Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: The Pearl of the Andes - A Tale of Love and Adventure
Author: Aimard, Gustave, 1818-1883
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Pearl of the Andes - A Tale of Love and Adventure" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



http://www.freeliterature.org (Scans generously made
available by the Hathi Trust)



THE PEARL OF THE ANDES

A TALE OF LOVE AND ADVENTURE

BY

GUSTAVE AIMARD


AUTHOR OF "THE ADVENTURERS," "TRAIL-HUNTER," "PIRATES OF THE PRAIRIES,"

"TRAPPER'S DAUGHTER," "TIGER SLAYER," ETC.


REVISED AND EDITED BY PERCY B. ST. JOHN


NEW YORK

JOHN W. LOVELL COMPANY

14 AND 16 VESEY STREET

1884



CONTENTS

     I. IN THE CABILDO                   XXIII. PLAN OF CAMPAIGN
    II. JOAN                              XXIV. A DISAGREEABLE MISSION
   III. THE PURSUIT                        XXV. THE KITE AND THE DOVE
    IV. SERPENT AND VIPER                 XXVI. THE END OF DON RAMÓN'S JOURNEY
     V. AN INDIAN'S LOVE                 XXVII. THE AUCA-COYOG
    VI. PREPARATIONS FOR DELIVERANCE    XXVIII. THE HUMAN SACRIFICE
   VII. A COUNTERMINE                     XXIX. THE KING OF DARKNESS
  VIII. EL CANYON DEL RIO SECO             XXX. THE BATTLE OF CONDERKANKI
    IX. BEFORE THE FIGHT                  XXXI. CONQUEROR AND PRISONER
     X. THE PASSAGE OF THE DEFILE        XXXII. AFTER THE BATTLE
    XI. THE JOURNEY                     XXXIII. FIRST HOURS OF CAPTIVITY
   XII. INFORMATION                      XXXIV. THE ULTIMATUM
  XIII. THE AMBUSCADE                     XXXV. A FURY
   XIV. THE FORTRESS                     XXXVI. A THUNDERCLAP
    XV. PROPOSALS                       XXXVII. UPON THE TRACK
   XVI. THE MESSENGER                  XXXVIII. THE LYNX
  XVII. IN THE WOLF'S MOUTH              XXXIX. THE BLACK SERPENTS
 XVIII. THE CAPITULATION                    XL. THE HURRICANE
   XIX. THE APPEAL                         XLI. LA BARRANCA
    XX. THE COUNCIL                       XLII. THE QUIPU
   XXI. DIAMOND CUT DIAMOND              XLIII. THE ROCK
  XXII. DELIRIUM                          XLIV. CÆSAR



THE PEARL OF THE ANDES



CHAPTER I.

IN THE CABILDO


While Doña Rosario effected her escape by the assistance of Curumilla,
as recorded in the "Adventurers," Don Tadeo was not long in regaining
his senses. On opening his eyes he cast a bewildered look around him,
but as soon as memory threw light into his brain, he let his head sink
into his hands, and gave a free vent to his grief.

Don Tadeo wept! Don Tadeo, the King of Darkness, who a hundred times
had smilingly looked death in the face--who had had such a miraculous
escape--the man whose iron will had so rapidly crushed everything that
opposed the execution of his projects; who by a word, a gesture, a
frown, governed thousands of men submissive to his caprices, wept.

But Don Tadeo was not a man whom grief, however intense, could depress
for a length of time.

"Oh, all is not ended yet," he cried. "But courage! I have a people to
save before I avenge my daughter."

He clapped his hands, and Don Gregorio appeared. He saw at a glance the
ravages which grief had made in the mind of his friend, but he saw that
the King of Darkness had subdued the father. It was about seven o'clock
in the morning.

"What are your intentions with regard to General Bustamente?" Gregorio
asked.

Don Tadeo was calm, cold, and impassive; all traces of emotion had
disappeared from his face, which had the whiteness and rigidity of
marble.

"My friend," he replied, "we yesterday saved the liberty of our
country, which was on the verge of ruin; but if, thanks to you and
to all the devoted patriots who fought on our side, I have for ever
overthrown Don Bustamente, and annihilated his ambitious projects, I
have not on that account taken his place."

"But you are the only man--"

"Do not say that," Don Tadeo interrupted, "I do not recognise in myself
the right of imposing upon my fellow citizens ideas and views which may
be very good, or which I believe to be so, but which, perhaps, are not
theirs. The right of freely choosing the man who is henceforward to
govern them."

"And who tells you, my friend, that that man is not yourself?"

"I do!" Don Tadeo observed in a firm voice.

Don Gregorio gave a start of surprise.

"That astonishes you, does it not, my friend? But what is to be said?
So it is. I am only anxious to lay down power, which is a burden too
heavy for my worn-out strength, and to return again to private life."

"Oh! do not say that," Don Gregorio replied warmly; "the gratitude of
the people is eternal."

"All smoke, my friend," Don Tadeo observed, ironically. "Are you sure
the people are pleased with what I have done? But let us end this; my
resolution is taken, and nothing can change it."

"But--" Don Gregorio wished to add.

"One word more," said Don Tadeo. "To be a statesman, my friend, a man
must march alone in the way he has marked out for himself; he must have
neither children, relations, nor friends. The man who is in power ought
to be only human in appearance."

"What do you mean to do, then?"

"In the first place to send General Bustamente to Santiago: although
the man merits death, I will not take upon myself the responsibility
of his condemnation; enough blood has been shed by my orders. He
shall depart tomorrow with General Cornejo and the senator Sandias,
sufficiently escorted to secure him from a _coup de main_."

"Your orders shall be punctually obeyed."

"They are the last you will receive from me."

"But why?"

"Because this very day I will transfer my power to your hands."

"But, my friend--"

"Not a word more, I beg of you. Now come with me to this poor young
Frenchman, who has so nobly defended my unfortunate daughter."

Don Gregorio followed him without reply.

The count had been placed in a chamber where he had received the
greatest attention. His situation was satisfactory, and excepting great
weakness, he felt himself much better. Loss of blood alone caused the
weakness. Don Tadeo went towards him, and said warmly--

"My friend, it is God who has thrown you and your companion upon
my passage. I have only known you a few months, and I have already
contracted towards you a debt which it is impossible I can ever
discharge."

"Why attach so high a value to the little I have been able to do, Don
Tadeo." said Louis. "Alas! I would have given my life to preserve Doña
Rosario."

"We shall find her again!" Don Tadeo observed, energetically.

"Oh! If I were able to get on horseback," the young man cried.

At this moment the door opened, and a peon who entered said a few words
in a low voice to Don Tadeo.

"Let him come in! let him come in!" the latter cried, and turning
towards Louis added, "We are about to hear some news."

An Indian entered; it was Joan, the man Curumilla had been unwilling to
kill.



CHAPTER II.

JOAN.


The sordid clothes which covered the person of the Indian were stained
with mud, and torn by thorns and briers. It was evident that he had
made a hasty journey through woods and along bad roads. He bowed with
modest grace to the three gentlemen, and waited.

"Does not my brother belong to the valiant tribe of the Black
Serpents?" Don Tadeo asked.

The Indian made a sign in the affirmative. Don Tadeo was well
acquainted with the Indians, and knew that they only spoke when
necessity required.

"What is my brother's name?" he resumed.

"Joan," the Indian said; "in remembrance of a warrior of the palefaces
whom I killed."

"Good," Don Tadeo replied, with a melancholy smile; "my brother is a
chief renowned in his tribe."

Joan smiled haughtily.

"My brother has arrived from his village; he has, no doubt, business to
transact with the palefaces."

"My father is mistaken," the Indian replied sharply; "Joan asks the
help of no one; when he is insulted, his own lance avenges him."

"My brother will excuse me," Don Tadeo said; "he must have some reason
for coming to me."

"I have one," said the Indian.

"Let my brother explain himself then."

"I will answer my father's questions." said Joan, bowing.

Don Tadeo knew what sort of man he had to do with. A secret
presentiment told him that he was the bearer of important news: he,
therefore, followed up his questions.

"Whence does my brother come?"

"From the toldería of San Miguel."

"That is some distance from the city; is it long since my brother left
it?"

"The moon was about to disappear and the Southern Cross alone shed its
splendid light upon the earth, when Joan commenced his journey."

It was nearly eighteen leagues from the village of San Miguel to the
city of Valdivia. Don Tadeo was astonished. He took from the table a
glass, which he filled to the brim with aguardiente, and presented it
to the messenger, saying--

"My brother will drink this coui of firewater; probably, the dust of
the road sticking to his palate prevents him from speaking as easily as
he could wish."

The Indian smiled; his eyes sparkled greedily; he took the glass and
emptied it at a draught.

"Good," he said, smacking his lips. "My father is hospitable; he is
truly the Great Eagle of the Whites."

"Does my brother come from the chief of his tribe?" Don Tadeo continued.

"No." Joan replied; "it was Curumilla that sent me."

"Curumilla!" the three men cried.

Don Tadeo breathed more freely.

"Curumilla is my friend," he said; "no harm has happened to him, I
hope?"

"Here are his poncho and his hat," Joan replied.

"Heavens!" Louis exclaimed--"he is dead!"

"No," said the Indian, "Curumilla is brave and wise. Joan had carried
off the young, pale, blue-eyed maiden; Curumilla might have killed
Joan; he was not willing to do so; he preferred making a friend of him."

"Curumilla is good," Don Tadeo replied; "his heart is large and his
soul is not cruel."

"Joan was the chief of those who carried off the young white
girl. Curumilla changed clothes with him," the Indian continued,
sententiously; "and said 'Go and seek the Great Eagle of the Whites,
and tell him that Curumilla will save the young maiden, or perish!'
Joan has come."

"My brother has acted well," said Don Tadeo.

"My father is satisfied," he said--"that is enough."

"And my brother carried off the pale girl? Was he well paid for that?"

"The great _cavale_ with the black eyes is generous," the Indian said,
smiling.

"Ah! I knew it!" cried Don Tadeo, "still that woman!--still that demon!"

Louis rose and said, in a voice trembling with emotion, "My friend,
Doña Rosario must be saved!"

"Thanks, boundless thanks, for your devotion, my friend!" said Don
Tadeo; "but, you are very weak."

"Of what consequence is that!" the young man exclaimed eagerly. "Were I
to perish in the task, I swear to you, Don Tadeo de León, by the honour
of my name, that I will not rest till Doña Rosario is free."

"My friend," Don Tadeo said, "three men--three devoted men, are already
on the trail of my daughter."

"Your daughter?" Louis said with astonishment.

"Alas! yes, my friend, my daughter! Why should I have any secrets from
you? That blue-eyed angel is my daughter! the only joy left to me in
this world."

"Oh! we will recover her! We must!" Louis cried with great emotion.

"My friend," Don Tadeo continued, "the three men of whom I spoke to
you are at this moment endeavouring to deliver the poor child. However
dearly it costs me, I think it is best to wait."

Louis moved uneasily.

"Yes, I comprehend that this inaction is painful to you. Alas! do you
think it is less so to a father's heart? Don Louis, I endure frightful
torments. But I resign myself, while shedding tears of blood at not
being able to do anything."

"That is true," the wounded man admitted; "we must wait, Poor Father!
Poor daughter!"

"Yes," said Don Tadeo, faintly, "pity me, my friend, pity me!"

"But," the Frenchman continued, "this inactivity cannot last. You see I
am strong, I can walk."

"You are a hero as to heart and devotion," Don Tadeo said with a smile;
"and I know not how to thank you."

"Oh! how much the better if you regain hope," cried Louis, who had
blushed at his friend's words.

Don Tadeo turned towards Joan.

"Does my brother remain here?" he asked.

"I am at my father's orders," the Indian replied.

"May I trust my brother?"

"Joan has but one heart and one life."

"My brother has spoken well; I will be grateful to him."

The Indian bowed.

"Let my brother return here on the third sun; he shall place us upon
the track of Curumilla."

"On the third sun Joan will be ready."

And saluting the three gentlemen gracefully, the Indian retired to
take a few hours of a repose which his great exertions had rendered
necessary.



CHAPTER III.

THE PURSUIT.


We will return to Curumilla. The night was gloomy--the darkness
profound. Urging their horses on with voice and gesture, the fugitives
made the best of their way towards a forest which, if they could but
reach, they would be safe.

A leaden silence brooded over the desert. They galloped on without
uttering a word--without looking behind them. All at once the neighing
of a horse fell upon their ears like the gloomy alarm call of a clarion.

"We are lost!" Curumilla exclaimed.

"What is to be done?" Rosario asked anxiously.

"Stop," he at length cried.

The young girl left everything to her guide. The Indian requested her
to dismount.

"Have confidence in me," he said; "whatever a man can do I will
undertake, to save you."

"I know you will!" she replied gratefully.

Curumilla lifted her up in his arms, and carried her with as much
facility as if she had been a child.

"Why do you carry me thus?" she asked.

"We must leave no sign," he replied shortly.

He placed her on the ground with great precaution at the foot of a tree.

"This tree is hollow, my sister will conceal herself in it; she will
not stir till I return."

"Oh! you will not abandon me," she said.

"I am going to make a false track, I shall soon return."

The poor girl hesitated, she was frightened. Curumilla divined what she
felt. "It is our only chance of safety," he said, mournfully, "if my
sister is not willing, I can remain."

Rosario was not one of the weak, puling daughters of our great European
cities, who wither before they bloom. Her resolution was formed with
the rapidity of lightning; she bore up against the fear which had taken
possession of her mind, and replied in a firm voice--

"I will do what my brother desires."

"Good!" the Indian said. "Let my sister conceal herself, then."

He cautiously removed the cactus and creepers which surrounded the
lower part of the tree, and exposed a cavity, into which the young girl
crept, all trembling, like a poor sparrow in the eyrie of an eagle. As
soon as Rosario was comfortably placed in the hollow of the tree, the
Indian restored the plants to their primitive state, and completely
concealed her hiding place with this transparent curtain. Then he
regained the horses, mounted his own, led the other, and galloped off.

He galloped thus for many minutes without relaxing his speed, and when
he thought himself sufficiently far from the place where Doña Rosario
was concealed, he dismounted, listened for an instant, untied the
sheep skins from the horses' feet and set off again with the speed of
an arrow. He soon heard the galloping of horses behind him; at first
distant, but rapidly drawing near and at last becoming distinct.
Curumilla had a ray of hope, for his manoeuvre had succeeded. He still
pressed on his horse, and leaving his heavy wooden stirrups, with their
sharp angles, to beat against the sides of the still galloping animal,
he stuck his long lance into the ground, threw his weight upon it, and
raising himself by the strength of his wrists, sprang lightly to the
ground, whilst the two abandoned horses held on their furious course.
Curumilla glided in among the bushes, and made the best of his way back
towards Rosario, persuaded that the horsemen would be misled by the
false track.

Antinahuel had sent out his mosotones in all directions, in order to
discover the traces of the fugitives, but himself had remained in the
village. Antinahuel was too experienced a warrior to allow himself
to be misled. His scouts returned, one after another, without having
discovered anything. The last two that returned brought with them two
stray horses bathed in steam. These were the two horses abandoned by
Curumilla.

"Will she escape us then?" the Linda asked.

"My sister," the Toqui replied, coolly, with a sinister smile, "when
Antinahuel pursues an enemy, he does not escape."

"And yet----" she said.

"Patience," he replied; "they had a chance; their horses gave them a
great advantage over me; but, thanks to my precautions, I have forced
them to abandon their horses, which alone could have saved them. Within
an hour they will be in our hands."

"To horse, then; and let us delay no longer," Doña Maria exclaimed
impatiently.

"To horse, then, be it!" replied the chief.

This time no false route was pursued; they followed in a straight line
the track by which the prisoners had escaped.

In the meantime Curumilla had rejoined Rosario.

"Well?" she asked, in a voice half choked by fear.

"In a few moments we shall be taken," the chief replied mournfully.

"What! have we no hope left?"

"None! We are surrounded on all sides."

"Oh, my Maker! What have I done?" the poor girl sobbed.

Curumilla reclined upon the ground; he had taken his weapons from his
belt, and placed them beside him; and with the stoical fatalism of the
Indian when he knows that he cannot escape a destiny that threatens
him, he waited impassively, his arms crossed upon his breast, the
arrival of the enemy. They heard the tramp of the horses drawing nearer
and nearer. In a quarter of an hour all would be over.

"Let my sister prepare," Curumilla said coolly: "Antinahuel approaches."

"Poor man," said Rosario; "why did you endeavour to save me?"

"The young blue-eyed maiden is the friend of my pale brothers; I would
lay down my life for her."

"You must not die, chief," she said, in her soft clear tones; "you
shall not!"

"Why not? I do not dread torture; my sister shall see how a chief can
die."

"Listen to me. You have heard the threats of that woman; my life is in
no danger."

He replied by a gesture of assent.

"But," she continued, "if you remain with me, if you are taken, they
will kill you."

"Yes," he remarked, coolly.

"Then who will inform my friends of my fate? If you die, chief, what
can they do to deliver me?"

"That is true; they can do nothing."

"You must live, then, chief, for my sake."

"Does my sister wish it?"

"I insist upon it."

"Good!" said the Indian. "I will go, then; but let not my sister be
cast down."

At this moment the noise of the approaching cavalcade resounded with
a loudness that announced they were close at hand. The chief gathered
up his arms, replaced them in his belt, and, after bestowing a last
sign of encouragement upon Rosario, he glided among the high grass and
disappeared. Antinahuel and the Linda were within ten paces of her.

"Here I am," she said, in a firm voice; "do with me what you please."

Her persecutors, struck with such an exhibition of courage, pulled up
their horses in astonishment. The courageous girl had saved Curumilla.



CHAPTER IV.

SERPENT AND VIPER.


Doña Rosario stood motionless, her arms crossed, her head haughtily
raised, and her look disdainful. The Linda leaped from her horse, and
seizing her by the arm, shook her violently.

"Oh, oh!" she said, in a bitterly mocking tone, "my pretty dear! This
is the way you oblige people to come after you: is it?"

Doña Rosario only replied to this flood of words by a look of cold
contempt.

"Ah!" the exasperated courtesan exclaimed, clutching her arm, "I will
bring down that proud spirit!"

"Madam," Rosario replied, mildly, "you hurt me very much."

"Serpent!" the Linda shrieked, "why can I not crush you beneath my
heel?"

Rosario staggered a few paces; her foot struck against a root, and she
fell. In her fall her forehead came in contact with a sharp stone; she
uttered a feeble cry of pain, and fainted. The Indian chief, at the
sight of the large gash in the young girl's forehead, uttered a roar
like that of a wild beast. He leant over her raised her tenderly, and
endeavoured to stop the bleeding.

"Fie!" said the Linda, with a jeering laugh; "are you going to play the
old woman--you, the first chief of your nation?"

Antinahuel remained silent; for an instant he felt an inclination to
stab the fury: he darted a glance at her so loaded with anger and
hatred, that she was terrified, and instinctively made a movement as if
to put herself on the defensive. As yet the attentions of Antinahuel
had no effect; Rosario remained still senseless. In a few minutes
the Linda was reassured by observing that love occupied more of the
thoughts of the chief than hatred.

"Come, tie the creature upon a horse," she said.

"This woman belongs to me," Antinahuel replied, "and I alone have the
right of disposing of her."

"Not yet, chief; a fair exchange: when you have delivered the general,
I will give her up to you."

"My sister forgets," said Antinahuel, "that I have fifty mosotones with
me."

"What does that signify?" she replied.

"It signifies," he replied, "that I am the stronger."

"Indeed!" she said, sneeringly, "is that the way you keep your
promises?"

"I love this woman," he said, in a deep voice.

"_Caray!_ I know that well enough," she replied.

"I will not have her suffer."

"See there, now," she cried, still jeering; "I give her up to you
expressly that she may suffer."

"If such is my sisters thought, she is mistaken."

"Chief, my friend, you do not know what you are talking about; you are
ignorant of the hearts of white women."

"I do not understand my sister."

"No; you do not comprehend that this woman will never love you--that
she will never entertain for you anything but contempt and disdain."

"Oh!" Antinahuel replied, "I am too great a chief to be thus despised
by a woman."

"You will see you are, though; in the meantime I demand my prisoner."

"My sister shall not have her."

"Then try to take her from me!" she shrieked; and springing like a
tiger cat, she pushed away the chief, and seized the young girl, to
whose throat she applied her dagger so closely that blood stained the
point.

Antinahuel uttered a terrible cry.

"Stop!" he shouted in consternation; "I consent to everything."

"Ah!" cried the Linda, with a smile of triumph, "I knew I should have
the last word."

The chief bit his fingers with powerless rage but he was too well
acquainted with this woman to continue a struggle which he knew must
infallibly terminate in the maiden's death. By a prodigy of self
command he forced his face to assume a smile, and said in a mild voice--

"Wah! my sister is excited! Of what consequence is it to me whether
this woman is mine now or in a few hours hence?"

"Yes, but only when General Bustamente is no longer in the hands of his
enemies, Chief."

"Be it so!" he said, "since my sister requires it; let her act as she
thinks fit."

"Very well; but my brother must prove his faith to me."

"What security can I give my sister, that will thoroughly satisfy her?"
he said with a bitter smile.

"This," she replied, with a sneer; "let my brother swear by the bones
of his ancestors that he will not oppose anything it shall please me to
do, till the general is free."

The chief hesitated; the oath the Linda requested him to take was one
held sacred by the Indians, and they dreaded breaking it in the highest
degree; such is their respect for the ashes of their fathers. But
Antinahuel had fallen into a snare, from which it was impossible for
him to extricate himself.

"Good!" he said, smiling; "let my sister be satisfied. I swear upon
the bones of my father that I will not oppose her in anything she may
please to do."

"Thank you," the Linda answered; "my brother is a great warrior."

Antinahuel had no other plausible pretext for remaining: he slowly,
and, as if regretfully, rejoined his mosotones, got into his saddle,
and set off, darting at the Linda a last glance, that would have
congealed her with fear if she had seen it.

"Poor puling creature!" she said. "Don Tadeo, it is you I wound in
torturing your leman! Shall I at length force you to restore to me my
daughter?"

The Indian peons attached to her service had remained with her. In the
heat of the pursuit the horses, abandoned by Curumilla and brought back
by the scouts, had remained with the troop.

"Bring hither one of those horses!" she commanded.

The courtesan had the poor girl placed across one of the horses, with
her face towards the sky; then she ordered that the feet and hands of
her victim should be brought under the belly of the animal and solidly
fastened with cords by the ankles and wrists.

"The woman is not firm upon her legs," she said, with a dry, nervous
laugh.

The poor girl gave scarcely any signs of life; her countenance had
an earthy, cadaverous hue, and the blood flowed copiously. Her body,
horribly cramped by the frightful posture in which she was tied, had
nervous starts, and dreadfully hurt her wrists and ankles, into which
the cords began to enter. A hollow rattle escaped from her oppressed
chest.



CHAPTER V.

AN INDIAN'S LOVE.


The Linda rejoined Antinahuel, who, knowing what torture she was
preparing to inflict on the young girl, had stopped at a short distance
from the spot where he had left her.

When they reached the toldería, the horsemen dismounted and the maiden
was untied and transported, half dead, into the same cuarto where, an
hour before, she had, for the first time, found herself in the presence
of the courtesan.

The appearance of Rosario was really frightful, and would have excited
pity in anybody but the tigress whose delight it was to treat her so
cruelly. Her long hair hung in loose disorder upon her half-naked
shoulders, and at various spots adhered to her face through the blood
which had flowed from her wound; her face, soiled with blood and dirt,
wore a greenish cast, and her half-closed lips showed that her teeth
were tightly clenched. Her wrists and ankles, to which still hung
strips of the thick cord by which she had been fastened to the horse,
were frightfully bruised and discoloured. Her delicate frame was
convulsed with nervous quiverings, and her faint breathing painfully
issued from her heaving chest.

"Poor girl!" the chief murmured.

"Why, chief!" said the Linda, with a sardonic smile. "I scarcely know
you! Good Heavens! how love can change a man! What, you, intrepid
warrior, pity the fate of this poor maudlin chit! I really believe you
will weep over her like a woman, next!"

"Yes," the chief said; "my sister speaks truly, I scarcely know myself!
Oh!" he added, bitterly, "is it possible that I, Antinahuel, to whom
the Huincas have done so much wrong, can be so? This woman is of an
accursed race; she is in my power, I could avenge myself upon her,
satisfy the hatred that devours me, make her endure the must atrocious
injuries!--and, I dare not!--no, I dare not!"

"Does my brother, then, love this woman so much?" the Linda asked, in a
soft, insinuating tone.

Antinahuel looked at her as if she had awakened him suddenly from his
sleep; he fixed his dull eyes upon her, and exclaimed--

"Do I love her?--love her!--let my sister listen. Before dying, and
going to hunt in the blessed prairies with the just warriors, my father
called me to him, and placing his mouth to my ear--'My son, he said,
thou art the last of our race; Don Tadeo de León is also the last of
his; since the coming of the palefaces, the family of that man has been
always fatally opposed to ours, everywhere and under all circumstances.
Swear to kill that man whom it has never been in my power to reach!'
I swore to do it. Good!' he said, Pillian loves children who obey
their father; let my son mount his best horse, and go in search of his
enemy. Then, with a sigh, my father bade me depart. Without replying,
I saddled, as he had commanded me, my best horse, and went to the city
called Santiago, resolved to kill my enemy."

"Well?" the Linda asked, seeing him stop short.

"Well!" he resumed, "I saw this woman, and my enemy still lives." The
Linda cast upon him a look of disdain; but Antinahuel did not remark
it--he continued--

"One day this woman found me dying, pierced with wounds; she made her
peons bear me to a stone toldo, where for three months she watched over
me, driving back the death which had hung over me."

"And when my brother was cured?" the Linda asked eagerly.

"When I was cured," he resumed, passionately, "I fled away like a
wounded tiger, bearing in my heart an incurable wound! Two suns ago,
when I was quitting my toldería, my mother, whom I loved and venerated,
wished to oppose my departure; she knew that it was love that attracted
me from her, that it was to see this woman I left her. Well, my
mother----"

"Your mother?" the courtesan said, breathlessly.

"As she persisted in not allowing me to depart, I trampled her, without
pity, beneath the hoofs of my horse!" he cried, in almost a shriek.

"Oh!" exclaimed the Linda, recoiling.

"Yes! it is horrible, is it not, to kill one's mother? Now!" he added,
with a frightful mocking laugh, "will my sister ask again if I love
this woman? For her sake, to see her, to hear her address to me one of
those sweet words which she used to speak near me, or only to see her
smile, I would joyfully sacrifice the most sacred interests. I would
wade through the blood of my dearest friends--nothing should stop me!"

The Linda, as she listened to him and observed him, reflected deeply,
and as soon as he ceased she said--

"I see that my brother really loves this woman. I was deceived, I must
repair my fault."

"What does my sister mean?"

"I mean, that if I had known, I should not have inflicted so severe a
chastisement."

"Poor girl!" he sighed.

The Linda smiled ironically to herself. "But my brother does not know
what palefaced women are," she continued; "they are vipers, which you
endeavour in vain to crush, and which always rise up again to sting the
heel of him who places his foot upon them. It is of no use to argue
with passion, were it not so I would say to my brother, 'Be thankful to
me, for in killing this woman I preserve you from atrocious sorrow.'"

Antinahuel moved uneasily.

"But," she continued, "my brother loves, and I will restore this woman
to him; within an hour I will give her up to him."

"Oh! if my sister does that," Antinahuel exclaimed, intoxicated with
joy, "I will be her slave!"

Doña Maria smiled with an undefinable expression.

"I will do it," she said, "but time presses, we cannot stay here any
longer--my brother doubtless forgets."

Antinahuel darted a suspicious glance at her.

"I forget nothing," he replied; "the friend of my sister shall be
released."

"Good! my brother will succeed."

"Still, I will not depart till the blue-eyed maiden has recovered her
senses."

"Let my brother hasten to give orders for our departure in ten minutes."

"It is good!" said Antinahuel; "in ten minutes I shall be here."

He left the cuarto with a hasty step. As soon as he was gone, the
Linda knelt down by the young girl, removed the cords that still cut
her flesh, washed her face with cold water, fastened up her hair, and
carefully bandaged the wound on her forehead.

"Oh!" she thought, "through this woman I hold you, demon!"

She softly raised the maiden, placed her in a high-backed chair,
remedied, as well as she was able, the disorder in her dress, and then
applied a phial of powerful salts to her nostrils.

These salts were not long in producing their effect; she breathed a
deep sigh, and opened her eyes, casting round vague and languid looks.
But suddenly her eye fell upon the woman who was lavishing her cares
upon her; a fresh pallor covered the features, which had begun to be
slightly tinged with red, she closed her eyes, and was on the point of
fainting again. The Linda shrugged her shoulders, took a second phial
from her bosom, and opening the poor girls mouth introduced a few drops
of cordial between her livid lips. At that moment Antinahuel returned.

"Everything is ready," he said; "we can depart immediately."

"When you please," Doña Maria replied.

"What is to be done with this girl?"

"She will remain here: I have arranged everything."

"Let us be gone, then!" and turning towards Rosario, she said, with a
malignant smile. "Farewell, till we meet again, señorita!"

Doña Rosario rose, and said in an earnest tone, "I do not curse you;
but God grant, if you ever have children, that they may never be
exposed to the tortures you have condemned me to endure."

On hearing this speech, which seared her heart like a red-hot iron, the
Linda uttered a cry of terror; a cold perspiration beaded on her pale
forehead, and she staggered out of the apartment.

"My mother! my mother!" cried Rosario; "if you still live, where are
you? Why do you not come to the help of your daughter?"



CHAPTER VI.

PREPARATIONS FOR DELIVERANCE


The little troop of cavalry, at the head of which Antinahuel and the
Linda rode, advanced rapidly and silently along the road from San
Miguel towards the valley in which, the day before, the renewal of the
treaties had been accomplished. At sunrise they debouched into the
plain. They had scarcely advanced fifty paces when they saw a horseman
coming at full speed towards them. This horseman was Black Stag:
Antinahuel halted his escort.

"What is the use of this halt?" Doña Maria observed.

"Is my sister a soldier?" Antinahuel asked.

Doña Maria, mortified at this rude speech, reined in her horse and
remained a few paces in the rear, so that Antinahuel was left alone at
the head of his troop. At the expiration of five minutes Black Stag
pulled up his horse.

"Has my father returned among his children?" he said, bowing his head
as a salutation to the chief.

"Yes!" Antinahuel replied. "What has my son done during my absence?"

"I have executed the orders of my father."

"All of them?"

"All!"

"Good! Has my son received any news of the palefaces?"

"A strong body of the Chiaplos is preparing to quit Valdivia to repair
to Santiago."

"Good! With what purpose?"

"They are taking to Santiago the prisoner named General Bustamente."

Antinahuel turned towards the Linda, and exchanged a glance of
intelligence with her.

"For what day have the Huincas fixed their departure?"

"They are to set out the day after tomorrow."

Antinahuel reflected for a few minutes.

"This is what my son will do," he said. "In two hours he will strike
his camp, and direct his course toward the Canyon del Rio Seco, where I
will go and wait for him."

"I will obey!" said the Black Stag, bowing his head affirmatively.

"Good! My son is an experienced warrior; he will execute my orders with
intelligence."

The man smiled with pleasure at receiving this praise from his chief;
after bowing respectfully before him, he made his horse curvet
gracefully, and set off with his followers.

Antinahuel took the road towards the mountains at a sharp trot. After
riding silently for some time by the side of Doña Maria, he turned
towards her graciously, and said--

"Does my sister understand the tenor of the order I have just given?"

"No!" she replied, with a slight tinge of irony; "as my brother has
well remarked, I am not a soldier."

"My intentions are very simple," he replied; "the Canyon del Rio Seco
is in a narrow defile which the palefaces are obliged to cross. Fifty
chosen warriors can here contend with advantage against twenty times
their number. It is in that place I am determined to wait for the
Huincas. The Moluchos will take possession of the heights; and when the
palefaces have entered that passage without suspicion, I will attack
them on all sides."

"Does there, then, exist no other road to Santiago?"

"None; they must go that way."

"Then they are doomed!" she joyfully exclaimed.

"Without doubt!" he said proudly; "the Canyon del Rio Seco is
celebrated in our history."

"Then my brother can answer for saving Don Pancho Bustamente?"

"Yes, unless the sky falls!" he said, with a smile.



CHAPTER VII.

A COUNTERMINE.


As Trangoil-Lanec had predicted, Louis recovered from the effects of
his wounds with surprising rapidity. Whether it was owing to his ardent
desire to commence his researches, or to the goodness of his condition,
we will not say; but on the eve of the day fixed for the departure
he was quite on the alert, and told Don Tadeo he was ready to start
whenever he pleased.

He was the more anxious to depart in that Valentine, his dog Cæsar,
and Trangoil-Lanec had been absent three days, and no tidings had
been received. Curumilla had not come back. All these circumstances
augmented in an enormous degree the impatience of the count; whilst, on
his part, Don Tadeo was not much more easy. The poor father shuddered
at the idea of the suffering to which his child was exposed.

And yet there was mingled an undefinable joy at thinking of the
tortures he should inflict, in his turn, upon Doña Maria, when
revealing to her that the person she had taken so much delight in
martyrizing was her own daughter. Don Tadeo, a man of elevated mind,
endeavoured to shake off this unworthy thought, but it persisted in
recurring with tenacity.

Don Gregorio, in whose hands Don Tadeo had placed his power and
authority, urged on by Louis, hastened the preparations for the
departure on the morrow. At about eight o'clock in the evening. Don
Gregorio, after giving certain instructions in one of the private
apartments of the cabildo to General Cornejo and the senator Sandias,
who were to conduct Don Pancho to Santiago, had dismissed them, and
was conversing with Don Tadeo, when the door was thrown open, and a
man entered. On seeing him, they uttered a general cry of joy and
astonishment. It was Curumilla!

"At last!" Louis and Don Tadeo exclaimed.

"I am here!" the Ulmen replied, sorrowfully.

As the poor Indian seemed quite exhausted with fatigue and want of
food, they made him sit down. In spite of all his Indian stoicism,
Curumilla literally seized the food as soon as it appeared, and
devoured it greedily.

As soon as the keenness of his appetite was a little abated, Curumilla
related the full details of all that had happened since his departure
from the camp, the manner in which he had delivered the young lady,
and how, an hour after, she had been recaptured by her enemies. When
he quitted Doña Rosario the brave Indian had only kept at a sufficient
distance from her to avoid being himself taken by her ravishers.

Don Tadeo and the count warmly thanked him.

"I have done nothing yet," he said, "since all must be begun again; and
now," he added, "it will be more difficult, for they will be on their
guard."

"Tomorrow," Don Tadeo replied, warmly, "we will set out all together on
the track."

"Yes," the chief said, "I am aware you are to depart tomorrow."

The three men looked at each other with astonishment; they could not
understand how the news of their movements should be known.

"There are no secrets for Aucas, when they wish to know them," the
chief said with a smile.

"It is impossible!" Don Gregorio exclaimed angrily.

"Let my brother listen," the chief replied quietly. "Tomorrow, at
sunrise, a detachment of a thousand white soldiers will leave Valdivia
to conduct the prisoner Bustamente to Santiago. Is it not so?"

"Yes," Don Gregorio replied, "I must admit that what you say is
correct."

"Well," said the Ulmen smiling, "I cannot deny that the man who gave me
these details had no suspicion that I overheard him."

"Explain yourself, chief, I implore you!" Don Tadeo cried; "we are upon
burning coals."

"I have told you that I followed Antinahuel's party; I must add that
occasionally I got before them. The day before yesterday, at sunrise,
the Black Stag, who was left with Antinahuel's warriors during his
absence, was on the prairie of the treaties, and as soon as he saw his
chief, galloped to meet him. As I had no doubt that these two men,
during their conference, would allow some words to escape that might
afterwards be of service to me, I drew as close to them as possible,
and that is the way they placed me in possession of their projects."

