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goddesses of the water, and thus were saved.

I had joy to hear this, for well I knew that the death
of the Lispano family was a heavy cloud to Tristan,
and if the daughters had thus escaped, perhaps the
others might, and the sacrifice of Don Fernando had
not been all in vain. There was in my mind no doubt
left of their identity when he spoke of their fairness,
and again I could see that far-away, stone-paved street
of Mexico, and the proud riding of Marco with the
young girl tied with his reata, and the sweet bell voice
of Dona Perfecta who spoke her wonder that a Jewess
should be so fair!


And well content with the news of the evening, I
bade the priest good night, and rolled myself in my
blanket to sleep on the terrace.

The moon was gone, and the still night was a-glitter
with stars, when I wakened and heard the voice of

" The trail is not ended, Excellencia," he said, " and
it is the time for rest and sleep."

" It is a night for wonder at the very beauty of earth,"
she answered. " I have been watching the stars and the
land below ever since the priest went away. He
looked after you as if in no good mood, Senor Ivava. Is
it true there is no evil in these pagan chapels? "

" No evil is meant there, that is all I can tell, Excel
lencia," he made answer ; " but the order is secret even
from their own people, and the church frowns on
secrecies. Almost a hundred years of white priesthood
here has won no snake priest as convert for confession."

" But you is there no danger for you? I could not
sleep the thought of all those serpents ! "

" Vex not your mind, we have now crossed the deserts
of danger. You have reached the priests of your own
people, and even though I halt by the way you can find
many guides to Santa Fe, Excellencia."

" Do not call me that it spoils the night," she said.

" Then must I keep silence when you speak to me? "
he asked, and at that she spoke impatiently.

" You are so proud, Senor Ivava also you are hard.
I was a child when I began this journey, and I followed
the dream of a child. That life slipped from me in
the Desert and I am different. I was seated here in
this place of wonder thinking of that. Yes, you are


hard. You use words to exalt me, as if in mockery of
the unclad beggar you found on the way. Also my debt
is so heavy I cannot sleep."

There was silence after that, and I heard him walk
across the roof and back.

" I may perhaps then call you Dona Sancha without
offense?" he said. "But you are a great lady in your
own land, while I am only a landless brother of desert
tribes. Your kinsmen could think I presumed if I forget
that difference because of the chance disaster to you on
the trail."

" My kinsmen ! " she retorted, " the one nearest me in
blood, Juan, asleep there, is devoted to every thought of
you. Nothing you could do or say would seem but right
to him. He tells me often enough you are above us
both, and for this, perhaps, I was jealous. I was ever
first with him until you crossed our path and made
unwelcome rules."

" First you always will be, Dona Sancha," he answered
gently, " but Juan can scarce speak for your illustrious
kinsmen of Spain, and, when he has double his years,
he also may not look back on our desert trail through
rosy glasses. The days of this summer are now but a
boy s romance with him. He calls Movi of the Desert
sister, and he is enchanted with the changes of the
wilderness which is yet a garden."

"Are we not all?" she asked. "If it were not so,
would I be sleepless here on this terrace lest the ser
pents do harm to you? You are enemy to the man
I will not name to you ; an unjust thought in your heart
is against him, and I ought not to have care what
chanced you down there in the serpent den with your


red brothers! Yet here am I, awake under the stars,
and the peace of the life, and the people here give me
strange thoughts. I wonder why peoples and nations
should strive for power in the world, for gold, for the
fame of a day? Here there is no strife of that kind
and no anger. Is it indeed true these people assert
that wrath causes a poison in the blood to drive away
the spirits of good? It is a strange thought, yet the
curious thing is that no thought, even the wildest,
seems strange here! The stars come so close they
lift the spirit and make our little plans of life out in
the world seem small. All men are equal together here,
and the women aid in the governing and claim the chil
dren, and sit in council of the clans. That would be a
strange thought in another place, for our people are
ruled by kings or queens, and are always in strife. But
here they have peace without a ruler, and nothing seems
strange or wrong not even this, senor," and I knew
she smiled " that I sit on a house roof in the night
time without a duenna, and talk alone with a man who
tells me he is only a landless brother of desert poeple."

