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of them, and I blessed the days with Tristan and the
learning of the things I never thought to need.

My captors were plainly not happy that they had to
carry to an older chief the burden of the act of Kasia
yet they had decided it thus with the dead man, and it
may be that some superstition of their dark minds
compelled them to abide by it.


I was let sleep in comfort, but two were ever stand
ing sentinel, and before dawn when I lifted my head
to observe location of the horses, one of the men step
ped forward to show me it was of no use to plan escape.

Breakfastless we took the trail when gray came into
the east, and we made our way over the strange land
with an energy in proof that neither food nor water
was for us until we reached the end. A line of palo
fierro trees showed where a river ran in the season of
rain, and to the east rose a gray hill one would not for
get after once having seen it not that it had a height
so great but it was of a character peculiar.

A village of wattled huts was there, with ramadas,
and woven baskets as granaries. The children ran after
us staring at my face and my bonds, but no insult was
offered, as I learned later was done with Indian cap
tives in war. My captors were yet in doubt as to my

Matiwa, the ancient of the village to which I was
taken, ordered them to unfasten my hands and give
me food. A woman, who looked strangely familiar, ran
past me with words and gestures to Matiwa. She was
let enter his dwelling with my captors while I was led
elsewhere, and no word came to me of the council that

There was much inspection of the horses, and my
heart sank next morning when the youth of the few
Castilian words mounted mine, and led away the other.

" Come womans," he said with a grin, " come
womans, all good ; " and then, with a great dash to dis
play his riding, he plunged south again into the desert
of hills.


Weary though I was, it was a day of restlessness for
me; every bone ached from being bound in the saddle,
yet the spirit in me was quickened by endless conjec
tures concerning Sancha and the pious cavalcade of
Mother Clemente, and Tristan. Of Tristan I could only
wonder how far he would go south to see them safe
ere he turned to seek us, and if chance should lead him
wrongly on the trail of the Haquis?

I tried to read in the faces of the villagers their dis
position toward me, and with little success. They were
not evil in look as had been Kasia, but my presence was
a trouble, and the old chief Matiwa gave me no smiles.
He did, however, let me range free with a guard ever
beside me, and my garments were not divided as had
been Sancha s.

The strange hill noticed when afar had allurement
when in its shadow, for stupendous though it was, it
looked as the work of human hands in the long terraces
of stone, line above line, rising to the top where vultures
nested; and up there was the outline of strange walls
or upright columns, and between them the sky was seen
in slits of light.

I paced back and forth, gazing up at them as they
seemed to march in line as I moved. It was all most
curious, for across some of the upright pillars could be
seen a coping or canopy.

I tried by word or gesture to ask my guide, but he
only kissed a feather and blew it upwards, and smiled,
and then an Indian woman grinding mesquite beans in
a stone bowl spoke haltingly.

" Senor, it is House of Light very ancient same
old as the stars ancient House of Light."


She was the dark little woman who looked familiar.
Her hair was cut curiously unlike the others, and was
not comely, but to my mind she was a very gift of God
after the sound of strange languages; yet her familiar
look was a puzzle.

"Where? maid of my language," I said, and sat
beside her in eagerness ; but she moved her bowl a little
distance, and I learned a lesson.

" The House of Light, that means House of the
Dawn? Is it not so, sister?"

" That is true, the ancient House of Dawns. It is true
also, if you are friend to Ivava, I am as sister."

Then I knew! It was the weeping woman by the
grave in the willows of the south.

"But what is Ivava?" I asked, and at that she

" Ivava is brother : friend you were named by Ivava.
So I am telling this ruler Matiwa. That makes you held
in this place, and in safety."

"And you?"

" Movi me, I grind grain on the trail to my own

Joy and sorrow have I known since that day below
the strange worship place of the ancient years, but out
from them stand the moments there when I felt the
friendship of Tristan cast as a mantle of protection
around me even in this far village of red heathens.

Yet my heart was sick that it had not been in the
Indian camp of the canon Movi ground her grains. Her
good word might have served, and Sancha s garments
and Sancha s letters remained her own.

