Part 3 out of 6
wondering, for it had been my fashion to go clean-shaven. How, then,
did I come by a beard? I looked about me and saw that I was lying on
the deck of a ship, yes, of the /Blanche/ itself, for I knew the shape
of her stern, also certain knots in one of the uprights of the deck-
house that formed a rude resemblance to a human face. Nothing of this
deck-house was left now, except the corner posts between which I lay,
and to the tops of these was lashed a piece of canvas as though to
keep off the sun and the weather.
With difficulty I lifted my head a little and looked about me. The
bulwarks of the ship had gone, but some of the uprights to which the
planks had been nailed remained, and between them I perceived tall-
stemmed trees with tufts of great leaves at the top of them, which
trees seemed to be within a few yards of me. Bright-winged birds flew
about them and in their crowns I saw apes such as the sailors used to
bring home from Barbary. It would seem, then, that I must be in a
river (in fact, it was a little bay or creek, on either side of which
these trees appeared).
Noting these and the creeping plants with beautiful flowers, such as I
had never seen, that climbed up them, and the sweet scents that
floated on the air, and the clear light, now I grew sure that I was
dead and had reached Paradise. Only then how came it that I still lay
on the ship, for never had I heard that such things also went to
Paradise? Nay, I must dream; it was nothing but a dream that I wished
were true, remembering as I did the terrors of that gale-tossed sea.
Or, if I did not dream, then I was in some new world.
While I mused thus I heard a sound of soft footsteps and presently saw
a figure bending over me. It was Kari, very thin and hollow-eyed,
much, indeed, as he had been when I found him on the quay in London,
but still Kari without doubt. He looked at me in his grave fashion,
then said softly:
"Yes, Kari," I said, "but tell me, where am I?"
He did not answer at once but went away and returned presently with a
bowl from which he bade me drink, holding it to my lips. I did so,
swallowing what seemed to be broth though I thought it strangely
flavoured, after which I felt much stronger, for whatever was in that
broth ran through my veins like wine. At last he spoke in his queer
"Master," he said, "when we still in Thames River, you ask me whether
we should run ashore into the hands of the hunters who try to catch
us, or sail on. I answer, 'You have God and I have God and better fall
into hands of gods than into hands of men.' So we sail on into the big
storm. For long we sail, and though once it turn, always the
great wind blew, behind us. You grow weak and your mind leave you, but
I keep you alive with medicine that I have and for many days I stay
awake and steer. Then at last my mind leave me, too, and I know no
more. Three days ago I wake up and find the ship in this place. Then I
eat more medicine and get strength, also food from people on the shore
who think us gods. That all the story, except that you live, not die.
Your God and my God bring us here safe."
"Yes, Kari, but where are we?"
"Master, I think in that country from which I come; not in my own land
which is still far away, but still in that country. You remember," he
added with a flash of his dark eyes, "I always say that you and I go
there together one day."
"But what is the country, Kari?"
"Master, not know its name. It big and have many names, but you first
white man who ever come here, that why people think you God. Now you
go sleep again; to-morrow we talk."
I shut my eyes, being so very tired, and as I learned afterwards,
slept for twelve hours or more, to awake on the morning of the
following day, feeling wonderfully stronger and able to eat with
appetite. Also Kari brought me water and washed me, and clean clothes
which he had found in the ship that I put on.
Thus it went on for a long while and day by day I recovered strength
till at length I was almost as I had been when I married Blanche Aleys
in the church of St. Margaret at Westminster. Only now sorrow had
changed me within and without my face had grown more serious, while to
it hung a short yellow beard which, when I looked at my reflection,
seemed to become me well enough. That beard puzzled me much, since
such are not grown in a day, although it is true that as yet it was
not over-long. Weeks must have passed since it began to sprout upon my
chin and as we had been but three days in this place when I woke up,
those weeks without doubt were spent upon the sea.
Whither, then, had we come? Driving all the while before a great gale,
that for most of our voyage had blown from the east, as, if Kari were
right, we had done, this country must be very far away from England.
That it was so, indeed there could be no doubt, since here everything
was different. For example, having been a mariner from my childhood, I
had been taught and observed something of the stars, and noted that
the constellations had changed their places in the heavens, also that
some with which I was familiar were missing, while other new ones had
appeared. Further, the heat was great and constant, even at night
being more than that of our hottest summer day, and the air was full
of stinging insects, which at first troubled me much, though
afterwards I grew hardened to them. In short, everything was changed,
and I was indeed in a new world that was not told of in Europe, but
what world? What world? At least the sea joined it to the old, for
beneath me was still the /Blanche/, which timber by timber I had seen
built up upon the shores of Thames from oaks cut in my own woods.
As soon as I was strong enough, I went over the ship, or what was left
of her. It was a marvel that she had floated for so long, since her
hull was shattered. Indeed, I do not think she could have done so,
save for the fine wool that was packed into the lower part of her,
which wool seemed to have swollen when it grew wet and to have kept
the water out. For the rest she was but a hulk, since both her masts
were gone, and much of the deck with them. Still she had kept afloat
and driving into this creek, had beached herself upon the mud as
though it were the harbour that she sought.
How had we lived through such a journey? The answer seemed to be,
after we were too weak to find or take food, by means of the drug that
Kari cherished in his skin bag, and water of which there was plenty
left at hand in barrels, since the /Blanche/ had been provisioned for
a long voyage to Italy and farther. At least we had lived for weeks,
and weeks, being still young and very strong, and not having been
called upon to suffer great cold, since it would appear that although
the gale continued after the first few days of our flight before it,
the weather had turned warm.
During this time of my recovery, every morning Kari would go ashore,
which he did by means of planks set upon the mud, since we were within
a few feet of the bank of the creek into which a streamlet ran. Later
he would return, bringing with him fish and wildfowl, and corn of a
sort that I did not know, for its grains were a dozen times the size
of wheat, flat-sided, and if ripe, of a yellow colour, which he said
he had purchased from those who dwelt upon the land. On this good food
I feasted, washing it down with ale and wine from the ship's stores;
indeed never before did I eat so much, not even when I was a boy.
At length, one morning Kari made me put on my armour, the same which I
had taken from the French knight, and fled in from London, that he had
burnished till it shone like silver, and seat myself in a chair upon
what remained of the poop of the ship. When I asked him why, he
answered in order that he might show me to the inhabitants of that
land. In this chair he bade me sit and wait, holding the shield upon
my arm and the bare sword in my right hand.
As I had come to know that Kari never did anything without a reason
and remembered that I was in a strange country where, lacking him, I
should not have lived or could continue to do so, I fell into his
humour. Moreover, I promised that I would remain still and neither
speak, nor smile, nor rise from my chair unless he bade me. So there I
sat glittering in the hot sunshine which burned me through the armour.
Then Kari went ashore and was absent for some time. At length among
the trees and undergrowth I heard the sound of people talking in a
strange tongue. Presently they appeared on the bank of the creek, a
great number of them, very curious people, brown-skinned with long,
lank black hair and large eyes, but not over-tall in stature; men,
women and children together.
Among them were some who wore white robes whom I took to be their
gentlefolk, but the most of them had only cloths or girdles about
their middles. Leading the throng was Kari, who, as it appeared from
the bushes, waved his hand and pointed me out seated in the shining
armour on the ship, the visor up to show my face and the long sword in
my hand. They stared, then, with a low, sighing exclamation, one and
all fell upon their faces and rubbed their brows upon the ground.
As they lay there Kari addressed them, waving his arms and pointing
towards me from time to time. Afterwards I learned that he was telling
them I was a god, for which lie may his soul be forgiven.
The end of it was that he bade them rise and led certain of them who
wore the white robes across the planks to the ship. Here, while they
hung back, he advanced towards me, bowing and kissing the air till he
drew near, then he went upon his knees and laid his hands upon my
steel-clad feet. More, from the bosom of his robe he drew out flowers
which he placed upon my knees as though in offering.
"Now, Master," he whispered to me, "rise and wave your sword and shout
aloud, to show that you are alive and not an image."
So up I sprang, circling Wave-Flame about my head and roaring like any
bull of Bashan, for my voice was always loud and carried far. When
they saw the bright sword whirling through the air and heard these
bellowings, uttering cries of fear, those poor folk fled. Indeed most
of them fell from the plank into the mud, where one stuck fast and was
like to drown, had not Kari rescued him, which his brethren were in
too great haste to do.
After they had gone Kari came and said that everything went well and
that henceforward I was not a man but the Spirit of the Sea come to
earth, such a spirit as had never been dreamed of even by the wizards.
Thus then did Hubert of Hastings become a god among those simple
people, who had never before so much as heard of a white man, or seen
armour or a sword of steel.
THE ROCKY ISLE
For another week or more I remained upon the /Blanche/ waiting till my
full strength returned, also because Kari said I must do so. When I
asked him why, he replied for the reason that he wished news of my
coming to spread far and wide throughout the land from one tribe to
another, which it would do with great swiftness, flying, as he put it,
like a bird. Meanwhile, every day I sat upon the poop in the armour
for an hour or more, and both these people and others from afar came
to look at me, bringing me presents in such quantity that we knew not
what to do with them. Indeed, they built an altar and sacrificed wild
creatures to me, and birds, burning them with fire. Both those that I
had seen and the other folk from a long way off made this offering.
At last one night, when, having eaten, Kari and I were seated together
in the moonshine before we slept, I turned on him suddenly, hoping
thus to surprise the truth out of his secret heart, and said:
"What is your plan, Kari? For, know, I weary of this life."
"I was waiting for the Master to ask that question," he replied with
his gentle smile. (Again, I give not the very words he spoke in his
bad English, but the substance of them.) "Now will the Master be
pleased to listen? As I have told the Master, I believe that the gods,
his God and my God, have brought me back to that part of the world
which is unknown to the Master, where I was born. I believed this from
the first hour that my eyes opened on it after our swoon, for I knew
the trees and the flowers and the smell of the earth, and saw that the
stars in the heavens stood where I used to see them. When I went
ashore and mingled with the natives, I discovered that this belief was
right, since I could understand something of their talk and they could
understand something of mine. Moreover, among them was a man who came
from far away, who said that he had seen me in past years, wandering
like one mad, only that this man whom he had seen wore the image of a
certain god about his neck, whose name was too high for him to
mention. Then I opened my robe and showed him that which I wear about
my neck, and he fell down and worshipped it, crying out that I was the
"If so, it is marvellous," I said. "But what shall we do?"