" You are kind of heart, Dona Sancha," he said, " but
it is no jest that I am as I say. Whatever of ill you,
in the future, may be brought to think, none shall add
that I made pretense of more than I am."

"How could you?" she asked with impatient force;
" are you not stronger here than the very priests of
Holy Church?"

" That is an ill power to covet in any land," he said.
" Do you not know it alone might shut me out from
doors opening wide to you?"

" You are his enemy, therefore you are mine," she


answered, " yet you have been salvation to me in the
wilderness. No Llorente y Rivera could be ignoble
enough to forget a favor because of hatred, Kahn Alca-
traz, and the doors where I go will be open to you when
you speak."

" I shall not hold you to that, or ever remind you of
the words, but I will never forget them," he said.
" Tomorrow you will remember it was the enchantment
of desert stars by which you were made gracious. Good
sleep to you, Dona Sancha."

Then he went down over the terraced roofs, and she
stood looking after him, and I went asleep again with
the picture of her, wrapped in the blue light of the
stars, high on the upper terrace against the sky.


I DO not think either of them had the sleep they
needed that night, for when I wakened, she was
below me on the eastward edge of the mesa, where
a cool wind of the early morning carried to her the
odor of wide lands of sage brush. Already she had gone
for prayer to the house used as a chapel by Padre de
Vallada, and then, leaving him with his scattered flock,
more curious than devout, she had found her way
through an arcade past a strange, natural stone monu
ment in the plaza, and out to the rim of the great rock.
Below in the Desert patches of mist yet lay in the
shadow of far blue mesas.

I also went down the ladder for prayer, and before I
was out again, Tristan had joined her. The evening
before she had given him the copper bell as gift to the
head of Movi s clan. To her it seemed a trifling thing
to give in gratitude for the clean dwelling, and cour
teous greetings, yet it meant much to the men in the
snake kiva. It was as a voice from their ancestors of
the ancient days, and their hearts told them that the
gods had sent the bell at this time, and in this way, as
a sign that the woman who brought it must be sacred
to the clan as Ivava was sacred.

I joined them as he was telling her this, at which



she was gay. It seemed to her a great jest that the
crude copper bell as a gift would lift her into import
ance with a strong tribe.

But Tristan did not laugh over it, and asked her not
to treat it lightly.

" Also if they bring you today a garb such as their
maidens wear, I beg that you accept it," he said ear
nestly. " It will be meant in great kindness, and
there may be need of their kindnesses."

" Shall I also see her with her hair in whorls of the
squash blossom?" I asked, and had joy at the picture.
After all her disdain of him, and his pagan friends, it
would be a thing for laughter to see her in proper cere
monial garb of a desert tribe.

" With all my heart I hope I see you both in the dress
of these clans if the thing is to happen which I fear
may happen here," he said. " I may not leave until
after the ceremony of the serpents and that is at set
of sun today, also I may not again have chance to speak
with you both, but we must take the trail at the earliest
hour tomorrow. Get what rest you can betray no
need of haste leave that to me ! But I do ask that you
accept every kindly offer or gift, for it is a strange time
we have come to this place, and they wish you well."

Sancha spoke of Padre de Vallada, and ventured to
think he would scarce approve even the gift of the bell,
if he learned they thought it a sign from their ancient
gods, but Tristan was suddenly careful.

" It is better that you tell nothing to Padre de Vallada
of that, or any other thing these people would use as a
bond of friendship," he said. " I may not say more, and
this only here where no one listens. Things have


changed since I was in this place before, and Padre
Vallada is not welcome for their days of prayer. They
do not tell me this, I only read it in many actions. You,
Juanito, keep close as may be to Movi or Dona Sancha
when I am out of sight ; you bestowed no sacred bell.

" That is sadly true," I agreed "I could not even
conjure a likeness to a pagan divinity as did stray maids
in the boat on the south coast."

I looked at him as I said it, and he frowned at me,
puzzled and incredulous.

" When was this? " he asked.

