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Title: Alamo Ranch - A story of New Mexico
Author: Brooks, Sarah Warner
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                         ALAMO RANCH

                   _A Story of New Mexico_

                   BY SARAH WARNER BROOKS

    Author of "My Fire Opal," "The Search of Ceres," etc.

    CAMBRIDGE
    PRIVATELY PRINTED
    MCMIII

    UNIVERSITY PRESS . JOHN WILSON

    AND SON . CAMBRIDGE . U.S.A.


                     TO LEON

    _Across the silence that between us stays,
      Speak! I should hear it from God's outmost sun,
    Above Earth's noise of idle blame and praise,--
      The longed-for whisper of thy dear "Well done!"_



[Illustration: ALAMO RANCH]



ALAMO RANCH

_A STORY OF NEW MEXICO_



CHAPTER I


It is autumn; and the last week in November. In New Mexico, this land of
sunshine, the season is now as kindly as in the early weeks of our
Northern September.

To-day the sky is one cloudless arch of sapphire! The light breeze
scarce ruffles a leaf of the tall alamo, the name tree of this ranch.
Here any holding bigger than a kitchen garden is known as a ranch. The
alamo, Spanish for poplar, lends here and there its scant, stiff shade
to this roomy adobe dwelling, with its warm southern frontage and
half-detached wings. Behind the house irregular out-buildings are
scattered about.

A commodious corral, now the distinguished residence of six fine Jersey
cows, lies between the house and the orchard,--a not over-flourishing
collection of peach, apricot, and plum trees.

Here and there may be seen wide patches of kitchen garden, carefully
intersected by irrigating ditches.

Near and afar, wide alfalfa fields with their stiff aftermath stretch
away to the very rim of the mesa, where the cotton-tail makes his home,
and sage-brush and mesquite strike root in the meagre soil. Cones of
alfalfa hay stacked here and there outline themselves like giant
beehives against the soft blue sky; and over all lies the sunny silence
of a cloudless afternoon with its smiling westering sun.

Basking in this grateful warmth, their splint arm-chairs idly tilted
against the house-front, the boarders look with sated invalid eyes upon
this gracious landscape.

Alamo Ranch is a health resort. In this thin, dry air of Mesilla Valley,
high above the sea level, the consumptive finds his Eldorado. Hither,
year by year, come these foredoomed children of men to fight for breath,
putting into this struggle more noble heroism and praiseworthy courage
than sometimes goes to victory in battle-fields.

Of these combatants some are still buoyed by the hope of recovery;
others are but hopeless mortals, with the single sad choice of eking out
existence far from friends and home, or returning to native skies, there
to throw up hands in despair and succumb to the foe.

Sixteen miles away the Organ Mountains--seeming, in this wonderfully
clear atmosphere, within but a stone's throw--loom superbly against the
cloudless sky; great hills of sand are these, surmounted by tall,
serrated peaks of bare rock, and now taking on their afternoon array in
the ever-changing light, rare marvels of shifting color,--amethyst and
violet, rosy pink, creamy gold, and dusky purple.

The El Paso range rises sombrely on the gray distance, and on every hand
detached sugar-loaf peaks lend their magnificence to the grand
mesa-range that cordons the Mesilla Valley.

And now, out on the mesa, at first but a speck between the loungers on
the piazza and the distant mountain view, a single pedestrian, an
invalid sportsman, comes in sight. As he nears the ranch with the slowed
step of fatigue, he is heartening himself by the way with a song. When
the listeners hear the familiar tune,--it is "Home, Sweet Home,"--one of
them rallying his meagre wind whistles a faint accompaniment to the
chorus. It is not a success; and with a mirthless laugh, the whistler
abandons his poor attempt, and, with the big lump in his throat swelling
to a sob, rises from his chair and goes dejectedly in. A sympathetic
chord thrills along the tilted piazza chairs.

The discomfited whistler is but newly arrived at Alamo; and his feeble
step and weary, hollow cough predict that the poor fellow's journey will
not take him back to the "Sweet Home" of the song, but rather to the
uncharted country.

And now the invalid sportsman steps cheerily on the piazza.

"Here, you lazy folks," mocks he, holding high his well-filled game-bag,
"behold the pigeon stew for your supper!" And good-naturedly hailing a
Mexican chore-boy, lazily propped by a neighboring poplar trunk, he
cries, "Catch!" and deftly tossing him the game (pigeons from the mesa)
goes in to put away his gun. When later he returns to the piazza, bathed
and refreshed, it is as if, in a room dim-lit by tallow candles, the gas
had suddenly been turned on to a big chandelier.

Seating himself in the vacant arm-chair, he fills a briar-wood pipe.
Some of the loungers do likewise; and now, while they smoke and chat,
look at the new-comer, Leonard Starr. Though not robust, he has the
substantial mien and bearing of one who finds it good to live, and makes
those about him also find it good. It is not long before most of these
dispirited loungers are laughing at his lively stories and sallies, and
cheerily matching them with their own.

Well is it for this troublous world of ours that some of its children
are "born to turn the sunny side of things to human eyes."



CHAPTER II


It is the middle of December; the Alamo boarders are now well arrived.

First and foremost, Mr. John Morehouse--the one lion of the ranch--makes
his bow. He is conspicuous for his able research in Archæology, and
among his fellow boarders is familiarly known as "the Antiquary."

Mr. Morehouse has come to New Mexico in the interest of science; he is
not, however, a mere dry-as-dust collector of knowledge, and is very
much inclined to unbend himself to the lighter moods and pursuits of his
less scholarly fellow-men.

This well-groomed, handsome man of forty is James Morley of Bangor.

He has come to try this healing air for a slight, but persistent, lung
affection.

Mr. Morley is known to be a man of means, with all the advantages thus
implied; but all the same, he is given to railing at most things under
the sun; hence by the boarders he is surreptitiously dubbed "the
Grumbler." Mr. Morley's growl is a foregone conclusion, and one may
safely reckon on his bark; but as for his bite, it is simply nowhere.

Already he has manifested a most considerate kindness for this gray-eyed
little lady from Marblehead, Miss Mattie Norcross,--a sweet-mannered,
quiet gentlewoman, who is currently reported as scant of filthy lucre,
and hence compelled to content herself with a cramped, inexpensive
bedroom for herself and her invalid sister, who has one hopelessly
diseased lung. This cheery-faced Irishman, who with his shy little wife
is, for a stubborn bronchial trouble, making the grand tour of the
world's health resorts, and is now trying New Mexico, is, strange as it
may seem, a Methodist minister. His name is Patrick Haley. It may be
said of Mr. Haley that he has the genial temperament indigenous to Green
Erin, and he has already won golden opinions at Alamo Ranch by the
considerate brevity of his grace before meat.

Among the invalids attended by their wives are Mr. Bixbee, from Ohio,
and Mr. Fairlee, from New York City.

Mr. Bixbee has been bidden by his medical dictator to repair his damaged
vitality by rest and nourishing food. It is predicted that this
surfeited "lunger," in escaping his Scylla of consumption, bids fair to
strand upon the Charybdis of liver complaint, since Mrs. Bixbee, in her
wifely zeal, not only plies him all day long with lunches, but makes
night hideous by the administration of raw eggs throughout its drowsy
hours.

Mr. Roger Smith, an over-worked Harvard athlete, is taking as a
restorative a lazy winter in this restful land. He has also other irons
in the fire, of which, later, we shall hear more. Roger Smith is known
in Boston society as one having heaps of money, but badly off for
pedigree. All the same, he is, in manner and appearance, a gentleman,
and has distinctly the hall-mark of Beacon Hill. He is here known as the
"Harvard man."

Also, among the sound-lunged invalids, is Mr. Harry Warren, a brilliant
Chicago journalist. Mr. Warren is taking a vacation in Mesilla Valley,
where he is said to be collecting material for future articles, and
possibly for a book.

The Browns have also two table-boarders from Boston,--Miss Paulina
Hemmenshaw and her beautiful niece, Louise, a superbly healthy brunette.
Their friend, Mr. Henry Hilton, during an absence abroad, has lent for
the winter to these ladies his toy ranch, with its aesthetically
fashioned dwelling-house.

The Hemmenshaws dine and sup at Alamo Ranch, and the aunt, a
cooking-school graduate, is known to make at Hilton Ranch for herself
and niece wonderful blazer breakfasts, consisting mainly of dishes
new-fangled of name, and eminently trying to mortal digestion. There
are, besides, some half-dozen male lungers unaccompanied by friends; and
two impecunious invalids to whom the kind-hearted landlord, George
Brown, allows bed and board in return for light-choring about the ranch.
These latter are democratically counted in with the dining-room
boarders.

Leon Starr, by common consent the "star boarder" of Alamo Ranch, has
already been presented to the reader. He has taken the large
two-windowed room on the ground-floor commanding a glorious view of the
distant Organ Mountains. After getting his breath in this unaccustomed
altitude, Leon's next care has been for the depressed lungers who daily
gather on the boarding-house piazza and wonder if life is still worth
living. To get them outside themselves by cheery good-fellowship, to
perform for them little homely services, not much in the telling, but
making their lives a world easier, has been a part of his method for
uplifting their general tone.

Of an inventive turn of mind, and an amateur mechanic, he has brought
with him a tiny tool chest; and it soon becomes the family habit to look
to Leon Starr for general miscellaneous tinkering, as the mending of
door and trunk locks, the regulating watches and clocks, the adjustment
of the bedevilled sewing-machine of their good landlady, and the
restoration of harmonious working to all disgruntled mechanical gear,
from garret to cellar. He it is who, on rainy days, manufactures denim
clothes-bags for clumsy-fingered fellows; who fashions from common canes
gathered on banks of irrigating ditches, photo-frames for everybody, and
shows them how to arrange the long cane tassels with decorative effect
above door and window, and how to soften the glare of kerosene lamps by
making for them relieving shades of rose-colored paper.

Pessimistic indeed is that lunger who, succumbing to the charm of this
gracious nature, does not feel the cheery lift in his heavy atmosphere.

From the landlord and his wife, both worn by the strain of doing their
best for chronically discontented people, down to Fang Lee, the Chinese
chef, Dennis Kearney, the table-waiter, the over-worked Mexican
house-maids, and the two native chore-boys--one and all rise up to call
the star boarder blessed.

Out on the mesa the air is finer and brighter than on the lower plane of
the ranch, and full of the life and stir of moving things,--quail,
rabbits, and doves.

Leon had at first found the thin air of this altitude somewhat
difficult; but since time and use have accustomed his lungs to these
novel atmospheric conditions, shooting on the mesa has become a part of
his daily programme, and his quail, rabbits, and pigeons prove a
toothsome contribution to the already excellent ranch table.

A small, shy Mexican herd-boy, pasturing his lean goats on the mesa,
gradually makes friends with the tall, kindly sportsman. As they have
between them but these two mutually intelligible words, _bueno_ (good)
and _mucho calor_ (very warm), their conversation is circumscribed. Kind
deeds are, however, more to the point than words, and go without the
saying; and when Leon instructed the ragged herd-boy in the use of his
bow, and made and weighted his arrows for him, he _understood_, and
became his devoted henchman, following in his path all through the
week-day tramps, and on Sundays coming to the ranch with clean face and
hands to adore his fetich, and watch, with admiring eyes, his novel
works and ways.



CHAPTER III


After a protracted interval of tranquil sunshine, a stormy wind came
blustering from the west, bringing to Mesilla Valley, in its wintry
train, sunless days, light flurries of snow, and general dreariness.

The boarders, weather-bound and dull, grew sullenly mutinous; and on the
third of these stormy days, gathering in the ranch parlor after the
mid-day meal, their discontent found vent in banning right and left this
"land of sun, silence, and adobe."

"Beastly weather!" muttered the Grumbler, drawing into the stove with a
discontented shiver.

"A precious sample, this, of your fine climate, Brown," jeered Bixbee,
turning mockingly to the disheartened landlord, who, reckless of
expense, commanded of the chore-boy fresh relays of fuel, and
incontinently crammed the parlor air-tight, already red-hot.

"I say, fellows," drolled the Harvard man, "let's make tracks for
Boston, and round up the winter with furnace heat and unlimited water
privileges, as the house-broker has it."

"And with cut-throat plumbers thrown in," suggested the Grumbler with a
malicious grin.

"See here, you folks, draw it mild," laughed the star boarder, crossing
the room with a finger between the leaves of a volume which he had been
reading by the dim afternoon light of this lowering day. "Here, now, is
something that fits your case to a T. Let me read you how they doctored
your complaint in these parts, æons before you were born."

"Anything for a change," muttered Bixbee, and, with the general consent,
Leon read the following:

"'When the people came out of the cold, dark womb of the underworld,
then the great sun rose in the heavens. In it dwelt Payatuma, making his
circuit of the world in a day and a night. He saw that the day was light
and warm, the night dark and cold. Hence there needed to be both summer
and winter people.

"'He accordingly apportioned some of each to every tribe and clan, and
thus it is down to the present day. Then those above (that is, the
Sun-father and the Moon-mother), mindful lest the people on their long
journey to the appointed abiding-place succumb to weariness and fall by
the way, made for them a koshare, a delight-maker. His body was painted
in diagonal sections of black and white, and his head, in lieu of the
regulation feather-decorations, was fantastically arrayed in withered
corn-leaves.

"'This koshare began at once to dance and tumble. Then the people
laughed, and were glad. And ever from that day, in their wanderings in
search of a satisfactory settling-place in the solid centre of the big
weary world, the koshare led them bravely and well.

"'He it was who danced and jested to make happiness among the people.
His it was to smile on the planted maize till it sprouted and flowered
in the fertile bottoms, to beam joyously on the growing fruit, that it
might ripen in its season.

"'From that day there have been delight-makers in all the Pueblo tribes.
The koshare became in time with them an organization, as the
Free-masons, or the Knights of Pythias, with us. This necessity, we are
told, arose from the fact that among the Pueblos there were summer
people who enjoy the sunshine, and winter people,--people who
determinedly prefer to live in the dark and cold.'

"Is it not so," said Leon, turning down a leaf and closing his book,
"with every people on the face of the earth?

"Is not the 'delight-maker,'--the koshare,--under various names and
guises, still in demand? It has struck me," continued he, looking
quizzically at this disgruntled assemblage, "that the koshare might be
an acceptable addition to our despondent circle."

"Amen!" fervently responded the Methodist minister.

"Right you are," said the Harvard man. "Write me as one who approves the
koshare!"

"Yes! yes!" eagerly exclaimed approving voices. "Let us have the koshare
here and at once!"

"A capital move," said Miss Paulina Hemmenshaw (born and reared in the
climatic belt of clubdom, and regent of a Chapter of Daughters of the
Revolution). "Let us have a Koshare Club."

"Good!" echoed Mrs. Fairlee, among her intimates surnamed "the Pourer,"
because of her amiable readiness to undertake for her friends the
helpful office that among afternoon tea-circles has been distinguished
by that name. "We might give afternoon teas to the members."

"And why not have recitations, with humorous selections?" bashfully
suggested the gray-eyed school-mistress, who rejoiced in a fine-toned
voice and in a diploma from the School of Oratory.

"Yes, indeed; and music, acting, and dancing, and all manner of high
jinks," exclaimed Miss Louise, who, an accomplished musician, and
distinguished for her amateur acting, with her superb health and
unfailing flow of spirits, might be counted in as a born koshare.

"And we might unite improvement with diversion, and have, now and then,
a lecture, to give interest to our club," suggested Mrs. Bixbee; and
here she looked significantly at Mr. Morehouse, "the Antiquary," who as
a lecturer was not unknown to fame.

"Lectures," observed the Minister, "though not strictly kosharean,
would be highly entertaining, and we can, no doubt, count upon our
friend, Mr. Morehouse, to give us the result of some of his research in
Mexican Antiquities."

The Antiquary, with a smile, accepted the part assigned him by his
fellow-boarder. Here the boarders went to supper, after which the more
sleepy sought their beds. The evening blew stormily in; but, gathered
about the centre table in the warm parlor, the leading spirits of Alamo
Ranch bade the storm go by, while they inaugurated the Club of The New
Koshare.

The star boarder was chosen president. The Minister was elected
vice-president, Miss Paulina secretary, and the Harvard man treasurer.
These preliminaries well arranged, a programme was voted on, and by
general approval carried.

Mrs. Fairlee--the Pourer--was to give to the club-members a weekly
afternoon tea. An entertainment open to the entire household was, on
every Thursday evening, to be given in the ranch dining-room by the
Koshare, consisting of music, tableaux, and recitations. A
shooting-match, under the direction of Leon, was to come off weekly on
the grounds of the establishment. There should be among the clubbists a
fund collected for magazines; and on fortnightly Saturday evenings Mr.
Morehouse promised to give them lectures, the result of his antiquarian
researches in Mexico, New and Old; and during this course papers and
talks relating to this subject should supplement his own.

"The Pueblo," commented the Grumbler, "would not have found magazines
strikingly kosharean; let us by all means have them," and suiting deed
to word, he subscribed to the book-fund on the spot, and paid
surreptitiously the subscription of the little school-ma'am, who had
previously withdrawn in the interest of her invalid sister.

In this fashion was inaugurated "The New Koshare" of Mesilla Valley;
thereafter the Hemmenshaws bundled themselves in winter wraps and,
handed into their vehicle by the Harvard man, set out in the storm for
their ride to Hilton Ranch, and the Koshare betook themselves to rest.



CHAPTER IV


On the morrow the sun shone warm and bright, and on the mesa, and on all
the desert-stretches of mesquite and sage-brush, on the broad alfalfa
fields and outlying acres of Alamo Ranch, there was no longer a flake of
snow.

Early in this sunny day the star boarder and the Pourer, driven by a
leisurely chore-boy, might have been seen taking their way to Las
Cruces, the nearest village and postal centre, intent on the procurement
of sundry wafers, biscuit, and other edibles pertaining to an afternoon
tea.

El Paso, the Texan border-town, some forty miles distant, is properly
the emporium of that region. Between it and Las Cruces lies a stretch of
desert more barrenly forlorn than the Long Island pine-lands, since it
is totally void of forest growth, and has but here and there a sprinkle
of mesquite-bushes about three feet in height, the rest being bare
sand-ridges.

At El Paso one may ride in street cars, luxuriate in rain-proof
dwellings, lighted by electricity, and pretty with lawns and
flower-pots. But even at its best, modern civilization, with its push
and bustle, ill becomes the happy-go-lucky native Mexican sunning
himself in lazy content against the adobe of his shiftily built
dwelling.

In a land of well-nigh perpetual blue sky, why need mortal man scramble
to make hay while the sun shines? Yesterday has already taken care of
itself. To-day is still here, and always there is _mañana_--to-morrow.

As for our own upstart civilization, in this clime of ancient Pueblo
refinements one must own that it takes on the color of an impertinence,
and as incongruously exhibits itself as a brand-new patch on a long-worn
garment.

But to return to Las Cruces, which is "fearfully and wonderfully made."
To look at the houses one might well fancy that the pioneer settlers had
folded their hands and prayed for dwellings, and when the answering
shower of mud and adobe fell, had contentedly left it where it stuck.
All these structures are one-storied, and square-built; each has its one
door, a window or two, and a dumpy roof, fashioned for the most part of
wattles, for, as it seldom rains here, the Las Crucean has no
troublesome prejudice in favor of water-tight roofs. When the sun shines
he is all right; and when it rains, he simply moves from under the drip.
Here, among confectionery that had long since outlived its desirability,
among stale baker's cookies and flinty ginger snaps, the Koshare
commissariat foraged discouragedly for the afternoon tea.

Duly supplied with these time-honored sweets, Leon and the Pourer, thus
indifferently provisioned, turned their faces homeward, at such moderate
pace as seemed good in the eyes of an easy-going Mexican pony and his
lazy Indian driver.

On the afternoon of that day Mrs. Bixbee, in her airy bed-chamber,
where the folding-bed in the day-time masqueraded as a black walnut
bookcase, gave the first Koshare afternoon tea.

Mrs. Fairlee poured from a real Russian Samovar brought over from the
Hilton Ranch for this grand occasion. Somewhat to the general surprise,
the Grumbler made his bow to the hostess in evening clothes, and though
not exuberantly Koshare, he was in an unwontedly gracious mood;
partaking with polite zest of the stale chocolates, tough cookies, and
flinty ginger snaps; munching long-baked Albert biscuit; serenely
bolting puckery Oolong tea; and even handing the cups,--large and
substantial ones, kindly furnished from their landlady's pantry,--and
commending their solidity and size as far preferable to the Dresden and
Japanese "thimbles" commonly appearing on afternoon tea-tables. As for
the Pourer, it must be recorded that her grace, facility, and charm of
manner gave even stone china tea-cups an air of distinction, and lent to
Oolong tea and stale cakes a flavor of refinement. It was on Monday that
this function came off successfully.

The next Koshare festivity in regular order was the shooting-match.

Leon, who had inherited from some Nimrod of his race, long since turned
to dust, that _true eye_ and steady hand which make gunning a success,
was here master of ceremonies as well as contributor of prizes.

The first of these, a pair of gold sleeve-links, he, himself, easily
won, and subsequently donated to Dennis the dudish table-waiter. Of the
five prizes, two others were won by the two impecunious lungers, one by
the Harvard man, and another by the Antiquary. The shooting-match,
enjoyed as it was by the near population of Mesilla Valley, proved a big
success, and weekly grew in grace with the aborigines as having a fine
flavor of circus shows and Mexican bull-fights, and was considered by
the Koshare as one of their happiest hits.

Equally successful was the Thursday entertainment, held in the big
dining-room, under the auspices of the landlord and his wife, with the
cook, waiter, maids, and chore-boys gathered about the open door.

It consisted of vocal and instrumental music, and recitations in prose
and rhyme; and, at a late hour, wound up with a bountiful supper
contributed to the occasion by the generous landlord.

Miss Hemmenshaw, the star performer, gave, with admirable Rachelesque
gesture and true dramatic fire, "The Widow of the Grand Army," recited
with exquisite delicacy Shelley's "Cloud," and sent shivers down the
backs of the entire assemblage, by a realistic presentation of
Rossetti's "Sister Helen." The grey-eyed school-marm recited with
genuine "School of Oratory" precision and finish "Barbara Frietchie,"
Holmes' "Chambered Nautilus," Longfellow's "Sandalphon," and "Tom
O'Connor's Cat." Leon read, with admirable humor, some of Mr. Dooley's
best; and the Harvard man brought down the house with Kipling's "Truce
of the Bear."

There was some fine piano and banjo playing, and the singing of duets;
and the Journalist rendered, in his exquisite tenor, Ben Jonson's rare
old love-song, "Drink to me only with thine eyes."