"Of their projects?" Don Gregorio asked, "are they mad enough, then, to
think of attacking us?"

"The pale woman has made Antinahuel swear to deliver her friend, who is
a prisoner."

"Well! and what then?"

"Antinahuel will deliver him."

"Ay, ay!" said Don Gregorio, "but that project is more easily formed
than executed, chief."

"The soldiers are obliged to traverse the Canyon del Rio Seco."

"No doubt they are."

"It is there that Antinahuel will attack the palefaces with his
mosotones."

"Sangre de Cristo!" Don Gregorio exclaimed, "What is to be done?"

"The escort will be defeated," Don Tadeo observed.

Curumilla remained silent.

"Perhaps not!" said the count: "I know the chief; he is not the man to
cause his friends embarrassment without having the means of showing
them how to avoid the peril he reveals to them."

"Unfortunately," Don Tadeo replied, "there exists no other passage but
that cursed defile; it must absolutely be cleared, and five hundred
resolute men might not there only hold a whole army in check, but cut
it to pieces."

"That may be all very true," the young man replied persistently; "but
I repeat what I have said--the chief is a skilful warrior, his mind is
fertile in resources."

Curumilla smiled and nodded.

"I was sure of it!" Louis cried. "Now then, chief, speak out! Do you
not know a means of enabling us to avoid this dangerous passage?"

"I will not certify that," the Ulmen replied; "but if my brothers the
palefaces will consent to allow me to act, I will undertake to foil the
plans of Antinahuel and his companions."

"Speak! speak, chief!" the count exclaimed, vehemently; "explain to us
the plan you have formed; these caballeros rely entirely upon you."

"Yes," Don Tadeo replied, "we are listening to you anxiously, chief."

"But," Curumilla resumed, "my brothers must act with caution. I require
to be left absolute master."

"You have my word, Ulmen," said Don Gregorio; "we will only act as you
command us."

"Good!" said the chief; "let my brothers listen."

And without more delay he detailed to them the plan he had formed, and
which, as might be expected, obtained the general assent. Don Tadeo and
the count entered enthusiastically into it, promising themselves the
happiest results. By the time the last measures were agreed to and all
was arranged the night was far advanced, and the four speakers stood in
need of some repose. Curumilla in particular, having slept but little
for several days, was literally sinking with fatigue. Louis alone
appeared to require no repair for his strength. But prudence demanded
that a few hours should be given to sleep, and, in spite of the counts
remonstrances, they separated.

The young man, forced to submit to the reasons of the experienced men
who surrounded him, retired with a very bad grace, promising himself
_in petto_ not to let his friends forget the hour fixed upon for their
departure.

Louis felt it was impossible to follow their example, and impatience
and love--those two tyrants of youth--heated his brain, he ascended
to the roof of the palace, and with his eyes fixed upon the lofty
mountains, whose dark shadows were thrown across the horizon, he gave
all his thoughts to the fair Rosario.

Louis, abandoning himself to delightful thoughts, thus dreamed through
the night, and did not think of descending till the stars successively
disappeared in the depths of the heavens, and a pale whiteness began to
tinge the horizon. In that climate this announced the speedy approach
of day.



CHAPTER VIII.

EL CANYON DEL RIO SECO.


At about ten leagues from San Miguel de la Frontera, a miserable town
peopled by some twenty or thirty Huiliche shepherds, on the road to
Arauca, the land rises rapidly, and suddenly forms an imposing wall
of granite, the summit of which is covered with virgin forests of
firs and oaks, impenetrable to the sun. A passage of twenty yards at
most, is opened by nature through this wall. Its length is more than
a mile, forming a crowd of capricious, inextricable windings, which
appear constantly to turn back upon themselves. On each side of this
formidable defile, the ground, covered with trees and underwood, stage
above stage, is capable, in case of need, of offering impregnable
intrenchments to those who defend the passage.

This place is named El Canyon del Rio Seco, a name common in America,
because not only has vegetation long since covered the face of this
wall with an emerald carpet, but it is evident that in remote periods
a channel by which the waters of the upper plateaus of the Andes,
overflowing, either in consequence of an earthquake or some natural
inundation, pour down to the plain--had violently and naturally cut
itself a passage to the sea.

Antinahuel, followed closely by the Linda, who wished to see everything
for herself, visited the posts, gave short and precise instructions
to the Ulmens, and then regained the bivouac he had chosen, and which
formed the advanced guard of the ambuscade.

"Now, what are we going to do?" Doña Maria asked.

"Wait," he replied.

And folding himself in his poncho, he laid down on the ground and
closed his eyes.

On their side, the Spaniards had set out a little before daybreak. They
formed a compact troop of five hundred horsemen, in the centre of whom
rode without arms, and between two lancers, charged to blow out his
brains at the least suspicious action, General Bustamente.

In advance of this troop, there was another of an almost equal force;
this was, in appearance, composed of Indians. We say in appearance,
because the men were in reality Chilians, but their Araucano costume,
their arms, even to the caparison of their horses, in short, everything
in their disguise, was so exact, that at a short distance it was
impossible for even the experienced eyes of the Indians themselves to
detect them. These apparent Indians were commanded by Joan.

When arrived at mid-distance between Valdivia and the Canyon, the
hindermost troop halted, whilst that commanded by Joan continued its
march, but slowly, and with increased precaution. Four horsemen closed
the rear; Don Tadeo, Don Gregorio, the count, and Curumilla, who were
engaged in earnest conversation.

"Then you persist in having nobody with you?" said Don Gregorio.

"Nobody; we two will be quite sufficient," Curumilla replied, pointing
to the young Frenchman.

"Why will you not take me with you?" Don Tadeo asked.

"I thought you would prefer remaining with your soldiers."

"I am anxious to join my daughter as soon as possible."

"Come, then, by all means. You," turning to Don Gregorio, "will
remember that nothing must induce you to enter the defile before you
see a fire blazing on the summit of the Corcovado."

"That is perfectly understood, so now farewell."

After exchanging hearty shakes of the hand, the four men separated. Don
Gregorio galloped after his troops, whilst Don Tadeo and the count,
guided by Curumilla, began to climb the mountain. They continued
to ascend for more than an hour, and at last reached a platform of
considerable extent.

"Dismount," he said; Curumilla setting the example, which his
companions followed.

"Let us unsaddle our horses," the chief continued. "We shall not want
the poor beasts for some time. I know a place, not far off, where they
will be comfortably sheltered, and where we can find them when we come
back--if we do come back," he added.

"Holloa, chief!" Louis exclaimed, "Are you beginning to be
apprehensive?"

"Och!" the Ulmen replied, "my brother is young, his blood is very warm;
Curumilla is older, he is wise."

"Thanks," the young man said, "it is impossible to tell a friend that
he is a fool more politely."

The three men continued to ascend, dragging their horses after them
by their bridles, which was no easy matter in a narrow path where
the animals stumbled at every step. At length, however, they gained
the entrance of a natural grotto, into which they coaxed the noble
creatures. They supplied them with food, and then closed up the
entrance of the grotto with large stones, leaving only a narrow passage
of air.

"Now let us begone," said Curumilla.

They threw their guns upon their shoulders, and set forward with a
resolute step. After three quarters of an hour of this painful ascent
the Ulmen stopped.

"This is the place," he said.

The three men had attained the summit of an elevated peak, from the top
of which an immense and splendid panorama lay unrolled before their
eyes.



CHAPTER IX

BEFORE THE FIGHT.


As soon as they had set foot on the platform, Don Tadeo and the count
sank exhausted. Curumilla left them undisturbed for a few minutes to
recover their breath, then requested them to look around them. Beneath
their feet was the Canyon del Rio Seco, with its imposing granite
masses and its thick clumps of verdure.

"Oh!" Louis exclaimed, enthusiastically, "how splendid this is!"

Don Tadeo, accustomed from his infancy to such sublime panoramas,
only cast an absent glance over the magnificent prospect. His mind
was intent upon his daughter, the beloved child whom he hoped soon to
deliver.

"Are we going to remain here long?" he asked.

"For a few minutes," Curumilla replied.

"What is the name of this place?" the count said.

"It is the peak which the palefaces call the Corcovado." said the Ulmen.

"The one upon which you appointed to light the signal fire?"

"Yes; let us hasten to prepare it."

The three men constructed an immense pile of wood.

"Now," said Curumilla, "rest, and do not stir till my return."

And without entering into further detail, Curumilla sprang down the
steep declivity of the mountain, and disappeared among the trees. The
two friends sat down near the pile, and waited pensively the return
of the Ulmen. The troop commanded by Joan approached the defile,
simulating all the movements of Indians, and were soon within gunshot
of the Canyon. Antinahuel had perceived them, and had for some time
been watching their movements. Notwithstanding all his cunning, the
Toqui did not for an instant suspect a stratagem. The presence of Joan
at the head of the troop, whom at the first glance he had recognised,
completed his conviction.

Joan plunged into the defile without evincing the least hesitation; but
scarcely had he proceeded a dozen yards when an Indian sprang out of a
thicket, and stood in front of him. This Indian was Antinahuel himself.

"My son comes late," said the Toqui, casting a suspicious glance at him.

"My father will pardon me," Joan replied, respectfully; "I had notice
only last night."

"Good," continued the chief; "I know my son is prudent. How many lances
does he bring with him?"

"A thousand."

As may be perceived, Joan bravely doubled the number of his soldiers.

"Oh! oh!" said the Toqui, joyfully, "a man may be pardoned for coming
late when he brings so numerous a troop with him."

"My father knows I am devoted," the Indian replied.

"I know you are; my son is a brave warrior. Has he seen the Huincas?"

"I have seen them."

"Are they far distant?"

"No; they are coming--in less than three-quarters of an hour they will
be here."

"We have not an instant to lose. My son will place his warriors in
ambush."

"Good! It shall be done; my father may leave it to me."

At this moment the troop of false Indians appeared at the entrance of
the defile, into which they boldly entered, after the example of their
leader.

"My son will use all possible diligence," said Antinahuel, and hastened
back to his post.

Joan and his men went forward at full gallop; they were watched by from
a thousand to fifteen hundred invisible spies, who, at the smallest
suspicion, created by a doubtful gesture even, would have massacred
them without mercy.

Joan, after having made his men dismount and conceal their horses in
the rear, distributed them with a calmness and collectedness that must
have banished the suspicions of the chief. Ten minutes later the defile
appeared as solitary as before. Joan had scarcely gone six paces into
the thicket when a hand was laid upon his shoulder. He turned sharply
round; Curumilla was before him.

"Good!" the latter murmured, in a voice low as a breath; "let my son
follow me with his men."

Joan nodded assent, and with extreme precaution and in perfect silence
three hundred soldiers began to escalade the rocks in imitation of the
Ulmen. The three hundred men led by Joan, who had escaladed the wall
of the defile on the opposite side of the canyon, were divided into
two troops. The first had taken up a position above Black Stag, and
the second, a hundred strong, were massed as a rear post. As soon as
Curumilla had prepared the manoeuvre we have just described, he quitted
Joan and rejoined his companions.

"At last!" they cried, both in a breath.

"I began to be afraid something had happened to you, chief," said the
count.

Upon which Curumilla only smiled. "Everything is ready," he said; "and
when the palefaces please, they can penetrate into the defile."

"Do you think your plan will succeed?" Don Tadeo asked anxiously.

"I hope it will," the Indian replied.

"What are we to do now?"

"Light the fire, and depart."

"How depart? Our friends?"

"They stand in no need of us; as soon as the fire is alight we will set
out in search of the young maiden."

"God grant that we may save her!"

Curumilla, after lighting a bit of tinder which he had in a horn box,
collected with his feet a heap of dried leaves, placed the tinder
beneath them, and began to blow with all his might. The fire, acted
upon by the breeze, which at that height blew strongly, was rapidly
communicated, and shortly a thick column of flame mounted roaring to
the sky.

"Good!" said Curumilla to his companions; "they see the signal."

"Let us begone, then, without delay," cried the count, impatiently.

"Come on, then," said Don Tadeo.

The three men plunged into the immense virgin forest which covered the
summit of the mountain, leaving behind them that sinister beacon--a
signal for murder and destruction. On the plain, Don Gregorio, fearing
to advance before he knew what he had positively to trust to, had given
orders to his troops to halt. He did not conceal from himself the
dangers of his position, so that if he fell in the battle he was about
to fight, his honour would be safe and his memory without reproach.

"General," he said, addressing Cornejo, who as well as the senator was
close to him, "you are accustomed to war, are an intrepid soldier, and
I will not conceal from you that we are in a position of peril.

"Oh! oh!" said the general; "explain, Don Gregorio, explain!"

"The Indians are in ambush in great numbers, to dispute the passage of
the defile with us."

"The rascals! Only see now! Why, they will knock us all on the head,"
the general, still calm, said.

"Oh! it is a horrible trap!" the senator cried.

"Caspita! a trap, I believe it is, indeed!" the general continued. "But
you will be able to give us your opinion presently; if, as is not very
probable, you come safely through, my friend."

"But I will not go and run my head into that frightful fox's hole!"
cried Don Ramón, beside himself.

"Bah! you will fight as an amateur, which will be very handsome on your
part."

"Sir," said Don Gregorio, coldly, "so much the worse for you; if you
had remained quietly at Santiago, you would not be in this position."

"That is true, my friend," the general followed up, with a hearty laugh.

"How did it happen that you, who are as great a coward as a hare,
troubled yourself with military politics?"

The senator made no reply to this cruel apostrophe.

"Whatever may happen, can I reckon upon you, general?" Don Gregorio
asked.

"I can only promise you one thing," the old soldier answered, nobly;
"that I will not shrink, and if it should come to that, will sell
my life dearly. As to this cowardly fellow, I undertake to make him
perform prodigies of valour."

At this threat the unhappy senator felt a cold sweat inundate his whole
body. A long column of flame burst from the top of the mountain.

Don Gregorio cried, "Caballeros! Forward! and God protect Chili!"

"Forward!" the general repeated, unsheathing his sword.



CHAPTER X.

THE PASSAGE OF THE DEFILE.


While these things were going on in the defile, a few words exchanged
between Antinahuel and the Linda filled the Toqui with uneasiness, by
making him vaguely suspicious of some treachery.

"What is the matter?" Doña Maria asked.

"Nothing very extraordinary," he replied, carelessly; "some
reinforcements have arrived rather late, upon which I did not reckon."

"Good Heavens!" said Doña Maria, "I have been perhaps deceived by
an extraordinary resemblance; but, if the man I mean were not forty
leagues off, I should declare it is he who commands that troop."

"Let my sister explain herself," said Antinahuel.

"Tell me, in the first place, chief," the Linda continued, "the name of
the warrior to whom you spoke?"

"His name is Joan."

"That is impossible! Joan is at this moment more than forty leagues
from this place, detained by his love for a white woman," the Linda
cried.

"My sister must be mistaken, because I have just been conversing with
him."

"Then he is a traitor!" she said passionately.

The chief's brow became thoughtful.

"This has an awkward appearance," he said. "Can I have been betrayed?"
he added in a deep tone.

"What are you going to do?" the Linda asked, stopping him.

"To demand of Joan an account of his ambiguous conduct."

"It is too late," the Linda continued, pointing with her finger to the
Chilians.

"Oh!" Antinahuel cried, with rage, "woe be to him if he prove a
traitor."

"It is no longer time for recrimination and threats; you must fight."

"Yes," he replied, fervently; "we will fight now. After the victory it
will be time enough to chastise traitors."

The plan of the Araucanos was of the most simple kind: to allow the
Spaniards to enter the defile, then to attack them at once in front and
in rear, whilst the warriors in ambush on the flanks poured down upon
them enormous stones and fragments of rock. A party of the Indians had
bravely thrown themselves both in front and rear of the Spaniards to
bar their passage. Antinahuel sprang up, and encouraging his warriors
with voice and gesture, he rolled down an immense stone amongst his
enemies. All at once a shower of bullets came pattering down upon his
troops. The false Indians, led by Joan, showed themselves, and charged
him resolutely to the cry of "Chili! Chili!"

"We are betrayed!" Antinahuel shouted, "Kill, kill!"

Some horsemen charged in troops at speed, whilst others galloped at
random among the terrified infantry.

The Araucanos did not yield an inch--the Chilians did not advance a
step. The mêlée undulated like the waves of the sea in a tempest; the
earth was red with blood.

The combat had assumed heroic proportions.

At length, by a desperate effort Antinahuel succeeded in breaking
through the close ranks of the enemies who enveloped him, and rushed
into the defile, followed by his warriors, and waving his heavy hatchet
over his head. Black Stag contrived to effect the same movement; but
Joan's Chilian horse advanced from behind the rising ground which had
concealed them, with loud cries, and came on sabring all before them.

The Linda followed closely the steps of Antinahuel, her eyes flashing,
her lips compressed.

"Forward!--forward!" Don Gregorio cried in a voice of thunder.

"Chili! Chili!" the general repeated, cutting down a man at every blow.

More dead than alive, Don Ramón fought like a demon; he waved his
sword, rode down all in his way with the weight of his horse, and
uttered inarticulate cries with the gestures of one possessed.

In the meantime, Don Bustamente snatched a sword from one of the
soldiers, made his horse plunge violently, and dashed forward, crying
with a loud voice--

"To the rescue!--to the rescue!"

To this appeal the Araucanos replied by shouts of joy, and flew towards
him.

"Ay, ay," a scoffing voice cried; "but you are not free yet, Don
Pancho."

General Bustamente turned sharply round, and found himself face to face
with General Cornejo, who had leaped his horse over a heap of dead
bodies. The two men, after exchanging a look of hatred, rushed against
each other with raised swords. The shock was terrible; the two horses
fell with it. Don Pancho received a slight wound in the head; the arm
of General Cornejo was cut through by the weapon of his adversary.
With a bound Don Pancho was again on his feet; General Cornejo would
willingly have been so, likewise, but suddenly a knee pressed heavily
upon his chest, and obliged him to sink upon the ground.

"Pancho! Pancho!" Doña Maria cried, with the laugh of a demon, for it
was she, "see how I kill your enemies!"

Don Pancho had not even heard the exclamation of the courtesan, so
fully was he engaged in defending himself. At the sight of the odious
murder committed by the Linda, Don Ramón shouted--

"Viper! I will not kill you, because you are a woman; but I will mar
your future means of doing evil."

The Linda sank beneath his blow with a shriek of pain; he had slashed
her down the cheek from top to bottom! Her hyena-like cry was so
frightful that it even brought to a pause the combatants engaged around
her. Bustamente heard her, and with one bound of his horse was by the
side of his ancient mistress, whom the wound on her face rendered
hideous. He stooped slightly down, and seizing her by her long hair,
threw her across the neck of his horse; then plunging his spurs into
the animals flanks, he dashed, headforemost, into the thickest of the
_mêlée_. In spite of the efforts of the Chilians to recapture the
fugitive, he succeeded in escaping.

At a signal from Antinahuel, the Indians threw themselves on each side
of the defile, and scaled the rocks with incredible velocity under a
shower of bullets.

The combat was over. The Araucanos had disappeared. The Chilians
counted their losses, and found them great; seventy men had been
killed, and a hundred and forty-three were wounded. Several officers,
among whom was General Cornejo, had fallen. It was in vain they
searched for Joan. The intrepid Indian had become invisible.

Don Gregorio was in despair at the escape of General Bustamente. It was
now useless for Don Gregorio to return to Santiago; on the contrary, it
was urgent that he should return to Valdivia, in order to secure the
tranquillity of that province which would, no doubt, be disturbed by
the news of the generals escape; but, on the other hand, it was quite
as important that the authorities of the capital should be placed upon
their guard. Don Gregorio was in great trouble about choosing a person
whom he could trust with this commission, when the senator came to his
relief. The worthy Don Ramón had finished by taking courage in reality;
he actually, and in good faith, believed himself the most valiant man
in Chili, and, unconsciously, assumed the most ridiculously extravagant
airs. Above all, he burned with the desire of returning to Santiago.

Don Gregorio asked the senator to be the bearer of the double news of
the battle gained over the Indians--a battle in which he, Don Ramón,
had taken so large a share of the glory--and the unexpected escape of
General Bustamente.

Don Ramón accepted with a proud smile of satisfaction a mission in
every way so honourable to him. As soon as the despatches, which Don
Gregorio wrote at once, were ready, he mounted his horse, and, escorted
by fifty lancers, set out for Santiago.



CHAPTER XI.

THE JOURNEY.


After his interview with Don Tadeo, Valentine had scarcely taken time
to bid the young count farewell, but had instantly departed, followed
by Trangoil-Lanec and his inseparable Newfoundland dog.

The morning on which the sanguinary battle we have described was fought
in the Canyon del Rio Seco, Valentine and Trangoil-Lanec were marching
side by side, followed closely by Cæsar. The two men were talking
while they cracked a biscuit, which they washed down from time to time
with a little smilax water, contained in a gourd, which hung at the
girdle of Trangoil-Lanec.

"Why chief," said Valentine, laughing, "you drive me to despair with
your indifference."

"What does my brother mean?" the astonished Indian said.

"Caramba! We are traversing the most ravishing landscape in the world,
and you pay no more attention to all these beauties than to the granite
masses yonder in the horizon."

"My brother is young." Trangoil-Lanec observed: "he is an enthusiast."

"I do not know whether I am an enthusiast or not," replied the young
man, warmly; "I only know this--that nature is magnificent."

"Yes," said the chief, solemnly, "Pillian is great; it is he who made
all things."

"God, you mean, chief; but that is all one; our thought is the same,
and we won't quarrel about a name."

"In my brother's island," the Indian asked curiously, "are there no
mountains and trees?"

"I have already told you, chief, more than once that my country is not
an island, but a land as large as this; there is no want of trees,
thank God! There are even a great many, and as to mountains, we have
some lofty ones, Montmartre among the rest."

"Hum," said the Indian, not understanding.

"Yes!" Valentine resumed, "we have mountains, but compared to these
they are but little hills."

"My land is the most beautiful in the world," the Indian replied
proudly. "Why do the palefaces wish to dispossess us of it."

"There is a great deal of truth in what you say, chief."

"Good!" said the chief; "all men cannot be born in my country."

"That is true, and that is why I was born somewhere else."

Cæsar at this moment growled surlily.

"What is the matter, old fellow?" said Valentine.

Trangoil-Lanec remarked quietly--

"The dog has scented an Aucas."

So it was, for scarcely had he spoken, when an Indian horseman appeared
at the turning of the road. He advanced at full gallop towards the two
men, whom he saluted, and went on his way.

Shortly afterwards the travellers arrived, almost without being aware
of it, at the entrance of the village.

"So now, I suppose, we are at San Miguel?" remarked Valentine.

"Yes," the other replied.

"And is it your opinion that Doña Rosario is no longer here?"

"No," said the Indian, shaking his head. "Let my brother look around
him."

"Well," said the young man, turning his eyes in all directions, "I see
nothing."

"If the prisoner were here, my brother would see warriors and horses;
the village would be alive."

"Corbleu!" thought Valentine; "these savages are wonderful men; they
see everything, they divine everything. Chief," he added, "you are
wise; tell me, I beg of you, who taught you all these things."

The Indian stopped; with a majestic gesture he indicated the horizon to
the young man, and said, in a voice the solemn accent of which made him
start--

"Brother, it was the desert.

"Yes," the Frenchman replied, convinced by these few words; "for it is
there alone that man sees God face to face."

They now entered the village, and, as Trangoil-Lanec had said, it
seemed deserted. They saw a few sick persons, who, reclining upon
sheepskins, were complaining lamemtably.

"Caramba!" said Valentine, much disappointed, "you have guessed so
truly, Chief, that there are even no dogs to bite our heels."

All at once Cæsar sprang forward barking, and, stopping in front of
an isolated hut, began to munch the ground with his claws, uttering
furious cries.

The two men ran hastily towards the hut, and Cæsar continued his
howlings.



CHAPTER XII.

INFORMATION.


When Valentine and Trangoil-Lanec gained the front of the hut, the door
was opened, and a woman presented herself.

This woman had in her countenance a marked expression of mildness,
mixed with a melancholy cast; she appeared to be suffering pain. Her
dress, entirely composed of blue cloth, consisted of a tunic which
fell to her feet, but was very narrow, which makes the women of that
country take short steps; a short mantle, called an ichcha, covered her
shoulders and was crossed upon her breast, where it was drawn together
by means of a silver buckle.

As soon as this woman opened the door, Cæsar rushed so violently into
the interior of the hut that he almost knocked her down in his passage.
She staggered, and was obliged to hold herself up by the wall.

"I know what troubles the animal thus," the woman said mildly; "my
brothers are travellers; let them enter this poor hut, which belongs to
them; their slave will serve them."

So saying, the mistress of the hut stood on one side to allow the
strangers to enter. They found Cæsar crouching in the middle of the
cuarto, with his nose close to the ground, sniffing, snatching, and
growling.

"Good God!" Valentine muttered anxiously, "what has been done here?"

Without saying a word Trangoil-Lanec placed himself close to the dog;
stretched along upon the ground, with his eyes intently fixed upon it,
he examined it as closely as if he thought his glance could penetrate
it. At the end of a minute he arose, and seated himself by Valentine,
who seeing his companion had got a fit of Indian silence, found it
necessary to speak first.

"Well, chief," he asked, "what is there fresh?"

"Nothing," the Ulmen replied; "these traces are at least four days old."

"What traces are you speaking of, chief?"

"Traces of blood."

"Of blood!" the young man cried. "Can Doña Rosario have been
assassinated?"

"No," the chief replied, "if this blood belonged to her, she has only
been wounded; her wound has been dressed."

"Dressed! come, that is too strong, chief!"

"My brother is quick--he does not reflect. Let him look here."

And he opened his right hand, and displayed an object enclosed in it.

"Caramba!" Valentine replied, quite out of humour, "an old dried leaf!
What on earth can that teach?"

"Everything," said the Indian.

"Pardieu? If you can prove that, chief, I shall consider you the
greatest machi in all Araucania."

"It is very simple. This leaf is the oregano leaf; the oregano so
valuable for stopping the effusion of blood."

"Here are traces of blood; a person has been wounded; and on the same
spot I find an oregano leaf: that leaf did not come there of itself,
consequently that person's wounds have been dressed."

The woman now entered, bearing two ox horns full of harina tostada;
they ate their horn of meal heartily, and drank more than one cup of
chicha each. As soon as they had ended this light repast, the Indian
presented the maté to them, which they tossed off with great pleasure,
and then they lit their cigars.

"My sister is kind," Trangoil-Lanec said; "will she talk a minute with
us!"

"I will do as my brothers please."

Valentine took two piastres from his pocket, and presented them to the
woman, saying, "Will my sister permit me to offer her this trifle to
make earrings?"

"I thank my brother," said the poor woman; "my brother is a muruche;
perhaps he is the relation of the young paleface girl who was here?"

"I am not her relation," he said, "I am her friend. I confess that
if my sister can give me any intelligence of her, she will render me
happy."

"Some days ago," said the woman, "a great woman of the palefaces
arrived here towards evening, followed by half a score of mosotones; I
am not well, and that is why, for a month past, I have remained in the
village. This woman asked me to allow her to pass the night in my hut.
Towards the middle of the night there was a great noise of horses in
the village, and several horsemen arrived, bringing with them a young
palefaced maiden of a mild and sad countenance; she was a prisoner to
the other, as I afterwards learnt. I do not know how the young girl
managed it, but she succeeded in escaping. This woman and the Toqui
went in search of the young girl, whom they soon brought back across a
horse, with her head cut. The poor child had fainted; her blood flowed
in abundance; she was in a pitiable state. I do not know what passed,
but the woman suddenly changed her manner of acting towards the young
girl; she dressed her wound, and took the most affectionate care at
her. After that, Antinahuel and the woman departed, leaving the young
girl in my hut, with ten mosotones to guard her. One of these mosotones
told me that the girl belonged to the Toqui, who intended to make her
his wife."

"Yesterday the paleface squaw was much better, and the mosotones set
off with her, about three o'clock."

"And the young girl," Trangoil-Lanec asked, "did she say nothing to my
sister before she departed?"

"Nothing," the woman answered; "the poor child wept; she was unwilling
to go, but they made her get on horseback by threatening to tie her on."

"Which way did they go?" said Trangoil-Lanec.

"The mosotones talked among themselves of the tribe of the Red Vulture."

"Thanks to my sister," the Ulmen replied; "she may retire, the men are
going to hold a council."

The woman arose and left the cuarto.

"Now," the chief asked, "what is my brother's intention?"

"Pardieu! we must follow the track of the ravishers."

"Good! that is also my advice; only, two men are not enough to
accomplish such a project."

"True; but what else are we to do?"

"Not to set out till this evening."

"Why so?"

"Because Curumilla will have rejoined us by that time."

Valentine, knowing that he had several hours to pass in this place,
resolved to take advantage of the opportunity; he stretched himself
upon the ground, placed a stone under his head, closed his eyes,
and fell asleep. Trangoil-Lanec did not sleep, but, with a piece of
cord which he picked up in a corner of the hut, he measured all the
footprints left upon the ground of the hut.

After carefully tying the end of the cord to his belt, he, in his turn,
lay down upon the ground close to Valentine.



CHAPTER XIII.

THE AMBUSCADE


Curumilla and his two companions descended the steep sides of the
Corcovado; if the ascent had been difficult, the descent was not
less so. Everywhere escaped thousands of hideous creatures; and
not unfrequently they caught glimpses of snakes, unfolding their
threatening rings under the dead leaves which on all sides covered the
ground. Sometimes they were obliged to crawl on their knees, at others
to jump from branch to branch.

This painful and fatiguing march lasted nearly three hours. At the end
of that time they found themselves again at the entrance of the grotto
where they had left their horses. The two white men were literally
knocked up, particularly the count. As for Curumilla, he was as fresh
and active as if he had not gone a step. Physical fatigue seems to have
no hold on the iron organisation of the Indians.

"My brothers require test," he said; "we will remain here for them to
recover their strength."

A half hour passed away without a word being exchanged. Curumilla had
disappeared for a time.

When he returned he drew from his belt a small box which he presented
to the count, saying, "Take this."

"Oh!" cried Don Tadeo, joyfully, "coca!"

"Yes," said the Indian, "my father can take some."

"What is all that to do?" said the count.

"My friend," said Don Tadeo, "America is the promised land; its
privileged soil produces everything: as we have the herb of Paraguay,
which is so good a substitute for tea, we have coca, which, I assure
you, advantageously supplies the place of the betel, and has the
faculty of restoring the strength and reviving the courage."

"The deuce!" said the young man. "You are too serious, Don Tadeo,
to leave me for an instant to suppose you wish to impose upon my
credulity; give me quickly, I beg, some of this precious drug."

Don Tadeo held out to the count the coca he had prepared. The latter
put it into his mouth without hesitation. Curumilla, after having
carefully reclosed the box and returned it to his belt, saddled the
horses. All at once a sharp firing was heard.

"What is all that?" Louis cried, springing up.

"The fight beginning," Curumilla replied coolly.

At that moment the cries became redoubled.

"Come!" said Don Tadeo; "one hour's delay cannot cause any great harm
to my daughter."

"To horse, then," said the chief.

As they drew nearer, the noise of the fierce fight that was raging in
the defile became more distinct; they recognised perfectly the war cry
of the Chilians mixed with the howlings of the Araucanos; now and then
bullets were flattened against the trees, or whizzed around them.

"Halt!" cried the Ulmen suddenly.

The horsemen checked their horses, which were bathed in sweat.
Curumilla had conducted his friends to a place which entirely commanded
the outlet of the defile on the side of Santiago. It was a species of
natural fortress, composed of blocks of granite, strangely heaped upon
one another by some convulsion of nature, perhaps an earthquake. These
rocks, at a distance, bore a striking resemblance to a tower; and their
total height was about thirty feet. In a word, it was a real fortress,
from which a siege might be sustained.

"What a fine position," Don Tadeo observed.

They dismounted: Curumilla relieved the horses of their equipments, and
let them loose in the woods. A slight movement was heard from among the
leaves, the boughs of the underwood parted, and a man appeared. The
Ulmen cocked his gun. The man who had so unexpectedly arrived had a
gun thrown on his back, and he had in his hand a sword, crimson to the
hilt. He ran on, looking around him on all sides, not like a man who
is flying, but, on the contrary, as if seeking for somebody. Curumilla
uttered an exclamation of surprise, quitted his hiding place, and
advanced towards the newcomer.

"I was seeking my father," he said earnestly.

"Good!" Curumilla replied; "here I am."

"Let my son follow me," said Curumilla, "we cannot stay here."

The two Indians climbed the rocks, at the summit of which Don Tadeo and
the young count had already arrived.

The two whites were surprised at the presence of the newcomer, who
was no other than Joan; but the moment was not propitious for asking
explanations; the four men hastened to erect a parapet. This labour
completed, they rested for a while.

"When I saw," he said, "that the prisoner had succeeded in escaping, in
spite of the valiant efforts of the men who escorted him. I thought it
would be best you should be acquainted with this news, and I plunged
into the forest, and came in search of you."

"Oh!" said Don Tadeo, "if that man is free, all is lost."

The four men placed themselves, gun in hand, on the edge of the
platform. The number of the fugitives increased every instant. The
whole plain, just before so calm and solitary, presented one of the
most animated spectacles. From time to time men were to be seen
falling, many of them never to rise again; others, more fortunate,
who were only wounded, made incredible efforts to rise. A squadron
of Chilian horsemen came out at a gallop, driving before them the
Araucanos, who still resisted. In advance of this troop a man mounted
on a black horse, across the neck of which a fainting woman was
reclining, was riding with the rapidity of an arrow. He gained ground
constantly upon the soldiers.

"It is he," cried the Don, "it is the general."

At the same time the count and Curumilla fired. The horse stopped
short, reared perfectly upright, fought the air with its forefeet,
appeared to stagger for an instant, and then fell like lead, dragging
its rider down with it.

The Indians, struck with terror at this unexpected attack, redoubled
their speed, and fled across the plain.



CHAPTER XIV.

THE FORTRESS.


"Quick, quick!" the count cried, springing up, "let us secure the
general."

"One instant!" said Curumilla, phlegmatically; "the odds are not equal,
let my brother look."

At the moment a crowd of Indians debouched from the defile. But these
wore a good countenance. Marching in close older, they withdrew step by
step, not like cowards who fled, but like warriors proudly abandoning
a field of battle which they contested no longer, but retreated from
in good order. As a rearguard a platoon of a hundred men sustained
this brave retreat. All at once a fusillade broke out with a sinister
hissing, and some Chilian horsemen appeared, charging at speed.

The Indians, without giving way an inch, received them on the points
of their long lances. Most of the fugitives scattered over the plain
had rallied to their companions and faced the enemy. There was during
a few minutes a hand-to-hand fight, in which our adventurers wished
to take a part. Four shots were suddenly fired from the temporary
fortress, the summit of which was covered with a wreath of smoke. The
two Indian chiefs rolled upon the ground. The Araucanos uttered a loud
cry of terror and rage, and rushed forward to prevent the carrying off
of their fallen chiefs. But with the quickness of lightning Antinahuel
and Black Stag abandoned their horses and sprang up, brandishing their
weapons, and shouting their war cry.

The Chilians, whose intention was only to drive back their enemies
out of the defile, retired in good older, and soon disappeared. The
Araucanos continued their retreat.

General Bustamente had disappeared some time before.

"We can continue our route," said Don Tadeo rising. "You see the plain
is clear; the Araucanos and the Chilians have retired each their own
way.

"There are too many eyes concealed there," said Curumilla, pointing to
the forest.

"You are mistaken, chief," Don Tadeo objected; "the Araucanos have been
beaten. Why should they persist in remaining here, where they have no
longer anything to do?"

"My father is not acquainted with the warriors of my nation," Curumilla
replied; "they never leave enemies behind them, when they have any hope
of destroying them."

"Which means?" Don Tadeo interrupted.

"That Antinahuel has been wounded, and will not depart without
vengeance."

Don Tadeo was struck with the just reasoning of the Indian.

