the coast. Mexico had no writing, but its messenger system was one of the best in the world. Messengers arrived daily from the farthest parts and confines of the Mexican empire, supplementing pictures, which the Mexicans drew very cleverly, with verbal accounts. Incidentally, there was no money in the empire, either. The art of coinage had not been attained.

IX. The Revolt of the Capital

Cortes was naturally much interested and not a little perturbed by the news. Soon the exact tidings reached him from the commander at Vera Cruz, that the force consisted of some twelve hundred men, including eighty horse, all under the command of one Panfilo de Narvaez, which had been organized, equipped and sent out by Cortes' old enemy, Velasquez, with instructions to seize him and his companions and send them back to Cuba for trial. Narvaez was loud in his threats of what he was going to do with Cortes and how he was going to do it.

The great Spaniard acted with his usual promptness. He left in charge of the city one Pedro de Alvarado, called from his fair hair, Tonatiuh, or the {175} child of the sun. Committing the care of Montezuma to this cavalier and bidding him watch over him and guard him with his life, as the safety of all depended upon him, Cortes with some two hundred and fifty men made a dash for the coast. It was two hundred and fifty against five times that number, but with the two hundred and fifty was a man whose mere presence equalized conditions, while with the twelve hundred and fifty was another whose braggart foolishness diminished their superiority until, in the end, it really amounted to nothing!

Cortes actually surprised Narvaez in the town in which he had taken refuge and seized him after an attack—a night surprise of bold and audacious conception—by the two hundred and fifty against the twelve hundred which was completely successful. With Narvaez in Cortes's hands all opposition ceased on the part of the men. In one swoop Narvaez lost power, position and one eye, which had been knocked out during the contest, and Cortes found his following reinforced by so great a number and quality that he had never dreamed of such a thing.

"You are, indeed, fortunate," said Narvaez to his conqueror, "in having captured me."

"It is," said Cortes carelessly, "the least of the things I have done in Mexico!"

While affairs were thus progressing favorably on the coast, the smouldering rebellion had at last broken out in Mexico, and Cortes received a message from Alvarado, bidding him return with all possible speed. There was not a braver soldier, a fiercer fighter, or a more resolute man in the following of Cortes than Pedro de Alvarado. When that has been said, however, practically all has been said that can be said in {176} his favor. He was a rash, impetuous, reckless, head-long, tactless, unscrupulous man, and brutal and cruel to a high degree.

His suspicions that the Aztecs, led by Montezuma, were conspiring to overwhelm his small force were aroused. It is probable that there was some truth in his apprehensions, although he could not point to anything very definite upon which to base them. He knew of but one way to deal with such a situation—by brute force. He waited until the great May Festival of the Aztecs was being held, and then fell upon them in the midst of their joyous play and slew six hundred, including many of the noblest chiefs of the land. The outbreak was instant and universal. The house of Ayxacatl was at once besieged, the influx of provisions was stopped, and the pueblo was surrounded by vast numbers of thoroughly enraged citizens. Neither the Spaniards nor the allies could leave the pueblo without being overwhelmed. Alvarado at last compelled Montezuma to show himself on the walls and bid the people stop fighting, to enable him to strengthen his position and hold it until the arrival of Cortes, and some fifteen hundred men, his own force and that of Narvaez combined.

When the conqueror met Alvarado he upbraided him and told him that he had behaved like a madman. There was little or no provision. Cortes now made the mistake of sending Cuitlahua, the brother of Montezuma, out into the city with instructions for him to have the markets opened at once and secure provisions for the Spaniards and their horses. Cuitlahua, being free, called the council of priests. This council at once deposed Montezuma and elected Cuitlahua {177} emperor and priest in his place. The revolution and the religion now had a head.

The next morning an attack of such force was delivered that many of even the stoutest-hearted Spaniards quailed before it. The slaughter of the natives was terrific. The Spanish cannon opened long lanes through the crowded streets. The Spanish horse sallied forth and hacked and hewed broad pathways up the different avenues. Still, the attack was pressed and was as intrepid as if not a single Aztec had died. The roar that came up from every quarter of the city, from the house tops, from the crowded streets, from the Temples, was in itself enough to appall the bravest.

X. In God's Way

Finally Cortes resorted to Alvarado's expedient. He compelled the unhappy Montezuma to mount the walls of the palace and bid the people disperse. When he appeared in all his splendid panoply upon the roof of the palace there was a strange silence. He was no longer priest, he was no longer emperor, he was no longer a power, he was no longer a god, but some of the old divinity seemed to cling to him, to linger around him still. The situation was so tragic that even the meanest soldier, Mexican or Spanish, felt its import. A long time the Aztec looked over his once smiling capital, and into the faces of his once subordinate people. Finally he began to address them. He bade them lay down their arms and disperse.

The people, led by the great lords and Montezuma's brother, Cuitlahua, and his nephew, Guatemoc, answered with a roar of rage, and the roar spread as the purport of the message was communicated to those {178} further back. Montezuma stood appalled. The next instant a rain of missiles was actually launched at him and the Spaniards who stood by his side. A stone hurled, it is said by young Guatemoc, struck him in the forehead. He reeled and fell. With the bitter words: "Woman! woman!" ringing in his ears, he was carried away by the Spaniards. His face, says Lew Wallace, was the face of a man "breaking because he was in God's way!" He lived a few days after that, but he refused to eat, and repeatedly tore the bandages from his wounds until death put an end to his miseries. The stone that had struck him had broken his heart. Neither Cortes nor Montezuma himself knew that he had been deposed. Cortes and the principal Spaniards visited him and endeavoured to console him, but he turned his face to the wall and would have none of them. It was said afterward that he became a Christian, but it is most probably not true. He died as he had lived. Helps thus describes the scene and the great Montezuma's end:



"He was surrounded by Spanish soldiers, and was at first received with all respect and honor by his people. When silence ensued, he addressed them in very loving words, bidding them discontinue the attack, and assuring them that the Spaniards would depart from Mexico. It is not probable that much of his discourse could have been heard by the raging multitude. But, on the other hand, he was able to hear what their leaders had to say, as four of the chiefs approached near him, and with tears addressed him, declaring their grief at his imprisonment. They told him that they had chosen his brother as their leader, that they had vowed to their gods not to cease fighting {179} until the Spaniards were all destroyed, and that each day they prayed to their gods to keep him free and harmless. They added, that when their designs were accomplished, he should be much more their lord than heretofore, and that he should then pardon them. Amongst the crowd, however, were, doubtless, men who viewed the conduct of Montezuma with intense disgust, or who thought that they had already shown too much disrespect toward him ever to be pardoned. A shower of stones and arrows interrupted the parley; the Spanish soldiers had ceased for the moment to protect Montezuma with their shields; and he was severely wounded in the head and in two other places. The miserable monarch was borne away, having received his death-stroke; but whether it came from the wounds themselves, or from the indignity of being thus treated by his people, remains a doubtful point. It seems, however, that, to use some emphatic words which have been employed upon a similar occasion: 'He turned his face to the wall, and would be troubled no more.'