"Strange," commented the Antiquary (who in his miscellaneous mental
storage had found room for some fine old Elizabethan plays), turning to
Miss Hemmenshaw in the pause of the song, "Ben Jonson is dust these
three hundred years, and still his verses come singing down the ages,
keeping intact their own immortal flavor. The song-maker's is, indeed,
an art that 'smells sweet, and blossoms in the dust.' Well might they
write him, 'O rare Ben Jonson.'"

"And how exquisitely," responded the lady, "is the air married to the
words!" And now the Minister brought forward his Cremona. He was a
finished violinist, with a touch that well-nigh amounted to genius. All
praised his performance. At its close the Grumbler, in an aside to the
Antiquary, thus delivered himself:--

"To _some_, God giveth common-sense; to _others_, to play the fiddle!"

From the entry audience the fiddler won rousing rounds of applause, and
Dennis, the waiter, ventured on the subdued shuffle of an Irish jig.

This it was that suggested to the Koshare an impromptu dance, and
thereupon the young people straightway took the floor. The Minister,
kindly oblivious of his cloth, fiddled on; Miss Paulina called off the
figures, and so, merrily, ended the first Koshare evening
entertainment.



CHAPTER V


As it is not proposed to give this record of the doings of the "New
Koshare" the circumstantiality of a diary, the chronicler may be allowed
to include the ensuing teas, shooting-matches, and all the lighter
kosharean festivities in the one general and final statement, that they
each came off duly and successfully; and leaving their details
"unhonored and unsung," proceed to a more extended account of the
Saturday evening entertainments,--as all members of the club were
invited to contribute to these evenings, and it was expected that the
Minister would, from the storehouse of his travelling experience,
contribute liberally to their delectability; and that the Journalist
(who naturally thought in paragraphs, and, like the fairy who "spoke
pearls," conversed in exquisitely fashioned sentences) would supplement
the papers of the Antiquary by his own brilliant talks.

And so it was that on the initial Saturday evening, with a full
attendance and great expectations, the Koshare found themselves
convened, the president in the chair, the secretary with notebook in
hand, and all in dignified attention.

The Antiquary--with this apt quotation from Cumming's "Land of Poco
Tiempo"--began his first lecture before the club.

"'New Mexico,'" quoted he, "'is the anomaly of the Republic. It is a
century older in European civilization than the rest, and several
centuries older still in a happier semi-civilization of its own.
It had its little walled cities of stone before Columbus had
grandparents-to-be; and it has them yet.'

"There are," stated Mr. Morehouse, "three typical races in New Mexico.
The American interpolation does not count as a type.

"Of Pueblo Indians there are nine thousand, 'peaceful, home-loving, and
home-dwelling tillers of the soil.' Then, here, and in Arizona, there
are about twenty thousand Navajo Indians,--nomad, horse-loving,
horse-stealing vagrants of the saddle, modern Centaurs. Then come the
Apaches, an uncounted savage horde, whose partial civilization has been
effected by sheer force of arms, and inch by inch: who accept the
reservation with but half a heart, and break bounds at every
opportunity. Last of all come the Mexicans, shrunken descendants of the
Castilian world-finders; living almost as much against the house as in
it; ignorant as slaves, and more courteous than kings; poor as Lazarus,
and more hospitable than Croesus; and Catholics from A to izzard.

"The Navajos and Apaches," said Mr. Morehouse, "have neither houses nor
towns; the Pueblos have nineteen compact little cities, and the Mexicans
several hundred villages, a part of which are shared by the invader.

"'The numerous sacred dances of the Pueblos,' says Cummings, 'are by far
the most picturesque sights in America, and the least viewed by
Americans, who never found anything more striking abroad. The mythology
of Greece and Rome is less than theirs in complicated comprehensiveness;
and they are a far more interesting ethnological study than the tribes
of inner Africa, and less known of by their white countrymen.'

"The Pueblos of New Mexico," explained the Antiquary, "are by no means
to be confounded with the Toltecs or Aztecs. It is, however, barely
possible that in prehistoric ages the race in possession of Mexico may
have had some tribal characteristics of the latter-day Pueblo. As of
that remote time, there is not even a traditionary record; this
supposition is absolutely conjectural.

"By investigation and comparison it has, however, been proved that the
Pueblos have racial characteristics connecting them with some mysterious
stage of human life even older than that of the more barbarous Toltecs
or Aztecs.

"This race has from time immemorial had its book of Genesis. It is not,
like that of the Hebrew, a written record, but has been orally handed
down, and with careful precision, beginning with their original
emergence, as half-formed human beings, from the dark of the mystic
underworld of 'Shipapu' to the world of light.

"After the fashion of most barbarous races, the Pueblo appears
originally to have 'pitched his moving tent' in various parts of Mexico;
and it may be inferred that he endured many casualities before settling
himself in life. It was to tide over this trying epoch in his existence
that 'Those Above,' according to tradition, made for the tribes that
quaint 'Delight-Monger,' with whom we have already made acquaintance,
who led them in their wanderings from the womb of Shipapu to the solid
centre of their world; but, as has been already stated, this record,
going back to an indefinite period of time, and having only the dubious
authority of folk-lore, is only of traditional value.

"The Pueblo, no less than the Aztec, is the most religious of human
beings. His ceremonial, like that of the age of Montezuma, is
wonderfully and minutely elaborated; and though originating in a
civilization less splendid and refined, it is really less barbarous,
since its rites have never, like those of the Aztec, included the
horrors of human sacrifice and cannibalism.

"The Pueblo, since his exit from the womb of mother Earth, seems to have
given his principal attention to the cultivation of its soil. All the
same, he appears never to have shirked the less peaceful
responsibilities of his tribe,--putting on his war-paint at the shortest
notice, to settle the quarrels of his clan.

"Although like most men of savage birth and breeding, cruel in warfare,
he seems never to have been abstractedly blood-thirsty, never to have
killed, like his ever-belligerent neighbor, the Apache, purely for
killing's sake; but, his quarrel once ended, and the present security of
his clan well achieved, he has contentedly returned to the peaceful ways
of life; diligently sowing, weeding, and harvesting his crops of maize,
melons, squashes, and beans, and--ever mindful of the propitiative
requirements of 'Those Above'--taking careful heed of his religious
duties.

"For a succinct account of the Pueblo cave (or cliff) dwellers," said
the Antiquary, "I am largely indebted to Bandelier, from whose valuable
Pueblo researches I shall often take the liberty to quote.

"The imperfectly explored mountain range skirting the Rio Grande del
Norte is picturesquely grand.

"Facing the river, the foundation of the chain is entirely volcanic.

"Colossal rocks form the abrupt walls of the gorges between these
mountains, and are often so soft and friable that, in many places they
were easily scooped out with the most primitive tools, or even detached
with the fingers alone.

"In these gorges, through many of which run unfailing streams of water,
often expanding to the proportions of regular valleys, the Pueblo Indian
raised the modest crop that satisfied his vegetable craving.

"As it is easier to excavate dwellings than to pile up walls in the open
air, the aboriginal Mexican's house-building effort was mostly confined
to underground construction. He was, in fact, a 'cave-dweller,' yet
infinitely of more advanced architectural ideas than our own remote
forbears of Anglo Saxon cave-dwelling times.

"Most of these residences might boast of from three to four rooms. They
were arranged in groups, or clusters, and some of them were several
stories high.

"Rude ladders were used for mounting to the terrace or roof of each
successive story. The Pueblo had, literally, a hearthstone in his
primitive home. His fireplace was supplied with a hearth of
pumice-stone. A rudely built flue, made of cemented rubble, led to a
circular opening in the front wall of his cave-dwelling. Air-holes
admitted their scanty light to these dusky apartments, in which there
were not only conveniences for bestowing wearing-apparel, but niches for
ornamental pottery, precious stones, and the like Indian bric-à-brac.
The ground-floor entrance was a rude doorway closed by a hide, or mat.
Plaited mats of Yucca leaves, and deer-hide, by day rolled up in corners
of the sleeping-apartments, served for mattresses at night. A thick
coating of mud, washed with blood, and carefully smoothed, gave to the
floor a glossy effect. Some of the rooms are known to have been in
dimension ten feet by fourteen. Their walls were whitewashed with burnt
gypsum.

"Though the time when these traditional cliff-dwellers wooed and wed,
lived and died in the Rialto vale is long, long gone by, the ruins of
their homes may still be seen. Some of them are tolerably intact; others
are crumbled away to mere shapeless ruins.

"And now, having described their dwellings, let us note some of the most
marked and interesting characteristics of the men and women who made in
them their homes.

"We are apt," said the Antiquary, "to accord to our more enlightened
civilization the origin of communism; yet, antedating by ages our
latter-day socialistic fads, the communal idea enthused this unlettered
people, and to a certain extent seems to have been successfully carried
out.

"Let not the strong-minded Anglo-Saxon woman plume herself upon the
discovery of the equality of the sexes. While our own female suffragists
were yet unborn, the Pueblo wife had been accorded the inalienable right
to lord it over her mankind.

"Among the Mexican cliff-dwellers, 'woman's rights' seem to have been as
indigenous to the soil as the piñon and the prickly pear.

"In the primitive Pueblo domicile, the wife appears, by tribal consent,
to have been absolutely 'cock of the walk.' The husband had no rights as
owner or proprietor of the family mansion, and, as an inmate, was
scarcely more than tolerated.

"The wife, in those ever-to-be-regretted days, not only built and
furnished the house,--contributed to the kitchen the soup pot, water
jars, and other primitive domestic appliances,--but figured as sole
proprietor of the entire establishment.

"The Pueblo woman, though married, still had, with her children, her
holding in her own clan. In case of her death, the man's home being
properly with _his_ clan, he must return to it.

"The wife was not allowed to work in the fields. Each man tilled the
plot allotted him by his clan. The crops, once housed, were controlled
by the woman, as were the proceeds of communal hunts and fisheries.

"The Pueblos had their system of divorce. It goes without saying that it
was not attended by the red-tape complications of our time. As the
husband's continuance under the family roof-tree depended absolutely on
his acceptability to the wife, at any flagrant marital breach of good
behavior she simply refused to recognize him as her lord. In vain he
protested, stormed, and menaced; the outraged better half bade him _go_,
and he _went_! Thus easily and informally were Pueblo marriages
dissolved; and, this summary transaction once well concluded, each party
had the right to contract a second marriage.

"The Pueblo Indian is historically known as a Catholic; that is to say,
he told his beads, crossed his brow with holy water, and duly and
devoutly knelt at the confessional. This done, he tacitly reserved to
himself the privilege of surreptitiously clinging to the Paganism of his
forbears, and zealously paid his tithe of observances at the ancient
shrine of 'the Sun Father' and 'the Moon Mother.'

"Some of the Pueblo tribes are said still to retain the use of that
ancient supplicating convenience, 'the prayer-stick.'

"'Prayer-sticks, or plumes,'" explained the Antiquary, "are but painted
sticks tufted with down, or feathers, and, by the simple-minded Indian,
supposed especially to commend him to the good graces and kindly offices
of 'Those Above.' In a certain way, the aboriginal prayer-stick seems to
have been a substitute for an oral supplication.

"The Pueblo, pressed for time, might even forego the hindering
ceremonial of verbal request, adoration, or thanksgiving, and hurriedly
deposit, as a votive offering to his easily placated gods, this tufted
bit of painted wood; and, furthermore, since prayer-sticks were not
always within reach, it was permitted him in such emergencies to gather
two twigs, and, placing these crosswise, hold them in position by a rock
or stone. And this childish make-shift passed with his indulgent gods
for a prayer!

"The most trivial commonplace of existence had, with the superstitious
Pueblo, its religious significance; and it would seem to have been
incumbent on him literally to 'pray without ceasing.' Hence the
prayer-plume, or its substitute, was, with him, one of the necessities
of life. Time would fail me to tell of the ancient elaborate religious
rites and superstitions of the Mexican Indian; to recount his latter-day
ceremonials, wherein Pagan dances, races, and sports are like the jumble
of a crazy quilt, promiscuously mixed in with Christian festas and holy
saint-days; and indeed the subject is too large for my sketchy handling.
It may not, however, be amiss to notice the yearly celebration of the
festival of San Estevan. It may be still witnessed, and seems to have
been the original Harvest-home of the Mexican Indian, the observance of
which has been handed down in various ways from all times, and among all
peoples, and is probably the parent of our Thanksgiving holiday.

"The monks of the early Catholic church, in their missionary endeavor to
commend the Christian religion to the pagan mind, took care to graft
upon each of the various festas of the Pueblo one of their own saint-day
names. Thus it was that the Acoma harvest-home masquerades under the
guise of a saint-name, though an absolutely pagan ceremonial.

"It is still observed by them with genuine Koshare delight. There are
dances, races, and tumbling, and the carnival-like showering of Mexican
confetti from the roofs of adobe houses. In summing up this brief
account of the sedentary New Mexican, I quote literally the forceful
assertion of Cummings. 'The Pueblos,' says this writer, 'are Indians who
are neither poor nor naked; who feed themselves, and ask no favors of
Washington; Indians who have been at peace for two centuries, and fixed
residents for perhaps a millennium; Indians who were farmers and
irrigators, and six-story housebuilders before a New World had been
beaten through the thick skull of the Old. They had,' he continues, 'a
hundred republics in America centuries before the American Republic was
conceived.'

"This peaceably minded people, as has already been stated, are by no
means to be confounded with the roving New Mexican aborigines, with the
untamed Navajo scouring the plains on the bare back of his steed, or the
fierce Apache, murderous and cruel.

"We must not," said Mr. Morehouse, "take leave of the Pueblo, without
some reference to the great flat-topped, slop-sided chain of rock-tables
that throughout the length and breadth of his territory rises from the
sandy plains, the most famous and best explored of which is known as 'La
Mesa Encantada,'--'the Enchanted Mesa.'

"According to tradition the Mesa Encantada gains its romantic name from
an event which centuries ago--declares the legend--destroyed the town,
then a well-populated stronghold of the Acomas. As a prelude to this
legend, let me state that the Pueblo cliff-dwellers often perched their
habitations on lofty, sheer-walled, and not easily accessible mesas, a
natural vantage-ground from which they might successfully resist their
enemies, the nomadic and predatory tribes formerly over-running the
country.

"The steep wall of the Acoma Mesa, with its solitary trail, surmounted
by means of hand and foot holes pecked in the solid rock, was so well
defended that a single man might keep an army at bay. What fear, then,
should these Acomas have of their enemies?

"The Acomas, like other Pueblo Indians, have from time immemorial been
tillers of the soil.

"From the fertile sands of their valley and its tributaries they won by
patient toil such harvests of corn, beans, squashes, and cotton as
secured them a simple livelihood; and 'their granaries,' it is asserted,
'were always full enough to enable them, if need be, to withstand a
twelvemonth's siege.' How long the top of Katzimo, the site of the
Enchanted Mesa, had been inhabited when the catastrophe recorded in the
legend befell, no man may say, not even the elders of the tribe; this
much is, however, known,--the spring-time had come. The sun-priest had
already proclaimed from the housetops that the season of planting was at
hand. The seeds from last year's harvest had been gathered from the
bins; planting-sticks had been sharpened, and all made ready for the
auspicious day when the seer should further announce the time of
repairing to the fields. On that day (so runs the tale), down the ragged
trail, at early sunrise, clambered the busy natives; every one who was
able to force a planting-stick into the compact soil, or lithe enough to
drive away a robber crow, hurried to the planting. Only a few of the
aged and ailing remained on the mesa.

"While the planters worked in the hot glare of the valley below, the sun
suddenly hid his face in angry clouds. The busy planters hastened their
work, while the distant thunder muttered and rolled about them. Suddenly
the black dome above them was rent as by a glittering sword, and down
swept the torrent, until the entire valley became a sheet of flood. The
planters sought shelter in the slight huts of boughs and sticks from
which the crops are watched.

"The elders bodingly shook their heads. Never before had the heavens
given vent to such a cataract.

"When the sudden clouds as suddenly dispersed, and the sun-lit crest of
Katzimo emerged from the mist, the toilers trudged toward their mountain
home. Reaching the base of the trail, they found their pathway of the
morning blocked by huge, sharp-edged pieces of stone, giving mute
testimony of the disaster to the ladder-trail above.

"The huge rock mass, which had given access to the cleft by means of the
holes pecked in the trail-path, had in the great cloud-burst become
freed from the friable wall, and thundered down in a thousand
fragments, cutting off communication with the mesa village. The Acomas,
when asked why their ancestors made no desperate effort to reach the
sufferers whose feeble voices were calling to them from the summit for
succor, but left their own flesh and blood to perish by slow starvation,
gravely shook their heads.

"The ban of enchantment had already, for these superstitious pagans,
fallen upon the devoted table-land; it had become 'La Mesa Encantada.'

"The publication by Mr. Charles F. Lummis, who resided for several years
at the pueblo of Iselta, of the story of Katzimo, the tradition of which
was repeated to him by its gray-haired priests some twelve years ago,
aroused the interest of students of southwestern ethnology in the
history of 'La Mesa Encantada,' and, subsequently, Mr. F. W. Hodge was
directed by the Bureau of American Ethnology, of the Smithsonian
Institute, to scale the difficult height of this giant mountain, for the
purpose of supplementing the evidence already gained, of its sometime
occupancy as a Pueblo town. His party found decided evidence of a former
occupancy of the mesa, such as fragments of extremely ancient
earthenware, a portion of a shell bracelet, parts of two grooved stone
axes, lichen-flecked with age. Here, too, was an unfeathered
prayer-stick, a melancholy reminder of a votive offering made, at the
nearest point of accessibility, to 'Those Above.'

"'When I consider,' says Mr. Hodge, in his charming paper, 'The
Enchanted Mesa,' published in the 'Century Magazine,' some three or
four years ago, 'that the summit of Katzimo, where the town was, has
long been inaccessible to the Indians, that it has been swept by winds,
and washed by rains for centuries, until scarcely any soil is left on
its crest, that well-defined traces of an ancient ladder trail may still
be seen pecked on the rocky wall of the very cleft through which the
traditionary pathway wound its course; and, above all, the large number
of very ancient potsherds in the earthy talus about the base of the
mesa, which must have been washed from above, the conclusion is
inevitable that the summit of 'La Mesa Encantada' was inhabited prior to
1540, when the present Acoma was discovered by Coronado, and that the
last vestige of the village itself has long been washed or blown over
the cliff.'"

With this account of the Enchanted Mesa, Mr. Morehouse, amid general
applause, ended his interesting paper on the Pueblo Indians; and after a
short discussion by the Club of the ancient and modern characteristics
of these remarkable aborigines, the Koshare, well pleased with the
success of its endeavor to combine improvement with delight, adjourned
to the next Monday in January.

Little dreamed Roger Smith as, that night, after the Club entertainment,
he handed the Hemmenshaw ladies to their wagon, for the return ride to
Hilton Ranch, that the very next week he was to undertake, on their
behalf, a hand-to-hand encounter with a blood-thirsty Apache. Yet so was
it ordained of Fate.

It has already been stated that these ladies were but day-boarders at
Alamo Ranch, occupying, together with Sholto, a Mexican
man-of-all-work, the Hilton Ranch, a good mile distant from the
boarding-house.

Louise Hemmenshaw, usually in exuberant health, was ill with a severe
influenza. It was the third and cumulative day of this disease. Sholto
had already been despatched to Brown's for the dinner; Miss Paulina had,
in this emergency, undertaken to turn off the breakfasts and suppers
from her chafing-dish.

After replenishing, from the wood basket, the invalid's chamber fire,
Miss Paulina administered her teaspoonful of bryonia, gave a settling
shake to her pillow, and hurried down to fasten the back door behind
Sholto.

Lingering a moment at the kitchen window, the good lady put on her
far-off glasses for a good look across the mesa, stretching--an unbroken
waste of sage-brush and mesquite-bush--from the Hilton kitchen garden to
the distant line of the horizon.

As she quietly scanned the nearer prospect, Miss Paulina's heart made a
sudden thump beneath her bodice, and quickened its pulses to fever-time;
for there, just within range of her vision, was the undoubted form of an
Apache savage, clad airily in breech-clout, and Navajo blanket. Skulking
warily along the mesa, he gained the garden fence and sprang, at a
bound, over the low paling. For a moment the watcher stood paralyzed
with wonder and dismay.

Meantime, under cover of a rose-trellis, the Apache, looking bad enough
and cunning enough for any outrage, coolly made a reconnoisance of the
premises. This done, still on all-fours, he gained the bulkhead of the
small dark vegetable cellar beneath the kitchen. It chanced to have been
inadvertently left open.

With a satisfied grunt (and eschewing the paltry convenience of steps)
he bounded at once into its dusky depths.

Summoning her failing courage, this "Daughter of the Revolution"
resolutely tiptoed out the front door, and, with her heart in her mouth,
whisking round the corner of the devoted house, shot into place the
stout outside bolt of the bulkhead door.

This feat accomplished, she made haste to gain the safe shelter of the
adobe dwelling. She next looked well to the bolt fastening the trap-door
at the head of the ladder-like stairway leading perilously from the
kitchen to the dim region below, where the Apache might now be heard
bumping his head against the floor-planks, in a fruitless endeavor to
discover some outlet, from this underground apartment, to the family
circle above. With the frightful possibility of a not distant escape of
her prisoner, the good lady lifted her heart in silent prayer, and
hurrying promptly to the chamber of her niece, gave a saving punch to
the fire, a glass of port wine to the invalid, and, feigning an
appearance of unconcern, left the room, and slipped cautiously down to
the kitchen. Here she dragged an ironing-table, a clothes-horse, and a
wood-box on to the trap-door, and breathlessly waited for the Apache's
next move.

And now, a step might be heard on the driveway, followed by a rap at the
front door.

Prudently scanning her visitor through the sidelight, and assuring
herself that he was no breech-clouted savage, but a fellow white man,
Miss Paulina let in through the narrowest of openings,--who but their
friend the Harvard man! "Dear soul!" tearfully exclaimed the good lady,
while Roger Smith stood in mute wonder at the warmth of her greeting.

It was but the work of a moment to explain the situation and acquaint
him with the peril of the moment.

Sholto, at his leisurely Mexican pace, now opportunely appeared at the
back door with the hot dinner.

"There is a time for all things," said the "president of Chapter 18th,"
as (having pulled the bewildered Mexican inside) she vigorously shot the
door-bolt in place, deposited the smoking viands on the sideboard, and
thus addressed him. "Sholto," said Miss Paulina, "I have an Apache here
in the cellar. For the time being his ability to work us harm is
limited; but an Apache is never nice to have round; and, besides, he
must have terribly bumped himself poking round there all this time in
the dark. One would not unnecessarily hurt even a savage. We must
therefore let him up, bind him fast, and take measures for delivering
him to the police at Las Cruces. Here is a clothes-line: it is good and
strong; make up a lasso, and when I open the trap-door, as his head bobs
in sight, throw it, and then help Mr. Smith haul him out, and tie him."

