Part 5 out of 6
fly with her, if so we both wished, while I on my part swore to plead
his cause with Kari. Moreover, as he showed me, there was little fear
that either of us would break these oaths since henceforth each lay in
the power of the other.
After this we passed on to public matters. I was charged to offer an
honourable truce to Huaracha and the Chancas with permission to them
to camp their armies in certain valleys near to Cuzco where they would
be fed until peace was declared, which peace would give them all they
needed, namely, their freedom and safeguards from attack. For the rest
I was to bring Kari and those who had deserted to him on the yesterday
into Cuzco where none would molest them.
Then he went, leaving me happier than I had been since I bade farewell
to Quilla. For now at last I saw light, a faint uncertain light, it
was true, only to be reached, if reached at all, through many
difficulties and dangers, but still light. At last I had found someone
in this land of black superstition who was not a bigot, and who, being
the High-priest of the Sun, knew too much of his god to fear him or to
believe that he should come down to earth and burn it up should one of
the hundreds of his brides seek another husband. Of course this Larico
might betray me and Quilla, but I did not think he would, since he had
nothing to gain thereby, and might have much to lose, for the reason
that I was able, or he thought that I was able, to set Kari against
him. At least I could only go forward and trust to fortune, though in
fact hitherto she had never shown me favour where woman was concerned.
Awhile later I was being borne in one of the Inca's own litters back
to the camp of the Chancas, accompanied by an embassy of great lords.
We passed over that dreadful, bloodstained plain where, under a flag
of truce, both sides were engaged in burying the thousands of their
dead, and came to the ridge whence we had charged on the yester morn.
Here sentries stopped us and I descended from my litter. When the
Chancas saw me in my armour come back to them alive, they set up a
great shouting and presently I and the lords with me were led to the
pavilion of King Huaracha.
We found him lying sick upon a couch, for though he showed no wound he
had been badly bruised upon the body by a blow from Urco's club and,
as I feared, was hurt in the bowels. He greeted me with delight, since
he thought that I might have been killed after I was captured, and
asked how I came to appear in his camp in the company of our enemies.
I told him at once what had chanced and that I was sworn to return to
Cuzco when I had done my business. Then the Inca's ambassadors set out
their proposals for a truce, and retired, while Huaracha discussed
them with his generals and Kari, who also was overjoyed to see me
The end of it was that they were accepted on the terms offered,
namely, that Huaracha and his army should withdraw to the valleys of
which I have spoken, and there camp, receiving all the food they
needed until a peace could be offered such as he would be willing to
accept. Indeed, the Chancas were glad to agree to this plan for their
losses in the battle had been very great and they were in no state to
renew the attack upon Cuzco, which was still defended by such mighty
hordes of brave warriors fighting for their homes, families, and
So all was agreed on the promise that peace should be made within
thirty days or sooner, and that if it were not the war should
Then privately, I told Huaracha all that I had learned about Quilla
and that I had still hopes of saving her though what these were I did
not tell him. When he had thought, he said that now the fate of Quilla
must be left in the hands of the gods and mine, since not even for her
could he neglect the opportunity of an honourable peace, seeing that
another battle might mean destruction. Also he pointed out that he was
hurt and I who had been general under him was a prisoner and bound by
my oath to return to prison, so that the Chancas had lost their
After this we parted, I promising to work for his cause and to come to
see him again, if I might.
These matters finished I went aside with Kari to a place where none
could hear us, and there laid before him the offers of Larico, the
high-priest, showing him how the case stood. Of Quilla, however, I
said nothing to him, though it pained me to keep back part of the
truth even from Kari. Yet, what was I to do, who knew that if I told
him all and he became Inca, or the Inca's acknowledged heir, he would
work against me because of his superstitious madness, and perhaps
cause Quilla to be killed by the priests, as one whose feet were set
in the path of sacrilege? So on this matter I held my peace, nor did
he ask me anything concerning Quilla who, I think, wished to hear
nothing of that lady and what had befallen her.
When he had learned all, he said:
"This may be a trap, Lord. I do not trust yonder Larico, who has
always been my enemy and Urco's friend."
"I think he is his own friend first," I answered, "who knows that if
Urco recovers he will kill him, because he has taken the part of your
father, Upanqui, in their quarrels, and suspects him."
"I am not sure," said Kari. "Yet something must be risked. Did I not
tell you when we were sailing down the English river that we must put
faith in our gods, yes, afterwards also, and more than once? And did
not the gods save us? Well, now again I trust to my god," and drawing
out the image of Pachacamac, which he wore round his neck, he kissed
it, then turning, bowed and prayed to the Sun.
"I will come with you," he said, when he had finished his devotions,
"to live to be Inca, or to die, as the Sun decrees."
So he came and with him some of his friends, captains of those who had
deserted to him in the battle. But the five thousand soldiers, or
those who were left of them, did not come as yet because they feared
lest they should be set upon and butchered by the regiments of Urco.
That night, when we were back safe in Cuzco, Kari and the high-priest,
Larico talked together in secret. Of what passed between them he only
told me that they had come to an agreement which satisfied them both.
Larico said the same to me when next I saw him, adding:
"You have kept your word and served my turn, Lord-from-the-Sea,
therefore I will keep mine and serve yours when the time comes. Yet be
warned by me and say nothing of a certain lady to the prince Kari,
since when I spoke a word to him on the matter, hinting that her
surrender to her father Huaracha would make peace with him more easy
and lasting, he answered that first would he fight Huaracha, and the
Yuncas as well, to the last man in Cuzco.
"To the Sun she has gone," he said, "and with the Sun she must stay,
lest the curse of the Sun and of Pachacamac, the Spirit above the sun,
should fall on me and all of us."
Larico told me also that, fearing something, the great lords, who were
of Urco's party, had borne him away in a litter to a strong city in
the mountains about five leagues from Cuzco, escorted by thousands of
picked men who would stay in and about that city.
On the next morning I was summoned to wait upon the Inca Upanqui, and
went, wearing my armour. I found him in the same great chamber as
before, only now he was more royally arrayed, and with him were sundry
of his high lords of the Inca blood, also certain priests, among them
the /Villaorna/ Larico.
The old king, who on that day seemed clear in his mind and well,
greeted me in his kindly fashion and bade me set out all that had
passed between me and Huaracha in the Chanca camp. This I did, only I
hid from him how great had been the Chanca losses in the battle and
how glad they were to declare a truce and rest.
Upanqui said that the matter should be attended to, speaking in a
royal fashion as though it were one of little moment, which showed me
how great an emperor he must be. Great he was, indeed, seeing that all
the broad land of England would have made but one province of his vast
dominions, which in every part were filled with people who, unless
they chanced to be in rebellion like the Yuncas, lived but to do his
After this, when I thought the audience was ended, a chamberlain
advanced to the foot of the throne, and kneeling, said that a
suppliant prayed speech with the Inca. Upanqui waved his sceptre, that
long staff which I have described, in token that he should be
admitted. Then presently up the chamber came Kari arrayed in the tunic
and cloak of an Inca prince, wearing in his ear a disc carved with the
image of the Sun, and a chain of emeralds and gold about his neck. Nor
did he come alone, for he was attended by a brilliant band of those
lords and captains who had deserted to him on the day of the great
battle. He advanced and knelt before the throne.
"Who is this that carries the emblems of the Holy Blood and is clothed
like a Prince of the Sun?" asked Upanqui, affecting ignorance and
unconcern, though I saw the colour mount to his cheeks and the sceptre
shake in his withered hand.
"One who is indeed of the holy Inca blood; one sprung from the purest
lineage of the Sun," answered the stately Kari in his quiet voice.
"How then is he named?" asked the Inca again.
"He is named Kari, first-born son of Upanqui, O Inca."
"Such a son I had once, but he is long dead, or so they told me," said
Upanqui in a trembling voice.
"He is not dead, O Inca. He lives and he kneels before you. Urco
poisoned him, but the Sun his Father recovered him, and the Spirit
that is above all gods supported him. The sea bore him to a far land,
where he found a white god who befriended and cared for him," here he
turned his head towards me. "With this god he returned to his own
country and here he kneels before you, O Inca."
"It cannot be," said the Inca. "What sign do you bring who name
yourself Kari? Show me the image of the Spirit above the gods that
from his childhood for generations has been hung about the neck of the
Inca's eldest son, born from the Queen."
Kari opened his robe and drew out that golden effigy of Pachacamac
which he always wore.
Upanqui examined it, holding it close to his rheumy eyes.
"It seems to be the same," he said, "as I should know upon whose
breast it lay until my first son was born. And yet who can be sure
since such things may be copied?"
Then he handed back the image to Kari and after reflecting awhile,
"Bring hither the Mother of the Royal Nurses."
Apparently this lady was in waiting, for in a minute she appeared
before the throne, an old and withered woman with beady eyes.
"Mother," said the Inca, "you were with the /Coya/ (that is the Queen)
who has been gathered to the Sun, when her boy was born, and
afterwards nursed him for years. If you saw it, would you know his
body again after he has come to middle age?"
"Aye, O Inca."
"By three moles, O Inca, which we women used to call /Yuti/, /Quilla/,
and /Chasca/" (that is, the Sun, the Moon, and the planet Venus),
"which were the marks of good fortune stamped by the gods upon the
Prince's back between the shoulders, set one above the other."
"Man who call yourself Kari, are you willing that this old crone
should see your flesh?" asked Upanqui.
By way of answer Kari with a little smile stripped himself of his
broidered tunic and other garments and stood before us naked to the
middle. Then he turned his back to the Mother of the Nurses. She
hobbled up and searched it with her bright eyes.
"Many scars," she muttered, "scars in front and scars behind. This
warrior has known battles and blows. But what have we here? Look, O
Inca, /Yuti/, /Quilla/, and /Chasca/, set one above the other, though
/Chasca/ is almost hidden by a hurt. Oh! my fosterling, O my Prince
whom I nursed at these withered breasts, are you come back from the
dead to take your own again? O Kari of the Holy Blood; Kari the lost
who is Kari the found!"
Then sobbing and muttering she threw her arms about him and kissed
him. Nor did he shame to kiss her in return, there before them all.
"Restore his garments to the royal Prince," said Upanqui, "and bring
hither the Fringe that is worn by the Inca's heir."
It was produced without delay by the high-priest Larico, which told me
at once that all this scene had been prepared. Upanqui took it from
Larico, and beckoning Kari to him, with the priest's help bound it
about his brow, thereby acknowledging him and restoring him as heir-
apparent to the Empire. Then he kissed him on the brow and Kari knelt
down and did his father homage.
