Page:Houses and House-Life of the American Aborigines.djvu/317

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a question. The sewer was always upon his knees and barefooted, attending him without lifting up his eyes. No man with shoes on was to come into the room upon pain of death. The sewer also gave him drink in a cup of several shapes, sometimes of gold, and sometimes of silver, sometimes of gourd, and sometimes of the shells of fishes.[1] Six ancient lords attended at a distance, to whom he gave some dishes of what he liked best, which they did eat there with much respect. He had always music of flutes, reeds, horns, shells, kettle-drums, and other instruments, nothing agreeable to the ears of the Spaniards. * * * There were always at dinner dwarfs, crooked and other deformed persons, to provoke laughter, and they did eat of what was left at the further end of the hall, with the jesters and buffoons. What remained was given to three thousand Indians, that were constantly upon guard in the courts and squares, and therefore there were always three thousand dishes of meat and as many cups of liquor; the larder and cellar were never shut, by reason of their continual carrying in and out. In the kitchen they dressed all sorts of meat that were sold in the market, being a prodigious quantity, besides what was brought in by hunters, tenants, and tributaries. The dishes and all utensils were all of good earthenware, and served the king but once. He had abundance of vessels of gold and silver, yet made no use of them, because they should not serve twice."[2]

Further on, and out of its place, Herrera gives us what seems to have been a call of the scattered household to dinner "When it was dinnertime," he remarks, "eight or ten men whistled very loud, beating the kettledrums hard, as it were to warn those that were to dance after dinner; then the dancers came, who, to entertain their great sovereign, were all to be men of quality, clad as richly as they could, with costly mantles, white, red, green, yellow, and some of several colors."[3]

The four women of Diaz who brought water to Montezuma have now increased to twenty; but, as the Spanish writers claimed a wide latitude in the matter of numbers, fivefold is not, perhaps, unreasonable, especially as

  1. Solis, thinking a cocoanut shell altogether too plain, embellishes the shell with jewels: "He had cups of gold, and salvers of the same; and sometimes he drank out of cocoas and natural shells very richly set with jewels."—History of the Conquest of Mexico, Lond., ed. 1738, Townshend's Trans., I, 417.
  2. History of America, ii, 336.
  3. Ib., 443.