Part 3 out of 7
lay him in a wagon."
Meanwhile preparations had been made for an advance. The four dead or
badly wounded draft mules were disentangled from the harness, and their
places supplied with the four army mules, whose packs were thrown into the
wagons. These animals, by the way, had escaped injury, partly because they
had been tethered between the two lines of vehicles, and partly because
they had been well covered by their loads, which were plentifully
"We are ready to march," said Thurstane to Coronado. "I am sorry we can't
try to recover your men back there."
"No use," commented Texas Smith. "The Patchies have been at 'em. They're
chuck full of spear holes by this time."
Coronado shouted to the drivers to start. Commencing on the right, the
wagons filed off two by two toward the mouth of the canon, while the
Indians, gathered in a group half a mile away, looked on without a yell or
a movement. The instant that the vehicle which contained the ladies had
cleared itself of the others, Thurstane and Coronado rode alongside of it.
"So! you are safe!" said the former. "By Heavens, if they _had_ hurt you!"
"And you?" asked Clara, very quickly and eagerly, while scanning him from
head to foot.
Coronado saw that look, anxious for Thurstane alone; and, master of
dissimulation though he was, his face showed both pain and anger.
"Ah--oh--oh dear!" groaned Mrs. Stanley, as she made her appearance in the
front of the vehicle. "Well! this is rather more than I can bear. This is
just as much as a woman can put up with. Dear me! what is the matter with
your arm, Lieutenant?"
"Just a pin prick," said Thurstane.
Clara began to get out of the wagon, with the purpose of going to him, her
eyes staring and her face pale.
"Don't!" he protested, motioning her back. "It is nothing."
And, although the lacerated arm hurt him and was not easy to manage, he
raised it over his head to show that the damage was trifling.
"Do get in here and let us take care of you," begged Clara.
"Certainly!" echoed Aunt Maria, who was a compassionate woman at heart,
and who only lacked somewhat in quickness of sympathy, perhaps by reason
of her strong-minded notions.
"I will when I need it," said Ralph, flattered and gratified. "The arm
will do without dressing till we reach camp. There are other wounded.
Everybody has fought. Mr. Coronado here has done deeds worthy of his
"Ah, Mr. Coronado!" smiled Aunt Maria, delighted that her favorite had
"Captain Glover, what's the matter with your nose?" was the lady's next
"Wal, it's been bored," replied Glover, tenderly fingering his sore
proboscis. "It's been, so to speak, eyelet-holed. I'm glad I hadn't but
one. The more noses a feller kerries in battle, the wuss for him. I hope
the darned rip'll heal up. I've no 'casion to hev a line rove through it
'n' be towed, that I know of."
"How did it feel when it went through?" asked Aunt Maria, full of
curiosity and awe.
"Felt's though I'd got the dreadfullest influenzee thet ever snorted.
Twitched 'n' tickled like all possessed."
"Was it an arrow?" inquired the still unsatisfied lady.
"Reckon 'twas. Never see it. But it kinder whished, 'n' I felt the
feathers. Darn 'em! When I felt the feathers, tell ye I was 'bout half
scairt. Hed 'n idee 'f th' angel 'f death, 'n' so on."
Of course Aunt Maria and Clara wanted to do much nursing immediately; but
there were no conveniences and there was no time; and so benevolence was
"So you are hurt?" said Thurstane to Texas Smith, noticing his torn and
"It's jest a scrape," grunted the bushwhacker. "Mought'a'been worse."
"It was bad generalship trying to save you. We nearly paid high for it."
"That's so. Cost four greasers, as 'twas. Well, I'm worth four greasers."
"You're a devil of a fighter," continued the Lieutenant, surveying the
ferocious face and sullen air of the cutthroat with a soldier's admiration
for whatever expresses pugnacity.
"Bet yer pile on it," returned Texas, calmly conscious of his character.
"So be you."
The savage black eyes and the imperious blue ones stared into each other
without the least flinching and with something like friendliness.
Coronado rode up to the pair and asked, "Is that boy alive yet?"
"It's about time for him to flop round," replied Texas indifferently.
"Reckon you'll find him in the off hind wagon. I shoved him in thar."
Coronado cantered to the off hind wagon, peeped through the rear opening
of its canvas cover, discovered the youth lying on a pile of luggage,
addressed him in Spanish, and learned his story. He belonged to a hacienda
in Bernalillo, a hundred miles or more west of Santa Fe. The Apaches had
surprised the hacienda and plundered it, carrying him off because, having
formerly been a captive among them, he could speak their language, manage
the bow, etc.
For all this Coronado cared nothing; he wanted to know why the band had
left Bernalillo; also why it had attacked his train. The boy explained
that the raiders had been driven off the southern route by a party of
United States cavalry, and that, having lost a number of their braves in
the fight, they had sworn vengeance on Americans.
"Did you hear them say whose train this was?" demanded Coronado.
"Do you think they knew?"
"Senor, I think not."
"Whose band was this?"
"Where is Delgadito?"
"Delgadito went the other side of the mountain. They were both going to
fight the Moquis."
"So we shall find Delgadito in the Moqui valley?"
"I think so, Senor."
After a moment of reflection Coronado added, "You will stay with us and
take care of mules. I will do well by you."
"Thanks, Senor. Many thanks."
Coronado rejoined Thurstane and told his news. The officer looked grave;
there might be another combat in store for the train; it might be an
affair with both bands of the Apaches.
"Well," he said, "we must keep our eyes open. Every one of us must do his
very utmost. On the whole, I can't believe they can beat us."
"Nombre de Dios!" thought Coronado. "How will this accursed job end? I
wish I were out of it."
They were now traversing the canon from which they had been so long
debarred. It was a peaceful solitude; no life but their own stirred within
its sandstone ramparts; and its windings soon carried them out of sight of
their late assailants. For four hours they slowly threaded it, and when
night came on they were still in it, miles away from their expected
camping ground. No water and no grass; the animals were drooping with
hunger, and all suffered with thirst; the worst was that the hurts of the
wounded could not be properly dressed. But progress through this labyrinth
of stones in the darkness was impossible, and the weary, anxious, fevered
travellers bivouacked as well as might be.
Starting at dawn, they finished the canon in about an hour, traversed an
uneven plateau which stretched beyond its final sinuous branch gullies,
and found themselves on the brow of a lofty terrace, overlooking a sublime
panorama. There was an immense valley, not smooth and verdurous, but a
gigantic nest of savage buttes and crags and hills, only to be called a
valley because it was enclosed by what seemed a continuous line of
eminences. On the north and east rose long ranges and elevated
table-lands; on the west, the savage rolls and precipices of the Sierra
del Carrizo; and on the south, a more distant bordering of hazy mountains,
closing to the southwest, a hundred miles away, in the noble snowy peaks
of Monte San Francisco.
With his field-glass, Thurstane examined one after another of the mesas
and buttes which diversified this enormous depression. At last his
attention settled on an isolated bluff or mound, with a flattened surface
three or four miles in length, the whole mass of which seemed to be solid
and barren rock. On this truncated pyramid he distinguished, or thought he
distinguished, one or more of the pueblos of the Moquis. He could not be
quite sure, because the distance was fifteen miles, and the walls of these
villages are of the same stone with the buttes upon which they stand.
"There is our goal, if I am not mistaken," he said to Coronado. "When we
get there we can rest."
The train pushed onward, slowly descending the terrace, or rather the
succession of terraces. After reaching a more level region, and while
winding between stony hills of a depressing sterility, it came suddenly,
at the bottom of a ravine, upon fresh green turf and thickets of willows,
the environment of a small spring of clear water. There was a halt; all
hands fell to digging a trench across the gully; when it had filled, the
animals were allowed to drink; in an hour more they had closely cropped
all the grass. This was using up time perilously, but it had to be done,
for the beasts were tottering.
Moving again; five miles more traversed; another spring and patch of turf
discovered; a rough ravine through a low sandstone ridge threaded; at last
they were on one of the levels of the valley. Three of the Moqui towns
were now about eight miles distant, and with his glass Thurstane could
distinguish the horizontal lines of building. The trail made straight for
the pueblos, but it was almost impassable to wagons, and progress was very
slow. It was all the slower because of the weakness of the mules, which
throughout all this hair-brained journey had been severely worked, and of
late had been poorly fed.
Presently the travellers turned the point of a naked ridge which projected
laterally into the valley. There they came suddenly upon a wide-spread
sweep of turf, contrasting so brilliantly with the bygone infertilities
that it seemed to them a paradise, and stretching clear on to the bluff of
There, too, with equal suddenness, they came upon peril. Just beyond the
nose of the sandstone promontory there was a bivouac of half naked,
dark-skinned horsemen, recognizable at a glance as Apaches. It was
undoubtedly the band of Delgadito.
The camp was half a mile distant. The Indians, evidently surprised at the
appearance of the train, were immediately in commotion. There was a rapid
mounting, and in five minutes they were all on horseback, curveting in
circles, and brandishing their lances, but without advancing.
"Manga Colorada hasn't reached here yet," observed Thurstane.
"That's so," assented Texas Smith. "They hain't heerd from the cuss, or
they'd a bushwhacked us somewhar. Seein' he dasn't follow our trail, he
had to make a big turn to git here. But he'll be droppin' along, an' then
we'll hev a fight. I reckon we'll hev one any way. Them cusses ain't
friendly. If they was, they'd a piled in helter-skelter to hev a talk an'
ask fur whiskey."
"We must keep them at a distance," said Thurstane.
"You bet! The first Injun that comes nigh us. I'll shute him. They mustn't
be 'lowed to git among us. First you know you'd hear a yell, an' find
yourself speared in the back. An' them that's speared right off is the
"Not one of us must fall into their hands," muttered the officer, thinking
"Cap, that's so," returned Texas grimly. "When I fight Injuns, I never
empty my revolver. I keep one barl for myself. You'd better do the same.
Furthermore, thar oughter be somebody detailed to shute the women folks
when it comes to the last pinch. I say this as a friend."
As a friend! It was the utmost stretch of Texas Smith's humanity and
sympathy. Obviously the fellow had a soft side to him.
The fact is that he had taken a fancy to Thurstane since he had learned
his fighting qualities, and would rather have done him a favor than murder
him. At all events his hatred to "Injuns" was such that he wanted the
lieutenant to kill a great many of them before his own turn came.
"So you think we'll have a tough job of it?" inferred Ralph.
"Cap, we ain't so many as we was. An' if Manga Colorada comes up, thar'll
be a pile of red-skins. It may be they'll outlast us; an' so I say as a
friend, save one shot; save it for yourself, Cap."
