F. (Friedrich) Hassaurek.

The secret of the Andes: a romance online

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Author of " Four Years among Spanish Americans," etc.










Que es la vida? Un frenesi.
Que es la vida? Una illusion,
Una sombra, una fiocion
Y el mayor bien es poqueno;
Que toda la vida es sueno
Y los suenos sueno son.

CALDERON DE LA BARGA, La vida es Sueno.





IT was in the spring of 1592. The city of Quito, in
the Spanish Yiceroyalty of Peru, in South America, was
trembling with excitement. Angry crowds of wildly ges
ticulating men, of high and low degree, filled the public
squares and blockaded the streets. Defiant exclamations,
such as " Down with the Alcabala! Death to the Chape-
tones!" (natives of Spain), were heard in every direction.
A new member of the Eoyal Audience, the supreme
judicial and executive tribunal of the Province, had just
arrived from Spain. He had brought official confirmation
of the report that a great and crying breach of faith was
contemplated by the Home Government. The crushing
tax called Alcabala was to be introduced in the Viceroyalty
of Peru ! And yet, by an express stipulation of the Eoyal
grant to Don Francisco Pizarro, the conqueror, Peru was
to be exempted from the imposition of the Alcabala for one
hundred years, which term had not yet expired, and would
not expire during the lifetime of this generation.

The people of Quito were impoverished and in debt.
Their fathers had been disappointed of their golden ex
pectations. The men of Benalcazar had founded the city
in the vain hope of discovering, sooner or later, the hid
den treasure of Atahualpa and Euminagui. To that ignis
fatuus they had sacrificed the lives of thousands of unfor-



tunate Indians. For that unattainable object the first set
tlers had impoverished themselves by long and fruitless
explorations, and by the neglect of more useful and legit
imate pursuits. Now, coined money had become almost a
curiosity among them. Their business transactions were
reduced to a most primitive system of barter and ex
change. Could such a people afford to pay a tax of four
or more per cent, on all sales a tax which was levied
and re-levied on the same article as often as it changed
hands, until it reached its final consumer? Impossible!
Death in battle was preferable to slow starvation. The
Alcabala must not be collected. Besistance forcible re
sistance was the general cry. It was taken up eagerly
by hundreds of old soldiers who had served in the civil
wars of the conquerors, and of whom many who had
fought on the losing side were left penniless, and ready to
engage in any brawl that promised rapine and booty.

It was about an hour after sunset, when two young
gentlemen, of the highest nobility, on their way to the
Plaza of San Francisco, elbowed themselves through the
throngs of indignant and excited men. The one was Don
Julio de Carrera, perhaps the best liked young cavalier
of Quito, modest, affable, refined, a lover of books in an age
of barbarism, honest and honorable. Beloved, although
penniless, his father having died in poverty, the young
man depended on the liberality of an uncle, a childless
bachelor, and, next to the Marquis de Solando, the richest
man of the whole province. The other was Carrera's
intimate friend, Don .Roberto Sanchez, an impulsive, high-
spirited, frank, and dashing youth, the son of Don Alonzo
Sanchez, who was an influential member of the Cabildo,
or Municipal Council of Quito, famous for his eloquence,
and known as one of the boldest and most determined op
ponents of the contemplated introduction of the Alcabala.

The two young gentlemen arrested their steps before
the mansion of the Marquis de Solando, where they in-


tended to spend the evening. The great wealth of the
Marquis and the extraordinary attractions of his daughter,
Dolores, had given him the leading position in the society
of Quito. His daily evening receptions (tertulias) were
attended by a larger circle than those at any other house.
This evening, too, a very numerous company was assembled
when the two young cavaliers entered the salon. The la
dies of the house excepted, the party consisted exclusively
of gentlemen, who eagerly discussed the all-absorbing
topic of the day. The Marquis, a thorough loyalist, ad
vocated submission. The Senor Alonzo Sanchez, the
father of young Eoberto, who had just entered, spoke en
ergetically in favor of resistance, and was warmly sup
ported by most of the gentlemen present. High words
passed, and the discussion threatened to become loud and
angry, when it was interrupted by a new visitor, whose
presence and official character forbade its renewal. This
newcomer was the Count Joaquin do Valverde, a young
officer of the best blue blood of Spain, who had been sent
by the Viceroy of Peru to command the Spanish arque-
busiers and other regular troops stationed at Quito, and to
instruct the native militia. The young nobleman had
come to America to recuperate his broken fortunes, but as
he stood high in the favor of the all-mighty Viceroy, the
Count's future was considered secured, and the mothers of
marriageable daughters looked upon him as one of the
highest prizes attainable in the matrimonial lottery. This
prize, however, it was generally believed, would fall to the
lot of Dolores Solando, for whose favor Count Valverde
had but two prominent rivals, the Senor Don Julio de
Carrera, and the Senor Don Manuel Paredes, who was
among the visitors in the room, and will presently be in
troduced to the reader.




