Page:The Story of Mexico.djvu/204

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family. From the beginning a prudent ally of Cortés, after the retreat of the Spanish army to Texcuco, he sent him renewed offers of aid, and raised a large troop of soldiers for the invading army. Without them and other indigenous bands Cortés would have been badly off. Thus increased, his new army reached the reputed number of two hundred thousand men. With these he came to Texcuco, by two days' march, halting at a little village at the base of Iztaccihuatl, the companion volcano of Popocatepetl, which, stretched like a corpse in its shroud of everlasting snow, bears the name of the White Woman. The Spanish army entered Texcuco on the last day of the year, December 31, 1520, and here was conducted to the palace of Nezahualpilli, a building spacious enough to accommodate all the Spaniards. The town, as on his first entrance at Tenochtitlan, was deserted, and Cortés learned that whole families were leaving in boats and by the mountain paths. A weaker heart might have sunk at the repetition of such intimations of dislike, but the Spanish conqueror's heart was inflexible. Ixtlilxochitl received him with all cordiality, and presented to him the body of fifty thousand men he had raised, a substantial gift, which was in itself encouraging.

It was a great advantage to Cortés to have Texcuco for his head-quarters. He had caused to be made in Tlaxcalla thirteen brigantines for crossing the lake. These were put together after his arrival and launched upon the water, through a little stream which had to be enlarged by the work of thousands of Indians, which led from the gardens of Nezahual-