We had now arrived at the door of the estufa (oven), where the entertainment was going on, full blast. I alighted and my friend took charge of my horse and stationed himself at the door while I got down on all fours and crawled inside. I seated myself on a little bench at one side of the entrance. When my eyes got accustomed to the dense atmosphere of the place, I observed that the room was full of people, dancing in couples with a peculiar slow-waltz step. The ladies stayed in their places while the men made the rounds of the hall. After a few turns with a lady, they shuffled along to the next one, continually exchanging their partners. As the dancers passed me by, one after another, they noticed me, and many among them scowled and looked angry and displeased. Suddenly the drum stopped for a few minutes. Then it began in a faster tempo. Now the men remained stationary, while the ladies made the circuit of the room and each one in her turn passed in front of me. They looked lovely in their costumes of finely embroidered snow-white single garments, trimmed with many silver ornaments and trinkets and in their short calico skirts and beautiful moccasins. Their limbs were tastefully swathed in white buckskin leggins, which completed the costume.
Faster and faster beat the drum, and the sobbing, rhythmic sound thrilled my senses and filled my heart with an indescribable weird, fierce longing. I saw a maiden approach taller and finer than the rest. One glance of her soft, wild eyes and I flew to her arms. "Back, Indians!" I shouted, "honor your queen!" and entered the lists of the frolicsome dance. Wilder beat the drum and faster. As the old Indian warmed to his work, he broke out in a doleful, monotonous song, the words of which I did not understand. It sounded to me like this:
Anna-Hannah— Anna-Hannah— May-Ah!— Anna-Hannah-Sarah-Wah! Moolow-Hoolow, Ji-Hi-Tlack! Anna-Hannah— May-Ah-Ha!
So it went on indefinitely.
To lay this troubled spirit I tossed him a handful of coins, with the unfortunate result that his guttural song became, if anything, more loud and boisterous. I had no thought of exchanging my partner, as the Aztec maiden clung to me. With closed eyes and parted lips she moved as in a blissful dream. I have known Christian people become frantic under the impetus of great religious excitement and I have seen them act very strangely, also have I seen Indians similarly affected during their medicine-ghost dances. Now I, who had not thought it possible of myself, had become more savage and uncontrollable than any one. I suppose it was the irritating, monotonous sound of the war drum that did it, jarring my nerves, and the peculiar Indian odor in the stifling hot air of the close room, enhanced by the exhilarating sensation of threatening danger, and that in the presence of the adored sex. Assuredly all this was more than enough to set me off, as I am naturally impulsive and of a high-strung nervous temperament.
I must say that considering the modest costumes of these Indian ladies and their bashful and shrinking disposition, it does seem strange that they should fascinate one like myself of the Saxon race. To be sure the sight of the bared shoulders and necks of society belles when undressed in the decollete fashion of their ball gowns ravishes and gluts our sensuality, but a momentary glimpse of the Indian maid's brown knee flashing by during the excitement of the fandango is just as suggestive, and the inch of hand-made embroidery on the edge of their short skirts is as effective as priceless lace on gowns of worth. And the Indian fashion has this to recommend it, that it is the less expensive of the two costumes. Ever watchful, ever on the alert, I saw the sheen of a knife flash from its scabbard in the hazy air, and my beautiful partner shivered and moaned in my arms. "Dog of an Indian, dare and die," shouted I, angrily. Four times I made the circuit of the room, and when again opposite the entrance of this man-kennel, I heard the voice of my faithful friend, Don Reyes Alvarado, calling me anxiously. I gave my lovely partner in charge of her tender-hearted sisters, for the poor wild thing had fainted and lay limply in my arms. The strong arm of my companion grasped me and drew me out into the fresh air, where I almost collapsed, overcome.
"Surely, amigo," said Reyes, "you will not blame me now for not entering, but you have endurance, for Dios! I should not have survived so long. Thank God you came out alive! When I saw them pass in knives, I had my doubts and momentarily expected to hear the report of your revolver. But when I saw you pass by infatuated with Jtz-Li-Cama, the cacique's daughter and wife of the murderous scoundrel, El Macho, then I gave you up. Oh, see what is happening now. Amigo, you have broken up the dance. So it seemed. The drum was silent now and we heard the voices of men arguing in the Aztec idiom. Of a sudden the lights were extinguished and the crowd came out with a rush, and silently they stole away in the darkness.
"Now, amigo," said Reyes, "let me tell you something, which may haply serve you well. Knowing that an American accomplishes things which a Mexican like myself must let alone, I advise you to try for the hidden treasure of La Gran Quivira. Seeing that you are in the good graces of Jtz-Li-Cama, you might prevail with the cacique to guide you. He is said to be the only living man who knows the secret of the trove in the ruins of the sacred temple of the ancient city. The Indians believe that this treasure, which the Aztecs hid from the Spaniards, is guarded by a terrible phantom dog, the specter of one of the great dogs of Fernando Cortez which ravened among their Aztec ancestors. They fear the specter of this fabled Perro de la Malinche more than anything else on earth, as it is said to harrow their souls in Hades as it ravened their bodies when in the flesh."
After smoking a few cigarritos, my friend proposed to ride home, as there was really nothing else to be done. We rode slowly along, enjoying the beautiful night of this faultless climate, and I shall ever remember this night to my last day. There was a pleasant, refreshing odor in the air, the scent of the wild thyme which grows in these sand dunes. The moon rose over the Manzana range and flooded the broad valley with its soft, silvery rays. Suddenly, at a sharp turn of the trail, we found ourselves surrounded by silent forms arisen from the misty ground. "Don Reyes Alvarado," spoke the voice of the Indian, known as the macho, "I have come for revenge and am now ready to wipe out the insults you heaped on me when you charged me with the theft of your calves. I challenge thee to fight. Alight from thy horse, cowardly Spaniard! To-night of all nights shalt thou feel the Indians' blade between thy ribs." "Fight him, amigo," I said. "I shall enforce fair play." But my friend Reyes whom I knew to be a man of both strength and courage, weakened, being cowed with the superstition of the unlucky Noche Triste. "Tomorrow I shall fight thee, Indian," he answered "not at nighttime, like a thieving coyote." "If thou wert not astride thy horse and out of my reach, thou wouldst not dare say that to me, thou cuckold dupe of the Americans!" sneered the Indian. This insult to my companion angered me, and I demanded a retraction and an apology therefor from the Indian. When the macho flatly refused and repeated the insult in a more aggravating manner, I replied that I feared not to meet him or any other goatherding Indian and was ready to fight him on the spot.
Saying this, I dismounted and threw my horse's bridle to my friend Reyes to hold. Then the cacique, or Pueblo chief, the father of Jtz-Li-Cama, appeared and demanded our weapons. "I shall not interfere in this fight, senores," said he, "if you surrender your weapons to me, the lawful alguacil (officer) of this district." He then took the macho's knife, and I gave him my revolver and stripped for the fray.
I advanced and scratched a circle of about twelve feet diameter in the deep sand with my foot, then I stepped to the center of this ring and awaited my antagonist. I cautioned my friend Reyes to see to it that no one else overstepped the line. To the lonely sand dunes of the Rio Grande unwittingly I thus introduced the manly sport of the prize ring. But the battle was not fought for lucre or fame, nor according to the London Prize Ring Rules; it was fought in defense of a friend's honor, and the stake was life or death. The Indian made a rush for me, but I avoided him and warded off his blows. I did not touch him till I saw my chance, and then I tapped him under the chin which sent him sprawling. He arose promptly and came for me in a rage, when I felled him with a blow on the head. Again he came, and this time he gave me a stunning blow in the face, which maddened me so, that I took the offensive and laid him low with a terrific hit. I was now thoroughly infuriated and threw all caution to the winds. When he arose once more, I attacked him. He took to his heels and I followed him up. I noticed then that the whole crowd of Indians were running after us, but I had now become reckless and did not mind. Then I stumbled over a root and fell face down in the sand. Before I could arise fully the macho had turned and thrown himself upon me. I managed to turn over on my back and gripped him by throat and face, so that he was really in my power, and I felt that he was subdued so that I could easily force him under, and, small wonder, for with the terrible grip of my hand had I once crushed a man's fingers in a wrestling match. Now I used the macho's body as a shield against the furious onslaught of his people, who attacked me with rocks, clubs, and anything they could lay hands to. I thought, and I never ceased thinking and planning for one moment, that the affair looked very serious for me, when I saw the cacique approach with my pistol in hand, exclaiming, "Now, gringo, thou shalt die, on the altar of the god, at the sacred shrine of Aztlan, I shall lay thy quivering heart!" In vain I looked for help from my companion, who had sought safety in flight. Something had to be done and that quickly. Surely I had one trusty friend, true as steel, who would not forsake me in the extremity of my peril. I bethought me of my little "American bulldog" which I had picked up in the cars in Kansas, and which had ever since followed me faithfully. "Sic-semper-Cerberus-Sic!" My right hand stole to my hip, a short sharp bark, and the treacherous cacique fell over with a crimson stain on his forehead. At the same moment a weird, uncanny yelp pierced the night, and a tremendous shaggy phantom cloud obscured the slender sickle of the moon. Terrified, the Indians screamed "El Perro! El Perro de la Malinche!" and shrilly the voices of frightened squaws took up the refrain, "Perro! Perro! Gringo Perro!"