"For all that, we cannot remain here," said the young man. "It is
incontestable that in a few days we shall fall into the hands of these
demons."

"Yes," said Curumilla.

"Well, I confess," the count continued, "that this prospect is not
flattering. But I think there exists no position so bad that men cannot
be extricated from."

"Does my brother know any means?" the Ulmen asked.

"In two hours night will be here. Then, when the Indians have fallen
asleep, we will depart silently."

"Indians do not sleep," said Curumilla, coolly.

"The devil!" the young man exclaimed; "if it must be so, we will pass
over their dead bodies."

"I allow," said Don Tadeo, "that this plan does not appear to me
absolutely hopeless, I think, towards the middle of the night we might
try to put it into execution."

"Good!" replied Curumilla, "I will act as my brothers please."

Since the departure of Valentine in the morning, the four men had not
had time to eat, and hunger began to assert its claims, therefore they
took advantage of the repose the enemy allowed them to satisfy it. The
repast consisted of nothing but harina tostada soaked in water--rather
poor food, but which want of better made our adventurers think
excellent.

They were abundantly furnished with provisions--in fact, by economizing
them, they had enough for a fortnight; but all the water they possessed
did not exceed six leather bottles full, therefore it was thirst which
they had most to dread.

The sun declined rapidly towards the horizon; the sky, by degrees,
assumed the darkest line; the tops of the distant mountains became lost
in thick clouds of mist--in short, everything announced that night
would shortly cover the earth.

A troop composed of fifty Chilian lancers issued from the defile; on
gaining the plain they diverged slightly to the left, and took the
route that led to Santiago.

"They are palefaces," said Curumilla, coolly.

These horsemen formed the escort which Don Gregorio had assigned to Don
Ramón, to accompany him to Santiago. All at once a horrible war cry,
repeated by the echoes of the Quebradas, resounded close to them, and a
cloud of Araucanos assailed them on all sides at once.

The Spaniards, taken by surprise, and terrified by the suddenness
of the attack, offered but a feeble resistance. The Indians pursued
them inveterately, and soon all were killed or taken. Then, as if by
enchantment. Indians and Chilians all disappeared, and the plain once
more became calm and solitary.

"Well," said Curumilla to Don Tadeo, "what does my father think now.
Have the Indians gone?"

"You are right, chief, I cannot but allow. Alas!" he added, "who will
save my daughter?"

"I will, please Heaven!" cried the count. "Listen to me. We have
committed the incredible folly of thrusting ourselves into this
rathole; we must get out, cost what it may; if Valentine were here his
inventive genius would find us means, I am convinced. I will bring him
back with me."

"Yes," said Curumilla, "my paleface brothers are right; our friend is
indispensable to us: a man shall go, but that man shall he Joan."

With his knife Curumilla cut off a piece of his poncho, about four
fingers in width, and gave it to Joan, saying--"My son will give this
to Trangoil-Lanec, that he may know from whom he comes."

"Good!" said Joan; "where shall I find the chief?"

"In the toldería of San Miguel."

The three men shook hands with him warmly. The Indian bowed, and began
to descend. By the last glimpses of daylight they saw him creep along
to the first trees of the mountain of Corcovado; when there, he turned
round, waved his hand to them, and disappeared in the high grass. A
gunshot, then, almost immediately followed by a second, resounded in
the direction taken by their emissary.

"He is dead!" the count cried in despair.

"Perhaps he is!" replied Curumilla, after some hesitation; "but my
brother may now perceive that we are really surrounded."

"That is true!" Don Tadeo murmured. And he let his head sink down into
his hands.



CHAPTER XV.

PROPOSALS.


Don Tadeo and his companions set to work to fortify themselves. They
raised a sort of wall, by piling stones upon one another to the height
of eight feet; and as in that country the dews are very heavy, by means
of Curumilla's lance, and that of Joan, which he had left behind him,
they established something like a tent, by stretching upon them two
ponchos.

These labours occupied the greater part of the night. Towards three
o'clock in the morning Curumilla approached his two companions, who
were struggling in vain against the sleep and fatigue that oppressed
them.

"My brothers can sleep for a few hours," he said.

The two men threw themselves down on the horsecloths and very soon were
fast asleep. Curumilla now glided down the declivity of the rocks, and
arrived at the base of the fortress.

The chief took off his poncho, stretched himself on the ground, and
covered himself with it. This precaution being taken, he took his
mechero from his belt, and struck the flint without fearing, thanks to
the means of concealment he had adopted, that the sparks should be seen
in the darkness. As soon as he had procured a light, he collected some
dry leaves at the foot of a bush, blew patiently to kindle the fire
till the smoke had assumed a certain consistency, then crept away as he
had come, and regained the summit of the rocks. His companions still
slept.

"Hugh!" he said to himself, with satisfaction, "we need not now be
afraid that the marksmen will hide in the bushes beneath us."

Shortly a red light gleamed through the darkness, which increased by
degrees. The flames gained so rapidly that the summit of the mountain
appeared almost immediately to be on fire.

The object Curumilla had proposed to himself was attained; places which
an hour before had offered excellent shelter had become completely
exposed. Don Tadeo and the count, awakened by the cries of the Indians,
naturally thought an attack was being made, and hastily joined the
Ulmen.

"Eh!" said Don Tadeo, "who lighted this bonfire?"

"I!" Curumilla replied; "see how the half-roasted bandits are scuttling
away!"

His two companions took part in his glee.

From want of aliment, the fire was extinguished as rapidly as it had
been lighted, and the adventurers turned their eyes towards the plain.
They uttered a simultaneous cry of surprise and alarm. By the first
rays of the rising sun, and the dying flames of the conflagration, they
perceived an Indian camp surrounded by a wide ditch.

"Hum!" said the count, "I do not see how we shall extricate ourselves."

"Look there!" Don Tadeo exclaimed, "it seems as if they wanted to
demand a parley. Let us hear what they have to say."

Several men had left the camp, and these men were unarmed. One of them,
with his right hand, waved over his head one of those starred flags
which serve the Araucanos as standards.

"Let one of you come down," a voice shouted, which Don Tadeo recognised
as that of General Bustamente, "in order that we may lay before you our
conditions."

"If one of us descends," said the count, "will he be at liberty to
rejoin his companions if your proposals are not accepted?"

"Yes," the general replied, "on the honour of a soldier."

"I will come," the young man cried.

He then laid down his arms, and with the activity of a chamois, leaped
from rock to rock and at the end of five minutes found himself face to
face with the leaders of the enemy. They were four: Antinahuel, Black
Stag, Bustamente and another. The general and Antinahuel had wounds in
the head and the breast, while Black Stag wore his arm in a sling.

"Caballero," said Don Pancho, with a half smile, "the sun is very hot
here; are you willing to follow us to the camp? You have nothing to
fear."

"Señor," the young man replied, haughtily, "I fear nothing--my actions
might satisfy you of that. I will follow."

"If you are afraid, señor," said the general, "you can return."

"General," retorted the young man, haughtily. "I have your word of
honour, besides which there is one thing you are ignorant of."

"What is that, señor?"

"That I am a Frenchman, general."

"Your hand, señor," he said; "you are a brave young man, and it will
not be my fault, I swear to you, if you do not go back satisfied."

The five personages now proceeded silently for several minutes through
the camp, till they came to a tent much larger than the rest, where
a number of long lances tied together, with scarlet pennons at their
points, stuck in the ground, denoted that it was the hut of a chief.
Buffalo skulls, lying here and there, served as seats. In one corner,
upon a heap of dry leaves, reclined a woman, with her head enveloped
in bandages. This was the Linda. She appeared to be sleeping. On the
entrance of the party, however, a flash of her wild-looking eye gleamed
through the darkness of the hut.

Everyone seated himself, as well as he could, upon a skull. When all
were placed, the general said, in a short, clear manner--

"Now, then, señor, let us know upon what conditions you will agree to
surrender?"

"Your pardon, señor," the young man answered; "we do not agree to
surrender on any conditions whatever. It is you who have proposals to
make."



CHAPTER XVI.

THE MESSENGER.


Joan remained a short time, crouched in the high grass, reflecting.
Presently he began to run. Satisfied that he was alone, he unrolled
his lasso, pulled out the running noose, and fastened it to the end of
a bush. Upon this bush he tied his hat so that it could not fall; he
then retreated with great caution, unrolling his lasso as he went. When
he had gained the extremity of the lasso, he drew it gently, by little
pulls, towards him, giving a slight oscillating movement to the bush.

This movement was perceived by the sentinels; they sprang towards the
bush, saw the hat, and fired. In the meantime, Joan scampered away,
with the swiftness of a guanaco.

He arrived within sight of San Miguel at three o'clock in the morning.
When he entered the toldería, shadow and silence prevailed on all
sides; the inhabitants were asleep, a few dogs were baying the moon; he
did not know how to find the men he was in search of, when the door of
a hut opened, and two men, followed by an enormous Newfoundland dog,
appeared upon the road.

Joan remembered having seen at Valdivia, with the Frenchmen, a dog like
the one that had given him so formidable a welcome; and, being a man of
prompt resolution, he formed his without hesitation, and cried with a
loud voice--

"Are you the Muruche, the friend of Curumilla?"

"Curumilla!" Trangoil-Lanec exclaimed, as he drew nearer; "if he sends
you to us, you must have something to report to us?"

"Are you the persons I seek?" Joan asked.

"Yes, but in the hut, and by the light of a candle, we shall recognise
each other better than here."

The three men entered the hut, followed by the dog. Without losing
time, Trangoil-Lanec took out his mechero, struck a light, and lit a
candle.

"Good!" he said, "it is he whom Curumilla once sent to Valdivia."

"Yes," Joan replied.

Joan pressed that loyal hand, Trangoil-Lanec turned towards Joan,
saying--

"I expected last night, at sunset, the arrival of Curumilla and two
friends."

Joan bowed respectfully, and drew from his belt the piece of stuff
which Curumilla had sent.

"A piece of Curumilla's poncho!" Trangoil-Lanec exclaimed violently.
"Of what terrible news are you the bearer?"

"The news I bring is bad; nevertheless, at the time I left them,
Curumilla and his companions were in safety, and unwounded."

"Curumilla cut this piece off his poncho, saying, as he gave it to me,
'Go and find my brothers, show them this stuff, then they will believe
you.' I set out, I have travelled twelve leagues since sunset, and here
I am."

Joan then made the recital they required of him, to which Valentine and
the Ulmen listened with the greatest attention.

What was to be done? These three indomitable men found themselves
opposed by an impossibility, which rose implacable and terrible before
them. Valentine was the first to decide.

"Good Heavens!" he exclaimed, "since we have nothing left but to die
with our friends, let us hasten to join them."

"Come, then," the two Indians replied. They left the hut just as the
sun was rising.

The two men leaned into their saddles. Then commenced a desperate
journey. It lasted six hours, then in sight of Corcovado.

"Here we must dismount," said Joan.

The horses were abandoned, and the three companions began to climb the
mountain.

"Wait here for me," said Joan; "I will see how the land lies after a
while."

His companions threw themselves on the ground, and he crept away.
Instead of ascending higher, the Indian soon disappeared behind one
of the numerous masses of granite. His absence was so long, that his
friends were preparing to resume their march, at whatever risk, when
they saw him come running quickly.

"Well, what is going on?" Valentine asked. "What makes you have such a
joyful countenance?"

"Curumilla," Joan replied, "has burnt the forest behind the rocks."

"What good advantage can that conflagration procure us?"

"An immense one. The warriors of Antinahuel were concealed among the
bushes and beneath the trees; they have been forced to retire."

"Come on, then," cried Valentine.

"Let us be gone," said Valentine, "it will be hard if, with the
assistance of these three resolute men, I cannot save my poor Louis."

Followed by his dog Cæsar, who looked at him, wagging his tail, he
followed Trangoil-Lanec, who trod in the steps of Joan. In twenty
minutes they found themselves at the foot of the rocks, from which Don
Tadeo and Curumilla made them joyous signals of welcome.



CHAPTER XVII.

IN THE WOLF'S MOUTH.


We are compelled to interrupt our recital here to relate the various
incidents that took place in the camp of the Aucas, after the battle
with the Spaniards.

The men placed in ambush at the top of the rocks had made them suffer
serious losses. The principal leader, who had escaped safe and sound
from the desperate fight of the morning, had been grievously wounded,
struck by invisible hands. General Bustamente, thrown from his horse,
had received a bullet, which, fortunately for him, had inflicted only a
flesh wound. Don Pancho was carried fainting off the field of battle,
and concealed in the woods, as was the Linda.

"What line of conduct will my brother pursue?" the general asked.

"The Great Eagle has my word," the chief replied, with an ambiguous
look; "let him keep his word."

"I have no double tongue," the general said; "let me regain my power,
and I will restore to the people the territory which once belonged to
them."

"In that case, let my father command," replied Antinahuel.

A proud smile curled the lips of the general; he perceived all was not
lost.

"Where are we?" he asked.

"In ambush In front of the palefaces who so roughly saluted us an hour
ago."

"And what is my brother's intention?"

"To capture them somehow," Antinahuel replied.

After speaking these words, he bowed to the general and retired. Don
Pancho remained plunged in serious reflection.

He turned round with surprise, and with difficulty repressed a cry of
horror--it was Doña Maria, her clothes torn and stained with blood and
dirt, and her face enveloped in bandages and bloody linen.

"I appear horrible to you, Don Pancho," she said, in a low voice.

"Señora;" the general began, warmly; but she interrupted him.

"Do not debase yourself by a lie unworthy of you and of me."

"Señora, I beg you to believe----"

"You no longer love me, I tell you, Don Pancho," she replied, bitterly;
"besides, have I not sacrificed everything to you? I had nothing left
but my beauty--I gave you that, joyfully."

"I will not reply to the disguised recriminations you address to me."

"Oh, a truce with these trivialities," she interrupted violently. "If
love can no longer unite us, hatred can, we have the same enemy."

"Don Tadeo de León," he said angrily.

"Yes--Don Tadeo de León."

"Ah! I am free now!" he shouted in a furious tone.

"Thanks to me," she said pointedly.

"Yes," he replied, "that is true."

"Such are women. You are aware of the ability and cool bravery of your
enemy; if you give him time, in a few days he will become a colossus."

"Yes," he murmured, as if speaking to himself, "I know it, I feel it."

"Hark!" she said, leaning her head forward, "do you hear that noise?"

There was a great commotion in the wood; it was the escort of Don Ramón
being surrounded.

Antinahuel shortly appeared, leading in Don Ramón Sandias. On
perceiving the Linda he gave a start of terror.

"Miserable scoundrel!" cried the general.

"Hold!" said the Linda.

"What! do _you_ defend this man?" the astonished general exclaimed.
"The accomplice of Cornejo, it was he who inflicted upon you that
frightful wound."

"Oh! I know all that," the Linda replied with a smile; "but I forget
and forgive Don Ramón Sandias."

"Very well," he said, "since you desire it, Doña Maria; I pardon as you
do."

The senator could not believe his ears; but, at all hazards, he seized
the extended hand, and shook it with all his might, Antinahuel smiled
contemptuously.

"If this is the case," he said, "I will leave you together; it is
useless to bind the prisoner."


"Oh! my dear benefactors!" exclaimed Don Ramón, rushing towards them.

"Stop a bit, caballero!" cried Don Pancho; "we must now have a little
talk together."

At which words the senator stopped in confusion.

"You are aware, are you not, that you are perfectly in our power!" said
the Linda.

"Now," the general added, "answer categorically the questions which
will be put to you."

"How came you here?"

"I have just been surprised by the Indians."

"Where were you going?"

"To Santiago."

"Alone?"

"Oh, Lord! no; I had an escort of fifty horsemen."

"What were you going to do at Santiago?"

"Alas! I am tired of politics: my intention was to retire to my quinta
in the bosom of my family."

"Had you no other object?" the general asked.

"I was only charged with a despatch; here it is."

The general seized it, broke the seal, and rapidly read its contents.

"Bah!" he said, crushing the paper, "there is not even common sense in
this despatch."

Doña Maria put an end to this by saying--

"Go to Antinahuel, Don Pancho; he must demand an interview with the
adventurers who are perched like owls at the summit of the rocks."

"I will, as you desire it so earnestly."

The general succeeded; when he rejoined the Linda, she was terminating
her conversation with the senator, by saying to him in a sardonic
voice--

"Manage it as well as you are able, my dear señor; if you fail, I will
give you up to the Indians."

"Hum!" said the terrified senator; "and if they learn it is I who have
done that, what will happen?"

"You will be burnt."

"Demonios! the prospect is not an agreeable one."



CHAPTER XVIII.

THE CAPITULATION.


Let us return to the hut of council, into which the count had been
introduced by the general. Don Bustamente had too much personal courage
not to like and appreciate that quality in another. Bowing he said,
"Your observation is perfectly just, señor----"

"Count de Prébois-Crancé;" the Frenchman finished the sentence with a
bow.

"Before any other question," said Don Pancho, "permit me, count, to
ask you how you have become personally mixed up with the men we are
besieging?"

"In the simplest way possible, señor," Louis replied, with an arch
smile, "I am travelling with some friends and servants; yesterday the
noise of a battle reached our ears; I naturally inquired what was going
on; after this, several Spanish soldiers, running away along the crest
or the mountains, intrenched themselves on the rock where I had myself
sought refuge. The battle begun in the defile was continued on the
plain; the soldiers, listening to nothing but their courage, fired upon
their enemy."

The general and the senator knew perfectly what degree of faith to
place in the veracity of this narration, in which, nevertheless, as men
of the world, they had the appearance of placing the utmost alliance.

"So then, count," the general replied, "you are head of the garrison?"

"Yes, señor--"

"General Don Pancho Bustamente."

"And is this garrison numerous?" he resumed.

"Hum! tolerably so."

"Some thirty men, perhaps?" said the general, with an insinuating smile.

"Thereabouts," the count replied, without hesitation.

The general rose.

"What, count," he exclaimed, with feigned anger, "do you pretend, with
thirty men, to resist the five hundred Araucano warriors who surround
you?"

"Any why not?" the young man replied coolly.

"Why, it is madness!" the general replied.

"Not at all, señor, it is courage."

The general knitted his brow, for the interview was taking a direction
not at all agreeable to him: he resumed, "these are my conditions; you,
count, and all the Frenchmen that accompany you, shall free to retire;
but Chilians and Aucas, whoever may be found among your troop, shall be
immediately given up."

The count's brow became clouded; he, however, bowed to all present with
great courtesy, but then walked resolutely straight out of the hut.

"Where are you going, señor?" the general said, "and why do you leave
us thus suddenly?"

"Señor," the count remarked, "after such a proposal reply is useless."

Whilst speaking thus the count kept walking on, and the five persons
had left the camp, in some sort without perceiving it, and found
themselves at a very short distance from the improvised citadel.

"Stay, señor," the general observed; "before refusing, you ought, at
least, to warn your companions."

"You are right, general," said the count.

He took out his pocketbook, wrote a few words on one of the leaves,
tore it out, and folded it.

"You shall be satisfied on the spot," he added. "Throw down a lasso!"
he cried, with a loud voice.

Almost immediately a long leathern cord passed through one of the
crevices, and came floating to within a foot of the ground. The count
took a stone, enveloped it in the sheet of paper, and tied the whole to
the end of the lasso, which was quickly drawn up.

"You will soon have an answer," he said.

All at once the moveable fortifications heaped upon the rock
disappeared at if by enchantment, and the platform appeared covered
with Chilian soldiers armed with muskets; a little in advance of them
stood Valentine and his dog Cæsar.

"Count!" Valentine cried, in a voice that sounded like a trumpet,
"in the name of your companions, you have very properly rejected
the shameful proposals made to you; we are here a hundred and fifty
resolute men, resolved to perish rather than accept them."

"That is understood," he cried to Valentine; then addressing the
chief--"You see," he said, "my companions are of my opinion."

"What does my brother wish then?" Antinahuel demanded.

"Pardieu! simply to go away," the young man replied.

Antinahuel, Black Stag, and the general consulted for a moment; then
Antinahuel said--"We agree to your terms; my young paleface brother is
a great heart."

"That is well," the count replied; "you are a brave warrior, chief, and
I thank you; but I have still one favour to ask you."

"Let my brother explain; if I can grant it I will," Antinahuel observed.

"Well!" the young man replied; "you yesterday took many prisoners--give
them up to me."

"Those prisoners are free," the Toqui said with a forced smile; "they
have already rejoined their brothers."

Louis now understood whence the unexpected increase of the garrison had
come.

"I have nothing more to do, then, but to retire," he continued.

"Oh! your pardon! your pardon!" the senator exclaimed, "I was one of
the prisoners!"

"That is true," Don Pancho observed; "what does my brother say?"

"Oh! let the man go," Antinahuel replied.

Don Ramón did not require this to be repeated; he followed the count
closely. Louis bowed courteously to the chiefs, and regained the summit
of the rock, where his companions awaited him with great anxiety.

A few hours later the gorge had fallen back again into its customary
solitude, which was alone troubled at intervals by the flight of
condors, or the terrified course of guanacos.



CHAPTER XIX.

THE APPEAL.


The Araucanos had faithfully observed the conditions of the treaty;
and the Chilians quietly retired, without perceiving a single enemy's
scout. They took the road to Valdivia. But it was night; the darkness
which enveloped the earth confounded all objects, and rendered the
march exceedingly painful. The tired horses advanced with difficulty,
stumbling at every step. Valentine dreaded with reason, losing his way
in the darkness; when they arrived, therefore, on the bank of a river,
which he recognised as that which, a few days before, had been the spot
where the treaties had been renewed, he halted and encamped for the
night. Everyone rummaging in his alforjas, a species of large pockets,
drew forth the charqui and harina tostada which were to comprise his
supper. The repasts of men fatigued with a long journey are short, for
sleep is their principal want. An hour later, with the exception of the
sentinels, who watched over the common safety, all the soldiers were
sleeping soundly. Seven men alone, seated round an immense fire, in the
centre of the camp, were talking and smoking.

"My friends," said Valentine, taking his cigar from his mouth, "we are
not far, I think, from Valdivia."

"Scarcely ten leagues," Joan replied.

"I believe, with deference to better advice," Valentine continued,
"that we shall do best before we take that rest of which we stand so
much in need, to examine our position."

All bowed in sign of assent.

"What occasion is there for discussion, my friend?" said Don Tadeo
warmly; "tomorrow, at daybreak, we will proceed toward the mountains,
leaving the soldiers to continue their march to Valdivia, under the
conduct of Don Ramón."

"That is the best plan," said the senator: "we are all well armed;
the few leagues before us present no appearance of serious danger:
tomorrow, at daybreak, we will separate."

"Now then, I will ask our Araucano friends," Valentine went on, "if
they still intend to follow us?"

"It is now a long time since my brothers quitted their village; they
may have a desire to see their wives and children again."

"My brother has spoken well," said Trangoil-Lanec: "his is a loyal
heart; when he speaks his heart is always on his lips, so that his
voice comes to my ear like the melodious song of the maukawis. I am
happy when I listen to him. Trangoil-Lanec is one of the chiefs of his
nation. Antinahuel is not his friend! Trangoil-Lanec will follow his
paleface friend wherever he may go."

"Thanks, chief; I was sure of your answer."

"Good!" said Curumilla, "my brother will say no more upon the subject."

"Faith, not I!" Valentine answered gaily; "I am but too happy to have
terminated the affair."

Here Cæsar, who had been crouching comfortably near the fire, began to
bark furiously.

"Hello!" said Valentine, "what is going to happen now?"

Everyone listened anxiously, whilst seeking his arms instinctively.

"To arms!" Valentine commanded in a low voice; "We know not with whom
we may have to do, it is as well to be on our guard."

In a few minutes all the camp was roused. The noise drew nearer and
nearer.

"¿Quién vive?" the sentinel cried.

"Chile!" replied a powerful voice.

"¿Qué gente?" went on the soldier.

"Gente de paz," said the voice, and immediately added, "Don Gregorio
Peralta."

"Come on! come on!" cried Valentine.

"Caspita! caballeros," Don Gregorio replied warmly, shaking the hands
that were on all sides held out to him--"what a fortunate chance."

With Don Gregorio thirty horsemen entered the camp.

"What do you mean by 'quickly?'" Don Tadeo asked. "Were you in search
of us, my friend?"

"Caray! It was expressly to find you that I left Valdivia a few hours
ago."

"I do not understand you," said Don Tadeo.

Don Gregorio did not appear to notice him, but, making a sign to the
two Frenchmen and Don Tadeo to follow him, he retired a few paces.

"You have asked me why I sought you, Don Tadeo;" he continued,
"Yesterday I set out, sent to you by our brothers, the patriots, and by
all the Dark Hearts of Chili, of whom you are the leader and the king,
with the mission to repeat this to you when I met with you: 'King of
Darkness, our country is in danger! One man alone can save it; that man
is yourself."

Don Tadeo made no reply; he seemed a prey to a poignant grief.

"Listen to the news I bring you," Don Gregorio continued. "General
Bustamente has escaped!"

"I knew he had," he murmured faintly.

"Yes; but what you do not know is, that the scoundrel has succeeded in
winning the Araucanos to his interests."

"This news----" objected Don Tadeo.

"Is certain," Don Gregorio interrupted warmly; "a faithful spy has
brought it to us."

"You know, my friend, I resigned all power into your hands."

"When you resigned the power into my hands, Don Tadeo, the enemy
was conquered and a prisoner--the liberty was victorious: but now
everything is changed. The peril is greater than ever."

"My friend," Don Tadeo replied, with an accent of profound sadness,
"another voice calls me likewise."

"Public safety is superior to family affections! Remember your oath!"
said Don Gregorio sternly.

"But my daughter!--my poor child!--the only comfort I possess!" he
exclaimed.

"Remember your oath, King of Darkness!" Don Gregorio repeated with the
same solemnity of voice.

"Oh!" the unhappy father exclaimed, "will you not have pity on a
parent?"

"It is well," Don Gregorio replied with asperity. "I will go back, Don
Tadeo. For ten years we have sacrificed everything for the cause you
now betray; we know how to die for that liberty which you abandon!
Farewell, Don Tadeo! The Chilian people will succumb, but you will
recover your daughter. Farewell! I know you no longer!"

"Oh, stop! stop!" Don Tadeo cried, "Retract those frightful words! I
will die with you! Let us be gone!--Let us be gone! My daughter!" he
added--"pardon me!"

"Oh! I have found my brother again!" Don Gregorio exclaimed. "No! with
such a champion liberty can never perish!"

"Don Tadeo," Valentine cried, "go where duty calls you; I swear to you
by my God that we will restore your daughter to you!

"Yes." said the count, pressing his hand, "if we perish in the attempt!"

Don Gregorio was not willing to pass the night in the camp. Every
horseman took a foot soldier behind him, and set off, as fast as their
horses could bear their double load, on their way to Valdivia.

The troop of Chilians soon disappeared, and there remained in the camp
only Valentine, the count, Curumilla, Joan, and Trangoil-Lanec.

The five adventurers wrapped themselves in their ponchos, lay down with
their feet to the fire, and went to sleep under the guardianship of
Cæsar.



CHAPTER XX.

THE COUNCIL.


About midnight the storm broke out, but towards morning the hurricane
became a little calmer, and the sun on rising, quite dispersed it. It
was then that the five adventurers were able to discover the disasters
produced by the tempest; some trees were broken and twisted like
straws, while others, uprooted by the blast, lay with their roots
in the air. The prairie was one vast marsh. The river, generally so
calm, so limpid, so inoffensive, had invaded everything, rolling
muddy waters, laying flat grass and plants, and digging deep ravines.
Valentine congratulated himself on having in the evening established
his camp upon the declivity of the mountain instead of descending into
the plain, swallowed up by the furious waters.

The first care of the travellers was to rekindle their fire.
Trangoil-Lanec looked about for a large flat stone. Upon this stone
he laid a bed of leaves, with which the fire was at length lighted.
Upon the damp earth it would have been impossible to obtain any. Soon
a column of clear flame ascended towards the heavens, and revived the
courage of the travellers. When breakfast was ended, gaiety returned,
the sufferings or the night were forgotten, and the five men only
thought of past miseries as an encouragement to support patiently those
which still awaited them. Valentine began--

"We were wrong last night," he said, "to let Don Tadeo leave us."

"Why so?" Louis asked.

"Good Heavens! we were at that moment under the effects of a terrible
impression, and did not reflect on one thing which has just occurred to
me."

"And what is that?"

"This: as soon as Don Tadeo has accomplished the duties of a good
citizen, it is evident to all of us that he will resign immediately a
power he has accepted quite against his will."

"That is evident enough."

"What, then, will be his most anxious desire?"

"To set off in search of his daughter," said Louis.

"Or to join us."

"That is all the same thing."

"Granted; but there an impassable obstacle will rise."

"And what can that be?"

"The want of a guide to conduct him to us."

"That is true," the four men exclaimed.

"What is to be done?" Louis asked.

"Fortunately," Valentine continued, "it is not yet too late. Don Tadeo
requires to have with him a man entirely devoted to him, perfectly
acquainted with the country we propose to search, who could follow us
on our track."

"Yes," said Trangoil-Lanec.

"Well," Valentine resumed, "that man is Joan."

"That is true," the Indian observed, "I will be his guide."

"Joan will leave us, I will give him a letter which Louis will write,
and in which I will inform Don Tadeo of the mission with which our
friend is charged."

"Good," said Curumilla, "our friend thinks of everything; let Louis
write the letter."

"Well," cried Valentine, "now I think of it, it is all the better that
this idea did not occur to me before."

"Why so?" said Louis in astonishment.

"Because poor Don Tadeo will be so happy to hear from us."

"That is true," said the count.

"Is it not? Well then, write the note, brother."

The count did not require to be told twice, but set to work
immediately, Joan on his side.

"Brother," Valentine said to him on giving him the note, which the
Indian concealed under the ribbon which bound his hair, "I have no
instructions to give you; you are an experienced warrior."

"Has my brother nothing to say to me?" Joan replied, with a smile. "I
leave my heart with you; I shall know where to find it again."

He bowed to his friends; then the brave Indian departed rapidly,
bounding like a guanaco through the high grass.

"Brave fellow!" Valentine exclaimed, as he re-seated himself before the
fire.

"He is a warrior," Trangoil-Lanec said proudly.

"Now, chief," continued the spahi, "suppose we have a little chat."

"I listen to my brother."

"Well, I will explain myself; the task we have undertaken is a
difficult one! I would even add, it is impossible, if we had not you
with us; Louis and I, notwithstanding our courage, would be obliged to
renounce it; for in this country, the eyes of the white man, however
good they may be, are powerless to direct him."

Trangoil-Lanec reflected for a few minutes, and then replied--

"My brother has spoken well; yes, the route is long and bristling with
perils, but let my pale brothers leave it to us; brought up in the
desert, it has no mysteries for us."

"That is exactly what I mean, chief," said Valentine; "as to us, we
have only to obey."

"This point agreed upon," the count observed, "there is another not
less important."

"What is that point, brother?" Valentine asked.

"That of knowing which way we are to direct our course, and when we
shall set off."

"Immediately," Trangoil-Lanec replied; "only we ought to adopt a line
from which we will not deviate."

"That is reasoning like a prudent man, chief; submit your observations
to us."

"I think," said Trangoil-Lanec, "that to recover the track of the pale
blue-eyed maiden, we must return to San Miguel."

"That is my opinion," said Valentine; "I cannot, indeed, see how we can
do otherwise."

Curumilla shook his head dissentingly.

"No," he said, "that track would mislead us."

The two Frenchmen looked at him with astonishment, whilst
Trangoil-Lanec continued smoking.

"I do not comprehend you, chief," said Valentine.

"Let my brothers listen," exclaimed Curumilla. "Antinahuel is a
powerful and formidable chief; he is the greatest of the Araucano
warriors. He has declared war against the palefaces; this war he will
carry on cruelly, because he has with him a Huincas man and woman,
who, for their own purposes, will urge him to invade their country.
Antinahuel will assemble his warriors, but he will not return to his
village. The blue-eyed maiden was carried off by the woman with a
viper's heart, in order to induce the chief to enter upon this war. In
order to discover the track of the female puma, the hunters follow that
of the male; to find the track of the maiden, we must follow that of
Antinahuel."

He ceased, reclined his head upon his breast, and waited.

"In good truth," said the count, "the reasons the chief has given seem
good."

"Yes," Valentine added, "I believe that my brother Curumilla has hit
the mark. It is evident that Antinahuel loves Doña Rosario, and that it
was for the purpose of giving her up to him that that hideous creature
had the poor girl carried off. What do you think, Trangoil-Lanec?"

"Curumilla is one of the most prudent Ulmens of his nation; he has the
courage of the jaguar and the cunning of the fox. He alone has judged
properly."

"Let us then follow the track of Antinahuel," said Valentine gaily.
"That will not be difficult."

Trangoil-Lanec shook his head.

"My brother is mistaken; we will follow the track of Antinahuel, but we
will do so after the Indian fashion."

"That is to say?"

"In the air."

"Pardieu!" Valentine said, stupefied.

The chief could not help smiling.

"If we were to blindly follow the track of the Toqui," he said, "as he
has two days in advance of us, and he is on horseback, and we on foot."

"Caramba!" said the young man, "that is true. I did not think of that.
How can we procure horses?"

"We do not require any in the mountains; we travel more quickly on
foot. We will cut the track in a straight line; every time we fall in
with it we will carefully note its direction, and we will continue
acting thus till we feel certain of finding that of the pale maiden."

"Yes," Valentine replied; "your plan is ingenious; you are certain not
to lose your way or your time."

"Let my brother be satisfied on those points."

"Tell me, travelling thus, as the bird flies, when do you think we are
likely to overtake the man?"

"By the evening of the day after tomorrow."

"What! so quickly as that? It is incredible!"

"My brother will reflect; whilst our enemy will travel four leagues
across the plain, by following the road we are about to take, we shall
travel eight on the mountains."

"Pardieu! we must apply to you to know how to overcome distance. Act
exactly as you think best, chief."

"Shall we start at once, then?" Valentine asked.

"Not yet," replied the Ulmen; "everything is a guide in the desert; if
it should happen that we who pursue, should, in our turn, be pursued,
your boots would betray us. Take them off, and the Araucano warriors
will be blind."

Without making a reply, Valentine took off his boots, and took
moccasins.

"Now," said the Parisian, laughing, "I suppose I may as well throw the
boots into the river."

"By no means, my brother!" Trangoil-Lanec replied seriously; "the boots
must be taken care of."

The two young men had each a leathern knapsack, which they carried on
their shoulders, and containing their absolute necessaries. Without a
word, they fastened the boots to the knapsack, and buckled it on their
shoulders. Curumilla had soon finished his job, and he gave each of
them a pair of moccasins, exactly like his own, which he tied on for
them.



CHAPTER XXI.

DIAMOND CUT DIAMOND.


As soon as the Chilians had evacuated the rock, Antinahuel turned with
an air of ill-humour towards General Bustamente.

"I have done as my brother desired," he said; "what more does he wish?"

"Nothing at present, chief, unless you, on your part, consent also to
depart."

"My brother is right; we are no longer of any use."

"Absolutely none; but since, henceforward, we are free to act as we
please, if agreeable to my brother we will go to the council lodge."

"Good!" the Toqui replied, following with a malevolent glance the last
ranks of the Chilian soldiers.

The general placed his hand resolutely on his shoulder, at which the
Toqui turned sharply round.

"What does the white chief want?" he asked.

"To tell you this, chief," the general replied, coolly; "of what
consequence are thirty men, when you can immolate thousands? What
you have done today is the height of policy. By sending away these
soldiers, you appear to accept your defeat, and renounce, as feeling
yourself too weak, all hopes of vengeance."

The brow of the chief expanded, and his look became less savage.

"Yes," he murmured, as if speaking to himself, "there is truth in what
my brother says; in war we must often abandon a hen to obtain a horse
afterwards. Let us go to the council lodge."

Antinahuel and the general, followed by Black Stag, returned to the
toldo.

