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Title: The Smuggler Chief - A Novel
Author: Aimard, Gustave, 1818-1883
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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The present is the most powerful story which Gustave Aimard has yet
written. While there is enough of startling incident and hairbreadth
escapes to satisfy the greatest craver after sensation, the plot is
carefully elaborated, and great attention is paid to developing the
character of the heroines. If there has been any fault in the author's
previous works, it is that the ladies introduced are too subordinate;
but in the present tale, the primary interest hinges upon them, and
they are the most prominent characters. For this reason I am inclined
to believe that the "Smuggler Chief" will become a greater favourite
with readers than any of its predecessors.

Lascelles Wraxall, Bart.


        XV. A FIRST LOSS



America, a land not yet thoroughly explored, and whose immense
savannahs and gloomy virgin forests conceal so many mysterious secrets
and unknown dramas, sees at this moment all eyes fixed upon her, for
everyone is eager to know the strange customs of the semi-civilized
Indians and the semi-savage Europeans who people the vast solitudes
of that continent; for in the age of transformation in which we live,
they alone have remained stationary, contending inch by inch against
the civilization which invades and drives them back on all sides, and
guarding with a religious obstinacy the faith, manners, and customs of
their fathers--curious manners, full of interest, which require to be
studied carefully and closely to be understood.

It is to America, then, that we invite the reader to accompany us. But
he need not feel alarmed at the length of the voyage, for he can make
it while comfortably seated in his easy chair by the fireside.

The story we propose to tell has its scene laid at Valparaíso--a
Chilian city as regards the soil on which it is built, but English and
French, European or American, through the strange composite of its
population, which, is formed of people from all countries, who have
introduced every possible language and brought with them every variety
of trade.

Valparaíso! the name echoes in the ear like the soft sweet notes of a
love strain!

Valparaíso! the city of Paradise--the vast depôt of the whole world.
A coquettish, smiling, and frolicsome city, slothfully reclining, like
a thoughtless Indian maid, at the base of three mountains and at the
end of a glorious bay, dipping the tips of her roseate feet in the
azure waters of the Pacific, and hiding her broad brilliant forehead
in the tempest-swollen clouds which float along from the crests of the
Cordilleras to make her a splendid diadem.

This city, the advanced sentinel of Transatlantic civilization, is the
first land which the traveller discovers after doubling Cape Horn, of
melancholy and ill-omened memory.

When at sunrise of a fine spring morning a vessel sails round the
lighthouse point situated at the extremity of the Playa-Aucha, this
charming oasis is perceived, half veiled by a transparent mist, only
allowing the white houses and lofty edifices to be distinguished in a
vague and fantastic way that conduces to reverie.

The atmosphere, impregnated with the sharp scents from the beach and
the sweet emanations of the trees and flowers, deliciously expands the
chest, and in a second causes the mariner, who comes back to life and
hope, to forget the three months of suffering and incessant danger
whose long hours have passed for him minute by minute, ere he reached
this long-desired haven.

On August 25th, 1833, two men were seated in a posada situated in the
Calle San Agostino, and kept by a Frenchman of the name of Crevel,
long established in the country, at a table on which stood two glasses
and a nearly empty bottle of aguardiente of Pisco, and were eagerly
conversing in a low voice about a matter which seemed to interest them
in the highest degree.

One of these men, about twenty-five years of age, wore a characteristic
costume of the guasos, a name by which the inhabitants of the interior
are designated; a wide poncho of llama wool, striped with different
brilliant colours, covered his shoulders and surrounded his bare neck
with an elegant and strangely-designed Indian embroidery. Long boots
of dyed wool were fastened above his knees by silk cords, and armed at
the heels with enormous silver spurs, whose wheels, large as saucers,
compelled him to walk on tiptoe whenever he felt an inclination to
leave his saddle for a moment--which, however, very rarely happened,
for the life of a guaso consists in perpetual horse exercise.

He wore under his poncho a belt containing a pair of pistols, whose
heavy butts could be distinguished under the folds each time that a
hurried movement on the part of the young man evidenced the fire which
he introduced into the conversation.

Between his legs rested a rifle richly damascened with silver, and the
carved boss of a knife handle peeping out of the top of his right boot.

Lastly, to complete this accoutrement, a splendid Guayaquil straw hat,
adorned with an eagle's plume, was lying on a table near the one which
he occupied.

In spite of the young man's swarthy face, his long black hair falling
in disorder on his shoulders, and the haughtiness of his features, it
was easy to recognise by an examination of his features the type of the
European under the exterior of the American; his eyes full of vivacity
which announced boldness and intelligence, his frank and limpid
glance, and his sarcastic lips, surmounted by a fine and coquettishly
turned up black moustache, revealed a French origin.

In truth, this individual, who was no other than Leon Delbès, the most
daring smuggler on the Chilian coast, was born at Bayonne, which city
he left after the loss of an enormous fortune which he inherited from
his father, and settled in South America, where in a short time he
acquired an immense reputation for skill and courage, which extended
from Talcahueno to Copiapó.

His comrade, who appeared to be a man of five-and-thirty years of age,
formed the most perfect contrast with him.

He wore the same costume as Delbès, but there the resemblance ended.

He was tall and well built, and his thin, muscular limbs displayed a
far from ordinary strength. He had a wide, receding forehead, and his
black eyes, close to his long, bent nose, gave him a vague resemblance
to a bird of prey. His projecting cheek bones, his large mouth, lined
with white, sharp teeth, and his thin pinched-up lips, imparted to his
face an indescribable expression of cruelty; a forest of greasy hair
was imprisoned in a red and yellow silk handkerchief which covered his
head, and whose points fell upon his back. He had an olive complexion,
peculiar to individuals of the Indian race to which he belonged.

This man was well known to the inhabitants of Valparaíso, who
experienced for him a hatred thoroughly justified by the acts of
ferocity of which he had been guilty under various circumstances; and
as no one knew his real name, it had grown into a custom to designate
him by the name of the Vaquero, owing to his great skill in lassoing
wild bulls on the Pampas.

"The fiend twist the necks of those accursed English captains!" the
Frenchman exclaimed, as he passionately smote the table: "it is easy to
see that they are heretics."

"Yes," the other replied; "they are thieves--a whole cargo of raw
silver, which we had such difficulty in passing, and which cost us the
lives of two men."

"It is my fault," Leon continued, with an oath. "I am an ass. We have
made a long voyage for nothing, and I ought to have expected it, for
with the English it is impossible to gain one's livelihood. I am sure
that we should have done our business famously at Copiapó, and we were
only eight leagues from there."

"That's true," said the half-breed; "and I cannot think how the
mad idea occurred to us of coming, with thirty loaded mules, from
Chanoccillo to Valparaíso."

"Well, what is done is done, my friend; but we lose one thousand

"_Vaya pués_. Captain, I promise you that I will make the first
Englishman I catch on the sierra pay dearly for our misadventure. I
would not give an ochavo for the life of the man who comes within range
of my rifle."

"Another glass," said Leon, as he seized the bottle, and poured the
last of the spirit into the glasses.

"Here's your health," said the half-breed, and raising his glass, he
emptied it at a draught, and then put it back on the table, heaving a
deep sigh.

"Now, Diego of my soul, let us be off, as nothing keeps us here any

"_Caray_, captain, I am ready. I am anxious to reach the mountains, for
my health fails me in these poisoned holes which are called towns."

"Where are our lads?"

"Near the Rio Claro, and so well hidden that the fiend himself could
not discover them."

"Very good," Leon answered. "Hilloh, Crevel!" he shouted, raising his
voice, "come hither."

At this summons the posadero, who was standing at the end of the
room, and had not lost a syllable of the conversation between the
two smugglers while pretending to be busy with his household duties,
advanced with a servile bow.

He was a fellow of about forty years of age, sturdy built, and with a
red face. His carbuncled nose did not speak at all in favour of his
temperance, and his crafty and hypocritical manners and his foxy eyes
rendered him a complete specimen of one of those men branded in the
French colonies by the name of BANIANS, utter scoundrels, who swarm
in America, and who, in the shadow of an almost honest trade, carry
on a dozen others which expose them to the scaffold. True fishers in
troubled waters, who take with both hands, and are ready for anything
if they are well paid.

This worthy landlord was an old acquaintance of the smugglers, who had
for a long time been able to appreciate him at his full value, and had
employed him successfully in many ugly affairs; hence he came up to
them with that low and meaning smile which is always found stereotyped
on the ignoble face of these low class traffickers.

"What do you desire, señores?" he asked, as he respectfully doffed the
cotton nightcap of equivocal whiteness which covered his greasy poll.

"To pay you, master rogue," his countryman replied, as he tapped him
amicably on the shoulder; "how much do I owe you?"

"Fourteen reals, captain."

"The deuce! you sell your adulterated Pisco rather high."

"Well," said the other, assuming a pious look and raising his eyes to
heaven, "the excise dues are so heavy."

"That is true," said Leon; "but you do not pay them."

"Do you think so?" the landlord continued.

"Why, hang it! it was I who sold you the Pisco we have just been
drinking, and I remember that you would only pay me--"

"Unnecessary, unnecessary, captain," Crevel exclaimed, quickly; "I will
not bargain with a customer like you; give me ten reals and say no more
about it."

"Stay; here are six, and that's more than it is worth," the young man
said as he felt in a long purse which he drew from his belt, and took
out several lumps of silver marked with a punch which gave them a
monetary value.

"The deuce take the fancy they have in this country of making such
money," he continued, after paying the posadero; "a man feels as if he
had pebbles in his belt. Come, gossip, our horses."

"What, are you off, señores?"

"Do you suppose we are going to sleep here?"

"It would not be the first time."

"That is possible, but today you will have to do without us. I have
already asked whether our horses are ready."

"They are at the door, saddled and bridled."

"You have given them something to eat, at least?"

"Two trusses of Alfalfa."

"In that case, good-bye."

And, after taking their rifles on their arms, the smugglers left the
room. At the door of the inn, two richly-harnessed and valuable horses
were waiting for them; they lightly leaped into the saddle, and after
giving the landlord a parting wave of the hand, went off at a trot in
the direction of the Almendral.[1]

While riding side by side, Leon and Diego continued to converse about
the ill success of their last operation, so unluckily interrupted by
the sudden appearance of custom-house officers, who opposed the passage
of a string of mules conveying a heavy load of raw silver, which it was
intended to smuggle, on account of certain merchants of Santiago, on
board English vessels.

A fight began between the officers and the smugglers, and two of the
latter fell, to the great annoyance of Leon Delbès, who lost in them
the two bravest men of his band. It was a vexatious check; still, as it
was certain that regretting would not find a remedy, Leon soon resolved
to endure it manfully.

"On my word," he said, all at once, as he threw away the end of his
cigarette, which was beginning to burn his fingers, "I am not sorry,
after all, that I came to Valparaíso, for it is a pretty town, which
deserves a visit every now and then."

"Bah!" the half-breed growled, thrusting out his lips disdainfully. "I
prefer the mountains, where at any rate you have elbow room."

"The mountain has certainly its charm, but--"

"Look out, animal!" Diego interrupted, addressing a fat Genovevan monk
who was bird gazing in the middle of the street.

Before the monk had time to obey this sharp injunction, Diego's horse
had hit him so violent a blow in the chest that he fell on his nose
five or six paces farther on, amid the laughter of a group of sailors,
who, however, we must do them the justice of saying, hastened to pick
him up and place him again on his waddling legs.

"What is the matter here?" Leon asked, as he looked around him. "The
streets seem to me to be crowded; I never saw such animation before.
Can it be a festival, do you think?"

"It is possible!" Diego answered. "These people of towns are so
indolent, that, in order to have an excuse to dispense them from
working, they have invented a saint for every day in the year."

"It is true that the Spaniards are religious," Leon muttered, with a

"A beastly race," the half-breed added, between his teeth.

We must observe to the reader that not only did Diego, like all the
Indians, cordially detest the Spaniards, the descendants of the old
conquerors, but he, moreover, seemed to have vowed, in addition to
this old hereditary rancour, a private hatred through motives he alone
knew; and this hatred he did not attempt to conceal, and its effect was
displayed whenever he found the opportunity.

The remark made by Leon was well founded--a compact crowd occupied the
entire length of the street in which they were, and they only advanced
with great difficulty; but when they entered the Governor's square it
was impossible for them to take another step, for a countless multitude
of people on horseback and foot pressed upon all sides, and a line of
troops stationed at regular distances made superhuman efforts to keep
back the people, and leave a space of a few yards free in the centre of
the square.

At all the windows, richly adorned with carpets and garlands of
flowers, were grouped blooming female heads, anxiously gazing in the
direction of the cathedral.

Leon and Diego, annoyed at being unable to advance, attempted to turn
back, but it was too late; and they were forced to remain, whether they
liked it or no, spectators of what was going to take place.

They had not long to wait however; and few minutes had scarce passed
after their arrival ere two cannon shots were heard. At the same time
the bells of all the churches sent their silvery peals into the air,
the gates of the cathedral were noisily opened, and a religious chant
began, joined in by the whole crowd, who immediately fell on their
knees, excepting the horsemen, who contented themselves with taking off
their hats.

Ere long a procession marched along majestically in the sight of all.

There was something at once affecting and imposing in the magnificent
appearance which the Governor's square offered at this moment. Beneath
a dazzling sky illumined by a burning sun, whose beams glistened and
sparkled like a shower of diamonds, and through the crowd kneeling and
praying devoutly, the army of Christ moved onwards, marching with a
firm and measured step, and singing the exquisite psalms of the Roman
litany, accompanied by the thousand voices of the faithful.

Then came the dais, the crosses and banners embroidered with gold,
silver, and precious stones, and statues of male and female saints
larger than life, some carved in marble and wood, others sculptured in
massive gold or silver, and shining so brightly that it was impossible
to keep the eyes fixed on them.

Then came long files of Franciscan, Benedictine, Recollet, Genovevan,
and other monks, with their arms folded on their chest, and the cowl
pulled over their eyes, singing in a falsetto voice.

Then marched at regular intervals detachments of troops, with their
bands at their head, playing military marches.

And after the monasteries came the convents, after the monks the nuns,
with their white veils and contemplative demeanour.

The procession had been marching past thus for nearly an hour, and the
end could not be seen, when Leon's horse, startled by the movement
of several persons who fell back and touched its head, reared, and
in spite of the efforts made by its rider to restrain it, broke into
formidable leaps; and then, maddened by the shouts of the persons that
surrounded it, rushed impetuously forward, driving back the human wall
opposed to it, and dashing down everything in its passage.

A frightful tumult broke out in the crowd. Everybody, overcome by
terror, tried to fly; and the cries of the females, closely pressed in
by all these people, who had only one thought--that of avoiding the
mad course of the horse--could be heard all around. Suddenly the horse
reached the middle of the procession, at the moment when the nuns of
the Purísima Concepción were defiling past; and the ladies, forgetting
all decorum, fled in every direction, while busily crossing themselves.

One alone, doubtless, more timid than her companions, or perhaps more
terrified, had remained motionless, looking around her, and not knowing
what resolution to form.

The horse advanced upon her with furious leaps.

The nun felt herself lost; her legs gave way, and she fell on her
knees, bending her head as if to receive the mortal stroke.

Leon, despairing of being able to change his horse's direction, or
stop it soon enough not to trample the maiden under foot, had a sudden
inspiration: driving in both spurs, he lifted the animal with such
dexterity that it bounded from the ground, and passed like lightning
over the nun without even grazing her.

A universal shout escaped from every throat on seeing the horse, after
this exploit, touch the ground, stop suddenly, and tremble in all its

The crisis was spent, and there was nothing more to fear. Leon left the
horse in the hands of Diego, who had joined him with great difficulty,
and leaping out of his saddle, ran to raise the fainting maiden.

Before anyone had time to approach her, he took her in his arms, and
lifted the veil which concealed her face.

The poor girl had been unable to resist the terrible emotion she had
undergone; her eyes were closed, and a deadly pallor covered her

She was a delicious creature, scarce fifteen years of age, and her
face was ravishing in its elegance and delicacy, through its exquisite
purity of outline.

Her complexion, of a dazzling whiteness, had that gilded reflection
which the sun of America produces; long black and silky lashes fringed
her downcast eyelids, and admirably designed eyebrows relieved by their
dark hue the ivory features of her virgin forehead.

Her lips, which were parted, displayed a double row of small white
teeth. Deprived of consciousness as she was, it seemed as if life had
entirely withdrawn from this body.

Leon stood motionless with admiration. On feeling the maiden's waist
yield upon his arm, an unknown emotion made his heart tremble, and
heavy drops of perspiration beaded on his temples.

"What can be the matter with me?" he asked himself, with amazement.

The nun opened her eyes again; a sudden flush suffused her cheek, and
quickly liberating herself from the young man's arms with a gesture
full of modesty, she gave him a glance of indefinable meaning.

"Thanks, Signor Caballero," she said, in a soft and tremulous voice; "I
should have been dead without you."

Leon felt troubled by the melodious accents of this voice, and could
not find any answer.

The maiden smiled sadly, and raising her hand to her bosom, she quickly
pulled out a small bag, which she wore on a ribbon, and offering it to
the young man, said--

"Farewell! farewell for ever!"

"Oh no!" Leon answered, looking around him, as if defying the other
nuns, who, now that the danger was past, hurried up to resume their
place in the procession; "not farewell, for we shall meet again."

And, kissing the maiden's hand, he took the scapulary.

The procession had already set out again, and the hymns were resounding
once more in the air, as Leon perceived that the nun had returned to
her place among her companions, and was going away singing the praises
of the Lord.

A hand was heavily laid on the smuggler's shoulder, and he raised his

"Well," the half-breed asked him, "what are you doing here?"

"Oh!" Leon answered; "I love that woman, brother. I love her!"

"Come," Diego said; "the procession has passed, and we can move now. To
horse, and let us be off!"

A few minutes later the two men were galloping along the road to Rio

[Footnote 1: A part of Valparaíso situated at the end of the bay, and
so called from the great number of almond trees that grew there.]



Between Valparaíso and Rio Claro, halfway to Santiago, stood a
delicious country house, belonging to Don Juan de Dios-Souza y
Soto-Mayor, a descendant of one of the noblest and richest families
in Chili: several of its members have played an important part in the
Spanish monarchy.

The Soto-Mayors are counted among the number of the bravest and
proudest comrades of Fernando Cortez, Pizarro, and all those heroic
adventurers who, confiding in their sword, conquered for Spain those
vast and rich countries, the possession of which allowed Philip II. to
say at a later date, with truth, that the sun never set on his states.

The Soto-Mayors have spread over the whole of South America; in Peru,
Chili, and Mexico, branches of this powerful family are found, who,
after the conquest, settled in these countries, which they have not
quitted since. This has not prevented them, however, from keeping up
relations which have ever enabled them to assist each other, and retain
under all circumstances their power and their wealth.

A Soto-Mayor was for ten years a Viceroy of Peru, and in our time we
have seen a member of this family prime minister and chief of the
cabinet at the Court of Spain.

When the American Colonies raised the standard of revolt against the
Peninsula, Don Juan de Dios, although already aged and father of a
family, was one of the first who responded to the appeal of their new
country, and ranged themselves under its banner at the head of all the
forces and all the servants they could collect.

He had fought the War of Independence as a brave soldier, and had
endured courageously, and, before all, philosophically, the numerous
privations which he had been compelled to accept.

Appointed a general when Spain, at length constrained to recognise the
nationality of her old colonies, gave up the struggle, he retired to
one of his estates, a few leagues from Valparaíso, and there he lived
in the midst of his family, who loved and respected him, like a country
gentlemen, resting from his fatigues and awaiting his last hours with
the calmness of mind of a man convinced that he has done his duty, and
for whom death is a reward rather than a punishment.

Laying aside all political anxieties, devoid of ambition, and
possessing an immense fortune, he had devoted himself to the education
of his three children, Inez, Maria, and Juanito. Inez and Maria were
two maidens whose beauty promised to equal that of their mother, Doña
Isabel de Costafuentes. Maria, the younger, according to the custom
prevalent in Chilian families, was forced into a convent in order to
augment the dowry of her sister Inez, who was nearly sixteen, and only
awaited Maria's taking the veil to solemnize her own marriage.

Juanito, the eldest of the three, was five-and-twenty; he was a
handsome and worthy young man, who, following his father's example,
entered the army, and was serving with the rank of Major.

It was eight in the evening, and the whole family, assembled in the
garden, were quietly conversing, while enjoying the fresh air after a
stifling day.

The weather seemed inclined to be stormy, heavy black clouds coursed
athwart the sky, and the hollow moaning of the wind could be heard
amid the distant mountains; the moon, half veiled, only spread a vague
and uncertain light, and at times a splendid flash tore the horizon,
illumining the space with a fantastic reflection.

"Holy Virgin!" Inez said, addressing the general, "only see, father,
how quickly the flashes succeed each other."

"My dear child," the old gentleman answered affectionately, "if I may
believe certain wounds, which are a barometer for me, we shall have a
terrible storm tonight, for they cause me intense suffering."

And the general passed his hand along his leg, while the conversation
was continued by the rest.

Don Juan de Soto-Mayor was at this period sixty-two years of age; he
was a man of tall stature, rather thin, whose irreproachable demeanour
evidenced dignity and nobility; his grey hair, abundantly on the
temples, formed a crown round the top of his head, which was bald.

"Oh! I do not like storms," the young lady continued.

"You must say an orison for travellers, Inez."

"Am I to be counted among the number of travellers, señorita?"
interrupted a dashing cavalier, dressed in a splendid military uniform,
and who, carelessly leaning against an orange tree, was gazing at Inez
with eyes full of love.

"You, Don Pedro; why so?" the latter said eagerly, as she gave a pout
of adorable meaning. "You are not travelling."

"That is true, señorita; at least, not at this moment, but--"

"What Colonel!" Don Juan said, "are you returning to Santiago?"

"Shortly, sir. Ah! you served at a good time, general; you fought, at
any rate, while we parade soldiers are fit for nothing now."

"Do not complain, my friend; you have your good moments too, and the
war which you wage is at times more cruel than ours."

"Oh!" Inez exclaimed, with a tremor in her voice, "do not feel annoyed,
Don Pedro, at your inaction; I fear lest those wicked Indians may begin
again at any moment."

"Reassure yourself, Niña, the Araucanos are quiet, and we shall not
hear anything of them for a long time; the last lesson they received
will render them prudent, I hope."

"May heaven grant it!" the young lady remarked, as she crossed herself
and raised her eyes to heaven; "But I doubt it."

"Come, come," the general exclaimed, gaily, "hold your tongue, little
girl, and instead of talking about such serious things, try to be more
amiable to the poor colonel, whom you take a pleasure in tormenting."

Inez pretended not to hear the words which her father had just said to
her, and turning to her mother, who, seated by her side, was talking to
her son in a low voice.

"Mamita," she said, coaxingly, "do you know that I am jealous of you?"

"Why so, Inez?" the good lady asked.

"Because, ever since dinner you have confiscated Juanito, and kept him
so closely to you that it has been impossible for me to tease him once
the whole evening."

"Have patience, my pet," the young man said, as he rose and leaned over
the back of her chair; "you will make up for lost time; besides, we
were talking about you."

"About me! Oh, brother, make haste and tell me what you were saying."

And the girl clapped her little childish hands together, while her eyes
were lighted up by curiosity.

"Yes," said Don Juanito, maliciously; "we were talking about your
approaching marriage with my friend, Colonel Don Pedro Sallazar."

"Fie! you naughty fellow," Inez said, with a mocking smile; "you always
try to cause me pain."

While saying these words, the coquette shot a killing glance in the
direction of the colonel.

"What! cause you pain!" her brother answered: "is not the marriage

"I do not say no."

"Must it not be concluded when our sister Maria has pronounced her

"Poor Maria!" Inez said, with a sigh, but quickly resumed her usual
good spirits.

"That is true; but they are not yet pronounced, as my dear Maria will
be with us shortly."

"They will be so within three months at the most."

"Ah!" she exclaimed lightly, "before then the donkey and its driver
will die, as the proverb says."

"My daughter," the general remarked, gravely, "the colonel holds your
word, and what you have just said is wrong."

The girl blushed: two transparent tears sparkled on her long lashes;
she rose quickly, and ran to embrace her father.

"Forgive me, father; I am a madcap."

Then she turned to the colonel, and offered him her hand.

"And do you also forgive me, Don Pedro? For I did not think of what I
was saying."

"That is right," the general exclaimed; "peace is made, and I trust
that nothing will disturb it in future."

"Thanks for the kind wish," said the colonel, as he covered with kisses
the hand which Inez abandoned to him.

"Oh, oh!" Don Juan remarked, "here is the storm; let us be off."

In fact, the lightning flashed uninterruptedly, and heavy drops of rain
began beating on the foliage which the gusts continued to agitate.

All began running toward the house, and were soon collected in the
drawing room.

In Europe it is difficult to form an idea of the magnificence and
wealth which American houses contain; for gold and silver, so precious
and so rare with us, are profusely employed in Chili, Peru, and the
entire southern region.

The description of the room in which the Soto-Mayor family sought
refuge will give a sketch of what is called comfort in these countries,
with which it is impossible for us to contend, as concerns everything
that relates to splendour and veritable luxury.

It was a large octagonal room, containing rosewood furniture inlaid
with ebony; the floor was covered with mats of Guayaquil straw of a
fabulous price; the locks of the doors and window fastenings were of
massive silver; mirrors of the height of the room reflected the light
of pink wax candles, arranged in gold candelabra enriched with precious
stones; and on the white and gold damask, covering the space below the
looking glass, hung masterpieces of art signed by the leaders of the
Spanish and Italian schools.

On the credence tables and whatnots, so deliciously carved that they
seemed made of lacework, were arranged China ornaments of exquisite
workmanship--trifles created to excite for a moment the pleasure of the
eye, and whose manufacture had been a prodigy of patience, perfection,
and invention. These thousand nothings,--on which glistened oriental
gems, mother-o'-pearl, ivory, enamel, jasper, and all the products
of the mineral kingdom, combined and mingled with fragrant woods;
feathers, &c.,--would of themselves have absorbed a European fortune,
owing to their inestimable value.

The lustre of the crystal girandoles, casting multicoloured fires, and
the rarest flowers which grew down over enormous Japanese vases, gave a
fairy like aspect to the apartment; and yet, of all those who had come
there to seek shelter from the bad weather, there was not one who did
not consider it quite usual.

The conversation interrupted in the garden had just been recommenced
indoors, when a ring of the visitor's bell was heard.

"Who can arrive so late?" the general asked; "I am not expecting

The door opened, and a servant appeared.

"Mi amo," he said, after bowing respectfully; "two travellers,
surprised by the storm, ask leave to take shelter in the house."

At the same time a vivid flash rendered the candles pale, and a
tremendous peal of thunder burst forth. The ladies uttered a cry of
alarm, and crossed themselves.

"Santa Virgin!" Señora Soto-Mayor exclaimed, "do not receive them, for
these strangers might bring us some misfortune."

"Silence, madam," the old gentleman answered; "the house of a Spanish
noble must ever be open to the unfortunate."

And he left the room, followed by the domestic. The Señora hung her
head at her husband's reproach, but being enthralled by superstition,
she kept her eyes anxiously fixed on the door through which the
strangers would enter. In a few minutes the general re-appeared,
conducting Delbès and Diego el Vaquero.

"This house is yours, gentlemen; enter, in Heaven's name;" he said to
them, affably.

Leon bowed gracefully to the ladies, then to the two officers, and
thanked the general for his cordial reception.

"So long as you deign to honour my poor house with your presence,
gentlemen," the latter replied, courteously, "we are entirely at your
service; and if it please you to drink maté with us, we shall feel

"I accept your proposal, sir, with thanks."

Diego contented himself with nodding his head in the affirmative; the
general rang, and ordered the maté. A minute later, a butler came in,
carrying a massive gold salver, on which were arranged exquisitely
carved maté cups, each supplied with an amber tube. In the midst of
the cups were a silver coffeepot full of water, and a sandalwood box
containing the leaves. On golden saucers were piled regalias, and husk
and paper cigarettes.

The butler placed the salver on a table to which the company sat
down, and he then retired. After this, Señora Soto-Mayor prepared
the decoction, poured the burning liquid into the cups, and placed
them before the guests. Each took the one within reach, and was soon
drawing up the maté, while observing deep silence and sitting in a
contemplative attitude. The Chilians are very fond of this beverage,
which they have borrowed from the Indians, and they display some degree
of solemnity when they proceed to drink it.

When the first mouthfuls had been swallowed, the conversation began
again. Leon took a husk cigarette from one of the saucers, unrolled it,
rubbed the tobacco for a moment in the palm of his hand, then remade
it with the consummate skill of the inhabitants of the country, lit it
at the flame of a small gold lamp prepared for the purpose, and, after
taking two or three whiffs, politely offered the cigarette to Doña
Inez, who accepted it with a gracious smile, and placed it between her
rosy lips.

Colonel Don Pedro had not seen the Frenchman's action without a certain
twinge of jealousy; but at the moment when he was about to light the
cigarette which he held in his hand, Inez offered him the one Leon had
given her, and which she had half smoked, saying--

"Shall we change, Don Pedro?"

The colonel gladly accepted the exchange proffered to him, gave his
cigarette to the young lady, and took hers, which he smoked with

Diego, even since his arrival at the house, had not once opened his
lips; his face had grown clouded, and he sat with his eyes fixed on the
general, whom he observed askance with an indefinable expression of
hatred and passion.

Leon knew not to what he should attribute this silence, and felt
alarmed at his comrade's strange behaviour, which might be noticed by
the company, and produce an unpleasant effect in their minds.

Inez laughed and prattled merrily, and several times in listening to
her voice Leon was struck by a vague resemblance to another voice
he had heard, though he was unable to call to mind under what
circumstances he had done so. Then on scrutinizing Señora Soto-Mayor's
features, he thought he could detect a resemblance with someone he
knew, but he could not remember who it was.

Believing himself the dupe of an illusion, he had to get rid of the
notion of explaining to himself a resemblance which probably only
existed in his imagination; then, all at once, on hearing a remark that
fell from Inez's lips, he turned to recognise an intonation familiar to
his ears, which plunged his mind once more into the same perplexity.

"Madre," said Inez to her mother, "Don Pedro informs me that his sister
Rosita will take the veil at the convent of the Purísima Concepción on
the same day as my beloved Maria."

"They are, indeed, of the same age," the Señora replied.

Leon started, and could not repress an exclamation.

"What is the matter, Caballero?" the general asked.

"Nothing, general; merely a spark from my cigarette that fell in my
poncho," Leon replied, with visible embarrassment.

"The storm is lulling," Diego said, at length emerging from his
silence; "and I believe that we can set out again."

"Can you think of such a thing, my guests? Certainly not; the roads are
too bad for me to let you depart. Besides, your room is prepared, and
your horses are resting in the corral."

Diego was about to refuse, but Leon did not allow him the time.

"Since you wish it, general, we will pass the night beneath your roof."

Diego was obliged to accept. Moreover, in spite of what he stated, the
storm, instead of lulling, redoubled its intensity; but it could be
seen that the Vaquero obeyed against his will the necessity in which
he found himself of remaining, and that he experienced an invincible
repugnance in submitting to it.

The evening passed without any further incident, and about ten o'clock,
after prayers had been read, at which all the servants were present,
they separated.

The general had the two smugglers conducted to their bedroom by a peon,
after kindly wishing them good night, and making them promise not to
leave his house the next morning without wishing him good-bye, Leon and
Diego thanked him for the last time, and so soon as they reached their
apartment, dismissed the servant, for they were eager to cross-question
each other.



Whatever may be asserted to the contrary, a religion frequently
undergoes, unconsciously, the atmospheric influences of the country in
which it is professed; and while remaining the same fundamentally, the
forms vary infinitely, and make it change its aspect according as it
penetrates into countries where climates are different.

This may at the first glance appear a paradox; and yet, if our readers
will take the trouble to reflect, we doubt not but they will recognise
the justice and truth of our assertion.

In some countries, like Germany and England, where thick fogs brood
over the earth at certain periods of the year, the character of the
inhabitants is tinged by the state of the gloomy nature that surrounds
them. Their ideas assume a morose and mystical hue perfectly in harmony
with what they see and feel. They are serious, sad, and severe,
positive and material, because fog and cold remind them at every
moment that they must think of themselves, take care, and wrestle, so
to speak, with the abrupt and implacable nature which allows them no
respite. Hence come the egotism and personality, which destroy all
the poetry of religion which is so marvellously developed in southern

If we look further back, we shall find the difference even more
marked. For this purpose it is only necessary to compare Greek
mythology--Paganism, with its smiling images which deified vices and
passions, with the gloomy and terrible worship of Odin in Scandinavia,
or with that even more sanguinary paid to the god Teutates in the Gaul
of olden times, and in the sombre forests of Germany.

Can we deny the influence of the northern ice over the disciples of
Odin? Is not the savage majesty of the immense forests which sheltered
the priests of Teutates the principal cause of the mysteries which they
celebrated? And, lastly, is not the benignity of the Greek mythology
explained by the beauty of the sky in which it sprang up, the mildness
of the climate, the freshness of the shadows, and the ever renewing
charm of its magnificent landscapes?

The Catholic religion, which substitutes itself for all the rest, has
been, and still is, subjected to the action of the temperature of those
countries into which it has penetrated, and which it has fecundated.

In Chili it is, so to speak, entirely external. Its worship is composed
of numerous festivals pompously celebrated in churches glittering with
light, gold, silver, and precious stones, of interminable processions
performed under a reign of flowers, and clouds of incense which burn

In this country, beloved of the sun, religion is full of love; the
ardent hearts that populate it do not trouble themselves at all about
theological discussions. They love God, the Virgin, and the saints with
the adoration, self-denial and impulse which they display in all their

Catholicism is changed with them, though they do not at all suspect
it, into a sort of Paganism, which does not account for its existence,
although that existence cannot be contested.

Thus they tacitly accord the same power to any saint as to deity; and
when the majority of them address their prayer to the Virgin, they do
not pray to Mary the Mother of our Saviour, but to Nuestra Señora de
los Dolores, Nuestra Señora del Carmen, Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe,
Nuestra Señora de la Soledad, Nuestra Señora del Pilar, Nuestra Señora
de Guatananga, and ten thousand other Our ladies.

A Chilian woman will not hesitate to say, with perfect conviction, that
she is devoted to Nuestra Señora de la Sierra, because she is far more
powerful than Nuestra Señora del Carmen, and so on with the rest.

We remember hearing one day in the church of Nuestra Señora de la
Merced, at Pilar, a worthy hacendero praying to God the Father to
intercede for him with Nuestra Señora del Pilar, so as to obtain for
him a good harvest!

Novenas are kept and masses ordered for the slightest pretext. If a
Chilian lady be deserted by her lover, quick a mass to bring him back
to her side; if a man wish to avenge himself on one of his fellow men,
quick a mass that his revenge may be carried out!

There is also another way of insuring the protection of any saint, and
that is by making a vow. A young man who wishes his beloved lady to
give him a meeting, never fails to pledge himself by a vow addressed to
San Francisco or San Antonio to perform some pious deed, if the saint
will consent to advise the lady in his favour. And these practices must
not be taken for juggling; the people who accomplish them do so in
perfect good faith.

Such is the way in which the Catholic religion is understood in South

In all the ex-Spanish colonies members of the clergy swarm, and we are
not afraid of being taxed with exaggeration when we assert that in
Chili they form at least one-fourth of the population. Now, the clergy
are composed of an infinite number of monks and nuns of every possible
form, species, and colour, Franciscans, Benedictines, Genovevans,
Barefooted Carmelites, Brothers of Mercy, Augustines, and many others
whose names have escaped us. As will be easily understood, these
religious communities, owing to their considerable number, are not paid
by the government, whose resources would not nearly suffice for their
support. Hence they are compelled to create a thousand trades, each
more ingenious than the other, in order to be able to exist.

In these countries--and there will be no difficulty in understanding
this--the clergy are excessively tolerant, for the very simple reason
that they have need of everybody, and if they committed the mistake of
alienating the inhabitants they would die of hunger in a fortnight.
It is worth while seeing in Chili the extension given to the trade in
indulgences. _Agnus Deis_, scapularies, blessed crosses, and miraculous
images; everything has its price, everything is sold. So much for a
prayer--so much for a confession--so much for a mass.

A Chilian sets out on a journey, and in order that no accident may
happen to him on the road, he has a mass said. If, in spite of this
precaution, he is plundered on the high road by the Salteadores, he
does not fail on his return to go to the monk of whom he ordered the
mass, and bitterly complain of his want of efficacy. The monk is
accustomed to such recriminations, and knows what to answer.

"That does not surprise me, my son," the Franciscan, or the
Benedictine, or whoever he may be, as the answer is always the same,
replies; "what the deuce did you expect to have for a peso? Ah, if you
had been willing to pay a half ounce, we should have had the beadle,
the cross, the banner, two choristers, and eight candles, and then most
assuredly nothing would have happened to you; but how could you expect
the Virgin to put herself out of the way for a peso?"

The Chilian withdraws, convinced that he is in the wrong, and promising
not to be niggardly on the next opportunity.

With the exception of the minor trades to which we have alluded, the
monks are jolly fellows, smoking, drinking, swearing, and making love
as well as a man of the world. It is not uncommon to see in a wine
shop a fat monk with a red face and a cigarette in his mouth, merrily
playing the vihuela as dance accompaniment to a loving couple whom he
will confess next morning. Most of the monks carry their knife in their
sleeve, and in a quarrel, which is a frequent thing in Chili, use it as
well, and with as little remorse as the first comer.

With them religion is a trade by which they make the largest profit
possible, and does not at all compel them to live without the pale of
the common existence.

Let us add, too, in concluding this rather lengthy sketch, but which
it was necessary to give the reader, in order that by knowing Chilian
manners, he might be able to account for the strangest of the incidents
which we are about to record, that, in spite of the reproaches which
the light conduct of the monks at times deserves--regard being had to
the sanctity of the gown they wear--they are not the less an object of
respect to all, who, taking compassion on human weakness, excuse the
man in the priest, and repay tolerance for tolerance.

The convent of the Purísima Concepción stands at the extremity of
the Almendral. It is a vast edifice, entirely built of carved stone,
nearly two hundred years old, and was founded by the Spaniards a short
time after their arrival in Chili. The whole building is imposing and
majestic, like all the Spanish convents; it is almost a small town, for
it contains everything which may be useful and agreeable for life--a
church, a hospital, a washhouse, a large kitchen garden, a shady and
well-laid out park, reserved for the promenades of the nuns, and large
cloisters lined with frescoes, representing scenes from the life of the
Virgin, to whom the convent is consecrated. These cloisters, bordered
by circular galleries, out of which, open the nuns' cells, enclose a
sandy courtyard, containing a piece of water and a fountain, whose jet
refreshes the air in the midday heat.

The cells are charming retreats, in which nothing that promotes
comfort is wanting--a bed, two chairs covered with Cordovan leather,
a prie-Dieu, a small toilet table, in the drawer of which you may be
certain of finding a looking glass, and a few sacred pictures, occupy
the principal space destined for necessary articles. In one corner of
the room is visible, between a guitar and a scourge, a statue of the
Virgin, with a wreath of roses on her head and a constantly-burning
lamp before her. Such is the furniture which will be found, with but
few exceptions, in the cells of the nuns.

The convent of the Concepción contains about one hundred and fifty nuns
of the order of Mount Carmel, and some sixty novices. In this country
of toleration, strict nunneries are rare; the sisters are allowed to
go into town and pay or receive visits; the rule is extremely gentle,
and with the exception of the offices which they are expected to attend
with great punctuality, the nuns, when they have once entered their
cells, are almost free to do what they think proper, no one apparently
paying any attention to them.

After the incident which we recorded in our first chapter, the
procession, momentarily interrupted by the furious attack of Leon's
horses, was reorganized as well as it could be; all the persons
comprising it returned to their places so soon as the first alarm was
over, and two hours after the gates of the Purísima Concepción closed
again upon the long file of nuns engulfed in its walls.

So soon as the crosses, banners, and statues of saints had been
deposited with all proper ceremony in their usual places, after a short
prayer repeated in community, the ranks were broken, and the nuns began
chattering about the strange event which had suddenly interrupted them
as they left the cathedral. Several of them were not tired of praising
the bold rider who had so cleverly guided his runaway horse, and saved
a great misfortune by the skill which he had displayed under the

From the midst of a group of about a dozen sisters conversing together,
there came forth two maidens, dressed in the white garb of novices,
who, taking each other's arm, walked gently toward the most deserted
part of the garden. They must have eagerly desired not to be disturbed
in their private conversation, for, selecting the most shaded walk,
they took great care to hide themselves from their companions'
observation behind the shrubs that formed the borders.

They soon reached a marble seat hidden behind a clump of trees, in
front of a basin filled with transparent water, whose completely
motionless surface was as smooth as that of a mirror. No better place
could have been selected for a confidential conversation; so they sat
down, and raised the veil that covered their face.

They were two charming girls, who did not count thirty years between
them, and whose delicate profile was gracefully designed under their
pure and exquisitely white wimple. The first was Doña Maria de Souza y
Soto-Mayor; the other was Doña Rosita Sallazar, sister of the dashing
Don Pedro, of whom we have already got a glimpse as affianced husband
of Inez.

Doña Maria's face displayed visible traces of emotion. Was it the
result of the terror she had felt on seeing herself almost trampled
on by the smuggler's horse, or did a cause, of which we are ignorant,
produce the effect which we have just indicated?

The conversation of the young ladies will tell us.

"Well, sister," Rosita asked, "have you recovered from the terror which
this morning's event caused you?"

Doña Maria, who seemed absorbed in secret thoughts, started, and
hurriedly answered--

"Oh! I am well now; quite well, thank you."

"In what a way you say that, Maria! What is the matter? You are quite

A short silence followed this appeal. The young ladies took each
other's hand, and waited to see which would be the first to speak.

Maria and Rosita, who were nearly of the same age, loved each other
like sisters. Both novices, and destined to take the veil at the same
date, the identity of their position had produced between them an
affectionate sympathy which never failed them. They placed in a common
stock, with the simple confidence of youth, their hopes and sorrows,
their plans and dreams--brilliant winged dreams, which the convent
walls would pitilessly break. They had no secret from each other, and
hence Rosita was grieved by the accent with which Maria had answered
her when she asked her how she was. The latter evidently concealed
something from her for the first time since she had entered the convent.

"Maria," she said to her, gently, "forgive me if I acted indiscreetly
in asking after your dear health; but I feared, on noticing the pallor
of your face--"

"Dear Rosita, how kind you are!" Maria interrupted, embracing her
companion tenderly; "and how wrong I am! Yes, I am suffering, really;
but I know not from what, and it only began just now."

"Oh! accursed be the wicked man, cause of so much terror!" Rosita
continued, alluding to Leon the smuggler.

