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Word Count: 1,067
With saddened feelings they reached the great gates of the palace of Axayacatl The gates were thrown open and Cortes and his veterans rushing in were cordially embraced by their companions in arms while both parties soon forgot the present in the interesting recapitulation of the past The first inquiries of the general were respecting the origin of the tumult The accounts were various Some imputed it to the desire of the Mexicans to release their sovereign from confinement others to the design of cutting off the garrison while crippled by the absence of Cortes and their countrymen All agreed however in tracing the immediate cause to the violence of Alvarado It was common for the Aztecs to celebrate an annual festival in May in honour of their patron war-god It was called the incensing of Huitzilopochtli and was commemorated by sacrifice religious songs and dances in which most of the nobles engaged for it was one of the great festivals which displayed the pomp of the Aztec ritual As it was held in the court of the teocalli in the immediate neighbourhood of the Spanish quarters and as a part of the temple itself was reserved for a Christian chapel the caciques asked permission of Alvarado to perform their rites there They requested also to be allowed the presence of Montezuma This latter petition Alvarado declined in obedience to the injunctions of Cortes but acquiesced in the former on condition that the Aztecs should celebrate no human sacrifices and should come without weapons They assembled accordingly on the day appointed to the number of six hundred at the smallest computation They were dressed in their most magnificent gala costumes with their graceful mantles of feather-work sprinkled with precious stones and their necks arms and legs ornamented with collars and bracelets of gold They had that love of gaudy splendour which belongs to semi-civilised nations and on these occasions displayed all the pomp and
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