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"How came you here?" I asked hoarsely.

"Lord, I guessed that you would be walking in this garden which joins
on to that of the palace, and--none were about, and--the door in the
wall was open. Indeed, it was almost as though I were left alone and
unwatched of set purpose. So I came and sought--and found, having a
question to put to you."

"What question, Quilla?"

"This: Shall I live or shall I die? Speak the word and I obey. Yet ere
you speak, remember that if I live we meet for the last time, since
very soon I go hence to become the wife of Urco and play the part that
is prepared for me?"

Now when I, Hubert, heard these words, I felt as though my heart would
burst within my breast and knew not what to say. So to gain time I
asked her:

"Which do you desire--to live or to die?"

She laughed a little as she answered:

"That is a strange question, Lord. Have I not told you that if I live
I must do so befouled as one of Urco's women, whereas, if I die, I die
clean and take my love with me to where Urco cannot come, but where,
mayhap, another may follow at the appointed time."

"Which time would be very soon, I think, Quilla, seeing that he who
had spoiled all this pretty plot would scarcely be left long upon the
earth, even if he wished to stay there. Yet I say: Do not die--live

"To become Urco's woman! That is strange counsel from a lover's lips,
Lord; such as would scarcely have been given by any of our nobles."

"Aye, Quilla, and it is given because I am not of your people and do
not think as they think, who reject their customs. You are not yet
Urco's wife, and may be rid of him by other paths than that of death,
but from the grave there is no escape."

"And in the grave there is no more fear, Lord. Thither Urco cannot
come; there are neither wars nor plottings; there honour does not
beckon and love hold back. I say that I will die and make an end, as
for like causes many of my blood have done, though not here and now.
When I am about to be delivered to Urco then I will die, and perchance
not alone. Perchance he will accompany me," she added slowly.

"And if this happens, what shall I do?"

"Live on, Lord, and find other women to love you, as a god should.
There are many in this land fairer and wiser than I, and, save myself,
you may take whom you will."

"Listen, Quilla. I have a story to tell you."

Then, as briefly as I could, I set out the tale of Blanche and of her
end, while she hung upon my every word.

"Oh! I grieve for you," she said, when I had finished.

"You grieve for me, and yet, what she did for my sake you would do
also, so that, as it were, both my hands must be dyed with blood. This
first terror I have borne, but if a second falls upon me then I know
that I shall go mad and perish in this way or in that, and you,
Quilla, will be my murderess."

"No, no, not that!" she murmured.

"Then swear to me by your god and by your spirit, that you will do
yourself no harm, whatever chances, and that if die you must, it shall
be with me for company."

"Is your love so great that you would dare this for my sake, Lord?"

"I think so, though not till all else had failed. I think that if you
were taken from me, Quilla, I could not live on here in loneliness and
exile--however great the sin. But do you swear?"

"Aye, Love and Lord, I swear, for your sake. Moreover, I add to the
oath. If perhaps we should escape these perils and come together, I
will be such a wife to you as never man has had. I will wrap you round
with love and lift you up to be a king, that you may live in glory
forgetting your home across the sea, and all the sorrows that befell
you there. Children you shall have also of whom you need not be
ashamed, though my dark blood runs in them, and armies at command and
palaces filled with gold, and all royal joys. And if perchance the
gods declare against us, and we pass from the world together, then I
think, oh! then I think that I shall give you finer gifts than these,
though what they are I know not yet, since to the power of love there
is no end--here on earth or yonder in the skies."

I stared at her face in the starlight, and oh! it had grown splendid.
No longer was it that of a woman, since through it, like light through
pearl, shone a soul divine. It might have been a goddess who stood
beside me, for those eyes were holy and her embrace that wrapped me
close was not that of the flesh alone.

"I must be gone," she whispered, "but now I go without fear. Perchance
we may not speak again for long, but trust me always. Play your part
and I will play mine. Follow me wherever I am taken and keep near to
me, if you may, as ever my spirit shall be near to you. Then what
matters anything, even if we are slain? Farewell, beloved, kiss me and

Another moment and she had glided away and was lost in the shadows.

She was gone, and I stood amazed and overcome. Oh! what a love it was
that this alien woman had given to me and how could I be worthy of it?
Now I forgot my griefs; now I no longer mourned because I was an
outcast who nevermore might look upon the land where I was born, nor
see the face of one my own race or blood. All my loss was paid back to
me again and yet again, in the coin of the glory of this woman whom I
had won. Dangers rose about us, but I feared them no more, because I
knew that her love's conquering feet would stamp them flat and lead me
safe to a joyful treasure-house of splendour of spirit and of body
where we should dwell side by side, triumphant and unafraid.

Whilst I thought thus, lost in a rapture such as I had not felt since
Blanche kissed me at the mouth of the Hastings cave after I had killed
the three Frenchmen with as many arrows from my black bow, I heard a
sound and looked up to see a man standing before me.

"Who is it?" I asked, grasping my sword, for his face was hidden in
the shadows.

"I," answered a voice which I knew to be that of Kari.

"Then how did you come here? I saw no one pass the open ground."

"Master, you are not the only one who loves to walk in gardens in the
quiet of the night. I was here before yourself, behind yonder tree,"
and he pointed to a palm not three paces distant.

"Then, Kari, you must have seen----"

"Yes, Master, I saw and heard, not everything, because there came a
point at which I shut my eyes and stopped my ears, but still much."

"I am minded to kill you, Kari," I said between my teeth, "who play
the spy upon me."

"I guessed it would be so, Master," he replied in his gentlest voice,
"and for that reason, as you will notice, I am standing out of reach
of your sword. You wonder why I am here. I will tell you. It is not
from any desire to watch your love-makings which weary me, who have
seen such before, but rather that I might find secrets, of which love
is always the loser, and those secrets I have learned. How could I
have come by them otherwise, Master?"

"Surely you deserve to die," I exclaimed furiously.

"I think not, Master. But listen and judge for yourself. I have told
you something of my story, now you shall hear more, after which we
will talk of what I do or do not deserve. I am the eldest son of the
Inca Upanqui, and Urco, of whom you have been talking is my younger
brother. But Upanqui, our father, loved Urco's mother while mine he
did not love, and swore to her before she died that against right and
law, Urco, her son, should be Inca after him. Therefore he hated me
because I stood in Urco's path; therefore too many troubles befell me,
and I was given over into Urco's hand, so that he took my wife and
tried to poison me, and the rest you know. Now it was needful to me to
learn how things went, and for this reason I listened to the talk
between you and a certain lady. It told me that Upanqui, my father,
comes here to-morrow, which indeed I knew already, and much else that
I had not heard. This being so I must vanish away, since doubtless
Upanqui or his councillors would know me again, and as they are all of
them friends of Urco, perhaps I should taste more poison and of a
stronger sort."

"Whither will you vanish, Kari?"

"I know not, Master, or if I know, I will not say, who have but just
been taught afresh how secrets can pass from ear to ear. I must lie
hid, that is enough. Yet do not think that therefore I shall desert
you--I, while I live, will watch over you, a stranger in my country,
as you watched over me when I was a stranger in your England."

"I thank you," I answered, "and certainly you watch well--too well,
sometimes, as I have found to-night."

"You think it pleases me to spy upon you and a certain lady," went on
Kari with an unruffled voice, "but it is not so. What I do is for good
reasons, amongst others that I may protect you both, and if I can,
bring about what you desire. That lady has a great heart, as I learned
but now, and after all you did well to love her, as she does well to
love you. Therefore, although the dangers are so many, if I am able, I
will help you in your love and bring you together, yes, and save her
from the arms of Urco. Nay, ask me not how, for I do not know, and the
case seems desperate."

"But if you go, what shall I do alone?" I asked, alarmed.

"Bide here, I think, Lord, giving it out that your servant Zapana has
deserted you. Indeed it seems that this you must do, since the king of
this country will scarcely suffer you to be the companion of his
daughter upon her marriage journey to Cuzco, even if Upanqui so
desires. Nor would it be wise, for if he did, misfortune might befall
you on the road. There are some women, Lord, who cannot keep their
love out of their eyes, and henceforward there will be plenty to watch
the eyes and hearken to the most secret sighings of one of the
greatest of them. Now farewell until I come to you again or send
others on my behalf. Trust me, I pray you, since to whomever else I
may seem false, to you I am true; yes, to you and to another because
she has become a part of you."

Then before I could answer, Kari took my hand and touched it with his
lips. Another moment and I had lost sight of him in the shadows.



That night I slept but ill who was overwhelmed with all that had
befallen me of good and evil. I had gained a wondrous love, but she
who gave it was, it seemed, about to be lost to me, aye, and to be
thrown to another whom she hated, to forward the dark policies of a
great and warlike people. I had spoken to her with high words of hope,
but of it in my heart there was little. She would follow what she held
to be her duty to the end, and that end, if she kept her promise and
did not die as she desired to do--was--the arms of Urco. From these I
could see no escape for her, and the thought maddened me. Moreover,
Kari was gone leaving me utterly alone among these strangers, and
whether he would return again I did not know. Oh! almost I wished that
I were dead.

The morning broke at last and I arose and called for Zapana. Then came
others who said that my servant, Zapana, could not be found, whereat I
affected surprise and anger. Still these others waited on me well
enough, and I rose and ate in pomp and luxury. Scarcely had I finished
my meal than there appeared heralds who summoned me to the presence of
the king Huaracha.

I went, borne in a litter, although an arrow from my black bow would
have flown from door to door. At the portal of the palace, which was
like others I had seen, only finer, I was met by soldiers and gaily
dressed servants and led across a courtyard within, which I could see
was prepared for some ceremony, to a small chamber on the further
side. Here, when my eyes grew accustomed to the half-darkness, I
perceived a man of some sixty years of age, and behind him two
soldiers. At once I noted that everything about this man was plain and
simple; the chamber, which was little more than four whitewashed walls
with a floor of stone, the stool he sat on, even his apparel. Here
were no gold or silver or broidered cloths, or gems, or other rich and
costly things such as these people love, but rather those that are
suited to a soldier. A soldier he looked indeed, being burly and broad
and scarred upon his homely face, in which gleamed eyes that were
steady and piercing.

As I entered, the king Huaracha, for it was he, rose from his stool
and bowed to me, and I bowed back to him. Then he motioned to one of
the soldiers to give me another stool, upon which I sat myself, and
speaking in a strong, low voice, using that tongue which Kari had
taught me, said:

"Greeting, White-God-from-the-Sea, or golden-bearded man named the
lord Hurachi, I know not which, of whom I have heard so much and whom
I am glad to behold in my poor city. Say, can you understand my talk?"

