[Illustration: “CORTES FLUNG ABOUT HIS SHOULDERS HIS OWN CLOAK.”—Page 146]
The story of Jeronimo Aguilar follows the actual facts very closely. The account of his adventures will be found in Irving’s “Life of Columbus” and other works dealing with the history of the Spanish conquests.
O sorcerer Time, turn backward
to the shore
Where it is always morning, and the birds
Are troubadours of all the hidden lore
Deeper than any words!
There lived a maiden once,—O
Ere men were grown too wise to understand
The ancient language that they used to know
In Quezalcoatl’s land.
Though her own mother sold
her for a slave,
Her own bright beauty as her only dower,
Into her slender hands the conqueror gave
A more than queenly power.
Between her people and the
The fierce proud Spaniard on his conquest bent—
Interpreter and interceder, she
In safety came and went.
And still among the wild shy
The birds are singing of her, and her name
Lives in that language that her people spoke
Before the Spaniard came.
She is not dead, the daughter
of the Sun,—
By love and loyalty divinely stirred,
She lives forever—so the legends run,—
Returning as a bird.
Who but a white bird in her
Saw, borne upon the shoulders of the sea,
Three tiny caravels—how small and light
To hold a world in fee!
Who but the quezal, when the
And plundered all the white imperial town,
Saw in a storm of red rapacious flame
The Aztec throne go down!
And when the very rivers talked
The humming-bird upon her lichened nest
Strange tales of wild adventure never told
Hid in her tiny breast.
The mountain eagle, circling
with the stars,
Watched the great Admiral swiftly come and go
In his light ship that set at naught the bars
Wrought by a giant foe.