After this they went away together accompanied only by Larico and two
or three of the councillors of Inca blood and as I learned from Larico
afterwards, told each other their tales and made plans to outwit, and
if need were to destroy, Urco and his faction.
On the following day Kari was established in a house of his own that
was more of a fortress than a palace, for it was built of great stones
with narrow gates, and surrounded by an open space. Upon this space,
as a guard, were encamped all those who had deserted to him in the
battle of the Field of Blood, who had returned to Cuzco from the camp
of Huaracha now that Kari was accepted as the royal heir. Also other
troops who were loyal to the Inca were stationed near by, while those
who clung to Urco departed secretly to that town where he lay sick.
Moreover, proclamation was made that on the day of the new moon, which
the magicians declared to be auspicious, Kari would be publicly
presented to the people in the Temple of the Sun as the Inca's lawful
heir, in place of Urco disinherited for crimes that he had committed
against the Sun, the Empire, and the Inca his father.
"Brother," said Kari to me, for so he called me now that he was an
acknowledged Prince, when I went to meet him in his grandeur,
"Brother, did I not tell you always that we must trust to our gods?
See, I have not trusted in vain though it is true that dangers still
lie ahead of me, and perhaps civil war."
"Yes," I answered, "your gods are in the way of giving you all you
want, but it is not so with mine and me."
"What then do you desire, Brother, who can have even to the half of
"Kari," I replied, "I cry not for the Earth, but for the Moon."
He understood, and his face grew stern.
"Brother, the Moon alone is beyond you, for she inhabits the sky while
you still dwell upon the earth," he answered with a frown, and then
began to talk of the peace with Huaracha.
THE GREAT HORROR
The day of the new moon came and with it the great horror that caused
all the Empire of Tavantinsuyu to tremble, fearing lest Heaven should
be avenged upon it.
Since Upanqui had found his elder son again he began to dote upon him,
as in such a case the old and weak-minded often do, and would walk
about the gardens and palaces with his arm around his neck babbling to
him of whatever was uppermost in his mind. Moreover, his soul was
oppressed because he had done Kari wrong in the past, and preferred
Urco to him under the urging of that prince's mother.
"The truth is, Son," I myself heard him say to Kari, "that we men who
seem to rule the world do not rule it at all, because always women
rule us. This they do through our passions which the gods planted in
us for their own ends, also because they are more single in their
minds. The man thinks of many things, the woman only thinks of what
she desires. Therefore the man whom Nature already has bemused, only
brings a little piece of his mind to fight against her whole mind, and
so is conquered; he who was made for one thing only, to be the mate of
the woman that she may mother more men in order to serve the wills of
other women who yet seem to be those men's slaves."
"So I have learned, Father," answered the grave Kari, "and for this
reason having suffered in the past, I am determined to have as little
to do with women as is possible for one in my place. During my travels
in other lands, as in this country, I have seen men great and noble
brought to nothingness and ruin by their love for women; down into the
dirt, indeed, when their hands were full of the world's wealth and
glory. Moreover, I have noticed that they seldom learn wisdom, and
that what they have done before, they are ready to do again, who
believe anything that soft lips swear to them. Yes, even that they are
loved for themselves alone, as I own to my sorrow, once I did myself.
Urco could not have taken that fair wife of mine, Father, if she had
not been willing to go when she saw that I had lost your favour and
with it the hope of the Scarlet Fringe."
Here Kari looked at me, of whom I knew he was thinking all this time,
and seeing that I could overhear his talk, began to speak of something
On the appointed day there was a great gathering of the nobles of the
land, especially of those of the Inca blood, and of all that were
"earmen," a class of the same rank as our peers in England, to hear
the proclamation of Kari as the Inca's heir. It was made before this
gorgeous company in the Great Temple of the Sun, which now I saw for
the first time.
It was a huge and most wondrous place well named the "House of Gold."
For here everything was gold. On the western wall hung an image of the
Sun twenty feet or more across, an enormous graven plate of gold set
about with gems and having eyes and teeth of great emeralds. The roof,
too, and the walls were all panelled with gold, even the cornices and
column heads were of solid gold.
Opening out of this temple also were others dedicated to the Moon and
Stars, that of the Moon being clothed in silver, with her radiant face
shaped in silver fixed to the western wall. So it was with the temple
of the Stars, of the Lightnings and of the Rainbow, which perhaps with
its many colours that sprang from jewels, was the most dazzling of
The sight of so much glory overwhelmed me, and it came into my mind
that if only it were known of in Europe, men would die by the ten
thousand on the chance that they might conquer this country and make
its wealth theirs. Yet here, save for these purposes of ornament and
to be used as offerings to the gods and Incas, it was of no account at
But in this temple of the Sun was a marvel greater than its gold. For
on either side of the carved likenesses of the sun, seated upon chairs
of gold, sat the dead Incas and their queens. Yes, clothed in their
royal robes and emblems, with the Fringe upon their brows, there they
sat with their heads bent forward, so wonderfully preserved by the
arts these people have, that except for the stamp of death upon their
countenances, they might have been sleeping men and women. Thus in the
dead face of the mother of Kari I could read her likeness to her son.
Of these departed kings and queens there were many, since from the
first Inca of whom history told all were gathered here in the holy
House and under the guardianship of the effigy of their god, the Sun,
from whom they believed themselves to be descended. The sight was so
solemn that it awed me, as it did all that congregation, for I noted
that here men walked with unsandalled feet and that in speaking none
raised their voices high.
The old Inca, Upanqui, entered, gloriously apparelled and accompanied
by lords and priests, while after him came Kari with his retinue of
great men. The Inca bowed to the company whereon everyone in the great
temple, save myself alone whose British pride kept me on my feet,
standing like one left living on a battlefield among a multitude of
slain, prostrated himself before his divine majesty. At a sign they
rose again and the Inca seated himself upon his jewelled golden throne
beneath the effigy of the Sun, while Kari took his place upon a lesser
throne to the Inca's right.
Looking at him there in his splendour on this day when he came into
his own again, I bethought me of the wretched, starving Indian marked
with blows and foul with filth whom I had rescued from the cruel mob
upon the Thames-side wharf, and wondered at this enormous change of
fortune and the chain of wonderful events by which it had been brought
My fortune also had changed, for then I was great in my own fashion,
who now had become but a wanderer, welcomed indeed in this glittering
new world of which yonder we knew nothing, because I was strange and
different, also full of unheard-of learning and skilled in war, but
still nothing but an outcast wanderer, and so doomed to live and die.
And as I thought, so thought Kari, for our glances met, and I read it
in his eyes.
Yonder sat my servant who had become my lord, and though he was still
my friend, soon I felt he would be lost in the state matters of that
great empire, leaving me more lonely than before. Also his mind was
not as my mind, as his blood was not my blood, and he was the slave of
a faith that to me was a hateful superstition doubtless begotten by
the Devil, who under the name of /Cupay/, some worshipped in that
land, though others declared that this /Cupay/ was the God of the
Oh! that I could flee away with Quilla and at her side live out what
was left to me of life, since of all these multitudes she alone
understood and was akin to me, because the sacred fire of love had
burned away our differences and opened her eyes. But Quilla was
snatched from me by the law of their accursed faith, and whatever else
Kari might give, he would never give me this lady of the Moon, since,
as he had said, to him this would be sacrilege.
The ceremonies began. First Larico, the high-priest of the Sun,
clothed in his white sacerdotal robes, made sacrifice upon a little
altar which stood in front of the Inca's throne.
It was a very simple sacrifice of fruit and corn and flowers, with
what seemed to be strange-shaped pieces of gold. At least I saw
nothing else, and am sure that nothing that had life was laid upon
that altar after the fashion of the bloody offerings of the Jews, and
indeed of those of some of the other peoples of that great land.
Prayers, however, were spoken, very fine prayers and pure so far as I
could understand them, for their language was more ancient and
somewhat different to that which was used in common speech; also the
priests moved about, bowing and bending the knees much as our own do
in celebrating the mass, though whether these motions were in honour
of the god or of the Inca, I am not sure.
When the sacrifice was over, and the little fire that burned upon the
altar had sunk low, though I was told that for hundreds of years it
had never been extinguished, suddenly the Inca began to speak. With
many particulars that I had not heard before he told the tale of Kari
and of his estrangement from him in past years through the plottings
of the mother of Urco who now was dead, like the mother of Kari. This
woman, it would appear, had persuaded him, the Inca, that Kari was
conspiring against him, and therefore Urco was ordered to take him
prisoner, but returned only with Kari's wife, saying that Kari had
Here Upanqui became overcome with emotion as the aged are apt to do,
and beat his breast, even shedding tears because most unjustly he had
allowed these things to happen and the wicked triumph over the good,
for which sin he said he felt sure his father the Sun would bring some
punishment on him, as indeed was to chance sooner than he thought.
Then he continued his story, setting out all Urco's iniquities and
sacrileges against the gods, also his murders of people of high and
low degree and his stealing of their wives and daughters. Lastly he
told of the coming of Kari who was supposed to be dead, and all that
story which I have set out.
Having finished his tale, with much solemn ceremonial he deposed Urco
from his heirship to the Empire which he gave back to Kari to whom it
belonged by right of birth and calling upon his dead forefathers, one
by one, to be witness to the act, with great formality once more he
bound the Prince's Fringe about his brow. As he did this, he said
"Soon, O Prince Kari, you must change this yellow circlet for that
which I wear, and take with it all the burden of empire, for know that
as quickly as may be I purpose to withdraw to my palace at Yucay,
there to make my peace with God before I am called hence to dwell in
the Mansions of the Sun."
When he had finished Kari did homage to his father, and in that quiet,
even voice of his, told his tale of the wrongs that he had suffered at
the hands of Urco his brother and of how he had escaped, living but
maddened, from his hate. He told also how he had wandered across the
sea, though of England he said nothing, and been saved from misery and
death by myself, a very great person in my own country. Still, since I
had suffered wrong there, as he, Kari, had in his, he had persuaded me
to accompany him back to his own land, that there my wisdom might
shine upon its darkness, and owing to my divine and magical gifts
hither we had come in safety. Lastly, he asked the assembled priests
and lords if they were content to accept him as the Inca to be, and to
stand by him in any war that Urco might wage against him.
To this they answered that they were content and would stand by him.
