Theodicy and the Problem of Evil

Again, the deception is that we can get away with it and that we will be not be me and my family and my Lord, I honestly believe I never would have done it.'”.

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What with its harvests, its orchards, and its homesteads, its forests of oak, sycamore, and cedar, its population busy, happy, and faithful, contented as tillers of the soil, and brave as lions in time of need, it was all of Aden he had ever known or dreamed. Quick to behold it, he scarcely hushed a cry of fear, and instinctively waved his hand, as if, by a kingly gesture, to stay the eruption. Across the pathway of the sun it stretched, so that when the disk wheeled fairly above the mountain-range, it looked like a ball of blood.

The king was a reader of picture-writing, and skilful in deducing the meaning of men from cipher and hieroglyph. Straightway he interpreted the phenomenon as a direful portent; and because he came looking for omens, the idea that this was a message sent him expressly from the gods was but a right royal vanity. He drew the hood over his face again, and drooped his head disconsolately upon his breast. His mind filled with a host of gloomy thoughts. Throne, power, people,—all the glories of his country and Empire,—he saw snatched from his nerveless grasp, and floating away, like the dust of the valley.

After a while he arose to depart. One more look he gave the sun before descending from the roof, and shuddered at the sight of city, lake, valley, the cloud itself, and the sky above it, all colored with an ominous crimson. The chief cast down his eyes; for he knew how dangerous it was to look on royalty humbled by fear. Then Montezuma shaded his face again, and left the proud old hill, with a sigh for its palaces and the beauty of its great cypress-groves.

As the morning advanced, the city grew fully animate. A festal spirit was abroad, seeking display in masks, mimes, and processions. Jugglers performed on the street-corners; dancing-girls, with tambours, and long elf-locks dressed in flowers, possessed themselves of the smooth sidewalks. Very plainly, the evil omen of the morning affected the king more than his people.

The day advanced clear and beautiful. In the eastern sky the smoke of the volcano still lingered; but the sun rose above it, and smiled on the valley, like a loving god. At length the tambour in the great temple sounded the signal of assemblage. Its deep tones, penetrating every recess of the town and rushing across the lake, were heard in the villages on the distant shores.

Catalog Record: The fair god, or, The last of the 'tzins : a | HathiTrust Digital Library

Then, in steady currents, the multitudes set forward for the tianguez. The chinampas were deserted; hovels and palaces gave up their tenantry; canoes, gay with garlands, were abandoned in the waveless canals. The women and children came down from the roofs; from all the temples—all but the old one with the solitary gray tower and echoless court—poured the priesthood in processions, headed by chanting choirs, and interspersed with countless sacred symbols.

Many were the pomps, but that of the warriors surpassed all others. Marching in columns of thousands, they filled the streets with flashing arms and gorgeous regalia, roar of attabals and peals of minstrelsy. About the same time the royal palanquin stood at the palace portal, engoldened, jewelled, and surmounted with a panache of green plumes.

Cuitlahua, Cacama, Maxtla, and the lords of Tlacopan, Tepejaca, and Cholula, with other nobles from the provinces far and near, were collected about it in waiting, sporting on their persons the wealth of principalities. When the monarch came out, they knelt, and every one of them placed his palm on the ground before him. On the last stone at the portal he stopped, and raised his eyes to the sky. A piece of aguave , fluttering like a leaf, fell so near him that he reached out his hand and caught it.

The paper contained only the picture of an eagle attacked by an owl, and passed from hand to hand.

The Fair God; or, The Last of the 'Tzins: A Tale of the Conquest of Mexico

Intent on deciphering the writing, none thought of inquiring whether its coming was of design or accident. Then he entered the palanquin; whereupon some of the nobles lifted it on their shoulders, and the company, in procession, set out for the tianguez. The Iztapalapan street, of great width, and on both sides lined with gardens, palaces, and temples, was not only the boast of Tenochtitlan; its beauty was told in song and story throughout the Empire.

They at once started for the tianguez. The broker was fat, and it was troublesome for him to keep pace with the hunter; nevertheless, they overtook a party of tamanes going in the same direction, and bearing a palanquin richly caparisoned. The slaves, very sumptuously clad, proceeded slowly and with downcast eyes, and so steadily that the carriage had the onward, gliding motion of a boat. See you not the green panache? Too late. The Chalcan, even as he whispered, touched the pavement, but Hualpa remained erect: not only that; he looked boldly into the eyes of the occupants of the palanquin,—two women, whose beauty shone upon him like a sudden light.

Then he bent his head, and his heart closed upon the recollection of what he saw so that it never escaped. The picture was of a girl, almost a woman, laughing; opposite her, and rather in the shade of the fringed curtain, one older, though young, and grave and stately; her hair black, her face oval, her eyes large and lustrous. To her he made his involuntary obeisance. Afterwards she reminded many a Spaniard of the dark-eyed hermosura with whom he had left love-tokens in his native land.

