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The Romantic Story Of The Prince Of Tezcuco
by [?]

About a hundred years before the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs, there reigned over the kingdom of Tezcuco, in the valley of Mexico, a monarch whose history is as interesting and romantic as any that can be found in the annals of Europe. His story was preserved by his descendants, and its principal events are as follows:

The city of Tezcuco, the capital of the Acolhuans, stood on the eastern borders of the lake on whose opposite side was Mexico, the Aztec capital. About the year 1418 the Acolhuans were attacked by a kindred race, the Tepanecs, who, after a desperate struggle, captured their city, killed their monarch, and subjugated their kingdom. The heir to the crown, the young Prince Nezahualcoyotl, concealed himself in the foliage of a tree when the triumphant foe broke into the palace, and from his hiding-place saw his father killed before his eyes. This was the opening event in a history as full of deeds of daring and perilous escapes as that of the “Young Chevalier of English history.”

The young prince did not long remain at liberty. Soon after his flight from the city he fell into the hands of his foes, and was brought back and thrown into a dungeon. This led to the first romantic incident in his career. The governor of the fortress prison was an old servant of the royal family of Tezcuco, and aided the little captive to escape in disguise, taking his place in the dungeon. He paid for his loyalty with his life, but he willingly gave it in exchange for the liberty of the heir to the throne.

The royal boy had friends in the Mexican capital. He was, in fact, closely related to the Aztec monarch, and through his good offices he was at length permitted to reside in that city. Afterwards he was allowed to return to Tezcuco, where for eight years he dwelt in privacy, studying under the teachers of his early youth, and unheeded by the party in power. Thus the boy grew to manhood, cherishing in his soul ardent hopes of regaining the throne of his ancestors.

A change came when the Tepanec conqueror died and his son, Maxtla, succeeded to the throne. The new king was of a suspicious disposition, and when Nezahualcoyotl sought his capital to render him homage on his accession, Maxtla treated with disdain the little gift of flowers which the young prince laid at his feet, and turned his back on him in the presence of his chieftains. Evidently the palace was no place of safety for the Tezcucan prince, and, warned by a friend among the courtiers, he hastened to withdraw from the court and seek a refuge in his native city of Tezcuco. Here the tyrant dared not proceed openly against him. His popular manners had won him many friends, and the ancient subjects of his family looked upon him as a coming leader who might win back for them their lost liberty. The prince had given evidence of the possession of talent and energy, and Maxtla, fearful of his growing popularity, resolved to make away with him by stratagem. He accordingly invited him to an evening’s entertainment, where he had assassins ready to murder him. Fortunately, the tutor of the prince suspected the plot, and contrived to replace the youth by a person who strongly resembled him, and who became the victim of the fate intended for him.

Maxtla, baffled in his murderous stratagem, now resolved to kill him openly, and sent a party of soldiers to the city, who were instructed to enter the palace, seize the prince, and slay him on the spot. Again the watchfulness of his old teacher saved him. Warned of his danger, and advised to flee, the prince refused to do so, but boldly awaited the assassins.