Then followed many other rites such as the informing of the dead
Incas, one by one, of this solemn declaration, through the mouth of
the high-priest, and the offering of many prayers to them and to the
Sun their father. So long were these prayers with the chants from
choirs hidden in side chapels by which they were interspersed, that
the day drew towards its close before all was done.
Thus it came about that the dusk was gathering when the Inca, followed
by Kari, myself, the priests, and all the congregation, left the
temple to present Kari as the heir to the throne to the vast crowd
which waited upon the open square outside its doors.
Here the ceremony went on. The Inca and most of us, for there was not
space for all, although we were packed as closely together as Hastings
herrings in a basket, took our stand upon a platform that was
surrounded by a marvellous cable made of links of solid gold which, it
was said, needed fifty men to lift it from the ground. Then Upanqui,
whose strength seemed restored to him, perhaps because of some drug
that he had eaten, or under the spur of this great event, stepped
forward to the edge of the low platform and addressed the multitude in
eloquent words, setting out the matter as he had done in the temple.
He ended his speech by asking the formal question:
"Do you, Children of the Sun, accept the prince Kari, my first-born,
to be Inca after me?"
There was a roar of assent, and as it died away Upanqui turned to call
Kari to him that he might present him to the people.
At this very moment in the gathering twilight I saw a great fierce-
faced man with a bandaged head, whom I knew to be Urco, leap over the
golden chain. He sprang upon the platform and with a shout of "I do
not accept him, and thus I pay back treachery," plunged a gleaming
copper knife or sword into the Inca's breast.
In an instant, before any could stir in that packed crowd, Urco had
leapt back over the golden chain, and from the edge of the platform,
to vanish amongst those beneath, who doubtless were men of his
following disguised as citizens or peasants.
Indeed all who beheld seemed frozen with horror. One great sigh went
up and then there was silence, since no such deed as this was known in
the annals of that empire. For a moment the aged Upanqui stood upon
his feet, the blood pouring down his white beard and jewelled robe.
Then he turned a little and said in a clear and gentle voice:
"Kari, you will be Inca sooner than I thought. Receive me, O God my
Father, and pardon this murderer who, I think, can be no true son of
Then he fell forward on his face and when we lifted him he was dead.
Still the silence hung; it was as though the tongues of men were
smitten with dumbness. At length Kari stepped forward and cried:
"The Inca is dead, but I, the Inca, live on to avenge him. I declare
war upon Urco the murderer and all who cling to Urco!"
Now the spell was lifted, and from those dim hordes there went up a
yell of hatred against Urco the butcher and parricide, while men
rushed to and fro searching for him. In vain! for he had escaped in
On the following day, with more ceremonies, though many of these were
omitted because of the terror and trouble of the times, Kari was
crowned Inca, exchanging the yellow for the crimson Fringe and taking
the throne name of Upanqui after his father. In Cuzco there was none
to say him nay for the whole city was horror-struck because of the
sacrilege that had been committed. Also those who clung to Urco had
fled away with him to a town named Huarina on the borders of the great
lake called Titicaca, where was an island with marvellous temples full
of gold, which town lay at a distance from Cuzco.
Then the civil war began and raged for three whole months, though of
all that happened in that time because of the labour of it, I set down
little, who would get forward with my story.
In this war I played a great part. The fear of Kari was that the
Chancas, seeing the Inca realm thus rent in two, would once more
attack Cuzco. This it became my business to prevent. As the ambassador
of Kari I visited the camp of Huaracha, bearing offers of peace which
gave to him more than he could ever hope to win by strength of arms. I
found the old warrior-king still sick and wasted because of the hurt
from Urco's club, though now he could walk upon crutches, and set out
the case. He answered that he had no wish to fight against Kari who
had offered him such honourable terms, especially when he was waging
war against Urco whom he, Huaracha, hated, because he had striven to
poison his daughter and dealt him a blow which he was sure would end
in his death. Therefore he was ready to make a firm peace with the new
Inca, if in addition to what he offered he would surrender to him
Quilla who was his heiress and would be Queen of the Chancas after
With these words I went back to Kari, only to find that on this matter
he was hard as a rock of the mountains. In vain did I plead with him,
and in vain did the high-priest, Larico, by subtle hints and
arguments, strive to gentle his mind.
"My brother," said Kari in that soft even voice of his, when he had
heard me patiently to the end, "forgive me if I tell you that in
advancing this prayer, for one word you say on behalf of King
Huaracha, you say two for yourself, who having unhappily been
bewitched by her, desire this Virgin of the Sun, the lady Quilla, to
be your wife. My brother, take everything else that I have to give,
but leave this lady alone. If I handed her over to Huaracha or to you,
as I have told you before, I should bring upon myself and upon my
people the curse of my father the Sun, and of Pachacamac, the Spirit
who is above the Sun. It was because Upanqui, my father according to
the flesh, dared to look upon her after she had entered the House of
the Sun, as I have learned he did, that a bloody and a cruel death
came upon him, for so the magicians and the wise men have assured me
that the oracles declare. Therefore, rather than do this crime of
crimes, I would choose that Huaracha should renew the war against us
and that you should join yourself to him, or even to Urco, and strive
to tear me from the Throne, for then even if I were slain, I should
die with honour."
"That I could never do," I answered sadly.
"No, my brother Hubert (for now he called me by my English name
again), that you could never do, being what you are, as I know well.
So like the rest of us you must bear your burden. Mayhap it may please
my gods, or your gods in the end, and in some way that I cannot
foresee, to give you this woman whom you seek. But of my free will I
will never give her to you. To me the deed would be as though in your
land of England the King commanded the consecrated bread and cups of
wine to be snatched from the hands of the priests of your temples and
cast to the dogs, or given to cheer the infidels within your gates, or
dragged away the nuns from your convents to become their lemans. What
would you think of such a king in your own country? And what," he
added with meaning, "would you have thought of me if there I had
stolen one of these nuns because she was beautiful and I desired her
as a wife?"
Now although Kari's words stung me because of the truth that was in
them, I answered that to me this matter wore another face. Also that
Quilla had become a Virgin of the Sun, not of her own free will, but
to escape from Urco.
"Yes, my brother," he answered, "because you believe my religion to be
idolatry, and do not understand that the Sun to me is the symbol and
garment of God, and that when we of the Inca blood, or those of us who
have the inner knowledge, talk of him as our Father, we mean that we
are the children of God, though the common people are taught
otherwise. For the rest, this lady took her vows of her own free will
and of her secret reasons I know nothing, any more than I know why she
offered herself in marriage to Urco before she found you upon the
island. For you I grieve, and for her also; yet I would have you
remember that, as your own priests teach, in every life that is not
brutal there must be loss, sorrow, and sacrifice, since by these steps
only man can climb towards the things of the spirit. Pluck then such
flowers as you will from the garden that Fate gives you, but leave
this one white bloom alone."
In such words as these he preached at me, till at length I could bear
no more, and said roughly:
"To me it is a very evil thing, O Inca, to separate those who love
each other, and one that cannot be pleasing to Heaven. Therefore,
great as you are, and friend of mine as you are, I tell you to your
face that if I can take the lady Quilla out of that golden grave of
hers I shall do so."
"I know it, my brother," he answered, "and therefore, were I as some
Incas have been, I should cause this holy Spouse to travel more
quickly to the skies than Nature will take her. But this I will not do
because I know also that Destiny is above all things and that which
Destiny decrees will happen unhelped by man. Still I tell you that I
will thwart you if I can and that should you succeed in your ends, I
will kill you if I can and the lady also, because you have committed
sacrilege. Yes, although I love you better than any other man, I will
kill you. And if King Huaracha should be able to snatch her away by
force I will make war on him until either I and my people or he and
his people are destroyed. And now let us talk no more of this matter,
but rather of our plans against Urco, since in these at least, where
no woman is concerned, I know that you will be faithful to me and I
sorely need your help."
So with a heavy heart I went back to the camp of Huaracha and told him
Kari's words. He was very wroth when he heard them, since his gods
were different to those of the Incas and he thought nothing of the
holiness of the Virgins of the Sun, and once again talked of renewing
the war. Still it came to nothing for sundry reasons of which the
greatest was that his sickness increased on him as the days went by.
Also I told him that much as I desired Quilla, I could not fight upon
his side since I was sworn to aid Kari against Urco and my word might
not be broken. Moreover, the Yuncas who had been our allies, wearying
of their long absence from home and satisfied with the gentle
forgiveness and the redress of their grievances which the new Inca had
promised them, were gone, having departed on their long march to the
coast, while many of the Chancas themselves were slipping back to
their own country. Therefore Huaracha's hour had passed by.
So at length we agreed that it would be foolish to attack Cuzco in
order to try to rescue Quilla, since even if Huaracha won in face of a
desperate defence, probably it would be only to find that his daughter
was dead or had vanished away to some unknown and distant convent. All
that we could do was to trust to fortune to deliver her into our
hands. We agreed further that, having obtained an honourable peace and
all else that he desired, it would be well for Huaracha to return to
his own land, leaving me a body of five thousand picked men who were
willing to serve under me, to assist in the war against Urco, to be my
guard and that of Quilla, if perchance I could deliver her from the
House of the Sun.
When this was known five thousand of the best and bravest of the
Chancas, young soldiers who sought adventure and battle and whom I had
trained, stepped forward at once and swore themselves to my service.
Bidding farewell to Huaracha, with these troops I returned to Cuzco,
sending messengers ahead to explain the reason of their coming to
Kari, who welcomed them well and gave them quarters round the palace
which was allotted to me.
A few days later we advanced on the town Huarina, a great host of us,
and outside of it met the yet greater host of Urco in a mighty battle
that endured for a day and a night, and yet, like that of the Field of
Blood, remained neither lost nor won. When the thousands of the dead
had been buried and the wounded sent back to Cuzco, we attacked the
city of Huarina, I leading the van with my Chancas, and stormed the
place, driving Urco and his forces out on the farther side.
They retreated to the mountains and there followed a long and tedious
war without great battles. At length, although the Inca's armies had
suffered sorely, we forced those of Urco to the shores of the Lake
Titicaca, where most of them melted away into the swamps and certain
tree-clad, low-lying valleys. Urco himself, however, with a number of
followers, escaped in boats to the holy island in the lake.