Sholto's lasso was soon in working order. The trap-door once raised, the
head of the unsuspecting savage flew up like a Jack in a box, and with
such a rubber-like bound that Sholto's lasso went wide of the mark. In
this dilemma, a scientific blow from the fist of a Harvard athlete
deftly floored him, and, in the consequent lapse of consciousness, he
was easily bound, and safely deposited in the bottom of the Hilton
express wagon. This accomplished, Sholto and the Harvard man summarily
took the road for Las Cruces, some four miles distant. The horse and his
driver being in absolute accord as to the ratio of miles proper to the
hour, the captors drove leisurely along; the Harvard man meantime
relieving the slow monotony of the way, with incident and anecdote, and
Sholto, in turn, imparting much interesting New-Mexican information.

Presently a faint stir, as of the quiet, persistent nibbling of a mouse
in the wall, might (but for the talking) have been heard from the bottom
of the wagon. "Poor beggar!" said the Harvard man, at last recalling to
mind the captive Apache; "he must, by this time, be about ready to come
to." And taking from his over-coat pocket a tiny flask of brandy, he
turned on his seat with the humane intention of aiding nature in
bringing about that restoration. "Gone! clean gone! by George!"
exclaimed the astonished athlete. The cunning savage had, with his
sharp, strong teeth, actually gnawed through his wrist cords, and, with
tooth and nail extricating himself from the knotted clothes-line, was
already on his return from the unsatisfactory husks of Mesilla Valley,
to the fatted veal of the U. S. government, in his father's house,--"The
Reservation." "_They are fleet steeds that follow!_" quoted the Harvard
man as the jubilant Apache, with flying heels, loomed tantalizingly on
the distant plain. The startled cotton-tail, swept by "the wind of his
going," scurried breathlessly to his desert fastnesses among the
sage-brush and mesquite.

With a humorous glance at his fast-vanishing form, the Harvard man
measured with his eye the intervening distance, the speed of the escaped
captive, and the pace of the propeller of the Hilton express, and
gracefully accepted the situation. Sholto lazily turned the horse's
head, and in process of time the discomfited captors of Miss Paulina's
Apache--like John Gilpin--

    "Where they did get up
     Did get down again."

Meantime, Miss Hemmenshaw brought up the mid-day meal.

"Auntie," said the invalid, "this feverish cold puts queer fancies in my
head. While you were away, I must have taken a little nap, and when I
awoke there seemed to be some sort of a rumpus going on below; after
which I fancied that a team started away from the back door. It could
not have been Sholto's; for he would be coming from Brown's about that
hour with our dinner."

"It may have been just a part of your dream, dear," pacified the aunt;
"but come, now, here is our dinner. Let us have it together. A
wonderfully nice dinner Mrs. Brown has sent us, too, and you can
venture to-day on a quail, and a bit of orange pudding. For myself, I am
as hungry as a bear;" and, removing the books from the oval bedroom
table, Miss Paulina laid the cloth, set out the dishes and glasses, and
daintily arranged the viands, which the two ladies discussed with
evident relish.

"And now," said the aunt, "since you have dined, and have something to
brace you up, I will 'tell my experience;'" and forthwith she related to
the astonished Louise the adventure of the morning. The good lady had
but accomplished her exciting account, when the valiant captors of the
Apache drove up.

Miss Paulina, with the concentrated importance of her entire "Chapter,"
met and opened the door to her hero.

"Well?" asked she of the crestfallen athlete.

"No: ill!" replied he; "the Apache never reached Las Cruces. He managed
to unbind himself, and slipped from our hands by the way. The
clothes-line has come back safe; but the savage is, long ere this, well
on his road to the Mescalero Reservation."

"Well," said Miss Paulina, judicially, "I can't say that I'm sorry. The
creature had a rough time bumping about that low, dark cellar; and your
blow on his head was a tough one. And when one considers the
slip-shodness of things at Las Cruces, and the possible insecurity of
their jail, _we_, on the whole, are the safer for his escape; and _he_
will, of course, feel more at home now in the Reservation, and will
probably remain there for a while, after the fright we gave him."

Thus reassured, the Harvard man accepted Miss Hemmenshaw's invitation to
stay to supper. And presently the convalescing invalid came down to
express her thanks for his devoir of the morning. Reclining on the
parlor lounge, in a cream-white tea gown, she looked so lovely that a
man might well have dared a whole tribe of savages in her defence. By
and by they had a quiet game of chess. It goes without saying that the
lady won. There _might_ be men hard-hearted enough to beat Louise
Hemmenshaw at chess. The Harvard man was not _of_ them.

So slipped away this happy afternoon; and, at sunset Sholto appeared
with the tea equipage, and the young people covertly made merry over a
chafing-dish mess achieved by the Cooking School pupil; and under cover
of rarebit, water-biscuit, and cups of Russian tea, the Harvard man made
hay for himself in this bit of sunshine, and grew in favor with both
aunt and niece.

With Miss Paulina Hemmenshaw, true to her aristocratic birth and
breeding, pedigree far out-weighed filthy lucre. To be well born was, in
her estimation, to be truly acceptable to gods and men.

Roger Smith, with his plebeian surname and unillustrious "tanner"
grandfather, was by no means a suitable husband for her motherless
niece, to whom, as the head of her brother's household, she had for
years filled a parent's place. Louise Hemmenshaw, as the good lady
shrewdly guessed, was the magnet that drew this undeclared lover to
Mesilla Valley. During the preceding winter they had met at many social
functions in Boston and Cambridge, and he had become the willing captive
of her bow and spear. He had never told his love.

The social discrepancy between the lovely aristocrat and Roger--the
grandson of Roger the Tanner--was too wide to be easily overstepped.

Ostensibly the Harvard man had come to New Mexico to recruit his spent
energies; but in his heart of hearts he knew that dearer than health was
the hope of winning the heart of Louise Hemmenshaw. Already his native
refinement and charm of manner had commended him to Miss Paulina; and
now, his prowess in the day's adventure had made her, for good and all,
his warm friend. As to her niece, he told himself, as, that night, by
the light of a low moon, he took his way to Alamo Ranch, recalling the
tender pressure of the invalid's white hand, when, with a rosy blush,
she bade him good-night, that in his wooing he had to-day "scored one;"
and with the confident egotism of presumptuous mortals, when events play
unexpectedly into their hands, he decided that Fate had prearranged this
timely call of his on the Hemmenshaws, and had timed the arrival of the
Apache at that opportune hour, with an especial view to the fulfilment
of his own cherished wishes.



CHAPTER VI


Another two weeks of lighter Koshare festivities had again brought round
the more solid fortnightly entertainment of the Club.

Its members duly assembled, the president in his chair, and the
secretary at attention, Mr. Morehouse thus began his second paper.

"Before Texas," said he, "became a part of an independent republic, and
until after the Mexican war (when we forced Mexico to sell us all
California, New Mexico, and Arizona, nearly all of Utah and Nevada,
besides Texas, and the greater part of Colorado), Mexico proper reached
way up here; and it is thought by some archaeologists that the mesas or
table-mountain land especially characterizing the New Mexican landscape
may have afforded the suggestion for the Teocallis of the great
pyramid-like mounds, with terraced sides, built by the Aztecs. Some
scholars have even convinced themselves that the Aztec culture must have
originated here in the North. Others wholly discard the conclusion.

"Mr. Baxter, in his valuable and interesting book of Mexican travel,
says, decidedly, 'The New Mexican Indians were not Aztecs, and Montezuma
had no more to do with New Mexico than he did with New England.' And
with this assertion I think we must all, perforce, agree.

"Of the Toltecs, the probable predecessors in Mexico of the Aztecs, all
written records," said the Antiquary, "have long since perished. They
are known to us only through traditionary legends orally handed down by
the races that succeeded them.

"They are said to have entered the Valley of Anahnac from a northerly
direction, coming from a mysterious unknown region, and probably before
the close of the seventh century. They appear to have been a far more
gentle and refined nation than their immediate successors, the
half-savage Aztecs, who, at last, with their semi-civilization,
dominated Mexico. By general archæological agreement, the Toltecs were
well instructed in agriculture, and many of the most useful mechanic
arts.

"'They were,' declares Prescott, 'nice workers in metals.' They invented
the complex arrangement of time adopted by the Aztecs, who are said to
have been largely indebted to them for the beginnings of that
incongruous civilization which reached its high-water mark in the reign
of the Montezumas. So late as the time of the Spanish Conquest the
remains of extensive Toltec buildings were to be found in Mexico.

"'The noble ruins of religious and other edifices,' says the same
writer, 'still to be seen in Mexico, are referred to this people, whose
name, _Toltec_, has passed into a synonym for _Architect_.'

"After a period of four centuries--having succumbed to famine,
pestilence, and unsuccessful wars--this remarkable people disappeared
from the land as silently and mysteriously as they had entered it. It
is conjectured that some of them may have spread over the region of
Central America and the neighboring isles; and that the majestic ruins
of Mitla and Paleque are the work of this vanished race. Tradition
affirms that a remnant of Toltecs still lingering in Anahnac 'gave
points' to the next inhabitants; and the Tezcucans are thought to have
derived their gentle manners and comparatively mild religion from the
handful of Toltecs who still remained in the country. A Spanish priest,
with that keen relish for the marvellous common to his kind, accounts
for this mysterious disappearance by supernatural stories of giants and
demons.

"According to good authorities, more than a hundred years elapsed
between the strange disappearance of the Toltecs from the land of
Anahnac and the arrival on its borders of the Aztecs.

"After the nomadic fashion of barbarous races, this people did not at
once make a permanent settlement, but pitched their tents in various
parts of the Mexican valley, enduring many casualties and hardships, and
being at one time enslaved by a more powerful tribe, whom their prowess
subsequently dominated.

"Some of these wanderings and adventures are perpetuated in their oral
traditional lore.

"One of these legends is well substantiated, and current at this day,
having been the origin of the device of the eagle and cactus, which form
the arms of the present Mexican republic, and may be found on the face
of the Mexican silver dollar. Thus it runs: 'Having in 1325 halted on
the southwestern borders of the larger Mexican lakes, the Aztecs there
beheld, perched on the stem of a prickly pear, which shot out from a
crevice of a rock that was washed by the waves, a royal eagle of
extraordinary size and beauty, with a serpent in his talons, and his
broad wings open to the rising sun.

"'They hailed the auspicious omen, which the oracle announced as an
indication of the site of their future city.'

"The low marshes were then half buried in water; yet, nothing daunted,
they at once proceeded to lay the sloppy foundation of their capital, by
sinking piles into the shallows. On these they erected the light
dwelling-fabrics of reeds and rushes,--the frail beginnings of that
solid Aztec architecture carried to such elegant elaboration in the time
of the Montezumas. In token of its miraculous origin they called their
city Tenochtitlan. Later it was known as Mexico, a name derived from the
Aztec war-god, Mexitil.

"It has been shown that the Aztec race, once permanently established in
Mexico, finally attained to a civilization far in advance of the other
wandering tribes of North America.

"'The degree of civilization which they had reached,' says Prescott, 'as
inferred by their political institutions, may be considered not far
short of that enjoyed by our Saxon ancestors under Alfred. In respect to
the nature of it, they may better be compared to the Egyptians; and the
examination of their social relations and culture may suggest still
stronger points of resemblance to that ancient people.

"'Their civilization,' he goes on to say, 'was, at the first, of the
hardy character which belongs to the wilderness. The fierce virtues of
the Aztec were all his own. They refused to submit to European
culture--to be engrafted on a foreign stock. They gradually increased in
numbers, made marked improvements both in polity and military
discipline, and ultimately established a reputation for courage as well
as cruelty in war which made their name terrible throughout the valley.'
In the early part of the fifteenth century--nearly a hundred years after
the foundation of the city--that remarkable league--of which it has been
affirmed that 'it has no parallel in history'--was formed between the
states of Mexico and Tezcuco, and the neighboring little kingdom of
Tlacopan, by which they agreed mutually to support each other in their
wars, offensive and defensive, and that in the distribution of the spoil
one-fifth should be assigned to Tlacopan and the remainder be
divided--in what proportions is uncertain--between the two other powers.

"What is considered more remarkable than the treaty itself, however, is
the fidelity with which it was kept.

"During a century of uninterrupted warfare that ensued no instance, it
is declared, occurred in which the parties quarrelled over the
distribution of the spoil. By the middle of the fifteenth century the
allies, overleaping the rocky ramparts of their own valley, found wider
occupation for their army, and under the first Montezuma, year after
year saw their return to the Mexican capital, loaded with the spoils of
conquered cities, and with throngs of devoted captives.

"No State was able long to resist the accumulated strength of the
confederates; and at the beginning of the sixteenth century, on the
arrival of the Spaniards, the Aztec dominion reached across the
continent, from the Atlantic to the Pacific."

Here Mr. Morehouse ended his paper on the Toltecs, and the Koshare, with
many thanks for his interesting account of these ancient races,
supplemented his information by a general discussion of the genuineness
of the accepted authorities for the early history of the Aztecs and of
the time of Montezuma.

"Prescott," said the Minister, "traces some points of resemblance
between the history of the Aztecs and that of the ancient Romans;
especially in polity and military success does he compare them."

"Unfortunately," observed the Antiquary, "the earlier records of the
Mexican people can only be scantily gleaned from oral tradition and
hiero-graphical paintings."

"Later, however," remarked the Journalist, "we have the seemingly more
definite and reliable accounts of the Spanish chronicles."

"These," returned the Minister, "being usually ecclesiastic, have warped
their record to suit their own bigoted views; consequently, much of the
narrative popularly known as Mexican history is to be taken with more
than the proverbial pinch of salt."

"It has," said the Journalist, "been urged by realistic critics of our
own fascinating historian--Prescott--that since he drew his historic
data, with the exception of the military record of the Spaniards, from
these unreliable sources, his history is little other than the merest
romance. Plainly, the assertions of some of the chroniclers are scarce
more worthy of credence than the equally fascinating adventures of
Sinbad the Sailor, and the impossible stories of Baron Munchausen.
'Bernard Diaz'--that enigmatical personage from whom many of Prescott's
data are drawn--tells us that the Aztecs actually fattened men and women
in cages, like spring chickens, for their sacrifice, and asserts that at
the dedication of one of their temples a procession of captives two
miles long, and numbering seventy-two thousand persons, were led to
sacrifice! By the way, it has, however, been latterly proved that the
so-called sacrificial stone, now exhibited in the National Museum of
Mexico, is not a relic of the Aztecs, but of the earlier Toltecs (who
were not addicted to human sacrifice), and is as innocent of human blood
as the Calendar Stone, referred to the same period. The critics of Diaz
have detected in his account constant blunders in many important
matters, and his glaring geographical errors would seem to prove that,
though he claims to have been, all through the Conquest, the very shadow
of Hernando Cortez, he has never even been in the country he describes!"

"From what I have read of Bernald," said Leon, "I think we may finish
him off with 'Betsy Prig's' very conclusive objection to Sairey Gamp's
'Mrs. Harris'--there ain't no sich person!"

"Even so," exclaimed the Minister, "I, for one, agree with certain
downright critics who contend that Diaz was a pure fabrication, a
priestly scheme of the Roman Church to screen the cruel enormities of
their agent, Cortez. Father Torquemada, another of Prescott's
authorities, is thought to be scarcely more reliable. Las Casas, another
of our historian authorities, whose history was, at the time, promptly
suppressed by the all-powerful Inquisition, declares these Spanish
histories of the Conquest to be 'wicked and false.'"

"And yet, in spite of these strictures," contended Leon, "I, for one,
still pin my faith to Prescott and his implicit honesty of purpose. He
gave us, in his own learned and fascinating way, the narrative of these
priestly chroniclers as he found it. If the chroniclers lied, why, so
much the worse for the chroniclers."

"Lying," complained the Grumbler, "is a malady most incident to
historians;" and thereupon rose to open the parlor door for the
gray-eyed school teacher, who just then bade the Koshare good-night,
adding that she had already been too long away from her sister.

And now the chairman announced the next paper in the Koshare course for
the second Saturday in February, and the members, one and all,
dispersed.

Sholto, roused from a most enjoyable series of naps, brought his wagon
to the side door, and with a friendly grasp from the hand of Miss
Paulina, and a shy, tremulous clasp from that of her niece, the Harvard
man saw the ladies off.



CHAPTER VII


February had come, bringing in its train such weather as verified the
warmest praise of New Mexico's perfect climate.

It was on one of its most spring-like afternoons that a walking party of
eight set out to pay a long-proposed visit to the ladies at Hilton
Ranch.

As the little party went gayly along the mesa, Leon, carrying his gun,
shot doves for the evening meal, while the rest walked on, chatting
merrily.

The ladies talking over, by the way, the late attempt of the Apache on
Hilton Ranch, Mrs. Bixbee declared herself curious to see the cellar in
which Miss Paulina had caught that prowling savage. On their arrival
that good lady, informed of this desire, kindly proceeded to gratify her
guest, and the entire party was presently led by her to the kitchen, the
hero of this adventure modestly walking beside the fair lady of his
love. Sholto, busied about the place, was just then out of call, and
Miss Hemmenshaw, intent to afford them a peep into the cellar, begged
the Harvard man to raise for her the heavy trap-door.

The dear lady never quite knew how it was that, leaning forward, she
lost her balance, and, but for the prompt help of Roger Smith, might
have landed, pell-mell, on the cellar bottom; or how, in rescuing her,
he himself made the misstep that, ere he could recover his poise, threw
him to the end of the ladder-like cellar stairs.

Recovering breath, Roger Smith cheerily called up to the affrighted
group at the top, "All right!" but, on pulling himself together to make
the ascent, he suddenly found all wrong. He had sprained his ankle; and
it was with painful effort that he won to the top. At this juncture
Sholto, aroused by the unwonted rumpus, made his appearance,
anticipating no less a disaster than the reappearance of the slippery
savage, for whom he still held the lasso "in pickle." Disabled by the
sprain, the Harvard man submitted himself to the stout arms of the
Mexican, and, by Miss Paulina's direction, was carried into the bedroom
adjoining the ranch parlor.

There, laid upon a movable couch which served the double purpose of sofa
and bed, Sholto having, not without difficulty, removed his boot and
stocking, he submitted the swollen foot to the careful inspection of
Miss Hemmenshaw, who, with a steadiness of nerve not unworthy of her
"Chapter," put the dislocated joint in place, bandaged the injured
member with arnica, administered an internal dose of the same
restorative, and duly followed it with a glass of old Port. This done,
Sholto wheeled the sufferer's couch into the adjoining parlor. Half an
hour later Leon came in with a well-filled game-bag; and after an hour
of mild Koshare merriment, in which the athlete but feebly joined (the
pain of his ankle was still terrible), the little party took its way, in
the fading sunlight, to Alamo Ranch. Miss Paulina, having promptly
decided that her patient was unequal to the return by way of the jolting
Hilton express team, sent to Mrs. Brown an order for supper for her
guest, Louise, and herself. It was duly conveyed to Hilton's by an Alamo
chore-boy. Sholto, as the sole male dependence of Hilton's, must stick
to his post; for, sagely observed the "Daughter of the Revolution," two
women, heroic though they might be, were no match for an Apache
marauder; and as for poor Roger Smith, he could now neither "fight" nor
"run away."

Sholto lighted the lamps, laid the supper on the low Queen Anne table,
added fresh water from the spring, and when a pot of tea had been made
by the hostess' own careful hand, and Sholto had wheeled up the couch of
the invalid, that he might take his supper _à la Roman_, the three made
a cheery meal.

When the man had removed the supper things, and piled fresh wood on the
andirons, the ladies brought their work-baskets; and while they busied
themselves with doily and centre-piece, the Harvard man, lying in the
comfort of partial relief from pain, watched the dainty fingers of
Louise Hemmenshaw as she bent industriously over her embroidery, and
fell fathoms deeper in love with the dear and beautiful girl.

Roger Smith stayed on at Hilton Ranch, where, thrown day after day in
semi-helplessness on the kind attendance of Miss Paulina and the sweet
society of her niece, he (I grieve to say) fell a ready prey to the
suggestions of a certain wily personage who (according to Dr. Watts)
finds employment for idle hands, and thus conceived the wickedness of
cunningly using this accident to further his own personal ends. Thus
devil-tempted, this hitherto upright young person resolved that it
should be a long day before his sprained ankle should permit him to
return to Brown's, and lose this precious opportunity of establishing
himself in the good graces of the aunt, and winning the love of the
niece.

Far from approving the crooked policy which led Roger Smith to feign
lameness long after the injured ankle had become as sound as ever, the
present historian can only, in view of this lapse from integrity, affirm
with Widow Bedott that "we're poor creeturs!" and, with that
depreciative view of humanity, go on with this truthful narrative.

A whole delicious month had been passed by the Harvard man in this
paradise,--Elysian days, while, waited on by Sholto, petted by Miss
Paulina, and companioned by the loveliest of houris, he dreamed out his
dream.

At last, on a certain decisive evening, Roger Smith found himself alone
in the gloaming with Louise Hemmenshaw. The aunt, who through all these
weeks had zealously chaperoned her niece, had passed into the
dining-room to evolve some chafing-dish delicacy for the evening meal.
Without, the setting sun flooded all the west with gold, touched the
distant mountain peaks with splendor, and threw a parting veil of glory
over the wide mesa. Within, the firelight made dancing shadows on the
parlor wall, where the pair sat together in that eloquent silence so
dear to love. "Well," said the athlete to himself (compunctiously
glancing at his superfluous crutches, left within easy reach of his
hand), "this performance can't go on forever. I have made believe about
long enough; what better may I do than own up this very night, and
somehow bring this base deceit to an end."

Mentally rehearsing the formula, in which, over and over, he had asked
the hand of this beautiful aristocrat, his mind still sorely misgave
him. "Why," thought this depressed lover, "was not my name Winthrop,
Endicott, or Sturgis, instead of Smith; and my grandfather a senator, a
judge, or even a stockbroker, rather than a tanner?"

Neither Miss Paulina nor her brother, he discouragedly mused, would ever
countenance this unequal match. His millions would with them weigh
nothing against "the claims of long descent."

The sun had gone down, the after-glow had faded to gray. They were still
alone. The firelight half revealed the lovely figure beside the hearth.
In that gown of golden-brown velvet, with the creamy old lace at wrists
and throat, the brown hair combed smoothly from the white forehead,
knotted behind and fastened with a quaint arrow of Etruscan gold, Louise
Hemmenshaw was simply adorable! It was indeed good to be here; and why
should not a life so sweet and satisfying go on indefinitely?