"The Master can do one of two things. He can stop here, where these
simple people will make him their king and give him wives and all that
he desires, and so live out his life, since of return to the land
whence he came there is no hope."
"And if there were I would not go," I interrupted.
"Or," went on Kari, "he can try to travel to my country. But that is
very far away. Something of the journey which I made when I was mad
comes back and tells me that it is very, very far away. First, yonder
mountains must be crossed till another sea is reached, which is no
great journey, though rough. Then the coast of that sea must be
followed southward, for I know not how far, but, as I think, for
months or years of journeying, till at length the country of my people
is reached. Moreover, that journeying is hard and terrible, since the
road runs through forests and deserts where dwell savage tribes and
huge snakes and wild beasts, like those planted on the flag of your
country, and where famine and sicknesses are common. Therefore my
counsel to the Master is that he should leave it unattempted."
Now I thought awhile, and asked what he meant to do if I took this
counsel of his. To which he replied:
"I shall wait here awhile till I see the Master made a king among
these people and established in his rule. Then I shall start on that
journey alone, hoping that what I could do when I was mad I shall be
able to do again when I am not mad."
"I thought it," I said. "But tell me, Kari, if we were to make this
journey and perchance live to reach your people, how would they
"I do not know, Master; but I think that of the master they would make
a god, as will all the other people of this country. Perhaps, too,
they will sacrifice this god that his strength and beauty may enter
into them. As for me, some of them will try to kill me and others will
cling to me. Who will conquer I do not know, and to me it matters
little. I go to take my own and to be avenged, and if in seeking
vengeance I die--well, I die in honour."
"I understand," I said. "And now, Kari, let us start as soon as
possible before I become as mad from staring at those trees and
flowers and those big-eyed natives, that you say would make me a king,
as you tell me you were when you left your country. Whether we shall
ever find that country I cannot say. But at least we shall have done
our best and, if we fail, shall perish seeking, as in this way or in
that it is the lot of all brave men to do."
"The Master has spoken," said Kari, even more quietly than usual,
though as he spoke I saw his dark eyes flash and a trembling as of joy
run down his body. "Knowing all, he has made his choice, and whatever
happens, being what it is, he will not blame me. Yet because the
Master has thus chosen, I say this--that if we reach my country, and
if, perchance, I become a king there, even more than before I shall be
the Master's servant."
"That is easy to promise now, Kari, but it will be time to talk of it
when we do reach your land," I said, laughing, and asked him when we
were to start.
He replied not yet awhile, as he must make plans, and that in the
meantime I must walk upon the shore so that my legs might grow strong
again. So there every day I walked in the cool of the morning and in
the evening, not going out of sight of the wreck. I went armed and
carrying my big bow, but saw no one, since the natives had been warned
that I should walk and must not be looked upon while I did so.
Therefore, even when I passed through one of their villages of huts
built of mud and thatched with leaves, it seemed to be deserted.
Still, in the end the bow did not come amiss, for one evening, hearing
a little noise in a big tree under which I was about to pass that
reminded me of the purring of a cat, I looked up and saw a great beast
of the tiger sort lying on the bough of the tree and watching me. Then
I drew the bow and sent an arrow through that beast, piercing it from
side to side, and down it came roaring and writhing, and biting at the
arrow till it died.
After this I returned to the ship and told Kari what had happened. He
said it was fortunate I had killed the beast, which was of a very
fierce kind, and if I had not seen it, would have leapt on me as I
passed under the tree. Also he sent natives to skin it who when they
saw that it was pierced through and through by the arrow, were amazed
and thought me an even greater god than before, their own bows being
but feeble and their arrows tipped with bone.
Three days after the killing of this beast we started on our journey
into a land unknown. For a long while before Kari and I had been
engaged in collecting all the knives we could find in the ship, also
arrows, nails, axes, tools of carpentering, clothes, and I know not
what else besides, which goods we tied up in bundles wrapped in
sailcloth, each bundle weighing from thirty to forty pounds, to serve
as presents to natives or to trade away with them. When I asked who
would carry them, Kari answered that I should see. This I did at dawn
on the following morning when there arrived upon the shore a great
number of men, quite a hundred indeed, who brought with them two
litters made of light wood jointed like reeds, only harder, in which
Kari said he and I were to be carried. Among these men he parcelled
out the loads which they were to bear upon their heads, and then said
that it was time for us to start in the litters.
So we started, but first I went down into a cabin and kneeling on my
knees, thanked God for having brought me safe so far, and prayed Him
and St. Hubert to protect me on my further wanderings, and if I died,
to receive my soul. This done I left the ship and while the natives
bowed themselves about me, entered my litter, which was comfortable
enough, having grass mats to lie on and other mats for curtains, very
finely woven, so that they would turn even the heaviest rain.
Then away we went, eight men bearing the pole to which each litter was
slung on their shoulders, while others carried the bundles upon their
heads. Our road ran through forest uphill, and on the crest of the
first hill I descended from the litter and looked back.
There in the creek below lay the wreck of the /Blanche/, now but a
small black blot showing against the water, and beyond it the great
sea over which we had travelled. Yonder broken hulk was the last link
which bound me to my distant home thousands of miles across the ocean,
that home, which my heart told me I should never see again, for how
could I win back from a land that no white foot had ever trod?
On the deck of this ship Blanche herself had stood and smiled and
talked, for once we visited it together shortly before our marriage,
and I remembered how I had kissed her in its cabin. Now Blanche was
dead by her own hand and I, the great London merchant, was an outcast
among savages in a country of which I did not even know the name,
where everything was new and different. And there the ship with her
rich cargo, after bearing us so bravely through weeks of tempest, must
lie until she rotted in the sun and rain and never again would my eyes
behold her. Oh! then it was that a sense of all my misery and
loneliness gripped my heart as it had not done before since I rode
away after killing Deleroy with the sword Wave-Flame, and I wondered
why I had been born, and almost hoped that soon I might die and go to
seek the reason.
Back into the litter I crept and there hid my face and wept like a
child. Truly I, the prosperous merchant of London town who might have
lived to become its mayor and magistrate and win nobility, was now an
outcast adventurer of the humblest. Well, so God had decreed, and
there was no more to say.
That night we encamped upon a hilltop past which rushed a river in the
vale below and were troubled with heat and insects that hummed and
bit, for to these as yet I was not accustomed, and ate of the food
that we had brought with us, dried flesh and corn.
Next morning with the light we started on again, up and down mountains
and through more forests, following the course of the river and the
shores of a lake. So it went on until on the third evening from high
land we saw the sea beneath us, a different sea from that which we had
left, for it seemed that we had been crossing an isthmus, not so wide
but that if any had the skill, a canal might be cut across it joining
those two great seas.
Now it was that our real travels began, for here, after staring at the
stars and brooding apart for a long while, Kari turned southwards.
With this I had nothing to do who did not greatly care which way he
turned. Nor did he speak to me of the matter, except to say that his
god and such memory as remained to him through his time of madness
told him that the land of his people lay towards the south, though
very far away.
So southwards we went, following paths through the forests with the
ocean on our right hand. After a week of this wearisome marching we
came to another tribe of natives of whose talk those with us could
understand enough to tell them our story. Indeed the rumour that a
white god had appeared in the land out of the sea had already reached
them, and therefore they were prepared to worship me. Here our people
left us, saying that they dared not go further from their own country.
The scene of the departure was strange, since every one of them came
and rubbed his forehead in the dust before me and then went away,
walking backwards and bowing. Still their going did not make a great
difference to us, since the new tribe was much as the old one, though
if anything, rather less clothed and more dirty. Also it accepted me
as a god without question and gave us all the food we needed.
Moreover, when we left their land men were provided to carry the
litters and the loads.
Thus, then, passing from tribe to tribe, we travelled on southward,
ever southwards, finding always that the rumour of the coming of "the
god" had gone before us. So gentle were all these people, that not
once did we meet with any who tried to harm us or to steal our goods,
or who refused us the best of what they had. Our adventures, it is
true, were many. Thus, twice we came to tribes that were at war with
other tribes, though on my appearance they laid down their arms, at
any rate, for a time, and bore our litters forward.
Again, sometimes we met tribes who were cannibals and then we suffered
much from want of meat, since we dared not touch their food unless it
were grain. In the town of the first of these cannibal people, being
moved with fury, I killed a man whom I found about to murder a child
and eat her, sweeping off his head with my sword. For this deed I
expected that they would murder us, but they did not. They only
shrugged their shoulders and saying that a god can do as he pleases,
took away the slain man and ate him.
Sometimes our road ran through terrible forests where the great trees
shut out the light of day, and a path must be hacked through the
undergrowth. Sometimes it was haunted by tigers or tree lions such as
I have spoken of, against which we must watch continuously, especially
at night, keeping the brutes off by means of fires. Sometimes we were
forced to wade great rivers, or worse still, to walk over them on
swaying bridges made of cables of twisted reeds that until I grew
accustomed to them caused my head to swim, though never did I permit
myself to show fear before the natives. Again, once we came to swampy
lands that were full of snakes which terrified me much, especially
after I had seen some natives whom they bit, die within a few minutes.
Other snakes there were also, as thick as a man's body, and four or
five paces in length, which lived in trees and killed their food by
coiling round it and pressing it to death. These snakes, it was said,
would take men in this fashion, though I never saw one of them do so.
At any rate, they were terrible to look on, and reminded me of their
forefather through whose mouth Satan talked with Mother Eve in the
Garden of Eden, and thus brought us all to woe.
Once, too, on the bank of a great river, I saw such a snake that at
the sight of it my knees knocked together. By St. Hubert, the beast
was sixty feet or more in length; its head was of the bigness of a
barrel, and its skin was of all the colours of the rainbow. Moreover,
it seemed to hold me with its eyes, for till it slipped away into the
river I could not move a foot.