"It is remarkable that he did not die like a Christian,[6] and I think this shows that he had more force of mind and purpose than the world has generally been inclined to give him credit for. To read Montezuma's character rightly, at this distance of time, and amidst such a wild perplexity of facts, would be very difficult, and is not very important. But one thing, {180} I think, is discernible, and that is, that his manners were very gracious and graceful. I dwell upon this, because I conceive it was a characteristic of the race; and no one will estimate this characteristic lightly, who has observed how very rare, even in the centres of civilized life, it is to find people of fine manners, so that in great capitals but very few persons can be pointed out who are at all transcendent in this respect. The gracious delight which Montezuma had in giving was particularly noticeable; and the impression which he made upon Bernal Diaz may be seen in the narrative of this simple soldier, who never speaks of him otherwise as 'the great Montezuma'; and, upon the occasion of his death, remarks that some of the Spanish soldiers who had known him mourned for him as if he had been a father, 'and no wonder,' he adds, 'seeing that he was so good.'"

Cortes sent out the body to the new king, and Montezuma was mourned over by the Spaniards, to whom he had always been gracious, and probably, by his own people; but little could be learned of what the Mexicans thought, or did, upon the occasion, by the Spaniards, who only saw that Montezuma's death made no difference in the fierceness of the enemy's attack.

Meanwhile the situation of the Spaniards was indescribable. There was mutiny and rebellion among them. The soldiers of Narvaez, who looked for a pleasant promenade through a land of peace and plenty, were appalled. There was daily, desperate fighting. The Mexicans had manned the temple of the war-god which overlooked the Spanish pueblo, and Cortes determined to capture it. With a large body of chosen men he attempted its escalade. It was crowded to the very top with the most resolute {181} Aztecs, and they fought for it with the courage of fanaticism and despair itself. The feather shields were no match for the steel cuirasses. The wooden clubs, stuck full of sharp pieces of obsidian, could not compete on equal terms with the Toledo blades. Step by step, terrace by terrace, the Spaniards fought their way to the very top. As if by mutual consent, the contests in the streets stopped and all eyes were turned upon this battle in the air.

Arriving at the great plateau upon the crest, the Spaniards were met by five hundred of the noblest Aztecs, who, animated by their priests, made the last desperate stand for the altars of their gods.

"And how can men die better, Than in facing fearful odds, For the ashes of their Fathers, And the temples of their Gods?"

In the course of the terrific conflict which ensued, two of the bravest leaped upon Cortes, wrapped their arms around him, and attempted to throw themselves off the top of the temple, devoting themselves to death, if so be, they might compass their bold design. It was on the very verge of eternity that Cortes tore himself free from them. Singled out for attack because of his position and because of his fearlessness in battle, his life was saved again and again by his followers, until it seemed to be miraculously preserved.

After a stupendous struggle the summit of the temple was carried. Amid the groans of the populace, the Spaniards tumbled down from its resting-place the hideous image of the war-god, and completed in Aztec eyes the desecration of the temple. They were victorious, but they had paid a price. Dead Spaniards {182} dotted the terraces, the sunlight, gleaming on their armor, picking them out amid the dark, naked bodies of the Mexicans. Of those who had survived the encounter, there was scarcely one but had sustained one or more wounds, some of them fearful in character. The Mexicans had not died in vain.

Leaving a guard at the temple, Cortes came back to the garrison. The attack was resumed at once by the natives. Attempts were made to burn the thatched roofs of the pueblo. A rain of missiles was poured upon it. The Spaniards made sally after sally, inflicting great slaughter, but losing always a little themselves. The Aztecs would sometimes seize a Spaniard and bear him off alive to sacrifice him on some high pyramid temple in full view of his wretched comrades below. The Spaniards fired cannon after cannon, but to no avail. They were starving, they were becoming sick, and they were covered with wounds; their allies, who took part gallantly in all the hard fighting, suffered frightful losses. It was at last reluctantly agreed among the leaders that their only salvation was the evacuation of the city.

XI. The Melancholy Night

Although the course thus thrust upon them was indeed a hard one, there was nothing else to be done. Sick, wounded, starving, dying, they could by no means maintain themselves longer in the city. Fight as they might and would, the end would come speedily, and would mean annihilation. Happy in that event would be those who died upon the field, for every living captive, whatever his condition, would be reserved for that frightful sacrifice to the war-god, in which his {183} body would be opened, and his reeking heart torn, almost while still beating, from his breast. To retreat was almost as dangerous as it was to remain. It was certain, however, that some would get through in that attempt, although it was equally certain that many would not.

Cortes, mustering his soldiers and allies, after a day of heart-breaking fighting, disclosed the situation to them in blunt soldier-like words, although they all knew it as well as he, and then the hasty preparations began. A vast treasure had been amassed by the Spaniards. Making an effort to preserve the fifth portion of it, which by law belonged to the King, Cortes threw open the treasure chamber and bade the rest help themselves. He cautioned them, however, that those who went the lightest, would have the greatest prospects for escape, a warning which many, especially among those who had come to the country with Narvaez, chose to disregard.

The causeway along which they determined to fly and which connected Mexico with the mainland was pierced at intervals to admit passage from one portion of the lake to the other. The bridges which usually covered these openings had been taken away by the Aztecs. Cortes caused a temporary bridge or pontoon to be built which was to be carried with the fugitives to enable them to pass the openings.

The night was the first of July, 1520. It was pitch dark and a heavy rain was falling. The forces consisted of twelve hundred and fifty Spaniards, of whom eighty were mounted, and six thousand Tlascalans. They were divided into three divisions. The advance was under the command of Juan Valesquez, Cortes led the main body, and the rear was put in the charge {184} of the rash, cruel, but heroic Alvarado. The less severely wounded were supported by their comrades, and those unable to walk were carried on litters or mounted on horses. Montezuma had died the night before. Any lingering hopes of being able to effect peace through his influence had departed. Leaving everything they could not carry, the Spaniards, after prayer, confession and absolution, threw open the gates,[7] and entered the city.

Midnight was approaching. The streets and avenues were silent and deserted. The retreat proceeded cautiously for a little way, unmolested, when suddenly a deep, booming sound roared like thunder over the heads of the Spaniards, through the black night, filling their hearts with alarm. Cortes recognized it at once. The Aztecs were awake and ready. The priests in the great teocallis, or temple pyramids, were beating the great drum of the war-god, Huitzilopocahtli. Lights appeared here and there in the town, the clashing of arms was heard here and there on the broad avenues. Under the lights farther up the streets could be seen files of troops moving. The hour was full of portent.