" I hope I shall be the first," said Dona Dolores to Count
Valverde, after the customary exchange of salutations, " to
tell your Excellency the news of the great adventure our
friend, the Sefior Carrera, has met with."

''I shall be delighted to hear it," said the Count, not at
all edified by the prospect of hearing an adventure dis
cussed of which he was not himself the hero.

"Your Excellency must know that the Sefior Carrera is
fond of solitary rambles. He is a poet, Senor Count, and
we all admire his verses. He loves to explore the lonely
recesses of Mount Pichincha; and there he met with his
wonderful adventure. He came upon a maiden radiant
with beauty, an apparition from Fairy Land. He has
been in love with her ever since, and the ladies of Quito
are dying with jealousy. The maiden, of course, was un
known to him, and, what makes his adventure more mys
terious, she was an Indian."

" An Indian ?"

" Yes, Senor Count, an Indian of exquisite beauty, maj
esty, and grace. He had come upon her suddenly, near
the entrance of a ravine. 'He stood before her struck
dumb with admiration. Still, we suspect he would have
recovered his faculty of speech. We are even inclined to
believe that he would, upon the spot, have made a declara
tion of love, had not the wonderful ci'eature suddenly and
most capriciously and unaccountably disappeared."

" Disappeared ?"

" Yes, Sefior Count, disappeared, vanished into nothing-


ness, sailed away in a cloud, or sunk into the center of
the earth. Was it not provoking? The belt of Senor
Can-era's sword broke at the most inconvenient moment,
and caused that bloody weapon to drop to the ground.
He stooped to pick it up, and when he looked up again
the apparition was gone. There was no trace of her any
where. There was no bush, no tree, no rock in the ravine
behind which she might have hidden herself, and yet she
was gone, vanished into air, as I said. What does your
Excellency think of it?"

" I hope," said the Count, " it was not one of Senor Car-
rera's poetic fancies, inspired by "

" No, Senor Count," interrupted Dolores, " there is proof
positive and tangible- of the reality of the apparition a
dagger found by his Grace on the very spot where the
maiden had stood. We have made him produce the corpus
delicti. There it is."

" This is Moorish steel," said the Count, examining the
weapon w'ith the eye of a connoisseur, " of excellent temper
and approved fashion. How could it fall into the hands
of an Indian ?"

" Ah ! this is the very complication of the mystery,
Seiior Count," rejoined* Dolores, who loved to address her
self to the representative of real, genuine, old-country no
bility. " We have come to the conclusion that that won-
dei'ful Indian must either be a witch or the mysterious
Shyri Queen of Quito, of whom we have heard so much
and seen nothing."

" She may be both," added the Sefiora Catita, the aunt of
Dolores, who sat beside her on the sofa.

'' To my shame, I must confess to your Ladyships," an
swered the Count, "not to have heard of this Shyri

"Your Excellency has not resided with us long enough,"
resumed Dolores, "to become familiar with our Indian tra-


ditions. The Shyri Queen is supposed to be a grand
daughter of Atahualpa, the Inca, secretly brought up in
the family of some great cacique, or among the unsubdued
Indians of our oriental provinces, so as to prevent her from
being seized by the authorities. The Indians of the an
cient empire of Quito recognize and revere that mythical
queen as their rightful sovereign. At her command they
would rise in rebellion; at her command they would kill
us all, and burn our houses if they could. Her mere
name, whether she b.e a myth or a reality, is a threat to the
peace and security of these provinces."

" And why do they call her the Shyri Queen, if your
Ladyships will allow me?"

