Marah Ellis Martin Ryan.

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different matter. His knowledge of other secret Span
ish heretics may be great. It is not for death he is
precious, but to be put to the question as a most learned
apostate. His friends in high places did win him re
spite, and he has been let run the length of his chain,
but it is only to be drawn back as witness for the


His words were to the Governor, but his eyes were
on me with that mocking, endless stare, as if to read
all the thoughts I had ever dared cultivate. Boy as I
was, emerging from the months of desert silences, it
was a nerve racking time I put in there, with the con
sciousness of that death s head gloating over me.

I welcomed the first move of the captain to go, for I
had not the courage to take myself away, much though
I craved to.

As the other men bade good night, and went out, De
Lara halted to speak to Governor Otermin of some
private matter, and I stood near the door, afraid, in
truth, to go out alone lest I should run wildly in useless
search for Tristan, and shout to him my warning.
Someway I knew he had either evaded the town, or was
well hidden, but who was there to tell him the breed
of tiger on the trail?

The knowledge of Padre Domingo was very wide, and
I was clear as a piece of crystal to him, for he con
tinued to smile as I fumbled nervously with the cuff
of my borrowed garment, and strove to look com
fortably placed.

" The length of his chain," said the padre softly.
" Don Juan Rivera, you perhaps do not know that
Padre de Vallada in the Desert, has the swiftest couriers
of New Granada at his call. Do you know now just
how long is the chain for Tristan Rueda Alcatraz? "

So he had known all the time!

I could only look at him, struck dazed with all it
meant. He had played with us as a cat with mice. He
had given me a chance to damn myself in the eyes
of the Holy Office by withholding testimony. Thus,


no matter how long a chain was given me, they could
also draw me back for service if a day came when I
was desired. And their strength on the frontier was
above the power of state !

More than that one crafty question he did not speak.
It was as if he meant to kill me by inches of torment,
yet I was so slight and helpless he could afford to let
me walk free, knowing the limit absolutely of my range
he held the other end of the chain !

No one heard him but me. He did not mean to
make a scandal in the governor s circle of guests, but
I had my warning.

Someway I got outside, ahead of Roque de Lara. I
was voiceless with dread, and began to understand
why there had been so little comment on the disap
pearance of our guide.

Had I known then that Tristan, supperless, lay roped
and tied in the adobe cuartel not a bowshot away, the
fine supper at the table of the governor would have
choked me.



Y NIGHT under a roof was one of sleepless
dread, in terror at thought of facing Sancha,
and in even greater terror of what the keen
gray padre meant to do with us all.
At dawn Wisti was waiting me at the door, huddled
up in a blanket, and his words did not bring comfort.
He asked that I get for use the dress in which the
White Butterfly Maid had ridden away from Walpi.
It had been presented to her for wearing. In the
patio of the house of the governor he had seen her in
a garb of fine white, but the tribes only knew of her
by the Hopi dress, and the gray cloak, and if she was
indeed my sister of the heart, I must at once get ready
the garments. Also his word to me was that it would
be well to take the trail without delay for Mexico; the
tribes in New Granada were not content, and it w?s
an ill place to come for holiday.

But he did not tell all this so plainly as I say it.
Except for his tremulous anxiety of the dress, no other
statement of his was clear. When I strove to learn
the thing he hinted, I could get from him only the
fact that he was a simple man of the wilderness, and a
stranger in the Christian town of Santa Fe. He also
made statement that Manuel would take good care of



the garments for me, and Manuel was a friend and

Thereupon I undertook, as early as might be, to
come by the desired articles by the hand of sleek Rosita,
a half-breed serving maid of Dona Ynez, for Wisti
advised that it be secured without question or alarm to
Dona Sancha.

So, after breakfast, the affair moved well enough,
and the garments were slipped to me out of a barred
window, and Manuel disappeared with them as Dona
Ynez herself came from the patio in time to ask if I was
already finding myself brown sweethearts among her
maids !

Over this we jested, and I vowed I was only there
to ask of her health, and to learn how my cousin had
rested at the end of all her adventures, and at that
the kind eyes of her looked sad.

" She is without doubt mad with love for him
is it not so?" she asked. "I think she slept little,
and twice she sat at the window looking out in the
night, and listening to each sound as if waiting some
sound of his step."

