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As the day wore on, all of Walpi assumed its gala
dress. Children ran about garbed in a little paint, the
warm sunshine, and strings of beads, while the maidens
appeared on the terraces in sober native weavings, with
red or green girdles, and their hair in the wheel-like
dressing over either ear. There was a subdued sense of
importance everywhere. Each good housewife had
foods prepared, for visitors or relatives. The Navajo
women in their dress of skins, peered with a child s
interest into bowls and cooking pots, for they were
as folk of the wilderness on visits to a central city. All
these things filled the day for Sancha and me, though
each of us thought often of the friend who was some
where underground in that place of the serpent den. A
great sheaf of green boughs was erected in the center
of the plaza and appeared of special interest, for the



visitors and Walpians gradually moved in that direc
tion, chatting, and placing themselves comfortably
along the edges of the roofs, and perching on ladders,
until from the stone floor of the mesa to the sky line
above there was a sea of Indian faces looking down.

" But for the difference in color and dress, one might
think it a fight at home with a bull," said Sancha. " Is
it not so?"

I could not agree that a gathering of pagan barbarians
in an infidel ceremony could have likeness to repre
sentatives of the finest families of Castile gathered for
royal sport. My imagination had its limits. Sancha s
had none.

" Well," she said finally, after I had expressed my
thought of it, " if it is danger makes the sport, I should
say that these pagans at their prayers handling serpents
show more brave blood than all our ancestors sitting
in rows to watch a trained man and old horses tease a
bull to death."

We almost made a quarrel over that, but Movi inter
fered with her slow smile and gentle voice.

" Soon the Antelope priests will come from the ivn,
and after that the priests of the snake will come," she
said. " The clan of my father is of that people, and
because of the gift of the bell they ask a new promise
of you will you come? "

Sancha was all alert with interest, yet feared to leave
the plaza lest the ceremony of the day be lost, but I
reminded her it was a time to return all kindnesses.

" Yes we will go, but why wait so late, Movi? " she
said. " This is the time when all are waiting and watch
ing in the plaza."

U w._J LrrrrJ i


" That is so," agreed Movi " and that is the time
when no one sees us."

" Juanito must also come? "

" Yes that is best, come," said Movi.

She fairly ran to an opening in a little plaza to the
west, where a ladder came up out of the ground, and
a woman stood watching. I thought it Lenmana, the
woman who had been our hostess in the house where
the girl ground wedding meal, but the dress was differ
ent, and I could not be sure ; she wore a white shawl,
and very white boots.

There was some hesitation about allowing me to fol
low Sancha, but I had been told to keep near, and the
haste to get her away from the crowd was curious to

" Take no trouble for me, Juanito," called Sancha
from the cavern place. " I think it is a well intentioned
thing and you will laugh. Sit you there on the ladder
until they are through with me the time will not be

After Movi had finished as interpreter in the iva,
she came up, and sat by me on the ladder, smiling.

" I am not told why it is," she confessed, " but the
clan of my father wish to do a kindness, and he thinks
it is good she puts off the robe of a priest here this day.
There are men from Oriabe here, and they are in anger
that is all I know. Your priests have angered them,
and a maid in a priest s robe is to them crooked magic.
At this time all are making prayers for power that is
strong. My people want Poli-kota safe, as Ivava is
safe so it is they give to her a Hopi dress, as Len
mana gave to her a Hopi name."


Then I knew what they meant by saying the curious
word over Sancha s foam white head. It was a Hopi
name, and so ugly it would cure her of fancy for Hopi
custom. I chuckled over the thought, while Movi
patiently explained that Oriabe men had many jealous
days concerning Walpi clans, and it seemed as if the
priests of the Castilians put them in confusion with each
ether. Also she said she had never seen a ceremonial
day of any of the brotherhoods when so many of the
old men looked darkly on each other. What it boded
she did not know.

My interest in their various factions was slight, and,
whatever their discord might be, we would take the
trail at dawn and see no more of it or that was my
comforting thought.

So satisfied was I with it, that I listened more to
the laughter of Sancha in the woman s r va than to the
quiet tones of Movi beside me on the ladder. Whatever
was going forward down there in the underground
room, it was not a thing of trouble, for Sancha was as
gay as a child in accepting their friendship offering.