Remember the lesson. By the way, the gossips say that Guatamozin will marry Tula, the eldest one. They are not for such as you. Come on. It may be we can get seats to see the king and his whole household. At the entrance to the arena there was a press which the police could hardly control. Let us under the staging here until he passes. They found themselves, then, close by the spears, which, planted in the ground, upheld the shields of the combatants; and when the Tihuancan heard the people, as they streamed in, cheer the champions of the god, he grieved sorely that he was not one of them.

The Fair God or, the Last of the 'Tzins

The heralds then came up, clearing the way; and all thereabout knelt, and so received the monarch. He stopped to inspect the shields; for in all his realm there was not one better versed in its heraldry. A diadem, not unlike the papal tiara, crowned his head; his tunic and cloak were of the skins of green humming-birds brilliantly iridescent; a rope of pearls large as grapes hung, many times doubled, from his neck down over his breast; his sandals and sandal-thongs were embossed with gold, and besides anklets of massive gold, cuishes of the same metal guarded his legs from knee to anklet.


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Save the transparent, lustrous gray of the pearls, his dress was of the two colors, green and yellow, and the effect was indescribably royal; yet all the bravery of his trappings could not hide from Hualpa, beholding him for the first time, that, like any common soul, he was suffering from some trouble of mind. It is well! Put your trust in them, O my children. And upon you be their blessing!

And already he had passed the spears: one gage was forgotten, one combatant unblessed. Suddenly he looked back. Last night he challenged me to this combat, and he is not here.

Why did this block occur?

O king, the owl may be looking for the eagle. A moment the sadly serene countenance of the monarch knit and flushed as from a passing pain; a moment he regarded the Tezcucan. Then he turned to the shields of the Othmies and Tlascalans. Fail me not, O children!

When the Tihuancan and his chaperone climbed half-way to the upper row of seats, in the quarter assigned to the people, the former was amazed. It was bounded by a rope, outside of which was a broad margin crowded with rank on rank of common soldiery, whose shields were arranged before them like a wall impervious to a glancing arrow. Back from the arena extended the staging, rising gradually seat above seat, platform above platform, until the whole area of the tianguez was occupied.

Xoli laughed. The timbers you see were wrought long ago, and have been lying in the temples; the tamanes had only to bring them out and put them together. In the east there was a platform, carpeted, furnished with lounges, and protected from the sun by a red canopy; broad passages of entrance separated it from the ruder structure erected for the commonalty; it was also the highest of the platforms, so that its occupants could overlook the whole amphitheatre.

This lordlier preparation belonged to the king, his household and nobles. So, besides his wives and daughters, under the red canopy sat the three hundred women of his harem,—soft testimony that Orientalism dwelt not alone in the sky and palm-trees of the valley. As remarked, the margin around the arena belonged to the soldiery; the citizens had seats in the north and south; while the priesthood, superior to either of them in sanctity of character, sat aloof in the west, also screened by a canopy. And, as the celebration was regarded in the light of a religious exercise, not only did women crowd the place, but mothers brought their children, that, from the examples of the arena, they might learn to be warriors.

Upon the appearance of the monarch there was a perfect calm. Standing awhile by his couch, he looked over the scene; and not often has royal vision been better filled with all that constitutes royalty. Opposite him he saw the servitors of his religion; at his feet were his warriors and people almost innumerable. When, at last, the minstrels of the soldiery poured their wild music over the theatre, he thrilled with the ecstasy of power.

The champions for the god then came in; and as they strode across to the western side of the arena the air was filled with plaudits and flying garlands; but hardly was the welcome ended before there was a great hum and stir, as the spectators asked each other why the fourth combatant came not with the others. They say he goes to battle with the will a girl goes to a feast.


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The other is the Cholulan; he has his renown to win, and is too young. The broker yawned. They are proud; they scorn the other nations, even the Aztecs. Probably it is well they are better priests than soldiers. Under the red canopy yonder I see his father.

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The Fair God, Or, the Last of the 'Tzins

Just then within the wall of shields there came a warrior, who strode swiftly toward the solitary gage. As they bore such shields to battle, he became, as it were, their peculiar representative. It was Guatamozin. Whether the monarch himself was one of them might not be said; his face was as impassive as bronze. Next, the Othmies and Tlascalans, dignified into common challengers of the proudest chiefs of Tenochtitlan, were conducted into the arena.

The Tlascalans were strong men used to battle; and though, like their companions in danger, at first bewildered by the sudden introduction to so vast a multitude, they became quickly inured to the situation. Of the Othmies, a more promising pair of gladiators never exhibited before a Roman audience. The father was past the prime of life, but erect, broad-shouldered, and of unusual dignity; the son was slighter, and not so tall, but his limbs were round and beautiful, and he looked as if he might outleap an antelope.

The people were delighted, and cheered the challengers with scarcely less heartiness than their own champions. Still, the younger Othmi appeared hesitant, and, when the clamor somewhat abated, the sire touched him, and said,—.