Dragging their artillery, carrying their wounded, bearing their treasure, the Spaniards and their allies passed rapidly through the streets. Before the advance reached the first opening in the causeway it was already hotly engaged. The water on either side of the cause-way suddenly swarmed with canoes. Spears, javelins, arrows, heavy war-clubs with jagged pieces of obsidian were hurled upon the Spaniards on the causeway. In front of them, almost, it seemed, for the whole length, the {185} Indians were massed. Step by step, by the hardest kind of hand-to-hand fighting, the Spaniards and their allies arrived at the first opening. Their loss had been frightful already. They were surrounded and attacked from all sides. Indians scrambled up the low banks in the darkness, seized the feet of the flying Spaniards and strove to draw them into the water. Many a white man, many a Tlascalan locked in the savage embrace of some heroic Aztec, stumbled or was dragged into the lake and was drowned in the struggle. The frightened horses reared and plunged and created great confusion. The golden treasure with which many had loaded themselves proved a frightful incumbrance. Those who could do so, flung it away; those too bitterly occupied in fighting for their lives could do little but drive, thrust, hew, hack and struggle in the dark and slippery way.

But the army did advance. Arriving at the brink of the first opening, the bridge was brought up and the division began its passage. It had scarcely crossed the gap when under the pressure of tremendous fear, the second division, in spite of all that could be done to refrain and control them by Cortes and his officers—and there were no braver men on earth—crowded on the frail bridge. The structure which was sufficiently strong for ordinary and orderly passage, gave way, precipitating a great mass of Spaniards and Indians into the causeway. Cortes with his own hands, assisted by a few of the cooler veterans, tried to lift up the shattered remains of the bridge but was unable to do anything with it. It was ruined beyond repair, and sank into a splintered mass of timber under the terrific pressure to which it had been subjected. A passage at that gap was afforded to those who came {186} after because it was filled level with dead bodies of Spaniards, Indians and horses, to say nothing of guns, baggage and equipment.

By this time the advance guard was again heavily engaged. The Spaniards and their allies staggered along the dyke, fighting desperately all the time. Velasquez, leading the advance division was killed at the brink of the second opening. The wretched fugitives were driven headlong into the second opening which was soon choked with horses and men as the first had been. Over this living, dying bridge the survivors madly ploughed. Some of them led by Cortes himself found a ford on the side. Although they were cut down by the hundreds, there seemed to be no end to the Aztecs. The rain still fell. The drum of the war-god mingled with frightful peals of thunder, and the shrill cries of the Mexicans rose higher and higher. The Spaniards were sick, wounded, beaten and terrified. Only Cortes and his captains and a few of his veterans preserved the slightest semblance of organization.

The third gap was passed by the same awful expedient as the other two had been. There was not a great distance from the third opening to the mainland. The few who had passed over rushed desperately for the shore. Way back in the rear, last of all, came Alvarado. There was a strange current in the lake, and as he stood all alone at the last opening, confronting the pursuers, his horse having been killed under him, a swift movement of the water swept away the gorged mass of bodies. Torches in the canoes enabled the Aztecs to recognize Alvarado, Tonatiuh, the child of the sun. His helmet had been knocked off and his fair hair streamed over his shoulders. He indeed would {187} be a prize for their sacrifice, second only to Cortes himself. With furious cries, the most reckless and intrepid leaped upon the dyke and rushed at him. At his feet lay his neglected lance. Dropping his sword, he seized his spear, swiftly plunged the point of it into the sand at the bottom of the pass, and, weighted though he was with his armor, and weak from his wounds and from the loss of blood, leaped to safety on the other side. To this day, this place of Alvarado's marvelous leap is pointed out. Like Ney, Alvarado was the last of that grand army, and like the French commander, also, he might properly be called the bravest of the brave.

Darkness was not the usual period for Aztec fighting. It was this alone that saved the lives of the remaining few for, having seen Alvarado stagger to freedom along the causeway, the Aztecs concluded that they had done enough and returned to the city rejoicing. They took back with them many Spaniards and Tlascalans as captives for sacrifice and the cannibalistic feast which followed.

When day broke, Cortes sitting under a tree, which is still to be seen in Mexico,[8] ordered the survivors to pass in review before him. They numbered five hundred Spaniards and two thousand Tlascalans and a score of horses. Seven hundred and fifty Spaniards had been killed or taken captive and four thousand Tlascalans. All the artillery had been lost, seven arquebuses had been saved, but there was no powder. Half the Spaniards were destitute of any weapons and the battle-axes and spears which had been saved {188} were jagged and broken. Their armor was battered and the most important parts, as helmets, shields, breastplates, had been lost. Some of the Tlascalans still preserved their savage weapons. There was scarcely a man, Spanish or Tlascalan who was not suffering from some wound.

It is no wonder that when Cortes saw the melancholy and dejected array, even his heart of steel gave way and he buried his face in his hands and burst into tears. This terrible night has always been known in history as la noche triste—the melancholy night. Melancholy indeed it was. Surely the situation of a man was never more desperate. If the Mexicans had rejoiced in the leadership of a Cortes, they would have mustered their forces and fallen upon the Spaniards without the delay of a moment, and the result could only have been annihilation. But the Mexicans themselves had suffered terrifically. They had won a great victory, but they had paid a fearful price for it. Now they wanted to enjoy it. They wished to sacrifice their captives to their gods, and they thought that there was no hope for the Spaniards, and that they might overwhelm them at their leisure.

This is Sir Arthur Helps' vivid description of the awful retreat:

"A little before midnight the stealthy march began. The Spaniards succeeded in laying down the pontoon over the first bridge-way, and the vanguard with Sandoval passed over; Cortes and his men also passed over; but while the rest were passing, the Mexicans gave the alarm with loud shouts and blowing of horns. 'Tlaltelulco![9] Tlaltelulco!' they exclaimed, 'come out quickly with your canoes; the teules are going; cut {189} them off at the bridges.' Almost immediately after this alarm, the lake was covered with canoes. It rained, and the misfortunes of the night commenced by two horses slipping from the pontoon into the water. Then, the Mexicans attacked the pontoon-bearers so furiously that it was impossible for them to raise it up again. In a very short time the water at that part was full of dead horses, Tlascalan men, Indian women, baggage, artillery, prisoners, and boxes (petacas) which, I suppose, supported the pontoon. On every side the most piteous cries were heard: 'Help me! I drown!' 'Rescue me! They are killing me!' Such vain demands were mingled with prayers to the Virgin Mary and to Saint James. Those that did get upon the bridge and on the causeway found hands of Mexicans ready to push them down again into the water.

"At the second bridge-way a single beam was found, which doubtless had been left for the convenience of the Mexicans themselves. This was useless for the horses, but Cortes diverging, found a shallow place where the water did not reach further than up to the saddle, and by that he and his horsemen passed (as Sandoval must have done before). He contrived, also to get his foot-soldiers safely to the mainland, though whether they swam or waded, whether they kept the line of the causeway, or diverged into the shallows, it is difficult to determine. Leaving the vanguard and his own division safe on shore, Cortes with a small body of horse and foot, returned to give what assistance he could to those who were left behind. All order was now lost, and the retreat was little else than a confused slaughter, although small bodies of the Spaniards still retained sufficient presence of mind {190} to act together, rushing forward, clearing the space about them, making their way at each moment with loss of life, but still some few survivors getting onward. Few, indeed, of the rear-guard could have escaped. It is told as a wonder of Alvarado, that, coming to the last bridge, he made a leap, which has by many been deemed impossible, and cleared the vast aperture. When Cortes came up to him, he was found accompanied by only seven soldiers and eight Tlascalans, all covered with blood from their many wounds. They told Cortes that there was no use in going further back, that all who remained alive were there with him. Upon this the General turned; and the small and melancholy band of Spaniards pushed on to Tlacuba, Cortes protecting the rear. It is said that he sat down on a stone in the village called Popotla near Tlacuba, and wept; a rare occurrence, for he was not a man to waste any energy in weeping while aught remained to be done. The country was aroused against them, and they did not rest for the night till they had fortified themselves in a temple on a hill near Tlacuba, where afterward was built a church dedicated, very appropriately, to Our Lady of Refuge (a Nuestra Senora de los Remedios)."

