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Indians killed in the turquoise mine had been taken
from that place as slaves, and the looks of the natives
were not friendly to white people.

" If you have a river to cross in the Desert, always
cross before making camp," advised Tristan, " lest a
storm, or cloudburst near headwaters, may lift the
stream high in the night."

No one gainsaid him, for we had grown a silent
group. I, because of my own fears, and Wisti and
Manuel because of some words exchanged with the
people of the village, but they would not tell what they

" It is the tragic death of all those men in the mine
of the slaves," decided Tristan. " These tribal men
have done great works, as is shown by their ancient
building, and canals, yet they never have worked as
slaves until now, and to die in that slavery is a serious
thing, and the white conquerors should know it is a
dangerous thing."

" What could happen? " asked Sancha, and I noted
that Wisti and Manuel listened while one made a fire
and the other prepared rabbits for cooking.

" Much could happen if the tribes knew their strength
and were not so constantly fighting little wars be
tween themselves," he said. " No white conquerors
have conquered either in Mexico, or here, but by the
help of Indians. Moctezuma was conquered as much
by Tlascalans as by Castilians. These tribes have
greater power than they know, and it is the good
fortune of the white people that they do not know."

What else he said, or Sancha said, I did not hear, for
my mind was held by the two Indian men. Neither


spoke, neither made gesture or ceased their work, but
over the little blaze of the new fire Wisti looked at
Manuel, and Manuel met him with strange question
in his eyes. It was a curious look, and it told nothing ;
each questioned, and each was on guard even with the
other. I recalled afterwards that I had a chill because
of that look, and got to my feet to walk it off.

When I came back, Sancha and Tristan sat above
the river and tossed pebbles like children, and he made
a balsa of willow twigs, and launched it with a white
primrose as freight.

" There is your ship of life," he said, " all a white
blossom on a muddy stream, Excellencia."

" Make one for yourself, and I will forgive you the
4 excellencia, " she said, and laughed.

"Will you so?" he asked, and wrapped the twigs
and tossed them. " Will you indeed forgive, O Desert
Comrade most Wonderful?"

She put out her hand to him, but leaned over the
edge of the bank.

" O look ! look ! " she said. " They drifted wide, and
mine halted and swirled in the eddy, and now the cur
rent bears them together until no eye can tell which
it is carries the cargo of the desert bloom. Can you? "

" I do not want to," he said, and looked at her, and
she gave one quick look at his face, and bent again
over the bank.

" I know." and she spoke lowly. " If they drift apart
each would seem in danger of wreckage, and it fits the
peace of the twilight better that we see the two go
together like that, lit by the white flame of the white
blossom. See! they have passed the place where the


ripples are, and no drop of the yellow spray has touched
the white."

" That is how it will be O White Butterfly Lady."

" Why do you call me that? " she asked, and he stood
up and looked at her. His arms were folded, and to me
there was a certain finality in his manner.

" Perhaps because of the shrine on the desert mesa,
and the white-winged thing there. I think I have always
wanted to call you your Indian name, and this is the
last night."

" What ! " and I could feel her terror.

" I have made your bed of the fragrant things under
the stars for the last time on this trail, Marquesa de
Llorente y Rivera," he said grimly enough. " When
the twilight comes on the morrow, your trail of the
Desert will be ended. You will be safe among people
of your quality, and there will be silken covers for
you, instead of desert stars."

" And you? " she asked.

" I shall always have the stars, and there may be
summer days when white butterflies cross the trail."

"And you will be content with that?"

" That will mean freedom to range, and I have been
content with less, White Butterfly Lady."

" You are a mystery to me always, Kahn Alcatraz,"
she said. " In all these days you ride beside us as a
creature of power yet the power always wears its
mask even to me. I do not approve of that. Good
night, Kahn Alcatraz."

" God be with you, Lady of White Butterflies ! "

I stood in my tracks, making no sound, and they
turned their different ways without getting sight of


me, and that was the last night camp on our unfor
gettable trail.

But in the morning I was startled by a cry from
Sancha in the dawn. Close beside her pillow of sage
brush, lay a handful of the white primrose of the Desert,
and beyond that no sign left of Tristan it was his fare
well! He had lain down to his rest as had the others,
and no one knew when he had risen and taken the

In vain I assured her I did not know, and had distress
enough of my own without borrowing from her. If
the man was weary of our company, I did not feel to
blame. I assured her I had ever given him friendly
courtesy, and knew no cause of his going without fare
well to me.