We built a fleet of /balsas/ with reeds and blown-out sheepskins, and
followed him. Landing on the isle we stormed the city of temples which
were more wondrous and even fuller of gold and precious things than
those of Cuzco. Here the men of Urco fought desperately, but driving
them from street to street, at length we penned them in one of the
largest of the temples of which by some mischance a reed roof was set
on fire, so that there they perished miserably. It was a dreadful
scene such as I never wish to behold again. Also, after all Urco and
some of his captains, breaking out of the burning temple under cover
of the smoke escaped, either in /balsas/ or, as many declare, by
swimming the lake. At least they were gone nor search as we might on
the mainland could they be found.
So all being finished, except for the escape of Urco, we returned to
Cuzco which Kari entered in triumph, I marching at his side, wearied
out with war and bloodshed.
THE HOUSE OF DEATH
Now at one time during this long war against Urco victory smiled upon
him, though afterwards the scale went down against him. Kari was
defeated in a pitched battle and I who commanded another army was
almost surrounded in a valley. When everything seemed lost, afterwards
I escaped by leading my soldiers round up the slope of a mountain and
surprising Urco in the rear, but as it ended well for us I need not
speak of that matter.
It was while all was at its blackest for us that a certain officer was
brought to me who was captured while striving to desert, or at least
to pass our outposts. As it happened I knew this man again having,
unseen myself, noted him on the previous day talking earnestly to the
high-priest Larico, who, with other priests, accompanied my army,
perhaps to keep a watch on me. I took this captain apart and
questioned him alone, threatening him with death by torment if he did
not reveal his errand to me.
In the end, being very much afraid, he spoke. From him I learned that
he was a messenger from Larico to Urco. Believing that our defeat was
almost certain, Larico had sent him to make his peace with Urco by
betraying all Kari's and my own plans to him and revealing how he
might most easily destroy us. He said also that he, Larico, had only
joined the party of Upanqui, and of Kari after him, under threats of
death and that always in his heart he had been true to Urco, whom he
acknowledged as his Lord and as the rightful Inca whom he would help
to restore to the Throne with all the power of the Priesthood of the
Sun. Further, he sent by this spy a secret message by means of little
cords cunningly knotted, which knots served these people as writing,
since they could read them as we read a book.
Now, being always desirous of knowledge, I had caused myself to be
instructed in the plan of this knot-writing which by this time I could
read well enough. Therefore I was able to spell out this message. It
said shortly but plainly, that knowing he still desired her, he,
Larico, as high-priest would hand over to Urco the lady Quilla,
daughter to the King of the Chancas who unlawfully had been hidden
away among the Virgins of the Sun, also that he would betray me, the
White-God-from-the-Sea who sought to steal her away, into Urco's
hands, that he might kill me if he could.
When I had mastered all this I was filled with rage and bethought me
that I would cause Larico to be taken and suffer the fate of traitors.
Soon, however, I changed this mind of mine and placing the spy in
close keeping where none could come at him, I set a watch on Larico
but said nothing to him or to Kari of all that I had learned.
A few days later our fortunes changed and Urco, defeated, was in full
flight to the shores of Lake Titicaca. After this I knew we had
nothing more to fear from this fox-hearted high-priest who above
everything desired to be on the winning side and to continue in his
place and power. So knowing that I held him fast I bided my time,
because through him alone I could hope to come at Quilla. That time
came after the war was over and we had returned to Cuzco in triumph.
As soon as the rejoicings were over and Kari was firmly seated on his
throne, I sent for Larico, which, as the greatest man in the kingdom
after the Inca, I was able to do.
He appeared in answer to my summons and we bowed to each other, after
which he began to praise me for my generalship, saying that had it not
been for me, Urco would have won the war and that the Inca had done
well to name me his Brother before the people and to say that to me he
owed his throne.
"Yes, that is true," I answered, "and now, since through me, you,
Larico, are the third greatest man in the kingdom and remain High-
Priest of the Sun and Whisperer in the Inca's ear, I would put you in
mind of a certain bargain that we made when I promised you all these
"What bargain, Lord-of-the-Sea."
"That you would bring me and a Virgin of the Sun, who while she was of
the earth was named Quilla, together, Larico, and enable her to return
from those of the Sun to my arms, Larico."
Now his face grew troubled and he answered:
"Lord, I have thought much of this matter, desiring above all things
to fulfil my word and I grieve to tell you that it is impossible."
"Because I find that the law of my faith is against it, Lord."
"Is that all, Larico?" I asked with a smile.
"No, Lord. Because I find that the Inca would not suffer it and swears
to kill all who attempt to touch the lady Quilla."
"Is that all, Larico?"
"No, Lord. Because I find that a woman who has been betrothed to one
of the royal blood may never pass to another man."
"Now perhaps we come nearer to it, Larico. You mean that if this
happened and perchance after all Urco should come to the throne, as he
might do if Kari his brother died--as any man may die--he would hold
you to account."
"Yes, Lord, if that chanced, as chance it may, since Urco still lives
and I hear is gathering new armies among the mountains, certainly he
would hold me to account for I have heard as much. Also our father the
Sun would hold me to account and so would the Inca who wields his
sceptre upon earth."
I asked him why he did not think of all these things before when he
had much to gain instead of now when he had gained them through me,
and he answered because he had not considered them enough. Then I
pretended to grow angry and exclaimed:
"You are a rogue, Larico! You promise and take your pay and you do not
perform. Henceforth I am your enemy and one to whom the Inca
"He hearkens still more to this god the Sun and to me who am the voice
of God, White Man," he answered, adding insolently, "You would strike
too late; your power over me and my fortunes is gone, White Man."
"I fear it is so," I replied, pretending to be frightened, "so let us
say no more of the matter. After all, there are other women in Cuzco
besides this fair bride of the Sun. Now before you go, High-Priest,
will you who are so learned help me who am ignorant? I have been
striving to master your method of conveying thoughts by means of
knots. Here I have a bundle of strings which I cannot altogether
understand. Be pleased to interpret them to me, O most holy and
Then from my robe I drew out those knotted fibres that I had taken
from his messenger and held them before Larico's eyes.
He stared at them and turned pale. His hand groped for his dagger till
he saw that mine was on the hilt of Wave-Flame, whereon he let it
fall. Next the thought took him that in truth I could not read the
knots which he began to interpret falsely.
"Have done, Traitor," I laughed, "for I know them all. So Urco may wed
Quilla and I may not. Also cease to fret as to that messenger of yours
for whom you seek far and near, since he is safe in my keeping.
To-morrow I take him to deliver his message not to Urco, but to Kari--
and then, Traitor?"
Now Larico who, notwithstanding his stern face and proud manner, was a
coward at heart, fell upon his knees before me trembling and prayed me
to spare his life which lay in my hand. Well he knew that if once it
came to Kari's ears, even a high priest of the Sun could not hope to
escape the reward of such treachery as his.
"If I pardon you, what will you give me?" I asked.
"The only thing that you will take, Lord--the lady Quilla herself.
Hearken, Lord. Outside the city is the palace of Upanqui whom Urco
slew. There in the great hall the divine Inca sits embalmed and into
that holy presence none dare enter save the Virgins of the Sun whose
office it is to wait upon the mighty dead. To-morrow one hour before
the dawn, when all men sleep, I will lead you to this hall disguised
in the robes of a priest of the Sun, so that on the way thither none
can know you. There you will find but one Virgin of the Sun, the lady
whom you seek. Take her and begone. The rest I leave to you."
"How do I know that you will not set some trap for me, Larico?"
"Thus, Lord, that I shall be with you and share your sacrilege. Also
my life will be in your hand."
"Aye, Larico," I answered grimly, "and if aught of ill befalls me,
remember that this," and I touched the knotted cords, "will find its
way to Kari, and with it the man who was your messenger."
He nodded and answered:
"Be sure that I have but one desire, to know you, Lord, and this woman
whom, being mad, you seek so madly, far from Cuzco and never to look
upon your face again."
Then we made our plans as to when and where we should meet and other
matters, after which he departed, bowing himself away with many
I thought to myself that there went as big a rogue as I had ever
known, in London or elsewhere, and fell to wondering what snare he
would set for me, since that he planned some snare I was sure. Why,
then, did I prepare to fall into it? I asked myself. The answer was,
for a double reason. First, although my whole heart was sick with
longing for the sight of her, now, after months of seeking, I was no
nearer to Quilla than when we had parted in the city of the Chancas,
nor ever should be without Larico's aid. Secondly, some voice within
me told me to go forward taking all hazards, since if I did not, our
parting would be for always in this world. Yes, the voice warned me
that unless I saved her soon, Quilla would be no more. As Huaracha had
said, there was more poison in Cuzco, and murderers were not far to
seek. Or despair might do its work with her. Or she might kill herself
as once she had proposed to do. So I would go forward even though the
path I walked should lead me to my doom.
That day I did many things. Now, being so great a general and man--or
god--among these people, I had those about me who were sworn to my
service and whom I could trust. For one of these, a prince of the Inca
blood, of the House of Kari's mother, I sent and gave to him those
knotted cords that were the proof of Larico's treachery, bidding him
if aught of evil overtook me, or if I could not be found, to deliver
them to the Inca on my behalf and with them the prisoned messenger who
was in his keeping, but meanwhile to show them to no man. He bowed and
swore by the Sun to do my bidding, thinking doubtless that, my work
finished in this land, I purposed to return into the sea out of which
I had risen, as doubtless a god could do.
Next I summoned the captains of the Chancas who had fought under me
throughout the civil war, of whom about half remained alive, and bade
them gather their men upon the ridge where I had stood at the
beginning of the battle of the Field of Blood, and wait until I joined
them there. If it chanced, however, that I did not appear within six
days I commanded that they should march back to their own country and
make report to King Huaracha that I had "returned into the sea" for
reasons that he would guess. Also I commanded that eight famous
warriors whom I named, men of my own bodyguard who had fought with me
in all our battles and would have followed me through fire or water or
the gates of Hell themselves, should come to the courtyard of my
palace after nightfall, bringing a litter and disguised as its
bearers, but having their arms hidden beneath their cloaks.
These matters settled, I waited upon the Inca Kari and craved of him
leave to take a journey. I told him that I was weary with so much
fighting and desired to rest amidst my friends the Chancas.
He gazed at me awhile, then stretched out his sceptre to me in token
that my request was granted, and said in a sad voice:
"So you would leave me, my brother, because I cannot give you that
which you desire. Bethink you. You will be no nearer to the Moon (by
which he meant Quilla) at Chanca than you are at Cuzco and here, next
to the Inca, you are the greatest in the Empire who by decree are
named his brother and the general of his armies."