There is an old story of a Roman general, who after a most terrific defeat, a defeat due largely to his own incompetency, not only escaped censure but was officially thanked by the senate, because he declared publicly that he did not despair of the republic. Of that same temper was Cortes.

Exhorting his men in the face of this awful peril which menaced them to conduct themselves as white men, as Spaniards, and as soldiers of the Cross, Cortes led his army toward Tlascala. Upon the position of {191} that republic absolutely depended the future. It depends upon the way you look at the situation as to how you estimate the conduct of these dusky allies of the unfortunate conqueror. Had there been any national feeling among them, had their hatred of the Aztecs been less, they might have broken their agreements with the Spaniards and overwhelmed them, but the hatred of the Tlascalans did not permit them to look beyond the present day. They decided to maintain the alliance they had entered into with Cortes and welcomed him with open arms. They gave him a chance to recuperate, to get something to eat, and to dress the wounds of his men. All the Spaniards wanted was time to bring about the inevitable downfall of Mexico and the Mexicans.

Among the men who had followed Narvaez was a Negro who had brought with him the germs of small-pox, which were communicated to the Aztecs in the city. It spared neither rich nor poor, as one of the first victims was their leader, Cuitlahua. The electors chose his nephew to succeed him, the youthful Guatemoc, or, as he was commonly called, Guatemotzin. In some respects in spite of the lack of the sagacity and farsightedness of Cuitlahua, he was a better man for the problem, for he at once mustered his forces and launched them upon Cortes and the Tlascalans in the valley of Otumba. The Tlascalans had furnished shelter and provisions to Cortes, and had resolved to stand by their treaty with him, but they had not yet furnished him with any great assistance. A strong party in the council had been entirely opposed to doing anything whatever for him. Cortes practically had to fight the battle alone and the battle had {192} to be won. He and his fought, as the saying is, with halters around their necks.

All day long the Spaniards and their few allies fought up and down the narrow valley. Defeat meant certain death. They must conquer or be tortured, sacrificed and eaten. It was Cortes himself who decided the issue. With Alvarado and a few of the other captains, he finally broke through the Aztec centre, with his own hand killed the Aztec general, to whom Guatemoc had committed the battle, and seized the Aztec standard. At the close of the long hours of fighting the natives broke and fled, and the supremacy of Cortes and the Spaniards was once more established.

Wavering Tlascala decided for Cortes and he was received with generous, royal and munificent hospitality, which accorded him everything he asked. Messengers were despatched to Hispaniola for reinforcements and every preparation made for the renewal of the campaign. During the fall, troops, horses, men, guns and thousands of the flower of the Tlascalan army were placed at Cortes's disposal. He occupied them by sending expeditions in every direction, thus restoring their morale and punishing the savage tribes who had revolted against the Spanish rule and had returned to their old allegiance to the Aztec emperor. The punishments were fearful. The resources of the Mexicans were gradually cut off and by the end of the year the Aztecs realized that they would have to fight their last battle alone. These successful campaigns reestablished the prestige which the Spaniards had lost. The people everywhere knew that they were no longer gods, but they now enjoyed a higher reputation, that of being invincible.

Cortes was resolved to attack Mexico. With a {193} prudence as great as his determination he decided to neglect no precaution which would insure his success. He caused to be built a number of brigantines by which he could secure the command of the lake, and thereby give access to the city for his troops and allies. These brigantines were built at Tlascala under the supervision of the sailors of the expedition. The rigging of the ships, which had been destroyed, was useful in fitting them out. They were built in pieces and arrangements were made to carry them over the mountains and put them together at the lake when the campaign began. Guns and provisions were also amassed. Powder was brought from Cuba and it was also made by means of the sulphur deposits of the volcanoes round about. The troops were daily drilled and trained. Daily prayers were held, and every effort was made to give the forthcoming campaign the spirit of a crusade. The strictest moral regulations were promulgated. In short, nothing was left undone to bring about the downfall of Mexico.

On his part, Guatemoc was not idle. He summoned to his assistance all the tribes that remained loyal to him, especially those to the west, not subjected to the Spanish attack. He strove by bribery to detach those who had given their adherence to Cortes. Vast numbers of allies assembled in Mexico, which was provisioned for a siege. Everything that occurred to the minds of these splendid barbarians was done. After having done all that was possible, with resolution which cannot be commended too highly, they calmly awaited the onset of the Spaniards.

On Christmas day, 1520, Cortes took up the march over the mountains again for the great city of the cactus rock.

{194}

XII. The Siege and Destruction of Mexico

It was April of the next year when Cortes at last arrived before the city and began the siege. The force which he had mustered for this tremendous undertaking consisted of seven hundred Spanish infantry, one hundred and twenty arquebuses, eighty-six horsemen, twelve cannon, and a countless multitude of Tlascalan fighters together with numbers of slaves and servants.

As the city was connected with the mainland by three causeways, it was necessary to invest it on three sides. The army was divided into three equal divisions. He himself commanded the force that was to attack along the south causeway; with him was Sandoval, his most trusted and efficient lieutenant; Alvarado led that which was to advance over the west causeway and Olid was to close the north causeway. The brigantines were brought over the mountains by hand by thousands of Tlascalans. There were no vehicles or highways of any sort in Mexico; the Mexicans not having domesticated any animals there was no use for anything broader than a foot-path, a fact which throws an interesting side-light on their civilization, by the way. These Spanish boats were put together on the shores of the lake and when they were launched they served to close the ring of steel which surrounded the doomed city.

The three great tribal divisions of the Aztec empire were the Aztecs themselves, the Cholulans and the Tezcocans. Cholula had been conquered and with Tezcoco at this critical juncture went over to the Spaniards, leaving Guatemoc and his Aztecs to fight the last fight {195} alone. Besides the forces enumerated, each Spanish division was accompanied by formidable bodies of Tlascalans. The Tlascalans were nearly, if not quite, as good fighters as the Aztecs; perhaps they were better fighters, so far as their numbers went, when led and supported by the white people.

