Page:The Story of Mexico.djvu/132

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The king of Texcuco advised the building of a great dike, so thick and strong as to keep out the water. The next year the chronicles relate that a heavy snow fell for six days and nights, destroying all vegetation, and a great number of human beings and animals. The loss of crops for these years caused such a famine, that in spite of the great liberality of the king and his grandees, many people emigrated to the south.

These disasters furnish but a poor excuse for the human sacrifice with which the Aztecs sought to appease the wrath of their god. The Mexican king used to sally forth at fixed intervals to battle with the sole object of seizing prisoners for sacrifice, without laying any claim to lands or kingdoms. He extended these raids as far as the valley of Tlaxcalla, and the neighboring city of Cholula, carrying off victims, but leaving the government of these provinces as he found them. This explains the cause of the continued independence of these provinces, in spite of their constant warfare with Mexico, and also shows what reason these people had for hating a neighbor who made himself so disagreeable. Motecuhzoma made the power of his arm felt even to the shores of the Gulf, and enlarged his territory in all directions. He framed a code for repressing crime, made laws regulating the dress and ornaments of his subjects, invented any number of new religious rites and sacrifices hitherto unheard of, built many temples, and strove to establish the principles of his religion throughout Anahuac. Thus the poor and miserable little tribe of a century before, at the death of Mote-