"Oh, silence, Rosita! Speak not so of that cavalier, for he has on his
face such a noble expression of courage and goodness that--"

"So you looked at him, sister?" Rosita exclaimed.

"Yes, when I regained my senses and opened my eyes, his were fixed on

"What! he dared to raise your veil? But it is a great sin to let a man
see your face, and you must confess it to dear Mother Superior; the
convent rule demands it."

"I know it, and will conform."

"After all," Rosita continued, with volubility, "as you had fainted,
you could not prevent him raising your veil; hence it is not your
fault, but that young man's."

"He saved my life!" Maria murmured.

"That is true, and you are bound to feel grateful to him instead of
hating him."

"Do you think I can remember him without sinning?"

"Certainly: is it not natural to remember those who have done us a
great service?"

"Yes, yes; you are right," Maria exclaimed, joyfully. "Thanks,
sister--thanks, sister: your words do me good, for I was afraid it
would be wrong to think of him who saved me."

"On the contrary, sister," Rosita said, with a little doctorial tone
which rendered her ravishing, "you know that Mother Abbess daily
repeats to us that ingratitude is one of the most odious vices."

"Oh, in that case, I did right in giving him my scapulary as a pledge
of remembrance."

"What! did you give him that holy object?"

"Oh, poor young man! he seemed so affected, his glance was so full of
sorrow and grief--"

While Maria was speaking, Rosita was examining her, and after the last
words, entertained no doubt as to the feelings which animated her

"Maria," she said to her, bending down to her ear and speaking so low
that no other but the one for whom it was meant could hear it--"Maria,
you love him, do you not?"

"Alas!" Maria exclaimed, all trembling--"do I know? Oh, silence, for
mercy's sake!" she continued, impetuously. "I love him! But who would
have taught me to love? A poor creature, hurled within the walls of
this convent at the tenderest age, I have up to this day known nought
but the slavery in which my entire life must be spent. Excepting you,
my kind Rosita, is there a creature in the world that takes an interest
in my fate, is happy at my smile or grieved at my tears? Have I ever
known since the day when reason began to enlighten my heart, the
ineffable sweetness of maternal caresses--those caresses which are
said to warm the heart, make the sky look blue, the water more limpid,
and the sun more brilliant? No; I have ever been alone. My mother, whom
I could have loved so dearly--my sister, whom I sought without knowing
her, and whose kisses my childish lips yearned for--both shun me and
abandon me. I am in their way; they are anxious to get rid of me; and
as all the world repulses me, I am given to God!"

A torrent of tears prevented the young lady from continuing. Rosita
was terrified by this so true grief, and tried to restore her friend's
calmness, while unable to check the tears that stood in her own eyes.

"Maria! why speak thus? it is an offence to God to complain so bitterly
of the destiny which He has imposed on us."

"It is because I am suffering extraordinary torture! I know not what I
feel, but I fancy that during the last hour the bandage which covered
my eyes has suddenly fallen, and allowed them to catch a glimpse of
an unknown light. Up to this day I have lived as the birds of the air
live, without care for the morrow and remembrance of yesterday; and in
my ignorance of the things which are accomplished outside these walls
I could not regret them. I was told: You will be a nun; and I accepted,
thinking that it would be easy for me to find happiness wherever my
life passed gently and calmly; but now it is no longer possible."

And the maiden's eyes flashed with such a brilliancy that Rosita dared
not interrupt her, and listened, checking with difficulty the beating
of her own heart.

"Listen, sister!" Maria continued, "I hear an undefinable music in my
ears; it is the intoxicating promises which the joys of the world wake
in me, which I am forbidden to know, and which my soul has divined.
Look! for I saw strange visions pass before my dazzled eyes. They are
laughing pictures of an existence of pleasures and joys which flash
and revolve around me in an infernal whirlwind. Take care; for I feel
within me sensations which horrify me; shudders that traverse my whole
being and cause me impossible suffering and pleasure. Oh, when that
young man's hand touched mine this morning, I trembled as if I had
seized a red-hot iron; when I regained my senses, and felt his breath
on my face, I fancied that life was going to abandon me; and when I
was obliged to leave him, it seemed to me as if there were an utter
darkness around me; I saw nothing more, and was annihilated. His fiery
glance cast eternal trouble and desolation into my soul. Yes, I love
him: if loving be suffering, I love him! For, on hearing the convent
gates close after the procession, a terrible agony contracted my heart,
an icy coldness seized upon me, and I felt as if the cold tombstone
were falling again on my head."

Overcome by the extreme emotion which held possession of her, the
maiden had risen; her face was flushed with a feverish tinge; her eyes
flashed fire; her voice had assumed a strange accent of terror and
passion; her bosom heaved wildly, and she appeared to be transfigured!
Suddenly she burst into sobs, and hiding her face in her hands, yielded
to her despair.

"Poor Maria!" said Rosita, affected by this so simply poignant
desolation, and seeking in vain by her caresses to restore calmness,
"how she suffers!"

For a long time the two maidens remained seated at the same spot,
mingling their tears and sighs. Still a complete prostration eventually
succeeded the frenzy which had seized on Maria; and she was preparing,
on her companion's entreaties, to return to her cell, when several
voices, repeating her name, were heard at a short distance from the
thicket where she had sought refuge.

"They are seeking us, I think," said Rosita.

"They are calling me," Maria continued; "what can they want with me?"

"Well, beloved sister, we will go and learn."

The two maidens rose, and soon found themselves in the presence of two
or three sisters, who were looking for them.

"Ah, there you are!" the latter exclaimed; "Holy Mother Superior is
asking after you, Maria; and we have been seeking you for the last ten

"Thanks, sisters," Maria answered; "I will obey the summons of our good

"Be calm," Rosita whispered to her, with some amount of anxiety.

"Fear nothing; I will manage to hide my feelings." And all returned in
the direction of the convent.



Three years prior to the events which we have just recorded, that is
to say, about the month of May, 1830, Diego the Vaquero, who at that
period was one of the bravest gauchos on the pampas of Buenos Aires,
was returning to his rancho one evening after a day's hunting, when
suddenly, before he could notice it, a magnificent panther, probably
pursuing him in the tall grass, leaped, with an enormous bound, on his
horse's neck. The animal, startled by this attack, which it was far
from expecting, neighed with pain, and reared so violently that it fell
back on its master, who had not had time to leap on the ground, but was
held down by the weight of his steed.

It was, doubtless, all over with man and horse when Diego, who, in his
desperation, was commending his soul to all the saints in paradise, and
reciting, in a choking voice, all the scraps of prayers which he could
call to mind, saw a long knife pass between his face and the head of
the foetid brute, whose breath he could feel on his forehead.

The panther burst into a frightful howl, writhed, vomited a stream of
black blood, and after a terrible convulsion, which set all the muscles
of his body in action, fell dead by his side.

At the same moment the horse was restored to its trembling feet, and a
man helped the Vaquero to rise, while saying, good-humouredly--

"Come, tell me, comrade, do you think of sleeping here, eh?"

Diego rose, and, with an anxious glance around him, felt all his limbs
to make sure they were intact; then, when he was quite certain that
he was perfectly sound and free from any wound, he gave a sigh of
satisfaction, devoutly crossed himself, and said to his defender,
who, with folded arms and a smile on his lips, had followed all his
movements with the utmost interest--

"Thanks, man. Tell me your name, that I may retain it in my heart along
with my father's."

"Leon," the other answered.

"Leon," the gaucho repeated, "it is well; my name is Diego; you have
saved my life; at present we are brothers, and do with me as you will."

"Thanks," said Leon, affectionately pressing the hard, rugged hand
which the half-breed offered him.

"Brother, where is your rancho?"

"I have none," Leon answered, with a cloud of sorrow over his face.

"You have none? What were you doing all alone, then, in the middle of
the Pampas at this hour of the night?"

The young man hesitated for a moment, and then, regaining his good
spirits, replied--

"Well, if I must confess to you, comrade, I was dying of hunger in the
most philosophical way in the world: I have eaten nothing for two days."

"Caray," Diego exclaimed; "die of hunger! Come with me, brother; we
will not part again; I have some charqui in my rancho. I repeat to you,
you have saved my life, and henceforth all must be in common between
us. You look like a daring fellow, so remain with me."

From this day Leon and Diego never parted again; and the friendship of
these two men grew with time so great that they could not live without
one another; but however great was the intimacy existing between them,
never had a word been exchanged concerning their past life; and this
mutual secret, mutually respected, was the only one that existed
between them.

Diego certainly knew that Leon was a Frenchman, and had also noticed
his great aptitude in bodily exercises, his skill as an excellent
horseman, and, above all, the depth of his ideas and far from ordinary

Recognising of what great use the young man's intellect had been to him
in critical moments to get out of a difficulty, Diego regarded him with
a species of veneration, and endured his moral superiority without even
perceiving it.

With the sublime self-denial of virgin natures whom the narrow
civilization of towns has not degraded, he had grown to regard Leon
as a being placed on his path by Providence, in order that he might
have someone to love; and finding in Leon a perfect reciprocity of
friendship, he felt ready to sacrifice to Leon the life which he owed

On his side, Leon, captivated by the frank advances which the Vaquero
had made him, had gradually come to feel for him a sincere affection,
which was evidenced by a deep and unbounded devotion.

A short time after their meeting, Diego communicated to Leon the plan
he had of going to Chili, and proposed to him to accompany him. The
idle life on the pampas could not suit Leon, who had dreamed of an
active and brilliant existence when he set foot on American soil.
Gifted with an adventurous and enterprising character, he had left his
native land to tempt fortune, and hitherto chance had not favoured his
hopes. As nothing, therefore, prevented him from trying whether Chili
might not be more lucky, he accepted.

One morning, therefore, the pair, mounted on Indian horses, crossed
the pampas, and then, after resting for some days at San Luis de
Mendoza, they entered the passes of the Cordilleras, which they got
through with great difficulties and dangers of every description, and
at length reached their journey's end.

On arriving at Chili, Leon, powerfully supported by Diego, organized
the contraband trade on a vast scale, and a few months later fifty men
obeyed his orders and those of Diego, whom he made his lieutenant. From
this moment Captain Leon Delbès found the mode of life which suited his

Now that we have explained the nature of the ties which bound the two
principal characters of our story, we will resume our narrative at
the moment when we left our smugglers in the room which Don Juan y
Soto-Mayor ordered to be got ready for them.

Scarce had the peon left the room ere Leon, after assuring himself that
no one could hear his words, walked up to Diego, who was sitting gloomy
and silent on a folding chair, and said--

"What is the matter with you tonight? Why did you remain so silent? Is
it that General Soto-Mayor--"

"There is nothing the matter with me," the half-breed sharply
interrupted; "but by the way," he added, looking Leon in the face, "you
appear yourself to be suffering from extraordinary agitation."

"You are right; but if you wish to learn the cause, confidence for
confidence, and tell me what you have on your mind."

"Leon, do not question me on this subject. You are not mistaken; I
allow I have been thoughtful and silent ever since I have crossed the
threshold of this house; but do not try to penetrate the motive. It is
not the time yet to tell you the things which you must know some day.
Thanks for the interest you take in my annoyances and my sorrows; but
once again I implore you, in the name of our friendship, do not press

"Since such is the case, brother, I will refrain from any questions,"
Leon answered.

"And now, if you please, tell me why I saw you turn pale and tremble
when a word that fell from the lips of the Señora Inez, and which I did
not catch, struck your ear."

"Brother, do you remember that this morning, after saving from a
certain death the novice of the convent of the Purísima Concepción, I
told you that my heart knew love for the first time in my life?"

"But what is there in common between that girl and Señora Inez?"

"Do you remember also," Leon continued, without answering the Vaquero's
observation, "that I swore to see the maiden again, even if I were
obliged to lay down my life in satisfying my desire?"

"But again I say--"

"Well, know then, brother, that I have learned her name, and it is Doña
Maria y Soto-Mayor."

"What are you saying?"

"And that she is the daughter of our host, Don Juan de Dios-Souza y

"And you love her?" Diego exclaimed.

"Must I repeat it again?" Leon remarked impetuously.

"Malediction!" said the half-breed.

"Yes, malediction, is it not? for Maria is eternally lost to me; she
will take the veil shortly, and the hopes I entertained of being able
to drag her out of the walls of that convent are blighted."

"To marry her?" Diego remarked, mockingly.

"Nonsense, Leon, my friend: you are mad. What, you, the smuggler, marry
a Señora, the daughter of a gentleman! No, you cannot suppose such a

"Silence, Diego, silence! for the more that I feel the impossibility of
possessing the girl, the more I feel that I love her."

And the young man, crushed by sorrow, fell into a seat by Diego's side.

"And do you believe," the latter continued, after a moment's silence,
"that there is no hope of delaying her in taking the veil?"

"How do I know? Besides, of what good is it, as you said just now--can
I think of the daughter of General Soto-Mayor? No, all is lost!"

"Remember the Spanish proverb--'Nothing is certain but death and the
tax gatherer.'"

For a moment past, the half-breed's face had become animated with a
singular expression, which would not have escaped Leon, had not the
latter been entirely absorbed in the thought of losing her whom he

"What do you mean?" he asked Diego.

"Listen patiently, for the question I am going to ask you is intended
to fix an important determination in my mind."

"I am listening," the young man said.

"Do you really love Doña Maria?"

At this question, which might seem, at the least, inopportune after
what Leon had just stated, the latter frowned angrily; but on noticing
the half-breed's serious face, he understood that it was not for the
purpose of making a jest of his despair that Diego had revived the fire
which was burning in his bosom.

"If I do not see her again, I shall die," the young man replied,

"You shall not die, brother, for within a fortnight she will be at your

Leon knew the half-breed, and that he was a man who never promised
in vain: hence he did not dare doubt, and merely raised his eyes and
questioned him with a look.

"Within a fortnight she will be at your knees," the half-breed slowly
repeated; "but till then, not a word, not a sign of recollection,
reproach, impatience, or amazement, but passive obedience."

"Thanks, brother," Leon contented himself with answering, as he held
out his hand to Diego, who pressed it in his.

"And now let us sleep, so that tomorrow our foreheads may be less
burning, and we may be able to set to work."

Then, putting out the candles, the two men threw themselves on their
beds, without exchanging another word, for each was anxious to reflect
upon the course he should pursue.

Neither slept: Leon thought of Maria and the means Diego might employ
to fulfil the pledge he had made; while Diego had in his head a
ready-traced plan, whose success appeared to him certain, as it was
connected with a far more dangerous affair.

At daybreak they rose, and kneeling down in the middle of the room,
took each other by the hand, and devoutly said their prayers. Anyone
would have been astonished who had overheard what these two men asked
of God--the God of mercy and goodness! Their prayer ended, they went
down into the garden; the night storm had entirely passed away, the sun
was rising in a flood of transparent vapour, and everything announced a
magnificent day.

Shortly after their arrival, they perceived the general, who came to
meet them with a regular step and a joyous face.

"Well, gentlemen," he shouted to them, so soon as he saw them, "how did
you pass the night?"

"Excellently, general," Leon replied; "and my friend and myself both
thank you sincerely for your kind hospitality."

"At your age a man can sleep anywhere," the general continued, with a
pleasant smile. "Oh, youth!" he added, with a sigh of regret, "happy
time, which flies, alas! too quickly." Then becoming serious; "As for
the slight service which I have had the pleasure of rendering you, you
will disoblige me by thanking me for so simple a thing."

After a few more words from him, dictated by politeness, the three men
walked round the garden several times, and, to Leon's great surprise,
Diego did not allude to their departure; but as the young man did not
know the Vaquero's line of conduct as to the prospects which he nursed,
he waited.

Don Juan was the first to break the silence.

"Gentlemen," he said, stopping at the corner of a shady walk, "be good
enough, I pray, not to take in ill part what I am about to say--you are
smugglers, I believe?"

"Yes, sir," replied Diego, amazed at the old gentleman's perspicuity.

"This discovery does not injure you at all in my opinion," continued
the general, who had noticed the look of surprise exchanged by the
two friends. "I have frequently had dealings with gentlemen of your
profession, and have had always cause to be pleased with them; and I
trust that the relations which may be established between us will prove
advantageous to both parties."

"Speak, sir."

The Vaquero was all ears, and examined the general with a distrust
which the latter did not notice, or feigned not to notice.

"This is the matter, gentlemen. I am obliged, owing to certain family
reasons, to undertake a journey to Valdivia, where my brother Don Louis
resides; now, your arrival at my house has made me think of making the
journey under your escort, and I wish to propose to you, as I shall
take Señora y Soto-Mayor and my whole family with me, that you and your
men should escort us, leaving it to you to fix the price as you think

"General," Leon answered, "you have guessed correctly in regarding us
as smugglers; I have the honour of being the captain of a band of fifty
men, who know how to put down the customs' dues when they are too high;
but you are mistaken in supposing that we can accompany you."

"Why so?" the Vaquero eagerly interrupted, on whose features a strange
gleam of satisfaction had appeared. "It is true that it is not our
habit to undertake business of that nature; but the general has shown
himself too hospitable to us to refuse him our assistance. Captain,
remember, too, that we have something to do within a few days in the
neighbourhood of Valdivia, and hence we shall merely make our journey
the sooner, which is a trifle."

"That is true," muttered the captain, whom a glance of Diego's had told
that he must accept. "I fancied that I must return to Valparaíso; but
what my friend has just said is perfectly correct, so you can dispose
of us as you please."

"In that case, gentlemen," said the general, who had only seen in this
opposition on the part of the captain a mode of demanding a large sum,
"be good enough to step into my study, and while drinking a glass of
Alicante, we will settle money matters."

"We are at your orders."

And all three proceeded to the general's apartments. It was arranged
that, instead of bargaining with an arriero, the captain was to supply
a dozen mules to carry the baggage, and that they should start the
following morning. When this arrangement was made, Leon and Diego asked
the general's permission to go and join their men, and give orders for
the departure; but he would not consent until they had breakfasted.

They therefore waited, and soon found themselves again in the company
of the members of the Soto-Mayor family, as well as of Don Pedro
Sallazar, who had decided on spending the night at the country
house before setting out for Santiago. Leon was dying to turn the
conversation to the Convent of the Purísima Concepción, and could have
most easily done so by telling the event of the previous day; but he
remembered the promise made to Diego, and fearing lest he might commit
some folly injurious to his interests, he held his tongue; still he
learned, on hearing the talk, that the general's major-domo had started
that morning for Valparaíso entrusted with a message for the Señora
Doña Maria.

When breakfast was over, the two friends took leave of their hosts,
and, after finally arranging the hour for starting, they left the
house, and found in the courtyard their horses ready saddled and held
by a peon. At the moment of starting, Don Pedro de Sallazar waved his
hand to them, and disappeared in the direction of Santiago, accompanied
by the general's son.

The two smugglers arrived before midday at the spot where their men,
somewhat alarmed at their prolonged absence, were encamped. It was a
narrow gorge between two lofty mountains, and at a sufficient distance
from the beaten road for the band to be safe from any surprise, of
which there was not much apprehension, by the way, as in this country
smugglers enjoy almost complete immunity, and have only to fear the
excessively rare cases of being caught in the act.

The horses were browsing at liberty, and the men, seated on a hearth
made of two lumps of stone, were finishing their breakfast of charqui
and tortillas. They were mostly men in the prime of life, whose
resolute air sufficiently evidenced the carelessness they felt for
every species of danger.

Belonging to all nations, they formed a whole which was not without
originality, but each of them, whether he were German or Portuguese,
Sicilian or Dutchman, as he found in the existence which he led the
charm of an adventurous life studded with perils, pleasures, and
emotions, had completely forgotten the name of his country, only to
remember the memorable days on which, indulging in his dangerous
profession, he had put the custom house officers to flight, and passed
under their very noses bales of merchandize.

Enemies of a yoke and servitude, under whatever form they might
appear, they obeyed with rigorous exactness the discipline which Leon
Delbès had imposed on them--a discipline which, by the way, allowed
them to do whatever they pleased when not actually engaged with their
smuggling duties. Some were drunkards, others gamblers, and others
libertines; but all ransomed their faults, which they regarded almost
as qualities, by a well-tried courage, and a perfect devotion to Leon
and Diego.

Their dress varied but slightly from that of their chief; all wore a
poncho, which covered their weapons, and the boots of wood rangers,
which, while protecting their legs from the stings of reptiles, left
them perfect liberty of motion. Their hats alone might be regarded as
the distinctive mark either of their nationality or the difference of
their tastes. There were broad-brimmed, pointed, and round hats; every
shape came into strange contact there, from the worn silk hat of Europe
to that of the American Bolivar.

They uttered a shout of joy on perceiving their chiefs, and, eagerly
rising, ran to meet them.

"Good day, gentlemen," Leon said, as he leaped from his horse. "I
am rather behind my time, but you must blame the night storm, which
compelled us to halt on the road. Is there any news?"

"None, captain," they answered.

"In that case listen to me. Ten of you will stay here, and at four
o'clock tomorrow morning proceed with twelve mules to the house of
Don Juan y Soto-Mayor, and place yourselves at the orders of that
gentleman, whom you will accompany to Valdivia." Diego set about
selecting the men whom he thought the best fitted for the expedition;
and after he had done so, Leon addressed the others.

"You will start for Valparaíso and await my orders there; you will
lodge at Crevel's, in the Calle San Agostino, and at Dominique the
Italian's, at the Almendral. Above all," he added, "be prudent, and
do not attract attention; amuse yourselves like good fellows, but do
not quarrel with the señores, or have any fights with the sailors. You
understand me, I suppose?"

"Yes, captain," they all answered.

"Very well. Now I will give each of you five ounces to cover your
expenses, and do not forget that I may want you at any moment, and you
must be ever ready to obey my summons."

He gave them the money, and after repeating his recommendations, he
retired, leaving it to Diego to give the men who were proceeding to
Valparaíso the final instructions which they might need. The smugglers
removed all traces of their meal, and each of them hurried to saddle
his horse. A few minutes later, forty men of the band set out under the
guidance of the oldest among them.

Diego watched them start, and then returned to Leon, who was resting
from his fatigue on a small turf mound, overshadowed by a magnificent
clump of trees. The Vaquero held in his hand the alforjas which he
had taken off his horse; he examined the place where Leon was seated,
and finding it as he wished, he sat down by his side; then taking out
of the bag a clumsy carved earthern pipe, into which he fitted a long
stem, he began to strike a light over a small horn box filled with
burnt rags, which soon caught fire. When his pipe was lighted, he began
smoking silently.

Leon, on seeing these preparations, understood that something important
was about to take place between him and Diego, and waited. At the
expiration of five minutes, the latter passed him his pipe; Leon
drew several puffs and then returned it to him. These preliminaries
completed, Diego began to speak.

"Leon, three years have passed since Heaven brought us together on the
pampas of Buenos Aires; since that moment--and I shall never forget it,
brother--everything has been in common between us--pleasure and pain,
joy and sorrow."

Leon bowed his head in the affirmative, and the half-breed continued:

"Still, there is one point upon which our mouths have ever remained
silent, and it is the one which refers to the life of each of us before
that which we now lead together."

Leon looked at him in amazement.

"It is not a want of confidence," Diego hastily added, "but the slight
interest we felt in cross-questioning each other, which alone is the
cause. Of what use is it to know the past life of a man, if from the
day when you first saw him he has not ceased to be honest and loyal?
Besides, the hours are too short in the pampas for men to dream of
asking such questions."

"What are you coming to?" Leon at length asked.

"Listen, brother. I will not question you about what I care little to
know, but I wish to tell you something you must know. The moment has
arrived to speak; and though the story I have to tell you is gloomy and
terrible, I am accomplishing a duty."

"Speak, then," said Leon.

The half-breed passed his hand over his forehead, and for a moment
collected his recollections. Leon waited in silence.



"Long ago, very long ago," Diego, the Vaquero, began, "all the lands
bordering the bay of Valparaíso belonged to the Indians, whose vast
hunting grounds extended on one side from the lofty peaks of the
Cordilleras down to the sea, and on the other covered the Pampas of
Buenos Aires, of Paraguay--in a word, all the splendid countries from
which they have eternally disappeared, and it is impossible to find a
trace of the moccasins which trod them during centuries."

"The Indians were at that day free, happy, powerful, and more numerous
than the grains of sand in the bed of the sea. But one day strange news
spread among them: it was said that white men, who had come no one knew
whence, and mounted on immense winged horses, had suddenly appeared in

"I need not remind you of all that occurred in consequence of this
news, which was only too true, or describe to you the hideous massacres
committed by the Spaniards, in order to reduce the unhappy Indians to
slavery, for it is a story which everybody knows. But what you are
possibly ignorant of is, that during one of the dark and stormy nights
which followed this invasion, a dozen men of majestic demeanour, with
haughty though care-laden brows, were seen to land from a canoe half
broken by the waves and jagged rocks."

"They were Indians who had miraculously escaped from the sack of Quito,
and had come to present themselves as suppliants to the elders of the
Araucano nation. Among them was a man whom they respectfully obeyed. He
was the son of the sister of the valiant Atahualpa, King of Quito, and
his name was Tahi-Mari. When in the presence of the elders, Tahi-Mari
gave them a narration of the misfortunes which had struck him."

"He had a daughter, Mikaa, the purest and loveliest of the daughters
of the Sun. When conquered by the Spaniards, who, after killing two of
his sons, set fire to his palace, Tahi-Mari, followed by his three sons
left home, rushed toward the palace of the Sun, in order to save his
daughter, if there were still time."

"It was night: the volcano was roaring hoarsely, and hurling into the
air long jets of fire, whose lurid and sinister gleams combined with
the flames of the fire kindled by the conquerors of this unhappy city.
The squares and streets were encumbered with a terrified multitude,
who fled in all directions with terrible cries from the pursuit of the
Spanish soldiers, who, intoxicated with blood and carnage, massacred
mercilessly old men, women, and children, in order to tear from their
quivering bodies the gold collars and ornaments which they wore.
Neither tears, prayers, nor entreaties succeeded in moving their
ferocious executioners, who with yells and shrill whistles excited
their dogs to help them in this horrible manhunt."

"When Tahi-Mari reached the Temple of the Sun, that magnificent
edifice, which contained such riches, had become a prey to the flames;
a girdle of fire surrounded it on all sides, and from the interior
could be heard the groans of the hapless virgins who were expiring in
the tortures of a horrible death. Without calculating the imminency of
the peril, the poor father mad with grief and despair, rushed into the
burning furnace which opened its yawning mouth before him."

"'My daughter! my daughter!' he cried. In vain did the flames singe his
clothing; in vain did frightful burns devour his hands and face: he
felt nothing, saw nothing; from his panting chest constantly issued the
piercing cry--"

"'My daughter! my daughter!'"

"Suddenly a half-naked virgin, with dishevelled hair, and her features
frightfully contracted, escaped from the flames; it was Mikaa.
Tahi-Mari, forgetting all that he had suffered, weepingly opened his
arms to the maiden, when a Spaniard, dressed in a brilliant garb, and
holding a sword in his hand, rushed upon Mikaa, and ere her father had
time to make a gesture thrust his weapon into her chest!"

"Oh, it is frightful!" Leon, who had hitherto listened to his comrade's
story in silence, could not refrain from exclaiming.

Diego made no reply, but a sinister smile played round his livid lips.

"The maiden fell bathed in her blood, and Tahi-Mari was about to avenge
her, when the Spaniard dealt him such a fierce blow that he lost his
consciousness. When he regained his senses the officer had disappeared."

"It is infamous," Leon said again.

"And that officer's name was Don Ruíz de Soto-Mayor," Diego said, in a
hollow voice.

"Oh!" Leon muttered.

"Wait a moment, brother; let us continue, for I have not finished yet."

"Though tracked like a wild beast, and incessantly hunted by the
Spaniards, Tahi-Mari, accompanied by his three sons and some faithful
friends, succeeded in getting away from Quito and reaching the country
of the Araucanos."

"After the Inca had recounted his misfortunes to the great Indian
Chief, the latter welcomed the fugitives with hearty marks of
affection; one of them, the venerable Kouni-hous-koui (he who is
respected), a descendant of one of the oldest families of the Sagamores
of the nation, exchanging his calumet with Tahi-Mari, declared to him,
in the name of the Araucanos, that the Council of Elders adopted him as
one of their caciques."

"From this day Tahi-Mari, owing to his courage and wisdom, acquired the
esteem of those who had given him a new country to love and defend."

"Several years passed thus, and no sign led the Araucanos to suspect
that the Spaniards would ever dare to attack them; they lived in a
perfect state of security, when suddenly and without any justification
for the aggression, a Spanish fleet consisting of more than thirty
brigantines sailed into the bay of Valparaíso. They had no sooner
disembarked than they built a city, which soon saw the flag of conquest
floating from its walls."

"Still the Araucanos, although driven back by their terrible enemies,
were aroused by the voice of Tahi-Mari, and resolved to keep the
Spaniards constantly on their defence, by carrying on against them
a war of snares and ambushes, in which the enemy, owing to their
ignorance of the places where they fought, did not always get the best
of it."

"In the course of time, this perpetual war made them lose a great
number of soldiers, and feeling desperate at seeing several of their
men fall daily under the blows of invisible enemies, who seemed to
inhabit hollow trees, the tops of mountains, or the entrails of the
earth, they turned all their rage against Tahi-Mari, whose influence
over all the men who surrounded him they were aware of, and resolved to
get hold of him."

"But it was no easy matter, for the Inca was on his guard against every
attack, and was too well versed in the tactics of his enemy to let
himself be caught by cunning or treachery. And yet this was destined to
happen. There was among the Indian prisoners--alas! it is disgraceful
to say it, but it was so--a man who, given to habits of intoxication
and brought to Peru by the Spaniards, did not recoil before the offer
made him to betray his brothers, on condition that they should give him
as much aguardiente as he could drink."

"The Spanish captain, fertile in expedients, who had proposed this
cowardly bargain to the Indian, induced the latter to go to Tahi-Mari,
give himself out as an escaped prisoner, and, after inquiring into
his plans, urge him to surprise the Spaniards, of whose numbers,
position, and plan of campaign he was to give a false account. Once
that Tahi-Mari was in the power of the Spaniards, firewater would amply
compensate the traitor."

"All was carried out in the way the officer suggested; for could
Tahi-Mari suspect that an Araucano would betray him? He received him
on his arrival among his brothers with transports of joy, and then
questioned him as to the enemy's strength and means of defence. This
was what the Indian was waiting for: he answered the questions asked
him by adroitly dissimulating the truth, and ended by asserting that
nothing was easier than to take the Spanish troops prisoners, and he
offered to guide the expedition in person."

"The hope of a certain victory animated the Araucanos, who joyfully
greeted this proposition, and all was soon arranged for the start.
During the night following the traitor's arrival, five hundred men
picked from the bravest, and led by Tahi-Mari, descended the mountain
under the guidance of the treacherous Indian, and marched silently upon
a Spanish redoubt, in which they expected to find the principal chiefs
of the enemy and surprise them."

"But as they advanced they perceived a dark line which was almost
blended with the darkness, but which could not escape the piercing
glances of the Indians. This line formed an immense circle, which
surrounded them and became more contracted every moment. It was the
Spanish horse coming to meet them and preparing to attack them."

"All at once Tahi-Mari uttered a yell of fury, and the head of the
traitor who had drawn them into the snare rolled at his feet; but ere
the Araucanos had time to retire, a number of horsemen, holding in
leash twenty of those ferocious dogs trained for man hunting, rushed
upon them. They were compelled to fight, and a terrible massacre began,
which lasted all night. Tahi-Mari performed prodigies of valour. In
the height of the action his eyes were injected with blood and a
lurid pallor covered his face; he had recognised among those who were
fighting the Spanish officer who killed his daughter Mikaa on the
threshold of the Temple of the Sun in so dastardly a way. On his side
the Spaniard rushed with incredible fury upon the Inca."

"It was a sublime moment! The two men attacked each other with equal
fury, and the blood that flowed from their wounds stained their
weapons. The axe which the Inca held was already whirling above the
head of the Spaniard to deal him the final blow, when Tahi-Mari
fell back, uttering a yell of pain: an enormous hound coming to the
officer's assistance, had ripped open the Inca's stomach. Taking
advantage of Tahi-Mari's defenceless state, Don Ruíz de Soto-Mayor
despatched him by passing his sword right through his body."

"The next day the Inca's body, frightfully mutilated, was burnt on the
public square of Valdivia, in the presence of a few Indians, who had
only escaped the sword of their murderers to die at a later date in the
punishment of a horrible captivity."

"Oh!" Leon exclaimed, who had felt his heart quiver; "it is frightful!"

"What shall I say, then?" Diego asked in his turn; "I who am the last
of the descendants of Tahi-Mari!"

At this unexpected revelation Leon started; he looked at Diego, and
understood that there was in this man's heart a hatred so deeply
rooted, and, above all, so long repressed, that on the day when it
broke out no power in the world would be strong enough to check the
terrible effects of its explosion. He hung his head, for he knew
not what to reply to this man who had to avenge such blood-stained
recollections. Diego took his friend's hand, and remarking the emotion
he had produced, added--

"I have told you, brother, what the ancestors of Don Juan de Souza
y Soto-Mayor made mine suffer, and your heart has bounded with
indignation, because you are loyal and brave; but what you do not yet
know is that the descendants of that family have faithfully followed
the conduct of the murderers of Tahi-Mari. Oh! there are strange
fatalities in a man's life! One day--and that day is close at hand--you
shall know the details of the existence which I have led, and the
sufferings which I have endured without a murmur; but at the present
day I will only speak of those of my race; afterwards I will speak of

While uttering the last words, a flash of joy like that which a tiger
feels when it holds a quivering prey under its claws passed into the
half-breed's eyes. He continued--

"My father died a victim to the cruelty of the Spaniards, who put him
to death because he dreamed of the independence of his country; his
brother followed him to the tomb, weeping for his loss."

"Diego! God has cruelly tried thee."

"I had a mother," Diego went on, with a slight tremor in his voice;
"she was the object of my father's dearest affections, and was young
and lovely. One day when she left the mountain to visit my father, who
was expiating within the walls of Valparaíso prison his participation
in a movement which had broken out among the Araucanos, she met on the
road a brilliant Spanish cavalier who wore a lieutenant's epaulettes."

"The Spaniard fixed upon her an impassioned glance; she was alarmed,
and tried to fly, but the horseman prevented her, and in spite of her
prayers and supplications, she could not liberate herself from the
villain's arms. On the morrow Lieutenant Don Juan de Soto-Mayor was
able to boast among his friends, the noble chiefs of the Spanish army,
that he had possessed the chaste wife of Tahi-Mari the Indian."

"Yes, it was again a Soto-Mayor. This accursed name has ever hovered
over the head of each member of my family, to crush it under
punishment, sorrow, shame, or humiliation. Each time that one of us has
reddened American soil with his blood, it was a Soto-Mayor that shed
it. Each time that a member of this family met a member of mine, one
was the executioner, the other the victim."

"And now, brother, you will ask me why, knowing that General Don Juan
de Souza y Soto-Mayor is the man who dishonoured my mother, I did not
choose among the weapons which hung from my girdle the one which should
pierce his heart?--why I have not some night, when all were sleeping
at the hacienda, carried within its walls the all-devouring fire, and
taken, according to Indian custom, eye for eye and tooth for tooth?"

"Yes, I confess it; I should have quivered with pleasure had I seen
all the Soto-Mayors, who live calm and happy a few leagues from us,
writhing in the agonies of death. But I am the son of Tahi-Mari, and I
have another cause to defend beside my own--that of my nation. And on
the day when my arm falls on those whom I execrate, it will not be the
Soto-Mayors alone who perish, but all the Spaniards who inhabit these

"Ah! is it not strange to dream of enfranchisement after three hundred
years of slavery? Well, brother, the supreme moment is close at hand;
the blood of the Spaniard will again inundate the soil of Peru, and the
nineteenth century will avenge the sixteenth."

"That is the reason why you saw me so silent at the general's house;
that is why I agreed to escort him and his family to Valdivia, for
my plans are marvellously served by this journey. As for the girl
you love, as I told you, you shall see her again, and it will be the
beginning of the punishment which is destined to fall on this family."

Diego had risen, but a moment later he resumed his ordinary stoicism.

"I have told you what you ought to know, in order to understand and
excuse what you may see me undertake against the Spaniards; but before
going further it is right that I should know if I can count on your
help, and if I shall find in you the faithful and devoted friend who
never failed me up to this day."

A violent contest was going on in Leon's heart. He asked himself
whether he, who had no cause of complaint against the Spaniards, had
any right to join those who were meditating their ruin. On the other
hand, the sincere friendship which he felt for the Vaquero, whose life
he had shared during the last four years, rendered it a duty to assist
him, and did not permit him to abandon him in the moment of danger.
Still he hesitated, for a secret anxiety kept him undecided, and
prevented him forming a resolution.

"Diego," he asked the Vaquero in his turn, "before answering you, let
me ask you one question?"

"Speak, brother!" Diego answered.

"What do you mean to do with Doña Maria?"

"I have promised you to bring her to your knees. If she love you, she
will be my sister; if she refuse your love, I shall have the right to
dispose of her."

"And she will have nothing to fear till I have seen her again?" Leon
asked further.

"Nothing! I swear to you."

"In that case," said Leon, "I will take part in your enterprise. Your
success shall be mine, and whatever be the road you follow, or the
means you employ to gain the object of your designs, I will do all that
you do."

"Thanks, brother; I was well aware that you would support me in the
struggle, for it is in the cause of justice. Now I will set out."

"Do you go alone?"

"Yes, I must."

"When shall I see you again?"

"Tomorrow morning, at Don Juan's, unless I am compelled to remain at
the place where I am going longer than I think; in that case I will
join you on the Talca road. Besides, you do not require me to escort
the general: our men will be at their post tomorrow, and you can say
something about my going on ahead."

"That is true; but Doña Maria?"

"You will see her again soon. But start alone tomorrow for the country
house, and I will meet you this day week, whatever may happen, in the
Del Solar wood, at the San Francisco Solano quarry, where you will
order a halt."

"Agreed, and I leave you to act as you think proper. Next Wednesday at
the Del Solar wood, and if you wish to join us before then, we shall
follow the ordinary road."

"Very good; now I am off."

Ten minutes after this long interview, Diego was galloping away from
his comrade, who watched him depart, while striving to conjecture in
what direction he was going. Profoundly affected by the varied events
of the preceding day, and the story which Diego had told him, Leon
reflected deeply as he walked toward the smugglers remaining with him,
and who were engaged in getting their weapons in order.

Although nothing in his exterior announced the preoccupation from which
the was suffering, it could be guessed that he was in a state of lively
anxiety. The image of Doña Maria floated before his eyes; he saw her
pale and trembling after he had saved her from his horse's rush, and
then, carrying himself mentally within the walls of the convent of the
Purísima Concepción, he thought of the barrier which separated them.
Then suddenly the half-breed's words returned to his ear--"If she
refuse your love," he had said, "I shall have the right to dispose of

An involuntary terror seized on the young man at this recollection. In
fact, was it presumable that Doña Maria loved him? and would not the
Vaquero be compelled to employ violence in carrying out his promise of
bringing him into the presence of the novice? In that case, how could
he hope to make himself loved?

These reflections painfully agitated Leon Delbès, who, obeying that
spontaneity of action peculiar to his quick and impetuous character,
resolved to fix his uncertainty by assuring himself of the impression
which he had produced on the heart of the maiden, whom he loved with
all the strength and energy of a real passion.

Such a sudden birth of love would appear strange in northern
countries, where this exquisite feeling is only developed in conformity
with the claims of the laws of civilization; but in Chili, as in the
whole of South America, love, ardent as the fires of the sun which
illumines it, bursts forth suddenly and displays itself in its full
power. The look of a Chilian girl is the flush which enkindles hearts
of fire which beat in breasts of iron.

Leon was a Frenchman, but several years' residence in these parts, and
his complete adoption of American manners, customs, and usages had
so metamorphosed him, that gradually his tastes, habits, and wants
had become identified with those of the inhabitants of Chili, whom he
regarded as his brothers and countrymen. Without further delay, then,
Leon prepared to return to Valparaíso, and make inquiries about Doña

"It is two o'clock," he said to himself, after consulting his watch;
"I have time to ride to Ciudad, set Crevel to work, and be at the
general's by the appointed hour."

And leaping on his horse, he galloped off in the direction of the Port,
after bidding the ten men of the escort to start with or without him
the next morning for the country house.



Valparaíso, like nearly all the commercial centres of South America,
is a collection of shapeless huts and magnificent palaces, standing
side by side and hanging in long clusters from the sided of the three
mountains which command the town. The streets are narrow, dirty, and
almost deprived of air, for the houses, as in all American towns,
have a tendency to approach each other, and at a certain height form
a projection of four, or even six feet over the street. Paving is
perfectly unknown; and the consequence is, that in winter, when the
deluging rains, which fall for three months almost without leaving off,
have saturated the ground, these streets become veritable sewers, in
which pedestrians sink up to the knee. This renders the use of a horse

Putrid and pestilential miasmas exhale from these gutters, which are
filled with rubbish of every description, resulting from the daily
sweepings of the houses. On the other hand, the squares are large,
square, perfectly airy, and lined with wide verandahs, which at midday
offer a healthy protection from the sun. These verandahs contain
handsome shops, in which the dealers have collected, at great cost,
all that can tempt purchasers. It is a medley of the most discordant
shops and booths, grouped side by side. A magnificent jeweller displays
behind his window diamond necklaces, silver spurs, weighing from
fifteen to twenty marcs, rings, bracelets, &c.; between a modest grocer
quarrelling with his customers about the weight, and the seller of
massamorra broth, who, with sleeves tucked up to the elbow, is selling
his stuff by spoonfuls to every scamp who has an ochavo to regale
himself with.

The smuggler captain passed gloomily and thoughtfully through the
joyous population, whose bursts of laughter echoed far and wide, and
whose merry songs escaped in gay zambacuecas from all the spirit shops
which are so frequent at Valparaíso. In this way he reached Señor
Crevel's inn, who uttered a cry of joy on perceiving the captain, and
ran out to hold his horse.

"Are my men here?" Leon asked civilly, as he dismounted.

"They arrived nearly two hours back," Crevel answered, respectfully.

"It is well. Is the green chamber empty?"

Every landlord, in whatever country he may hang out his sign, possesses
a separate room adorned with the names of blue, red, or green, and
which he lets at a fabulous price, under the excuse that it is far
superior to all the others in the house. Señor Crevel knew his trade
too well not to have adopted this habit common to all his brethren;
but he had given the name of the green room to a charming little quiet
nook, which only his regular customers entered. Now, as we have said,
the smugglers were very old friends of Crevel.

The door of the green room, perfectly concealed in the wall, did not
allow its existence to be suspected; and it was in this room that the
bold plans of the landlord's mysterious trade, whose profits were far
greater than those which he drew from his avowed trade, were elaborated.