The first thing that Cortes did was to cut the aqueduct which carried fresh water into the city. The lake of Tezcoco in which Mexico stood was salt. By this one stroke, Cortes forced the inhabitants to depend upon a very meagre, scanty supply of water from wells in the city, many of which were brackish and unpalatable. The shores of the lake were swept bare by the beleaguerers. Iztatapalan, a rocky fortress was taken by storm and on April 21, 1521, the first attack was delivered along the causeways. The Mexicans met the advance with their customary intrepidity. The water on either side of the causeway swarmed with canoes. Thousands of warriors poured out of the city. The canoes swept down the lake intending to take the Spaniards in reverse and then pour in a terrible flank fire of missiles as they had done on the Melancholy Night. Cortes sustained this fire for a short time in order to draw the canoes as far toward him as possible, then he let loose the brigantines.

These brigantines were boats propelled by oars and sails on a single mast. They carried about a score of armed men and were very well and stoutly built. I suppose them to have been something like a modern man-o'-war cutter. They played havoc with the frail canoes. Their solid construction, their higher free-board, that is, the height they were above the water-line, the armor of their crews and the fact that the wind happened to be favorable and they {196} could sail instead of row that morning, all contributed to the utter and complete destruction of the Indian flotilla. Canoes were splintered and sunk. Men were killed by the hundreds. They strove to climb up the slippery sides of the causeways and dykes. The Spaniards thrust them off into the deep water with their spears or cut them to pieces with their swords. The battle along the causeways, which were narrow, although quite wide enough for a dozen horsemen abreast, was terrible. The Aztecs literally died in their tracks, disdaining to fly. The Spaniards made their way over a floor of dead and writhing bodies.

Bare breasts, however resolute the hearts that beat beneath them, were no match for the steel cuirasses. The wooden shields did not even blunt the edge of the Toledo blade; the obsidian battle-axes could not contest with the iron maces. The jewelled feather work of the proudest noble was not equal even to the steel-trimmed leather jerkin of the poorest white soldier. The Spaniards literally cut their way, hewed, hacked, thrust their way into the city.

Here the fighting was slightly more equalized. The low roofs of the houses and pueblos swarmed with warriors. They rained missiles down upon the Spaniards' heads, while a never diminishing mob hurled itself into the faces of the white men. The Aztecs could have done more damage if they had not sacrificed everything in order to capture the Spaniards alive. In some instances they succeeded in their purpose. The fighting which was the same in all three of the causeways lasted all day and then the Spaniards retired to their several camps.

Save for the fact that they afterward cleared the lake of the canoes by the aid of the brigantines, one {197} day's fighting was like another. The Spaniards would march into the city, slaughter until their arms were weary. They would lose a few here and there every day. The Tlascalans who took their part in all the fighting lost many. The end of the day would see things in statu quo. There were enough of the Indians even to sacrifice one hundred of them to one Spaniard and still maintain the balance of power. Cortes observed that he might fight this way until all of his army had melted away by piecemeal and have taken nothing.

He determined upon the dreadful expedient of destroying the city as he captured it. After coming to this decision, he summoned to his aid large bodies of the subject tribes. Thereafter, while the Spaniards and the Tlascalans fought, the others tore down that portion of the city which had been taken. The buildings were absolutely razed to the ground and nothing whatever was left of them. Canals were filled, gardens were ruined, trees cut down and even the walls of the city torn apart. In short, what once had been a teeming populous quarter of the city, abounding in parks, gardens and palaces, was left a desert. There was not enough power left in the Aztec Confederacy to rebuild the devastated portions over night and the Spaniards daily pressed their attack on every side with relentless rigor.

The Mexicans were slowly constricted to an ever narrowing circle. The Spaniards seized and choked up the wells. The Mexicans were dying of thirst. The brigantines swept the lake and prevented any reenforcements reaching them, which cut off their supply of provisions. They were dying of hunger. After every day's fighting Cortes offered amnesty. To do {198} him justice, he begged that peace might be made and the fighting stopped before the city was ruined and all its inhabitants were killed. He was no mere murderer, and such scenes of slaughter horrified him. He had a genuine admiration for the enemy too. He tried his best to secure peace. His offers were repudiated with contempt. In spite of the fact that they were starving, the Aztecs in bravado actually threw provisions in the faces of the advancing Spaniards. They declared to the Tlascalans that when there was nothing left to eat they would eat them, and if there was nothing else, they would live on one another until they were all dead. They mocked and jeered at the tribes tearing down the houses, and with grim humor pointed out to them that they would have to rebuild the city whoever was successful in the strife, for either the Aztecs or the Spaniards would compel them to do so. So the fighting went on through the long days.

XIII. A Day of Desperate Fighting

On one occasion the soldiers, tiring of this, demanded, and Cortes in compliance with their wishes projected, an attack which was hoped would capture the narrow circle of defense by storm. In his own words the story of this day's fighting is now related. It will be seen how he narrowly escaped with his life:

"The day after mass,[10] in pursuance of the arrangements already mentioned, the seven brigantines with more than three thousand canoes of our allies left the encampment; and I, with twenty-five horses and {199} all the other force I had, including the seventy-five men from the division at Tacuba, took up the line of march and entered the city, where I distributed the troops in the following manner: There were three streets leading from where we entered to the market-place, called by the Indians Tianguizco, and the whole square in which it is situated is called Tlaltelulco; one of these streets was the principal avenue to the marketplace, which I ordered your Majesty's treasurer and auditor to take, with seventy men and more than fifteen or twenty thousand of our allies, and rear-guard consisting of seven or eight horses. I also directed that, whenever a bridge or entrenchment was taken, it should be immediately filled up; and for this purpose they had twelve men with pick-axes, together with many more of our allies who were very useful in this kind of work. The two other streets also lead from that of Tacuba to the market-place, and are narrower and full of causeways, bridges, and water-streets (or canals). I ordered two captains,[11] to take the wildest of these with eighty men and more than ten thousand of our Indian allies; and at the head of the street of Tacuba I placed two heavy cannon with eight horse to guard them. With eight other horse and about one hundred foot, including twenty-five or more bowmen and musketeers, and an innumerable host of our allies, I took up the line of march along the other narrow street, intending to penetrate as far as possible. At its entrance I caused the cavalry to halt, and ordered them by no means to pass from there, nor to come in my rear, unless I first sent them orders to that effect; and then I alighted from my {200} horse, and we came to an entrenchment that had been raised in front of a bridge, which we carried by means of a small field-piece, and the archers and musketeers, and then proceeded along the causeway, which was broken in two or three places, where we encountered the enemy. So great was the number of our allies, who ascended the terraces and other places, that it did not appear possible anything could stop us. When we had gained the two bridges, the entrenchments and the causeways, our allies followed along the street without taking any spoils; and I remained behind with about twenty Spanish soldiers on a little island, for I saw that some of our Indians were getting into trouble with the enemy; and in some instances they retreated until they cast themselves into the water, and with our aid were enabled to return to the attack. Besides this, we were on the watch to prevent the enemy from sallying forth out of the cross-streets in the rear of the Spaniards, who had advanced on the main street and at this time sent us word that they had made much progress, and were not far from the great square of the market-place; adding, that they wished to push forward, for they already heard the noise of the combat in which the Alguazil mayor and Pedro de Alvarado were engaged on their side of the city. I answered them that they must by no means go forward without leaving the bridges well filled up, so that, if it became necessary to beat a retreat, the water might present no obstacle or impediment, for in this consisted all the danger. They sent to me a message in reply, the amount of which was that the whole they had gained was in good condition, and that I might go and see if it was not so. But suspecting that they had disregarded the orders and left the {201} bridges imperfectly filled up, I went to the place and found they had passed a breach in the road ten or twelve paces wide, and the water that flowed through it was ten or twelve feet deep. At the time the troops had passed this ditch, thus formed, they had thrown in it wood and reed-canes, and as they had crossed a few at a time and with great circumspection, the wood and canes had not sunk beneath their weight; and they were so intoxicated with the pleasure of victory that they imagined it to be sufficiently firm. At the moment I reached this bridge of troubles, I discovered some Spaniards and many of our allies flying back in great haste, and the enemy like dogs in pursuit of them; and when I saw such a rout, I began to cry out, 'Hold, hold!' and on approaching the water, I beheld it full of Spaniards and Indians in so dense a mass that it seemed as if there was not room for a straw to float. The enemy charged on the fugitives so hotly, that in the melee they threw themselves into the water after them; and soon the enemy's canoes came up by means of the canal and took the Spaniards alive.