When I staggered to my feet, I was alone, sorely bruised and wounded, but master of the field. I recovered my revolver, which lay at my feet and contrived to mount my horse, whose bridle had caught on the greasewood brush, and I headed for home.
Not long thereafter I met my friend Reyes, who was followed by a retinue of peons. "Gracias a Dios. Amigo!" he exclaimed, on seeing me. "I came after your body, if it were to be found, and here you are alive. When I heard the report of firearms and knowing that those devils had your weapon, I feared the worst. How on earth did you manage to escape them? Seeing you down and beset by the whole tribe, I gave you up for dead and fled."
I told my friend that with God's help and the phantom dog's assistance I had beaten off my assailants, and I thought that the cacique had been sorely bitten by the dog. Dona Josefita was very anxious and excited. When she saw me coming, she cried, "The saints preserve us, oh here he is! Mercy, how he looks, pobrecito! he is cut all to pieces. Hurry, Reyes, bring him in here and lay him gently down. Hombre, husband, coward! how couldst thou abandon thy friend who fought for thy honor, not fearing the death. I wager that pale hussy, Jtz-Li-Cama, was, as usual, the cause of this strife between men!"
The kind lady then attended deftly and skillfully to the dressing of my wounds, applying soothing herbs and healing ointments, which tended to allay the fever, and she nursed me with the tenderest care, so that in a week's time I was as well as ever, though not without a feeling of regret for my too speedy recovery.
Of course, there arose the rumor of a fierce battle between Americans and Indians. To silence this silly talk and to avoid unpleasant complications, I surrendered myself to the alcalde of the precinct and accused myself of having disturbed the peace of the realm. Pleading my case, I stated that as there was nobody but the peace disturbers involved, and as said parties did not make any further claim upon the Honorable Court, therefore, under the statute of the Territory and the Constitution of the United States, the law required that the court mulct the guilty parties in the payment of a nominal fine and discharge the culprits. The Honorable Court decreed that I as an American ought to know the American law best, and discharged me after I paid my self-imposed fine. The administering of justice in cases of importance was, of course, relegated to the United States Circuit Courts, but Uncle Sam did not care to meddle with the many troublesome alcaldes or justices of the peace, as he did not understand the Spanish language very well. This was certainly humiliating and embarrassing, but who can blame him, as no one is over anxious to be rated an ignorant person.
My Mexican friends decided to give a farewell party in my honor. Accordingly they made great preparations. They secured the largest sala, or hall, in the township and scoured the country for musicians—fiddlers and guitar players. Every person of any social notability was invited. They drew the line of social respectability at peons, or bondmen. This was a happy-go-lucky caste of people who possessed no property nor anything else, and consequently they had no cares and were under no responsibility of any kind, as the wealthier classes, who virtually owned them, had to provide for their necessities. The system of peonage in New Mexico had been abolished with the abolition of slavery in the United States, but the peons did not realize the wretchedness of their deplorable social status, and in their ignorance they regarded their bondage as a privilege, believing themselves fortunate to have their wants provided for by their patrones. They were treated kindly by their masters and looked upon as poor relations and intimate but humble friends.
The entertainment was to be of the velorio (wake) type, which begins as a prayer meeting and ends in a dance. My friends exerted themselves to the utmost to make this event the social climax of the season. They sent a committee to the pueblo of Isleta for several goatskins full of native wine, and incidentally they borrowed San Augustin, the pueblo's famous image saint, who they intended should preside over the velorio. As this prayer meeting was to be in my honor and for the sake of invoking the protection of the saints on my journey, they thought it best to procure San Augustin, who being the patron saint of the heathen Isleta Indians, would not mind giving a heretic Protestant gringo a good send-off, as he was accustomed to deal with heresy. They also procured a dozen fat mutton sheep, which were to be barbecued and served with chile pelado to the invited guests, surely a tempting menu and hot! The ladies baked bollos, tamales and frijoles. Melons and cantaloupes were brought in by the cartload. I was waited upon by a committee and received a formal invitation; for everything was done in grand Spanish style. When I arrived at the festive hall the ceremonies began. The ladies knelt before San Augustin, praying and chanting alternately. I took my customary station at the door, as master of the artillery. At the singing of a certain stanza and after the words, "Angeles, y Seraphim es! Santo! Santo! Santo!" I received my cue from one of the deacons who gave the order: "Fuego, maestro!" and I discharged my double barreled shotgun and a brace of six shooters in lightning-like succession. Surely this was pious devotion, properly emphasized, and it kept San Augustin from falling asleep. I used up a pound of gunpowder that night, and this was said to have been the grandest, most successful velorio ever held in that part of the world. At eleven o'clock I announced that my battery was overheated and too dangerous to reload, which stopped the praying and the grand baile began. There were several hundred dancing couples, who enjoyed themselves to the utmost until sunrise, and nobody thought of leaving for home until everything eatable and liquid was disposed of.
Now the date of our departure had arrived, and very sad, indeed, was I to leave these people who had done their very best to make me feel at home with them and who seemed to be really fond of me. I consoled Dona Josefita somewhat with the promise that I would return some day and find her the treasure of La Gran Quivira. Don Juan Mestal, the freighter, seemed as reluctant to leave as I was; something was always turning up to delay our start. But at last we were off.
After three days of travel, we came to a small town, where I met a Mexican whom I knew on the Rio Grande, where he had formerly lived. He invited me cordially to the wedding of his sister, which was to be on the next day at old Fort Wingate, an abandoned fort, and then a Mexican settlement. This man said that he had come on purpose to meet me, as he had heard of my intentions to leave the country. Although I did not like the man, who was said to be jealous of Americans, I accepted his urgent invitation more from curiosity to learn what he meant to do than for other reasons.
The next morning I started early from camp and rode over to the little town, distant fifteen miles. When I arrived in front of my prospective host's house I caught a glimpse of two men, who were sneaking off toward an old corral. Then I knew what was in the wind, for those two men were known to me as desperate cutthroat thieves and highwaymen; their specialty was to waylay and murder American travelers. My kind friend professed to be overmuch delighted at my arrival. He took charge of my horse and invited me into his house, where I met the bridal couple and their friends, who were carousing and gambling. I joined and made merry with them. At ten o'clock the whole party made ready to proceed to the chapel, where the marriage ceremony was to be performed. I simulated the part of a very inebriated person, a condition which they looked forward to with hope and satisfaction, and told them that I would stay at the house to await their return. When everybody had left I thought I might as well get under way, feeling lonesome. I went out and around to the rear of the house, where the corral was, to get my horse, but found the gate fastened with chains and securely locked. The corral walls were built of adobe, and the two walls of it were a continuation of the side walls of the house, and its end wall formed an enclosure or backyard. My horse was there, and I found my saddle in one of the rooms of the building, hidden under a blanket. I entered the corral through the back door of the house, caught and saddled my horse, and then led him out to the street. This was a very laughable manner of leave-taking. The house was cut up into a labyrinth of small rooms, just large enough for a horse to turn around in, and the doors were low and narrow. As I could not find the outer door, I led my horse successively into every room in the house.
There is no furniture such as we use in a typical Spanish dwelling, no bedsteads, tables, or chairs. The inmates squat on divans arranged on the floor around the walls of the rooms, and at nighttime they spread their bedding on the floors. Some of the rooms were nicely carpeted with Mexican rugs. My horse must have thought he had come to a suite of stables, for he acted accordingly. He nosed around after grain and hay, whinnied and pawed, and seemed to enjoy himself generally. At last I found the right door, came out into the street and rode to the church to tender my best wishes to the happy couple and bid them adios. When the party emerged from the chapel they seemed to be very much surprised at seeing me. I told my host that I regretted to leave them so early in the day, but had an appointment to keep elsewhere. I would ride slowly out of town so that they could overtake me easily, should they wish to see me later, but nobody came, and after several hours I caught up with my companions.
WITH THE NAVAJO TRIBE
After a couple of days we came to Fort Wingate, which controls the Navajo Indian Reservation. We camped here for a day to have some repair work done to our wagons, and I took a stroll over the hills after rabbits and returned to camp at nightfall. Don Juan told me that he had been visited by a number of Indians, who had bartered him some blankets and buckskins and he was highly pleased thereat.
The next morning we started early and traveled until noon. Several Indians had been following us for some time, and as soon as we made camp they squatted at our fire, while others were continually arriving, some afoot, but most of them on horseback. Manuelito, a grand-looking chief, rode into camp on the finest Indian pony I had ever seen. It was beautifully caparisoned; the saddle, bridle, and trappings were covered with silver mountings. This was by far the most gorgeously dressed Navajo I had ever met. He wore tight-fitting knickerbockers of jet-black buckskin, which resembled velvet, with a double row of silver buttons, set as close as possible on the outward seams, from top to bottom. On his legs from knee to ankle he wore homespun woolen stockings and his feet were covered by beaded moccasins of yellow, smoke-tanned buckskin. His bright red calico shirt was literally covered with silver ornaments and his ears were pierced with heavy silver rings, at least three inches in diameter. His wrists and arms were heavy with massive silver bracelets and others, carved from a stone, which resembled jade. About his neck he wore strings of wampum and glass beads, garnets, and bits of turquoise. The turquoise and garnet is found here in places known only to these Indians. His fingers were encircled by many rings, but the finest ornament he possessed was his body belt of great disks of silver, the size of tea saucers. All this jewelry was of a fair workmanship, such as is made by Navajo silversmiths out of coin silver. In fact, these Indians prefer silver to gold for purposes of personal adornment. The blanket which this Indian wore around his waist was worth at least two hundred dollars; never have I seen its equal in beauty of pattern and texture.
