Marah Ellis Martin Ryan.

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The guard was swept back against the wall of the
governor s palace, and then we knew indeed that the
Tesuque men had brought the truth. The pent-up rage
of fifty years was loosed by that knife stroke of Manuel,
and the most terrible insurrection of all the colonies
was precipitated by a private hate.


ONE dear memory comes out of that surging
hell in the plaza of Santa Fe. Sancha remem
bered me, even in the arms of Tristan, and
her voice came high and clear where we beat
off the wild devils from the portal of the palace.

"Juanito! Juanito mine! adios!"

" Adios ! O Sanchita ! " I called, and leaned, panting,
and battered, against the wall. Padre Domingo stag
gered back, and fell, bleeding like an ox, from a swift
blade in the side.

" You too ! " he said with lifted hand of condemna
tion. " Her name is blotted out from Christian souls
forever! Bear you the word to Mexico excommuni
cation! "

Then, with his hand dipped in his own blood, he drew
the sacred sign on the stone paving, and strove to lay
himself on it, but fell there, dead ere Fray Francisco
could reach him. Thus Padre Domingo indeed found
the martyrdom they say he coveted.

Once only after that had I glimpse of my lost com
rades. Manuel had striven to lead them out of the mob
of the street by way of the church of San Miguel, but
the sacristy door was barred, and there was delay long
enough for word to reach us that the church was seized



as a fortress by the infidels. Extra troops had joined
the prison guard, and the red swarm launching itself
in disorder to free the convicted men, found itself giv
ing way under the solid front of the governor s soldiery.
Back and back, they went with face to the foe, covering
with lance and knife the trail of Tristan and others of
the cuartel. I reached the door as the relief soldiery
entered. Indians were using a broken altar as a bat
tering ram to break through the sacristy door, and
there, on the altar place in the dim church, stood Tris
tan with an Indian spear in his grasp, and his arm
around her. One niche at the side held a statute of
the Holy Mother, where three candles burned, and the
light from it touched the white dress of Sancha, and
the white banda on the head of Tristan. Only a gleam
of her white dress showed, for he had wrapped about
her a gray robe. A moment later I saw how that had
chanced, for I stumbled over a lay brother stripped
and dead on the stone floor.

Then the door at the back gave way, and the Indians
rushed into the light, while the walls echoed the ex
plosion from the firing pieces.

" Save the man and woman alive ! " called Fray Fran
cisco. " The blood of God s anointed is on his head,
and the woman makes her choice of perdition with him !
Save them alive ! "

But they should have known that if those two were
saved alive, it must be in freedom. I saw them go out
the door, and in all the smoke and turmoil and dead
and wounded about them, her face was lifted to his
exalted as if to welcome even death beside him!

Manuel was also there, thus I saw that from the first

The Excommunicated Lovers.


signal for death in the plaza he had never wavered
from the trust he had given himself.

After that there were ten days of hell with the tribes
swarming from the hills after the killing of all priests
of the pueblos. They came, flushed with victory, from
north and south, to aid against the capital, where we
fortified as best we could, making short dashes out with
small success. The plaza ran red with blood of the
prisoners taken, which served us little. On every side
we were surrounded. A thousand people to protect,
counting women and children, and less than two hun
dred fighting men to do it with. Three thousand bar
barians sang their songs, danced their victory dances on
the hills, and cut us off from the water. We killed more
than they, but of what use was it, when the various
tribes stood ready to send other bands to the siege as
needed? We could not know it until long after, but
eighteen priests were slaughtered in New Granada in
that week, and every Castilian farmer and his family.

On the tenth day after the Tesuque men risked lives
to warn the people of Santa Fe to go south, and go at
once, there was a very sorry cavalcade of us who took
that trail ten days too late! The barbarians sat on
the hills, and watched us go in peace after all the hor
rors. All they asked was the Indian land for the Indio.

But they sent warriors to follow us, thirty leagues
on the way, that we gain no courage from reinforce
ments to turn back on the trail.

A dreary march was ours, with not enough horses
for even the sick and wounded, and dreary the winter
for us in the huts we built for shelter south at San


A year later, I went north again with General
Mendoza, only to be turned back by the warring
infidels. Governor Otermin, as he had anticipated, was
removed from office, and Governor Ramirez appointed,
but he would risk no men in the north lands. In eighty-
eight I again entered the forbidden land with General
Cruzate, a considerable army, and seventy priests for
mission work, yet we were turned back at Zia after
many skirmishes, and ceremonial councils with many

One chief came who was gorgeous in cloth of scarlet
and otter skins. All Spanish names and customs and
religion had been wiped from the land, thus I dared
not call him Manuel, who had been trapper of eagles in
the Jemez hills. I have changed, as all men do if the
years are hard ; and while he looked at me much, I had
no sign that he had ever looked on me before, and he
betrayed no knowledge of Spanish speech.

But I remembered the twin feathers and their mark
ings, and idly, during the council, I took from a hawk s
wing fan the broad brown feather, and, little by little,
without turning a glance his way, I trimmed it in four
spaces divided curiously on the quill.

I twirled it idly, while the general, and the priests,
and chiefs, held weighty converse, and I left it on the
seat when the council was ended. As idly as I, he
lifted it as he passed, and went out without word or
look to me.

