Page:The Story of Mexico.djvu/79

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47
NEZAHUALCOYOTL, THE HUNGRY FOX.

Their so-called social organization and mode of government, which have given their country the name of a kind of Mexican Switzerland, is now thought to have differed little from those of their neighbors. Their chiefs were elected from an hereditary house of rulers, and two of them formed the nominal head of the tribe, while the true power lay in a council. Their territory consisted of narrow valleys spreading into fertile fields, where they maintained long their independence, subject to the attacks of neighboring tribes. Tlaxcalla means "the land of bread." Its rich products naturally were tempting to the neighboring tribes, whose limits included land not so good for cultivation. Their next neighbors were the Cholulans, who dwelt under the great pyramid. The Tlaxcallans had the reputation of triumphing over their foes in battle, for they were both bold and strong.

It was with the friendly Tlaxcallans that the wandering prince lived, unmolested in the companionship of a brave man who followed the fortunes of his young master. He had been the family preceptor ever since the birth of the prince. This tutor was wise as well as learned; although he was strongly prejudiced in favor of the legitimate family and against the usurpation of the fierce Tepanec, he counselled restraint and patience, and caused his pupil to lead a quiet life without attracting attention, while he was giving him lessons in the art of governing and training in all the qualities good for a monarch to possess.

Meanwhile, the son of the usurper grew up un-