Page:Romance of History, Mexico.djvu/269

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.


CHAPTER XXIII

THE SIEGE BEGINS

It is a bright, breezy April day, and the streets of Tezcuco are gay with flags and flowers. Eager crowds are hurrying towards the gardens of the palace, for the canal on which eight thousand labourers have toiled for two months past is finished, and the water-houses are to be launched to-day. In vain have the curious natives striven to watch the building of these wonders, stern Spanish guards seemed ever on the look-out to drive back all intruders. Three times have Mexican spies stolen into the palace gardens to burn the brigantines, only to be instantly discovered and frustrated. But now the ships are ready, and all the city is invited to witness the launching of the "first navy worthy of the name in American waters." Every Spaniard confesses his sins, and Father Olmedo calls down from Heaven a solemn blessing. A shot rings out, and to the sound of music the white-sailed brigantines, with the flag of Spain floating from their masts, glide proudly down the canal and out on to the waters of the lake. A roar of admiration bursts from the watching throngs, and with one

233