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Page:The despatches of Hernando Cortes.djvu/144

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122 » LETTERS OF CORTES. pools of salt water, and for the river birds, of fresh wa- ter. The water is let off at certain times to keep it pure, and is replenished by means of pipes. Each species of bird is supplied with the food natural to it, which it feeds upon when wild. Thus fish is given to birds that usu- ally eat it ; worms, maize, and the finer seeds, to such as prefer them. And I assure your Highness, that to the birds accustomed to eat fish there is given the enor- mous quantity of ten arrobas* every day, taken in the salt lake. The emperor has three hundred men whose sole employment is to take care of these birds ; and there are others whose only business is to attend to the birds that are in bad health. Over the pools for the birds there are corridors and galleries, to which Muteczuma resorts, and from which he can look out and amuse himself with the sight of them. There is an apartment in the same palace in which are men, women and children, whose faces, bodies, hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes are white from their birth. The emperor has another very beautiful palace, with a large court-yard, paved with handsome flags, in the style of a chess-board. There were also cages, about nine feet in height and six paces square, each of which was half covered with a roof of tiles, and the other half had over it a wooden grate, skilfully made. Every cage contained a bird of prey, of all the species found in Spain, from the kestrel to the eagle, and many unknown there. There was a great number of each kind ; and in the covered part of the cages there was a perch, and an- other on the outside of the grating, the former of which the birds used in the night time, and when it rained ; and the other enabled them to enjoy the sun and air. To all

  • Two hundred and fifty pounds weight.