She only stared at that, and gave me cold disdain for
the first mile or two on the way, then she turned to me
after moody silence.

" But he forgave me my early discourtesy," she pro
tested, and thus I knew where her thoughts had been.
" He did forgive it all in a comradely way, and I had
intent to have all honor shown to him before the gov
ernor; for God knows, Juanito, he has been as a very
Saint of the Impossible on earth for us."

" But that saint was a woman," I reminded her.

" Ay, so they taught me," she answered, " but in the
New World there are bewildering new things to be

That of course was, and is, a fact, and I kept my
tongue between my teeth for I knew she had more of
the unexpected still to meet, and she would need a
litany of saints, or a heavenly faith, to see her through.


And to meet it we journeyed over a trail of lava in
the hills, but when we went into the lower lands, we
could view great pastures and comfortable herds of
cattle, which brought the proof that we were at last
coming near the governor s seat of the most northern
Spanish province. There I turned to her, and made my
endeavor to cloak his presence in the land.

" Sancha dear," I said humbly enough. " He has
other cause than we know for his comings and goings in
this land. It is as well to say little of a white
comrade on the trail. If he is enemy to friend of ours,
that comradeship might be hard to explain. We are
young, Sancha mine, and we will have to live the rest
of our lives on the plans we make in this town of
Santa Fe at the end of the trail. Let him go as he will,
and mention him only as Ivava, if you mention him at
all; it is a good name."

" It is a good name, for it means brother," she agreed,
" and you are not trusting me, Juanito. But if either
of you think I will not see him again, it a foolish
thought. He had love for that woman, but I have
my own reckoning day as well as he in this land, and
when it is over I shall see him again. The thought
that he is utterly gone is foolish he is only out of
our sight. But I will call him Ivava to please you,

So it was decided, and when we halted at a pueblo
where good water was, we heard clatter of horses, and
a troop of the governor s guard rode up and saluted,
and the chief officer, Captain Roque de Lara, gave us
welcome. His word was that a padre of Mexico Fray
Domingo had given the word to Governor Otermin


of our coming, and of our rank. The mystery of this
was made somewhat clear by the added fact that Fray
Domingo had met some hunters who crossed our trail.

" But we were told there was a white man with you,
and I see none," he said.

Whereupon with as careless a manner as might be,
I stated that the man was but a ranger who had served
as guard, and when we were at the edge of safety, he
had gone his own way.

Sancha looked her disapproval of my slight opinion
of him, yet she said no word, and permitted herself to
be mounted on a fresh horse, and gave joy to Captain
de Lara by riding beside him into the town of the
Holy Faith of Saint Francis.

There was excitement enough, and to spare, over our
arrival from the wide wilderness of the pagans. So
many were the questions, and the strange faces, that
it is a blur in my mind to this day.

His Excellency, Don Antonio Otermin, and his wife,
Dona Zelinda, looked to the comfort of Sancha who
was housed in the Governor s Palace; a long adobe
building, of insignificance to our eyes after the wonders
in the ancient homes of the Desert.

But there was clean linen, and Christian welcome, and
De Lara was my friend to lend me needful garments in
which to make proper appearance at the governor s
table. Manuel had asked with civility to be my servant
on our arrival, and as Sancha and I might well employ
one between us, I asked courtesy of De Lara for him
until we two bankrupts had time to discover what
would chance us next.

Neither of us asked for Marco, and nothing was


seen of him, but my friend, the captain, laughed and
made a remark concerning him, and concerning the
chance that Marco would slip into town the back way,
and come with no tooting of horn from San Yldefonso.

When I asked the meaning of that, he told me Marco
had gone north a day s journey on some business of
Governor Otermin, and had taken his pretty family
along lest she be stolen by some one else in his absence !
also that her excellency, the marquesa, might not
relish so pretty a serving maid as had been secured for

And by that I saw of course that no secrecy could be
made of the betrothal. The vanity of Marco made
known all his conquests.