Month after month we travelled thus, covering a matter of perhaps five
miles a day, since sometimes the country was open and we crossed it
with speed. Yet although our dangers were so many, strangely enough,
during all this time, even in that heat neither of us fell sick, as I
think because of the herb which Kari carried in his bag, that I found
was named /Coca/, whereof we obtained more as we went and ate from
time to time. Nor did we ever really suffer from starvation, since
when we were hungry we took more of this herb which supported us until
we could find food. These mercies I set down to the good offices of
St. Hubert watching from Heaven over me, his poor namesake and godson,
though perhaps the skill and courage of Kari which provided against
everything had something to do with them.
At length, in the ninth month of our travelling, as Kari reckoned it
by means of knots which he tied on pieces of native string, for I had
long lost count of time, we came to the borders of a great desert that
the natives said stretched southwards for a hundred leagues and more
and was without water. Moreover, to the east of this desert rose a
chain of mountains bordered by precipices up which no man could climb.
Here, therefore, it seemed as though our journey must end, since Kari
had no knowledge of how he crossed or went round this desert in his
madness of bygone years, if indeed he ever travelled that road at all,
a matter of which I was not certain.
For a week or more we remained among the tribe that lived in a
beautiful watered valley upon the borders of this desert, wondering
what we should do. For my part I was by now so tired of travelling
upon an endless quest that I should have been glad to stay among that
tribe, a very gentle and friendly people, who like all the rest
believed me to be a god, and make my home there till I died. But this
was not Kari's mind, which was set fiercely upon winning back to his
own country that he believed to lie towards the south.
Day by day we sat there regaining our strength upon the good food of
that valley, and staring first at the desert to the south, then at the
precipices on our left hand, and lastly at the ocean upon our right.
Now this people, I should say, drew their wealth from the sea as well
as from the land, since they were great fishermen and went out upon it
in rude boats or rafts made of a wooden frame to which were lashed
blown-up skins and bundles of dried reeds. Upon these boats, frail as
they seemed, such as further south were called balsas, they made
considerable journeys to distant islands where they caught vast
quantities of fish, some of which they used to manure their land.
Moreover, besides the oars, they rigged a square cotton sail upon the
balsas which enabled them to run before the wind without labour,
steering the craft by means of a paddle at the stern.
While we were there I observed that on the springing up of a wind from
the north, although it was of no great strength, the /balsas/ all came
to shore and were drawn up out of reach of the waves. When I inquired
why through Kari, the answer given was because the fishing season was
over, since that wind from the north would blow for a long time
without changing and those who went out in it upon the sea might be
driven southwards to return no more. They stated, indeed, that often
this had happened to venturesome men who had vanished away and been
"If you wish to travel south, there is a way of doing so," I said to
At the time he made no answer, but on the following day asked me
suddenly if I dared attempt such a journey.
"Why not?" I answered. "It is as easy to die in the water as on land
and I weary of journeying through endless swamps and forests or of
crossing torrents and climbing mountain ridges."
The end of it was that for a knife and a few nails Kari purchased the
largest /balsa/ that these people had, provisioning it with as much
dried fish, corn and water in earthenware jars as it would carry
together with ourselves, and such of our remaining goods as we wished
to take with us. Then we announced that I, the god who had come out of
the sea, desired to return into the sea with himself, my servant.
So on a certain fine morning when the wind was blowing steadily but
not too strongly from the north, we embarked upon that /balsa/ while
the simple savages made obeisance with wonder in their eyes, hoisted
the square canvas, and sailed away upon what I suppose was one of the
maddest voyages ever made by man.
Although it was so clumsy the /balsa/ moved through the water at a
good rate, covering quite two leagues the hour, I should say, before
that strong and steady wind. Soon the village that we had left
vanished; then the mountains behind it grew dim and in time vanished
also, and there remained nothing but the great wilderness upon our
left and the vast sea around. Steering clear of the land so as to
avoid sunken rocks, we sailed on all that day and all the night that
followed, and when the light came again perceived that we were running
past a coastline that was backed by high mountains on some of which
lay snow. By the second evening these mountains had become tremendous,
and between them I saw valleys down which ran streams of water.
Thus we went on for three days and nights, the wind from the north
blowing all the while and the /balsa/ taking no hurt, by the end of
which time I reckon that we had travelled as far along the coast as we
had done in six months when we journeyed over land, at which I
rejoiced. Kari rejoiced also, because he said that the shape and
greatness of the mountains we were passing reminded him of those of
his own country, to which he believed that we were drawing near.
On the fourth morning, however, our troubles began, since the friendly
wind from the north grew steadily stronger, till at length it rose to
a gale. Soon our little rag of canvas was torn away, but still we
rushed on before the following seas at a very great speed.
Now I thought of trying to make the land, but found that we could not
do so with the oars, because of the current that set out towards the
ocean against which it was impossible to urge our clumsy craft.
Therefore we must content ourselves with trying to keep her head
straight with the steering oar, but even then we were often whirled
round and round.
About two hours after noon the sky clouded over, and there burst upon
us a great thunder-storm with torrents of rain; also the wind grew
stronger and stronger.
Now we could no longer steer or do anything except lie flat upon the
bottom of the /balsa/, gripping the cords with which it was tied
together, to save ourselves from being washed overboard, since often
the foaming crests of the waves broke upon us. Indeed, it was
marvellous that this frail craft should hang together at all, but
owing to the lightness of the reeds and the blown-up skins that were
tied in them, still she floated and, whirling round and round, sped
upon her southward path. Yet I knew that this could not endure for
very long, and committed my soul to God as well as I was able in my
half-drowned state, wishing that my miseries were ended.
The darkness came down, but still the thunder roared and the lightning
blazed, and by the flare of it I caught sight of snow-capped mountains
far away upon the coast, also of Kari clinging to the reeds of the
/balsa/ at my side, and from time to time kissing the golden image of
Pachacamac which hung about his neck. Presently he set his lips
against my ear and shouted:
"Be bold! Our gods are still with us in storm."
"Yes," I answered, "and soon we shall be with our gods--in peace."
After this I heard no more of him, and fell to thinking with such wits
as were left to me of how many perils we had passed since we saw the
shores of Thames, and that it seemed sad that all should have been for
nothing, since it would have been better to die at the beginning than
now at the end, after so much misery. Then the glare of the lightning
shone upon the handle of the sword Wave-Flame, which was still
strapped about me, and I remembered the rune written upon it which my
mother had rendered to me upon the morning of the fight against the
Frenchmen. How did it run?
He who lifts Wave-Flame on high
In love shall live and in battle die.
Storm-tossed o'er wide seas shall roam
And in strange lands shall make his home.
Conquering, conquered shall he be
And far away shall sleep with me.
It fitted well, though of the love I had known little and that most
unhappy, and the battle in which I must die was one with water. Also,
I had conquered nothing who myself was conquered by Fate. In short,
the thing could be read two ways, like all prophecies, and only one
line of it was true beyond a doubt--namely, that Wave-Flame and I
should sleep together.
Awhile later the lightning shone awesomely, like to the swords of a
whole army of destroying angels, so that the sky became alive with
fire. In its light for an instant I saw ahead of us great breakers,
and beyond them what looked like a dark mass of land. Now we were in
them, for the first of those hungry, curling waves got a hold of the
/balsa/ and tossed it up dizzily, then flung it down into a deep
valley of water. Another came and another, till my senses reeled and
went. I cried to St. Hubert, but he was a land saint and could not
help me; so I cried to Another greater than he.
My last vision was of myself riding a huge breaker as though it were a
horse. Then there came a crash and darkness.
Lo! it seemed to me as though one were calling me back from the depths
of sleep. With trouble I opened my eyes only to shut them again
because of the glare of the light. Then after a while I sat up, which
gave me pain, for I felt as if I had been beaten all over, and looked
once more. Above me shone the sun in a sky of deepest blue; before me
was the sea almost calm, while around were rocks and sand, among which
crawled great reptiles that I knew for turtles, as I had seen many of
them in our wanderings. Moreover, kneeling at my side, with the sword
that he had taken from the body of Deleroy still strapped about him,
was Kari, who bled from some wound and was almost white with encrusted
salt, but otherwise seemed unharmed. I stared at him, unable to open
my mouth from amazement, so it was he who spoke the first, saying, in
a voice that had a note of triumph in it:
"Did I not tell you that the gods were with us? Where is your faith, O
White Man! Look! They have brought me back to the land of which I am
Now there was that in Kari's tone which in my weak state angered me.
Why did he scold me about faith? Why did he address me as "White Man"
instead of "Master"? Was it because he had reached a country where he
was great and I was nothing? I supposed so, and answered;
"And are these your subjects, O noble Kari?" and I pointed to the
crawling turtles. "And is this the rich and wondrous land where gold
and silver are as mud?" and I pointed to the barren rocks and sand
He smiled at my jest, and answered more humbly:
"Nay, Master, yonder is my land."
Then I looked, following his glance, and saw many leagues way across
the water two snowclad peaks rising above a bank of clouds.
"I know those mountains," he went on; "without doubt they are one of
the gateways of my land."
"Then we might as well be in London for all the hope we have of
passing that gate, Kari. But tell me what has chanced."
"This, I think. A very great wave caught us and threw us right over
those rocks on to the shore. Look--there is the /balsa/," and he
pointed to a broken heap of reeds and pierced skins.
With his help I rose and went to it. Now none could know that it had
been a boat. Still, the /balsa/ it was and nothing else, and tied in
its tangled mass still remained those things which we had brought with
us, such as my black bow and armour, though all the jars were broken.
"It has borne us well, but will never bear us again," I said.
"That is so, Master. But if we were in my own country yonder I would
set its fragments in a case of gold and place them in the Temple of
the Sun as a memorial."
Then we went to a pool of rainwater that lay in a hollow rock near by,
and drank our fill, for we were very thirsty. Also among the ruins of
the /balsa/ we found some of the dried fish that was left to us, and
having washed it, filled ourselves. After this we limped to the crest
of the land behind and perceived that we were on a little island,
perhaps two hundred English acres in extent, whereon nothing grew
except some coarse grass. This island, however, was the haunt of great
numbers of seafowl which nested there, also of the turtles that I have
mentioned, and of certain beasts like seals or otters.
"At least we shall not starve," I said, "though in the dry season we
may die of thirst."