" Not so long ago as time flies in the Desert," said
Sancha, " Padre de Vallada told it to show how easily
the superstitions of the red people were influenced. I
wished he could have told us more of the sisters than
that they were fair, and were taken north at their desire
to some French camp of explorers."

" Also they were taken in safety up the great river
to lakes of the north where French settlements are
made," I added. " It is a great journey by water, but
it would lead them to safety, and that is good to know."

" It is, in truth, good to know," he said, and drew a
great breath as he turned away his head. " We will
give thanks to God, who found the way for them."

He walked back to the plaza without looking at us
again. I knew it was that Sancha might not see the
tears in his eyes, but she did not understand.

" It is curious," she remarked, " that in the affairs of
white people his interests are so small."

" That you should say it, Sancha ! " I mocked, and
pushed the sleeve up from her round arm. " Despite the
desert tan, you yet show enough of white to be given


audience in civilized courts, yet I see no lack of his inter
est in you."

She twitched the sleeve loose from me, and flushed
rose red under all the tan, yet she smiled where a month
before she would have withered me with her disdain.

" Well, the saving of two women through a super
stition of the tribes is to me a marvel," she persisted,
" yet he asked but when it chanced, and then hastened
away to his friends of the serpents does that show
interest? "

" He made clear that affairs new and of import were
on his mind," I urged.

" Yes, and treats us as children who are not trusted
with affairs of men ! " she made retort. " But we care
little, do we, Juanito? He can go to his serpent sanc
tuaries, and leave us to go adventuring."

" We will first go adventuring to break our fast," I
suggested. " I think we are late as it is, for Movi was
busy with the fire as I came down."

We walked back, watching from the mesa the men
far down in the fields of maize and melon vines they
looked like mice for size and we learned that the
dawn always found the workers there, and when the
sun stood above, they were back at their homes, resting
in a change of work such as fashioning arrows, beads of
stone, or weaving robes of rabbit skin for winter. The
village was a beehive where each worker did his share.
No one seemed idle, and no one hurried unless it be in
the ceremonial races with each other, or with the sun.

So quiet were they all in their waking, and going, that
we did not know the young men, and even small boys,
had gone at dawn to plant prayer plumes at a spring far


to the west, and from there made a race with the sun
to reach the mesa as it came out of the east.

From the terraced roof we saw the last of them come
up the steeps where the mothers watched in pride the
first run of the younger ones, and received them, breath
less and exhausted, in their arms.

Very gay they were in eagle plumes and paintings of
white on their brown skin, and all the brightness of
turquoise beads and red shell from the far sea. The
old runners disappeared at once in one of their z vas,
or sanctuaries, but the little fellows paraded all the day
with a pride in their nude importance.

Movi had our breakfast waiting, and was almost as
much of interest to the women of the clans as was
Sancha. Visitors were gathering for the snake cere
mony from the towns on other mesas, and already were
climbing ladder and terraced roof to see the only Hopi
woman who had journeyed so far and come again back
to her people.

Her relatives were bringing large reed platters heaped
with the colored feast bread, red and yellow and blue,
that she might give food to all in gratitude, and in mem
ory of the long time when food had been given her by
strange tribes.

Thus, without making question, we saw much of
tribal things curious and often pleasing, and to Sancha
one of the most interesting was a strange and continu
ous song in a woman s voice drifting out from one of
the many houses. It sounded like a high chant of
supreme content.

Movi laughed when Sancha asked of it.

" Some day you sing that song maybe so," she


said. " That song is the grinding song for wedding
meal I let you see."

She led us over roofs and down a ladder to a room
where a woman was coiling the whorls for the head
dress of a little maid, and a woven blanket screened a
corner where the song was.

Great meal jars stood in a row against the wall, and
in an alcove were ears of corn in even layers piled like
fagots from floor to ceiling.

The floor was freshly whitened, and Movi had pleas
ure in our approval of the orderly arrangement of all
things, for the people were of her clan, and she drew
back the screening blanket with a teasing laugh at the
girl behind it. The girl was on her knees at a grinding
stone, and the fresh meal was piled beside her in a shal
low plaque. Only an instant the curtain was held back
and then let fall in mock fear, as if the shy black eyes
of the maid held a threat.