Now, though my gorge rose at it, I lied to him, saying:
"The Moon is set for me, so let her sleep whom I shall see no more.
For the rest, learn, O Kari, that Huaracha has sworn to me that I
shall be, not his brother but his son, and Huaracha is sick--they say
"You mean that you would choose to be King over the Chancas rather
than stand next to the throne among the Quichuas?" he said, scanning
"Aye, Kari," I replied, still lying. "Since I must dwell in this
strange land, I would do so as a king--no less."
"To that you have a right, Brother, who are far above us all. But when
you are a king, what is your plan? Do you purpose to strive to conquer
me and rule over Tavantinsuyu, as perchance you could do?"
"Nay, I shall never make war upon you, Kari, unless you break your
treaty with the Chancas and strive to subdue them."
"Which I shall never do, Brother."
Then he paused awhile and spoke again with more passion that I had
ever known in him, saying:
"Would that this woman who comes between us were dead. Would that she
had never been born. In truth, I am minded to pray to my father, the
Sun, that he will be pleased to take her to himself, for then
perchance we two might be as we were in the old time yonder in your
England, and when we faced perils side by side upon the ocean and in
the forests. A curse on Woman the Divider, and all the curses of all
the gods upon this woman whom I may not give to you. Had she been of
my Household I would have bidden you to take her, yes, even if she
were my wife, but she is the wife of the god and therefore I may not--
alas! I may not," and he hid his face in his robe and groaned.
Now when I heard these words I grew afraid who knew well that she of
whom the Inca prays the Sun that she may die, does die, and swiftly.
"Do not add to this lady's wrongs by robbing her of life as well as of
sight and liberty, Kari," I said.
"Have no fear, Brother," he answered, "she is safe from me. No word
shall pass my lips though it is true that in my heart I wish that she
would die. Go your ways, Brother and Friend, and when you grow weary
of kingship if it comes to you, as to tell truth already I grow weary,
return to me. Perchance, forgetting that we had been kings, we might
journey hence together over the world's edge."
Then he stood up on his throne and bowed towards me, kissing the air
as though to a god, and taking the royal chain that every Inca wore
from about his neck, set it upon mine. This done, turning, he left me
without another word.
With a heavy heart I returned to my palace where I dwelt. At sundown I
ate according to my custom, and dismissed those who waited upon me to
the servants' quarters. There were but two of them for my private life
was simple. Then I slept till past midnight and rising, went into the
courtyard where I found the eight Chanca captains disguised as litter-
bearers and with them the litter. I led them to an empty guard-house
and bade them stay there in silence. After this I returned to my
chamber and waited.
About two hours before the dawn Larico came, knocking on the side-door
as we had planned. I opened to him and he entered disguised in a
hooded cloak of sheep's wool which covered his robes and his face,
such as priests wear when the weather is cold. He gave to me the
garments of a priest of the Sun which he had brought with him in a
cloth. I clothed myself in them though because of the fashion of them
to do this I must be rid of my armour which would have betrayed me.
Larico desired that I should take off the sword Wave-Flame also, but,
mistrusting him, this I would not do, but made shift to hide it and my
dagger beneath the priest's cloak. The armour I wrapped in a bundle
and took with me.
Presently we went out, having spoken few words since the time for
speech had gone by and peril or some fear of what might befall weighed
upon our tongues. In the guard-house I found the Chancas at whom
Larico looked curiously but said nothing. To them I gave the bundle of
armour to be hidden in the litter and with it my long bow, having
first revealed myself to them by lifting the hood of my cloak. Then I
bade them follow me.
Larico and I walked in front and after us came the eight men, four of
them bearing the empty litter, and the other four marching behind.
This was well planned since if any saw us or if we met guards as once
or twice we did, these thought that we were priests taking one who was
sick or dead to be tended or to be made ready for burial. Once,
however, we were challenged, but Larico spoke some word and we passed
on without question.
At length in the darkness before the dawn we came to the private
palace of dead Upanqui. At its garden gate Larico would have had me
leave the litter with the eight Chanca warriors disguised as bearers.
I refused, saying that they must come to the doors of the palace, and
when he grew urgent, tapped my sword, whispering to him fiercely that
he had best beware lest it should be he who stayed at the gate. Then
he gave way and we advanced all of us across the garden to the door of
the palace. Larico unlocked the door with a key and we entered, he and
I alone, for here I bade the Chancas await my return.
We crept down a short passage that was curtained at its end. Passing
the curtains I found myself in Upanqui's banqueting-hall. This hall
was dimly lit with one hanging golden lamp. By its light I saw
something more wondrous and of its sort more awful than ever I had
seen in that strange land.
There, on a dais, in his chair of gold, sat dead Upanqui arrayed in
all his gorgeous Inca robes and so marvellously preserved that he
might have been a man asleep. With arms crossed and his sceptre at his
side, he sat staring down the hall with fixed and empty eyes, a
dreadful figure of life in death. About him and around the dais were
set all his riches, vases and furniture of gold, and jewels piled in
heaps, there to remain till the roof fell in and buried them, since on
this hallowed wealth the boldest dared not lay a hand. In the centre
of the hall, also, was a table prepared as though for feasters, for
amid jewelled cups and platters stood the meats and wines which day by
day were brought afresh by the Virgins of the Sun. Doubtless there
were more wonders, but these I could not see because the light did not
reach them, or to the doorways of the chambers that opened from the
hall. Moreover, there was something else which caught my eye.
At the foot of the dais crouched a figure which at first I took to be
that of some dead one also embalmed, perhaps a wife or daughter of the
dead Inca who had been set with him in this place. While I stared at
it the figure stirred, having heard our footsteps, rose and turned,
standing so that the light from the hanging lamp fell full upon it. It
was Quilla clad in white and purple with a golden likeness of the Sun
blazoned upon her breast!
So beauteous did she look searching the darkness with great blind eyes
and her rich flowing hair flowing from beneath her jewelled headdress,
a diadem fashioned to resemble the Sun's rays, that my breath failed
me and my heart stood still.
"There stands she whom you seek," muttered Larico in a mocking
whisper, for here even he did not seem to dare to talk aloud. "Go take
her, you whom men call a god, but I call a drunken fool ready to risk
all for a woman's lips. Go take her and ask the blessing upon your
kisses of yonder dead king whose holy rest you break."
"Be silent," I whispered back and passed round the table till I came
face to face with Quilla. Then a strange dumbness fell upon me like a
spell or dead Upanqui's curse, so that I could not speak.
I stood there staring at those beautiful blind eyes and the blind eyes
stared back at me. Presently a look of understanding gathered on the
face and Quilla spoke, or rather murmured to herself.
"Strange--but I could have sworn! Strange, but I seemed to feel! Oh! I
slept in my vigils upon that dead old man who in life was so foolish
and in death appears to have become so wise, and sleeping I dreamed. I
dreamed I heard a step I shall never hear again. I dreamed one was
near me whom I shall never touch again. I will sleep once more, for in
my darkness what are left to me save sleep and--death?"
Then at last I found my tongue and said hoarsely,
"Love is left, Quilla, and--life."
She heard and straightened herself. Her whole body seemed to become
rigid as though with an agony of joy. Her blind eyes flashed, her lips
quivered. She stretched out her hand, feeling at the darkness. Her
fingers touched my forehead, and thence she ran them swiftly over my
"It is--dead or living--it is----" and she opened her arms.
Oh! was there ever anything more beautiful on the earth than this
sight of the blind Quilla thus opening her arms to me there in the
gorgeous house of death?
We clung and kissed. Then I thrust her away, saying:
"Come swiftly from this ill-omened place. All is ready. The Chancas
She slipped her hand into mine and I turned to lead her away.
Then it was that I heard a low, mocking laugh, Larico's, I thought,
heard also a sound of creeping footsteps around me. I looked. Out of
the darkness that hid the doors of the chamber on the right appeared a
giant form which I knew for that of Urco, and behind him others. I
looked to the left and there were more of them, while in front beyond
the gold-laid board stood the traitor, Larico, laughing.
"You have the first fruits, but it seems that another will reap the
harvest, Lord-from-the-Sea," he jeered.
"Seize her," cried Urco in his guttural voice, pointing to Quilla with
his mace, "and brain that white thief."
I drew Wave-Flame and strove to get at him, but from both sides men
rushed in on me. One I cut down, but the others snatched Quilla away.
I was surrounded, with no room to wield my sword, and already weapons
flashed over me. A thought came to me. The Chancas were at the door. I
must reach them, for perhaps so Quilla might be saved. In front was
the table spread for the death feast. With a bound I leapt on to it,
shouting aloud and scattering its golden furnishings this way and
that. Beyond stood the traitor, Larico, who had trapped me--I sprang
at him and lifting Wave-Flame with both hands I smote with all my
strength. He fell, as it seemed to me, cloven to the middle. Then some
spear cast at me struck the lamp.
It shattered and went out!
THE FIGHT TO THE DEATH
There was tumult in the hall; shoutings, groans from him whom I had
first struck down, the sound of vases and vessels overthrown, and
above all those of a woman's shrieks echoing from the walls and roof,
so that I could not tell whence they came.
Through the gross darkness I went on towards the curtains, or so I
hoped. Presently they were torn open, and by the faint light of the
breaking dawn I saw my eight Chancas rushing towards me.
"Follow!" I cried, and at the head of them groped my way back up the
hall, seeking for Quilla. I stumbled over the dead body of Larico and
felt a path round the table. Then suddenly a door at the back of the
hall was thrown open and by the grey light which came through the
doorway I perceived the last of the ravishers departing. We scrambled
across the dais where the golden chair was overthrown and the embalmed
Upanqui lay, a stiff and huddled heap upon his back, staring at me
with jewelled eyes.
We gained the door which, happily, none had remembered to close, and
passed out into the parklike grounds beyond. A hundred paces or more
ahead of us, by the glowing light, I saw a litter passing between the
trees surrounded by armed men, and knew that in it was Quilla being
borne to captivity and shame.
After it we sped. It passed the gate of the park wall, but when we
reached that gate it was shut and barred and we must waste time
breaking it down, which we did by help of a felled tree that lay at
hand. We were through it, and now the rim of the sun had appeared so
that through the morning mist, which clung to the hillside beyond the
town, we could see the litter, the full half of a mile away. On we
went up the hill, gaining as we ran, for we had no litter to bear, nor
aught else save the sack of armour which one of the Chancas had
thought to bring with him when he rushed into the hall, and with it my
long bow and shaft.