Now there on that island we remained for four long months. For food we
ate the turtles, which we cooked over fires that Kari made by
cunningly twirling a pointed piece of driftwood in the hollow of
another piece that he filled with the dust of dried grass. Had he
lacked that knowledge we must have starved or lived on raw flesh. As
it was, we had plenty with this meat and that of birds and their eggs,
also of fish that we caught in the pools when the tide was down. From
the shells of the turtles, by the help of stones, we built us a kind
of hut to keep off the sun and the rain, which in that hot place was
sufficient shelter; also, when the stench was out of them, we used
other shells in which to catch rainwater that we stored as best we
could against seasons of drought. Lastly, with my big bow which was
saved with the armour, I shot sea-otters, and from their pelts we made
us garments after rubbing the skins with turtle fat and handling them
to make them soft.
Thus, then, we lived from moon to moon upon that desert place, till I
thought I should go mad with loneliness and despair, for no help came
near us. There were the mountains of the mainland far away, but
between them and us stretched leagues of sea that we could not swim,
nor had we anything of which to make a boat.
"Here we must remain until we die!" at last I cried in my
"Nay," answered Kari, "our gods are still with us and will save us in
This, indeed, they did in a strange fashion.
THE DAUGHTER OF THE MOON
For the fourth time since we were cast away on this island the huge
full moon shone in a sky of wondrous blue. Kari and I watched it rise
between the two snow-clad peaks far away that he had called a gateway
to his land, which was so near to us and yet it would seem more
distant than Heaven itself. Heaven we might hope to reach upon the
wings of spirit when we died, but to that country how could we come?
We watched that great moon climb higher and higher up a ladder of
little bar-like clouds, till wearying we let our eyes fall upon the
glittering pathway which its light made upon the bosom of the placid
sea. Suddenly Kari stared and stared.
"What is it?" I asked idly.
"I thought I saw something yonder far away where Quilla's footsteps
make the waters bright," he said, speaking in his own language in
which now we often talked together.
"Quilla's?" I exclaimed. "Oh! I forgot: that is the lady moon's name
in your tongue, is it not? Well, come, Quilla, and I will wed and
worship you, as 'tis said the ancients did, and never turn to look
upon another, be she woman, or goddess, or both. Only come and take me
from this accursed isle and in payment I'll die for you, if need be,
when first I've taught you how to love as star or woman never loved
"Hush!" said Kari in a grave voice, when he had listened to this mad
stuff that burst through my lips from the spring of a mind distraught
by misery and despair.
"Why should I hush?" I asked. "Is it not pleasant to think of the moon
wearing a lovely woman's shape and descending to give a lonely mortal
love and comfort?"
"Because, Master, to me and my people the moon is a goddess who hears
prayer and answers it. Suppose, then, that she heard you and answered
you and came to you and claimed your love, what then?"
"Why, then, friend Kari," I raved on, "then I should welcome her, for
love goes a begging, ready as ripe fruit to be plucked by the first
hand if it be fair enough, ready to melt beneath the first lips if
they be warm enough. 'Tis said that it is the man who loves and the
woman who accepts the love. But that is not true. It is the man, Kari,
who waits to be loved and pays back just as much as is given to him,
and no more, like an honest merchant; for if he does otherwise, then
he suffers for it, as I have learned. Therefore, come, Quilla, and
love as a Celestial can and I swear that step by step I'll keep pace
with you in flesh and spirit through Heaven, or through Hell, since
love I must have, or death."
"I pray you, talk not so," said Kari again, in a frightened voice,
"since those words of yours come from the heart and will be heard. The
goddess is a woman, too, and what woman will turn from such a bait?"
"Let her take it, then. Why not?"
"Because, O friend, because /Quilla/ is wed to /Yuti/; the Moon is the
Sun's wife, and if the Sun grows jealous what will happen to the man
who has robbed the greatest of the world's gods?"
"I do not know and I do not care. If Quilla would but come and love
me, I'd take my chance of Yuti whom as a Christian I defy."
Kari shuddered at this blasphemy, then having once more scanned that
silver pathway on the waters, but without avail for the great fish or
drifting tree or whatever he had seen, was gone, prayed after his
fashion at night, to Pachacamac, Spirit of the Universe, or to the Sun
his servant, god of the world, I know not which, and rolling himself
in his rug of skins, crept into our little hut to sleep.
But as yet I did not sleep, for though Kari hated both, this talk of
love and women had stirred my blood and made me wakeful. So I took a
rough comb that I had fashioned from the shell of a turtle, and
dragged it through my long fair beard, which, growing fast, now hung
down far upon my breast, and through the curling hair that lay upon my
shoulders, for I had become as other wild men are, and sang to myself
there by the little fire which we kept burning day and night and tried
to think of happy things that never should I know again.
At length the fit passed and I grew weary and laid myself down by the
fire, for the night being so fine and warm I would not go into the
hut, and there sleep found me.
I dreamed in my sleep. I dreamed that a very beautiful woman who wore
upon her naked breast the emblem of the moon fashioned in crystal,
stood over me, looking down upon me with large dark eyes. And as she
looked she sighed. Thrice she sighed, each time more deeply than the
last. Then she knelt down by me--or so it seemed in my dream, and laid
a tress of her long dark hair against my yellow locks, as though she
would match them together. She did more, indeed--in my dream--for
lifting that tress of fragrant hair, she let it fall like thistledown
across my face and mouth, and then kissed the hair, for I felt her
breath reach me through its strands.
The dream ended thus, though I wished very much that it would go on,
and I felt as though it had gone away as such visions do. Awhile
later, as I suppose, I awoke quite suddenly, and opened my eyes.
There, near to me, glittering in the full light of the brilliant moon,
stood the woman of my dream, only now her naked breast was covered
with a splendid cloak broidered with silver, and on her dark locks was
a feathered headdress in front of which rose the crescent of the moon,
likewise fashioned in silver. Also in her hand she held a little
I stared at her, for move I could not. Then remembering my crazy talk
with Kari, uttered one word, only one. It was--/Quilla/.
She bowed her head and answered in a voice soft as the murmur of the
wind through rushes, speaking in the rich language called Quichua that
Kari had taught me. In this tongue, as I have told, we talked together
for practice during our journeys and on the island. So that now I knew
"So indeed am I named after my mother, the 'Moon,'" she said. "But how
did you know it, O Wanderer, whose skin is white as the foam of the
sea and whose hair is yellow as the fine gold in the temples?"
"I think you must have told me when you knelt over me just now," I
I saw the red blood run to her brow, but she only shook her head, and
"Nay, my mother, the Moon, must have told you; or perchance you
learned it in the spirit. At least, Quilla am I named and you called
Now I stood up and stared at her, overcome by the strangeness of the
business, and she stared at me. A marvellously beautiful woman she was
in her dazzling robe and headdress, and lighter coloured than any
native I had seen, almost white, indeed, in the moonlight save for the
copper tinge that marked her race; tall, too, yet not over-tall; slim
and straight as an arrow, but high-breasted and round-limbed, and with
a wild grace in her movements like to that of a hawk upon the wing.
Also to my fancy in her face there was something more than common
youthful beauty, something spiritual, such as great artists show upon
the carven countenances of saints.
Indeed she might well have been one whose human blood was mixed with
some other alien strain--as she had called herself, a daughter of the
A question rose to my lips and burst from them; it was:
"Tell me, O Quilla, are you wife or maid?"
"Maid am I," she answered, "yet one who is promised as a wife," and
she sighed, then went on quickly as though this matter were something
of which she did not wish to talk, "And tell me, O Wanderer, are you
god or man?"
Now I grew cunning and answered,
"I am a Son of the Sea as you are a Daughter of the Moon."
She turned her head and glanced at the radiance which lay upon the
face of the deep, then said as though to herself:
"The moon shines upon the sea and the sea mirrors back the moon, yet
they are far apart and never may draw near."
"Not so, O Quilla. Out of the sea does the moon rise and, her course
run, into the sea's white arms she sinks to sleep at last."
Again the red blood ran to her brow and her great eyes fell, those
eyes of which never before had I seen the like.
"It seems that they speak our tongue in the sea, and prettily," she
murmured, adding, "But is it not from and into Heaven that the Moon
rises and departs?"
At that moment to my grief our talk came to an end, for out of the hut
crept Kari. He rose to his feet and stood there as ever calm and
dignified, looking first at Quilla and then at me.
"What did I tell you, Master?" he said in English. "Did I not say that
prayers such as yours are answered? Lo! here is that Child of the Moon
for whom you sought, clothed in beauty and bringing her gifts of love
"Yes," I exclaimed, "and I am glad that she is here. For the rest,
were she but mine, I think I should not grudge her price whate'er it
Quilla looked at Kari frowning over the spear that when he appeared
she had lifted, as though to defend herself, which in my case she had
not thought needful.
"So the sea breeds men of my own race also," she said, addressing him.
"Tell me, O Stranger, how did you and yonder white god come to this
"Riding on the ocean billows, riding for thousands of leagues," he
answered. "And you, O Lady, how did you come to this isle?"
"Riding on the moonbeams," she replied, smiling, "I, the daughter of
the Moon, who am named Moon and wear her symbol on my brow."
"Did I not tell you so?" exclaimed Kari to me with a gloomy air.
Then Quilla went on:
"Strangers, I was out fishing with two of my maidens and we had
drifted far from land. As the sun sank I caught sight of the smoke of
your fire, and having been told that this isle was desert, my heart
drew me to discover who had lit it. So, though my maidens were afraid,
hither I sailed and paddled, and the rest you know. Hearken! I will
declare myself. I am the only child of Huaracha, King of the People of
the Chancas, born of his wife, a princess of the Inca blood who now
has been gathered to her Father, the Sun. I am here on a visit to my
mother's kinsman, Quismancu, the Chief of the Yuncas of the
Coastlands, to whom my father, the King, has sent an embassy on
matters of which I know nothing. Behind yonder rock is my /balsa/ and
with it are the two maidens. Say, is it your wish to bide here upon
this isle, or to return into the sea, or to accompany me back to the
town of Quismancu? If so, we must sail ere the weather breaks, lest we
should be drowned."
"Certainly it is my wish to accompany you, Lady, though a god of the
sea cannot be drowned," I said quickly before Kari could speak.
Indeed, he did not speak at all, he only shrugged his shoulders and
sighed, like one who accepts some evil gift from Fate because he must.