The chief dismounted and withdrew with Don Juan behind a wagon for a talk, as I presumed. They reappeared soon, and the chief mounted his steed and cavorted around our camp as one possessed. Furiously lashing his horse, he scattered our cooking utensils and acted in a most provoking manner generally. I noticed then that the noble chief was intoxicated, and when I questioned Don Juan sharply, he admitted that he had given the Indian some whiskey, and on the day before as well. I warned the Don to have no further dealings with these Indians and advised him to break camp at once in order to avoid trouble. I informed him also that he had committed a serious crime by selling liquor to Indians and that he was liable to be arrested at any time should a patrol from the fort happen our way. As the Mexican was frightened now, we took to the road in a hurry and traveled until a late hour that night. In fact, we did not stop until the cattle were exhausted.
Hardly had we prepared our camp and were sitting around our fire, when a horde of Indians appeared, clamoring for whiskey. As they were armed and threatening, Don Juan became so terrified that he climbed to the interior of a wagon to comply with the demand of the savages. When I saw this, I drew my rifle from its place under my bedding and placed it in readiness. Plainly I saw Don Juan come out of the wagon with the mischievous stone jug, as this happened in the bright light of our camp fire. That will never do, thought I, and quickly drawing my revolver, I persuaded the Don to drop the jug, incidentally smashing it with a 44 caliber bullet, taking care not to hurt anybody; and this was easily done, as the jug was a large one, it held three gallons. Instantaneously I grabbed my Winchester, and with my back against a wagon stood ready for action. The Indians uttered a howl of disappointment when they saw the jug collapse and its precious contents wasted, but were silenced by an exclamation of their chief. After an excited pow-wow between themselves, they disappeared among the hills in the shadows of the night.
"Muchas gracias, senor Americana," said Don Juan, "quien sabe?" What would have happened if the Indians had gotten the liquor, which I dared not refuse them; but I think this ends our troubles. We passed a sleepless night, and long before sunrise Don Juan made preparations for our departure.
When the herders rounded up the cattle, they found that several yoke of oxen were missing, and greatly alarmed, they said that they believed the Indians had stolen them during the night. Don Juan did not appear to be very anxious to search for the missing cattle himself, so he sent out the herders again after breakfast. They returned with the report of having found the tracks of Indians who had apparently driven the cattle toward the hills, and stated that they were afraid to follow, fearing for their lives.
As it was nearly noon by this time, we cooked our dinner, and while doing so were visited again by a number of the Indians. Don Juan intimated to them that several of his oxen had strayed off during the night, and the Navajos kindly offered to go in search of them for a remuneration. They demanded a stack of tortillas a foot high and a sack of flour. Nolens-volens, squatted Don Mestal before the fire and baked bread for the wily Indians as a ransom for his cattle. Of course then the missing oxen were soon brought up, and we lost no time in getting under way.
Until midnight we traveled, as Don Juan was very anxious to get away from the reservation of these Indians, which is seventy-five miles across. This night we experienced a repetition of the tactics of the night before, as regarded the safety of our herd, but Don Juan had to pay a higher ransom in the morning. While we were awaiting the arrival of the Indians with our lost steers, Chief Manuelito honored us again with his presence. He sat down at our fire, and producing a greasy deck of Spanish playing cards, he challenged Don Juan to a game of monte. That was an irresistible temptation for my companion. By the smiling expression of his wizened features I divined that he thought he saw his chance for revenge. Manuelito undoubtedly had a strain of sporting blood in his veins, as he offered to stake his horses, blankets, squaws, and everything he had against the Mexican's wagons and cargo. I warned Don Juan to have a care, as I knew the cunning of the Navajo tribe, having dealt with them before, and advised him to play the traps he had bought from them with liquor against a chipper little squaw who was richly dressed and had come with Chief Manuelito, mounted on a white pony. I believed her to be the chief's daughter. When she understood the import of the conversation, she looked haughtily and in a disdainful manner at Don Juan, but appeared to be pleased with me and eyed me with symptoms of curiosity. Of course, I expected her to defy Don Juan to take her, and simply ride off in case he should win the game. At any rate, I meant to take her under my protection, if necessary, and send her home to her people. In fact, the liquor which Don Juan had sold these Indians had belonged to me and had been presented to me by a friend as an antidote for possible snake bites on the road to Arizona.
The gambling began, and my Mexican companions became so engrossed in the enjoyment of their alluring national game of monte that they forgot everything else. The drivers were as interested as their employer and bet the poor trinkets they possessed on the result of the game. There arrived more Indians continually, and I observed a familiar face amongst these and saw that I myself was recognized. The game was ended as I had foreseen, with Don Juan as the loser. He was an easy prey for these Indians, who are as full of tricks as the ocean is of water.
Then Chief Manuelito, who was highly elated with his victory over the Mexican, challenged me to a game in a very overbearing and provoking manner. I replied that I despised the game of monte, which was perhaps good enough for Mexicans and Indians, but was decided by chance; I boasted that I was ready to bet anything I had on my skill at shooting with the rifle, and challenged him and his whole tribe to the sport which was worthy of men, a shooting match. I think Manuelito would have accepted my challenge without hesitation and in great glee if he had not been restrained by the Indian whom I have mentioned before as having just arrived and recognized me. This Indian said something to the chief, which seemed to interest and excite them all. Chief Manuelito advanced, and extending his hand in greeting, said that he had often wished to meet me, the wizard who had beaten the champion marksman of the Navajo tribe.
Several years before I had in the town of Cubero, at the request of Mexican friends, shot a target match with the most renowned marksman of the Navajo tribe, my pistol being pitted against the Navajo's rifle, and had beaten him with a wonderful shot to the discomfiture and distress of a trading band of Indians, who bet on their champion's prowess and lost their goods to the knowing Mexicans.
The chief then requested me to favor them with an exhibition of my skill. I readily assented and directed them to put up a target. They placed a flat rock against the trunk of a pine tree at so great a distance that it was barely distinguishable to the naked eye. I guessed the distance and my shot fell just below the mark. Then I raised the hind sight of my Winchester a notch and the next shot shattered the stone to pieces. At this the Indians went wild. They had thought it impossible for any man to perform this feat of marksmanship, and were most enthusiastic in the profession of their admiration. Gladly would they have adopted me into their tribe as a great chief or medicine man had I wished to ally myself to them. There was the opportunity of a lifetime, but I did not embrace it.
As the sun was now low in the heavens, I advised Don Juan to remain in camp for the night and spoke to Chief Manuelito, expressing my wish to pass through his country unmolested and without delay. The chief assured me of his protection and bade us have no care. We slept soundly that night, a band of Indians guarding our camp and herd under orders of Manuelito, who had become my stanch friend and admirer. The following day we came to the end of the reservation and soon crossed the boundary line of New Mexico into Arizona.
I left New Mexico with the intention of making Los Angeles in the golden State my future home, and now, thirty years later, I have not reached there yet. Vainly have I tried to break the thraldom of my fate, for I did not know that here I was to meet face to face with the mighty mystery of an ancient cult, the God of a long-forgotten civilization, a psychic power which has ordered my path in life and controlled my actions.
As its servant, at its bidding, I write this, and shall now unfold, and in the course of this narrative give to the world a surprising revelation of the power of ancient Aztec idols, which would be incredible in the light of our twentieth century of Christian civilization if it were not sustained by the evidence of undeniable facts.
Our road led through a hilly country toward the Little Colorado River. In the distance loomed the San Francisco Mountains, extinct craters which had belched fire and lava long, long ago at the birth of Arizona, when the earth was still in the travail of creation. We forded the Little Colorado at Sunset Crossing, a lonely colony, where a few Mormons were the only inhabitants of a vast area of wilderness. We were headed due west toward a mesa rising abruptly from the plateau which we were then traversing. This mesa was again capped by a chain of lofty peaks, one of the Mogollon mountain ranges. We ascended the towering mesa through the difficult Chavez pass, which is named after its discoverer, the noted Mexican, Colonel Francisco Chavez, who may be remembered as a representative in Congress of the United States, for the Territory of New Mexico. A day's heavy toil brought us to the summit of the mesa, which was a beautiful place, but unspeakably lonesome. This wonderful highland is a malpais or lava formation and densely covered with a forest of stately pines and mountain juniper. Strange to say, vegetation thrives incredibly in the rocky lava; a knee-high growth of the most nutritious grama grasses, indigent to this region, rippled in the breeze like waves of a golden sea and we saw numerous signs of deer, antelope, and turkey. Our road, a mere trail, wound over this plateau, which was a veritable impenetrable jungle in places, a part of the great Coconino forest. Think and wonder! An unbroken forest of ten thousand square miles, it is said to be the most extensive woodland on the face of the globe. This trail was the worst road to travel I have seen or expect ever to pass over. The wagons moved as ships tossed on a stormy sea, chuck! chuck! from boulder to boulder, without intermittence. We found delicious spring water about noon and passed a most remarkable place later in the day. This must have been the pit of a volcano. A few steps aside from the road you might lean over the precipice and look straight down into a great, round crater, so deep that it made a person dizzy. At the bottom there was a ranch house, a small lake and a cultivated field, the whole being apparently ten acres in area. I looked straight down on a man who was walking near the house and appeared no larger than a little doll and his dog seemed to be the size of a grasshopper, but we heard the dog bark and heard the cackling of hens quite plainly. On one side of this pit there was a break in the formation, which made this curious place accessible by trail.