Thus he spoke, searching me with his eyes, though all the while I
perceived that they rested rather on my armour and the great sword,
Wave-Flame, than on my face.

I gave him back his greeting and answered that I understood the tongue
he used though not so very well, whereon he began to speak about the
armour and the sword, which puzzled him who had never seen steel.

"Make me some like them," he said, "and I will give you ten times
their weight in gold, which, after all, is of no use since with it one
cannot kill enemies."

"In my country with it one can corrupt them," I answered, "or buy them
to be friends."

"So you have a country," he interrupted shrewdly. "I thought that the
gods had none."

"Even the gods live somewhere," I replied.

He laughed, and turning to the two soldiers, who also were staring at
my mail and sword, bade them go. When the heavy door had shut behind
them and we were quite alone, he said:

"My lord Hurachi, I have heard from my daughter how she found you in
the sea, a story indeed. I have also heard, or guessed, it matters not
which, that her heart has turned towards you, as is not strange,
seeing the manner of man you are, if indeed you be not more than man,
and that women are ever prone to love those whom they think they have
saved. Is this true, my lord Hurachi?"

"Ask of the Lady Quilla, O King."

"Mayhap I have asked and at last it seems that you make no denial. Now
hearken, my lord Hurachi. You are my honoured guest and save one
thing, all I have is yours, but you must talk no more alone with the
lady Quilla in gardens at night."

Now, making no attempt to deny or explain which I saw would be
useless, since he knew it all, I asked boldly:

"Why not?"

"I thought that perchance my daughter had told you, Lord Hurachi, but
if you desire to hear it from my own lips also, for this reason. The
lady Quilla is promised in marriage and if she lives that promise must
be fulfilled, since on it hangs the fate of nations. Therefore, it is,
although to grieve to part such a pair, that you and she must meet no
more in gardens or elsewhere. Know that if you do, you will bring
about her death and your own, if gods can die."

Now I thought awhile and answered:

"These are heavy words, King Huaracha, seeing that I will not hide
from you that I love your daughter well and that she, who is great-
hearted, loves me well and desires me for her husband."

"I know it and I grieve for both of you," he said courteously.

"King Huaracha," I went on, "I see that you are a soldier and the lord
of armies, and it has come into my mind that perchance you dream of

"The gods see far, White Lord."

"Now god or man, I also am a soldier, King, and I know arts of battle
which perhaps are hidden from you and your people; also I cannot be
harmed by weapons because of magic armour that I wear, and none can
stand before me in fight because of this magic sword I carry, and I
can direct battles with a general's mind. In a great war, King, I
might be useful to you were I the husband of your daughter and
therefore your son and friend, and perchance by my skill make the
difference to you and your nation between victory and defeat."

"Doubtless this is so, O Son-of-the-Sea."

"In the same fashion, King, were I upon the side of your enemies, to
them I might bring victory and to you defeat. Whom do you desire that
I should serve, you or them?"

"I desire that you should serve me," he replied with eagerness. "Do so
and all the wealth of this land shall be yours, with the rule of my
armies under me. You shall have palaces and fields and gold and
silver, and the fairest of its daughters for wives, and be worshipped
as a god, and for aught I know, be king after me, not only of my
country but mayhap of another that is even greater."

"It is a good offer, King, but not enough. Give me your daughter,
Quilla, and you may keep all the rest."

"White Lord, I cannot, since to do so I must break my word."

"Then, King, I cannot serve you, and unless you kill me first--if you
are able--I will be, not your friend, but your enemy."

"Can a god be killed, and if so can a guest be killed? Lord, you know
that he cannot. Yet he can remain a guest. To my country you have
come, Lord, and in my country you shall stay, unless you have wings
beneath that silver coat. Quilla goes hence but here you bide, my lord

"Perchance I shall find the wings," I answered.

"Aye, Lord, for it is said that the dead fly, and if I may not kill
you, others may. Therefore my counsel to you is to stay here, taking
such things as my poor country can give you, and not to try to follow
the moon (by this he meant Quilla) to the golden city of Cuzco, which
henceforth must be her home."

Now having no more to say, since war had been declared between us, as
it were, I rose to bid this king farewell. He also rose, then, as
though struck by a sudden thought, said that he desired to speak with
my servant, Zapana, he whom the lady Quilla had found with me in the
island of the sea. I replied that he could not since Zapana had
vanished, I knew not where.

At this intelligence he appeared to be disturbed and was beginning to
question me somewhat sternly as to who Zapana might be and how I had
first come into his company, when the door of the room opened and
through it Quilla entered even more gorgeously robed and looking
lovelier than ever I had seen her. She bowed, first to the King and
then to me, saying:

"Lord and Father, I come to tell you that the Inca Upanqui draws near
with his princes and captains."

"Is it so, Daughter?" he answered. "Then make your farewell here and
now to this White-Son-of-the-Sea, since it is my will that you depart
with Upanqui who comes to escort you to Cuzco, the City of the Sun,
there to be given as wife to the prince Urco, son of the Sun, who will
sit on the Inca's throne."

"I make my farewell to the lord Hurachi as you command," she answered,
curtseying , and in a very quiet voice, "but know, my father, that I
love this White Lord as he loves me, and that therefore, although I
may be given to the Prince Urco, as a gold cup is given, never shall
he drink from the cup and never will I be his wife."

"You have courage, Daughter, and I like courage," said Huaracha. "For
the rest, settle the matter as you will and if you can slip from the
coils of this snake of an Urco unpoisoned, do so, since my bargain is
fulfilled and my honour satisfied. Only hither you shall not return to
the lord Hurachi, nor shall the lord Hurachi go to you at Cuzco."

"That shall be as the gods decree, my father, and meanwhile I play my
part as /you/ decree. Lord Hurachi, fare you well till in life or
death we meet again."

Then she bowed to me, and went, and presently without more words we
followed after her.

In front of the palace there was a great square of open ground
surrounded by houses, except towards the east, and on this square was
marshalled an army of men all splendidly arrayed and carrying copper-
headed spears. In front of these was pitched a great pavilion made of
cloths of various colours. Here King Huaracha, simply dressed in a
robe of white cotton but wearing a little crown of gold and carrying a
large spear, took his seat upon a throne, while to his right, on a
smaller throne, sat Quilla, and on his left stood yet another throne
ornamented with gold, that was empty. Between the throne of Huaracha
and that which was empty stood a chair covered with silver on which I
was bidden to take my seat, so placed that all could see me, while
behind and around were lords and generals.

Scarcely were we arranged when from the dip beyond the open space
appeared heralds who carried spears and were fantastically dressed.
These shouted that the Inca Upanqui, the Child of the Sun, the god who
ruled the earth, drew near.

"Let him approach!" said Huaracha briefly, and they departed.

Awhile later there arose a sound of barbarous music and of chanting
and from the dip below emerged a glittering litter borne upon the
shoulders of richly clothed men all of whom, I was told afterwards,
were princes by blood, and surrounded by beautiful women who carried
jewelled fans, and by councillors. It was the litter of the Inca
Upanqui, and after it marched a guard of picked warriors, perhaps
there were a hundred of them, not more.

The litter was set down in front of the throne; gilded curtains were
drawn and out of it came a man whose attire dazzled the eyes. It
seemed to consist of gold and precious stones sewn on to a mantle of
crimson wool. He wore a head-dress also of as many colours as Joseph's
coat, surmounted by two feathers, which he alone might bear, from
which head-dress a scarlet fringe that was made of tasselled wool hung
down upon his forehead. This was the Inca's crown, even to touch which
was death, and its name was /Lautu/. He was a very old man for his
white locks and beard hung down upon his splendid garments and he
supported himself upon his royal staff that was headed by a great
emerald. His fine-cut face also, though still kingly, was weak with
age and his eyes were blear. At the sight of him all rose and Huaracha
descended from his throne, saying in a loud voice:

"Welcome to the land of the Chancas, O Upanqui, Inca of the Quichuas."

The old monarch eyed him for a moment, then answered in a thin voice:

"Greeting to Huaracha, /Curaca/ of the Chancas."

Huaracha bowed and said:

"I thank you, but here among my own people my title is not /Curaca/,
but King, O Inca."

Upanqui drew himself up to his full height and replied:

"The Incas know no kings throughout the land of Tavantinsuyu save
themselves, O Huaracha."

"Be it so, O Inca; yet the Chancas, who are unconquered, know a king,
and I am he. I pray you be seated, O Inca."

Upanqui stood still for a moment frowning, and, as I thought, was
about to make some short answer, when suddenly his glance fell upon me
and changed the current of his mind.

"Is that the White-god-from-the-Sea?" he asked, with an almost
childish curiosity. "I heard that he was here, and to tell the truth
that is why I came, just to look at him, not to bandy words with you,
O Huaracha, who they say can only be talked to with a spear point.
What a red beard he has and how his coat shines. Let him come and
worship me."

"He will come, but I do not think that he will worship. They say he is
a god himself, O Inca."

"Do they? Well, now I remember there are strange prophecies about a
white god who should rise out of the sea, as did the forefather of the
Incas. They say, too, that this god shall do much mischief to the land
when he comes. So perhaps he had better not draw too near to me, for I
like not the look of that great big sword of his. By the Sun, my
father, he is tall and big and strong" (I had risen from my chair)
"and his beard is like a fire; it will set the hearts of all the women
burning, though perhaps if he is a god he does not care for women. I
must consult my magicians about it, and the head priest of the Temple
of the Sun. Tell the White God to make ready to return with me to

"The lord Hurachi is my guest, O Inca, and here he bides with me,"
said Huaracha.

"Nonsense, nonsense! When the Inca invites any one to his court, he
must come. But enough of him for the present. I came here to talk of
other matters. What were they? Let me sit down and think."

So he was conducted to his throne upon which he sat trying to collect
his mind, which I saw was weak with age. The end of it was that he
called to his aid a stern-faced, shifty-eyed, middle-aged minister,
whom after I came to know as the High-priest Larico, the private
Councillor of himself and of his son, Urco, and one of the most
powerful men in the kingdom. This noble, I noted, was one who had the
rank of an Earman, that is, he wore in his ear, which like that of
Kari was stretched out to receive it, a golden disc of the size of an
apple, whereon was embossed the image of the sun.

