Page:Romance of History, Mexico.djvu/152

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THE ROMANCE OF MEXICO

Three ushers with golden wands walked in advance to clear the way. Then barefooted and bareheaded came princes of the blood carrying on their proud shoulders the royal palanquin glittering with gold and surmounted by a canopy of green feathers sprinkled with precious stones. Behind, with reverent mien and downcast eyes walked an escort of nobles richly dressed in green and silver.

The procession halted, and a carpet of white cloth was spread on the ground. Then leaning on the arms of Cuitlahuac, his brother, and the lord of Tezcuco, his nephew, the emperor descended from his palanquin and advanced on foot to meet his guests. His cloak and tunic were embroidered with jewels, and the dark-green feathers which floated from his headdress were powdered with emeralds and pearls. The very soles of his sandals were of pure gold, and the leather thongs were rimmed with gems. He was tall and thin, with regular features, pale complexion, and scanty black beard, and his manner as he greeted the Spanish general was dignified and kingly.

Cortés presented Montezuma with a chain of coloured crystals, and advanced to embrace him, but Cuitlahuac, with a look of horror, flung back the outstretched arm of the impious stranger who presumed to touch the sacred person of the emperor. Greetings exchanged, Montezuma, leaving his nobles to escort the visitors to their quarters, re-entered his palanquin and was borne back to his palace.

Along a broad paved avenue, which stretched in a straight line right through the centre of the capital

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