Thus he raved on, after the fashion of a weak man maddened with terror, while his nobles and attendants who had followed him at a distance, clustered about him, fearful and wondering. At length there came an end, for tearing with his thin hands at his royal robes and at his hair and beard, Montezuma fell and writhed in a fit upon the ground.
Then they carried him into the palace and none saw him for three days and nights. But he made no idle threat as to the sacrifices, for from that night forward they were doubled throughout the land. Already the shadow of the Cross lay deep upon the altars of Anahuac, but still the smoke of their offerings went up to heaven and the cry of the captives rang round the teocallis. The hour of the demon gods was upon them indeed, but now they reaped their last red harvest, and it was rich.
Now I, Thomas Wingfield, saw these portents with my own eyes, but I cannot say whether they were indeed warnings sent from heaven or illusions springing from the accidents of nature. The land was terror-struck, and it may happen that the minds of men thus smitten can find a dismal meaning in omens which otherwise had passed unnoticed. That Papantzin rose from the dead is true, though perhaps she only swooned and never really died. At the least she did not go back there for a while, for though I never saw her again, it is said that she lived to become a Christian and told strange tales of what she had seen in the land of Death.*
* For the history of
the resurrection of Papantzin, see note
to Jourdanet’s translation of Sahagun, page 870.—Author.
THE NAMING OF THE BRIDES
Now some months passed between the date of my naming as the god Tezcat and the entry of the Spaniards into Mexico, and during all this space the city was in a state of ferment. Again and again Montezuma sent embassies to Cortes, bearing with them vast treasures of gold and gems as presents, and at the same time praying him to withdraw, for this foolish prince did not understand that by displaying so much wealth he flew a lure which must surely bring the falcon on himself. To these ambassadors Cortes returned courteous answers together with presents of small value, and that was all.
Then the advance began and the emperor learned with dismay of the conquest of the warlike tribe of the Tlascalans, who, though they were Montezuma’s bitter and hereditary foes, yet made a stand against the white man. Next came the tidings that from enemies the conquered Tlascalans had become the allies and servants of the Spaniard, and that thousands of their fiercest warriors were advancing with him upon the sacred city of Cholula. A while passed and it was known that Cholula also had been given to massacre, and that the holy, or rather the unholy gods, had been torn from their shrines. Marvellous tales