I thought much of the letters, for since they were


hidden away it seemed wisely done as if her patron
saint had shown the way to take from her the emblem
of a false idol.

I asked the woman Movi where the horses had been
taken and what was meant by the " womans com
ing " of the rider.

" That I no can help," she said gently. " The wife of
Hotaku, son of Matiwa, was taken in strength by
Castilian men. She come home, she told, and she has
gone to Those Above! Now to pay must the white
woman come to Matiwa for his son, Hotaku. Thus it
is to be."

I set myself to explain. I made pleadings to her that
she take me to the chief and speak for me. All that was
possible I said, and all was of no use.

" You I could speak for Ivava is as son in the
heart of Matiwa, so you are fed and you are held sacred.
The woman I do not know, but Castilian people owe a
wife to the clan of Motiwa. They think their gods have
sent this woman for the wife it has been spoken."

I walked the plain below the great hill of the temple
and thought until my heart was sick with thoughts.
I looked in the wattled dwellings with horror at the
picture that might be. I knew in my soul she would
find a way to send her spirit to God ere the son of the
red chief claim her and this rude village of the cactus
land would thus see the end of the love trail.

In misery I fled from even my one friend and made
my way apart from the voices the chatter of women
and children, and all the sight of horrors to which they
doomed her our Sancha! My guard followed where
I walked, bow and lance as his armament. When I


reached the great stone terraces of the lone mountain,
he halted me, but in wildness to get above the human
things, I pointed upward, and after a moment of steady
regard, he nodded his head gravely. There was no
doubt that he remembered that I did respect to their
shrine near the pool, and without doubt he thought I
again craved place for special prayer.

As we climbed from terrace to terrace, and out on
the bastions of stone where the vultures rested, I could
have thought it a fortification but for singular weak
nesses. Once upon the strange work, each terrace the
height of a tall man, there was a temptation to go on
and on, for at last I was facing one of the great primi
tive records of the ancient people. The mere climbing of
this one made me understand why Tristan had ranged
far in the seeking of these things of old which were

And on the summit was truly the remains of a temple
very ancient small wonder that the people of the
wattled huts, and the brush shelters, deemed that
House of the Dawn of an age with the stars. All the
stone had been square and huge, and the lines of pillars
held, I knew, some strange record or calculation. Was
it the dawn of the various ages of the peoples by whom
the land had been possessed, or the dawn of the living
sun itself? I was only a boy, but to my mind great
wings of mysteries of some Past seemed to hover over
the place like a brooding bird. It was a very strange
feeling which came to me as if I must stretch my
hands high in salute to Those Above!

It frightened me as a witchcraft would, and I made
the sign, and whispered a prayer. The Indio was watch-


ing me, and at the sign of the cross he smiled, and led
me to the center of the lines of stone, and there he
pointed to a strange thing for a pagan place it was
the four arms of a cross in stones, one fitted close in
square blocks, and now worn by the storms of centuries
to rounded edges. East and west, north and south the
arms reached, and where they joined there was a bowl-
like depression blackened by burnings of gums or

I would have given much to question the man, but
could only point to the east and appear to understand.
He pointed to the north, and the sky, and smiled as
if he would ask if I understood that also which of
course I did not, except for the pagan records made
by Tristan of the great significance to Indians of the
stars of the north.

It was easy to understand how vast this work, and
the thought it held, must seem to the smaller village
people of smaller lives. To me it was a cathedral of
the sky, and about our feet lay the broken slabs with
which it had been walled. Only a few of the upright
pillars had the coping left to show where and how they
had been placed ; these were the fragments giving so
strange a line along the sky as seen from below.

I gazed down from the height, and to my mind came
remembrance that a House of the Dawn was also a
house of refuge, and wild hopes came that by some
plan, as yet formless, sanctuary might be found there
for Sancha, and if Movi could somewhere reach
Tristan !

I went down from that place with a light of comfort
in my heart; at least a hope had come and wild plans


were made by me in the days to follow, each move of
the people being noted by me. To the old chief, Matiwa,
I made attempt to be little less than a lackey, so eager
was I to show affection and be claimed, like Tristan, as
friend or son. My righteous endeavors, however, did
not meet with the success I could have wished. He
did smile upon me at times, but there was a grimness
to it, and without Movi the village below the great
altar would have been a friendless place.