Now, at a certain place between this hill and another there was a
gorge such as are common in that country, a gorge so deep and narrow
that in places the light of day scarcely struggles to the pathways at
its bottom. Into this tunnel the litter vanished and when we drew near
I saw that its mouth was held by armed men, six of them or more.
Taking my bow from the Chanca I strung it and shot swiftly. The man at
whom I aimed went down. Again I shot and another fell, whereon the
rest of them took cover behind stones.
Throwing back the bow to the Chanca, for now it was useless, we
charged. That business was soon over, for presently all those of
Urco's men who remained there were dead, save one who, being cut off,
fled down hill towards the city, taking with him the news of what had
passed in the palace of dead Upanqui.
We entered the mouth of the gorge, plunging towards the gloom, though
as it chanced this place faced towards the east, so that the low sun,
which now was fully up, shone down it and gave us light that later
would have been lacking.
I, who was very swift of foot and to whom rage and fear gave wings,
outran my companions. Swinging myself round a rock which lay in the
pathway, I saw the litter again not a hundred yards ahead. It halted
because, as it seemed to me, one or more of the bearers stumbled and
fell among the stones. I rushed at them, roaring. Perhaps it had been
wiser to wait for my companions, but I was mad and feared nothing.
They saw me and a cry went up of:
"The White God! The terrible White God!"
Then fear took hold of them and they fled, leaving the litter on the
ground. Yes, all of them fled save one, Urco himself.
He stood there rolling his eyes and gnashing his teeth, looking huge
and awful in those shadows, looking like a devil from hell. Suddenly a
thought seemed to take him, and leaping at the litter he tore aside
its curtains and dragged out Quilla, who fell prone upon the ground.
"If I may not have her, you shall not, White Thief. See! I give back
his bride to the Sun," he shouted, and lifted his copper sword to
pierce her through.
Now I was still ten paces or so away and saw that before I could reach
him that sword would be in her heart. What could I do? Oh! St. Hubert
must have helped me then for I knew in an instant. In my hand was
Wave-Flame and with all my strength I hurled it at his head.
The great blade hurtled hissing through the air. I saw the sunlight
shine on it. He strove to leap clear, but too late, for it caught him
on the hand that he had lifted to protect his head, and shore off two
of his fingers so that he dropped his sword. Next instant, still
roaring, as doubtless old Thorgrimmer, my forefather, used to do when
he fought to the death, for blood is very strong, I leapt on the
giant, who like myself was swordless. There in the gulf we wrestled.
He was a mighty man, but now my strength was as that of ten. I threw
him to the ground by a Sussex trick I knew and there we rolled over
and over each other. Once he had me undermost and I think would have
choked me, had it not been that his right hand lacked two fingers.
With a mighty heave I lifted him so that now we lay side by side. He
was groping for a knife--I did not see, but knew it. Near his head a
sharp-edged stone rose in the path to the height of a man's hand or
more. I saw it and bethought me what to do if I could. Again I heaved
and as at length he found the knife and stabbed at me, scratching my
face, I got his bull's neck upon that stone. Then I loosed my hand and
caught him by the hair. Back I pressed his great head, back and back
with all my might till something snapped.
Urco's neck was broken. Urco quivered and was dead!
I lay by his side, panting. A voice came from the white heap upon the
ground by whom and for whom this dreadful combat had been fought, the
voice of Quilla.
"One died, but who lives?" asked the voice.
I could not answer because I had no breath. All my strength was gone.
Still I sat up, supporting myself with my hand and hoping that it
would come back. Quilla turned her face towards me, or rather towards
the sound that I had made in moving, and I thought to myself how sad
it was that she should be blind. Presently she spoke again and now her
"I /see/ who it is that lives," she said. "Something has broken in my
eyes and, Lord and Love, I see that it is /you/ who live. You, you,
and oh! you bleed."
Then the Chancas came bounding down the gorge and found us.
They looked at the dead giant and saw how he had died, killed by
strength, not by the sword; they looked and bent the knee and praised
me, saying that I was indeed a god, since no man could have done this
deed, killing the huge Urco with his naked hands. Then they placed
Quilla back in her litter and six of them bore her down that black
gorge. The two who remained, for in that fight none of them had been
hurt, supported me till my strength came back, for the cut in the face
that I had received from Urco's dagger was but slight. We reached the
mouth of the gorge and took counsel.
To return to Cuzco after what I had done, would be to seek death. So
we bore away to the right and, making a round, came about ten o'clock
of the morning unmolested by any, to that ridge on which I had stood
at the beginning of the battle of the Field of Blood. There I found
the Chancas encamped, some three thousand of them, as I had commanded.
When they saw me, living and but little hurt, they shouted for joy,
and when they learned who was in that litter they went well-nigh mad.
Then the eight warriors with me told them all the tale of the saving
of Quilla and the death of the giant Urco at my hands, whereon their
captains came and kissed my feet, saying that I was in truth a god,
though heretofore some of them had held me to be but a man.
"God or man," I answered, "I must rest. Let the women tend to lady
Quilla, and give me food and drink, after which I will sleep. At
sunset we march home to Huaracha, your king and mine, to give him back
his daughter. Till then there is naught to fear, since Kari has no
troops at hand with which to attack us. Still, set outposts."
So I ate and drank, but little of the former and much of the latter, I
fear, and after that I slept as soundly as one who is dead, for I was
When the sun was within an hour of setting, captains awakened me and
said that an embassy from Cuzco, ten men only, waited outside our
lines, seeking speech with me. So I rose, and my face and wound having
been dressed, caused water to be poured over my body, and was rubbed
with oil; after which, clothed in the robes of a Chanca noble, but
wearing no armour, I went out with nine Chanca captains to receive the
embassy on the plain at the foot of the hill, at that very spot where
first I had fought with Urco.
When we drew near, from out of the group of nobles advanced one man. I
looked and saw that he was Kari, yes, the Inca himself.
I went forward to meet him and we spoke together just out of earshot
of our followers.
"My brother," said Kari, "I have learned all that has passed and I
give you praise who are the most daring among men and the first among
warriors; you who slew the giant Urco with your naked hands."
"And thus made your throne safe for you, Kari."
"And thus made my throne safe for me. You also who clove Larico to the
breast in the death-house of Upanqui, my father----"
"And thus delivered you from a traitor, Kari."
"And thus delivered me from a traitor, as I have learned also from
your messenger who handed to me the knotted cord, and from the spy
whom you had in your keeping. I repeat that you are the most daring
among men and the first among warriors; almost a god as my people name
I bowed, and after a little silence he went on:
"Would that this were all that I have to say. But alas! it is not. You
have committed the great sacrilege against the Sun, my father, of
which I warned you, having robbed him of his bride, and, my brother,
you have lied to me, who told me but yesterday that you had put all
thought of her from your mind."
"To me that was no sacrilege, Kari, but rather a righteous deed, to
free one from the bonds of a faith in which neither she nor I believe,
and to lead her from a living tomb back to life and love."
"And was the lie righteous also, Brother?"
"Aye," I answered boldly, "if ever a lie can be. Bethink you. You
prayed that this lady might die because she came between you and me,
and those that kings pray may die, do die, if not with their knowledge
or by their express command. Therefore I said that I had put her from
my mind in order that she might go on living."
"To cherish you in her arms, Brother. Now hearken. Because of this
deed of yours, we who were more than friends have become more than
foes. You have declared war upon my god and me; therefore I declare
war upon you. Yet hearken again. I do not wish that thousands of men
should perish because of our quarrel. Therefore I make an offer to
you. It is that you should fight me here and now, man to man, and let
the Sun, or Pachacamac beyond the Sun, decide the matter as may be
"Fight /you!/ Fight /you/ Kari, the Inca," I gasped.
"Aye, fight me to the death, since between us all is over and done. In
England you nurtured me. Here in the land of Tavantinsuyu, which I
rule to-day, I have nurtured you, and in my shadow you have grown
great, though it is true that had it not been for your generalship,
perchance I should no longer be here to throw the shadow. Let us
therefore set the one thing against the other and, forgetting all
between us that is past, stand face to face as foes. Mayhap you will
conquer me, being so mighty a man of war. Mayhap, also, if that
chances, my people who look upon you as half a god will raise you up
to be Inca after me, should such be your desire."
"It is not," I broke in.
"I believe you," he answered, bowing his head, "but will it not be the
desire of that fair-faced harlot who has betrayed our Lord the Sun?"
At this word I started and bit my lip.
"Ah! that stings you," he went on, "as the truth always stings, and it
is well. Understand, White Lord who were once my brother, that either
you must fight me to the death, or I declare war upon you and upon the
Chanca people, which war I will wage from month to month and from year
to year until you are all destroyed, as destroyed you shall be. But
should you fight and should the Sun give me the victory, then justice
will be accomplished and I will keep the peace that I have sworn with
the Chanca people. Further, should you conquer me, in the name of my
people I swear that there shall still be peace between them and the
Chancas, since I shall have atoned your sacrilege with my blood. Now
summon those lords of yours and I will summon mine, and set out the
matter to them."
So I turned and beckoned to my captains, and Kari beckoned to his.
They came, and in the hearing of all, very clearly and quietly as was
his fashion, he repeated every word that he had said to me, adding to
them others of like meaning. While he spoke I thought, not listening
This thing was hateful to me, yet I was in a snare, since according to
the customs of all these peoples I could not refuse such a challenge
and remain unshamed. Moreover, it was to the advantage of the Chancas,
aye, and of the Quichuas also, that I should not refuse it seeing that
whether I lived or died, peace would then reign between them who
otherwise must both be destroyed by war. I remembered how once Quilla
had sacrificed herself to prevent such a war, though in the end that
war had come; and what Quilla had done, should I not do also? Weary
though I was I did not fear Kari, brave and swift as he might be,
indeed I thought that I could kill him and perhaps take his throne,
since the Quichuas worshipped me, who so often had led their armies to
triumph, almost as much as did the Chancas. But--I could not kill
Kari. As soon would I kill one born of my own mother. Was there then
The answer rose in my mind. There was an escape. I could suffer Kari
to kill me. Only if I did this, what of Quilla! After all that had
come and gone, must I lose Quilla thus, and must Quilla lose me?
Surely she would break her heart and die. My plight was desperate. I
knew not what to do. Then of a sudden, while I wavered, some voice
seemed to whisper in my ear; I thought it must be that of St. Hubert.