"That young man who presented himself here possesses a great heart,"
Antinahuel said, looking at Don Pancho; "my brother, doubtless knows
him?"

"On my word no," the general remarked; "I saw him this morning for the
first time; he is one of those vagabonds from Europe who come to rob us
of our wealth."

"No; that young man is a chief."

"Hum I you seem interested about him."

"Yes; as we are naturally interested in a brave man. I should be happy
to meet him again."

"Unfortunately," the general said, "that is not very probable."

"Who knows?" the chief observed in a pensive tone, "but let my brother
listen; a Toqui is going to speak."

"I listen," the general replied.

"Whilst that young man was here," Antinahuel resumed impassively, "I
examined him attentively; when he did not think my brother was looking
at him, he cast strange glances at him."

"I do not know him, I tell you, chief," the general replied; "and
suppose he should be my enemy?"

"An enemy should never be despised," said Antinahuel; "the meanest
are often the most dangerous. But let us return to the subject of our
meeting: what are my brother's present intentions?"

"Listen to me in your turn, chief; we are henceforward bound to each
other by our common interests. I am convinced that if we mutually aid
each other, and support each other frankly and loyally, we shall obtain
magnificent results."

"Good! my brother will explain his views."

"I will not beat about the bush; this is the treaty I propose to you:
help me frankly in recovering the power I have lost--give me the means
of avenging myself on my enemies, and I will abandon to you for ever,
in full proprietorship, not only the entire province of Valdivia, but,
still further, that of Concepción as far as Talca."

At this magnificent offer the countenance of Antinahuel did not betray
the least trace of emotion.

"My brother," said he; "gives what is not his."

"That is true," the general replied, curtly; "but I shall have it if
you assist me, and without me you will never have it."

The chief slightly knitted his brow; the general feigned not to
perceive it, but continued--

"It is for you to take it or leave it, chief; time passes."

The matter being put to him so shortly, the Toqui reflected a minute,
then turned towards the general.

"Who will guarantee the execution of my brother's promise?" he said,
looking him full in the face.

"Let my brother name what guarantee he demands," said the general.

"A smile of undefinable expression curled Antinahuels lips. He made a
sign to Black Stag, who rose and left the tent."

"Let my brother wait a moment," said the Toqui.

The general bowed without replying. At the end of a few minutes Black
Stag returned, followed by an Araucano warrior bearing a kind of
rickety table, hastily knocked together, of badly-jointed pieces of
wood. Upon this table the Toqui silently placed paper, pens, and ink.

"The palefaces," he said, "possess much learning; they know more than
we poor ignorant Indians do; my brother knows that. I have been among
the whites, and have seen many of their customs; let my brother take
this pen, and let him repeat to me there," he added, "what he has just
said to me; then, as I shall keep his words, the wind will not be able
to carry them away."

The general seized the pen, and dipped it in the ink.

"Since my brother mistrusts my words," he said, in a tone of pique, "I
am ready to do what he desires."

"My brother has ill-understood my words," Antinahuel replied, "I have
the greatest confidence in him, I in no way mean to offend him; only I
represent my nation."

Don Pancho saw there remained no subterfuge by which he could escape.
Turning towards Antinahuel, therefore, he said with a smile--

"So be it! My brother is right; I will do what he desires."

The Toqui bowed gravely, the general placed the paper before him, wrote
a few lines rapidly, and signed them.

"There, chief," he said, presenting the paper to Antinahuel; "that is
what you require."

"Good!" the latter replied, taking it.

He turned it this way and he turned it that, as if to make out what the
general had written; but as may be supposed, all his efforts produced
no results. Don Pancho and Doña Maria watched him closely. At the
expiration of a minute, the chief made another sign to Black Stag, who
went out, but in a very short time returned, followed by two Indians
leading a Chilian soldier between them.

"Moro Huinca," he said, in a rough voice, "can you explain what is set
down on this paper?"

"What?" the soldier replied.

The general then added:--

"The chief asks you if you can read."

"Yes, señor," the wounded man stammered.

"Good!" said Antinahuel; "then explain it."

And he gave him the paper.

The soldier took it mechanically. It was evident that the poor wretch,
stupefied by terror, did not understand what was required of him.

"My friend," said the general, "as you know how to read, have the
goodness to explain to us what is written on this paper. Is not that
what you desire, chief?" he said, addressing the Toqui.

The soldier, whose terror was a little calmed by the friendly tone of
the general, at last comprehended what was expected of him; he cast his
eyes over the paper, and read as follows:--

"I, the undersigned, Don Pancho Bustamente, general of division,
ex-minister at war of the Chilian republic, engage, in favour
of Antinahuel, grand Toqui of the Araucanos, to abandon, in all
proprietorship, to him and to his people, to enjoy and dispose of at
their pleasure now and for ever, without anyone being able to contest
with them the legitimate proprietorship: first, the province of
Valdivia; second, the province of Concepción, to within twenty miles of
the city of Talca. This territory shall belong, in all its breadth and
in all its length, to the Araucano people, if the Toqui Antinahuel, by
the help of an army, reinstates me in the power I have lost, and gives
me the means to retain it in my hands."

"In faith of which I have signed with my name, prenames, and qualities."

                               "Don Pancho Bustamente,"
                                   "General of Division, ex Minister of
                                       War of the Chilian Republic."


Whilst the soldier was reading, Antinahuel leaning over his shoulder,
appeared endeavouring to read also; when he had ended, with one hand he
snatched the paper roughly from him, and with the other he plunged his
poniard into his heart.

"What have you done?" the general said.

"Wah!" the chief replied; "this fellow might have talked hereafter,
perhaps."

"That is true." said Don Pancho.

An Araucano warrior took up the body, placed it upon his shoulders, and
carried it out of the toldo.

"Well?" the general resumed.

"My brother may depend upon me," said Antinahuel; "I must now return to
my village."

"Stay, chief," the general objected; "that is losing time."

"Interests of the highest importance oblige me."

"That is useless," said Doña Maria, coolly.

"What does my sister mean?" Antinahuel asked.

"I have comprehended the impatience which devours the heart of my
brother; this morning I myself despatched a _chasqui_ after the
mosotones who were conducting the pale maiden to the toldería of the
Puelches, with an order to retrace their steps."

The countenance of the chief cleared up.

"My sister is good!" he said; "Antinahuel, he will remember."

"Let my brother consent, then, to do what the great warrior of the
palefaces desires."

"Let my brother speak," the chief continued gravely.

"We must, if we wish to succeed, act with the rapidity of lightning,"
said Don Pancho; "collect all your warriors, and let their rendezvous
be upon the Bio Bio. We will gain possession of Concepción by a
_coup-de-main;_ and if our movements are prompt, we shall be masters
of Santiago, the capital, before they have time to raise the necessary
troops to oppose their passage."

"Good!" Antinahuel replied. "My brother is a skilful chief; he will
succeed."

"Yes, but we must use despatch above everything."

"My brother will see," the Toqui said, laconically.

"My brother," he added to Black Stag, "will send off the quipu and the
lance of fire; in ten suns, thirty thousand warriors will be assembled
on the plain of Conderkanki. I have spoken--begone."

The Black Stag bowed, and left the cuarto without reply.

"Is my brother content?" asked Antinahuel.

"Yes," the general replied; "and I will soon prove to my brother that I
also can keep my promises."

The Toqui gave orders for striking the camp. An hour later, a long file
of horsemen disappeared in the depths of the virgin forest which formed
the limits of the plain.

Doña Maria and Bustamente were in high spirits; they both thought their
object nearly obtained; they imagined they were on the point of seeing
realised the hope they had so long nourished.



CHAPTER XXII.

DELIRIUM.


It had been very unwillingly that Don Tadeo de León consented to resume
that power which he had so gladly once laid down when he thought
tranquillity was re-established. Dull and silent he followed the troop,
who appeared rather to escort a state prisoner than the man they judged
to be alone able to save his country.

For some time the storm had been expending its fury, and Don Tadeo
seemed to be revived by the fiery breath of the tempest; he cast away
his hat, that the rain might bathe his burning brow; with his hair
flowing in the wind and his eyes flashing wildly, he dug his spurs into
his horse's sides, and rushed forward shouting--

"Hurrah! hurrah! my faithful fellows! hurrah for our country! forward!
forward!"

His companions, in the sinister flashes of the lightning, caught
occasional glimpses of the imposing shadow galloping before them, his
horse bounding over every obstacle that came in his way. Suddenly
electrified by this strange vision, they rushed wildly forward in
pursuit of him, uttering cries resembling his own, across the inundated
plain, through trees twisted and tortured by the powerful hand of the
hurricane, which roared furiously. A mad ride, beyond the power of
language to describe, then ensued. Don Tadeo, with his eyes flashing
fire, felt himself fatally carried away by the furious delirium which
compressed his temples like a vice. At intervals he turned sharply
round, uttering inarticulate cries, and then, as suddenly, he lifted
his horse with his spurs and his knees, and galloped forward in pursuit
of some imaginary enemy.

The soldiers, terrified at this terrible crisis, of which they could
not divine the cause, and filled with grief at seeing him in this
unhappy state, rode after him without knowing in what way to restore
him the reason which seemed to be abandoning him.

On approaching Valdivia, although still at some distance from it, they
were surprised to see, at this advanced hour of the night, innumerable
lights shining in the direction of the city. Don Gregorio, Don Tadeos
most faithful friend, was overpowered with grief at beholding him in
such a dreadful state, and tried every means to restore to him that
reason which appeared every moment to be about to leave him perhaps for
ever.

All at once an idea struck him, and Don Gregorio urged his horse
forward, pricking it with point of his dagger to increase its speed.
The noble animal lowered its head, snorted loudly, and darted off like
an arrow. After a few minutes of this wild course, Don Gregorio turned
his horse short round upon its hind quarters, and without relaxing his
speed, retraced his steps like a whirlwind. He and Don Tadeo were now
galloping in a contrary direction, and must inevitably cross or clash.
As they met, Don Gregorio seized the curb rein of his friend's horse
with a grasp of iron, and giving it a sudden check, stopped it short.

"Don Tadeo de León!" Don Gregorio cried; "have you forgotten Doña
Rosario, your daughter?"

At the name of his daughter, a convulsive trembling ran over Don Tadeos
limbs.

"My daughter!" he cried in a piercing tone, "oh I restore me my
daughter!"

Suddenly a cadaverous paleness covered his countenance, his eyes
closed, the reins dropped from his hands, and he sank backwards. But,
quick as thought, his friend had sprung to the earth, and caught him in
his arms; Don Tadeo had fainted.

"He is saved!" said Don Gregorio.

All these rough soldiers, whom no danger had the power to astonish or
move, breathed a sigh of relief at hearing this word of hope. Several
blankets and cloaks were quickly suspended to the branches of the
tree under which the chief was placed for shelter. And all, mute and
motionless, with their bridles passed under their arms, stood awaiting
with anxiety the restoration to life of the man whom they loved as a
father.

Nearly an hour passed away. Don Gregorio, bending over his friend,
watched with an anxious eye the progress of the crisis. By degrees, the
convulsive trembling which shook the body grew calmer, and he sank into
complete immobility. Then Don Gregorio tore open Don Tadeo's sleeve,
stripped his right arm, drew his dagger and opened a vein. No blood
issued at first; but, at length, after a few seconds, a black drop,
of the size of a pins head, appeared at the mouth of the wound; it
increased progressively, and, at length, then followed by a second, and
at the expiration of two minutes, a long stream of foaming black blood
sprang from the orifice.

At length his teeth, which had remained clenched moved, and he heaved
a sigh. The blood had lost the bituminous colour it at first wore, and
had become red. He opened his eyes, and cast around an astonished look.

"Where am I?" he murmured faintly.

"Thank God! you are safe, dear friend!" Don Gregorio answered, he
placed his thumb upon the wound; "what a fright you have given us!"

"What does all this mean?" said Don Tadeo, in a firmer voice; "tell me,
Don Gregorio, what has happened?"

"Faith! it is all my fault," the latter replied. "This will teach me to
choose my horses myself another time, and not leave it to a peon."

"Pray explain yourself, my friend; I do not understand you; I am so
weak."

"Well you may be; you have had a terrible fall."

"Ah!" said Don Tadeo, "do you think so?"

"Caspita! Do I think so? Ask these caballeros. A miracle has saved you!"

"It is very singular! I cannot recollect anything of what you speak.
When we left our friends all at once, the storm broke out."

"That was it! and your recollection is correct. Your horse took fright
at a flash of lightning and ran away. When we came up with you, you
were lying senseless in a ravine."

"What you say must be true, for I feel bruised, and my whole frame
seems weak and exhausted."

"That is it! But, I repeat, fortunately you are not wounded; only I
thought it best to bleed you."

"I thank you; the bleeding has done me good, my head is not so hot, my
ideas are more calm! Thank you, my friend," he added, taking his hand.

"Perhaps you are not strong enough yet to sit on horseback," he said.

"Yes, I assure you, my strength is completely restored; besides, time
presses."

Saying these words, Don Tadeo rose, and asked for his horse. A soldier
was holding it by the bridle. Don Tadeo examined it attentively. The
poor animal was filthy; it looked as if it had literally been rolled
in the mud. Don Tadeo knitted his brow; he could not make it out. Don
Gregorio laughed in his sleeve; it was by his orders that, to mislead
his friend, the horse had been put in this condition.

"I can but wonder," said Don Tadeo, "when looking at this poor beast,
how we both escaped!"

"Is it not incomprehensible?" Don Gregorio replied; "we can none of us
account for it."

"Are we far from the city?"

"A league at most."

"Let us hasten on, then;" and the troop set off at a gallop.

This time Don Tadeo and his friend rode side by side, talking as they
went, in a low voice of the means to be taken to thwart the attempts
of General Bustamente. Don Tadeo had recovered all his coolness. His
ideas had again become clear. One man alone was a stranger to all we
have related. This was Don Ramón Sandias. The poor senator, soaked with
rain, terrified at the storm, and muffled in his cloak up to the eyes,
seemed to live quite mechanically. He only wished for one thing, and
that was to gain some place of shelter; so he kept on and on, without
knowing what he did, or whether the others followed him or not. He
arrived in this manner at Valdivia, and was about to pass on when he
was stopped by a man who seized his bridle.

"Hola? eh, caballero, are you asleep?" a rough voice cried.

He started with fear, and ventured to uncover one eye.

"No," he said, in a hoarse voice; "on the contrary, I am but too wide
awake."

"Where do you come from, alone, so late?" the man who had before spoken
continued.

"What do you mean by 'alone'?" said Don Ramón, recovering his spirits a
little--"do you take my companions for nothing?"

"Your companions! What companions are you talking about?" cried several
voices.

Don Ramón looked round with a terrified air.

"Well, that's true!" he said. "I am alone. What on earth has become of
the others?"

"What others?" the first speaker rejoined; "we see nobody."

"Caramba!" the senator impatiently replied, "I mean Don Gregorio and
his soldiers."

"What! are you part of Don Gregorios troop?" the people cried from all
sides.

"To be sure I am," said the senator; "but pray let me get under
shelter, for the rain pours terribly."

"You need not mind that," said a joker; "you can't be wetter than you
are!"

"That's true," he replied.

"Do you know whether Don Gregorio has met with Don Tadeo de León?"
Several voices asked simultaneously.

"Yes, they are coming together."

"Are they far off?"

"How the devil can I tell?"

At hearing this, the people who had stopped him dispersed in all
directions, crying. "Don Tadeo is coming!" without taking any further
notice of the half-drowned senator, who implored them in vain to
direct him to a place of shelter. No one replied to him; all were busy
lighting torches, or rousing the inhabitants of the houses, either by
knocking at their doors, or calling them by their names.

"Válgame Dios!" the senator murmured in despair; "these people are all
mad to run about the streets in such weather as this! Am I going to be
present at another revolution?"

And spurring his horse, which was almost knocked up, he moved on with
much ado, shaking his head dismally, to seek some hospitable roof where
he might dry his clothes and get a few hours of repose.



CHAPTER XXIII.

PLAN OF CAMPAIGN.


Don Tadeo's entrance into Valdivia was truly a triumphant one.
Notwithstanding the rain, which fell in torrents, the whole population
was drawn up in the streets as he passed through, holding in their
hands torches, whose flames, agitated by the wind, shed a pale, broken
light, which was mingled with that of the constant electric flashes.
The cries of joy of the inhabitants, the rolling of drums, were mingled
with the peals of thunder and the furious hissing of the tempest.

Don Tadeo was much moved by this proof of love which the population
offered him. He felt that, however great private interests may be, they
are small in comparison with those of a people; that it is great and
noble to sacrifice them to it, and that he who knows how to die bravely
for the welfare of his fellow citizens fulfils a holy and a grand
mission. His determination was formed at once. He drew his head proudly
up, and saluted with a smile the joyous groups which pressed around him
on his passage, clapping their hands and shouting "¡Viva Chile!" He
arrived at the cabildo thus escorted.

He dismounted, ascended the steps of the palace, and turned towards
the crowd. The immense square was paved with heads. The windows of
the houses were thronged with people; and all the crowd were uttering
deafening cries of joy. Don Tadeo saw that a few words were expected
from him. He made a gesture, and a profound silence immediately
prevailed.

"Dear fellow citizens!" said the King of Darkness, "my heart is touched
more than I can express with the extraordinary mark of sympathy you
have given me. You shall always see me in the front rank of those who
fight for liberty. Be always united for the public welfare, and tyranny
will never succeed in conquering you."

This little warm address was hailed with reiterated "¡Bravos!" and
prolonged cries of "¡Viva Chile!"

Don Tadeo entered the palace. He there found assembled the superior
officers, the alcaldes, and the principal leader of the Dark Hearts.
All rose at his entrance. Since the King of Darkness had regained his
popular enthusiasm he had recovered all his faculties.

"Caballeros," he said, "I am happy to find you assembled at the
cabildo. Moments are precious. General Bustamente has allied himself
with Antinahuel, the Grand Toqui of the Araucanos, in order the
more easily to regain his power. This is the reason why he made his
pronunciamiento in this remote province. Delivered by the Araucanos, he
has taken refuge among them. We shall soon see him at the head of those
ferocious warriors, invading our frontiers and desolating our richest
provinces. I repeat to you our moments are precious! A bold initiative
alone can save us. But, to take the initiative, I must have on my part,
I whom you have made your leader, regular powers granted by the senate."

These words, whose justice every one acknowledged, created a profound
sensation. To the serious objection raised by Don Tadeo, it was
difficult to make a reply. Don Gregorio approached him, holding a
folded paper in his hand.

"Take this," he said, presenting the open paper to Don Tadeo: "this is
the reply of the senate of Santiago to the manifesto you addressed to
them after the fall of the tyrant; it is an order which invests you
with supreme power. As, after the victory, you resigned the power into
my hands, I had kept this order secret. The moment is come to render it
public. Don Tadeo de León! you are our leader."

At this intelligence all present arose with delight, crying with
enthusiasm, "¡Viva Don Tadeo de León!"

He took the paper and ran his eyes over the contents.

"That is well," he said, returning it to Don Gregorio, with a smile,
"now I am free to act."

The members of the assembly resumed their seats.

"Caballeros," Don Tadeo continued, "as I told you, a bold initiative
alone can save us. We must defeat our adversary by promptness. You know
the man, you know he possesses all the necessary qualities for a good
general; he will not therefore fall asleep in a false security; while
his ally, Antinahuel, is an intrepid chief, endowed with boundless
ambition. These two men, united by the same interests, may, if we do
not take care, give us a great deal to do; we must therefore attack
them both at once. This is what I propose: if the plan I am about to
submit to you appears vicious, as we are assembled in council, you will
discuss it."

He continued--

"We will divide our forces into two parts; the first shall go by
forced marches, and attack Arauca. This expedition, the sole object
of which is to divide the forces of our adversaries, ought to be made
in a manner which will oblige them to send important reinforcements.
A second division, composed of all the men in the province capable of
bearing arms, will march upon the Bio Bio, in order to lend a hand to
the troops of the province of Concepción.

"But," a superior officer objected, "permit me, Don Tadeo, to say that
in your plan you forget one thing."

"What is that, señor?"

"Is not this province more exposed than any other?"

"You connect the events which are about to take place there with those
that have preceded them."

"Doubtless I do."

"And that is where your error lies. When Don Pancho Bustamente caused
himself to be proclaimed in Valdivia, he had good reasons. This
province is remote--isolated; the general hoped to make a war depot
of it, and to establish himself solidly there, thanks to his allies.
That plan was well conceived, it offered great chances of success. But
at the present moment the question is completely changed: the general
has no longer anything to rely on in this province. In my opinion we
must bar his road to the capital, and force him to accept battle. As to
the province of Valdivia, it is not threatened in any way; only, as in
such circumstances we cannot employ too much prudence, a civil militia
must be instituted in order to defend its hearths. Don Gregorio, you
will take the command of the troops destined to act against Arauca.
I reserve for myself the command of the army of the Bio Bio. This
morning, at daybreak, Señor the Alcalde Mayor, you will cause a
bando to be published in all the provinces announcing that voluntary
enrolments, at a demi-piastre per day, are opened. You, Colonel
Gutierrez, I name governor of the province; your first care must be to
organise the civic guard."

"Your Excellency may depend upon me," the colonel replied.

"I have known you for a length of time, colonel, and I know I can leave
you to act with full confidence," said Tadeo, with a smile.

The members of the assembly retired, after having again proclaimed
their devotion to the good cause. Don Tadeo and Don Gregorio were left
alone. Don Tadeo was quite another man. Don Gregorio looked at him with
astonishment.

"Brother," said Don Tadeo, "this time we must conquer or die. You will
be near me in the hour of battle; you will leave your command when at a
few leagues from the city, for it is at my side you must fight."

"Thanks!" said Don Gregorio, "thanks."

"This tyrant, against whom we are going once more to measure ourselves
must die."

"He shall die."

"From among the Dark Hearts select ten men, who must be employed
specially in pursuit of Bustamente."

"Depend upon me."

"Send directly Don Ramón Sandias to the governor of Concepción, to warn
him to be upon his guard."

Don Gregorio bowed, and retired laughing.



CHAPTER XXIV.

A DISAGREEABLE MISSION.


Instead of taking a few hours of repose, Don Tadeo, as soon as he was
alone, seated himself at a table, and began to send off orders.

Several hours had passed away thus; the morning was advanced, and Don
Tadeo had despatched all his couriers. At this moment Don Ramón Sandias
appeared.

"Well, Don Ramón," Don Tadeo said in a friendly accent, "you are still
among us."

"Yes, Excellency," the senator replied.

"Have you cause to complain, Don Ramón?" asked Don Tadeo.

"Oh, no!" said the senator, "quite the contrary."

"I am ready to weep tears of blood when I reflect that I have allowed
myself to be seduced by a silly ambition, which--"

"Well, what you have lost, if you like, I will restore to you," said
Don Tadeo.

"Oh! speak! speak! what would I not do for that?"

"Even return among the Aucas?" said Don Tadeo.

"Why, no--"

"Stop a moment!" Don Tadeo interrupted; "this is what I expect of you:
listen attentively."

"I listen, your Excellency," the senator replied, bowing humbly.

Don Gregorio entered.

"What is the matter?" asked Don Tadeo.

"The Indian named Joan, who once served you as a guide, has just
arrived."

"Let him come in! let him come in!" cried Don Tadeo, rising.

Joan now entered.

"What brings you here?" asked Don Tadeo. "Speak! my friend!"

"The white chiefs are preparing to set out upon the track of
Antinahuel."

"God bless them! they are noble hearts!" Don Tadeo exclaimed.

"My father was sad last night when he parted from us."

"Yes, yes," the poor father murmured.

"Before taking the track, Don Valentine felt his heart softened at the
thoughts of the uneasiness you would doubtless experience; he therefore
made his brother with the dove's eyes trace this necklace."

Saying these words, he drew out the letter which was carefully
concealed under the ribbon that confined his hair, and presented it to
Don Tadeo.

"Thanks!" cried the father as he placed the letter in his bosom and
held out his hand graciously to the warrior; "thanks to those who sent
you, and thanks to you, my brother: you shall remain with me, and when
the moment arrives you shall conduct me to my daughter."

"I will do so; my father may depend upon me."

"I do depend upon you, Joan."

"I am at the service of my father, as is the horse which the warrior
mounts," Joan replied, respectfully.

"One instant," said Don Tadeo, clapping his hands, to which a servant
responded.

"I desire," he said, in an emphatic manner, "that every respect he paid
to this warrior: he is my friend, and is at liberty to do just as he
likes; let everything be given to him that he asks for."

The Indian warrior left the apartment.

"A noble nature!" cried Don Tadeo.

"Yes." said Don Ramón, "for a savage."

The King of Darkness was recalled to himself by the voice which thus
mingled its harsh notes with his thoughts; his eyes fell upon the
senator, whom he no longer thought of.

"Ah!" said he, "I had forgotten you, Don Ramón."

The latter bit his tongue and repented too late.

"Did you not tell me," Don Tadeo resumed, "that you would give a great
deal to be at your hacienda?"

The senator shook his head affirmatively.

"I will offer you," Don Tadeo continued, "a chance of regaining the
happiness you sigh for. You will set out immediately for Concepción.
One would think you did not like the mission."

"I will go."

"That is well; a pleasant journey to you."

The senator asked--

"If the Araucanians surprise me, and get possession of this paper?"

"You will be shot--that's all," said Don Tadeo.

"Why, this is a trap!" the terrified senator exclaimed.

"You have but twenty minutes to make the preparations for your
departure."

The senator seized the letter eagerly, and, without replying, rushed
out of the room like a madman. Don Tadeo could not repress a smile at
his extreme terror, and said to himself--

"Poor devil! he little suspects that I should be highly pleased if the
Araucanians obtained the paper."

"Everything is ready," said Don Gregorio, entering.

"That is well. Let the troops be drawn up in two bodies just outside
the city. Where is Joan?"

"I am here," the latter replied, coming forward.

"I wish to confide to my brother a mission of life and death."

"I will accomplish it, or die in the attempt."

"Deliver this necklace to the Spanish general, Fuentes, who commands
in Concepción." Don Tadeo drew from his breast a dagger of a curious
shape, the bronze knob of which served as a seal. "My brother will also
take this dagger; on seeing it the general will know that Joan comes
from me."

"Good," the warrior replied, taking the weapon.

"That weapon is poisoned--: the slightest scratch will inflict certain
death."

"Oh--oh!" said the Indian, "that is indeed a good weapon! When shall I
set out?"

"A horse shall be given to my brother, to whom I have only one more
word to say: let him take care not to get killed; I would have him
return to me."

"I shall come back again," said the Indian, confidently. "Farewell."

Don Tadeo and Don Gregorio left the cabildo. The orders of the King
of Darkness had been executed with the greatest punctuality and
promptitude. Two bodies of troops were drawn up; one, of nine hundred
men, was charged with the attack on Arauca, the other, of nearly two
thousand, under the immediate orders of Don Tadeo himself.

In addition to a numerous troop of cavalry, the Chilians took with them
ten pieces of mountain artillery. The troops filed off at a quick step
before the inhabitants, who saluted them with hearty shouts.

When they were about to separate, Don Tadeo took his friend aside.

"This evening, when you have established your camp for the night, Don
Gregorio," he said, "you will give up the command to your lieutenant
and rejoin me."

"That is understood; I thank you for the favour you confer upon me."

After a last shake of the hands the two leaders separated, to place
themselves at the head of their respective troops, which were advancing
rapidly into the plain.



CHAPTER XXV.

THE KITE AND THE DOVE.


General Bustamente had taken advantage of the sudden good-will that
Antinahuel had shown towards him; so that two days after the events we
have related the Araucanian army was strongly entrenched upon the Bio
Bio. Antinahuel, like an experienced chief, had established his camp at
the summit of a wooded hill. A screen of trees had been left to conceal
the presence of the army. The various contingents had arrived in great
haste at the rendezvous, and more came in every minute. The total force
of the army was, at that moment, about nine thousand men. Black Stag,
with a troop of chosen warriors, beat the country in all directions, in
order to surprise the enemy's scouts.

Antinahuel had retired under his toldo with the Linda and Doña Rosario.
She bore upon her pale countenance traces of the fatigues she had
undergone. She stood, with downcast eyes, before the Toqui.

"My brother sees that I have kept my promise," said the Linda.

"Yes," the Toqui replied; "I thank my sister."

"My brother is a great warrior, he has but one word; before entering
the territories of the Huincas, it will be as well to determine the
fate of his prisoner."

"This young maiden is not my prisoner," Antinahuel remarked; "she shall
be my wife."

"So be it," said the Linda, shrugging her shoulders.

"My sister is fatigued," said the chief. "A toldo is prepared for my
sister; she shall repose a few hours."

"Chief," she replied, "my body feels no fatigue; I am strong. Your
mosotones were very kind to me."

"Their chief had ordered them to do so," Antinahuel said, gallantly.

"I thank you for having given these orders."

"I love my sister," said the Toqui.

The young lady did not at all understand this blunt declaration of love.

"Oh, yes!" she exclaimed, innocently, "you love me--you have pity on
me."

"I will make every effort to make my sister happy."

"Oh! it would be so easy to do that, if you really wished it!" she
cried.

"What must I do for that? I am ready to obey my sister."

"Is that really true?"

"Let my sister speak," said the chief.

"The tears of a poor girl can only render a great warrior like you sad!"

"That is truth," he remarked, mildly.

"Restore me to my friends!" she cried, in an excited manner.

Antinahuel drew back quite astounded, biting his lips with anger. The
Linda burst into a loud laugh.

"You see," she said, "it is very easy for you to render her happy."

The chief knitted his brow still more ferociously.

"Come, brother," the Linda continued, "do not be angry; leave me to
have a moment's chat with her."

"What to do?" the Toqui asked, impatiently.

"Caramba! why, to explain your intentions clearly to her."

"Well, then----"

"Only be so kind as to observe that in nowise will I answer for
disposing her in your favour."

"Ah! To what purpose, then, will you talk?"

"I will undertake that, after our conversation, she shall know
perfectly what she has to expect from you with regard to herself."

"My sister has a golden tongue--she will prevail."

"Hum! I do not think so; nevertheless I will try, in order to make
myself agreeable," she added.

"Very well; and during that conversation I will visit the camp."

"Do so," said the Linda.

Antinahuel went out, after darting at the young girl a look which made
her cast down her eyes. Left alone with Rosario, the Linda examined her
for an instant with such an expression of malignant hatred, that the
poor girl felt herself tremble. The sight of this woman produced upon
her the strange effect attributed to the look of the serpent; she felt
herself fascinated by the cold glance of the green eyes that were fixed
upon her in a manner which she could not endure. After a few minutes
the Linda said, in a cutting voice--

"Poor girl! Although you have been nearly a month a prisoner, can you
at all divine what induced me to have carried you off?"

"I do not comprehend you, señora," the young lady replied, mildly;
"your words are enigmas to me; I in vain endeavour to discover their
meaning."

"Oh! poor, innocent thing!" the courtesan replied, with a mocking
laugh; "and yet I fancy that on the night we were face to face at the
village of San Miguel, I spoke to you pretty plainly."

"All it was possible for me to understand, señora, was, that you hate
me."

"As the fact exists, of what importance is the reason? Yes, I hate
you, insignificant thing! But I do not even know you! While avenging
myself upon you, it is not you I hate; but the man who loves you; whose
heart is broken at your tears! But the torments I reserve for you are
nothing, if he is ignorant of them."

"God is just, señora," the maiden replied, firmly. "I do not know what
crimes you meditate, but He will watch over me."

"God! miserable, puny creature!" cried the Linda. "God is but a word;
He does not exist."

"He will not fail me, señora," Doña Rosario replied. "Beware! lest soon
bowed by His powerful hand, you, in your turn, may implore His mercy in
vain."

"Begone, miserable child; your threats only inspire me with contempt."

"I do not threaten, señora; I am an unfortunate young girl. I only
endeavour to soften you."

"Vain are your prayers," she added; "when my hour comes I will ask for
no more mercy than I have had for you."

"God pardon you the evil you wish to do."

For the second time the Linda experienced an indefinable emotion,
of which she in vain sought to explain the cause; but she fortified
herself against this secret presentiment which appeared to warn her
that her vengeance would mislead herself.

"Listen!" she said, in a short, sharp tone; "it was I who had you
carried off, as you are aware; but you know not for what purpose,
do you? The man who has just left us, Antinahuel, the chief of the
Araucanos, is a vile wretch! He has conceived a passion for you, an
impure, monstrous passion. His mother wished to divert his mind from
this passion, and he killed his mother."

"Oh!" the young girl exclaimed, penetrated with horror.

"You tremble, do you not?" the Linda continued; "that man is an abject
being! He has no heart but for crime! He knows no laws but those which
his passions and vices impose upon him! Well, this hideous being--this
odious villain loves you; I tell you he is in love with you--do you
understand me?"

"Oh, you cannot have sold me to this man!" the maiden shrieked in a
state of stupefaction.

"I have," she replied, grinding her teeth; "and were it to be begun
again, I would do it again! Oh, you do not know what happiness I
experience in seeing you, a white dove, rolled in the mud."

"But have you no heart, señora?"

"No, I no longer have; it is long since it was tortured and broken by
despair."

For a moment the maiden was overcome.

"Pity, señora!" she cried, in a piercing tone; "oh, you have said you
had a heart once! You have loved! In the name of him you loved, have
pity--pity for me."

"No, no pity, none was felt for me!" and she pushed her away.

"Señora! in the name of one you have loved, pity."

"I love nothing now but vengeance!" she cried; "it is good to hate; a
woman forgets her insults through it."

Doña Rosario did not hear these frightful words; a prey to despair, she
continued to weep and supplicate; but the word child struck her ear; a
light flashed across her brain.

"Oh, señora!" she cried, "I knew you were good, and that I should
succeed in softening you!"

"What does this folly mean?" said the Linda.

"Señora!" Rosario implored, "you have had children! you have loved
them! oh, loved them dearly!"

"Silence, unhappy wretch!" cried the Linda; "silence; speak not to me
of my daughter!"

"Yes," Rosario continued, "that is it; it was a daughter. Oh, you
adored her, señora!"

"Adored my daughter!" cried the Linda, with the roar of a hyena.

"In the name of that beloved daughter, pity!"

The Linda broke suddenly into a frantic laugh. "Miserable fool! what a
remembrance have you evoked!--It is to avenge my daughter! my daughter!
who was stolen from me, that I wish to make of you the most unhappy of
creatures."

Doña Rosario remained for an instant as if struck by a thunderbolt, but
looking the courtesan full in the face, said--

"Señora, you have no heart--be then accursed. As to me, I shall be
taught how to extricate myself from the outrages you vainly threaten me
with."

And, with a movement as quick as thought, she snatched from the girdle
of the Linda a narrow, sharp-pointed dagger.

The Linda sprang towards her.

"Stop, señora," the maiden said to her, resolutely; "one step farther,
and I stab myself! Oh, I no longer fear you!"

Doña Rosarios look was so firm, her countenance so determined, that the
Linda stopped.

"Well," Rosario resumed, with a smile of contempt, "you no longer
triumph now; you are no longer certain of your vengeance; let the man
you threaten me with dare to approach me, and I will plunge this dagger
into my heart."

The Linda looked at her, but made no reply; she was conquered.

At that moment a great tumult was heard in the camp; hurried steps
approached the toldo in which the two women were. The Linda resumed her
seat, and composed her features. Doña Rosario, with a joyful smile,
concealed the dagger.



CHAPTER XXVI.

THE END OF DON RAMÓN'S JOURNEY.


In the meantime Don Ramón had left Valdivia. This time the senator
was alone--alone with his horse, a poor, lean, half-foundered beast,
which hobbled along with its head and ears down, and appeared in all
points to harmonise with the sad thoughts which doubtless occupied its
master's mind.

The future by no means appeared to him pleasant. He had left Valdivia
under a threat of death; at every step he expected to be aimed at by
some invisible gun. Being conscious that he could not impose upon the
enemies, doubtless disseminated over his route, by any appearance
of strength or power, he determined to impose upon them by his
weakness--that is to say, he got rid of all his arms. At a few leagues
distance from Valdivia he had been passed by Joan. Don Ramón watched
him for a long time with a look of envy.