On hearing Leon's question, the Banian's face assumed an expression
even more joyous than that with which he had greeted the young man's
arrival, for he scented, in the simple question asked him, a meeting
of smugglers and the settlement of some affairs in which he would have
his share as usual. Hence he replied by an intelligent nod, and added
aloud, "Yes, señor; it is ready for your reception."

After handing the traveller's horse to a greasy waiter, whom he ordered
to take the greatest care of it, he led Leon into the interior of the
inn. We are bound to confess that if the architect who undertook to
build this house had been more than saving in the distribution of
ornamentation, it was admirably adapted for its owner's trade. It was
a cottage built of pebbles and beams, which it had in common with the
greater portion of the houses in Valparaíso. Its front looked, as we
know, upon the Calle San Agostino, while the opposite side faced the
sea, over which it jutted out on piles for some distance. An enormous
advantage for the worthy landlord, who frequently profited by dark or
stormy nights to avoid payment of customs dues, by receiving through
the windows the goods which the smugglers sold him; and it also
favoured the expeditions of the latter, by serving as a depôt for the
bales which they undertook to bring in on account of people who dealt
with them.

This vicinity of the sea also enabled the Frenchman, whose customers
were a strange medley of all sorts of men, not to trouble himself about
the result of the frequent quarrels which took place at his house,
and which might have caused an unpleasantness with the police, who at
Valparaíso, as in other places where this estimable institution is in
vogue, sometimes found it necessary to make an example. Hence, so soon
as the squadron of lanceros was signalled in the distance, Señor Crevel
at once warned his guests; so that when the soldiers arrived, and
fancied they were about to make a good haul, they found that the birds
had flown. We need scarce say that they had simply escaped through the
back window into a boat always kept fastened in case of need to a ring
in the wooden platform, which served as a landing stage to the house.
The lanceros did not understand this sudden disappearance, and went off
with a hangdog air.

Differing from European houses, which fall back in proportion to
their elevation from the ground, Señor Crevel's establishment bulged
outwards, so that the top was spacious and well lighted, while the
ground floor rooms were narrow and dark. The landlord had always taken
advantage of this architectural arrangement by having a room made on
the second floor, which was reached by a turning staircase, and a
perfect ear of Dionysius, as all external sounds reached the inmates,
while the noise they made either in fighting or talking was deadened.
The result of this was that a man might be most easily killed in the
green room without a soul suspecting it.

It was into this room, then, witness of so many secret councils, that
the landlord introduced, with the greatest ceremony, the captain of
the smugglers, who walked behind him. On regarding the interior of the
room, nothing indicated the origin of its name; for it was entirely
hung with red damask. Had this succeeded a green hanging? This seems to
be a more probable explanation.

It received light from above, by means of a large skylight. The walls
were hung with pictures in equivocal taste, representing subjects
passably erotic and even slightly obscene. A large four-post bed,
adorned with its tester, occupied all one side of the room, and a
mahogany chest of drawers stood facing it: in a corner was a small
table covered with the indispensable toilette articles--combs, brushes,
&c. A small looking glass over the table, chairs surrounding a large
round table, and, lastly, an alabaster clock, which for the last ten
years had invariably marked the same hour between its two flower vases,
completed the furniture of this famous green room. We must also mention
a bell, whose string hung behind the landlord's bar, and was useful to
give an alarm under the circumstances to which we have referred. Leon
paid no attention to these objects, which had long been familiar to

"Now, then," he said, as he took off his hat and poncho, and threw
himself into an easy chair, "bring me some dinner at once."

"What would you like, captain?"

"The first thing ready: some puchero, some pepperpot--in short,
whatever you please, provided it be at once, as I am in a hurry."

"What will you drink?"

"Wine, confound it! and try to find some that is good."

"All right."

"Decamp then, and make haste to bring me all I require."

"Directly, captain."

And Señor Crevel withdrew to attend to the preparation of the young
man's dinner. During this time Leon walked up and down the room, and
seemed to be arranging in his head the details of some plan he was

Crevel soon returned to lay the table, which he performed without
opening his lips for fear of attracting some disagreeable remark from
the captain, who, for his part, did not appear at all disposed for
conversation. In an instant all was arranged with that coquettish
symmetry which belongs to the French alone.

"Dinner is ready, captain," said Crevel, when he re-entered the room.

"Very well. Leave me; when I want you I will call you."

The landlord went out. Leon sat down to the table, and drawing the
knife which he wore in his boot, vigorously attacked the appetizing
dishes placed before him.

It is a fact worthy of remark, that with great and energetic natures,
moral sufferings have scarce any influence over physical wants.
It might be said that they understand the necessity of renewing or
redoubling their strength, in order to resist more easily and more
victoriously the griefs which oppress them, and they require all their
vigour to contend worthily against them.

Chilian meals in no way resemble ours. Among us people drink while
eating, in order to facilitate the absorption and digestion of the
food; but in America it is quite different--there people eat without
drinking. It is only when the pastry and sweets have been eaten that
they drink a large glass of water for digestion; then comes the
wines and liqueurs, always in small quantities, for the inhabitants
of hot countries are generally very sober, and not addicted to the
interminable sittings round a table covered with bottles, in an
atmosphere impregnated with the steam of dishes.

When the meal was ended, Leon took his tobacco pouch from his pocket
and rolled a cigarette, after wiping his fingers on the cloth. As
this action may appear improper to the reader, it is as well that he
should know that all Americans do so without scruple, as the use of the
napkin is entirely unknown. Another custom worth mentioning is that
of employing the fingers in lieu of a fork. This is the process among
the Americans. They cut a piece of bread crumb, which they hold in
their hand, and pick up with it the articles on their plate with great
rapidity and cleanliness.

Nor must it be thought that they act in this way through ignorance of
the fork; they are perfectly well acquainted with that utensil, and can
manage it as well as we do when required; but though it is present on
every table, both rich and poor regard it as an object of luxury, and
say that it is far more convenient to do without it, and remark that
the food has considerably more flavour when eaten in this fashion.

Leon lit his cigarette, and fell again into his reflections. All at
once he rose and rang the bell, and Crevel at once appeared.

"Take all this away," said Leon, pointing to the table.

The landlord removed all traces of the meal.

"And now bring me the articles to make a glass of punch."

Crevel gazed for a moment in amazement at the man who had given this
order. The sobriety of the smuggler was proverbial at Valparaíso; he
had never been seen to drink more than one or two glasses of Pisco, and
then it was only on great occasions, or to please his friend Diego,
whom he knew to be very fond of strong liquors, like all the Indians.
When a bottle of aguardiente was served to the two men, the Indian
finished it alone, for Leon scarce wet his lips. Hence the landlord was
almost knocked off his feet on receiving his guest's unusual order.

"Well, did you not hear me?" Leon resumed, impatiently.

"Yes, yes, sir," Crevel replied; "but--"

"But it surprises you, I suppose?"

"I confess it."

"It is true," Leon said, with a mocking smile, "that it is not my habit
to drink."

"That it is not," said Crevel.

"Well, I am going to take to it, that's all. And what do you find
surprising in that?"

"Nothing, of course."

"Then bring me what I asked for."

"Directly, directly, captain."

"On my soul, something extraordinary is taking place," Crevel said
to himself as he descended to his bar. "The captain never had a very
agreeable way with him, but, on the word of Crevel, I never saw him as
he is tonight; it would be dangerous to touch him with a pair of tongs.
What can have happened to him? Ah, stuff, it concerns him, after all:
and then, who knows; perhaps he is on the point of becoming a drunkard."

After this aside, the worthy landlord manufactured a splendid bowl of
punch, which he carried up to Leon so soon as it was ready.

"There," he said, as he placed the bowl on the table; "I think that
will please you, captain."

"Thanks! but what is this?" Leon said, as he looked at what Crevel had
brought--"there is only one glass."

"Why, you are alone."

"That is true; but I trust you will do me the pleasure of drinking with

"I should be most unwilling, captain, to deprive myself of the honour
of drinking with you, but--"

Crevel, through his stupefaction, was unable to complete his sentence,
for the invitation which the captain gave him surprised him beyond all
expression. Let us add that it was the first time such an honour had
been done him.

"In that case bring a glass for yourself."

Crevel, without further hesitation, fetched the glass, and seated
himself facing the captain.

"Now, my dear Crevel," Leon said, as he dipped into the bowl and filled
the glasses to the brim, "here's to your health, and let us talk."

The landlord was all ears.

"Do you know the convent of the Purísima Concepción?"

At this question Crevel opened his eyes to their fullest extent.

"What the deuce can the captain have to do with the nuns of the
Purísima Concepción?" he asked himself, and then replied, "Certainly,

"Very good; and could you contrive to get in there under some pretext?"

The landlord appeared to reflect for a moment.

"I have it," he said; "I will get in whenever you like."

"In that case get ready, for I want to send you there this very moment."

"What to do?"

"A trifle. I want you to see the Señora Maria," Leon said to him, after
describing the accident of which he had been the involuntary cause,
"and deliver her a message from me."

"The deuce! that is more difficult," Crevel muttered.

"Did you not tell me that you could get into the convent?"

"Yes; but seeing a novice is very different."

"Still you must do so, unless you refuse to undertake the task. I
thought of you, because I believed you to be a clever and resolute
fellow; if I am mistaken, I will apply to someone else, and I feel
certain that I shall find more than one ingenious man who will not be
sorry to earn four ounces."

"Four ounces, did you say?" and the Parisian's eyes sparkled with a
flash of covetousness.

"Tell me if that suits you?"

"I accept."

"In that case, make haste. Have my horse saddled for I shall accompany

"We will start within a quarter of an hour; but in order that I may
take my precautions, tell me what I have to do when I see the Señora?"

"You will hand her this scapulary, and say to her that the cavalier
who wore it is lying at your house in danger of death. Pay careful
attention to the expression which her face assumes, and manage to
describe it to me. That is all I want."

"I understand."

And the landlord went down to make his preparations.

"In that way, I shall know whether she loves me," Leon exclaimed, so
soon as he was alone.

Then, taking up his poncho and montera, he rolled a cigarette in his
fingers, and went to join Crevel in the ground floor room.

"Do not be impatient, captain; I shall be with you in a moment," the
banian said on perceiving him; "I only ask of you the time to run to my

"Make haste, for time is slipping away."

"Do not be alarmed; I shall be at the convent within half an hour."

On returning from the cellar the landlord brought with him three
bottles covered with a thick coating of mould, bearing witness to the
long stay they had made in the shadow of the sun, and adorned with a
skullcap of pitch, whose colour time had changed.

"What is that?" Leon asked.

"The keys of the convent of the Purísima Concepción," Crevel replied,
with a crafty smile. "We can start now."

In a moment Leon, on horseback, was going down the Calle San Agostino a
few paces a head of Crevel, who was on foot.



We left Doña Maria in the garden of the convent, preparing to obey
the summons of the venerable abbess, Doña Madeline Aguirre Frías, in
religion, Sister Santa Marta de los Dolores, the Mother Superior of the
community, not doubting but that she was summoned to give a detailed
account of the morning's events. Doña Maria expected to receive some
reproof for the involuntary fault she had committed by letting her face
be seen by the cavalier who raised her when in a fainting state.

But, in her present state of mind, far from upbraiding herself for not
having quickly lowered her veil so soon as she regained possession of
her senses, she was quite prepared to confess the impression which the
sight of the young man had produced on her, and the present she had
made him of her scapulary, for she had only one thought, one desire,
one wish, and that was, to see again the man whom she loved.

Still, in consequence of the remonstrances which her companion,
Rosita, made to her, and in order not to give anybody the opportunity
of reading in her eyes what was passing in her soul, she removed all
traces of her tears, overcame the feeling of sorrow which had invaded
her whole being, and proceeded with a firm step toward the cell of the
Mother Superior, while Rosita regained her own.

We have described the interior of the cells of the nuns or novices
dwelling in the convent of the Purísima Concepción, which, with but
rare exceptions, are all alike, but that of the Mother Superior
deserves a special description, owing to the difference that exists
between it and those of the other nuns. Nothing could be more
religious, more worldly, and more luxurious than its whole appearance.
It was an immense square room, with two large pointed windows, with
small panes set in lead, on which were painted holy subjects with
an admirable delicacy and surety of touch. The walls were covered
with long gilt and embossed Cordovan leather tapestry; and valuable
pictures, representing the chief events in the life of the patron saint
of the convent, were grouped with that symmetry and taste which are
only found among ecclesiastics.

Between the two windows was a magnificent Virgin by Raphael, before
which was an altar; a silver lamp, full of odoriferous oil, hung from
the ceiling and burnt night and day in front of the altar, which could
be concealed by thick damask curtains when required. The furniture
consisted of a large Chinese screen, behind which was concealed the
abbess's bed, a simple couch of carved oak, surrounded by a mosquito
net of white gauze. A square table, also in oak, supporting a few books
and a desk, was in the centre of the room; and in one corner a large
library filled with books relating to religious matters, allowed the
rich gilding of scarce tomes to be seen through the glass doors. A few
chairs with twisted legs were arranged against the wall. Lastly, a
brasero of brilliant brass, filled with olive kernels, faced a superb
press, whose fine carving was a work of art.

The sunshine, subdued by the coloured glass of the windows, spread a
soft and mystical light, which made the visitor undergo a feeling of
respect and contemplation, by giving this large room a stern and almost
lugubrious aspect.

At the moment when the maiden was introduced to the abbess, the latter
was seated in a large, straight-backed chair, surmounted by the
abbatial crown, and whose seat, covered with gilt leather, was adorned
with a double fringe of gold and silk. She held an open book in her
hand and seemed plunged in profound meditation. Doña Maria waited till
the abbess raised her eyes to her.

"Ah, you are here, my child," the abbess at length said, on perceiving
the presence of the novice. "Come hither."

Maria advanced towards her.

"You were nearly the victim of an accident which cast trouble and
confusion upon the progress of the procession, and it is slightly your
own fault; you ought to have got out of the way of the horse as your
dear sister did; but, after all, though the fear exposed your life to
danger, I see with satisfaction that you have, thanks to the omnipotent
protection of Nuestra Señora de la Purísima Concepción, escaped from
the peril, and hence I order you to thank her by reciting an orison
morning and night for eight days."

"I will do so, buena Madre," Maria replied.

"And now, chica, in order to efface every trace of the emotion which
the event must have caused you, I recommend you to drink a few
spoonfuls of my miraculous water; it is, as you are aware, a sovereign
remedy against every sort of attack. Worthy Don Francisco Solano,
the reverend Pater-Guardian of los Carmelitos Descalzos, gave me the
receipt for it, and on many occasions we have recognised the truly
surprising qualities of this water."

"I will not fail to do so," the young lady replied, with the firm
intention of doing nothing of the sort, as she knew the perfect
inefficiency of the good lady's panacea.

"Good! You must take care of your health, Maria, for you know that my
great object is to watch over the welfare of all our sisters, and to
render their abode in this peaceful retreat in which we live in the
peace of the Lord, full of attractions and sweetness."

Maria looked at the abbess; she had expected some sort of reprimand,
and the honeyed words of the worthy Mother Superior had a tinge of
benignity which was not habitual to them. Emboldened by the abbess's
kind manner, Maria felt a great desire to tell her of the deep aversion
she felt for a monastic life, but fearing lest she might be mistaken
as to the purport of the words which fell from the unctuous lips of
the holy person, she awaited the end of her discourse, and contented
herself with saying, with all the appearance of a submission full of

"I know, buena Madre, how great your anxiety is for all of us; but I do
not yet merit such kindness, and--"

"It is true that you are but a novice, and the solemn vows have not
eternally consecrated you to the pious destination which Heaven has
reserved for you, but the blessed day is approaching, and soon--"

"Madre!" Maria impetuously interrupted, about to speak and display
the wound in her heart which was painfully bleeding at the thought of
taking the veil.

"What is the matter, my child? you are impatient. I understand the
lively desire which animates you, and am delighted at it, for it would
be painful for me to employ with you, whom I love so dearly, any other
means than those of persuasion to oblige you to take the gown which is
destined for you."

On hearing the abbess speak thus, Maria understood that her fate was
settled, and that no supplication would produce any change in what
was resolved. Moreover, the air of hypocritical satisfaction spread
over the face of the Mother Superior sufficiently proved that the
conversation which she had begun had no other object than to adroitly
sound the young lady as to her feelings about taking the veil, and
that, if necessary, she would employ her right and power to force her
into submission.--

Maria, consequently, bowed her head and made no reply. Either the
abbess took this silence for a sign of obedience, or regarded it as a
manifestation of utter indifference, for a faint smile played round her
lips, and she continued the conversation.

"While congratulating you on the good sentiments which have taken
root in your mind, it is my duty to inform you of the orders which I
received this morning from your father, General Soto-Mayor."

Maria raised her head, trying to read in the abbess's looks what these
orders might signify.

"You are not ignorant, chica, that the rule of our convent grants
novices who are preparing to take the veil, permission to spend a month
with their family before beginning the retreat which must precede the
ceremony of their vows."

Here Maria, who was anxiously listening, felt her heart beat as if it
would burst her bosom. The abbess continued--

"In obedience to this custom, your father, before affiancing you to
God, informed me this morning that he wished to have you near him, and
employ the month which you will spend out of the convent in taking you
to Valdivia to see his brother, that worthy servant of the Lord, Don

A cry of joy, restrained by the fear of letting what was taking place
in her mind be seen, was on the point of bursting from her bosom.

"Dear father!" she said, clasping her hands.

"You will set out tomorrow," the abbess continued; "a servant of your
family will come to fetch you in the morning."

"Oh, thanks, madam," Maria could not refrain from exclaiming, as she
was intoxicated with joy at the thought of leaving the convent.

Assuredly, under any other circumstances, the announcement of this
holiday would have been received by the maiden, if not with coldness,
at the least with indifference; but her meeting with Leon had so
changed her ideas, that she fancied she saw in this departure a means
which Providence gave her to escape from a cloistered life. The poor
child fancied that her parents were thinking of restoring her to the
world; then, reflecting on the slight probability which this hypothesis
seemed to possess, she said to herself that, at any rate, she might see
again within the month _him_ whose memory excited so great an influence
over her mind. There was still hope for her, and hope is nearly
happiness. The abbess had not failed to notice the look of pleasure
which had suddenly illumined the maiden's features.

"You are very happy, then, at the thought of leaving us, Maria," she
said, with an attempt at a smile.

"Oh, do not think that, Mamita," Maria said, as she threw herself on
her neck. "You are so kind and so indulgent that I should be ungrateful
did I not love you."

At this moment the maiden's heart, inundated with delight, overflowed
with love. The aversion which she had felt an hour previously for all
that surrounded her had faded away and made room for a warm expression
of joy. A sunbeam on high had sufficed to dissipate the dark cloud
which had formed on the blue sky.

In spite of the lively desire which Maria had to bear the good news
to Rosita, she was obliged to listen to the perusal of General
Soto-Mayor's letter, which the abbess gave her, as well as a long
exhortation which the latter thought it her duty to address to her
about the conduct she should assume when she found herself in the bosom
of her family. Nothing was forgotten, neither the recommendation to
perform her religious vows exactly, nor that of preparing to return to
the convent worthily at the close of the month, animated with the pious
desire of devoting herself to it joyfully, as the trial of the world
would serve to show her the slight happiness which those forced to live
in it found there. Maria promised all that the superior wished; she
only saw through the pompous phrases of the holy woman the temporary
liberty offered to her, and this sufficed her to listen patiently to
the rest of the peroration. At length the harangue was finished, and
Maria rushed towards Rosita's cell; on seeing her companion with a
radiant brow and a smile on her lip, the latter remained stupefied.
Amid the transports of joy, Maria informed her of the happy event which
had occurred so opportunely to calm her anguish, and embraced her

"How happy you seem!" Rosita could not refrain from saying to her.

"Oh! I really am so. Do you understand, Rosita, a whole month out of
the convent, and who knows whether I may not see during the month the
man who so boldly saved me from peril."

"Can you think of it?"

"Yes; I confess to you that it is my dearest wish to see him again and
tell him that I love him."


"Forgive me, dear Rosita, for, selfish that I am, I only think of
myself, and forget that you, too, might perhaps like to leave these
convent walls in order to embrace your brother."

"You are mistaken, sister; I am happy here; and though my brother loves
me as much as I love him, he will not call me to his side, for he would
be alone to protect me, and what should I do in the world when he was
compelled to remain with his soldiers? Ah! I have no father or mother!"

"Poor Rosita!"

"Hence," the latter said, gaily, "speak no more of me, but let me
rejoice at finding you smiling after having left you so sad."

The maidens soon after separated, and Maria went to make the necessary
preparations for her departure. On entering her cell, her first care
was to throw herself on her knees before the image of the Virgin and
thank her. Then the rest of the day passed as usual. But anyone who
had seen the novice before her interview with the Mother Superior, and
met her after the latter had made the general's letter known to her,
would have noticed a singular change in her. A lovely flush had driven
the pallor from her lips, her eyes had regained their expression of
vivacity, and her lips, red as the pomegranate flower, parted to let
her heaving breath pass through.

The morrow Maria was up at daybreak, still under the impression of the
sweet dreams which had lulled her slumbers. The whole night Leon's
image had been before her, flashing in her ravished eye the dazzling
prism of a new existence. It was striking ten by the convent clock when
General Soto-Mayor's major-domo presented himself at the door of the
house of God.



It was about five in the evening when Leon Delbès left the posada in
the company of Crevel. The great heat of midday had been succeeded by
a refreshing sea breeze, which was beginning to rise and blow softly,
producing an exquisite temperature, of which all took advantage to
rush from their houses, and join the numerous promenaders crowding the
streets, squares, and the shore of the ocean, whose calm and smooth
surface was tinged by the ardent beams of the sun, which had spent
two-thirds of its course. It was a saint's day, and the people, dressed
in their best clothes, whose varied colours offer the eye such a
piquant effect, hurried along with shouts, song, and laughter, of which
no idea can be formed in Europe. In South America a holiday is the
occasion for all the pleasures which it is given to man to enjoy, and
the Americans do not neglect it. Marvellously endowed by nature, which
has given them strength, vigour, and unalterable health, their powerful
organization allows them to do anything. Born for love and pleasure,
the South Americans make of their life one long enjoyment: it is the
ideal of refined sensualism.

The two Frenchmen, with their hats pulled over their eyes, and
carefully wrapped in their ponchos, so as not to be recognised and
delayed, mingled with the crowd, and elbowing and elbowed, pushing
and pushed, they advanced as quickly as they could, moving with great
difficulty through the mob that surrounded them.

The reader will be doubtless astonished to see, in a country so hot as
Chili, Leon Delbès and Crevel enveloped, as we have just said, in heavy
cloaks. In Chili, Peru, and generally in all the ex-Spanish colonies,
the cloak is constantly in use, and almost indispensable! It is worn
everywhere and always in all weathers and all places, at every hour
of the night and of the day. There is a Spanish proverb which says
that the cloak protects from heat and cold, from rain and sun. This is
true to a certain extent, but is not the sole reason why it has become

The South Americans, as well as the descendants of the Spaniards, have
retained the two chief vices which distinguished their ancestors, that
is to say, a mad pride and invincible indolence. The American never
works save when driven into his last entrenchments, when hunger forces
him to lay aside his careless and contemplative habits in order to earn
means to support himself. Hence it follows very naturally, that it is
impossible for him to obtain the fine clothes which he covets, and
whose price is so heavy, that he despairs of ever possessing them.

In order to remedy this misfortune, and save, at the same time, his
pride, which prohibits him from appearing badly dressed, he works just
long enough to save the money to buy himself a Panama hat, a pair of
trousers, and a cloak. When he has succeeded in obtaining these objects
of permanent necessity, he is all right and his honour is saved, for
thanks to the exceptional talent which he possesses of draping himself
elegantly and majestically in a piece of cloth, he can boldly present
himself anywhere, and no one will ever suspect what hideous rags and
frightful misery are covered by the splendid cloak which he bears on
his shoulders.

In addition to the motive which we have just explained, it is fair to
state that, owing to the excessive heat of the climate, the advantage
of the cloak is felt in the fact that it is ample and wide, leaves
the limbs liberty of movement, and does not scorch the body, as
well-fitting clothes do when heated by the sunbeams. Hence rich and
poor have all adopted it.

After a ride interrupted at every moment by the people who encumbered
the streets, the two Frenchmen reached their destination, and stopped
before the church adjoining the convent. There they separated: Crevel
proceeded toward the gate of the community, and Leon, after dismounting
and fastening his horse to an iron ring fixed in the wall, entered the
church, and leant against a pillar to wait.

The church of Nuestra Señora del Carmo, belonging to the Convent of the
Purísima Concepción, is one of the finest and richest of those existing
in Valparaíso. It was built a short time after the conquest of Chili,
in the Renaissance style. It is lofty, large, and well lighted by a
number of arched windows, whose coloured glass is among the finest
specimens of the art. A double row of columns delicately carved,
supports a circular gallery, with a balcony in open work, made with
that patience which the Spaniards appear to have inherited from the
Arabs, and which produced the marvellous details of the great mosque of

The choir is separated from the nave by a massive silver grating,
modelled by some rival of Benvenuto Cellini. The high altar is of lapis
lazuli, and sixteen silver columns support a dome painted blue, and
studded! with gold stars, above the splendid table covered with a rich
pall of English point, on which stand the magnificent golden reliquary
containing the Holy Sacrament.

In the aisles, eight chapels, placed under the protection of different
saints, and adorned with, extraordinary wealth, each contains a
confessional which closes hermetically, and in which it is impossible
to catch a glimpse of the male or female penitent asking remission
of sins. Nothing can be imagined more aërial or coquettish than the
ebony pulpit, inlaid with mother-of-pearl, used by the preacher. This
pulpit is a masterpiece, and it is said that a Spanish workman, finding
himself in great danger, made a vow to Nuestra Señora del Carmen that
he would give her a pulpit if he escaped. Having escaped the danger,
he devoted hourly years of his life to the accomplishment of the work
he had promised, and which he only completed a few months prior to his
death. If we may judge of the danger this man incurred by the finish of
the execution and the merit of the work, it must have been immense.

Lastly, there are at regular distances large holy water vessels of
carved marble, covered with plates of silver. When Leon entered the
church it was full of faithful people. Upwards of two thousand candles
spread a dazzling light, and a cloud of incense brooded over the
congregation, who were plunged into a profound contemplation.

In American churches that impudent traffic in chairs, which goes on so
shamelessly elsewhere during the holiest or more sorrowful ceremonies,
is unknown. There are no seats, but the men stand, and the women bring
with them small square carpets on which they kneel. This custom may
perhaps injure the symmetry, but it certainly imparts to the assembly
of the faithful a more religious appearance. We do not see, as in
France, individuals stretching themselves, taking their ease, throwing
themselves back, or sleeping in their chairs, and we are not at each
movement disturbed by the rattling of wood upon the slabs.

On hearing the chants of the nuns, which rose in gentle and melodious
notes, accompanied by the grave sound of the organ, Leon Delbès felt
himself involuntarily assailed by a melancholy feeling. Gradually
forgetting the motive of his presence at this sacred spot, he let his
head fall upon his chest, and yielded entirely to the ecstasy into
which the mighty harmony that filled his ears plunged him.

In the meanwhile Crevel, after leaving the captain of the smugglers,
took a half turn and proceeded, as we said, toward the gate of the
convent, on which he knocked thrice, after looking around him rather
through habit than distrust, in order to make certain that he was not
followed. The door was not opened, but a trap in the niche of the
upper panel was pulled back, and an old woman's face appeared in the
aperture. Crevel assumed his most sanctimonious look, and giving a
mighty bow, he said, as he doffed his broad-brimmed straw hat--

"Ave Maria Purísima, sister."

"Sin pecado concebida, brother," the old woman replied, who was no
other than the sister porter, "what can I do for you?"

"I am ill, sister, very ill," Crevel repeated in a moaning voice.

"Good gracious, brother, what is the matter with you? But I am not
mistaken," she added, after looking at the newcomer more attentively,
"you are the worthy Frenchman established in the Calle San Agostino,
who brings from time to time a few bottles of old French wine to the
abbess for her cramp."

"Alas! yes, sister, it is myself; and I have brought two under my
cloak, which I beg her to accept." Crevel, like a good many of his
fellow traders, had the praiseworthy habit of giving alms to the rich,
in order to rob the poor with greater facility.

"They are welcome," said the sister porter, whose small eyes glistened
with covetousness; "wait a minute, brother, and I will open the gate
for you."

"Do so, sister, and I will wait as long as you please."

Crevel soon heard the formidable sound of bolts being drawn and locks
turned, and at the end of a quarter of an hour the door was opened
just wide enough to leave passage for a man. The landlord glided like
a snake through the opening offered him, and the door closed again at

"Sit down, brother," said the sister porter; "it is a long way from
your house to the convent."

"Thanks, sister," said Crevel, taking advantage of the invitation; "I
am really extremely tired."

He then took from under his poncho the two bottles, which he placed on
the table.

"Be good enough, sister," he said, "to give these bottles to your
Mother Superior, begging her not to forget me in her prayers."

"I will not fail, brother, I assure you."

"I am certain of it, sister; and stay," he added, drawing out a third
bottle, "take this, which I brought for you, and which will do you
good, for it is justly said in France that wine is the milk of aged

"That is true, brother, and I thank you; but tell me the nature of the
illness you are suffering from."

"For some time past, sister, I have been subject to a sudden dizziness,
and as your convent possesses a miraculous water which cures all
diseases, I have come to buy a phial."

"With the greatest pleasure, brother," the sister porter replied. "I
am sorry that I cannot make you a present of it; but this water is
deposited in my hands, and is the property of the poor, to whom we
must render an account of it."

We will remark parenthetically that the convents of Valparaíso
willingly accept anything offered them, but never give anything away.
Crevel was perfectly aware of this fact; hence, without offering the
slightest observation, he drew four piastres from his pocket, which he
placed in the sister's hand. The latter put them out of sight with a
vivacity which astonished the banian himself: then running to a chest
of drawers, the sole article of furniture which adorned the room, she
opened it and took a small white glass bottle, carefully corked and
sealed, which lay there along with some sixty others, and brought it to

The landlord received it with marks of profound gratitude.

"I hope that this water will do me good," he said, striving to prolong
the interview.

"Do not doubt it, brother."

And the sister porter looked at Crevel in a way which made him
comprehend that nothing need detain him now that he had what he came to
seek. The banian understood it and prepared to rise.

"Now, sister, I will ask your permission to retire, in spite of
the charm which your conversation has for me; but business before

"That is true," the sister porter replied; "hence I will not keep you;
you know that you will always be welcome to the convent."

"Thanks, sister, thanks. And now I am off."

"Farewell, my brother."

He walked a few steps toward the door, but then hurriedly turned back.

"By the bye," he said, as if remembering something which he had
forgotten, "I trust that the accident which happened to one of your
sisters during the procession had no serious consequences."

"No, thanks to Heaven, brother."

"Ah, all the better; then she has quite recovered."

"So perfectly," said the sister porter, "that she is travelling at this

"What! the Señora Maria de Soto-Mayor travelling?"

"You know her name?"

"Of course; for I was formerly butler to the general her father."

"Well, then, it was through an order of the general that Sister Maria
left this morning for the country house which he possesses a few
leagues from here."

"Well, then, sister, good-bye, and I hope we shall meet again soon,"
Crevel exclaimed, hurrying this time to reach the gate.

"¡Anda Ve con Dios!" said the sister, surprised at this hurried

"Thanks, thanks."

Crevel was already in the street.

Now, while he was conscientiously performing the commission which Leon
had entrusted to him, the latter was still waiting for Crevel to rejoin
him. After remaining a quarter of an hour in the church, he left it,
and was beginning to grow impatient, when the landlord's shadow was
thrown on the convent wall.

In a second he was by his side.

"Well?" he asked, on approaching him.

"Come, come," said Crevel, with satisfaction, "I fancy I bring good

"Speak at once."

"In the first place, Doña Maria is perfectly well, and feels no effects
from the terror which your horse caused her."


"That is something, surely."

"Go on, go on! scoundrel," the smuggler cried, as he shook Crevel's arm.

"Good heavens! a little calmness, Señor Caballero; you will never
correct yourself of your vivacity."

Leon's brows were contracted, and he stamped his foot passionately, so
Crevel hastened to obey.

"Learn, then, that this morning the young lady left the convent to
rejoin her family."

"What do you say?" Leon asked, utterly astounded.

"The truth; for the sister porter assures me of the fact."

"In that case, I am off, too."


"What would you have me do here?"

And, not troubling himself further about his companion, the captain
unfastened his horse and leaped on its back. Then, throwing his purse
to the landlord, he said that he should see him again soon, and started
at a gallop.

"Hum!" Crevel said, quite confounded; "the devil's certainly in that
fellow, or he has a slate loose. What a pace he rides at!"

And, after giving a last glance at the rider, who was disappearing
round the corner of the square, the worthy landlord quietly bent his
steps in the direction of his posada.

"For all that, he is a good customer."



The traveller who, proceeding south, leaves one fine morning the city
of Santiago, that magnificent capital of Chili which is destined
ere long (if it be not destroyed by an earthquake, as has already
happened twice), to become the finest city of South America,
experiences--according as he belongs to one of the two classes of
travellers called by Sterne positive or enthusiastic travellers--a
sudden disillusion or a complete charm at the sight of the landscape
spread out before him.

In fact, for a radius of fifty or sixty leagues round the capital,
the country offers, with but few differences, the same appearance as
we meet with when we traverse the smiling plains of Beauce, or the
delicious province of Touraine, so poetically named the garden of

On either side of wide and well-kept roads, lined with lofty trees,
whose tufted crests meet and form a natural arch, which affords a
shelter against the heat of the day, extend for an enormous distance
vast fields covered with crops of wheat, barley, rice, and alfalfa, and
orchards filled with apple, pear, and peach trees, and all the other
fruit trees which grow prolifically in these superb countries. On the
horizon, upon hills exposed to the rising sun, countless patches of
that vine which Chili alone has succeeded in cultivating, and which
produces a wine highly esteemed by connoisseurs, rejoice the eye which
contemplates to satiety these enormous masses of gilded grapes destined
to supply the whole of South America with wine.

In the distance are seen on the prairies horses, mules, vicunas,
viscachas, and llamas, which raise their head on the passage of the
caravans, and regard the travellers with their large eyes full of
gentleness and intelligence. An infinite number of small streams wind
with capricious turns through this country, which they fertilize, and
their limpid and silvery track is covered with formidable bands of
majestic, black-headed swans.

But, after a journey of four days, when you leave the province of
Santiago to enter that of Colchagua, the country assumes a more
abrupt appearance. You can already begin to feel the rising of the
ground which gradually reaches, with undulation upon undulation,
the Cordilleras of the Andes. The soil, ruder to the eye and more
rebellious to cultivation, although it has not yet completely acquired
those sublime, savage beauties which, a few leagues further on, will
cause the blessings of civilization to be forgotten, holds a mid place
between that nature of which man has made a conquest, which he changes
and modifies according to his caprices, and that invincible nature
against which all his efforts are impotent, and which victoriously
retains the independence of its diversified, wild, and imposing scenery.

It was the sixth day after that fixed for the journey projected by
General Don Juan, and on the road that runs from Currio to Talca,
that at about midday, a large party of travellers composed of fifteen
men, both masters and peons, and three ladies whose features it was
impossible to distinguish, as they were careful to conceal them so
thoroughly under their rebozos, was advancing with difficulty, trying
in vain to shelter themselves against the burning sunbeams which fell

No shadow allowed the men or beasts to breathe for a moment; there was
not a single tree whose foliage might offer a little refreshment. Ahead
of the horsemen a dozen mules, trotting one after the other, and each
loaded with two heavy bales, followed with a firm step the bell of the
yegua madrina, which alone had the privilege of marching at liberty,
and with no burthen, at the head of the caravan.

All our travellers, armed to the teeth, rode in groups behind the
mules, and were mounted on those capital Chilian horses which have
no equals for speed, and of which we might almost say that they are

The heat was stifling, and with the exception of the _area mula!_
uttered from time to time by the muleteers, in order to stimulate the
vigour of the poor brutes, no one said a word. Nothing was audible save
the sharp footfall of the animals echoing on the stones, and the clang
of the heavy spurs which each rider had on his heels.

The road wound round a vast quebrada along the brink of which it ran,
growing narrower every moment, which soon compelled the travellers to
ride one by one, having on their right a precipice of more than twelve
hundred yards in depth, down which the slightest slip on the part of
their steeds might hurl them, and on their left a wall of granite
rising perpendicularly to an incalculable height. Still this precarious
situation, far from causing a feeling of terror among the persons of
whom we are speaking, seemed, on the contrary, to give them a sensation
of undefinable comfort.

This resulted from the fact that on this gorge the sun did not reach
them, and they were able to refresh their lungs by inhaling a little
fresh air, which it had been impossible for them to do during the last
three hours. Hence, without troubling themselves about the spot which
they had reached, any more than if they had been in a forest glade,
they threw off the folds in which they had wrapped themselves, in order
to avoid the heat, and prepared to enjoy for a few minutes the truce
which the sun had granted them. Gaiety had returned, the muleteers were
beginning to strike up those interminable complaints with which, if we
may be allowed to use the expression, they seem to keep the mules in
step, and the masters lit their paper cigarettes. They rode on thus
for about half an hour, and then, after having followed the thousand
windings of the mountains, the caravan came out upon an immense plain
covered with a tall close grass, of a dark green hue, in which the
horses disappeared up to the chest, and on which clumps of trees grew
at intervals. The mountains opened on the right and left like a fan,
and displayed on the horizon their denuded and desolate crests.

"Baya Pius, gentlemen," one of the horsemen said, as he spurred his
horse and wiped his forehead; "we shall halt within two hours."

"I hope so, captain; for I frankly confess to you that I am exhausted
with fatigue."

"Stay, Don Juan," the first of the two men continued, as he stretched
out his hand in the direction they were following; "do you perceive a
little to the left that larch tree wood stretching out at the foot of
the mound, down which a torrent rushes?"

"Yes, yes, I see it, Señor Leon," the general, whom our readers have
doubtless recognized, answered the captain of the smugglers.

"Well, general, that is where we shall camp tonight."

"Heaven be praised!" a sweet maiden voice exclaimed, mingling in the
conversation; "but are you not mistaken, Señor Captain, in saying that
we shall not reach that spot before two hours?"

Leon eagerly turned his head, and replied, while accompanying his words
with a look in which the love he felt was seen--

"I have been about the mountains too long, Doña Maria, to be mistaken
as to a thing so simple for us sons of the Sierra as a calculation of
distance; but if you feel too fatigued, señorita, speak, and we will
camp here."

"Oh, no," the maiden quickly replied, "on the contrary, let us go
on; for the great heat has now passed, and the rising breeze is so
agreeable, that I feel as if I could canter thus all night."

Leon bent to his saddle-bow, and after courteously saluting Doña Maria
and the ladies with her, he hurried on and joined Diego, who was
marching ahead, with his eye on the watch and a frown on his brow, in
the attitude of a man who seems afraid he shall not find the traces
which he is in search of. He had rejoined the caravan two days before,
and as yet not a syllable had been exchanged between him and Leon:
still the latter had noticed in the half-breed's countenance, since his
arrival, an air of satisfaction, which proved that he had succeeded in
his plans.

And yet, though Doña Maria was riding a few yards from him, had Diego
brought the two young people together according to his promises?
Evidently not; since at the hour when the Vaquero left Leon, the young
lady arrived under the safeguard of one of her father's servants. Hence
the half-breed's satisfaction must be attributed to some other motive.

While Leon was striving to divine it--while curiously examining his
friend's slightest gesture, let us relate, in a few words, what had
taken place between the captain and the Soto-Mayor family during the
six days which had elapsed since his visit to the Convent of the
Purísima Concepción. Returning at full speed, Leon reached the Rio
Claro during the night, and after two or three hours' repose among the
smugglers, he started at the head of his men for the general's country
house, where the persons whom he had engaged to escort as far as
Valdivia were awaiting him.

At the moment when Leon entered the drawing room to announce that the
mules and the horses were ready to start, a loud exclamation burst
from a young lady whom the captain's eyes had been greedily seeking
ever since his entrance into the house. It was Maria, who recognised
her saviour.

Not one of the persons present, who were engaged with the final
preparations for the start, noticed the cry of surprise uttered by the
maiden. Leon at once felt it echo to his heart, and a flash of joy
escaping from his glance illuminated Maria's soul. In the space of a
second they both understood that they were loved.

The journey they were about to undertake appeared to them a more
splendid festival than their imagination could conceive. They had
scarce hoped to see each other again, and they were about to live side
by side for a week. Was not this such perfect happiness that it seemed
a miracle?

An hour later, the young couple were riding along together. Although
the captain was obliged to remain pretty constantly at the head of
the small party which he commanded, he seized the slightest excuse to
get near Maria, who, forgetting everything else in this world, kept
her eyes incessantly fixed on this man, the mere sight of whom caused
her heart to beat. And there was no lack of excuses: at one moment he
must encourage by a shout or a signal the young lady's horse which was
checking its speed; at another he must recommend her to guard herself
against a whirlwind of dust, or remove a stone from her horse's hoof.
And Maria ever thanked him with a smile of indescribable meaning.

As he was obliged, in order not to excite suspicion, to pay similar
attention to the Señora Soto-Mayor and her other daughter, the
smuggler's manner delighted the general, who applauded himself with all
his heart for having laid his hand on such a polite and attentive man.

During the first night's bivouac, Leon managed for a few moments to
leave the rest of the party and approach Maria, who was admiring the
magnificent spectacle which the moonlight offered, by casting its
opaline rays over the lofty trees which surrounded the spot where they
had halted.

"Señorita," he said to her, in a voice trembling with emotion, "do you
not fear lest the fresh night breeze may injure your health?"

"Thanks, Señor Leon," the maiden replied; "I am about to return to
camp, but the night is so long that I cannot weary of admiring this
superb landscape. I am so happy in contemplating all that I see around

"Then you do not regret your abode in the convent, señorita?"

"Regret it! when I feel as if God had wished to inundate my heart with
all the joy which it can feel! Oh, Caballero, you do not think so. But
why do you say it to me?"

"Forgive me," Leon continued, noticing the expression of sorrow which
had suddenly overclouded the maiden's features; "the fact is, that my
thoughts ever revert to the moment when I saw you, pale and dumb with
terror, leave the ranks of the nuns of the Purísima Concepción."

"Oh, speak not so; and since Heaven has permitted that I should leave
those convent walls to see you again, do not remind me that I must soon
return to them, to remain there till death liberates me from them."

"What!" Leon exclaimed, "see you again and then lose you! Oh; forgive
me, señorita; forgive my speaking to you thus; but I am mad, and
sorrow renders me distracted."

"What do you say?"