As this affair was so sudden, and I saw them killing our men, I resolved to remain there and perish in the fight. The way in which I and those that were with me could do the most good was to give our hands to some unfortunate Spaniards who were drowning, and draw them out of the water; some came out wounded, others half-drowned, and others without arms, whom I sent forward. Already such multitudes of the enemy pressed upon us, that they had completely surrounded me and the twelve or fifteen men who were with me; and being deeply interested in endeavoring to save those that were sinking, I did not observe nor regard the danger to which I was exposed. Several Indians {202} of the enemy had already advanced to seize me and would have borne me off, had it not been for a captain of fifty men whom I always had with me, and also a youth of his company, to whom next to God, I owed my life; and in saving mine, like a valiant man, he lost his own.[12] In the meantime the Spaniards who had fled before the enemy, pursued their course along the causeway, and as it was small and narrow, and on the same level as the water, which had been effected by those dogs on purpose to annoy us; and as the road was crowded also with our allies who had been routed, much delay was thereby occasioned, enabling the enemy to come up on both sides of the water, and to take and destroy as many as they pleased. The captain who was with me, Antonio de Quinones, said to me: 'Let us leave this place and save your life, since you know that without you none of us can escape'; but he could not induce me to go. When he saw this, he seized me in his arms, that he might force me away; and although I would have been better satisfied to die than to live, yet by the importunity of this captain and of my other companions, we began to retreat, making our way with our swords and bucklers against the enemy, who pressed hard upon us. At this moment there came up a servant of mine and made a little room; but presently he received a blow in his throat from a lance thrown from a low terrace, that brought him to the ground. While I was in the midst of this conflict, sustaining the attacks of the enemy, and waiting for the crowd on the narrow causeway, to reach a place of safety, one of my servants brought {203} me a horse to ride on. But the mud on the causeway, occasioned by the coming and going of persons by water, was so deep that no one could stand, especially with the jostling of the people against one another in their effort to escape.

"I mounted the horse, but not to fight, as this was impossible on horseback; but if it had been practicable I should have found on the little island opposite the narrow causeway, the eight horsemen I had left there, who were unable to do more than effect their return; which indeed, was so dangerous that two mares, on which two of my servants rode fell from the causeway into the water; one of them was killed by the Indians, but the other was saved by some of the infantry. Another servant of mine Cristobal de Guzman, rode a horse that they gave him at the little island to bring to me, on which I might make my escape; but the enemy killed both him and the horse before they reached me; his death spread sorrow through the whole camp, and even to this day his loss is still mourned by those who knew him. But after all our troubles, by the blessing of God, those of us who survived, reached the street of Tlacuba, which was very wide; and collecting the people, I took my post with nine horsemen in the rear-guard. The enemy pressed forward with all the pride of victory, as if resolved that none should escape with life; but falling back in the best manner I could, I sent word to the treasurer and auditor to retreat to the public square in good order. I also sent similar orders to the two captains who had entered the city by the street that led to the market-place, both of whom had fought gallantly, and carried many entrenchments and bridges, which they had caused to be well filled up, on account of {204} which they were able to retire without loss. Before the retreat of the treasurer and auditor some of the enemy threw in their way two or three heads of Christian men from the upper part of the entrenchment where they were fighting, but it was not known whether they were persons belonging to the camp of Pedro de Alvarado, or our own. All being assembled in the square, so large a multitude of the enemy charged upon us from all directions that we had as much as we could do to keep them back; and that, too, in places where, before this defeat, the enemy would have fled before three horse and ten foot. Immediately after, in a lofty tower filled with their idols that stood near the square, they burned perfumes and fumigated the air with certain gums peculiar to this country, that greatly resembled anime, which they offer to their idols in token of victory. Although we endeavored to throw obstacles in the way of the enemy, it was out of our power, as our people were hurrying back to the camp.

"In this defeat thirty-five or forty Spaniards, and more than a thousand of our allies, were slain by the enemy, besides more than twenty Christians wounded, among whom was myself in the leg. We lost the small field-piece that we had taken with us, and many crossbows, muskets and other arms. Immediately after their victory in order to strike terror into the Alguazil mayor and Pedro de Alvarado, the enemy carried all the Spaniards, both living and dead, whom they had taken, to the Tlaltelulco which is the market-place, and in some of the lofty towers that are situated there they sacrificed them naked, opening their breasts and taking out their hearts to offer them to the idols. This was seen by the Spaniards of Alvarado's division from {205} where they were fighting, and from the whiteness of the naked bodies which they saw sacrificed they knew them to be Christians; but although they suffered great sorrow and dismay at the sight, they effected a retreat to their camp after having fought gallantly that day, and carried their conquests almost to the market-place, which would have been taken if God, on account of our sins, had not permitted so great a disaster. We returned to our camp, such was the grief we felt, somewhat earlier than had been usual on other days; and in addition to our other losses, we had been told that the brigantines had fallen into the hands of the enemies, who attacked them in their canoes from the rear; but it pleased God this was not true, although the brigantines and the canoes of our allies had been seen in danger enough, and even a brigantine came near being lost, the captain and the master of it being wounded, the former of whom died eight days afterward."

This modest account of the brave soldier scarcely does justice to the situation, his peril and his courage. Therefore, I supplement it by Helps' description of the same day of desperate fighting:

"The impatience of the soldiers grew to a great height, and was supported in an official quarter—by no less a person than Alderete, the King's Treasurer. Cortes gave way against his own judgment to their importunities. There had all along been a reason for his reluctance, which, probably, he did not communicate to his men; namely, that he had not abandoned the hope that the enemy would still come to terms. 'Finally,' he says, 'they pressed me so much that I gave way.'

"The attack was to be a general one, in which the {206} divisions of Sandoval and Alvarado were to cooperate; but Cortes, with that knowledge of character which belonged to him, particularly explained that, though his general orders were for them to press into the market-place, they were not obliged to gain a single difficult pass which laid them open to defeat; 'for,' he says, 'I knew, from the men they were, that they would advance to whatever spot I told them to gain, even if they knew that it would cost them their lives.'