"What happy fellows these Indians are!" he grumbled; "the desert
belongs to them. Ah!" he added, with a sigh; "if I were but at Casa
Azul."

Casa Azul was the senator's quinta--that quinta with white walls, green
blinds, and leafy bowers, which he so much regretted having left in a
moment of silly ambition, and which he never hoped to see again. When
he passed by a wood, or along a narrow way between two mountains, he
cast terrified glances around him, and entered the suspicious passage,
murmuring--

"This is where they are waiting for me!"

And when the wood was passed, and the dangerous lane cleared, instead
of felicitating himself upon being still safe and sound, he said, with
a shake of the head--

"Hum! the Pícaros! they know very well I cannot escape them, and they
are playing with me as a cat does with a mouse."

And yet two days had passed away without a mishap, nothing had occurred
to corroborate the senator's suspicions and uneasiness. He had that
morning crossed the ford of the Carampangne, and was drawing near to
the Bio Bio which he hoped to reach by sunset.

But the Bio Bio had to be crossed, and there lay the difficulty. The
river has but one ford, a little above Concepción. The senator knew it
perfectly well but a secret presentiment told him not to approach it.
Unfortunately Don Ramón had no choice, he could take no other road.

The senator hesitated as long as Cæsar did at the famous passage of
the Rubicon; at length, as there were no means of doing otherwise, Don
Ramón very unwillingly spurred on his horse, and advanced towards the
ford, recommending himself to the protection of all the saints of the
Spanish golden legend.

The horse was tired, but the smell of the water renovated its strength,
and it cantered gaily on with the infallible instinct of these noble
beasts, without pausing in the inextricable windings which crossed
each other in the high grass. Although the river was not yet visible,
Don Ramón could hear the roaring of the waters. He was passing by,
at the moment, a dark hill, from the thickly-wooded sides of which
proceeded, at intervals, sounds which he could not make out. The animal
too, as much alarmed as its master, pricked up its ears and redoubled
its speed. Don Ramón scarcely ventured to breathe, and looked in all
directions with the greatest terror. He was close to the ford, when
suddenly a rough voice smote his ear and rendered him as motionless
as if he had been changed into a block of marble. Half a score Indian
warriors surrounded him on all sides; these warriors were commanded by
Black Stag.

It was a strange circumstance, but when the first moment of terror
was past, the senator completely recovered himself--now that he knew
what he had to trust to, the danger which he had so long dreaded was
before him, but less terrific than he had supposed it to be. Black
Stag examined him carefully, and at length placed his hand upon the
bridle of his horse, saying, as he endeavoured to recall a half-effaced
remembrance--

"It seems to me that I have seen the paleface somewhere?"

"To be sure," the senator replied; "we are old friends."

"I am not the friend of the Huincas," the Indian said, sternly.

"I mean," Don Ramón corrected himself, "we are old acquaintances."

"Good! what is the Chiapla doing here?"

"Hum!" the senator said; "I am doing nothing."

"Let the paleface reply clearly; a chief is questioning him," Black
Stag said, frowning.

"I ask no better," Don Ramón replied, in a conciliating tone. "Question
me."

"Where is the paleface going?"

"Where am I going? When you stopped me I was preparing to cross the Bio
Bio."

"Good! And when you had crossed the Bio Bio?"

"Oh, then I should have hastened to gain my quinta, which I am very
sorry I ever quitted."

"Doubtless the paleface is charged with some mission?"

"Who, I?" said the senator, in the most careless way possible; "Who do
you think would charge me with a mission?"

"Good! Where is the necklace?"

"What necklace do you mean?"

"The one which you have to deliver to the chief of Concepción."

"Who! I?"

"Yes, you."

"I have none."

"My brother speaks well: Aucas warriors are not women, they know how to
discover what is hidden."

Any resistance was impossible, and if it had not been, Don Ramón was
not the man to have attempted it; hence he obeyed, and his horse was
led away.

"The paleface will follow me," Black Stag commanded.

"Hum!" said Don Ramón, "where are you going?"

"To the Toqui and the Great Eagle of the Whites."

"Oh, dear! oh, dear!" said Don Ramón to himself.

The warriors led their prisoner among the coppice. After a short ascent
they arrived at the camp. General Bustamente and Antinahuel were
conversing as they walked about.

"What have you there?" asked the general.

"A prisoner," Black Stag replied.

"Eh, what!" said the general, "it is my honourable friend, Don Ramón!"

"Yes--worse luck--"

"How can that be? Were you not seeking me?"

"God forbid!" the senator cried.

"Look there, now; why, then, where were you going alone thus?"

"I was going to my own home."

The general and Antinahuel exchanged a few words.

"Come with us, Don Ramón," the general rejoined, "the Toqui wishes to
have some conversation."

"With pleasure," said Don Ramón; and cursing his evil star he followed
the two men into the toldo.

The warriors who had brought the senator remained without, to execute
the orders they might receive.

"You said," the general continued, as soon as they were in the toldo,
"that you were going home at Casa Azul."

"Yes, general."

"Why that sigh? nothing that I am aware of will be opposed to the
continuation of your journey."

"Do you mean that?" the senator exclaimed.

"Hum! that depends entirely upon yourself."

"How so?"

"Deliver up to the Toqui the order which Don Tadeo de León has charged
you."

"What order do you mean, general?"

"Why, the one you probably have."

"You are mistaken, general; I am not charged with any mission to
General Fuentes, I am sure."

"And yet the Toqui asserts the contrary."

"This man lies; he must have a necklace," said Antinahuel.

"It is very easy to ascertain that." said the general, coolly. "Black
Stag, my friend, please to have this caballero suspended by the thumbs
to the next tree."

The senator shuddered.

"I beg you to observe," the general continued, "that we do not commit
the rudeness of searching you."

"But I assure you I have no order."

"Bah! and I am certain you will find one--there is nothing like being
suspended by the thumbs."

"Come," said Black Stag.

The senator bounded away from him with fear.

"Well, I think I recollect----" he stammered.

"There, you see."

"That I am the bearer of a letter."

"Just as I said you were."

"But I am ignorant of its contents."

"Caramba! that is very likely."

"Well, to General Fuentes, I suppose. But if I give you up the paper
shall I be free?" he asked.

"Hum! the position is changed. If you had given it up with a good grace
I could have guaranteed your freedom."

"Still!"

"Come, give it to me."

"Here it is," said the senator, drawing it from his bosom.

The general took the paper, ran his eye rapidly over it, then drawing
Antinahuel to the other extremity of the toldo, they talked together
for some minutes in a low voice. At length the general turned towards
the senator.

"Unhappy fool!" he said, sternly; "Is it thus you betray me, after the
proofs of friendship I have given you?"

"I assure you, general--" the other began.

"Silence, you miserable spy!" the general replied; "You wished to sell
me to my enemies, but God has not permitted the execution of so black a
project."

The senator was annihilated.

"Take away this man," said Antinahuel.

The poor wretch struggled in vain in the hands of the Indian warriors,
who seized him roughly, and dragged him out of the toldo, in spite of
his cries and tears. Black Stag led them to the foot of an enormous
espino, whose thick branches formed a wide shadow on the hill. When
they arrived there, Don Ramón made a last and powerful effort, escaped
from the hands of his surprised guards, and darted away like a madman
up the steep acclivity of the mountain.

But this wild race lasted only a few minutes, and quite exhausted his
strength. When the Indian warriors overtook him, which they easily did,
terror had already nearly killed him. The warriors placed the noose
of a lasso round his neck, and then threw it up over the principal
branch of the espino. But he was dead when they hanged him--fright had
killed him. It was written that poor Don Ramón Sandias, the victim of a
foolish ambition, should never see Casa Azul again.



CHAPTER XXVII.

THE AUCA-COYOG.


The tragical death of the senator was only the consequence of his
well-known pusillanimity. If the general had believed it possible
to place any reliance upon his word, he would have released him
immediately.

Immediately after the execution of the senator, the heralds convened
the chiefs to a grand Auca-coyog. Thirty Ulmens and Apo-Ulmens were
quickly assembled at the place appointed. Antinahuel soon appeared,
followed by General Bustamente. Antinahuel held in his hand the letter
taken from Don Ramón, and he spoke as follows:--

"Ulmens, Apo-Ulmens, and chiefs of the four Uthal-mapus of the
Araucanian confederacy, I have convoked you by the heralds to
communicate to you a necklace taken from the spy who by my order has
just been put to death. This necklace will cause us to alter our
arrangements, I think, for the malocca, on account of which we have
assembled. Our ally, the Great Eagle of the Whites, will explain it to
you. Let my brother read," he added, turning towards the general.

The latter read with a loud voice:--

"'MY DEAR GENERAL,--I have submitted to the council assembled at
Valdivia the objections you have thought it your duty to make on the
subject of the plan of the campaign. These objections have been found
just; consequently the following plan has been modified according to
your observations. You will continue, then, to cover the province of
Concepción, by holding the line of the Bio Bio, which you will not
cross without fresh orders. On my side, with seven thousand men, I will
march upon Arauca, of which I will take possession and destroy. This
plan offers us the more chances of success, from the enemy being, as
we learn from trustworthy spies, in a deceitful security with regard
to our movements. The bearer of this order is a person you know, whose
nullity itself will facilitate the means of passing through the enemy's
lines. You will get rid of this individual by sending him to his home,
with an injunction not to leave it.'"

                      "'Signed,
                                 DON TADEO DE LEÓN,'"
                         "'Dictator and General-in-Chief of'"
                              "'the Army of Liberation."

The reading of this despatch was listened to by the chiefs with the
deepest attention.

"This necklace," said Antinahuel, "was traced in private characters,
which our brother the paleface has succeeded in deciphering. What do
the Ulmens think?"

One of the ancient Toquis arose.

"The palefaces are very cunning," he said; "they are foxes in malice
and jaguars in ferocity. This order is a snare for the good faith
of the Aucas. But Aucas warriors are wise; they will laugh at the
machinations of the Huincas, and will continue to guard the ford of the
Bio Bio. The communications of the whites are cut off, like a serpent
whose body has been divided by a stroke of the hatchet: they in vain
seek to unite the various trunks of their army, but they will not
succeed. I have spoken."

This speech, pronounced in a firm, clear voice, by one of the most
justly respected chiefs of the nation, produced a certain effect.

"The chief has spoken well," said the general; "I coincide entirely
with his opinion."

Another chief then arose and spoke in his turn.

"The whites are very cunning, as my father has said; they are foxes
without courage--they can only massacre women and children, and run
away at the sight of an Aucas warrior. But this necklace tells the
truth, and translates their thoughts literally. Chiefs, we all have
wives and children, and we ought in the first place to think of their
safety. Let us be prudent, chiefs; let us not throw ourselves into a
snare while we think we are laying one for our enemies."

The Araucanos have a deep affection for their families; and the idea of
leaving them behind, exposed to the disasters of war, gave them great
uneasiness. General Bustamente anxiously followed the fluctuations of
the council.

"What my brother has remarked is just, but his opinions only rest upon
an hypothesis; the whites do not employ forces in such numbers to
attempt an invasion of the Araucano territory. Let my brothers leave
in the camp a thousand resolute warriors to defend the passage, and
at nightfall cross the Bio Bio boldly, and I will answer for their
success."

"My brother is a skilful warrior," said Antinahuel; "the plan he
proposes shows his experience. As he says, until I have proof to the
contrary, I shall believe the necklace to be a deceit; and that we
ought, this very night, to invade the territories of the whites."

The general breathed freely; his cause, he thought, was gained.
Suddenly Black Stag entered, and took his place in the assembly.

"What is going on?" the Toqui asked.

"Listen!" said Black Stag, in a solemn tone; "Illecura, Borea, and
Nagotten have been given up to the flames, and the inhabitants put to
the sword; another body of troops, still more considerable than the
first, is acting in the flat country in the same manner as the other in
the maritime country."

The most violent agitation seized on the Ulmens; nothing was heard but
cries of rage and despair.

"What do we wait for, chiefs of the Aucas?" cried the chief who had
advised retreat, in a shrill, excited tone; "Do you not hear the cries
of your wives and children calling upon you for succour? Do you not
see the flames which are consuming your dwellings and devouring your
harvests? To arms! warriors, to arms!"

"To arms!" the warriors yelled, rising as one man.

Indescribable confusion followed. General Bustamente retired with death
in his heart.

"Well!" the Linda asked, on seeing him enter, "what is going on? What
mean these cries and this frightful tumult? Have the Indians revolted?"

"No," the general explained, "Don Tadeo, that demon, bent upon my
destruction, has disconcerted all my plans. The Indian army is about to
retreat."

"To retreat!" the Linda cried furiously, and rushing towards
Antinahuel--

"What! you! you fly! you confess yourself conquered! Don Tadeo de León,
the executioner of your family, is marching against you, and you are
frightened! Coward! coward! put on petticoats; you are not a warrior!
you are not a man; you are an old woman."

The Toqui put her back with disdain.

"Woman, you are mad!" he said. "What can one man do against fate? I do
not fly from my enemy, I go to meet him."

"My sister cannot remain here," he said, in a softened tone; "the camp
is about to be broken up."

The poor girl followed mechanically, without reply.

A few minutes later the camp was struck, and the Araucanos abandoned
the impregnable position. At the reiterated entreaties of Bustamente,
Antinahuel consented to leave a chosen band of eight hundred warriors
to defend the passage.

Black Stag was a prudent warrior. As soon as the night came on, he
dispersed scouts in all directions upon the banks of the river.
Yielding, in spite of himself, to the influence produced by the report
of the spies, he had, in the first moment, advised retreat; but, upon
reflection, it was not long before he suspected a _ruse de guerre_.

His suspicions had not deceived him. Between eleven and twelve o'clock
at night, his scouts came hastily in to warn him that a long line of
horsemen had lately left the Chilian bank, and were gliding along like
an immense serpent near the ford. Black Stag had but two hundred and
fifty warriors armed with guns, so he placed them in the first line
upon the bank, supported by his lancers. When they deemed them within
range the Araucano warriors made a discharge upon the horsemen who
were crossing the river. Several fell. At the same instant four pieces
of cannon were unmasked on the opposite bank, which spread death and
terror among the Indians.

A strong detachment had, in the meantime, cleared the ford, and fell
upon them with the utmost fury. From that time the struggle had no
equality. The Aucas, notwithstanding their courage, were obliged to
give ground, leaving nearly two hundred dead on the banks of the river.

The plan conceived by Don Tadeo de León had completely succeeded. The
army of General Fuentes had forced the passage of the Bio Bio. Thus,
thanks to the ruse employed by the dictator, the ground upon which the
quarrel was to be decided was changed, and the Aucas were forced to
defend themselves at home. Instead of invaders, as they wished to be,
they found themselves, on the contrary, the invaded; the campaign might
now be terminated by the gaining of a single battle.



CHAPTER XXVIII.

THE HUMAN SACRIFICE.


The army commanded by General Fuentes was composed of two thousand
foot, eight hundred horse, and six pieces of cannon. It was an imposing
force for these countries, where the population is very small, and
where infinite pains are often required to raise an army half as
numerous. As soon as the passage was effected, and the banks cleared of
the fugitives, the general encamped his troops, resolved to give them
a few hours' repose before resuming his march to form a junction with
Don Tadeo de León. After giving these orders, as he was entering his
marquee, an Indian came towards him.

"What do you want, Joan?" asked he.

"The great chief no longer needs me; Joan wishes to return to him who
sent him."

"You are at liberty to do as you please, my friend; but I think you had
better accompany the army."

The Indian shook his head.

"I promised my father to return immediately," he said.

"Go, then; I neither can nor wish to detain you; you can report what
you have seen; a letter might compromise you in case of a surprise."

"I will do as the great chief commands."

"Well, good fortune attend you; but be particularly careful not to be
taken in passing the enemy's lines."

"Joan will not be taken."

"Farewell! then, my friend," said the general, waving his hand as he
entered his tent.

Joan took advantage of the permission granted and left the camp without
delay. The night was dark; the moon was concealed behind thick clouds.
The Indian directed his course with difficulty in the obscurity.
He was more than once forced to retrace his steps, and to go wide
about to avoid places which he thought dangerous. He proceeded thus,
feeling his way as it were, till daybreak. At the first glimmering
of dawn he glided like a serpent through the high grass, raising his
head occasionally, and trembling in spite of himself, for he found
he had, in the darkness, stumbled upon an Indian encampment. He had,
inadvertently, got into the midst of the detachment commanded by Black
Stag, who had succeeded in collecting the remains of his troops, and
who, at that moment, formed the rearguard of the Araucanian army, whose
bivouac fires smoked on the horizon, within distance of two leagues at
the most.

But Joan was not a man to be easily disconcerted; he noticed that
the sentinels had not yet perceived him, and he did not despair of
getting out of the scrape he had blundered into. He did not, however
deceive himself or attempt to fancy his position not critical; but as
he confronted it coolly, he resolved to do all he could to extricate
himself, and took his measures accordingly. After reflecting for a
few seconds, he crept in a direction opposite to that he had before
followed, stopping at intervals to listen. Everything went on well for
a few minutes; nothing stirred. A profound silence seemed to hover over
the country; Joan was beginning to breathe freely; in a few minutes he
should be safe. Unfortunately, at that moment chance brought Black Stag
directly before him; the vigilant chief had been making the round of
his posts. The vice-Toqui turned his horse towards him.

"My brother must be tired; he has crept through the grass like a viper
so long," he said, with an ironical smile; "he had better change his
position."

"That is just what I am going to do," said Joan, without displaying the
least astonishment.

And bounding up like a panther, he leaped upon the horse behind the
chief, and seized him round the body.

"Help!" Black Stag cried, in a loud voice.

"One word more and you are a dead man!" Joan whispered in a threatening
tone.

But it was too late; the chief's cry of alarm had been heard, and a
crowd of warriors hastened to his succour.

"Cowardly dog!" said Joan, who saw his chance was gone, but who did not
yet despair; "die then!" He plunged his poisoned dagger between his
shoulders and cast him onto the ground, where the chief writhed in the
agonies of death, and expired as if struck by thunderbolt. Joan lifted
his horse with his knees and dashed full speed against the Indians who
barred his passage. This attempt was a wild one. A warrior armed with a
gun took a steady aim, the horse rolled upon the ground, with its skull
crushed, and dragging its rider with it in the fall. Twenty warriors
rushed upon Joan, and bound him before he could make a movement to
defend himself. But he had time to conceal the dagger, which the
Indians did not even think of looking for, as they did not know what
weapon he had employed.

The death of Black Stag, one of the most respected warriors of the
nation, threw the Araucanos into a state of consternation. An Ulmen
immediately took the command in his place, and Joan and a Chilian
soldier captured in the preceding combat, were sent together to the
camp of Antinahuel. The latter felt great regret at receiving the news
of the death of Black Stag; it was more than a friend he had lost, it
was a right arm!

Antinahuel, in order to reanimate the courage of his people, resolved
to make an example, and sacrifice the prisoners to Guecubu, the genius
of evil--a sacrifice which we must admit is becoming more and more rare
among the Aucas, but to which they have recourse sometimes when they
wish to strike their enemies with terror, and to prove that they mean
to carry on a war without mercy. Time pressed, the army must continue
its march, therefore Antinahuel determined that the sacrifice should
take place at once.

At some distance beyond the camp the principal Ulmens and warriors
formed a circle, in the centre of which was planted the Toqui's
hatchet. The prisoners were brought thither. They were not bound, but
in derision were mounted upon a horse without ears and without a tail.
Joan, as the more culpable, was to be sacrificed last, and witness the
death of his companion as a foretaste. But if at that fatal moment
everything seemed to have abandoned the valiant Indian, he had not
abandoned himself.

The Chilian prisoner was a rough soldier, well acquainted with
Araucanian manners, who knew perfectly what fate awaited him. He was
placed near the hatchet, with his face turned toward the Chilian
frontiers. They made him dismount from his horse, placed in his hands
a bundle of small rods and a pointed stick, with which they obliged
him to dig a trench, in which to plant one after the other the little
wands, while pronouncing the names of the Araucano warriors he had
killed in the course of his long career. To every name the soldier
pronounced, he added some cutting speech addressed to his enemies who
replied to him by horrible execrations. When all the wands were planted
Antinahuel approached.

"The Huinca is a brave warrior," said Antinahuel; "he will fill up this
trench with earth in order that the glory and valour of which he has
given proofs during his life may remain buried in this place."

"So be it!" said the soldier; "but you will soon see that the Chilians
possess more valiant soldiers."

And he carelessly threw the earth into the trench. This terminated,
the Toqui made him a sign to place himself close to the hatchet; the
soldier obeyed. Antinahuel raised his club and crushed his skull.
The poor wretch fell, but was not quite dead, and he struggled
convulsively. Two machis immediately sprang upon him, opened his breast
and tore out his heart, which they presented, palpitating as it was, to
the Toqui. The latter sucked the blood, and then passed the heart to
the Ulmens, who followed his example.

In the meantime, the crowd of warriors seized upon the carcass, which
they cut to pieces in a few minutes, reserving the bones to make war
whistles of. They then placed the head of the prisoner on a pike, and
danced round it to the sound of a frightful song, accompanied by the
pipes made from the bones.

Joan's eye and ear were on the watch at the moment when this frightful
saturnalia were at their apogee, he judged the time propitious, turned
his horse, and fled as fast as he could. A few minutes confusion
ensued, of which Joan took full advantage; but the Araucanos hastened
to pursue him. He soon perceived that the distance between him and his
enemies rapidly diminished. He was passing by the side of a hill, whose
steep ascent could not be climbed by horses, and with the quickness of
conception peculiar to brave men he divined that this would be his only
chance of safety. He guided his horse so as, in a manner, to brush the
hill, and get upright in his saddle. The Araucanos came up, uttering
loud cries. All at once, seizing a strong branch of a tree, he sprang
from his saddle, and climbed up the branch with the velocity of a tiger
cat. The warriors shouted with rage and astonishment at beholding this
extraordinary feat.

Nevertheless, the Araucanos had by no means given up all hopes of
retaking their prisoner. They left their horses at the foot of the
mountain, and half a score of the most zealous and active set off
upon Joan's track. But the latter had now some space in advance. He
continued to mount, clinging by feet and hands, and only stopping when
nature commanded to take breath.

But he found that a longer struggle would be useless; that at length he
was really lost.

The Araucanos came up panting from their long run, brandishing their
lances and clubs with cries of triumph. They were not more than fifty
paces from him at the most. At this awful moment Joan heard a voice
whisper--

"Lower your head!"

He obeyed, without thinking of what was going on around him, or of
whence this recommendation could come. The sound of four shots rattled
sharply in his ears, and four Indian warriors rolled lifeless on the
ground before him. Restored to himself by this unhoped-for succour,
Joan bounded forward and stabbed one of his adversaries, whilst four
fresh shots stretched four more upon the earth.

Joan was saved! He looked around him to ascertain to whom he owed his
life. Valentine, Louis, and the two Indian chiefs stood beside him.
These were the four friends who, watching from a distance the camp of
the Araucanos, had witnessed the desperate flight of Joan, and had come
bravely to his aid.

"Well, Joan, old fellow!" said Valentine, laughing, "you have had a
narrow escape!"

"Thanks!" said Joan, warmly; "I shall not forget."

"I think we should act wisely if we now placed ourselves in safety,"
Louis observed.

"Don Louis is right." said Trangoil-Lanec.

The five men plunged into the woods of the mountain; but they had no
occasion to dread an attack. Antinahuel, upon hearing the reports which
the warriors who had escaped the Frenchmen's rifles gave of the number
of enemies they had to combat, was persuaded that the position was
occupied by a strong detachment of the Chilian army: consequently, he
struck his camp, and went away in one direction, whilst the adventurers
escaped in another.



CHAPTER XXIX.

THE KING OF DARKNESS.


Don Tadeo de León had manoeuvred with the greatest skill and
promptitude: supporting his left upon the sea, and pivoting upon
Arauca, the capital of the confederation, he had extended his right
along the mountains, so as to cut off the communications of the enemy,
who, by his junction with General Fuentes, found themselves placed
between two fires.

Antinahuel, deceived by the false message found on Don Ramón, had
committed the unpardonable fault of raising his camp of the Bio Bio,
and thus leaving a free passage for General Fuentes. General Bustamente
had viewed with despair the faults his ally had committed, faults which
the latter would not allow till it was too late to remedy.

Doña Maria, the woman who had been his evil genius, abandoned him now.
The Linda, faithful to her hatred, only thought of one thing--to make
Doña Rosario suffer as much as she could.

Antinahuel had endeavoured to throw himself into the mountains, but all
his efforts had been in vain, and he had only obtained the result he
wished to avoid--that is to say, he had placed himself between three
_corps d'armée_, which, by degrees, closed round him, and had ended by
placing him in the annoying obligation of fighting upon ground which it
pleased the enemy to choose instead of in his own country, Don Gregorio
Peralta closed up his passage towards the sea; Don Tadeo de León on the
side of the Arauca; whilst General Fuentes defended the approach to the
mountains.

All the marches and counter-marches which led to this result had
lasted a fortnight. Don Tadeo was anxious to strike a great blow, and
terminate the war in a single battle. On the day with which we resume
the course of our narrative, the Araucanos and Chilians were at length
in presence: Don Tadeo de León, shut up in his tent with Don Gregorio,
General Fuentes, and several other superior officers of his staff, was
giving them his last orders, when a summons of trumpets was heard from
without. The Chilians immediately replied; an aide-de-camp entered the
tent, and announced that the Grand Toqui of the Araucanos demanded an
interview.

"Do not go, Don Tadeo," said General Fuentes; "it is nothing but some
villainy these demons have planned."

"I am not of your opinion, general," the dictator replied. "I ought, as
leader, to seek every means of preventing the effusion of blood; that
is my duty, and nothing will make me fail in it."

"Caspita!" said Don Gregorio, "you wish to prevent our taking them in
spite of you."

The place chosen for the conference was a small eminence, situated
between the two camps. A Chilian flag and an Araucanian flag were
planted at twenty paces from each other; at the foot of these flags
forty Aucas lancers on the one side, and a similar number of Chilian
soldiers placed themselves. When these diverse precautions were taken,
Don Tadeo, followed by two aides-de-camp advanced toward Antinahuel,
who came to meet him with two Ulmens. When they arrived near their
respective soldiers, the two leaders ordered their officers to wait for
them, and met in the space left free for them. Antinahuel was the first
to break the silence.

"The Aucas know and venerate my father," he said, bowing courteously;
"they know that he is good, and loves his Indian children. A cloud has
arisen between him and his sons; is it impossible to dissipate it?"

"Chief," said Don Tadeo, "the whites have always protected the Indians.
Often have they given them arms to defend themselves with, corn to feed
them, and warm clothing to cover them in winter. But the Araucanos are
ungrateful--when the evil is past they forget the service rendered.
Why have they today taken up arms against the whites? Let the chief
reply in his turn; I am ready to hear all he can advance in his
defence."

"The chief will not defend himself," Antinahuel said, deferentially;
"he acknowledges his errors; he is convinced of them; he is ready to
accept the conditions it shall please his white father to impose."

"Tell me, in the first place, what conditions you offer, chief; I shall
see if they are just."

Antinahuel hesitated, and then said--

"My father knows that his Indian sons are ignorant. A great chief
of the whites presented himself to them; he offered them immense
territories, much pillage, and fair women if the Araucanos would
consent to defend his interests. The Indians are children; they allowed
themselves to be seduced by this man who deceived them."

"Very well," said Don Tadeo.

"The Indians," Antinahuel continued, "are ready, if my father desires
it, to give up to him this man."

"Chief," replied Don Tadeo, with indignation, "are these the proposals
you have to make me? What! Do you pretend to expiate one treachery by
committing one still greater and more odious? The Araucanian people
are a chivalrous people, unacquainted with treachery: not one of your
companions can have possibly suggested anything so infamous; you alone,
chief, you alone must have conceived it!"

Antinahuel knitted his brows; but quickly resuming his Indian
impassiveness, he said--

"I have been wrong; my father will pardon me: I wait to hear the
condition he will impose."

"The conditions are these: the Araucanian army will lay down their
arms, the two women who are in their camp will be placed this very day
in my hands, the Grand Toqui, and twelve of the principal Apo-Ulmens,
shall remain as hostages at Santiago, until I think proper to send them
back."

A smile, of disdain curled the thin lips of Antinahuel.

"Will my father not impose less harsh conditions?"

"No," Don Tadeo answered, firmly.

The Toqui drew himself up proudly.

"We are ten thousand warriors resolved to die; my father must not drive
us to despair," he said.

"Tomorrow that army will have fallen under the blows of my soldiers,
like corn beneath the sickle of the reaper."

"Listen, you who impose such arrogant conditions upon me," the chief
replied; "do you know who I am--I who have humbled myself before you?"

"Of what consequence is it to me? I will retire."

"One instant more! I am the great-grandson of the Toqui Cadegual; a
hereditary hatred divides us; I have sworn to kill you, dog! rabbit!
thief!"

And, with a movement as quick as thought, he drew out his hand, and
struck Don Tadeo with a dagger full in the breast. But the arm of the
assassin was seized and dislocated by the iron-muscled hand of the King
of Darkness, and the weapon was broken like glass against the cuirass
which he had put on under his clothes, to guard against treachery.

"Do not fire!" he said to the soldiers; "the wretch is sufficiently
punished, since his execrable project has failed. Go back, assassin!"
he added, contemptuously; "return and hide your shame among your
warriors. Begone, unclean dog!"

Without saying a word more, Don Tadeo turned his back and regained his
camp.

"Oh!" Antinahuel said, stamping with rage, "all is not ended yet!
Tomorrow I shall have my turn."

"Well," Don Pancho asked, as soon as he saw him, "what have you
obtained?"

Antinahuel gave him an ironical glance.

"What have I obtained?" he replied; "that man has baffled me."

"Tomorrow we will fight," said the general. "Who knows? All is not lost
yet."

"Who knows?" the chief exclaimed, violently; "Tomorrow, if it costs me
all my warriors, that man shall be in my power!"

Without condescending to give any further explanation, the Toqui shut
himself up in his toldo with some of his chiefs.

Don Tadeo returned to his tent.

"Well!" cried General Fuentes, "I told you to beware of treachery!"

"You are right, general," the dictator replied, with a smile. "But the
wretch is punished."

"No," the old soldier retorted, somewhat angrily; "when we meet with a
viper in our path, we crush it without mercy beneath the heel of our
boot; if we did not, it would rise and bite the imprudent man who had
spared it or disdained it."

"Come, come, general!" Don Tadeo said, gaily; "you are a bird of
ill-omen. Think no more about the wretch, other cares call upon us."

The general shook his head with an air of doubt, and went to visit the
outposts.



CHAPTER XXX.

THE BATTLE OF CONDERKANKI.


It was the fourth of October.

The Araucano warriors came out proudly from their entrenchments, and
drew up in order of battle to the sound of their warlike instruments.
The Araucanos have a system of battle from which they never deviate:
this unchangeable order is as follows: the cavalry form the two wings,
and the infantry is in the centre, divided by battalions. The ranks of
these battalions are by turns composed of men armed with pikes and men
armed with clubs, so that between two pikes there is always one club.
The vice-Toqui commands the right wing, an Apo-Ulmen the left wing. As
to the Toqui, he flies to all points, exhorting the troops to fight
courageously for liberty.

The Araucanian army, drawn up as we have described, had an imposing and
martial appearance. All these warriors knew they were supporting a lost
cause, that they were marching to an almost certain death, and yet they
waited impassively, their eyes burning with ardour for the signal for
battle. Antinahuel, with his right arm tied down to his body by leather
strap, brandishing a heavy club in his left hand, mounted a magnificent
courser, as black as jet, which he governed with his knees, and rode
through the ranks of his warriors.

Before leaving the camp, General Bustamente exchanged a few words with
the Linda. Their short conversation ended with these words, which did
not fail to make an impression upon the woman's heart--

"Farewell, señora!" he said, in a melancholy voice; "I am going to
die--thanks to the bad influence you have exercised over me--in the
ranks of those to whom my duty orders me to be opposed! I am going to
die the death of a traitor, hated and despised by all! I pardon you the
evil you have done me. Repent!--there is still time! Farewell!"

He coldly bowed to the dejected Doña Maria, and rejoined the troop.

The Chilian army was formed in squares of echelons.

At the instant Don Tadeo was leaving his tent he uttered an exclamation
of joy at beholding two men.

"Don Louis! Don Valentine!" he exclaimed; "you here?"

"Faith! yes, here we are," Valentine replied, laughing; "Cæsar and
all, who has a great inclination to taste an Araucano; haven't you, old
dog?" he said.

"We thought," said the count, "that on a day like this you could not
have too many of your friends round you; we have left the two chiefs
concealed in the woods a short distance off, and have come to you."

"I thank you. You will not leave me, I hope."

"Pardieu! we came on purpose to stick to you."

Don Tadeo ordered each to be furnished with a superb charger, and all
three set off at a gallop to place themselves in the centre square.

The plain of Conderkanki, into which Don Tadeo had at length succeeded
in driving the Indians, has the form of an immense triangle. The
Araucanos occupied the summit of the triangle, and found themselves
hemmed in between the sea and the mountains.

"Well," Valentine asked Don Tadeo, "is not the battle going to begin?"

"Directly," the latter replied, "and be assured you will find it sharp
enough."

The dictator then raised his sword. The drums beat, the bugles sounded
the charge, and the Chilian army advanced at quick step. The signal
being given, the Araucanos advanced in their turn resolutely, uttering
frightful yells. As soon as their enemies were within a proper distance
the Chilian lines opened--a discharge of artillery roared forth its
thunders, and swept the front ranks of the Araucanos; then the squares
as suddenly closed, and the soldiers waited in their ranks, with
bayonets at charge.

The shock was terrible. The Aucas, decimated by the artillery which
ploughed their ranks, front, flank, and rear, faced about on all
sides at once, and rushed with fury upon the Chilian bayonets. As
soon as the first rank succumbed beneath the bullets, the second and
third resolutely replaced it. And yet the savage warriors retained
self-command in all their eagerness; they followed with exactness and
rapidity the orders of their Ulmens, and executed with the greatest
regularity the various evolutions which were commanded.

In spite of the close discharges of the musketry which cut them to
pieces, they rushed headlong upon the front ranks of the Chilians, and
at length attacked them hand to hand. The Chilian cavalry then dashed
in, and charged them to the very centre.

But General Bustamente had foreseen this movement. On his side he
executed the same manoeuvre, so that the two bodies of cavalry came in
contact with a noise like thunder. Calm and cool at the head of his
squadron, the general charged.

As Don Tadeo had predicted to Valentine, the battle was rudely
contested along the whole line; the Araucanos, with their tenacity
which nothing can repel, and their contempt of death, allowed
themselves to be slaughtered by the Chilian bayonets without yielding.
Antinahuel was in the van of his warriors, animating them with his
gestures and his voice.

"What men!" the count could not refrain from exclaiming; "what mad
rashness!"

"Is it not?" Don Tadeo replied; "They are demons."

"Pardieu!" Valentine cried. "What brave soldiers! Why, they will all be
killed if they go on so."

"All!" Don Tadeo replied.

The principal efforts of the Araucanians were directed against the
square where the general-in-chief was, surrounded by his staff. There
the fight was changed into a butchery; firearms had become useless,
bayonets, hatchets, sabres, and clubs furrowed breasts and crushed
skulls. Antinahuel looked around him. His followers were falling like
ears of ripe corn; the forest of bayonets which barred their passage
must be broken through at all hazards.

"Aucas!" he cried, in a voice of thunder "forward!"

With a movement rapid as thought, he lifted his horse, made it plunge,
and hurled it upon the front ranks of the enemy. The breach was opened
by this stroke of extraordinary audacity; the warriors rushed in after
him. A frightful carnage ensued--a tumult impossible to be described!
With every blow a man fell. The Aucas had plunged like a wedge into the
square, and had broken it.

