Page:The Story of Mexico.djvu/165

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133
THE LAST OF THE MONTEZUMAS.

further explorations. They coasted along the shore of Yucatan, admiring its fertile fields and the cities and villages in the midst of them, soon arriving at the mouth of the Tabasco River. At first the natives seemed inclined to give them a rough reception, but Grijalva propitiated them by friendly messages, and on disembarking met a brilliant reception. Green copal was burnt before him, in the way of incense, and the natives brought him game, fish, and corn-bread. The prince made him a present of some gold necklaces and ornaments carved in the shape of birds and lizards.

Grijalva and his followers came next into the country belonging to the Mexican crown, and saw for the first time the royal standard of Montezuma, with the nopal and the eagle. They now for the first time began to hear of this great prince, and of the riches of Anahuac.

Such were the tidings brought to the poor Montezuma, already depressed by vague forebodings. He received the news with positive anguish, as he contemplated the evidences of their power. Reporters at Tabasco had already prepared on great maguey canvasses graphic pictures of the ship of the strangers, their costumes and arms, which were hurried with telegraphic promptness to the great sovereign in his capital.

The council was assembled. It met in dismay. Finally they decided to send to the shore an embassy laden with gifts of gold, feathers, and splendid stuffs, but bearing messages urging them not to penetrate farther into the country, where they would be ex-