"Nothing! nothing! señorita: forget what I may have said to you, but
believe that if I were called on to sacrifice my life to save you any
pain, however slight in its nature, I would do so at a moment," said

Maria replied, raising her eyes to heaven, "God is my witness that the
words which you have just uttered will never pass from my mind: but as
I told you, I am happy now, and when the convent gate has again closed
on me, I shall have neither pain nor sorrow to endure, for I shall die."

A dull cry burst from Leon's breast; he looked at the maiden, who was
smiling calmly and tranquilly.

"And now," she said to Leon, "I will join my sister again, for I fancy
I am beginning to be chilled."

And hurriedly proceeding to the tent, under which the principal members
of her family were assembled, she left Leon to his thoughts. From this
moment, Leon abandoned himself with delight to the irresistible charm
of the love which he felt for Maria. This man, with the nerves of
steel, who had witnessed the most terrible scenes without turning pale,
who with a smile on his lips had braved the greatest dangers, found
himself without the strength to combat the strange feeling which had
unconsciously settled in his heart. Hitherto squandering his youth's
energy in wild saturnalia, Leon felt for the first time in his life
that he loved, and he did not question the future, reserved for a
passion whose issue could not be favourable.

Still, and although illusion was almost impossible, the young man, with
that want of logic of love which seems to grow in proportion to the
insurmountable obstacles opposed to it, yielded to the torrent which
bore him away, confiding to chance, which may at any moment effect a

In addition to the numberless obstacles which Leon might expect to
find on the road, Diego's plans of vengeance alarmed him more than all
the rest. He knew that the half-breed's will did not recoil before any
excess; that if he had resolved to avenge himself on the Soto-Mayor
family, no power would be strong enough to prevent him. Hence a shudder
passed through Leon's veins when he was rejoined by Diego, and the
latter, on perceiving Leon, had said to him--

"The girl you love is near you without any interference on my part; all
the better, brother, it is your duty to watch over her henceforth, and
I will take charge of the others."

Leon was about to open his mouth to reply, but a look from the
half-breed caused the words to expire on his lips. The reader now knows
why the captain, after saluting the ladies, started to place himself at
the head of the band and watch Diego.

The sun was on the point of disappearing upon the horizon when the
party reached the wood which Leon had indicated to Don Juan as the spot
where they would pass the night. All halted, and the preparations for
camping were made.

In Chili, and generally throughout South America, you do not find on
the roads that infinite number of inns and hostelries which encumber
ours, and where travellers are so pitilessly plundered. In these
countries, which are almost deserted, owing to the tyrannical rule of
the Spaniards and the philanthropy of the English, this is how people
behave in order to obtain rest after a long day's journey.

The travellers choose the spot which appears to them most suitable,
generally on the banks of a river, the mules are unloaded, and they are
left for the night to their own instincts, which never deceive them,
and enable them to find pasture. The bales are placed upon one another
in a circle of sixty or eighty feet; in the middle of this enclosure a
large fire is lit and carefully kept up in order to keep wild beasts at
bay, and each man placing his weapons by his side arranges himself to
pass the night as comfortably as he can.

Our travellers installed themselves in the way we have described, with
this distinction, that as General Soto-Mayor had a tent among his
baggage, the peons put it up in the centre of the camp, and as it was
divided into two parts, it formed sleeping rooms for Don Juan, his
wife, and his daughters. After a supper of jerked beef and ham, the
muleteers, wearied with their day's journey, took a glance around to
see that all was in order, and then lay down, with the exception of one
who remained up as sentry.

Diego, Leon, and the Soto-Mayor family were sitting round the fire and
talking of the distance they still had to go before reaching their
destination. In these countries there is no twilight, and the supper
was hardly over before it became pitch dark.

"Miguel!" the general said to a peon standing close behind him, "give
me the bota."

The peon fetched a large goatskin, which might contain some fifteen
quarts, and was full of rum.

"Gentlemen!" the general continued, addressing the smugglers, "be kind
enough to taste this rum; it is a present made me by General Saint
Martin, in memory of the battle of Maypa, in which I was wounded while
charging a Spanish square."

The bota passed from hand to hand, while the ladies, seated on
carpets, were sipping water and smoking their cigarettes.

"It is excellent," said Leon, after swallowing a mouthful; "it is real

"I am delighted that it pleases you," Don Juan continued, kindly; "for
in that case, you will not refuse to accept this bota, which will
remind you of our journey when we have separated."

"Oh!" Leon exclaimed, casting a fiery look at Maria, whose cheeks
turned purple, "I shall remember it, believe me, and I thank you
sincerely for this present."

"Say no more about it, pray, my dear captain; and tell me whether you
think we are still far from Talca."

"By starting early tomorrow we shall be by ten in the forenoon at the
mountain of Amehisto, and two hours later at Talca."

"So soon?" Maria murmured.

Leon looked at the maiden, and there was a silence; the general
calculated the distance that separated Talca from Valdivia, the ladies
smoked, and Diego was deep in thought. Suddenly the sound of galloping
horses could be heard, the sound soon grew louder, and the sentry
shouted, "Who goes there?"

In a second everybody was up, the men leaped to their weapons, and the
ladies, by Leon's orders, went into the tent to lie down on the ground
and remain perfectly motionless. No one had answered the sentry's

"Who goes there?" he repeated, as he cocked his piece.

"Amigos!" a powerful voice answered, which re-echoed in the silence of
the night.

Every heart beat anxiously; a dozen horsemen could be noticed moving
in the darkness about thirty yards off; but the gloom was so dense that
it was impossible to recognise them, or know with whom they had to deal.

"Say what you want or I fire," the sentry shouted for the third time,
as he levelled his piece.

"Down with your arms, friends," the same voice, still perfectly calm,
repeated; "I am Don Pedro Sallazar."

"Yes! yes!" the general exclaimed, joyfully, as he threw down his gun,
"I recognise him: let Don Pedro enter, my friends."

Four men hastily removed some bales to make a passage for the officer
who entered the camp, while his escort remained outside. The general
stepped forward to meet the newcomer.

"How is it you are here?" he asked him. "I fancied you were at

"You will soon learn," Pedro replied, "for I have important
communications to make to you. But first permit me to give some
instructions to the men who accompany me."

Then turning to his soldiers, he said, "Cabo Lopez, take care that no
one leaves the camp, and post yourself here, and try to be on good
terms with the worthy persons here present."

"Yes, general," the corporal answered, with a bow.

"What? general!" Don Juan asked, with surprise. "Are you really a
general, my dear Don Pedro?"

"I will explain all that to you," Don Pedro replied, with a smile;
"in the meanwhile, however, lead me to your tent, for what I have to
communicate to you does not require any witnesses."

"Certainly; and make haste, that I may present you to these ladies,
who will be agreeably surprised at seeing you."

Don Pedro bowed, and followed the general, who led him into the tent
where the ladies had taken refuge in apprehension of an attack. During
this time the smugglers did the honours of the camp to the soldiers
with all the courtesy they were capable of displaying under such
circumstances. At the end of a quarter of an hour they fraternized in
the most cordial way, thanks to the aguardiente of Pisco, with which
the lanceros were abundantly provided.



When the alarm was given by the sentry, Diego, usually so prompt to go
and meet danger, rose cautiously, and without making a single gesture
which could reveal any anxiety, stood leaning on his rifle with a smile
on his lips. So soon as the Spaniards had disappeared in the tent, Leon
turned to him with an inquiring glance, which the latter only replied
to by a very careless nod.

"Did you know, then, that we should meet Don Pedro?"

"I presumed so," Diego replied, laconically.

"In truth, for some days past, brother," said Leon, "things have
occurred of which you keep the secret to yourself."

"What are they?"

"In the first place, this journey which you consented to make with the
Soto-Mayor family as far as Valdivia."

"What, you complain of it, and your beauty is with you?"

"Certainly not; but after all, we have nothing to do at Valdivia."

"You are right, if you are referring to our commercial trips; but as
regards my personal interests," the half-breed added, his large eyes
flashing in the darkness, "the case is very different."

"What do you mean?"

"That we must go there because we are expected there. However, if you
wish to know more, come, and you will see that the two days I spent in
Valparaíso were put to good purpose."

And leading his friend, and warning him to be silent, he cautiously
passed to the other side of the tent. On reaching that point, Diego lay
down on the ground, invited Leon to imitate him, and gently raising a
corner of the tent, he listened to what was being said inside.

"We are doing wrong," said Leon.

"Silence," the other replied, "and listen."

The captain obeyed, and looked at the persons who were conversing,
while not losing one of the words which they interchanged.

"I cannot imagine," said Don Juan, "how it is that you, whom I fancied
at Santiago, are now only a few leagues from Talca."

"It is because a good many strange things have happened since my
arrival in that city."

"What are they?" asked Inez, whose curiosity was aroused.

"Speak, Don Pedro, I implore you," said Don Juan in his turn.

"I will do so, general. The Chilian government, which, as you are
aware, is unable to cope with the incessant invasions of the Araucano
Indians, reluctantly agreed to treat with them, and supply them
annually with necessaries, such as corn, tools, and weapons which
they might have need of. At various times, however, it attempted to
shake off this disgraceful yoke; and the Indians, beaten and dispersed
in various encounters, appeared to comprehend how ridiculous these
claims were, and have refrained, during the last two years, from
claiming the tribute, and making incursions into the territory of the
republic. Hence, what was our astonishment when, four days ago, we
saw arrive at Santiago a dozen Indian bravos in their war paint, who
marched haughtily in Indian file, and proceeded with the silence that
characterizes them toward the Government Palace."

"'What do you want?' the officer of the guard asked them at the moment
when they passed through the gates."

"'Art thou a chief?' one of the Indians replied, who appeared to
exercise a certain authority over the rest."

"'Yes,' the officer replied, without hesitation."

"'Maitai,' said the Indian, 'tell our great white father that his
Indian sons of the Pere Mapou have held a great deliberation round
the council fire, at the end of which they resolved to send him a
deputation of twelve warriors, chosen from the twelve great Molucho
nations, in order that the dissensions which have, up to this day,
reigned between our great white father and his Indian sons may be
eternally extinguished, and the war hatchet buried so deeply in the
earth that it can never be found again.'"

"The officer then informed the President of the Republic of the strange
visitors who had arrived; and, as the senate was assembled, orders were
at once given to introduce the Indians with all the respect due to
their ambassadorial quality, and the lofty mission with which they were

"When the twelve envoys entered the Senate Hall, which was splendidly
decorated and filled with officers dressed in magnificent uniforms,
they did not appear at all dazzled by the sight of this unexpected
pomp; they slowly advanced towards the foot of the dais on which the
President of the Republic was standing to receive them, and after
bowing they folded their arms on their chests and waited."

"'My Indian sons are welcome,' the President said, in a soft and
insinuating voice."

"'My father is a great chief,' the Indian who had hitherto spoken
replied. 'Guatechu will protect him because he is good.'"

"The President bowed his thanks."

"'What do my Indian sons desire?'" he asked.

"'The Ulmens,' the orator resumed, 'assembled in the seventh moon of
this year round the council fire and asked themselves the following

"'Why are not our white fathers satisfied with the possession of the
lands which we left to them on the seashore?'"

"'Why do they refuse to pay us the tribute they consented to, as they
have done up to this day?'"

"'Why, instead of kindly treating the Indians whom they capture, do
they use them cruelly?'"

"'Why, lastly, do they wish to compel the sons of Bheman to renounce
the faith of their fathers?'"

"You can understand," Don Pedro continued, "the amazement produced in
the minds of the senate by the Indian's speech, which demanded the
establishment of the Chilian frontiers, the payment of the impost, and
the liberation of the plundering and vagabond Indians. Only one reply
was possible, a pure and simple refusal. This was given; but then the
Indian, whose stoicism had not failed him for a single instant, drew,
without a word, a packet from under his poncho, and laid it on the dais
at the President's feet. It was a bundle of arrows, whose points were
dipped in blood, and which were fastened together by a cascabel's skin."

"Then, taking advantage of the general stupor, the ambassadors
withdrew, and when, a quarter of an hour later, the President ordered
them to be pursued, it was too late; they appeared to have become
suddenly invisible."

"Why, it is war," the old general suddenly interrupted, who had been
listening with sustained attention to Don Pedro's narrative; "war with
the Indians."

"Yes; a war such as they carry on, without truce or mercy, and which,
incredible to relate, has already begun."

"What?" said Don Juan.

"Alas! yes; two hours after the strange disappearance of the Indians, a
courier reached Santiago at full gallop, announcing that the Araucanos,
more than fifty thousand in number, had crossed the Bio Bio, and were
firing and destroying all the villages up to the gates of Valdivia,
while another band had arrived under the very walls of Ports Araucos
and Incapel."

"On hearing this news, the President of the Republic offered me the
command of the province of Valdivia, while ordering me at the same time
to explore the neighbourhood of Talca. I eagerly accepted, and set out
with the rank of general, following at only a few hours' interval your
son Don Juan, who has received orders to defend Incapel."

"What, Don Juan!" the señorita Soto-Mayor interrupted.

"Yes, your son, madam, or, if you prefer it, Lieutenant-Colonel Don
Juan, for lie, too, has received the reward due to his merit; but,
now that I think of it, he must have passed in the vicinity, and I
am surprised that you have not seen him, for as he was aware of your
departure for Valdivia, he hoped like myself, to meet you on the road."

"It is probable," the old gentleman remarked, "that he passed at a
distance during one of your night halts; and yet we have not left the
usual road."

"Oh," said Inez, "I am very sorry that my brother was unable to embrace
us before proceeding to his post."

"I regret it, too, my child; but he did well in avoiding a meeting with
us, if the time he might have given us could be employed in making
speed. The duty of a soldier is superior to family joys. As for you,
Don Pedro, though the news you have brought us is afflicting to the
heart of a Chilian, I thank you for having come to inform me, and I
implore you to continue your journey, while we make sincere vows for
the success of your arms."

"I thank you, general, but I can remain with you without any
inconvenience. As I told you, I am marching at easy stages, in order to
assure myself of the state of the roads as far as Valdivia, and if you
intend to continue your journey as far as that town, I will ask your
permission to join your party with my men."

"Most willingly. My plan is most assuredly to go to Valdivia, and as we
are close to Talca, it would be folly to turn back."

"Pardon me, general, if I insist, but it is because I have not yet told
you all you ought to know."

And Don Pedro seemed to hesitate before proceeding.

"Speak, speak," the general and his wife said in chorus; "what is it?"

"If the reports which have reached Santiago are correct, the Indians
have plundered and burnt your fine haciendas between the Bio Bio and
the Valdivia."

"It is the fortune of war," Don Juan answered in a hollow voice; "and
if I have only that misfortune to deplore, I shall console myself."

"It is also stated," Don Pedro continued, anxious to finish the sad
story he was telling, "that your brother Don Luis has been utterly
ruined by a band of Indian bravos, who suddenly attacked his estates
with fire and sword, and devastated them."

General Soto-Mayor had remained motionless on hearing of the misfortune
which personally affected him, but on learning that which had assailed
his brother, he could not restrain the indignation which he felt
against those of whom he was the victim.

"Oh, these villains! these villains!" he exclaimed, stamping his foot
passionately; "will they never be weary of persecuting my unhappy
family? Oh, you know not, my children, what this accursed race is,
these Indians! Oh, why cannot I crush to the last of these impious
cowards who have done me so much injury? Don Pedro, fight them, make
them perish in the most cruel tortures, and bid my son remember that
the Soto-Mayors have ever been the implacable foes of these obstinate
demons; let him avenge his family, since the sword of his father is now
in his hands."

The old man was suffering from an agitation impossible to describe, his
face was covered with a sallow pallor, and a nervous tremor agitated
his limbs. The remembrance of all the hatreds of former days was
rekindled in his heart. The ladies, terrified at the state in which he
was, strove to calm him.

"Oh, you are right," Don Juan said, a moment later; "I did wrong to
break out thus in empty words, for throughout the wide republic of
Chili there will be no want of arms to crush my enemies under their
blows, and since a Soto-Mayor is fighting, I ought rather to bless
heaven for not allowing me to die ere I had seen the triumph of my
race. My brother has recovered, you say, Don Pedro; hence it is more
than ever my duty to go to him and console him, and offer him one half
of what is left to me. I am still rich enough to relieve one of my

       *       *       *       *       *

"Come," Diego said at this moment to Leon, making him a sign to rise;
"you have heard enough."

"Oh!" the young man exclaimed, sorrowfully, "all this is frightful."

"Why so?" the half-breed said. "As the old man remarked, it is the
fortune of war."

"Oh, ill-fated family!"

"To which do you allude?--to mine or that man's? Yes;" he added, with a
terrible accent, "unhappy is the family which, born to command millions
of men, finds itself reduced to wander about without shelter or friend
among his enemies. Is that what you are pitying, brother?"

"Forgive me, Diego. I swore to help your vengeance because it is just,
so dispose of me."


"But why stoop so low as to wish to torture women?" Leon continued;
"would the noble lion murder timid hares? Avenge yourselves on men,
face to face, chest to chest, but not on women."

"Leon, the woman who loves my brother is my sister, and she shall be
happy and respected, because in exchange my brother has left me at
liberty to dispose of the others. Remember that a Tahi-Mari was the
brother of Mikaa, and that the mistress of Don Ruíz de Soto-Mayor, was
the wife of a Tahi-Mari."

"Enough, brother; I remember it."

The two men had returned to the middle of the camp, and were now
walking side by side; a deep silence had followed the last words of
the smuggler captain. It was hardly nine in the evening; the night was
calm; thousands of stars glittered in the azure of the celestial vault,
spreading over the peaks of the mountains which bordered the horizon a
vaporous light; the moon shone brilliantly, and a light breeze made the
leaves of the large palm trees that surrounded the camp rustle.

Suddenly a shrill whistle traversed the air: Diego startled, stretched
out his head, and with his eyes fixed on the distance, listened

"It is a coral snake!" Leon exclaimed, as he looked round him with
instinctive terror.

A few seconds passed and another whistle was heard in the same
direction, but nearer.

"It is a coral snake, I tell you," Leon repeated.

"Silence!" said Diego, seizing his arm.

And taking from his lips the cigarette which he was smoking, the
half-breed shook off the ash, and threw it in the air, where it
described a luminous parabola; then he turned to his friend.

"Come with me," he said to him.

"Where to?"

"There," Diego replied, pointing to the wood, in front of which the
camp was pitched.

"What to do?"

"You will learn."

"But they?" Leon said, hesitatingly, as he pointed to the tent in which
the Soto-Mayor family was assembled.

"Be at rest."

"But really--"

"The moment has arrived, brother," Diego said, fixing his flashing eyes
on the young man; "I have need of you."

"In that case I am ready."

"Thanks, brother."

And the two smugglers, forcing a passage through the trunks and bales
which formed the outer wall of the camp, disappeared unseen by the
sentry, and buried themselves in the tall grass.



After walking for about ten minutes the two smugglers stopped; then
Diego, looking around him inquiringly, imitated the whistle which had
served as a signal to him, with such perfection that Leon at the first
moment could not refrain from starting, although he knew it was his
friend who had uttered it. Almost at the same instant, an Indian in
full war paint rose before them: with his motionless body carelessly
leaning on his rifle, he contemplated them silently, doubtless waiting
to be addressed.

He was a man of about thirty years of age, of a height exceeding six
feet, perfectly proportioned in all his limbs, and who offered the
true type of Indian beauty--strength united to elegance of figure:
his solidly attached and muscular limbs seemed to possess incredible
elasticity and suppleness; his forehead was lofty and open; his eyes
covered by thick brows and fringed with long lashes, were black,
piercing, and restless; his bent nose, and his handsomely chiselled
mouth, lined with teeth of dazzling whiteness, produced an _ensemble_
really stamped with grandeur, but slightly obscured by the expression
of pride, disdain, and cunning, which animated his countenance.

NO tattooing disfigured his face, which was of a dark copper colour.
His dress was extremely simple; his long black hair, drawn up and
fastened on the top of his head by a thong made of a snakeskin, fell
in large curls on his shoulders, while an eagle's feather placed on
the side indicated his rank as chief. He was wrapped up in a poncho,
and through the girdle which served to hold up the wide drawers, which
fell to his knees, were passed an axe, a machete, an ox horn, which
served as a powder flask, and a bullet bag of llama skin. His legs were
covered with boots of oxhide, unassailable by the bites of the reptiles
so dangerous in these countries, round which he wore human scalp locks
as garters. A second poncho, much wider and larger than the other, fell
carelessly from his right shoulder to the ground, and was employed
as a mantle. On seeing the Indian, Diego waved his hand, and said to
him--"My brother is welcome."

The Indian bowed without replying.

"What does my brother desire?" Diego continued.

"Iskarre is growing on the holy Inapere and the hour has arrived; all
the Molucho warriors are assembled; is the descendant of the great
Tahi-Mari ready to answer his brothers?"

"My brother will guide me," Diego replied, without any further remark.

"Matai! my brother can come, then, and he will see the great Molucho

While uttering these words the Indian looked at Leon with marked
suspicion, but whether that he did not dare question Diego about
him, or expected an explanation from the latter, he resolved to show
the road to the two men. The further he advanced the thicker the wood
became, but the Indian marched lightly, without any hesitation, and
like a man perfectly acquainted with the locality. Turning his head
repeatedly to the right and left, he examined the thickets and clumps
of trees, and after half an hour of this rapid and silent march he
halted. They had reached the entrance of a vast clearing, in the centre
of which some forty men were assembled; the Indian made the smugglers a
sign not to advance, and went off with the straightness of an arrow in
the direction of the Indians. A strange spectacle was then offered to

The Indians were smoking round a large fire, whose reddish glare
illumined them, and a dozen huts of boughs hastily constructed, proved
that this temporary encampment was not a mere night halt. A few Indians
walked up and down before these huts, while others, rifle in hand,
seemed to be guarding two European prisoners, whose features the
distance and scene prevented the smugglers from distinguishing, and who
were lying at the foot of a tree with their limbs bound.

The Indian who had guided Diego and Leon went up to those of his
brothers who seemed to be the oldest, and spoke to them with great
animation. They soon rose and entered a hut, and then came out again
almost immediately, addressing a few words to the men who were guarding
the prisoners. The latter raised the Europeans from the ground and
carried them into the hut.

"All this is inexplicable," Leon said to his companion; "what mean
these comings and goings?--who are the two men being dragged away?"

And he made a movement as if to rush forward.

"Do not stir," Diego exclaimed, as he held him back: "no imprudence,
for the slightest movement would ruin us; do you not know that we are
surrounded by invisible watchers? Know that behind every one of the
trees that surround us is hidden a man, whose eye is fixed upon us."

Leon made no reply, but continued to observe, till their Indian guide

"My brothers will follow me," he said, so soon as he was a few steps
from the smugglers.

They bowed and obeyed; and Longscalp led them right down the clearing,
and introduced them into the most spacious hut. It to some extent
resembled a beehive, except that its base was square, and might be
thirty feet in depth, by the same in width. The narrow, low door only
allowed passage for one man at a time, and he was obliged to stoop. In
the roof a hole was made for the smoke which escaped from a fire of
dried branches that occupied the centre of the hut.

Twelve or fourteen Indians, gravely squatting on their heels, smoked
while listening in the most religious silence to a Sayotkatta, who
could be easily recognised by his pacific costume, which consisted of
a long white dress of llama hair, fastened round his hips by a blue
and red girdle. His hair, parted on his forehead, fell on his neck,
and he wore on his head a species of diadem composed of a gold fillet
surmounted by an image representing a tortoise supporting the sun. His
features, though grave and stern, had something gentle and majestic
about them which inspired respect.

It was he who pointed out to Diego and Leon a place at the lire, and
without appearing to pay any further attention to the newcomers, he
began speaking, all raising their eyes to him.

"At the beginning of ages," he said, in a guttural and marked voice,
"when Guatechu only reigned over the chaos of the worlds, there existed
but six men, who, tossed about by the winds, wandered on the backs of
clouds, which allowed them to soar over the immensity of space. These
men were sad, because they understood that their race was accursed and
could not be perpetuated."

"One day, when they met, they all passed onto the same cloud, and held
a council, in order to arrange a plan for avoiding such a misfortune.
For a long time they had been talking together and proposing measures
one more impracticable than the other, when suddenly Mayoba appeared in
the midst of them. He gazed at them for a moment in silence, then an
ironical smile curled his upper lip, and he said to them, in a voice
that resembled the hoarse howling of a distant storm--"

"What you are seeking exists; choose the bravest and handsomest from
among you, for he alone can attempt the adventure: let him go to
Paradise, where he will find Ataentsic, the woman; it is she who will
prevent your race from perishing, and that is the reason why Guatechu
keeps her far from you, in order that you may perish, for he repents
having made you."

"After uttering these words Mayoba disappeared with a burst of savage
and shrill laughter, which caused the men to shudder with terror. Our
first fathers held another council, and pointed out one among them, the
handsomest and whitest among them, of the name of Hoquaho, to go and
conquer Ataentsic."

"Hoquaho accepted the mission entrusted to him, and aided by his five
companions, he piled up the clouds on each other in order to scale
Paradise: but, in spite of all their efforts, the distance seemed ever
to remain the same, and they began to despair of succeeding in this
bold enterprise on seeing the inutility of their efforts, when the
birds of heaven that had followed their movements anxiously had pity
on them, and forming into a compact flock, made a convenient seat for
Hoquaho, whom they bore away on their wings."

"On reaching Paradise, Hoquaho concealed himself behind a tree opposite
the wigwam in which Ataentsic was, and he waited till she came out, as
she was accustomed to do every morning, to go and draw water at the
spring. As soon as she appeared, he went up to her and offered her some
grizzly bear's grease to eat, of which he had laid in a stock."

"The woman, surprised and charmed by the appearance of Hoquaho, easily
let herself be seduced, and they soon came to a perfect understanding;
but Guatechu soon perceived what had happened, and furious at seeing
his plans overthrown by the fault of a woman, he expelled the two
unhappy beings from Paradise, and hurled them into space."

"They fell thus for nine days and nine nights, imploring, but in vain,
the mercy of Guatechu, for he had stopped up his ears with wax, and
did not hear. At length a tortoise took pity on the wretched couple,
and placed itself under their feet to stop the fearful fall. Then the
otters, cayonans, and sea fish went to the bottom of the waters to
fetch clay, which they brought up and fixed all round the shell of
the tortoise, and thus they formed a small island, which gradually
increased through their incessant labour, and ended by forming the
earth such as you see it at present."

"Thus, sons of Hoquaho, the first man, you come," said the Sayotkatta,
in conclusion, "to respect and adore Chemiin, who is the soul of the
world, and the centre of the universe, which his shell alone supports
and enables to float in immensity."

"Matai!" cried the Indians, inflamed by their priest's narrative,
"Chemiin Aulon (the Tortoise-sun) is the master of the world."

The Sayotkatta hung his head on his breast, and throwing over his
eyes the corner of the ample poncho which floated from his shoulders,
he remained plunged in deep meditation. After this a gloomy silence
fell upon this strange assembly. Then an Indian, whose great age was
indicated by his noble but worn features, and his long grey hair, took
up a calumet full of tobacco, lit it at the fire, took a few whiffs,
and passed it to his right hand neighbour, who did the same. The
calumet thus went round the circle till it returned to the old Indian,
who seemed to preside over the meeting.

He finished the tobacco, and when the last grain was consumed, shook
the ash out on his hand, and threw it in the fire, saying--

"This is the supreme council at which the great Molucho chiefs are
present. May Agrikoué come to our assistance, for the war hatchet is
dug up, and the Sons of the Tortoise are about to recapture their
territory, unjustly invaded by the palefaces."

"May Agrikoué aid us!" the Indians repeated.

"Which are the nations," the old man continued, "ready to take part in
the struggle?"

Then one of the Indians spoke in reply,

"The Tecuitles of the Curuhi, whose hunting ground extends from the
town of Valparaíso to the Gulf of Guapatika, has raised the war cry,
and six thousand fighting men have answered his appeal. I have spoken."

Another spoke as follows--

"The Tecuitles of the Huiliches has assembled seven thousand warriors."

Then another said in his turn--

"Four thousand Oumas are awaiting the signal."

"Ten thousand Puelches are ready to utter the war cry," said a fourth.

"Eight thousand Tehuels are under arms," continued another.

After the chief who had last spoken rose a man whose features had
a singular blending of the European and Indian tribe. In fact, his
tribe was descended from the crews of three Spanish ships, who, having
mutinied, abandoned their officers, and landed on the American coast,
where they settled. By degrees they became allied with the Indians,
whose religion and customs they adopted, and multiplied to such an
extent as to form a tribe.

"The Aigueles," he said, "have five thousand warriors round the war

"My brothers the Ulmens have done well," the president replied, "and
the great confederation will be complete; nearly all the nations have
risen, and Guatechu will give us the victory. The Moluchos count thirty
thousand warriors, who, with twenty-five thousand of the sacred tribe
of the great Toltoru, have passed the Bio Bio, and are encamped on the
banks of the Valdivia: one nation, however, has not sent a deputy to
the great council, and the valiant Jaos alone are not represented here."

"My father is mistaken," replied a young Indian of martial aspect,
whose face, bathed in perspiration and clothes covered with dust,
indicated the speed he had displayed in covering the ground which
separated his territory from the place of council. "It is a long
distance from the country of the Jaos to that of the Moluchos, but
twelve thousand men are following me."

A quiver of enthusiasm ran round, the assembly.

"My son is welcome," replied the aged man. "The Jaos honour us by
sending us a chief so celebrated as Tcharanguii, the invincible Ulmen."

A flush of satisfaction passed over the features of the young chief of
the Jaos.

"You see," the old Indian continued, "that one hundred thousand
warriors will march along the war trail, resolved at length to take
back the territory which the Spaniards have so long unjustly held.
Everything is at length ready. The great confederation which has
enveloped them for the last twenty years in its thousand folds is
about to draw closer and crush them. War to the death upon the cruel
invaders, and let us drive them into the sea which vomited them up. No
truce, no pity, and to the courage of the Lion let us add the prudence
of the Serpent."

Then, turning to Diego, who, during the whole period that this scene
had lasted, remained motionless by the side of Leon, whose anxiety was
increasing, he said--

"The hour has arrived for my son Tahi-Mari to rise and give us a report
of the manner in which he has carried out the mission entrusted to him
twenty years ago by the assembled chiefs of the great Molucho nations.
Our ears are open, and all my sons will listen, for it is a great chief
who is about to speak!"

For the first time since Leon had known Diego, the face of the latter
grew animated, and a smile of triumph had taken the place of the cold
expression of indifference which seemed stereotyped on his lips. He
bowed to the chief, whose eyes were fixed on him, and leaning on his
long rifle, he raised his head and answered in a firm voice--

"I am ready to reply to my father, Unacha Cuayac, and to the great
chiefs of the twelve nations. I am the son of the tortoise, and my race
supports the world. Let them question and I will answer."

"My brother will speak, for, as he has said, he is the son of the
Chemiin which supports the world," the Indian remarked, "and the words
that fall from his lips rejoice our heart."

Diego began--

"Twenty years ago the great chiefs, fatigued with the continued
vexations of the Spaniards, formed a vast confederation, and assembled,
as on the present day, in a supreme council to consider the means to
be employed in order to end the struggle which they had supported so
long, and finally free themselves from those sanguinary and perfidious
strangers, who had in one day stolen from us our gods, our hunting
grounds, and our wealth. As at the present day, more than one hundred
thousand warriors dug up the war hatchet, assembled to invoke Guatechu
at the foot of the war post, and took an oath to live free or die. The
signal was about to be given, and Okikiouasa was already waving his
fatal torch ready to bear fire and death among our ferocious enemies,
when a chief rose in the council and asked permission to speak. This
chief was my father, Tahi-Mari, a warrior renowned for his valour in
combat, and an old man revered for his wisdom at the council fire;
he alone, when all loudly demanded war, dared to speak in favour
of peace; but Tahi-Mari was so respected by the other chiefs, that
far from bursting into fury against the man who tried to overthrow
their projects, they listened to him in silence. What he said you
all know, and hence I need not repeat it; the chiefs accepted his
advice, and it was resolved that a young Molucho warrior, chosen among
the most worthy, should leave his tribe and go among the Spaniards,
whose manners and religion he should pretend to adopt; that he should
pass five years among them, trying to surprise all the secrets which
rendered them invincible, and after that period should come and give an
account of his mission to the great council of the nations."

"This mission was delicate and difficult to carry out; continual
dissimulation was imposed on the man who undertook it; an hourly
torture, by forcing him to live with his most cruel enemies, and feign
for them friendship and attachment. The choice fell upon me, not
because I was the most worthy, but because I was the son of Tahi-Mari,
the great beloved Inca chief of the Moluchos. I joyfully accepted
the painful though honourable distinction offered me; I at that time
counted eighteen summers; life appeared to me happy and smiling: I had
a bride to whom I was to be married at the next melting of the snow,
but I was compelled to abandon this sweet dream, renounce the happiness
which I had promised myself, and devote myself to the service of my
country. I left everything without regret, for the chiefs had spoken,
and I ought to feel jealous of the honour they had done me. The five
years passed, then five others, but the hour for deliverance did not
strike; for twenty years, in fine, I wandered about all the countries
subjected to the Spaniards, listening at each step that I took to the
maledictions which fell upon those of my race. My father died, and I
was unable to close his eyes and sing the tabouré at his interment; my
betrothed has left the earth, summoning me, but I was unable to reply
to her voice; my whole family is extinct, and has gone to join Garonhea
in the paradise of the blest. I have remained alone and abandoned, but
my courage has not weakened; hesitation has not entered my heart, and I
have continued to walk in the path which I traced for myself, because
Tahi-Mari had made a sacrifice of his life and his happiness to his
brothers. Today my mission is accomplished; I know in what the strength
of the Spaniards resides and how they may be laid low; all their
towns and fortresses are known to me; I can give the numbers of their
soldiers, indicate their hopes and projects, and I have infallible
means to break every one of the springs which set their government in
motion. In a word, nothing has been omitted or forgotten by me, and I
can answer beforehand for the success of our cause. I have spoken."

Diego ceased speaking and waited, and a solemn silence followed on the
narration which he had just made. The Indians were profoundly affected
by the sublime self-denial and perfect devotion of the man, whose
heroic will had not failed him for a single moment during the long
trial which he had undergone.

Leon shared the general enthusiasm. The great character of his friend
was perfectly revealed to him, and, measuring the importance of the
sacrifice the Indian had made of the twenty fairest years of his life
with that of his own love for Maria, which he had been unable to make
up his mind to relinquish, he confessed to himself that there was in
Diego's heart a paternal devotion far superior to any that he was
capable of feeling.

At length the Sayotkatta rose and walked towards the Inca with a slow
and majestic step: on coming in front of him, he stopped and gazed at
him with pride, and then said--

"The piaies are right, you are really a descendant of the race of the
Tortoise. Son of Tahi-Mari," he added, as he took off his gold diadem
and placed it on Diego's brow, "be our chief."

"Yes, yes," the Indians exclaimed, eagerly rising; "Tahi-Mari!
Tahi-Mari! he alone ought to command us; he alone is worthy to be the
Toqui of the Twelve Nations."



When the first moment of effervescence was over, and tranquillity was
beginning to be restored, Diego made a sign that he wished to speak,
and all were silent.

"I thank," he said, "the chiefs of the Twelve Nations for the honour
which they do me, and I accept, because I believe myself worthy of
it: but the war we are about to undertake is decisive, and must only
terminate with the utter extermination of our enemies. We shall have
terrible contests to endure and extraordinary difficulties to overcome.
Now, one man, whatever his genius may be, and however great his
knowledge, cannot satisfy such claims."

"My son speaks like a sage; let him tell us what to do, and we will
approve it," Huachacuyac answered.

"We must continue," Diego went on, "in the track which has been
followed up to this day; a man must remain among the Spaniards, as
in the past, in order to know the secret of their operations. Let me
remain this man, and I will transmit to the chiefs whom you select
to take my place the orders they will have to carry out, and the
information which I may think useful for them, up to the time when I
resume the command of the great army."

Universal assent was testified by the great assembly, and Diego

"Perhaps I shall return among you soon, if circumstances decree it, but
I propose for the present to attach to myself three chiefs renowned for
their wisdom."

"Speak," the Indians replied, "for you are our sole master."

"In that case appoint as my assistants our venerable Sayotkatta,
Vitzetpulzli, and Huachacuyac, if the choice suit my brothers."

"Matai," said the Indians, "Tahi-Mari is a great chief."

Then Diego turned to Leon and invited him to rise, and the latter
obeyed, without knowing what his friend wanted of him. Diego, or rather
Tahi-Mari, laid his hand on the young man's head and addressed the
Indians, who gazed at him curiously.

"Chiefs," he said, "I have still one request to make to you; this is
my brother; he has saved my life and his heart belongs to me. He is a
Frenchman, and his nation has frequently fought against our enemies. I
ask that he may be regarded as a son of the Twelve Molucho Nations, and
beloved by you as I love him."

The chiefs bowed to Leon, whose heart beat violently: then Huachacuyac
taking him by the hand, said to him in a voice full of gentleness and
gravity, after kissing him on both cheeks:

"My brother, thou art no longer a stranger among us. I adopt thee as my

Then, addressing the Indians:

"Molucho warriors! let this man be for ever sacred to you, for he is
the son of the Twelve Nations."

And taking off the gold necklace he wore, he threw it over the young
man's shoulders, adding:

"Here is my turbo, do you consent to receive the adoption of the
Moluchos and march with them?"

"I do, brother," Leon answered, with some emotion.

"Be it so, then, and may Guatechu protect thee!" Then each of the
Indians came to kiss the young man on the face, make him the present
of adoption, and change with him a portion of their weapons. Diego
followed with interest the details of this scene, which profoundly
affected Leon, who was sensible of the new mark of friendship which the
half-breed gave him: and when his turn came to give him the embrace, a
tear of joy sparkled in his black eye. This ceremony terminated, the
Sayotkatta advanced into the centre of the assembly.

"Ikarri is in the middle of his course," he exclaimed, "the piaies
are waiting; let us make the war sacrifice in order to keep the evil
spirits at bay and appease them, so that Guatechu may grant us the

All the Indians present seemed to be anxiously awaiting these words:
hence, so soon as they were pronounced they hastened from the hut, and
proceeded to a much larger spot, in the centre of which was a pedestal,
a colossal statue of the sun, called in Indian Areskoui, and which was
supported by a tortoise.

In front of this statue was a sort of stone table sustained by four
blocks of rock. The table, slightly hollowed in the centre, was
provided with a trough intended for the blood to flow into; and a
few paces from it was a figure, formed of resinous wood. Six piaies
surrounded the table: they were dressed in long white robes, and
all wore a golden fillet resembling the one which surrounded the
Sayotkatta's head, but of smaller dimensions. The hut was also guarded
by forty armed Indians, who preserved a religious silence. During the
short walk from the council hut to the one we have just described,
Diego took aside Leon, and said as he pressed his hand fiercely:

"Brother, in the name of all that you hold dearest in the world, shut
up in your heart any trace of emotion: I should have liked to spare you
the horrible spectacle you are about to witness, but it was impossible:
not a word, not a gesture of disapprobation, or you will destroy us

"What is going to happen?" Leon asked, in terror.

"Something frightful, brother; but take courage, remain by my side, and
whatever may happen, be calm."

"I will try," said Leon.

"You must," Diego repeated; "swear to me to check your emotion."

"I swear it," the smuggler repeated, more and more surprised.

"It is well: now we can enter;" and both went into the hut and mingled
with the crowd of spectators. One of those awful dramas which seem
impossible in the nineteenth century, and which unfortunately are still
in vogue in remote regions, was about to begin. The Sayotkatta, with
his head bowed on his chest, was standing at the base of the Statue of
the sun, with six piaies on the right, and six on the left. Two young
Indians held a torch, whose red and flickering glare cast light and
shadow with sinister reflections. The Sayotkatta at length spoke:

"The hatchet is dug up, the toqui has just been proclaimed, and the
hour has arrived to stain the hatchet. Ikarri demands blood."

"Let us give blood to Ikarri," the Indians shouted, "so that he may
give us victory."

The Sayotkatta made a sign, and two piaies left the hut; then all
present fell on their knees, and began a chorus to a slow and
monotonous rhythm. A moment after the piaies returned, bringing a man
between them. The Indians rose, and there was a deep silence, during
which every man waited with feverish impatience.

The individual whom the piaies brought into the hut wore the uniform of
the Chilian lanceros. He was a young man of twenty-four or twenty-six
years of age, with an open face and elegant and bold features. All
about him revealed the mocking carelessness peculiar to soldiers of
every country.

"Asses!" he said, laughing at his guardians, who pushed him on before
them, "could you not wait till tomorrow to perform all your mummeries?
Caray! I was so sound asleep! the devil take you!"

The piaies contented themselves with shaking him rather roughly.

"Miserable bandits," he added, "if I had my sabre, I would show you
certain cuts which would make you sink six feet into the ground. But
all right; what I cannot do, my comrades will do, and you will lose
nothing by waiting."

"The papagay is a chattering bird, that speaks without knowing what it
says," a piaie interrupted in a hollow voice: "the eagle of the Andes
is dumb in the hour of danger."

"In truth," the lancero continued, with a laugh, "this old rogue is
right; let us show these Indian brutes how a Spanish hidalgo dies.
Hum!" he added, taking a curious look around him, "these fellows are
very ugly, and I should almost thank them for killing me, for they
will do me a real service by freeing me from their villainous society."

After this last sally, the soldier haughtily raised his head and
remained silent and calm in the presence of the danger which he had
before his eyes. Leon had not lost one of the words uttered by the
young man; and he felt moved with compassion, and thinking of the
sorrowful fate which was reserved for the hapless prisoner. Leaning
against one of the walls of the hut, he admired with a sort of
irresistible fascination the bright glance of the soldier, so haughty
and careless, and asked himself with tears to what punishment he was
going to be condemned.

He had not long to wait; the Sayotkatta gave a signal, and two piaies
began stripping off the lancero's uniform; after which they removed his
shirt, and only left him his trousers. The young man did not attempt to
make any resistance, and the muscles of his face remained motionless;
but when one of his assassins tried to remove the scapulary, which,
like all Spaniards, he wore round his neck suspended from a black
ribbon, he frowned, his eyes sparkled, and he cried in so terrible a
voice that the Indian recoiled in terror--

"Brigand! leave me my scapulary!"

The Indian hesitated for a moment, and then returned to his victim.

"Nonsense, no weakness!" the prisoner added, and held his tongue.