"Well," Don Tadeo asked of Valentine, "what do you think of these
adversaries?"

"They are more than men!" he answered.

"Forward, forward! Chili! Chili!" Don Tadeo shouted, urging on his
horse.

Followed by about fifty men, among whom were the two Frenchmen, he
plunged into the thickest of the enemy's ranks. Don Gregorio and
General Fuentes had divined from the persistency with which the
Araucanos attacked the great square that their object was to take
the general-in-chief prisoner. Therefore, they had hastened their
movements, effected their junction, and enclosed the Aucas within a
circle of steel.

At a glance Antinahuel perceived the critical position in which he was
placed. He shouted to Bustamente a cry of anxious appeal. He also was
aware of the dangerous position of the Indian army.

"Let us save our warriors," he shouted.

"We will save them," the Indians howled.

All at once the general found himself immediately opposed to the
squadron commanded by Don Tadeo.

"Oh!" he cried, "I shall die at last."

From the commencement of the action Joan had fought by the side of Don
Tadeo, who, intent upon his duties as leader, often neglected to parry
the blows aimed at him; but the brave Indian parried them for him, and
seemed to multiply himself for the sake of protecting the man he had
sworn to defend. Joan instinctively divined the intention of General
Bustamente.

"Oh!" the general shouted; "my God, I thank thee. I shall not die by
the hand of a brother."

Joan's horse came full in contact with that of the general.

"Ah! ah!" the latter murmured, "you also are a traitor to your country;
you also are fighting against your brothers. Die, wretch!"

And he aimed a heavy sabre stroke at the Indian. But Joan avoided it,
and seized the general round the body. The two horses, abandoned to
themselves, and rendered furious by the noise of the battle, dragged
along the two men, who clung to each other like serpents. This furious
struggle could not last long, and both men rolled on the ground. They
disengaged themselves from their stirrups, and instantly stood face to
face. After a contest of skill for a few minutes, the general, who was
an expert swordsman, succeeded in planting a sabre cut which cleft the
skull of the Indian; but before falling Joan collected his strength,
and threw himself headlong upon his antagonist, who was surprised
by this unexpected attack, and plunged his poisoned dagger into his
breast. The two enemies staggered for a moment, and then fell, side by
side--dead!



CHAPTER XXXI.

CONQUEROR AND PRISONER.


On seeing General Bustamente fall, the Chilians uttered a loud cry of
triumph.

"Poor Joan!" Valentine murmured, as he cleft the skull of an Indian;
"poor Joan! he was a brave, faithful fellow."

"His death was a glorious one," Louis replied.

"By dying thus bravely," Don Tadeo observed, "Joan has rendered us a
last service.

"Bah!" Valentine philosophically rejoined, "he is happy. Must we not
all die, one day or another?"

Valentine was in his element; he had never been present at such a
festival, he absolutely fought with pleasure.

"Pardieu! we did wisely in quitting France," he said, "there is nothing
like travelling."

Louis laughed heartily at hearing him moralize.

"You seem to be enjoying yourself, brother," he said.

"Prodigiously." Valentine replied.

His courage was so great, so audacious, so spontaneous, that the
Chilians looked at him with admiration, and felt themselves electrified
by his example. Cæsar, covered by his master with a kind of cuirass
of leather and armed with an enormous collar edged with steel points,
inspired the Indians with the greatest terror--they knew not what to
make of such a creature.

The battle raged as fiercely as ever; both Chilians and Araucanos
fought upon heaps of carcases. The Indians gave up all hopes of
conquering, but they did not even think of flying; resolved all to die,
they determined to sell their lives as dearly as possible, and fought
with the terrible despair of brave men who neither expect nor ask for
quarter. The Chilian army drew nearer and nearer around them. A few
minutes more and the Araucano army would have ceased to exist.

Antinahuel shed tears of rage; he felt his heart bursting in his breast
at seeing his dearest companions thus fall around him. All these men,
the victims of the ambition of their chief, died without a complaint,
without a reproach. Suddenly a smile of strange character curled his
thin lips; he beckoned to the Ulmens, who were fighting near him, and
exchanged a few words.

After making a sign of acquiescence in reply to the orders they had
received, the Ulmens immediately regained their respective posts, and
during some minutes the battle continued to rage with the same fury.
But all at once a mass of fifteen hundred Indians simultaneously rushed
with inexpressible force against the centre squadron, in which Don
Tadeo fought, and enveloped it on all sides.

"Caramba!" shouted Valentine, "we are surrounded! Mon Dieu! we must
disengage ourselves, or these demons will cut us up."

And he dashed headlong into the thickest of the combatants, followed by
the rest of his party. After a hot struggle of three or four minutes,
they were safe and sound outside of the fatal circle.

"Hum!" said Valentine, "rather sharp work. But, thank God, here we are."

"Yes," the count replied, "we have had a narrow escape! But where is
Don Tadeo?"

"That is true," Valentine observed. "Oh," he added, striking his brow
with anger, "I see it all now. Quick, to the rescue!"

The two young men placed themselves at the head of the horsemen who
accompanied them, and rode back furiously into the _mêlée_. They soon
perceived the person they were in search of; Don Tadeo, supported by
only four or five men, was fighting desperately.

"Hold out! hold out!" Valentine shouted.

"We are here! Courage, we are here!" the count cried.

Their voices reached Don Tadeo, and he smiled.

"Thanks," he replied despondingly; "but all is useless. I am lost."

"Caramba!" said Valentine, biting his moustache with rage; "I will save
him, or perish with him."

And he redoubled his efforts. In vain the Aucas warriors opposed his
passage, every stroke of his sabre cut down a man. At length the
impetuosity of the two Frenchmen prevailed over the courage of the
Indians, and they penetrated into the circle--Don Tadeo had disappeared.

All at once, the Indian army, feeling, no doubt, the impossibility of
maintaining a longer contest with superior forces which threatened to
annihilate them, dispersed.

The victory of the Chilians was brilliant, and, probably, for a long
time the Araucanos would have no inclination to recommence a war.
Of ten thousand warriors who had formed their line of battle, the
Indians had left seven thousand on the field. General Bustamente, the
instigator of this war, was killed; his body was found with the dagger
still sticking in his breast; and, strange coincidence! The pommel of
the dagger bore the distinctive sign of the Dark Hearts.

The results obtained by the winning of this battle were immense.
Unfortunately, these results were lessened, if not compromised, by a
public disaster of immense consequence, which was the disappearance,
and perhaps the death, of Don Tadeo de León, the only man whose energy
and severity of principles could save the country. The Chilian army in
the midst of its triumph was plunged in grief.

The army encamped upon the field of battle; Valentine, the count, and
Don Gregorio, passed the whole night in searching amongst this immense
charnel house, upon which the vultures had already fallen with hideous
cries of joy. The three men had the courage to lift and examine heaps
of carcases; but all without success, they could not find the body of
their friend.

The next morning at daybreak the army set forward on its march towards
the Bio Bio, to re-enter Chili. It took with it, as hostages, thirty
Ulmens.

"Come with us," said Don Gregorio; "now our friend is dead, you can
have nothing more to do."

"I am not of your opinion," Valentine replied; "I do not think Don
Tadeo is dead."

"What makes you suppose that?" Don Gregorio asked; "have you any
proofs?"

"Unfortunately, none."

"And yet you must have some reason?"

"Why, yes, I have one."

"Then tell it me."

"I am afraid it will appear futile to you."

"Well, but tell it me, nevertheless."

"Well, since you insist upon it, I must confess that I feel a secret
presentiment."

"Upon what do you ground that supposition? You are too intelligent to
jest."

"You only do me justice. I perceived the absence of Don Tadeo. I went
back again, in quick time. Don Tadeo, though closely pressed, was
fighting vigorously, and I shouted out to him to stand his ground."

"And did he hear you?"

"Certainly he did, for he answered me. I redoubled my efforts--he had
disappeared, and left no traces behind."

"And you thence conclude--"

"That his numerous enemies seized him and carried him off."

"But who can tell whether, after having killed him, they have not
carried away the body?"

"Why should they do that? Don Tadeo dead, could only inconvenience
them, whereas, as prisoner, they probably hope that by restoring him to
liberty. Or perhaps, by threatening to kill him, they will have their
hostages given up."

Don Gregorio was struck with the justness of this reasoning.

"It is possible," he replied; "there is a great deal of truth in what
you say--what do you mean to do?"

"A very simple thing, my friend. In the environs are concealed two
Indian chiefs."

"Well?"

"These men are devoted to Louis and me, and they will serve us as
guides."

Don Gregorio looked at him for an instant in deep emotion, and tears
glistened in his eyes; he took the young man's hand pressed it warmly,
and said, in a voice tremulous with tenderness--

"Don Valentine, pardon me I did not know you; I have not appreciated
your heart at its just value. Don Valentine, will you permit me to
embrace you?"

"With all my heart, my brave friend," the young man replied.

"Then you are going?" Don Gregorio resumed.

"Immediately."

"Come on," said Valentine to his foster brother, as he whistled to
Cæsar and clapped spurs to his horse.

"I am with you," Louis replied, promptly.

And they set off.



CHAPTER XXXII.

AFTER THE BATTLE.


For some time the young men followed at a distance the march of the
Chilian army, which advanced slowly, though in good order, towards the
Bio Bio. They crossed, at a foot's pace, the plain where the day before
the sanguinary battle had been fought between the Indians and the
Chilians.

"Why do we not hasten to quit this accursed place?" Valentine asked.

"We have a duty to fulfil," Louis replied solemnly.

"A duty to fulfil?" said Valentine.

"Yes," the young me continued, "would you leave our poor Joan without
sepulture?"

"Thank you for having reminded me of it; oh, you are better than I am,
you forget nothing."

"Do not calumniate yourself."

In a short time they arrived at the spot where Joan and General
Bustamente had fallen. The foster brothers remained for a few instants,
drew their sabres and dug a deep hole, in which they buried the two
enemies.

"Farewell!" said Valentine. "Farewell, Joan! Sleep in peace, at the
spot where you valiantly fought; the remembrance of you will not be
easily effaced."

"Farewell, Joan!" said the count, in his turn. "Sleep in peace, good
friend."

Cæsar had watched with intelligent attention the movements of his
masters; at this moment he placed his forepaws upon the grave, smelt
the earth, and then gave two lugubrious howls.

The young men felt their spirits very much depressed; they remounted
their horses silently, and after having taken one last farewell look at
the spot where the brave Araucano lay, they departed.

They had by degrees diverged a little towards the right to get nearer
to the mountains and were following a narrow path traced along the
rather sharp descent of a wooded hill. Cæsar suddenly pricked up his
ears, and sprang forward, wagging his tail.

"We are getting near," said Louis.

"Yes," Valentine replied, laconically.

They soon reached a place where the path formed a bend, round which
the Newfoundland disappeared. After passing this elbow, the Frenchmen
suddenly found themselves in front of a fire, before which a quarter
of a guanaco was roasting; two men, reclined upon the grass at a short
distance, were smoking comfortably, whilst Cæsar, gravely seated on
his tail, followed with a jealous eye the progress of the cooking of
the guanaco. These two men were Curumilla and Trangoil-Lanec. At the
sight of their friends, the Frenchmen dismounted. Valentine led the
horses up to those of the Indians, hobbled them, unsaddled them, and
gave them some provender; then he took his place by the fire. Not a
word had been exchanged between the four men.

"Well?" Trangoil-Lanec asked, at length.

"The battle has been a fierce one," Valentine replied.

"I know it has," said the Indian, shaking his head; "the Araucanos are
conquered; I saw them flying."

"They supported a bad cause," observed Curumilla.

"They are our brothers," Trangoil-Lanec said.

Curumilla bowed his head at this reproach.

"He who placed arms in their hands is dead," said Valentine.

"Good! And does my brother know the name of the warrior who killed him?"

"Yes, I know it," Valentine said mournfully.

"Let my brother tell me that name that I may keep it in my memory."

"Joan, our friend, killed that man."

"That is true," said Curumilla; "but why is not Joan here?"

"My brothers will never see Joan again," said Valentine.

The two chiefs exchanged a look of sorrow.

"He had a noble heart," they murmured.

"Yes," added Valentine; "and he was a friend."

A short silence ensued; then the two chiefs suddenly rose and went
towards their horses, without speaking a word.

"Where are our brothers going?" the count asked.

"To give sepulture to a warrior; the body of Joan must not become the
prey of urubus," Trangoil-Lanec replied, gravely.

"My brothers can take their places again," Louis said.

The chiefs re-seated themselves silently.

"Do Trangoil-Lanec and Curumilla know their brothers so ill," Louis
continued, "as to suppose they would leave the body of a friend without
sepulture? Joan was buried by us before we rejoined our brothers."

"Good!" said Trangoil-Lanec.

"The Muruches are not Huincas," Curumilla said.

"But a great misfortune has happened to us," Louis continued
sorrowfully; "Don Tadeo, our dearest friend--"

"Well?" Curumilla interrupted.

"He is dead," said Valentine; "he was killed in the battle yesterday."

"Is my brother certain of what he states?"

"At least I suppose so, as his body has not been found."

"Let my brothers be consoled," said the Ulmen; "the Great Eagle of the
Whites is not dead."

"Does the chief know that?" the two young men exclaimed in a breath.

"I do know it," replied Trangoil-Lanec. "Let my brothers listen.
Curumilla and I are chiefs in our tribe; if our opinions prevented us
from fighting for Antinahuel, they prevented us also from bearing arms
against our nation. Our friends wished to go and join the Great Eagle;
we left them to act as they pleased. They wished to protect a friend;
they were right. We allowed them to go; but after their departure we
thought of the young maiden of the palefaces, and we reflected that if
the Aucas lost the battle, the maiden, according to the orders of the
Toqui, would be the first placed in safety; in consequence we squatted
among the bushes by the side of the road which, according to all
probability, the mosotones would take when flying with their charge.
The battle lasted long; as they always do, the Aucas died bravely."

"You may justly be proud of them, chief," Valentine exclaimed warmly.

"For that reason they are called Aucas--free men," replied
Trangoil-Lanec.

"Suddenly a noise like thunder struck our ears, and between twenty and
thirty mosotones passed by us like the wind. They took with them two
women; one was the viper face, and the other the blue-eyed maiden."

"Oh!" the count exclaimed.

"A few minutes later," Trangoil-Lanec continued, "another troop, much
more numerous than the first, arrived with equal swiftness; this was
led by Antinahuel in person."

"He is wounded," Valentine observed.

"By his side galloped the Great Eagle of the Whites."

"Was he wounded?" Louis asked, anxiously.

"No, he carried himself upright."

"Oh! if he is not dead, we will save him."

"Save him? Yes, Don Valentine."

"When shall we take the track?"

"At daybreak. We will save the daughter, and we will deliver the
father," said Trangoil-Lanec.

"Good, chief," Valentine replied with delight; "I am happy to hear you
speak so; all is not lost yet."

"Far from it," said the Ulmen.

"Now, my brothers, that we feel reassured," Louis observed, "if you
will take my advice, we will enjoy a few hours of repose."



CHAPTER XXXIII.

FIRST HOURS OF CAPTIVITY.


Trangoil-Lanec had not been deceived, it was really Don Tadeo whom
he had seen galloping by the side of the Toqui. The King of Darkness
was not dead, he was not even wounded, but he was the prisoner of
Antinahuel.

After Don Tadeo saw his faithful followers fall one after the other
by his side, and he was left alone, he still continued fighting. It
was then that he heard the cries of encouragement from Valentine and
the count. Antinahuel had also heard the shouts of the Frenchmen, and
on seeing the incredible efforts they made to succour their friend,
he perceived that if he delayed the capture, his prey would escape
him; hence he tore off his poncho and threw it skilfully over the head
of Don Tadeo, who, blinded and embarrassed in the folds of the ample
woollen vestment, was disarmed.

Antinahuel, whilst flying with the swiftness of an arrow, contrived to
rally around him a good number of horsemen, so that at the end of about
twenty minutes, he found himself at the head of five hundred warriors.
The Toqui formed of these warriors a compact squadron, and turning
round several times, like a tiger pursued by the hunters, he charged
the Chilian horse vigorously. When arrived at a certain distance, and
the conquerors had renounced the pursuit, he stopped to look after his
prisoner, and allow his troop to take breath.

Since his capture Don Tadeo had given no signs of life, and Antinahuel
feared with reason that, deprived of air, and shaken by the rapidity
and roughness of the course, he should find him in a dangerous state.
He hastened to untie the lasso, the numerous twists of which cut the
prisoner in all parts of his body, and then took off the poncho which
covered him--Don Tadeo had fainted. Want of air alone caused this
result, so that as soon as he breathed freely he opened his eyes. At
this happy result a smile of indefinable meaning lighted the features
of the Toqui for a second.

Don Tadeo cast around a look of astonishment, and appeared to sink into
deep reflection; memory, however, returned by degrees, he recollected
what had taken place, and how he came into the hands of the chief. He
rose crossed his arms upon his breast, and looking steadfastly at the
great chief--waited.

"Does my father feel himself better?"

"Yes," Don Tadeo replied laconically.

"Can we then set on again?"

"Is it for me to give you orders?"

"If my father were not sufficiently recovered to sit on horseback we
would wait a little."

"Oh, oh!" said Don Tadeo.

"I should be very sorry if any inconvenience befell my father."

Don Tadeo shrugged his shoulders disdainfully, and Antinahuel resumed--

"We are about to depart; will my father give me his word of honour not
to attempt to escape? If he do so, I will allow him to be free amongst
us."

"Will you have faith in my word?"

"I am but a poor Indian, my father is a caballero."

"Before I reply, tell me whither you are taking me."

"I am taking my father to the country of the Puelches, my brothers."

A feeling of joy rushed into the prisoner's heart, he should see his
daughter.

"How long is this journey likely to last?"

"Only three days."

"I give you my word of honour not to attempt to escape for three days."

"Good," the chief replied, in a solemn voice.

"When my father is ready, we will depart," Antinahuel said.

Don Tadeo mounted, the Toqui followed his example, and the troop set
off at a smart pace.


The sun had sunk low in the horizon when the chief commanded a halt.
The spot was admirably chosen; it was a narrow valley, situated on
the not very high summit of a hill, the position of which rendered a
surprise almost impossible.

Antinahuel seemed to have forgotten his hatred for Don Tadeo; he spoke
to him with the greatest deference. Confiding in his word of honour,
he left him entirely free. As soon as the repast was terminated,
sentinels were placed, and everyone sought repose. Don Tadeo in vain
courted sleep, for a too powerful anxiety devoured him to allow him to
close his eyes. Seated at the foot of a tree, his head reclining on his
breast, he passed the whole night in reflecting upon the strange events
which for some months passed had assailed him.

The rising sun found him plunged in these sad thoughts, and sleep had
not for an instant closed his weary eyelids. But everybody was in
motion in the camp; the horses were saddled, and after a hasty repast
the march was continued. The day passed away without any incident
worthy of being recorded. In the evening they encamped, as they had
done the night before, on the summit of a hill; the sole difference was
that, as the Araucanos now knew themselves to be beyond the danger of a
surprise, they did not take such great precautions as on the preceding
occasion; but still they raised entrenchments.

Don Tadeo, overcome by fatigue, sank into a leaden sleep, from which he
was not roused till the moment for departure.



CHAPTER XXXIV.

THE ULTIMATUM.


Antinahuel had rejoined the mosotones to whom he had confided Doña
Rosario two days previously. The two troops now formed but one. The
Toqui had at first entertained the intention of crossing the first
plateau of the Andes. But the battle they had lost had produced
terrible consequences; their principal tolderías had been burned by the
Spaniards, their towns sacked, and the inhabitants either killed or
carried away. Such as had been able to fly had at first wandered about
the woods without an object; but as soon as they learned that the Toqui
had succeeded in escaping, they re-assembled, and sent envoys to him to
demand assistance.

Antinahuel rejoiced at the movement of reaction which was going on
among his countrymen. He changed his itinerary, and had, at the head
of a hundred men only, returned back in the direction of the Bio Bio;
whilst by his order his other warriors dispersed throughout the Aucas
territory for the purpose of rousing the people to arms. The Toqui
had no intention now of extending the Araucanian dominions; his only
desire now was to obtain, arms in hand, a peace which might not be too
disadvantageous for his country.

For a reason only known to Antinahuel, Don Tadeo and Rosario were
completely ignorant that they were so near to each other.

Antinahuel had pitched his camp at the summit of the mountain, where
some days before he had been with the whole Indian army, in the strong
position which commanded the ford of the Bio Bio.

It was about two o'clock in the afternoon. With the exception of a few
Araucanian sentinels, leaning motionless upon their long lances, the
camp appeared a desert; silence reigned everywhere. Suddenly a trumpet
call was sounded from the opposite side of the river. The Ulmen charged
with the care of the advanced posts ordered a reply to be sounded,
and went out to inquire the cause. Three horsemen, clothed in rich
uniforms, stood upon the bank; close to them was a trumpeter, waving a
flag of truce. The Ulmen hoisted a similar flag, and advanced into the
water to meet the horsemen.

"What do the chiefs of the white faces want?" the Ulmen asked,
haughtily.

One of the horsemen immediately replied--

"Go and tell the Toqui that a general officer has an important
communication to make to him."

The wild eye of the Indian flashed at this insult; but he said,
disdainfully--

"I will go and inquire whether our great Toqui is disposed to receive
you; but I much doubt whether he will condescend to listen to
Cheapolo-Huincas."

"Fool!" the other replied angrily; "make haste."

"Be patient, Don Gregorio, in Heaven's name!" one of the two officers
exclaimed.

At the expiration of a few minutes a sign was made from the bank that
the Chilians might advance. Antinahuel, seated under the shade of a
magnificent espino, awaited the officers. They stopped before him, and
remained motionless.

"What is your will?" he asked, in a stern voice.

"Listen to my words, and mark them carefully," Don Gregorio replied.

"Speak, and be brief," said Antinahuel.

Don Gregorio shrugged his shoulders disdainfully,

"Don Tadeo de León is in your hands," he said.

"Yes; the man is my prisoner."

"Very well. If tomorrow, by the third hour of the day, he is not given
up to us safe and sound, the hostages we have taken, and more than
eighty others, will be shot within sight of the two camps."

"You will do as you please, but this man shall die!" the chief replied,
coldly.

"Oh! that is the case, is it? Very well! I, Don Gregorio Peralta, swear
to you, on my part, that I will strictly keep the promise I have made
you."


And turning his horse sharply round he departed.

And yet there was more bravado than anything else in the threat made by
Antinahuel. If pride had not prevented him, he would have renewed the
parley. He returned to his camp buried in thought, and went straight
to his toldo. The Linda, who was seated in a corner upon sheepskins,
was as much absorbed in thought as the chief; Doña Rosario had fallen
asleep. At the sight of the young girl the chief experienced a peculiar
emotion, the blood flowed back forcibly to his heart, and springing
towards her, he imprinted a burning kiss upon her half-open lips, Doña
Rosario, suddenly awakened, bounded to the extremity of the toldo,
uttering a cry of terror.

"What is the meaning of all this?" the chief exclaimed angrily; "Whence
comes this terror?"

And he took several steps towards her.

"Advance no further! advance no further! in Heavens name!" she shrieked.

"What is the use of all this folly? You are mine."

"Never!" she said, in an agony of grief.

"Nonsense!" he said; "I am not a paleface, the tears of women have no
effect upon me."

And he advanced again towards her. The Linda, still apparently buried
in her reflections, seemed not to be aware of what was going on.

"Señora, señora!" the maiden cried; "in the name of all that is sacred
defend me, I implore you!"

The Linda raised her head, looked at her coldly, and, with a dry
nervous laugh, said--

"Have I not told you what you had to expect?"

Then she thrust her roughly from her.

"Oh!" cried Doña Rosario, in a piercing voice, "maldición on you,
heartless woman!"

Again the chief approached, and again his victim darted to the other
side of the apartment, but unfortunately as she passed he caught her
dress in his iron grasp. And now the noble energy that never deserts
virtue in distress returned to her. She drew herself up proudly, and
fixed her eyes steadfastly on her pursuer. "Stand back!" she cried,
brandishing her dagger. "Stand back! or I will kill myself!"

In spite of himself the demon stood motionless. He was convinced that
it was not a vain threat the girl uttered. At that moment the hideous,
scarred, grinning face of the Linda was bent towards his ear.

"Appear to yield," she whispered; "I will tame her, leave her to me!"

Antinahuel looked at her with a suspicious eye. The Linda smiled.

"Do you promise me?" he said, in a hoarse voice.

"On my soul I do," she replied.

In the meantime Doña Rosario--her arm elevated and her body bent
forward--awaited the denouement of this frightful scene. With a
facility which the Indians alone possess, Antinahuel composed his
countenance so as entirely to change its expression.

"My sister will pardon me," he said, in a soft voice; "I was mad,
reason is restored to my mind."

After again bowing to the young lady, who did not know to what to
attribute this sudden change, he left the toldo.

Upon reflection, Antinahuel resolved to strike his camp and depart.

The Linda and Doña Rosario were sent in advance, under the guard of
some mosotones. The young girl, weakened by the terrible emotions she
had undergone, could scarcely sit her horse; a burning fever had seized
her. "I am thirsty--so thirsty!" she murmured.

At a sign from the Linda one of the mosotones approached her, and
unfastened a gourd.

"Let my sister drink," he said.

The maiden seized the gourd eagerly, applied it to her lips, and drank
a large draught.

"Good!" said the Linda to herself.

"Thank you," Doña Rosario murmured, restoring the gourd almost empty.
But ere long her eyes gradually grew heavy, and she sank back,
murmuring in a faint voice--

"Good Heaven! what can be the matter with me? I am dying."

One of the mosotones caught her in his arms, and placed her before him
on his saddle. All at once she for a moment recovered herself as if by
an electric shock, opened her eyes, and cried with a piercing voice,
"Help, help!" and relapsed into insensibility.

On hearing this agonised cry, the Linda, in spite of herself, felt her
heart fail her, but quickly recovering, she said, with a bitter smile--

"Am I growing foolish?"

She made a sign to the mosotone who carried Doña Rosario to draw
nearer, and examined her attentively.

"She is asleep," she muttered, with an expression of satisfied hatred;
"when she awakes I shall be avenged."

At this moment Antinahuels position was very critical. Too weak to
attempt anything serious against the Chilians, whom he wished to
induce to make a peace advantageous for his country, he endeavoured to
gain time by moving about on the frontier, so that his enemies, not
knowing where to find him, could not force conditions upon him which
he ought not to accept. Although the Aucas responded to the appeal of
his emissaries, and rose eagerly to come and join his ranks, it was
necessary to give the tribes, most of them remote, time to concentrate
upon the point he had named.

On their side the Spaniards, whose internal tranquillity was for the
future secured by the death of General Bustamente, had very little
desire to carry on a war which had no longer any interest for them.
They stood in need of peace to repair the evils created by the civil
war, they therefore confined themselves to arming their frontiers, and
endeavoured by every means to bring about serious conferences with
the principal Araucan chiefs. Don Gregorio Peralta had been blamed
for the threat he had so hastily made to Antinahuel, and he himself
acknowledged the folly of his conduct when he heard of the Toquis
departure with his prisoner. Another system had in consequence been
adopted. Only ten of the principal chiefs were detained as hostages.
The others, well instructed and loaded with presents, were set at
liberty. Everything rendered it probable that these chiefs on their
return to their respective tribes would employ their influence to
conclude a peace, and unmask before the council the proceedings of
Antinahuel, proceedings which had brought the nation to the verge of
ruin.

The Araucanos are passionate in their love of liberty; for them every
consideration gives way to that of being free. Hence it was easy to
foresee that the Aucas, in spite of their veneration for their Toqui,
would not hesitate to depose him when their chiefs on the one part and
the friendly captains on the other, made it clear to them that that
liberty was compromised, and that they exposed themselves to being
deprived of it forever, and falling under the Spanish yoke if they
continued their aggressive policy.



CHAPTER XXXV.

A FURY.


After a march of five or six leagues at most, Antinahuel ordered his
troop to bivouac. The warriors who accompanied him were almost all of
his own tribe. As soon as the fires were lighted the Linda approached
him.

"I have kept my promise," she said.

"Then, the young girl----?" he asked.

"Is asleep!" she replied, with a hideous smile.

"Good," he murmured, joyfully, and bent his steps towards the toldo,
erected in haste, beneath which his victim had been transported. "No,"
he said, "presently!" and then turning to his accomplice added, "For
how long a time has my sister sent the young girl to sleep?"

"She will not awake before daybreak."

A smile of satisfaction lit up the chief's features.

"That is well--my sister is skilful, and I should like to show my
sister," he continued, "that I am not ungrateful, and that I also keep
my word faithfully."

The Linda fixed a searching look upon him.

"Of what word is my brother speaking?"

"My sister has an enemy whom she has pursued for a long time, without
being able to destroy him," Antinahuel said, with a smile.

"Don Tadeo?"

"Yes, and that enemy is also mine."

"Well?"

"He is in my power."

"Don Tadeo is my brother's prisoner?"

"He is here."

"At last," she cried, triumphantly. "Then I will repay him all the
tortures he has inflicted upon me."

"Yes; she is at liberty to make him undergo all the insults her
inventive spirit can furnish her with."

"Oh!" she cried, in a voice that almost made the hardened chief
shudder, "I will only inflict one punishment upon him, but it shall be
terrible."

"But be careful, woman." Antinahuel replied; "be careful not to let
your hatred carry you too far; this man's life is mine, and I will
deprive him of it with my own hands."

"Oh!" she said, with a hideous, mocking laugh, "do not be afraid; I
will return your victim to you safe and sound. I am not a man--my
weapon is my tongue."

"Yes; but that weapon is double-edged,"

"I will restore him to you, I tell you."

"There," the chief replied, pointing to a hut made of branches; "but
beware forget not what I said."

"I will not forget," she retorted, with a savage leer.

And she sprang towards the hut.

"It is only women that know how to hate," Antinahuel murmured, looking
after her.

A score of warriors waited for their chief at the entrance of the camp.
He sprang into his saddle and departed with them.

Although through pride he had allowed nothing to appear, the threats of
Don Gregorio had produced a strong impression upon Antinahuel. He had
reason to fear that the Chilian officer would massacre his prisoners
and hostages. The consequences of this action would be terrible to him,
and would make him lose beyond recovery the prestige he still enjoyed
among his compatriots; therefore, forced for the first time in his life
to bend, he had resolved to retrace his steps, and confer with this man.

Endowed with great finesse, Antinahuel flattered himself he could
obtain from Don Gregorio a delay which would enable him to sacrifice
his prisoner without being called to an account for it. But time
pressed.

It was scarcely eight o'clock in the evening, and Antinahuel had but
six leagues to ride; he flattered himself, therefore, that if nothing
thwarted his plans, he should arrive long before the time, and even
return to his camp ere sunrise.

We have said that the Linda entered the hut which sheltered Don Tadeo.
She found him seated upon a heap of dry leaves in a corner of the hut,
his back leaning against a tree, his arms crossed upon his breast, and
his head drooping on his chest. Absorbed by the bitter thoughts which
weighed upon his heart, he did not perceive the entrance of the Linda,
who, standing motionless within two paces of him, contemplated him with
an expression of rage and satisfied hatred.

"Well?" said a shrill, incisive voice, "What are you thinking of, Don
Tadeo?"

He started at the too well-known sound, and raised his head.

"Ah!" he replied, bitterly, "is that you? I wondered I had not seen you
before."

"It is strange, is it not?" she replied. "Well, we are once more face
to face."

"Like a hyena, the odour of blood attracts you."

"Who--I, Don Tadeo? You mistake my character strangely. No, no; am I
not your wife--the woman whom you loved so much?"

Don Tadeo shrugged his shoulders with an expression of disgust.

"You ought to be grateful for what I do," she replied.

"Listen to me," said Don Tadeo, "your insults can never rise to the
height of my contempt. Do, act, speak, insult me, invent the most
atrocious calumnies your infernal genius can inspire, I will not answer
you! Concentrated in myself, your insults, like a vain sound, will
strike my ear without my mind making the least effort to understand
them."

"Oh!" she cried, "I know well how to compel you to listen to me, my
beloved husband. You men are all alike! You arrogate to yourselves
all the rights, as you have done all the virtues! We are contemptible
beings, creatures without heart; condemned to be your very humble
servants, and to endure, with a smile upon our lips, all the insults
you please to heap upon us! It was I who was always wrong; you are
right; it was I who stole your child from you, was it not?"

At the end of a minute she resumed--

"Come, let there be no feigning between us; let us speak for the last
time openly. You are the prisoner of your most implacable enemy; the
most frightful tortures await you. In a few instants, perhaps, the
punishment which threatens you will fall like a thunderbolt upon your
proud head. Well, I can enable you to escape this punishment; that
life, which you now reckon only by seconds, I can restore to you,
happy, long, and glorious! In a word, I can with one sentence, one
gesture, one sign, restore you to liberty immediately! I only ask one
thing of you--I mistake, not a thing, a word--utter that word, Don
Tadeo, where is my daughter?"

Don Tadeo shrugged his shoulders, but made no reply.

"Oh!" she exclaimed, with a gesture of fury, "this man is a bar of
iron; nothing can touch him--no words are sufficiently strong to move
him! Demon! demon! oh, with what joy I could tear you to pieces! But
no," she added, after a moment's pause, "I am wrong, Don Tadeo; pardon
me, I know not what I say; grief makes me mad! Have pity on me! I am
a woman--I am a mother. I adore my child, my poor little girl whom I
have not seen so long, who has lived deprived of my kisses and my love!
Restore her to me, Don Tadeo. See, I am on my knees at your feet! I
supplicate you, I weep! Don Tadeo, restore me my child!"

She cast herself at the feet of Don Tadeo, and seized his poncho.

"Begone, señora, begone!"

"And is that all?" she cried, in a choked, husky voice; "Is that all? I
implore you, I drag myself panting with grief through the dust at your
feet, and you laugh at me. Prayers and threats are equally powerless
with you. Beware, Don Tadeo, beware!"

Don Tadeo smiled disdainfully.

"What punishment can you impose upon me more terrible than your
presence?" he said.

"Senseless man!" she resumed; "Fool! Do you imagine, then, that you
alone are in my power?"

"What do you mean by that?" Don Tadeo cried, starting up.

"Ah, ah!" she exclaimed, with an expression of ferocious joy, "I have
hit the mark this time, have I?"

"Speak, speak!" he exclaimed, in great agitation.

"And suppose I should not please to do so?" she replied ironically. And
she laughed like a demon.

"But no," she continued, in a bitterly sarcastic tone, "I cannot bear
malice: come along with me, Don Tadeo; I will lead you to her whom you
have so long sought for in vain, and whom but for me you would never
see again. And see how generous I am," she added, jeeringly. "Come
along with me, Don Tadeo."

She hastily left the hut, and Don Tadeo followed her, struck by a
horrible presentiment.



CHAPTER XXXVI.

A THUNDERCLAP.


The Araucanos, spread about the camp, saw with surprise these two
persons, both in apparent agitation, pass them. Doña Maria rushed into
the toldo, followed by Don Tadeo. Doña Rosario was fast asleep upon
a bed of dry leaves, covered with sheepskins. She had the appearance
of a dead person. Don Tadeo, deceived by this, sprang towards her,
exclaiming in a tone of despair--

"She is dead! oh, heavens, she is dead!"

"No, no," said the Linda, "she is asleep."

"Still," he exclaimed, "this sleep cannot be natural, for our coming in
should have awakened her."

"Well! perhaps it is not natural."

Don Tadeo cast an inquiring glance at her.

"Oh," she said, ironically, "she is alive; only it was necessary to
send her to sleep for awhile."

Don Tadeo was mute with confused astonishment.

"You do not understand me," she resumed. "Well, I will explain; this
girl whom you love so much--"

"Oh, yes, I love her!" he interrupted.

"It was I who took her from you," said the Linda, with a bitter smile.