But the Apaches did not advance. They watched the train steadily; they
held a long consultation which evidently referred to it; at last they
seemed to decide that it was in too good order to fall an easy prey; there
was some wild capering along its flanks, at a safe distance; and then,
little by little, the gang resettled in its bivouac. It was like a swarm
of hornets, which should sally out to reconnoitre an enemy, buzz about
threateningly for a while, and sail back to their nest.
The plain, usually dotted with flocks of sheep, was now a solitude. The
Moquis had evidently withdrawn their woolly wealth either to the summit of
the bluff, or to the partially sheltered pasturage around its base. The
only objects which varied the verdant level were scattered white rocks,
probably gypsum or oxide of manganese, which glistened surprisingly in the
sunlight, reminding one of pearls sown on a mantel of green velvet. But
already the travellers could see the peach orchards of the Moquis, and the
sides of the lofty butte laid out in gardens supported by terrace-walls of
dressed stone, the whole mass surmounted by the solid ramparts of the
At this moment, while the train was still a little over two miles from the
foot of the bluff, and the Apache camp more than three miles to the rear,
Texas Smith shouted, "The cusses hev got the news."
It was true; the foremost riders, or perhaps only the messengers, of Manga
Colorada had readied Delgadito; and a hundred warriors were swarming after
the train to avenge their fallen comrades.
Now ensued a race for life, the last pull of the mules being lashed out of
them, and the Indians riding at the topmost speed of their wiry ponies.
When the race for life and death commenced between the emigrants and the
Apaches, it seemed as if the former would certainly be able to go two
miles before the latter could cover six.
But the mules were weak, and the soil of the plain was a thin loam into
which the wheels sank easily, so that the heavy wagons could not be
hurried beyond a trot, and before long were reduced to a walk. Thus, while
the caravan was still half a mile from its city of refuge, the foremost
hornets of Delgadito's swarm were already circling around it.
The chief could not charge at once, however, for the warriors whom he had
in hand numbered barely a score, and their horses, blown with a run of
over five miles, were unfit for sharp fighting work. For a few minutes
nothing happened, except that the caravan continued its silent, sullen
retreat, while the pursuers cantered yelling around it at a safe distance.
Not a shot was fired by the emigrants; not a brave dashed up to let fly
his arrows. At last there were fifty Apaches; then there was a hurried
council; then a furious rush. Evidently the savages were ashamed to let
their enemies escape for lack of one audacious assault.
This charge was led by a child. A boy not more than fourteen years of age,
screaming like a little demon and discharging his arrows at full speed
with wicked dexterity, rode at the head of this savage _hourra_ of the
Cossacks of the American desert. As the fierce child came on, Coronado saw
him and recognized him with a mixture of wonder, dread, and hate. Here was
the son of the false-hearted savage who had accepted his money, agreed to
do his work, and then turned against him. Should he kill him? It would
open an account of blood between himself and the father. Never mind;
vengeance is sweet; moreover, the youngster was dangerous.
Coronado raised his revolver, steadied it across his left arm, took a calm
aim, and fired. The handsome, headlong, terrible boy swayed forward,
rolled slowly over the pommel of his saddle, and fell to the ground
motionless. In the next moment there was a general rattle of firearms from
the train, and the mass of the charging column broke up into squads which
went off in aimless caracolings. Barring a short struggle by half a dozen
braves to recover the young chief's body, the contest was over; and in two
minutes more the Apaches were half a mile distant, looking on in sulky
silence while the train crawled toward the protecting bluff.
"Hurrah!" shouted Thurstane. "That was quick work. Delgadito doesn't take
his punishment well."
"Reckon they see we had friends," observed Captain Glover. "Jest look at
them critters pile down the mounting. Darned if they don't skip like
Down the huge steep slope, springing along rocky, sinuous paths or over
the walls of the terraces, came a hundred or a hundred and fifty men,
running with a speed which, considering the nature of the footing, was
marvellous. Before many in the train were aware of their approach, they
were already among the wagons, rushing up to the travellers with
outstretched hands, the most cordial, cheerful, kindly-eyed people that
Thurstane had seen in New Mexico. Good features, too; that is, they were
handsomer than the usual Indian type; some even had physiognomies which
reminded one of Italians. Their hair was fine and glossy for men of their
race; and, stranger still, it bore an appearance of careful combing.
Nearly all wore loose cotton trousers or drawers reaching to the knee,
with a kind of blouse of woollen or cotton, and over the shoulders a gay
woollen blanket tied around the waist. In view of their tidy raiment and
their general air of cleanliness, it seemed a mistake to class them as
Indians. These were the Moquis, a remnant of one of the semi-civilizations
of America, perhaps a colony left behind by the Aztecs in their
migrations, or possibly by the temple-builders of Yucatan.
Impossible to converse with them. Not a person in the caravan spoke the
Moqui tongue, and not a Moqui spoke or understood a word of Spanish or
English. But it was evident from their faces and gestures that they were
enthusiastically friendly, and that they had rushed down from their
fastness to aid the emigrants against the Apaches. There was even a little
sally into the plain, the Moquis running a quarter of a mile with amazing
agility, spreading out into a loose skirmishing line of battle,
brandishing their bows and defying the enemy to battle. But this ended in
nothing; the Apaches sullenly cantered away; the others soon checked their
Now came the question of encampment. To get the wagons up the bluff, eight
hundred feet or so in height, along a path which had been cut in the rock
or built up with stone, was obviously impossible. Would there be safety
where they were, just at the base of the noble slope? The Moquis assured
them by signs that the plundering horse-Indians never came so near the
pueblos. Camp then; the wagons were parked as usual in a hollow square;
the half-starved animals were unharnessed and allowed to fly at the
abundant grass; the cramped and wearied travellers threw themselves on the
ground with delight.
"What a charming people these Monkeys are!" said Aunt Maria, surveying the
neat and smiling villagers with approval.
"Moquis," Coronado corrected her, with a bow.
"Oh, Mo-kies," repeated Aunt Maria, this time catching the sound exactly.
"Well, I propose to see as much of them as possible. Why shouldn't the
women and the wounded sleep in the city?"
"It is an excellent idea," assented Coronado, although he thought with
distaste that this would bring Clara and Thurstane together, while he
would be at a distance.
"I suppose we shall get an idea from it of the ancient city of Mexico, as
described by Prescott," continued the enthusiastic lady.
"You will discover a few deviations in the ground plan," returned
Coronado, for once ironical.
Aunt Maria's suggestion with regard to the women and the wounded was
adopted. The Moquis seemed to urge it; so at least they were understood.
Within a couple of hours after the halt a procession of the feebler folk
commenced climbing the bluff, accompanied by a crowd of the hospitable
Indians. The winding and difficult path swarmed for a quarter of a mile
with people in the gayest of blankets, some ascending with the strangers
and some coming down to greet them.
"I should think we were going up to the Temple of the Sun to be
sacrified," said Clara, who had also read Prescott.
"To be worshipped," ventured Thurstane, giving her a look which made her
blush, the boldest look that he had yet ventured.
The terraces, as we have stated, were faced with partially dressed stone.
They were in many places quite broad, and were cultivated everywhere with
admirable care, presenting long green lines of corn fields or of peach
orchards. Half-way up the ascent was a platform of more than ordinary
spaciousness which contained a large reservoir, built of chipped stone
strongly cemented, and brimming with limpid water. From this cistern large
earthen pipes led off in various directions to irrigate the terraces
"It seems to me that we are discovering America," exclaimed Aunt Maria,
her face scarlet with exercise and enthusiasm.
Presently she asked, in full faith that she was approaching a metropolis,
"What is the name of the city?"
"This must be Tegua," replied Thurstane. "Tegua is the most eastern of the
Moqui pueblos. There are three on this bluff. Mooshaneh and two others are
on a butte to the west. Oraybe is further north."
"What a powerful confederacy!" said Aunt Maria. "The United States of the
After a breathless ascent of at least eight hundred feet, they reached the
undulated, barren, rocky surface of a plateau. Here the whole population
of Tegua had collected; and for the first time the visitors saw Moqui
women and children. Aunt Maria was particularly pleased with the specimens
of her own sex; she went into ecstasies over their gentle physiognomies
and their well-combed, carefully braided, glossy hair; she admired their
long gowns of black woollen, each with a yellow stripe around the waist
and a border of the same at the bottom.
"Such a sensible costume!" she said. "So much more rational and convenient
than our fashionable fripperies!"
Another fact of great interest was that the Moquis were lighter
complexioned than Indians in general. And when she discovered a woman with
fair skin, blue eyes, and yellow hair--one of those albinos who are found
among the inhabitants of the pueblos--she went into an excitement which
was nothing less than ethnological.
"These are white people," she cried, losing sight of all the brown faces.
"They are some European race which colonized America long before that
modern upstart, Columbus. They are undoubtedly the descendants of the
Northmen who built the old mill at Newport and sculptured the Dighton
"There is a belief," said Thurstane, "that some of these pueblo people,
particularly those of Zuni, are Welsh. A Welsh prince named Madoc, flying
before the Saxons, is said to have reached America. There are persons who
hold that the descendants of his followers built the mounds in the
Mississippi Valley, and that some of them became the white Mandans of the
upper Missouri, and that others founded this old Mexican civilization. Of
course it is all guess-work. There's nothing about it in the Regulations."
"I consider it highly probable," asserted Aunt Maria, forgetting her
Scandinavian hypothesis. "I don't see how you can doubt that that
flaxen-haired girl is a descendant of Medoc, Prince of Wales."
"Madoc," corrected Thurstane.
"Well, Madoc then," replied Aunt Maria rather pettishly, for she was
dreadfully tired, and moreover she didn't like Thurstane.
A few minutes' walk brought them to the rampart which surrounded the
pueblo. Its foundation was a solid blind wall, fifteen feet or so in
height, and built of hewn stone laid in clay cement. Above was a second
wall, rising from the first as one terrace rises from another, and
surmounted by a third, which was also in terrace fashion. The ground tier
of this stair-like structure contained the storerooms of the Moquis, while
the upper tiers were composed of their two-story houses, the entire mass
of masonry being upward of thirty feet high, and forming a continuous line
of fortification. This rampart of dwellings was in the shape of a
rectangle, and enclosed a large square or plaza containing a noble
reservoir. Compact and populous, at once a castle and a city, the place
could defy all the horse Indians of North America.
"Bless me! this is sublime but dreadful," said Aunt Maria when she learned
that she must ascend to the landing of the lower wall by a ladder. "No
gate? Isn't there a window somewhere that I could crawl through? Well,
well! Dear me! But it's delightful to see how safe these excellent people
have made themselves."