At a sign and a word from his dotard master this Larico began to speak
for him as though he were the Inca himself, saying:

"Hearken, O Huaracha. I have undertaken this toilsome journey, the
last I shall make as Inca, for be it known to you that I purpose to
divest myself of the royal Fringe in favour of the prince, Urco,
begotten to me in the body and of the Sun in spirit, and to retire to
end my days in peace at my palace of Yucay, waiting there patiently
until it pleases my father, the Sun, to take me to his bosom."

Here Larico paused to allow this great news to sink into the minds of
his hearers, and I thought to myself that when I died I would choose
to be gathered to any bosom rather than to that of the Sun, which put
me in mind of hell. Then he went on:

"Rumours have reached me, the Inca, that you, Huaracha, Chief of the
Chancas, are making ready to wage war upon my empire. It was to test
these rumours, although I did not believe them, that awhile ago I sent
an embassy to ask your only child, the lady Quilla, in marriage to the
prince Urco, promising, since he has no sister whom he may wed and
since on the mother's side she, your daughter, has the holy Inca blood
in her veins, that she should become his /Coya/, or Queen, and the
mother of him who shall succeed to the throne."

"The embassy came, and received my answer, O Inca," said Huaracha.

"Yes, and the answer was that the lady Quilla should be given in
marriage to the Prince Urco, but as she was absent on a visit, this
could not happen until she returned. But since then, O Huaracha, more
rumours have reached me that you still prepare for war and seek to
make alliances among my subjects, tempting them to rebel against me.
Therefore I am here myself to lead away the lady Quilla and to deliver
her to the Prince Urco."

"Why did not the Prince Urco come in person, O Inca?"

"For this reason, Huaracha, from whom I desire to hide nothing. If the
Prince had come, you might have set a trap for him and killed him, who
is the hope of the Empire."

"So I might for you, his father, O Inca."

"Aye, I know it, but what would that avail you while the Prince sits
safe at Cuzco ready to assume the Fringe? Also I am old and care not
when or how I die, whose work is done. Moreover, few would desire to
anger the gods by the murder of an aged guest, and therefore I visit
you sitting here in the midst of your armies with but a handful of
followers, trusting to your honour and to my father the Sun to protect
me. Now answer me--will you give the hand of your daughter to my son
and thereby make alliance with me, or will you wage war upon my empire
and be destroyed, you and your people together?"

Here Upanqui, who hitherto had been listening in silence to the words
of Larico, spoken on his behalf, broke in, saying:

"Yes, yes, that is right, only make him understand that the Inca will
be his over-lord, since the Inca can have no rivals in all the land."

"My answer is," said Huaracha, "that I will give my daughter in
marriage as I have promised, but that the Chancas are a free people
and accept no over-lord."

"Foolishness, foolishness!" said Upanqui. "As well might the tree say
that it would not bend before the wind. However, you can settle that
matter afterwards with Urco, and indeed with your daughter, who will
be his queen and is your heiress, for I understand you have no other
lawful child. Why talk of war and other troubles when thus your
kingdom falls to us by marriage? Now let me see this lady Quilla who
is to become my daughter."

Huaracha, who had listened to all this babble with a stern set face,
turned to Quilla and made a sign. She descended from her chair and
advancing, stood before the Inca, a vision of splendour and of beauty,
and bowed to him. He stared at her awhile, as did all his company,
then said:

"So you are the lady Quilla. A fair woman, a very fair woman, and a
proud, one who ought to be able to lead Urco aright if any one can.
Well named, too, after the moon, for the moonlight seems to shine in
your eyes, Lady Quilla. Indeed and indeed were I but a score of years
younger I should tell Urco to seek another queen and keep you for

Then Quilla spoke for the first time, saying:

"Be it as you will, O Inca. I am promised in marriage to the Child of
the Sun and which child is nothing to me."

"Well said, Lady Quilla, and why should I wonder? Though I grow old
they tell me that I am still handsome, a great deal better looking
than Urco, in fact, who is a rough man and of a coarser type. You ask
my wives when you come to Cuzco; one of them told me the other day
that there was no one so handsome in the whole city, and earned a
beautiful present for her pretty speech. What is it you say, Larico?
Why are you always interfering with me? Well, perhaps you are right,
and, Lady Quilla, if you are ready, it is time to start. No, no, I
thank you, Curaca, but I will not stop for any feasting who desire to
be back at my camp before dark, since who knows what may happen to one
in the dark in a strange country?"

Then at last Huaracha grew angry.

"Be it as you will, O Inca," he said, "but know that you offer me a
threefold insult. First you refuse the feast that has been made ready
for you whereat you were to meet all the notables of my kingdom.
Secondly, you give me, who am a king, the title of a petty chief who
owns your rule. Thirdly, you throw doubts upon my honour, hinting that
I may cause you to be murdered in the dark. Now I am minded to say to
you, 'Begone from my poor country, Lord Inca, in safety, but leave my
daughter behind you.'"

Now at these words, I, Hubert, saw the fires of hope burn up in the
large eyes of Quilla, as they did in my own heart, for might they not
mean that she would escape from Urco after all? But, alas, they were
extinguished like a brand that is dipped in water.

"Tush, tush!" said the old dotard, "what a fire-eater are you, friend
Huaracha. Know that I never care to eat, except at night; also that
the chill of the air after my father the Sun has set makes my bones
ache, and as for titles--take any one you like, except that of Inca."

"Mayhap that is the one I shall take before all is done," broke in the
furious Huaracha, who would not be quieted by the councillors
whispering in his ears.

It was at this moment that the minister and high-priest, Larico, who
had been noting all that passed with an impassive face, said coldly:

"Be not wroth, O King Huaracha, and lay not too much weight upon the
idle words of the glorious Inca, since even the gods will doze at
times when they are weighed down by the cares of empire. No affront
was meant to you and least of all does the Inca or any one of us,
dream that you would tarnish your honour by offering violence to your
guests by day or by night. Yet know this, that if, after all that has
been sworn, you withhold your daughter, the lady Quilla, from the
house of Urco who is her lord to be, it will breed instant war, since
as soon as word of it comes to Cuzco, which will be within twenty
hours, for messengers wait all along the road, the great armies of the
Inca that are gathered there will begin to move. Judge, then, if you
have the strength to withstand them, and choose whether you will live
on in glory and honour, or bring yourself to death and your people to
slavery. Now, King Huaracha, speaking on behalf of Urco, who within
some few moons will be Inca, I ask you--will you suffer the lady
Quilla to journey with us to Cuzco and thereby proclaim peace between
our peoples or will you keep her here against your oath and hers, and
thereby declare war?"

Huaracha sat silent, lost in thought, and the old Inca Upanqui began
to babble again, saying:

"Very well put, I could not have said it better myself; indeed, I did
say it, for this coxcomb of a Larico, who thinks himself so clever
just because I made him high-priest of the Sun under me and he is of
my blood, is after all nothing but the tongue in my mouth. You don't
really want to die, Huaracha, do you, after seeing most of your people
killed and your country wasted? For you know that is what must happen.
If you do not send your daughter as you promised, within a few hours a
hundred thousand men will be marching on you and another hundred
thousand gathering behind them. Anyhow, please make up your mind one
way or another, as I wish to leave this place."

Huaracha thought on awhile. Then he descended from his throne and
beckoned to Quilla. She came and he led her towards the back part of
the pavilion behind and a little to the left of the chair on which I
sat where none could hear their talk save me, of whom he seemed to
take no note, perhaps because he had forgotten me, or perhaps because
he desired that I should know all.

"Daughter," he said in a low voice, "what word? Before you answer
remember that if I refuse to send you, now for the first time I break
my oath."

"Of such oaths I think little," answered Quilla. "Yet of another thing
I think much. Tell me, my father, if the Inca declares war and attacks
us, can we withstand his armies?"

"No, Daughter, not until the Yuncas join us for we lack sufficient
men. Moreover, we are not ready, nor shall be for another two moons,
or more."

"Then it stands thus, Father. If I do not go the war will begin, and
if I do go it seems that it will be staved off until you are ready, or
perhaps for always, because I shall be the peace-offering and it will
be thought that I, your heiress, take your kingdom as my marriage
portion to be joined to that of the Incas at your death. Is it thus?"

"It is, Quilla. Only then you will work to bring it about that the
Land of the Incas shall be joined to the Land of the Chancas, and not
that of the Chancas to that of the Incas, so that in a day to come as
Queen of the Chancas you shall reign over both of them and your
children after you."

Now I, Hubert, watching Quilla out of the corners of my eyes, saw her
turn pale and tremble.

"Speak not to me of children," she said, "for I think that there will
be none, and talk not of future glories, since for these I care
nothing. It is for our people that I care. You swear to me that if I
do not go your armies will be defeated and that those who escape the
spear will be enslaved?"

"Aye, I swear it by the Moon your mother, also that I will die with my

"Yet if I go I leave behind me that which I love," here she glanced
towards me, "and give myself to shame, which is worse than death. Is
that your desire, my father?"

"That is not my desire. Remember, Daughter, that you were party to
this plan, aye, that it sprang from your far-seeing mind. Still, now
that your heart has changed, I would not hold you to your bargain, who
desire most of all things to see you happy at my side. Choose,
therefore, and I obey. On your head be it."

"What shall I say, O Lord, whom I saved from the sea?" asked Quilla in
a piercing whisper, but without turning her head towards me.

Now an agony took hold of me for I knew that what I bade her, that she
would say, and that perchance upon my answer hung the fate of all this
great Chanca people. If she went they would be saved, if she remained
perchance she would be my wife if only for a while. For the Chancas I
cared nothing and for the Quichuas I cared nothing, but Quilla was all
that remained to me in the world and if she went, it was to another
man. I would bid her bide. And yet--and yet if her case were mine and
the fate of England hung upon my breath, what then?

"Be swift," she whispered again.

Then I spoke, or something spoke through me, saying:

"Do what honour bids you, O Daughter of the Moon, for what is love
without honour? Perchance both shall still be yours at last."

"I thank you, Lord, whose heart speaks as my heart," she whispered for
the third time, then lifting her head and looking Huaracha in the
eyes, said:

"Father, I go, but that I will wed this Urco I do not promise."



So Quilla, seated in a golden litter and accompanied by maidens as
became her rank, soon was borne away in the train of the Inca Upanqui,
leaving me desolate. Before she went, under pretence of bidding me
farewell, none denying her, she gained private speech with me for a
little while.