"So be it!" exclaimed Quilla. "Now I go to make ready the /balsa/ and
to warn the maidens lest they be frightened. When you are prepared you
will find us yonder behind the rock."
Then she bowed in a stately fashion an departed, walking with the
proud, light step of a deer.
From our little hut I took out my armour and with Kari's help, put it
on, because he declared that thus it would be more easily carried,
though I think he had other reasons in his mind.
"Yes," I answered, "unless the /balsa/ oversets, when I shall find
mail hard to swim in."
"The /balsa/ will not overset, sailing beneath the moon with that
Moon-lady for a pilot," he replied heavily. "Had the sun been up, it
might have been different. Moreover, the path into a net is always
wide and easy."
"What net?" I asked.
"One that is woven of women's hair, I think. Already, if I mistake
not, such a net has been about your throat, Master, and next time it
will stay there. Hearken now to me. The gods thrust us into high
matters. The Yuncas of whose chief this lady is a guest are a great
people whom my people have conquered in war, but who wait the
opportunity to rebel, if they have not already done so. The Chancas,
of those king she is the daughter, are a still greater people who for
years have threatened war upon my people."
"Well, what of it, Kari? With such questions this lady will have
nothing to do."
"I think she has much to do with them. I think that she knows more
than she seems to know, and that she is an envoy from the Chancas to
the Yuncas. To whom is she affianced, I wonder? Some Great One,
doubtless. Well, we shall learn in time; and meanwhile, I pray you,
Master, remember that she says she /is/ affianced, and that in this
land men are very jealous even of a white god who rises from the sea."
"Of course I shall remember," I answered sharply. "Have I not had
enough of women who are affianced?"
"By your prayer of the moon this night, which the moon answered so
well and quickly, one might think not. Also this daughter of hers is
fair, and perchance when she gave her hand she kept her heart. Listen
again, Master. Of me and of whom I am, say nothing, save that you
found me on this island where I dwelt a hermit when you rose from the
sea. As for my name, why, it is Zapana. Remember that if you breathe
my rank and history, however much sweet lips may try to cozen them out
of you, you bring me to my death, who now do not wish to die, having a
vengeance to accomplish and a throne to win. Therefore treat me as a
dog, as one of no account, and be silent even in your sleep."
"I will remember, Kari."
"That is not enough--swear it."
"Good. I swear it--by the moon."
"Nay, not by the moon, for the moon is woman and changes. Swear it by
this," and from beneath his skin robe he drew out the golden image of
Pachacamac. "Swear it by the Spirit of the Universe, of whom Sun and
Moon and Stars are but servants, the Spirit whom all men worship in
this shape or in that."
So to please him I laid my hand upon the golden symbol and swore.
Then, very hurriedly, we made up a tale of how, clad in my armour, I
had risen from the sea and found him on the island, and how knowing me
for a white god who once in ages past had visited that land and who,
as prophecy foretold, should return to it in days to come, he had
worshipped me and become my slave.
This done we went down to the rock, Kari walking after me and bearing
all our small possessions and with them Deleroy's sword. Passing round
the rock we saw the /balsa/ drawn up to the sand, and by it the lady
Quilla, who now had put off her fine robes and again was attired as a
fishing-girl as I had seen her in my dream, and with her two tall
girls in the same scanty garments. When these saw me in the glittering
armour, which in our long idle hours we had polished till it shone
like silver, with the shield upon my arm and the casque upon my head
and the great sword girded about my middle and the black bow in my
hand, they screamed with fear and fell upon their faces, while even
Quilla started back and glanced towards the boat.
"Fear not," I said. "The gods are kind to those who do them service,
though to those who would harm them they are terrible."
Kari also went to them and whispered in their ears what tale I know
not. In the end they rose trembling, and having motioned to me to be
seated in it, with the help of Kari pushed the /balsa/, which I noted
with joy was large and well made, down into the sea. Then one by one
they climbed in, Quilla taking the steering-oar, while Kari and the
two maidens hoisted the little sail and paddled till we were clear of
the island, where the gentle wind caught the /balsa/. Then they
shipped the paddles, and although full laden, we sailed quietly
towards the mainland.
Now I was at the bow of the /balsa/ and Quilla was at its stern, and
between us were the others, so that during all that long night's
journey I had no speech with her and must content myself with gazing
over my shoulder at her beauty as best I could, which was not well,
because of Kari, who ever seemed to come between my eyes and hers.
Thus the long hours went by till at length when we were near the land
the moon sank, and we sailed on through the twilight. Then came the
dawn, and there in front of us we saw the lovely strand green with
palms within a ring of snow-clad mountains, two of them the great
peaks that we had seen from our isle.
On the shore was a city of white, flat-roofed houses, and rising above
it, perchance the half of a mile from the sea, a hill four or five
hundred feet in height and terraced. On the top of the hill stood a
mighty building, painted red, that from the look of it I took to be
one of the churches of these people, in the centre of which gleamed
great doors that, as I found afterwards, were covered with plates of
"Behold the temple of Pachacamac, Master," whispered Kari, bowing his
head and kissing the air in token of reverence.
By this time watchmen, who had been set there to search the sea or the
boat of Quilla, had noted our approach. They shouted and pointed to me
who sat in the prow clad in my armour upon which the sun glittered,
then began to run to and fro as though in fear or excitement, so that
ere we reached the shore a great crowd had gathered. Meanwhile, Quilla
had put on her silver-broidered mantle and her head-dress of feathers,
crowned with the crescent of the moon. As we touched the beach she
came forward, and for the first time during that night spoke to me
"Remain here in the /balsa/, Lord, while I talk with these people, and
when I summon you be pleased to come. Fear not--none will harm you."
Then she sprang from the prow of the /balsa/ to the shore, followed by
her two maidens, who dragged it further up the beach, and went forward
to talk with certain white-robed men in the crowd. For a long while
she talked, turning now and again to point at me. At length these men,
accompanied by a number of others, ran forward. At first I thought
they meant mischief and grasped my sword-hilt, then, remembering what
Quilla had said, remained seated and silent.
Indeed, there was no cause for fear, for when the white-robed chiefs
or priests and their following were close to me, suddenly they
prostrated themselves and beat their heads upon the sand, from which I
learned that they, too, believed me to be a god. Thereon I bowed to
them and, drawing my sword--at the sight of which I saw them stare and
shiver, for to these people steel was unknown--held it straight up in
front of me in my right hand, the shield with the cognizance of the
three arrows being on my left arm.
Now all the men rose, and some of them of the humbler sort, creeping
to the /balsa/, suddenly seized it and lifted it on to their
shoulders, which, being but a light thing of reeds and blown-out
skins, they could do easily enough. Then, preceded by the chiefs, they
advanced up the beach into the town, I still remaining seated in the
boat with Kari crouching behind me. So strange was the business that
almost I laughed aloud, wondering what those grave merchants of the
Cheap whom I had known in London would think if they could see me
"Kari," I said, without turning my head, "what are they going to do
with us? Set us in yonder temple to be worshipped with nothing to
"I think not, Master," answered Kari, "since there the lady Quilla
could not come to speak with you if she would. I think that they will
take you to the house of the king of this country where, I understand,
she is dwelling."
This, indeed, proved to be the case, for we were borne solemnly up the
main street of the town, that now was packed with thousands of people,
some of whom threw flowers before the feet of the bearers, bowing and
staring till I thought that their eyes would fall out, to a large,
flat-roofed house set in a walled courtyard. Passing through the gates
the bearers placed the /balsa/ on the ground and fell back. Then from
out of the door of the house appeared Quilla, accompanied by a tall,
stately looking man who wore a fine robe, and a woman of middle age
also gorgeously apparelled.
"O Lord," said Quilla, bowing, "behold my kinsman the /Caraca/" (which
is the name for a lesser sort of king) "of the Yuncas, named
Quismancu, and his wife, Mira."
"Hail, Lord Risen from the Sea!" cried Quismancu. "Hail, White God
clothed in silver! Hail, /Hurachi/!"
Why he called me "Hurachi" at the time I could not guess, but
afterwards I learned that it was because of the arrows painted on my
shield, /hurachi/ being their name for arrows. At any rate,
thenceforth by this name of Hurachi I was known throughout the land,
though when addressed for the most part I was called "Lord-from-the-
Sea" or "God-of-the-Sea."
Then Quilla and the lady Mira came forward and, placing their hands
beneath my elbows, assisted me to climb out of that /balsa/, which I
think was the strangest way that ever a shipwrecked wanderer came to
They led me into a large room with a flat roof that was being hastily
prepared for me by the hanging of beautiful broideries on the walls,
and sat me on a carven stool, where presently Quilla and other ladies
brought me food and a kind of intoxicating drink which they called
/chicha/, that after so many months of water drinking I found cheering
and pleasant to the taste. This food, I noted, was served to me on
platters of gold and silver, and the cups also were of gold strangely
fashioned, by which I knew that I had come to a very rich land.
Afterwards I learned, however, that in it there was no money, all the
gold and silver that it produced being used for ornament or to
decorate the temples and the palaces of the /Incas/, as they called
their kings, and other great lords.
THE ORACLE OF RIMAC
In this town of Quismancu I remained for seven days, going abroad but
little, for when I did so the people pressed about me and stared me
out of countenance. There was a garden at the back of the hose
surrounded by a wall built of mud bricks. Here for the most part I sat
and here the great ones of the place came to visit me, bringing me
offerings of robes and golden vessels and I know not what besides. To
all of them I told the same story--or, rather, Kari told it for me--
namely, that I had risen out of the sea and found him a hermit, named
Zapana, on the desert island. What is more, they believed it and,
indeed, it was true, for had I not risen out of the sea?
From time to time Quilla came to see me also in this garden, bearing
gifts of flowers, and with her I talked alone. She would sit upon a
low stool, considering me with her beautiful eyes, as though she would
search out my soul. One day she said to me:
"Tell me, Lord, are you a god or a man?"
"What is a god?" I asked.
"A god is that which is adored and loved."
"And is a man never adored and loved, Quilla? For instance, I
understand that you are to be married, and doubtless you adore and
love him who will be your husband."
She shivered a little and answered:
"It is not so. I hate him."
"Then why are you going to marry him? Are you forced to do so,
"No, Lord. I marry him for my people's sake. He desires me for my
inheritance and my beauty, and by my beauty I may lead him down that
road on which my people wish that he should go."