The Indian seized the string, and without taking the trouble to remove
it from his neck, pulled so violently that a red mark was produced on
the soldier's skin. Suddenly a sudden pallor discoloured the prisoner's
cheeks; the Sayotkatta advanced upon him, holding up in his hand a
long-bladed, thin, and sharp knife. Then came a moment of indescribable
agony for Leon, who felt his hair bathed in a cold perspiration, while
his temples were contracted by pain. He saw the man with the knife
attentively seeking on the victim's chest the position of the heart,
and a smile of satisfaction passed over his lips when he had found it;
then pressing very lightly the sharp point of the knife on the flesh,
he drove it inch by inch, and as slowly as was possible, into the
soldier's chest.

The latter kept his enormously dilated eyes fixed on those of the
Sayotkatta, all whose movements he watched; ere long the pallor that
covered his features became now livid, his lips blanched, and he threw
himself back, stammering--

"Santa Maria, ora pro nobis!"

The Sayotkatta was pressing the hilt of the knife against the body, and
the Indians struck up a mournful hymn. The knife was drawn out--a jet
of blood came from the wound--a convulsion agitated the body, which the
piaies supported in their arms, and all was over. The lancero was dead!

Leon bit his poncho to prevent his crying out. A hundred times had the
captain of the smugglers' band braved death in his encounters with the
custom's officers and lanceros, and his arm had never failed him when
he was obliged to cleave a man's head with a sabre cut, or level him
by the help of his rifle, but at the sight of the cowardly and cruel
assassination being performed he stood as if petrified by disgust and
horror. He gave a start when the lancero drew his last breath; but
Diego, who was watching him, went up to him.

"Silence! or you are a dead man," he said.

Leon restrained himself, but he had not reached the end of his
amazement yet. The piaies raised the corpse, laid it on the stone
table, after removing the rest of the clothes, and the Sayotkatta
pronounced a few mysterious words, to which the Indians replied by

Then the latter, taking his knife up again, cut the victim's chest down
the whole length, and examined with scrupulous attention the liver,
heart, and lungs, which he pulled out to lay on the prepared pyre. All
at once he turned round and addressed the spectators with an inspired

"Sons of Chemiin, Guatechu protects you. Everything is favourable, and
our cruel enemies will at length fall under our blows."

Then one of the piaies collected in a vessel the blood which dripped
from the table, and carefully placed it outside. It was not enough to
have mutilated the corpse. This horrible butchery was succeeded by an
operation which completely froze Leon's blood, and he could hardly
restrain the feeling of repulsion which the hideous spectacle aroused
in him.

One of the Indians brandished a cutlass with a gesture of furious joy
over the cold head of the assassinated lancero; and while with the
left hand he seized the pendant hair, with the other adroitly scalped
him. The sight of this despoiled head produced a lively movement of
satisfaction among all the spectators, who resumed their chanting.

At length the other four piaies seized the bleeding body, and carried
it, quivering as it was, to the centre of the camp, followed by all the
other Indians, who sang, accompanying themselves with furious gestures
and yells. As we stated, it was in the middle of the nineteenth
century that this scene--which our readers might be inclined to fancy
borrowed from the history of barbarous times, but of which we were an

On the command of the Sayotkatta, the piaies stopped near a young
tree, which he stripped of its branches by the help of an axe. All the
Indians halted, and formed a sort of thick hedge several rows in depth.
Chanting sacred prayers, the piaies deposited the corpse at the foot of
the tree, from which they stripped the bark. Then the Indians who held
the vessel of human blood poured it over the stem, after which the one
who had scalped the lancero attached the scalp to it.

The strange songs recommenced with fresh energy, and ere long the
piaies, bringing piece by piece the wood employed to construct the pyre
in the hut of sacrifice, built it up again at the foot of the tree, and
laid the corpse upon it, carefully placing near it the heart, liver,
and lungs. When all these preparations were ended, the Indians formed a
circle round the tree, and the Sayotkatta ascended the pyre.

The scene then assumed a character at once savage, majestic, and
imposing. In fact, it was something striking to see on this magnificent
night, by the light of the torches which illumined with fantastic
flashes the dark foliage of the trees, all these Indians, with their
harsh and stern faces, arrayed round a pyre on which stood an old man
dressed in a long white robe, who with inspired eye and superb gestures
contemptuously trampled underfoot a blood-stained corpse.

The Sayotkatta took a scrutinizing glance around him, and then said in
a loud and solemn voice--

"The victim is immolated, and Ikarri is satisfied. Guatechu protects
us. The victory will be faithful to the right, and our enemies will
fall never to rise again. Sons of the Tortoise, this is the war stake!"
he continued, as he pointed to the tree; "It is for me to strike the
first blow in the name of Guatechu and Ikarri."

And, raising the axe, which he held in his right hand, the old man
dealt the tree a blow, and descended. This was the signal for a
frenzied assault; each Indian, drunk with fury, advanced with horrible
yells to the tree, which he struck, and each blow that re-echoed seemed
to arouse such ardour among those who were waiting their turn, that
they soon all rushed with deafening noise upon the tree, which could
not endure such an attack for any length of time. Long after it had
fallen, furious men were assailing a few inches of the trunk which
stood out of the ground.

The kindling of the pyre by the Sayotkatta by means of a torch could
alone interrupt these attacks on the tree, which they treated as if
they were dealing with a real enemy. A few minutes later, the flames
whirled up, the snapping of wood and the cracking of bones which were
being calcined in the midst of the fire became audible. A dense smoke
escaped from the furnace, and driven by the wind, suffocated the birds
sleeping in the aspens and larch trees that surrounded the clearing.

It was the finale of the festival, and, like most Indian festivals, was
accompanied by a dance, if such a name can be given to the mad round
which the Indians performed. Taking each other by the hand, without
distinction of rank or dignity, they began whirling round the pyre,
forcing Leon, who did not dare decline, to share in this horror.

Ere long, overexcited by the sound of the Molucho war song, which they
struck up in chorus, they went round so hurriedly and quickly, that
at the end of ten minutes it would have been impossible for any human
being to distinguish a single ring of the chain, which seemed to be
moved by a spring. Imagine an immense wheel turning on its axle with
the speed of a railway carriage wheel, and you will have an idea of
the exercise which the bravest and most brilliant warriors of the
twelve Molucho tribes indulged in with gaiety of heart.

They did not stop till the pyre had become a pile of ashes. Carefully
collecting these ashes the piaies went with great pomp to throw them
into a torrent which leaped no great distance from the camp. A portion
of the Indians, that is to say, those among them still able to use
their limbs, accompanied them with a new dance and fresh songs. As for
Leon, utterly exhausted, he had fallen almost in a fainting state near
a hut.

"Come, brother," Diego said to him, as he helped him to rise, and
pointed to the dawn which was beginning to whiten the horizon, "let us
depart; it is late, and we must be back in camp before daylight."

"Let us go--let us go," said Leon, "for my head is turning. The smell
of blood chokes me, and the atmosphere here is poisoned."

Diego looked at him without replying; then, after exchanging a few
words with the great chief Huachacuyac and the Sayotkatta, he took the
arm of the smuggler captain, and went with him toward the camp where
the Soto-Mayor family were resting.



The sun was rising radiantly when Señor Don Juan de Soto-Mayor, with
pale face and features worn by the unhappy news which Don Pedro de
Sallazar brought him on the previous evening, raised the canvass of the
tent in which he had spent the night, and stepped forth. General Don
Pedro accompanied him.

The morning was superb, and the arrieros were engaged in loading
the mules and saddling of horses; Leon, seated apart on a fallen
tree, seemed plunged in deep and bitter thoughts. The old gentleman
approached, and he did not seem to notice his presence.

"Good morning, Señor Captain," he said to him, lightly touching his

The young man started at the sound of this voice; then rising, he
slightly raised his hat off his head, and bowed to the old general,
while replying, mechanically--

"May heaven grant it be good to you, caballero."

"What is the matter, my friend?" the speaker asked him, kindly; "has
anything unpleasant occurred during your sleep?"

"Nothing, sir," Leon said, hastily; "I trust that the ladies have slept

"Yes, yes; at least, I suppose so, for I have not seen them yet."

"Here are the señoras," Don Pedro, who had remained a little behind,
said to the general: "and what is more, all ready to mount."

The two gentlemen advanced to meet them. "Ah! ah!" said Diego, good
humouredly, "everybody is up; all the better, for the sooner we start,
the sooner we shall reach our journey's end."

"Gentlemen, one word with you, if you please," General Don Juan said
to the two smuggler chiefs, after inquiring the health of his wife and

"We are at your orders, general," Leon and Diego said. And they
followed Don Juan, who led them apart from the muleteers.

"Gentlemen," he said to them, when he fancied himself out of earshot,
"I received strange news last night; it seems that the Indians have
risen, and are disturbing the province of Valdivia; hence we must try
to reach the city as speedily as possible."

Diego affected surprise.

"Really," he said, "that is extraordinary."

Then, after appearing to reflect for a moment, he added--

"Must you absolutely pass through Talca?"

"No; but why that question?"

"Because," Diego answered, "I know a road across the mountain which
shortens the journey twenty leagues."

"That is true," said Leon; "by crossing the mountain we shall save a
day's march."

"In that case, gentlemen, let us do so, for when a man is in a hurry to
arrive, he must choose the shortest road. Ah! bye-the-bye," he added,
"before forming a determination, I must consult with General Don Pedro,
in order to know if he consents to accompany us without stopping at

Don Pedro did not consider it advisable to oppose the plan; on the
contrary, his plan of inspecting the vicinity of Talca was served by
the measure, which would allow him to reconnoitre whether the Indians
had as yet entered the wood skirting the forest.

For a moment the fear of some surprise seemed to occupy his mind;
but reflecting that his escort, joined to that of Don Juan, would be
sufficient to protect the caravan, he saw no inconvenience in adopting
the change of route proposed by Diego.

The latter had not seen, without some displeasure, the caravan swelled
by Don Pedro and his soldiers; but, too clever to let it be seen, he
pretended to be extremely pleased by this increase of men, who, in the
event of an attack, would serve as a reinforcement. However this may
be, Don Pedro ordered four of his lanceros to march about a hundred
paces ahead of the column, and then they started. Each horseman, fully
armed, advanced with his eye on the watch, and in profound silence,
while two other lanceros, forming the rearguard, rode fifty yards
behind. The small troop was composed altogether of five-and-thirty

Leon scarce dared to raise his eyes to Maria, who rode by her mother's
side. Each time that the maiden's glance met his, a sort of confusion
or remorse was depicted on his features, in spite of the efforts which
he made to recover his usual coolness. Doña Maria knew not to what
to attribute this change in the young man's manner, and seemed to be
striving to discover the cause.

"Can it be the arrival of Don Pedro that thus brings a cloud to his
brow?" she asked herself; "perhaps he is jealous of that cavalier. Oh!
if that be the case, it is because he loves me."

And turning her face once again toward the smuggler, she smiled on him
in a way that must remove his error; but he, far from deriving from the
marks of love which the maiden gave him, the joy which the heart feels
on knowing itself beloved, he found in it a motive for secret grief.

The scene he had witnessed during the previous night in the Indian
camp had produced so deep an impression upon him, that he could not
refrain from thinking of the mournful consequences it must have for the
Soto-Mayor family, which was, doubtless, devoted to death.

Although Doña Maria's life had been guaranteed by Diego, he trembled
at the grief which must assail her, when struck in her dearest and
tenderest affections; and, while recognising the apparent justice in
the name of which Diego had condemned the general, his wife, and his
other children, he was horrified by the terrible position in which the
half-breed had placed him by making him swear to aid his revenge.

"What!" he said, "I love Doña Maria, and not only must I allow the
death of her family to be carried out without opposition, but if the
contest breaks out between them and the Indians, my duty orders me to
join the latter. Oh, no! for I feel that I shall never commit such an
unworthy action, and I would sooner let myself be killed than array
myself against those whom I am pledged to serve, or those whom I have
sworn to defend."

And the young man's cheeks were flushed by the action of the internal
fever which devoured him; his burning forehead, and his sharp, quick
gestures announced the agitation which the combat going on in his mind

The caravan had entered the wood where the Indians had assembled on
the past night, and they soon reached the middle of the clearing where
they had camped. The sons of the Tortoise had disappeared, but the huts
built by them, though half destroyed, still stood, as well as the trace
of the ashes of the pyre on which the body of the ill-fated lancero had
been burnt. Leon could not see the spot again without feeling a shudder
of awe and terror. Diego looked around him carelessly, and whistled a
sambacueca between his teeth.

"Oh, oh!" said Don Pedro, looking all around; "what have we here?"

And with the experience which he had acquired in wars in which he had
taken part against the Indians, he began to rummage all the huts, after
giving Leon a sign to follow him, and the rest orders to go on ahead.
Leon acceded to his wishes, and both remained behind; and at the
moment when they entered one of the huts, Leon saw something glistening
on the ground, which he fancied was a precious stone.

He suddenly stooped, and eagerly picking up the article, examined it;
it was a gold ring, set with a balas ruby of inestimable value. The
young man thrust it into his belt with a vague feeling of alarm. He
asked himself to whom this ring could belong, for it was not probable
that an Indian had lost it: moreover, he fancied that he had already
seen one like it, though he could not remember on whose finger.

"On the lancero's, perhaps?" he said to himself, thinking of the
soldier who had been assassinated in his presence; but this latter
supposition was speedily abandoned, for it was impossible that a simple
private could be the possessor of such a jewel. Then he thought of the
other prisoner, and a terrible presentiment was rising in his mind,
when Don Pedro called him. The latter had completed his inspection, and
was preparing to rejoin the travellers, apparently knowing all that he
desired to know. Leon was soon at his side.

"I have two words to say to you, sir," Don Pedro remarked to him.

"Speak, sir," the smuggler answered, affected by the tone in which the
general had uttered these words.

"I do not know you, sir," the general continued, "nor do I know your
usual mode of conduct with the travellers whom you may escort."

"Do you wish to insult me, general?" Leon interrupted, as he drew
himself up and fixed his firm and haughty glance on the speaker.

"Not the least in the world; still, as I do not share the friendship
which the Soto-Mayor family--whether rightly or wrongly--displays for
you, I wish to inform you of the reflections I have made on your
score, and give you a piece of advice."

"Speak, sir," said Leon, disdainfully; "but in the first place, you
know that I do not care for your reflections, and shall not accept your

"Perhaps so, señor captain. At any rate, you shall have them," Don
Pedro continued, not deigning to notice the arrogance which the
smuggler placed on his remarks. "The place where we are at this moment
is an Indian camp; if I doubted the fact, this," he added, as he
knocked over a broken pipe, "would afford me a certainty. This camp was
but a few hours ago still occupied by Indians, and here is the proof,"
he said, stooping down; "the ashes are quite warm."

"Sir," said Leon in his turn, who felt a cold perspiration beading on
his temples, "what you are saying appears to me highly probable, but I
do not see how that can personally interest me, or form any motive for
what you said to me just now. Be good enough to explain yourself more

"I will do so, sir, and frankly," the general replied; "for I am a
soldier, and do not like any prefacing."

"Nor I, sir; so to facts."

"They are these. Last night, after a lengthened conversation with
General Don Juan, I had a fancy to go and smoke my cigar in the open
air; the night was magnificent and invited a walk. Now, at the moment
when I raised the tent curtain to go out, I saw two men glide between
the bales and leave camp without warning the sentry."

"What next, sir?"

"Next? Good gracious! that is very simple. I asked myself what these
two men could have to do outside the camp at that hour, when duty
imposed on them the obligation of remaining at their post; but as I
could learn nothing at that moment, I resolved to satisfy my curiosity
by awaiting their return. I waited a long time, captain; but that did
not cause me much annoyance, for I am naturally very patient, as you
will say, when I tell you that I saw these two men go out and also saw
them return, although they did not do so till a few minutes before
daybreak. Now, I conclude by begging you to tell me where they went,
for one of the two men was yourself."

"It is true, sir, I left the camp, and only returned at daybreak."

"But what important reason urged you to do so?"

"That I cannot tell you, sir," Leon said with firmness. "Suffice it for
you to know that I allow nobody, not even you, general, the right to
inquire into my conduct, and that, moreover, the step which I took in
no way compromised the safety of the persons confided to my charge."

"Very good! that answer does not surprise me; but bear this in mind--at
the first mysterious sortie you make in future--at the first action
which appears to me suspicious--I will simply have you seized by my
lanceros and give them orders to shoot you within an hour. You have
understood me, I suppose?"

"Perfectly, general; and whenever you please, you will find me at your
orders," the smuggler replied, with a tinge of irony; "but, in the
meanwhile, I think it would be more useful to rejoin the caravan."

"You are warned, sir," the general continued, "and will only have
yourself to blame if anything unpleasant happen to you. Now let us

"Very good, general."

And the two men, leaping into the saddle, galloped in the direction of
the small party, which they soon, rejoined. Don Pedro placed himself at
the head, and rode by the side of Diego, still silently, while Leon,
who had remained a few paces in the rear, drew from the belt the ring
which he had found, and regarded it afresh with sustained attention.

"I have certainly seen this ring before," he said, after turning it
over and over in all directions; "but on whose finger, in Heaven's

Then, thrusting it on to his finger and pulling it off again, he
continued in vain to rack his brains in recalling his recollections,
but could not succeed in fixing his doubts. Then pressing his horse's
flank, he rode up to the travellers, and soon found himself by Doña
Maria's side.

"Señor captain," the latter said to him, "shall we go through this wood
for any length of time?"

"For about two hours, Señora."

"Oh, all the better, for there is an exquisite freshness in it. I am
delighted that we have left the road which we were following yesterday;
here it is so picturesque, that I am never weary of admiring the

"And then it will shorten our journey by a day," Leon said, sadly.

"That is true," the maiden answered, each of whose words was overheard
by her mother and sister.

But at the same moment she gave the smuggler a glance which signified
how much she regretted to see him so badly interpret the words to which
she was far from giving the meaning which he attributed to them. The
journey ended, what hope would remain to the maiden of seeing again the
man whom she loved.

Leon understood the reproach, and bending down his head, he concealed
his trouble by spurring his mustang, which soon carried him up to
General Don Juan, who was engaged in a conversation with Don Pedro.

"For all that, general," the latter was saying to Don Juan, "I am
astonished that your son did not meet you when you were following the
Talca road, for I do not know any other which he could have taken in
order to arrive sooner."

"Did he command any detachment of troops?" the general asked.

"No; he started for Tulcapel, merely accompanied by two lanceros."

Leon did not hear the close of the conversation, for a sudden
revelation had been made to him. Suddenly his blood was frozen and his
teeth were clenched. He remembered that young Don Juan de Soto-Mayor
wore on his right hand, on the night which he spent at the general's
country house, a ring resembling the one which he had in his belt. He
perfectly remembered having noticed the sparkling of the ruby, whose
exceptional size had attracted his attention.

But in proportion as his thoughts, becoming more lucid, rendered the
truth more distinct, he saw with horror the dark drama of which he
scarce dared to seek the meaning, so afraid was he of finding the
reality in it. He had picked up the ring in the tent into which he had
seen the prisoners carried on the previous evening; one was a lancero,
and he was dead; but the other. Was not the other Don Juan, the son of
the old general in front of him? And if, as he feared he was certain,
this prisoner was Don Juan, what had become of him? Perhaps, at that
very hour, he might be expiring under the frightful sufferings which
the Indians were making him undergo.

Leon wished at once to question Diego on the point, for he must know
the truth, but the fear of not being able to master his emotion in
the presence of the two generals prevented him from doing so, and he
resolved to await the first halt to satisfy his anxious curiosity. But,
agitated by a thousand conflicting emotions, he did not dare look at
Maria, for he was already afraid lest the maiden should ask him, with
tears in her voice, what he had done with her brother's blood, as he
was the accomplice of those who had assassinated him.

The caravan still advanced, and soon left the wood to debouch upon a
plain intersected by numerous rivulets, which wound through a hard
and rocky soil. At the moment when the last man left the edge of the
forest, the dense shrubs that bordered the road noiselessly parted and
made room for the head of an Indian, who looked out cautiously, after
having, so to speak, smelt the air around him. His eyes settled on the
little troop, which they followed until it had bent to the left and
entirely disappeared; then carefully removing the twigs, the Indian
thrust forward the rest of his body and crawled out. He soon found
himself in the middle of the road, and began looking around him again
in all directions, after which his face assumed a marked expression of

"Matai," he said, smiling so as to show his long white teeth.

And then he began running with the lightness of a llama in the traces
of the caravan. On reaching the spot where the road formed a bend, he
thrust out his head, and then hurriedly withdrawing it, climbed up the
side of a wood-clad height and disappeared.

This man was Tcharanguii, the feared and formidable chief of the Jaos,
one of the most powerful tribes of the twelve Molucho nations. For
some minutes the rustling of parted branches might be heard, then all
became silent again, the sole interruption being the imposing sounds of
the desert.



They travelled the whole day without any incidents: the heat which had
so incommoded them all during the first few days, had been succeeded
by a temperature which hourly became colder. The foliage of the trees
assumed a deeper tinge of green; the singing birds of the llanos,
whose sweet notes ravished the ear, had been succeeded by the eagles,
vultures, and other birds of prey, which formed immense circles in
space while uttering the hoarse and strange cries peculiar to them.

The sky, which had hitherto been of such a pure blue, was beginning
here and there to assume greyish tones and coppery reflections, which
formed a contrast with the dull whiteness of the water of the torrents
which fell in cascades from the snowy peaks of the mountains, down
whose flanks they dragged with a dull roar masses of rock and enormous
firs which they uprooted in their passage.

A wild llama or vicuna might be seen balanced on a point of granite,
and at times in the openings of the thick wood which bordered the road,
the flashing eyes of a puma, or the black muzzle of a bee hunting bear,
could be seen stretched out over a branch. All, in a word, announced
the vicinity of the Cordillera of the Andes.

When night set in, the caravan had reached a narrow plateau, situated
in what is called the temperate region, the last station of travellers
before entering the vast and gloomy solitudes of the Andes, which are
as yet very little known or explored, owing to the difficulty of means
of transport, and the absence of a sedentary population.

The camp was made by the side of the road, under an immense natural
arch, formed by means of rock, which overhung the road for more than
two hundred yards, and formed a shelter for travellers by being
hollowed out at its base. The fires were lighted, one in the centre of
the camp, and the other at each corner, in order to keep off the wild
beasts whose attacks were beginning to be apprehended with reason.

When supper was ended, sentries were posted, and each prepared his
couch in order to spend his night in the enjoyment of that sleep which
restores the strength. If the expression we have just used, that each
prepared his couch, were to be taken literally, it would be a great
mistake, if this performance were at all supposed to be like what is
done in Europe in similar cases.

In fact, with a European a bed generally consists of at least one
mattress, or something analogous to take its place, a bolster, a
pillow, sheets, blankets, &c.; but in Chili things are very different.
Although luxury and comfort are things well known in towns, beds at
all like ours are only found in the houses of rich people, and then,
great heavens! what beds. As for the one which the Chilians employ when
travelling, it is most convenient and ingenious, since it serves them
as a saddle by day, as we shall proceed to show.

The horse's equipment consists, in the first place, of three ponchos,
folded square, and laid one upon the other on the back of the horse; in
these ponchos are laid four sheepskins with the wool on, and on these
again is placed a wooden seat, representing a saddle, which supports
a pair of heavy wooden stirrups, hollowed out in a triangular form.
A surcingle, fastened under the horse's belly, keep these various
articles in their places, and four more ponchos and four more skins
are laid on them. Lastly, another poncho is thrown over the whole, and
serves as chabraque, a second strap holding this edifice in its place.

We can see from the description of what enters into the formation of
Chilian horse accoutrement that it can advantageously take the place
of our scanty English saddle, and that the rider is able to find the
materials for a very soft bed. When the latter arrives at his sleeping
place, he unsaddles his horse, which he leaves at liberty to find its
food where it thinks proper, and then makes the aforesaid bed in the
following way.

He first lays the saddle on the ground to act as pillow, then spreads
his first sheepskins, over a space six feet in length, and two or three
in width; he covers these with three ponchos, on which he lies down,
and then pulls over him the four other skins and the remaining ponchos,
and eventually disappears under this pile of stuff so entirely that it
is impossible to perceive him, for even his head is hidden.

It happens at times that when a man is passing the night on the
Cordilleras, under the protection of this formidable rampart of skins
and blankets, a few feet of snow literally bury the sleeper, who,
on awaking, is compelled to throw his legs and arms about for some
minutes, in order to liberate himself and see daylight again.

Diego was preparing his bed in the manner which we have just described,
and displaying all the attention of a man who feels the need of a
sound sleep, when he saw Leon Delbès coming towards him, who since
the morning had not spoken to him, and seemed to avoid him. We must
suppose that the smuggler's face betrayed a lively emotion, for
Diego on looking up to him, felt ill at ease, and saw that something
extraordinary had taken place in his friend's mind. From the way in
which the young man looked at him, it was certain that he was preparing
to ask of him an explanation about some fact, and understanding that
it could only refer to the Soto-Mayor family, he could not suppress a
start of impatience which did not escape Leon.

The latter, on his side, was asking himself how he should manage the
conversation as to lead Diego to tell him what he wanted to learn, and
not knowing how to begin, he waited till the latter should address
him. Both were afraid of reverting to the past, and yet each felt that
the moment had arrived to behave frankly and expose the nature of his

When we speak of grievances, we know perfectly that neither had
to reproach the other for any deed of a reprehensible nature in
what concerned their mutual pledge to help each other; but if Leon
involuntarily revolted against the implacable revenge which the
half-breed had begun to exercise against the Soto-Mayors, while
confessing to himself that, in spite of the friendship which united him
to Diego, he could never lend a hand to excesses like the one which
he had seen committed on the previous night by the Indians, Diego had
not failed to comprehend that the love which Leon entertained for
Maria would be an invincible obstacle to the support which the latter
had sworn to give him. Without accusing him of treachery, he still
taxed him with softness of heart and irresolution, or rather pitied
him for having surrendered himself, bound hand and foot, to a wild
passion which paralyzed all the goodwill which he might under other
circumstances have expected from him.

As we see, the respective position of the two men toward each other had
been too false for them not to feel in their hearts a lively desire
to put an end to it; the difficulty was to manage it without injuring
their self-esteem and interests.

Leon had hoped that Diego would at length inquire the motive which had
brought him to his friend, but on seeing that the latter affected not
to address a syllable to him, he resolved to break the silence.

"You are going to sleep, brother," he said to him.

"Yes," Diego replied: "I am tired."

"You tired!" Leon remarked, with a smile of incredulity, "tired by a
ten leagues' ride, when I have seen you hunt on the Pampas for eight
or ten days in succession without dreaming of resting for a moment;

"Tired or no, I wish to sleep: besides, what is there extraordinary in
that? Has not everybody in camp lain down?"

"That is true."

"Then I invite you to do the same, unless love keeps you awake," he
added, laconically. "In that case, the best thing you can do is to
spend the night in walking round the hut in which your fair one is
reposing, that her sleep may not be disturbed; and much good may it do

"Diego," Leon answered, sorrowfully, "what you are saying to me is not
right. What have I done to you that you should address me so roughly?"

"Nothing," the half-breed said, with a regretful tone. "But come,"
he said, kicking the bed over which he had taken so much pains in
preparing, "you really seem so anxious to speak to me that I might
fancy that you had important business."

"What makes you suppose that I want to speak to you?"

"Oh, good Heaven! Leon, we have lived together long enough for us to
be able to read on one another's faces what our thoughts are. Confess
that you are suffering, that you are anxious, and that you have come to
ask some explanation of me. Come, if it be so, tell me frankly what you
want of me, and I will answer. For on my side I also have to speak with
you about the grief and sorrow which seem to have assailed you since
yesterday. Speak; is it the engagement you made to support me in the
struggle I am preparing, for that seems to you too heavy to carry out?
Only say one word: there is still time, and I will give you back your
word; but speak, for I am anxious to come to a decision."

"Brother," said Leon, without replying directly to Diego's injunction,
"I notice bitterness in your words and mocking on your lips: still,
in order to remove from the discussion anything that might resemble
passion or annoyance, I have let the whole day pass over the event
about which I wish to speak to you, for it is the friend I am
addressing, and not Tahi-Mari."

"Well, what do you want?"

"I will tell you."

Leon drew from his belt the ring which he had found, and handed it to

"Do you know this?" he asked him.

"What is it?" said the half-breed, taking it and turning it over in his
fingers, while giving the young man an inquiring glance.

"A ring."

"Hang it, I can see that, and a very handsome ring too; but I ask you
what meaning it has in your hands?"

"Do you not know?"

"How would you have me know?"

"Is it true that you do not know to whom it belongs?"


"Then you did not notice it on anybody's hand?"

"No; and I assure you that if I had seen it twenty times I should not
recognise it now, for I pay no attention to such futilities."

"Well, since you do not know to whom it belongs, I will tell you."

"If you insist on my knowing, very good. But," he added, with a smile,
"if I could have thought that you wished to speak to me so anxiously in
order to talk about a pearl, I should have begged you to let me sleep."

"A little patience, for this ring is more important than you seem to

"In that case tell me for what reason, and how it comes in your hands."

Leon looked at Diego's face, which indicated his entire good faith, and

"You remember that when we reached the Indians' camp together, two
Spanish prisoners were in their power."

"Yes, certainly."

"Now, this morning, when passing again through that camp with the
caravan, Don Pedro Sallazar, after examining the sign, divined an
Indian sojourn, and invited me to enter the huts with him. I found this
ring in the one to which I saw the prisoners transported."

"In that case," said Diego, "it must have belonged to one of them, that
is incontestable. But how do those prisoners concern us?"

"Our second, as victim of the barbarous sacrifice which I saw
accomplished before my eyes, and he was a lancero. I allow that I saw
that hapless man for the first time in my life. But the other."

"The other!" Diego interrupted, who was curiously listening to Leon's

"The other we both know, for he was Don Juan de Soto-Mayor, the
general's son, and this ring is the same which he wore on the day when
his father sheltered us under his roof."

"Don Juan!" Diego said, with a start, while a flash of savage joy
illuminated his eyes. "What! it was he?"

"Did you not know it?"

"No, on my soul! It is probable that he was following the same road as
ourselves; and the Indians, who were ahead of us, seized him."

"And what has become of him? What have they done to him?"

"How do I know? A Soto-Mayor!" Diego repeated, on whom the announcement
of this news produced unequivocal satisfaction. "Thanks, Leon, for
having been the first to inform me of the fact."

"What do you mean? I came to you to ask you whether this man has not
found among the Indians the horrible death that smote the lancero who
accompanied him!"

"No; and I thank Heaven for it, for I gave orders that all prisoners
should be kept in a place of safety, with the exception of the one
selected for sacrifice, and I shall soon be able to find Don Juan, who
belongs to me, and whose blood shall be shed by me in expiation of
the great Tahi-Mari, my father. At length," the half-breed exclaimed,
growing animated, "you are about to be avenged, my glorious ancestors!
and may every head which my hand causes to fall, rejoice your irritated

At this moment, Diego's attitude had something so imposing about it
that Leon felt himself gradually overcome by its terrible expression;
because he resolved to oppose to the force of hatred which burned in
the half-breed's heart that of love which consumed his own, by striking
a grand blow.

"Brother," he said, "you are strangely in error if you fancy that I
told you the name of the wearer of this ring in order to satisfy your

"What do you mean?" Diego replied.

"That in the name of the friendship which unites us, in the name of the
love which I have for Doña Maria, I have come to ask you to restore to
liberty the brother of her whom I love."

And Leon ceased speaking.

The man who, walking along a road bordered by flowers and turf,
suddenly saw the ground open under his feet, and a bottomless precipice
present itself, would not feel a greater commotion of surprise than
that which assailed the descendant of Tahi-Mari: his lips were
clenched, his cheeks turned livid, and he fell crushed on the ponchos
which remained on the ground.

"Have I rightly understood? Leon, it is at the moment when after
waiting twenty years for the solemn hour of victory I at length hear
it strike, that you ask me to surrender my enemy to you! What I should
have broken all the obstacles which opposed the success of the holy
cause which I am defending; I should have sacrificed without pity for
myself all that attached me to life, after tearing from my heart all
the illusions of my youth, in order only to leave my hatred, and all
that in order to renounce the hope of attaining the object which I was
pursuing! Oh, no, that is not possible; and it is not you, Leon, my
friend, my brother, who would ask such a sacrifice of me. No!"

"Brother, forgive me!" Leon exclaimed; "but I love this woman."

"Yes, you love her; and if I give you the life of the brother, you will
ask me tomorrow for that of the father; and each day, implored by you,
I must, I suppose, abandoning one by one the victims I have marked,
efface from my memory every recollection of the past, and allow the
assassins of Tahi-Mari to live amid the joys which power and wealth
produce. No, no! I pity you, brother, for you must have left all your
reason at the bottom of that love to which you refer when you dare to
make me such a proposal."

"Enough, Diego; enough! I implored you in the name of our friendship,
and I was wrong, since you believe that you are committing an act of
justice in killing those for whom I implore your mercy. Pardon me; and
now farewell, brother, I will leave you."

"Where are you going, madman?" Diego asked, as he held him back.

"I do not know, but I wish to fly far from here."

"What! leave me! thus break a friendship like ours! You cannot think of
such a thing."

"Do you not know that I love Maria with all the strength of my soul: as
I told you it is an impossibility to give up that love, and yet I do
not wish to betray your cause; so let me go and seek far from her, if
not oblivion, at least death."

"Grief leads you astray, Leon. Come, listen to me."

"What!--your justification! I do not accuse you; but once again I say
we must separate, for if Maria were to ask me for her brother and I
should not give him to her, she would curse me, do you hear? Because
she would refuse to believe that I love her, as I did not know how to
die to save him whom your hatred has condemned! You see plainly that I
must depart."

"Well, then," said Diego, with some amount of emotion, "an
insurmountable barrier is raised between us."

"Yes, brother; but though we are parted the memory of our friendship
will survive our separation."

A silence of some minutes' duration followed these words, and nothing
could be heard but the hurried breathing of the two men. Diego was the
first to speak.

"Leon," he suddenly exclaimed, making a violent effort over himself;
"you have spoken the truth; one of us must depart, as we are both
following a different road; but it shall be I, for my place is at the
head of the Indians, my brothers. As for you, remain with those whom
you are protecting, and ere I go to resume the life of the proscript,
and continue in broad daylight the struggle which I have been carrying
on for so many years in the darkness, give me your hand, that I may
press it in mine for the last time; and then, to the mercy of God!"

"Oh!" Leon replied, eagerly, "most gladly so, or rather let us embrace,
for we are still worthy of each other."

And the two smugglers fell into each other's arms.

"Be happy, Diego," said Leon.

"God grant that you may find happiness in the love of Doña Maria," said

Then the latter, taking his lasso, whistled to his colt, which came up
at the appeal, and, after saddling it, he leaped lightly on its back.
He remained motionless for a moment, taking a sorrowful glance at the
men sleeping a short distance from him; and then, after breathing a
deep sigh, he addressed Leon once again.

"Farewell!" he said to him: "remember that you are an adopted son
of the Araucanos, and that if you please one day to come among your
brothers to seek a supporter or a defender, you will find one and the

"Farewell!" murmured Leon, whose eyes were moist.

Ere long the half-breed's mustang, sharply spurred, leaped at one bound
over the bales which formed the enclosure of the camp, and darted
across the plain with the rapidity of an arrow.



After Diego's departure, Leon remained for a long time leaning on
the baggage which he had before him; the last words of his departing
friend rang in his ear like the sound of a knell; a deep sorrow, a
deadly discouragement had seized upon him, and a state of undefinable
morbidness preyed on his whole being.

A friendship like that which united him to the Vaquero is not broken
so suddenly without the heart suffering from it, and in spite of the
exceptional circumstances which had caused the separation of the two
men, Leon could not refrain from a species of remorse.

Turning over in his mind the different phases of his past existence and
those of the four last years of his life, spent in the midst of llanos
and Pampas, he asked himself whether he had not consciously exchanged
the quietude of an unclouded present for the painful agitation of a
future big with tempests.

With his eye fixed on the dark and bold outline of Diego, which was
vaguely designed on the horizon, and was gradually disappearing in
space, twenty times he was on the point of dashing forward and begging
him to return, while swearing to give up the ardent passion which
mastered him; but an invincible force nailed him to the ground, his
choking voice died away on his lips, and his courage failed him. Ere
long an impenetrable mist spread between the eyes of the young man and
his friend, who entirely disappeared.

Then Leon began cursing the fatal love which had come to torture his
heart, and the hours of the night passed away unnoticed by him, so
greatly were his thoughts concentrated in his soul.

The sky was gloomy; heavy black clouds strangely edged, and driven from
the south-west by a cold wind, coursed through the air with extreme
velocity. When, at rare intervals, the moon appeared during the short
period which separated a cloud on the horizon from the advent of
another which dashed after it, its pale and sickly rays hardly lit up
the objects on which they cast their vague light.

The scenery, plunged in darkness at each new obscuration of the moon,
was mournful and silent, and nothing could be heard but the regular
footfall of the sentry echoing on the hardened soil. All were asleep in
the camp, save the sentry and Leon, and the latter, not afraid of being
seen, gave a free course to his grief, and heavy tears fell from his

What secret and acrid sorrows are contained in each of these drops
of burning water which trickle down a man's face. Tears! the supreme
expression of impotence and despair. Tears! the height of weakness and
despondency which brutally restore man to his place, by showing him the
vanity of his pride, and the nullity of his pretended strength.

The captain of the smugglers was still weeping when a hand was laid
on, or rather slightly touched, his shoulder. He quickly raised his
head, and with difficulty restrained a cry of surprise. Doña Maria
was standing before him, with her finger laid on her lip, in order to
recommend silence.

Half hidden by the white lace which surrounded her face, and fell in
long streamers on her shoulders, the maiden presented herself to Leon's
astonished gaze, like a celestial apparition which had come from on
high to restore him hope and courage.

"You!" he murmured, with a tenderness of expression impossible to

"Speak lower," the maiden replied, and she pointed to the sentry, who
had stopped, and seemed to be spying her movements. Leon looked for
a moment at the man to whom the guard of the camp was temporarily

"Reassure yourself," he said to her; "he is the bravest and most
devoted man in my band. Stop here for a moment."

Then walking a few paces, Leon made a signal to the sentry to come to

"Wilhelm," he said to him, "stop as sentry till I give you orders
myself to call one of your comrades, and look out."

"Yes, captain," the man replied, with a marked German accent; "I

"Very good," Leon replied; "begone."

The sentry retired, and Leon returned to the maiden, whose bosom was
hurriedly heaving. The captain knew Wilhelm, and that at the slightest
movement which took place in the Soto-Mayor's tent, he should be
warned. Hence he was enabled to talk freely with her whom he loved,
without fear of being surprised.

"You here so close to me!" Leon went on, seizing one of the maiden's
hands. "Oh, Doña Maria, how kind you are!"

"You are suffering," she said, as she bent on the young man a glance
in which the signs of a sympathising interest were visible; "you are
suffering, and seem to avoid and shun me, and that is why I have
resolved on asking you the cause of your sorrow."

"Oh, no! I am no longer suffering since I see you; since I hear fall
from your lips sweet words which dilate my heart with hope and joy."

"Oh, be silent!" Maria replied; "for I only wish to know the cause
of the sorrow which I have remarked, since this morning, on your

"What! has your attention been so directed to me as to make you feel
anxious on seeing me sad and despondent?"

"Do you not know that I love you?" Maria said, with an accent of such
sublime simplicity, that Leon fancied himself the sport of a dream.

There was a moment of supreme silence, which the maiden was the first
to break.

"I know," she said, "how strange and unusual is the step which I am
now taking, and how dangerous it would be with a man whose heart was
not so noble or so great as yours; but, alas! we are at this moment in
a situation so different from all the ordinary laws of life, that I
thought I must frankly come and find you."

"You were right, señorita," muttered Leon, with his eyes ardently fixed
upon her.

"Let me," she continued, "express to you all the gratitude I feel to
you for your conduct, so full of self-denial and so loyal."

"Oh!" he said.

"I know all; I was an invisible hearer of your conversation; and
nothing said by you or your friend escaped my ear. I thank you from the
bottom of my heart for your devotion to our family. Alas!" she said, as
if speaking to herself, "perhaps it would have been better for you and
for us had you abandoned us."

"I will carry out, whatever may happen, the oath which I took to you,
señorita, to lead you in safety to your destination."

"But," she said, with a movement of fear, "that man, your friend, that
gloomy and stern individual, I tremble lest he may try to make us fall
into some horrible trap. I have a dark foreboding that a danger menaces

"Whatever may be the danger, señorita," the young man exclaimed
passionately, "be convinced that my friend will have no share in it;
his word is sacred, and I place the most perfect confidence in him."

"Heaven grant that you are not mistaken!" she said, with a stifled sigh.

"Moreover," he continued, "whatever may happen, I shall be there,
and no one will reach you without passing over my body. I have sworn
to escort you and your family safe and sound to the end of this long
journey, and that oath I will keep, whatever may happen."

"Thanks," she murmured, with emotion, as she offered him her white and
delicate hand; "thanks, Leon--I love you!" and she disappeared light as
a shadow, leaving the young man plunged into indescribable ecstasy.

The rest of the night passed without further incident, and at daybreak
Leon, who had not slept for an instant, gave the signal for starting.
In spite of himself, the young man felt a vague terror for which he
could not account. The maiden's parting words echoed in his ear and the
presentiment which she stated that she felt, caused him a preoccupation
which he sought in vain to dissipate, by proving to himself that no
possible danger could threaten the persons whom he was escorting.

Still, before reaching the districts where any fear would become
chimerical owing to the distance from the country frequented by the
Indians, the caravan would be obliged to pass through a passage called
the Parumo de San Juan Bautista, a very difficult pass to cross, and
which, as it served as the extreme limit of the Indian border, was the
more favourable for the preparation of an ambush.

The captain wished to arrive before nightfall at this pass, in order to
reconnoitre the approaches carefully, and guard against any surprise.
But to do this speed was required. Gene Soto-Mayor asked the young man
why he raised the camp at so early an hour, but the latter without
telling him all his thoughts, managed to give him reasons which,
without being good, closed his mouth, and the caravan started. The
three ladies, carefully wrapped up in their ponchos and rebozos in
order to protect themselves from the cold, rode side by side, preceded
by General Soto-Mayor and Don Pedro Sallazar.

Leon was a few paces ahead plunged into serious reflections.

"Eh, Caballero!" Don Pedro shouted to him, "I should like, with your
permission, to ask you a question."

The captain stopped.

"A question, señor," he said; "what is it, if you please?"

"Well, I fancy it very simple; still if, unconsciously, I am guilty of
any indiscretion, I beg you beforehand to excuse me, and I authorize
your not answering me."

The young man bowed.

"Let me hear the question," he said.

"Since we have started," Don Pedro continued, "I have sought your
friend in vain, but could not find him; can he have left us, or has he
gone ahead to reconnoitre?"

"My friend, señor," the young man answered, somewhat drily, "has left
us not to return. He went away last night while you were asleep, but I
have remained, and shall not abandon you. Does this explanation suit
you, señor? Or have you any other questions to ask me?"