It seemed to say to me, "Kari trusts to his god, cannot you trust to
yours, Hubert of Hastings, you who are a Christian man? Go forward,
and trust to yours, Hubert of Hastings."
Kari's gentle voice died away; he had finished his speech and all men
looked at me.
"What word?" I said roughly to my captains.
"Only this, Lord," answered their spokesman, "Fight you must, of that
there can be no doubt, but we would fight with you, the ten of the
Chancas against the ten of the Quichuas."
"Aye, that is good," replied the first of Kari's nobles. "This
business is too great to set upon one man's skill and strength."
"Have done!" I said. "It lies between the Inca and myself," while Kari
nodded, and repeated "Have done!" after me.
Then I sent one of the captains back to the camp for my sword and Kari
commanded that his should be brought to him, since according to the
custom of these people when ambassadors meet, neither of us was armed.
Presently, the captain holding my sword returned, and with him
servants who brought my armour. Also after them streamed all the army
of the Chancas among whom the news had spread like wind-driven fire,
and lined themselves upon the ridge to watch. As he came, too, I
noticed that this captain sharpened Wave-Flame with a certain kind of
stone that was used to give a keen edge to weapons.
He brought the ancient weapon and handed it to me on his knee. The
Inca's man also brought his sword and handed it to him, as he did so,
bowing his forehead to the dust. Well I knew that weapon, since once
before I had faced it in desperate battle for my life. It was the
ivory-handled sword of the lord Deleroy which Kari had taken from his
dead hand after I slew him in the Solar of my house in the Cheap at
London. Then the servant came to me with the armour, but I sent him
away, saying that as the Inca had none, I would not wear it, at which
my people murmured.
Kari saw and heard.
"Noble as ever," he said aloud. "Oh! that such bright honour should
have been tarnished by a woman's breath."
Our lords discussed the manner of our fighting, but to them I paid
At length all was ready and we stepped forward to face each other at a
given word, clad much alike. I had thrown off my outer garment and
stood bareheaded in a jerkin of soft sheepskin. Kari, too, was
stripped of his splendid dress and clad in a tunic of sheepskin. Also,
that we might be quite equal, he had taken off his turban-like
headgear and even the royal Fringe, whereat his lords stared at each
other for they thought this a bad omen.
It was just then I heard a sound behind me, and turning my head I saw
Quilla stumbling towards us down the stony slope as best her half-
blind eyes would let her, and crying as she came:
"Oh! my Lord, fight not. Inca, I will return to the House of the Sun!"
"Silence, accursed woman!" said Kari, frowning. "Does the Sun take
back such as you? Silence until the woe that you have wrought is
finished, and then wail on forever."
She shrank back at his bitter, unjust words, and guided by the women
who had followed her, sank upon a stone, where she sat still as a
statue or as dead Upanqui in his hall.
Now one called aloud the pledges of the fight which were as Kari had
spoken them. He listened and added:
"Be it known, also, that this battle is to the death of one or both of
us, since if we live I take back my oaths and I will burn yonder witch
as a sacrifice to the Sun whom she has betrayed, and destroy her
people and her city according to the ancient law of Vengeance on the
House of those who have deceived the Sun."
I heard but made no answer, who did not wish to waste my breath in
bandying words with a great man, whose brain had been turned by
bigotry and woman-hatred.
A moment later the signal was given and we were at it. Kari leapt at
me like the tree-lion of his own forests, but I avoided and parried.
Thrice he leapt and thrice I did this; yes, even when I saw an opening
and might have cut him down. Almost I struck, then could not. The
Chancas watched me, wondering what game I played who was not wont to
fight in this fashion, and I also wondered, who still knew not what to
do. Something I must do, or presently I should be slain, since soon my
guard would fail and Deleroy's sword get home at last.
I think that Kari grew perplexed at this patient defence of mine, and
never a blow struck back. At least he withdraw a little, then came for
me with a rush, holding his sword high above his head with the purpose
of striking me above that guard, or so I supposed. Then, of a sudden,
I knew what to do. Wheeling Wave-Flame with all my strength in both
hands, I smote, not at Kari but at the ivory handle of his sword. The
keen and ancient steel that might well have been some of that which,
as legend told, was forged by the dwarfs in Norseland, fell upon the
ivory between his hand-grip and the cross-piece and shore through it
as I had hoped that it would do, so that the blade of Kari's sword,
severed just above the hilt, fell to the ground and the hilt itself
was jarred from his hand.
His nobles saw and groaned while the Chancas shouted with joy, for now
Kari was defenceless and save for the death itself, this fight to the
death was ended.
Kari folded his arms upon his breast and bent his head.
"It is the decree of my god," he said, "and I did ill to trust to the
sword of a villain whom you slew. Strike, Conqueror, and make an end."
I rested myself upon Wave-Flame and answered:
"If I strike not, O Inca, will you take back your words and let peace
reign between your people and the Chancas?"
"Nay," he answered. "What I have said, I have said. If yonder false
woman is given up to suffer the fate of those who have betrayed the
Sun, then there shall be peace between the peoples, but not otherwise,
since while I live I will wage war upon her and you, and upon the
Chancas who shelter both of you."
Now rage took hold of me, who remembered that while this woman-hater
lived blood must flow in streams, but that if he died there would be
peace and Quilla would be safe. So I lifted my sword a little, and as
I did so Quilla rose from her stone and stumbled forward, crying:
"O Lord, shed not the Inca's holy blood for me. Let me be given up!
Let me be given up!"
Then some spirit entered into me and I spoke, saying:
"Lady, half of your prayer I grant and half I deny. I will not shed
the Inca's blood; as soon would I shed yours. Nor will I suffer you to
be given up who have done no wrong, since it was I who took you away
by force, as Urco would have done. Kari, hearken to me. Not once only
when we were in danger together in past days have you said to me that
we must put our faith in the gods we worship, and thus we did. Now
again I hearken to that counsel of yours and put my faith in the God I
worship. You threaten to gather all the strength of your mighty
empire, and because of what I hold to be your superstitions, to
destroy the Chanca people to the last babe and to level their city to
the last stone. I do not believe that the God I worship will suffer
this to come about, though how he will stay your vengeance I do not
know. Kari, great Inca of Tavantinsuyu, Lord of all this strange new
world, I, the White Wanderer-from-the-Sea, give you your life and save
you as once before I saved you in a far land, and with your life I
give you my blessing in all matters but this one alone. Kari, my
brother, look your last on me and go in peace."
The Inca heard, and raising his head, stared at me with his fine,
melancholy eyes. Then suddenly from those eyes there came a gush of
tears. More, he knelt before me and kissed the ground, as the humblest
of his slaves might do before his own majesty.
"Most noble of men," he said, lifting himself up again, "I worship
you. Yes, I, the Inca, worship you. Would that I might take back my
oath, but this I cannot do because my god hardens my heart and then
would decree destruction on my people. Mayhap he whom you serve will
bring things to pass as you foretell, as it would seem he has brought
it to pass that I should eat the dust before you. I hope that it may
be so who love not the sight of blood, but who like the shot arrow
must yet follow my course, driven by the strength that loosed me.
Brother, honoured and beloved, fare you well! May happiness be yours
in life and death, and there in death may we meet again and once more
be brothers where no women come to part us."
Then Kari turned and went with bowed head, together with his nobles,
who followed him as sadly as those who surround a corpse, but not
until they had given to me that royal salute which is only rendered to
the Inca in his glory.
THE KISS OF QUILLA
Her women bore Quilla swooning from that ill-fated field, and sick and
sad she remained until once more we saw the City of the Chancas. Yet
all this while strength and sight were returning to her eyes, so that
in the end she could see as well as ever she had done, for which I
Messengers had gone before us, so that when we drew near all the
people of the Chancas came out to meet us, a mighty multitude, who
spread flowers before us and sang songs of joy. On the same evening I
was summoned by Huaracha and found him dying. There in the presence of
his chief captains Quilla and I told him all our story, to which he
listened, answering nothing. When it was finished he said:
"I thank you, Lord-from-the-Sea, who through great perils have saved
my daughter and brought her home to bid farewell to me, untarnished as
she went. I understand now that it was an evil policy which led me to
promise her in marriage to the prince Urco. Through your valour it has
come to naught and I am glad. Great dangers still lie ahead of you and
of my people. Deal with them as you will and can, for henceforward,
Lord-from-the-Sea, they are your people, yours and my daughter's
together, since it is my desire and command that you two should wed so
soon as I am laid with my fathers. Perchance it had been better if you
had slain the Inca when he was in your hand, but man goes where his
spirit leads him. My blessing and the blessing of my gods be on you
both and on your children. Leave me, for I can say no more."
That night King Huaracha died.
Three days later he was buried with great pomp beneath the floor of
the Temple of the Moon, not being preserved and kept above ground
after the fashion of the Incas.
On the last day of the mourning a council was summoned of all the
great ones in the country to the number of several hundreds, to which
I was bidden. This was done in the name of Quilla, who was now named
by a title which meant, "High Lady," or "Queen." I went to it eagerly
enough who had seen nothing of her since that night of her father's
death, for, according to the custom of this people, she had spent the
time of mourning alone with her women.
To my surprise I was led by an officer, not into the great hall where
I knew the notables were assembling, but to that same little chamber
where first I had talked with Huaracha, Quilla's father. Here the
officer left me wondering. Presently I heard a sound and looking up,
saw Quilla herself standing between the curtains, like to a picture in
its frame. She was royally arrayed and wore upon her brow and breast
the emblem of the moon, so that she seemed to glitter in that dusky
place, though nothing about her shone with such a light as did her
large and doe-like eyes.
"Greeting, my Lord," she said in her soft voice, curtseying to me as
she spoke. "Has my Lord aught to say to me? If so, it must be quick,
since the Great Council waits."
Now I grew foolish and tongue-tied, but at length stammered out:
"Nothing, except what I have said before--that I love you."
She smiled a little in her slow fashion, then asked:
"Is there naught to add?"
"What can there be to add to love, Quilla?"
"I know not," she answered, still smiling. "Yet in what does the love
of man and woman end?"
I shook my head and answered:
"In many things, all of them different. In hell sometimes, and more
rarely in heaven."
"And on earth which lies between the two, should those who love escape
death and separation?"
"Well, on earth--in marriage."
She looked at me again and this time a new light shone in her eyes
which I could not misinterpret.
"Do you mean that you will marry me, Quilla?" I muttered.
"Such was my father's wish, Lord, but what is yours? Oh! have done,"
she went on in a changed voice. "For what have we suffered all these
things and gone through such long partings and dangers so dreadful?