"An old story, Quilla, but will you be happy thus?"
"No, Lord, I shall be very unhappy. But what does it matter? I am only
a woman, and such is the lot of women."
"Women, like gods and men, are also sometimes loved and adored,
She flushed at the words and answered:
"Ah! if that were so life might be different. But even if it were so
and I found the man who could love and adore even for a year, for me
it is now too late. I am sworn away by an oath that may not be broken,
for to break it might bring death upon my people."
"To whom are you sworn?"
"To the Child of the Sun, no less a man; to the god who will be Inca
of all this land."
"And what is this god like?"
"They say that he is huge and swarthy, with a large mouth, and I know
that he has the heart of a brute. He is cruel and false also, and he
counts his women by the score. Yet his father, the Inca, loves him
more than any of his children, and ere long he will be king after
"And would you, who are sweet and lovely as the moon after which you
are named, give yourself body and soul to such a one?"
Again she flushed.
"Do my own ears hear the White-God-from-the-Sea call me sweet and
lovely as the moon? If so, I thank him, and pray him to remember that
the perfect and lovely are always chosen to be the sacrifice of gods."
"But, Quilla, the sacrifice may be all in vain. How long will you hold
the fancy of this loose-living prince?"
"Long enough to serve my purpose, Lord--or, at least," she added with
flashing eyes, "long enough to kill him if he will not go my country's
road. Oh! ask me no more, for your words stir something in my breast,
a new spirit of which I never dreamed. Had I heard them but three
moons gone, it might have been otherwise. Why did you not appear
sooner from the sea, my lord Hurachi, be you god or man?"
Then, with something like a sob, she rose, made obeisance, and fled
That evening, when we were alone in my chamber where none could hear
us, I told Kari that Quilla was promised in marriage to a prince who
would be Inca of all the land.
"Is it so?" said Kari. "Well, learn, Master, that this prince is my
brother, he whom I hate, he who has done me bitter wrong, he who stole
away my wife and poisoned me. Urco is his name. Does this lady Quilla
"I think not. I think that like you she hates him, yet will marry him
for reasons of policy."
"Doubtless she hates him now, whatever she did a week ago," said Kari
in a dry voice. "But what fruit will this tree bear? Master, are you
minded to come with me to-morrow to visit the temple of Pachacamac in
the inner sanctuary of which sits the god Rimac who speaks oracles?"
"For what purpose, Kari?" I answered moodily.
"That we may hear oracles, Master. I think that if you choose to go
the lady Quilla would come with us, since perhaps she would like also
to hear oracles."
"I will go if it can be done in secret, say at night, for I weary of
being stared at by these people."
This I said because I desired to learn of the religion of this nation
and to see new things.
"Perhaps it can be so ordered, Master. I will ask of the matter."
It seemed that Kari did ask, perhaps of the high priest of Pachacamac,
for between all the worshippers of this god there was a brotherhood;
perhaps of the lord Quismancu, or perhaps of Quilla herself--I do not
know. At least, on this same day Quismancu inquired whether it would
please me to visit the temple that night, and so the matter was
Accordingly, after the darkness had fallen, two litters were brought
into which we entered, Quilla and a waiting woman seating themselves
in one of them and Kari and I in the other, for Quismancu and his wife
did not come--why I cannot say. Then, preceded by another litter in
which was a priest of the god, and surrounded by a guard of soldiers,
through a rain-storm we were borne up the hill--it was but a little
way--to the temple.
Here, before the golden doors on which the lightning glimmered
fitfully, we descended and were led by white-robed men bearing
lanterns, through various courts to the inner sanctuary of the god, on
the threshold of which I crossed myself, not loving the company of
heathen idols. So far as I could see by the lamplight it was a great
and glorious place, and everywhere that the eye fell was gold--places
of gold on the walls, offerings of gold upon the floor, stars of gold
upon the roof. The strange thing about this holy place, however, was
that it seemed to be quite empty except for the aforesaid gold. There
was neither altar nor image--nothing but a lamp-lit void.
Here all prostrated themselves, save I alone, and prayed in silence.
When they rose again, in a whisper I asked of Kari where was the god.
To which he answered: "Nowhere, yet everywhere." This I thought a true
saying, and indeed so solemn was that place that I felt as though I
were surrounded by that which is divine.
After a while the priests, who were gorgeously apparelled, led us
across the sanctuary to a door that opened upon some stairs. Down
these stairs we went into a long passage that seemed to run beneath
the earth, for the air in it was heavy. When we had walked a hundred
paces or more in this narrow place, we came to other steps and another
door, passing through which we found ourselves in a second temple,
smaller than that which we had visited, but like to it rich with gold.
In the centre of this temple sat the image of a man rudely fashioned
"Behold Rimac the Speaker!" whispered Kari.
"How can gold speak?" I asked.
Kari made no answer.
Presently the priests began to mutter prayers and incantations that I
thought unholy, after which they laid offerings of what looked like
raw flesh set in cups of gold before the idol, that I thought unholier
still. Lastly they drew back and asked of what we would learn.
I made no answer who did not like the business. Nor did Kari say
anything, but Quilla spoke out boldly, saying that we would learn of
the future and what would befall us.
Now there was a long silence, and I confess that fear got hold of me,
for it seemed to me as though spirits were moving in the air and
through the darkness behind us--yes, as though I could hear their
whisperings and the rustle of their wings. Suddenly, at the end of
this silence, the golden image in front of us began to glow as though
it were molten, and the emerald eyes that were set in its head to
sparkle terribly, which frightened me so much that had it not been for
shame's sake I would have run away, but because of this stood still
and prayed to St. Hubert to protect me from the devil and his works.
Presently I prayed still harder, for the image began to speak--yes, in
a horrid, whistling voice it spoke, although no one was near to it.
These were the words it said:
"Who is this clad in silver whose skin is white and whose hair is
yellow? Such an one I have not seen for a thousand years, and such as
he it is that shall possess themselves of the Land of Tavantinsuyu,
shall steal its wealth, shall slay its people, and shall cast down its
gods. But not yet, not yet! Therefore this is the command of
Pachacamac, uttered by the voice of Rimac the Speaker, that none do
harm to or cross the will of this mighty seaborn lord, since he shall
be as a strong wall to many and his sword shall be red with the blood
of the wicked."
The whistling voice ceased while the priests and all there stared at
me, for they seemed to think its words fateful. Then suddenly it began
"And who is this that came out of the sea with the Shining One, having
wandered further than any of his ancient blood? I know. I know, yet I
may not say, since the Spirit of spirits whose image he wears upon his
heart bids me be silent. Be bold! Be bold! Prosper and grow great,
Child of Pachacamac, for thy wanderings are not yet done. Still there
is a mountain to be climbed, and on the crest of it hangs a fringe of
Again the voice ceased, while this time all stared at Kari, who shook
his head humbly as though bewildered by what he could not understand.
Once more the image spoke:
"Who is this daughter of the Sun, in whose veins play moonbeams and
who is fairer than the evening star? One, I think, whom men shall
desire and because of whom shall flow the blood of the great. One
whose thought is swift as the lightning and subtle as the snake, one
in whom passion burns like fire in the womb of the mountain, but who
is filled with spirit that dances above the fire and who longs for
things that are afar. Daughter of the Sun in whose blood run the
moonbeams, thou shalt slip from the hated arms and the Sun shall be
thy shelter, and in the beloved arms thou shalt sleep at last. Yet
from the vengeance of the god betrayed fly fast and far!"
Again the voice ceased, and I thought that all was over. But it was
not so, for after a little space the golden figure of the oracle
glowed more fiercely than before and the emerald eyes shone more
terribly, and in a kind of scream it spoke, saying:
"The snows of Tavantinsuyu shall be red with blood, the waters of her
rivers shall be full of blood. Yes, ye three shall wade through blood,
and in a rain of blood shall pluck the fruit of your desires. Still
for a while the gods of Tavantinsuyu shall endure and its kings shall
reign and its children shall be free. But in the end death for the
gods and death for the kings and death for the people. Still, not yet
--not yet! None who live shall see it, nor their children, nor their
children's children. Rimac the Voice has spoken; treasure ye his words
and interpret them as ye will."
The whistling voice died away like the thin cry of some starving child
in a desert, and there was a great silence. Then in a moment the
figure of gold ceased to glow and the eyes of emerald to burn, leaving
the thing but a dead lump of metal. The priests prostrated themselves,
and rising, led us from the place without a word, but in the light of
the lamps I saw that their faces were full of terror--so full that I
doubted whether it could be feigned.
As we had come, so we went, and at last found ourselves outside the
glittering temple doors where the litters awaited us.
"What did it mean?" I whispered to Quilla, who was by my side.
"For you and the other I know not," she answered hurriedly; "but for
me I think that it means death. Yet, not until--not until----" And she
At that moment the moon appeared from behind the rain-clouds and shone
upon her upturned face, and in her eyes there was a glory.
Now, as I learned afterwards, these words of its most famous oracle
went all through the land and caused great talk and wonder mixed with
fear, for none of such import had been spoken by it for generations.
More, they shaped my own fortunes, for, as I came to know, Quismancu
and his people had determined that I should not be allowed to go from
among them. Not every day did a white god rise from the sea, and they
desired that having come to them, there he should bide to be their
defence and boast, and with him that hermit named Zapana, to whom, as
they believed, he had appeared upon the desert isle. But after Rimac
had spoken all this was changed, and when I said it was my will to
depart and accompany Quilla upon her journey home to her father,
Huaracha, King of the Chancas, as by swift messenger this King
invited me to do, Quismancu answered that if I so desired I must be
obeyed as the god Rimac had commanded, but that nevertheless he was
sure that we should meet again.
Now, thinking these things over, I wondered much whether that oracle
came out of the golden Rimac or perchance from the heart of Quilla, or
of Kari, or of both of them, who desired that I should leave the
Yuncas and travel to the Chancas and further. I did not know, nor was
I ever to learn, since about matters to do with their gods these
people are as secret as the grave. I asked Kari and I asked Quilla,
but both of them stared at me with innocent eyes, and replied who were
they to inspire the golden tongue of Rimac? Nor, indeed, did I ever
learn whether Rimac the Speaker was a spirit or but a lump of metal
through which some priest talked. All I know is that from one end of
Tavantinsuyu to the other he was believed to be a spirit who spoke the
very will of God to those who could understand his words, though this
as a Christian man I could not credit.
