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Montezuma, then performed the ceremony of kissing their hands after having touched the ground. This ceremony being finished, Montezuma ordered his brother to accompany me, and support me under the arm. After he had accosted me, Montezuma walked slowly before me, with his attendant, and all the other nobles came forward regularly, in their turn, to speak to me, and then returned to their places.
When I addressed Montezuma, I took a collar of pearl from my neck, which I put upon his. Some time after, one of his servants brought me a piece of cloth which contained two necklaces made of snail shells, of a colour held in the highest estimation by these people. To each necklace was suspended eight golden trinkets, about six inches in length of very fine workmanship. Montezuma came himself, and put them around my neck; after which he continued his march, in the order I have described, till we came to a very large and beautiful house, made ready for our reception. He then took me by the hand, and leading me into a large hall, facing the court by which we had entered, sea cd me on a very rich carpet, which he had ordered for his own use, and, desiring me to wait his return, went out.
I had hardly disposed of my men when Montezuma returned, bringirig with him, a great number of gold and silver ornaments, five or six thousand pieces of cotton richly wrought in a variety of figures, and plumes; after ordering these presents to be given to me, he seated himself on a carpet, by the side of mine, and addressed me in the following terms.
We have long known from the records left us by our ancestors, that we are not originally of this country. Our ancestors were strangers, who came hither from a great distance under the conduct of a certain king, who, after having subjugated this country, returned to his own. After a long absence, this monarch came back to Mexico, and found that his subjects had become very numerous. He wanted to persuade them to return with him, but they would not consent, and still less receive him as their mas. ter. He then departed alone, assuring them that at some future period one of his descendants would come and subdue this country. Considering the eastern* quarter from whence you say you
* The Tlusculans had also, according to B. Diaz a tradition or prediction, that they would be subdued by men from the east. “ They said that their ancestors had told them, that in former times the country was inhabited by men and women of great stature and wicked manners, whom their ancestors had at length extirpated, and in order that we might judge of the bulk of these people, they brought us a bone which had belonged to one of them, so large, that when it was placed upright it was as high as a middling sized man; it was the bone between the knee and the hip. The chiefs also told us how their idols had predicted, that men should come from distant parts where the sun rises to subjugate the country, and that they believed us to be those of whom their gous had spoken."
came, and from what you have told us of the king who sent you here, we are strongly induced to believe that he is our natural king, more especially as you say it is a long time since he has heard any mention made of us. As we are convinced that you do not deceive us, you may be assured that we will acknowledge you for our master, and will obey you as the representative of that great monarch whom you have told us of. You may therefore command absolutely throughout my dominions, and whatever I have is at your disposal. Seeing then that you are in your own country, and among your subjects, amuse and repose yourselves after the fatigues you have undergone in your journey and the battles you have fought, for I am well acquainted with all the inconveniences and difficulties you have had to surmount. Nei. ther am I ignorant how much the people of Zempoalla and of Tascalteca have prejudiced you against me; but trust only to what you see yourself, and particularly be cautious how you believe those people, who are my natural enemies, or rebellious subjects. I also know that they have told you that the walls of my palace are of gold, that my carpets and every thing which I use are so likewise. As to the houses, you have seen that they are built of stone, lime and sand. Then drawing aside his garments and showing me his body, he added—you perceive too, that like yourself I am formed of flesh and bone, and as well as the rest of mankind am mortal and palpable. It is true that I have some articles of gold left me by my ancestors; but whatever I have shall be yours whenever you desire it. I shall now return to the house where I reside; but be under no uneasiness, for you will receive here all that will be wanted for yourself and your attendants; for you are with your friends, and in your own country.
I replied to these civilities of Montezuma, in the best manner I was able, making such further remarks as appeared to me best suited to existing circumstances, and concluded with telling him that he might expect every favour from your majesty.
Immediately after Montezuma left me, a great quantity of bread, fowls, fruit and eatables of various kinds were sent us, together with all the furniture necessary for our house. I was thus sup. plied for six days, and received the visits of the principal caciques.
I have already, in commencing this letter, had the honour of informing your majesty, that I left behind me at Vera Cruz one hundred and fifty men, in order to finish the fort which I had begun, and that a great number of cities, towns, and inhabitants of the country had submitted to your government. I had likewise left at Cholula, some trusty men under the command of a captain whom I had appointed to the command of the place.
Some time after I received letters from the latter, informing me that Qualpopoca, cacique of Almeria, which the Mexicans
call Nauthla; had sent a deputation to him, tendering his hommage and submission to your majesty, and excusing himself for not coining in person, as he should be obliged to pass through the country of his enemies, who would most certainly ill-treat him. He at the same time sent word to the commander, that if he would send him four Spaniards he would come on immediately, as his enemies would not dare to insult him when thus accompanied. The officer confiding in his promise, from other similar examples, sent him the four men as he requested. Qualpopoca, however, gave orders to assassinate them, so as not to have it suspected: two of them were killed; the others, though severely wounded, had the good fortune to make their escape among the woods. On the discovery of this treachery the commander of Cholula, with two horsemen, fifty Spanish soldiers, and from eight to ten thousand Indian allies marched for Almeria. After several battles in which great numbers of the enemy were killed, they were at length driven out of the city, notwithstanding the exertions of Qualpopoca and his party, and the city itself burned through the animosity of our Indians. The prisoners taken on this occasion were carefully examined in order to discover the authors of this perfidious plot. They all agreed in ascribing it to Montezuma, and said that at the time of my leaving Vera Cruz, he had sent orders to Qualpopoca and his other vassals, to make use of every possible means to destroy the Spaniards whom I had left there to favour my retreat.
