Author:Edward Rickford
Language: eng
Format: mobi
Publisher: Black Acorn Literary Press
Published: 2019-03-10T00:00:00+00:00

Chapter 18

Malintze’s fingers tingled as she stared at Tentlil’s fine gifts. Nearly ten days had gone by since they had last spoken, but he had finally returned to the teteo camp for a third meeting. He brought less gold this time, and the gold he did bring was less shiny, less polished.

When the gifts were first unveiled, Cortés muttered something about Tentlil standing by his bluff. Ordinarily she would have tried to decipher the phrase, if only to surprise Aguilar by using a Spanish turn of phrase, but she was far too enraptured by Tentlil’s gifts to give it much thought.

While Tentlil had brought little in the way of gold, he brought much in the way of fine feather work, sweet incense, and jade so beautiful it could have only come from the Great Speaker. Never in all her life had she expected to stand in front of such treasure, but judging by the disappointed expressions of the nearby teteo, they were not impressed.

Mouth still agape, Malintze looked back to Tentlil. The triumphant smile plastered to his face turned her stomach, but she returned his smile. His jovial expression faltered just a fraction, and she suspected they were not supposed to be pleased by the latest batch of presents. Or maybe he just did not like seeing a former slave girl regard him as if they were equals.

“We are pleased you find such joy in the treasure we have brought you,” Tentlil said, a smirk pulling at his lips.

“We are pleased,” Malintze said, “you honor us with such fine presents and hope we have honored you with our presents.” She savored the look of disgust that flashed across Tentlil’s face.

Tentlil pursed his lips and cleared his throat. “While the Great Speaker wishes he could send the teteo more, he cannot. He is most pleased he could aid your sick friends, but the Great Speaker can help no more as he has honored them with all the gold in his possession. He hopes the teteo understand they will have better luck finding gold once they leave Mexico, as Motecuhzoma’s domain is a poor one.” Tentlil tutted and shook his head. “The Great Speaker understands your teteo may be disappointed that he cannot send any more gold, but he sends fine jade and knows this will assuage any misgivings.”

Malintze stared at Tentlil. It was not the rash presumptions that startled her the most, nor the implicit demands, but the blatant lying. The teteo had received generous helpings of gold, but it was impossible to believe Tenochtitlan had no more, that Motecuhzoma had somehow exhausted all his gold stores. Mexico was the most bountiful land in all the One World and no city had even half as much gold as Tenochtitlan.

She furrowed her brow, struggling to understand why he would lie, and it dawned on her that Motecuhzoma did not want the teteo in his home. The Great Speaker, frightened? For years, his traders had sold little girls into slavery, but he did not fear reprisal.


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