"Hum!" Don Pedro replied, internally offended by the way in which the
young man had answered him, and checking his horse, so as to let the
others pass.

The caravan continued its journey, and not one of those who composed
it--numbed by the cold which gradually grew more intense, and which
they had great difficulty in guarding themselves against--attempted to
stripe up even the most frivolous conversation.

The nearer the travellers came to the Parumo de San Juan Bautista,
the more nervous did the captain grow, though he could not guess the
reason; at length this anxiety became so great, that, after temporarily
entrusting the command of the troop to Wilhelm, he made a signal to
four of his adventurers to follow him; and, putting himself at their
head, he dashed his horse at the flanks of the mountain which the
travellers were ascending at the moment. As he passed Doña Maria, the
latter slightly pulled aside the rebozo that covered her face, and bent
down to him.

"Are you leaving us in that way, Leon?" she murmured, in a voice faint
as a sigh.

The young man started at the sound of the beloved voice.

"No!" he answered; "on the contrary, I am going to watch over your
safety." And dashing off, he at once disappeared among the trees.

"Heaven grant," the maiden said as she crossed herself, "that my fears
are chimerical, and that the danger which I apprehend may only exist in
my imagination."

And wrapping herself once more in her rebozo, the maiden rode pensively
on by the side of her mother and sister, who seemed not to have paid
any attention to the few words she had exchanged with the captain.



The Cordilleras of the Andes are strange mountains, with which no
others in the world could be compared, and they form, so to speak, the
backbone of the New World, the entire length of which they traverse.
It is in Chili, whose natural frontier they form, that they assume
the sternest and most gloomy proportions; raising to the clouds their
snow-covered heads, it seems as if it were under the pressure of an
omnipotent will, as Ervilla, the poet of Araucania, says, that they
allow at certain periods daring travellers to enter their dark gorges
and cross their denuded peaks.

The Cordilleras cannot at any season be everywhere crossed, and it is
only during four months at the most that at certain spots caravans are
enabled to make their way through the snow, escalade the crests of
these inhospitable mountains, and descend the opposite sides.

These spots, called passages, are very few in number: they are only
three in Chili, and they are quebradas, or gaps, the dried beds of
torrents, or streams, through which men, horses, and mules pass with
great difficulty, at the expense of extraordinary cost and privations.

The most frequented of these passages is the Parumo of San Juan
Bautista, a narrow gorge between two lofty mountains, which can only be
reached by a track a yard in width, bordered on the right by a forest,
which rises in an amphitheatrical shape, and on the left by a precipice
of immense depth, at the bottom of which an invisible stream may be
heard murmuring.

This was the road which the caravan was following.

About four in the evening, at the moment when night was beginning to
brood over these elevated regions, the travellers came out on a plateau
of about forty yards in circumference; before them, nearly at their
feet, and half bathed in the early mist of night, were vaguely designed
the plains to which they would descend on the morrow, while around them
were dark, inextricable forests, which seemed to enfold them.

Wilhelm, in obedience to the orders which he had received from his
captain, commanded a halt, and all preparations to be made for the
night encampment, as going any further would have been committing
great imprudence, especially during the darkness. No one raised any
objection, but all dismounted, and began actively unloading the mules
and pitching the tent set apart for the Soto-Mayor family.

While some were piling up the bales, and others unsaddling the horses
and draught animals, several adventurers, selected by the leader,
entered the forest, in order to seek for dry wood necessary to keep up
the watch fires.

The duties were thus allotted, in order that they might be completed
as speedily as possible, when suddenly a terrible yell was heard,
and a band of Indians burst forth from the forest, and rushed at the
travellers with brandished weapons.

There was a moment of disorder which it is impossible to describe.
The travellers, so suddenly surprised, and for the most part unarmed,
offered but a feeble resistance to their assailants; but, speedily
obeying the voice of Wilhelm, and excited by the shouts of General
Soto-Mayor, and of Don Pedro Sallazar, they collected round the tent
in which the three ladies had sought shelter, and arming themselves
with any weapon they came across, they bravely resisted the Indians;
not hoping, it is true, to emerge as victors from the contest they were
sustaining, but resolved to sell their lives dearly, and only yield to

The combat then assumed gigantic proportions; the white men knew that
they had no quarter to expect from their ferocious enemies, while
the latter, whose great number heightened their boldness, and who
counted on an easy victory, exasperated by the resistance offered
them, redoubled their efforts to finish with the white men, whom they

The fight became with each instant more terrible; Chilians and Indians
were engaged in a hand-to-hand fight, rending each other like wild
beasts, and howling like tigers when a combatant fell on either side.

The issue of this frightful butchery was impossible to foresee, when
suddenly several shots were fired, and a band of horsemen rushed
desperately into the thickest of the fight. They were Leon, and his
adventurers, who, after a futile search, when returning to join their
friends, heard the sound of the battle, and hurried up to take their
part in the danger, and claim the right of dying with their comrades.

It was time that this succour arrived, for the Chilians who, crushed
by numbers, did not feel their courage give way, but the moment
approaching when they would fall not to rise again in front of the tent
which they had undertaken to defend with the last drop of their blood.
Hence the unforeseen and almost providential arrival of the captain
changed the aspect of the fight.

The Indians, astonished at this unforeseen attack, and not knowing
what enemy they had to combat, hesitated for an instant, which Leon
took advantage of to redouble his blows. A ray of hope animated the
Spaniards, who regained their courage, and their resistance threatened
to become fatal to the Indians; but this triumph, alas! was of short

All at once a Redskin of colossal height rushed to meet the smuggler
captain, with the evident intention of fighting him. When the two
adversaries faced, they looked at each other with attention, each in
his heart doing justice to the elegant form and muscular appearance of
his opponent.

As frequently happens under such circumstances, Indians and Spaniards
suspended the blows they were dealing one another, in order to be
spectators of the combat in which Leon was about to engage with the
Indian, who appeared to be one of the chiefs of the band. On the issue
of this struggle the fate of the combatants on either side might
depend. By a common agreement, the Redskin threw his axe on the ground
and Leon his gun. Then after drawing their machetes, the two men looked
at each other attentively, and suddenly making a bound forward, seized
each other round the body, but neither could make use of his knife, as
each had seized his enemy's right arm with his left hand. Activity and
skill could alone triumph.

For some minutes they could be seen intertwined like serpents, with
frowning brows, haggard eyes, and set teeth; they writhed in a hundred
ways, and tried, to throw each other, but in vain. The panting breath
of both combatants could be heard escaping from their heaving chests
like a whistle. The perspiration poured down their faces, and a whitish
foam gathered at the corners of their mouths.

At length the Indian chief uttered a savage yell, and, collecting all
his strength in a supreme effort, threw Leon, who dragged him down with
him. Both rolled on the hardened snow. A long cry of joy burst from the
Indians, and a cry of despair from the Spaniards; and, as if they had
only expected this denouement to renew the combat, they rushed upon
each other with fresh strength.

In the midst of this dark forest, which was plunged into a sort of
demi-obscurity, these scenes had something awful and sinister. The
groans of the ladies, and the cries of agony from the men, who fell
before the bullets and the blade, echoed mournfully far and wide; add
to these lugubrious sounds the plaintive howling raised by the animals
at the sight of the fire which was devouring the rest of the baggage,
and the reader will have an idea of the sad picture which we are

In the meanwhile the Indian who had thrown Leon had set his knee on his
chest with ferocious delight, and was brandishing his knife; but all
was not yet over for Leon; by a movement rapid as thought he hurled
away his foe, who fell, letting his knife slip from his grasp. It was
now the Indian's turn to tremble. Leon seized him by the throat, and
throttled him by the pressure of his left hand, while in his right he
raised his machete to kill him.

"Die, scoundrel!" he shouted.

He had not finished the sentence when a blow from the butt end of a gun
fell on his head, and the smuggler captain fell senseless, while his
enemy was dragged away by the man who had thus saved him from a certain

When Leon recovered his senses, the Indians had disappeared; of his
twenty-five companions, ten still lived, while the others, scalped
and horribly mutilated, were stretched out on the ground. Don Pedro
Sallazar was stanching, as well as he could, a wound which he had
received in the chest; while General Soto-Mayor was on his knees, and
holding in his arms the body of his wife, who had been killed by a
bullet through the temples.

The old man looked at the wound with a lacklustre eye, and seemed to be
no longer conscious of what was going on around him; still the heavy
tears that coursed down his pallid cheeks fell one by one on the face
of the dead woman.

"And the young ladies?" Leon anxiously asked, as he rose with great
difficulty; "I do not see them."

"They have been carried off by the Indians," Don Pedro replied, in a
hollow, sullen voice.

"Oh!" said Leon, mad with despair, "I am accursed!"

And, overcome by grief, he fell as if stunned to the ground. At this
moment a horseman entered the clearing; it was Major Don Juan, the son
of General Soto-Mayor.



After the infernal dance performed by the Indians round the tree of
war, Tcharanguii, one of them, exhausted by fatigue, fell at the foot
of the tree, in order to rest, and whether voluntarily or through
excessive weariness, fell asleep. When he awoke, he found himself
alone; his comrades had abandoned the camp.

Without loss of time, he set off to join a party of his friends, whom
he knew had gone in the direction of the Cordilleras. He came up with
the caravan, as we described in a previous chapter, at the moment
when it was continuing its journey towards Valdivia, and the sudden
impression produced on him by the sight of the two young ladies aroused
in him an eager desire to seize them.

In all probability, the Indian had instantly followed the trail of the
travellers, and so soon as they had established their bivouac in the
wood, Tcharanguii had hastened off to warn his companions, exhorting
them not to lose the magnificent opportunity that presented itself of
massacring some thirty Spaniards--that is to say, deadly enemies.

As for the maidens, he had been very careful not to allude to
them, through fear of arousing in the others the feelings which he
experienced. Besides, it was far more simple that the rape should
become the result of the fight, than the fight the result of the rape.

The Indians greeted Tcharanguii's project with great demonstrations of
joy, and swore by common agreement the destruction of the caravan. We
have seen what the consequences of the attack on the travellers' camp
were for the Indians, who did not give up the struggle till they had
made numerous victims, and their chief Tcharanguii had seized Doña Inez
and Doña Maria de Soto-Mayor; that is to say, the Redskin had succeeded
in obtaining what he desired.

A thrill of extraordinary pleasure coursed through the Indian's
veins so soon as he had rendered it impossible for the two maidens
to escape, by himself escorting the horses on which he had compelled
them to mount. His eyes, sparkling with pleasure, turned from Maria to
Inez, and could not dwell with greater complacency on one than on the
other. He considered them both so lovely, that he was never weary of
contemplating them with the frenzied admiration that Indians feel at
the sight of Spanish women, whom they infinitely prefer to those of
their tribe.

Now, in drawing our readers' attention to this peculiarity, we must
add that, for their part, the Spaniards eagerly seek the good graces
of the Indian squaws, in whom they find irresistible attractions. Is
this one of the effects of a wise combination of Providence, desiring
to accomplish the fusion of the two races in a complete fashion? No one
knows; but what cannot be denied is, that there are few Spaniards in
South America who have not Indian blood in their veins.

On this subject we may perhaps be allowed to leave for a moment
the framework of this romance, in order to establish the enormous
difference which exists at the present time between the situation of
the aborigines of South America to the Spaniards, their conquerors, and
that of the North American Indians toward the Yankees, their masters.
It is a difference that is destined to weigh heavily in the balance of
the destinies of the New World.

The Spaniards who rushed upon South America sword and fire in hand, who
conquered those ill-fated countries amid the glare of arson and the
despairing shrieks of the unhappy inhabitants, whom they killed with
horrible sufferings, ended, however, though without suspecting it, in
gradually becoming blended with them, by contracting marriages with
Indian girls, while the natives chose squaws among the Spanish women.

Then, still following the incline down which they were gliding, they
eventually recognised the intelligence and political influence of the
various tribes they have conquered, but which they respect by dealing
and trafficking with them.

Let us now see what has been the conduct of the English in North
America. Disembarking on this portion of the New World, under the
guidance of William Penn, they purchased the territories which they
possess, and continually treated the Indians on equal terms, while
having always words of peace on their lips. They succeeded in this
way, and under the deceitful appearances of an entire good faith and
perfect loyalty, in gradually becoming aggrandized, though they were
not willing to regard the men whom they plundered as their equals, or
lower the pride of their race so far as to mingle their blood with that
of the Indians.

Even more. The English, impelled by that philanthropic spirit that
distinguishes them, and to which we have already had occasion to refer,
were too humane to shoot down the men whose wealth they coveted, and
found it far more simple to inoculate them with all the vices of old
Europe; above all, that of drunkenness, which brutalizes and decimates

What are the results of the opposite systems adopted by the two
nations? North America is losing its aborigines with frightful
rapidity, while South America, on the contrary, is covered with
innumerable Indian tribes.

After the organic law of the world, which wishes that the old and
exhausted blood of the ancient races should be renewed and regenerated
by a young and vigorous blood, it is easy to foresee that, in spite of
the present state of the great Republic of the United States, which
strives to invade everything, and behaves with that shorthanded system
peculiar to the English character, it is only a colossus with feet
of clay, which has not and cannot find in itself the necessary vital
strength to accomplish the task laid down for itself by this youthful
Republic, formed of heterogeneous elements which come into collision
and thwart each other at every step. Its blood, vitiated by a long
servitude in Europe, would require to be completely rejuvenated.

This bastard nation, without father or country, whose ancestors do not
exist, and which has a pretension to be regenerating, will suddenly and
eternally collapse, when, in its fury for possession, it has devoured
all the so-called Spanish republics on the seaboard, and dashes against
the wide chests of those men of bronze who are called the Moluchos.

In order to regenerate peoples, a nation must itself possess the
regenerating virtues; but it has been said for a long time, with great
truth, that the republicans of North America possessed all the vices of
the old world without one of its virtues. Besides, the puerile debates,
insensate utopias, and absurd follies of these honourable citizens gave
us, many years ago, the measure of their strength. The future will
decide the question and say whether we are deceived in the severe but
impartial judgment which we pass on them. But to return to Tcharanguii,
from whom this long digression has carried us away.

The young Indian chief, on getting possession of his two captives,
had at the outset the idea of conveying them among his tribe, and
afterwards decide which of the two he would select as his squaw; but
on reflecting upon the distance which separated the Cordillera from
the territory of the Jaos, and not wishing to confide such a precious
booty to the warriors who had fought with him, he resolved to get
ahead of his comrades, who were proceeding to the north, and conduct
General Soto-Mayor's two daughters to Schymi-Tou, the Sayotkatta of
Garakouaïti, who in his quality of High Priest of the Sun, would be
enabled to conceal them from all eyes up to the day when Tcharanguii
came to ask for an account of the deposit he had made with him.

It was, therefore, towards Garakouaïti that the ravisher was
proceeding. The two unhappy girls, violently separated from their
parents and friends, whom they never hoped to see again, had
fallen into a state of prostration which almost deprived them of a
consciousness of the frightful position in which the fatal issue of
the fight had placed them. Surrendered without defence to the will
of a savage, who might at any moment display the utmost violence
toward them, they had no human succour to await. They were, therefore,
compelled to leave their fate to God, and resign themselves in a
Christian spirit to the harsh trials which He inflicted on them.

Employing our privilege of narrator, we will precede the Indian chief,
and sketch the character of the country he had to pass through before
reaching the city which was his destination. We will at the same time
give a description which will enable the reader to form an idea of the
manners and customs of the inhabitants, while Tcharanguii is hurrying
to arrive, and displaying a certain respect to his prisoners, and
lavishing on them attentions which might seem surprising on the part of
a man like the formidable chief of the Jaos. What were the reasons that
induced Tcharanguii to act in this way?--we may probably know hereafter.

The Cordillera of the Andes, that immense backbone of the American
continent, which it traverses through its whole length from north to
south, has several peaks forming immense llanos on which tribes reside
at an elevation where in Europe all vegetation ceases.

After passing through the Parumo of San Juan Bautista and entering the
templada region, which extends for about sixty leagues, the traveller
finds himself in face of a virgin forest which is no less than eighty
leagues in depth, and some twenty odd in width.

The most practised pen is powerless to describe the unnumbered marvels
to be found in that inextricable vegetation called a virgin forest,
which is at once strange and fascinating, majestic, and imposing. The
most fanciful imagination recoils before this prodigious fecundity of
an elementary nature, which is necessarily born again from its own
destruction with every new strength and vigour.

Lianas running from tree to tree and from branch to branch, plunge
here and there into the soil to rise again further on skywards, and
form by crossing and interlacing an almost impassable barrier, as if
jealous Nature wished to conceal from profane eyes the secret mysteries
of these forests, in whose shadows the footsteps of men have only
echoed at rare intervals and never with impunity. Trees of all ages
and species grow without order or symmetry, as if they had been sown
haphazard like grains of wheat in a furrow. Some, slight and tall,
count but a few years, and the ends of their branches are covered by
the wide and grand foliage of others whose haughty crowns have seen
centuries pass.

Beneath the foliage sweetly murmur pure and limpid streams, which
escape from fissures in the rocks, and after a thousand windings are
lost in some lake or unknown river, whose free waters have as yet only
reflected on their calm mirror the arcana of the solitude. Here are
found, pell-mell and in a picturesque disorder, all the magnificent
products of tropical regions--the mahogany, the ebony, the satinwood,
the oak, the maple, the mimosa, with its silvery frondage, and the
tamarind, thrusting out in all directions its branches covered with
flowers, fruit, and leaves, which form a dome impenetrable by the

From the vast and unexplored depths of these forests issue at times
inexplicable sounds--ferocious howls, mocking cries, mingled with
shrill whistles, joyous strains full of harmony, or expressions of
fury, rage and terror from the formidable guests that people them.

After resolutely entering this chaos, and struggling hand to hand
with this untended and savage nature, the traveller succeeds, axe in
hand, in cutting step by step a path impossible of description. At one
moment he crawls like a reptile on the detritus of leaves, dead wood,
and birds' deposits, piled up for centuries; at another, he leaps from
branch to branch at the top of the trees, and travels, so to speak, in
the air.

But woe to the man who neglects to have his eye constantly open to
all that surrounds him, and his ear strained, for he has to fear, in
addition to the obstacles of the vegetation, the venomous bites of
snakes disturbed in their retreat, and the no less dangerous teeth
of ferocious animals. He must also carefully watch the course of the
rivers and streams which he comes across, and settle the position of
the sun by day, and guide himself at night by the Southern Cross; for
once lost in a virgin forest it is impossible to get out of it; it is
a labyrinth of which Ariadne's thread would be powerless to find the

At last when the traveller has succeeded in surmounting the dangers
we have described and a thousand others no less terrible which we
have passed over in silence, he finds himself in front of an Indian
city. That is to say, he is before one of those mysterious cities into
which no European has ever penetrated, whose exact position is ever
unknown, and which since the conquest have served as the refuge of the
Araucanian civilization.

The fabulous tales told by some travellers about the incalculable
riches contained in these cities have inflamed the greed and avarice
of a great number of adventurers, who, at various periods, have
attempted to find the lost road to these queens of the llanos and
Pampas of the Cordillera. Others merely impelled by the irresistible
attractions which extraordinary enterprises offer to, vagabond
imaginations, have also started, during the last fifty years, in search
of the Indian cities, but, up to the present day, success has not
crowned a single one of these expeditions.

Some of the travellers have returned disenchanted and half killed by
this journey toward the unknown; a certain number left their bodies at
the base of precipices or in the quebradas to serve as food for birds
of prey; and, lastly, others, more unhappy still, have disappeared
without leaving a trace, and no one has ever known what became of them.

We, in consequence of circumstances too lengthy to repeat here, but
which we may possibly narrate some day, have involuntarily inhabited
one of these impenetrable cities, and, more fortunate than our
predecessors, we succeeded in escaping through a thousand perils, all
miraculously avoided. The description we are about to give is therefore
scrupulously exact, and will not admit of doubt, since we speak from
personal knowledge.

Garakouaïti, the city which appears before us, when we have at last
crossed the virgin forest, extends from north to south in the form
of a rectangle. A wide stream, over which are thrown several stone
bridges of incredible lightness and elegance, passes through its entire
length. At each corner of the square an enormous block of rock, cut
perpendicularly on the side facing the country, serves as an almost
impregnable fortification. These four citadels are also connected
together by a wall, twenty feet thick at the top, and forty high,
which inside the town forms an incline whose base is sixty feet in
width. This wall is built of the bricks of the country, which are about
a yard long, and called adobes, and surrounds the town. A wide deep
ditch doubles the height of the walls.

Two gates alone offer entrance to the city: they are flanked
by turrets, exactly like a mediæval castle; and what supports
our comparison is, that an extremely narrow and light bridge of
planks, which can be removed upon the slightest alarm, is the sole
communication between the gate and the exterior.

The houses are low, and have terraced roofs connected with each other:
they are light, and built of reeds and canaverales covered with cement,
owing to the earthquakes so frequent in these countries; but they are
large, airy, and have numerous windows. They are all one storey high,
and their front is covered with a varnish of dazzling whiteness.

The narrow streets, which intersect each other at right angles,
converge upon an immense square, situated in the centre of the city,
and bearing the name of Ikarepantou (the square of the sun). It is
probable that it was in honour of the sun that the Indians designed
this square, whence all the streets of the city radiate, for it is
impossible to imagine a more correct representation of the planet which
they venerate, than this symmetrical arrangement.

Four magnificent palaces stand in the direction of the four cardinal
points, and on the western side is the great temple of Chemiin-Sona,
surrounded by an infinite number of carved gold and silver columns.
The appearance, of this building is most beautiful: it is reached by
a flight of twenty steps, each made of a single marble slab ten yards
long; the walls are excessively lofty, and the roof, like that of the
other buildings, is terraced, for the Indians, who are well versed
in the art of constructing subterranean vaults, are ignorant of the
formation of domes.

The interior of the temple is relatively most simple. Long pieces of
tapestry, worked with feathers of a thousand hues, and representing the
entire history of the Indian religion, cover the walls. In the centre
stands an isolated altar surmounted by a sun glistening with gold and
precious stones, and supported by the sacred tortoise. By an ingenious
artifice, the first beams of the rising sun fall on this splendid idol,
and make it flash with the most brilliant colours, so that it appears
to become animated, and really illumines all surrounding objects. In
front of this altar stands the sacrificing table, which resembles the
one we described when relating the ceremony which Leon Delbès witnessed
in the Indian camp. We will state at once that human sacrifices
are daily becoming rarer, and now only take place under entirely
exceptional circumstances. The victims are selected from persons
condemned to death, or prisoners of war.

At the end of the temple is a space closed by heavy curtains, to which
the public are refused admission. These curtains conceal the entrance
of a flight of steps leading to vast vaults that run underneath the
temple, and to which the priests alone have the right to descend. The
ground is covered with leaves and flowers, which are daily renewed.

On the south side of the square stands the Ulmen Faré, or Palace of the
Chief. It is merely a succession of reception rooms, in which everybody
has a right to appear, and of immense courtyards which serve for the
martial exercises of the nation. A separate building, to which visitors
are not admitted, is occupied by the chief's family, and the building
serves as an arsenal and contains all the weapons of the nations, from
Indian bows and arrows, sagaies, lances and shields, up to European
sabres, swords, and muskets, which the Indians, after fearing them so
greatly, have now learned to employ as well as ourselves, if not better.

On the same square is the famous Jouimion Faré, or Palace of the
Vestals, where the Virgins of the Sun live and die. No man, the high
priest excepted, is allowed to enter the interior of this building,
which is reserved for the maidens devoted to the sun: a terrible death
would immediately punish the daring man who attempted to transgress
this law.

The life of the Indian virgins has many points of resemblance with that
of the nuns who people European convents. They are immured, take an
oath of perpetual chastity, and pledge themselves never to speak to a
man, unless he be their father or brother, and in that case, are only
allowed to converse with him through a paling in the presence of a
third person, and must carefully hide their faces.

When they appear in public and are present at the religious festivals
in the temple, they are veiled from head to foot. A vestal convicted
of having allowed a man to see her face is condemned to death. In
the interior of their abode, they occupy themselves with feminine
tasks, and fervently perform the rites of their religion. The vows are
voluntary: a maiden cannot be admitted among the Virgins of the Sun
until the high priest has acquired the certainty that no one has forced
her to take this determination, and that she is really following her

Lastly, the fourth palace, situate on the east side of the square, is
the most splendid and at the same time most gloomy of all. It is the
Houdaskon Faré, or Palace of the Genii, and serves as the residence of
the Sayotkatta and piaies. It is impossible to express the mysterious,
sad, and cold air of this residence, whose windows are covered with a
trelliswork of osiers, so closely interwoven that it almost entirely
obstructs the light of day.

A gloomy silence perpetually prevails in this enclosure, but at times,
in the middle of the night, sleeping Indians are aroused in terror
by strange clamours, which seem to issue from the interior of the
Houdaskon Faré. What is the life of the men who inhabit it?--in what
do they pass their time? No one knows. Woe to the imprudent man who,
desirous of information on this point, might try to detect secrets of
which he ought to be ignorant.

If the vow of chastity is imposed on the vestals it does not exist
for the piaies; still few of these marry, and all abstain from any
ostensible connexion with the other sex. The novitiate of the priests
lasts ten years, and it is only at the expiration of that period, and
after undergoing numberless trials, that the novices assume the title
of piaies. Till then they can recall their determination, and embrace
another profession; but such cases are extremely rare. It is true that,
if they took advantage of the permission, they would be infallibly
assassinated by the priests, through a fear of a part of their secrets
being revealed to laymen. However, they are greatly respected by the
Indians, by whom they continue to make themselves loved; and we may say
that next to the Ulmen, the Sayotkatta is the most powerful man in the

Among peoples where religion is so formidable a lever, it is remarkable
that the spiritual and temporal powers never clash; each knows how
far his attributes extend, and follows the line traced for him
without trying to encroach on the rights of the other. Thanks to this
intelligent diplomacy, priests and chiefs work amicably together, and
double each other's strength.

Now that we have made our readers acquainted with Garakouaïti, let us
end this chapter by saying that Tcharanguii, according to his desires,
found in the Sayotkatta Schymi-Tou a complacent ally, who promised him
on his head to watch with scrupulous attention over the prisoners whom
he undertook to hold in trust.

It is as well to add that Tcharanguii told the Sayotkatta that they
were the daughters of one of the most powerful gentlemen in Chili, and
that, in order to force him to make common cause with the chief of the
Jaos, he had decided on taking one of them for his wife. And lastly, he
added, that a magnificent present would amply reward him for the watch
which he begged him to keep.



We left the unhappy relics of the caravan suffering from the impression
which the fatal result of their struggle with the Indians produced on
them. At the moment when young Don Juan made his appearance in the camp
a triple exclamation of joy, interest, and surprise greeted him.

"My son! my Juan!" the general exclaimed, sobs choking his voice.

"My dear colonel," said Don Pedro, "Heaven be praised that you are

"Ah!" muttered Leon, whom the arrival of the young man aroused from the
despondency into which the disappearance of the maidens had plunged

The colonel rushed weeping into his father's arms, who showed him the
body of his murdered wife.

"You arrive too late, my son! This is the work of the Indians."

"My mother!" the young man said, as he fell on his knees before the

"Yes, your mother! who died beneath their blows, while your sisters
have been torn from me for ever."

"What do you say, father?"

"The truth," Don Pedro remarked. "Your sisters have been carried off,
in spite of all the efforts we made to oppose it."

"Oh, father! father!" was all that Don Juan could answer, as he gave
the old gentleman a look of painful regret.

The old general's features were frightfully contracted by the crushing
grief that oppressed his heart as a husband and father, and yet,
overcoming it by the strength of his will, he seized his son's hand:

"Don Juan, thirty years of happiness have passed since the day when
the wife whom I lament for the first time laid her hand in mine, and
now Heaven has taken her from me again! Two children, whom I love
as I love you, Juan, were, with you, the fruits of that union, and
Heaven has allowed them to be torn from my side! Still, I bow before
His omnipotent will, because I am a Christian, and in the midst of my
profound affliction, you are left to me, my son, to punish the cowards
who attack women when they have men to face them. Don Juan, will you
avenge your mother and sisters?"

The spectacle offered by this scene was very painful. Old Don Juan,
bareheaded, was striving to appear calm, but the heavy tears that fell
on his grey moustache were a flagrant contradiction of the resignation
which he affected. Behind the old man's studied countenance could be
discerned an immense grief, which was betrayed by the very violence of
the stoicism which he displayed. Choked by sobs, the colonel remained
dumb to his father's exhortations.

"Have you understood what I demand of you?" Don Juan again said to his

"Yes, father," the latter at length replied. "Oh!" he added, "why was I
not here to defend them? but the scoundrels kept me back."

"Who did?" Don Pedro asked; "have you not come from Santiago?"

"No, general; and it was within an ace that I never saw the light of
day again."

"What has happened, then?"

"In the environs of Talca, while I was travelling post haste in the
hope of joining you on the road, I was made prisoner by an Indian
party, whose presence I was far from suspecting. My lancero was put to
death after one of their barbarous ceremonies, and I was preparing to
undergo the same fate, when this night I was suddenly set at liberty by
the order of an Indian chief of the name of Tahi-Mari, whom I did not

"Tahi-Mari!" the old general immediately interrupted him. "What! there
is still a man bearing that name, and you owe your liberty to him? Oh!
he must, in that case, be meditating some treachery, for a Tahi-Mari
would have killed you, in order to enjoy the sight of your agony."

"My father, calm yourself," Don Juan remarked.

"General," Leon said at length, who had paid great attention to the
young man's words, "whatever may be the motive which caused the man who
liberated the colonel to act so, we must take advantage of the help
which he is able to give us, in order to escape from the wood."

"My daughters! my daughters!" the old gentleman exclaimed, "must I then
give up all hope of seeing them again?"

"Oh!" said Don Pedro, "we must follow up the track of these accursed
Indians, or--no, we will hasten to Valdivia, and once arrived there, I
will organize an expedition."

"That is not the way to find them again," Leon remarked, anxiously.

"What do you mean?" Don Pedro asked.

"Nothing--except that you will lose your time in sending an army
against the Indians: the two Señoras are at this moment secure among
some tribe that will sedulously keep them at a distance from the spot
where your troops are fighting."

"In that case they are lost!" General Soto-Mayor exclaimed, wildly.

"Perhaps not," Leon answered, struck by a sudden inspiration.

"Oh, sir!" the old gentleman continued, "if you suspect the spot where
they are, speak--fix yourself the sum I am to pay you for such a
service, and I will pay it. Stay, sir; yesterday I was rich, powerful,
and honoured; today I am only a poor old man, whose heart is broken;
but I swear to you on my honour as a gentleman, that if you restore me
my daughters, I will love you as a son, and will bless you with tears
of joy and gratitude."

On seeing the old general so crushed by despair, Leon felt himself
moved by a pity and compassion which he did not attempt to check.

"I only ask your esteem, general, if I succeed."

"Speak, then, sir," Don Juan de Soto-Mayor and Don Pedro said
together; "do you really think that you can place us on the track of
the ravishers?"

A ray of hope had illumined the old man's heart on hearing Leon speak
in such a way as to suggest a possibility of finding the maidens again,
and he awaited with feverish anxiety the captain's answer, who kept
silence, and seemed plunged in deep reflection. Still, as Leon seemed
to be reflecting on the weight of the words which he was going to
utter, and whose meaning might cause those who listened to him either
an immense consolation or a bitter deception, neither of the two
gentlemen dared to interrupt him.

The fact was that Leon was asking himself whether he could undertake
the liberation of the maidens. He had but one resource, that of going
to find Tahi-Mari, and threatening to kill himself in his presence,
unless he restored to the father the daughters whom he was bewailing.

Assuredly, after the conversation which had caused the separation
between the captain and Diego, it was at least a bold step to think
of imploring the Inca's clemency again; but since the latter had
voluntarily broken the bonds which held young Don Juan captive, it
was but reasonable to assume that Diego was animated by a different
purpose. Perhaps he had renounced, if not his vengeance, still that
which he had selected in vowing the death of all the Soto-Mayors. And
then, again, if he thirsted for victims, had not the general's beloved
wife been killed by Indians under his orders?

Leon, while revolving all these arguments, did not doubt but that the
maidens were in the power of Tahi-Mari, and either that he considered
them sufficient to feel certain of entire success, or more probably
that the desire he had of saving Maria made him mentally smooth down
all difficulties, and he resolved to attempt the adventure with a firm
determination to die if he failed.

"I cannot put you on the track of the Indians who have carried off the
Señoras," he at length answered the generals; "but I pledge myself to
restore them to you."

"How?" Don Pedro Sallazar asked.

Don Juan contented himself with raising his hand to Heaven, and calling
down blessings on the young man.

"By starting alone in search of them," Leon said, "while the few men
left me continue to escort you to Valdivia."

"Alone! But why cannot we accompany you?" Don Pedro resumed, in whom
the feeling of distrust which he had already displayed to the captain
was again aroused.

"That is true," Don Juan said, in his turn. "Guide us to these
villains, since you know where to find them, and although I am old,
I will follow you with all the ardour of youth, for I feel within me
the strength to overcome all dangers for the sake of tearing my poor
children from the hands of these cowardly ravishers."

"Do you think, sir," said the young colonel, who had just kissed his
mother's icy forehead, "that we would leave to others the duty of
avenging us?"

"In that case, sir, it is impossible; your duty calls you, Don Pedro,
to Valdivia, and you would not have time to carry out the expedition
which I hope to bring to a successful result. You," the young man
continued, addressing General Soto-Mayor, "although your heart may
bleed at it, must give up all thought of accompanying me, for ere we
had reached the spot where I believe the Señoras to be, fatigue would
exhaust your strength, and you would find it impossible to follow me."

"But, sir--" the colonel remarked.

"Pray do not insist, sir," said Leon; "for once again I repeat that, if
you wish me to succeed, you must let me act as I think proper."

"What do you propose doing, Leon, that you are afraid of letting us be
witnesses of it?" Don Pedro observed haughtily.

"The same as I did when the Indians attacked us," the captain answered,
who felt anger flush his face on remarking the insolent expression
which the speaker's countenance had assumed--"risk my life in the
service of those to whom I have promised assistance and succour."


"Yes," Leon continued; "for the rude task I am about to undertake
demands utter self-denial; manhunting on the llanos and Pampas requires
more than courage, for cunning and craft are needed, and if I refuse
your help in this expedition, it is because your presence would impede
my progress. Alone, I am certain of joining Tahi-Mari, but with you we
should all be lost."

A feverish excitement had seized on the young man, who seemed most
anxious to efface the suspicions of which he was the object.

"I have lived among the Indians who attacked us, and know their strange
manners and customs. At this very moment, the forests are full of
invisible eyes that watch and spy us; if we advance in a body toward
the spot where they are, we may be certain of being all massacred.
Believe me, in order to enter their encampment, I must glide like
a snake through the lianas that grow in the forest. Such is the
reason, gentlemen, why I refuse to let you accompany me, for you are
ignorant of their infernal skill. And now I am at your disposal: if you
absolutely insist on following me, I am at your orders; but, in that
case, I answer for nothing, for we shall have every unfavourable chance
against us."

These few words, uttered with an accent of conviction and frankness
which could not be suspected, produced on the mind of the three men a
favourable impression; no further objection was raised, and Leon was
left at liberty to act as he pleased. Once the four gentlemen were
agreed on this point, they had to turn their attention to the burial of
the dead, and collecting the mules and horses, which the cries of the
Indians and the gleam of the flames had terrified and driven from the

All set to work: while Don Pedro gave orders to his lanceros to restore
a little order among the bales and other articles, Leon gave a signal
to two of his men, who began digging a grave at the foot of a pine tree
with their machetes. It was intended to receive the mortal remains of
the Señora Soto-Mayor. Another, somewhat larger, was dug a few paces
off in which to bury pell-mell the bodies of the Spaniards and Indians
killed during the fight. After this melancholy task was completed, Leon
went up to the Señora's corpse, and prepared to wrap it in a poncho
before laying it in the earth.

"No one must touch that body," old Don Juan exclaimed as he dashed upon
it with incredible speed, "for it is mine."

And, thrusting Leon away, he called his son, and both, their faces
inundated with tears, commenced the melancholy duty. The old man's
chest heaved under the pressure of the sobs which he tried in vain to
stifle. Long after the body had disappeared under the woollen poncho
that covered it, the general was unable to depart from the spot where
lay the remains of her who had been dearest to him in the world.

At length Leon made an effort, and breaking off the affecting scene,
he with the help of Don Pedro, raised the corpse, which he placed in
the grave in spite of the final convulsions of grief on the part of Don
Juan, who clung to the body from which he was unable to separate. Then
came the turn of the dead friends and foes who encumbered the ground.

A deep silence had presided over this mournful ceremony; two branches
of trees formed into a cross were placed over either tomb, and all was
ended. During this time Wilhelm the smuggler, whom we have already
introduced to the reader, and who had started with one of his comrades
in search of the mustangs and mules, returned to the camp, bringing
back the intelligent animals, which had come up of their own accord on
his signal.

All was soon ready for a start, but one thing still troubled Leon--the
difficulty of transporting the wounded. One of the smugglers had his
arm broken by a bullet, and was suffering atrocious pain; a lancero had
a contusion on the head, and two peons were wounded in the legs. The
fatigue of the journey might prove most injurious to them.

Don Pedro himself, in spite of the firmness he displayed, was suffering
severely from the gunshot wound in his chest; and although, thanks
to the medical knowledge of Leon, who, accustomed to see blood flow
in the frequent fights which he and his men carried on against the
custom-house officers, was enabled to dress a wound, each of the men
injured by the Indians had received the first necessary attention,
they could not venture to travel for any length of time without danger.

Still it was absolutely necessary to get out of the difficulty, and
after selecting the horses whose pace was the easiest, a sort of litter
made of thongs, skins, and ponchos was laid on their backs, and the
wounded were hoisted on them, with exhortations to remain patient till
they reached Valdivia, where they would find repose and attention.

Once these arrangements were made, Leon counted the hearty men left of
his comrades, and ordered three to escort the two generals and Colonel
Don Juan, along with Don Pedro's lanceros; then turning to the other
five, he said to them--

"My friends, I shall require you to second me in what I am going to
undertake; we are going to rescue from the Indians General Soto-Mayor's
two daughters."

"What are we to do?" the smugglers asked; "we are ready."

"Wilhelm," said Leon, addressing one of them, "and you, Harrison, will
come with me."

"Very good, captain."

"You others," he continued, pointing to the other men who were awaiting
his instructions, "will return at once to Valparaíso; the road is a
long one, but you must cover it with the greatest promptitude, and I
reckon on your punctuality."

"You can."

"In eight days we shall be at Valparaíso."

"Very good. So soon as you arrive, you will collect the band, and if
Crevel has at his disposal twenty resolute fellows, you will enrol
them, and I will give you the money for the purpose; but be very
careful only to take bold companions like yourselves, and wood rangers
accustomed to a life on the Pampas. You understand me?"

"Yes, captain," said Hernandez, a tall fellow, with a hangdog face and
of herculean stature, "you can feel perfectly assured."

"And where is the band to go?" his comrade Joaquin asked, as he twisted
his black moustache.

"You will return here at full speed."

"Very good, captain," Hernandez again said; "but are you going to
encamp here till we come?"

"No. Harrison alone will be here, and lead you to the spot which I
shall inform him of."

"All right."

Hernandez, Joaquin, and Enrique took leave of the party, and soon found
themselves on the road that led to Valparaíso, while the three men told
off to serve as an escort to the generals only awaited an order from
the latter to place themselves at their disposal.

All at once General Soto-Mayor addressed Leon, who was watching all
that went on.

"We are going," the old gentleman said, as he took a parting glance at
his wife's tomb; "and I bear with me the assurance which you have given
me that you will start at once in search of my daughters."

"You can reckon on it, general; all that it is humanly possible to do I
will do, and I hope to have succeeded within two months."

"May Heaven hear you! For my part, so soon as I arrive at Valdivia, I
will obtain, with the help of General Don Pedro, all the information
that may serve to discover the spot where they are; for I suspect that
the Indians are concentrated in the vicinity of that town, the capture
of which would be of such great utility to them."

"I told you, general, that I not only have the means to learn where
they are, but also to bring them back."

"But, in that case, and if Heaven permit you to find them, how shall I
be informed of it, and whither will you take them?"

"War is declared," Leon answered, "and possibly within a week the
communications with Valdivia will be interrupted. It would, therefore,
be the height of imprudence to try and join you in that town."

"That is true, great Heavens! But in that case what is to be done?"

"A very simple thing; so soon as I have succeeded in rescuing them
from the Indians, I will take them both to the convent of the Purísima
Concepción at Valparaíso."

"Yes, you are right; that is the best place for them."

"In two months, then, they will be there, or I shall be dead."

"Thanks," said the old gentleman, as he held out his hand to the young
man, who pressed it in his.

A quarter of an hour later, the little party was proceeding toward
Valdivia, and the only persons left in camp were Leon, Harrison,
Wilhelm, and Giacomo.



So soon as the party had quite disappeared in the forest, Leon turned
to his men, who were carelessly seated round the fire and smoking their

"Comrades," he said, "our expedition is about to change its course. We
have no longer to escort travellers, but must go manhunting."

"All the better," remarked Wilhelm, "I prefer that; it is a lazy trade
to act as guide to Spaniards."

"It is a trade which is sometimes dangerous, and our brave comrades who
sleep there," Leon said, pointing to one of the tombs, "are a proof of

"That is true," Giacomo remarked; "but no matter; it is better to die
while smuggling a few bottles of aguardiente under the very noses of
the officers."

"However that may be," the captain resumed, "they are dead, and they
were brave fellows. As for you, listen carefully to this;--While
I, Wilhelm, and Giacomo go into the mountains to seek Indian sign,
Harrison will remain here, and await the arrival of the band under
Joaquin's orders."

"The deuce!" Harrison exclaimed; "I would sooner go about the country
with you."

"Yes, but I require that a courageous and resolute man should remain at
the meeting place I have fixed, and I could not apply to a better one
than yourself."

Leon was acquainted with the character of his comrades, and could
always manage, by the clever employment of a bit of flattery, to make
himself obeyed not only punctually but enthusiastically. Harrison, on
hearing the homage rendered by the captain to his martial virtues,
drew up his head proudly, and manifested by a certain movement of the
muscles, how flattered he felt at the good opinion Leon had of him.

"And you have done well, captain," he replied, proudly.

"You must not stir from here. As we know not what road we shall have
to follow, we will leave you our horses, which you will take care of.
Build a hut; hunt; do all that you think proper, but remember that you
must not leave the Parumo of San Juan Bautista without my orders."

"That is settled, captain; and you can start when you please. You may
remain absent six months, and be certain of finding me here on your

Leon rose.