" That listening is a habit of the Desert ; I did like
wise," I confessed. " But it may be that she is indeed
deep in love, and that she has her own anxieties. She
does not speak of them."

"That is true; did ever you see a girl so cold and
proud? Don Antonio insists she should be a vicereine
at the least, even the padre spoke of it with warning
of too much pride in youth. But the Llorentes and
the Riveras have their own excuse for pride, and always
they have been an honor to church and state."


I had scarcely acknowledged properly this fine com
pliment, when Sancha appeared in the patio, fastening
yellow roses in the bodice of her white gown. She
had no pleasant looks for me, but a cold decision in
her voice.

" Juanito, O wise one," she said mockingly. " You
know so many ways of this world, know you also the
trail to San Yldefonso? They tell me it is only the
ride of a day, and San Yldefonso seems the bottom of
the well where Truth lies for me. I have asked for
our horses, and have the mood to ride that way."

" Santa Madre ! " whispered Dona Ynez, " never in
the world must she do so. Another girl rides with
him a slave girl of his ! "

" I know," I said, and stole another look at Sancha.
Her face was a mask, but her eyes were aflame she
looked as if she also knew!

" If you ride forth to the north take me as guide,"
said Dona Ynez with sudden thought to help. " I was
once at Santa Cruz, and know some of the trails, also
my husband is there."

Captain de Lara advised against this plan, and of
fered instead to take us pleasuring to an extinct vol
cano not far away, and by nightfall, without doubt, the
Lieutenant de Ordono and Don Lorenzo would have
reached town, also there were various trails to the
north, and we would surely miss them in the wilderness.

Sancha listened, and smiled at us.

" I do not think I care for dead volcanos," she said ;
" there are too many living things of interest to me. I
may save a life by riding north, and my cousin here
knows the meaning of that."


Dona Ynez stared at her and crossed herself.

" If such be true," she begged, " come first, for the
love of God, and tell the governor or the padre. Padre
Domingo has safer messengers than you could be or
any of us."

" That is true," said Captain de Lara. " The Holy
Office can pay its messengers more than the state, and
controls the best. I heard this morning a new thing
a Roberto Sanchez trapped some renegade on the range
for Padre Domingo yesterday, and how, think you?
Roberto is a lad from the far south and uses well the
reata; swish, it circles a man s shoulders, and drags
him from a horse. An Indio carted the man in, roped
and tied, under a load of corn. He is now in the cuartel
back of the church waiting the pleasure of the priests.
One man with a greased rope and the job is done
for the church, and no one in the town the wiser. But
for the state we would have been sent in company, and
every street boy know our errand, and the result. It
is true, Excellencia, that if you desire haste, the padre
has the greater power."

My own interest was suddenly lost in the desire of
Sancha. That cuartel back of the church held all my
thought. That was the prison for the Inquisition: not
a strong place, except by guard and rope, or chain. The
story of the captain had its own suggestion: Roberto,
who was a handy lad with a reata, and thought he had
an honest grudge of his own to pay! Padre Domingo,
by whom the people of Santa Fe learned our coming!
I dared not question, yet I was sick with fear. If the
long arm of the Inquisition had indeed touched him
again, it must have been in the dusk of dawn when he


rode away to free our skirts of all stigma through
comradeship for him.

Small wonder if Padre Domingo could smile con
tentedly over the game he had come a thousand miles
to win! and well I knew that but for the encumbrance
of Sancha and me, Tristan could have ridden, unher
alded, safely into New Granada, and safely out again.

Filled with dread of that which I dared not voice,
I walked apart where the roses grew, and watched the
wall of the cuartel. It was not high, and looked a mere
walled square back of the church. It might have been
a monastery garden for all one could see of it, but I
had been told that the prison adjoined the monastery
there, and was back of the church. It was the place of
restraint for all detained by the Holy Office, and the
place of punishing for novices.

It was again the very mockings of fate if he should
be chained within hearing of her voice, and she the
honored guest of the governor. I remembered the
thing she had said to him on the terrace roof that night
at Walpi that doors must ever open for him where she

So oppressed was I, that I lost track of the words
of others there ; only Sancha had her mind decided upon
San Yldefonso, without any messenger, whether
churchly or military.