"Wretch, miserable wretch!"

"Why, I hated you, and I avenged myself; I knew the deep love you bear
this creature. To take her from you was aiming a blow at your heart."

"Miserable!" Don Tadeo cried.

"Ah, yes," the Linda replied, smiling, "that revenge was miserable; it
did not at all amount to what I intended; but chance offered me what
could alone satisfy me, by breaking your very heart."

"What frightful infamy can this monster have imagined?" Don Tadeo
murmured.

"Antinahuel, the enemy of your race, your enemy, became enamoured of
this woman."

"What!" he exclaimed, in a tone of horror.

"Yes, after his fashion, he loved her," she continued, coolly; "so I
resolved to sell her to him, and I did so; but when the chief wished to
avail himself of the rights I had given him, she resisted, and arming
herself suddenly with a dagger, threatened to plunge it into her own
heart."

"Noble girl!" he exclaimed, deeply affected.

"Is she not?" said the Linda, with her malign vacant smile; "so I
took pity on her, and as I had no particular wish for her death, but
a very anxious one for her dishonour, I this evening gave her some
opium, which will place her, without means of defence, in the power of
Antinahuel. Have I attained my object this time?"

Don Tadeo made no reply, this utter depravity in a woman absolutely
terrified him.

"Well," she continued, in a mocking tone, "have you nothing to say?"

"Mad woman, mad woman!" he cried, in a loud voice, "you have avenged
yourself, you say? Mad woman! Could you a mother, pretending to adore
your daughter, coolly, unhesitatingly, conceive such crimes? I say, do
you know what you have done?"

"My daughter, you named my daughter! Restore her to me! Tell me where
she is, and I will save this woman. Oh! if I could but see her!"

"Your daughter, wretch? You serpent bursting with venom! Is it possible
you think of her?"

"Oh, if I found her again, I would love her so."

"Do you fancy that possible?" said Don Tadeo.

"Oh, yes, a daughter cannot hate her mother."

"Ask herself, then!" he cried, in a voice of thunder.

"What! what! what!" she shrieked. In a tone of thrilling agony, and
springing up as if electrified; "What did you say? What did you say,
Don Tadeo?"

"I say, miserable wretch! that the innocent creature whom you have
pursued with the inveteracy of a hungry hyena, is your daughter!--do
you hear me? your daughter! She whom you pretend to love so dearly, and
whom, a few minutes ago, you demanded of me so earnestly."

The Linda remained for an instant motionless, as if thunderstruck; and
then exclaimed, with a loud, demoniac laugh--

"Well played, Don Tadeo! well played, by Heaven! For a moment I
believed you were telling the truth."

"Oh!" Don Tadeo murmured, "this wretched being cannot recognise her own
child."

"No, I do not believe it! It is not possible! Nature would have warned
me that it was my child!"

"God renders those blind whom He would destroy, miserable woman! An
exemplary punishment was due to His insulted justice!"

The Linda turned about in the toldo like a wild beast in a cage,
uttering inarticulate cries, incessantly repeating in a broken voice--

"No, no! she cannot be my daughter!"

Don Tadeo experienced a feeling of deadly hatred, in spite of his
better nature, at beholding this profound grief; he also wished to
avenge himself.

"Senseless woman," he said, "had the child I stole from you no sign, no
mark whatever, by which it would be possible for you to recognise her?"

"Yes, yes," she cried, roused from her stupor; "wait! wait!"

And she threw herself down upon her knees, leant over the sleeping
Rosario, and tore the covering from her neck and shoulder.

"My child!" she exclaimed; "it is she! it is my child!"

She had perceived three small moles upon the young girl's right
shoulder. Suddenly her body became agitated by convulsive movements,
her face was horribly distorted, her glaring eyes seemed staring from
their sockets; she, clasped her hands tightly to her breast, uttered
a deep rattle, more like a roar than a sound from a human mouth, and
rolled upon the ground, crying with an accent impossible to describe--

"My daughter! my daughter! Oh, I will save her!"

She crawled, with the action of a wild beast, to the feet of the poor
girl.

"Rosario, my daughter!" she cried, in a voice broken by sobs; "it is I,
it is your mother! Know me, dear!"

"It is you who have killed her," Don Tadeo said, implacably; "unnatural
mother, who coolly planned the dishonour of your own child."

"Oh, do not speak so!" she cried, clasping her hands; "She shall not
die! I will not let her die! She must live! I will save her, I tell
you!"

"It is too late."

"I tell you I will save her," she repeated, in a deep tone.

At this moment the steps of horses resounded.

"Here is Antinahuel!" said Don Tadeo.

"Yes," she replied, with a short, determined accent, "of what
consequence is his arrival? Woe be to him if he touch my child!"

The curtain of the toldo was lifted by a firm hand, and an Indian
appeared: it was Antinahuel. A warrior followed with a torch.

"Eh, eh!" said the chief, with an ironical smile.

"Yes," Linda replied smiling; "my brother arrives opportunely."

"Has my sister had a satisfactory conversation with her husband?"

"Yes," she replied.

"Good! the Great Eagle of the Whites is an intrepid warrior; the Aucas
warriors will soon put his courage to the test."

This brutal allusion to the fate that was reserved for him was
perfectly understood by Don Tadeo.

"Men of my temperament do not allow themselves to be frightened by vain
threats," he retorted.

The Linda drew the chief aside.

"Antinahuel is my brother," she said, in a low voice; "we were brought
up together."

"Has my sister anything to ask for?"

"Yes, and for his own sake my brother would do well to grant it me."

Antinahuel looked at her earnestly.

"Speak," he said, coolly.

"Everything my brother has desired I have done."

The chief bowed his head affirmatively.

"This woman, who resisted him," she continued, "I have given up to him
without defence."

"Good!"

"My brother knows that the palefaces have secrets which they alone
possess?"

"I know they have."

"If my brother pleases it shall not be a woman cold, motionless, and
buried in sleep, that I surrender to him."

The eye of the Indian kindled with a strange light.

"I do not understand my sister," he said.

"I am able," the Linda replied, earnestly, "in three days so completely
to change this woman's feelings for my brother, that she will be
towards him loving and devoted."

"Can my sister do that?" he asked, doubtingly.

"I can do it," she replied, resolutely.

Antinahuel reflected for a few minutes.

"Why did my sister wait so long to do this?"

"Because I did not think it would be necessary."

"Ooch!" said the Indian, thoughtfully.

"Besides," she added, carelessly, "if I say anything about it now, it
is only from friendship for my brother."

Whilst pronouncing these words, an internal shudder agitated her whole
frame.

"And will it require three days to effect this change?"

"Three days."

"Antinahuel is a wise chief--he will wait."

The Linda experienced great inward joy; if the chief had refused, her
resolution was formed--she would have stabbed him to the heart.

"Good!" she said; "my brother may depend upon my promise."

"Yes," the Toqui replied; "the girl is sick; it would be better she
should be cured."

The Linda smiled with an undefinable expression.

"The Eagle will follow me," said Antinahuel; "unless he prefers giving
me his word."

"No!" Don Tadeo answered.

The two men left the toldo together. Antinahuel commanded his warriors
to guard the prisoner strictly.

At sunrise the camp was struck, and the Aucas marched during the whole
day into the mountains without any determinate object.

"Has my sister commenced?" asked the chief of Linda.

"I have commenced," she replied.

The truth was she had passed the whole day in vainly endeavouring to
induce the maiden to speak to her; the latter had constantly refused,
but the Linda was not a woman to be easily repulsed. As soon as the
chief had left her, she went to Doña Rosario, and stooping to her ear,
said in a low, melancholy voice--

"Pardon me all the ill I have done you--I did not know who you were; in
the name of Heaven, have pity on me--I am your mother!"

At this avowal, the young girl staggered as if she were thunderstruck.
The Linda sprang towards her, but Doña Rosario repulsed her with a cry
of horror, and fled into her toldo.

"Oh!" the Linda cried, with tears in her eyes, "I will love her so that
she must pardon me."



CHAPTER XXXVII.

UPON THE TRACK.


It was the evening of the eighth day, after twenty leagues from Arauca.
In a virgin forest of myrtles, cypresses, and espinos, which cover with
their green shade the lower parts of the Cordilleras--four men were
seated round a fire. Of these four men, two wore the Indian costume,
and were no other than Trangoil-Lanec and Curumilla; the others were
the count and Valentine.

The spot on which our travellers had halted was one of those glades so
common in American forests. It was a vast space covered with the trunks
of trees that have died from age, or been struck by lightning, deeply
inclosed between two hills.

The Indians were too experienced to commit the fault of stopping of
their own accord in this place; and it was only from the impossibility
of going further that they had consented to pass the night there.

The day had been a rough one, but the night promised to be mild and
tranquil. The travellers attacked their supper bravely, in order to be
the sooner able to enjoy the repose they stood so much in need of. They
did not exchange a word during the repast; the last morsel swallowed,
the Indians threw upon the fire a few armfuls of dry wood, of which
they had an ample provision at hand, then folded themselves in their
ponchos, and fell asleep. Valentine and Cæsar alone were left to keep
guard.

It was almost an hour since he had taken Valentine's place, when
Cæsar, who had till that time lain carelessly stretched before the
fire, sharply raised his head, sniffed the air in all directions, and
gave a surly growl.

"Well, Cæsar," said the young man whilst patting the animal, "what's
the matter, my good dog?"

The Newfoundland fixed his large intelligent eyes upon the count,
wagged his tail, and uttered a growl much stronger than the first.

"Very well," said Louis; "we will go on the lookout. Come along,
Cæsar."

The count examined his rifle and his pistols, and made a sign to the
dog, who watched all his motions.

"Now, Cesar," he said, "look out, my fine fellow!"

The animal, as if he had only waited for this order, sprang forward,
followed step by step by his master, who examined the bushes, and
stopped at intervals to cast an inquiring glance around him.

At length, after numberless windings, the dog crouched, turned its
head towards the young man, and uttered one of those plaintive howls,
so like a human complaint, which are peculiar to the race. The count
started; putting the bushes and leaves apart with precaution, he
looked, and with difficulty repressed a cry of painful astonishment at
the strange spectacle which presented itself to his eyes. Within twenty
paces from him, in the centre of a vast glade, fifty Indians were lying
round a fire, buried in the sleep of intoxication, as could be divined
from the leather bottles scattered without order upon the sand, some
full of aguardiente, others empty.

But what attracted the particular attention of the young man was the
sigh of two persons, a man and a woman, firmly bound to two trees. The
head of the man reclined upon his breast, his large eyes were flooded
with tears; deep sighs seemed to rise from his very heart, as he looked
towards a young girl standing bound before him.

"Oh!" the count murmured, "Don Tadeo de León! My God! Grant that that
woman be not his daughter!"

Alas! it was she. At their feet lay the Linda, bound to an enormous
post.

The young man felt the blood flow back to his heart; forgetful of his
own preservation, he seized a pistol in each hand, and was about to
spring forward, when a heavy hand was laid upon his shoulder, and a
voice whispered in his ear--

"Prudence!"

"Prudence!" the young man repeated, in a tone of painful reproach;
"look there!"

"I have seen," replied Trangoil-Lanec, "but my brother will look in his
turn," he added.

And he pointed to a dozen Indians, who, awakened by the cold of the
night, or perhaps by the involuntary noise made by the two men, in
spite of their precaution, rose and looked suspiciously around.

"That is true!" Louis murmured, quite overcome. "Oh, my God! Will you
not come to our aid?"

The chief took advantage of the momentary prostration into which his
friend had fallen, to lead him back a little, so as to avoid increasing
the aroused suspicions of the Indians.

"Still," the young man exclaimed, "we shall save them, shall we not,
chief?"

The Araucano shook his head.

"At this moment it is impossible," he replied.

"Brother, now that we have recovered their track, which we had lost,
they must be saved."

A smile passed over the lips of the Indian warrior.

"We will try," he said.

"Thanks! thanks, chief," the young man cried.

"Let us return to the camp," said Trangoil-Lanec. "Patience, my
brother," the Indian added in a solemn voice; "nothing is urgent--in an
hour we shall be on their track again."

"That is true," the young man said, hanging down his head with forced
resignation.

The two men regained their encampment, where they found Curumilla and
Valentine still asleep.



CHAPTER XXXVIII.

THE LYNX.


In the course of the past few days certain events had taken place
in Araucania which we must explain. The policy adopted by General
Fuentes had produced the best results. The chiefs restored to liberty
had returned to their tribes, where they had warmly persuaded their
mosotones to conclude a definite peace. These persuasions had been
eagerly listened to.

The Huiliches, who asked no better than to resume the course of
their peaceful labours in safety, warmly gave their adhesion to the
conditions their Ulmens submitted to them.

A grand council was solemnly convoked on the banks of the Carampangne,
at the closing of which six deputies, chosen from among the wisest
and most respected chiefs, having at their head an Apo-Ulmen named
the Lynx, and followed by a thousand well-armed horsemen, were sent
to Antinahuel, in order to communicate to him the resolutions of the
council, and demand his assent.

When he perceived at a distance this numerous troop advancing amidst
clouds of dust, Antinahuel breathed a sigh of satisfaction, thinking
what a noble reinforcement was coming: for the malocca which he was so
anxious to attempt upon the Chilian frontier.

The troop which Antinahuel had perceived continued to approach, and
soon came within speaking distance. The Toqui then observed with secret
dissatisfaction that it was commanded by the Lynx, who had always
been tacitly opposed to him. When the horsemen had arrived within ten
paces of the camp the Lynx made a sign, and the troop halted; a herald
stopped in front of the chiefs, and saluted them respectfully.

"Toqui of the four Uthal-mapus," he said, in a loud voice, "and you
Ulmens who hear me--the Lynx, the venerated Apo-Ulmen of Arauca,
followed by six Ulmens no less celebrated than himself, is sent to
you to enjoin obedience to the orders emanating from the supreme
Auca-coyog."

After speaking thus the herald bowed respectfully and retired.
Antinahuel and his Ulmens looked at each other in astonishment, for
they could not comprehend what it all meant. The Toqui alone suspected
some treachery planned against himself; but his countenance remained
impassive, and he asked his Ulmens to accompany him to the council
fire. At the expiration of a minute the Lynx arose, made two steps
forward, and spoke as follows:--

"The grand Auca-coyog of Arauca, in the name of the people, to all
persons who are at the head of warriors, salutation! Certain that all
our compatriots keep their faith, we wish them peace in that genius
of goodness, in which alone reside true health and holy obedience.
This is what we have resolved: war has fallen unexpectedly upon our
rich plains, and has changed them into deserts; our harvests have been
trampled under the feet of horses, our cattle have been killed or
driven away by the enemy, our crops are lost, our toldos are burnt, our
wives and children have disappeared in the tempest. We will have no
more war, and peace must be immediately concluded with the palefaces. I
have spoken."

A profound silence followed this speech. Antinahuel's Ulmens were
struck with stupor, and looked towards their chief with great anxiety.

"And upon what conditions has this peace been concluded?" asked the
Toqui.

"The conditions are these," the Lynx replied; "Antinahuel will
immediately release the white prisoners; he will dismiss the army;
the Araucanos will pay the palefaces two thousand sheep, five hundred
vicunas, and eight hundred head of cattle; and the war hatchet is to be
buried."

"Hum!" said the Toqui with a bitter smile; "these are hard conditions.
If I should on my part refuse to ratify this shameful peace?"

"But my father will not refuse," the Lynx suggested.

"But I do refuse!" he replied, loudly.

"Good! my father will reflect; it is impossible that can be his last
word."

Antinahuel, cunning as he was, had no suspicion of the snare that was
laid for him.

"I repeat to you. Lynx," he said, in a loud voice, "and to all the
chiefs who surround me, that I refuse to ratify these dishonourable
conditions. So, now you can return whence you came."

"Not yet!" said the Lynx, in his turn, as sharply as the Toqui. "I have
not finished yet!"

"What else have you to tell me?"

"The council, which is composed of the wise men of all the tribes, has
foreseen the refusal of my father."

"Ah!" Antinahuel cried. "What have they decreed in consequence?"

"This: the hatchet of Toqui is withdrawn from my father; all the
Araucanian warriors are released from their oath of fidelity to him;
fire and water are refused to my father; he is declared a traitor to
his country, as are all those who do not obey, and remain with him.
The Araucanian nation will no longer serve as a plaything, and be the
victim of the wild ambition of a man unworthy of commanding it."

During this terrific peroration Antinahuel had remained motionless, his
arms crossed upon his breast.

"Have you finished?" he asked.

"I have finished," the Lynx replied; "now the herald will go and
proclaim in your camp what I have told you at the council fire."

"Well, let him go!" Antinahuel replied. "You are welcome to withdraw
from me the hatchet of Toqui. Of what importance is that vain dignity
to me? You may declare me a traitor to my country; I have on my side my
own conscience, which absolves me; but what you wish above all else to
have you shall not have and that is my prisoners. Farewell!"

And with a step as firm as if nothing had happened to him, he returned
to his camp. But there a great mortification awaited him. At the
summons of the herald all his warriors abandoned him. One after the
other, some with joy, others with sorrow. He who five minutes before
counted more than eight hundred warriors under his orders, saw their
numbers diminish so rapidly that soon only thirty-eight were left.

The Lynx called out an ironical farewell to him from a distance, and
departed at a gallop with all his troop. When Antinahuel counted the
small number of friends left to him, an immense grief weighed upon his
heart; he sank down at the foot of a tree, covered his face with his
poncho, and wept.

In the meantime, thanks to the facilities which the Linda had
procured Don Tadeo, the latter had been able for some days past to
approach Rosario. The presence of the man who had brought her up was
a great consolation to the young lady; but when Don Tadeo, who had
thenceforward no reasons for secrecy, confessed to her that he was her
father, an inexpressible joy took possession of the poor child. It
appeared to her that she now had no longer anything to dread, and that
since her father was with her she should easily escape the horrible
love of Antinahuel. The Linda, whom Don Tadeo allowed from pity to be
near her, beheld with childish joy the father and daughter talking
together.

This woman was really a mother, with all the devotedness and all the
abnegation which the title implies. She no longer lived for anything
but her daughter.

Whilst the events we have described were taking place, the three
Chilians, crouched in a corner of the camp, absorbed by their own
feelings, had attended to nothing--seen or heard nothing. Don Tadeo and
Rosario were seated at the foot of a tree, and at some distance the
Linda, without daring to mingle in their conversation, contemplated
them with delight. His first grief calmed, Antinahuel recovered
himself, and was as haughty and as implacable as ever. On raising his
eyes his looks fell mechanically upon his prisoners.

Antinahuel, whose attention was roused, had watched Maria carefully,
and was not long in acquiring the moral proof of a plot being laid
against him by his ancient accomplice. The Indian was too cunning to
let them be aware of his suspicions; still he held himself on his
guard, waiting for the first opportunity to change them into certainty.
He ordered his mosotones to tie each of his prisoners to a tree, which
order was immediately executed.

At sight of this, the Linda forgot her prudence; she rushed, dagger
in hand, towards the chief, and reproached him with his baseness.
Antinahuel disdained to reply to her reproaches; he merely snatched the
dagger from her hand, threw her down upon the ground, and ordered her
to be tied to a large post with her face turned towards the ground.

"Since my sister is so fond of the prisoners," he said "it is but just
that she should share their fate."

"Cowardly wretch!" she replied, vainly endeavouring to release herself.
The chief turned from her in apparent contempt; then, as he fancied
that he must reward the fidelity of the warriors who followed his
fortunes, he gave them several bottles of aguardiente. It was at the
end of these orgies that they were discovered by the count, thanks to
the sagacity of the Newfoundland dog.



CHAPTER XXXIX.

THE BLACK SERPENTS.


As soon as Curumilla and Valentine had been awakened, they saddled
the horses, then the Indians sat down by the fire, making a sign to
the Frenchmen to imitate them. The count was driven to despair by the
slowness of his friends; if he had only listened to his own feelings,
he would have instantly set out in pursuit of the ravishers; but he
could not help seeing how necessary the support of the Ulmens must be
to him in the decisive struggle he was about to undertake, whether for
attack, defence, or following the track of the Aucas.

After a tolerably long interval, employed by our four personages in
conscientiously burning their tobacco leaf, the last, Trangoil-Lanec
spoke--

"The warriors are numerous," he said, "therefore we cannot hope to
conquer by force. Since we have been upon their track many events must
have occurred; we ought to ascertain what Antinahuel means to do with
his prisoners, and whether they are really in danger. Antinahuel is
ignorant of the ties which connect me with those who are in his power,
he will not suspect me."

"Very well!" said Curumilla, "my brother is prudent, he will succeed.
But let him carefully calculate his actions and his words whilst he is
amongst them."

Valentine looked at his foster brother with astonishment.

"What does all this mean?" he asked. "Is Antinahuels track found again?"

"Yes, brother," Louis replied, in a melancholy tone, "Doña Rosario and
her father are within half a league of us, and in danger of death!"

"Vive Dieu!" the young man cried, "and we are here prating."

"Alas!" Louis murmured, "what can four men do against fifty?"

"That is too true," he replied, returning dejectedly to his place. "As
Trangoil-Lanec says, fighting will not avail us, we must manoeuvre."

"Chief," Louis observed, "your plan is good, but I think of two
material ameliorations."

"My brother can speak, he is wise," Trangoil-Lanec replied, bowing
courteously.

"We must provide against all that may happen. Go to the camp, we will
follow your steps; but if you cannot rejoin us as quickly as we may
wish, agree upon a signal which may inform us why, and agree also upon
another signal in case your life may be in danger."

"Very well," said Curumilla; "if the chief requires our presence, he
will imitate the cry of the water-hawk; if he is obliged to remain with
the Aucas the song of the goldfinch will warn us of it."

"That is settled," Trangoil-Lanec answered; "but what is my brother's
second observation?"

The count rummaged in his haversack, took out some paper, wrote a few
words upon a sheet, which he folded and handed to the chief, saying--

"It is particularly important that those whom we wish to deliver should
not thwart our plans; perhaps Don Tadeo may not recognise my brother.
The chief will slip this necklace into the hands of the young pale
woman."

"That shall be done; the young blue-eyed maiden shall have the
necklace, the chief replied with a smile.

"Well, now," said Curumilla, "let us take the track."

"Yes, time presses," said Valentine.

Towards the evening of the second day, Trangoil-Lanec, leaving his
companions to establish their encampment upon the declivity of a little
hill, at the entrance of a natural grotto, clapped spurs to his horse,
and was soon out of sight. He directed his course towards the spot
where the Black Serpents had stopped for the night--a spot announced
to the clear-sighted Indian by a thin thread of white smoke. When he
arrived at a certain distance from the camp, the chief saw two Indian
Black Serpents suddenly spring up before him, clothed in their war
costume.

"Where is my brother going?" one of the Black Serpents asked, advancing
towards him.

"Good!" the chief replied, throwing his gun, which he held in his left
hand, on his shoulder. "Trangoil-Lanec has recognised the trail of his
brothers the Black Serpents, and he wishes to smoke at their fire."

"My brother will follow me," the Indian remarked.

He made an imperceptible sign to his companion, who quitted his hiding
place. Trangoil-Lanec followed them, casting around an apparently
careless glance. In a few minutes they reached the camp, whose
situation was admirably chosen.

The arrival of the warrior created a stir in the camp, which was,
however, quickly repressed. Trangoil-Lanec was conducted into the
presence of the chief, and as his reputation was high among his
compatriots, Antinahuel, to do him honour, received him in the most
elevated part or the camp. The two chiefs saluted each other.

"Is my brother Antinahuel hunting with his young men?" asked
Trangoil-Lanec.

"Yes," the Toqui replied, laconically.

"Has my brother been fortunate in his hunting?"

"Very fortunate," said Antinahuel, with a sinister smile; "let my
brother open his eyes."

"Wah!" said Trangoil-Lanec, "palefaces! My brother has had good sport
indeed; he will get a heavy ransom for his prisoners."

"The toldo of Antinahuel is solitary--he wants a squaw to inhabit it."

"Good! I understand; my brother will take one of the pale women."

"The blue-eyed maiden will be the wife of a chief."

"Wah! but why does my brother detain the Great Eagle?"

Antinahuel only replied by a smile, the expression of which the chief
could not mistake.

"Oh, good!" he rejoined; "my brother is a great chief--who is able to
fathom his thoughts?"

The Araucano warrior rose, quitted Antinahuel, and walked about the
camp, the order and position of which he feigned to admire, but in
reality he drew nearer and nearer, in an almost imperceptible manner,
to that part at which the prisoners were seated.

"Let my brother look," Antinahuel said, pointing to Doña Rosario; "does
not that woman deserve to espouse a chief?"

"She is pretty!" Trangoil-Lanec replied, coldly; "But I would give all
the palefaces in the world for one bottle of such firewater as I have
here."

"Has my brother some firewater?" Antinahuel asked, whose eyes sparkled
at the thought.

"Yes," the chief replied; "look!"

The Toqui turned round, and the Aucas profited by the movement to
cleverly let fall upon Rosario's lap the paper committed to his charge
by Louis.

"Look!" he said "the sun is sinking, the maukawis is singing his first
evening song; my brother will follow me, he and his warriors will empty
these bottles."

The two chiefs walked away, and a few minutes after all the Indians
were satisfactorily employed in emptying the bottles brought by the
Ulmen.

Doña Rosario could not at first imagine what a message sent to her in
such a curious manner could mean, and she looked at her father.

"Read, my Rosario!" Don Tadeo said, softly.

The young girl tremblingly took the note, opened it, and read it with
a secret joy. It contained only these few laconic words, but they were
sufficient to cause a smile.

"Take courage, señorita, we are preparing everything for saving you at
last."

After having read, or rather devoured these words, she gave the note to
her father.

"Who can this friend be who is watching over us? What can he do?"

"Why should we doubt the infinite goodness of God, my child?" said Don
Tadeo. "Ungrateful girl! Have you forgotten the two brave Frenchmen?"

The young girl smiled through her tears, leaning fondly upon her father.

The Linda could not suppress a feeling of jealousy at this caress of
which she had no share; but the hope that her daughter would soon be
liberated, rendered her quite happy.

In the meantime the Indians continued drinking. Many of the Aucas were
in a helpless state of intoxication. Trangoil-Lanec and Antinahuel were
at length the only drinkers. But even the strength of the renowned
Toqui was not of avail against the insidious poison he quaffed so
greedily; his eyes closed, and he fell backwards--fast asleep.

Trangoil-Lanec waited for a few moments, carefully surveying the camp
in which he and the prisoners were the only persons awake; then, when
he had ascertained to a certainty that the Black Serpents had really
allowed themselves to be caught in the snare he had laid for them, he
rose cautiously, made a sign of encouragement to the prisoners, and
disappeared into the forest.

"Is that an enemy or a friend?" murmured the Linda anxiously.

"Oh, I have long known that man!" replied Don Tadeo; "his is a noble
heart! He is devoted body and soul to our friends."



CHAPTER XL.

THE HURRICANE.


Louis had not been able to restrain himself; instead of waiting, he
had persuaded Valentine and Curumilla to follow him, and all three had
advanced, gliding through bushes and underwood, to within twenty paces
of the Indian camp, so that Trangoil-Lanec met them almost immediately.

"Well?" the count asked anxiously.

"All is right! Come on!"

The chief quickly retraced his steps, and led his friends towards the
prisoners. At the sight of the four men a smile of ineffable sweetness
lit up the beautiful countenance of Rosario; even her prudence could
not repress a half-uttered cry of joy, Don Tadeo arose, and was
beginning to thank them.

"Caballero," cried the count, who was upon hot coals, "let us be quick.
These men will soon be awake again."

"Yes," Valentine added; "because if they were to surprise us we should
be compelled to have a brush."

All were aware of the justness of this observation and Trangoil-Lanec
having unfastened the horses of the prisoners, which were grazing
quietly among those of the Aucas, Don Tadeo and his daughter mounted.
The Linda, of whom nobody seemed to take any notice, sprang upon a
horse. If Valentine had not been afraid of her giving the alarm, he
would have compelled her to remain behind. The little troop set off
without impediment, and directed their course towards the natural
grotto where the horses had been left. As soon as they arrived,
Valentine made a sign.

"You had better rest here for a short time," he said; "the night is
very dark; in a few hours we will set off again; you will find in this
grotto two beds of leaves."

These words, pronounced in the usual blunt, offhand style of the
Parisian, brought a cheerful smile to the lips of the Chilians. When
they had lain down upon the leaves heaped up in the grotto, the count
called his sagacious dog to him, and said--

"Pay attention to what I order you, Cæsar: you see this young lady, do
you not, my good dog? You must be answerable for her to me."

Cæsar listened to his master, staring at him with his large
intelligent eyes and gently wagging his tail; he then laid himself
quietly down at the feet of Rosario, licking her hand. The young girl
seized his great head in her arms, and hugged him several times,
smiling at the count. Poor Louis blushed to the eyes, and left the
grotto, staggering like a drunken man--happiness almost deprived him of
his senses. He went and threw himself on the ground at a short distance
to think over, at leisure the joy which inundated his heart. He did
not observe Valentine, who leaning against a tree, followed him with a
melancholy look, for Valentine also loved Doña Rosario.

Yes, the sight of Doña Rosario had revealed to him a thing which he had
hardly thought possible, and that was, that besides this so warm and
so strong feeling, there was in his heart room for another at least as
warm and as strong.

Leaning against a tree, with his eye fixed upon the entrance to the
grotto, and his chest heaving, he recalled the smallest incidents of
his meeting with the young lady, their journey through the forest, the
words she addressed to him and smiled delightedly at the remembrance
of those delicious moments, without suspecting the danger of these
remembrances of the new feeling which had been just born in his soul.

Two hours had thus glided away, and Valentine had taken no heed of
their passage, so absorbed was he in his fantastic contemplation, when
the two Indians came up to him--

"Is our brother asleep that he does not see us?"

"No," Valentine replied, passing his hand over his burning brow, "I was
thinking."

"My brother was with the genius of dreams; he was happy,"
Trangoil-Lanec remarked, with a smile.

"Do you want me?"

"Whilst my brother has been reflecting, we have returned to the camp of
the Black Serpents. We have taken their horses, and after leading them
to a considerable distance have let them loose on the plain."

"If that is the case we may be at our ease for a few hours?" Valentine
suggested.

"I hope so," said Trangoil-Lanec, "but we must not be too confident,
the Black Serpents are cunning fellows."

"What had we better do, then?"

"Mislead our enemies by putting them upon a false track. I will set off
with the three horses of the palefaces, whilst my brother, his friend,
and Curumilla descend the rivulet, walking in its bed."

Trangoil-Lanec cut a reed a foot and a half long, and fastened each
extremity of it to the bits of the horses, in order that they might not
be able to approach each other too near, and then set off. Valentine
entered the grotto, where he found the Linda seated near her husband
and daughter, guarding their slumbers.

Louis had prepared everything; he placed Don Tadeo upon Valentine's
horse, and the Linda and Rosario upon his own, and led them into the
rivulet, after having carefully effaced their footsteps in the sand.

The little caravan advanced silently, listening to the noises of the
forest, watching the movements of the bushes, fearing at every instant
to see the ferocious eye of a Black Serpent gleam through the shade.

Towards four o'clock in the morning the Islet of the Guanaco appeared
to the delighted eyes of our travellers like a port of safety, after
the fatigues of a journey made entirely in the water. On the most
advanced point of the islet a horseman stood motionless--it was
Trangoil-Lanec; and near him the horses of the Spaniards were peaceably
grazing upon the high grass of the banks. The travellers found a fire
ready lighted, upon which was cooking the quarter of a doe, camotes and
maize tortillas.

"Eat," said Trangoil-Lanec, laconically; "but, above all, eat quickly!"
Without asking the chief for any explanation, the hungry travellers sat
down in a circle, and vigorously attacked the provisions.

"Bah!" said Valentine, gaily; "after us the end of the world--let
us eat while we can! Here is a roast joint that appears to me to be
tolerably well cooked!"

At these words of the spahi Doña Rosario looked a little surprised; the
young man was struck dumb, blushing at his rudeness, and began to eat
without venturing another word.

As soon as breakfast was over; Trangoil-Lanec, assisted by Curumilla,
employed himself in preparing one of those canoes, made of buffalo
hides sewn together, which are employed by the Indians to cross
the rivers in the desert. After placing it in the water, the chief
requested the three Spaniards to take their seats in it. The Indians
afterwards entered it for the purpose of steering it; whilst the two
Frenchmen, still in the water, led the horses by their bridles. The
passage was not long; at the end of an hour they landed, and they
continued their journey by land.

For some hours past, as it often happens in that country, the weather
had completely changed. The sun had assumed a red tint, and appeared to
swim in an ocean of vapour, which intercepted its warm rays.

"What do you think of this weather, chief?" the count asked anxiously
to Trangoil-Lanec.

"Bad--very bad," the latter replied, "unless we could possibly pass the
Sorcerer's Leap."

"Are we in danger, then?"

"We are lost," the Indian replied.

"Hum! that is not very comforting," said Valentine. "Do you think,
then, that the peril is so great?"

"Much greater than I can tell my brother. Do you think it possible to
resist the hurricane, here?"

"That is true," Valentine muttered, hanging his head. "May Heaven
preserve us!"

In fact the situation of the travellers appeared desperate. They were
following one of those roads cut in the living rock which wind round
the Andes, a road of scarcely four feet in its greatest width, which on
one side was bordered by a wall of granite more than a thousand feet
high, and on the other by precipices of incalculable depth, at the
bottom of which invisible waters coursed with dull, mysterious murmurs.
In such a spot all hope of safety seemed little short of madness. And
yet the travellers proceeded, advancing in Indian file--that is, one
after the other, silent and gloomy.

"Are we still far from the Sorcerer's Leap?" Valentine asked, after a
long silence.

"We are approaching it," Trangoil-Lanec replied.

Suddenly the brown veil which concealed the horizon was rent violently
asunder, a pale flash of lightning illuminated the heavens.

"Dismount!" Trangoil-Lanec shouted, "dismount, for your lives! Lie down
on the ground, and cling to the points of the rocks!"

Everyone followed the advice of the chief. The animals, left to
themselves, understood the danger instinctively, folded their legs
under them, and laid themselves down also upon the ground.

All at once the thunder burst forth in frightful peals, and the rain
fell like a deluge. It is not given to human pen to describe the awful
hurricane which vented its fury upon those mountains. Enormous blocks
of rock, yielding to the force of the wind and undermined by the
waters, were precipitated from the top to the bottom of the ravines
with a horrible crash; trees, hundreds of years Old, were twisted and
torn up by the roots by the blast.

Suddenly a piercing cry of agony filled the air.

"My daughter!--save my daughter!"

Heedless of the danger to which he exposed himself, Don Tadeo stood
upright in the road, his arms extended towards heaven, his hair
floating in the wind, and the lightning playing around his brow. Doña
Rosario, too weak and too delicate to cling to the sharp points of
the rocks by which her fingers were torn had been seized and carried
away, and dashed down the precipice by the tempest. The Linda, without
pronouncing a word, turned and plunged into the gulf.

"Oh!" the count cried frantically, "I will bring her back or----"

And he sprang forward; but a powerful hand withheld him.

"Stay, brother," said Valentine, in a melancholy but firm tone--"let me
encounter this peril."

"But, Valentine!"

"I insist upon it!--of what consequence is it if I die?" he added, with
an expression of bitterness. "I am not beloved!" and turning towards
Don Tadeo he said, "Courage my friend. I will restore your daughter or
perish with her!" and whistling his dog--"Find her, Cæsar--find her."
he said.

The noble animal uttered a plaintive howl, sniffed the air for an
instant in all directions, then, after a minute's hesitation wagged his
tail, turned towards his master, and dashed down the steep precipice.



CHAPTER XLI.

LA BARRANCA.


As soon as Valentine was suspended from the abrupt edge of the
precipice, and obliged to ascertain carefully where to place his foot,
his excitement was dispersed to give place to the cool and lucid
determination of the brave man. The task he had undertaken was not an
easy one. In his perilous descent his eyes became useless to him; his
hands and feet were his only guides. Often did he feel the stone upon
which he thought he had placed his foot firmly crumble as he began to
trust his weight to it, and the branch he had seized break in his grasp.

