Page:Travels in Mexico and life among the Mexicans.djvu/88

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

the northwest corner of the palace. Waldeck gives it this name, and Stephens, commenting on this, wonders where the early architects obtained their pattern, since the elephant is not indigenous to America. But the mastodon was; though this item in support of the theory of great antiquity is not relished by the seekers after a connecting link with the Old World.

As night came along, away went our faithful Maya, his love for us not proving strong enough to induce him to remain in the ruins after dark. He was perfectly right, for he could quote Indian tradition to the effect that the builders and former occupants return at night and seize upon any of their kind found within the castle walls. So the Consul and I were left alone, to brave the terrors of a night in the damp and lonely ruin. Just at sunset we climbed the immense pile known as the "Nameless Mound," and, scrambling over loose stones, amongst agave and prickly-pear, reached the top, a platform of rough rock, with many holes here and there, suggesting caverns of unknown depth. We found here shards of pottery, arched openings on the north side, and everywhere sculptured stones, in evidence that much labor had been expended here. From it one overlooks the entire city; and we saw the sun go down, gilding with his last rays the Diviner's House on the top of the great pyramid, and glancing over the walls of the "House of the Nuns." and the Pajaros, or "House of Birds." We had seen him in the morning, shining full upon the eastern face of this "hill of sacrifice"; and now we attempted to people anew its deserted halls with some of the vast multitude that are said to have assembled before it when a victim was offered to their idols. Remains of their idol worship lie scattered about the courts and over the forest-covered plains, showing that they had a good variety of gods; but whether all at once, or in successive ages, who can tell?

We descended to our quarters in the casa, and, sticking a candle up in a bottle and lighting it, prepared for the night. Darkness completely enveloped us; the cries of the various birds, such as jays and chachalakas, had ceased;—