Page:The Story of Mexico.djvu/190

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XVI.

LA NOCHE TRISTE.

The ancient palace of Axayacatl was prepared to receive the strangers, within whose walls were ample accommodations for the leaders of the little host.

Cortés proceeded at once to explore the capital, its paved causeways and lagoons. He devoted himself to gaining the friendship of Montezuma, and strove to incline him to embrace the Catholic religion and become a subject of the king of Spain. The bewildered king listened to these persuasions, transmitted to him through the lips of Malintzi-Marina, with amazement and dread. He scarcely understood the import of the words, and the doctrine of the Cross, thus suddenly presented to him, was only a puzzle. Cortés had but little patience with his pupil. His own situation was full of peril, in the midst of a large population who showed no cordiality towards the Spaniards. He resolved upon the bold measure of seizing the person of Montezuma.

Having found a pretext for a visit, Cortés waited on the monarch in his palace. An audience was readily granted. He was graciously received by Montezuma, who entered into light conversation through the interpreters, and gave little presents

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