But firm in his resolution, he kept descending, following as far as
was possible the track of his dog, who at a short distance beneath him
stopped, from time to time, to guide him by his yelpings.

Presently he stopped to take breath, still continuing to repeat to his
dog the words he had never ceased to cry from the commencement of his
descent--

"Find her, Cæsar, find her!"

Suddenly the dog was mute. Much alarmed, Valentine renewed his call. It
then appeared to him that, at about twenty feet below the spot where
he then was, he could perceive a white form; but its outlines were
so vague and indistinct that he thought he must be the sport of an
illusion, and he ventured to lean still further over, to assure himself
that he was not deceived.

At this moment, he felt himself strongly pulled back. Like a man
delivered from a frightful nightmare, he took a confused glance around
him. Cæsar with his forepaws firmly fixed upon the rock, was holding
the end of his poncho in his clenched teeth.

"Can you reply to me now?" the Linda said.

"Perfectly, señorita," he replied.

"You will help me to save my daughter?"

"It was in search of her that I descended."

"Thanks, caballero!" she said, fervently; "she is close by."

Doña Rosario was lying insensible caught in some thick bushes hanging
over an abyss of more than a thousand feet in depth! On perceiving
her, Valentine's first impression was a feeling of wild terror. But as
soon as the first moment was past, and he could look at her coolly, he
became satisfied that she was in perfect safety.

All this had required much time, and the storm had subsided by degrees;
the mist was clearing off and the sun had reappeared. Valentine then
became aware of all the horror of the situation which the darkness had
till then concealed from him.

To reascend was impossible; to descend was still worse. From the clump
of myrtles near which they were, the walls of the precipice descended
in a plumb line, without any salient point upon which a foot could be
placed. One step forward was death.

The Linda saw nothing, thought of nothing, for she had her daughter to
look at. In vain Valentine racked his brains to discover some means of
overcoming this apparently insuperable difficulty. A bark from Cæsar
made him raise his head. Louis had found the means which Valentine had
despaired of finding. Collecting the lassos which Chilian horsemen
always have suspended from their saddles, he had fastened them tightly
together and had formed two ropes, which he let down the precipice.

Valentine uttered a cry of joy. Rosario was saved! As soon as the
lassos were within his reach he seized them and quickly constructed a
chair; but here a new difficulty presented itself; how was it possible
to get the insensible girl from amidst the tangled growth?

"Wait a minute!" exclaimed Linda, and bounding like a panther, she
sprang into the centre of the tangled mass, which bent under her feet,
took her daughter in her arms, and with a spring as sure and as rapid
as the first, regained the edge of the precipice.

The young man then tied Doña Rosario in the chair, and then made a
signal for hoisting it. The Aucas warriors, directed by Louis, drew
the lassos gently and firmly upwards, whilst Valentine and the Linda,
clinging as well as they could to points of rocks and bushes, kept the
young lady steady, and secured her from collision with the sharp stones
that might have wounded her.

As soon as Don Tadeo perceived his daughter, he rushed towards her with
a hoarse articulate cry, and pressing her to his panting breast he
sobbed aloud, shedding a flood of tears.

"Oh!" cried the girl, clinging with childish terror to her father, and
clasping her arms round his neck, "father! father! I thought I must
have died!"

"My child," said Don Tadeo, "your mother was the first to fly to your
assistance."

The Linda's face glowed with happiness, and she held out her arms to
her daughter, with a supplicating look. Rosario looked at her with
a mixture of fear and tenderness, and made a motion as if to throw
herself into the arms that were open to her; but she suddenly checked
herself.

"Oh I cannot! I cannot!"

The Linda heaved a heavy sigh, wiped the tears which inundated her
cheeks, and retired on one side.

The two Frenchmen inwardly enjoyed the sight of the happiness of Don
Tadeo, happiness which in part he owed to them. The Chilian approached
them, pressed their hands warmly, and then turning to Rosario, said--

"My child, love these two gentlemen, you never can discharge your debt
to them."

Both the young men blushed.

"Come, come, Don Tadeo," cried Valentine, "we have lost too much time
already. To horse, and let us be gone!"

In spite of the roughness of this reply, Doña Rosario, who comprehended
the delicacy that had dictated it, gave the young man a look of
ineffable sweetness.

The party resumed their march. The Linda was henceforward treated with
respect by all. The pardon of Don Tadeo, a pardon so nobly granted,
had reinstated her in their eyes. Doña Rosario herself sometimes
unconsciously smiled upon her, although she could not yet feel courage
enough to respond to her caresses.

At the expiration of an hour they reached the "Sorcerer's Leap."
At this place the mountain was divided in two by a fissure of
inconceivable depth, and about twenty-five feet wide.

This difficult passage has been thus named by the Aucas because,
according to the legend, at the period when the conquest of Araucania
was attempted, a Huiliche sorcerer, being closely pursued by Castilian
soldiers, leaped without hesitation over the chasm, sustained in his
perilous passage by the genii of the air. Whatever be the truth of this
legend, a bridge exists now, and our travellers passed over it without
accident.

"Ah!" Trangoil-Lanec exclaimed, "now we have room before us, we are
safe!"

"Not yet," Curumilla replied, pointing with his finger to a thin column
of blue smoke, which curled up towards the heavens.

"Ooch!" replied the chief, "Can that be the Black Serpents again? Can
they have preceded instead of pursuing us? How does it happen that they
venture in this manner upon the Chilian territory? We had better retire
for the night."



CHAPTER XLII.

THE QUIPU.


After a frugal repast, the travellers were preparing to take a little
repose, when Cæsar barked furiously. Everyone flew to his arms. At
length the noise of steps was heard, the bushes were thrust apart,
and an Indian appeared. It was Antinahuel. At the sight of this man,
Rosario could not repress a cry of terror. Her mother threw herself
before her.

Antinahuel did not appear to perceive the presence of the young lady or
of the Linda; he advanced slowly, without moving a muscle of his face.
When within a few paces of Trangoil-Lanec, he stopped and saluted him.

"I come to sit at the fireside of my brother," he said.

"My brother is welcome," the chief replied.

"No, I only wish to smoke with my brother, for the sake of
communicating to him some important news."

"It shall be as my brother desires," Trangoil-Lanec replied.

The three Indians sat down with the ceremony usual upon such occasions.
They lit their pipes, and smoked silently. At length, after a
considerable time, Antinahuel began--

"Here," said he, "is the quipu, which the herald who came from
Paki-Pulli handed at about the seventh hour to me, Antinahuel, the son
of the Black Jackal."

He drew from under his poncho a light piece of wood, about ten inches
long, very thick split, and holding a human finger.

"My brother sees," Antinahuel continued, "that upon the black wool there
are four knots, to indicate that the herald left Paki-Pulli four days
after the moon; upon the white there are ten knots, which signify that
ten days after that period, that is to say, in three days, the four
confederated Uthal-mapus will take up arms, as has been agreed in a
grand auca-coyog convoked by the Toquis; upon the red I have made a
knot, which means that the warriors placed under my orders will join
the expedition, and that the chiefs may depend upon my concurrence.
Will my brothers follow my example?"

"My brother has forgotten to tell me one thing," Trangoil-Lanec replied.

"Let my brother explain himself," said Antinahuel.

"Against whom is this expedition?"

"Against the palefaces," he said, with a tone of mortal hatred.

"Very well," said Trangoil-Lanec, "my brother is a powerful chief, he
will give me the quipu."

Antinahuel handed it to him. The Araucano warrior received the quipu,
examined it, seized the red fringe and the blue fringe, he joined them,
made a knot over them, and passed the piece of wood to Curumilla, who
followed his example.

"My brothers, then," he said, "refuse their aid?"

"The chiefs of the four nations can do without us. The war is ended,
and this quipu is false. Why, when we came here, instead of presenting
us this false quipu, did not Antinahuel tell us frankly that he came in
search of his white prisoners, who have escaped? We would have replied
to him that these prisoners are henceforward under our protection."

"Is that your resolution," said Antinahuel.

"Yes; and my brother may be assured that we are not men to be easily
deceived."

The Toqui rose with rage in his heart.

"You are dogs and old women!" he said; "tomorrow I will come to retake
my prisoners."

The two Indians smiled contemptuously, and bowed gravely as a parting
salute to their enemy. The Toqui disdained to reply to this ironical
courtesy; he turned his back, and re-entered the wood with the same
slow, solemn step with which he had arrived, appearing to set his
adversaries at defiance. He had scarcely quitted the little camp, when
Trangoil-Lanec set off in his track.

Trangoil-Lanec was not long absent; he returned in less than an hour.
His companions saw him return with the greatest joy.

"Let my brothers open their ears," he said.

"We are listening, depend upon it," Valentine remarked.

"Antinahuel is encamped within a short distance; he knows now that we
are not strong enough to contend with him. What will my brothers do?
Our position is a serious one."

"Why did we not kill him?" Linda cried.

"No," he replied; "the Indian law prevented me; he presented himself as
a friend at my fireside; a guest is sacred."

"What is done cannot be undone," said Valentine; "so it is of no use
talking about it. We are in a scrape."

"We will die sooner than allow the wretch to take his prisoners again,"
said the count.

"That of course; but before we have recourse to that extreme measure,
we might find another."

"But, perhaps, we ought not to abandon ourselves to despondendency,"
Valentine rejoined, energetically; "we are four men of courage; we
ought not to despair."

Since Don Tadeo had recovered his daughter, he was no longer the same
man; he seemed only to live for her and through her. At that moment,
seated at the foot of a tree, he held Rosario on his knees, and was
rocking her like an infant. But, at Valentine's question, he raised his
head quickly.

"I will not have my daughter fall again into the hands of Antinahuel,"
he said, loudly; "happen what may, I will save her."

"We are all willing to do that, only the Indian chiefs are not
acquainted with the country; you, who are a Chilian, perhaps can give
us some useful information."

Don Tadeo reflected for an instant; he cast an inquiring glance round
upon the mountains, and then said:

"Those means I can furnish you with; we cannot be more than ten leagues
from one of my haciendas."

"Are you certain of that?"

"Yes, thank Heaven!"

"To be sure we are not!" the Linda cried, joyfully.

"And you believe that if we could reach that hacienda----"

"We shall be safe," Don Tadeo interrupted; "for I have there five
hundred devoted peons."

"Oh!" said the Linda, "do not lose an instant. Don Tadeo; write a word
to your major-domo; tell him what a desperate situation you are in, and
order him to hasten to your assistance."

"It is Heaven that inspires you, señora!" Don Tadeo cried.

"Oh!" the Linda replied, "it is because I would save my daughter!"

Doña Rosario fixed upon her eyes moist with tears, and said, in a voice
tremulous with tenderness:

"Thank you, my mother!"

Her daughter had pardoned her! The poor woman fell upon her knees on
the ground and clasped her hands.

In the meantime, Don Tadeo had written a few words in haste.

"We have no time to read the note now; someone must go at once," said
the count; "I undertake to convey it, only point me out the road."

"I know it," said Curumilla phlegmatically.

"Very well, in that case you shall accompany me."

"Ooch! I know a road by which we can be there in less than two hours."

"Let us begone, then."

"Watch over her!" said Louis.

"Bring back assistance quickly," Valentine replied.

"I will, or die in the attempt," replied the other.

And, clapping spurs to their horses, the two men were soon lost in a
cloud of dust. Valentine looked after his foster brother as long as he
was to be seen, then turning toward Trangoil-Lanec, said;

"And we must start directly?"

"Everything is ready," the chief replied.

"Now," Valentine said to Don Tadeo, "our fate is in the hands of God:
we have done everything it was humanly possible to do to escape capture
or death; upon His will now depends our safety."

"Valentine! Valentine!" Don Tadeo cried, warmly, "you are as devout as
you are intelligent. God will not abandon us."

"I trust He will hear you!" the young man said, in a melancholy tone.

"Courage, my daughter!" said the Linda, with an expression of infinite
tenderness.

"Oh! I fear nothing now," Rosario replied, with a cheerful smile; "have
I not my father near me, and--my mother, too," she added, kindly.

The Linda raised her eyes, humid with gratitude, towards Heaven.

Within ten minutes they were all mounted, and quitting the wood, they
followed at a sharp trot the road which the count and Curumilla had
taken at full speed.



CHAPTER XLIII.

THE ROCK.


But when setting forward so hastily, Valentine had considered the peril
of the situation more than the possibility of travelling far at a
quick pace. At the end of a very few miles the horses, overridden for
two days together, and exceedingly weakened by the hurricane, could
scarcely be kept going; whip and spur were obliged to be constantly
applied to keep them on their legs. At length, after an hour spent in
fruitless efforts. Don Tadeo, whose horse, a noble, well-bred animal
had just stumbled twice from sheer weakness, was the first to call
Valentines attention to the impossibility of going farther at present.

"I know it--I feel it!" the young man replied; "the poor animals are
foundered; but what can we do? We must kill them, if it be necessary!"

"Let us proceed, then, whatever may happen!" said Don Tadeo.

"Besides," the young man continued, "a minute gained is an age for us;
by break of day Louis may be back. If our horses had been rested, we
might have reached the hacienda tonight; only the farther we get the
better the chance of escaping those who are pursuing us. But, your
pardon, Don Tadeo, the Indian chief is making me a sign."

After leaving Don Tadeo, he drew nearer to the Ulmen.

"Well, chief?" he asked.

"Does my brother reckon upon being able to go much farther?" said the
Indian.

"Pardieu! chief, you have put exactly the same question to me that Don
Tadeo has."

"What does the great chief say?"

"Why, he says that our horses are completely knocked up."

"Ooch! and what does my brother with the golden hair mean to do?"

"How can I tell? Let Trangoil-Lanec advise me; he is a warrior,
renowned in his tribe."

"I think I have a good idea."

"Pray let us have it, chief; your ideas are always excellent."

The Indian bowed modestly.

"Let my brother listen to me," he said. "Perhaps Antinahuel is already
on our track; if he is not, it will not be long before he is. If he
comes up with us we shall be killed. What can three men do against
sixty? But not far distant from hence I know a place where we can
easily defend ourselves. Many moons ago, ten warriors of my tribe and
myself stood our ground at that place for fourteen whole days against
two hundred palefaces. Does my brother understand?"

"Perfectly, perfectly, chief! Guide us to this place; and if it please
God that we reach it, I swear that Antinahuel and his mosotones shall
find somebody to answer them."

Trangoil-Lanec then took the guidance of the little troop, and led them
slightly aside from the road. In the interior of South America what
we in Europe agree to call roads do not exist; but there are instead
an infinite number of paths traced by wild animals, which all finish,
after numberless meanderings, by leading to rivulets or rivers, which
for ages have served as drinking places to the beasts of the desert.

The Indians alone possess the secret of directing their course with
certainty in these apparently inextricable labyrinths; so after a march
of twenty minutes our travellers found themselves, without knowing
how, on the banks of a charming river. In the centre of which arose an
enormous block of granite.

Valentine uttered a cry of joy at sight of this natural fortress. The
horses, as if they understood that they had at length arrived at a
place of safety, entered the water willingly. This block of granite
was hollow. By a gentle ascent it was easy to mount to the summit,
which formed a platform of more than forty square feet. The horses were
concealed in a corner of the grotto, where they seemed glad to lie
down. Valentine did his best to barricade the entrance to the fortress.
This being done, a fire was lighted.

Cæsar had of his own accord posted himself on the platform--a vigilant
sentinel. The Frenchman kept awake, whilst his companions, yielding to
fatigue, slept soundly.

"I will go and take a little rest," Valentine said to Trangoil-Lanec,
who awoke, casting an anxious look around him; "the night is over."

"Silence!" the chief murmured.

The two men listened: a stifled growl fell upon their ears.

"That is my dog!--it is Cæsar warning us!" the young man cried.

He and the chief sprang simultaneously to the platform. In vain he
looked around on all sides, nothing appeared, the same tranquillity
seemed to reign around them. Nothing denoted movement but the high
grass on the banks of the river, which waved gently, as if bent by the
breeze. Valentine, for a minute, thought his dog was deceived, and
was preparing to descend, when he suddenly seized him by the middle
and forced him to lie flat upon the platform, while several shots
resounded, half a score balls came hissing to be flattened against the
rock, and a number of arrows flew over the platform--a second more, and
Valentine would have been killed.

This attack was succeeded by a horrible yelling which was repeated by
the echoes of the two banks. This was the war cry of the Aucas, who, to
the number of more than forty, appeared upon the shore. Valentine and
the chief discharged their guns almost at hazard among the crowd. Two
men fell, and the Indians suddenly disappeared among the thick bushes
and high grass. The silence, for an instance disturbed, was restored
so promptly, that if the bodies of the two Indians had not remained
stretched upon the sand, the scene might have passed for a dream. The
young man took advantage of the minutes respite afforded by the enemy
to descend into the grotto. At the noise of the fusillade and of the
cry of the Indians, Doña Rosario had started from her sleep in great
terror. Seeing her father seize his gun to mount to the platform, she
threw herself into his arms, imploring him not to leave her.

"Father! father!" she cried, "pray do not leave me alone, or let me
follow you! Here I should become mad with terror!"

"My daughter," Don Tadeo replied, "your mother will remain with you, I
must join your friends; would you wish that I should abandon them in
such circumstances? It is my cause they are defending; my place is with
them! Come! Courage, my darling Rosario, time is precious!"

The young girl sank helplessly on the ground.

"That is true!" she said; "Pardon me, my father."

For her part, without speaking a word, the Linda had drawn her dagger,
and placed herself at the entrance of the grotto. At this moment
Valentine appeared.

"Thanks, Don Tadeo," he said, "but we can dispense with your presence
above. The Black Serpents will, no doubt, attempt to cross the river
and gain entrance to the grotto, of which they certainly know the
existence. Remain here, then, if you please, and watch their movements
carefully."

Valentine had calculated rightly. The Indians perceiving the inutility
of firing at a block of granite against which their balls were
flattened, changed their tactics. They divided themselves into two
bands, one of which kept firing; whilst the other, led by Antinahuel,
ascended the course of the river. When they arrived at a certain
distance, the Indians hastily constructed rafts, upon which they
allowed themselves to float upon the stream straight toward the rock.
Valentine and his companions, knowing that they had nothing to fear
from those who kept firing at the rock from the bank, descended to the
grotto.

The young man's first care was to place Doña Rosario in safety. This
duty performed, he took his post with his companions. A raft, mounted
by seven Indians, tossed about violently by the current, all at once
was dashed against the rock, and the Indians, howling their war cry,
sprang off, brandishing their arms; but the three men, with the Linda,
who insisted upon joining them, threw themselves upon them, and, before
they had secured their footing, beat them down with the stocks of their
guns, and cast back their bodies into the river.

But scarcely had they got rid of these when two other rafts came down,
followed almost immediately by a third and a fourth, carrying at least
thirty men in the whole. For an instant the _mêlée_ was terrible in
that confined spot, where they fought man to man, foot to foot. The
Linda, trembling for her daughter, with her hair streaming and her eyes
flashing, defended herself like a lioness, powerfully seconded by her
three companions, who performed prodigies of valour. But, overpowered
by numbers, the besieged men were at length obliged to give ground.

A minutes truce ensued, during which the Auras counted their numbers.
Six of them were stretched dead. On the side of the besieged, Valentine
had received a cut from a hatchet on the head; but as he had seen it
coming, and had moved promptly on one side, it was not a deep wound.
Trangoil-Lanec's left arm was severely wounded. Don Tadeo and the Linda
were unhurt.

Valentine cast a painful glance towards the spot which served as a
shelter for Rosario, and then thought of nothing but nobly sacrificing
his life. He was the first to recommence the fight. Suddenly a violent
fusillade was heard.

"Courage," Valentine shouted--"courage!--here are our friends!"

Followed by his companions, a second time he scaled the barricade, and
threw himself into the _mêlée_. All at once a cry for help of the most
heart-rending agony resounded from the grotto. The Linda turned round,
and uttering a shriek more like the roar of a wild beast than the cry
of a woman, threw herself upon Antinahuel, in whose arms Rosario was
struggling. Antinahuel, surprised by this unexpected attack, left his
hold of the young girl, and recognised the Linda.

"Stand back!" he said, in a deep guttural voice.

But the Linda, without replying, sprang headlong upon him, and plunged
her dagger into his chest.

"Die, she wolf!" he howled.

The Linda fell.

"My mother--oh, my mother!" Rosario cried, in agony, kneeling down
close to her, and covering her with kisses. The chief stooped to seize
the young girl again, but then a new adversary stood firmly before him;
it was Valentine. The Toqui rushed upon the Frenchman.

Valentine was brave, active, and vigorous, but he had to contend with
a man whom he would never have been able to resist if he had not been
weakened by his wounds. The oily body of the Indian presented no hold
for the Frenchman, whilst his enemy, on the contrary, had seized him
by the cravat. Neither Trangoil-Lanec nor Don Tadeo could render their
companion any assistance, occupied as they were in defending themselves
against the Aucas.

It was all over with Valentine. Already his ideas began to lose their
lucidity, he only resisted mechanically, when he felt the fingers which
grasped his neck gradually relax; with a last concentration of rage, he
collected all his strength, and succeeded in disengaging himself. But
his enemy, far from attacking him, fell backwards--he was dead!

"Ah!" the Linda cried, with an expression impossible to be conveyed,
"she is saved!"

And she sank back fainting in the arms of her daughter, clasping
tightly in her hand the dagger with which she had pierced Antinahuel to
the heart. All eagerly assembled round the unfortunate woman, who, by
killing the inveterate enemy of her daughter, had so nobly retrieved
her faults.

At length she sighed faintly, opened her eyes, and fixing a dim look
upon those who surrounded her, she convulsively seized her daughter and
Don Tadeo, drew them towards her, and contemplated them.

"Oh! I was too happy! Both of you had pardoned me; but God decreed
that it should not be! Will this terrible death disarm His justice?
Pray--pray for me!--that--that--hereafter--we may meet again in heaven!"

She was dead!

"My God!" said Don Tadeo, "have pity on her!"

And he knelt down by the body. His companions piously imitated him.



CHAPTER XLIV.

CÆSAR.


A month after the events we have related, two men, seated side by
side in a clump of nopals, were conversing earnestly whilst admiring
a magnificent sunrise. These two men were Valentine Guillois and the
Count de Prébois-Crancé. The Frenchmen were watching this reawakening
of nature.

The count, rendered uneasy by the obstinate silence which Valentine
preserved, at length spoke.

"When you awoke me an hour ago," he said, "you brought me hither, in
order, as you said, that we might talk at our ease, and I followed
you without an observation. Well, we have been seated in this grove
for twenty minutes, and you have not even begun to explain yourself;
your silence makes me very uneasy, brother, and I do not know what to
attribute it to. Have you any ill news to announce to me?"

Valentine raised his head quickly.

"Pardon me, Louis," he replied, "I have no ill news to announce to you,
but the hour for a thorough explanation between us has arrived."

"What do you mean by that?"

"You will soon understand me. When, about a year ago, reduced to
despair, and resolved to take refuge in death, you summoned me to
your apartments in the Champs-Élysées, I pledged myself, if you would
consent to live, to restore you that which you had lost, not by your
own fault, but through your inexperience; you placed faith in me; you
unhesitatingly abandoned France, you bade farewell for ever to the life
of a gentleman, and you resolutely accompanied me to America. Now it is
for me to perform, in my turn, the promise made you--"

"Valentine!"

"Listen to me; you love Doña Rosario, and I am certain that on her part
she feels for you a true and profound affection; the services we have
rendered her father, authorise us to have an explanation with him,
which I am convinced he expects, and the result of which must render
you happy for ever. This explanation, which I would not risk without
speaking to you first, I will have this morning, and speak frankly to
Don Tadeo."

A melancholy smile flitted across the young man's lips, and he let his
head sink on his breast without replying.

"What is the matter with you?" Valentine cried anxiously; "Why is it
that this determination, which is to fulfil all your wishes, plunges
you into such grief? Explain yourself, Louis!"

"What good will it do to explain myself? Why should we speak today to
Don Tadeo? What hurry is there?" the young man remarked evasively.

Valentine shook his head, looking at him with astonishment; he could
not comprehend his friend's conduct at all; he, however, determined to
drive him into his last entrenchments.

"Well, this is the reason why: I wish to assure your happiness as soon
as possible," he said. "The life I have been leading for a month past
in this hacienda is oppressive to me. Since my arrival in America my
character has changed: the sight of great forests, lofty mountains,
in short, of all the sublime magnificence which God has spread with
a bountiful hand in the desert, has developed the instincts of a
traveller, the germ of which I carried at the bottom of my heart; the
constantly recurring changes of the adventurous life which I have led
for some time, cause me to experience pleasures without bounds: in a
word, I have become a passionate wood ranger, and I pant for the moment
when I shall be permitted to resume my aimless rambles in the desert."

A silence of some minutes ensued.

"Yes," the count murmured at length, "that life is indeed full of
charms----"

"That is why I am so eager to launch again into these scenes of
excitement."

"What prevents our resuming them?"

"What! why you, pardieu!"

"You are mistaken, brother. I am weary as you can be of the life we are
leading; we will depart as soon as you please."

"That is not my meaning; be frank with me: it is impossible that the
ardent love you felt for Doña Rosario could have evaporated thus all at
once."

"What makes you think I do not love her?"

"Come!--come!" Valentine replied, "let us have an end of all this; if
you love Doña Rosario, why do you want to leave this place, and why do
you refuse to marry her?"

"It is not I who refuse," the young man murmured with a sigh, "it is
she!"

"She! no--no! come! that is not possible!"

"Brother, a long time ago, the very next day after the night when
at Santiago we delivered her from the hands of the bandits who were
carrying her off, she herself told me that we never could be united.
She ordered me to avoid her presence, and demanded my word of honour
that I would never seek to see her again. Why, then, should I lull
myself with a wild chimera! You see, brother, I have no hope left."

"Perhaps!--but so many things have taken place since that period that
the intentions of Doña Rosario may have changed."

"No," the count replied, despondingly.

"What makes you suppose so?"

"Her coolness--her indifference to me; the care she takes to avoid me;
everything, in short, proves that I have remained here too long, and
that I ought to leave her dangerous society."

"Why do not you have an explanation with her?"

"I have sworn, and whatever it costs I will accomplish my vow."

Valentine hung his head, but made no reply.

"I implore you!" the count resumed, "let us remain no longer here; the
sight of her I love increases my anguish."

"Have you reflected seriously upon this?"

"Oh, yes!" the young man replied, with an air of real or forced
resolution.

"Well," said Valentine, shaking his head, "if such is your will, so it
must be; we will begone, then!"

"Yes, and as soon as possible; do not you think so?" the young man
said, with an involuntary sigh.

"Oh! this very day; I am only waiting for Curumilla, whom I have
requested to go and procure horses. As soon as he returns we will start.

"And we will return to the toldería of the tribe of the Great Hare,
where we can live happily."

"That is a good idea; in that way our existence will not be a useless
one, since we can contribute to the happiness of those around us. And
who knows?" Valentine added, smiling--"we may perhaps, become great
warriors in Araucania."

Louis's only reply to this pleasantry was a sigh, which did not escape
the notice of his friend.

"Oh!" Valentine murmured, "he must and shall be happy in spite of
himself."

Curumilla and Trangoil-Lanec appeared in the distance amidst a cloud of
dust, galloping towards the hacienda with several horses. The two young
men rose to go and meet them.

Scarcely had they left the little grove when Doña Rosario put aside
some low branches and came out. She paused thoughtfully for a minute,
looking after the two Frenchmen, who were walking away sad and
gloomy; then suddenly raising her head with a saucy air, her blue eye
brightened, a smile stole over her lips, and she murmured with a pretty
nod of her head--

"Hum! ah!--we shall see!"

Then she returned to the hacienda, bounding along like a frightened
antelope.

Every morning at eight o'clock, in Spanish-American countries, the
bells ring, to assemble at the same table the inhabitants of the
hacienda--rom the owner who sits in the centre to the humblest peon who
places himself modestly at the lower end. The breakfast is the hour
chosen to meet each other and to pay the compliments of the morning,
previous to commencing the rough labours of the day.

At the first stroke of eight Don Tadeo descended to the hall and stood
before the table, his daughter being on his right hand. He saluted with
a smile or a friendly word every one of the persons employed on the
farm as they entered.

The two Frenchmen came in last. After cordially shaking hands with
them, Don Tadeo assured himself by a glance that no one was wanting at
the meeting, took off his hat, in which he was imitated by all present,
and slowly and solemnly pronounced the blessing. At a wave of his hand
all took their places.

The repast was short; it lasted little more than a quarter of an
hour. The peons then returned to their labours under the order of the
major-domo, and Don Tadeo desired the maté to be served.

No one remained in the hall but Don Tadeo, his daughter, the foster
brothers, the two Indian chiefs, and Cæsar--if it be permissible to
reckon a dog as company; the noble animal was crouched at the feet of
Doña Rosario.

In a few minutes the maté had made its round on the company, and, yet
without any apparent cause, a painful silence prevailed.

Don Tadeo was thoughtful; Doña Rosario was twisting her taper,
rose-tipped fingers in the long silky ears of the dog, who had placed
his great head upon her knees, with his large, intelligent eyes fixed
upon her face.

The count and his foster brother were anxious, and yet afraid to
open the subject that weighed upon their hearts; at length, however,
Valentine became tired of this false position, and resolutely began.

"Well," he said, "what reply do you mean to make to Don Gregorio
Peralta, Don Tadeo?"

"What I told you, my friend," said Don Tadeo, turning towards him.
"Chili, henceforward liberated from the man who was dragging the
country to destruction, no longer stands in need of me. I am determined
to trouble myself no longer with politics. I have long enough devoted
my life to the ungrateful labours I imposed upon myself to secure the
independence of my country, and deliver it from the ambitious man who
wished to enslave it. I have accomplished my task; the hour of repose
has struck for me. I peremptorily refuse the presidency which Don
Gregorio offers me in the name of the people, and will devote myself
entirely to the happiness of my daughter."

"I cannot blame your resolution; it is noble and beautiful, Don Tadeo;
it is Worthy of you," the count replied.

"And do you mean to send off this answer soon?" said Valentine.

"In a few minutes; but why do you ask me that question, pray?"

"Because," Valentine replied, "my friend and I will undertake, if you
please, to convey it."

Don Tadeo opened his eyes with astonishment.

"How so?" he cried, "What do you mean by that? Can you think of leaving
us?"

A melancholy smile played for a moment round the young man's lips; the
ice was broken; the sacrifice must be bravely made, and he did not
hesitate.

"Heaven is my witness," he said, shaking his head, "that it would be my
most ardent wish to remain here."

"Yes," the count interrupted, taking, in spite of himself, a furtive
glance at Rosario, who appeared to have no interest in what was
passing; "yes, we have too long forgotten ourselves in your charming
retreat. This delightful life enervates us; if we do not hasten to tear
ourselves from it, we shall soon find it impossible to do so."

"You must leave us!" Don Tadeo repeated, whose countenance became
cloudy, and his eyebrows contracted; "and what for?"

"Do you not know?" Louis replied, who took courage from the apparent
carelessness of Rosario, "that when for the first time we had the good
fortune to meet with you----"

"Good fortune for me!" Don Tadeo interrupted, warmly.

"Be it so!" said Valentine, striking in to assist his friend; "we were
then in search of fortune. Well, and now," he continued, gaily, "thanks
to Heaven that our assistance is no longer necessary to you, we are not
willing to abuse your kind hospitality any longer."

"What does this mean?" Don Tadeo exclaimed, rising. "What do you call
abusing my hospitality? Why do you employ such futile pretexts with me?"

"We must go!" the young man repeated, coldly.

"Oh! I cannot believe it is the thirst for gold which urges you to
leave me. Your heart is too noble for that odious passion to gain
possession of it."

"Don Tadeo, you do us but justice," the count replied; "it is not the
thirst for gold which actuates us, for our intention on leaving you is
to retire among the Aucas Indians."

Don Tadeo looked perfectly astonished.

"Do not form a bad opinion of us," the young man continued; "be assured
that if a powerful motive did not oblige us to depart, I, at least,
should be most happy to remain with you."

Don Tadeo walked up and down the hall in great agitation.

"Can you not tell me the motive you speak of," he said in an
affectionate tone.

The young lady turned her head imperceptibly.

"I cannot!" Louis murmured, bowing his head.

Rosario shrugged her shoulders with an air of disappointment.

"Very well, caballero," Don Tadeo replied, with cold dignity; "you
and your friend are free to act as to you seems best. Pardon me the
questions I have put to you, but your resolution, which I in vain
endeavour to account for, has destroyed past recovery a cherished hope,
which I should have been most happy to have seen realised. Here is my
letter to Don Gregorio Peralta; when do you wish to set out?"

"This very instant!" the count replied; "my friend and I intended to
bid you farewell immediately after breakfast."

"Yes," Valentine continued, who perceived that his foster brother,
overcome by his feelings, could not say any more; "we beg you to accept
our thanks for the friendship you have deigned to display towards us,
and to assure you that the remembrance of you will live in the bottom
of our hearts."

"Farewell, then!" Don Tadeo said, with great emotion. "God grant that
you may find elsewhere the happiness that awaited you here."

Valentine bowed without replying; his tears choked his utterance.

"Adieu, señorita!" murmured the count, in a tremulous low voice; "may
you be happy?"

She made no reply: deeply wounded, he turned away quickly, and strode
towards the door. In spite of all their resolution, when on the point
of going out, the young men cast one look behind them, to salute for
the last time persons who were so dear to them, and whom they were
abandoning for ever. Don Tadeo stood motionless in the same place,
apparently still as much surprised as hurt. Doña Rosario continued
playing mechanically with the ears of the dog.

"Cæsar!" shouted Valentine.

At the voice of his master, the Newfoundland dog disengaged himself
quickly from the arms of the young girl, and bounded to his side.

"Cæsar!" Rosario murmured faintly.

And then, in spite of the signs and orders of his master, the animal
laid itself down at her feet.

With a bursting heart, the count made a violent effort, and sprang
towards the door.

"Louis!" Rosario cried. "Louis, you have sworn never to be separated
from Cæsar."

Louis staggered, as if struck by lightning; a glow of inexpressible joy
lit up his face; he let the letter fall, and gently thrust forward by
Valentine, fell at the feet of the lovely and now smiling girl.

"My father!" Rosario implored, throwing her arm round his neck, "I well
knew that he loved me."

Valentine felt an acute pang mixed with an immense joy at this
denouement.

"It is I," he said, picking up the letter with a smile, of which none
but such a man is capable, "who must carry the answer."

"Oh, no!" Doña Rosario said, with a playful pout, "You will not leave
us, my friend; are you not the dearly beloved brother of my Louis? Oh,
we will not let you go!"

Valentine kissed the hand extended to him, and secretly wiped away a
tear, but he made no reply.

The day passed away rapidly and happily for all; when night was come--

"Farewell, brother!" said Valentine, with deep emotion. "Thank Heaven,
you are henceforth sheltered from all misfortune."


The count looked at him anxiously.

"Brother," he said, "are you unhappy?"

"Who, I?" said Valentine, endeavouring to smile, "I never was so happy
in my life!"

After embracing the count, who gave way to him, though astonished at
the sudden appearance of grief in such a man, he strode away. Louis
watched him depart, saying to himself--

"What can be the matter with him? Oh, tomorrow he shall explain
himself!"

But on the morrow Valentine had disappeared.

He also loved Doña Rosario.

The young people waited for him a long time. At length, three months
after his departure, when all hopes of his return had completely
vanished, the Count de Prébois-Crancé married Doña Rosario. But
Valentine was wanting.

       *       *       *       *       *

Those of our readers who have taken an interest in Valentine, and we
hope that they are numerous, will find his further adventures recorded
in the "TIGER-SLAYER."



THE END.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Pearl of the Andes - A Tale of Love and Adventure" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
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.



Home