Dona Zelinda joined them, and plainly agreed with
Sancha. The governor s lady had a heart for romance,
and Sancha fitted all her dreams of adventurous love.
She ransacked her chests for garb worthy her wear,
and in her mind s eye she already saw every chance
for the most sumptuous wedding yet seen in Santa Fe:



all this though no one had heard the bride elect men
tion Marco by name. But that, they all agreed, was
maiden shyness, and more than maiden pride. In later
days Dona Zelinda confessed to me that Sancha was
overpowering to her in three different ways as a
simple convent maid of high degree, in the glowing
beauty of her which fitted well a love romance, and
in the still pride of all the Llorentes and Riveras by
which it was plain she would rule wherever her lines
of life were cast.

" Don Juan is not gallant this fair morning," said
Sancha loud enough for me to hear. " He walks apart
and mopes to show us he is weary of riding beside
a mere cousin. Dona Zelinda, I beg that you find for
him a lady worthy his fancy, while I go begging for a
cavallero ! "

" A fine jest," I grumbled, " with all the presidio
at your nod. But I have ridden with you on headstrong
rides of folly ere this, and once more is a trifle."

The others laughed, but she put her hand on my
arm very meekly.

" So you did, Juanito mine," she said, " and in weari
ness have you paid for the other times; but this
is the last one and it will not be long."

With a proud or angry Sancha a man might argue,
but Sancha with meekness in her eye was a power none
might resist, and I swept the ground with De Lara s
holiday hat, and bent knee before her, playing courtier.
She patted my hair much as if I had been a faithful
watch dog.

Manuel came with the horses, and at sight of him I
had a new fear. I had no good reason to guard Marco


from any justice, yet I had no fancy for having Manuel
meet his pretty daughter on the highway in the midst
of all the troublous coil.

He looked searchingly at Sancha, and at the rosary,
and yellow roses.

"The feather of the eagle where?" he asked, and
Sancha slipped it from the bosom of her gown.

" It was a pledge," she said. " I remember, and I
keep it."

" It will be good that you do not forget ever in this
land," he said guardedly. " It weighs little, but the
spirit of it is big. Also the day may dawn when you
need that spirit."

" Manuel," she half whispered that the others should
not hear, " Manuel there were two feathers ; you said
they were mates, but we have lost the mate. Manuel
can you help with the finding? "

" That is true, Manuel," I added, eager enough to
give him other task than to go with us. Then I drew
him apart while Roque de Lara helped Sancha and
Dona Ynez to saddle.

I told him all I dared, leaving him to think that if
it were indeed our friend who had been roped and
thrown in prison, that the man who did the roping was
the woman-hunter whose slave we had set free, and
that the capture was in vengeance.

I had touched the right thought, for the eyes of
Manuel blazed, and his smile was wicked.

" I will learn," he said. " Converts of our clan are
here with the padres. The eagle feather will win
their heart if he shows it. I will learn."

Well satisfied, I rode out to join Sancha and Dona

j LEi U 1 J ^ c rLi\ . 1 L 3 11* J fl I l^LTL-J L!^i-JL Jl 3 UL_J J

Ynez. De Lara could not leave. Don Antonio offered
to send fitting escort, but Sancha wanted only Wisti as
her guard.

" This must be only a family party, Juanito," she
said. " Wisti has been of us these many days, and
Dona Ynez already is a comrade."

To me Dona Ynez privately expressed the hope that
if we met Marco and Don Lorenzo on the way, that it
would be her husband the girl rode with, and not
Sancha s betrothed. Also she gave as her opinion that
Sancha had heard some foolish gossip of the matter,
else why this sudden notion to ride north?

As we rode, I noted little work was being done, and
groups of Indio men were coming in from many ways.
They looked on us with curious interest, and some of
the older exchanged words with Wisti. Once, when
speaking, he pointed to Sancha and spoke her Hopi
name, and an old man came over, and very gravely
looked at the rosary, and the feather she wore, with
its curious marking. Then he unfastened a blue bead
of turquoise, slipped it on a thread of sinew, and of
fered it with a gesture indicating that she wear it
on her wrist.

She did so, thanking him and smiling her most gra
cious, but the man did not smile, and he stood in the
road looking after us.

" That man is Ruler what you call Cacique of a
pueblo," said Wisti. " Forget not his kind heart
thought, Excellencia, for you he will not forget."

" Have you had such easy conquests all your long
road?" asked Dona Ynez wonderingly. "You do not
have even a surprise that an ancient comes out of the


wilderness to offer you a jewel. They do nothing like
that for me."