We had been advised that we would find a natural tank of rain water in the vicinity of this place and camped there at nightfall. We turned our stock out, but our herders did not find the promised water. Our cook reported that there was not a drop of water in camp, as the spigot of his water tank had been loosened by the roughness of the road and all the water was lost. Now this would have been a matter of small consequence if Don Juan had not been taken ill suddenly. He threw himself on the ground and cried for water. "Agua, por Dios!" (Water, for God's sake) he cried, "or I shall die." "Why, Don Juan," I said, "there is no water here. I advise you to wait till moonrise when the cattle are rested and then leave for the next watering place, which is Beaver Head, at the foot of the mesa; we ought to reach there about ten o'clock to-morrow morning. Surely until then you can endure a little thirst!" "Amiga, I cannot, I am dying," moaned Don Juan, in great distress. As I suspected that he had lost his nerve on the Navajo reservation, I felt greatly annoyed, and when he became frantic in his cries I promised to go down to Beaver Creek to get him a drink of water, for I recalled to mind his little daughter who bid me farewell with these words: "Adios, Senor Americano, I charge you with the care of my padrecito. If you promise me, I know that he will return to me safely."
I set out on my long night-walk, stumbling over rocks and boulders in the darkness. It was a beautiful night, the crisp atmosphere was laden with the fragrant exhalation of the nut pines and junipers and there was not a breath of air stirring. I got down to water at midnight, the time of moonrise, filled my canteen and started on the return trip. Slowly I reascended the steep mesa, and when I reached the summit I sat down on a rock in a thicket of junipers. The moon had now risen above the trees and cast its dim light over an enchanting scene. The sense of utter loneliness, a homesickness, a feeling of premonition, stole over me, and weirdly I sensed the presence of I knew not what. From the shadows spoke an owl, sadly, anxiously, "Hoo, hoo! Where are you? You!" and his mate answered him tenderly, seductively, "Tee, hee! Come to me! Me!"
In the west, far, far away, clustered a range of mountains, spread out like an enormous horse-shoe and in its center arose the form of a solitary hill. In the heavens from the east drifted a white, ragged cloud. The solitary hill seemed to rise high and higher and all the mountains bowed before it. The spectral cloud resolved itself into a terrible vision which enveloped the central hill. Great Heavens! Again I saw the phantom dog and fancied that I heard shrill screams of "Perro, perro, gringo perro!" A crackling noise, a coming shadow, and forward I fell on my face, ever on the alert, ever ready. An unearthly yell and a great body flew over, fierce claws grazing me. Two balls of fire shone in the bush, but my rifle cracked and a great lion fell in its tracks. I expected my companions to meet me soon, coming my way. Instead, I found them, after my all-night's walk, snugly camped where I had left them. Don Juan explained that with God's favor they had found the water soon after I had left them. He said that they had called loud and long after me, but I did not seem to hear.
This day we descended the mesa and entered the valley of the Verde River, one of Arizona's permanent water courses. This valley is cultivated for at least forty miles from its source to where it enters precipitous mountains. We forded the crystal waters of the river at Camp Verde, an army post, and crossed another range of mountains and several valleys into a comparatively open country, and on the night of a day late in November we camped on Lynx Creek, and were then within a half day's travel of our destination.
AT THE SHRINE OF A "SPHINX OF AZTLAN"
Not a drop of rain had fallen on us since we left the Rio Grande, the days were as summer in a northern climate, but the nights were quite chill, the effect of an altitude of five thousand feet above sea level. The country had lost its appearance of loneliness, for we passed several parties of miners and heard the heavy booming of giant powder at intervals, and from various directions all through the day.
We were joined by a jolly party of miners who were eager for news and camped with us over night. There were three men in this outfit. Keen-looking, hearty old chaps with ruddy faces and gray beards, they looked like men who are continually prospecting for the "main chance." I passed a delightful evening in their company. They said they owned rich silver mines farther up on Lynx Creek, and had come out from town to perform the annual assessment work on their claims, as prescribed by the laws of the United States, in order to hold possession and perfect legal title to the ground. As I was not versed in matters pertaining to the mines, I asked why they did not work their mines continually for the silver. They explained that they could not work to good advantage for lack of transportation facilities which made it very difficult and costly to bring in machinery for developing their prospects into mines. Therefore, until the advent of railroads they chose to perform their annual assessment work only.
Two of these gentlemen were substantial business men and the other was their confidential secretary or affidavit man. It was his duty to make an affidavit before a magistrate that his employers had performed the labor required by law, which is not less than one hundred dollars per claim and incidentally he cooked for the outfit and attended to the horses. Of course, they might have hired mine laborers to do this work, but they said they enjoyed the outing and exercise, especially as this was the time of house cleaning and they were glad to get away from home. "Yes," affirmed the affidavit man, "and so are your wives."
These gentlemen rode horses and carried a supply of provisions on a pack mule. The most conspicuous object of their pack was a keg labelled "dynamite." When the clerk placed this dangerous thing near the fire and sat on it, I became fidgety, but was reassured when subsequently I saw him draw the stopper and fill a bottle labelled "Old Crow" from it. They advised me to go prospecting and gave me much valuable information and kindly offered to sell me a prospecting outfit, "for cash," at their stores.
As we were chatting, I became aware of a delicious, pungent odor, like the perfume of orange blossoms. "Is it possible," said I, astonished, "that there are orange groves in bloom in this vicinity?" The old gentlemen said they did not smell anything wrong, but the clerk jumped to his feet and sniffed the air in the direction of Prescott. "Why, gentlemen," said he, "of course, you cannot smell any further than the blossoms on the tips of your noses, but the young man has a sharp proboscis, he scents the girls. Here comes Dan bound for the Silver Bell Mine with his blooming show." We heard the clatter of hoofs and wheels and saw a large coach pass by, crowded with passengers, mostly ladies. The clerk said that the genial owner of the Silver Bell Mine, who was also the proprietor of a popular resort in town, was going out to pay his miners their monthly wage. "That is it," said one of the merchants, "and to keep the boys from leaving the mine in order to spend their money at his resort in town, he takes his variety show out there. He cannot afford to have his mine shut down just now, as they have struck horn silver, and that is the kind of tin he needs in his business."
These kind old gentlemen cautioned me to keep away from a dark-looking, broken mountain, looming to the north. "That country is no good," they said; "there is nothing but copper there, even the water is poisoned with it." Those were the black hills where there is now the prosperous town of Jerome and one of the great mines of the earth, the famous United Verde Mine, the property of Senator William Clark.
The following day, about noon, we rounded a sharp bend of the road and Fort Whipple and the town of Prescott came into view. A pretty and gratifying sight truly, but imagine my astonishment! Here to the right was the identical mysterious hill which I had seen in that memorable night from the height of the Mogollon mesa and behind it was the black range, the Sierra Prieta, which had formed a part of the encircling horseshoe.
Never in my lifetime have I come to a town where the people were as hospitable and kindly disposed toward strangers as here. It is no wonder that I got no farther, for here the people vied with each other to welcome the wayfarer to the gates of their city. The town was then young and isolated. The inhabitants had come by teams or horseback from as far away as the State of Kansas, where the nearest railway connection was eastward, or from California, via Yuma and Ehrenberg on the Colorado River. Stages and freight teams made regular trips across the arid desert to Ehrenberg. The first settlers of this region came from California in search of gold. They first found it in the sands of the Hassayampa, which is born of mighty Mount Union, the mother of four living streams. From its deathbed in the hot sands of the desert, they traced the precious waters to its source. Gold they found in plenty with hardship and privation. They encountered a band of hostile Indians, and hardest to bear, a loneliness made sufferable only by the illusive phantasies of the golden fever. Their expectations realized, the majority of these pioneers returned to the Golden State and civilization with the burden of their treasure, saying they had not come to Arizona for their health. Now in these present days there comes a throng of people in quest of health solely, and many are they who find its blessing in the sunny and bracing air of this climate, in hot springs and the balmy breath of the fir and juniper of our mountains. I found employment in a mercantile establishment of this little mining town and grew up with the country, as the saying is. I formed new acquaintances and made new friends. Among others, I met William Owen O'Neill. I cannot now remember the exact time or year. Attracted by the light-hearted, cheerful, and dare-devil spirit of this ambitious and cultured young man, I joined a military organization, of which he was then a lieutenant and later the captain, this was Company F of Prescott Grays, National Guard of Arizona. Poor, noble-hearted, generous Buckie—he knew it not, but this was his first step on the path of glory leading to the altar of patriotism whereon he laid his life. It was he who, with a poet's inspiration, first divined the mystery of the mountain which I have before alluded to. He likened this beautiful mound to a sleeping lion who guarded the destinies of the mountain city. Poor friend, his glorious song stirred the dormant life in the metallic veins of the Butte and, wonder of wonders, the sleeping lion awoke, the poet's lay had brought the Sphinx to life—the die of fate was cast and he had sealed his doom! When I read his beautiful poem, I gasped in wonder, for only I on earth fathomed the significance of this revelation. This dream of a poet's fanciful soul, soaring on the wings of Pegasus, was stern reality to me and anxiously I awaited developments. Nor waited I in vain.
