Page:A page of American history (1905).djvu/6

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to his death. The younger Montejo worked at it diligently, masterfully, as a smith works over refractory metal. The native Mayas were like very refractory metal, but the younger Montejo was like a very clever smith, and he found the flux that enabled him to make them like a molten, plastic mass under his manipulation. Then he kneaded and pounded and pressed them until they were moulded to his liking. To be sure, when he and his impiediate successors had called their work well done there were many natives less in the land, but even then the Mayas outnumbered their conquerors by several hundred fold and only stern measures and the memory of merciless reprisals kept the conquered natives down. On the whole they kept them down, below the danger mark, but the Maya race of Yucatan was seemingly a far more virile race than the natives of Cuba so quickly exterminated by the Spaniards, and despite their subjugation and the servile condition of even the highest among them, they not only increased in numbers but actually enforced their language upon their conquerors. Today, he who lives in Yucatan, outside the greater cities and cannot speak the native tongue, is like one apart.

Among the Mayas of every province, since the earliest days, there has been one of power and prominence, either by the inheritance of a noble family name or by a force of nature and strong will. When the Spanish laws came into force and being, they left, to such of these Maya chiefs as evinced desires to do the bidding of these laws, a shadowy vestige of their old time power. These men, known then as now among the natives by the native title of Batab, were called by the Spaniards for some curious reason by the Haytian term of Cacique. Batab or Cacique, they were obeyed most implicitly by the native people, who were thus by their influence made better citizens and servants. But from this class of natives, born to command and strong in will power, were to come, in later years, the leaders destined