" On the long trail we learned to value each kindness,
and each one seems a link in a chain of service. It is
by no virtue of my own that I am heir to these," said
Sancha humbly.

We had reached the top of a long hill where it was
worth the time to halt and watch the shadows of the
clouds drift over the pastures and fields of corn. North
was the forest range of the Sangre de Christo, and
back of us the walls of Santa Fe shown yellow, glim
mering in the August sun.

" It looks a picture of endless peace," said Sancha,
and halted her horse, " yet my mind is troubled at the
strange looks in the eyes of all Indians who pass. Why
should that strange and stern old man have chosen
me to receive his gift of a blue bead? "

It was at that moment of her perplexed looking back
at the adobe walls, and the straggling Indio travelers,
that Dona Ynez did a quick and clever thing. She was
ahead on the trail, and with a gesture to me for secrecy,
she slipped from her saddle, and ran forward without
sound. At the same moment I heard the beat of the
feet of horses. Sancha was speaking to Wisti and
heard none of it.

But when she turned, she saw the empty saddle,
stared at me in startled question, but never voiced it,
for from the trail beyond she heard the voice of Dona
Ynez and laughter, and then the tones of a man, and
guessed the truth.

Women are wonderful things! My own blood was
jumping, and I fairly shook with the unexpectedness


of it all, but Sancha sat her horse like a queen at a
review, her face a cold mask, her eyes glowing and
steady. She did not even urge her horse one step
nearer, but held him in his place on the very summit of
the hill.

Then, up from the trail of the scrub oak, walked Dona
Ynez with the arm of her husband about her. He led
his horse, and back of them rode a young Indian girl
of beauty and wistful eyes.

The saints alone knew how the wife of Don Lorenzo
had so quickly commanded her husband in one breath
less sentence, but command him she did.

" This is my husband, Serior Tafoya," she said, smil
ing and elated at her triumph. " I heard his voice and
slipped down to give him the great surprise. And
see how thoughtful he has been to bring me a maid
who is pretty as a painted saint ! "

I agreed that the maid was good to gaze upon, and
knew I had heard of her beauty in the Jemez mountains.
She looked puzzled and even frightened, glancing from
one to the other of us, and turning her horse in the

But I rested my hand on the bridle, while Don
Lorenzo bent over the hand of Sancha, and spoke his
wonder at meeting a lady of Old Spain on a hill in
New Granada.

He had not seen the messenger sent north, neither
had Don Marco. He had cut short his stay in Santa
Cruz for the reason that there were strange, treasonable
matters going forward in the north, and he felt his
duty was to bring warning to Governor Otermin at
once; more of a guard was needed at Santa Cruz.


Lieutenant de Ordono felt the same regarding San Ylde-
fonso; both were riding with all haste to make report.

Sancha had uttered no word, had only clasped hands
with Don Lorenzo, and smiled her gracious greeting,
and the smile of Sancha had a satisfying message of
its own. But through that still smile of hers, and the
explaining words of the puzzled man, I could see that
her every sense was centered on listening listening!

I could tell the very instant she detected the sound
of hoof beats above the nervous chatter of Dona Ynez,
for her shoulders squared, and the smile did not vanish,
but it did change. By the suppressed excitement of
Dona Ynez she knew there was something concealed
from her.

As I learned later many terrible days later, when
the Tafoyas and I camped together for the winter at
San Lorenzo Dona Ynez had rushed through the
thicket to meet them, and bade Marco de Ordono halt
in his tracks long enough to recall all his sins for con
fession, while she claimed the Indio maid and saved him
his honor.

More than that there was no moment to speak, for
her husband had got out of the saddle, and she drew
him away, leading the horse of pretty Marta. Marco
did halt for the reason that Dona Ynez appeared ter
ribly in earnest, but his list of sins was brief according
to his reckoning, for his halt was only so long as one
might count a hundred on his fingers, and then the
forced chatter of Dona Ynez halted on her lips, and she
made much to do about getting in the saddle again,
for she heard his horse coming.

Sancha saw him first, as she was highest, and he

came upwards, his hat in his hand, and his face lifted
as if seeing visions of heaven instead of a slender maid
who sat her horse well, and watched his coming with a
look mocking and strange.