The grateful Sphinx showered honor and wealth upon my friend. The generous sportive boy, who cared naught for gold, actually grew rich, for the Sphinx had granted him the most lucrative office in the county, the people made him their sheriff. He rose step by step to the highest place of honor in the community until he became the mayor of Prescott. Not satisfied with this token of its favor, the Sphinx rewarded him in a most extraordinary and convincing manner. By the help of nature, its help-meet, it transformed a great deposit of siliceous limestone into beautiful onyx and painted it in all the colors and after the pattern of the rainbow. This magnificent gift made Captain O'Neill independently rich, but it is a fact that as soon as it passed from his hands, the stone lost in value and no one has since profited from it. I believe that our hero would have risen to the highest position of dignity on earth, the Presidency of the United States, if he had not unwittingly aroused the jealousy of the terrible heathen god. When he chose a wife from the lovely maidens of Prescott, then the vengeful Sphinx laid its sinister plans for his undoing, for it is in the nature of cats, small or great, to be exceedingly jealous. The furious idol remembered the people of a long forgotten race, its loyal subjects, who had reared and worshiped it, inconceivably long ago, when the Grand Canyon of Arizona was but a tiny ravine and before icy avalanches had ground the rocks at the Dells into boulders. It remembered the descendants of its subjects, the Aztec Indians. It remembered how the Spaniards had cruelly broken the Aztec nation. Through the subtle influence of psychic forces, it stirred up a passion of hate for Spain in the hearts of the people of the United States, and it fostered the awful spirit of strife, and at the right moment it let loose the dogs of war. One convulsive touch of its rocky claws on the hidden currents coursing in earth's veins and an evil spark fired the fatal mine under the battleship Maine, in the harbor of Havana.
"Is this possible; can this be true?" If not, why is it that at the call to arms, even before the nation rallied from the shock of the cowardly deed which sacrificed the lives of inoffensive sailors—why is it, I say, that from under the very paws of the Sphinx, so far away in Arizona—and at the call of Captain O'Neill, the noble mayor of Prescott, there arose the first contingent of fighting volunteers in our war with Spain? The inexorable Sphinx had resolved to grant to our beloved and honored friend its last and most exalted gift, a hero's death on the field of battle. It has graven the name of Prescott, the city of the Sphinx, on scrolls of everlasting fame, as the town which rallied first to the call of the President and as the only town which gave the life of its mayor, its first, its most honored citizen, to the nation.
On the isle of Cuba, in the battle of San Juan Hill, fell the gallant Captain William Owen O'Neill of the regiment of Rough Riders. Peace to his ashes!
I have been told the circumstances surrounding his death by friends, who were soldiers of his company. They were lying under cover behind every available shelter to dodge a hailstorm of Mauser bullets, awaiting the order to advance. Captain O'Neill exposed himself and was instantly killed. How could he avoid it? How could it have been otherwise? What can keep an Irishman down in the ditch when bullets are flying in air, "murmuring dirges" and "shells are shrieking requiems?" You may readily imagine an Irishman on the firing line, poking his head above the ground, exclaiming: "Did yez see that? And where did that Dago pill come from now? Shure it spoke Spanish, but it did not hit me at all, at all, Begorra!"
The activity of the Sphinx ended not with the battle of San Juan Hill, for it cast the luster of its glorious power on the gallant Lieutenant Colonel of the famous regiment of Rough Riders, Theodore Roosevelt, and on him it conferred in time the greatest honor to be achieved on earth, it made him President of the United States of America. Not knowing it, perhaps, he still is at the time of this writing in the sphere of influence and in the power of the Sphinx and is doing its bidding. Else why should he, as is well known, favor the jointure of New Mexico and Arizona into one State? Surely the loyal subjects of the Sphinx, the Pueblo Indians of Aztec blood, live mostly in New Mexico, and the cunning idol plans to deliver them out of the hands of the Spanish Mexicans, and place them under the protection and care of the Americans of Arizona, knowing full well that the Anglo-Saxon blood will rule.
Every miner and prospector of Arizona knows that there have been, and are found to this day nuggets of pure gold and silver on the summit of barren hills, in localities and under geological conditions which are not to be reckoned as possible natural phenomena. Whence came the golden nuggets on the summit of Rich Hill at Weaver, where a party of men gathered two hundred thousand dollars worth in a week's time? Whence came the isolated great chunk of silver at Turkey Creek, valued at many thousands? The wisest professor of geology and expert of mines cannot explain it. This, I say, is the gold and silver from ornaments employed in temples of the idols of ancient races, who lived unthinkable thousands of years ago. The very stones of their temples have crumbled and been decomposed, but the precious metal has been formed into nuggets, according to the natural laws of molecular attraction, and under the impulse of gravity and in obedience to the laws of affinity of matter.
People from Prescott in their rambles in the vicinity of Thumb Butte have probably noticed a slag pile as comes from a furnace. I have heard them theorize and argue on the question of its origin or use, as there is not a sign of ore in existence thereabouts to indicate a smelting furnace. I say this was an altar erected I by the ancient worshipers to their idol, the Sphinx. Before it stood the awful sacrificial stone, whereon quivered the bodies of victims while priests tore open their breasts and offered their throbbing hearts in the sacred fire on the altar, a sacrifice to their cruel god. Many prospectors have undoubtedly traced a blood red vein of rock coursing from this place toward Willow Creek—a valuable lode of cinnabar, they must have thought. If they had tested the ore for quicksilver, they would have received discouraging results. Porphyry stained with an unknown petrified substance and without a trace of metal invariably read the analytical assays.
This is the innocent, petrified blood of victims which stained a ledge of porphyry when it ran down the mountain side in torrents, an awful sacrifice to the ancient idols of lust and ignorance. A kindly warning to you, fellow-prospectors and miners, who delve in the vitals of Mother Earth! Beware Thumb Butte, beware the district of the Sphinx! Have a care, for you know not what you may encounter in this mystic neighborhood! Shun strange gods and set up no idols in your hearts, as you value the salvation of your souls. But if your mine lies in this district, be fearful not to excite the anger of the gnomes of the mountain. Charge lightly, lest you blast the bottom out of your mine. Disturb not the slumber of the spirits of the hills lest they throw a horse into the shaft and push your pay-ore down a thousand feet.
Now, I who am what I am, a servant of the Sphinx, have erected the shrine of my household gods in the beautiful town, which lies in its shadow and is held in its paw. Even now is the Sphinx weaving on the web of my destiny. I hope I may be spared the cumbersome burden of the wealth of a Rockefeller, who is said to possess a billion dollars for every hair on his head. One thousandth part of his wealth would suffice to reward me amply.
I received a message in a dream, in a vision of the night, a promise from the Sphinx. I fancied that I was on Lynx Creek, sitting on the windlass at the shaft of my silver mine. This mine is within a mile of the place where we had camped and met the party of miners. I had worked the mine with profit until I met, through no fault of mine, with a fault in the mine and encountered a horse in the formation which faulted the ground in such a manner as to interrupt the pay chute and to make further work unprofitable.
While I sat there, lighting my pipe and blessing my luck, I saw a black tomcat come along and jump my claim. As I have always detested claim jumpers, I threw a rock at him and with an uncanny mee-ow and bristling tail he disappeared down the mine. When I went to the spot where he had scratched, after the fashion of cats, probably preparing to build his location monument and place his notice, I was thunderstruck to see that the rock I had thrown at him had been transformed into a chunk of pure gold. Surely where that cat jumped into the mine, there lies a bonanza, there shall I sink to the water level.
From the time of my youth have I always possessed great bodily strength and physical endurance, combined with good health, and now, I am, if anything, stronger in body than ever and I am blessed with the identical passions and thoughts I harbored in the days of my youth. To me this signifies that my life's real task is now beginning, the Sphinx is fitting me for glorious work. What and where, I care not; but ambitious hope leads me on, past wealth and power to visions of a temple of divine, pictorial art. Fain would I guide my light, frivolous thoughts long enough into the calm channels of serious reflection to bid you, my kind readers, a dignified farewell and express the sincere hope that, when we have prospected life's mortal vein to the end of time and our souls soar on the last blast of Gabriel's trumpet to shining sands on shores of bliss eternal.
AN UNCANNY STONE.
(A sequel to the last chapter of "Wooed by a Sphinx of Astlan."')
"Gigantic shadows, dancing in the twilight Fade with the sun's last golden ray. On quivering bat-wings, sad and silent, Flits darkness—night pursuing day. Hark! as the twelfth hour sounds its knell At midnight, tolls a whimpering bell When yawning graves profane their secrecy. Ghosts stalk in dreamland haunting memory And spectral visions of departed friends arise Who freed of sin, that fetter of mortality, With Angels in their kingdom of Eternal Life Grace Heaven's choir of harmony."
The third day of July A. D. 1907 was a gala-day for the citizens of Prescott, a historic date for Arizona, as then our governor, in behalf of the territory, formally accepted an equestrian statue from its sculptor.
This monument which commemorates our war with Spain had been erected on the public plaza of Prescott in honor of "Roosevelt's Rough Riders," the first regiment of United States Volunteer cavalry.
A master-piece of modern art the statue breathes life and action in the perfection of its every detail, representing a Rough Rider who is about to draw his weapon while reining his terrified horse as it rears in a last lunge. This is indicated by the steed's gaping mouth, distended nostrils, the bent knees, knotted chords and veins of its neck and body.
The expression of a noble beast's agony is rendered in so life-like a manner that its protruding eyes seem to glaze into the awful stare of death, and instinctively the spectator listens for the stifled whimper and whinnying screams of a wounded creature.