"Lord and Lover," she said, "I go to what fate I know not, leaving you
to what fate I know not, and as your lips have said, it is right that
I should go. Now I have something to ask of you--that you will not
follow me as it is in your heart to do. But last night I prayed of you
to dog my steps and wherever I might go to keep close to me, that the
knowledge of your presence might be my comfort. Now my mind is
different. If I must be married to this Urco, I would not have you see
me in my shame. And if I escape marriage you cannot help me, since I
may only do so by death or by taking refuge where you cannot come.
Also I have another reason."

"What reason, Quilla?" I asked.

"This: I ask that you will stop with my father and give him your help
in the war that must come. I would see this Urco crushed, but without
that help I am sure that the Chancas and the Yuncas are too weak to
overthrow the Inca might. Remember that if I escape marriage thus only
can you hope to win me, namely, by the defeat and death of Urco. Say,
then, that you will stay here and help to lead the Chanca armies, and
say it swiftly, since that dotard, Upanqui, frets to be gone. Hark!
his messengers call and search; my women can hold them back no more."

"I will stay," I answered hoarsely.

"I thank you, and now farewell, till in life or death we meet again.
Thoughts come to my mind which I have no time to utter."

"To mine also, Quilla, and here is one of them. You know the man who
was with me on the island. Well, he is more than he seems."

"So I guessed, but where is he now?"

"In hiding, Quilla. If you should chance to find him, bear in mind
that he is an enemy of Urco and one not friendless; also that he loves
me after his fashion. Trust him, I pray you. Urco is not the only one
of the Inca blood, Quilla."

She glanced at me quickly and nodded her head. Then without more
words, for officers were pressing towards us, she drew a ring off her
finger, a thick and ancient golden ring on which were cut what looked
like flowers, or images of the sun, and gave it to me.

"Wear this for my sake. It is very old and has a story of true love
that I have no time to tell," she said.

I took it and in exchange passed to her that ancient ring which my
mother had given to me, the ring that had come down to her with the
sword Wave-Flame, saying:

"This, too, is old and has a story; wear it in memory of me."

Then we parted and presently she was gone.

I stood watching her litter till it vanished in the evening haze. Then
I turned to go to find myself face to face with Huaracha.

"Lord-from-the-Sea," he said, "you have played a man's--or a god's--
part to-day. Had you bidden my daughter bide here, she would have done
so for love of you and the Chanca people must have been destroyed, for
as that old Inca or his spokesman told us, the breaking of my oath
would have been taken as a declaration of instant war. Now we have
breathing time, and in the end things may go otherwise."

"Yes," I answered, "but what of Quilla and what of me?"

"I know not your creed or what with you is honour, White Lord, but
among us whom perhaps you think of small account, it is thought and
held that there are times when a man or a woman, especially if they be
highly placed, must do sacrifice for the good of the many who cling to
them for guidance and for safety. This you and my daughter have done
and therefore I honour both of you."

"To what end is the sacrifice made?" I asked bitterly. "That one
people may struggle for dominion over another people, no more."

"You are mistaken, Lord. Not for victory or to increase my dominions
do I desire to war upon the Incas, but because unless I strike I shall
presently be struck, though for a little while this marriage might
hold back the blow. Alone in the midst of the vast territories over
which the Incas rule, the Chancas stem their tide of conquest and
remain free amongst many nations of slaved. Therefore for ages these
Incas, like those who ruled before them at Cuzco, have sworn to
destroy us, and Urco has sworn it above all."

"Urco might die or be deposed, Huaracha."

"If so another would put on the Fringe and be vowed to the ancient
policy that does not change from generation to generation. Therefore I
must fight or perish with my people. Hearken, Lord-from-the-Sea! Stay
here with me and become as my brother and a general of my armies, for
where will they not follow when you lead, who are held to be a god?
Then if we conquer, in reward, from a brother you shall become a son,
and to you after me I swear shall pass the Chanca crown. Moreover, to
you, if she can be saved, I will give in marriage her whom you love.
Think before you refuse. I know not whence you come, but this I know:
that you can return thither no more, unless, indeed, you are a spirit.
Here your lot is cast till death. Therefore make it glorious.
Perchance you might fly to the Inca and there become a marvel and a
show, furnished with gold and palaces and lands, but always you would
be a servant, while I offer to you a crown and the rule of a people
great and free."

"I care nothing for crowns," I answered, sighing. "Still, such was
Quilla's prayer, perchance the last that ever she will make to me.
Therefore I accept and will serve you and your cause, that seems
noble, faithfully to the end, O Huaracha."

Then I stretched out my hand to him and so our compact was sealed.

On the very next day my work began. Huaracha made me known to his
captains, commanding them to obey me in all things, which, looking on
me as half divine, they did readily enough.

Now, of soldiering I knew little who was a seaman bred, yet as I had
learned, a man of the English race in however strange a country he
finds himself can make a path there to his ends.

Moreover, in London I had heard much talk of armies and their ordering
and often watched troops at their exercise; also I know how to handle
bow and sword, and was accustomed to the management of men. So putting
all these memories together, I set myself to the task of turning a mob
of half-savage fellows with arms into an ordered host. I created
regiments and officered them with the best captains that I could find,
collecting in each regiment so far as possible the people of a certain
town or district. These companies I drilled and exercised, teaching
them to use such weapons as they had to the best purpose.

Also I caused them to shape stronger bows on the model of my own with
which I had shot the three Frenchmen far away at Hastings that, as it
was said, once had been the battle-bow of Thorgrimmer the Norseman my
ancestor, as the sword Wave-Flame was his battle-sword. When these
Chancas saw how far and with what a good aim I could shoot with this
bow, they strove day and night to learn to equal me, though it is true
they never did. Also I bettered their body-armour of quilting by
settings sheets of leather (since in that country there is no iron)
taken from the hides of wild animals and of their long-haired native
sheep, between the layers of cotton. Other things I did also, too many
and long to record.

The end of it was that within three months Huaracha had an army of
some fifty thousand men who, if not well trained, still kept
discipline, and could move in regiments; who knew also how to shoot
with their bows and to use their copper-headed spears and axes of that
metal, or of hard stone, to the best purpose.

Then at length came the Yuncas to join us, thirty or forty thousand of
them, wild fellows and brave enough, but undisciplined. With these I
could do little since time was lacking, save send some of the officers
whom I had trained to teach their chiefs and captains what they were

Thus I was employed from dawn till dark and often after it, in talk
with Huaracha and his generals, or in drawing plans with ink that I
found a means to make, upon parchment of sheepskin and noting down
numbers and other things, a sight at which these people who knew
nothing of writing marvelled very much. Great were my labours, yet in
them I found more happiness than I had known since that fatal day when
I, the rich London merchant, Hubert of Hastings, had stood before the
altar of St. Margaret's church with Blanche Aleys. Indeed, every
cranny of my time and mind being thus filled with things finished or
attempted, I forgot my great loneliness as an alien in a strange land,
and once more became as I had been when I trafficked in the Cheap.

But toil as I would, I could not forget Quilla. During the day I might
mask her memory in its urgent business, but when I lay down to rest
she seemed to come to me as a ghost might do and to stand by my bed,
looking at me with sad and longing eyes. So real was her presence that
sometimes I began to believe that she must have died to the world and
was in truth a ghost, or else that she had found the power to throw
her soul afar, as it is said certain of these Indian folk, if so they
should be called, can do. At least there she seemed to be while I
remained awake and afterwards when I slept, and I know not whether her
strange company joyed or pained me more. For alas! she could not talk
to me, or tell me how it fared with her, and, to speak truth, now that
she was the wife of another man, as I supposed, I desired to forget
her if I could.

For of Quilla no word reached us. We heard that she had come safely to
Cuzco and after that nothing more. Of her marriage there was no
tidings; indeed she seemed to have vanished away. Certain of
Huaracha's spies reported to him, however, that the great army which
Urco had gathered to attack him had been partly disbanded, which
seemed to show that the Inca no longer prepared for immediate war.
Only then what had happened to Quilla, whose person was the price of
peace? Perhaps she was hidden away during the preparations for her
nuptials; at least I could think of nothing else, unless indeed she
had chosen to kill herself or died naturally.

Soon, however, all news ceased, for Huaracha shut his frontiers,
hoping that thus Urco might not learn that he was gathering armies.

At length, when our forces were almost ready to march, Kari came, Kari
whom I thought lost.

One night when I was seated at my work by lamplight, writing down
numbers upon a parchment, a shadow fell across it, and looking up I
saw Kari standing before me, travel-worn and weary, but Kari without
doubt, unless I dreamed.

"Have you food, Lord?" he asked while I stared at him. "I need it and
would eat before I speak."

I found meat and native beer and brought them to him, for it was late
and my servants were asleep, waiting till he had filled himself, for
by this time I had learned something of the patience of these people.
At length he spoke, saying:

"Huaracha's watch is good, and to pass it I must journey far into the
mountains and sleep three nights without food amid their snows."

"Whence come you?" I asked.

"From Cuzco, Lord."

"Then what of the lady Quilla? Does she still live? Is she wed to

"She lives, or lived fourteen days ago, and she is not wed. But where
she is no man may ever come. You have looked your last upon the lady
Quilla, Lord."

"If she lives and is unwed, why?" I asked, trembling.

"Because she is numbered among the Virgins of the Sun our Father, and
therefore inviolate to man. Were I the Inca, though I love you and
know all, should you attempt to take her, yes, even you, I would kill
you if I could, and with my own sword. In our land, Lord, there is one
crime which has no forgiveness, and that is to lay hands upon a Virgin
of the Sun. We believe, Lord, that if this is done, great curses will
fall upon our country, while as for the man who works the crime,
before he passes to eternal vengeance he and all his house and the
town whence he came must perish utterly, and that false virgin who has
betrayed our father, the Sun, must die slowly and by fire."

"Has this ever chanced?" I asked.

"History does not tell it, Lord, since none have been so wicked, but
such is the law."

I thought to myself that it was a very evil law, and cruel; also that
I would break it if I found opportunity, but made no answer, knowing
when to be silent and that I might as well strive to move a mountain
from its base as to turn Kari from the blindness of his folly bred of
false faith. After all, could I blame him, seeing that we held the
same of the sacredness of nuns and, it was said, killed them if they
broke their vows?

"What news, Kari?" I asked.

"Much, Lord. Hearken. Disguised as a peasant who had come into this
country to barter wool from a village near to Cuzco, I joined myself
to the train of the Inca Upanqui, among whose lords I found a friend
who had loved me in past years and kept my secret as he was bound to
do, having passed into the brotherhood of knights with me while we
were lads. Through him, in place of a man who was sick, I became one
of the bearers of the lady Quilla's litter and thus was always about
her and at times had speech with her in secret, for she knew me again
notwithstanding my disguise and uniform. So I became one of those who
waited on her when she ate and noted all that passed.