" But it is by fateful and unexpected adventure that
Dona Sancha has reached this frontier land," I ex
plained. Her destination was a convent instead of the
Governor s Palace."

De Lara and his comrades were tireless in their
question of the wide trail and the tribes of the west.
A padre from Mexico had arrived, weeks before, with
tales of the Apache war on the Pima, and the difficulties
of the eastern trail; we had done well to keep to the

I pricked up my ears as to the padre, and the latest
word from Mexico, but my new friend knew only that
his name was Padre Domingo Orellano and that he
had some business of import for the Holy Office, and
was a man made of whalebone by the look of him, and
the endurance. In the Apache land he had traveled two
days without daring to approach a water hole and
was confidently hoping for martyrdom.


I met the man, and bowed before him in the house
of the governor, and felt his cold gray eyes measure
me, and weigh me.

He asked where our guide had left us ; also his name.
I replied that it was Ivava, and he had only remained
with us for courtesy and our safety; after the latter
was assured, he had gone about his own business which
had to do with Indians.

"Ah!" he said, "ah-h! Indians?"

I made my face a blank against the gaze like a gimlet
in its searching, and his smile was not to my liking.
I had a chill of fear at thought of this man hoping for
martyrdom for the Faith and on the trail of Tristan !

Then Sancha came in with Dona Zelinda and a Dona
Ynez Tafoya who had shared the adventures of her
young husband in the colony. I was glad of heart to
see Sancha safe again under a roof, and garbed in a
gown of white linen, and a rebosa of lace over her

Every eye was turned her way and she was well
worth it. As a personage, and the niece of Fray Payo,
the well beloved, all homage and courtesy was her due,
but it was something more which caused each man s
eye to lighten at sight of her. Favorite though the
Sancha of the viceregal court had been, she was but a
hint of the royal beauty the Sancha of the Desert had
become. She had been a pale bud of promise, and in
the dusty garb of the long journey I had grown used
to the change in her by degrees, but the garb of dignity,
and the burnished tresses, made her suddenly a revela
tion; she radiated beauty graciously as a flower its


The women were her adoring admirers as well as the
men: for to them she was as the spirit of a romance
such as women s hearts feed upon. Welcome diet it was
in that adobe town of the frontier, for there was little
of change there but to change the guard, and protect
the settlements as might be from Apache, Navajo, or
roving Comanche.

Her eyes went quickly over every face in the sala.
Then she looked at me in question, but I kept my at
tention steadily for Dona Ynez, who was exceedingly
gracious. She told me her husband, Don Lorenzo, was
expected back from Santa Cruz a day later, and she
would pray that he come by San Yldefonso and bring
Senor Lieutenant de Ordono quickly to so fair a sweet
heart. All the town, with its hundred and twenty sol
diers, would celebrate the wedding day.

" Wonderful proud one ! " murmured Dona Ynez,
and looked half pitifully at Sancha ; " it is as well there
is a day for preparing, for there must be no thorns on
her roses."

She was a lovely lady, who had come north with the
colonists; and there was a comfort to me in having
one new friend who knew of Anita, and would help
cloak, if need be, all truths from Sancha.

But it was thin ice we all stood on that night of the
first supper at the table of the governor, for Padre
Domingo was ever as a watchful puma coming back
on the trail ; and suddenly, after Sancha had told of the
disaster to the hopes of Mother Clemente, and the cap
ture of us by the Sonoran tribe, the padre suddenly
asked :


" Did you, by any chance, hear of the heretic, Tristan
Rueda, on that trail? "

Sancha looked at him curiously, half smiling, yet
wrinkling her brows.

" How strange to hear that name away here," she
said. "A heretic, good father? Truly?"

"You have not seen him on the trail?" he asked
again, and she laughed and shook her head.

" I never have seen him since I was but a child in
Seville, and he angered me so that I was long in for
giving. I never have seen him in this land, but no
one told me he was a lost soul. I am sad at heart of
that thought, for Don Rodrigo loved him."

" And Fray Payo and many others, Dona Sancha,"
said Dona Ynez. " He was high in favor with Don
Tomas, and had painted the most lovely picture of
Dona Perfecta de Dasmarinas. It was enough to cause
love for her but to look at it, so beautiful it was like
a golden poppy of a woman."

