Page:The Story of Mexico.djvu/173

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141
CORTÉS.

king, after due counsel with his advisers, resolved to send envoys, as before, to the strangers. The presents prepared for Grijalva, which had reached the shore too late, were, alas! all ready. To these were now added the ornaments used in the decoration of the image of Quetzalcoatl, on days of solemnity, regarded as the most sacred among all the possessions of the royal house of Mexico.

Cortés accepted the rôle of Quetzalcoatl and allowed himself to be decorated with the ornaments belonging to that god without hesitation. The populace were convinced that it was their deity really returned to them. A feast was served to the envoys, with the accompaniment of some European wine which they found delicious.

The adventurers landed on Good Friday, and celebrated Easter on shore with great pomp and solemnity. The intendant of the province brought offerings to the great stranger, and presents were exchanged. Cortés sent to Montezuma a gilt helmet with the message that he hoped to see it back again filled with gold. During the feast native painters were busy depicting every thing they saw to be shown to their royal master. The bearer of this gift and communication, returning swiftly to the court, reported to the monarch that the intention of the stranger was to come at once to the capital of the empire. Montezuma at once assembled a new council of all his great vassals, some of whom urged the reception of Cortés, others his immediate dismissal. The latter view prevailed, and the monarch sent, with more presents to the unknown invader,