But, when she called up that I must close my eyes
until she stood beside me, I had little preparation for
that which I saw when I looked upon her. It was not
alone the dress and girdle, but the hair dressing of the
maids of Tusayan, which is, in my mind, the real test
to a comely face.

I knew not whether to laugh or disapprove, for in
mockery of me she stood smiling shyly, with the manta
of white about her, and the wheels of her dark hair
coiled over her ears.

She looked it all too well, and so I told her; no one


who had ever seen her in the palace of the viceroy
would know her now for the Marquesa de Llorente y

" I make you my compliments, Poli-kota," I said
with my best bow. " I find comfort that you retain at
least the rosary of civilization ! " In my heart I dreaded
having the padre see her.

" Poli-kota ! what a thing to call me," and she
laughed as she whirled on her toes and then made
mocking courtesy. But the small sister of Movi called
to us from the terrace, and Sancha caught my hand
and made me run with her.

" Am I not fine? " she asked. " It is a garb of good
service for the trail, but I will need a tirewoman for
the hair dressing, so difficult it is, Juanito. They tell
me there is a wide well on the mesa beyond the shrine
where the trails meet; you must take me there before
the light goes I want it for a mirror."

We had reached the plaza, and found again our place
en the terrace by the strange column of stone. There
was a quiet " Ah ! " went round the swarthy circle, and
some said " Lolomi! " and there were smiles given us.

But we had scarcely been settled, when, as if far off,
we heard muffled voices and rattles, and up from a iva
came a fearsome group who circled the plaza, and then
did a shuffle sort of dance before the green boughs. I
turned to Movi, who said it was the Antelope priests,
but more than that I could not learn, for a louder and a
different note sounded and every head turned to watch,
and Sancha took my hand.

" Listen, Juanito ! even the Indies show their awe of
this which is coming. I would he were beside us ! "


She did not say who, but there was no need, for her
wish was my own. The painting of the Antelope priests
made them aught but comely, yet their appearance was
fairly mild compared with the Snake priests who swept
into the plaza with a ruthless force dangerous to any
thing in their path.

They circled the plaza, they sounded before the altar
of green boughs their message to the spirit priests of
the shadow world, and then the thing they did is a
thing not to be believed, but my own eyes saw it, and
the shudder of Sancha and the muttered execration of
Padre de Vallada told me I was not in a devil s dream.

For out of that altar of green boughs they drew hand-
fuls of serpents big and little, they circled the plaza with
them coiled around neck, shoulder and arms. Their
shuffling dance, which was of a strangeness in itself, was
done with serpents darting here and there between their
feet, and all the while there was a monotonous droning,
like a wordless chant to which they circled the Snake
priests with their coiling serpents, and the Antelope
attendants, who stroked with eagle feathers the loath
some reptiles. At the last they were all tossed in a
great pile and sprinkled with prayer meal, and then
gathered in bare hands and borne to the four ways to
carry messages to the gods that the faith of the people
was great, and the devotion of the Snake priests was
strong !

" It is diabolical sorcery flung in the face of the
church ! " declared Padre de Vallada. " What further
evidence is needed that devils out of hell still walk the

" Yet harmless to all," said the voice of Tristan back


of us. " Did not Jesus, the Teacher, say all faithful to
God, the Father, could thus deal with serpents and
scorpions? These people do this thing in natural faith,
and for that are they condemned, yet in all their cere
monies we hear of no one injured."

"Is not the spirit of man injured if not the body?"
demanded the padre, who was livid with horror. " I
have heard of these abominations, but now my own eyes
have looked upon them, and I shall tell these pagans

" Tell them nothing today, Your Reverence," said
Tristan lowly, " their temper is not good for a sermon
after what they have gone through. It has meant eight
days and nights in the iva, and fasting since set of sun
yesterday. They are exalted for any sacrifice, and it is
a time for wise silences."

" They send you out of their den of evil with advice
to a priest of the church? " accused Padre de Vallada,
but Tristan shook his head, and kept his voice carefully
lowered because of Indians near who were silent and

" No one has told me, no one has sent me, but there
are converts here today, men from Oriabe, and they are
not well received in this place. That may seem to
you a simple matter, but nothing these people do is
without meaning."