" Why yes, I saw the portrait, but no one told
me it was by the hand of that Rueda," said Sancha,
perplexed, and looking at me. " If he knew enough to
paint so well, small wonder that he angered me long
ago by slighting a portrait I thought entirely the work
of inspiration. I was but a silly one at that time."

" Ay, he knows enough with Satan for his master ! "
agreed Padre Domingo. " Angels for the chapel of
San Carlos he did, and there is grave doubt now con
cerning them it is thought they will be painted over
by a true believer."

" But they were quite things of wonder in beauty! "
said the amazed Dona Ynez. " I went there for prayers


on my wedding morning, and closing my eyes, I can
still see them."

" Things of beauty, yes," agreed Padre Domingo
grimly, " things of wonder to make poor souls forget
the sins and souls, and remember only the fleshly beauty
of color and likeness to life. Spirit is what he was told
to paint, and he did instead graceful wenches wreathed
in cloud. That is the time he should have been curbed,
and never let do that Virgin of the Fawn, which is a
pagan false goddess, and not the holy Santa Maria at

"The Virgin of the Fawn!" repeated Sancha
with stiff lips, and paling face.

"Why we never heard of that Virgin," said Dona

" Nor did any one else in Christian faith ever before,"
stated Padre Domingo. " The painter was a heretic
Jew on trial for the faith, and was given the task in
prison to paint an altarpiece of holiness, if Santa Maria,
the Virgin, gave him leave. Well, an altarpiece was
painted, and his friends say that the Holy Mother
helped him. But there is another side of the story; we
have painters in holy orders who are modest, and all
too lenient. Also after the painting was done, the
apostate painter escaped from prison. He started north,
but has touched no point on El Paso trail. Thus my
question to you; He escaped prison before your excel
lency took leave of Mexico."

" Juanito, did you know? " asked Sancha.

" I did hear, but who knows the business of the
Holy Office? Because a man is no longer seen does
not mean he has escaped."


" But, as to the picture? " she persisted, and the good
food was forgotten on her plate, and her voice shook
despite its coldness.

" Of the picture there were rumors, as the reverend
father rightly says," I replied virtuously. " No one
saw the painting of that picture. No one but Fray
Bernardino truly knows. The decoration of the chapel,
and the altar, was in the hands of Fray Bernardino."

" That is the true word, and the sorrowful one,"
said Padre Domingo, " for Bernardino has ever had a
soft place in his heart for that adventurer apostate.
The evidence points one way ; the painting was credited
to the Jewish heretic that true believers might vote
him innocent."

" No heretic could do that picture," stated Sancha.
" I saw it. No, no ! the painter of that was not heretic."

" So I say," decided Padre Domingo. " He may
have given help, for he has the devil s cleverness
or the Jews ! He has been upheld by men who should
be disciplined for it, and all will come out when we
find him again."

" But we knew Tristan Rueda, and he was honest
Christian, or so it seemed," said Dona Ynez. " Fray
Payo gave him countenance in all things, and he could
have mounted high if he had cared for worldly posses
sion rather than profitless learning. How could he
so quickly turn Jew? "

" A Jew he was born, or of Jewish ancestry, so the
curse is in the blood," said the padre.

" This is all very strange to me," said Sancha. " I
never knew the man, but he stood high in the thought
of Uncle Rodrigo."


" Your excellency has not been told then that it
was the death-bed confession of Don Rodrigo de Ordono
by which the Jew s ancestry was made known?" de
manded Padre Domingo with a keen look at her, but
she shook her head, white, and bewildered.

" All these things are heard by me for the first time,
and they give me a soul sickness instead of joy at the
end of the trail," she confessed. " If it is true that the
word of Don Rodrigo sentenced that man, then Don
Rodrigo died in torment, for he loved him well. I pray
your excellency "

She turned with pleading eyes to Governor Otermin,
and he smiled upon her, and lifted his goblet of wine.

" You are overtired to be entertained by tales of
heretics and the laws, Excellencia," he said, " but ere
Dona Zelinda and Dona Ynez claim you for the night,
I would empty a cup to the most distinguished lady
who has ever braved our northern wilderness. We drink
to your high courage, to the honor of your house, and
to the noble example you have set to ladies of rank. I
may hope to double my army on this example, for men
will ever come in plenty where maidens venture forth.
To your happiness, Marquesa de Llorente y Rivera ! "

Sancha smiled with stiff lips, as all stood in her honor,
and lifted goblets high, and then made a little lane
through which she was led by her host. My last sight
was of two reproachful eyes, gazing at me above the
head of the governor as he bent low over her hand.

