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Page:The despatches of Hernando Cortes.djvu/45

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INTRODUCTION. 27 manner of the country, burning before him incense and little straws touched with his own blood ; he then presented him the supplies of food brought by his servants, several rich jewels of gold, curiously wrought, and other not less finished articles composed of feathers. Cortes embraced him, and showed every mark of pleasure at his visit ; he also saluted his atten- dants, at the same time he gave him a robe of silk, a medal- lion, a necklace of glass, a quantity of beads, looking-glasses, scissors, laces, rings, shirts, handkerchiefs, and various articles composed of leather, wool, and iron, all which, though of little value, the Indians prized very highly. In consequence of Aguilar's inability to understand the Mexi- can or Aztec language, and the want of another interpreter, Cortesfound great difficulty in making himself understood by the governor ; fortunately this difficulty was about to be removed. It happened on the occasion of this visit, that one of the twenty female slaves given to the Spanish leader by the cacique of Tabasco was observed to be engaged in conversation with a servant of the governor, and on inquiry Cortes ascertained that she understood the Mexican as well as the Maya language, having acquired the latter at Tabasco. She was a young girl of great beauty and sprightliness, and quick apprehension, who in the distribution of the slaves had been assigned to Don Alonso Puertocarrero, one of the Spanish officers. With the rest of the slaves she was baptized at Tabasco, and took the name of Marina. Although in the condition of a menial, Marina was the daughter of a cacique of Guasacualco, having been taken from her home and sold as a slave after the death of her father. Cortes, as soon as he discovered her knowledge of the Mexican language, (which was spoken in the place of her nativity), promised to restore her to freedom, if she would act with fidelity as an interpreter. Marina of course complied, and afterwards throughout the conquest proved of invaluable service to the expedition. At first she interpreted the Mexican into Maya to Aguilar, who communicated with Cortes in Spanish ; but being of a quick capacity, she soon acquired a sufficient knowledge of the Spanish to enable her to translate the Mexican directly into that language. " She was always