" Even that? " said the priest, pointing to Sancha, who
stood with face turned away, suddenly conscious of
her hair, half shamed before Tristan though it had only
been a jest with me. " Are we to choose their customs
to suit their vanities? It is a new way! "

Then Tristan saw her and smiled.


v [c?

^ * V


" It is so good a way, Padre de Vallada, that I could
wish the clans would offer the same garb to every Chris
tian in Tusayan this day," he said with so much force
that the priest frowned back, sore perplexed.

" Why this day, and why Christians ? " he asked.

" I do not know. I am not told. You and your com
rade priest should know each word here, and the cause
of it. I came yesterday, I go tomorrow. I give thanks
that they welcome my friends, but I am glad to go

I led Sancha away lest she have fear at the words.
On the long trail the dauntless spirit of her had been a
rare comfort, and I had no mind to have it spoiled by
Indio factions and their troubles, now that we were
at the far gate of the land.

As it was, she feared Padre de Vallada disapproved
of her, and that was bad indeed, but not so serious as
would be his anger at Tristan that pagan sanctuaries
were open to him when closed against the priests of
holy church.

I thought as much myself, but cared little to dwell
upon it, and reminded her of the well on the mesa to
be used as a mirror. The sun was sinking, and it was
the time when maids and matrons filled the water jars
for the morning.

Willingly she consented, for it was her last chance of
seeing herself as a Hopi maid; also, she was eager
enough to walk where we could speak freely of the
unbelievable thing we had seen.

"Were they killed the serpents?" she asked, and
glanced warily about the trail when I told her they
had been carried to the four points of the compass and


let go to bear witness to native gods that the faith of
the Hopi priests was strong.

" I would that he might tell us what other wonders
he saw underground," she ventured, " but it is scarce
to be hoped, since all is secret even from their brothers.
It is strange."

As we passed the great shrine, an Indio followed us
by another and narrower way, and halted at the western
edge of the mesa watching us.

" He also sat near on the terrace," she said, " and I
think he is of the family of Movi each place I go, I see
him near."

Movi heard us, and smiled.

" It is my brother, Wisti," she said, " also he speak
Castilian and Pueblo for the padres, and now he goes
the trail with you to Santa Fe. It is his work to see
you all with your own people."

The man must have heard her, but made no move
towards us. Later I learned that his indifference had
a reason. He was to guard and report all things, yet
run no risk of being thought over friendly lest another
be put in his place. The Oriabe visitors had decided
that a white woman in trie Painted Desert meant a col
ony settlement as at Santa Cruz and Santa Fe, and that
was the least desirable of things, so it was the task of
friendly Walpi clans to bear the task of proof. He
watched, listened, and reported.

Above the shrine, ancient steps were cut in the point
of the cliff, and up there we followed the maids with
the water vessels. It was their hour of laughter and
careless jests with each other. Some visiting youths
were crossing the trail there, and despite an older


woman who served as duenna, there were looks
exchanged, and gay railleries as the maids teased each
other, and ran up the incline, pausing at the edge to
glance down at the men on the west trail below.

It was a wonderful place up there on the mesa of the
well. A cool air followed the sun, and the moon showed
silver white above the far blue cliffs. There was the
scent of sage in the air; and some other shrub, nearer
and sweetly penetrating. Sancha asked of it, and was
shown small roses of yellow and its low growing green
on the trail. Further ahead it had more height and
strength. Sancha was gay as the most carefree maid
of them all; in great good humor with herself when
once av/ay from the chiding eyes of watchful Padre de
Vallada. She even ran races with them, and was left
behind, whereupon the visitors ran back to her with
smiles and comforting words. Then they led her to the
pool that she might kneel there on the stone and bend
over to view herself in the curious hair dressing reserved
for maidens.

They were like children in their humor with her,
and I stood apart, a guard who was needed as little as
silent Wisti, who remained at the head of the stairway.
I watched him with a friendly desire to fraternize if he
was to be a companion of the trail, but the fact that
he spoke Spanish, yet had not betrayed it to Sancha or
me, withheld me.