"On the appointed day, Cortes moved from his camp, supported by seven brigantines, and by more than three thousand canoes filled with his Indian allies. When his soldiers reached the entrance of the city, he divided them in the following manner. There were three streets which led to the market-place from the position which the Spaniards had already gained. Along the principal street, the King's Treasurer, with seventy Spaniards, and fifteen or twenty thousand allies was to make his way. His rear was to be protected by a small guard of horsemen.

"The other streets were smaller, and led from the street of Tlacuba to the market-place. Along the broader of these two streets, Cortes sent two of his principal captains, with eighty Spaniards and the thousand Indians; he himself with eight horsemen, seventy-five foot-soldiers, twenty-five musketeers, and an 'infinite number' of allies, was to enter the narrower street. At the entrance to the street of Tlacuba, he left two large cannon with eight horsemen to guard them, and at the entrance of his own street, he also left eight horsemen to protect the rear.

"The Spaniards and their allies made their entrance into the city with even more success and less embarrassment than on previous occasions. Bridges and {207} barricades were gained, and the three main bodies of the army moved forward into the heart of the city. The ever-prudent Cortes did not follow his division, but remained with a small body-guard of twenty Spaniards in a little island formed by the intersection of certain water streets, whence he encouraged the allies, who were occasionally beaten back by the Mexicans, and where he could protect his own troops against any sudden descent of the enemy from certain side streets.

"He now received a message from these Spanish troops who had made a rapid and successful advance into the heart of the town, informing him that they were not far from the market-place, and that they wished to have his permission to push forward, as they already heard the noise of the combats which the Alguazil mayor and Pedro de Alvarado were waging from their respective stations. To this message Cortes returned for answer that on no account should they move forward without first filling up the apertures thoroughly. They sent an answer back, stating that they had made completely passable all the ground they had gained; and that he might come and see whether it were not so.

"Cortes, like a wise commander, not inclined to admit anything as a fact upon the statement of others which could be verified by personal inspection, took them at their word, and did move on to see what sort of a pathway they had made; when, to his dismay, he came in sight of a breach in the causeway, of considerable magnitude, being ten or twelve paces in width, and which, far from being filled up with solid material, had been passed upon wood and reeds, which was entirely insecure in case of retreat. The Spaniards, 'intoxicated with victory,' as their Commander {208} describes them, had rushed on, imagining that they left behind them a sufficient pathway.

"There was now no time to remedy this lamentable error, for when Cortes arrived near this 'bridge of affliction,' as he calls it, he saw many of the Spaniards and the allies retreating toward it, and when he came up close to it, he found the bridge-way broken down, and the whole aperture so full of Spaniards and Indians, that there was not room for a straw to float upon the surface of the water. The peril was so imminent that Cortes not only thought that the conquest of Mexico was gone, but that the term of his life as well as that of his victories had come; and he resolved to die there fighting. All that he could do at first was to help his men out of the water; and meanwhile, the Mexicans charged upon them in such numbers, that he and his little party were entirely surrounded. The enemy seized upon his person, and would have carried him off, but for the resolute bravery of some of his guard, one of whom lost his life there in succoring his master. The greatest aid, however, that Cortes had at this moment of urgent peril, was the cruel superstition of the Mexicans, which made them wish to take the Malinche alive, and grudged the death of an enemy in any other way than that of sacrifice to their detestable gods. The captain of the body-guard seized hold of Cortes, and insisted upon his retreating, declaring that upon his life depended the lives of all of them. Cortes, though at that moment he felt that he should have delighted more in death than life, gave way to the importunity of his captain, and of other Spaniards who were near, and commenced a retreat for his life. His flight was along a narrow causeway at the same level as the water, an additional circumstance of danger, {209} which to use his expression about them, those 'dogs' had contrived against the Spaniards. The Mexicans in their canoes approached the causeway on both sides, and the slaughter they were thus enabled to commit, both among the allies and the Spaniards, was very great. Meanwhile, two or three horses were sent to aid Cortes in his retreat, and a youth upon one of them contrived to reach him, although the others were lost. At last he and a few of his men succeeded in fighting their way to the broad street of Tlacuba, where, like a brave captain, instead of continuing his flight, he and the few horsemen that were with him turned around and formed a rear-guard to protect his retreating troops. He also sent immediate orders to the King's Treasurer and the other commanders to make good their escape; orders the force of which was much heightened by the sight of two or three Spanish heads which the Mexicans, who were fighting behind a barricade, threw amongst the besiegers.

"We must now see how it fared with the other divisions. Alvarado's men had prospered in their attack, and were steadily advancing toward the marketplace, when, all of a sudden, they found themselves encountered by an immense body of Mexican troops, splendidly accoutred, who threw before them five heads of Spaniards and kept shouting out, 'Thus we will slay you, as we have slain Malinche and Sandoval, whose heads these are.' With these words they commenced an attack of such fury, and came so close to hand with the Spaniards, that they could not use their cross-bows, their muskets, or even their swords. One thing, however, was in their favor. The difficulty of their retreat was always greatly enhanced by the number of their allies; but on this occasion, the {210} Tlascalans no sooner saw the bleeding heads and heard the menacing words of the Mexicans, than they cleared themselves off the causeway with all possible speed.

"The Spaniards, therefore, were able to retreat in good order; and their dismay did not take the form of panic, even when they heard, from the summit of the Temple, the tones of that awful drum, made from the skin of serpents, which gave forth the most melancholy sound imaginable, and which was audible at two or three leagues' distance. This was the signal of sacrifice, and at that moment ten human hearts, the hearts of their companions, were being offered up to the Mexican deities.

"A more dangerous, though not more dreadful sound was now to be heard. This was the blast of a horn sounded by no less a personage than the Mexican King—which signified that his captains were to succeed or die. The mad fury with which the Mexicans now rushed upon the Spaniards was an 'awful thing' to see; and the historian, who was present at the scene, writing in his old age, exclaims that, though he cannot describe it, yet, when he comes to think of it, it is as if it were 'visibly' before him, so deep was the impression it had made upon his mind.

"But the Spaniards were not raw troops; and terror however great, was not able to overcome their sense of discipline and their duty to each other as comrades. It was in vain that the Mexicans rushed upon them 'as a conquered thing'; they reached their station, served their cannon steadily—although they had to renew their artillery-men—and maintained their ground.

"The appalling stratagem adopted by the Mexicans—of {211} throwing down before one division of the Spanish army some of the heads of the prisoners they had taken from another division, and shouting that these were the heads of the principal commanders—was pursued with great success. They were thus enabled to discourage Sandoval, and to cause him to retreat with loss toward his quarters. They even tried with success the same stratagem upon Cortes, throwing before his camp, to which he had at last retreated, certain bleeding heads, which they said, were those of 'Tonatiuh' (Alvarado), Sandoval, and the other teules. Then it was that Cortes felt more dismay than ever, 'though,' says the honest chronicler, who did not like the man, no matter how much he admired the soldier, 'not in such a manner that those who were with him should perceive in it much weakness.'

