Page:The Story of Mexico.djvu/53

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21
SHADOWY TRIBES.

the valley of the Mississippi or of Mexico. Such conjectures are full of attraction; but they have, as yet, no solid foundation. As for the Mound Builders, their name, by which we now designate them, is but a modern label. Their own is effaced from the memory of men. Their origin is equally lost, and the time of their existence, the date of their monuments, are vanished in a vague past.

To associate, then, these Mound Builders with the early wandering tribes who descended to the plateau of Anahuac, is no help, at present, to the student of Mexican antiquity. Yet the idea is pleasing to the imagination; and it is even reason to hope that future discoveries in either region may throw light upon the early stay of the other.

Had we sure knowledge that the Mound Builders and the Nahuas were of the same race, we should still have to inquire whence came they all before they settled in the Mississippi valley, were driven out by their enemies, and migrated to the Mexican plateau? Such speculations are the pastime of the student of lost races. For him to dream of the possible homes of a set of people where traces are but faintly to be discerned, is as fascinating as building airy castles in Spain.

The theory of a submerged continent beneath the Azores, opposite the mouth of the Mediterranean, which might be the island described by Plato, Atlantis, the region where man first emerged from a condition like that of beasts to a constantly advancing state of civilization, plays a part in the fancies of those who are wondering about the origin of the Nahuatl tribes of Anahuac.