Page:The Story of Mexico.djvu/81

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he had at hand who singularly resembled Nezahualcoyotl. This youth, perhaps, was pleased to attend a royal feast, dressed in the rich robes which the son of a king, even if lacking a throne, might wear; but there must have been a moment, just as he felt the deadly iztli weapon at his throat, when he perceived the game was not worth the candle; for the guest was assassinated as he came to the table, before the substitution could be perceived; and thus the true prince escaped. His descendant, who tells us the story, does not let us know whether Nezahualcoyotl was a party to the deception. We will leave the blame on the shoulders of the wily old tutor, in order to preserve the honor of our hero unsullied.

When Maxtla found that his rival was not dead, like a prince in a fairy tale, he gave up secret plots, and boldly sent a band of armed soldiers to the old palace at Texcuco, to seize the young man whose popularity he feared. The tutor, always on the watch, arranged everything as usual, and when the emissaries of Maxtla arrived, they found the prince playing ball in the court of the palace. He received them courteously, as if he thought they came on a friendly visit, and invited them to come in, while he stepped into a room which opened on the court, as if to give orders for refreshments for them. They seemed to be seeing him all the time, but, by the directions of the old tutor, a censer which stood in the passage was so fed and stirred by the servants that it threw up clouds of incense between the guests and their host, between which Nezahualcoyotl disappeared into a secret passage which communicated with a great