"After Sandoval had made good his retreat, he set off, accompanied by a few horsemen, for the camp of Cortes, and had an interview with him, of which the following account is given: 'O Senor Captain! what is this?' exclaimed Sandoval; 'are these the great counsels, and artifices of war which you have always been wont to show us? How has this disaster happened?' Cortes replied, 'O Don Sandoval! my sins have permitted this; but I am not so culpable in the business as they may make out, for it is the fault of the Treasurer, Juan de Alderete, whom I charged to fill up that difficult pass where they routed us; but he did not do so, for he is not accustomed to wars, nor to be commanded by superior officers.' At this point of the conference, the Treasurer himself, who had approached the captains in order to learn Sandoval's news, exclaimed that it was Cortes himself who was to blame; that he had encouraged his men to go {212} forward; that he had not charged them to fill up the bridges and bad passes—if he had done so, he (the Treasurer) and his company would have done it; and, moreover, that Cortes had not cleared the causeway in time of his Indian allies. Thus they argued and disputed with one another; for hardly any one is generous, in defeat, to those with whom he has acted. Indeed, a generosity of this kind, which will not allow a man to comment severely upon the errors of his comrades in misfortune, is so rare a virtue, that it scarcely seems to belong to this planet.

"There was little time, however, for altercation, and Cortes was not the man to indulge in more of that luxury for the unfortunate than human nature demanded. He had received no tidings of what had befallen the Camp of Tlacuba, and thither he despatched Sandoval, embracing him and saying, 'Look you, since you see that I cannot go to all parts, I commend these labors to you, for, as you perceive, I am wounded and lame. I implore you, take charge of these three camps. I well know that Pedro de Alvarado and his soldiers will have behaved themselves as cavaliers, but I fear lest the great force of those dogs should have routed them.'

"The scene now changes to the ground near Alvarado's camp. Sandoval succeeded in making his way there, and arrived about the hour of Vespers. He found the men of that division in the act of repelling a most vigorous attack on the part of the Mexicans, who had hoped that night to penetrate into the camp and carry off all the Spaniards for sacrifice. The enemy were better armed than usual, some of them using the weapons which they had taken from the soldiers of Cortez. At last, after a severe conflict, {213} in which Sandoval himself was wounded, and in which the cannon shots did not suffice to break the serried ranks of the Mexicans, the Spaniards gained their quarters, and, being under shelter, had some respite from the fury of the Mexican attack.

"There, Sandoval, Pedro de Alvarado, and the other principal captains, were standing together and relating what had occurred to each of them, when, suddenly, the sound of the sacrificial drum was heard again, accompanied by other musical instruments of a similar dolorous character. From the Camp of Tlacuba the great Temple was perfectly visible, and the Spaniards looked up at it for the interpretation of these melancholy tones; they saw their companions driven by blows and buffetings up to the place of sacrifice. The white-skinned Christians were easily to be distinguished amidst the dusky groups that surrounded them. When the unhappy men about to be sacrificed had reached the lofty level space on which these abominations were wont to be committed, it was discerned by their friends and late companions that plumes of feathers were put upon the heads of many of them, and that men, whose movements in the distance appeared like those of winnowers, made the captive dance before the image of Huitzilopochtli. When the dance was concluded, the victims were placed upon the sacrificial stones; their hearts were taken out and offered to the idols; and their bodies hurled down the steps of the temple. At the bottom of the steps stood 'other butchers' who cut off the arms and legs of the victims, intending to eat these portions of their enemy. The skin of the face with the beard was preserved. The rest of the body was thrown to the lions, tigers, and serpents. 'Let the curious {214} reader consider,' says the chronicler, 'what pity we must have had for these, our companions, and how we said to one another, 'Oh, thanks be to God, that they did not carry me off to-day to sacrifice me.' And certainly no army ever looked on a more deplorable sight.

"There was no time, however, for such contemplation: for, at that instant, numerous bands of warriors attacked the Spaniards on all sides, and fully occupied their attention in the preservation of their own lives.

"Modern warfare has lost one great element of the picturesque in narrative, namely, in there being no interchange, now, of verbal threats and menaces between the contending parties; but in those days it was otherwise, and the Mexicans were able to indulge in the most fierce and malignant language. 'Look,' they said, 'that is the way in which all of you have to die, for our Gods have promised this to us many times.' To the Tlascalans their language was more insulting and much more minutely descriptive. Throwing to them the roasted flesh of their companions and of the Spanish soldiers, they shouted, 'Eat of the flesh of these teules, and of your brethren, for we are quite satiated with it; and, look you, for the houses you have pulled down, we shall have to make you build in their place much better ones with stone and plates of metal, likewise with hewn stone and lime; and the houses will be painted. Wherefore continue to assist these teules all of whom you will see sacrificed.'

"The Mexicans, however, did not succeed in carrying off any more Spaniards for sacrifice that night. The Spanish camp had some few hours of repose, and some time to reckon up their losses, which were very {215} considerable. They lost upward of sixty of their own men, six horses, two cannon, and a great number of their Indian allies. Moreover the brigantines had not fared much better on this disastrous day than the land forces. But the indirect consequences of this defeat were still more injurious than the actual losses. The allies from the neighboring cities on the lake deserted the Spaniards, nearly to a man. The Mexicans regained and strengthened most of their positions; and the greatest part of the work of the besiegers seemed as if it would have to be done over again. Even the Tlascalans, hitherto so faithful, despaired of the fortunes of their allies, and could not but believe, with renewed terror, in the potency of the Mexican deities, kindred to, if not identical with, their own."

XIV. The Last Mexican

The courage of the Aztecs was beyond all question. Their heroism awakens a thrill of admiration, although we are fully aware of their fearful and ferocious and degrading religious rites. Again and again the heart-sick Spaniards saw lifted up before the hideous gods on the temple pyramids, the white, naked bodies of their unfortunate comrades who had been captured for that awful sacrifice. Both parties were wrought up to a pitch of furious rage.

No valor, no heroism, no courage, no devotion could prevail against thirst, hunger, smallpox, pestilence, the fever of besieged towns, with the streets filled with unburied dead. On August 13, 1521, the city fell. There was no formal surrender, the last defender had been killed. The old, weak and feeble were left. Only a small portion of the city, the {216} cheapest and poorest part, was left standing. Into this ghastly street rode the Spaniards.

Where was Guatemoc? A wretched, haggard, worn, starved figure, having done all that humanity could do, and apparently more, in the defence of his land, he had striven to escape in a canoe on the lake. One of the brigantines overhauled him. The commander was about to make way with the little party when some one informed him that the principal captive was no less than Guatemotzin. The unfortunate young emperor, after vainly trying to persuade Garcia Holguin to kill him then and there, demanded to be led to Cortes. He found that great captain on one of the house-tops, watching the slaughter of the men and women and children by the furious Tlascalans who were at last feeding fat their revenge by indiscriminate massacre.

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