Page:The Story of Mexico.djvu/177

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XIV.

MALINTZI.

While Cortés and his followers are resting themselves at Cempoallan, while Montezuma is awaiting their approach with superstitious dread, we will stop to make the acquaintance of the gentle woman who was so important to the daring invader of the heights of Anahuac.

She was born at Païnala, now a picturesque village buried in forests on the borders of the Coatzacoalco River, about 1502. This pueblo, as well as others in its neighborhood, belonged, it is said, to her father, one of the great vassals to the crown, then worn by Montezuma II. Thus the little duchess, for so she might be called, lived until her eleventh year, in ease and comfort. Then her father died, and her mother, marrying again, transferred all her maternal care and affection to a boy, the child of the new union. In order that this boy should inherit the family wealth and estates, reports were spread of the death of the other child. The body of a slave who had just died was substituted for the heiress, and the funeral celebrated with pomp. Meanwhile the disinherited girl was given over or

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