Was it not that if Fate should spare us we might come together at
last? And has not Fate spared us--for a while? What said the prophecy
of me in the Temple of Rimac? Was it not that the Sun should be my
refuge and--I forget the rest."
"I remember it," I said. "That in the beloved arms you should sleep at
"Yes," she went on, the blood mounting to her cheeks, "that in the
beloved arms I should sleep at last. So, the first part of the
prophecy has come true."
"As the rest shall come true," I broke in, awaking, and swept her to
"Are you sure," she murmured presently, "that you love me, a woman
whom you think savage, well enough to wed me?"
"Aye, more than sure," I answered.
"Hearken, Lord. I knew it always, but being woman I desired to hear it
from your own lips. Of this be certain: that though I am but what I
am, a maiden, wild-hearted and untaught, no man shall ever have a
truer and more loving wife. It is my hope, even that my love will be
such that in it at last you may learn to forget that other lady far
away who once was yours, if only for an hour."
Now I shrank as from a sword prick, since first loves, whatever the
tale of them, as Quilla guessed or Nature taught her, are not easily
forgot, and even when they are dead their ghosts will rise and haunt
"And my hope, most dear, is that you will be mine, not for an hour but
for all our life's days," I answered.
"Aye," she said, sighing, "but who knows how many these will be?
Therefore let us pluck the flowers before they wither. I hear steps.
The lords come to summon us. Be pleased to enter the Council at my
side and holding me by the hand. There I have somewhat to say to the
people. The shadow of the Inca Kari, whom you spared, still lies cold
upon us and them."
Before I could ask her meaning the lords entered, three of them, and
glancing at us curiously, said that all were gathered. Then they
turned and went before us to the great hall where every place was
filled. Hand in hand we mounted the dais, and as we came all the
audience rose and greeted us with a roar of welcome.
Quilla seated herself upon a throne and motioned to me to take my
place upon another throne at her side, which I noted stood a little
higher than that on which she sat, and this, as I learned afterwards,
not by chance. It was planned so to tell the people, of the Chancas
that henceforth I was their king while she was but my wife.
When the shouting had died away Quilla rose from her throne and began
to speak, which like many of the higher class of this people she could
do well enough.
"Lords and Captains of the Chanca nation," she said, "my father, the
king Huaracha, being dead, leaving no lawful son, I have succeeded to
his dignities, and summoned you here to take counsel with me.
"First, learn this, that I, your Queen and Lady, have been chosen as
wife by him who sits at my side."
Here the company shouted again, thus announcing that this tidings
pleased them. For though by now only the common people still believed
me to be a god risen from the sea, all held that I was a great general
and a great man, one who knew much that they did not know, and who
could both lead and fight better than the best of them. Indeed, since
I had slain Urco with my hands and overcome Kari, who as Inca was
believed to be clothed with the strength of the Sun and therefore
unconquerable, I was held to be unmatched throughout Tavantinsuyu.
Moreover, the army that had fought under my command loved me as though
I were their father as well as their general. Therefore all greeted
this tidings well enough without astonishment, for they knew it was
their dead king's wish that I should wed his daughter and that to win
her I had gone through much.
In answer to their shoutings I, too, rose from my seat, and drawing
the sword Wave-Flame, which I wore girt about my dinted armour, with
it I saluted first Quilla and then the gathered nobles, saying:
"Lords of the Chancas, when on an island in the sea, my eyes fell upon
this lady who to-day is your queen, I loved her and swore that I would
wed her if I might. Between that day and this much has befallen. She
was snatched away to be made the wife of Urco, heir to the Inca
throne, and afterwards, to escape him whom she hated, she took refuge
in the House of the Inca god. Then, people of the Chancas, came the
great war which we shared together, and in the end I rescued her from
that house of bondage, and slew Urco while he strove to steal or stab
her. This done, I conquered Kari the Inca, who was as my brother, yet
because I saved your lady from his god the Sun, became my enemy, and
together she and I returned to this, her land. Now it is her will to
wed me, as it has always been mine to wed her, and here in front of
all of you I take her to wife, as she takes me to husband, hoping that
for many years it may be given to us to rule over you, and to our
children after us. Yet I warn you that although in the great war that
has been, if with much loss, we have held our own against all the
hosts of Cuzco and won an honourable peace, by this marriage of ours,
which robs the Inca god of one of a thousand brides, that peace is
broken. Therefore in the future, as in the past, there will be war
between the Quichua and the Chanca peoples."
"We know it," shouted the nobles. "War is decreed, let war come!"
"What would you have had me do?" I went on. "Leave your queen to
languish in the House of the Sun, wed to nothingness, or suffer her to
be dragged away to be one of Urco's women, or hand her back to Kari to
be slain as a sacrifice to a god whom you do not accept?"
"Nay!" they cried. "We would have her wed you, White Lord-from-the-
Sea, that she may become a mother of kings."
"So I thought, Chancas. Yet I warn you that there is trouble near. The
storm gathers and soon it will burst, since Kari is not one who breaks
"Why did you not kill him when he was in your hand, and take his
throne?" asked one.
"Because I could not. Because it would not have been pleasing to
Heaven that I should slay a man who for years had been as my brother.
Because in this way or in that the deed would have fallen back upon my
head, upon the head of the lady Quilla, and upon your heads also, O
people of the Chancas, because----"
At this moment there was disturbance at the end of the hall, and a
"An embassy! An embassy from Kari, the Inca."
"Let it be admitted," said Quilla.
Presently up the central passage marched the embassy with pomp, great
lords and "earmen," every man of them, and bowed before us.
"Your words?" said Quilla quietly.
"They are these, Lady," answered the spokesman of the party. "For the
last time the Inca demands that you should surrender yourself to be
sacrificed as one who has betrayed the Sun. He asks it of you since he
has learned that your father Huaracha is no more."
"And if I refuse to surrender myself, what then, O Ambassador?"
"Then in the name of the Empire and in his own name the Inca declares
war upon you, war to the end, until not one of Chanca blood is left
living beneath the sun and not one stone marks where your city stood.
It may be that a while will pass before this sword of war falls upon
your head, since the Inca must gather his armies and give a breathing
space to his peoples after all the troubles that have been. Yet if not
this year, then next year, and if not next year, then the year after,
that sword shall fall."
Quilla listened and turned pale, though more, I think, with wrath than
fear. Then she said:
"You have heard, Chancas, and know how stands this case. If I
surrender myself to be sacrificed, the Inca in his mercy will spare
you; if I do not surrender myself, soon or late he will destroy you--
if he can. Say, then, shall I surrender myself?"
Now every man in that great hall leapt up and from every throat there
arose a shout of
When it had died away an aged chief and councillor, an uncle of
Huaracha, the dead King, came forward and stared at the envoys with
his horny eyes.
"Go back to the Inca," he said, "and tell him that the threats of the
mouth are one thing and the deeds of the hand are another. In the late
war that has been he has learned something of our quality, both as
foes and friends, and perchance more remains for him to learn. Yonder
is one"--and he pointed to myself--"who is about to become our King
and the husband of our Queen. By the help of that one and of some of
us the Inca won his throne. From the mercy of that one, also, but a
little while ago the Inca won his life. Let him be careful lest
through the might of that one, behind whom stands every Chanca that
breathes, the Inca Kari Upanqui should yet lose both throne and life,
and with them the ancient empire of the Sun. Thus say we all."
"Thus say we all!" repeated the great company with a roar that shook
In the silence that followed Quilla asked:
"Have you aught to add, O Ambassadors?"
"Ay, this," said the first of them.
"The Chanca tree is about to be cut down, but the Inca still offers a
refuge to the Lion that hides among its branches because he has loved
that Lion from of old. Let the White Lord-from-the-Sea over whom you
have cast the net of your witcheries return with us and he shall be
saved and given place and power, and with them a brother's love."
Now Quilla looked at me, and I rose to speak but could not, since all
that came from my lips was laughter. At length I said:
"But the other day when I gave him his life, the Inca named me noble.
What would he think of me if I said yes to this offer? Would he call
me noble then and the Lion that dwells in the Chanca tree? Or,
whatever his lips might speak, would not his heart name me the basest
of slaves and no lion of the tree, but rather a snake that creeps at
its roots? Get you gone, my lords, and say that here I bide happy with
her whom I have won, and that the ancient sword Wave-Flame, on which
Kari has looked of late, is still sharp and the arm that wields it is
still strong, and that he will do well now that it has served his
turn, to look on it no more," and again I drew the great blade and
flashed it before their eyes there in that dusky hall.
Then, bowing courteously, for every man of them knew me and some of
them loved me well, they turned and went. That was the last that ever
I, Hubert of Hastings, saw of nobles of the Inca blood, though
perchance, ere long, I shall meet them again in war.
"Let them be escorted safely from the city," commanded Quilla, and
soldiers went to do her bidding.
When they had gone she issued another order, that the door should be
closed and watchmen set about the hall, so that none could approach it
unseen. Then after a pause she rose and spoke:
"My Lord," she said, "who soon, as I trust, will be my husband and my
king, and you, the chosen of my people, hearken to me for I have a
matter to lay before you. You have heard the Inca's message and you
know that his words are not vain. He who is great in many ways, in one
is small and narrow. He sets his god before his honour, and to satisfy
his god, whom he thinks that I have outraged, is prepared to sacrifice
his honour, and even to kill one to whom he owes all," and she touched
me with her hand. "Moreover, these things he can do, not at once but
in time to come, because for every man of ours he is able to gather
ten. Therefore we stand thus; death and destruction stare us in the
She paused, and that old chief of whom I have spoken, asked in the
midst of a silence, as I think was planned that he should ask:
"You have set our teeth in the bitter rind of truth. Is there no sweet
fruit within? Can you not show us a way of escape, O Quilla, Daughter
of the Moon, whose heart is fed with the wisdom of the Moon?"
"I believe that I can show you such a way," she answered. "You know
the legend of our people--that in the old days, a thousand years ago--
we came to this country out of the forests.
"You know, too, the legend tells that once far away, beyond the
forest, there was a mighty empire of which the king sat in a City of
Gold hidden within a ring of mountains. That king, it is said, had two
sons, and when he died these sons made war upon each other, and one of
them, my forefather, was defeated and driven away into the forests by
those who clung to him. By boats he descended the river that runs
through the forest, and at length with those who remained to him came
to this land and there once more grew to be a king. Is it not so?"