Noting that the Indian maids were more free when
I was not near, I found myself a seat and idly watched
a man who ran to the east, past the cornfields. I strove
to keep him in sight, but he faded into the shadowy
places where canons were, and over all drifted the tur-


quoise and soft gray of the sky, and the evening star
like a glimmer of gold in the west.

The place had a beauty so strange that nothing but
the quaint garb of the Hopi people seemed right for
it. My own worn apparel would have spoiled any
picture, and I was as well satisfied not to use the mir
ror of the pool. But while watching the others, the
thought came that even the peaceful tribes of the south
dressed and looked like savages, but these people of
many mysteries had a great correctness in their dress
regulations. The little children ran naked, and the
men in the races almost so, yet when they did put
on garments, it was after a rigid manner; and no
woman, old or young, was without the enveloping
manta, by which, in modesty, the lines of the form
were concealed.

I heard one of the maids laugh and say "Poli-kota,"
while others flicked water from the pool on Sancha, at
which there were little shrieks, as she, with a clay dip
per, gave back as good as they sent. Thus without a
common language, and only the spirit of youth as
medium, they got along very gaily.

I had never before seen Sancha with groups of young
people except when backed by all the convention of
Castilian forms. Always I had seen her with people
of mature years, and the nuns, and the ecclesiastical
flavor of life where there was little of freedom.

I was thinking of this, and noting how rosy her
cheek, and how sweet her laughter, when a step sounded
back of me, and Tristan was there.

He was breathing quickly as if from running, and I
asked the cause of haste.


" None, now that I see you both in safety," he con
fessed " but I was not told where she had gone, and
if by chance it had been on the lower trails "

" What then? " I asked, and he smiled.

" Nothing, since you are not there," he said. " But
the Oriabe men go home that way, and they are in some
way jealous that we are here. It may be a matter of
religion, for there is a special feeling against the wearers
of robes."

" Yet you wear one," I said.

" The Walpi men understand that, but the Oriabe
men are of different mind," he said. " I only anger
Padre de Vallada when I try to make him see, but
there is a strong feeling against his brother priest be
cause white children are born now in Tusayan. The
heads of the clans have held council on the matter, and
there is a brewing of troubles to come. I was even
warned that it is better we all turn south again from
here, and not try to cross to the Rio Bravo. But since
that is not to be, the Walpi men will send a strong
friend who knows the speech of other tribes."

"You mean Wisti?"

" You learn fast," he said, " and so does your lady
cousin; there is no thing more wise that she could do
than to wear the dress today and use that coiling of
the hair."

All the vessels were filled, and the women had started
back along the trail, when Sancha saw him, and

" Have you come with a sermon from the padre on
my vanity of spirit? " she asked. " Since it is only once
in my life, I come to look at myself."


" It is worth your trouble," he answered, " but keep
to your priest s robe for the cloak you may need in cold
rains. You must not remain away from the village until
the dusk comes. I am as the shepherd, whose duty it is
to guard you back."

" Sleepless shepherd ! " she said. " When do you
rest? And is it the serpents you have fear of here after
dusk? I shall see them in my dreams for many a night."

" Nay, Excellencia, keep them not in your mind as
things altogether of horror. They have a double tongue
and carry messages to the gods, also they have ears,
and are thought to hear when evil is said of them. An
Indio does not say evil of any of the things of nature
not even a hurricane because God is in all."

" We may learn from them in that," she said. " What
shall I do to make my peace, or my thanks, that they
did not eat me? Movi, what do you to make thanks? "

" We place prayer plumes for gifts or thanks, and we
make shrines for that."

" Then will I," declared Sancha, " in memory, and
when I am gone, you will come to it sometimes and
think of the days when we were wanderers in the wide

" That will I, Isiwa," said Movi, " and isiva is sister."

There was a natural elevation in the rock floor, and
on it Sancha placed small stones as a child builds a
home. Movi helped by bringing others.

" But ai me ! I have neither prayer meal nor incense,"
lamented Sancha ; " and, after all, it will only be a pile
of stone on the mesa floor."

