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Page:The despatches of Hernando Cortes.djvu/139

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CONQUEST OF MEXICO. 117 creature or thing. I said every thing to them I could to divert them from their idolatries, and draw them to a knowledge of God our Lord. Muteczuma replied, the others assenting to what he said, " That they had al- ready informed me they were not the aborigines of the country, but that their ancestors had emigrated to it many years ago ; and they fully believed that after so long an absence from their native land, they might have fallen into some errors ; that I having more recently ar- rived must know better than themselves what they ought to believe ; and that if I would instruct them in these matters, and make them understand the true faith, they would follow my directions, as being for the best." Afterwards, Muteczuma and many of the principal citi- zens remained with me until I had removed the idols, purified the chapels, and placed the images in them, manifesting apparent pleasure ; and I forbade them sa- crificing human beings to their idols, as they had been accustomed to do ; because, besides being abhorrent in the sight of God, your sacred Majesty had prohibited it by law, and commanded to put to death whoever should take the life of another. Thus, from that time, they re- frained from the practice, and during the whole period of my abode in that city, they were never seen to kill or sacrifice a human being. The figures of the idols in which these people believe surpass in stature a person of more than the ordinary size ; some of them are composed of a mass of seeds and leguminous plants, such as are used for food, ground and mixed together, and kneaded with the blood of human hearts taken from the breasts of living persons, from which a paste is formed in a sufficient quantity to form large statues. When these are completed they make 16