No one spoke because of that look, and Dona Ynez
drew a sobbing breath, half of fear. Truly it was a
strange welcome for so handsome a gallant. Me he
did not see because of the bulk of Don Lorenzo s
blankets back of the saddle.

Thus it was Sancha who was first to speak Sancha
of the deep, sweet voice, and the strange smile.

" The way has been long, Don Alphard, long as your
trail across the sky," she said.

He bowed to the horn of his saddle, and gazed at
her in open admiration, and wonder, and did not know

" Excellencia," he began with adulation in his tones
and his eyes. Dona Ynez strove to speak, but Sancha
lifted her hand in quick warning.

" Wisti," she said. " The gentleman does not remem
ber my name. Will you tell him the name I have?
the name given me in the house of Lenmana ere we
came east across the Desert? "

" It is Poli-kota, and the thought of it is the white
butterfly, Sefior," stated Wisti as he was bid. " So
the Excellencia is to us, and to our clans, the White
Butterfly Lady."

" A name of exceeding beauty, Excellencia," said the
bewildered gallant. "I I appreciate the honor of
being told. But you mention that I do not remember
I, if ever I had known "

He halted, and let his eyes speak for him. They had


been eyes well trained in service to ladies fair, but the
smile of Sancha was not encouraging.

" Then the name is not a name of meaning for you,
Don Alphard?" she asked.

" Only that the beauty of it is well placed," he said
glibly enough. " But may I correct you, Excellencia?
The name you give me is one I have not heard, it has
a sound of the Moor or the Arab."

" So it has," she conceded, " and yours is ? "

" A sound Christian name, and at your service," he
said with another bow, " Marcos de Ordofio."

He looked so handsome in his eagerness, and his
admiring wonder, that it was an effort to stand speech
less there and let him condemn himself out of his own
mouth. But if it was the end of her love trail, why
not let her decide it her own way? So I thought and
held my tongue. Dona Ynez and Don Lorenzo strove
to conceal their smiles at what they deemed but a little
Comedy of Love begun long ago in Spain and played
out on the Santa Fe hill of the north frontier. .

Sancha saw it all, but Marco saw only her.

" Ride more close, Senor de Ordofio, since that is the
name you have preference for," she said. " I would
see your hand."

" I think you mock me, Excellencia," he said, as he
drew his horse touching shoulder with hers, " and I do
not know the game you play but if it is for your
pleasure, I will be either cavallero or clown," and he
held out his hand.

" You wear no ring, Senor," she said. " If you are
the man I brought message for, he wore a ring. Dona
Perfecta spoke of its color."


" Dona Perfecta? " he said eagerly. " Yes, she did
know me to wear a ring "

"A ruby was it not?" she asked mockingly smil
ing, and he smiled back, straight into her eyes.

" It was not a ruby, Excellencia. If you have a
message from Dona Perfecta, it was to a man of an
emerald ring ; but why seek to confuse me by the strange
Arab name? "

" Can you show me the ring, senor ? " she asked.
" How may I give the message unless the proof be

" Nay, I can describe it as she saw it," he said en
tering into her mood, " but the ring itself I cannot
show; it was lost in the Desert."

"So?" she said with lifted brows. "Well, there
was also a glove a maiden s glove of white, with a
fringe of silver. Was the glove lost to the same slender
hand, Marco de Ordono?"

Her voice was like steel. Dona Ynez and her hus
band ceased smiling, and Marco flamed red as he drew

" I know not the glove, nor ever saw it," he said,
" nor do I understand "

Sancha put up her hand.

" I do believe you, Senor de Ordono ! " she said, and
drew a deep breath, turning her face to the sky.
" Mother of God ! How glad I am to believe ! " Then
in a very different way she added, " Who wrote the
letters, Marco? "

"Excellencia?" and he stared at her incredulous,
yet fearful, and I got out from behind the horse and
stood beside Sancha.


" Are you entranced, Marco? " I asked. " Have you
no wit left to tell you the truth? "

Then he saw, and went deadly white.

" That damned Tristan ! " he said. " God send the
priests burn him at the stake ! "

" Tristan ! always Tristan ! " she said with a sob in
her throat. " God send that I find him first ! " then she
looked at me, and laughed.

" Tell him, Juanito, where he can find his ring," she
said ; " and you tell him also that it might be as well
to send that comely slave of his back to her hills. I

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Online LibraryMarah Ellis Martin RyanThe house of the dawn → online text (page 24 of 26)