This was my share in the victory of the noche triste. Alas! it was a barren triumph, though more than five hundred of the Spaniards were slain and thousands of their allies. For there was no warlike skill or discipline among the Aztecs, and instead of following the Spaniards till not one of them remained alive, they stayed to plunder the dead and drag away the living to sacrifice. Also this day of revenge was a sad one to Otomie, seeing that two of her brothers, Montezuma’s sons whom the Spaniards held in hostage, perished with them in the fray.
As for de Garcia I could not learn what had become of him, nor whether he was dead or living.
THE BURYING OF MONTEZUMA’S TREASURE
Cuitlahua was crowned Emperor of the Aztecs in succession to his brother Montezuma, while I lay sick with the wound given me by the sword of de Garcia, and also with that which I had received on the altar of sacrifice. This hurt had found no time to heal, and in the fierce fighting on the Night of Fear it burst open and bled much. Indeed it gave me trouble for years, and to this hour I feel it in the autumn season. Otomie, who nursed me tenderly, and so strange is the heart of woman, even seemed to be consoled in her sorrow at the loss of her father and nearest kin, because I had escaped the slaughter and won fame, told me of the ceremony of the crowning, which was splendid enough. Indeed the Aztecs were almost mad with rejoicing because the Teules had gone at last. They forgot, or seemed to forget, the loss of thousands of their bravest warriors and of the flower of their rank, and as yet, at any rate, they did not look forward to the future. From house to house and street to street ran troops of young men and maidens garlanded with flowers, crying, ’The Teules are gone, rejoice with us; the Teules are fled!’ and woe to them who were not merry, ay, even though their houses were desolate with death. Also the statues of the gods were set up again on the great pyramid and their temples rebuilt, the holy crucifix that the Spaniards had placed there being served as the idols Huitzel and Tezcat had been served, and tumbled down the sides of the teocalli, and that after sacrifice of some Spanish prisoners had been offered in its presence. It was Guatemoc himself who told me of this sacrilege, but not with any exultation, for I had taught him something of our faith, and though he was too sturdy a heathen to change his creed, in secret he believed that the God of the Christians was a true and mighty God. Moreover, though he was obliged to countenance them, because of the power of the priests, like Otomie, Guatemoc never loved the horrid rites of human sacrifice.
Now when I heard this tale my anger overcame my reason, and I spoke fiercely, saying:
’I am sworn to your cause, Guatemoc, my brother, and I am married to your blood, but I tell you that from this hour it is an accursed cause; because of your bloodstained idols and your priests, it is accursed. That God whom you have desecrated, and those who serve Him shall come back in power, and He shall sit where your idols sat and none shall stir Him for ever.’