"After the first day the Inca Upanqui, he who is my father and whose
lawful heir I am, although he discarded me for Urco and believes me
dead, made it a habit to take his food in the same tent or rest-house
chamber as the lady Quilla. Lord, being very clever, she set herself
to charm him, so that soon he began to dote upon her, as old, worn-out
men sometimes do upon young and beautiful women. She, too, pretended
to grow fond of him and at last told him in so many words that she
grieved it was not he that she was to marry whose wisdom she hung
upon, in place of a prince who, she heard, was not wise. This, she
said, because she knew well that the Inca would never marry any more
and indeed had lived alone for years. Still, being flattered, he told
her it was hard that she should be forced to wed one to whom she had
no mind, whereon she prayed him, even with tears, to save her from
such a fate. At last he vowed that he would do so by setting her among
the Virgins of the Sun on whom no man may look. She thanked him and
said that she would consider the matter, since, for reasons that you
may guess, Lord, she did not desire to become a Virgin of the Sun and
to pass the rest of her days in prayer and the weaving of the Inca's

"So it went on until when we were a day's march from Cuzco, Urco, my
brother, came to meet his promised bride. Now, Urco is a huge man and
hideous, one whom none would believe to have been born of the Inca
blood. Coarse he is, and dissolute, given to drink also, though a
great fighter and brave in battle, and quick-brained when he is sober.
I was present when they met and I saw the lady Quilla shiver and turn
pale at the sight of him, while he on his part devoured her beauty
with his eyes. They spoke but few words together, yet before these
were done, he told her it was his will that they should be wed at once
on the day after she came to Cuzco, nor would he listen to the Inca
Upanqui who said, being cunning and wishing to gain time, that due
preparation must be made for so great a business.

"Thereupon Urco grew angry with his father, who both fears and loves
him, and answered that, being almost Inca, this matter was one which
he would settle for himself. So fierce was he that Upanqui became
afraid and went away. When they were alone Urco strove to embrace
Quilla, but she fled from him and hid with her maidens in a private
place. After this, at the feast Urco took too much drink according to
his custom and was led away to sleep by his lords. Then Quilla waited
upon the Inca and said:

"'O Inca, I have seen the Prince and I claim your promise to save me
from him. O Inca, abandoning all thought of marriage, I will become
the bride of our Father the Sun.'

"Upanqui, who was wroth with Urco because he had crossed his will,
swore by the Sun itself that he would not fail her, come what might,
since Urco should learn that he was not yet Inca."

"What happened then?" I asked, staring him in the eyes.

"After this, Lord, when we were halted before making the state entry
into Cuzco, for a moment the lady Quilla found opportunity for private
speech with me. This is what she said:

"'Tell my father, King Huaracha, that I have fulfilled his oath, but
that I cannot marry Urco. Therefore I seek refuge in the arms of the
Sun, as the oracle Rimac foretold that I should do, having to choose
between this fate and that of death. Tell my Lord-from-the-Sea what
has befallen me and bid him farewell to me. Still say that he must
keep a good heart, since I do not believe that all is ended between

"Then we were parted and I saw her no more."

"And did you hear no more, Kari?"

"I heard much, Lord. I heard that when Urco learned that the lady
Quilla had vanished away into the House of Virgins, whither he might
not come, and that he was robbed of the bride whom he desired, he grew
mad with rage. Indeed, of this I saw something myself. Two days later,
with thousands of others I was in the great square in front of the
Temple of the Sun, where the Inca Upanqui sat in state upon a golden
throne to receive the praise of his people upon his safe return after
his long and hard journey, and as some reported, to lay down his
lordship in favour of Urco; also to tell the people that the danger of
war with the Chancas had passed away. Scarcely had the ceremony begun
when Urco appeared at the head of a number of lords and princes of the
Inca blood, who are of his clan, and I noticed that he was drunk and
furious. He advanced to the foot of the throne, almost without
obeisance, and shouted:

"'Where is the lady Quilla, daughter of Huaracha, who is promised to
me in marriage, Inca? Why have you hidden her away, Inca?'

"'Because the Sun, our Father, has claimed her as his bride and has
taken her to dwell in his holy house, where never again may the eyes
of man behold her, Prince!' answered Upanqui.

"'You mean that robbing me, you have taken her for yourself, Inca,'
shouted Urco again.

"Then Upanqui stood up and swore by the Sun that this was not so and
that what he had done was done by the decree of the god and at the
prayer of the lady Quilla, who having seen Urco, had declared that
either she would be wed to the god or die by her own hand, which would
bring the vengeance of the Sun upon the people.

"Then Urco went mad. He raved at the Inca and while all present
shivered with fear, he cursed the Sun our Father, yes, even when a
cloud came up in the clear sky and veiled the face of the god,
heedless of the omen, he continued his curses and blasphemy. Moreover,
he said that soon he would be Inca and that then, if he must tear the
House of Virgins stone from stone, as Inca he would drag forth the
lady Quilla and make her his wife.

"Now at these words Upanqui stood up and rent his robes.

"'Must my ears be outraged with such blasphemies?' he cried. 'Know,
Son Urco, that this day I was minded to take off the Royal Fringe and
to set it on your head, crowning you Inca in my place while I withdrew
to pass the remainder of my days at Yucay in peace and prayer. My will
is changed. This I shall not do. My life is not done and strength
returns to my mind and body. Here I stay as Inca. Now I see that I am
punished for my sin.'

"'What sin?' shouted Urco.

"'The sin of setting you before my eldest lawful son, Kari, whose wife
you stole; Kari, whom also it is said you poisoned and who at least
has vanished and is doubtless dead.'

"Now, Lord, when I, Kari, heard this my heart melted in me and I was
minded to declare myself to Upanqui my father. But while I weighed the
matter for a moment, knowing that if I did so, such words as these
might well be my last since Urco had many of is following present, who
perhaps would fall upon and kill me, suddenly my father Upanqui fell
forward in a swoon. His lords and physicians bore him away. Urco
followed and presently the multitude departed this way and that.
Afterwards we were told that the Inca had recovered but must not be
disturbed for many days."

"Did you hear more of Quilla, Kari?"

"Yes, Lord," he answered gravely. "It was commonly reported that,
through some priestess in his pay, Urco had poisoned her, saying that
as she had chosen the Sun as husband, to the Sun she would go."

"Poisoned her!" I muttered, well-nigh falling to the ground. "Poisoned

"Aye, Lord, but be comforted for this was added--that she who gave the
poison was taken in the act by her who is named the Mother of the
Virgins, and handed over to the women who cast her into the den of
serpents, where she perished, screaming that it was Urco who had
forced her to the deed."

"That does not comfort me, man. What of Quilla? Did she die?"

"Lord, it is said not. It is said that the Mother of the Virgins
dashed away the cup as it touched her lips. But this is said also,
that some of the poison flew into her eyes and blinded her."

I groaned, for the thought of Quilla blinded was horrible.

"Again take comfort, Lord, since perchance she may recover from this
blindness. Also I was told, that although she can see nothing, her
beauty is not marred; that the venom indeed has made her eyes seem
larger and more lovely even than they were before."

I made no answer, who feared that Kari was deceiving me or perhaps was
himself deceived and that Quilla was dead. Presently he continued his
story in the same quiet, even voice, saying:

"Lord, after this I sought out certain of my friends who had loved me
in my youth and my mother also while she lived, revealing myself to
them. We made plans together, but before aught could be done in
earnest, it was needful that I should see my father Upanqui. While I
was waiting till he had recovered from the stroke that fell upon him,
some spy betrayed me to Urco, who searched for me to kill me and well-
nigh found me. The end of it was that I was forced to fly, though
before I did so many swore themselves to my cause who would escape
from the tyranny of Urco. Moreover, it was agreed that if I returned
with soldiers at my back, they and their followers would come out to
join me to the number of thousands, and help me to take my own again
so that I may be Inca after Upanqui my father. Therefore I have come
back here to talk with you and Huaracha.

"Such is my tale."



When on the morrow Huaracha, King of the Chancas, heard all this story
and that Urco had given poison to his daughter Quilla, who, if she
still lived at all, did so, it was said, as a blind woman, a kind of
madness took hold of him.

"Now let war come; I will not rest or stay," he cried, "till I see
this hound, Urco, dead, and hang up his skin stuffed with straw as an
offering to his own god, the Sun."

"Yet it was you, King Huaracha, who sent the lady Quilla to this Urco
for your own purposes," said Kari in his quiet fashion.

"Who and what are you that reprove me?" asked Huaracha turning on him.
"I only know you as the servant or slave of the White-Lord-from-the-
Sea, though it is true I have heard stories concerning you," he added.

"I am Kari, the first-born lawful son of Upanqui and by right heir to
the Inca throne, no less, O Huaracha. Urco my brother robbed me of my
wife, as through the folly of my father, upon whose heart Urco's
mother worked, he had already robbed me of my inheritance. Then, to
make sure, he strove to poison me as he has poisoned your daughter,
with a poison that would make me mad and incapable of rule, yet leave
me living--because he feared lest the curse of the Sun should fall
upon him if he murdered me. I recovered from that bane and wandered to
a far land. Now I have returned to take my own, if I am able. All that
I say I can prove to you."

For a while Huaracha stared at him astonished, then said:

"And if you prove it, what do you ask of me, O Kari?"

"The help of your armies to enable me to overthrow Urco, who is very
strong, being the Commander of the Quichua hosts."

"And if your tale be true and Urco is overthrown, what do you promise
me in return?"

"The independence of the Chanca people, who otherwise must soon be
destroyed, and certain other added territories which you covet, while
I am Inca."

"And with this my daughter, if she still lives?" asked Huaracha
looking at him.

"Nay," replied Kari firmly. "As to the lady Quilla I promise nothing.
She has vowed herself to my Father the Sun, and what I have already
told the Lord Hurachi here, who loves her I tell you. Henceforward no
man may look upon her, who is the Bride of the Sun, for if I suffered
this, certainly the curse of the Sun would fall upon me and upon my
people. He who lays a hand upon her I will strive to slay"--here he
looked at me with meaning--"because I must or be accurst. Take all
else, but let the lady Quilla be. What the Sun has, he holds forever."

"Perhaps the Moon, her mother, may have something to say in that
matter," said Huaracha gloomily. "Still, let it lie for the while."

Then they fell to discussing the terms of their alliance and, when it
came to battle, what help Kari could bring from among those who clung
to him in Cuzco.