So with many tremblings, and with the aid of a lariat fastened around her
waist and vigorously pulled from above by two Moquis, Aunt Maria clutched
and scraped her way to the top of the foundation terrace.
"I shall never go down in the world," she remarked with a shuddering
glance backward. "I shall pass the rest of my days here."
From the first platform the travellers were led to the second and third by
stone stairways. They were now upon the inside of the rectangle, and could
see two stories of doors facing the plaza and the reservoir in its centre,
the whole scene cheerful with the gay garments and smiling faces of the
"Beautiful!" said Aunt Maria. "That court is absolutely swept and dusted.
One might give a ball there. I should like to hear Lucretia Mott speak in
Her reflections were interrupted by the courteous gestures of a
middle-aged, dignified Moqui, who was apparently inviting the party to
enter one of the dwellings.
Pepita and the other two Indian women, with the wounded muleteers, were
taken to another house. Aunt Maria, Clara, Thurstane, and Phineas Glover
entered the residence of the chief, and found themselves in a room six or
seven feet high, fifteen feet in length and ten in breadth. The floor was
solid, polished clay; the walls were built of the large, sunbaked bricks
called adobes; the ceilings were of beams, covered by short sticks, with
adobes over all. Skins, bows and arrows, quivers, antlers, blankets,
articles of clothing, and various simple ornaments hung on pegs driven
into the walls or lay packed upon shelves.
"They are a musical race, I see," observed Aunt Maria, pointing to a pair
of painted drumsticks tipped with gay feathers, and a reed wind-instrument
with a bell-shaped mouth like a clarionet. "Of course they are. The Welsh
were always famous for their bards and their harpers. Does anybody in our
party speak Welsh? What a pity we are such ignoramuses! We might have an
interesting conversation with these people. I should so like to hear their
traditions about the voyage across the Atlantic and the old mill at
Her remarks were interrupted by a short speech from the chief, whom she at
first understood as relating the adventures of his ancestors, but who
finally made it clear that he was asking them to take seats. After they
were arranged on a row of skins spread along the wall, a shy, meek, and
pretty Moqui woman passed around a vase of water for drinking and a tray
which contained something not unlike a bundle of blue wrapping paper.
"Is this to wipe our hands on?" inquired Aunt Maria, bringing her
spectacles to bear on the contents of the tray.
"It smells like corn bread," said Clara.
So it was. The corn of the Moquis is blue, and grinding does not destroy
the color. The meal is stirred into a thin gruel and cooked by pouring
over smooth, flat, heated stones, the light shining tissues being rapidly
taken off and folded, and subsequently made up in bundles.
The party made a fair meal off the blue wrapping paper. Then the meek-eyed
woman reappeared, removed the dishes, returned once more, and looked
fixedly at Thurstane's bloody sleeve.
"Certainly!" said Aunt Maria. "Let her dress your arm. I have no doubt
that unpretending woman knows more about surgery than all the men doctors
in New York city. Let her dress it."
Thurstane partially threw off his coat and rolled up his shirt sleeve.
Clara gave one glance at the huge white arm with the small crimson hole in
it, and turned away with a thrill which was new to her. The Moqui woman
washed the wound, applied a dressing which looked like chewed leaves, and
put on a light bandage.
"Does it feel any better?" asked Aunt Maria eagerly.
"It feels cooler," said Thurstane.
Aunt Maria looked as if she thought him very ungrateful for not saying
that he was entirely well.
"An' my nose," suggested Glover, turning up his lacerated proboscis.
"Yes, certainly; your poor nose," assented Aunt Maria. "Let the lady cure
The female surgeon fastened a poultice upon the tattered cartilage by
passing a bandage around the skipper's sandy and bristly head.
"Works like a charm 'n' smells like peach leaves," snuffled the patient.
"It's where it's handy to sniff at--that's a comfort."
After much dumb show, arrangements were made for the night. One of the
inner rooms was assigned to Mrs. Stanley and Clara, and another to
Thurstane and Glover. Bedding, provisions, and some small articles as
presents for the Moquis were sent up from the train by Coronado.
But would the wagons, the animals, and the human members of the party
below be safe during the night? Young as he was, and wounded as he was,
Thurstane was so badgered by his army habit of incessant responsibility
that he could not lie down to rest until he had visited the camp and
examined personally into probabilities of attack and means of defence. As
he descended the stony path which scored the side of the butte, his
anxiety was greatly increased by the appearance of a party of armed Moquis
rushing like deer down the steep slope, as if to repel an attack.
Thurstane found the caravan in excellent condition, the mules being
tethered at the reservoir half-way up the acclivity, and the wagons parked
and guarded as usual, with Weber for officer of the night.
"We are in no tanger, Leftenant," said the sergeant. "A large barty of
these bueplo beeble has shust gone to the vront. They haf daken atfandage
of our bresence to regover a bortion of the blain. I haf sent Kelly along
to look after them a leetle und make them keep a goot watch. We are shust
as safe as bossible. Und to-morrow we will basture the animals. It is a
goot blace for a gamp, Leftenant, und we shall pe all right in a tay or
"Does Shubert's leg need attention?"
"No. It is shust nothing. Shupert is for tuty."
"And you feel perfectly able to take care of yourselves here?"
"Forty rounds apiece!"
"They are issued, Leftenant."
"If you are attacked, fire heavily; and if the attack is sharp, retreat to
the bluff. Never mind the wagons; they can be recovered."
"I will opey your instructions, Leftenant."
Thurstane was feverish and exhausted; he knew that Weber was as good a
soldier as himself; and still he went back to the village with an anxious
heart; such is the tenderness of the military conscience as to _duty_.
By the time he reached the upper landing of the wall of the pueblo it was
sunset, and he paused to gaze at a magnificent landscape, the _replica_ of
the one which he had seen at sunrise. There were buttes, valleys, and
canons, the vast and lofty plateaus of the north, the ranges of the Navajo
country, the Sierra del Carrizo, and the ice peaks of Monte San Francisco.
It was sublime, savage, beautiful, horrible. It seemed a revelation from
some other world. It was a nightmare of nature.
Clara met him on the landing with the smile which she now often gave him.
"I was anxious about you," she said. "You were too weak to go down there.
You look very tired. Do come and eat, and then rest. You will make
yourself sick. I was quite anxious about you."
It was a delightful repetition. How his heart and his eyes thanked her for
being troubled for his sake! He was so cheered that in a moment he did not
seem to be tired at all. He could have watched all that night, if it had
been necessary for her safety, or even for her comfort. The soul certainly
has a great deal to do with the body.
While our travellers sleep, let us glance at the singular people among
whom they have found refuge.
It is said hesitatingly, by scholars who have not yet made comparative
studies of languages, that the Moquis are not _red men_, like the
Algonquins, the Iroquois, the Lenni-Lenape, the Sioux, and in general
those whom we know as _Indians_. It is said, moreover, that they are of
the same generic stock with the Aztecs of Mexico, the ancient Peruvians,
and all the other city-building peoples of both North and South America.
It was an evil day for the brown race of New Mexico when horses strayed
from the Spanish settlements into the desert, and the savage red tribes
became cavalry. This feeble civilization then received a more cruel shock
than that which had been dealt it by the storming columns of the
conquistadors. The horse transformed the Utes, Apaches, Comanches, and
Navajos from snapping-turtles into condors. Thenceforward, instead of
crawling in slow and feeble bands to tease the dense populations of the
pueblos, they could come like a tornado, and come in a swarm. At no time
were the Moquis and their fellow agriculturists and herdsmen safe from
robbery and slaughter. Such villages as did not stand upon buttes
inaccessible to horsemen, and such as did not possess fertile lands
immediately under the shelter of their walls, were either abandoned or
depopulated by slow starvation.
It is thus that we may account for many of the desolate cities which are
now found in Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah. Not of course for all; some,
we know, were destroyed by the early Spaniards; others may have been
forsaken because their tillable lands became exhausted; others doubtless
fell during wars between different tribes of the brown race. But the
cavalry of the desert must necessarily have been a potent instrument of
It is a pathetic spectacle, this civilization which has perished, or is
perishing, without the poor consolation of a history to record its
sufferings. It comes near to being a repetition of the silent death of the
flint and bronze races, the mound-raisers, and cave-diggers, and
cromlech-builders of Europe.
Captain Phineas Glover, rising at an early hour in the morning, and having
had his nosebag of medicament refilled and refitted, set off on an
appetizer around the ramparts of the pueblo, and came back marvelling.
"Been out to shake hands with these clever critters," he said. "Best
behavin' 'n' meekest lookin' Injuns I ever see. Put me in mind o' cows 'n'
lambs. An' neat! 'Most equal to Amsterdam Dutch. Seen a woman sweepin' up
her husband's tobacco ashes 'n' carryin' 'em out to throw over the wall.
Jest what they do in Broek. Ever been in Broek? Tell ye 'bout it some
time. But how d'ye s'pose this town was built? _I_ didn't see no stun up
here that was fit for quarryin'. So I put it to a lot of fellers where
they got their buildin' m'ter'ls. Wal, after figurin' round a spell, 'n'
makin' signs by the schuner load, found out the hull thing. Every stun in
this place was whittled out 'f the ruff-scuff at the bottom of the
mounting, 'n' fetched up here in blankets on men's shoulders. All the mud,
too, to make their bricks, was backed up in the same way. Feller off with
his blanket 'n' showed me how they did it. Beats all. Wust of it was,
couldn't find out how long it took 'em, nor how the job was lotted out to
"I suppose they made their women do it," said Aunt Maria grimly. "Men
usually put all the hard work on women."
"Wal, women folks do a heap," admitted Glover, who never contradicted
anybody. "But there's reason to entertain a hope that they didn't take the
brunt of it here. I looked over into the gardens down b'low the town, 'n'
see men plantin' corn, 'n' tendin' peach trees, but didn't see no women at
it. The women was all in the houses, spinnin', weavin', sewin', 'n' fixin'
"Remarkable people!" exclaimed Aunt Maria. "They are at least as civilized
as we. Very probably more so. Of course they are. I must learn whether the
women vote, or in any way take part in the government. If so, these
Indians are vastly our superiors, and we must sit humbly at their feet."
During this talk the worn and wounded Thurstane had been lying asleep. He
now appeared from his dormitory, nodded a hasty good-morning, and pushed
for the door.
"Train's all right," said Glover. "Jest took a squint at it. Peaceful's a
ship becalmed. Not a darned Apache in sight."
"You are sure?" demanded the young officer.
"Better get some more peach-leaf pain-killer on your arm 'n' set straight
down to breakfast."