It was two nights later when that which the guard
said was incredible, occurred. A boy, who carried a
message for me, was challenged by the sentry and my
name was written plainly on a strip of fine parchment,


such as was used for church records. He spoke no
Spanish, but when we were alone, took from under his
blanket a roll of the same, well fastened in a painted
case. There was no address (it was like their care for
me!) and it read:

At the House of the Dawn.
Brother Mine:

I truly live here in the ancient place of sanctuary not other
wise to be named. Each time you have come to the forbidden
land we have known it. Come not again, lest all our love should
not save you. We are outcasts and happy. Have you memory
of a marriage night in the magic Navajo land? Such simple
marriage was ours with Indio witnesses, and it has grown
more sacred with each of the years. To only you could I say
it and not to you again. Has the Holy Office weakened in
power that the excommunicated dare be sought in friendship?
This you must answer to yourself, and bear in mind that a task
is yours for which you need smiles of church and state. The
honor of the family is yours to preserve and it is a family of
old names, and great pride.

For the nameless one who stepped out (I cannot say down,
brother mine!) you must have no sorrow, and no doubt. We
have all the world to wander in, yet we remain happily in this
land of enchantings. Here we build our own shrines and make
our sacrifices. The stars of the Desert are above, and we have
more books than you ever read, for the padres were often
learned men, and their written knowledge remains in this for
bidden land for us.

Our days are not idle; the work he did of old, he does here,
and every star, with its guardian god, is made record of in the
two tongues. Their herbs of medicine, their words of the laws,
all these, with the legends of ancestry, and even records of
earth-born gods, he has written as work of joy.

I tell you this that you know we lack no thing of content in
our high place of the dawn prayers. And if men of Spain should
some day re-conquer there will be other trails for us, and the


world is wide. Here the intrigues of church and courts are far
away. I wear boots made by his hand, and a pet fawn is by me
as I write. It looks like your pretty gift across the seas; for
that it is dear and for the other reason, not to be named.

Of him I can no more write than could I of God the Father.
But my Saint of the Impossible caused the unbelievable thing
to be, and for that a shrine is built to her here on the hills of
New Granada it faces the east, and Old Spain. We write
your name there for happiness !

You seek us, beloved one to save us, or serve us. Go back
and take up your burden of the world. I have confession to
make. I have seen you once, and been very close, and made no
sign. I heard his name spoken, and the tale of his evil deeds.
Thus also, I learned that my own name is blotted out from
Christian speech. A young soldier sang by the camp fire, the
song of " Dona Perdida " as he said they sing it in Mexico.
Never let it hurt your heart, dear brother-comrade. My soul
was not lost in the Desert it was there I found it!

This is sent for your own soul s content.

Then, instead of a name, there was a butterfly drawn
with folded wings, and under it was the sign he taught
her to make in the canon of the Divine Ones.

And on the other side of the parchment were his

Comrade of ours:

You, who live by your rank and order, dare not approve, yet
the content of her heart is my justification. The blessing of
neither pope or priest could make more white the loyal soul of

For myself, I am learning (as no man could learn in another
place) the strivings of primitive priests from the time the Spirit
of God moved on the face of the waters until the records were
made, thought by thought, which we are taught is the word of
the living God. Here, today, these red priests strive, in like
ways of fastings and prayers, and sacrifice, to learn the Power


back of all earth power, and go up daily to search for their gods
on the heights.

There is work here for a pen through a long lifetime. We
strive to do our little share, ere we find deeper wilderness, or
wider range.

To you, until the end, the blessings of the Divine Ones, and
all the stars of light above the trails you tread.


I read the blessing of his, over and over, and was
reminded of the prayer chant in the sacred canon of the
Ancient Gods:

Impervious to pain, I walk!
With beauty before me, I walk!
With beauty above me, I walk!
Happily may the roads all
Find the way of peace,
And the ways all end in beauty!

So I have that last message of theirs for my com
fort, and the other letters hidden in the stone shrine
of Sonora were brought back by me on the last trail
from the north. I know well she did grieve their loss,
but it is beyond my power to have them go to her.

Meanwhile I am learning many things of the French
and English and Dutch lands of this new world. There
is a great north, and a wide east, where they may find
safety when the time comes.

With Dona Mercedes I talk of these chances at times,
and of what might happen if some day I should get
word to meet them on the other side of the world!
Dona Mercedes is a woman of heart, who remembers
our youth, and knew the heaviness of my task when I


bore the dying command of Padre Domingo to the
bishop of Mexico, and heard the excommunication from
the altar. For awhile I had my own troubles with the
Brotherhood, but Fray Payo reached a strong hand
across the seas to help. Since all the men of importance,
from the archbishop and viceroy down, had held Tris
tan, at some time, more or less in favor, I was finally
cleared of evil intent for accepting freedom at his
hands ; also my blood relationship to the excommuni
cated maid of beauty was at last condoned as no fault
of mine.

But though she is called " Dona Perdida," and they
sing today love songs of their mutual enchantings and
of his wickedness, I close my eyes, and remember only
her joyous voice intoning in the desert nights,

O you!

Who dwell

In the House of the Dawn!

In the House of Evening Twilight

The Path to which is the Rainbow

And I know in truth that he led her into a Dawn be
yond the shadows where we grope.

In memory I go again over the many wonder places
of the long trail, and live again, with my comrades,
the life of desert ranges and canon deeps, but the pic
ture clearest in my mind is of those two in borrowed
robes at the edge of a cliff in Tusayan.

Boy as I was, I was vaguely touched there by the
force he strove against, and the enchantment our Sancha
dared not confess. Voiceless they were, yet bound
so great a love it was by bonds defying even fears of


hell. Though the padres do deny them sanctification,
deep in my heart and I cross myself as I write it
there lingers ever the message sent to me out of the
Desert, " The blessing of neither pope nor priest could
make more white the loyal soul of her."

The End



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