After this Huaracha took me to another chamber, where we debated the

"This Kari, if he be Kari himself, is a bigot," he said, "and if he
has his way, neither you nor I will ever set eyes on Quilla again,
because to him it is sacrilege. So, what say you?"

I answered that it would be best to make an alliance with Kari, whom I
knew to be honest and no Pretender, since without his help I did not
think that it would be possible to defeat the armies of the People of
the Incas. For the rest, we must trust to chance, making no promises
as to Quilla.

"If we did they would avail little," said Huaracha, "seeing that
without doubt she is dead and only vengeance remains to us. There is
more poison in Cuzco, White Lord!"

Eight days later we were marching on Cuzco, a great host of us,
numbering at least forty thousand Chancas and twenty-five thousand of
the rebellious Yuncas, who had joined our standard.

On we marched by the great road over mountains and across plains,
driving with us numberless herds of the native sheep for food, but
meeting no man, since so soon as we were out of the territory of the
Chancas all fled at our approach. At length one night we camped upon a
hill named Carmenca and saw beneath us at a distance the mighty city
of Cuzco standing in a valley through which a river ran. There it was
with its huge fortresses built of great blocks of stone, its temples,
its palaces, its open squares, and its countless streets bordered by
low houses. Moreover, beyond and around it we saw other things,
namely, the camps of a vast army dotted with thousands of white tents.

"Urco is ready for us," said Kari to me grimly as he pointed to these

We camped upon the hill Carmenca and that night there came to us an
embassy which spoke in the names of Upanqui and Urco, as though they
reigned jointly. This embassy of great lords who all wore discs of
gold in their ears asked us what was our purpose. Huaracha answered--
to avenge the murder of the lady Quilla, his daughter, that he heard
had been poisoned by Urco.

"How know you that she is dead?" asked the spokesman.

"If she is not dead," replied Huaracha, "show her to us."

"That may not be," replied the spokesman, "since if she lives, it is
in the House of the Virgins of the Sun, whence none come out and where
none go in. Hearken, O Huaracha. Go back whence you came, or the
countless army of the Incas will fall upon you and destroy you, you
and your handful together."

"That is yet to be seen," answered Huaracha, and without more words
the embassy withdrew.

That night also men crept into our camp secretly, who were of the
party of Kari. Of Quilla they seemed to know nothing, for none spoke
of those over whom the veil of the Sun had fallen. They told us,
however, that the old Inca, Upanqui, was still in Cuzco and had
recovered somewhat from his sickness. Also they said that now the feud
between him and Urco was bitter, but that Urco had the upper hand and
was still in command of the armies. These armies, they declared, were
immense and would fight us on the morrow, adding, however, that
certain regiments of them who were of the party of Kari would desert
to us in the battle. Lastly, they said that there was great fear in
Cuzco, since none knew how that battle would end, which was understood
by all to be one for the dominion of Tavantinsuyu.

They had nothing more to say except that they prayed the Sun for our
success to save them from the tyranny of Urco. This prince, it
appeared, suspected their conspiracy, for now the rumour that Kari
lived was everywhere, and having obtained the names of some who were
connected with it through his spies, he pursued them with murder and
sudden death. They were poisoned at their food; they were stabbed as
they walked through the streets at night; their wives, if young and
fair, vanished away, as they believed into the houses of those who
desired them; even their children were kidnapped, doubtless to become
the servants of whom they knew not. They had complained of these
things to the old Inca Upanqui, but without avail, since in such
matters he was powerless before Urco who had command of the armies.
Therefore they would even welcome the triumph of Huaracha, which meant
that Kari would become Inca if with lessened territory.

Before they parted to play their parts, Kari brought them before me,
whom in their foolishness they worshipped, believing me to be in truth
a god. Then he told them to have no fear, since I would command the
armies of Huaracha in the battle.

Having surveyed the ground while the light lasted, for the most of
that night, together with Huaracha and Kari, I toiled, making plans
for the great fight that was to come. All being ready, I lay down to
sleep awhile, wondering whether it were the last time I should do so
upon the earth and, to tell the truth, not caring overmuch who,
believing that Quilla was dead, had it not been for my sins which
weighed upon me with none to whom I might confess them, should have
been glad to leave the world and its troubles for whatever might lie
beyond, even if it were but sleep.

There comes a time to most men when above everything they desire rest,
and now that hour was with me, the exiled and the desolate. Here in
this strange country and among these alien people I had found one soul
which was akin to mine, that of a beautiful woman who loved me and
whom I had come to love and desire. But what was the end of it? Owing
to the necessities of statecraft and her own nobleness, she had been
separated from me and although, as it would seem, she had as yet
escaped defilement, was spirited away into the temple of some
barbarous worship where I was almost sure death had found her.

At the best she was blinded, and where she lay in her darkness no man
might come because of the superstitions of these folk. Even if Kari
became Inca, it would not help me or her, should she still live, since
he was the fiercest bigot of them all and swore that he would kill me,
his friend, rather than that I should touch her, the vowed to his
false gods.

Or perhaps, through the priests, to save himself such sorrow, he would
kill her. At the least, dead or not, she was lost to me, while I--
utterly alone--must fight for a cause in which I had but one concern,
to bring some savage prince to his end because of his crime against
Quilla. And, if things went well and this chanced, what of the Future?
Of what use to me were rewards that I did not want, and the worship of
the vulgar which I hated? Rather would I have lived out my life as the
humblest fisherman on Hastings beach, than be made a king over these
glittering barbarians with their gold and gems which could buy nothing
that I needed, not even a Book of Hours to feed my soul, or the sound
of the English tongue to comfort my empty heart.

At length I fell asleep, and as it seemed but a few minutes later,
though really six hours had gone by, was awakened by Kari, who told me
that the dawn was not far off and came to help me to buckle on my
armour. Then I went forth and together with Huaracha arranged our army
for battle. Our plan was to advance from our rising ground across a
great plain beneath us which was called Xaqui, but afterwards became
known by the name of Yahuar-pampa, or Field of Blood.

This plain lay between us and the city of Cuzco, and my thought was
that we would march or fight our way across it and rush into the city
which was unwalled, and there amidst its streets and houses await the
attack of the Inca hosts that were encamped upon its farther side, for
thus protected by their walls we hoped that we should be more equal to
them. Yet things happened otherwise, since with the first light,
without which we did not dare to move over unknown ground, we
perceived that during the darkness the Inca armies had moved round and
through the town and were gathered by the ten thousand in dense
battalions upon the farther side of the plain.

Now we took council together and in the end decided not to attack as
we had proposed, but to await their onslaught on the rocky ridge up
which they must climb. So we commanded that our army, which was
marshalled in three divisions abreast and two wings with the Yuncas as
a reserve behind, should eat and make ready. In the centre of our main
division, which numbered some fifteen thousand of the Chanca troops,
and a little in front of it, was a low long hill upon the highest
point of which I took my place, standing upon a rock with a group of
captains and messengers behind me and a guard of about a thousand
picked men massed upon the slopes and around the hill. From this high
point I could see everything, and in my glittering armour was visible
to all, friends and foes together.

After a pause, during which the priests of the Chancas and of the
Yuncas behind us sacrificed sheep to the moon and the many other gods
they worshipped, and those of the Quichuas, as I could see from my
rock, made prayers and offerings to the rising sun, with a mighty
shouting the Inca hosts began to advance across the plain towards us.
Reckoning them with my eye I saw that they outnumbered us by two or
three to one; indeed their hordes seemed to be countless, and always
more of them came on behind from the dim recesses of the city. Divided
into three great armies they crept across the plain, a wild and
gorgeous spectacle, the sunlight shining upon the forest of their
spears and on their rich barbaric uniforms.

A furlong or more away they halted and took counsel, pointing to me
with their spears as though they feared me. We stood quite still,
though some of our generals urged that we should charge, but this I
counselled Huaracha not to do, who desired that the Quichuas should
break their strength upon us. At length some word was given; the
splendid "rainbow Banner" of the Incas was unfurled and, still divided
into three armies with a wide stretch of plain between each of them
they attacked, yelling like all the fiends of hell.

Now they had reached us and there began the most terrible battle that
was told of in the history of that land. Wave after wave of them
rolled up against us, but our battalions which I had not trained in
vain stood like rocks and slew and slew and slew till the dead could
be counted by the thousand. Again and again they strove to storm the
hill on which I stood, hoping to kill me, and each time we beat them
back. Picking out their generals I loosed shaft after shaft from my
long bow, and seldom did I miss, nor could their cotton-quilted armour
turn those bitter arrows.

"/The shafts of the god! The shafts of the god!/" they cried, and
shrank back from before me.

There appeared a man with a yellow fillet on his head and a robe that
was studded with precious stones; a huge man with great limbs and
flaming eyes; a loose-mouthed, hideous man who wielded a big axe of
copper and carried a bow longer than any I had seen in that land.
Hooking the axe to his belt, he set an arrow on the bow and let drive
at me. It sped true and struck me full upon the breast, only to
shatter on the good French mail, which copper could not pierce.

Again he shot, and this time the arrow glanced from my helm. Then I
drew on him and my shaft, that I had aimed at his head, cut away the
fringe about his brow and carried it far away. At this sight a groan
went up from the lords about him, and one cried:

"An omen, O Urco, an evil omen!"

"Aye," he shouted, "for the White Wizard who shot the arrow."

Dropping the bow, he rushed up the hill at me roaring, axe aloft, and
followed by his company. He smote, and I caught the blow upon my
shield, and striking back with Wave-Flame, shore through the shaft of
the axe that he had lifted to guard his head as though it had been
made of reed, aye, and through the quilted cotton on his shoulder
strengthened with strips of gold, and to the bone beneath.

Then a man slipped past me. It was Kari, striking at Urco with
Deleroy's sword. They closed and rolled down the slope locked in each
other's arms. What chanced after this I do not know, for others rushed
in and all grew confused, but presently Kari limped back somewhat
shaken and bleeding, and I caught sight of Urco, little hurt, as it
seemed, amidst his lords at the bottom of the slope.

At this moment I heard a great shouting and looking round, saw that
the Quichuas had broken through our left and were slaughtering many,
while the rest fled, also that our right was wavering. I sent
messengers to Huaracha, bidding him call up the Yunca rear guard. They
were slow in coming and I began to fear that all was lost for little
by little the hordes of the men of Cuzco were surrounding us.

