Page:The Story of Mexico.djvu/193

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161
LA NOCHE TRISTE.

dress his subjects and exhort them to suspend the attack. With repugnance the humbled monarch yielded, and emerged on the parapet. Opposite to him, he could easily discern animating the crowd who surged below, Cuitlahuatzin, his own brother, according to custom the general in chief, and probable successor to the throne.

Montezuma was clothed in his imperial robes; his mantle of white and blue flowed over his shoulders, held together by a rich clasp of green stone. Emeralds set in gold profusely ornamented his dress. The royal diadem was on his brow, and golden sandals on his feet. He was preceded by the golden wand of office, and surrounded by a few Aztec nobles. His presence was instantly recognized by the people, and a sudden change came over the scene. A death-like stillness pervaded the whole assembly, so that the voice of the monarch was distinctly heard. He addressed the people mildly, but when they found that he was urging mercy toward the stranger, the calm was turned to fury, the populace redoubled its cries and threats, and arrows and stones were aimed even at the Emperor, one of which wounded him fatally in the head.

The unhappy prince was borne to his apartment below. He had tasted the bitter cup of degradation. It may have been the simple effect of the wound, or his despair, which determined him to tear off the bandages, or, as the Aztecs think, a Spanish dagger which finally despatched him. Not many days after this supreme insult by his people, he died on the 30th of June, 1520.