Otomie ceased and a murmur of applause went round the hall. Alas, I can do no justice to the fire of her words, any more than I can describe the dignity and loveliness of her person as it seemed in that hour. But they went to the hearts of the rude chieftains who listened. Many of them despised the Aztecs as a womanish people of the plains and the lakes, a people of commerce. Many had blood feuds against them dating back for generations. But still they knew that their princess spoke truth, and that the triumph of the Teule in Tenoctitlan would mean his triumph over every city throughout the land. So then and there they chose, though in after days, in the stress of defeat and trouble, many went back upon their choice as is the fashion of men.
‘Otomie,’ cried their spokesman, after they had taken counsel together, ’we have chosen. Princess, your words have conquered us. We throw in our lot with the Aztecs and will fight to the last for freedom from the Teule.’
‘Now I see that you are indeed my people, and I am indeed your ruler,’ answered Otomie. ’So the great lords who are gone, my forefathers, your chieftains, would have spoken in a like case. May you never regret this choice, my brethren, Men of the Otomie.’
And so it came to pass that when we left the City of Pines we took from it to Cuitlahua the emperor, a promise of an army of twenty thousand men vowed to serve him to the death in his war against the Spaniard.
THE CROWNING OF GUATEMOC
Our business with the people of the Otomie being ended for a while, we returned to the city of Tenoctitlan, which we reached safely, having been absent a month and a day. It was but a little time, and yet long enough for fresh sorrows to have fallen on that most unhappy town. For now the Almighty had added to the burdens which were laid upon her. She had tasted of death by the sword of the white man, now death was with her in another shape. For the Spaniard had brought the foul sicknesses of Europe with him, and small-pox raged throughout the land. Day by day thousands perished of it, for these ignorant people treated the plague by pouring cold water upon the bodies of those smitten, driving the fever inwards