Borglum's splendid statuary, this heroic cast of bronze which so faithfully portrays the destiny of a dumb animal, man's most useful and willing slave, always ready to share its master's fate, even unto death—to my mind is a most eloquent, if silent, argument against all warfare.
But the glory of the monument is its pedestal.
A solid stone, a bed-rock from the cradle of the idol-mountain it was contributed by nature to the memory of one of its noblemen, "Captain William Owen O'Neill," who crowned his life with immortality, suffering a soldier's death.
During the storming of San Juan Hill to anxious friends imploring him not recklessly to expose himself, with smiling lips he gave this message of death's Angel, that mysterious oracle of a Sphinx which from the gaze of mortals veils their ordained doom: "Comrades, sergeant! I thank you for your kindly warning—fear not for me, the Spanish bullet that could kill me is not molded!"—when instantly he fell struck dead—not by a "Spanish" bullet—"no!" but by the bullet fired from a Mauser rifle, "not made in Spain." Not an ordinary stone this Arizona granite rock is entitled to highest honors among the stones of the earth.
By none outclassed in witchery it ranks equally in fame with the Blarneystone of Ireland; old Plymouth Rock does not compare with it, for that derives its prestige only from "Mayflower pilgrims" who accidentally landing at its base merely stepped over it.
Proudly our Arizona stone bears a most precious burden—the tribute of a people who in exalting patriotism honor themselves.
Originally an archaean sea-bottom rock this stone lay submerged in the ocean until during the Jurassic Period, under the lateral pressure of a cooling earthcrust the table-lands and mountain-chains of Arizona rose from the seas.
Then it slumbered through several epochs of geology, representing many millions of years in the bosom of earth, the mother, until at the beginning of the psychozoic era, through erosion or the action of atmospheric influences and nature's chemistry it came to the surface; uncovered and freed from all superimposed stratified rock.
It saw the light of day long before the advent of primitive man; but the giant-flora and fauna of pre-historic time had developed, flourished and vanished while it rested under ground.
Contrary to the habit of rolling stones which gather no moss, this Arizona stone accumulated much, for when it had reached its assigned site on the plaza of Prescott it had become a very valuable, expensive rock.
When first I saw it, this fearful Aztec juggernaut was within a half mile of its destination. Slowly it crawled along, threatening destruction to everything in its path, and in the course of a week had arrived at the Granite-creek bridge.
It moved by main strength and brute force employing men and horses after the custom of the ancients when more than thirty-seven hundred years ago King Menes, son of Cham reigned in Egypt, who albeit surnamed Mizrain the Laggard, yet was the first king of the first dynasty of the children of the sun.
When I saw the direction from whence the stone had come I feared that disaster would overwhelm our town and unfortunately was I not mistaken.
At the bridge the stone gave the first manifestation of its unholy heathen power when it balked, defying modern civilization and through sorcery or in other unhallowed ways contrived to interfere with the public electric traction service, paralyzing the traffic so effectively that every street car in the town was stopped; not merely a few hours, but for days.
Like that colossus of strength and wisdom, the elephant which refuses to pass over a bridge until satisfied that this will uphold its weight, the cunning stone did not budge another inch until the bridge had been braced with many timbers.
As foreseen by me this uncanny rock was sent by the Idol of the mountain, the "Sphinx of Aztlan," to cast a hoodoo, an evil spell over the monument.
It caused dissension among the people and confused their minds into rendering abnormal criticisms, making them indulge in eccentric vagaries and speculations on the artistic and intrinsic value of the monument. Some persons guessed at the value of the metal contained in the statue, while others reckoned the cost of the horse or that of the rider's accoutrements.
However, of thousands of admiring and delighted spectators none shared an exactly like opinion except in this, that the statue bore no individual resemblance; but that also was contradicted by a young lady whom I heard exclaim: "Girls, surely that looks like Buckie O'Neill, but in love and war men are not themselves!" "How do I know? Oh, mamma said so!"
During the ceremony of unveiling the monument a dark, ragged storm cloud hung over the Aztec mountain, fast overcasting the sky. Thousands of people strained their eyes and held their breath in the glad anticipation of seeing the features of their lamented friend, Prescott's honored mayor, immortalized in bronze. When after moments of anxious suspense the veil which draped the statue parted and fell to earth, the sun's rays pierced the clouds, while deafening cheers rent the air. I thought I heard a weird, faint cry, an echo from the past—but cannons boomed, drums crashed as a military band rendered its patriotic airs.
And we saw—not the familiar, fine features of our soldier hero, so strikingly portrayed by a famed artist and molded into exact, lifelike resemblance, but instead we beheld an unknown visage—a type, merely the semblance of a "Rough Rider," its rigid gaze riveted on the Idol-mountain, forever enthralled by the Sphinx.
In nineteen hundred seven, on the third day of July With shining mien and naming sword earthward St. Michael came To save—ever auspicious be the blessed day— From blighting heathen guile a Christian hero's fame The while, breathless with awe, solemn the people gazed And rhetoric's inspired flame on Aztlan's altar blazed. Adore the Saints, behold a miracle Divine! Hallowed, our Saviour, be Thy Name And Heaven's glory thine!
Of idol-worship now has vanished every trace In deepest crevice and highest place On mesa, butte and mountain-face; From the Grand Canyon's somber shade The sun-scorched desert, the dripping glade And sunken crater of Stoneman's Lake. The "Casa Grande," a home of ancient race— A ruin now—is haunted by Montezuma's wraith. In Montezuma's castle, crumbling from roof to base The winds and rain of heaven ghosts of the past now chase.
Where erstwhile the Great Spirit's children dwelt Forever hushed is the papoose's wail, and stilled the squaw's low-crooning lilt. No longer shimmers starlight from eyes of savage maids Worshippers of the fire and sun, poor dwellers of the caves— The sisters of the deer and lo, shy startled fawns of Aztec race Or coy ancestral dams of moon-eyed Toltec doe. Now Verde witches bathe in Montezuma's well And over its crystal waters the tourists cast their spell.
Rejoice! To Arizona has the Saviour vouchsafed His Grace For our Salvation Army lass teaches true Gospel faith: "Be saved this night, poor sinner, repent, the hour is late! Salvation is in store for thee, brother do not delay As fleeting time and sudden death for no man ever wait!" "Praise God!" the lassie's war-cry is, the keynote of her song. To the tune of "Annie Roonie" and kindred fervid lay With mandolin and banjo, marching in bold array The devil's strongholds storming, battling to victory— With banners flying, the tambourine and drum Forever has she silenced the shamans vile tom-tom. All Fetish Spirit-medicine she has tabooed, banished away Except bourbon and rye, sour-mash, hand-made And copper-distilled, licensed, taxed and gauged, Then stored in bond to ripen, mellow, age. God bless the Army, rank and file who fight our souls to save! Modern disciples of the Son of Man, true followers of Christ, They work by day, then preach and pray and pound their drum at night.
Farewell, this ends my rhyming, submitted at its worth. Lest I forget—pride goes before the fall, on earth And exceeding fine if slowly, grind the mills of angry gods— The muses' steed, a versifying bronco had I caught And recklessly I rode; but fast as thought Fate overtook me when Pegasus bucked me off. Sorely distressed I hear a satyr's mocking laugh As on my laurels resting, on my seat of honor cast And thanking you for kind attention now your indulgent censure ask.
THE BIRTH OF ARIZONA. (AN ALLEGORICAL TALE.)
On the summit of a mountain I staked my claim; in the shade of a balsam-spruce I built my hut.
When the south wind that rises on the desert climbs to the mountain's ridge and rustling among silvery needles, rattles the cones on boughs and twigs—the tree-giant whispers with resinous breath, bemoaning the fate of a prehistoric civilization, and lisps of the mystery and romance of a humanity long extinct, mourning for races forgotten and vanished.
Alone—unrivaled in her weird, wild grandeur stands Arizona where spiry rock-ribbed giants stab an emerald, opal-tinted sky, and terraced mesas of wondrous amber hue form natural stairways, that grandly wrought were carved step after step, through successive epochs of erosion, affording thus an easy ascent to the rugged profile of this land of the Western Hemisphere. All this is of historic record in stony cypher of geology indelibly engraved by time on the rocky walls of deepest canyons, as traceable from the primordial archaean to our present era, the age of man.
In tremor-spasms of terrestrial creation, 'midst chaotic fiery turmoil of volcanos, out of the depth of globe-encircling waters, from the womb of Universe—Eternity—came the Almighty Word, and then was born fair Arizona.
Fraught with golden prophecy was her horoscope, cast by fate's oracle for her birthday fell under the sign of the scorpion when in the path of planets Venus contended with the Earth for first place of ascendency to the second house of the heavens.
High above the tidal wave rose Arizona, as fleecy clouds float in the rays of Apollo's sun-torch when at eventide his flaming chariot plunges into unfathomed depths of the Pacific Ocean.
With her first breath this daughter of Columbia, born of gods, clamored for aid. Neptune was first among the planets to heed the plaintive cry and held her to his breast, with fond caresses.
The grandest canyon on the face of earth with flowing streams and limpid crystals he gave her as a birthday present.
These crystals rare are famed as Arizona diamonds now.
Bright, lovely Venus, the sister of Earth, a shining planet, gave the ruby-red garnet, her pledge of love and Arizona hid it in her bosom. There shall you find it, if worthy so you be, in the hearts of happy maidens.