Then the door closed, and the men sat again at the
table and voiced their admiration. I alone sat silent,
I, and the gray padre watching me, and, after a little,
he spoke.



" Is it not strange, Senor Rivera, that the thing of
greatest scandal of the Mexican winter has never
reached the ears of your cousin, Dona la Marquesa, until

The governor turned a quick frowning face on the

" That scandal drove away our most lovely guest,
father," he remarked. " Is it your intent to send the
rest of us to bad dreams? "

" Nay, rather to get trail of an arch enemy to Mother
Church," he said softly, crossing himself. " These chil
dren from the Desert might have traveled in perilous
company, Excellency, and none to warn them."

Their exchange of words gave me time to gather my

" Your Excellency," I ventured. " The reverend father
has reason on his side, for Tristan Rueda was a favorite
of two viceroys, and much in the speech of men. His
brush made one portrait of a lady of rank in the palace
so he was a Somebody. But fashions change at
court as elsewhere, and when the Marquesa de Llorente
arrived, his was a forbidden name there. I am witness
that Dona Perfecta, for sake of policy, had a priest to
alter points in that portrait of hers, and, as the Marquesa
lived in the viceroy s honored circle, and knew no other,
how should she hear of this outlawed man? He was
never known to her by sight even in her childhood, and
for this reason I gave her no confidence in the matter,
lest it bring her grief for Don Rodrigo s painful duty,
as you are witness now."

" True," said Governor Otermin, " I have heard it
was that honored old soldier who made the betrothal,


and won such a treasure for Marco de Ordono. By
the Faith, she is too rare a creature for a lieutenant;
a viceregal palace would be better shelter for such a

" It is whispered, your excellency, that she could
have even that, and without striving," stated Padre
Domingo impressively ; " this young gallant should
know somewhat of that."

" I know only her words that she would wed as
arranged, or re-enter the conventual life. All her years
were lived thus until now."

" What a waste of beauty ! " said Roque de Lara.
" His excellency is right, as always ; such proud loveli
ness would grace a palace. How think you Lieutenant
Marco may measure up to it? She looked like Sheba s
queen to me, though in an Indian dress, and a man s

" I started a runner at once with a message to him,"
said the governor " the most gracious thing I could
do for one so proud that she makes no mention of him
when his voice is not here to speak welcome."

" More than pride, that," said the gray padre. " More
than pride! It holds its own mystery; which does not
fit with her path half-way round the world."

His tone was quiet and thoughtful, but his eyes never
left my face, and the curious smile of his thin lips had
too much satisfaction in them for my content. There
are nights even now when I dream of those crafty
eyes watching watching from under the gray over
hanging brows. I had little chills and flashes of fever
at his gaze, and I cross myself now when I think of
all it meant.


There were questions asked me of the western pueb
los, and their appearance of content, but I was well
near to being tongue tied, and could only tell that they
were friendly, and the guides they sent proved loyal.
Cochiti village showed some sullen faces, but we did
not halt there. The governor listened closely.

" You see, gentlemen, the trouble is not in the west,
and is not general. It is the northern groups for whom
the guard must never be lax. That crime lately at
San Juan is the most troubling thing, for it was Pope
himself who strangled the Indian governor there, and
Pope has heretofore been politic with all the clans,
striving with constancy to incite them to return to the
pagan faith. Padre, cannot the Holy Office help us
in this matter? This red apostate claims to talk with
spirits, and excites the poor natives to distraction. If
you have leave to trail one renegade painter for execu
tion, why not a rebellious leader who is against church
and state?"

" The execution of that rebellious Indio, your ex
cellency, should have been carried out before he gath
ered his bewitched and fanatic guards about him. He
moves about in state with more courtiers than the
soldiers in your garrison. He will be dealt with when
the time comes, but the trail of this renegade Jew is a

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Online LibraryMarah Ellis Martin RyanThe house of the dawn → online text (page 23 of 26)