"It is four weeks to-day since I fell down cellar,"--such was the
commonplace beginning to this much considered tale of love.

"Really?" said the lady, looking innocently up from an absorbed
contemplation of the fender. "It has not seemed so long. I never before
realized what a serious thing it is to sprain one's ankle. You have been
a most patient sufferer, Mr. Smith; and, indeed, for the past two weeks,
a most jolly one. Aunt Paulina was saying to-day that it was high time
we all went back to Alamo for our meals, and helped out the Koshare
doings of the Club."

"Dear Miss Hemmenshaw," here blurted out the culprit, "do not despise me
for my meanness, since it is all for love of you that I have been
shamming lameness. For these last two weeks I could at any time have
walked as well as ever." And, hereupon, without the slightest reference
to his crutches, he rose from his chair and skipped over to her side. "A
sprain," explained this audacious lover, "may be cured in a fortnight,
but it takes a good month to woo and win a fair lady. Having soon after
my accident decided that point, I have done my best. Tell me, dear
Louise," pleaded he, "that my time has been well spent. Say that,
deceitful ingrate though I am, you will take me, for good and all."

"Roger Smith," replied the lady, with much severity, "you have repaid
the devoted care of two unsuspecting females by a whole fortnight of
wilful duplicity. For my aunt I cannot answer; for myself, I can only
reply,--since to err is human; to forgive, womanlike,--dear Roger, on
the whole, I will."

Miss Paulina, a moment later entering the parlor, surprised her invalid
guest, standing crutchless on his firm feet, with his arm thrown about
the waist of her niece. "Well, well!" exclaimed the astonished lady,
"and without his crutches!"

"Dear Miss Paulina," said Roger Smith with a happy laugh, "my ankle is
as well as ever; and your niece has promised to marry me. Say that you
will have me for your nephew."

"I seem already to have gotten you, my good sir, whether I will or no,"
laughed Miss Hemmenshaw. "But, my stars and garters" (mentally added
she), "what ever will my brother say? A tanner's grandson coming into
the family! and he a Hemmenshaw, and as proud as Lucifer!" "Never mind,
Auntie dear," said the smiling fiancée, guessing her thoughts. It will
be all right with father when he comes to know Roger; and besides, let
us remember that under the 'Star Spangled Banner' we have our
'Vanderbilts,' our 'Goulds,' and our 'Rockefellers;' but _no_ Vere de
Veres. And if we _had_, why, Love laughs at heraldry, and is

    "'Its own great loveliness alway.'"

"To-morrow," said Miss Paulina decisively, "we will all dine at Alamo
Ranch."



CHAPTER VIII


Through this month of wooing and betrothing at Hilton Ranch, the
Koshare, at Alamo, never once remitted its endeavor to hearten the
despondent.

The weekly entertainments took their regular course, and were
successfully carried on, and, in due time, the fortnightly club convened
to listen to the Antiquary's account of "Montezuma and his Time."

And here the Koshare chronicle returns on its track to record that able
paper.

"As a consistent Koshare," said Mr. Morehouse, to his eager listeners,
"it behooves me to give--without that dry adherence to facts observed by
the 'Gradgrind' historian--the charming melodramatic details of that
romantic monarch's life and times afforded by the popular
Munchausen-like data of the Spanish chroniclers, albeit they have in
their entirety, all the fascination, and, sometimes, all the
unbelievableness of a fairy tale.

"The Aztec government," prefaced the Antiquary, "was an elective
monarchy, the choice always restricted to the royal family.

"The candidate usually preferred must have distinguished himself in war;
though, if (as in the case of the last Montezuma) he was a member of the
priesthood, the royal-born priest, no less than the warrior was, with
the Aztec, available as an emperor.

"When the nobles by whom Montezuma the Second was made monarch went to
inform the candidate of the result of the election, they are said to
have found him sweeping the court of the temple to which he had
dedicated himself. It is further asserted that when they led him to the
palace to proclaim him king, he demurred, declaring himself unworthy the
honor conferred on him. It is a humiliating proof of the weakness of
human nature in face of temptation, to find that, later, this pious king
so far forswore his humility as to pose before his subjects as a god;
that five or six hundred nobles in waiting were ordered to attend daily
at his morning toilet, only daring to appear before him with bared feet.

"It was not until, by a victorious campaign, he had obtained a
sufficient number of captives to furnish victims for the bloody rites
which Aztec superstition demanded to grace his inauguration,
that--amidst that horrible pomp of human sacrifice which stained the
civilization of his people--Montezuma was crowned.

"The Mexican crown of that day is described as resembling a mitre in
form, and curiously ornamented with gold, gems, and feathers.

"The Aztec princes, especially towards the close of the dynasty, lived
in a barbaric Oriental pomp, of which Montezuma was the most conspicuous
example in the history of the nation.

"Elevation, like wine, seems to have gone to the head of the second
Montezuma.

"An account of his domestic establishment reads like the veriest record
of midsummer madness. Four hundred young nobles, we are told, waited on
the royal table, setting the covers, in their turn, before the monarch,
and immediately retiring, as even his courtiers might not see Montezuma
eat. Having drunk from cups of gold and pearl, these costly goblets,
together with the table utensils of the king, were distributed among his
courtiers. Cortez tells us that so many dishes were prepared for each
meal of this lordly epicure, that they filled a large hall; and that he
had a harem of a thousand women. His clothes, which were changed four
times a day (like his table service), were never used a second time, but
were given as rewards of merit to nobles and soldiers who had
distinguished themselves in war. If it happened that he had to walk, a
carpet was spread along his way, lest his sacred feet should touch the
ground. His subjects were required, on his approach, to stop and close
their eyes, that they might not be dazzled by his effulgent majesty. His
ostentatious humility gave place to an intolerable arrogance. He
disgusted his subjects by his haughty deportment, exacting from them the
most slavish homage, and alienating their affection by the imposition of
the grievous taxes demanded by the lavish expenditure of his court.

"In his first years Montezuma's record was, in many respects,
praiseworthy. He led his armies in person. The Aztec banners were
carried far and wide, in the furthest province on the Gulf of Mexico,
and the distant region of Nicaragua and Honduras. His expeditions were
generally successful, and during his reign the limits of the empire
were more widely extended than at any preceding period.

"To the interior concerns of his kingdom he gave much attention,
reforming the courts of justice, and carefully watching over the
execution of the laws, which he enforced with stern severity.

"Like the Arabian ruler,--Haroun Alraschid, of benign memory,--he
patrolled the streets of his capital in disguise, to make personal
acquaintance with the abuses in it. He liberally compensated all who
served him. He displayed great munificence in public enterprise,
constructing and embellishing the temples, bringing water into the
capital by a new channel, and establishing a retreat for invalid
soldiers in the city of Colhuacan.

"According to some writers of authority there were, in Montezuma's day,
thirty great caciques, or nobles, who had their residence, at least a
part of the year, in the capital.

"Each of these, it is asserted, could muster a hundred thousand vassals
on his estate. It would seem that such wild statements should be 'taken
with a pinch of salt.' All the same, it is clear, from the testimony of
the conquerors, that the country was occupied by numerous powerful
chieftains, who lived like independent princes on their domains. It is
certain that there was a distinct class of nobles who held the most
important offices near the person of their emperor.

"In Montezuma's time the Aztec religion reached its zenith. It is said
to have had as exact and burdensome a ceremonial as ever existed in any
nation. 'One,' observes Prescott, 'is struck with its apparent
incongruity, as if some portion had emanated from a comparatively
refined people, open to gentle influences, while the rest breathes a
spirit of unmitigated ferocity; which naturally suggests the idea of two
distinct sources, and authorizes the belief that the Aztecs had
inherited from their predecessors a milder faith, on which was
afterwards engrafted their own mythology.' The Aztecs, like the
idolaters to whom Paul preached, declaring the 'Unknown God' of their
'ignorant worship,' recognized a Supreme Creator and Lord of the
Universe.

"In their prayers they thus addressed him: 'The God by whom we live,
that knoweth all thoughts, and giveth all gifts;' but, as has been
observed, 'from the vastness of this conception their untutored minds
sought relief in a plurality of inferior deities,--ministers who
executed the creator's purposes, each, in his turn, presiding over the
elements, the changes of the seasons, and the various affairs of man.'
Of these there were thirteen principal deities, and more than two
hundred inferior; to each of whom some special day or appropriate
festival was consecrated.

"Huitzilopotchli, a terrible and sanguinary monster, was the primal of
these; the patron deity of the nation. The forms of the Mexican idols
were quaint and eccentric, and were in the highest degree symbolical.

"The fantastic image of this god of the unpronounceable name was loaded
with costly ornaments; his temples were the most stately and august of
their public edifices, and in every city of the empire his altars reeked
with the blood of human hecatombs.

"His name is compounded of two words, signifying 'humming-bird' and
'left;' from his image having the feathers of this bird on his left
foot.

"Thus runs the tradition respecting this god's first appearance on
earth: 'His mother, a devout person, one day, in her attendance on the
temple, saw a ball of bright-colored feathers floating in the air. She
took it and deposited it in her bosom, and, consequently, from her, the
dread deity was in due time born.' He is fabled to have come into the
world (like the Greek goddess, Minerva) armed _cap-à-pie_ with spear and
shield, and his head surmounted by a crest of green plumes.

"A far more admirable personage in their mythology was Quetzalcoatl, god
of the air; his name signifies 'feathered serpent' and 'twin.' During
his beneficent residence on earth he is said to have instructed the
people in civil government, in the arts, and in agriculture. Under him
it was that the earth brought forth flower and fruit without the fatigue
of cultivation.

"Then it was that an ear of corn in two days became as much as a man
could carry; and the cotton, as it grew beneath his fostering smile,
took, of its own accord, the rich dyes of human art.

"In those halcyon days of Quetzalcoatl all the air was sweet with
perfumes and musical with the singing of birds.

"Pursued by the wrath of a brother-god, from some mysterious cause
unexplained by the fabler, this gracious deity was finally obliged to
flee the country. On his way he is said to have stopped at Cholula,
where the remains of a temple dedicated to his worship are still shown.

"On the shores of the Mexican Gulf Quetzalcoatl took leave of his
followers, and promising that he and his descendants would revisit them
hereafter, entered his 'Wizard Skiff,' and embarked on the great ocean
for the fabled land of Tlapallan.

"The Mexicans looked confidently for the second coming of this
benevolent deity, who is said to have been tall in stature, with a white
skin, long, dark hair, and a flowing beard. Undoubtedly, this cherished
tradition, as the chroniclers affirm, prepared the way for the reception
of the Spanish conquerors.

"Long before the landing of the Spaniards in Mexico, rumors of the
appearance of these men with fair complexions and flowing beards--so
unlike their own physiognomy--had startled the superstitious Aztecs. The
period for the return of Quetzalcoatl was now near at hand. The priestly
oracles were consulted; they are said to have declared, after much
deliberation, that the Spaniards, though not gods, were children of the
Sun; that they derived their strength from that luminary, and were only
vulnerable when his beams were withdrawn; and they recommended attacking
them while buried in slumber. This childish advice, so contrary to Aztec
military usage, was reluctantly followed by these credulous warriors,
and resulted in the defeat and bloody slaughter of nearly the whole
detachment.

"The conviction of the supernaturalism of the Spaniard is said to have
gained ground by some uncommon natural occurrences, such as the
accidental swell and overflow of a lake, the appearance of a comet, and
conflagration of the great temple.

"We are told that Montezuma read in these prodigies special
annunciations of Heaven that argued the speedy downfall of his empire.

"From this somewhat digressive account of the Aztec superstition, in
regard to the 'second coming' of their beneficent tutelar divinity,
which, as may be seen, played into the hands of Cortez, and furthered
his hostile designs upon Mexico, let us return to the time in Aztec
history when no usurping white man had set foot upon Montezuma's
territory.

"We are told that this people, in their comparative ignorance of the
material universe, sought relief from the oppressive idea of the endless
duration of time by breaking it up into distinct cycles, each of several
thousand years' duration. At the end of each of these periods, by the
agency of one of the elements, the human family, as they held, was to be
swept from the earth, and the sun blotted out from the heavens, to be
again freshly rekindled. With later theologians, who have less excuse
for the unlovely superstition, they held that the wicked were to expiate
their sins everlastingly in a place of horrible darkness. It was the
work of a (so-called) Christianity to add to the Aztec place of torment
the torture of perpetual fire and brimstone. The Aztec heaven, like the
Scandinavian Valhalla, was especially reserved for their heroes who fell
in battle. To these privileged souls were added those slain in
sacrifice. These fortunate elect of the Aztecs seem to have been
destined for a time to a somewhat lively immortality, as they at once
passed into the presence of the Sun, whom they accompanied with songs
and choral dances in his bright progress through the heavens. After
years of this stirring existence, these long-revolving spirits were
kindly permitted to take breath; and thereafter it was theirs to animate
the clouds, to reincarnate in singing birds of beautiful plumage, and to
revel amidst the bloom and odors of the gardens of Paradise.

"Apart from this refined Elysium and a moderately comfortable hell, void
of appliances for the torture of burning, the Aztecs had a third place
of abode for immortals. Thither passed those 'o'er bad for blessing and
o'er good for banning,' who had but the merit of dying of certain
(capriciously selected) diseases. These commonplace spirits were fabled
to enjoy a negative existence of indolent contentment. 'The Aztec
priests,' says Prescott, 'in this imperfect stage of civilization,
endeavored to dazzle the imagination of this ignorant people with
superstitious awe, and thus obtained an influence over the popular mind
beyond that which has probably existed in any other country, even in
ancient Egypt.'

"Time will not permit here a detailed account of this insidious
priesthood; its labored and pompous ceremonial; its midnight prayers;
its cruel penance (as the drawing of blood from the body by
flagellation, or piercing of the flesh with the thorns of the aloe),
akin to the absurd austerities of Roman Catholic fanaticism. The Aztec
priest, unlike the Roman, was allowed to marry, and have a family of his
own; and not _all_ the religious ceremonies imposed by him were austere.
Many of them were of a light and cheerful complexion, such as national
songs and dances, in which women were allowed to join. There were, too,
innocent processions of children crowned with garlands, bearing to the
altars of their gods offerings of fruit, ripened maize, and odoriferous
gums. It was on these peaceful rites, derived from his milder and more
refined Toltec predecessors, that the fierce Aztec grafted the loathsome
rite of human sacrifice.

"To what extent this abomination was carried cannot now be accurately
determined. The priestly chroniclers, as has been shown, were not above
the meanness of making capital for the church, by exaggerating the
enormities of the pagan dispensation. Scarcely any of these reporters
pretend to estimate the yearly human sacrifice throughout the empire at
less than twenty thousand; and some carry the number as high as fifty
thousand. A good Catholic bishop, writing a few years after the
conquest, states in his letter that twenty thousand victims were yearly
slaughtered in the capital. A lie is brought to absolute perfection when
its author is able to believe it himself.

"Torquemada, another chronicler, often quoted by Prescott, turns this
into twenty thousand _infants_!

"These innocent creatures, he tells us, were generally bought by the
priests from parents poor enough and superstitious enough to stifle the
promptings of nature, and were, at seasons of drought, at the festival
of Haloc, the insatiable god of the rain, offered up, borne to their
doom in open litters, dressed in festal robes, and decked with freshly
blown flowers, their pathetic cries drowned in the wild chant of the
priests. It is needless to add that this assumption has but the
slightest groundwork of likelihood.

"Las Casas, before referred to, thus boldly declares: 'This is the
estimate of brigands who wish to find an apology for their own
atrocities;' and loosely puts the victims at so low a rate as to make it
clear that any specific number is the merest conjecture.

"Prescott, commenting on these fabulous statements, instances the
dedication of the great temple of the 'Mexican War God' in 1486, when
the prisoners, for years reserved for the purpose, were said to have
been ranged in files forming a procession nearly two miles long; when
the ceremony consumed, as averred, several days, and seventy thousand
captives are declared to have perished at the shrine of this terrible
deity. In view of this statement, Prescott logically observes: 'Who can
believe that so numerous a body would have suffered themselves to be led
unresistingly, like sheep, to the slaughter? Or how could their remains,
too great for consumption in the ordinary way, be disposed of without
breeding a pestilence in the capital? One fact,' he adds, 'may be
considered certain. It was customary to preserve the skulls of the
sacrificed in buildings appropriate to the purpose; and the companions
of Cortez say they counted one hundred and thirty-six thousand skulls in
one of the edifices.'

"Religious ceremonials were arranged for the Aztec people by their
crafty and well-informed priesthood, and were generally typical of some
circumstances in the character or history of the deity who was the
object of them. That in honor of the god called by the Aztecs 'the soul
of the world,' and depicted as a handsome man endowed with perpetual
youth, was one of their most important sacrifices. An account of this
sanguinary performance is gravely given by Prescott and other writers.
Though highly sensational and melodramatic, since our betters have found
it believable, we transcribe it for the New Koshare; thus runs the
tale:--

"'A year before the intended sacrifice, a captive, distinguished for his
personal beauty, and without a single blemish on his body, was selected
to represent this deity. Certain tutors took charge of him, and
instructed him how to perform his new part with becoming grace and
dignity. He was arrayed in a splendid dress, regaled with incense and
with a profusion of sweet-scented flowers, of which the ancient Mexicans
were as fond as are their descendants at the present day. When he went
abroad he was attended by a train of the royal pages; and as he halted
in the streets to play some favorite melody the crowd prostrated
themselves before him, and did him homage as the representative of their
good deity. In this way he led an easy, luxurious life until within a
month of his sacrifice. Four beautiful girls were then given him as
concubines; and with these he continued to live in idle dalliance,
feasted at the banquets of the principal nobles, who paid him all the
honors of a divinity. At length the fatal day of sacrifice arrived. The
term of his short-lived glories was at an end.

"'He was stripped of his gaudy apparel, and bade adieu to the fair
partners of his revelry. One of the royal barges transported him across
the lake to a temple which rose on its margin, about a league from the
city. Hither the inhabitants flocked to witness the consummation of the
ceremony. As the sad procession wound up the sides of the pyramid, the
unhappy victim threw away his gay chaplets of flowers, and broke in
pieces the musical instruments with which he had solaced the hours of
his captivity.

"'On the summit he was received by six priests, whose long and matted
locks flowed disorderedly over their sable robes, covered with
hieroglyphic scrolls of mystic import. They led him to the sacrificial
stone, a huge block of jasper with its upper surface somewhat convex. On
this the prisoner was stretched. Five priests secured his head and
limbs, while the sixth, clad in a scarlet mantle, emblematic of his
bloody office, dexterously opened the breast of the wretched victim with
a sharp razor of _itzli_ (a volcanic substance hard as flint), and,
inserting his hand in the wound, tore out the palpitating heart. The
minister of death, first holding the heart up towards the sun (also an
object of their worship) cast it at the feet of the god, while the
multitudes below prostrated themselves in humble adoration.'

"The tragic circumstances depicted in this sanguinary tale were used by
the priests to 'point a moral.' The immolation of this unhappy youth was
expounded to the people as a type of human destiny, which, brilliant in
its beginning, often closes in sorrow and disaster.

"In this loathsome manner, if we may believe the account given, was the
mangled body disposed of. It was delivered by the priests to the warrior
who had taken the captive in battle, and served up by him at an
entertainment given to his friends.

"This, we are told, was no rude cannibal orgy, but a refined banquet,
teeming with delicious beverages, and delicate viands prepared with
dainty art, and was attended by guests of both sexes, and conducted with
all the decorum of civilized life. Thus, in the Aztec religious
ceremonial, refinement and the extreme of barbarism met together.

"The Aztec nation had, at the time of the Conquest, many claims to the
character of a civilized community. The debasing influence of their
religious rites it was, however, that furnished the fanatical conquerors
with their best apology for the subjugation of this people. One-half
condones the excuses of the invaders, who with the cross in one hand and
the bloody sword in the other, justified their questionable deeds by the
abolishment of human sacrifice.

"The oppressions of Montezuma, with the frequent insurrections of his
people," concluded the Antiquary, "when in the latter part of his reign
one-half the forces of his empire are said to have been employed in
suppressing the commotions of the other, disgust at his arrogance, and
his outrageous fiscal exactions, reduced his subjects to that condition
which made them an easy prey to Cortez, whose army at last overpowered
the emperor and swept the Aztec civilization from the face of the
earth."

"I find it strange," said the Journalist (in the little talk that
followed Mr. Morehouse's able paper), "that civilized nations have held
an idea so monstrous as the necessity of vicarious physical suffering of
a victim to appease the wrath of a divine being with the erring
creatures who, such as they are, are the work of his hands.

"That unenlightened races, from time immemorial, should have supposed
that the shedding of blood propitiated their angry god, or gods, is but
the natural outcome of ignorance and superstition; but, that in this
twentieth century, civilized worshippers should sing--

    'There is a fountain filled with blood
      Drawn from Immanuel's veins;
    And sinners plunged beneath that flood
      Lose all their guilty stains'--

passes my understanding."

"In the ruins of Palenque there is," said the Antiquary, "a scene
portrayed on its crumbling walls, in which priests are immolating in a
furnace placed at the feet of an image of Saturn the choicest infants of
the nation, while a trumpeter enlivens the occasion with music, and in
the background a female spectator, supposed to be the mother of the
victim, looks on."

"The sacrifices to Moloch (or Saturn)," interpolated the Minister, "were
marked features of the Phoenician idolatry. In the Bible account we read
that even their kings 'made their children to pass through the fire to
Moloch.'"

"Well," commented the Grumbler, "it may be said of a portion of this
evening's entertainment that it is distinguished by the charm found by
'Helen's' sanguinary-minded 'baby,' in the story of 'Goliath's
head,'--it is 'all bluggy.'"

"Right you are," responded the star boarder with a shudder. "Cold
shivers have meandered along my poor back until it has become one
dreadful block of ice; and, judging by the horror depicted on these
ladies' faces as they listened to the details of the Aztec sacrifice, I
fancy that they too have supped o'er-full of horrors."

The Minister's eye rested for a moment affectionately on his stanch
little wife. He sighed, and looked with mild rebuke on these godless
triflers.

And now the Koshare (some of them stoutly orthodox) wisely put by the
question of vicarious atonement, and summarily adjourned.



CHAPTER IX


It was but the next week when, unexpectedly as thunderbolts now and then
surprise us on days of serene, unclouded sky, an unlooked-for domestic
calamity startled Alamo Ranch.

