The Aztec Indians

.. , gossip there, old friends meet as do new ones. I can think of few places more exciting and pleasurable than the Texcoco market. As I buy my son a fish pie, two tlanecuilo approach me for help. As pochteca of the highest order it is our duty to oversee and pass judgment on market affairs (Smith,117).

These two common merchants tell me of another commoner who has been passing off counterfeit cacao beans filled with sawdust. Though busy, it is my duty to investigate the matter. The merchant in question swears that he has never counterfeited beans and was unaware that they were filled with sawdust. I see that the old man is not lying and is a victim of some other culprit. I order him to reimburse the two other merchants along with a small fine and warn him to be wary of the people he does business with in the future. The man gratefully heeds the advice and I once again assume my business.

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As it approaches noon, I see an old friend and partner of mine, Ozomatli. We have known each other since I first moved to Texcoco after my marriage. Our fathers who were pochteca before us became good friends after one of my fathers frequent expeditions to Texcoco from my native Tenochtitlan. They remained close throughout the years and when I came to settle in Texcoco he looked out for me like I was his own son. Since then Ozomatli and I have become like brothers in life and work.

Although we have not spoken in a month, I remember our last conversation and realize we may soon become true relatives. His son, now eighteen and out of school, is ready for marriage and his teachers and relatives have all suggested my daughter as a fine bride. A matchmaker had already approached my wife while I was gone and little is left but my approval. My daughter, now 13 years old, is has been ready for marriage for sometime now, yet I have been reluctant to let her go to just any commoner. But Ozomatlis son is a good, strong young man perfect for my daughter.

I tell Ozomatli that nothing would make me happier than to see them married and us family. Ozomatli shares my happiness and excitement. He tells me that tomorrow he and his wife will consult a soothsayer and determine a lucky day for the marriage, because a marriage on an unlucky day will surely not succeed (Smith, 138). We part, both eager for our upcoming plans. As I finish up my business, we pass the great temples in the center of town.

It has been a while, so I stop to pay homage and respect to our gods. It is for and through them that I have governed my life the way I have. I remind my son of this and he listens intently and thoughtfully as I speak, knowing the seriousness of what I speak. As I speak to him, I begin to remember when my father told me the same things at the great temples in Tenochtitlan. I remember how he told explained to me our creation and how we all are indebted to the gods through a cycle of blood: the blood they gave to create us and the sacred blood we sacrifice to appease and thank them.

The year before, I took my son to Tenochtitlan to witness the great Toxcatl ceremonies. The Toxcatl ceremonies come at the height of the dry season and are dedicated to the god, Tezcatlipoca, in supplication for the start of the coming rainy season (Smith,236). My son marveled at the immense city and elaborate, beautiful ceremonies the same way I did so many years before. The priests stoked roaring fires of incense as the sacrifices were conducted. The temple was stained red that day and the air filled with the smell of blood.

Once again the gods were fed and in time the rains came again. Dusk approaches and the market begins to die down. I remember I still have an important errand to run and we head back toward our capolli. As we walk back my son asks when he will be allowed to join me on expeditions and I tell him he will soon be on expeditions of his own. In my heart I feel he will succeed in his life to degrees I dare not dream.

My apprentice, who is my faithful shadow, and I discuss and analyze the days events. He is a fast learner and I am glad to see him and my son becoming friends. We come to the home of Molotecatl, the Tecuhtli lord of our capolli and one of the most favored nobles of our tlatoni, the Imperial Ruler of Texcoco. At the gates of his huge, two-story home, I tell my son and apprentice to wait outside as I go in to conduct business. Molotecatl has been a wise and good lord to our family and I know he looks upon me with great respect and admiration. I have a suspicion that he had a major influence in having Ocelotl invited to the calmecac.

I have served him faithfully since Ive been his subject and have helped him prosper. He greets me graciously and I bow with respect. He offers me food and drink that I dare not refuse and asks me of my most recent expedition. Often time I have traded goods directly for him, but this time I had not. This time he was more interested in information I had gathered from my trip. The pochteca have long and respected tradition of spy work and information gathering ( Smith,123).

He is curious of the conditions in the northeastern realm of the empire from which I had just returned. I tell him that I saw little to cause alarm and assure him the enemies to the east have not grown too bold. I can tell he is happy to hear this and assures me that when he conveys this information he will attribute the source. It fills me with pride that my voice will reach the tlatoanis ear. Molotecatl then presents a most serious and interesting proposition to me.

He asks me to head an expedition to the southeastern parts of the Triple-Alliance empire in an effort to gather information on strange rumors of floating cities off the western coast. Although it is greatly interesting, I remind him that I am older now and not of the same spirit and strength that I once was, when I made yearly expeditions to the most dangerous corners of the world. But, now I tell him I fear Im too old. He offers to send me with armed guard and promises handsome rewards hard to turn down. I tell him that my wife will be with child soon and will need me to stay close to home with my daughter getting married, but that I shall consider it in a few months time.

He seems hopeful of this and assures me Im the only man he is considering to send. I thank him for his regard and pay my respects to his family before leaving. It is dark by the time I emerge from his home to find my son and apprentice throwing stones at large stump in the field next to the house. We hurry home where my wife has had food prepared for sometime and is busy keeping it warm. Though full from the food I had just eaten at my lords home, I eat my share of my wifes cooking, not wanting to upset her. As we eat, we discuss the upcoming marriage of our daughter and I see that both my wife and daughter are excited.

After dinner we all head to our quarters for sleep and I tell my wife of my lords proposition. I can tell she doesnt want me leaving on any more expeditions and with my success I really dont need too. She says she will still support any decision I make and suggests I consult a soothsayer on the matter. I agree, and pull her close to me as I rub her belly. Three children! Nothing could make a man happier, and truly I was looked favorably upon by the gods.

In the path they had set for me in life, I had not failed and in the role they had chose for me, I served dutifully. I pray that my own children will be as lucky and favored. Ocelotl shall truly make a fine warrior, and Xochitl the most fertile of mothers. And my unborn child? Who knows what extraordinary life the gods had planned for it! And dreaming of his still unwritten life, I fell into a peaceful sleep.