"Very good," he said; "I reckon on you."

Then he whistled to his mustang, which ran up at his call, and laid
its intelligent head on its master's shoulder to be petted. It was a
noble animal, of considerable height, with a small head, but its eyes
sparkled with animation, while its broad chest and fine nervous legs
denoted a blood horse.

Leon seized the lasso which hung from the horse's saddle, and knotted
it round his body; then, lightly tapping the croup of the animal, he
watched it retire. Wilhelm and Giacomo were provided with their weapons
and provisions, such as charqui, queso, and dried beans.

"Come let us be off," said Leon, as he laid his long rifle on his

"We are ready," the two men said.

"Good luck!" Harrison shouted to them, though unable to prevent a sigh
accompanying these words, which proved how vexed he was at not being
allowed to join them.

"Thanks!" his comrades replied.

On leaving the clearing they began marching in Indian file, that is to
say, one after the other, the second placing his feet exactly in the
footsteps of the first, and the third in those of the second. The last
one took the additional precaution of effacing as well as he could the
traces left by his predecessors. Harrison, after looking after them for
some time, sat down again by the fireside.

"No matter," he said, talking to himself. "I shall not have much fun
here, but what must be must."

And after this philosophic reflection he lit a cigarette, and began
quietly smoking, while eagerly following the wreaths which the smoke
produced, and inhaling its fragrance with the methodical phlegm of a
true Indian Sagamore.

In America, when a man is travelling through the Indian regions in war
time, and does not wish to be tracked by the Araucanos, he must go
North if he has business in the South, and vice versa, and behave like
a vessel which, when surprised by a contrary wind, is obliged to make
constant tacks, which gradually bring it to the desired point.

Leon Delbès was too well acquainted with the intelligence and skill of
the Indians not to act in the same way. Assuredly, his adoption by the
Araucanos, which the captain had received in the council of the chief
of the twelve Molucho tribes, rendered him sacred to the latter; but
not knowing what Indian party he might fall in with, he judged it more
prudent to avoid any encounter. Moreover, he had fought the men who had
attacked the caravan, and it would have been ill grace to claim the
benefit of his adoption after the active part which he had taken in the
struggle. Hence he had a twofold reason to act on the defensive, and
only advance with the most extreme prudence.

Fenimore Cooper, the immortal historian of the Indians of North
America, has initiated us in his excellent works into the tricks
employed by the Mohicans and Hurons, when they wish to foil the search
of their enemies; but without offence to those persons who have so
greatly admired the sagacity of young Uncas, that magnificent type of
the Delaware nation, of which he was the last hero, the Indians of the
North are mere children when compared with the Moluchos, who may be
regarded as their masters in every respect.

The reason for this is very simple and easy to understand. The Northern
tribes never really existed as a political power; each of them exercise
a separate government; the Indians composing them rarely intermarry
with their neighbours, and constantly lead a nomadic life. Hence
they have never possessed more than the instincts, highly developed
we allow, of men who incessantly inhabit the woods,--that is to say,
a marvellous agility, a great fineness of hearing, and a miraculous
length of sight, qualities, however, which are found to the same extent
among the Arabs, and generally with all wandering nations, no matter
what corner of the earth they dwell in. As for artfulness and craft,
they learned these from the wild beasts, and merely imitated them.

The South American Indians join to these advantages the remains of an
advanced civilization--a civilization which, since the conquest, has
sought a refuge in inaccessible lurking places, but for all that does
not the less exist. The tribes or families regard themselves as parts
of the same whole--the nation.

Now the aborigines, continually on terms of hostility with the
Spaniards, have felt the necessity of doubling their strength in order
to triumph, and their descendants have gradually modified whatever
might be injurious in their manners, to appropriate those of their
oppressors, and fight them with their own weapons. They have carried
these tactics--which, by the way, have saved them from the yoke up to
the present day--so far that they are thorough masters in roguery and
trickery; their ideas have been enlarged, their intellect is developed,
and they have succeeded in surpassing their enemies in astuteness and
diplomacy, if we may be allowed to employ that expression.

This is so true, that not only have the Spaniards been unable to
subjugate them during the past three hundred years, but have been
actually obliged to pay them, with more or less goodwill, an annual
tribute. Can we really regard as savages these men who, formerly driven
back by their terror of firearms and dogs--animals of whose existence
they were ignorant--to the heart of the Cordilleras, have defended
their territory inch by inch, and in some regions have reconquered a
portion of their native soil?

We know better than anybody that savages exist in America--savages in
the full meaning of the term; but these are daily disappearing from the
surface of the globe, as they have neither the necessary intellect to
understand nor the energy to defend themselves. These are the Indians
who, before being subjected to the Spaniards, were so to the Mexicans
or Moluchos, owing to their intellectual organization, which scarce
raises them above the brute.

These tribes which are but exceptions in the species, must not be
confounded, then, with the great Molucho nations of which we are
speaking, and whose manners we are describing--manners which are
necessarily being modified; for, in spite of the efforts they make to
escape from it, the European civilization, which they despise more
through hereditary hatred of their conquerors than for any other
motive, crushes and invades them on all sides.

Within a hundred years of this time the emancipated Indians, who smile
with pity at the paltry struggles carried on by the phantom republics
that surround them, will take their place in the world again and carry
their heads high. And this will be just, for they are heroic men with
richly endowed characters, and capable of undertaking and successfully
carrying out great things. We will quote in support of this statement
one fact which will speak better than words:--The best history of South
America which has been published in Spanish up to this day was written
by an Inca. Is not this conclusive?

Let us return to Leon and his two comrades Wilhelm and Giacomo. They
were three determined men. Our readers know Leon, so we will say no
more of him; but we will sketch in a few outlines the appearance of
Wilhelm and his comrade Giacomo. These worthy gentlemen, who were bound
together by a hearty friendship, formed the most singular contrast

Giacomo, a native of Naples, whence he escaped one morning under the
excuse that the house he lived in was too near Vesuvius, but in reality
on account of the visits paid him repeatedly by the sbirri, whom he
was not particularly anxious to see, was the real type of a lazzarone,
careless, slothful, thievish, and yet capable of extraordinary bravery,
and bursts of energy and devotion. Well built, with an intelligent and
crafty face, and endowed with far from common muscular strength, he
seemed to be born for the smuggler's trade.

Wilhelm, on the contrary, was one of those cold and systematic Germans
who do nothing save by weights and measures. Only speaking when he was
compelled, he seemed ever to be dreaming though he thought of nothing,
and concealed, under an apparent simplicity and proverbial phlegm, an
excellent disposition, and a certain amount of intelligence. He was
tall, smoke-dried, thin, and angular, and his flat face, disfigured
by the smallpox, was rendered still uglier by gimlet eyes deep set in
their orbits.

His hair, of a flaxen hue, fell in flat curls on his enormous ears,
and gave him one of those countenances which provoke hilarity. His
magnificent teeth, however, and a mouth which had a remarkably clever
expression, formed a happy diversion with the grotesqueness of his
features. He had been a member of the Cuadrilla for two years, and had
entered it, as he said, in consequence of a violent love disappointment.

On leaving the clearing, the three smugglers took the road to Talca,
which they followed the whole day; at nightfall they encamped in the
neighbourhood, and then next morning, after a hasty breakfast on a
piece of queso saturated with pimento, they went down to the bottom
of the quebrada, by clinging with hands and feet to the asperities of
the ground. Here they found themselves in a species of canyon, and
were obliged to march on the bed of a half-dried torrent, where their
footsteps left no imprint.

After two days' journeying which offered no incident worthy of mention,
our adventurers reached the beginning of the llanos of the templada
region, situated on the other watershed of the Cordilleras, which they
had just crossed.

The verdure came back, and the heat began to be felt again. Our men
were perfectly revived by this gentle and balmy atmosphere, the azure
sky and dazzling sun, which took the place of the grey sullen sky of
the Cordilleras, and the narrow horizon covered by mist and fog. On the
third day Leon perceived in the distance the green crest of a forest,
toward which he had directed his march, and gave vent to a cry of

"Courage, my friends," he said to his comrades, "we shall soon have
the shadow and freshness which we want for here."

"In truth, captain, I confess that I should infinitely prefer the
slightest tree, provided that its branches afforded us means to rest
for a moment in their shadow, to a forced march with this great rogue
of a sun who burns our bones."

It was Giacomo who spoke; the poor lad seemed to be troubled by the
heat, and could scarce succeed in mopping up the perspiration which
poured down his face. It was midday, the time for the siesta, and the
ex-lazzarone, who every day of his life never failed to sacrifice an
hour to this pleasant habit, said to himself with reason, that it was
more than ever advisable to enjoy it now, because, in addition to the
hour which invited them, they were also strongly impelled by the ardent
heat which they could not guard against, and their fatigue.

"And where the deuce do you mean to take your siesta?" Leon asked.
"Don't you see, on the contrary, that we must push on in order to gain
some shelter?"

"Alas!" said Giacomo. And patiently enduring his woes, the smuggler
continued his march without uttering a word.

"Hallo!" Wilhelm suddenly exclaimed, as he stooped down, "what is this?"

And rising, he showed Leon a small gold cross hanging from a narrow
velvet ribbon.

"Maria's cross!" Leon exclaimed; "yes, I recognise it! We are on the
traces of the ravishers!"

"In that case," said Wilhelm, "we must move ahead."

Leon kissed the precious relic, and carefully hid it in his bosom.

"My lads, we must now learn where the Moluchos have sought refuge; we
are on the right track, and the forest which we perceive ahead of us
serves as a retreat for some tribe, I imagine."

Then examining with scrupulous attention the ground they trod on, they
continued to advance, seeking, but in vain, signs corroborating that of
the cross which they had found. At the end of two hours they at length
reached a spot suitable for a halt. Four magnificent royal palms, whose
branches were intertwined and formed a dome of foliage, appeared a
smiling oasis on this denuded prairie, which was burnt up by the beams
of a fiery sun.

Wilhelm and Giacomo fell asleep, but Leon remained awake, and while
inhaling the smoke of his papelito, sought to determine the direction
in which the Indians had proceeded. Suddenly a fresh idea germinated in
his brain. He remembered that, on several occasions, when conversing
with Diego, the latter had spoken of an Indian town which the Araucanos
regarded as sacred, and which no European could enter. This town was
called Garakouaïti, and was about sixty leagues from the Parumo of San
Juan Bautista, hidden in a virgin forest.

It was there, Diego had also told him, that the Moluchos hid all their
most precious articles, as they felt sure that no one would come to
find them. A secret presentiment made Leon suppose that the Indians,
after carrying off the two young ladies, must have conveyed them to
Garakouaïti as an inaccessible spot.

It was to that city, then, that he must proceed. But he remembered
that, as the entrance to the city was interdicted to Europeans, he
could not hope to obtain admission, and he sought for an excuse for
introducing himself by imagining some stratagem. As the advice of his
companions might be useful to him, he woke them, and consulted as to
the way he should contrive to enter Garakouaïti, supposing that he
discovered that city.

The means were not so easy to find, and as the most pressing thing
at present was to march toward the city, the three smugglers set out
again, while reflecting on the plan of conduct which they should
follow. All the rest of the day was passed in this way, and night
surprised them on the banks of a rather wide stream, whose proximity
the branches had hidden from them, though they had heard the murmurs of
its waters for some time past.

As it was quite dark, Leon resolved to wait till the morrow, to look
for a ford by which to cross it. They therefore halted, but through
prudence lit no fire, and the three men were soon lying on the ground,
wrapped in their ponchos. The moon was descending on the horizon, the
stars were glistening in the heavens, and Leon, whose eyes were closed
by fatigue, was on the point of falling asleep, when a strange and
unexpected sound made him start. He listened. A slight tremor agitated
the leaves bordering the stream, whose calm waters looked like a long
silver ribbon. There was not a breath of wind in the air. Leon nudged
his comrades, who opened their eyes.

"The Indians!" the captain whispered to them. "Silence."

Then, crawling on his hands and knees, he went down the bank and
entered the water. He looked round him and saw nothing; all was calm,
and he waited with fixed eye and expanded ear. Half an hour passed
thus, and the sound which had attracted his attention was not repeated.
It was in vain that he tried to pierce the obscurity; the night was so
dark, that at ten yards off he could distinguish nothing; and though he
listened attentively, no sound troubled the silence of the night.

Plunged as he was up to the waist in the water, an icy coldness
gradually spread over his whole body. At length, feeling worn out and
fancying himself mistaken, he was preparing to remount the bank, when,
just at the moment when he was about to beat a retreat, a hard log
slightly grazed his chest.

He looked down and instinctively thrust out his hand. It was the
gunwale of a canoe, which was gliding noiselessly through the reeds,
which it parted in its passage. This canoe, like nearly all Indian
vessels, was simply the stem of a tree hollowed out by the help of
fire. Leon regarded this mysterious canoe, which seemed to be advancing
without the help of any human being, and rather drifting with the
current, than being guided in a straight line. Still, what astonished
him was, that it went straight on without any oscillation. Evidently
some invisible being, an Indian probably, was directing it; but where
was he stationed, and was he alone? These facts it was impossible to

The captain's anxiety was extreme; he dared not make the slightest
movement through fear of being surprised, and yet the canoe was still
there. Desirous, however, of knowing how matters really stood, Leon
softly drew his knife from his boot, and, holding his breath, crouched
down in the river, only leaving his face above water.

All at once he gave a start; he had seen flashing in the dark, like two
live coals, the eyes of a savage, who, swimming behind the canoe, was
pushing it forward with his arm. The Indian held his head above water,
and was looking about him inquiringly.

Suddenly Leon, on whom the eyes had first been fixed, leaped forward
with the activity of a panther, seized the Indian by the throat, and
before he was able to defend himself or utter a cry of alarm, plunged
his knife into his heart.

The Indian's face became black; his eyes were enormously dilated; he
beat the water with his legs and arms, then his limbs stiffened and
he sank, carried away by the current, and leaving behind him a slight
reddish track. He was dead.

Leon, without the loss of a moment, got into the canoe, and holding by
the reeds, looked in the direction where he had left his comrades. Both
had followed him, bringing with them the rifle which Leon had laid on
the ground, and which they were careful to keep above water, as well as
their own.

Then the three men, making as little noise as possible, disengaged the
canoe from the reeds which had barred its progress, and lay down in the
bottom, after placing it in mid-stream, and making it feel the current.
They went on thus for some time, believing themselves already safe from
the invisible enemies who surrounded them, when all at once a terrible
clamour broke out, and awoke the echoes.



The body of the Indian killed by Leon had followed for some minutes
the course of the river, then had become entangled in the reeds, and
eventually stopped exactly in the centre of the Indian camp, in whose
proximity Leon and his comrades halted that night without suspecting it.

At the sight of their brother's corpse, the redskins had uttered the
formidable yell which the smugglers heard, and rushed tumultuously to
the bank, pointing to the canoe. Leon seized the paddles, which were in
the boat, and, aided by Wilhelm, was soon out of reach.

The disconcerted Indians, who did not know with whom they had to
deal, gesticulated and bespattered the fugitives with all the insults
which the Indian language could supply them with, calling them dogs,
asses, ducks, and other epithets borrowed from the nomenclature of the
animals which they hate and despise. Leon troubled himself but little
about their insults, and continued to paddle, which re-established the
circulation of the blood, which the cold had interrupted.

A few bullets, meant for the fugitives, were sent after them, but they
merely dashed up the water.

The night passed thus: the smugglers paddled eagerly, for they had
noticed that the stream, owing to repeated windings, was sensibly
approaching the forest which was their destination. Still, having
nothing more to fear from their enemies, they drew in the paddles for
a few minutes' rest, and each feeling in his alforjas, drew out some
provisions, which he hurriedly devoured. As day had arrived, there was
no harm in their letting the canoe drift for awhile, though they kept a
sharp lookout.

Leon and Giacomo had lit their cigarettes, and Wilhelm his magnificent
porcelain pipe, from which he never separated, when the latter, who was
beginning to inhale with gentle satisfaction the enormous jets of smoke
which he drew from the stem, let his pipe fall in the bottom of the
canoe, while exclaiming with an expression of terror and surprise--

"Der Teufel!"

"What is it?" Leon at once said, who understood that Wilhelm had seen
something extraordinary.

"Look!" the German replied, as he stretched out his arm in the
direction whence they had come.

"Sacrebleu!" Leon shouted; "two canoes in pursuit of us! We must look

"Sangre de Cristo!" Giacomo said, with a start which nearly upset the

"What now?" Leon asked.


"A thousand fiends!" Leon exclaimed, "we are surrounded!"

Two canoes were really coming up rapidly behind the smugglers, while
two others, which had started from the opposite banks, were arriving
with the manifest intention of barring their passage and cutting off
their retreat.

"These gentlemen," said Giacomo, "wish to make us dance a funny
sambacueca; what do you say to it, captain?"

"We will pay for their music, my fine fellows. In the meanwhile, paddle
firmly, and look out for the attack."

And seizing the paddles again, Wilhelm and Giacomo gave such an impulse
to the canoe that it seemed to fly through the water. Leon, who was
standing up, was calculating the chances of the encounter. He was not
afraid of the boats that were following them, for they were still at
too great a distance to hope to catch him, but all his anxiety was
directed to those coming toward them, and between which they must
infallibly pass. Each paddle stroke brought them nearer to the hostile
canoes, which seemed overloaded with men, and to move with considerable

Leon formed a bold resolution, the only one that could save him and
his. Instead of trying to pass between the canoes, in which he ran a
risk of being sunk, he kept to the left, and advanced in a straight
line on the canoe nearest to him.

On seeing this manoeuvre, the Indians broke out in shouts of joy and
triumph. The smugglers made no reply, but continued to advance. A smile
played round Leon's lips. As he steered the canoe toward the Indians,
he noticed that the left bank of the stream formed an inlet, behind an
island, which, though very near the land, left a passage sufficiently
wide for his boat, which thus would avoid a detour, and at the same
time gain ground on their pursuers. The great thing was, to reach the
point of the island before the Indians in the first canoe.

The latter, who suspected their enemy's intentions, had changed their
tactics, and, instead of coming up to meet the Europeans, tacked and
paddled actively for the island. Leon understood that he must delay
their progress at all risks.

Not a shot had as yet been fired on either side; the redskins felt
themselves so sure of seizing the smugglers that they had thought it
unnecessary, to proceed to such extremities, while the smugglers, who
felt the need of saving their powder in a hostile country, where it
would be impossible for them to renew their stock, had imitated their
prudence, however desirous they might feel to attack.

The Indian canoe was only fifty yards from the island, when Leon
stooped down to his comrades and whispered a few words. The latter
shipped their paddies, and seizing their rifles, knelt down, and rested
the barrels on the gunwale of the canoe, after driving home a second
bullet. Leon had done the same.

"Are you ready?" he asked a moment after.

"Yes," the two men replied.

"Fire, then, and aim low."

The three discharges were blended in one. We have said that the two
canoes were excessively close.

"Now to your paddles--quick!" the captain said.

Four arms seized them, and the light canoe recommenced its rapid
course. Leon alone reloaded his rifle and knelt down in readiness to
fire. The effect of the firing was soon visible; the three bullets,
striking at the same spot, had formed an enormous breach in the side of
the canoe, just at the line of floatation.

Cries of terror were raised by the Indians, who leaped into the water
one after the other, and swam in different directions. As for the
canoe, left to itself, it drifted for a little while, gradually filled,
and sank. Fancying themselves freed from their enemies, the smugglers
relaxed their efforts; but all at once Wilhelm raised his paddle, while
Leon seized his rifle by the barrel.

Two Indians, with athletic limbs and savage looks, were trying to catch
hold of the canoe and upset it, but they soon fell back with cloven
skulls and drifted down the stream. A few moments later the smugglers
reached the passage. The Indians who had left the water pursued them by
running along the bank, and threw stones at them, as they were unable
to use their muskets, which had been wetted by the plunge into the

Leon again recommended his men to redouble their vigour, in order to
escape as soon as possible from the enormous projectiles which fell
around the canoe from every tuft of grass; for the Indians, according
to their habit, were careful not to show themselves in the open through
fear of bullets.

The captain saw, a few paces from him, a thicket of aquatic plants
shaking, so he aimed at it and fired on the chance. A terrible yell
burst from the tangled mass of canaverales and lianas, and an Indian
rushed forth to seek shelter behind the tree that grew on the bank.
Leon, who had reloaded his piece in all haste, pointed it in the
direction of the fugitive, but raised it again directly. The man had
just fallen, and was writhing in the last convulsions of death.

Several redskins rushed upon him, carried him away and disappeared.
A suddenly calm and extraordinary tranquillity succeeded the extreme
agitation and cries which had aroused the echoes a few minutes before.

"There!" said Leon as he laid the gun in the bottom of the boat, and
seizing a pair of paddles to help Giacomo--"they have enough; now that
they know the range of my rifle, they will leave us at peace."

In fact, the Indians gave no further sign of life; but this must not
surprise the reader. The redskins are accustomed never to expose
themselves unnecessarily. With them success alone can justify their
actions, and when they do not consider themselves the stronger, they
give up with the greatest facility any plans which they have formed,
for the most inveterate pursuit.

At this moment the smugglers doubled the point of the island. The
second canoe was already far behind them; as for those which they had
first perceived, they were mere specks on the horizon. When the Indians
in the second canoe perceived that the smugglers were escaping from
them, and had got ahead of them, they gave a general discharge which
wounded nobody, and turned back to join their companions on land.

Leon and his men were saved. After paddling for about an hour in order
to put a great distance between themselves and their enemies, they
took a moment's rest to recover from this warm alarm, and wash the
contusions which they had received, for some of the stones had struck
them. In the heat of the action they had not noticed this, but now that
the danger was passed, they began to feel them.

The forest, which in the morning had been so distant from them, was now
excessively close, and they had hopes of reaching it before night. They
therefore took up the paddles again with fresh ardour and continued
their route. At sunset the canoe disappeared beneath the immense dome
of foliage of the virgin forest which the stream intersected obliquely.

At nightfall the yells of wild beasts were heard hoarsely in the depths
of the forest. Leon did not consider it prudent to venture at this hour
into unknown regions, which contained dangers of every description.
Consequently after tacking about for some time, the captain gave orders
to pull for a rocky point which jutted out into the water, and which
they could approach without any difficulty. After they had landed, Leon
walked round the rock in order to reconnoitre the neighbourhood, and
find out in what part of the forest they were.

Chance served him better than he could have hoped for. After parting
with great difficulty and extraordinary precautions the creepers and
shrubs which obstructed his progress, he suddenly found himself at the
entrance of a natural grotto formed by one of the volcanic convulsions
so frequent in these regions.

On seeing this he stopped, and lopping with his machete a branch of the
resinous tree, which the Indians call the candle tree, and which grows
profusely in that part of America, he struck a light, lit the torch,
and then boldly entered the grotto, followed by Wilhelm and Giacomo.
The smuggler's sudden appearance startled a swarm of night birds and
bats, which began flying heavily in all directions and attempting to

Leon continued his march without troubling himself about these gloomy
denizens, whose sports he so unexpectedly interrupted. All at once
a hoarse and prolonged growl was audible in a remote corner of the
grotto. The three men remained nailed to the ground. They found
themselves face to face with a magnificent bear, of which the cavern
was doubtless the usual abode, and which, standing on its hind legs
with widely-opened mouth, showed the troublesome visitors, who had
disturbed it in its retreat, a tongue red as blood, and glistening
claws of a remarkable length. Its round and staring eyes were fixed on
the smugglers in a way that caused them to reflect. Luckily the latter
were not the men to let themselves be intimidated for long.

"There's a fellow who seems inclined to sup with us," said Giacomo,
looking at the animal.

"Silence! My piece will make us, on the contrary, sup with him. Here,
Giacomo, take my torch, lad."

"Take care, captain," the latter observed. "A shot fired at this spot
will make a frightful din, and bring a band of red devils on our back."

"You are right, by Heaven!" the captain replied; "We must run no risk."

Then, laying his rifle along the side of the grotto, he undid the lasso
which he rolled round his body.

"Get behind me," he said to his comrades, "and be in readiness to help

Then, after carefully preparing the lasso, he whirled it round his
head, while whistling in a peculiar manner. At this unexpected
apparition the bear shambled two or three paces toward him, and
that was its ruin. The running knot fell on its shoulders, and the
three smugglers, laying hold of the end of the lasso, began running
backwards, while pulling with all their strength.

The poor animal thus strangled and putting out a tongue of a foot long,
tottered about, while trying in vain to free itself with its heavy paws
from the necklace which squeezed its throat. The smugglers did not
relax their efforts till the bear had heaved its last sigh.

"Now," said Leon, when he was certain that the bear was really dead,
"for the canoe."

The three men returned to the boat, drew it out of the water, and
taking it on their shoulders, carried it to the end of the grotto.
Then, with a patience of which Indians and wood rangers are alone
capable, they effaced every trace which might have led to a discovery
of their landing, and the retreat which they had chosen. The smallest
bent blade of grass was straightened; the lianas and shrubs which they
had parted were brought together again, and after this operation was
completed, no one could have suspected that human beings had passed
that way. After this, making an ample provision of dead wood and
torches, they re-entered the grotto with the manifest intention of at
length taking the rest which they so greatly needed.

All this had required time; hence, so soon as they were free from
anxiety, Giacomo, who was a mighty hunter, began flaying the bear,
while Wilhelm lit a colossal fire. The queso and charque remained in
the alforjas, thanks to the succulent steaks which Giacomo adroitly cut
off the animal, and which, being roasted on the embers, procured them a
delicious supper.

When quite satisfied, the three men crowned this feast with a few
drops of rum which Leon had about him, and after smoking for some ten
minutes, they wrapped themselves in their ponchos, with their feet to
the fire and their hands on their weapons. Nothing disturbed their
rest, which lasted till long after the first sunbeams had purpled the
horizon, and it was Leon who awoke his comrades.

"Up!" he shouted to them, "the sun has risen and we must think of

"Ah!" said Wilhelm, as he rubbed his eyes, "what a pity! I was dreaming
that we were carrying a cargo of pisco past the custom-house officers,
who presented arms to us."

"I was not dreaming," said Giacomo, "but I was having a glorious

In a minute he was on his legs, while Leon was reflecting on his best

"Giacomo," he said to the Italian, who was making arrangements for
a start, "we have arrived at the spot where our search will really
begin. It is impossible for all three of us to dream of entering the
city, which must be in the heart of this forest. On the other hand, I
may have occasion to require men here in whom I can trust; you will
therefore go back to the Parumo of San Juan Bautista. So soon as the
band arrives you will take the command and lead it to the spot where we
now are."

"What! I am to leave you!"

"It must be. Take careful note of the road we have followed, so as to
make no mistake."

"All right, captain."

"However, when you return with our comrades, you will try to find a
shorter and more direct route."

"Yes, captain."

"This grotto is large enough to shelter you all; you will remain in it
with your horses, and not quit it, save on an order from me--you hear?"

"And understand--all right."

"One last recommendation. I have told you that it was important for the
success of the enterprise I am undertaking that I should find all my
men here in case of need. Remember, then, that I expressly forbid you
letting yourselves be trapped by the Redskins, and you must show them
that they are but asses when compared with a clever smuggler."

"We will prove it to them, captain, and I will take it on myself."

"In that case, you will set out directly, while we proceed through this
forest, which seems the most entangled that I ever saw."

"One moment--hang it!" Wilhelm exclaimed; "do you not see, captain,
that breakfast is ready?"

In fact, Wilhelm, as a man who did not care to run after adventures on
an empty stomach, had blown up the fire smouldering in the ashes, and
roasted some superb slices of bear meat.

"Wilhelm, you are growing greedy," said Leon, affecting a tone of

"Captain, when a man has his stomach full he can march a long distance
without feeling fatigued," the German answered sententiously; "besides,
the morning air sharpens the appetite."

"Very good, then, but we must make haste," Leon resumed, amazed at this
long sentence.

"There, captain, it is first-rate."

Wilhelm had spoken the truth in asserting that the morning air
sharpened the appetite, for, in spite of the toughness of the meat
which composed the staple of their meal, it was disposed of in a
twinkling, which leads to the supposition that the idea which the
German had was not inopportune.

"Giacomo," Leon said again, "Wilhelm and I have provisions enough for a
few days, and the forest will not let us want for game, if we require
it; so you had better take the rest of the bear with you."

"Thanks, captain. At my first halt I will cut up all the best meat

"Take it while we put the canoe in the water."

The three men then left the grotto, though not till they had looked
all around to see whether any danger existed for them. Giacomo had
thrown the bear's hide over his shoulders, and walked in front, Leon
and Wilhelm following, and bearing on their shoulders the canoe, in the
bottom of which they had deposited the remaining bear meat. The skiff
was soon balancing lightly on the water; Giacomo leaped in, seized the
paddles and went off.

"Good-bye, captain--good-bye, Wilhelm, till we meet again," he said for
the last time.

"Good-bye and good luck," the latter replied, and the smuggler
proceeded in the direction of the Parumo of San Juan Bautista. Leon
looked after him for a moment, and then addressed Wilhelm, who was
awaiting his orders.

"My friend," he said to him, "I fear that we may have many difficulties
to face if we cross the forest together. Suppose I left you in the
grotto to await Giacomo's return? Once I have arrived at Garakouaïti, I
could easily find means to warn you."

"What are you thinking of, captain? Suppose you were to be taken
prisoner, or wounded, in that case there would be no chance of helping
you if you were alone. At any rate, if anything happen on the road
while we are travelling together, I will return at full speed to warn
my comrades."

"Still, you will be forced to leave me after we have crossed the
forest; for, as I told you, admission to the city is interdicted to
all those who are not Indians, and the means which I imagine I have
discovered to enter can only be used by myself."

"Well, then, captain, let me accompany you to the vicinity of the city,
and then I will turn back."

"Very good; that is settled."

The two men re-entered the grotto, fetched their travelling utensils,
and came out again, rifle on shoulders, and axe in hand. They then
buried themselves in the virgin forest which lay expanded before them.



Tcharanguii, the chief of the Jaos, had rejoined his warriors, after
entrusting Inez and Maria de Soto-Mayor to the care of the Sayotkatta
of Garakouaïti. Immediately after he had departed, the young ladies
were imprisoned in the Jouimion Faré, inhabited by the Virgins of the

Although prisoners, they were treated with the greatest respect,
according to the orders which Tcharanguii had given, and might perhaps
have endured the weariness of their captivity with patience, had not
a profound anxiety as to the fate reserved for them and an invincible
sadness resulting from their brutal separation from those whom they
loved, and the terrible circumstances under which they had left them,
seized upon them.

It was then that the difference of character in the two sisters was
displayed. Inez, accustomed to the eager attentions of the brilliant
gentlemen who frequented her father's house, and to the enjoyment
of the slothful and luxurious life which is that of all rich Spanish
families, suffered on finding herself deprived of the delights and
caresses by which her childhood had been surrounded, and, being
incapable to resist the grief that devoured her, she fell into a state
of discouragement and torpor, which she made no attempt to combat.

Maria, on the contrary, who found in her present condition but little
change from her novitiate, while deploring the blow that struck her,
endured it with courage and resignation. Her powerful mind accepted the
misfortune as a chastisement for the fervent affection which she had
devoted to Leon; but, confiding in the purity of that love, she had
drawn from it the hope that she would one day emerge from the trial by
the help of the man whom she loved, and who had rendered her aid and

When the two sisters conversed together about the probabilities of
deliverance, Inez trusted to the power of her father's name and
fortune, while Maria contented herself with confiding in the bravery
and intrepidity of the young smuggler chief who had escorted them up
to the moment when they were carried off by the Indians. Inez did not
understand what relations could exist between this captain and the
future, and cross-questioned Maria; but the latter either did not
answer the question or evaded it.

"In truth, sister," Inez said to her, "you incessantly speak about
Captain Leon. Do you think then, that our father, Don Juan, and Don
Pedro, who loves me and is going to marry me, cannot succeed without
Leon in delivering us from the hands of the wicked Redskins who keep us
prisoners here?"

"Sister Inez," Maria answered her, "I hope for the help of the
smuggler, because he engaged to escort us to Valdivia, where we should
arrive safely; and he is too honourable and brave a man not to set
everything in motion to remedy the fatal event which has prevented him
from keeping his word."

This last sentence was uttered by the maiden with so much conviction
that Inez was surprised at it, and raised her eyes to her sister, who
blushed beneath this searching glance. Inez said no more, but asked
herself what could be the nature of the feeling which thus compelled
her sister to defend a man whom she did not know, and whose relations
with the family were of so low a nature. From that day no further
allusion was made to Leon.

It is a strange fact, but one that is incontestably true, that
priests, no matter to what country or religion they belong, are
continually devoured by the desire of making proselytes. The Sayotkatta
of Garakouaïti had not let the opportunity slip which appeared to
offer itself in the persons of Inez and her sister. Endowed with a
great mind, thoroughly convinced of the excellence of the religious
principles which he professed; and, in addition, an obstinate enemy
of the Spaniards, he conceived the plan of making the young ladies
priestesses of the sun, so soon as they were entrusted to him by

In America there is no lack of such conversions; and though they may
appear monstrous to us, they are perfectly natural in that country. He
therefore prepared his batteries very artfully. The young ladies did
not speak Indian; and he, on his side, did not know a word of Spanish;
but this difficulty, apparently enormous, was speedily got over by

He was related to a renowned warrior of the name of Meli-Antou (the
four suns), whose wife, reared not far from Valdivia, spoke Spanish
well enough to make herself comprehended. In spite of the law which
interdicted the introduction of strangers into the Jouimion Faré, the
high priest took it on himself to let Mahiaa (My Eyes), Meli-Antou's
wife, visit the young ladies.

We can imagine the satisfaction which the latter must have felt on
receiving the visit of someone who could talk with them, and help
them to overcome the ennui in which they passed their whole time. The
Indian squaw was welcomed as a friend, and her presence as a most
agreeable distraction. But in the second interview they saw for what
an interested object these visits were permitted, and a real tyranny
succeeded the short conversations of the first days.

This was a permanent punishment for the maidens. As Spanish girls,
and attached to the religion of their fathers, they could not at any
price respond to the Sayotkatta's hopes, and still the squaw had not
concealed from them, that in spite of the honeyed words and insinuating
manners of Schymi-Tou, they must expect to suffer the most frightful
torture if they refused to devote themselves to the worship of the Sun.

The prospect was far from being reassuring; hence, while pledging
themselves in their hearts to remain faithful to the Catholic faith,
the young girls experienced a deadly anxiety. Time slipped away, and
the Sayotkatta was beginning to grow impatient at the slowness of the
conversion; and the slight hopes which the maidens had retained of
being able to escape the sacrifice demanded of them gradually abandoned

This painful situation, which was further aggravated by the absence of
any news from outside, eventually produced an illness, whose progress
was so rapid, that the Sayotkatta considered it prudent to suspend the
execution of his ardent wish. Let us leave the unhappy prisoners almost
congratulating themselves on the alteration which had taken place in
their health, and which freed them from the annoyance to which they
were subjected, and take up the thread of the events which happened to
other persons who figure in this history.

A month after the arrival of Maria and Inez within the walls of
Garakouaïti--that is to say, on a fine October evening--two men, whose
features or dress it would have been impossible to distinguish owing to
the obscurity, debouched from the forest which we previously described,
and stopped for a moment with marked indecision upon the extreme verge
of the wood.

Before them rose a mound, whose summit, though of no great elevation,
cut the horizon in a straight line. After exchanging a few whispered
words, the two travellers laid down on their stomach, and crawling on
their hands and feet, advanced through the giant grass, which they
caused to undulate, and which entirely concealed their bodies. On
reaching the top of the mount, they looked down, and were struck with

The eminence on which they found themselves was quite perpendicular,
as was the whole of the ridge that extended on their right and left.
A magnificent plain stretched out a hundred feet beneath them, and in
the centre of this plain--that is to say, at a distance of about a
thousand yards--stood an Indian city, haughty and imposing, defended by
a hundred massive towers and its stout walls.

The sight of this vast city produced a lively feeling of pleasure on
the mind of the two men, for one of them turned to his comrade and said
to him with an accent of indescribable satisfaction--

"That must be the city which Diego told me of: it is Garakouaïti! At
last we have arrived."

"And it was not without trouble, captain," the other remarked, who was
no other than Wilhelm; "we may compliment ourselves on it."

"What matter, since we have arrived?"

"Before the city, yes: but inside it, no."

Leon smiled.

"Don't be alarmed, comrade; I shall be inside tomorrow."

"I hope so, captain; but in the meanwhile I do not think it advisable
to spend the night here in contemplating what there is at the base
of this species of precipice, and I think we should not do wrong in
returning to the forest, or seeking the road that leads to the place
that lies before us."

"It is too late to dream of getting any nearer the city today. As for
the road, we shall find it by bearing a little to the right, for the
ground seems to trend in that direction."

"In that case, captain, we must put off the affair till tomorrow."

"Yes; and now let us return to the llama."

And joining action to words, Leon turned back, and exactly following
the track which his body had left in the grass, he soon found
himself--as did Wilhelm, who followed all his movements--once again on
the skirt of the forest.

The silence which reigns at midday beneath these gloomy arches of
foliage and branches had been succeeded by the hoarse sounds of a
savage concert composed of the shrill cries of the nocturnal birds,
which awoke, and prepared to dash at the loritos and hummingbirds
belated far from their nests; of the yells of the pumas, and the
hypocritical and plaintive miaulings of the tigers and panthers,
whose echoes were hurled back in mournful notes by the roofs of the
inaccessible caverns and the yawning pits which served as the lurking
places of these dangerous guests.

Going back along the road which they had traced with the axe, the
smugglers soon afterwards found themselves close to a fire of dead
leaves and branches burning in the centre of a clearing. Some fifteen
yards from them a magnificent llama, carelessly lying at the foot of
a tree, watched them approach, and fixed on them its large eyes as
melancholy and intelligent as those of a stag, though it did not appear
at all astonished or startled by their presence.

"Well, Jemmy, my boy, you were not tired of waiting for us?" Wilhelm
said, as he went up to the animal and patted it on the neck.

Leon threw a few branches on the fire, which was beginning to decay.

"On my honour, captain, I am not curious," the German continued, "but I
should like to know what you intend doing with this llama which we have
dragged after us for the last fortnight? Now that we have reached our
journey's end, do you not think it time to kill and roast it?"

"For Heaven's sake, no, my friend; for if I have spared this llama, it
is simply that it may serve me as a passport to enter the city which we
saw just now."

"How so?"

"I will explain that to you tomorrow, till then let us keep up a good
fire, as the wild beasts seem out of temper tonight, and sleep."

"Done for sleep!" the German answered, phlegmatically.

And without farther ceremony he prepared to obey his captain's orders.
The latter, who felt that the hopes which he had conceived were on the
point of being realized, was, as frequently happens in such cases,
overcome by the fear that he had deceived himself in the supposition he
had formed of the young ladies' captivity in the city of Garakouaïti.
In vain did he recall the details which Diego had furnished him with
about the customs of the Indians, and the art among others which they
had of conveying to, and concealing in, the holy city everything they
took from their enemies; the fear of being mistaken constantly reverted
to his mind.

"Oh, no!" he said to himself, "I cannot have deceived myself; it is
love which guides my footsteps, and I feel here," he continued, as he
laid his hand on his chest, "something which tells me that I am going
to see her again. Oh! see her, and then save her! It would be too great
happiness, and I would give ten years of my life to be sure of success."

Then, following the current of his thoughts, Leon saw himself leading
Maria back to the general, and receiving her hand as a recompense for
the service which he had rendered him. Then, a moment after, he asked
himself whether he could endure life hence-forward were he to fail in
his plans; and, looking at the rifle he held, he vowed that it should
help him not to survive his sorrow.

"Come," he said to himself, suddenly, "this is not the moment for
doubt. Besides, if Maria is not in Garakouaïti, Diego will be there, or
someone who can tell me where to find him; and in that case he must
restore me her whom I love, for he swore that she should be sacred to

After the young man had to some extent regained the courage which had
momentarily failed him, he removed from his brow the anxiety which had
overshadowed it, and asked of sleep the calmness necessary for his
thoughts and forgetfulness of his anxious cares. He therefore lay down
by the side of Wilhelm, whose irregular snores added an additional note
to the melody which the wild denizens of the forest were performing
with a full orchestra.

The first beams of dawn had just begun to tinge the sky with a whitish
reflection, when the smuggler captain opened his eyes and shook his
comrade's arm. The latter turned--turned again--and at last awoke,
suppressing an enormous yawn, which almost cleft his face to the ears--

"Hilloh, skulk!" Leon shouted to him, "make haste and get on your legs;
for we have no time to lose. The red devils are still asleep, but they
will soon spread over the plain, and they must not find us here."

"Let us decamp," Wilhelm replied, who had been quite restored by his
long sleep; "I shall not be sorry to have a peep at an Indian city. It
must be funny."

"My poor Wilhelm, in spite of all the desire I might have to procure
you this satisfaction, I am compelled to beg you to abstain from it,
because I have already told, I must go on alone."

"Der Teufel! But in that case what am I to do while waiting for you?
for I do not suppose that you intend remaining any length of time in
that confounded capital?"

"I will tell you. In the first place, help me to dress."


"Yes; hang it all! Do you fancy I shall present myself at the city
gates in Spanish costume?"

"What! are you going to disguise yourself?"


"But as what?"

"As an Indian, you donkey."

"Oh! famous--famous!" Wilhelm exclaimed, bursting into a hearty laugh.
"I'm your man."

"In that case make haste."

"I am ready, captain; I am ready."

The travestissement did not take long to effect; in a few minutes Leon
took from his alforjas a razor, with which he removed his whiskers and
moustache; and during this Wilhelm went to pluck a plant that grew
abundantly in the forest. After extracting the juice, Leon, who had
stripped off all his clothes, dyed his face and body with it.

Then Wilhelm drew on his chest, as well as he could, a tortoise,
accompanied by some fantastic ornaments which had no warlike character
about them, and which he reproduced on the face. He gave his
magnificent black hair a whitish tinge, intended to make him look older
than he really was, knotted it upon his head in the Indian fashion, and
thrust into the knob the feather of an aras, which Leon had picked up
some days previously in the forest, being careful to place it on the
left side, in order to show that it adorned the head of a peaceful man,
since the warriors are accustomed to fix their plumes in the centre
of their top-knot. When these preparations were completed, Leon asked
Wilhelm whether he could present himself among the Indians without

"You are so like a redskin, captain, that, if I had not helped to
transform you, I should not be able to recognise you, for you are
really frightful."

"In that case, I have nothing to fear."

Leon, feeling once again in his alforjas, brought out his travelling
case, and a small box of medicaments, which he always carried with him,
a precious article to which he and his men had had recourse on many
occasions; joining to these articles his pistols, he made the whole
into a small packet, which he wrapped up in his poncho and fastened on
the back of the llama, whose taming had so greatly excited Wilhelm's

"Now," he said, addressing the German, "pay careful attention to what I
am about to say to you."

