Page:Romance of History, Mexico.djvu/224

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CHAPTER XIX

LA NOCHE TRISTE

Montezuma, so often a shield to the Spaniards, was dead, and now their one thought was how most quickly to escape from his city. Should the retreat be attempted by night or by day?

There was among the common soldiers a man named Botello "who spoke Latin, had been at Rome, and was said to be a necromancer; while some declared he had a familiar, and others called him an astrologer." This man predicted that if Cortés did not attempt the retreat the last night of the month of June, not a Spaniard would be left alive. If that night was chosen the flight would be successful, though Botello himself would perish. So much influence had the astrologer on his comrades, that Cortés decided to please his men and leave the city that very night.

The question of what to do with the sick and wounded troubled the general. They were far too numerous to be all carried away, and Cortés reluctantly declared that the three hundred wounded Tlascalans must be left behind. As to the Spaniards, those who could not possibly march should be borne in litters. A few hours later Father Olmedo came to

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