Saturn gave her his ring of amethysts and Uranus the greenish malachite, of buoyant hope the emblem. This, in time, was changed to copper, the king of all commercial metals.
Mars gave the bloodstone. From it came soldiers bold, heroes who fought Apaches and the Spaniard.
The winged Mercury on passing tossed her two stones, most precious; the lodestone and a Blackstone. The lodestone was a stone of grit. When Arizona placed it in her crib thence came the lucky prospector who sinks his shafts through earth and rock in search of mineral treasure.
Then opened she the Blackstone and lo, from it arose the men of eloquence who aided by retainers fight keenly in continued terms for order, law and justice with weapons that are mightier than the sword which giveth glory, eternal rest and immortality to heroes only whom it smiteth.
Behold, a shadow now fell on the Earth and as a serpent coils and creeping stretches forth its slimy length, it came apace.
Foreboding evil it announced the knight-errant of never-ending space, a wicked comet. To Arizona gave he playthings many: the rattlesnake, hairy tarantelas and stinging scorpions, horned toads and centipedes, a scented hydrophobia-cat, the Gila monster, a Mexican and the Apache; also a thorny cactus plant.
Anon the tricky Hassayampa rose from his source. On mischief bent he overflowed his bed, teasing the infant Arizona. He worried her, poor dearie—dear till she shed tears and nature adding to the gush of waters there flowed a brackish stream away; now named Saltriver and on its banks nested the Phoenix.
From Elysium in his chariot descended then the sungod to nurse his infant daughter. He dried the Hassayampa's bed in the hot desert sand and where man-like, incautiously he scorched the hem of Arizona's dress—where now lies Yuma—there the temperature rose ten degrees hotter than hades; but luckily since then it has cooled off as much.
The happy maiden smiled with joy as Apollo kissed her long and often. He took the turquoise from the skies, an emblem of unfaltering faith. It and a lock of shining hair he gave her. That hid she in her rocky bed where it became gold of the mint; the filthy lucre of unworthiness and avarice, a blessing when in charity bestowed; a boon as the reward of honest labor!
With lengthening shadows Luna, night's gentle goddess came, a full mile nearer to Arizona than to other lands beaming her softest rays over the sleeping child. Under the lunar kisses woke Arizona and stored the moonshine in her gown. That nature has transformed to silver; serving the poor man as his needed coin.
In sadness waned the moon, for caught between the horns of a dilemma she had no wealth left to endow the infant with. Intemperate habits had the goddess always, was often full and now reduced to her last quarter, but that was waning fast and her man's shadow also growing less. Her semi-transparent stone, alas! had given she long since to California, but this proudest of all daughters of the seas did not appreciate the kindly gift. She cast it on the white sands of her beaches where it is gathered by the thankful tourist who shouts exultantly, delighted with his find:
The moonstone, climate, atmosphere, The only things free-gratis here— Eureka! I have found!
A ROYAL FIASCO.
A village on the coast of northern Germany, where the Elbe flows into the North Sea, was my birthplace, its parsonage, my childhood's home.
Two great earth-dikes which sheltered our village from fierce southwesterly gales were the only barrier standing between untold thousands of lives and watery graves, for the coasts of Holland and northern Germany are below the level of high tides.
It is known that through inundations caused by breaks in these levees, occurring as late as the tenth and eleventh centuries of our era more than three hundred thousand persons with all their domestic cattle were drowned over night.
These dikes which extend for many miles along the banks of the river were erected by the systematic herculean toil of generations of our ancestors.
According to a popular tradition it was Rolof, the dwarf, a thrall of Vulcan, who taught my forefathers the art of forging tools from iron ore, enabling them to battle successfully against the might of Neptune.
They blunted the angry sea-god's trident with their plows and shovels and repulsed him at the very threshold of his element, stemming the inroads of hungry seas with their stupendous handiwork which still stands intact, an imposing monument to the memory of my forebears, being their children's children's most precious inheritance.
On the soil which my ancestors reclaimed from the sea they founded their homes and sowed grasses and cereals.
But ere long a dire calamity came over the land, for at the command of the revengeful Neptune his mermaids spewed sea-foam into the river's fresh water addling it with their fish-tails into a nasty brine.
Luckily the good dwarf who in his youth had served his term of apprenticeship at the court of King Gambrinus and was therefore master of the noble craft of brewing kindly taught my forefathers to brew a foaming draught from the malt of barleycorn, which thereafter they drank instead of water.
And now all seafaring men who navigate the river Elbe between Cuxhaven and Hamburg are still troubled with a tremendous thirst which nothing but foaming lager beer may quench.
The founding of the village's church dates from the conversion of Saxon tribes who inhabited that country. The chapel's original walls were built of rock, but its newer part was constructed of brick-work during the fourteenth century.
Our domicile, the parsonage, although not quite as ancient, was a very picturesque ruin with its moss-covered roof of thatched straw, under which a flock of sparrows made their homes; but a modern building, how prosaic-looking it might be, or deficient in uniqueness and the charm of its surroundings, would undeniably have made a better, more sanitary and comfortable residence.
Mother, at least, thought this when father landed her, his blushing bride at the ancient parsonage in a rain storm which compelled them to retire for the night under the shelter of an umbrella; and thus the honeymoon of their married life waxed with uncommon hardship.
Later the old leaky house received a tile roof, part of it was removed and with it the room where first I saw the light of day.
That was a cold day for father indeed, as there was another mouth to be fed then, a very serious problem for a poor parson to solve.
When my aunt remarked that I looked like a "monk" father eyed me thoughtfully, saying: "Perhaps there is something to Darwin's theory after all," but mother took me to her arms, withering her sister with scornful glances of her flashing eyes. "Certainly does he look like a monk, the poor little tiddledee-diddy darling," she said; "what else would you expect of him, being the son of a preacher and a descendant of priests?"
On a certain fateful summer day when assembled at dinner we heard the rumble of wheels as an imperial post-chaise hove into view, lumbering lazily past the parsonage.
The postillion's horn sounded a letter-call and my sisters rushed out, racing over our lawn to the gate, in order to take the message. They returned with a large envelope bearing great official seals, both girls struggling for its possession and fighting like cats for the privilege of carrying the precious document. Mother's face was wreathed in smiles of ecstacy.
"Your salary, papa," she whispered, but father was very solemn. "No, dear, it is not due," he answered. He took the missive from my sister's hands and turned it over and over, guessing at its contents until mother who was favored with more of that quality which is commonly called "presence of mind" urged him to open it, and see.
An ashen pallor spread over father's countenance, the letter dropped from his hand and he would have fallen if mother had not caught him in her arms. She grabbed the evil message, slipping it into the bosom of her gown, where it could do no further harm.
Then she guided father's faltering steps to the sanctity of his studio, where he wrote his sermons and closed the door.
My sisters availed themselves of the opportunity to make a raid on mother's pantry, but I, poor little innocent, waited in the corridor for mother's return, dreading to hear the worst. I heard my dear father groan aloud and bemoan his fate and listened to mother's soothing sympathetic words as she begged father to be calm and bear it like a man and a Christian.
When at last mother came out I flew to her. She took me to her arms, kissing my tear-stained face.
"Poor little boy," she said, "cheer up and you shall have a big cookie, don't you cry!"
"Oh, mamma," I faltered, "will papa die?"
"No, sonny, that he won't," said she with a determined glint of her eyes and a twitching of the corners of her mouth, "for I won't let him; but he does suffer anguish!"
"Oh, tell me, mamma, what misfortune has befallen us," I cried.
"It is very sad," said mother. "Your father, who is the finest speaker in the country, has been commanded by a worshipful senate and most honorable civic corporation of the Free City of Hamburg to appear before the visiting king in full dress, and officiate as orator of the day at a reception to be tendered his majesty by our city"—here mother broke down completely, overwhelmed by grief and wept copiously into her handkerchief.
"Oh, oh," I wailed, "do say it, mamma!"
"And—and your father has no coat!" she sobbed. "Poor man, he fears disgrace and dreads the loss of preferment and of a royal decoration, perhaps. He will have to feign sickness as an excuse for his absence; but I hope he realizes now how degraded and unhappy I must feel with my last year's gowns and made-over millinery—and your poor sister's ancient bonnets, I dare not look at them any longer!"
"But papa has a coat," I said, "a royal Prince Albert!"
"True," answered mother, "but it has no swallow's tails!"
"A Prince Albert has no swallow-tails?" I gasped wonderingly; "but it has great, long tails, surely!"
"Oh, now I see," an idea flashing through my mind; "it has cock-tails, has it, mamma, and it can't swallow them, can it, mamma?"
"Oh my, oh my!" screamed mother, "you are the funniest little chap to ask me questions. Go, ask pussy!"
Then I went into the back yard to interview my favorite playmate, our big, black tomcat, and aroused him from his cat nap. But he blinked sleepily only, saying nothing.
However, speech was not to be denied me in that manner, for I held the combination which unlocks the portals of silence. I gave the handle a double twist and he spat and spluttered: "Sh—sh—sht—t—t!"
As may be imagined, my father passed a sleepless night in the solitude of his studio. He wrestled with a host of demons and made a good fight of it; for finally in the small hours of morning he overcame the evil spirit of worldly ambition and with true Christian humility, his soul purified by vanquished temptation, resigned himself unreservedly, good man that he was, to the mandate of a cruel fate. He began to write his sermon for the Sabbath, and being spiritually chastened and battle-sore, naturally his thoughts dwelt on melancholy topics. Therefore, he took the text of his sermon from the Lamentations of Jeremiah, chapter 3, v. I:
"I am the man that hath seen affliction by the rod of His wrath."