Not that she showed her friendliness in words after
that first day ; there seemed a decorum to be observed
by a stranger woman who ground meal to earn her way
on the trail, and the records left by some ranging Cas-
tilians did not place our superior race above reproach.

But by reverence to their holy things when I could
divine them I was at least deemed harmless to range
abroad as might a straying puppy, yet ever followed
after by my amiable guide. Thus, each day I was
allowed to ascend to the place of ancient prayer and
gaze southward, the way Movi said she would come.
I never met any of the heathen on the summit, though
I did note the coming down of youths at sunrise, and
occasionally even the boy children in the care of
Matiwa, thus I knew they kept alive some cult on the
height even though they did nothing to protect the
crumbling ruins.

"Why not?" I asked Movi. "Is it not the hon
ored work of their fathers? "

"Who knows?" returned the little brown woman.
" When a well is dug four times the measure of a man
in this place, those who dig bring up cups and broken
bowls of most ancient days. The land is an old land,


but these village people have record of their coming
from the great water of the sunset, and who knows
the record of the buried ancient people or the high
altar builders? "

After the first visit, I but climbed the terraced height
to gaze southward where Sancha was already riding
toward me. I thought of her journeying unaware past
the shrine where the letters were hidden, and I cursed
the fatal trail on which those mad letters had led her.
It was one mistake in which Tristan had been a boy
at heart, and a foolish one.

The fourth day the joy was mine, for away in the
distance two moving dots were discerned coming
slowly through the tall columns of the giant cactus.
The pagan shrine was truly as a place of light after
darkness at that sight, and the tears were in my eye
as I leaped down terrace after terrace, to greet her as
she came.

But my guard was alert as I. His warning call sum
moned his fellows who circled me as in a trap ! My
freedom was gone, and I was hedged in a hut with
bonds about me, and could only peer out as she passed
to the house of Matiwa a weary drooping figure in
grass cloth mattings, and bare arms burnt in the sun.

Again Movi was called upon, and the older people
of the clan of Matiwa were sent for. It was plainly
a thing for council, and Sancha was given place in the
ramada of his house where all might look upon her
poor proud little marquesa whose wealth had dwindled
to her smock and torn shoes! It was evident that
other wearers had used the shoes, slitting them for
comfort, and as failures they had been given back to her.


She looked at none of them, her gaze was over their
heads wide eyed, listening ! I felt she was hoping
and was not daunted; for weary though she was, her
head tilted in arrogance. I could smile at that, even
while my tears fell, for her Saint of the Impossible had
surely held her unbroken of spirit.

I could hear the words of Movi, who asked her the
questions ordered, and told her she was chosen by the
chief, and would be married into their clans. Sancha
stared at her and shook her head.

" Tell your chief I am already chosen and already
promised to a man who would sweep to death every
village of your people if hands touch me."

Movi spoke a word of warning.

" If I tell them you belong to a man, that will please
them best, for it was a young wife taken from the
son of the chief by the Castilian men."

" Tell them my man will come like a wide fire and
leave only ashes here."

Movi repeated this threat, and Matiwa smiled grimly
as he looked on her.

" But once can we all die," he said. " The white
strangers take our maids and our wives until now we
tell them we will only trade. So it is. This time we
trade. When Hotaku, my son, comes from battle to
claim his new woman, I send the white boy to Mexico.
He can take the word to Christian men. It will teach
them the thing they some day must learn. Always they
have taken, now we take ! "

Word for word Movi spoke the words to Sancha,
and her face became white. She was to be used by the
pagans to teach the wandering Castilians a lesson their


own religion should teach them. But in all her horror,
she caught at the one threat.

" The white boy? And where is there a white boy? "
she asked as if in unbelief, but I knew her heart was

" I am here, Sancha ! here in bonds," I called to her.
" Be brave, for love of God until he comes Tristan! "

She called to me gladly though I was out of her sight,
and at sound of the name " Tristan," Movi spoke lowly
to the chief, and they had quiet talk. Then question
was again put to Sancha.

