Page:The Story of Mexico.djvu/178

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sold to travelling merchants, who in their turn transferred her to the chief of the Tabascans, to whom she became a slave. In the Tabascan kingdom she grew up, and with her great intelligence acquired readily the Mayan language used at Tabasco without forfeiting her native tongue, that spoken at the Aztec court.

Like the Aztec maidens of good birth, she had been carefully trained up to the time when she was abandoned to slavery. Her new position did not reduce her to humiliating tasks, or forced labor, and she probably led a happy life in the soft climate of her new home, surrounded by trees always blossoming, rich vegetation, and new friends, who, although her keepers, were gentle and indulgent after the manner of the Mayan tribes.

In 1519, just as the pretty maiden was reaching her seventeenth year, Cortés arrived at Tabasco. After the first fright of their coming was over, followed by futile efforts at resistance, the Tabascans were willing to make peace. A treaty of alliance was concluded, as we have seen, and with the gifts of the chief to the conqueror, came twenty young slave-girls, whose business it was to grind the corn to make bread for their new masters. Cortés at once ordered that these women should be taught the truths of the Christian religion, and among the rest the heiress of Païnala was converted by Aguilar, and baptized by her new name, Marina. Marina, for the Indians became Malina, as their tongues do not accept the R. Afterwards Cortés himself acquired the nickname of Malintzin, that is, the master of