Dennis, the good-natured Irish waiter, and Fang Lee, the Chinese cook,
had come to blows. The battle had been (so to put it) a religious
controversy, and such, as we know, have a bitterness all their own. It
was inaugurated by Dennis, who, as a good Catholic, had, on a Friday,
refused to sample one of Fang's _chef-d'oeuvres_,--a dish of veal
cutlets with mushroom sauce. A mutual interchange of offensive words,
taunts highly derogatory to his holiness Pope Leo XIII. and equally
insulting to the memory of that ancient Chinese sage, Confucius, had
finally led to a bout of fisticuffs. In this encounter, Fang Lee, a
slightly built, undersized celestial, had naturally been worsted at the
hand of the robust Hibernian, a good six feet five in his stockings.
Dennis, the "chip well off his shoulder," had peacefully returned to the
duties of his vocation, nonchalantly carrying in the dinner, removing
the plates and dishes, and subsequently whistling "St. Patrick's Day in
the Morning" under the very nose of the Confucian, as he unconcernedly
washed his plates and glasses, and scoured his knives. Fang, having
meantime sent in his dinner, cleaned his pots and pans, brushed his
baggy trousers, adjusted his disordered pigtail, and straightway gave in
his notice; and with sullen dignity retired to the privacy of his
bedroom, for the avowed purpose of packing his box. On the ensuing
morning he would shake from his feet the dust of Alamo Ranch.

Vain were the endeavors of his discomfited employers to gain the ear of
the implacable Fang Lee. He stood out resolutely for the privacy of his
small sleeping apartment, obstinately refusing admission to outsiders.

In a house replete with boarders, and forty miles from available cooks,
Fang's pending loss was indeed a calamity.

In this dilemma, the disheartened landlord and his wife begged the
intercession of the star boarder,--always in high favor with the
domestics, and known to be especially in the good graces of the
Chinaman. Long did this envoy of peace unsuccessfully besiege the
bedroom door of the offended Fang Lee. In the end, however, he gained
admittance; and with adroit appeals to the better nature of the irate
cook, and a tactful representation of the folly of giving up a good
situation for the sake of a paltry quarrel, he finally brought Fang Lee
down from his "high horse," and persuading good-natured Dennis to make
suitable friendly advances, effectually healed the breach.

Ere nightfall amity reigned in the ranch kitchen, and the respective
pockets of the belligerents were the heavier for a silver dollar,--a
private peace-offering contributed by the arbitrator. An Irishman is
nothing if not magnanimous; Dennis readily "buried the hatchet," handle
and all.

Not so Fang Lee, who, smugly pocketing his dollar, covertly observed to
the giver, by way of the last word, "All samee, Pope bigee dam foolee."

With genial satisfaction the star boarder received the thanks of the
Browns for having saved to them their cook, and, with simple pleasure in
the result of his diplomacy, met the encomiums of his fellow-boarders.

To this gracious and beautiful nature, replete with "peace and good-will
to man," to help and serve was but "the natural way of living."



CHAPTER X


At mid-March, in this sun-loved land, the genial season far outdoes our
own belated Northern May. Already, in Mesilla Valley, the peach, pear,
and apricot buds of the orchard are showing white and pink. In the
garden, rose-bushes are leaving out, and mocking-birds make the air
sweet with song.

"In the spring," said Leon Starr, parodying Tennyson one morning at the
breakfast-table, "the Koshare fancy lightly turns to thoughts of Shalam.
Why not make to-day our long-planned excursion to that famous colony?"

"All right," responded the entire Koshare; and that afternoon a party of
twelve set out from Alamo Ranch to explore that remarkable colony, some
seven miles up the valley.

A description of the place and an account of this excursion is copied
verbatim by the present writer from the journal of one of the party.

"To begin at the beginning," says the narrator, "the colony was started
by one Dr. ----, a dentist from Philadelphia. He enlisted as a partner
in his enterprise a man from that region of fads--Boston, Mass. To this
chimera of the doctor's brain, the latter, a man of means, lent his
approval, and, still more to the point, the money to carry out the
doctor's plans.

"Some few years ago the original founder of Shalam died, leaving to his
partner the work of carrying out his half-tried experiment.

"Mr. ---- lived on in the place, assuming its entire charge, and finally
marrying the doctor's widow,--a lady of unusual culture and refinement,
but having a bent towards occult fads, as Spiritualism, Mental Science,
and their like.

"Well, we arrived safely at Shalam, and were met by Mrs. ---- and a
dozen or more tow-headed kids. It is noticeable that the whole
twenty-seven children selected for this experiment have light hair and
blue eyes. Mrs. ---- kindly presented us to her husband,--apparently a
man of refined natural tendencies and fair intellectual culture, but
evidently, like 'Miss Flite,' 'a little _m-m_, you know.'

"Conventionally clothed, Mr. ---- would undoubtedly have been more than
presentable; in his Shalam undress suit he was, to say the least,
unique.

"His long, heavy beard was somewhat unkempt. His feet were in sandals,
without stockings. His dress consisted of a pair of white cotton pants,
and a blouse of the same material, frogged together with blue tape, the
ends hanging down over his left leg. Hitched somehow to his girdle was a
plain watch-chain, which led to a pocket for his watch, on the front of
his left thigh, placed just above the knee. When he wants time he raises
the knee and takes out the watch, standing on one leg the while.

"The place is beautifully situated on the banks of the Rio Grande, with
a range of high mountains across the river.

"It consists of two parts: 'Leontica,' a village for the workers, where
they have many nice cottages, an artesian well for irrigation, and a big
steam pump to force the water through all the ditches; Shalam, the home
of the children, has a big tank, with six windmills pumping water into
it all the time. Near the tank is the dormitory,--a building about one
hundred and fifty feet in dimension. Through its middle runs a large
hall for the kids to gambol in. On each side are rooms for the
attendants and the larger children.

"Chiefly noticeable was the cleanliness of the hall, and the signs over
the doors of the chambers, each with its motto, a text from
'_Oahspe_,'--the Shalam bible.

"At each end of the hall was a big sign, reading thus: '_Do not kiss the
children._' As none of them were especially attractive, this command
seemed quite superfluous. After looking over the dormitory, we were led
to the main building, projected by the late Dr. ----. This encloses a
court about one hundred and fifty feet by sixty in size, and planted
with fig trees.

"The front of the building is taken up by the library of the doctor; on
the opposite side is his picture gallery.

"Rooms or cells for the accommodation of guests occupy the long sides of
this structure.

"I was cordially invited to occupy one of these; but the place is too
creepy for me! The pictures in the gallery were all done by the deceased
doctor, under the immediate direction of his 'spirit friends.' To look
at them (believing this) is to be assured that artists do not go to
heaven, since not even the poorest defunct painter would have
perpetrated such monstrosities.

"They all represent characters and scenes from the doctor's
bible,--known as Oahspe, and written by him at the dictation of spirits.
The drawing is horrible, the coloring worse; and no drunkard with
delirium tremens could have conceived more frightful subjects!

"Mr. ----, the doctor's successor, is a curious compound of crank and
common-sense; the latter evinced by his corral and cattle, which we next
visited. I have never seen so fine a corral nor such handsome horses and
cattle. They are all blooded stock; many of the cows and calves having
come from the farm of Governor Morton, in New York State. The cows were
beautiful, gentle creatures; one of them is the largest 'critter' I ever
saw, weighing no less than fifteen hundred pounds!

"The county authorities--scandalized by the meagreness of the Shalam
bill of fare--compelled Mr. ---- to enrich the children's diet with
milk, and, thus officially prodded, he is trying to give them the best
in the land.

"The stock department of Shalam seems to be his undivided charge; while
Mrs. ---- manages the garden. She kindly showed us all over it; and it
is a beauty! With water flowing all through it, celery, salisfy, and
lettuce all ready to eat, and other vegetables growing finely. She gave
us a half bushel of excellent lettuce, which we all enjoyed.

"The Shalam idea is to take these children from all parts of the
country, to bring them up in accordance with its own dietetic fad (which
in many respects corresponds with that of our own dream-led Alcott),
feeding them exclusively on a vegetable diet so that they won't develop
carnal and combative tendencies, and thus start from them a new and
improved race. Will they succeed? God knows; but they seem to have
started wrong; for the children are largely the offspring of outcasts,
and you can't expect grapes from thistle seed. However, Mr. ---- and
Mrs. ---- are both sincere, kind-hearted reformers, trying to do what
they think right in their own peculiar way. They are doing no harm by
their experiment--hurting no one; and if the children turn out badly, it
is no worse than they would if left alone; and if well, it is a distinct
triumph of brain over beastliness. It may be well to state that no
_materia medica_ is tolerated at Shalam. The health of the colony is
entrusted absolutely to the 'tender mercies' of mental healing. Mr. ----
is himself the picture of health, and says he does not know what it is
to feel tired. ('They that be whole need no physician!') As for the Lady
of Shalam, there is a look in her face that led me to think she was
deadly tired of the whole business, but was too loyal either to her dead
or living husband to 'cry quits.'

"These children know not the taste of physic. All their ailments are
treated in strict accordance with Mental Science. They eat no eggs,
fish, or other animal matter, save the county-prescribed milk, living
solely on grains, vegetables, and fruits; and it must be said that they
all look extremely healthy. Mr. ---- informs us that he rises daily at
three A.M., goes directly to his corral and milks, comes in a little
after four and prepares the children's breakfast. They are called at
four forty-five, and breakfast at five. At five thirty devotional
exercises begin, and last until six thirty, when the father of Shalam
goes out and starts the hands on the farm. At eight the children begin
lessons or some kind of mental training, which lasts till dinner time.

"After dinner they run wild for the rest of the day.

"We left Shalam at about five P.M. On the homeward drive we discussed
this odd colony, and compared notes on what we had observed. An
irreverent member of the party thus summed up the whole business in his
own slangy fashion,--'a man who all winter long prances round in
pajamas, making folks shiver to look at him, ought to be put in an
insane asylum.' So there you have his side of the question.

"The original founder of Shalam, Dr. ----, not only aspired to be a
painter, but, as an author, flew the highest kind of a kite, giving to
the world no less than a new bible.

"A glimpse at its high-sounding prospectus will scarce incite in the
sane and sober mind a desire to peruse a revelation whose absurdity and
fantastic assumption leaves the Mormon bible far behind, and before
whose 'hand and glove' acquaintance with the 'undiscovered country'
Swedenborg himself must needs hide his diminished head.

"Thus it runs: '_Oahspe_; a new Bible in the words of Jehovih and his
Angel Embassadors. A synopsis of the Cosmogony of the Universe; the
creation of planets; the creation of man; the unseen worlds; the labor
and glory of gods and goddesses in the etherean heavens with the new
commandments of Jehovih to man of the present day. With revelations from
the second resurrection, found in words in the thirty-third year of the
Kosmon Era.'

"Oahspe's claims are thus _moderate_: 'As in all other bibles it is
revealed that this world was created, so in _this_ bible it is revealed
_how_ the Creator _created_ it. As other bibles have proclaimed heavens
for the spirits of the dead, behold _this_ bible revealeth _where_ these
heavens _are_.'

"Oahspe also kindly informs us 'how hells are made, and of what
material,' and how the sinner is in them mainly punished by the forced
inhalement of 'foul smells,'--so diabolically foul are these that one is
fain to hold the nose in the bare reading of them!

"'There is,' declares Oahspe, 'no such law as Evolution. There is no law
of Selection.' A vegetarian diet is inculcated; and we are gravely
informed that 'the spirit man takes his place in the first heaven
according to his _diet_ while on earth!'

"A plan for the founding of 'Jehovih's Kingdom on earth through little
children' is given. This 'sacred history' claims to cover in its
entirety no less a period of time than eighty-one thousand years. At
quarter-past six," concludes our informant, "we arrived, tired and
hungry, but glad to have gone, and glad to get back, leaving behind us
Shalam, with its spirit picture-gallery and its fantastic Oahspe, for
the more stable verities of commonplace existence."



CHAPTER XI


It was on Friday that the Koshare made their little excursion to the
Shalam settlement, and the next evening they gathered in full
force,--with the exception of the Hemmenshaws and the Harvard man, who
still remained at Hilton Ranch, losing thereby two of the most
interesting of the Antiquary's papers; but "time and tide" and Saturday
clubs "stay for no man," and now came the second Aztec paper.

"The Aztec government," began Mr. Morehouse, "in a few minor points is
said to have borne some resemblance to the aristocratic system evolved
by the higher civilization of the Middle Ages.

"Beyond a few accidental forms and ceremonies, the correspondence was,
however, of the slightest. The legislative power both in Mexico and
Tezcuco had this feature of despotism; it rested wholly with the
monarch. The constitution of the judicial tribunals in some degree
counteracted the evil tendency of this despotism. Supreme judges
appointed over each of the principal cities by the crown had original
and final jurisdiction over both civil and criminal cases. From the
sentence of such a judge there was no appeal to any other tribunal, not
even to that of the King.

"It is worthy of notice as showing that some sense of justice is inborn;
as even among this comparatively rude people we read that under a
Tezcucan prince a judge was put to death for taking a bribe, and another
for determining suits in his own house (a capital offence also, by law.)
According to a national chronicler, the statement of the case, the
testimony, and proceedings of the trial were all set forth by a clerk,
in hieroglyphical paintings, and handed to the court.

"In Montezuma's day the tardiness of legal processes must have gone
miles beyond the red tape of a nineteenth-century court of justice.

"This vivid picture of the pomp and circumstance attendant upon the
confirmation of a capital sentence by the king is presented by one of
the Mexican native chroniclers:

"'The King, attended by fourteen great lords of the realm, passed into
one of the halls of justice opening from the courtyard of the palace,
which was called "the tribunal of God," and was furnished with a throne
of pure gold, inlaid with turquoises and other precious stones.

"'The walls were hung with tapestry, made of the hair of different wild
animals, of rich and various colors, festooned by gold rings, and
embroidered with figures of birds and flowers. Putting on his mitred
crown, incrusted with precious stones, and holding, by way of sceptre, a
golden arrow in his left hand, the King laid his right upon a human
skull, placed for the occasion on a stool before the throne, and
pronounced judgment. No counsel was employed and no jury. The case had
been stated by plaintiff and defendant, and, as with us, supported on
either side by witnesses. The oath of the accused was, with the Aztecs,
also admitted in evidence.

"'The great crimes against society were all made capital.

"'Among them murder (even of a slave) was punishable with death.
Adulterers, as among the Jews, were stoned to death. Thieving, according
to the degree of the offence, was punished with slavery or death. It was
a capital offence to remove the boundaries of an estate, and for a
guardian not to be able to give a good account of his ward's property.

"'Prodigals, who squandered their patrimony, were punished. Intemperance
in the young was punished with death; in older persons, with loss of
rank, and confiscation of property.

"'The marriage institution was held in reverence among the Aztecs, and
its rites celebrated with formality. Polygamy was permitted; but
divorces were not easily obtainable. Slavery was sanctioned among the
ancient Mexicans, but with this distinction unknown to any civilized
slave-holding community: no one could be _born_ to slavery. The
_children_ of the slave were _free_. Criminals, public debtors, persons
who from extreme poverty voluntarily resigned their freedom, and
children who were sold by their parents through poverty, constituted one
class of slaves. These were allowed to have their own families, to hold
property, and even other slaves. Prisoners taken in war were held as
slaves, and were almost invariably devoted to the dreadful doom of
sacrifice. A refractory or vicious slave might be led into the market
with a collar round his neck, as an indication of his badness, and
there publicly sold. If incorrigible, a second sale devoted him to
sacrifice.

"'Thus severe, almost ferocious, was the Aztec code, framed by a
comparatively rude people, who relied rather on physical than moral
means for the correction of evil. In its profound respect for the
cardinal principles of morality, and a clear perception of human
justice, it may favorably compare with that of most civilized nations.'

"'In Mexico,' says Prescott, 'as in Egypt, the soldier shared with the
priest the highest consideration. The King must be an experienced
warrior. The tutelary deity of the Aztecs was the God of war. The great
object of their military expeditions was to gather hecatombs of captives
for his altars.' The Aztec, like the (so-called) _Christian crusader_,
invoked the holy name of religion as a motive for the perpetration of
human butchery. He, too, after his own crude fashion, had his order of
knighthood as the reward of military prowess. Whoever had not reached it
was debarred from using ornaments on his arms or on his person, and was
obliged to wear a coarse white stuff, made from the threads of the aloe,
called _nequen_. Even the members of the royal family were not excepted
from this law. As in Christian knighthood, plain armor and a shield
without device were worn till the soldier had achieved some doughty feat
of chivalry. After twenty brilliant actions officers might shave their
heads, and had, moreover, won the fantastic privilege of painting half
of the face red and the other half yellow. The panoply of the higher
warriors is thus described. Their bodies were clothed with a close vest
of quilted cotton, so thick as to be impenetrable to the light missiles
of Indian warfare. This garment was found so light and serviceable that
it was adopted by the Spaniards.

"The wealthier chiefs sometimes wore, instead of this cotton mail, a
cuirass made of thin plates of gold or silver. Over it was thrown a
surcoat of the gorgeous feather work in which they excelled. Their
helmets were sometimes of wood, fashioned like the heads of wild
animals, and sometimes of silver, on the top of which waved a panache of
variegated plumes, sprinkled with precious stones. They also wore
collars, bracelets, and earrings of the same rich materials.

"'A beautiful sight it was,' says one of the Spanish conquerors, 'to see
them set out on their march, all moving forward so gayly, and in so
admirable order!'

"Their military code had the cruel sternness of their other laws.
Disobedience of orders was punished with death.

"It was death to plunder another's booty or prisoners. It is related of
a Tezcucan prince that, in the spirit of ancient Roman, he put two of
his sons to death--after having cured their wounds--for violating this
last-mentioned law. A beneficent institution, which might seem to belong
to a higher civilization, is said to have flourished in this semi-pagan
land.

"Hospitals, we are told, were established in their principal cities for
the cure of the sick, and as permanent homes for the disabled soldier;
and surgeons were placed over them who 'were,' says a shrewd old
chronicler, 'so far better than those in Europe that they did not
_protract the cure in order to increase the pay_.'

"The horse, mule, ox, ass, or any other beast of burden, was unknown to
the Aztecs. Communication with remotest parts of the country was
maintained by means of couriers, trained from childhood to travel with
incredible swiftness.

"Post-houses were established on all the great roads, at about ten
leagues distance apart. The courier, bearing his despatches in the form
of hieroglyphical painting, ran with them to the first station, where
they were taken by another messenger, and so on, till they reached the
capital. Despatches were thus carried at the rate of from one to two
hundred miles a day.

"A traveller tells us of an Indian who, singly, made a record of a
hundred miles in twenty-four hours. A still greater feat in walking is
recorded by Plutarch. _His_ Greek runner brought the news of a victory
of a hundred and twenty-five miles in a single day!

"In the funeral rites of this ruder people one traces a slight
resemblance to those of the more cultivated Greek. They burned the body
after death, and the ashes of their dead, collected in vases, were
preserved in one of the apartments of the home. After death they dressed
the person's body in the peculiar habiliments of his tutelar deity. It
was then strewed with pieces of paper, which operated as a charm against
the dangers of the dark road he was to travel. If a chief died he was
still spoken of as living. One of his slaves, dressed in his master's
clothes, was placed before his corpse. The face of this ill-starred
wretch was covered with a mask, and during a whole day such homage as
had been due to the chief was paid to him. At midnight the body of the
master was burnt, or interred, and the slave who had personated him was
sacrificed. Thereafter, every anniversary of the chief's birthday was
celebrated with a feast, but his death was never mentioned.

"The Spanish chroniclers have told us (and in reading these statements
due allowance must be made for their habit of 'stretching the truth')
that to the principal temple--or Teocallis--in the capital five thousand
priests were in some way attached. These, in their several departments,
not only arranged the religious festivals in conformity to the Aztec
calendar, and had charge of the hieroglyphical paintings and oral
traditions of the nation, but undertook the responsibility of
instructing its youth. While the cruel and bloody rites of sacrifice
were reserved for the chief dignitaries of the order, each priest was
allotted to the service of some particular diety, and had quarters
provided for him while in attendance upon the service of the temple.

"Though in many respects subject to strict sacerdotal discipline, Aztec
priests were allowed to marry and have families of their own. Thrice
during the day, and once at night, they were called to prayers. They
were frequent in ablutions and vigils, and were required to mortify the
flesh by fasting and penance, in good Roman Catholic fashion, drawing
their own blood by flagellation, or by piercing with thorns of aloes.
They also, like Catholic priests, administered the rites of confession
and absolution; but with this time-saving improvement: confession was
made but _once_ in a man's life,--the long arrears of iniquity, past and
present, thus settled, after offences were held inexpiable.

"Priestly absolution was received in place of legal punishment for
offences. It is recorded that, long after the Conquest, the simple
natives, when under arrest, sought escape by producing the certificate
of their confession.

"The address of the Aztec confessor to his penitent, with his prayer on
this occasion, has come down to us. As an evidence of the odd medley of
Christianity and paganism that marked this queer civilization, it is
quaintly interesting. 'O merciful Lord,' prayed he, 'thou who knowest
the secrets of all hearts, let thy forgiveness and favor descend, like
the pure waters of heaven, to wash away the stains from the soul. Thou
knowest that this poor man has sinned, not from his own will, but from
the influences of the sign under which he was born.'

"In his address to the penitent he urges the necessity of instantly
procuring a slave for sacrifice to the Deity. After this sanguinary
exhortation he enjoins upon his disciple this beautiful precept of
Christian benevolence: 'Clothe the naked, feed the hungry, whatever
privations it may cost thee, for, remember, their flesh is like thine,
and they are men like thee.'

"Sacerdotal functions (excepting those of sacrifice) were allowed to
women.

"At a very tender age these priestess girls were committed for
instruction to seminaries of learning, in which, it is recorded, a
strict moral discipline for both sexes was maintained, and that, in some
instances, offences were punished by death itself.

"Thus were these crafty Mexican priests (the Jesuits of their age)
enabled to mould young and plastic minds, and to gain a firm hold upon
the moral nature of their pupils. The priests had (as we are told) their
own especial calendar, by which they kept their records, and regulated,
to their liking, their religious festivals and seasons of sacrifice, and
made all their astrological calculations; for, like many imperfectly
civilized peoples, the Aztecs had their astrology. This priestly
calendar is said to have roused the holy indignation of the Spanish
missionaries.

"They condemned it as 'unhallowed, founded neither on natural reason,
nor on the influence of the planets, nor on the course of the year; but
plainly the work of necromancy, and the fruit of a contract with the
devil.'

"We are told that not even in ancient Egypt were the dreams of the
astrologer more implicitly referred to than in Aztec Mexico.

"On the birth of a child he (the astrologer) was instantly summoned, and
the horoscope--supposed to unroll the occult volume of destiny--was hung
upon by the parent in trembling suspense and implicit faith. No
Millerite in his ascension robe, awaiting the general break-up of
mundane affairs, ever looked forward with more confidence to the final
catastrophe than did the ancient Mexican to the predicted destruction of
the world at the termination of one of their four successive cycles of
fifty-two years.

