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Page:The despatches of Hernando Cortes.djvu/146

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124 LETTERS OF CORTES. country produced. As the climate is cold, they put a chafing-dish with live coals under every plate and dish, to keep them warm. The meals were served in a large hall, in which Muteczuma was accustomed to eat, and the dishes quite filled the room, which was covered with mats and kept very clean. He sat on a small cushion curiously wrought of leather. During the meals there were present, at a little distance from him, five or six elderly caciques, to whom he presented some of the food. And there was constantly in attendance one of the ser- vants, who arranged and handed the dishes, and who received from others whatever was wanted for the sup- ply of the table. Both at the beginning and end of every meal, they furnished water for the hands ; and the nap- kins used on these occasions were never used a second time ; this was the case also with the plates and dishes, which were not brought again, but new ones in place of them ; it was the same also with the chafing-dishes. He is also dressed every day in four different suits, entirely new, which he never wears a second time. None of the caciques who enter his palace have their feet covered, and when those for whom he sends enter his presence, they incline their heads and look down, bending their bodies ; and when they address him, they do not look him in the face ; this arises from excessive modesty and reverence. I am satisfied that it proceeds from respect, since certain caciques reproved the Spaniards for their boldness in addressing me, saying that it showed a want of becoming deference. Whenever Muteczuma appear- ed in public, which was seldom the case, all those who accompanied him, or whom he accidentally met in the streets, turned away without looking towards him, and others prostrated themselves until he bad passed. One