" It is so," she said sagely. " When the work is to
do first, and the meal to grind, and prayer songs to sing,
it tells the woman if she wants the man for long days
is the meal grinding."

" That is not so bad," I agreed, " it does away with
any decision of haste. Thus a bride serves an appren
ticeship, and it is a good thought."

" That is as may be," retorted Sancha, " but what is
the task for the man? "

" He works fields for her father, or gives robes, or
some way he is friend."

" That is not so bad," mocked Sancha " it does
away with all the drones. When I wed, the man must
also serve apprenticeship ! "


Of all this we made jests, and were about to go up
the ladder, when the Hopi woman whose house it was,
touched the arm of Sancha, and held out to her a long
woven girdle narrow and of yellow and black. Their
sheep were few, brought from the far eastern pueblos
where the Castilians were, and I knew the girdle was

" We cannot buy we are but poor strangers among
you," I said to Movi, but the woman smiled and looked
only at Sancha, saying something in a low, pleasant

" She says it is not to trade it is the first time you
are in her house, and she, Lenmana, makes you the
gift. Also, because you are friend, she makes the wash
for your hair in this house "

"Is it the custom?" asked Sancha, doubtful, yet
with interest. " True enough the washing is needed.
Think you I had best ask the padre?"

" He would say no, and perhaps lose you the friend
ship Ivava bade us foster," I reminded her. " He asked
nothing of us but that we help him in some way by
acceptance of all kindness. That seems an easy enough
task, and if you are made choice of for first favorite,
why not be gracious? "

She consented, after insisting that my own locks
needed care as much as hers, and our hostess cour
teously showed pleasure that I would accept a head
bath a curious custom, but a most grateful one after
the long weeks of desert travel.

Thus, in turn, our hair was lathered and rinsed and
lathered again, to the joy of the household, for each one
put his or her hand to the task though ever so lightly,


and the woman was smiling, and over the head of
Sancha said " Poli-kota " and the children also said it
shyly, and ran out again into the sunshine. Over my
head there was not so much ceremony, but some laugh
ter, and when it was all ended, we sat on the terraced
roof in the sun to dry it, and to watch the visitors
streaming in from south and east. There were even a
few traders of the Navajo who came with browned deer
skins, and lumps of turquoise. They had their wives
and horses, and were great rangers, also they were tall,
shapely men.

Padre de Vallada found us thus among the curious
pagans, with the hair of Sancha drifting about her in a
dark cloud, and my own inclined to extra bushiness not
so becoming.

" Have you had heretical baptism? " he asked, and
looked us over suspiciously, but the fright of Sancha at
the thought reassured him. : -<i

" Still, they do it that way," he stated. " A bowl of
suds in the house of any of their magicians, and no
sanctity about it ; also they change gifts and it is done."

But he approved the use of the yucca root they used
for washing suds it was good for all things, but
especially for the hair. He used it when a good chance
came. Then he became interested in some of the new
comers, hailed a convert occasionally, and pointed out
those of the aggressive pagan element; they were
usually the old men. Some of them did not even look
up at us on the terrace but most of the younger ele
ment was openly curious.

And I saw Sancha drawing the girdle under her robe
lest Padre de Vallada note that it was not there by


chance. That was her first definite move to shield her
exchange of courtesies with pagan friends this from
our Sancha, who, in the spring of the year, had taken
the trail to found a convent, and wipe out all pagan
thought by proper conventual prayer!

But when I teased her about it, she would not laugh.

" How was I to know the desert tribes have two
prayers to every one of ours, and that the smallest
children glory in them? " she asked. " My own thought
is that our priests should learn the old here, before
striving to engraft the new. They do worship some of
the same things under different names, but it takes time
to learn the names. Their plan of life is not bad at all.
Mother Clemente never heard true things of these
northern people; they are gentle people and kind."

" Yet when persecuted they did battle with the fierce
Apache," I reminded her. " You need not think because
they love you that they are angels ; we all do that, yet
our feet are on the earth.