Then it was that Kari, or some with him, lifted a banner that had been
wrapped upon a pole, a blue banner upon which was embroidered a golden
sun. At the sight of it there was tumult in the Inca ranks, and
presently a great body of men, five or six thousand of them that had
seemed to be in reserve, ran forward shouting, "/Kari! Kari!/" and
fell upon those who were pursuing our shattered left, breaking them up
and dispersing them. Also at last the Yuncas came up and drove back
the regiments that assailed our right, while from Urco's armies there
rose a cry of "Treachery!"

Trumpets blew and the Inca host, gathering itself together and
abandoning its dead and wounded, drew back sullenly on to the plain,
and there halted in three bodies as before, though much lessened in

Huaracha appeared, saying:

"Strike, White Lord! It is our hour! The heart is out of them."

The signal was given, and roaring like a hurricane, presently the
Chancas charged. Down the slope they went, I at the head of them with
Huaracha on one side and Kari on the other. The swift-footed Chancas
outran me who was hindered by my mail. We charged in three masses as
we had stood on the ridge, following those open lanes of ground up
which the foe had not come, because these were less cumbered with dead
and wounded. Presently I saw why those of Cuzco had left these lanes
untrod, for of a sudden some warriors, who had outstripped me,
vanished. They had fallen into a pit covered over with earth laid upon
canes, of which the bottom was set with sharp stakes. Others, who were
running along the lanes of open ground to right and left, also fell
into pits of which there were scores all carefully prepared against
the day of battle. With trouble the Chancas were halted, but not
before we had lost some hundreds of men. Then we advanced again across
that ground over which the Inca host had retreated.

At length we reached their lines, passing through a storm of arrows,
and there began such a battle as I had never heard of or even dreamed.
With axes, stone-headed clubs and spears, both armies fought
furiously, and though the Incas still outnumbered us by two to one,
because of my training our regiments drove them back. Lord after lord
rushed at me with glaring eyes, but my mail turned their copper spears
and knives of flint. Oh! Wave-Flame fed full that day, and if
Thorgrimmer my forefather could have seen us from his home in
Valhalla, surely he must have sworn by Odin that never had he given it
such a feast.

The Inca warriors grew afraid and shrank back.

"This Red-Beard from the sea is indeed a god. He cannot be slain!" I
heard them cry.

Then Urco appeared, bloody and furious, shouting:

"Cowards! I will show you whether he cannot be slain."

He rushed onward to meet--not me, but Huaracha, who seeing that I was
weary, had leapt in front of me. They fought, and Huaracha went down
and was dragged away by some of his servants.

Now Urco and I were face to face, he wielding a huge copper-headed
club with which, as my mail could not be pierced, he thought to batter
out my life. I caught the blow upon my shield, but so great was the
giant's strength that it brought me to my knees. Next second I was up
and at him. Shouting, I smote with both hands, for my shield had
fallen. The thick, turban-like headdress that Urco wore was severed,
cut through as the axe had been, and Wave-Flame bit deep into the
skull beneath.

Urco fell like a stunned ox and I sprang upon him to make an end. Then
it was that a rope was flung about my shoulders, a noosed rope that
was hauled tight. In vain I struggled. I was thrown down; I was seized
by a score of hands and dragged away into the heart of Urco's host.

Waiting till a litter could be brought, they set me on my feet again,
my arms still bound by the noose that these Indians call /laso/, which
they know so well how to throw, the red sword Wave-Flame still hanging
by its thong from my right wrist. Whilst I stood thus, like a bull in
a net, they gathered round, staring at me, not with hate as it seemed
to me, but in fear and with reverence. When at length the litter came
they aided me to enter it quite gently.

As I did so I looked back. The battle still raged but it seemed to me
with less fury than before. It was as though both sides were weary of
slaughter, their leaders being fallen. The litter was borne forward,
till at length the noise of shouting and tumult grew low. Twisting
myself round I peered through the back curtains and saw that the Inca
host and that of the Chancas were separating sullenly, neither of them
broken since they carried their wounded away with them. It was plain
that the battle remained drawn for there was no rout and no triumph.

I saw, too, that I was entering the great city of Cuzco, where women
and children stood at the doors of the houses gazing, and some of them
wringing their hands with tears upon their faces.

Passing down long streets and across a bridge, I came to a vast square
round which stood mighty buildings, low, massive, and constructed of
huge stones. At the door of one of these the litter halted and I was
helped to descend. Men beautifully clad in broidered linen led me
through a gateway and across a garden where I noted a marvellous
thing, namely: that all the plants therein were fashioned of solid
gold with silver flowers, or sometimes of silver with golden flowers.
Also there were trees on which were perched birds of gold and silver.
When I saw this I thought that I must be mad, but it was not so, for
having no other use for the precious metals, of which they had so much
abundance, thus did these Incas adorn their palaces.

Leaving the golden garden, I reached a courtyard surrounded by rooms,
to one of which I was conducted. Passing its door, I found myself in a
splendid chamber hung with tapestries fantastically wrought and having
cushioned seats, and tables of rich woods incrusted with precious
stones. Here servants or slaves appeared with a chamberlain who bowed
deeply and welcomed me in the name of the Inca.

Then, as though I were something half divine, gently enough, they
loosed the sword from my wrist, took the long bow from my back, with
the few arrows that remained, also my dagger, and hid them away. They
unbound me, and freeing me from my armour, as I told them how, and the
garments beneath, laved me with warm, scented water, rubbed my bruised
limbs, and clothed me in wonderful soft garments, also scented and
fastened about my middle with a golden belt. This done, food and
spiced drinks of their native wine were brought to me in golden
vessels. I ate and drank and, being very weary, laid myself down upon
one of the couches to sleep. For now I no longer took any thought as
to what might befall me, but received all as it came, good and ill
together, entrusting my body and soul to the care of God and St.
Hubert. Indeed, what else could I do who was disarmed and a prisoner?

When I awoke again, very stiff and bruised, but much refreshed, night
had fallen, for hanging lamps were lit about the room. By their light
I saw the chamberlain of whom I have spoken standing before me. I
asked him his errand. With many bows he said that if I were rested the
Inca Upanqui desired my presence that he might speak with me.

I bade him lead on, and, with others who waited without, he conducted
me through a maze of passages into a glorious chamber where everything
seemed to be gold, for even the walls were panelled with it. Never had
I dreamt of so much gold; indeed the sight of it wearied me till I
could have welcomed that of humble brick or wood. At the end of this
chamber that was also lit with lamps, were curtains. Presently these
were drawn by two beautiful women in jewelled skirts and head-dresses,
and behind them on a dais I saw a couch and on the couch the old Inca
Upanqui looking feebler than when I had last beheld him in the Chanca
city, and very simply clad in a white tunic. Only on his head he wore
the red fringe from which I suppose he never parted day or night. He
looked up and said:

"Greeting, White-Lord-from-the-Sea. So you have come to visit me after
all, though you said that you would not."

"I have been brought to visit you, Inca," I answered.

"Yes, yes, they tell me they captured you in the battle, though I
expect that was by your own will as you had wearied of those Chancas.
For what /laso/ can hold a god?"

"None," I answered boldly.

"Of course not, and that you are a kind of god there is no doubt
because of the things you did in that battle. They say that the arrows
and spears melted when they touched you and that you shot and cut down
men by scores. Also that when the prince Urco tried to kill you,
although he is the strongest man in my kingdom, you knocked him over
as though he had been a little child and hacked his head open so that
they do not know whether he will live or die. I think I hope he will
die, for you see I have quarrelled with him."

I thought to myself that so did I, but I only asked:

"How did the battle end, Inca?"

"As it began, Lord Hurachi. A great many men have been killed on both
sides, thousands and thousands of them, and neither army has the
victory. They have drawn back and sit growling at each other like two
angry lions which are afraid to fight again. Indeed, I do not want
them to fight, and now that Urco cannot interfere, I shall put a stop
to all this bloodshed if I am able. Tell me, for you were with him,
why does this Huaracha, who I hear is also wounded, want to make war
on me with those troublesome Chancas of his?"

"Because your son, the prince Urco, has poisoned, or tried to poison,
his only child, Quilla."

"Yes, yes, I know, and it was a wicked thing to do. You see, Lord,
what happened was this: That lovely Quilla, who is fairer than her
mother the Moon, was to have married Urco. But, Lord, as it chanced on
our journey together, although I am old--well, she became enamoured of
me, and prayed me to protect her from Urco. Such things happen to
women, Lord, whose hearts, when they behold the divine, are apt to
carry them away from the vulgar," and he laughed in a silly fashion
like the vain old fool that he was.

"Naturally. How could she help it, Inca? Who, after seeing you, would
wish to turn to Urco?"

"No one, especially as Urco is a coarse and brutal fellow. Well, what
was I to do? There are reasons why I do not wish to marry again at my
age; indeed I am tired of the sight of women, who want time to pray
and think of holy things; also if I had done what she wished, some
might have thought that I had behaved badly to Urco. At the same time,
a woman's heart is sacred and I could not do violence to that of one
so sweet and understanding and lovely. So I put her into the House of
the Virgins of the Sun where she will be quite safe."

"It seems that she was not safe, Inca."

"No, because that violent man, Urco, being disappointed and very
jealous, through some low creature of his, who waited on the Virgins,
tried to poison her with a drug which would have made her all swollen
and hideous and covered her face with blotches, also perhaps have sent
her mad. Luckily one of the matrons, whom we call /Mama-conas/,
knocked the cup away before she drank, but some of the horrible poison
went into her eyes and blinded her."

"So she lives, Inca."

"Certainly she lives. I have learnt that for myself, because in this
country it is not wise to trust what they tell you. You know as Inca I
have privileges, and although even I do not talk to them, I caused
those Virgins of the Sun to be led in front of me, which in strictness
even I ought not to have done. It was a dreary business, Lord Hurachi,
for though those Virgins may be so holy, some of them are very old and
hideous and of course Quilla as a novice came last in the line
conducted by two /Mama-conas/ who are cousins of my own. The odd thing
is that the poison seems to have made her much more beautiful than
before, for her eyes have grown bigger and are glorious, shining like
stars seen when there is frost. Well, there she is safe from Urco and
every other man, however wicked and impious. But what does this
Huaracha want?"

"He wants his blinded daughter back, Inca."

"Impossible, impossible! Who ever heard of such a thing! Why, Heaven
and Earth would come together and the Sun, my father, and her husband,
would burn us all up. Still, perhaps, we could come to an agreement
for Huaracha must have had enough fighting and very likely he will
die. Now I am tired of talking about the lady Quilla and I want to ask
you something."

"Speak on, Inca."

