Page:Travels in Mexico and life among the Mexicans.djvu/503

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

reads, "Aqui Tubo Principio el Sto. Evangélio en este Nuevo Mundo." Half hidden in a recess, opposite the pulpit, is another object of still greater interest, though it is nothing but a hollowed stone, about five feet in diameter, three feet high, and a foot and a half deep. It is called the Fuente de Maxicatzin, and is no-other than the font from which the great and loyal Maxicatzin and his coadjutors, senators of Tlascala, were baptized. It is not a matter of tradition alone, but of history, that when Cortés retreated with the remnant of his army to Tlascala, after that disastrous defeat of the Noche Triste, the Tlascalans received him with affection, instead of upbraiding him for the loss of the thousands of their young men whose lives he had sacrificed. To convince him more effectually of their sincerity, the senate of Tlascala, with Maxicatzin at their head, presented themselves for baptism. Let the inscription on the Fuente tell the story: "Este monumento, cuya autencidad conserva la tradicion, fue la fuente bautismal de los ultimos Caciques o Señores de la Antigua Republica de Tlascala; el ano de 1520."

Night fell about me as I descended the hill and sought the only hotel Tlascala could boast, a comfortless meson, merely a square surrounded by walls enclosing apartments,—such a tarrying-place as suited the traveller when horses and diligences were more in use, and all could be stabled within sight of, and on the same level with, himself. Early next morning I started out with a guide for the church of San Estevan, two miles from Tlascala, and built upon the site of the palace of Xicotencatl, the Tlascalan chief so basely slain by the Spaniards before Tezcoco. A great font is here, made in 1691, and an old painting of the baptism of the chief last mentioned.

In my walk that cool morning, I enjoyed very much the ramble through such a secluded region, where we met only a few shepherd boys, armed with slings and stones, driving sheep and goats, and some children going to school. My guide climbed a tree and threw down to me some juicy cherries, and led me through gardens which smiled such a welcome that they seemed to breathe only of peaceful delights. But emerging from one of these gardens into the highway, I suddenly stumbled upon