Page:The Story of Mexico.djvu/65

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In the National Museum in Mexico is an image in the form of a coiled serpent in pyramidal form—its body covered with feathers—carved of basaltic porphyry. This model, which appears in many of the old monuments, is regarded as the symbol of the mysterious Shining Serpent.

Whatever were his serious claims to distinction, his worshippers invested him with wonderful attributes. His sojourn in their land marked its most prosperous period. In his time the seasons were the fairest, the earth the most productive. Flowers blossomed, fruits ripened without the toil of the gardener. The cotton in its pod turned blue, red, or yellow without the trouble of the dyer, so that the fabrics lightly woven and without fatigue took on rich and harmonious tints. The air was continually filled with perfumes and the songs of sweet birds. Every man loved his neighbor, and all dwelt in peace and harmony together. These were the halcyon days of Anahuac. For twenty years the Toltecs knew no disaster, but flourished and spread under the influence of their strange protector. And then, one day the strange god disappeared from among them, descending to the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, where he bade farewell to the crowd that had followed him, promising, as he did so, that in the fulness of time his descendants, white men like himself, with full beards, should return and instruct them. Then he stepped into a magic bark made of the skins of serpents, and sailed away over an ocean unknown to these simple men towards the fabled land of Tlapalla.