"Prescott gives us this romantic account of the festival marking that
traditional epoch:

"'The cycle would end in the latter part of December; as the diminished
light gave melancholy presage of that time when the sun was to be
effaced from the heavens, and the darkness of chaos settle over the
habitable globe, these apprehensions increased, and on the arrival of
the five "unlucky days" that closed the year they abandoned themselves
to despair. They broke in pieces the little images of their household
gods, in whom they no longer trusted.

"'The holy fires were suffered to go out in the temples, and none were
lighted in their own dwellings. Their furniture and domestic utensils
were destroyed, and their garments torn in pieces, and everything was
thrown into disorder. On the evening of the last day, a procession of
priests moved from the capital towards a lofty mountain, about two
leagues distant. They carried with them as a victim for the sacrificial
altar the flower of their captives, and an apparatus for kindling the
new fire, the success of which was an augury for the renewal of the
cycle.

"'On the funeral pile of their slaughtered victim, the _new fire_ was
started by means of sticks placed on the victim's wounded breast. As the
light soared towards heaven on the midnight sky, a shout of joy and
triumph burst forth from the multitudes, who covered the hills, the
terraces of the temples, and the housetops with eyes anxiously bent upon
the mountain of sacrifice. Couriers with torches lighted at the blazing
beacon bore the cheering element far and near; and long before the sun
rose to pursue his accustomed track, giving assurance that a new cycle
had commenced its march, altar and hearthstone again brightened with
flame for leagues around.

"'All was now festivity. Joy had replaced despair. Houses were cleansed
and refurnished. Dressed in their gayest apparel, and crowned with
chaplets and garlands of flowers, the people thronged in gay procession
to the temples to offer up their oblations and thanksgivings. It was the
great secular national festival, which few alive had witnessed before,
or could expect to see again.'

"Although we find in the counsels of an Aztec father to his son the
following assertion, 'For the multiplication of the species God ordained
_one_ man _only_ for _one_ woman,' polygamy was nevertheless permitted
among this people, chiefly among the wealthiest classes.

"Marriage was recognized as a religious ceremony, and its obligations
strictly enjoined. Their women, we are told, were treated with a
consideration uncommon among Indian tribes. It is recorded that their
tranquil days were diversified by the feminine occupations of spinning,
feather-work, and embroidery, and that they also beguiled the hours by
the rehearsal of traditionary tales and ballads, and partook with their
lords in social festivities.

"Their entertainments seem to have been grand and costly affairs.
Numerous attendants, of both sexes, waited at the banquet; the halls
were scented with perfumes, flowers strewed the courts, and were
profusely distributed among the arriving guests.

"As they took their seats at the board, cotton napkins and ewers of
water were placed before them; for, as in the heroic days of Greece, the
ceremony of ablution before and after eating was punctiliously observed
by the Aztecs. The table was well provided with meats, especially game,
among which our own Thanksgiving bird, the turkey, was conspicuous.
These more solid dishes were flanked by others of vegetables, and with
fruits of every variety found on the North American Continent.

"The different viands were skilfully prepared, with delicate sauces and
pungent seasoning, of which the Mexicans were especially fond. They were
further regaled with confections and pastry; and the whole was crowned
by an 'afterclap' of tobacco mixed with aromatic substances, to be
enjoyed in pipes, or in the form of cigars, inserted in holders of
tortoise shell or silver. The meats were kept warm by chafing-dishes.
The table was ornamented with vases of silver (and sometimes of gold) of
delicate workmanship.

"We are told by the chroniclers that agriculture was, before the
Conquest, in an advanced state. There were peculiar deities to preside
over it, and the names of the months and of the religious festivals had
more or less reference to it. The public taxes were often paid in
agricultural produce. As among the Pueblos, Aztec women took part in
only the lighter labors of the field,--as the scattering of the seed,
the husking of the ripened corn.

"Maize, or Indian corn, the great staple of the North American
continent, grew freely along the valleys, and up the steep sides of the
Cordilleras, to the high table-land. Aztecs were, we are told, well
instructed in its uses, and their women as skilled in its preparation as
the most expert New England or Southern housewife.

"In these equinoctial regions, its gigantic stalk afforded a saccharine
matter which supplied them with a sugar but little inferior to that of
the cane itself (which, after the Conquest, was introduced among them).
Passing by all their varieties of superbly gorgeous flowers, of
luxuriously growing plants, many of them of medicinal value, and since
introduced from Mexico to Europe, we come to that 'miracle of nature,'
the great Mexican aloe, or _maguey_, which was, in short, meat, drink,
clothing, and writing material for the Aztec, as from its leaves was
made their paper, somewhat resembling Egyptian _papyrus_, but more soft
and beautiful.

"Specimens of this paper still exist, preserving their original
freshness, and holding yet unimpaired the brilliancy of color in
hieroglyphical painting. It is averred that the Aztecs were as well
acquainted with the uses of their mineral as of their vegetable kingdom,
deftly working their mines of silver, lead, and tin. It has, however,
been contended by Wilson, in his 'New Conquest of Mexico,' that, in
spite of Cortez's statement to the contrary, 'it is not to be supposed
that the Spaniards found the Aztecs in the possession of silver, since
its mining requires a combination of science and mechanical power
unknown and impossible to their crude civilization.' He considerately
allows them the capability of gathering gold from their rich soil.

"Prescott, on the contrary, tells us that 'they opened veins for the
procurement of silver in the solid rock, and that the traces of their
labors in these galleries furnished the best indications for the early
Spanish miners.'

"Who shall decide when doctors disagree? Not, indeed, a Koshare, whose
laudable purpose it is to eschew the wearisome 'gradgrinds' of history,
and accept the infinitely more charming conclusions of the romancer.

"Gold, say the chroniclers, was easily gleaned from the beds of their
rivers, and cast into bars, or in the form of dust, made part of the
regular tribute of the southern provinces of Montezuma's empire. They
cast, also, delicately and curiously wrought vessels of gold. Though
their soil was impregnated with iron, its use was unknown to this
people. As a substitute for this metal, they used, for their tools, a
bronze made from an alloy of tin and copper, or of itzli,--a dark
transparent metal, found in abundance in their hills. With the former
they could cut the hardest substances, such as emeralds and amethysts.

"It has been contended that an ignorance of the use of iron must
necessarily have kept the Mexican in a low state of civilization. On the
other hand, it is urged that iron, if even known, was but little in use
among the ancient Egyptians, whose mighty monuments were hewn with tools
of bronze, while their weapons and domestic utensils were of the same
material. For the ordinary purposes of domestic life, the ancient
Mexicans made earthenware, and fashioned cups, bowls, and vases of
lacquered wood, impervious to wet, and gorgeously colored.

"Among their dyes, obtained from both mineral and vegetable substances,
was the rich crimson of the cochineal, the modern rival of the far-famed
Tyrian purple. Later, this coloring material was introduced into Europe,
from Mexico, where the curious cochineal insect was nourished with great
care on plantations of cactus.

"The Aztecs were thus enabled to give a brilliant coloring to their webs
of cotton, which staple, in the warmer regions of their country, they
raised in abundance. With their cotton fabrics, manufactured of every
degree of fineness, they had the original art of interweaving the
delicate hair of rabbits and other animals, which made a cloth of great
warmth as well as beauty.

"On this they often laid a rich embroidery of birds, flowers, or some
other fanciful device. It is supposed that the Aztec 'silk,' mentioned
by Cortez, was nothing more than this fine texture of cotton, hair, and
down.

"But the art in which they especially excelled was their plumage or
feather-work. Some few existing specimens of this ancient art (one of
them a vestment said to have been worn by Montezuma himself) have, we
are told, 'all the charm of Florentine mosaic.'

"The gorgeous plumage of tropical birds, especially of the parrot-tribe,
afforded every variety of color, and the fine and abundant down of the
humming-bird supplied them with a finish of soft aerial tints. The
feathers pasted on a fine cotton web were wrought into dresses for the
wealthy. Hangings for apartments and ornaments for the temples were thus
fashioned. Labor was held in honorable estimation among this people. An
aged Aztec chief thus addressed his son: 'Apply thyself to agriculture,
or to feather-work, or some other honorable calling. Thus did your
ancestors before you. Else, how could they have provided for themselves
and their families? Never was it heard that nobility alone was able to
maintain its possessor.'

"The occupation of the merchant was held by them in high respect. These
were of prime consideration in the body politic, and enjoyed many of the
most essential advantages of an hereditary aristocracy. Mexico, as their
abundant use among the Aztecs testifies, is especially rich in precious
stones. It is the land of the emerald, the amethyst, the turquoise, and
the topaz; and that superbest of gems, the fire opal, is native to its
generous soil.

"One of Cortez's wedding gifts to his second bride is thus described:
'This was five emeralds of wonderful size and brilliancy. These jewels
had been cut by the Aztecs into the shapes of flowers, and fishes, and
into other fanciful forms, with an exquisite style of workmanship which
enhanced their original value.'

"It was gossiped at court that the Queen of Charles the Fifth had an eye
to these magnificent gems, and that the preference given by Cortez to
his fair bride had an unfavorable influence on the Conqueror's future
fortunes. Among the 'royal fifth' of the Mexican spoils sent by Cortez
to the Spanish Emperor, we are told of a still more wonderful emerald.
It was cut in a pyramidal shape, and of so extraordinary a size that the
base of it was affirmed to have been as broad as the palm of the hand.

"This rich collection of gold and jewelry, wrought into many rare and
fanciful forms, was captured on its road to Spain by a French privateer,
and is said to have gone into the treasury of Francis the First.
Francis, we are told, looking enviously on the treasures drawn by his
rival monarch from his colonial domains, expressed a desire to 'see the
clause in Adam's testament, which entitled his brothers of Spain and
Portugal to divide the New World between them.'

"The Aztec picture writing, rude though it was, seems to have served the
nation in its early and imperfect state of civilization.

"By means of it, as an auxiliary to oral tradition, their mythology,
laws, calendars, and rituals were carried back to an early period of
their civilization.

"Their manuscripts, the material for which has already been described,
were most frequently made into volumes, in which the paper was shut up
like a folding screen. With a tablet of wood at each extremity, they
thus, when closed, had the appearance of books. A few of these Mexican
manuscripts have been saved, and are carefully preserved in the public
libraries of European capitals. The most important of these painted
records, for the light it throws on the Aztec institutions, is preserved
in the Bodleian Library at Oxford. The greater part of these writings,
having no native interpretation annexed to them, cannot now be
unriddled.

"A savant who, in the middle of the seventeenth century travelled
extensively through their country, asserts that, 'so completely had
every vestige of their ancient language been swept away from the land,
not an individual could be found who could afford him the least clue to
the Aztec hieroglyphics.'

"Some few Aztec compositions, which may possibly owe their survival to
oral tradition, still survive. These are poetical remains, in the form
of odes, or relics of their more elaborate prose, and consist largely of
prayers and public discourses, that show that, in common with other
native orators, the Aztecs paid much attention to rhetorical effect. The
Aztec hieroglyphics included both the representative and symbolical
forms of picture-writing.

"They had various emblems for expressing such things as, by their
nature, could not be directly represented by the painter; as, for
example, the years, months, days, the seasons, the elements, the
heavens, and so on.

"A serpent typified time, a tongue denoted speaking, a footprint
travelling, a man sitting on the ground an earthquake.

"The names of persons were often significant of their adventures and
achievement.

"Summing up this account of Aztec civilization, we find that, although
of the countries from which Toltec and Aztec in turn issued tradition
has lost the record, it is nevertheless affirmed, by so reliable an
historian as Humboldt, that the former introduced into Mexico the
cultivation of maize and cotton; that they built cities, made roads, and
constructed pyramids. 'They knew,' says this authoritative historian,
'the uses of hieroglyphical paintings; they could work metals, and cut
the hardest stones; and they had a solar system more perfect than that
of the Greeks and Romans.'

"After their mysterious disappearance from the table-lands of Mexico,
the Aztecs, who succeeded them, gradually amalgamated all that was best
in their civilization, and, engrafting upon it their own, became as a
nation what they were in the time of the second Montezuma, when Cortez
and his conquering army treacherously swept their civilization from the
face of the earth.

"A thoughtful traveller still finds in Mexico traces of this people, its
early possessors.

"The Mexicans, in their whole aspect," he observes, "give a traveller
the idea of persons of decayed fortune, who have once been more
prosperous and formidable than now, or who had been the offshoot of a
more refined and forcible people."



CHAPTER XII


It was but the day after the delivery of this most interesting paper by
Mr. Morehouse, that the laggards from Hilton Ranch, who had missed it,
and the preceding one, returned to their places at the dinner-table; and
on that very afternoon Miss Paulina, with all due formality, announced
the engagement of her niece to Mr. Roger Smith. Recovered from the first
shock of surprise, the Koshare celebrated the betrothal by a pink
afternoon tea, and made such slight engagement offerings as were found
available, remote from silversmith, florist, and bric-à-brac dealer.

The ladies gave bureau scarfs, table doilies, and centre-pieces _ad
infinitum_; the Antiquary bestowed a bit of Mexican pottery dating back
to the "cliff-dwellers." Leon framed the photographs of the handsome
pair in Mexican canes, as an engagement gift; and the most despondent
"lunger" of them all had a kindly wish for their young and happy
fellow-boarders, setting out on that beautiful life-journey to whose
untimely end he, himself, was sadly tending.

Among the more observing of the Koshare, much wonder was expressed at
the slow mending of Roger Smith's sprained ankle. It was at the
engagement tea that Miss Paulina innocently said, in response to these
strictures, "Yes, it _did_ take a long time to cure dear Roger's sprain.
Years ago," continued the good lady, "I had the same accident; and, if I
remember rightly, in less than a fortnight after the sprain I was
walking without any crutches. One would think now," she went on, "that
in this lovely dry climate a sprain would mend rapidly; but, though I
did my very best, the result was far less prompt than I had hoped."

"Sprains differ," interposed the audacious subject of these remarks,
unawed by the disapproving glances of his betrothed; "the surgeons tell
us that fractures are both simple and compound. Mine, dear Miss
Hemmenshaw, was undoubtedly compound."

This he said by way of accounting to his friends for his tardy
convalescence. To himself he thought, looking at this kind, unsuspicious
new auntie, "Dear, delicious old goose!"

This is what the niece said when, later, she got this incorrigible lover
to herself: "Roger, I am quite convinced that your conscience is seared
with a hot iron, whatever that process, supposed to indicate utter moral
callousness, may be."

"My dear girl," laughed the unabashed culprit, "I am, as you know and
deplore, a good Catholic, and consequently hold with the astute Jesuit
Fathers that the end justifies the means."



CHAPTER XIII


It was in the sunny, lengthened days of early March that the Antiquary,
the Journalist, the star boarder, and the Grumbler undertook their
long-projected trip to the Sacramento Mountains, there to visit the
Government Reservation, nestled in the sheltered Mescalero Valley, which
gives its name.

Well equipped with camping conveniences, the four Koshares set forth on
their journey of one hundred and twenty-five miles.

It was their intention to "make haste slowly," and nothing could better
have suited the leisurely pair of Mexican horses, and the equally
easy-going Mexican driver, who, with his team, had been hired for the
expedition. The first night of their journey was passed beneath the open
sky, with the rounded moon riding clear and fair above them, and the
desert of sand and sage-brush all about them. On the second, they lodged
at the solitary dwelling of a ranchman, whose nearest neighbor was
thirty-five miles distant.

At the journey's end, they were cordially received by Lieutenant
Stottler, Government Agent at the Mescalero Reservation, and throughout
their visit were treated by him with a kindly hospitality and a genial
courtesy beyond praise.

Of the Apache, now transformed by the iron hand of civilization from a
blood-thirsty savage to a passably decent and partially self-supporting
member of the republic, it has been aptly said that Nature has given him
"the ear of the cat, the cunning of the fox, and the ferocious courage
and brutishness of the gray wolf."

The whole vast realm of his native ranges, desert though they seem, are
known to teem with ever-present supplies for his savage menu.

There are found fat prairie mice, plump angle-worms, gray meat of
rattlesnake and lizard, and of leathery bronco,--all easy-coming "grist
for that 'unpernickety' mill," his hungry stomach.

Is he minded for a vegetable diet, for him the mescal lavishly grows;
and the bean of mesquite, reduced to meal, makes him palatable cakes.
Fruit of Spanish bayonet dried in the sun, and said thus to resemble
dates, is at hand for his dessert; and of mountain acorns alone he may
make an excellent and nutritious meal.

From the primeval years this belligerent savage is said to have
especially harried that dismal waste in New Mexico known as _Jornado del
Muerta_, "Journey of Death."

This awful desert is declared to be literally "the battle-ground of the
elements." In the winter it is made fearful by raging storms of wind and
snow, in which frozen men and animals leave their bodies, as carrion
prey, to the hungry mountain wolf. In later times it is "the skulking
place of unscrupulous outlaws, and many a murdered traveller makes good
the name it bears."

It is thus finely depicted by a modern traveller: "Near the southern
boundary of New Mexico stretches a shadeless, waterless plateau, nearly
one hundred miles long, and from five to thirty miles wide, resembling
the steppes of northern Asia. Geologists tell us this is the oldest
country on the earth, except, perhaps, the backbone of Central Africa;
at least, the one which has longest been exposed to the influence of
agents now in action. The grass is low and mossy, with a wasted look;
the shrubs are soap-weed and bony cactus; the very stones are like the
scoria of a furnace. It is sought by no flight of bird; no bee or fly
buzzes on the empty air; and, save the lizard and horned frog, there is
no breath of living thing. One might fancy that this dreary waste had
served its time, had been worn out, unpeopled, and forgotten."

In the (not long past) day of his power and might, to steal and murder,
under the show of friendship; to beat out the brains of unsuspecting
men; to carry off to captivity, worse than death, the women and larger
children, was, with the Apache, merely a question of opportunity.

In the Apache war--ending in October, 1880, and lasting but a year and a
half,--it is estimated that more than four hundred white persons were
scalped and tortured to death with devilish ingenuity.

The details of Indian fighting are everywhere much the same; but in
strategy and cruelty that of the Apache surpasses all the sons of men.
Victorio, the chief who led the war with his band, was surrounded at
last, and captured, and killed in the mountains of Mexico.

With the death of Victorio (whose only son, Washington, was shot in the
fall of 1879, leaving no one to succeed him) the cause was lost.

His wife, we are told, after Victorio's death, cut off her hair, in the
old Greek fashion, and buried it,--an offering to the spirit of this
fallen chief, to whom (devil though he was) she was devoted.

It is told of Rafael, one of Victorio's band, that when maddened by
_tiswin_ (an intoxicant made by the Indian from corn), he fatally
stabbed his wife, and, after her death, overcome with penitence,
sacrificed all his beads and most of his clothes to the "dear departed,"
cut his and his children's hair short, and sheared the manes and tails
of his horses. These manifestations of anguish over, he went up into a
high hill, and howled with uplifted hands.

Women are regarded by the Apaches as an incumbrance. They are of so
little account that they are not even given a name. Mothers _mourn_ at
their birth.

The Indians occupying a reservation of seven hundred square miles in
southern New Mexico, and numbering, at the present writing, about four
hundred and fifty souls, are typical Apaches, and closely related by
blood to the other Apaches of Arizona and New Mexico. They exhibit the
usual race characteristics,--of ignorance, stubbornness, superstition,
cruelty, laziness, and treachery.

In December, 1894, Lieutenant Stottler first assumed the charge of these
Indians. In spite of the fact that for many years a generous government
had supplied them annually with rations, clothing, working implements,
etc., they were then living in _tepees_, or brush shelters, on the side
hills; clad in breech-clout and blanket, wearing paint, and long hair,
and thanklessly receiving their rations of beef, flour, coffee, sugar,
salt, soap, and baking-powder. A few of them condescended to raise corn
and oats; but acres of tillable land on the reservation were still
unused.

"They were," says Lieutenant Stottler, in an able and interesting
report, "not only contented with this order of things, but desirous and
determined to prolong it indefinitely."

Fifty per cent of their children were in school, but the parents were
wholly opposed to their education. Among them were twenty strong,
broad-shouldered Indian adults, educated at the expense of thousands of
dollars, yet still running about the reservation in breech-clout and
blanket, wilder than any uneducated Indian on it.

The girls were held from school, and at ten and twelve years of age were
traded for ponies, into a bondage worse than any known slavery.

Fourteen Indian policemen are allowed the agent. Their especial duty is
to see that the herd of beef cattle for their own eating is properly
cared for. The police, each had a cabin to live in; but each, in scorn
of this civilized innovation, had carefully planted alongside of his
cabin a _tepee_ to sleep in. To get these policemen into civilized
clothing, under threat of duress, and to order all _tepees_ away from
their cabins, was the agent's first move. Next, it was decided that all
children five years old and upwards _must_ be placed in school at the
beginning of the school year, whether the parents were willing or not.
Every Indian man was ordered to select a piece of land, and put in his
posts. To break up the influence of chiefs or bands, who, claiming the
whole country, deterred the people from work, by threats, appears to
have been up-hill work; "but now," says the agent (in 1897), "there are
no chiefs, and 'work or starve' is the policy." Formerly, government
supplies of clothing, wagons, harness, and utensils, as soon as issued,
had been packed on burros and sold for a mere song to settlers about the
reservation. This abuse was promptly stopped, as also was the making of
_tiswin_.

This native drink, made from Indian corn, is said to be more maddening
in its effect than any other known intoxicant; Indians brutalized by
_tiswin_ fought, as do our own drunkards, and often wounded or killed
each other. For corn to make this detestable beverage, an Indian would
trade away the last article in his possession.

It was proclaimed by the agent that the maker of this poison would be
imprisoned for six months, at hard labor, in the guard-house. This
stopped its manufacture, and there are no longer drunken Indians at the
reservation. Occasionally they still get liquor at Las Cruces, when sent
there for freight.

All supplies are hauled from the railroad over-land. The distance is one
hundred and ten miles; about one hundred thousand pounds are annually
brought in this way to the reservation, and without harm or loss. Much
of the Indian's savagery lies (like Samson's strength) in his hair; to
his long, matted tresses he clings tenaciously. As a beginning,
Lieutenant Stottler induced one old fellow--a policeman--with the
reward of a five-dollar gold piece to cut his precious locks. Thus
metamorphosed, he became "the cynosure of all eyes." His squaw made life
a burden to him; and thus badgered, he, in turn, pestered the agent to
get the entire police force to cut theirs.

It was long before the general consent to part with these cherished
tresses could be won; and it became necessary to put some of the Indians
in the guard-house to accomplish this reform. Finally, orders were asked
from Washington, and received, compelling submission to the shearing.