"Know you him the Castilian Tristan?"

" Say yes ! Say yes, Sancha," I begged, but she looked
at them coldly.

" Who is he Tristan? " she asked, " and how should
I know him? If it is the man who has taken their
woman, why should I lie for him?"

" Sancha ! it is a man they hold in honor, a man whom,
for some reason, they honor more in these wilds than
the viceroy. Sancha, it is only a name have wisdom
and say yes for safety."

But Movi answered me.

" Not thus must Ivava be used," she said. " The
maid does not know him, and does not lie, and that is

" Ask the chief to set me free to speak," I pleaded,
and after some words with my guard and companion, it
was done. Sancha rose to her feet and held out her
hands, but men stepped between when I would have
clasped her.

" You do not understand," I said to Movi, " she is of
my house. If freedom is given me because of Ivava, I


claim freedom also for her because she is of my own

Matiwa smiled when I spoke, and turned to Movi.

" Ask the white woman if this is the man to whom
she belongs, he who would sweep us into the sleep of

Poor Sancha tried to be loyal, but knew I was all too
much of a boy to threaten tribes with.

" I do belong to him as to a brother," she confessed,
" but he is not the man I meant."

I could have groaned at that, for what difference
would a brother mean to those stolid red devils bent on
their own revenges?

" Then," said Matiwa, " must she rest content and
wait Hotaku, my son, and if the other man comes
for his woman, he had best come before that time."

A sentinel from the terraces sent a call, and at once
there was excitement and scurrying of feet. The name
of Hotaku was spoken. I looked at Sancha, but Indian
names meant nothing to her. I looked at the Indians
who had knives, and measured distances, and thought
of how I could get a blade and use it for my hands
were no longer bound and all minds were on the coming
of the son of Matiwa.

Then I heard another name, and Movi looked at me
and nodded her head and smiled. I was dazed with
the suddenness of all things after the still days of wait
ing. The sense of what she meant did not come to me
until I saw a horse and a wounded Indian sagging in
a saddle. The horse was that of Tristan, and my heart
sank, while my eyes weni again to a knife in an Indian


Not until the horse was halted did I see that Tristan,
who looked like the dead, walked beside and held the
Indio in the saddle.

Sancha gave one look one choking cry, and dropped
her head on her breast her hair covering her face,
and her tattered and slashed shoes were drawn under
the manta of grass matting.

" Water for God s love ! " muttered Tristan, but
Movi already had it in a gourd. He drank it with closed
eyes, and dropped where he stood. The others carried
Hotaku into the house of Matiwa, and Movi helped me
bathe the face of Tristan, and the hands, and she
brought broth of a rabbit, and a little at a time he
swallowed it, and finally looked at us with bloodshot,
yet seeing, eyes.

" Juanito," he said at last. " I have come. Where
is she? "

No one answered, and she who covered herself with
her hair seemed to sink more low on the trodden earth
under the ramada.

" Alive, and unharmed," was all I dared say.
" Rest you now till we learn how this has come about
you are starving ! "

" For water water," he assented. " Searching, I
found my friend wounded, we made the start home for
help in the search, and, you see! He was mad with
fever and striving for a hidden spring he knew. I
fought him, took his arms, and made him ride. He is
dying, I think, but he sees his father, and he is my

Matiwa came out, and took his hand, his face was
sad, and Movi spoke for him.


" Ivava," he said, " come, speak to Hotaku as you
know. He calls for his wife. Tell him there is a new
wife, white and young. Make him hear. You have
kept life in him, now give him strength."

Tristan stared at him, and arose, staggering, striv
ing against weakness.

" A new wife, white and young ! " he repeated.

Matiwa pointed to me, and Movi again spoke.

" This boy would claim her, but the maid is for my
son, tell him you he listens for your voice."

" The maid the white maid is for your son,
Matiwa?" said Tristan very quietly "and what
am I?"

" You are Ivava you are also son, and you are
brother," said the old man, " and you bring back to his
mother our youngest born."

"And what may I ask of your clan?"

" All things we may grant to a friend."

" Then take me to the maid whom my younger brother
has asked of you. Of her have I come in search. Of
your clan I ask only the maid."