Suddenly the old dotard's manner changed: he became quick and shrewd,
as doubtless he was in his prime, for this Upanqui had been a great
king. At the beginning of our talk the two women of whom I have spoken
and the chamberlain had withdrawn to the end of the chamber where they
waited with their hands folded, like those who adore before an altar.
Still he peered about him to make sure that none were within hearing,
and in the end beckoned to me to ascend the dais and sit upon the
couch beside him, saying:

"You see I trust you although you are a god from the sea who has been
fighting against me. Now hearken. You had a servant with you, a very
strange man, who is said also to have come out of the sea, though that
I cannot believe since he is like one of our princes. Where is that

"With the army of Huaracha, Inca."

"So I have heard. I heard also that in the battle he hoisted a banner
with the sun blazoned on it, and that thereon certain regiments of
mine deserted to Huaracha. Now, why did they do that?"

"I understand, O Inca, that the kings of this land have many children.
Perhaps he might be one of them."

"Ah! You are clever as a god should be. Well, I am a god also and the
same thought has come to me, although as a fact I have only had two
legitimate sons and the others are of no account. The eldest of these
was an able and beautiful prince named Kari, but we quarrelled, and to
tell the truth there was a woman in the matter, or rather two women,
for Kari's mother fought with Urco's mother whom I loved, because she
never scolded me, which the other did. So Urco was named to be Inca
after me. Yet that was not enough for him who remained jealous of his
brother Kari who outpassed him in all things save strength of body.
They wooed the same beautiful woman and Kari won her, whereon Urco
seduced her from him, and afterwards he or someone killed her. At
least she died, I forget how. Then the lords of the Inca blood began
to turn towards Kari because he was royal and wise, which would have
meant civil war when I had been gathered to the Sun. Therefore Urco
poisoned him, or so it was rumoured; at any rate, he vanished away,
and often since then I have mourned him."

"The dead come to life again sometimes, Inca."

"Yes, yes, Lord-from-the-Sea, that happens; the gods who took them
away bring them back--and this servant of yours--they say he is so
like to Kari that he might be the same man grown older. And--why did
those regiments, all of them officered by men who used to love Kari,
go over to Huaracha to-day, and why do rumours run through the land
like the wind that springs up suddenly in fine weather? Tell me of
this servant of yours and how you found him in the sea."

"Why should I tell you, Inca? Is it because you want to kill him who
is so like to this lost Kari of yours?"

"No, no--gods can keep each other's counsel, can they not? It is
because I would give--oh! half my godship to know that he is alive.
Hark you, Urco wearies me so much that sometimes I wonder whether he
really is my son. Who can tell? There was a certain lord of the
coastlands, a hairy giant who, they said, could eat half a sheep at a
sitting and break the backs of men in his hands, of whom Urco's mother
used to think much. But who can tell? No one except my father, the
Sun, and he guards his secrets--for the present. At least Urco wearies
me with his coarse crimes and his drunkenness, though the army loves
him because he is a butcher and liberal. We quarrelled the other day
over the small matter of this lady Quilla, and he threatened me till I
grew wrath and said that I would not hand him my crown as I had
purposed to do. Yes, I grew wrath and hated him for whose sake I had
sinned because his mother bewitched me. Lord-from-the-Sea," here his
voice dropped to a whisper, "I am afraid of Urco. Even a god such as I
am can be murdered, Lord-from-the-Sea. That is why I will not go to
Yucay, for there I might die and none know it, whereas here I still am
Inca and a god whom it is sacrilege to touch."

"I understand, but how can I help you, Inca, who am but a prisoner in
your palace?"

"No, no, you are only a prisoner in name. At the worst Urco will be
sick for a long while, since the physicians say that sword of yours
has bitten deep, and during that time all power is mine. Messengers
are at your service; you are free to come and go as you will. Bring
this servant of yours to my presence, for doubtless he trusts you. I
would speak with him, O Lord-from-the-Sea."

"If I should do this, Inca, will the lady Quilla be given back to her

"Nay, it would be sacrilege. Ask what else you will, lands and rule
and palaces and wives--not that. Myself I should not dare to lay a
finger on her who rests in the arms of the Sun. What does it matter
about this Quilla who is but one fair woman among thousands?"

I thought awhile, then answered, "I think it matters much, Inca.
Still, that this bloodshed may be stayed, I will do my best to bring
him who was my servant to your presence if you can find me the means
to come at him, and afterwards we will talk again."

"Yes, I am weary now. Afterwards we will talk again. Farewell, Lord-



When I awoke on the following morning in the splendid chamber of which
I have spoken, it was to find that my armour and arms had been
restored to me, and very glad was I to see Wave-Flame again. After I
had eaten and, escorted by servants, walked in the gardens, for never
could I be left alone, marvelling at the wondrous golden fruits and
flowers, a messenger came to me, saying that the /Villaorna/ desired
speech with me. I wondered who this /Villaorna/ might be, but when he
entered I saw that he was Larico, that same stern-faced, cunning-eyed
lord who had been the spokesman of the Inca when he visited the city
of the Chancas. Also I learned that /Villaorna/ was his title and
meant "Chief priest."

We bowed to each other and all were sent from the chamber, leaving us
quite alone.

"Lord-from-the-Sea," he said, "the Inca sends me, his Councillor and
blood relative, who am head priest of the Sun, to desire that you will
go on an embassy for him to the camp of the Chancas. First, however,
it is needful that you should swear by the Sun that you will return
thence to Cuzco. Will you do this?"

Now as there was nothing I desired more than to return to Cuzco where
Quilla was, I answered that I would swear by my own god, by the Sun,
and by my sword, unless the Chancas detained me by force. Further, I
prayed him to set out his business.

He did so in these words:

"Lord, we have come to know, it matters not how, that the man who
appeared with you in this land is no other than Kari, the elder son of
the Inca, whom we thought dead. Now it is in the Inca's mind, and in
the minds of us, his councillors, to proclaim the Prince Kari as heir
to the throne which soon he would be called upon to fill. But the
matter is very dangerous, seeing that Urco still commands the army and
many of the great lords who are of his mother's House cling to him,
hoping to receive advancement from him when he becomes Inca."

"But, Priest Larico, Urco, they say, is like to die, and if so all
this trouble will melt like a cloud."

"Your sword bit deep, Lord, but I have it from his physicians that as
the brain is uncut he will not die, although he will be sick for a
long while. Therefore we must act while he is sick, since it is not
lawful to bring about his end, even if he could be come at. Time
presses, Lord, for as you have seen, the Inca is old and feeble and
his mind is weak. Indeed at times he has no mind, though at others his
strength returns to him."

"Which means that I deal with you who are the chief priest, and those
behind you," I said, looking him in the eyes.

"That is what it means, Lord. Now hearken while I tell you the truth.
After the Inca I am the most powerful man in Tavantinsuyu, indeed for
the most part the Inca speaks with my voice although I seem to speak
with his. Yet I am in a snare. Heretofore I have supported Urco
because there was no other who could become Inca, although he is a
brutal and an evil man. Of late, however, since my return from the
City of the Chancas, I have quarrelled with Urco because he has lost
that witch, the lady Quilla, whom he desires madly and lays the blame
on me, and it has come to my knowledge that when he succeeds to the
throne it is his purpose to kill me, which doubtless he will do if he
can, or at the least to cast me from my place and power, which is as
bad as death. Therefore, I desire to make my peace with Kari, if he
will swear to continue me in my office, and this I can only do through
you. Bring this peace about, Lord, and I will promise you anything you
may wish, even perchance to the Incaship itself, should aught happen
to Kari or should he refuse my offers. I think that the Quichuas might
welcome a white god from the Sea who has shown himself so great a
general and so brave in battle, and who has knowledge and wisdom more
than theirs, to rule over them," he added reflectively. "Only then,
Lord, it would be needful to be rid of Kari as well as of Urco."

"To which I would never consent," I replied, "seeing that he is my
friend with whom I have shared many dangers. Moreover, I do not wish
to be Inca."

"Is there then anything else that you wish very much, Lord? A thought
came to me, yonder at the City of the Chancas. By the way, how lovely
is that lady Quilla and how royal a woman. It is most strange that she
should have turned her mind towards an aged man like Upanqui."

We looked at each other.

"Very strange," I said. "It seems to me sad also that this beauteous
Quilla should be immured in a nunnery for life. To tell you the truth,
High-priest, since it is not good for man to live alone, rather than
that such a thing should have happened I would have married her
myself, to which perchance she might have consented."

Again we looked at each other and I went on:

"I hinted as much to Kari after we heard she was numbered amongst the
Virgins, and asked him whether, should he become Inca, he would take
her thence and give her to me."

"What did he answer, Lord?"

"He said that though he loved me like a brother, first he would kill
me with his own hand, since such a deed would be sacrilege against the
Sun. Last night also the Inca himself said much the same."

"Is it so, Lord? Well, we priests bring up our Incas to think thus. If
we did not, where would our power be, seeing that we are the Voice of
the Sun upon earth and issue his decrees?"

"But do you always think thus yourselves, O High-priest?"

"Not quite always. There are loopholes in every law of gods and men.
For example, I believe I see one in the instance of this lady Quilla.
But before we waste more time in talking--tell me, White Lord, do you
desire her, and if so, are you ready to pay me my price? It is that
you shall assure to me the friendship of the prince Kari, should he
become Inca, and the continuance of my power and office."

"My answer is that I do desire this lady, O High-priest, and that if I
can I will obtain from Kari the promise of what you seek. And now
where is the loophole?"

"I seem to remember, Lord, that there is an ancient law which says--
that none who are maimed may be the wives of the Sun. It is true that
this law applies to them /before/ they contract the holy marriage.
Still, if the point came up before me as high-priest, I might perhaps
find that it applied also to those who were maimed /after/ marriage.
The case is rare, for which precedents cannot be found if the search
be thorough. Now through the wickedness of Urco, as it happens, this
lady Quilla has been blinded, and therefore is no longer perfect in
her body. Do you understand?"

"Quite. But what would Upanqui or Kari say? The Incas you declare are
always bigots and might interpret this law otherwise."

"I cannot tell, Lord, but let us cease from beating bushes. I will
help you if I can, if you will help me if /you/ can, though I daresay
that in the end you, who are not a bigot, must take the law into your
own hands, as perhaps the lady Quilla, who is a moon-worshipper, would
be willing to do also."

The finish of it was that this cunning priest and statesman and I made
a bargain. If I could win Kari over to his interests, then he swore by
the Sun that he would gain me access to the lady Quilla and help me to

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