After I had been six days at Temixtitlan, and seen whatever was most remarkable, I thought, especially after the discovery of Qualpopoca's treachery, that I ought to secure the person of Montezuma, in order to fix his wavering determination, and attach him firinly to your majesty's service, from which, in consequence of the naturally unstable disposition of man, he might be disposed to withdraw himself. With a view to provide for our security, acquire a fuller knowledge of the countries under his dominion, and subject them with more facility, I resolved to have Montezuma brought to my quarters which were very strong. In order to accomplish this undertaking without noise or commotion, I placed guards at the corners of the streets, and went to visit him as usual.
Our conversation at first turned on indifferent subjects; after which he made me a present of some golden ornaments and of one of his daughters, and at the same time gave some of the daughters of his caciques to my people. I soon, however, chang. ed the theme, and informed him of the affair of Almeria, the treachery and cruelty of Qualpopoca, who pretended to have acted conformably to his orders, which as his subject, he was bound to obey. I observed that I did not believe a word of it, and was persuaded that those traitors attributed it to bim to exculpate themselves, as I had every reason to be satisfied with his con
duct, but that it was necessary for him to send immediately for Qualpopoca and his associates, in order to discover the truth, and punish them, as my master, on receiving an account of these enormities would not only suspect the sincerity of his professions, but in revenge of the perfidy practised towards my companions, would order me to proceed to the utmost extremities against him. When I had finished speaking, Montezuma took from his arm a small stone in shape of a seal, and gave it to one of his attendants, with orders to proceed to Almeria, which is seventy leagues from Temix titları, to arrest Qualpopoca and all those who were concerned in the assassination of the Spaniards, and to bring them to the capital. The guards charged with this commission, immediately departed. I thanked him for the readiness he had shown in giving me satisfaction, and added, that nothing was wanting to render his exculpation complete in the eyes of my sovereign, to whom I was under an obligation to render an account of what measures I had taken, but to have him reside with me until the truth should be ascertained, and his innocence, of which I had no doubt, fully be established. At the same time I requested him not to think ill of my proposal, as he should enjoy full liberty with me, and that I would in no way ubstruct or embarrass his proceedings or the orders which he wished to give.
I then requested him to make choice of that part of my habitation which suited him best, and live there in what manner he pleased, promising that no one should molest him in any respect, and that he should have not only his own servants but all my people under his direction who would be happy to anticipate his wishes.
He appeared to accept my proposals with readiness; and immediately gave orders to have the apartment which he made choice of, got ready. After this a number of caciques entered his apartment barefooted and undressed, with their clothes upon their arms, bearing a kind of hand-barrow like a scdanchair. They took up Montezuma without saying a word, and with tears in their eyes placed him in this vehicle; in this manter they carried him without the least tumult to my lodgings. In crossing the city I perceived some commotion, but it was appeased by a single word from Montezuma, and all became tranquil. This state of things continued the whole time he remained with me, as he always did whatever he wished, and was served in the same manner as at his own palace.
Fifteen days afterwards, Qualpopoca, one of his sons, and fifteen others, who were concerned in the murder of the Spaniards, were taken and brought to me. I had them securely confined, and ordered their process to be drawn up, after they had acknowledged that they were subjects of Montezuma and had killed the Spaniards. On being examined they denied having received orders from Montezuma, authorizing the commission of their crime; but on the execution of the sentence, ordering them to be burnt, they changed their tone, and accused that monarch. They were all executed in the principal square without exciting the least commotion. During the time of their execution only, and in consequence of their confession, I had Montezuma put in irons. He was at first very much alarmed, but after having given him my reasons, and ordered his fetters to be taken off, he became tranquil. From that time I sought only to anticipate his wishes in every thing. I caused it to be proclaimed throughout the em. pire, that it was my sincere desire to preserve to Montezuma the full extent of his power, provided that he would acknowledge the authority of the king, my master; and that it was my intention that he should continue to be respected and obeyed in the same manner as before my arrival.
I treated him so well, and he was so much pleased with me, that though I frequently offered to set him at liberty, he always replied that he found his situation very agreeable, that he wanted for nothing, that the accommodations were the same as at his own palace, and that if he returned, his caciques and subjects might, by their importunities, induce him to adopt measures pre. judicial .to the interest of the emperor, whom he was sincerely disposed to serve to the utmost of his power, whilst by remaining where he was, bis want of liberty would always furnish him with a sufficient excuse for rejecting their entreaties. He frequently applied to me for permission to visit the several houses which he had both within and without the city. This I never refused him; when, taking five or six Spaniards with him, he often went to the distance of one or two leagues, and always returned checrful and contented to his lodgings.
On these occasions he made presents to those Spaniards who accompanied hini, either of golden ornaments or pieces of cloth. He entertained them with feasts and repasts, as well as the caciques and nobles who attended him, frequently to the number of three thousand.
When I became well convinced of the favourable disposition and submission of Montezuma, I desired him to acquaint me with the situation of the gold mines of the country. He immediately sent for eight of his confidential servants, and dividing them into four parties, ordered two of them to each province from whence the gold is obtained; at the same time requesting me to send an equal number of Spaniards to accompany them, and witness their proceedings. Of these parties, one proceeded to the province of Cuzula, eighty leagues distant from Mexico, where they were showed three rivers which produced gold. They brought from thence three very fine specimens, although they were selected with little care, and procured only with such tools as the Indians usually employ. On their journey, this party crossed three large provinces, containing a great number of cities, towns, and villages, as well built as in any part of Spain; among others, they met with one fort