"Her ancestors, the ancient kings of Quito, were called
Shyris. Their kingdom was overthrown by the Peruvian
Incus about forty years before the arrival of the Spaniards.
The last Shyri was slain in battle. His only child, a
daughter, was taken for a wife by the victorious Inca, and
thus became the mother of Atahualpa. But it is not the
mysterious Indian Queen or Princess, it is her dowry,
Senor Count, in which we are principally and intensely in
terested. If there is such a being as the Shyri Queen, and
I have no doubt of it, although no white man or woman
has ever seen her, she possesses the secret of the hidden
treasure of Atahualpa, for which our gentlemen have been
searching in vain during three generations. What a grand
discovery it would be, if her disappearance where the
Senor Carrera had seen her, should indicate the presence
of a subterranean passage, through which the treasure
might be reached. Come, Senor Sanchez, you are learned
in history, and can speak from a knowledge of the chroni
cles of the Cabildo, give his Excellency an account of what
is known of the origin and character of that treasure."

"Let me beg of your Grace," insisted the Count.

"O, please do !" shouted the compan}*; and all leaned


forward eagerly to listen to an authoritative statement of
the great problem of their lives, the one great object of
their aspirations. They all had heard the story before.
They had listened to it many a time. They were familiar
with all its details ; but they never grew tired of listening
to it again. They could not hear it often enough. They
drank in every word, as it fell from the lips of the venera
ble Alcalde.



" YOUR Excellency is, of course, familiar," began Senor
Sanchez, the Father, " with the circumstances of the orig
inal conquest of Peru. Atahualpa was a prisoner in the
hands of Don Francisco Pizarro at Cajamarca, and being
a man of natural shrewdness, the Inca could not fail to
observe the great greed of our people for gold, and the
thought struck him that through this he might gain
his liberty. Hence he proposed . that, as his ransom,
he would fill the room in which they kept him, as high
as his arms could reach, with vessels and ornaments
of gold and silver. To bring these treasures together,
orders were sent to all parts of the empire to rifle the
palaces and temples of their precious contents and
send them to Cajamarca. These orders were obeyed
everywhere except here in Quito. And yet here, where
the great Inca, Huyanacapac, Atahualpa's father, had
spent the last thirty years of his prosperous reign, immense
treasures had been accumulated. But a usurper had seized
the reins of government here, and refused to comply with
the royal mandate. This usurper was Euminagui, a name
which, in the Quichtia language, means " The eye or face


of stone." He was a great general, who had been with
Atahualpa when the poor Inca was taken prisoner by the
cunning stratagem of Don Francisco Pizarro. Euminagui
was in command of the army stationed at Cajamarca ; but
without attempting to strike a blow for his master, he re
treated to this pi-ovince, with the intent of making him
self the King or Shyri of Quito. He seized the royal
treasures and the Virgins of the Sun, killed all the wives,
sisters, brothers, cousins, and other relatives of Atahualpa,
and considered himself secure in his usurpation, in view
of the small number of foreign invaders by whom the Inca
had allowed himself to be entrapped. Eumiuagui offered
a desperate and very skillful resistance to the Spanish
troops that were sent against him ; but when he found that
these invaders were irresistible, and that all his efforts were
unavailing, he killed the Virgins of the Sun so that they
should not fall into the hands of the Spaniards, and he hid
or buried the great treasure of Quito somewhere in the
mountains. To this present day nobody has discovered
where, although the search has been incessant. Euminagui
was captured and put to the rack ; but an Indian never re
veals a secret of his race. He died without opening his lips.
Hundreds of his captains and followers were tortured until
they expired; but either they did not know the secret or
they would not reveal it. And so our men of high and
low degree are still delving and burrowing in the earth;
but thus far to no avail. We know that the treasure
existed hundreds of Indian eye-witnesses admitted that.
We know that it must be hidden somewhere, but we are
unable to find it."

A long pause followed, during which each of the com
pany seemed to be pondering over the great secret and
dreaming the dream of its discovery. The silence was at
last broken by the Count.

" I must trouble your Grace with a question. I heard,


while in Lima, that the scepter of the Incas could not de
scend to a female, and yet their Ladyships speak of a, Shyri
Queen as the successor of Atahualpa."