"If the Apaches have vamosed, Coronado might join us," suggested
"Never!" answered Mrs. Stanley with solemnity. "His ancestor stormed
Cibola and ravaged this whole country. If these people should hear his
name pronounced, and suspect his relationship to their oppressor, they
might massacre him."
"That was three hundred years ago," smiled the wretch of a lieutenant.
"It doesn't matter," decided Mrs. Stanley.
And so Coronado, thanks to one of his splendid inventions, was not invited
up to the pueblo.
The travellers spent the day in resting, in receiving a succession of
pleasant, tidy visitors, and in watching the ways of the little community.
The weather was perfect, for while the season was the middle of May, and
the latitude that of Algeria and Tunis, they were nearly six thousand feet
above the level of the sea, and the isolated butte was wreathed with
breezes. It was delightful to sit or stroll on the landings of the
ramparts, and overlook the flourishing landscape near at hand, and the
peaceful industry which caused it to bloom.
Along the hillside, amid the terraced gardens of corn, pumpkins, guavas,
and peaches, many men and children were at work, with here and there a
The scene had not only its charms, but its marvels. Besides the grand
environment of plateaus and mountains in the distance, there were near at
hand freaks of nature such as one might look for in the moon. Nowhere
perhaps has the great water erosion of bygone aeons wrought more
grotesquely and fantastically than in the Moqui basin. To the west rose a
series of detached buttes, presenting forms of castles, towers, and
minarets, which looked more like the handiwork of man than the pueblo
itself. There were piles of variegated sandstone, some of them four
hundred feet in height, crowned by a hundred feet of sombre trap. Internal
fire had found vent here; its outflowings had crystallized into columnar
trap; the trap had protected the underlying sandstone from cycles of
water-flow; thus had been fashioned these sublime donjons and pinnacles.
They were not only sublime but beautiful. The sandstone, reduced by ages
to a crumbling marl, was of all colors. There were layers of green,
reddish-brown, drab, purple, red, yellow, pinkish, slate, light-brown,
orange, white, and banded. Nature, not contented with building enchanted
palaces, had frescoed them. At this distance, indeed, the separate tints
of the strata could not be discerned, but their general effect of
variegation was distinctly visible, and the result was a landscape of the
Thousand and One Nights.
To the south were groups of crested mounds, some of them resembling the
spreading stumps of trees, and others broad-mouthed bells, all of vast
magnitude. These were of sandstone marl, the caps consisting of hard red
and green shales, while the swelling boles, colored by gypsum, were as
white as loaf-sugar. It was another specimen of the handiwork of deluges
which no man can number.
Far away to the southwest, and yet faintly seen through the crystalline
atmosphere, were the many-colored knolls and rolls and cliffs of the
Painted Desert. Marls, shales, and sandstones, of all tints, were strewn
and piled into a variegated vista of sterile splendor. Here surely
enchantment and glamour had made undisputed abode.
All day the wounded and the women reposed, gazing a good deal, but
sleeping more. During the afternoon, however, our wonder-loving Mrs.
Stanley roused herself from her lethargy and rushed into an adventure such
as only she knew how to find. In the morning she had noticed, at the other
end of the pueblo from her quarters, a large room which was frequented by
men alone. It might be a temple; it might be a hall for the transaction of
public business; such were the diverse guesses of the travellers. Into the
mysteries of this apartment Aunt Maria resolved to poke.
She reached it; nobody was in it; suspicious circumstance! Aunt Maria put
an end to this state of questionable solitude by entering. A dark room; no
light except from a trap door; a very proper place for improper doings. At
one end rose a large, square block of red sandstone, on which was carved a
round face environed by rays, probably representing the sun. Aunt Maria
remembered the sacrificial altars of the Aztecs, and judged that the old
sanguinary religion of Tenochtitlan was not yet extinct. She became more
convinced of this terrific fact when she discovered that the red tint of
the stone was deepened in various places by stains which resembled blood.
Three or four horrible suggestions arose in succession to jerk at her
heartstrings. Were these Moquis still in the habit of offering human
sacrifices? Would a woman answer their purpose, and particularly a white
woman? If they should catch her there, in the presence of their deity,
would they consider it a leading of Providence? Aunt Maria,
notwithstanding her curiosity and courage, began to feel a desire to
Her reflections were interrupted and her emotions accelerated by darkness.
Evidently the door had been shut; then she heard a rustling of approaching
feet and an awful whispering; then projected hands impeded her gropings
toward safety. While she stood still, too completely blinded to fly and
too frightened to scream, a light gleamed from behind the altar and
presently rose into a flame. The sacred fire!--she knew it as soon as she
saw it; she remembered Prescott, and recognized it at a glance.
By its flickering rays she perceived that the apartment was full of men,
all robed in blankets of ebony blackness, and all gazing at her in solemn
silence. Two of them, venerable elders with long white hair, stood in
front of the others, making genuflexions and signs of adoration toward the
carved face on the altar. Presently they advanced to her, one of them
suddenly seizing her by the shoulders and pinioning her arms behind her,
while the other drew from beneath his robe a long sharp knife of the
glassy flint known as obsidian.
At this point the horrified Aunt Maria found her voice, and uttered a
At the close of her scream she by a supreme effort turned on her side,
raised her hands to her face, rubbed her eyes open, stared at Clara, who
was lying near her, and mumbled, "I've had an awful nightmare."
That was it. There was no altar, nor holy fire, nor high priest, nor flint
lancet. She hadn't been anywhere, and she hadn't even screamed, except in
imagination. She was on her blanket, alongside of her niece, in the house
of the Moqui chief, and as safe as need be.
But the visionary terror had scarcely gone when a real one came. Coronado
appeared--Coronado, the descendant of the great Vasquez--Coronado, whom
the Moquis would destroy if they heard his name--of whom they would not
leave two limbs or two fingers together. From her dormitory she saw him
walk into the main room of the house in his airiest and cheeriest manner,
bowing and smiling to right, bowing and smiling to left, winning Moqui
hearts in a moment, a charmer of a Coronado. He shook hands with the
chief; he shook hands with all the head men; next a hand to Thurstane and
another to Glover. Mrs. Stanley heard him addressed as Coronado; she
looked to see him scattered in rags on the floor; she tried to muster
courage to rush to his rescue.
There was no outcry of rage at the sound of the fatal name, and she could
not perceive that a Moqui countenance smiled the less for it.
Coronado produced a pipe, filled it, lighted it, and handed it to the
chief. That dignitary took it, bowed gravely to each of the four points of
the compass, exhaled a few whiffs, and passed it to his next blanketed
neighbor, who likewise saluted the four cardinal points, smoked a little,
and sent it on. Mrs. Stanley drew a sigh of relief; the pipe of peace had
been used, and there would be no bloodshed; she saw the whole bearing of
her favorite's audacious manoeuvre at a glance.
Coronado now glided into the obscure room where she and Clara were sitting
on their blankets and skins. He kissed his hand to the one and the other,
and rolled out some melodious congratulations.
"You reckless creature!" whispered Aunt Maria. "How dared you come up
"Why so?" asked the Mexican, for once puzzled.
"Your name! Your ancestor!"
"Ah!!" and Coronado smiled mysteriously. "There is no danger. We are under
the protection of the American eagle. Moreover, hospitalities have been
Next the experiences of the last twenty-four hours, first Mrs. Stanley's
version and then Coronado's, were related. He had little to tell: there
had been a quiet night and much slumber; the Moquis had stood guard and
been every way friendly; the Apaches had left the valley and gone to parts
The truth is that he had slept more than half of the time. Journeying,
fighting, watching, and anxiety had exhausted him as well as every one
else, and enabled him to plunge into slumber with a delicious
consciousness of it as a restorative and a luxury.
Now that he was himself again, he wondered at what he had been. For two
days he had faced death, fighting like a legionary or a knight-errant, and
in short playing the hero. What was there in his nature, or what had there
been in his selfish and lazy life, that was akin to such fine frenzies? As
he remembered it all, he hardly knew himself for the same old Coronado.
Well, being safe again, he was a devoted lover again, and he must get on
with his courtship. Considering that Clara and Thurstane, if left much
together here in the pueblo, might lead each other into the temptation of
a betrothal, he decided that he must be at hand to prevent such a
catastrophe, and so here he was. Presently he began to talk to the girl in
Spanish; then he begged the aunt's pardon for speaking what was to her an
unknown tongue; but he had, he said, some family matters for his cousin's
ear; would Mrs. Stanley be so good as to excuse him?
"Certainly," returned that far-sighted woman, guessing what the family
matters might be, and approving them. "By the way, I have something to
do," she added. "I must attend to it immediately."
By this time she remembered all about her nightmare, and she was in a
state of inflammation as to the Moqui religion. If the dream were true, if
the Moquis were in the habit of sacrificing strong-minded women or any
kind of women, she must know it and put a stop to it. Stepping into the
central room, where Thurstane and Glover were smoking with a number of
Indians, she said in her prompt, positive way, "I must look into these
people's religion. Does anybody know whether they have any?"
The Lieutenant had a spark or two of information on the subject. Through
the medium of a Navajo who had strolled into the pueblo, and who spoke a
little Spanish and a good deal of Moqui, he had been catechising the chief
as to manners, customs, etc.
"I understand," he said, "that they have a sacred fire which they never
suffer to go out. They are believed to worship the sun, like the ancient
Aztecs. The sacred fire seems to confirm the suspicion."
"Sacred fire! vestal virgins, too, I suppose! can they be Romans?"
reasoned Aunt Maria, beginning to doubt Prince Madoc.
"The vestal virgins here are old men," replied Ralph, wickedly pleased to
get a joke on the lady.
"Oh! The Moquis are not Romans," decided Mrs Stanley. "Well, what do these
old men do?"
"Keep the fire burning."
"What if it should go out? What would happen?"
"I don't know," responded the sub-acid Thurstane.
"I didn't suppose you did," said Aunt Maria pettishly. "Captain Glover, I
want you to come with me."
Followed by the subservient skipper, she marched to the other end of the
pueblo. There was the mysterious apartment; it was not really a temple,
but a sort of public hall and general lounging place; such rooms exist in
the Spanish-speaking pueblos of Zuni and Laguna, and are there called
_estufas_. The explorers soon discovered that the only entrance into the
estufa was by a trapdoor and a ladder. Now Aunt Maria hated ladders: they
were awkward for skirts, and moreover they made her giddy; so she simply
got on her knees and peeped through the trap-door. But there was a fire
directly below, and there was also a pretty strong smell of pipes of
tobacco, so that she saw nothing and was stifled and disgusted. She sent
Glover down, as people lower a dog into a mine where gases are suspected.
After a brief absence the skipper returned and reported.
