Page:The Story of Mexico.djvu/151

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119
AZTEC CHARACTER.

pile were carried to every home, and kindled with fresh flame every hearthstone. The sun rose, the new cycle commenced, and the Aztecs felt safe for fifty-two years more.

Then came the house-cleaning. All the destroyed pots and pans were replaced by new ones. New clothes, prepared, we must fear, beforehand, took the place of the old ones. The people, gayly dressed and crowned with flowers, thronged to the temples to offer up their thanksgiving. All was joy and merriment; dances and songs were the order of the day, gifts exchanged. The last celebration of this festival was in 1506.

While the warriors of the Mexicans were engaged in ceaseless raids upon neighboring tribes, the true occupation of the people was agriculture, which in their delightful climate well repaid their toil and skill. All the inhabitants, even in the cities, cultivated the soil, except the soldiers and the great nobles. The men did all the heavy work, the women helping them by scattering seed, husking maize, and such light matters. Canals were cut through sterile lands, for they fully understood the importance of artificial irrigation, to aid the influence of their rainy season. The forests which covered the country were preserved by severe penalties. Ample granaries were provided to contain their harvests.

Such crops, etc., as were available for their lands were known to the Aztecs, and developed to their full extent. They thoroughly appreciated and enjoyed the wealth of flowers which nature scattered over the soil. Flowers were to them an important