When the Indians saw the Washington order, they all gave in, with the
exception of a last man, who had to be "thumped into it." Their hair
well cut, a raid was made on breech-clout and blanket. Now they all
appear in civilized clothing. This seems to have been the turning-point
in their wildness.

"Now," says the agent, "they come and ask for scissors and comb to cut
their hair, and volunteer the information that they were 'fools to
oppose it.'"

About half a dozen of these Indians were found by Lieutenant Stottler
with two wives; since none others were permitted, this matrimonial
indulgence, polygamy, is, consequently, dying a natural death at
Mescalero. It is found hard to control the ancient practice of dropping
a wife and taking up another without the troublesome formality of a
divorce, which has practically the same result as polygamy. In spite of
the slip-shodness of the marriage-tie among the Indians, "they are,"
says the Lieutenant, "about as badly henpecked as it is possible to
imagine. Not by the wife, however; but by that ever dreaded being, her
mother." He gives in his paper a most amusing account of the relation
between the son-in-law and this much-maligned treasure of our higher
civilization. "Just why it is," he says, "no Indian has ever been able
to explain to me, but an Indian cannot look at his mother-in-law.

"If she enters his _tepee_, he leaves; if he enters and she is within,
he flees at once. He cannot stay in her august presence. If his wife and
he quarrel, his mother-in-law puts in an appearance, and manages his
affairs during his enforced absence so long as she pleases. Perhaps she
takes his wife to her own _tepee_, where he dare not follow. In this
dilemma, he either comes to terms, or the situation constitutes a
divorce.

"Does the agent wish a child brought to school, or a head of a family to
take land, and try to farm it, the mother-in-law, if hostile (and she
usually is), appears on the scene. Then the head of the family hunts the
woods for refuge.

"The sight of several stalwart bucks hiding behind doors, barrels, and
trees, because a dried-up, wizened squaw heaves in sight, is a spectacle
that would be ludicrous, were it not for its far-reaching results. As an
Indian may take, in succession, many wives, who still stand to his
credit, the agent has, practically, many mothers-in-law to contend with.
Consequently, these family magnets have been officially informed that
the guard-house awaits any of them who may be found maliciously
interfering with the families of their children.

"Hard labor added to this sentence, it is hoped, may at length have the
effect of breaking up this absurd superstition."

By this account it may be seen that "one of the most far-fetched notions
that ever entered into the minds of men" is found domesticated among the
Mexican aborigines. It is asserted, as a chronological fact, that the
Mexican Pueblos "invented the mother-in-law joke gray ages before it
dawned upon our modern civilization."

The lamented Cushing, in his account of the "restful, patriarchal,
long-lonely world" of his research, tells us that he found the
mother-in-law a too pronounced factor in the Zuni family circle; and, as
we know, in our own higher civilization the mother-in-law, held in
good-natured reprobation, serves to point many a harmless jest.

White enthusiasts--with whom the "wrongs of the Indian" are a standing
grievance--but imperfectly realize the difficulty of taming these
savages, getting them well off the warpath, and making them cleanly and
self-supporting. It may, therefore, be well to present the side shown us
by the agent in his able paper of statistical facts.

"The Apache tribe," he tells us, "has one hundred and sixteen children
at school,--nineteen at Fort Lewis, Colorado, and ninety-seven at the
reservation boarding-school. Each child has one-half day in class and
one-half day of industrial work. The girls take their turns in the
laundry, sewing-room, and kitchen, and at dormitory work. The boys do
the heavy work in the kitchen and laundry, chop the wood, and till the
farm under the charge of the industrial teacher. All the vegetables for
their use are raised on the farm, and the surplus sold.

"The aim of the school is to teach the rising generation of Apaches how
to make a living with the resources of the reservation, and, in time, to
become self-supporting.

"To this end useful rather than fancy trades are taught. Boys are
detailed with the blacksmith and carpenter, to learn the use of common
tools. To do away with the inborn contempt of the aboriginal male for
the women of his tribe, boys and girls at the reservation are not only
trained to study, recite, and sit at meals with girls, but a weekly
'sociable' is held for the scholars.

"On such nights they have games and civilized dances. Every boy is
required formally to approach and request, 'Will you dance this dance
with me?' and to offer his partner his arm when the reel, quadrille,
etc., is finished, and escorting her to her seat, leave her with a
polite 'thank you.'"

In the agent's report for the years 1896-97, "this year," he says, "the
Indian boys raised twenty-five thousand pounds beets, twenty thousand
pounds cabbage, one thousand pounds cauliflower, five hundred pounds
turnips, one thousand four hundred pounds celery, five hundred pounds
radishes, one thousand four hundred pounds of onions, nineteen thousand
pounds of pumpkins and squash, four hundred pounds of peas, nine hundred
and sixty pounds of corn, six thousand five hundred pounds of potatoes,
besides cucumbers, pie-plant, and asparagus.

"The school has a pen of swine, a flock of chickens, and a fine herd of
milch cows; and all the hay and fodder for them and the horses are
raised on the farm. Oats and corn are purchased from the Indians, who,
in 1895, raised one hundred and fifty thousand pounds.

"The adult Indians," he adds, "cut this year one hundred and sixty cords
of wood for the school, for which I paid them two dollars and fifty
cents per cord. In the winter of 1896 the industry of blanket-making was
introduced into the reservation. Navajo blanket-makers were employed to
teach to the Mescalero women their incomparable method of carding,
spinning, and dyeing wool, and weaving blankets. Twenty of the
Mescaleros," boasts the agent, "can to-day make as good blankets as the
Navajos themselves.

"The reservation is mountainous, and one of the finest sheep ranges in
the country. Government has allowed five thousand sheep for general
distribution at the reservation, and in addition, five hundred head for
the school; where a room is now set aside for the looms of the older
girls, who will, in their turn, become instructors in this useful art.
This puts into their hands another opportunity to become
self-supporting."

The visitors from Mesilla Valley were kindly admitted behind the scenes
at the reservation, to make acquaintance with its people, both old and
young; and were highly interested and entertained by the picturesqueness
of the Indian character.

The Grumbler had brought his camera along. He was a skilled amateur
photographer, and had offered his services in that capacity to the
little party.

To bring his household under the focus of that apparatus was no easy
task for the courteous agent. An Indian is nothing if not a believer in
witches. In his aboriginal mode of life witch-hunting and
witch-punishing are among his gravest occupations. He pursues them with
a vigorous hand, and with a superstitious zeal equal to that of the most
persistent white man in the palmiest days of Salem witch-hunting and
witch-burning. The Mescaleros, to a soul, are believers in witchcraft.
The camera, as might be seen from its effect, was plainly bewitched.
They would have none of it.

The school children, having no choice, must needs range themselves in
scared, sullen rows, and be "took" under compulsion.

Suspiciously eying the operator, they sullenly took their prescribed
pose, and heedless of the immemorial request, "Now look pleasant," went
sourly through the terrible ordeal.

Some of the older girls, pleased with the novelty, submitted more
cheerfully; but the younger pupils, looking askance at the white men,
covered their faces, so far as was possible, with hair, or hands, and
were thus providentially carried safely through this process of
bewitchment.

Some of the schoolboys had fine, intelligent faces; of others, the
Grumbler subsequently observed that "they were the kind that grow up and
scalp white settlers."

A curious young squaw, from the opened slit of her _tepee_, watched the
approach of the party with their bedevilled machine. Her position was
excellent; but no sooner had the operator arranged his camera for a snap
shot at this picturesque subject, than, with a scared yell, the woman
bounded out of range, closing behind her the aperture--her front door.

The result was merely an uninteresting view of an Indian _tepee_, which
is like nothing more than a mammoth ant-hill, minus the symmetry and
nice perpendicular of that more intelligently fashioned structure.

Two incorrigible squaws in "durance vile" for making _tiswin_, as they
sullenly served their sentence of hard labor at the reservation
woodpile, looked defiantly up from their task of chopping fuel, and
scowled viciously at the witch machine and its abettors.

They, however, succeeded in getting a fairly good picture of these
hideous-faced beings, as "withered and wild" as the uncanny sisters who
brewed "hell broth" before the appalled Macbeth, beneath the midnight
moon, on Hampton Heath.

A mild-eyed Indian woman, whose peaceful occupation was to scrub the
reservation floors, kindly submitted to the bother of being put into a
picture, along with the insignia of her office,--a scrubbing-pail.

Not so "Hot Stuff," a highly picturesque squaw, claiming the proud
distinction due to the "oldest inhabitant." This "contrairy" female,
impervious to moral suasion, was finally induced to pose before the
terrible "witch-thing" by the threat of having her rations withheld
until her consent to be "taken" was obtained. Scared and reluctant, she
was at last photographed; but required Lieutenant Stottler to protect
her with his arm through the perils of this unfamiliar ordeal. This he
good-naturedly did, and is immortalized along with this aged squaw.

After an interesting visit of two nights and a day at the reservation,
the Koshare turned their faces towards Mesilla Valley, where, after two
uneventful days, they arrived in safety, full of the novelties
encountered, charmed with the courteous and gentlemanly agent, but
wearied with the long ride, and heartily glad to return to white
civilization.



CHAPTER XIV


It was at the close of the week succeeding that of the little journey
across the mountains that the Koshare held their last Saturday evening
session. To punctuate the finality of this gathering, a variation from
the usual programme was proposed by the Antiquary. Members of the Club
were requested to supplement his brief paper by giving such written or
verbal statements, along the same line as their own research might
enable them to make. To this proposal many of the Koshare had agreed,
and had come well primed for lively discussion.

The attendance was unusually full, nearly all the boarders, in addition
to the regular Club members, being in attendance.

The Antiquary led with the following interesting paper, which, as he
explained, was, in a way, supplementary to those on the Aztecs.

"As the Tezcucans were of the family of the Aztecs," began Mr.
Morehouse, "and are said far to have surpassed them in intellectual
culture and the arts of social refinement, some slight notice of their
civilization may not prove irrelevant.

"Ixtilxochitl is the uneuphonious name of the native chronicler,
purporting to be a lineal descendant of the royal line of Tezcuco, who
has given us his highly colored narrative of the Tezcucan civilization.
It may be prefaced with the information that Ixtilxochitl (who
flourished so late as the century of the Conquest) has had his
reputation so torn to tatters by the critics of later years that he has,
figuratively, 'not a leg to stand on.'

"But as Prescott commends his 'fairness and integrity,' and says 'he has
been followed, without misgiving, by such Spanish chroniclers as could
have access to his manuscripts,' without attempting to settle the vexed
question of the probability of its details (which are a combination of
'Munchausen' and 'Arabian Nights'), we also will follow his marvellous
story of the Tezcucan Prince Nezahualcoyotl. Passing lightly over the
fascinating chapter of that prince's romantic adventures,--his
marvellous daring, his perilous escapes from the fierce pursuit of the
usurper Maxtla, and the dethronement and violent end of that
bloody-minded monarch,--we come to the time when Nezahualcoyotl,
restored to the throne of his fathers, is firmly established in the love
and fealty of his people, and may turn his attention to the production
of the odes and addresses handed down in Castilian by his admiring
descendant Ixtilxochitl. This admirable monarch was, we are informed,
'the Solon of Anahauc.' His literary productions turn, for the most
part, on the vanity and mutability of human life, and strikingly embody
that Epicurean poetic sentiment, expressed, at a later time, by our own
English poet, Herrick, in such verses as 'Gather ye rose-buds while ye
may.'

"'Banish care,' sings the royal Tezcucan bard; 'if there be bounds to
pleasure, the saddest life must also have an end. Then wear the chaplet
of flowers, and sing thy songs in praise of the all-powerful God; for
the glory of the world soon fadeth away.

"'Rejoice in the green freshness of thy spring; for the day will come
when thou wilt sigh for these joys in vain. Yet the remembrance of the
just' (piously adds the poet) 'shall not pass away from the nations; and
the good thou hast done shall ever be held in honor.' And
anon,--returning to his _Epicurean_ 'muttons,'--he sings: 'Then gather
the fairest flowers in the gardens to bind round thy brow, and seize the
joys of the present ere they perish.'

"An English translation of one of Nezahualcoyotl's odes has been made
from the Castilian. It harps upon the same old string, as also do his
prose essays, which have less literary merit than his verse. We are told
by his panegyrist that not all the time of this incomparable monarch was
passed in dalliance with the muse, but that he won renown as a warrior,
and in the interests of peace also fostered the productive arts that
made his realm prosperous, as agriculture, and the like practical
pursuits. Between times he appears to have looked well after the
well-being of his children, who, in numbers, rivalled the progeny of our
modern patriarch, Brigham Young. It is recorded that by his various
wives this monarch had no less than sixty sons and fifty daughters. (One
condones his disgust with life!) The Tezcucan crown, however, descended
to the children of his one legal wife, whom he married late in life. The
story of his wooing and winning this fair lady is almost an exact
counterpart of the Bible account of King David's treacherous winning of
Uriah's beautiful consort.

"It is related of Nezahualcoyotl, that having been married for some
years to this unrighteously obtained wife, and not having been blest
with issue by his beautiful queen, the priests persuaded him to
propitiate the gods of his country--whom he had pointedly neglected--by
human sacrifice. He reluctantly consented; but all in vain was this
mistaken concession. Then it was that he indignantly repudiated these
inefficient Pagan deities.

"'These idols of wood and stone,' said he, 'can neither hear nor feel;
much less could they make the heavens, and the earth, and man, the lord
of it. These must be the work of the all-powerful unknown God, creator
of the universe, on whom alone I must rely for consolation and support.'
He thereupon withdrew to his rural palace, where he remained forty days,
fasting and praying at stated hours, and offering up no other sacrifice
than the sweet incense of copal, and aromatic herbs and gums.

"In answer to his prayer, a son was given him,--the only one ever borne
by his queen. After this, he made earnest effort to wean his subjects
from their degrading religious superstition, building a temple, which he
thus dedicated: 'To the Unknown God, the _Cause_ of _Causes_.' No image
was allowed in this edifice (as unsuited to the 'invisible God'), and
the people were expressly prohibited from profaning its altars with
blood, or any other sacrifice than that of flowers and sweet-scented
gums. In his old age the king voiced his religious speculations in hymns
of pensive tenderness.

"In one of these, he thus piously philosophizes: 'Rivers, torrents, and
streams move onward to their destination. Not one flows back to its
pleasant source. They must onward, hastening to bury themselves in the
bosom of the ocean. The things of yesterday are no more to-day, and the
things of to-day shall cease to-morrow. The great, the wise, the
valiant, the beautiful,--alas, where are they?'"

"The compositions of Nezahualcoyotl," observed the Grumbler, as the
Antiquary folded away his finished paper, "though strictly founded on
fact, are not exhilarating. His family was too large; and the wonder is,
not that his odes and hymns are depressing, but that he should have the
heart to 'drop into poetry' at all!"

"We are told," rejoined the Journalist, "by his descendant with the
unpronounceable name, that once in every four months his entire family,
not even excepting the youngest child, was called together, and orated
by the priesthood on the obligations of morality, of which, by their
exalted rank, they were expected to be shining examples. To these
admonitions was added the compulsory chanting of their father's hymns."

"Poor beggars!" pitied the Grumbler; "how they must have squirmed under
this ever-recurring royal 'wet blanket!'"

"You forget," said Leon Starr, coming to the rescue of the poet-father,
"that in view of their inevitable mortality the bard had already advised
them to 'banish care, to rejoice in the green freshness of their spring;
to bind their brows with the fairest flowers of the garden, seize the
joys of the present, and'--in short, had given them leave to have no end
of larks, which, of course, they naturally and obediently did."

"It is a noteworthy fact," observed Mr. Morehouse, "that many
aborigines--though but scantily supplied with clothing, as the natives
of Samoa and the Sandwich Islanders--take great delight in adorning the
body with flowers. To this liking the Tezcucan king especially appeals
in his odes and hymns. The Mexicans have from time immemorial doted on
flowers. This taste three hundred years or more of oppression has not
extinguished."

"Do you remember, dear," asked Mr. Bixbee, turning to his wife, "the
flower market in the Plaza at Mexico?" (The pair had, a year or two
earlier, explored that city)--"that iron pavilion partly covered in with
glass, and tended by nut-brown women and smiling Indian girls?"

"Shall I ever forget it?" was her enthusiastic response. "The whole
neighborhood was fragrant with perfume of vases of heliotrope, pinks,
and mignonette; and such poppies, and pansies, and forget-me-nots I
never elsewhere beheld!"

"One can believe in absolute floral perfection," said the Journalist,
"in a country which embraces all climates. 'So accurately,' observes
Wilson, 'has nature adjusted in Mexico the stratas of vegetation to the
state of the atmosphere, that the skilful hand of a gardener might have
laid out the different fields, which, with their charming vegetation,
rise, one above another, upon the fertile mountain sides of the
table-land.'

"Along with many other important vegetable growths, the cotton-plant is
supposed to be indigenous to Mexico, as Cortez, on his first landing,
found the natives clothed in cotton fabrics of their own manufacture.
Its culture continues to the present day, but with very little
improvement in method since the earlier time of the Spanish Conquest."

"And now," asked the Harvard man, "since we are on the subject of
Mexican natural floral products, may I speak my little piece, which I
may call, 'What I have learned about the Cactus'?"

The Koshare graciously assenting, Roger Smith thus began:

"In Mexico the cactus is an aboriginal and indigenous production.
Several hundred varieties are identified by botanists. A beautiful sort
is Cereus grandiflora. As with us, this variety blooms only at night;
its frail, sweet flower dying at the coming of day. The cactus seems to
grow best in the poorest soil. No matter how dry the season, it is
always juicy. Protected by its thick epidermis, it retains within its
circulation that store of moisture absorbed during the wet season, and
when neighboring vegetation dies of drought is still unharmed. Several
varieties of cactus have within their flowers an edible substance, which
is, in Monterey, brought daily to market by the natives. That species
of cactus which combines within itself more numerous uses than any known
vegetable product is known as the maguey, or century plant.

"Upon the Mexican mountains it grows wild as a weed; but as a domestic
plant it is cultivated in little patches, or planted in fields of
leagues in extent. Its huge leaf pounded into a pulp makes a substitute
both for cloth and paper. The fibre of the leaf, when beaten and spun,
forms a silk-like thread, which, woven into a fabric, resembles linen
rather than silk. This thread is now, and ever has been, the sewing
thread of the country. From the leaf of the maguey is crudely
manufactured sailcloth and sacking; and from it is made the bagging now
in common use.

"The ropes made from it are of that kind called manila. It is the best
material in use for wrapping-paper. When cut into coarse straws, it
forms the brooms and whitewash brushes of the country, and as a
substitute for bristles it is made into scrub-brushes, and, finally, it
supplies the place of hair-combs among the common people. So much for
the cactus leaf; but from its sap arises the prime value of the plant.

"From this is made the favorite intoxicating drink of the common people
of Mexico. This juice in its unfermented state is called honey water.
When fermented it is known as pulque. The flowering maguey, the 'Agava
American,' is the century plant of the United States.

"In its native habitat the plant flowers in its fifteenth year, or
thereabout; and we are assured that nowhere, as is fabled, does its
bloom require a long century for its production. The juice of the maguey
is gathered by cutting out the heart of the flower of the central stem,
for whose sustenance this juice is destined. A single plant, thus
gingerly treated, yields daily, for a period of two or three months,
according to the thriftiness of the plant, from four to seven quarts of
the honey water, which, before fermentation, is said to resemble in
taste new sweet cider.

"Large private profit accrues to the owner of maguey estates, and the
government excise derived from the sale of the liquor is large. Pulque
is the lager of the peon. It was the product of the country long before
the time of the Montezumas; and Ballou tells us that 'so late as 1890
over eighty thousand gallons of pulque were daily consumed in the city
of Mexico.'

"It is said to be the peculiar effect of pulque to create, in its
immoderate drinkers, an aversion to other stimulants; the person thus
using it preferring it to any and all other drinks, irrespective of
cost."

The Minister followed Roger Smith with an account of a famous tree of
Mexico.

"It was at Papotla," said this much-travelled invalid, "a village some
three miles from that capital, that we saw this remarkable tree, which
is called 'The Tree of the Noche Triste' (the Dismal Night), because
Cortez in his disastrous midnight retreat from the Aztec capital is said
to have sat down and wept under it. Be that as it may, the Noche Triste
is undoubtedly a tree of great age. It is of the cedar family, broken
and decayed in many parts, but still enough alive to bear foliage.

"In its dilapidated condition it measures ten feet in diameter, and
exceeds forty feet in height. Long gray moss droops mournfully from its
decaying branches, and, taken altogether, it is indeed a dismal tree.

"It is much visited, and held sacred and historic by the people, who
guard and cherish it with great care."

"It calls up singular reflections," commented the Journalist, "to look
upon a living thing that has existed a thousand years, though it be but
a tree. Though so many centuries have rolled over the cypresses of
Chapultepec, they are yet sound and vigorous.

"These trees are the only links that unite modern and ancient American
civilization; for they were in being when that mysterious race, the
Toltecs, rested under their shade; and they are said to have long been
standing, when a body of Aztecs, wandering away from their tribe in
search of game, fixed themselves upon the marsh at Chapultepec, and,
spreading their mats under these cypresses, enjoyed in their shadow
their noontide slumber. Then came the Spaniards to people the valley
with the mixed races, who respected their great antiquity, so that
during all the battles that have been fought around them they have
passed unharmed, and amid the strife and contentions of men have gone
quietly on, adding many rings to their already enlarged circumference.
'Heedless,' says Wilson, 'of the gunpowder burned over their heads and
the discharge of cannon that has shaken their roots, as one ephemeral
Mexican government succeeded another, these cypresses still remain
unharmed, and may outlive many other dynasties.'"

"Apropos of the subject," said the Antiquary, "Nezahualcoyotl, according
to his descendant, the native historian, embellished his numerous villas
with hanging gardens replete with gorgeous flowers and odoriferous
shrubs. The steps to these charming terraces--many of them hewn in the
natural porphyry, and which a writer who lived in the sixteenth century
avers that he himself counted--were even then crumbling into ruins.
Later travellers have reported the almost literal decay of this
wonderful establishment. Latrobe describes this monarch's baths (fabled
to have been twelve feet long by eight wide) as 'singular basins,
perhaps two feet in diameter, and not capacious enough for any monarch
larger than Oberon to take a ducking in.'

"The observations of other travellers confirm this account. Bullock
tells us that some of the terraces of this apparently mythical palace
are still entire; and that the solid remains of stone and stucco
furnished an inexhaustible quarry for the churches and other buildings
since erected on the site of that ancient Aztec city.

"Latrobe, on the contrary, attributes these ruins to the Toltecs, and
hints at the probability of their belonging to an age and a people still
more remote. Wilson, on the other hand, positively accords them to the
Phoenicians."