"Pooty sizable room. Dark's a pocket 'n' hot's a footstove. Three or four
Injuns talkin' 'n' smokin'. Scrap 'f a fire smoulder'in a kind 'f standee
fireplace without any top."
"That's the sacred fire," said Aunt Maria. "How many old men were watching
"Didn't see _any_."
"They must have been there. Did you put the fire out?"
"No water handy," explained the prudent Glover.
"You might have--expectorated on it."
"Reckon I didn't miss it," said the skipper, who was a chewer of tobacco
and a dead shot with his juice.
"Of course nothing happened."
"I knew there wouldn't," declared the lady triumphantly. "Well, now let us
go back. We know something about the religion of these people. It is
certainly a very interesting study."
"Didn't appear to me much l'k a temple," ventured Glover. "Sh'd say t'was
a kind 'f gineral smokin' room 'n' jawin' place. Git together there 'n'
talk crops 'n' 'lections 'n' the like."
"You must be mistaken," decided Aunt Maria. "There was the sacred fire."
She now led the willing captain (for he was as inquisitive as a monkey) on
a round of visits to the houses of the Moquis. She poked smiling through
their kitchens and bedrooms, and gained more information than might have
been expected concerning their spinning and weaving, cheerfully spending
ten minutes in signs to obtain a single idea.
"Never shear their sheep till they are dead!" she exclaimed when that fact
had been gestured into her understanding. "Absurd! There's another
specimen of masculine stupidity. I'll warrant you, if the women had the
management of things, the good-for-nothing brutes would be sheared every
"Jest as they be to hum," slily suggested Glover, who knew better.
"Certainly," said Aunt Maria, aware that cows were milked daily.
The Moquis were very hospitable; they absolutely petted the strangers. At
nearly every house presents were offered, such as gourds full of corn,
strings of dried peaches, guavas as big as pomegranates, or bundles of the
edible wrapping paper, all of which Aunt Maria declined with magnanimous
waves of the hand and copious smiles. Curious and amiable faces peeped at
the visitors from the landings and doorways.
"How mild and good they all look!" said Aunt Maria. "They put me in mind
somehow of Shenstone's pastorals. How humanizing a pastoral life is, to be
sure! On the whole, I admire their way of not shearing their sheep alive.
It isn't stupidity, but goodness of heart. A most amiable people!"
"Jest so," assented Glover. "How it must go ag'in the grain with 'em to
take a skelp when it comes in the way of dooty! A man oughter feel willin'
to be skelped by sech tender-hearted critters."
"Pshaw!" said Aunt Maria. "I don't believe they ever scalp anybody--unless
it is in self-defence."
"Dessay. Them fellers that went down to fight the Apaches was painted up's
savage's meat-axes. Probably though 'twas to use up some 'f their paint
that was a wastin'. Equinomical, I sh'd say."
Mrs. Stanley did not see her way clear to comment either upon the fact or
the inference. There were times when she did not understand Glover, and
this was one of the times. He had queer twistical ways of reasoning which
often proved the contrary of what he seemed to want to prove; and she had
concluded that he was a dark-minded man who did not always know what he
was driving at; at all events, a man not invariably comprehensible by
Her attention was presently engaged by a stir in the pueblo. Great things
were evidently at hand; some spectacle was on the point of presentation;
what was it? Aunt Maria guessed marriage, and Captain Glover guessed a
war-dance; but they had no argument, for the skipper gave in. Meantime the
Moquis, men, women, and children, all dressed in their gayest raiment,
were gathering in groups on the landings and in the square. Presently
there was a crowd, a thousand or fifteen hundred strong; at last appeared
the victims, the performers, or whatever they were.
"Dear me!" murmured Aunt Maria. "Twenty weddings at once! I hope divorce
Twenty men and twenty women advanced to the centre of the plaza in double
file and faced each other.
The dance began; the performers furnished their own music; each rolled out
a deep _aw aw aw_ under his visor.
"Sounds like a swarm of the biggest kind of blue-bottle flies inside the
biggest kind 'f a sugar hogset," was Glover's description.
The movement was as monotonous as the melody. The men and women faced each
other without changing positions; there was an alternate lifting of the
feet, in time with the _aw aw_ and the rattling of the gourds; now and
then there was a simultaneous about face.
After a while, open ranks; then rugs and blankets were brought; the
maidens sat down and the men danced at them; trot trot, aw aw, and rattle
Every third girl now received a large empty gourd, a grooved board, and
the dry shoulder-bone of a sheep. Laying the board on the gourd, she drew
the bone sharply across the edges of the wood, thus producing a sound like
a watchman's rattle.
They danced once on each side of the square; then retired to a house and
rested fifteen minutes; then recommenced their trot. Meanwhile maidens
with large baskets ran about among the spectators, distributing meat,
roasted ears of corn, sheets of bread, and guavas.
So the gayety went on until the sun and the visitors alike withdrew.
"After all, I think it is more interesting than our marriages," declared
Aunt Maria. "I wonder if we ought to make presents to the wedded couples.
There are a good many of them."
She was quite amazed when she learned that this was not a wedding, but a
rain-dance, and that the maidens whom she had admired were boys dressed up
in female raiment, the customs of the Moquis not allowing women to take
part in public spectacles.
"What exquisite delicacy!" was her consolatory comment. "Well, well, this
is the golden age, truly."
When further informed that in marriage among the Moquis it is woman who
takes the initiative, the girl pointing out the young man of her heart and
the girl's father making the offer, which is never refused, Mrs. Stanley
almost shed tears of gratification. Here was something like woman's
rights; here was a flash of the glorious dawn of equality between the
sexes; for when she talked of equality she meant female preeminence.
"And divorces?" she eagerly asked.
"They are at the pleasure of the parties," explained Thurstane, who had
been catechising the chief at great length through his Navajo.
"And who, in case of a divorce, cares for the children?"
Aunt Maria came near clapping her hands. This was better than Connecticut
or Indiana. A woman here might successively marry all the men whom she
might successively fancy, and thus enjoy a perpetual gush of the
affections and an unruffled current of happiness.
To such extreme views had this excellent creature been led by brooding
over what she called the wrongs of her sex and the legal tyranny of the
But we must return to Coronado and Clara. The man had come up to the
pueblo on purpose to have a plain talk with the girl and learn exactly
what she meant to do with him. It was now more than a week since he had
offered himself, and in that time she had made no sign which indicated her
purpose. He had looked at her and sighed at her without getting a response
of any sort. This could not go on; he must know how she felt towards him;
he must know how much, she cared for Thurstane. How else could he decide
what to do with her and with _him_?
Thus, while the other members of the party were watching the Moqui dances,
Coronado and Clara were talking matters of the heart, and were deciding,
unawares to her, questions of life and death.
It must be remembered that when Mrs. Stanley carried off skipper Glover to
help her investigate the religion of the Moquis, she left Coronado alone
with Clara in one of the interior rooms of the chief's house.
Thurstane, to be sure, was in the next room and in sight; but he had with
him the chief, two other leading Moquis, and his chance Navajo
interpreter; they were making a map of the San Juan country by scratching
with an arrow-point on the clay floor; everybody was interested in the
matter, and there was a pretty smart jabbering. Thus Coronado could say
his say without being overheard or interrupted.
For a little while he babbled commonplaces. The truth is that the sight of
the girl had unsettled his resolutions a little. While he was away from
her, he could figure to himself how he would push her into taking him at
once, or how, if she refused him, he would let loose upon her the dogs of
fate. But once face to face with her, he found that his resolutions had
dispersed like a globule of mercury under a hammer, and that he needed a
few moments to scrape them together again. So he prattled nothings while
he meditated; and you would have thought that he cared for the nothings.
He had that faculty; he could mentally ride two horses at once; he would
have made a good diplomatist.
His mind glanced at the past while it peered into the future. What a
sinuous underground plot the superficial incidents of this journey
covered! To his fellow-travellers it was a straight line; to him it was a
complicated and endless labyrinth. How much more he had to think of than
they! Only he knew that Pedro Munoz was dead, that Clara Van Diemen was an
heiress, that she was in danger of being abandoned to the desert, that
Thurstane was in danger of assassination. Nothing that he had set out to
do was yet done, and some of it he must absolutely accomplish, and that
shortly. How much? That depended upon this girl. If she accepted him, his
course would be simple, and he would be spared the perils of crime.
Meantime, he looked at Clara even more frankly and calmly than she looked
at him. He showed no guilt or remorse in his face, because he felt none in
his heart. It must be understood distinctly that the man was almost as
destitute of a conscience as it is possible for a member of civilized
society to be. He knew what the world called right and wrong; but the mere
opinion of the world had no weight with him; that is, none as against his
own opinion. His rule of life was to do what he wanted to do, providing he
could accomplish it without receiving a damage. You can hardly imagine a
being whose interior existence was more devoid of complexity and of mixed
motives than was Coronado's. Thus he was quite able to contemplate the
possible death of Clara, and still look her calmly in the face and tell
her that he loved her.
The girl returned his gaze tranquilly, because she had no suspicions of
his profound wickedness. By nature confiding and reverential, she trusted
those who professed friendship, and respected those who were her elders,
especially if they belonged in any manner to her own family. Considering
herself under obligations to Coronado, and not guessing that he was
capable of doing her a harm, she was truly grateful to him and wished him
well with all her heart. If her eye now and then dropped under his, it was
because she feared a repetition of his offer of marriage, and hated to
pain him with a refusal.
The commonplaces lasted longer than the man had meant, for he could not
bring himself promptly to take the leap of fate. But at last came the
dance; the chief and his comrades led Thurstane away to look at it; now
was the time to talk of this fateful betrothal.
"Something is passing outside," observed Clara. "Shall we go to see?"
"I am entirely at your command," replied Coronado, with his charming air
of gentle respect. "But if you can give me a few minutes of your time, I
shall be very grateful."
Clara's heart beat violently, and her cheeks and neck flushed with spots
of red, as she sank back upon her seat. She guessed what was coming; she
had been a good deal afraid of it all the time; it was her only cause of
"I venture to hope that you have been good enough to think of what I said
to you a week ago," he went on. "Yes, it was a week ago. It seems to me a
"It seems a long time," stammered Clara. So it did, for the days since had
been crammed with emotions and events, and they gave her young mind an
impression of a long period passed.
"I have been so full of anxiety!" continued Coronado. "Not about our
dangers," he asserted with a little bravado. "Or, rather, not about mine.
For you I have been fearful. The possibility that you might fall into the
hands of the Apaches was a horror to me. But, after all, my chief anxiety
was to know what would be your final answer to me. Yes, my beautiful and
very dear cousin, strange as it may seem under our circumstances, this
thought has always outweighed with me all our dangers."