So it came about that some days later, with Quilla and Kari and
certain old men who, I took it, were priests or ambassadors, or both,
I departed on our journey. As we went the people wept around my litter
for sorrow, real or feigned, for we travelled in litters guarded by
some two hundred soldiers armed with axes of copper and bows, and cast
flowers before the feet of the bearers. But I did not weep, for though
I had been very kindly treated there and, indeed, worshipped, glad was
I to see the last of that city and its people who wearied me.
Moreover, I felt that there I was in the midst of plots, though of
what these were I knew nothing, save that Quilla, who to the outward
eye was but a lovely, innocent maiden, had a hand in them. Plots there
were indeed, for, as I came to understand in time, they were nothing
less than the preparing of a great war which the Chancas and the
Yuncas were to wage against their over-lord, the Inca, the king of the
mighty nation of the Quichuas, who had his home at a city called Cuzco
far inland. Indeed, there and then this alliance was arranged, and by
Quilla--Quilla, who proposed to sacrifice herself and by the gift of
her person to his heir, to throw dust in the eyes of the Inca, whose
dominion her father planned to take and with it the imperial crown of
Leaving the coastland, we were borne forward through the passes of
great mountains, upon a wonderful road so finely made that never had I
seen its like in England. At times we crossed rivers, but over these
were thrown bridges of stone. Or mayhap we came to swamps, yet there
the road still ran, built upon deep foundations in the mud. Never did
it turn aside; always it went on, conquering every hindrance, for this
was one of the Inca's roads that pierced Tavantinsuyu from end to end.
We came to many towns, for this land was thickly populated, and for
the most part slept in one of them each night. But always my fame had
gone before me, and the /Curacas/, or chiefs of the towns, waited upon
me with offerings as though I were indeed divine.
For the first five days of that journey I saw little of Quilla, but at
length one night we were forced to camp at a kind of rest-house upon
the top of a high mountain pass, where it was very cold, for the deep
snow lay all about. At this place, as here were no /Curacas/ to
trouble me, I went out alone when Kari was elsewhere, and climbed a
certain peak which was not far from the rest-house, that thence I
might see the sunset and think in quiet.
Very glorious was the scene from that high point. All round me stood
the cold crests of snow-clad mountains towering to the very skies,
while between them lay deep valleys where rivers ran like veins of
silver. So immense was the landscape that it seemed to have no end,
and so grand that it crushed the spirit, while above arched the
perfect sky in whose rich blue the gorgeous lights of evening began to
gather as the great sun sank behind the snowy peaks.
Far up in the heavens floated one wide-winged bird, the eagle of the
mountains, which is larger than any other fowl that I have ever seen,
and the red light playing on it turned it to a thing of fire. I
watched that bird and wished that I too had pinions which could bear
me far away to the sea and over it.
And yet did I wish to go who had no home left on all the earth and no
kind heart that would welcome me? Awhile ago I should have answered,
"Yes, anywhere out of this loneliness," but now I was not so sure.
Here at least Kari was my friend if a jealous one, though of late, as
I could see, he was thinking of other things than friendship--dark
plottings and high ambitions of which as yet he said little to me.
Then there was that strange and beautiful woman, Quilla, to whom my
heart went out and not only because she was beautiful, and who, as I
thought, at times looked kindly on me. But if so, what did it avail;
seeing that she was promised in marriage to some high-placed native
man who would be a king? Surely I had known enough of women who were
promised in marriage to other men, and should do well to let her be.
Thinking thus, desolation took hold of me and I sat myself down on a
rock and covered my face with my hands that I might not see the tears,
which I knew were gathering in my eyes, as they fell from them. Yes,
there in the midst of that awful solitude, I, Hubert of Hastings,
whose soul it filled, sat down like a lost child and wept.
Presently I felt a touch upon my shoulder and let fall my hands,
thinking that Kari had found me out, to hear a soft voice, the voice
of Quilla, say:
"So it seems that the gods can weep. Why do you weep, O God-from-the-
Waves who here are named Hurachi?"
"I weep," I answered, "because I am a stranger in a strange land; I
weep because I have not wings whereon I can fly away like that great
bird above us."
She looked at me awhile, then said, most gently:
"And whither would you fly, O God-from-the-Sea? Back into the sea?"
"Cease to call me a god," I answered, "who, as you know well, am but a
man though of another race than yours."
"I thought it but I did not know. But whither would you fly, O Lord
"To the land where I was born, Lady Quilla; the land that I shall
never see again."
"Ah! doubtless there you have wives and children for whom your heart
"Nay, now I have neither wife nor child."
"Then once you had a wife. Tell me of that wife. Was she fair?"
"Why should I tell you a sad story? She is dead."
"Dead or living, you still love her, and where there is love there is
"Nay, I only love what I thought she was."
"Was she false, then?"
"Yes, false and yet true. So true that she died because she was
"How can a woman be both false and true?"
"Woman can be all things. Ask the question of your own heart. Can you
not perchance be both false and true?"
She thought awhile and, leaving this matter, said:
"So, having once loved, you can never love again."
"Why not? Perchance I can love too much. But what would be the use
when more love would but mean more loss and pain?"
"Whom should you love, my lord Hurachi, seeing that the women of your
own folk are far away?"
"I think one who is very near, if she would pay back love for love."
Quilla made no answer, and I thought that she was angry and would go
away. But she did not; indeed, she sat herself down upon the stone at
my side and covered her face with her hands as I had done and began to
weep as I had done. Now in my turn I asked her:
"Why do you weep?"
"Because I, too, must know loneliness, and with it shame, Lord
At these words my heart beat and passion flamed up in me. Stretching
out my hand I drew hers away and in the dying light gazed at the face
beneath. Lo! on its loveliness there was a look which could not be
"Do you, then, also love?" I whispered.
"Aye, more, I think, than ever woman loved before. From the moment
when first I saw you sleeping in the moonbeams on the desert isle, I
knew my fate had found me, and that I loved. I fought against it
because I must, but that love has grown and grown, till now I am all
love, and, having given everything, have no more left to give."
When I heard this, making no answer, I swept her into my arms and
kissed her, and there she lay upon my breast and kissed me back.
"Let me go, and hear me," she murmured presently, "for you are strong
and I am weak."
I obeyed, and she sank back upon the stone.
"My lord," she said, "our case is very sad, or at least my case is
sad, since though you being a man may love often, I can love but once,
and, my lord, it may not be."
"Why not?" I asked hoarsely. "Your people think me a god; cannot a god
take whom he wills to wife?"
"Not when she is vowed to another god, he who will be Inca; not when
on her, mayhap, hangs the fate of nations."
"We might fly, Quilla."
"Whither could the God-from-the-Sea fly and whither could fly the
daughter of the Moon, who is vowed to the son of the Sun in marriage,
save to death?"
"There are worse things than death, Quilla."
"Aye, but my life is in pawn. I must live that my people may not die.
Myself I offered it to this cause and now, being royal, I cannot take
it back again for my own joy. It is better to be shamed with honour
than to be loved in the lap of shame."
"What then?" I asked hopelessly.
"Only this, that above us are the gods, and--heard you not the oracle
of Rimac that declared to me that I should slip from the hated arms,
that the Sun should be my shelter, and in the beloved arms I should
sleep at last, though from the vengeance of the god betrayed I must
fly fast and far? I think that this means death, but also it means
life in death and--O arms beloved, you shall fold me yet. I know not
how, but have faith--for you shall fold me yet. Meanwhile, tempt me
not from the path of honour, since this I know, that it alone can lead
me to my home. Yet who is the god betrayed from whom I must fly? Who,
Thus she spoke and was silent, and I, too, was silent. Yes, there we
sat, both silent in the darkness, searching the heavens for a guiding
star. And as we sat, presently I heard the voice of Kari saying:
"Have I found you, Lord, and you also, Lady Quilla? Return, I pray
you, for all search and are frightened."
"Why?" I answered. "The lady Quilla and I study this wondrous scene."
"Yes, Lord, though to those who are not god-born it would be difficult
in this darkness. Suffer, now that I show you the path."
As it chanced during the remaining days of that journey, Quilla and I
were not again alone together (that is to say, except once for a few
minutes), for we were never out of eyeshot of someone in our company.
Thus Kari clung to me very closely, indeed, and when I asked him why,
told me bluntly that it was for my safety's sake. A god to remain a
god, he said, should live alone in a temple. When he began to mix with
others of the earth and to do those things they did, to eat and to
drink, to laugh and to frown; even to slip in the mud or to stumble
over the stones in the common path, those others would come to think
that there was small difference between god and man. Especially would
they think so if he were observed to love the company of women or to
melt beneath their soft glances.
Now I grew sore at the sting of these arrows which of late he had
loved to shoot at me, and without pretending to misunderstand him,
"The truth is, Kari, that you are jealous of the lady Quilla as once
you were jealous of another."
He considered the matter in his grave fashion, and answered:
"Yes, Master, that is the truth, or part of it. You saved my life, and
sheltered me when I was alone in a strange land, and for this and for
yourself I came to love you very greatly, and love, if it be true, is
always jealous and always hates a rival."
"There are different sorts of loves," I said; "that of a man for man
is one, that of man for woman is another."
"Yes, Master, and that of woman for man is a third; moreover, there is
this about it--it is the acid which turns all other loves sour. Where
are a man's friends when a woman has him by the heart?--although
perchance they love him better than ever will the woman who at bottom
loves herself best of all. Still, let that be, for so Nature works,
and who can fight against Nature? What Quilla takes, Kari loses, and
Kari must be content to lose."
"Have you done?" I asked angrily, who wearied of his homilies.
"No, Master. The matter of jealousy is small and private; so is the
matter of love. But, Master, you have not told me outright whether you
love the lady Quilla, and, what is more important, whether she loves
"Then I will tell you now. I do and she does."
"You love the lady Quilla and she says that she loves you, which may
or may not be true, or if true to-day may be false to-morrow. For your
sake I hope that it is not true."
"Why?" I said in a rage.
