Then she ceased, and letting me sink gently to the ground, for I could not stand alone, she stood over me, the spear in her hand, as though waiting to plunge it to my heart should the people still demand our surrender to the messengers of Cortes.
For one instant there was silence, then of a sudden the clamour and the tumult broke out again ten times more furiously than at first. But it was no longer aimed at us. Otomie had conquered. Her noble words, her beauty, the tale of our sorrows and the sight of my torments, had done their work, and the heart of the people was filled with fury against the Teules who had destroyed their army, and the Tlascalans that had aided them. Never did the wit and eloquence of a woman cause a swifter change. They screamed and tore their robes and shook their weapons in the air. Maxtla strove to speak, but they pulled him down and presently he was flying for his life. Then they turned upon the Tlascalan envoys and beat them with sticks, crying:
‘This is our answer to Malinche. Run, you dogs, and take it!’ till they were driven from the town.
Now at length the turmoil ceased, and some of the great chiefs came forward and, kissing the hand of Otomie, said:
’Princess, we your children will guard you to the death, for you have put another heart into us. You are right; it is better to die free than to live as slaves.’
‘See, my husband,’ said Otomie, ’I was not mistaken when I told you that my people were loyal and true. But now we must make ready for war, for they have gone too far to turn back, and when this tidings comes to the ears of Malinche he will be like a puma robbed of her young. Now, let us rest, I am very weary.’
‘Otomie,’ I answered, ’there has lived no greater woman than you upon this earth.’
‘I cannot tell, husband,’ she said, smiling; ’if I have won your praise and safety, it is enough for me.’
THE END OF GUATEMOC
Now for a while we dwelt in quiet at the City of Pines, and by slow degrees and with much suffering I recovered from the wounds that the cruel hand of de Garcia had inflicted upon me. But we knew that this peace could not last, and the people of the Otomie knew it also, for had they not scourged the envoys of Malinche out of the gates of their city? Many of them were now sorry that this had been done, but it was done, and they must reap as they had sown.
So they made ready for war, and Otomie was the president of their councils, in which I shared. At length came news that a force of fifty Spaniards with five thousand Tlascalan allies were advancing on the city to destroy us. Then I took command of the tribesmen of the Otomie—there were ten thousand or more of them, all well-armed after their own fashion—and advanced out of the city till I was two-thirds of the way down the gorge which leads to it. But I did