Coronado, as we have already declared, was really in love with Clara. It
seems incredible, at first glance, that a man who had no conscience could
have a heart. But the assertion is not a fairy story; it is founded in
solid philosophy. It is true that Coronado's moral education had been
neglected or misdirected; that he was either born indifferent to the idea
of duty, or had become indifferent to it; and that he was an egotist of
the first water, bent solely upon favoring and gratifying himself. But
while his nature was somewhat chilled by these things, he had the hottest
of blood in his veins, he possessed a keen perception of the beautiful,
and so he could desire with fury. His love could not be otherwise than
selfish; but it was none the less capable of ruling him tyrannically.
Just at this moment his intensity of feeling made him physically imposing
and almost fascinating. It seemed to remove a veil from his usually filmy
black eyes, and give him power for once to throw out all of truth that
there was in his soul. It communicated to his voice a tremor which made it
eloquent. He exhaled, as it were, an aroma of puissant emotion which was
intoxicating, and which could hardly fail to act upon the sensitive nature
of woman. Clara was so agitated by this influence, that for the moment she
seemed to herself to know no man in the world but Coronado. Even while she
tried to remember Thurstane, he vanished as if expelled by some
enchantment, and left her alone in life with her tempter. Still she could
not or would not answer; though she trembled, she remained speechless.
"I have asked you to be my wife," resumed Coronado, seeing that he must
urge her. "I venture now to ask you again. I implore you not to refuse me.
I cannot be refused. It would make me utterly wretched. It might perhaps
bring wretchedness upon you. I hope not. I could not wish you a pain,
though you should give me many. My very dear Clara, I offer you the only
love of my life, and the only love that I shall ever offer to any one.
Will you take it?"
Clara was greatly moved. She could not doubt his sincerity; no one who
heard him could have doubted it; he _was_ sincere. To her, young,
tender-hearted, capable of loving earnestly, beginning already to know
what love is, it seemed a horrible thing to spurn affection. If it had not
been for Thurstane, she would have taken Coronado for pity.
"Oh, my cousin!" she sighed, and stopped there.
Coronado drew courage from the kindly title of relationship, and, leaning
gently towards her, attempted to take her hand. It was a mistake; she was
strangely shocked by his touch; she perceived that she did not like him,
and she drew away from him.
"Thank you for that word," he whispered. "Is it the kindest that you can
give me? Is there--?"
"Coronado!" she interrupted. "This is all an error. See here. I am not an
independent creature. I am a young girl. I owe some duty somewhere. My
father and mother are gone, but I have a grandfather. Coronado, he is the
head of my family, and I ought not to marry without his permission. Why
can you not wait until we are with Munoz?"
There she suddenly dropped her head between the palms of her hands. It
struck her that she was hypocritical; that even with the consent of Munoz
she would not marry Coronado; that it was her duty to tell him so.
"My cousin, I have not told the whole truth," she added, after a terrible
struggle. "I would not marry any one without first laying the case before
my grandfather. But that is not all. Coronado, I cannot--no, I cannot
The man without a conscience, the man who was capable of planning and
ordering murder, turned pale under this announcement.
Notwithstanding its commonness, notwithstanding that it has been described
until the subject is hackneyed, notwithstanding that it has become a
laughing-stock for many, even including poets and novelists, there is
probably no heart-pain keener than disappointment in love. The shock of it
is like a deep stab; it not merely tortures, but it instantly sickens; the
anguish is much, but the sense of helplessness is more; the lover who is
refused feels not unlike the soldier who is wounded to death.
This sorrow compares in dignity and terror with the most sublime sorrows
of which humanity is capable. The death of a parent or child, though
rendered more imposing to the spectator by the ceremonies of the
sepulchre, does not chill the heart more deeply than the death of love. It
lasts also; many a human being has carried the marks of it for life; and
surely duration of effect is proof of power. We are serious in making
these declarations, strange as they may seem to a satirical age. What we
have said is strictly true, notwithstanding the mockery of those who have
never loved, or the incredulity of those who, having loved, have never
lost. But probably only the wretchedly initiated will believe.
Coronado, though selfish, infamous, and atrocious, was so far susceptible
of affection that he was susceptible of suffering. The simple fact of
pallor in that hardened face was sufficient proof of torture.
However, it stood him in hand to recover his self-possession and plead his
suit. There was too much at stake in this cause for him to let it go
without a struggle and a vehement one. Although he had seen at once that
the girl was in earnest, he tried to believe that she was not so, and that
he could move her.
"My dear cousin!" he implored in a voice that was mellow with agitation,
"don't decide against me at once and forever. I must have some hope. Pity
"Ah, Coronado! Why will you?" urged Clara, in great trouble.
"I must! You must not stop me!" he persisted eagerly. "My life is in it. I
love you so that I don't know how I shall end if you will not hearken to
me. I shall be driven to desperation. Why do you turn away from me? Is it
my fault that I care for you? It is your own. You are _so_ beautiful!"
"Coronado, I wish I were very ugly," murmured Clara, for the moment
sincere in so wishing.
"Is there anything you dislike in me? I have been as kind as I knew how to
"It is true, Coronado. You have overwhelmed me with your goodness. I could
go on my knees to thank you."
"Ah! why will you force me to say hard things? Don't you see that it
tortures me to refuse you?"
"Then why refuse me? Why torture us both?"
"Better a little pain now than much through life."
"Do you mean to say that you never can--?" He could not finish the
"It is so, Coronado. I never could have said it myself. But you have said
it. I never shall love you."
Once more the man felt a cutting and sickening wound, as of a bullet
penetrating a vital part. Unable for the moment to say another word, he
rose and walked the room in silence.
"Coronado, you don't know how sorry I am to grieve you so," cried the
girl, almost sobbing. "It seems, too, as if I were ungrateful. I can only
beg your pardon for it, and pray that Heaven will reward you."
"Heaven!" he returned impatiently. "You are my heaven. You are the only
heaven that I know."
"Oh, Coronado! Don't say that. I am a poor, sinful, unworthy creature.
Perhaps I could not make any one happy long. Believe me, Coronado, I am
not worthy to be loved as you love me."
"You are!" he said, turning on her passionately and advancing close to
her. "You are worthy of my life-long love, and you shall have it. You
shall have it, whether you wish it or not. You shall not escape it. I will
pursue you with it wherever you go and as long as you live."
"Oh! You frighten me. Coronado, I beg of you not to talk to me in that
way. I am afraid of you."
"What is the cause of this?" he demanded, hoping to daunt her into
submission. "There is something in my way. What is it? Who is it?"
Clara's paleness turned in an instant to scarlet.
"Who is it?" he went on, his voice suddenly becoming hoarse with
excitement. "It is some one. Is it this American? This boy of a
Clara, trembling with an agitation which was only in part dismay, remained
"Is it?" he persisted, attempting to seize her hands and looking her
fiercely in the eyes. "Is it?"
"Coronado, stand back!" said Clara. "Don't you try to take my hands!"
She was erect, her eyes flashing, her cheeks spotted with crimson, her
expression strangely imposing.
The man's courage drooped the moment he saw that she had turned at bay. He
walked to the other side of the room, pressed his temples between his
palms to quiet their throbbing, and made an effort to recover his
self-possession. When he returned to her, after nearly a minute of
silence, he spoke quite in his natural manner.
"This must pass for the present," he said. "I see that it is useless to
talk to you of it now."
"I hope you are not angry with me, Coronado."
"Let it go," he replied, waving his hand. "I can't speak more of it now."
She wanted to say, "Try never to speak of it again;" but she did not dare
to anger him further, and she remained silent.
"Shall we go to see the dance?" he asked.
"I will, if you wish it."
"But you would rather stay alone?"
"If you please, Coronado."
Bowing with an air of profound respect, he went his way alone, glanced at
the games of the Moquis, and hurried back to camp, meditating as he went.
What now should be done? He was in a state of fury, full of plottings of
desperation, swearing to himself that he would show no mercy. Thurstane
must die at the first opportunity, no matter if his death should kill
Clara. And she? There he hesitated; he could not yet decide what to do
with her; could not resolve to abandon her to the wilderness.
But to bring about any part of his projects he must plunge still deeper
into the untraversed. To him, by the way, as to many others who have had
murder at heart, it seemed as if the proper time and place for it would
never be found. Not now, but by and by; not here, but further on. Yes, it
must be further on; they must set out as soon as possible for the San Juan
country; they must get into wilds never traversed by civilized man.
To go thither in wagons he had already learned was impossible. The region
was a mass of mountains and rocky plateaux, almost entirely destitute of
water and forage, and probably forever impassable by wheels. The vehicles
must be left here; the whole party must take saddle for the northern
desert; and then must come death--or deaths.
But while Coronado was thus planning destruction for others, a noiseless,
patient, and ferocious enmity was setting its ambush for him.
Shortly after the safe arrival of the train at the base of the Moqui
bluff, and while the repulsed and retreating warriors of Delgadito were
still in sight two strange Indians cantered up to the park of wagons.
They were fine-looking fellows, with high aquiline features, the prominent
cheek-bones and copper complexion of the red race, and a bold, martial,
trooper-like expression, which was not without its wild good-humor and
gayety. One was dressed in a white woollen hunting-shirt belted around the
waist, white woollen trousers or drawers reaching to the knee, and
deerskin leggins and moccasins. The other had the same costume, except
that his drawers were brown and his hunting-shirt blue, while a blanket of
red and black stripes drooped from his shoulders to his heels. Their
coarse black hair was done up behind in thick braids, and kept out of
their faces by a broad band around the temples. Each had a lance eight or
ten feet long in his hand, and a bow and quiver slung at his waist-belt.
These men were Navajos (Na-va-hos).
Two jolly and impudent braves were these visitors. They ate, smoked,
lounged about, cracked jokes, and asked for liquor as independently as if
the camp were a tavern. Rebuffs only made them grin, and favors only led
to further demands. It was hard to say whether they were most wonderful
for good-nature or impertinence.
Coronado was civil to them. The Navajos abide or migrate on the south, the
north, and the west of the Moqui pueblas. He was in a manner within their
country, and it was still necessary for him to traverse a broad stretch of
it, especially if he should attempt to reach the San Juan. Besides, he
wanted them to warn the Apaches out of the neighborhood and thus avert
from his head the vengeance of Manga Colorada. Accordingly he gave this
pair of roystering troopers a plentiful dinner and a taste of aguardiente.
Toward sunset they departed in high good-humor, promising to turn back the
hoofs of the Apache horses; and when in the morning Coronado saw no
Indians on the plain, he joyously trusted that his visitors had fulfilled
Somewhere or other, within the next day or two, there was a grand council
of the two tribes. We know little of it; we can guess that Manga Colorada
must have made great concessions or splendid promises to the Navajos; but
it is only certain that he obtained leave to traverse their country.