"Because, Master, in this land there are many sorts of poison, as I
have learned to my cost. Also there are knives, if not of steel, and
many who might wish to discover whether a god who courts women like a
man can be harmed by poisons or pierced by knives. Oh!" he added, in
another tone, ceasing from his bitter jests, "believe me that I would
shield, not mock you. This Lady Quilla is a queen in a great game of
pieces such as you taught me to play far away in England, and without
her perchance that game cannot be won, or so those who play it think.
Now you would steal that queen and thereby, as they also think, bring
death and destruction on a country. It is not safe, Master. There are
plenty of fair women in this land; take your pick of them, but leave
that one queen alone."
"Kari," I answered, "if there be such a game, are you not perchance
one of the players on this side or on that?"
"It may be so, Master, and if you have not guessed it, perhaps one day
I will tell you upon which side I play. It may even be that for my own
sake I should be glad to see you lift this queen from off the board,
and that what I tell you is for love of you and not of myself, also of
the lady Quilla, who, if you fall, falls with you down through the
black night into the arms of the Moon, her mother. But I have said
enough, and indeed it is foolish to waste breath in such talk, since
Fate will have its way with both of you, and the end of the game in
which we play is already written in Pachacamac's book for every one of
us. Did not Rimac speak of it the other night? So play on, play on,
and let Destiny fulfil itself. If I dared to give counsel it was only
because he who watches the battle with a general's eye sees more of it
than he who fights."
Then he bowed in his stately fashion and left me, and it was long ere
he spoke to me again of this matter of Quilla and our love for one
When he was gone my anger against him passed, since I saw that he was
warning me of more than he dared to say, not for himself, but because
he loved me. Moreover, I was afraid, for I felt that I was moving in
the web of a great plot that I did not understand, of which Quilla and
those cold-eyed lordlings of her company and the chief whose guest I
had been, and Kari himself, and many others as yet unknown to me, spun
the invisible threads. One day these might choke me. Well, if they
did, what then? Only I feared for Quilla--greatly I feared for Quilla.
On the day following my talk with Kari at length we reached the great
city of the Chancas, which, after them, was called Chanca--at least I
always knew it by that name. From the dawn we had been passing through
rich valleys where dwelt thousands of these Chancas who, I could see,
were a mighty people that bore themselves proudly and like soldiers.
In multitudes they gathered themselves together upon either side of
the road, chiefly to catch a sight of me, the white god who had risen
from the ocean, but also to greet their princess, the lady Quilla.
Indeed, now I learned for the first time how high a princess she was,
since when her litter passed, these folk prostrated themselves,
kissing the air and the dust. Moreover, as soon as she came among them
Quilla's bearing changed, for her carriage grew more haughty and her
words fewer. Now she seldom spoke save to issue a command, not even to
myself, although I noted that she studied me with her eyes when she
thought that I was not observing her.
During our midday halt I looked up and saw that an army was
approaching us, five thousand men or more, and asked Kari its meaning.
"These," he answered, "are some of the troops of Huaracha, King of the
Chancas, whom he sends out to greet his daughter and only child, also
his guest, the White God."
"Some of the troops! Has he more, then?"
"Aye, Master, ten times as many, as I think. This is a great people;
almost as great as that of the Incas who live at Cuzco. Come now into
the tent and put on your armour, that you may be ready to meet them."
I did so, and, stepping forth clad in the shining steel, took my stand
where Kari showed me, upon a rise of ground. On my right at a little
distance stood Quilla, more splendidly arrayed than I had ever seen
her, and behind her her maidens and the captains and counsellors of
The army drew nearer, marshalled in regiments and halted on the plain
some two hundred yards away. Presently from it advanced generals and
old men, clad in white, whom I took to be priests and elders. They
approached to the number of twenty or more and bowed deeply, first to
Quilla, who bent her head in acknowledgment and then to myself. After
this they went to speak with Quilla and her following, but what they
said I did not know. All the while, however, their eyes were fixed on
me. Then Quilla brought them to me and one by one they bowed before
me, saying something in a language which I did not understand well,
for it was somewhat different from that which Kari had taught me.
After this we entered the litters, and, escorted by that great army,
were borne forward down valleys and over ridges till about sunset we
came to a large cup-like plain in the centre of which stood the city
called Chanca. Of this city I did not see much except that it was very
great as the darkness was falling when we entered, and afterwards I
could not go out because of the crowds that pressed about me. I was
borne down a wide street to a house that stood in a large garden which
was walled about. Here in this fine house I found food prepared for
me, and drink, all of it served in dishes and cups of gold and silver;
also there were women who waited upon me, as did Kari who now was
called Zapana and seemed to be my slave.
When I had eaten I went out alone into the garden, for on this plain
the air was very warm and pleasant. It was a beautiful garden, and I
wandered about among its avenues and flowering bushes, glad to be
solitary and to have time to think. Amongst other things I wondered
where Quilla might be, for of her I had seen nothing from the time
that we entered the town. I hated to be parted from her, because in
this vast strange land into which I had wandered she was the only one
for whom I had come to care and without whom I felt I should die of
There was Kari, it is true, who I knew loved me in his fashion, but
between him and me there was a great gulf fixed, not only of race and
faith, but of something now which I did not wholly understand. In
London he had been my servant and his ends were my ends; on our
wandering he had been my companion in great adventures. But now I knew
that other interests and desires had taken a hold of him, and that he
trod a road of which I could not see the goal; and no longer thought
much of me save when what I did or desired to do came between him and
Therefore Quilla alone was left to me, and Quilla was about to be
taken away. Oh! I wearied of this strange land with its snowclad
mountains and rich valleys, its hordes of dark-skinned people with
large eyes, smiling faces, and secret hearts; its great cities,
temples, and palaces filled with useless gold and silver; its
brilliant sunshine and rushing rivers, its gods, kings, and policies.
They were alien to me, every one of them, and if Quilla were taken
away and I were left quite alone, then I thought that it would be well
Something moved behind a palm trunk of the avenue in which I walked,
and not knowing whether it were beast or man, I laid my hand upon my
sword which I still wore, although I had taken off the armour. Before
I could draw it my wrist was grasped and a soft voice whispered in my
"Fear nothing; it is I--Quilla."
Quilla it was, wrapped in a long hooded cloak such as the peasant
women wear in the cold country, for she threw back the hood and a beam
of starlight fell upon her face.
"Hearken!" she said. "It is dangerous to both of us, but I have come
to bid you farewell."
"Farewell! I feared it would be thus, but why so soon, Quilla?"
"For this reason, Love and Lord. I have seen my father the King, and
made my report to him of the matter with which I was sent to deal
among the Yuncas. It pleased him, and since his mood was gracious, I
opened my heart to him and told him that no longer did I wish to be
given in marriage to Urco, who will soon put on the Inca fringe, for,
as you know, it is to him that I am promised!"
"What did he answer, Quilla?"
"He answered: 'This means, Daughter, that you have met some other man
to whom you do wish to be given in marriage. I will not ask his name,
since if I knew it it would be my duty to kill him, however high and
noble he might be.'"
"Then he guesses, Quilla?"
"I think he guesses; I think that already some have whispered in his
ear, but he does not wish to listen who desires to remain deaf and
"Did he say no more, Quilla?"
"He said much more; he said this--now I tell you secrets, Lord, and
place my honour in your keeping, for having given you all the rest,
why should I not give you that also? He said: 'Daughter, you who have
been my ambassador, you, my only child, who know all my counsel, know
also that there is about to be the greatest war that the land of
Tavantinsuyu has ever known, war between the two mighty nations of the
Quichuas of Cuzco whereof the old Upanqui is king and god, and the
Chancas whereof I am king and you, if you live, in a day to come will
be the queen. No longer can these two lions dwell in the same forest;
one of them must devour the other; nor shall I fight alone, since on
our side are all the Yuncas of the coast who, as you report to me, are
ripe for rebellion. But, as you also report, and as I have learned
from others, they are not yet ready. Moons must go by before their
armies are joined to mine and I throw off the mask. Is it not so?'
"I answered that it was so, and my father went on:
"'Then during that time, Daughter, a dust must be raised that will
hide the shining of my spears, and, Daughter, you are that dust.
To-morrow the old Inca Upanqui visits me here with a small army. I
read your thought. It is--Why do you not kill him and his army?
Daughter, for this reason. He is very aged and about to lay down his
sceptre, who grows feeble of mind and body. If I killed him what would
it serve me, seeing that he has left his son, Urco, who will be Inca,
ruling at Cuzco, and that of his soldiers not one in fifty will be
with him here? Moreover, he is my guest, and the gods frown on those
who slay their guests, nor will men ever trust them more.'
"Now I answered: 'You spoke of me as a cloud of dust, Father; how,
then, can this poor dust serve your ends and those of the Chanca
"'Thus Daughter,' he answered. 'With your own consent you are promised
in marriage to Urco. Upanqui the Inca has heard rumours that the
Chancas prepare for war. Therefore, he who travels on his last journey
through certain of his dominions comes to lead you away, to be Urco's
bride, saying to himself, "If those rumours are true, King Huaracha
will withhold his only child and heiress, since never will he make war
upon Cuzco if she rules there as its queen." Therefore, if I refuse
you to him, he will withdraw and begin the war, rolling down his
thousands upon us before we are ready, and bringing the Chancas to
destruction and enslavement. Therefore also not only my fate, but the
fate of all your country lies in your hand.'
"'Father,' I said, 'tell me, who was ever dear to you that lack sons,
is there no escape? Must I eat this bitter bread? Before you answer,
learn that you have guessed aright, and that I who, when I made that
promise, cared for no man, have come to feel the burning of love's
"Now he looked at me awhile, then said: 'Child of the Moon, there is
but one escape, and it must be sought--in the moon. The dead cannot be
given in marriage. If your strait is so sore, though it would cut me
to the heart, perchance it is better that you should die and go
whither doubtless he whom you love will soon follow you. Depart now
and counsel with Heaven in your sleep. To-morrow, before Upanqui
comes, we will talk again.'
"So I knelt and kissed the hand of the King, my father, and left him,
wondering at his nobleness who could show such a road to his only
child, though its treading would mean woe to him and mayhap the ruin
of his hopes. Still that road is an old one among the women of my
people, and why should I not walk it, as thousands have done before