And now I will tell how it was that I came to be saved from the knife. Marina having taken some liking to me, pitied my sad fate, and being very quick-witted, she found a way to rescue me. For when I had been led off to sacrifice, she spoke to the cacique, her lord, bringing it to his mind that, by common report Montezuma, the Emperor of Anahuac, was disturbed as to the Teules or Spaniards, and desired much to see one. Now, she said, I was evidently a Teule, and Montezuma would be angered, indeed, if I were sacrificed in a far-off town, instead of being sent to him to sacrifice if he saw fit. To this the cacique answered that the words were wise, but that she should have spoken them before, for now the priests had got hold of me, and it was hopeless to save me from their grip.
‘Nay,’ answered Marina, ’there is this to be said. Quetzal, the god to whom this Teule is to be offered, was a white man,* and it may well happen that this man is one of his children. Will it please the god that his child should be offered to him? At the least, if the god is not angered, Montezuma will certainly be wroth, and wreak a vengeance on you and on the priests.’
* Quetzal, or more properly Quetzalcoatl, was the divinity who is fabled to have taught the natives of Anahuac all the useful arts, including those of government and policy, he was white-skinned and dark-haired. Finally he sailed from the shores of Anahuac for the fabulous country of Tlapallan in a bark of serpents’ skins. But before he sailed he promised that he would return again with a numerous progeny. This promise was remembered by the Aztecs, and it was largely on account of it that the Spaniards were enabled to conquer the country, for they were supposed to be his descendants. Perhaps Quetzalcoatl was a Norseman! Vide Sagas of Eric the Red and of Thorfinn Karlsefne.—Author.
Now when the cacique heard this he saw that Marina spoke truth, and hurrying up the teocalli, he caught the knife as it was in the act of falling upon me. At first the head priest was angered and called out that this was sacrilege, but when the cacique had told him his mind, he understood that he would do wisely not to run a risk of the wrath of Montezuma. So I was loosed and led into the sanctuary, and when I came out the paba announced to the people that the god had declared me to be one of his children, and it was for this reason that then and thereafter they treated me with reverence.
THE SAVING OF GUATEMOC