"Your Excellency is right as to the law of Peru, which
several hundred years ago was also the law of the kingdom
of Quito ; but it was changed by the eleventh Shyri, who
had no sons, brothers, or nephews, but an only daughter
by the name of Toa, to whom he was fondly devoted. In
order to secure her succession, he made a new law, which
received the sanction of all the great nobles of the realm.
It stipulated that upon the extinction of the male line, the
Shyri's daughter should succeed her father and reign
jointly with the husband of her own free and untram-
meled choice. The husband whom the old Shyri recom
mended to his daughter Toa, was Duchicela, eldest son of
Cundurazu, King of Parruha, a kingdom extending from
Riobamba to Paita and the coast. By this marriage the
two crowns were united, and the house of Duchicela was
thus placed upon the throne of Quito. The mysterious
granddaughter of Atahualpa, if she does exist, may confer
the Indian kingdom of Quito in a similar manner by the
free bestowal of her hand."

" Aud she might," interrupted Dolores, " bestow it on
his Grace, the Senor de Carrera, the only cavalier to
whom, thus far, she seems to have shown herself. How
would your Grace fancy the title of Don Julio I of the
house of Carrera and Duchicela, Shyri-Inca of Quito and
Purruha ?"

A burst of laughter rewarded this pleasantry, while
Carrera blushed and looked uneasy. Some of the gentle
men seemed inclined to elaborate the suggestion ; but Do
lores was too prudent to allow it, and turned the conver
sation back into its original channel.

"Your Excellency must not believe that we Creoles in
vent all these wonderful stories. The Indians firmly be
lieve in the existence of their Shyri Queen, and I can only


say I share their belief. Let me furnish your Excellency
with a living witness of my faith. There is my nurse,
Mama Santos, an Indian of high nobility. She is a grand
daughter of Cozopangui, who was governor of Quito under
Atahualpa and Ruminagui. Call her, Raimundo. She
will tell your Lordships what she has told me a hundred
times, no more, no less. She will betray no secret of her
race, if she knows any, but she will bear testimony to the
reality of the Shyri Queen."

Mama Santos, who now made her appearance, and at
the command of Dolores took her station behind the sofa,
was a woman of uncertain age, like all Indian women
after they have passed their teens. Her features had
probably been beautiful once, but her beauty had faded.
Her eyes were still attractive, and bore an expression of
sadness and resignation. Her bearing was full of defer
ence, but self-possessed, dignified, and indicative of quiet

" Mama Santos ! These gentlemen wish to take a glass of
wine with thee in honor of the royal house of Atahualpa-
Duchieela. Raimundo ! A goblet for Mania Santos ! Fill
the glasses of these gentlemen !"

Mama Santos bowed impassively, and taking her glass,
she said: "Your Lordships honor me by your kindness.
May your Lordships live many years!"

"Thy good health, Mama Santos," said Carrera, "and
honor to the memory of thy ancient kings."

"Mama Santos," continued Dolores, "wilt thou tell
these gentlemen who would now be entitled to wear the
royal diadem of the Shyris, if this country did not belong
to our Lord, the King of Spain?"

" The Lady Toa Duchicela is the successor of Atahualpa
Niuita* Doloritas."

" Who is the Lady Toa Duchicela ?" resumed Dolores.
^J'She is the granddaughter of Atahualpa."

* An endearing, and yet respectful diminutive.


"Hast thou ever seen her?"


"How dost thon know, then, that she lives?"

"How does Niuita know that King Philip II lives?
Niflita has never seen him."

"Bravo! bravo!" exclaimed the Marquis. "Well said,
Mama Santos."

" But there is a gentleman here, Mamita," answered
Dolores, "who has seen him. This is the count Valverde,
Mamita, a gentleman from Spain, who has seen His
Majesty very often."

" I am your Lordship's servant," said Santos, with a
graceful bow.

" Where is the Shyri Toa now, Mamita?" asked Dolores.

" I do not know, Nina."

" Wouldst thou know her if thou shouldst see her?"

" I can not tell, Nina."

" Suppose a common Indian should pretend to be the
Shyri Toa."

" No Indian woman would do that, Nina."

"Suppose the Shyri Toa should die, how wouldst thou
know it ? ;!

" I should soon know it, Nina."

"But how?"

" How would Nina Doloritas learn of the death of His
Majesty of Spain. Somebody would tell her. Somebody
would tell me that the Shyri Toa was dead."

" Is she married ? "

"No, Nina."

" Not married ! Seiior Don Julio de Carrera ! Take
heed of this important statement. The Shyri Toa is still
at liberty to bestow upon your Grace her hand and kingly
title. Many thanks, Mamita Santos. We shall not detain
thee any longer."