Having secured this privilege, he posted himself fifteen or twenty miles
to the southwest of Tegua, behind a butte which was extensive enough to
conceal his wild cavalry, even in its grazings. He undoubtedly supposed
that, when the train should quit its shelter, it would go to the west or
to the south. In either case he was in a position to fall upon it.
Did the savage know anything about Coronado? Had he attacked his wagons
without being aware that they belonged to the man who had paid him five
hundred dollars and sent him to harry Bernalillo? Or had he attacked in
full knowledge of this fact, because he had been beaten off the southern
trail, and believed that he had been lured thither to be beaten? Had he
learned, either from Apaches or Navajos, whose hand it was that slew his
boy? We can only ask these questions.
One thing alone is positive: there was a debt of blood to be paid. An
Indian war is often the result of a private vendetta. The brave is bound,
not only by natural affection and family pride, but still more powerfully
by sense of honor and by public opinion, to avenge the slaughter of a
relative. Whether he wishes it or not, and frequently no doubt when he
does not wish it, he must black his face, sing his death-song, set out
alone if need be, encounter labors, hardships, and dangers, and never rest
until his sanguinary account is settled. The tyranny of Mrs. Grundy in
civilized cities and villages is nothing to the despotism which she
exercises among those slaves of custom, the red men of the American
wildernesses. Manga Colorada, bereaved and with blackened face, lay in
wait for the first step of the emigrants outside of their city of refuge.
We must return to Coronado. Although Clara's rejection of his suit left
him vindictively and desperately eager for a catastrophe of some sort, a
week elapsed before he dared take his mad plunge into the northern desert.
It was a hundred miles to the San Juan; the intervening country was a
waste of rocks, almost entirely destitute of grass and water; the mules
and horses must recruit their full strength before they could undertake
such a journey. They must not only be strong enough to go, but they must
have vital force left to return.
It is astonishing what labors and dangers the man was willing to face in
his vain search for a spot where he might commit a crime in safety. Such a
spot is as difficult to discover as the Fountain of Youth or the
Terrestrial Paradise. More than once Coronado sickened of his seemingly
hopeless and ever lengthening pilgrimage of sin. Not because it was
sinful--he had little or no conscience, remember--only because it was
perplexing and perilous.
It was in vain that Thurstane protested against the crazy trip northward.
Coronado sometimes argued for his plan; said the route improved as it
approached the river; hoped the party would not be broken up in this
manner; declared that he could not spare his dear friend the lieutenant.
Another time he calmly smoked his cigarito, looked at Thurstane with
filmy, expressionless eyes, and said, "Of course you are not obliged to
"I have not the least intention of quitting you," was the rather indignant
reply of the young fellow.
At this declaration Coronado's long black eyebrows twitched, and his lips
curled with the smile of a puma, showing his teeth disagreeably.
"My dear lieutenant, that is so like you!" he said. "I own that I expected
it. Many thanks."
Thurstane's blue-black eyes studied this enigmatic being steadily and
almost angrily. He could not at all comprehend the fellow's bland
obstinacy and recklessness.
"Very well," he said sullenly. "Let us start on our wild-goose chase. What
I object to is taking the women with us. As for myself, I am anxious to
reach the San Juan and get something to report about it."
"The ladies will have a day or two of discomfort," returned Coronado; "but
you and I will see that they run no danger."
Nine days after the arrival of the emigrants at Tegua they set out for the
San Juan. The wagons were left parked at the base of the butte under the
care of the Moquis. The expedition was reorganized as follows: On
horseback, Clara, Coronado, Thurstane, Texas Smith, and four Mexicans; on
mules, Mrs. Stanley, Glover, the three Indian women, the four soldiers,
and the ten drivers and muleteers. There were besides eighteen burden
mules loaded with provisions and other baggage. In all, five women,
twenty-two men, and forty-five animals.
The Moquis, to whom some stores and small presents were distributed,
overflowed with hospitable offices. The chief had a couple of sheep
slaughtered for the travellers, and scores of women brought little baskets
of meal, corn, guavas, etc. As the strangers left the pueblo both sexes
and all ages gathered on the landings, grouped about the stairways and
ladders which led down the rampart, and followed for some distance along
the declivity of the butte, holding out their simple offerings and urging
acceptance. Aunt Maria was more than ever in raptures with Moquis and
The chief and several others accompanied the cavalcade for eight or ten
miles in order to set it on the right trail for the river. But not one
would volunteer as a guide; all shook their heads at the suggestion.
"Navajos! Apaches! Comanches!"
They had from the first advised against the expedition, and they now
renewed their expostulations. Scarcely any grass; no water except at long
distances; a barren, difficult, dangerous country: such was the meaning of
their dumb show. On the summit of a lofty bluff which commanded a vast
view toward the north, they took their leave of the party, struck off in a
rapid trot toward the pueblo, and never relaxed their speed until they
were out of sight.
The adventurers now had under their eyes a large part of the region which
they were about to traverse. For several miles the landscape was rolling;
then came elevated plateaux rising in successive steps, the most remote
being apparently sixty miles away; and the colossal scene was bounded by
isolated peaks, at a distance which could not be estimated with anything
like accuracy. Ranges, buttes, pinnacles, monumental crags, gullies,
shadowy chasms, the beds of perished rivers, the stony wrecks left by
unrecorded deluges, diversified this monstrous, sublime, and savage
picture. Only here and there, separated by vast intervals of barrenness,
could be seen minute streaks of verdure. In general the landscape was one
of inhospitable sterility. It could not be imagined by men accustomed only
to fertile regions. It seemed to have been taken from some planet not yet
prepared for human, nor even for beastly habitation. The emotion which it
aroused was not that which usually springs from the contemplation of the
larger aspects of nature. It was not enthusiasm; it was aversion and
Clara gave one look, and then drew her hat over her eyes with a shudder,
not wishing to see more. Aunt Maria, heroic and constant as she was or
tried to be, almost lost faith in Coronado and glanced at him
suspiciously. Thurstane, sitting bolt upright in his saddle, stared
straight before him with a grim frown, meanwhile thinking of Clara.
Coronado's eyes were filmy and incomprehensible; he was planning,
querying, fearing, almost trembling; when he gave the word to advance, it
was without looking up. There was a general feeling that here before them
lay a fate which could only be met blindfold.
Now came a long descent, avoiding precipices and impracticable slopes,
winding from one stony foot-hill to another, until the party reached what
had seemed a plain. It was a plain because it was amid mountains; a plain
consisting of rolls, ridges, ravines, and gullies; a plain with hardly an
acre of level land. All day they journeyed through its savage interstices
and struggled with its monstrosities of trap and sandstone. Twice they
halted in narrow valleys, where a little loam had collected and a little
moisture had been retained, affording meagre sustenance to some thin grass
and scattered bushes. The animals browsed, but there was nothing for them
to drink, and all began to suffer with thirst.
It was seven in the evening, and the sun had already gone down behind the
sullen barrier of a gigantic plateau, when they reached the mouth of the
canon which had once contained a river, and discovered by the merest
accident that it still treasured a shallow pool of stagnant water. The
fevered mules plunged in headlong and drank greedily; the riders were
perforce obliged to slake their thirst after them. There was a hastily
eaten supper, and then came the only luxury or even comfort of the day,
the sound and delicious sleep of great weariness.
Repose, however, was not for all, inasmuch as Thurstane had reorganized
his system of guard duty, and seven of the party had to stand sentry. It
was Coronado's _tour_; he had chosen to take his watch at the start; there
would be three nights on this stretch, and the first would be the easiest.
He was tired, for he had been fourteen hours in the saddle, although the
distance covered was only forty miles. But much as he craved rest, he kept
awake until midnight, now walking up and down, and now smoking his eternal
There was a vast deal to remember, to plan, to hope for, to dread, and to
hate. Once he sat down beside the unconscious Thurstane, and meditated
shooting him through the head as he lay, and so making an end of that
obstacle. But he immediately put this idea aside as a frenzy, generated by
the fever of fatigue and sleeplessness. A dozen times he was assaulted by
a lazy or cowardly temptation to give up the chances of the desert, push
back to the Bernalillo route, leave everything to fortune, and take
disappointment meekly if it should come. When the noon of night arrived,
he had decided upon nothing but to blunder ahead by sheer force of
momentum, as if he had been a rolling bowlder instead of a clever,
resolute Garcia Coronado.
The truth is, that his circumstances were too mighty for him. He had
launched them, but he could not steer them as he would, and they were
carrying him he knew not whither. At one o'clock he awoke Texas Smith, who
was now his sergeant of the guard; but instead of enjoining some instant
atrocity upon him, as he had more than once that night purposed, he merely
passed the ordinary instructions of the watch; then, rolling himself in
his blankets, he fell asleep as quickly and calmly as an infant.
At daybreak commenced another struggle with the desert. It was still sixty
miles to the San Juan, over a series of savage sandstone plateaux, said to
be entirely destitute of water. If the animals could not accomplish the
distance in two days, it seemed as if the party must perish. Coronado went
at his work, so to speak, head foremost and with his hat over his eyes.
Nevertheless, when it came to the details of his mad enterprise, he
managed them admirably. He was energetic, indefatigable, courageous,
cheerful. All day he was hurrying the cavalcade, and yet watching its
ability to endure. His "Forward, forward," alternated with his "Carefully,
carefully." Now "_Adelante_" and now "_Con juicio_"
About two in the afternoon they reached a little nook of sparse grass,
which the beasts gnawed perfectly bare in half an hour. No water; the
horses were uselessly jaded in searching for it; beds of trap and gullies
of ancient rivers were explored in vain; the horrible rocky wilderness was
as dry as a bone. Meanwhile, the fatigue of scrambling and stumbling thus
far had been enormous. It had been necessary to ascend plateau after
plateau by sinuous and crumbling ledges, which at a distance looked
impracticable to goats. More than once, in face of some beetling
precipice, or on the brink of some gaping chasm, it seemed as if the
journey had come to an end. Long detours had to be made in order to
connect points which were only separated by slight intervals. The whole
region was seamed by the jagged zigzags of canons worn by rivers which had
flowed for thousands of years, and then for thousands of years more had
been non-existent. If, at the commencement of one of these mighty grooves,
you took the wrong side, you could not regain the trail without returning
to the point of error, for crossing was impossible.