"In reading up on this famous empire, Tezcuco," said Leon Starr, "one is
inclined to believe that every vestige of this proud magnificence could
not possibly have been obliterated in the short period of three
centuries, leaving on the spot only an indifferently built village,
whose population of three hundred Indians, and about one hundred whites,
maintain themselves in summer by gardening, and sending in their canoes
daily supplies of 'herbs and _sullers_' (whatever this last may be) to
Mexico, and, in winter, by raking the mud for the 'tegnesquita,' from
which they manufacture salt."

"Wilson," said the Grumbler, "tells us that 'the Tezcucan descendant of
an emperor "lied like a priest."' However that may be, one cannot quite
swallow his own relation 'in its entirety.'"

"Right you are," responded the Harvard man; "and now here is Miss
Norcross, waiting, I am sure, to cram us still further with Mexican
information."

"It is only," said this modest little lady, "some bits that I have
jotted down about Mexican gems;" and shyly producing her paper, she thus
read:

"In enumerating the precious stones of Mexico,--the ruby, amethyst,
topaz, and garnet, the pearl, agate, turquoise, and chalcedony,--one
must put before them all that wonder of Nature,--the Mexican fire opal,
which, though not quite so hard as the Hungarian or the Australian opal,
excels either of them in brilliance and variety of color. Of this
beautiful stone Ballou has aptly said, 'It seems as if Nature by some
subtle alchemy of her own had condensed, to form this fiery gem, the
hoarded sunshine of a thousand years.' He tells us that, in his Mexican
travels he saw an opal, weighing fourteen carats, for which five
thousand dollars was refused. 'Really choice specimens,' he goes on to
say, 'are rare. The natives, notwithstanding the abundance of opals
found in Mexico, hold tenaciously to the price first set upon them.
Their value ranges from ten dollars to ten hundred.'

"In modern times, as we all know, a superstition of the unluckiness of
the stone long prevailed. Now, the opal has come to be considered as
desirable as it is beautiful, and, endorsed by fashion, takes its
rightful place among precious gems. A London newspaper states that a
giant Australian opal, oval in shape, measuring two inches in length, an
inch and a half deep, and weighing two hundred and fifty carats, is
destined to be given to King Edward the Seventh; and that Mr. Lyons, the
giver, a lawyer of Queensland, desires that it should be set in the
King's regalia of the Australian federation. The London lapidaries
believe it to be the finest and largest opal in the world.

"Its only rival in size and beauty is the Hungarian opal, possessed by
Emperor Francis Joseph of Austria. This gem is known as the 'Imperial
opal,' and is said, in its rainbow beauty, to display the blended colors
of the ruby, the emerald, and the amethyst.

"What is termed the 'fire' of the gem appears to burn in its remotest
depths, with a glow and fervor which at times seem to convert the stone
from the opaque to the semi-transparent."

"We have in our own family," said Miss Paulina Hemmenshaw,
supplementing this account, "a rare Mexican opal. Long, long ago, it was
given as an engagement ring to my mother's youngest sister, by her
lover, who, while travelling in Mexico, had secured this exquisite stone
for a betrothal pledge. On the very eve of her wedding-day my beautiful
Aunt Margaret died of an unsuspected heart-disease. The old superstition
of the unluckiness of the opal being then dominant, my aunt's superb
ring was laid by as a thing malignant as beautiful.

"As a child I was sometimes allowed to take this sad memento of my dead
aunt from its nest of cotton wool and admire its harmful splendor. At my
mother's death it descended, along with all her own jewels, to me, her
only daughter. Now that we have outlived the foolish superstition in
respect to this precious stone, I have made up my mind," said the good
aunt, beaming kindly on her niece, "to take this ring from the Safety
Vault, on our return to Boston, and make it one of my wedding gifts to
this dear child."

"Many thanks, dear ladies," said Mrs. Bixbee, as Miss Paulina ended,
"for your talks about the opal. It is my favorite among precious stones.
I even prefer it to the diamond, as something warmer and more alive. I
am glad that its character is looking up in these days."

"All the same," said Mrs. Fairlee, complacently turning on her slim
white finger a superb Hungarian sapphire, "nothing would tempt me to
wear a stone even suspected of uncanniness. Trials and crosses, of
course, will befall one, but it seems to me foolhardy to wear jewels
supposed to attract misfortune, and, for my part, I am still suspicious
of opals; and were I King Edward, I shouldn't thank my loyal Australians
for the gift of an ill-omened jewel, however costly and beautiful."

"Well," commented the Journalist, "every one for his fancy; mine, I
confess, is to 'mouse round' among musty book-shelves. Looking over my
portable store of odds and ends for something relevant to this evening's
discussion, I came upon this extract from the 'Voyages of one "Thomas
Page,"'--a black letter copy of whose long-forgotten book, printed in
London, in 1677, is still extant. As a curious picture of the times, it
is not without an especial value; and, with your approval, I will now
read it:

"This account must be prefaced with the explanation that Thomas Page was
an English Dominican, who, as a missionary-monk, with his brother
Dominicans travelled to his destination in Manila, by the road across
Mexico, landing, by the way, at Vera Cruz, and there depositing some
illustrious fellow-voyagers.

"'When we came to land,' says this quaintly circumstantial writer, 'all
the inhabitants of the city had congregated in the Plaza to receive us.
The communities of monks were also there, each one preceded by a large
crucifix,--the Dominicans, the San Franciscans, the Mercedarios,--in
order to conduct the Virey (the Viceroy) of Mexico as far as the
Cathedral.

"'The Jesuits and friars from the ships leaped upon the shore from the
ships. Many of them (the monks) on stepping on shore, kissed it,
considering that it was a holy cause that brought them there,--the
conversion of the Indians, who had before adored and sacrificed to
demons; others kneeled down and gave thanks to the Virgin Mary and other
saints of their devotion, and then all the monks hastened to incorporate
themselves with their respective orders in the place in which they
severally stood. The procession, as soon as formed, directed itself to
the Cathedral, where the consecrated wafer (called in the English
original the bread God) was exposed upon the high altar, and to which
all kneeled as they entered.... The services ended, the Virey was
conducted to his lodgings by the first Alcalde, the magistrate of the
town, and judges, who had descended from the capitol to meet him,
besides the soldiers of the garrison and the ships. Those of the
religious orders that had just arrived were conducted to their
respective convents, crosses, as before, being carried at the head of
each community.

"'Friar John presented us [his missionaries] to the Prior of the Convent
of San Domingo, who received us kindly, and directed sweetmeats to be
given us; and also there was given to each of us a cup of that Indian
beverage which the Indians call chocolate. "This," the good friar tells
us, "was but a prelude to a sumptuous dinner, composed of flesh and fish
of every description, in which there was no lack of turkeys and capons.
This feast," he naïvely apologizes, "was not set out for the purpose of
worldly ostentation, but to manifest to us the abundance of the
country."

"'The Prior of Vera Cruz,' he informs us, 'was neither old nor severe,
as the men selected to govern communities of youthful religious orders
are accustomed to be. On the contrary, he was in the flower of his age,
and had all the manner of a joyful and diverting youth. His fathership,
as they told us, had acquired the Priory by means of a gift of a
thousand ducats, which he had sent to the Father Provincial. After
dinner he invited some of us to visit his cell, and then it was we came
to know the levity of his life....

"'The cell of the Prior was richly tapestried, and adorned with feathers
of birds of Michoacan; the walls were hung with various pictures of
merit; rich rugs of silk covered the tables; porcelain of China filled
the cupboards and sideboards; and there were vases and bowls containing
preserved fruits and most delicate sweetmeats.

"'Our enthusiastic companions did not fail to be scandalized at such an
exhibition, which they looked upon as a manifestation of worldly vanity,
so foreign to the poverty of a begging friar....

"'The holy Prior talked to us only of his ancestry, of his good parts,
of the influence with the Father Provincial; of the love which the
principal ladies and the wives of the richest merchants manifested to
him, of his beautiful voice, of his consummate skill in music. In fact,
that we might not doubt him in this particular, he took the guitar and
sung a sonnet which he had composed to a certain _Amaryllis_. This was a
new scandal to our newly arrived _religious_, which afflicted some of
them to see such libertinage in a prelate, who ought, on the contrary,
to have set an example of penance and self-mortification, and should
shine like a mirror in his conduct and words.... In the Prior's cell of
the Convent of Vera Cruz' (concluded this character sketch) 'we listened
to a melodious voice, accompanied with a harmonious instrument, we saw
treasures and riches, we ate exquisite confectioneries, we breathed
amber and musk, with which he had perfumed his syrups and conserves. O,
that delicious Prior!' exclaims our English monk, the humor of the
situation overcoming his horror of the scandalous behavior of the
ecclesiastic."

"And now," said the Minister, producing some leaves of sermon-like
script, "may I call your attention, my friends, to the striking
analogies found in the religious usages and belief of the
Aztec,--correspondent with those of the Christian,--some of which I have
considered in this little paper?

"One of the most extraordinary coincidences with Christian rites may, I
think, be traced in their ceremony of naming their children,--the Aztec
baptism. An account of this rite, preserved by Sahagan, is thus put into
English:

"'When everything,' says the chronicler, 'necessary for the baptism had
been made ready, all the relations of the child were assembled, and the
midwife, who was the person that performed the rite of baptism. After a
solemn invocation, the head and lips of the infant were touched with
water, and a name was given it; while the goddess Cioacoatl, who
presided over childbirth, was implored that "the sin which was given to
this child before the beginning of the world might not visit the child,
but that, cleansed by these waters, it might live and be born anew."
This,' continues the narrator, 'is the exact formula used: "O my child!
take and receive the water of the Lord of the world, which is our life,
and is given for the increasing and renewing of our body. It is to wash
and purify. I pray that these heavenly drops may enter into your body
and dwell there, that they may destroy and remove from you all the sin
which was given to you at the beginning of the world.

"'She then washed the body of the child with water. This done, "He now
liveth," said she, "and is born anew; now is he purified and cleansed
afresh, and our Mother Chalchioitlyene (the goddess of water) again
bringeth him into the world." Then taking the child in both hands, she
lifted him towards heaven, and said, "O Lord, thou seest here thy
creature, whom thou hast sent into the world, this place of sorrow, and
suffering, and penitence. Grant him, O Lord, thy gifts and inspiration;
for thou art the Great God, and with thee is the great goddess." Torches
of pine illuminated this performance, and the name was given by the same
midwife, or priestess, who baptized him.'

"The difficulty of obtaining anything like a faithful report of these
rites from the natives," said the Minister, "was complained of by the
Spanish chroniclers, and no doubt led them to color the narrative of
these (to them) heathen rites and observances with interpolations from
their own religious belief. 'The Devil,' said one of these bewildered
missionary monks, 'chose to imitate the rites of Christianity, and the
traditions of the chosen people, that he might allure his wretched
victims to their own destruction.' Leaving these monkish annalists to
their own childish conclusions, and absurd interpretations of the Aztec
religious analogies, we pass on to the tradition of the Deluge, so
widely spread among the nations of the Old World, the Hebrew account of
which was thus travestied by these semi-barbarians. Two persons, they
held, survived this historical flood,--a man named Coxcox, and his wife.
Their heads are represented in ancient paintings, together with a boat
floating on the waters.

"Another tradition (which is credited by Humboldt) affirms that the boat
in which Typi (their Noah) weathered the flood was filled with various
kinds of animals and birds, and that, after some time, a vulture was
sent out by Typi, to reconnoitre,--as was done in the Hebrew flood,--but
remained feeding on the dead bodies of the giants which had been left on
the earth as the waters subsided. The little humming-bird,
Huitozitsilin, was then sent forth, and returned with a twig in his
mouth. The coincidence of this account with the Bible narrative is
worthy of remark.

"On the way between Vera Cruz and the capital stands the tall and
venerable pyramidal mound called the temple of Chulola. It rises to the
height of nearly one hundred and eighty feet, and is cased with unburnt
brick. The native tradition is that it was erected by a family of giants
who had escaped the great inundation, and designed to raise the building
to the clouds; but the gods, offended by their presumption, sent on the
pyramid fires from heaven, and compelled the giants to abandon their
attempt.

"This story was still lingering among the natives of the place at the
time of Humboldt's visit to it. The partial coincidence of this legend
with the Hebrew account of the tower of Babel cannot be denied. This
tradition has also its partial counterpart in the Hebrew Bible.
Cioacoatl, 'our lady and mother, the first goddess who bringeth forth,'
who is by the Aztecs believed to have bequeathed the sufferings of
childbirth to women as the tribute of death, by whom sin came into the
world, was usually represented with a serpent near her, and her name
signified the 'Serpent-woman.'

"This fable, as will be seen, reminds us of the 'Eve' in the Hebrew
account of the Fall of Man. The later priestly narrators, minded to
improve upon this honest Aztec tradition, gave the Mexican Eve two sons,
and named them Cain and Abel.

"In this Aztec rite, coming down to us through tradition, the Roman
Catholics recognized a resemblance to their especial ceremony of
Christian Communion. An image of the tutelary deity of the Aztecs was
made of the flour of maize, mixed with blood; and after consecrating by
the priests, was distributed among the people, who, as they ate it,
showed signs of humiliation and sorrow, declaring it was the flesh of
the deity.

"We are told by a Mexican traveller, Torquemeda, a Spanish monk, that,
later on, when the Church had waxed mighty in the land, the simple
Indian converts, with unconscious irony, called the Catholic wafer 'the
bread-God.'"

Here the discussion was, for a moment, interrupted by the withdrawal of
Miss Mattie Norcross and her invalid sister, who, wearied with long
sitting, had dropped her tired head upon her sister's shoulder and gone
quietly to sleep.

As the Grumbler rose to open the door for the two, all present might see
the courteous air of protection and kindly sympathy which accompanied
this simple bit of courtesy. Evidently, the Grumbler had met his fate at
Alamo Ranch.

"And now," said the star boarder, coming finally into the talk, "since
Mr. Morehouse has kindly condensed for us the history of the aboriginal
Mexican from the far-off day of the nomadic Toltec to the splendid reign
of the last Montezuma,--treacherously driven to the wall by the crafty
Cortez, when the Spaniard nominally converted the heathen, overthrew his
time-honored temples, rearing above their ruins Christian churches, and,
intent to 'kill two birds with the same stone' filled his own pockets,
and swelled the coffers of far-off Spain with Aztec riches,--I have
thought it not irrelevant to take a look at the humble native Mexican as
he is found by the traveller of to-day.

"First, let me say that it has been asserted of Mexico that 'though
geographically near, and having had commercial relations with the world
for over three hundred years, there is probably less known of this
country to-day than of almost any other claiming to be civilized.' 'To
the Mexicans themselves,' declares an observing traveller, 'Mexico is
not fully known; and there are hundreds of square miles in South Mexico
that have never been explored; and whole tribes of Indians that have
never been brought in contact with the white man.'

"Mexico may well be called the country of revolutions, having passed
through thirty-six within the limit of forty years. In that
comparatively short period of time no less than seventy-three rulers,
'drest in a little brief authority,' have played their parts upon the
Mexican stage until the curtain dropped (too often in blood) upon their
acts, and they were seen no more.

"Humboldt, in the seventeenth century, pronounced the fairy-like
environs of the city of Mexico 'the most beautiful panorama the eye ever
rested upon.' On the table-land of this country the traveller is, at
some points, eight thousand feet above the level of the sea. At such
heights the air is so rarefied that the least physical effort well-nigh
deprives the traveller of breath. 'Through this rarefied atmosphere all
the climates and productions of the world,' it has been affirmed, 'are
embraced within the scope of a single bird's-eye view.' In portions of
the country the _vomito_ renders the climate especially unkindly to the
alien.

"We are told that three quarters of the present Mexican population can
neither read nor write, possess little or no property, and can form no
intelligent ideas of political liberty, or of constitutional government.

"The degraded condition of the laboring classes is imputed in a measure
to the constitutional inertia of a race who have no climatic conditions
to contend with in their life-struggle; whose simple wants are easily
satisfied, and who (it may be inferred) never know that 'divine
discontent' which is the fulcrum on which the higher civilization turns.
The manner of living, among this class, is thus described by Wells:

"'Their dwellings in the cities are generally wanting in all the
requirements of health and comfort, and consist mostly of rooms on the
ground-floor, without proper light or ventilation, often with but the
single opening for entrance. In such houses there is rarely anything
answering to the civilized idea of a bed, the occupants sleeping on a
mat, skin, or blanket, on the dirt floor. There are no chairs or tables.
There is no fireplace or chimney, and few or no changes of raiment; no
washing apparatus or soap, and in fact no furniture whatever, except a
flat stone with a stone roller to grind their corn, and a variety of
earthen vessels to hold their food and drink, and for cooking, which is
generally done over a small fire within a circle of stones outside, and
in front of the main entrance to the dwelling.

"'Their principal food is _tortillas_,--a sort of mush made of soaked
and hand-ground Indian corn, rolled thin, and then slightly baked over a
slow fire. Another staple of diet is boiled beans (_frijoles_). Meat is
seldom used by laborers; but when it is attainable, every part of the
animal is eaten. Should one be so fortunate as to have anything else to
eat, the _tortilla_ serves as plates, after which service the plates are
eaten. When their simple needs are thus satisfied,' says this observing
traveller, 'the surplus earnings find their way into the pockets of the
pulque or lottery-ticket sellers, or into the greedy hands of the
almost omnipresent priest.'

"These lotteries are, we are told, operated by the Church, and form one
of its never-failing sources of income, proving even more profitable
than the sale of indulgences.

"The idolatrous instinct, inherited from far-off Aztec ancestors,
decidedly inclines the native Mexican to a worship that has its pictures
and images, and its bowings before the Virgin and countless hosts of
saints, and the priest finds him an easy prey.

"'While we were in the country,' says Ballou, 'a bull-fight was given in
one of the large cities on a Sunday, as a benefit towards paying for a
new altar-rail to be placed in one of the Romish churches.'

"Religious fanaticism takes root in all classes in Mexico, even among
the very highest in the land. It is recorded of the Emperor
Maximilian--a man of elegant manners, and of much culture and
refinement--that he walked barefoot on a day of pilgrimage to the shrine
of the Virgin of Guadaloupe,--distant some two or three miles from the
city of Mexico, over a dusty, disagreeable road.

"It is but fair to add, in conclusion," said Leon Starr, "that it is
asserted of the cultivated classes of Mexico that they are not at all in
sympathy with the extortions and other irregularities of their
priesthood."

With these interesting statistics ended the last effort of the New
Koshare to combine improvement and entertainment.

Hard upon this more solid delight-making followed the last afternoon
tea, the lighter Thursday evening entertainment, and the final
shooting-match. All these gatherings took on a tinge of sadness from the
certainty that the little winter family, brought together by Fate at
Alamo Ranch, were so soon to separate.



CHAPTER XV


Spring had now well come. In the shade it was already more than summer
heat. Fortunately there is, in New Mexico, no such thing as sun-stroke;
and one moves about with impunity, though the mercury stands at fervid
heights.

It was on All Fools' day that the star boarder, accompanied by a little
party of the Koshare,--made up to escort him as far on his homeward way
as El Paso,--turned his back upon the loveliness of Mesilla Valley.

Through all this "winter of their discontent" Leon had lent himself
heartily to the work of delight-making; and the saddest of them all had
been cheered by his genial atmosphere. What wonder if to these it was
but a dolorous leave-taking; and that amid the general hand-shaking some
eyes were wet, and some partings said with big lumps that would rise in
swelling throats! A good face was, however, put upon it all; and even
Fang, Dennis, and the chore-boy, sent a blessing and a cheery good-bye
in the wake of the favorite boarder.

As for the small Mexican herd-boy,--who, with his best clean face, had
come up to the ranch to look his last upon the adored white man under
whose tuition he had become "a mighty hunter before the Lord,"--he
simply "lifted up his voice and wept."

Following hard upon this departure came the general break-up of the
Koshare circle. The Hemmenshaws, with the bridegroom elect, Roger Smith,
were the next to depart. Miss Paulina, as may be inferred, turned her
face Bostonward with her heart in her mouth, in view of that account of
her chaperonage to be rendered to the father whose daughter she had, as
it were, handed over to the grandson of a tanner.

And here the historian, asking leave to interrupt for a moment the
routine of the narrative, informs the gentle reader that that august
personage, Col. Algernon Hemmenshaw, was ultimately placated; and that
if a tanner's descendant bearing the non-illustrious name of Smith was
not altogether a desirable graft for the Hemmenshaw ancestral tree, a
fortune of more than a round million tipped the balance in his favor,
and the permitted engagement came out in early May-time. Beacon Hill, at
its announcement, threw up its hands in amazement and distaste. "To
think," it exclaimed, "that Louise Hemmenshaw, who might have had her
pick among our very oldest families, should take up with the grandson of
a tanner!"

       *       *       *       *       *

Out on the mesa it is early nightfall. The little day-time flutter and
stir of moving things has, with the setting sun, given place to silence
and rest.

A rounded moon looks serenely down upon the grey sage-brush, the
mesquite-bushes, on the lonely stretch of sandy desert. The last gleam
of day has faded from the Organ Mountains, leaving them to dominate, in
sombre grandeur, the distant landscape. In the warm, haunted silence of
this perfect night two lovers saunter slowly along the mesa.

These happy beings are not unknown to us. The lady is from Marblehead;
the other has before-time been dubbed the Grumbler.

The name no longer fits the man. His defective lung has righted itself
in this fine New Mexican atmosphere. No more is he at odds with fate; he
has become sincerely in love with life, with the climate, and, most of
all, with the sweet little teacher from Marblehead. They are to be
married early in June.

The climate admirably suits the invalid sister, and it is hoped that in
this fine dry air her well lung may remain intact, and so serve her for
years to come. The Grumbler, having money enough to order his residence
to his liking, has determined to settle permanently in New Mexico.

To that end he has, for the time, rented the Hilton place. Later, he
intends to lay out "as a gift for his fair" the ranch of her dreams.
Here, in the beautiful Mesilla Valley, we may predict that the married
pair, like the enchanting couples of fairyland, will "live happy ever
after."

And now it but remains for the chronicler of the New Koshare to take
leave of "the land of sunshine."

A backward glance at the half-deserted Alamo shows us a dreary handful
of incurables still tilting their piazza-chairs against its adobe front,
warming their depleted blood in the grateful sunshine, and each, as best
he may, accepting the inevitable.

Long, long ago it was that the Pueblos made that traditional journey
"from Shipapu to the centre of their world" with the heaven-provided
Koshare, in particolored attire, and fantastic head-dress of withered
corn-husks, jesting and dancing before them to lift and lighten the
weary road. Yet since then, through all the centuries, the
"Delight-Maker," in one shape or another, has been in requisition in
every land beneath the sun.





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large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



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