Mama Santos returned her glass to the servant, bowed
to the company, and withdrew. At this moment the clock


of San Francisco struck ten. A horn was sounded in the
street; ever}' one in the room became silent, and the voice
of the watchman w:is heard to sing :

"Ave Maria, Santisima!

Las diez ban dado,

Noche clara y serena,

Viva el Hey de Espana! "*

" The stay-bell ! " exclaimed all the gentlemen.

" We have taken no heed of the flight of time," said
Senor Sanchez. " How embarrassing. I had no idea it
was so late."

" You are my prisoners, gentlemen," said the Marquis,
"and I shall keep you under arrest till morning."




After the ringing of the stay-bell (toque de la queda} the
use of the streets was forbidden by municipal ordinance to
the inhabitants of Quito and other Peruvian towns. Heavy
penalties awaited the transgressor. If armed, his arms
were to be taken from him; if unarmed, he was to be put
in the stocks for a number of days. A third repetition of
the offense was to be visited with banishment. The turbu
lence of the original conquerors, their frequent insurrections
and civil wars, and the violence and licentiousness of the
soldiers of fortune who had participated in these com
motions, made it necessary to enforce such regulations,
with great severity, against persons of all ranks, and es
pecially against those who enjoyed the high privilege of
bearing arms. Hence when visitors had lingered at the

*Ave Maria, most holy. The clock has struck ten. The night is
calm and clear. Long live the King of Spain.


houses of their friends until it was too late to go home, it
became a duty of hospitality to provide them with accom
modations for the night.

This duty the Marquis most attentively complied with.
His house was one of the largest at Quito, and might have
accommodated double the number of guests ; but the gentle
men present, after a graceful recognition of the kindness
and liberality of their noble host, soon relinquished the
thought of retiring to bed-rooms, but crowded around the
card-table, which in those times possessed the same irre
sistible fascination for Spanish-Americans that it exerts
nowadays. Even the ladies, with the exception of the
Marchioness, who, being an invalid, soon excused herself
and withdrew, took part in the exciting pastime. Carrera
alone, for a while, contented himself with the part of a
looker-on. He had vainly attempted to address a few
words privately to Dolores, who skillfully eluded him and
divided her attentions with becoming impartiality. The
young gentleman, disappointed in his attempts, then drew
his friend, Roberto Sanchez, into one of the deep win
dow-embrasures to ask him for a loan of money. " I
hardly dare to ask thee for an additional favor," he said,
" but how can I exclude myself? If I lose, it may be
some time before I can repay thee. I want but a trifle to
keep up appearances. Still, do not inconvenience thyself,
unless thou art fully able to help me out."

" Most assuredly," answered Eoberto, " I shall help thee
out to the best of my ability. But beware of that villain,
Paredes. He and that Spanish Count must be watched
closely. I should not trust either of them, unless I could
keep my eyes on them steadily."

The game had commenced, first moderate!} 7 , but soon in
creasing in intensity and passion, until it had completely
riveted the attention of the players to the exclusion of
everything else. So much has been said and written on
the theory of luck, that it would be fruitless labor to


add to the literature of the subject. Why some men will
alway lose, while others will nearl}- always win, is one of
the problems that are doomed to remain unsolved. Poor
Carrera was one of those who almost always lost. For
some time he held his own that evening, but at last the tide
set in against him, until the loan from Sanchez was nearly
exhausted. Then came a brief run of luck, but it was cut
short by his turn to take the bank. His rivals, the Span
ish Count and Manuel Paredes, now played strongly
against the banker, and when his turn closed, he was in
volved in a heavy debt to Paredes, and had but a few pieces
left to continue the hopeless struggle.

The ladies withdrew unnoticed, and the game went on.
A collation was served at one o'clock which was rapidly
taken. The Marquis and nearly all his guests, with the
exception of the Spanish Count and the Senor Manuel
Paredes, lost heavily. To these two the battle for the
spoils seemed to be confined, and was waged with con
tinually fluctuating success. As to Carrera, it was a repeti
tion of his old experience; hope deferred, anger, mortifica
tion, cautious timidity alternating with the imprudence

Online LibraryF. (Friedrich) HassaurekThe secret of the Andes: a romance → online text (page 1 of 34)