A trail there was. It is by this route that the Utes and Payoches of the
Colorado come to trade with the Moquis or to plunder them. But, as may be
supposed, it is a journey which is not often made even by savages; and the
cavalcade, throughout the whole of its desperate push, did not meet a
human being. Amid the monstrous expanse of uninhabited rock it seemed lost
beyond assistance, forsaken and cast out by mankind, doomed to a death
which was to have no spectator. Could you have seen it, you would have
thought of a train of ants endeavoring to cross a quarry; and you would
have judged that the struggle could only end in starvation, or in some
The most desperate venture of the travellers was amid the wrecks of an
extinct volcano. It seemed here as if the genius of fire had striven to
outdo the grotesque extravagances of the genii of the waters. Crags,
towers, and pinnacles of porphyry were mingled with huge convoluted masses
of light brown trachyte, of tufa either pure white or white veined with
crimson, of black and gray columnar basalts, of red, orange, green, and
black scoria, with adornments of obsidian, amygdaloids, rosettes of quartz
crystal and opalescent chalcedony. A thousand stony needles lifted their
ragged points as if to defy the lightning. The only vegetation was a spiny
cactus, clinging closely to the rocks, wearing their grayish and yellowish
colors, lending no verdure to the scene, and harmonizing with its thorny
As the travellers gazed on this wilderness of scorched summits, glittering
in the blazing sunlight, and yet drawing from it no life--as stark, still,
unsympathizing, and cruel as death--they seemed to themselves to be out of
the sweet world of God, and to be in the power of malignant genii and
demons. The imagination cannot realize the feeling of depression which
comes upon one who finds himself imprisoned in such a landscape. Like
uttermost pain, or like the extremity of despair, it must be felt in order
to be known.
"It seems as if Satan had chosen this land for himself," was the perfectly
serious and natural remark of Thurstane.
Clara shuddered; the same impression was upon her mind; only she felt it
more deeply than he. Gentle, somewhat timorous, and very impressionable,
she was almost overwhelmed by the terrific revelations of a nature which
seemed to have no pity, or rather seemed full of malignity. Many times
that day she had prayed in her heart that God would help them. Apparently
detached from earth, she was seeking nearness to heaven. Her look at this
moment was so awe-struck and piteous, that the soul of the man who loved
her yearned to give her courage.
"Miss Van Diemen, it shall all turn out well," he said, striking his fist
on the pommel of his saddle.
"Oh! why did we come here?" she groaned.
"I ought to have prevented it," he replied, angry with himself. "But never
mind. Don't be troubled. It shall all be right. I pledge my life to bring
it all to a good end."
She gave him a look of gratitude which would have repaid him for immediate
death. This is not extravagant; in his love for her he did not value
himself; he had the sublime devotion of immense adoration.
That night another loamy nook was found, clothed with a little thin grass,
but waterless. Some of the animals suffered so with thirst that they could
not graze, and uttered doleful whinneys of distress. As it was the
Lieutenant's tour on guard, he had plenty of time to study the chances of
"Kelly, what do you think of the beasts?" he said to the old soldier who
acted as his sergeant.
"One more day will finish them, Leftenant."
"We have been fifteen hours in the saddle. We have made about thirty-five
miles. There are twenty-five miles more to the river. Do you think we can
"I should say, Leftenant, we could just do it."
At daybreak the wretched animals resumed their hideous struggle. There was
a plateau for them to climb at the start, and by the time this labor was
accomplished they were staggering with weakness, so that a halt had to be
ordered on the windy brink of the acclivity. Thurstane, according to his
custom, scanned the landscape with his field-glass, and jotted down
topographical notes in his journal. Suddenly he beckoned to Coronado,
quietly put the glass in his hands, nodded toward the desert which lay to
the rear, and whispered, "Look."
Coronado looked, turned slightly more yellow than his wont, and murmured
"How far off are they?"
"About ten miles," judged Coronado, still gazing intently.
"So I should say. How do you know they are Apaches?"
"Who else would follow us?" asked the Mexican, remembering the son of
"It is another race for life," calmly pronounced Thurstane, facing about
toward the caravan and making a signal to mount.
Yes, it was a life and death race between the emigrants and the Apaches
for the San Juan. Positions of defence were all along the road, but not
one of them could be held for a day, all being destitute of grass and
"There is no need of telling the ladies at once," said Thurstane to
Coronado, as they rode side by side in rear of the caravan. "Let them be
quiet as long as they can be. Their trouble will come soon enough."
"How many were there, do you think?" was the reply of a man who was much
occupied with his own chances. "Were there a hundred?"
"It's hard to estimate a mere black line like that. Yes, there must be a
hundred, besides stragglers. Their beasts have suffered, of course, as
well as ours. They have come fast, and there must be a lot in the rear.
Probably both bands are along."
"The devils!" muttered Coronado. "I hope to God they will all perish of
thirst and hunger. The stubborn, stupid devils! Why should they follow us
_here_?" he demanded, looking furiously around upon the accursed
"Indian revenge. We killed too many of them."
"Yes," said Coronado, remembering anew the son of the chief. "Damn them! I
wish we could have killed them all."
"That is just what we must try to do," returned Thurstane deliberately.
"The question is," he resumed after a moment of business-like calculation
of chances--"the question is mainly this, whether we can go twenty-five
miles quicker than they can go thirty-five. We must be the first to reach
"We can spare a few beasts," said Coronado. "We must leave the weakest
"We must not give up provisions."
"We can eat mules."
"Not till the last moment. We shall need them to take us back."
Coronado inwardly cursed himself for venturing into this inferno, the
haunting place of devils in human shape. Then his mind wandered to
Saratoga, New York, Newport, and the other earthly heavens that were known
to him. He hummed an air; it was the _brindisi_ of Lucrezia Borgia; it
reminded him of pleasures which now seemed lost forever; he stopped in the
middle of it. Between the associations which it excited--the images of
gayety and splendor, real or feigned--a commingling of kid gloves,
bouquets, velvet cloaks, and noble names--between these glories which so
attracted his hungry soul and the present environment of hideous deserts
and savage pursuers, what a contrast there was! There, far away, was the
success for which he longed; here, close at hand, was the peril which must
purchase it. At that moment he was willing to deny his bargain with Garcia
and the devil. His boldest desire was, "Oh that I were in Santa Fe!"
By Coronado's side rode a man who had not a thought for himself. A person
who has not passed years in the army can hardly imagine the sense of
_responsibility_ which is ground into the character of an officer. He is a
despot, but a despot who is constantly accountable for the welfare of his
subjects, and who never passes a day without many grave thoughts of the
despots above him. Superior officers are in a manner his deities, and the
Army Regulations have for him the weight of Scripture. He never forgets by
what solemn rules of duty and honor he will be judged if he falls short of
his obligations. This professional conscience becomes a destiny to him,
and guides his life to an extent inconceivable by most civilians. He
acquires a habit of watching and caring for others; he cannot help
assuming a charge which falls in his way. When he is not governed by the
rule of obedience, he is governed by the rule of responsibility. The two
make up his duty, and to do his duty is his existence.
At this moment our young West Pointer, only twenty-three or four years
old, was gravely and grimly anxious for his four soldiers, for all these
people whom circumstance had placed under his protection, and even for his
army mules, provisions, and ammunition. His only other sentiment was a
passionate desire to prevent harm or even fear from approaching Clara Van
Diemen. These two sentiments might be said to make up for the present his
entire character. As we have already observed, he had not a thought for
Presently it occurred to the youngster that he ought to cheer on his
Trotting up with a smile to Mrs. Stanley and Clara, he asked, "How do you
"Oh, I am almost dead," groaned Aunt Maria. "I shall have to be tied on
The poor woman, no longer youthful, it must be remembered, was indeed
badly jaded. Her face was haggard; her general get-up was in something
like scarecrow disorder; she didn't even care how she looked. So fagged
was she that she had once or twice dozed in the saddle and come near
"It was outrageous to bring us here," she went on pettishly. "Ladies
shouldn't be dragged into such hardships."
Thurstane wanted to say that he was not responsible for the journey; but
he would not, because it did not seem manly to shift all the blame upon
"I am very, very sorry," was his reply. "It is a frightful journey."
"Oh, frightful, frightful!" sighed Aunt Maria, twisting her aching back.
"But it will soon be over," added the officer. "Only twenty miles more to
"The river! It seems to me that I could live if I could see a river. Oh,
this desert! These perpetual rocks! Not a green thing to cool one's eyes.
Not a drop of water. I seem to be drying up, like a worm in the sunshine."
"Is there no water in the flasks?" asked Thurstane.
"Yes," said Clara. "But my aunt is feverish with fatigue."
"What I want is the sight of it--and rest," almost whimpered the elder
"Will our horses last?" asked Clara. "Mine seems to suffer a great deal."
"They _must_ last," replied Thurstane, grinding his teeth quite privately.
"Oh, yes, they will last," he immediately added. "Even if they don't, we
have mules enough."
"But how they moan! It makes me cringe to hear them."
"Twenty miles more," said Thurstane. "Only six hours at the longest. Only
half a day."
"It takes less than half a day for a woman to die," muttered the nearly
desperate Aunt Maria.
"Yes, when she sets about it," returned the officer. "But we haven't set
about it, Mrs. Stanley. And we are not going to."
The weary lady had no response ready for words of cheer; she leaned
heavily over the pommel of her saddle and rode on in silence.
"Ain't the same man she was," slyly observed Phineas Glover with a twist
of his queer physiognomy.
Thurstane, though not fond of Mrs. Stanley, would not now laugh at her
expense, and took no notice of the sarcasm. Glover, fearful lest he had
offended, doubled the gravity of his expression and tacked over to a fresh
"Shouldn't know whether to feel proud 'f myself or not, 'f I'd made this
country, Capm. Depends on what 'twas meant for. If 'twas meant to live in,
it's the poorest outfit I ever did see. If 'twas meant to scare folks,
it's jest up to the mark. 'Nuff to frighten a crow into fits. Capm, it
fairly seems more than airthly; puts me in mind 'f things in the Pilgrim's
Progress--only worse. Sh'd say it was like five thousin' Valleys 'f the
Shadow 'f Death tangled together. Tell ye, believe Christian 'd 'a' backed
out 'f he'd had to travel through here. Think Mr. Coronado 's all right in
his top hamper, Capm? Do, hey? Wal, then I'm all wrong; guess I'm 's
crazy's a bedbug. Wouldn't 'a'ketched me steerin' this course of my own
free will 'n' foreknowledge. Jest look at the land now. Don't it look like
the bottomless pit blowed up 'n' gone to smash? Tell ye, 'f the Old Boy
himself sh'd ride up alongside, shouldn't be a mite s'prised to see him.
Sh'd reckon he had a much bigger right to be s'prised to ketch me here."