It may be stated here that on the next Sabbath, from "firstly" to "seventhly" for two long hours father pondered over the uncertainties of earthly life, and that on this occasion he delivered the most effective sermon of his pastoral career.
When father had written his sermon he resumed work on an unfinished volume of historical sketches which he prepared for future publication.
Meantime mother, who was busy with a pleasanter task was correspondingly cheerful. She altered father's "Prince Albert" into a stately full-dress coat, ripping up its waist-seams, and pinned back the skirts of the coat into the proper claw-hammer shape.
Then she took that other garment which goes with the long waistcoat and the full-dress coat of a courtier's suit, in hand.
This article had not been mentioned before by anyone, as there was a goodly supply of it known to be in mother's wardrobe. Deftly cutting the lace away, a few inches above the knees she placed some mother-of-pearl buttons and bows of ribbons and with few stitches fashioned a beautiful pair of courtier's small clothes, or knickerbockers, for father's use.
Father had begun a description of the battle of Waterloo, for nothing so touched a responsive chord in his mind as the recording of a most fearful catastrophe, the direst calamity known to history, nor served as well to alleviate by comparison his mind's distress and mortification.
Just as he wrote the sentence, "Alas for Napoleon, here set his lucky star; not only was his misfortune repeated, but also his final downfall accomplished when Blucher's tardy cavalry appeared on the field, turning the tide of battle in favor of the British"—in came mother with happy, triumphant laughter, unfolding and flaunting to the breeze the so anxiously wished-for full-dress suit.
"Julia, darling, you have saved the day, oh you are so clever," shouted father, joyfully embracing her; "but I say!" he exclaimed in startled surprise, "where on earth did you get this—er—trousseau? Do you really think I shall need those?"
"Yes, indeed you shall, dearest, when you are going to court," replied mother. "Here you have everything needed except the silken hose which you must buy."
"But you have a plenty of long-limbed stockings," said father, wrinkling his brow.
"My good man, look here now!" answered mother, bristling, "well enough you know that all my stockings are very old and holey!"
"Oh, darn them!" growled father testily.
"Wilhelm, do you wish the king to see my stockings then?" cried mamma, angrily.
"But, my dear, you know that he can't see, as he is stone-blind," said father.
"So he is, Wilhelm, and for that very reason he could not find the throne of England," snapped mother, "but never was he blind as you to his queenly wife's unfashionable appearance, nor was he ever deaf to her demands for something decent to wear!"
And mother, as always when it came to ultimate extremes, finally gained her point, for father loved her dearly and dared not deny her.
On the following day arrived the king, for whose reception our township had made grand preparations. Festoons of evergreen decorated the roadway from the parsonage to the opposite house, and mother and my sisters were stationed at our gate with an abundance of roses to strew in the king's path.
From the steeple pealed the chimes, heralding his majesty's arrival. He traveled in an open landau, which was drawn by six milk-white Arabian steeds and surrounded by a select escort of young men who were his subjects and served as his guard of honor.
They wore scarfs of the royal colors over breasts and shoulders.
A courtier sat on either side of the king for the purpose of advising him and to direct his movements.
Poor man, he turned his sightless white eyes on us, bowing to the ladies in acknowledgment of their curtesies and roses.
This king was very unlike his royal namesake predecessors, as he was pitied by everyone and not envied or hated. I must confess to having been sorely disappointed with this sight of royalty, for I thought a king must be an extraordinary being, expecting to see a double-header, as kings and queens are pictured on playing cards, the kings holding scepters in their left hands and bearing a ball with their right, but I saluted and shouted as everyone else did, and when my sisters pelted the royal equipage with their roses I shied my cap at his majesty, at which the people who saw this laughed as loudly as they dared in the presence of a king. I expected also to see a military display, but there were no soldiers present, because the king traveled "incognito," which means that it was forbidden to reveal his royal identity. He was supposed to be a plain nobleman merely, "Herr von Beerstein" for instance.
But a king, who is human after all, may wish to enjoy himself as others do and desire to associate occasionally with ordinary people. So "Herr von Beerstein" goes to a beer garden in quest of a pleasing companion who is readily found, for he has money to burn and invests it freely.
An obliging bar-maid introduces him to her lovely cousin and they retire to a lonely seat in the most secluded spot of the garden.
"Herr von Beerstein" now places his heart and purse in the keeping of his gentle companion, who calls directly for "zwei beers."
Now follows a repetition of the old, old legend that yet is always new and ever recurring in the romance of mutual love on sight, two hearts beating as one and in the love that laughs at locksmiths, but as the course of true love seldom runs smooth, now with the maiden's oft repeated calls for "lager" "Herr von Beerstein" grows by stages sentimental, incautious and then so reckless that "presto!" before he is aware of any danger to himself he has stopped Cupid's fatal dart with his royal personal circumference. Maddened with pain he exhibits symptoms of a most violent passion and becomes very aggressive. But the cunning maid appeals to the protecting presence of Fritz, the waiter, with other calls for beer, whispering in the ear of her love-lorn swain: "Nine, mine lieber Herr von Beerstein, ven you has married me once alretty, nicht wahr? Ach vas, den shall you kiss me yet some more, yaw!"
Thus she tantalizes the poor man until he becomes desperate under the strain of an unrequited love and as a last resort he places his hand over his heart, bares the bosom of his shirt and exposes the insignia of royalty, flashing the sovereign's star before her eyes. Humbly, overcome with shame and remorse at the thought of having trifled with her king's affections, and prompted by her pitiful exaggerated notion of loyalty the poor thing kneels before his majesty, craving his pardon.
With royal hands the king uplifts her, graciously kissing her rosebud mouth and when she says: "Your majesty's slightest wish is a command to me, your servant!" and is about to surrender her loveliness to Cupid's forces and temporarily lose her heart, but her soul forever—in the very nick of time comes her guardian-angel to the rescue.
When she, poor little gray dove, lies trembling in the royal falcon's talons a head rises up and peeps over the fence, for the royal star has been seen through a crack between the boards, its knowing, sly grin passing into the lusty shout:
"Heil dem koenig, hoch, hoch!"
An excited crowd rushes from all directions, cheering: "Ein, zwei, drei, hurrah!" while a constable places the damsel under arrest, charging her with lese majeste. When, however, his majesty intercedes most graciously the your lady is promptly released, and restored to freedom.
But the constable's fee that she must pay—in earthly power, not even a king can save her from it, for that is a "trinkgeld" and she pays it from the royal purse.
On the evening of the king's arrival I accompanied my father to the castle where the reception royal took place. There were no ladies present on this occasion. The king was, as has been said, totally blind, but indulged in the curious habit of feigning to have an unimpaired eye sight and pretended to admire scenic objects which had been pointed out to him beforehand as though he really saw them, carrying out this illusion to the extent of ridiculousness. It is said that at a hunt-meet a courtier incurred his royal displeasure through these incautious words: "Sire, you shot this hare from a next to impossible distance, condescend to feel how fat it is!"
As the poor man failed to say "See how fat," he fell promptly into disfavor, which is equivalent to being blacklisted in our country.
The king's general behaviour suggests that he deemed his blindness not merely to be a most regrettable misfortune, but that he regarded it as a deserved culpable affliction.
When a small boy I was told that he lost his eyesight through an act of charity. He drew a purse from his pocket, intending to give a beggar an aim when his horse shied violently, causing the steel-beaded tassels of the purse to injure his eyes.
Later, as I grew older, I heard a different tale:
The king as a student, then being crown-prince of the realm, found pleasure in looking at the wine which was red, and at a pair of eyes that were blue and shone like heavenly stars, oh so gently and tenderly! But he looked, alas, once too often—into eyes that blazed with lurid flames of hate and fury—the terrible eyes of the green-eyed monster. There came a flash as of lightning with a loud report and he saw stars that fell fiercely fast until they vanished under a cloud of awful gloom in the hopeless despair of perpetual night; but the glorious luminous star of day for him shone not again, nevermore, on earth! To this day I know not which version tells the truth.
The castle's grand hall was overflowing with people. I followed in the wake of father, who had fallen into line, advancing gradually toward the august presence of a crowned king. Nervously father awaited his turn to bask for one anxious moment in the sunshine of royal favor and touch a king's hand.
I slipped away unperceived to the kitchen, knowing well the premises of this fine old castle which was kept in good repair by the city of Hamburg, its present owner. It had been won by conquest of arms in 1394 A.D. from the noble family "Von Lappe."
The principal occupation of these knights was the waylaying and robbing of merchants; but the wrecking of ships was their favorite, most profitable pastime.
The kitchen was in the basement of the castle and great in size, its floor paved with slabs of stone, the walls and ceilings were paneled in oak. On one side of the room were stone-hearths with blazing fires, over which hung pots and brazen kettles. Game and meats broiled on spits, there being no cook-stoves in those days. Heavy doors, strapped with great wrought iron hinges and studded with ornamental scroll-work led into pantries and cellars.
The place swarmed with liveried servants and cooks; also the king had brought his "chef de cuisine and own butler. The latter, a lordly Englishman, was a grand, haughty person who superintended the extravagant preparations for the entertainment of royalty.