" She is yours? " And the eyes of Matiwa were narrow
and keen.

" She is mine," said Tristan and looked at him
squarely. " Your son, who is going to God, was to
help in search for her she is mine."

" Yet she calls not out to you in gladness," said the old
man with grimness, " and your own eyes do not know
her though she sits at your feet."

Tristan stared at him and at me, but I dared not
speak though I saw the wary eyes of Matiwa who
thought it all white trickery. Then Tristan looked on


the crouched figure hidden under black hair and the
manta of grass cloth, and his cry was as if his heart
had been struck.

He moved toward her with outreaching hands, then
halted aware of Matiwa s suspicion, and turned to
his horse. There, tied to the saddle, was rolled a blanket,
and the extra robe given him by Salvadore Serri that
first day.

Quickly he unfastened it, and I could see the great
beads of water on his brow. He was weak from starva
tion, and desperate, and the sight of her thus turned
him chalk white.

He shook the robe loose from the rawhide straps.

" Arise, Dona de Llorente y Rivera," he said, and
his voice was shaking, though his words were cold, and
she arose and stood, her eyes on the ground, and he
cast about her the robe, and took the brown rosary, with
its scattered turquoise and shell beads, and put it
around her neck.

" She is mine to claim before the clans, Matiwa,"
he said. " By the beads of your friend Fernan, you
see that she is sacred."

" I see it, and my heart is troubled that she was
shamed by our people, but it is a time of war. No
man shall claim her but you, and my son will be glad."

" He will be glad," assented Tristan, and then to
Movi he said, " little sister, take my lady where she
will have rest and comfort. My eyes are glad to look
upon you here."

And Movi touched the hand of Sancha who turned
and followed her. Not once had she lifted her head
or looked at him.


" Watch over her, Juanito," he said haltingly, " let her
not feel shame."

And then he sank as if to pray, but from his knees
fell prone upon the ground. His last strength had been
given, but he had come in time.


SANCHA wept when alone, and was curiously
silent, asking few questions. Of that I was glad
enough, for in his delirium of the night I heard
strange things memories of old days in Spain,
secret things of forbidden books, and names I dared
not whisper even though all those desert leagues from
the Holy Brotherhood a word here and there of his
escape in the night time Fray Bernardino, and an
open gate a saddled horse his own saddle!

All this, and then the search for trail of the Haquis
and white Virgo! The mumblings of thirst, and
the records of stars jumbled together. I listened to it
through the night hours while herb brews were made
and poured down him; also dried blossoms were burnt
as incense, of which I half strangled. Yet the pagan
cures did have power, for the fever abated, and in
early morning he slept.

But the son of Matiwa went to his gods in the night,
and I strove to find excuse to lead Sancha apart from
the village ere the ceremonies of death add horror to
her mind.

I found her fresh bathed, her hair smoothed by a
broom of grasses, and clothed from throat to feet in



the consecrated robe; but while there was sanctity in
her garb, there was little hint of it in her expression.

" Tell this woman she lies," she said, pointing to
poor Movi, who was much impressed by all the hap

" Come away, Sancha, that we may talk alone," I
begged ; " there are great reasons. You have lately
escaped one danger, are you eager for more? "

She did not answer, but followed me out across the
level until we were in the shadow of the hill. I noted
that Movi looked after us strangely. She thought I
was stealing the property of Tristan while he slept !

" Now tell me where no one hears," I suggested, but
her mood had changed.

" She is but a foolish savage," she confessed, " and I
should not heed her words, but she thought the giving
of this cloak was a marriage gift! Does your friend

" Sancha Sancha ! " I said, and looked at her. She
stared back at me with haughtiness for an instant, and
then her tears fell, and she turned away, fairly running
until she reached the terraced hill.

" Go you back and leave me," she said weeping.
" You mean that he is my friend most, and that I O
Juanito, how is the debt to be paid? What can one
do for a man like that?"

" Is it that you fear to own the greatness of the debt? "
I asked, but she shook her head.

" I do not know what I fear it is like a witchcraft,

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Online LibraryMarah Ellis Martin RyanThe house of the dawn → online text (page 15 of 26)