"Could you lack incense when you have this?" and
Tristan broke sprays of the sweet smelling shrub on


which were yellow, roselike bloom of much sweetness.
As he offered it, Sancha uttered a little cry, for a white
butterfly fluttered from its resting place, and hovered
over the blossoms, unafraid.

Movi clapped her hands in delight.

" It is good ! It is truly most good ! " she said. " This
day you get the name, White Butterfly, and at the
star time the white one comes to your memory shrine.
It is a sign from Those Above, and it is good to you."

Tristan laid the flowering branch on the little heap
of stone, for Sancha did not take it, she was staring
at the white thing on the odorous offering, and her
eyes were wide, and the laughter was gone from her

Tristan was silent as she. I was half afraid at the
way the thing had chanced.

" What is this, Movi? " I asked, " what is it you say
of the butterfly name? We have not been told."

" Today Poli-kota Butterfly white, that is the
name. It is now the Hopi name for the sister of you.
Have you angry thoughts that you are now sad? "

" Not sad," said Tristan, " only it is a new thought
and it had not come to us before. The name is a beau
tiful name, and it is fitting it should be made very sacred.
Surely, Excellencia, you will accept the little rose of the
hernava when lacking other incense? "

" O God of my life ! " said Sancha, and it was as if
she spoke through shut teeth lest she scream, " it is in
truth a sign, it is in truth! It is fitting that I should
build a memory shrine I who have forgotten! We
were to build a shrine, the two of us, and the butterfly
has come to me in the Desert to show me how far I


am now from that thought! It has come to tell me

" Nay, Excellencia, it did not come. I brought it,"
said Tristan. " It was asleep in its quiet resting place,
so the fault is mine."

" Do not call me excellencia, and it is not a fault,"
she made answer. " It is my own saint has sent me a
sign, and it is you who have made the shrine with me,
Kahn Alcatraz ! "

" If it makes you sad, I stand ready for any penance,
Butterfly Maiden," he said.

" I should be sad, yet I am only sore bewildered," she
confessed. " Out of all the things of the Desert, why
should that name be the choice for me ? And of all the
growing things, why should you bring the one on which
the butterfly slept? O, you think me deranged! You
cannot know what the white butterfly has meant in
my dreams; you never dream, because you so seldom
sleep ! "

The afterglow was flaring its rose tints where the
blues and grays had been, and as she sank on her knees
beside the little memory shrine the reflected light gave
her the unreal glamour of the mysterious. Movi
touched my hand.

" At shrines one must not weep," she said, and Sancha
heard her.

" I do not weep, I only remember," she said, " and
this place of the shrine is not now a place lightly
thought of. It is made here to my Saint of the Impos
sible, for the impossible has come in the deserts where
I have been protected by her care. It is right I should
leave a memory of that on the trail, and what place so


fit? The mesa itself is as a great throne or altar place.
You are right ; the incense is on every side, and strange
it is that such fragrance should be rooted in the crevice
of the great rock."

" The fragrance lasts through the years," said Tris
tan. "Will you take a branch? It may survive the

She took that which he offered, but after a moment
laid it on the little shrine of stone, and lifted a bit of
that on which the butterfly had rested.

" This will go with me," she said. " And now come
away quickly. I want to go while its wings yet make
beauty on the yellow bloom."

We walked in silence along the mesa and saw the
shadows changing and deepening while the moon gave
silvery light on the gray sage.

At the head of the stone steps she stood last, and he
beside her.

" It is strange," she said, " how dreams are dreamed,
and vows are made, and we drift far, but a vow made
must be kept even in places strange as this the saints
who guard us bring it to be."

" That is often true," he said.

" I am glad it was here," she added as she looked back
over the exalted and lonely height. " Never shall I see
it again but it will not be forgotten."

Our silent guard stood by the ancient shrine of the
pass as we went up the trail, and looking back, I could
see him follow in the twilight. He did not speak even
to Movi, his sister.


WHEN the herald star of morning shone over
the mesa of the east, we descended to the
plain, and shadowy forms sped beside us.

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Online LibraryMarah Ellis Martin RyanThe house of the dawn → online text (page 20 of 26)