She smiled, but gave my open avowal of devotion no
further attention. With the approach to safety, the
spell of the Desert had fallen over her, and she saw all
things through a golden haze of illusion. All priests
tales of the unregenerate red man in need of civilizing
had been denied by her own days among them. Even
when a prisoner, she had been treated better than if
captured by wild Saxon tribes, or even chiefs in war cf
other Europe lands. These things she knew, and was
just enough to acknowledge after her first rebellion had
burned itself out. But now, strangely enough, with no
one to give word or influence, she suddenly glorified the
common things of life about her until she no longer


lived in the real but in a seeming world, full of a beau
tiful strangeness in which mysteries touched her on
every side. Always the sky and the stars had been
above her and plain to her sight, but now she walked
sleepless to watch their beauty, and felt cheated if
weariness caused her to lose a single glimpse of the
gorgeous dawns.

I was more bewildered by her in those days than ever
before. Her tempers I could understand, and her sweet
ness ; her stubborn loyalty to the ideal lover of her child
hood, enhanced as it was by devotion of letter and pic
tured face all that was the natural impulse of a nature
meant for love ; but the still dreaming in dusks and
dawns when she slipped away from voices to pace
either the sands or the terraces alone, and her sudden
great gentleness with all things heretofore disdained,
and her quick will to turn critic of even herself and the
thoughts of the clergy that was a big and serious
thing. Also it was a dangerous thing where we were
going. Since the Holy Office in Santa Fe was strong
enough, as had been proven for years, to displace any
governor not to their liking, what chance was there for
even a maid of degree who came out of the Desert
with good words for the pagan lives so abhorrent to all
proper devotees?

Thoughts like these had been my company more than
once, but were given point there in the terraced town
where the clash of pagan and priest had suddenly
become vital to me in the dark looks of the old men,
and the natural intolerance of Padre de Vallada. He
confessed that the old men would have to die off before
any but a few women and children would accept the

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faith in truth, though many came cheerfully, even gaily,
to baptism, as it was one of their own ceremonies, and
they gave no more weight to a sprinkle of holy water
than to toss upward a pinch of prayer meal, or puff of
smoke, as they did when speech was made of their devil
ish gods.

Padre de Vallada asked for Sefior Alcatraz, and not
finding him, called a Walpi youth to interpret for him
to the few Navajos. He had hoped he could gain con
verts among them if once they were led in by friendly
Hopi. I listened while they told whence they came,
which place was great Tseye the rift in the earth
from which their gods had surely emerged. The Walpi
interpreter listened politely to this, and later told us that
in the ancient days it was his own people who had lived
sheltered in the deep canon walls, but the clans had
come a few, and then many out into the sunshine,
until now they all lived like the eagles, very high above
the lands higher in the air than they had once built
deep in the bosom of the earth; also he added that the
graves of the ancient fathers of the Hopitu were in
Tseye to prove his words, while the Navajo were people
of a yesterday.

Padre de Vallada properly rebuked him for unseemly
pride of ancient ancestry, since the pagans of course
were all brothers alike, and none of more importance
than his fellows. But Sancha smiled on the pretensions
of the interpreter, and reminded the padre that it was
by such pride of ancestry that every ruling family of
Castile held claim on eminence. By their accounts, the
Hopi were older than many proud lines of Hispania, and
for her part she was hopeful the journey might take us


to that oft-mentioned wonder cradle of the clans
mysterious Tseye.

The Navajo watched while she spoke, as did also the
other Indio people, for their women speak gravely and
seldom before strangers, and do not smile on all as did
Sancha. They looked on her robe and rosary, and asked
if she was of high medicine orders, also they said that
when she journeyed to the east they would be as guide
for her through their lands.

The older men in the Hopi circle exchanged quiet
glances when this was said, but Sancha and the padre
were in some friendly discussion and did not note it. I,
because of the words of Tristan, was alert and making
note of all things, and wished him with us to prompt us
for reply to this offer. I had to content myself by smil
ing on one and all most amicably, and let it go at that.

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Online LibraryMarah Ellis Martin RyanThe house of the dawn → online text (page 19 of 26)