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the Spanish horse and foot burst into the square, and with the fury of a whirlwind threw themselves upon the astounded Indians. Stunned by the thunder of artillery and matchlocks, the echoes of which reverberated from the surrounding buildings, and, blinded by the smoke which rolled in sulphurous volumes along the square, they were seized with a terrible panic, and knew not where to fly. Indiscriminately trampled down by the fierce warhorses, cut right and left by flashing swords, and beholding horse and rider in all their terror, it is no wonder that they were helpless with dread. The avenues of escape were soon choked up with the dead bodies of men in their vain endeavors to fly. A breach was made in the wall and many escaped through it, while hundreds perished in their efforts to reach this only avenue of escape. Every sword grew redder with each successive stroke, and the great square was drenched with blood.
“Pruilla, we shall be avenged!” cried Felipillo, leaping at the Inca with upraised dagger.
“Let no one who values his life harm the Inca!” cried Pizarro, stretching forth his brawny arm to save the monarch's life. The dagger fell on his own arm, and Pizarro's was the only Spanish blood which flowed that day.
The struggle around the royal litter momentarily
became more fierce. It swayed and reeled like a ship in a storm as the nobles supporting it fell beneath the swords and lances. Suddenly it was overturned, and the Indian prince would have fallen to the ground had not Pizarro and Estevan caught him in their arms. A soldier named Estete snatched from his temples the imperial borla, and the unhappy monarch, strongly secured, was removed to a neighboring building, where he was carefully guarded. A king had been seized by a mere handful of adventurers, in the midst of his army.
The Peruvians were too much overcome by the attack to make much further resistance. Nearly ten thousand had been slain, and the remainder were humbled.
It was three days before Estevan recovered from the terrible shock produced by the indiscriminate slaughter. He and Nicosia were selected as guards over the imprisoned king, and they did all in their power to alleviate his sufferings. Pizarro, too, was kind to him, and allowed his family to visit him. But for the watchful care of the guards, Felipillo would have satisfied his hatred by slaying the royal prisoner. He forced his way into the harem where he found his adored Pruilla, whom the Inca had torn from his side. The joy of this meeting is beyond description. Clasping the lovely Peruvian in his arms, Felipillo exclaimed: “Peru has lost king, liberty, and glory, but I have gained more than all these—she who is the sunlight of my life.”
One day Pizarro, fearing that his royal prisoner would attempt to escape, went to him and said: “ Any effort on your part to escape, or on the part of your friends to rescue you, will force me to put you to death."
The wily captain knew that this would be communicated to the Peruvians all over the country. Bereft of crown and kingdom, the unhappy monarch felt that a terrible fate was settling about him. But amid all his woe, he evinced no little curiosity and interest in the strangers. One day he asked his guard how the Spaniards communicated by writing. Explaining as best he could, Estevan wrote the word “God” on the Inca's thumb-nail.
“That is the word God,” he explained, “and any of our men can tell you the same by looking at it.” A few moments later De Soto entered, the test was tried and he answered correctly. Nicosia came next and several others, and all gave a correct answer. Unfortunately for Atahualpa, Pizarro entered his prison-chamber, and he tried him with the test, but only a blank, expressionless stare was the answer. Pizarro could not read.
“Is it possible that the great captain has not the knowledge of a common soldier?” said the royal prisoner in a tone of contempt. Pizarro was sensitive on the subject of illiteracy or humble birth, and from that moment became a personal enemy of the Inca. Atahualpa was not long in realizing that he was hated by the captain, and began to fear for his personal safety. Knowing that Pizarro loved gold, he offered him a heavy ransom for his liberty.
“How much will you give?” asked Pizarro. “Will you cover the floor of this room ?”
“I will not only cover the floor but fill the room with gold as high as I can reach,” he answered, standing on tiptoe and reaching up as high as he could.
The apartment was about seventeen feet broad by twenty-two feet long, and the line indicating how high it was to be filled was nine feet from the floor, making five thousand three hundred and forty-six cubic feet of gold which Pizarro was to receive as ransom for the Inca. The gold, however, was to retain the original form of the articles in which it was manufactured, that Atahualpa might have the benefit of the space which they occupied. He further agreed to fill an adjoining room of equal size twice over with silver, for which he was to have his liberty.
Pizarro had no faith in his being able to accumulate such a fabulous amount of treasure; but the Inca sent orders to his vassals throughout the land, and temples, public houses, and private dwellings of the rich were despoiled and the rich treasure came pouring in. Estevan, who received the gold and placed it in the apartment, was amazed at the exquisite workmanship of many of the ornaments.
Rumor reached the ears of the captive Inca that Huascar, his brother and rival, whom he feared and hated, was seeking to take advantage of Atahualpa's imprisonment and seize the Peruvian throne. Atahualpa became greatly alarmed and determined to do away with his brother. Accordingly Huascar was assassinated before Pizarro could interfere. The conqueror was very indignant at the assassination of Huascar, and boldly accused Atahualpa of instigating the crime. This the captive denied. All the while the treasure flowed in, and Estevan reported that the room would soon be filled with gold to the required height.
It was reported, about this time, that there was an uprising of Peruvian forces who were concentrating in the neighborhood of the city of Huamachuco. When accused of this supposed treachery, and also informed that the required amount of gold was still incomplete, the Inca was astounded.
“No one of my subjects would dare appear in arms or raise a finger without my orders,” he declared. “You have me in your power. Is not