The young warriors enthusiastically agreed; but, happily for the Spaniards, the four great chiefs, one of whom was the father of Xicotencatl, were opposed to the proposal. Maxixca especially combated the idea. "The Aztecs," he said, "are always false in speech, and false in heart.
This last was the opinion of an aged chief, one of the four rulers of the republic. His name was Xicotencatl, and he was nearly blind, for he was over a hundred years old. He had a son of the same name as himself, an impetuous young man, who commanded a powerful force of Tlascalans and Otomies on the eastern frontier where the great fortification stood.
When his wounded had recovered, accompanied by a large army of Tlascalans under young Xicotencatl, Cortes set forth about the middle of October on the last stage of his wonderful journey. By this time, Montezuma had concluded to make a virtue out of a necessity, and he had sent word to him that he would welcome him to his capital.
Their friendship was accepted, with many excuses for the past, and the chiefs were further ordered to touch at the camp of Xicotencatl, the Tlascalan general, and require him to cease hostilities and furnish the white men with a plentiful supply of provisions. While the Tlascalan envoys were still in the camp came a fresh embassy from Montezuma.
This occurrence did more for the conversion of the natives than all the preaching of Father Olmedo. Several of the Indian princesses were now baptized, and given in marriage to the officers of Cortés. One, who was the daughter of Xicotencatl, became the wife of Alvarado, who was always a great favourite with the Tlascalans.
One of the four regents, so called, of the republic was a man of great age, feeble and blind, but resolute of spirit. His name was Xicotencatl. He was all for war. He was opposed by a young man named Maxixcatzin. The debate between the two and the other participants was long and furious. Finally the desire of Xicotencatl prevailed in a modified form.
The old chief advised that this force should at once fall upon the Spaniards. If they were conquered they would be at the mercy of the Tlascalans, but if by any mischance his son should fail, the council could declare that they had nothing to do with the attack, laying the whole blame of it upon the young Xicotencatl.
If the Otumies were defeated their action would be disavowed by the Tlascalans and no harm would be done to anybody but the unfortunate Otumies, for whom no one in Tlascala felt any great concern. The Otumies were placed in the front of the battle, but the Tlascalans themselves followed under the command of another Xicotencatl, son of the old regent, who was a tried and brilliant soldier.
The head of this party was the young chief Xicotencatl, who had led the Tlascalan armies in the desperate resistance they offered to the Spaniards, on their first coming.
Presently the procession halted before the palace of the aged Xicotencatl, the father of the general, and Cortés dismounted from his horse, that the blind old man might satisfy his natural curiosity respecting him, by passing his hand over his face.