"I am listening, captain."

"You will collect my clothes, and as soon as I have left the forest,
start at once for the grotto, where I left Giacomo; our comrades must
have reached it some days back. You have only twenty leagues to go,
and the road is ready traced, since it cost us three weeks' labour; by
travelling day and night, you can arrive soon."

"I will not lose an hour, captain."

"Good: you will tell Harrison where I am, and return here with all the
men who have been enlisted at Valparaíso to reinforce our troops. Do
you thoroughly understand?"

"Yes, captain."

"You will bring the horses with you, for they can pass. When you
have all assembled at this spot, Harrison will place sentries in
the environs day and night, while careful to hide them so that they
cannot be noticed, and so soon as you hear the cry of the eagle of
the Cordilleras, which I shall imitate, you will answer me, so that I
may know your exact position; and if I repeat it twice, you will hold
yourselves in readiness to help, for in that case I shall be attacked.
You will remember all these instructions?"

"Perfectly, captain; and I will repeat them to you word for word."

"Good!" Leon resumed, after Wilhelm had repeated his orders word by
word. "One thing more. It is possible that when I return I may bring
two or three persons with me; do not be troubled by that, nor stir till
you hear the agreed on signal."

"Yes, captain."

"Keep watch before all at night, for I shall probably leave the city
after sunset."

"All right--a good guard shall be kept."

"And if I have not given the signal within a week, it will be because I
am dead; and, in that case, you can be off and choose another chief, as
you cannot hope to see Leon again."

"Oh! captain, do not say that."

"We must foresee everything, my worthy fellow; but I have hopes that,
with the help of Heaven, nothing disagreeable will happen to me. Here
is the day, and it is time to set out; so let us separate. Good-bye, my
excellent Wilhelm, my trust is in you."

"Good-bye, captain, and distrust those scamps of Indians, for they are
as treacherous as they are cowardly."

The two men shook hands, and Leon made his llama get up from the
ground, while Wilhelm, after making a bundle of the clothes which
his captain had bidden him remove, threw it on his shoulder with a
desperate air, opened his enormous compasses of legs, and went off into
the forest with long strides, and a melancholy shake of the head. Leon
looked after him for a moment.

"It is, perhaps, the last friendly face that I shall ever see," he said
to himself, with a sigh.

A moment after he resolutely raised his head.

"The die is cast, and I will go on."

Then, assuming the quiet, careless slouch of an Indian, he went slowly
toward the plain, followed by his llama, though continually looking
searchingly around him.



In the sparkling beams of the sun which had risen radiant, the great
landscape which Leon was passing through assumed a really enchanting
appearance. Nature was, so to speak, animated, and a varied spectacle
had taken the place of the gloomy and solitary aspect which it had
offered on the previous evening to the captain and his comrade.

From the gates of the city, which were now open, poured forth groups
of Indians, mounted and on foot, who scattered in all directions with
shouts of joy and bursts of noisy laughter. Numerous canoes dashed
about the river, and the fields were peopled with flocks of llamas and
vicunas, guided by Indians armed with long wands, who were proceeding
to the city from their neighbouring farms.

Strangely-attired women, sturdily bearing on their heads long wicker
baskets filled with meat, fruit, or vegetables, walked along conversing
together and accompanying each sentence with that continued sharp
metallic laugh of which the Indian tribes have the secret, and whose
sound bears a near resemblance to that which the fall of a number of
pebbles on a copper dish would produce.

Leon, who, by the aid of his new exterior, could examine at his leisure
all that was taking place around him, looked curiously at the animated
picture which he had before his eyes; but what most fixed his attention
was a troop of horsemen in their war paint, armed with the enormous
Molucho lances, which they wield with such great dexterity, and whose
wounds are so dangerous. All, also, carried a slung rifle, a lasso at
their girdle, and advanced at a trot in the direction of the city; they
seemed to have come from the opposite direction to the one by which
Leon was arriving.

The numerous persons scattered over the plain stopped to gaze at them;
and Leon, taking advantage of this circumstance, hurried on so as to
be mixed up with the curious crowd. The horsemen still advanced at the
same pace, not noticing the attention which they excited, and arrived
within fifty yards of the principal gate, where they halted. At the
same moment three men quitted the city at a gallop, crossed in two
bounds the bridge thrown across the moat, and came to join them.

Three warriors came out of the ranks of the troop to which we have
alluded, and approached them. After a short conversation all six
horsemen rejoined the squadron, which started once again, and entered
the town with it. Leon, who followed them, reached the gate at the
moment when the last men of the detachment disappeared within the city.
Assuming the most careless air he could, although his heart beat as if
to break his chest, he presented himself in his turn to enter. After
crossing the wooden bridge with a firm step, he entered the gateway,
where a lance was levelled at his breast and barred his passage.

An Indian of lofty stature, to whom his grey hair and the numerous
wrinkles on his face imparted a certain character of gentleness,
cleverness, and majesty, advanced with measured steps, and looked
attentively at him.

"My brother is welcome at Garakouaïti," he said to Leon. "What does my
brother desire?"

"Yourana," answered Leon, who, thanks to the life he had led in the
Pampas, talked Indian with as much facility as his mother tongue--"is
my father a chief?"

"I am a chief," the Indian answered.

"My father can question me," Leon said.

"My brother seems to have come a long distance?" the other went on,
looking at the smuggler's worn boots.

"I left my tribe four moons back."

"Which is my brother's tribe?"

"I am a son of the Huiliches."

"Matai. My brother is not a warrior. I can see."

"My father is right; I am a Jagouas."

"Good! my brother is beloved by Chemiin."

Leon bowed, but said nothing.

"And where are the hunting grounds of my brother's tribe situated?"

"On the banks of the Great Salt Lake."

"And why has my brother left his tribe?"

"To come to Garakouaïti to exercise the skill with which Chemiin has
endowed me, and to adore Agriskoui in the magnificent temple which the
piety of the Indians has raised to him in the city of the sun."

"Very good! my brother is a wise man."

Leon bowed a second time to this compliment, although his anxiety was
extreme, and he knew not how the examination he was undergoing would

"What is my brother's name?" the Indian asked.

"Cari-Lemon," Leon at once answered.

"My brother is truly a man of peace," the other remarked, with a smile.
"I," he added, drawing himself up haughtily, "am called Meli-Antou."

"My father is a great chief."

It was Meli-Antou's turn to bow with superb modesty on receiving this
flattering qualification.

"My skill supports the world: I am a son of the sacred tribe of the
great Chemiin."

"My father is blessed in his race."

"My brother will follow me, and my house will be his during the period
that he sojourns in Garakouaïti."

"I am not worthy to shake the dust of my moccasins off on the threshold
of his door," Leon replied, modestly.

"Chemiin blesses those who practise hospitality. My brother Cari-Lemon
is the guest of a chief; he will therefore follow me."

"I will follow my father, since such is his wish."

And he began walking behind the old Indian, delighted in his heart
at having escaped so well from the first trial. Before starting,
Meli-Antou entrusted to another Indian the post which he occupied at
the city gate, and then turned to Leon.

"Arami!" he said to him.

Both, without further remark, proceeded toward the house inhabited
by the chief, which was at the other extremity of Garakouaïti. The
European, accustomed to the tumult, bustle, and confusion of the
streets of the old world, which are constantly encumbered with vehicles
of every description and busy passers-by, who run against each other
and jostle at every step, would be strangely surprised at the sight of
the interior of an Indian city.

There are no noisy thoroughfares bordered by magnificent shops,
offering to the curiosity and covetousness of buyers or rogues, superb
and dazzling specimens of European trade. There are no carriages--not
even carts; the silence is only troubled by the footfall of a few
passers-by who are anxious to reach their homes, and walk with the
gravity of savants or of magistrates in all countries. The houses,
which are all hermetically closed, do not allow any sound from within
to be heard outside. Indian life is concentrated. The manners are
patriarchal, and the public way is never, as among us, the scene of
disputes, quarrels, or fights.

The dealers assemble in immense bazaars until midday, and sell their
wares--that is to say, their fruit, vegetables, and quarters of meat,
for any other trade is unknown among the Indians, as every family
weaves and manufactures its own clothing and the objects which it
requires. When the sun has attained one-half of its course, the bazaars
are closed, and the Indian traders, who all live in the country, quit
the city only to return on the morrow.

Everybody has by that time laid in the provisions for the day. Among
the Indians the men never work: the women undertake the purchases,
the household duties, and the preparation for everything that is
indispensable for existence. The men hunt or make war. The payment for
what is bought and sold is not effected as among us, by means of coins,
which are only accepted by the Indians on the seaboard who traffic with
Europeans, but by means of a free exchange, which is carried on by all
the tribes residing in the interior of the country. This system is
exceedingly simple: the buyer exchanges some object for the one which
he wishes to acquire: and nothing more is said.

The two men, after walking right through Garakouaïti, at length reached
the lodge of Meli-Antou, in which happened to be Mahiaa, his squaw,
whom our readers know as the Indian woman whom the Sayotkatta had
placed with General Soto-Mayor's daughters, in order to aid in their
conversion to the worship of the Sun. Since the illness of the young
ladies she had suspended her visits to the Jouimion Faré, but intended
to renew them so soon as she received instructions to that effect.

She was a woman of about thirty years of age, though she looked at
least fifty. In these regions, where growth is so rapid, a woman is
generally married when she is twelve or thirteen. Continually forced to
undertake rude tasks, which in other countries fall to the men, their
freshness soon disappears, and on reaching the age of thirty, they
are attacked by a precocious decrepitude which, twenty years later,
makes hideous and repulsive beings of women who, in their youth, were
generally endowed with great beauty and exquisite grace, of which many
European ladies might be fairly jealous.

Mahiaa, seated cross-legged on a mat of Indian corn straw, was grinding
wheat between two stones. By her side stood two female slaves,
belonging to that bastard race to which we have already referred, and
to whom the title of savage is applicable. At the moment when Leon
entered the lodge, Mahiaa and her women looked up curiously at him.

"Mahiaa," said Meli-Antou to his squaw, as he laid his hand on the
captain's shoulder, "this is my brother Cari-Lemon, the great Jagouas
of the Huiliches; he will dwell with us."

"My brother Cari-Lemon is welcome to the lodge of Meli-Antou," the
squaw replied, with a rather sweet smile. "Mahiaa is his slave."

"Will my mother permit me to kiss her feet?" said Leon.

"My brother will kiss my face!" the chiefs wife replied, as she offered
her cheek to Leon, who respectfully touched it with his lips.

"Will my son take maté?" Mahiaa continued. "Maté relieves the
traveller's parched throat."

The introduction was over. Meli-Antou sat down, while his wife ordered
her slaves to unload the llama and lead it to the corral, after which
the maté was served. Leon, while imbibing the favourite beverage of the
Spaniards and Indians, looked at the house in which he now was. It was
a rather spacious square room, whose whitewashed walls were adorned
with human scalps, and a rack of weapons, kept remarkably clean. Folded
up puma skins and ponchos were piled up in a corner, until they were
arranged as beds. Wooden chairs, excessively low and carved with some
degree of art, furnished this room, in the centre of which stood a
table, only some fifteen inches above the ground.

This interior, which is very simple, as we see, is reproduced in all
the Indian lodges; which are composed of six rooms. The first of these
is the one which we have just described, and the one in which the
family generally keep. The second is set aside for the children. The
third is used as a bedroom. The fourth contains the looms, which are
made of bamboo, and display an admirable simplicity of mechanism. The
fifth contains provisions of every description; and lastly, the sixth
is set apart for the slaves. As for the kitchen there is none, for
the food is prepared in the corral, that is to say, in the open air.
Chimneys are equally unknown, and each room is warmed by means of an
earthenware brasero.

The household duties are entrusted to the slaves, who work under the
inspection of the mistress of the house. These slaves are not all
savages; many of them are unhappy Spaniards made prisoners of war, or
who have fallen into the ambushes which the Indians incessantly set for

The lot of the latter is even more sad than that of their companions
in slavery, for they have not the prospect of being free some day,
and must expect to perish sooner or later as victims to the spite of
their cruel masters, who avenge themselves on them for the numberless
vexations which they suffer at the hands of the Spaniards. It is truly
in this harsh captivity that a man can apply to himself the words which
Dante inscribed over the gates of the Inferno, "Lasciate ogni speranza."

Meli-Antou, to whom accident had led Leon, was one of the most
respected chiefs among the warriors of Garakouaïti: he had lived among
Europeans, and the experience which he had acquired by passing through
countries remote from his home, had rendered him more polite and
sociable than the majority of his countrymen.

He informed Leon that he was the father of four sons, who had joined
the great Moluchos army, and were fighting against the Spaniards: he
told him of the journeys he had made, and seemed anxious to prove to
the medicine man, Cari-Lemon, that his great courage as a warrior, and
his military virtues, did not prevent him recognising all that there
was noble and respectable in science.

The captain seemed deeply touched by the consideration which
Meli-Antou paid to the character he was invested with, and resolved
to profit by his host's good temper to sound him cleverly as to
what he desired to know as to the presence of Diego, Tahi-Mari, and
the young ladies in the city. Still, in the fear of arousing the
Indian's suspicions, he waited till the latter furnished him with the
opportunity to question him.

An hour about had elapsed, and Leon had not yet been able to approach
the question without danger, when an Indian presented himself in the

"Agriskoui rejoices," said the newcomer.

"My brother is welcome," said Meli-Antou; "my ears are open."

"The great council of the Ulmens is assembled," the Indian said, "and
awaits my brother Meli-Antou."

"What is there new then?"

"Tcharanguii has just arrived with his warriors, his heart is full of
bitterness, and he wishes to speak to the council."

"Tcharanguii returned!" exclaimed Meli-Antou, in surprise; "that is

"He has just arrived in the city."

"Was he in command of the warriors who arrived about an hour ago?"

"Himself. My brother did not look in his face when he passed before
him? What answer shall I give the chief?"

"That I am coming to the council."

The Indian bowed and departed, and the old chief rose, and, after
courteously taking leave of Leon, went to the council. The captain took
advantage of the freedom granted him to take a turn round the city, and
try to pick up the topographical information of which he stood in need.

Not knowing how his stay in the city would terminate, or how he should
get out of it, he studied most carefully the formation of the streets
and the situation of the buildings, in the event of an attack or an
escape. When he returned to Meli-Antou's lodge, the latter had got back
and was awaiting him with a certain amount of impatience. On remarking
the animation depicted on the Indian's features, Leon thought that he
had, perhaps, discovered something concerning him, and advanced with a
considerable amount of suspicion.

"My brother is really a great Jagouas?" Meli-Antou asked, as he looked
searchingly at him.

"Did I not tell my father so?" Leon answered, who began to believe
himself seriously menaced.

"My brother will come with me, then, and bring the implements of his

It would not have been prudent to refuse; besides, nothing as yet
proved that Meli-Antou had any evil intentions; hence Leon accepted.

"My father can go on, and I will follow him," he contented himself with

"Does my brother speak the language of the Spanish barbarians?"

"I have lived for a long time on the banks of the Salt Lake, and I
understand the idiom which they employ."

"All the better."

"Have I to cure a Spaniard?" Leon asked, who wished to make sure of
what was expected of him.

"No," said Meli-Antou, "one of the great Moluchos chiefs brought here
some time back two paleface women; it is they who are ill; the evil
spirit has seized on them, and they are at this moment in danger of

Leon started at this unexpected revelation; his heart all but stopped
beating, and an involuntary shudder agitated all his limbs. He was
compelled to make a superhuman effort to drive back the profound
emotion which he experienced, and to answer Meli-Antou in a calm voice:

"I am at my father's orders."

"Let us go, then," the Indian answered.

Leon took up his box of medicaments, followed the old man, and both,
leaving the lodge, proceeded towards the Palace of the Vestals.



Tcharanguii had returned to Garakouaïti, with orders to fetch
reinforcements for the Molucho army, which, under Tahi-Mari's orders,
had seized by surprise Valdivia and Concepción, and was advancing on
Talca. The young chief had been delighted at this mission, which gave
him an opportunity for seeing again his two captives, with whom he was
so struck. Hence, after explaining to the council the motive of his
presence in the city, he hastened to seek the Sayotkatta to whom he had
entrusted them. But the latter, on learning the return of the young
Indian chief, proceeded to Mahiaa to warn her and recommend her silence
about the active part which she had taken in the attempted conversion
of the young ladies. Mahiaa promised to remain dumb, and informed the
old man of the arrival of Cari-Lemon the Jagouas, whose knowledge might
be useful in re-establishing the health of the prisoners.

The Sayotkatta thanked the Indian squaw for her devotion, and begged
her to send the Jagouas of the Huiliches to him. Meli-Antou himself
promised to bring him to the palace as soon as he came in again.
After this the Sayotkatta, henceforth at rest, awaited the visit of
Tcharanguii, for which he had nerved himself.

At the first words which the chief uttered as to the lively desire he
felt to see his prisoners, the old man replied that, for the sake of
guarding them more effectually, he had removed them to the Palace of
the Vestals until they were restored to their legitimate owner.

"My father will promptly deliver them into my hands, then," Tcharanguii
said, "for they belong to me alone."

"My son," the high priest continued, "my heart is filled with
affliction, but I cannot satisfy my son's just demand, for the maidens
whom he confided to my charge have been sorely tried by Chemiin, who
has sent on them the scourge of illness."

"Is their life menaced?" the young chief exclaimed.

"Gualichu alone holds in his hand the existence of his creatures;
but still I believe that the danger may be avoided. I am awaiting an
illustrious Jagouas, belonging to the Huiliche tribe, who, by the help
of his knowledge, may restore strength and health to the slaves whom my
son won from the barbarous Spaniards."

Tcharanguii, on hearing this bad news, had not been able to repress a
movement of annoyance, which seemed to show that he was not entirely
the Sayotkatta's dupe, and suspected what had really happened. Still,
either through respect or a fear of being mistaken in his suppositions,
he constrained himself, and contented himself with begging the old man
to neglect nothing to save his captives, adding that he would know how
to display his gratitude to him for the attention which he might pay

At this very moment Leon entered, accompanied by Meli-Antou. The
Sayotkatta looked at him with close scrutiny, and made him undergo a
cross-examination precisely like Meli-Antou's. His answers satisfied
the high priest, for a few minutes after he led him away to the
Jouimion Faré, to examine into the illness of the señoras, while
Meli-Antou and Tcharanguii followed them.

Leon's heart was beating with the most violent emotion, and heavy drops
of perspiration stood on his forehead. The critical position in which
he found himself was, indeed, of a nature to cause him lively anxiety.
He was not at all afraid about retaining his own coolness and stoicism
in the presence of the young ladies, for he had too great an interest
in not betraying himself to lack the strength of remaining his own
master; whatever might happen.

But what he feared above all was the effect which his presence might
produce on the señoras if they recognised him at the first glance, or
when he made himself known, for it was indispensable for the success of
the stratagem which he wished to employ that the young ladies should
know with whom they had to deal.

In the meanwhile they had arrived; the four men saw the palace gates
open before them; but so soon as they had entered a large room, which,
through the absence of all furniture, might be compared to a vestibule,
Tcharanguii received orders to remain there with Meli-Antou, while the
Sayotkatta and Leon proceeded to visit the captives. As we said, all
the Indians, except the Sayotkatta, were interdicted from entering the
residence of the Virgins of the Sun; still one person--the medicine
man--was of course an exception to the rule.

Following the Sayotkatta, then, Leon crossed a long courtyard, entirely
paved with brick, and going up a few steps, found himself in a small
building entirely separate from the main building in which were the
Virgins of the Sun.

In a hammock of cocoa fibre, suspended from two golden rings at about
eighteen inches from the ground, a maiden was lying, whose excessively
pale face bore the stamp of great sorrow. It was Doña Inez de
Soto-Mayor. By her side stood her sister Maria, with her arms folded on
her chest, and her eyes, full of her state of despondency, proved that
she had for a long time abandoned all hopes of emerging from the prison
in which she was confined, and that the illness had also assailed her.
This room, which received no light from without, was merely illumined
by a torch fixed in a bracket in the wall, and whose vacillating flame
cast a sickly reflection over the persons present. At the sight of the
two men, Maria gave a start of terror. Leon turned to his guide.

"Chemiin alone is powerful, for his skill supports the world," he said.
"Ghialichu inspires me; but I must be alone in order to read on the
face of the sufferers the nature of their malady."

The Sayotkatta hesitated for a moment, and then left the room. Leon
rushed to the door, fastened it on the inside, and returned to Maria,
who, more and more terrified, was crouching in a corner.

"Maria! it is I--I, Leon, who has come to save you--"

A cry escaped from the maiden's breast.

"Silence," said the smuggler; "perhaps he is listening."

Inez was awake, and looking at this scene, whose meaning escaped her.

"You, Leon?" Maria at length said, as she cast her arms round the young
man's neck. "Oh, thank heaven! thanks!"

"For mercy's sake, listen to me! The moments are precious."

"Oh! take me away, if you love me! Take me away at once!"


"Oh, sir," Inez said, in her turn, "save me, and my father will reward

Leon smiled, and looked at Maria, who raised to him her lovely eyes,
radiant with joy and love.

"My father--where is he?" she asked him. "My sister reminds me that we
left him in the midst of the contest."

"He is in safety, so calm yourself."

Footsteps were heard approaching the room in which the young people
were assembled.

"Someone is coming," said Leon; "take care."

"But what must we do?" Maria asked.

"Wait, and have confidence."

"What! you are going away?"

"I shall return. Once again, hope and patience."

"Leon, if you do not save us, we shall die."

"Oh yes, Señor Captain, have pity on us," Inez added.

Maria's curls grazed Leon's lips, who felt his soul pass away in the
kiss which he gave them.

"Whatever happens, whatever you may hear, trust in me, for I am


The footsteps had stopped after drawing nearer still; Leon opened the
door, and without uttering a syllable, passed before the Sayotkatta,
displaying marks of the greatest agitation, and ran toward the
vestibule, making incomprehensible gestures. The maidens asked
themselves whether they were not the sport of a dream, while the
Sayotkatta was dumb with surprise.

Closing the door again, he followed Leon, but as if he did not
dare approach him. At the moment when he entered the room in which
Meli-Antou and Tcharanguii were waiting, Leon had rejoined the latter,
and still seemed possessed by thought which absorbed him.

"Well, brother?" the two Indians said. "Speak," the Sayotkatta added;
"what is the matter with you?"

"The sons of Chemiin must arm themselves with courage," Leon slowly

"What does my son mean?" the old man resumed.

"Mayoba has seized on these women, and from this night the evil spirit
will smite all those who approach them; for the learning which Gualichu
has given me has enabled me to assure myself of the malign influences
which they can exert."

The three Indians, credulous like all of their race, fell back a step;
and Leon still continued apparently to wrestle against the influence of

"What must be done to deliver them?" Tcharanguii asked.

"All strength and wisdom come from Gualichu," said Leon. "I ask my
father, the Sayotkatta, to let me pass this night in prayer in the
Chemiin sona."

The Indians exchanged a glance of admiration.

"Be it as my son desires," the Sayotkatta answered.

"Until tomorrow, let no one approach the Spanish women, and Gualichu
will grant my prayer by indicating to me the remedy to be applied."

The men bowed their assent, and left the palace with Leon. On arriving
in front of the Temple of the Sun, Tcharanguii and Meli-Antou parted,
and the Sayotkatta led Leon into the interior.

"Tomorrow, after morning prayer, I will let my father know the will of

"I will wait, my son," the old man said; and, leaving Leon alone, he

In order to make our readers properly understand the confidence with
which the Indians accepted Leon's statements, it is necessary to add
that, in these countries, soothsayers are regarded as the favourites
of the Deity, and enjoying an unlimited supernatural power. And it
must not be supposed that the lower classes are alone imbued with this
opinion: the chief of the warriors, and the priests themselves, though
they do not grant them such an absolute power, recognise a marked
superiority over themselves.

Leon passed the whole night in arranging in his mind the details of the
plan which he had formed to rescue the two maidens. The next morning
he paid a visit in the company of the Sayotkatta to them, in which
he acquired the certainty that Inez could without danger support the
fatigue of being removed from the Palace of the Vestals. In fact, the
Niña, who had suddenly recovered the hope which had abandoned her,
found the illness which was undermining her health dissipated as if by
enchantment. As for Maria, the captain's presence had given her more
than hope, in the unlimited confidence resulting from reciprocated love.

As on the previous day, Leon was careful to remain alone with the young
ladies, and begged them to hold themselves in readiness to quit the
Jouimion Faré. As on the previous day, too, Tcharanguii and Meli-Antou
anxiously awaited in the first room the result of the visit, where Leon
found them, and the young chief questioned him as to the state of the
patients. He pretended to reflect for a moment, and then replied--

"My brother Tcharanguii is a great chief, and the palefaces tremble at
his appearance; his heart can rejoice, for his captives will soon be
delivered from the wicked spirit."

"Is my son speaking the truth?" the Sayotkatta asked, as he tried
to read in the countenance of the false medicine man the degree of
confidence that he could place in his words.

"I am a simple man, whose strength resides in the protection which
Gualichu grants me, and it is he who has revealed to me the means of
restoring health to those who are suffering."

The Sayotkatta bowed submissively, and invited Leon to let him know
what he ought to do.

"Matai!" Leon answered; "on the coming of the third day following the
present one, so soon as Iskarre spreads abroad his beneficent light, my
brother, the young chief of the Jaos, will take the skin of a llama,
which my father, the venerated Sayotkatta of the Moluchos, will kill
in the interval, and bless in the name of Chemiin. He will spread out
this skin on a mound which I will show him, and which must exist in the
vicinity of the city, so that Mayoba, on leaving the maidens, cannot
enter any person belonging to Garakouaïti; after which he will lead the
two captives to the spot where the skin is stretched out."

"But," the Sayotkatta interrupted, "one of them is unable to leave the
hammock in which her body reposes."

"The wisdom of my father dwells in each of his words; but Gualichu has
given the strength to her whom he wishes to save to leave her bed."

For a second time the Sayotkatta yielded to the subtlety of these
unanswerable arguments.

"That done," Leon continued, "he will select four of his bravest
warriors to help him to guard the captives through the night; and then,
after I have given my brother, as well as the men who accompany him, a
drink to protect them against all evil influences, I will expel Mayoba,
who is torturing the paleface squaws."

Meli-Antou and Tcharanguii listened in silence, while the Sayotkatta
seemed to reflect; Leon noticed this, and hastened to add--

"Although Gualichu assists me, and allows me to triumph over the wicked
spirit, it is necessary that my brother and the four warriors whom he
selects should pass the night preceding the cure in the Chemiin sona,
and deliver to the wise Sayotkatta twenty brood mares which have not
yet foaled, that they may be sacrificed to Gualichu. Will my brother do

"If I do it, will my prisoners be restored to me?" Tcharanguii
objected, with a certain hesitation.

"The Spanish girls will not only be restored to my brother, but they
will also feel the most lively gratitude to him. If he refuse, they
will die."

"I will do it," Tcharanguii said, quickly.

"My son is a wise man," remarked the Sayotkatta, whose forehead grew
clearer when Leon mentioned the gift of the mares; "Gualichu protects

"My father is too kind," Leon contented himself with answering with a
feigned humility, while rejoicing in his heart at seeing the plan he
had conceived so facilely accepted by the Indian.

Nothing could be more simple than this plan, which consisted in
carrying off the maidens when they were on the hillock whence, a few
days previously, he and Wilhelm had seen for the first time the walls
of Garakouaïti. It was the sole chance of success possible, for he
could not dream of carrying them off from the Jouimion Faré, and even
admitting that Tahi-Mari had been willing to use his authority over the
chief of the Jaos, by forcing him to restore his prisoners to liberty,
Leon could not have recourse to him, as he was fighting far away from
the holy city.

The delay of three days fixed by Leon before attempting his plan was
necessary to give Wilhelm time to find Giacomo and return with him
and the band commanded by Harrison to the spot where the captain had
metamorphosed himself into an Indian.

These three days were employed in visits to the young ladies and
prayers in the Temple of the Sun.

Still the time seemed long to the captain and the daughters of General
Soto-Mayor, who continually trembled lest some fortuitous circumstances
might derange their plan. On the last day, Leon, as usual, was
conversing with Maria, recommending her passive obedience, when he
heard a peculiar rustling at the door of the room in which the young
ladies were. Immediately reassuming his borrowed face, he opened the
door, and found himself face to face with the Sayotkatta, who recoiled
with the promptness of a man caught in the act of spying. Had he heard
what they had been saying in Spanish? Leon did not think so, still he
considered it prudent to keep on his guard.

The night at length arrived. The young ladies, each carried in a
hammock borne on the shoulders of powerful Indians, were taken to
the hillock, which Leon had pointed out on the previous day to
Tcharanguii, and deposited on the llama skin stretched out upon it.
Leon made Tcharanguii a sign to post as sentries the four men who had
carried the maidens. Then, after uttering a few mysterious sentences,
and burning a handful of odoriferous herbs, he ordered the Indians and
their chief to kneel down and implore Agriskoui.

During this time he looked down into the city, striving to see if
anything extraordinary were happening in it. So soon as he was assured
that all was calm, and that the deepest silence prevailed in the city,
he rose to his feet.

"Let my brother listen to me," he said; "I am going to compel Mayoba to
retire from the bodies of the palefaced squaws."

At this moment Maria and Inez gave a start of terror, but Leon did not
appear to notice it.

"My brothers will come hither!" he commanded. The four sentries
advanced with a hesitation which threatened to degenerate into terror
at the slightest movement on the part of the smuggler.

"I am going to pray; but in order to prevent Mayoba from assailing you
when he quits the maidens, drink this firewater which Gualichu has
endowed with the virtue of causing those who drink it to resist the
assaults of the evil spirit, and then return each of you to your place."

At the words "firewater," the Indians quivered, and their eyes sparkled
with greed. Leon poured them out, as well as Tcharanguii, half a
calabash of spirits, amply doctored with opium, which they swallowed at
a draught.

"Now, on your knees, all of you!" said Leon.

The Indians obeyed. He alone remained on his feet, holding out his
right hand in the direction of the East, and with the other making
a gesture commanding Mayoba to obey his authority. A minute after he
changed his posture, and began turning round, while making an evocation.

Half an hour had passed, and during this time one of the Indians had
fallen with his face on the ground, as if prostrating himself through
humility. Another followed his example, and Tcharanguii imitated him.
In a word, the five men were soon all in the same position. Then Leon
slightly touched with his foot the man nearest to him, and rolled him
over on his side. The opium had thrown him into such a lethargy, that
he could have been stripped without waking him. He did the same with
the other four, who were equally stupefied by the opium. Then, suddenly
turning to the young ladies, who were awaiting the close of this scene
with ever-growing anxiety,

"Let us go," he said. "Collect all your strength and follow me, for it
is a matter of life or death."

Taking a pistol in either hand, he went down the hillock, preceding
Inez and Maria, and ran with them in the direction of the forest. On
reaching its skirt they stopped, for the young ladies, exhausted with
fatigue, felt that they could go no farther. Leon did not press them,
but making them a signal to listen, he imitated with rare perfection
the cry of an eagle of the Cordilleras, which he repeated twice. Within
a minute, which seemed an hour to the smuggler, the same cry answered
him. A quarter of an hour did not elapse ere sixty riders, having
Wilhelm and Harrison at their head, debouched from the forest and
surrounded the captain and the young ladies, whom they lifted on their

"Saved! great Heavens!" Leon exclaimed; "they are saved!"

At the same moment a flash crossed the horizon, a whistling was heard,
and a bullet broke the branch of a tree a couple of feet from the

"The Indians!" Leon exclaimed; "we must gallop, my lads."



It was indeed the Indians, who guided by Meli-Antou, were pursuing the
smugglers with terrible imprecations. This is what had occurred.

We said that on the day of the escape Leon surprised the Sayotkatta in
the act of listening at the door. He had not deceived himself; still,
as Schymi-Tou was ignorant of Spanish, he had been unable to understand
the young people's conversation, but he had noticed a certain animation
which appeared to him suspicious. He did not dare, however, oppose
the ceremony of exorcism which was about to take place, and contented
himself with imparting his suspicions to Meli-Antou, who was astonished
at the Sayotkatta's doubts, and treated them as chimeras.

But, as the old man seemed strongly inclined to suppose some
machination, or, at least, some jugglery, on the part of the pretended
conjuror, he resolved to watch what took place on the eminence, and
hold himself in readiness to march with twenty men, to the help of
Tcharanguii, if he were the dupe of the medicine man's trickery. A
little while, then, after the young ladies started for the hillock, he
followed on their track, accompanied by his warriors; and, on reaching
the hill, he crawled up through the tall grass, and listened.

He first heard the prayers of the five men, and was on the point of
regretting that he had followed the Sayotkatta's advice, when Leon
suddenly ceased speaking. He thought, however, that whispered prayers
had succeeded the former ones. Still, as this silence was prolonged, he
went a little higher, and was staggered at only seeing Tcharanguii and
his four warriors, lying on the ground. Thinking them dead, he rushed
toward them, and shouted to his men, whom he had left at the foot of
the mound. They were soon with him, and shook the five sleepers, who at
last woke up with a very confused idea of what had happened to them.

Meli-Antou guessed a portion of the truth, and, not doubting but that
the fugitives had gone into the forest, he gave orders to pursue them.
At the moment when they were setting out, they heard the eagle cries
which had served as a signal to the smugglers, and dashed toward
the spot whence they came. Meli-Antou was the first to perceive the
fugitives, and fired at them, and, though he missed his mark, he hoped
very soon to recapture them.

Before the smugglers had time to select the route which they must
follow, the Indians were upon them. The young ladies were in the middle
of the little band and in safety. Leon, therefore, gave orders to
accept the fight and charge the enemy. Seizing a mace which had just
fallen from the grasp of a wounded Indian, Leon rushed into the centre
of the medley with the bounds of a tiger. The combatants, who were too
close together to employ their firearms, fought with their knives, and
dealt furious blows with their clubbed rifles or maces.

This frightful carnage lasted for more than half an hour, animated by
the yells of the Indians and the shouts of the smugglers, who killed
them to the last man--thanks to their numerical superiority--by a
determined charge, which decided the victory. The victory, however,
cost the smugglers eight of their party.

The next great point was to get away from the vicinity of the Indians
before the news of the fight spread in Garakouaïti; for if it did so
they would not have to contend only against twenty men, but against
an entire army of redskins, animated with the desire to avenge their
brothers. Leon assembled all his men, and they started for the forest,
along the path which he and Wilhelm had cut, and which the smugglers
were well acquainted with, through having come along it.

At sunrise they had got through the forest, and found themselves on the
banks of the river where the captain, Wilhelm, and Giacomo had been
so hotly pursued. Leon gave orders to halt--and it was high time, for
the horses were panting with fatigue. Besides, whatever diligence the
Indians might display to catch up the smugglers, the latter had a whole
night's start of them; hence they could rest in perfect security.

While the men, in various groups, were preparing the meal or dressing
their wounds, and the young ladies were sleeping on a pile of ponchos
and sheepskins, Leon went to bathe, in order to remove the Indian
paint that disfigured him; and, after resuming his European dress, he
stationed himself near the spot where the ladies were reposing.

The first words of the latter, on awaking, were a torrent of thanks,
which amply rewarded the captain for all that he had done to save them.
Maria could not find expressions sufficiently strong to testify to Leon
the joy which she felt at being restored to liberty by his assistance;
and Inez, herself, gradually felt her heart expanding to a feeling
more lively than that of gratitude.

Betrothed to Don Pedro Sallazar by her father's wish, she had accepted
this alliance with perfect indifference, only seeing in this marriage
greater liberty of action, and the pleasure of being the wife of a
rich and brilliant gentlemen, who would devote his entire attention to
satisfying her slightest caprices. But her heart had never beaten more
violently than usual in the presence of the husband destined for her.

Such was the state of her heart, when the attack of the Indians at the
Parumo of San Juan Bautista had suddenly modified her ideas by causing
her to reflect on the conduct of the captain, who had not hesitated to
risk his life to save her, while her betrothed husband had not even
followed her track. Thus she guessed the grandeur and nobility of the
smuggler's character, and at the same time conceived a love for him,
which was the more violent because the man who was the object of it did
not seem to notice it.

It was only at this moment that she understood why her sister had
so often praised the young man's courageous qualities, and that she
recognised the passion which they entertained for each other. A cruel
grief gnawed at her heart, and it was in vain that she struggled
against the horrible torture of a frenzied jealousy. She felt that she
had no chance of being loved by Leon, who only lived for Maria; and
yet, in spite of herself, she could not dispel the charm with which he
inspired her. As for Leon, intoxicated with happiness, he revelled in
the felicity with which the presence of Maria, who was seated by his
side, inundated him.

After a few hours halt, they set out again, and on the morning of the
fourth day reached the Parumo of San Juan Bautista, without having
been molested in any way. Here they halted, and so soon as the camp was
pitched, Leon went up to the maidens, and taking them by the hand, led
them to the grave in which the Señora Soto-Mayor was interred.

"Kneel down," he said to them in a grave voice, "and pray, for here
rests the body of your mother, whose soul is in heaven."

Maria and Inez mingled their prayers and sobs over the tomb of her
who had taken care of their childhood, and both remained absorbed in
profound grief. Leon had discreetly withdrawn, leaving the maidens to
weep without witnesses: but at the expiration of an hour he went up to
them, and by gentle words recalled them to a sense of the things of
this world by speaking to them of their father, to whom he had pledged
himself to restore them.

On hearing their father's name, the sisters wiped their tears and
went back to join the smugglers, who were conversing about the combat
which they had waged five weeks previously at that very spot. The
men whom Hernandez and Joaquin had enlisted at Valparaíso listened
to the narration with the greatest interest, and resolved, on the
first opportunity, to avenge those whose places they had taken in
Leon's band. The way in which they had behaved before Garakouaïti was,
however, a sufficient guarantee of their good disposition.

From the Parumo of San Juan Bautista, the party proceeded to Talca; and
after two days' march, the lofty peaks of the Cordilleras had gradually
sunk behind the smugglers, who found themselves in the hot regions of
the llanos, uninhabited by the Chilians.

Leon, who for more than a month had been unable to receive any news
about the political events which had occurred during the period, and
who desired to obtain some information about General Soto-Mayor, and
whether on his return from Valdivia he had passed through Talca, gave
orders to march straight on the latter town, where he intended to let
the young ladies rest for two or three days. The nearer they drew
to it the darker the captain's brow became; he frowned anxiously,
and the glances which he cast in all directions revealed a profound

A great change had, indeed, taken place in these parts during the last
month; the country had no longer that rich appearance which it formerly
offered to the eye. Fields trampled by horses, the remains of burnt
haciendas, and the ashes heaped up at places where flour mills had
stood a few weeks previously--all these signs indicated that war had
passed that way.

Two or three leagues farther, however, the houses of Talca could be
seen on the horizon glistening in the sun. All was perfectly calm in
the vicinity; no human being showed himself: no flocks grazed on the
devastated prairies; on all sides, a leaden silence and a lugubrious
tranquillity brooded over the landscape, and imparted a heart-breaking
effect to the cheerful sunbeams.

All at once Wilhelm, who was riding a few paces ahead of the troop,
stopped his horse with a start of terror, and anxiously leaned over his
saddle. Leon dashed his spurs into his horse's flanks, and joined the
smuggler. A hideous spectacle was presented to the two men; in a ditch
bordering the road lay, pell-mell, a pile of Spanish corpses horridly
disfigured, and all deprived of their scalps.

Leon commanded a halt, while asking himself what he had better do.
Should he turn back, or advance on the town, which was evidently in the
hands of the Indians? Hesitation was permissible. Still the captain
understood that a determination, no matter what its nature, must be
formed at once, and looking around him, he noticed a ruined hacienda
about a league distant. It was a shelter, and it was better to seek
refuge there, than remain on the open plain.

Twenty minutes had not elapsed before Leon leaped from his horse and
rushed into the farm. The house bore traces of fire and devastation.
The cracked walls were blackened with smoke, the windows broken, and
amid the ruins that encumbered the patios lay the bodies of several men
and women, assassinated and partly burnt.

Leon conducted the trembling ladies to a room which was cleared of the
rubbish that obstructed the entrance; then, after recommending them not
to leave it, he rejoined his comrades, who were establishing themselves
as well as they could among the ruins.

"Caballeros," he said to them, "we are going to entrench ourselves here
while four of you go out to reconnoitre; for we should commit a grave
imprudence by entering the town before knowing in whose hands it is.
Who are the four men who will undertake the duty?"

"I!--I!" all the smugglers replied, in chorus.

"Very good," Leon remarked, with a smile; "I shall be obliged to

They were all silent.

"Giacomo, Hernandez, Joaquin, and Harrison, leave the ranks!"

The four advanced.

"You will go out," Leon said to them, "in four different directions
as scouts. Do not stay away more than two hours, and find out what is
going on. Above all, do not let yourselves be caught. Begone!"

The smugglers rushed to their horses, and set out at a gallop.

"Now," said Leon, addressing Wilhelm, "how many are there of us?"

"Fifty-four," a voice answered.

Leon felt himself strong. With fifty-four men he thought a good, deal
could be done. His first care was to fortify the house in the best way
he could; it was surrounded by a breast-high wall, like all the Chilian
haciendas; he had the gateway blocked up, and then, returning to the
house, he had loopholes pierced, and placed sentries near the wall and
on the terrace. Then summoning Wilhelm, he gave him the command of
twenty-five resolute men, and ordered him to ambuscade with this band
behind a hillock, which was about two hundred yards from the house.

All these precautions taken, he waited. The scouts soon after
returned, and their report was not reassuring:--The grand Molucho
army, commanded by Tahi-Mari, had seized on Talca by surprise; the
town was given over to pillage; and the Chilians, defeated in several
engagements, were flying in the direction of Santiago. Parties of
Indians were beating up the country on all sides; and it appeared
evident that the smugglers could not go a league beyond the hacienda
without falling into an ambuscade.

Hernandez, who was the last to arrive, brought with him some thirty
Chilian soldiers and guasos, who had been wandering about for two
days at the risk of being caught at any moment by the Indians, who
pitilessly massacred all the white men that fell into their hands.
Leon gladly welcomed the newcomers, for a reinforcement of thirty men
was not to be despised. They were well armed, and could render him a
great service. After distributing his men at the spots most exposed
to attack, the captain went up on the terrace, and after lying down,
carefully examined the country in the direction of Talca.

Nothing had altered, and the country was still deserted. This calmness
appeared to him to be of evil augury. The sun set in a reddish mist,
the light suddenly decreased, and night arrived with its darkness and
mysteries. Leon went down, and proceeded to the room serving as refuge
to the two sisters, in order to reassure them, and give them hopes
which he was far from feeling. The maidens were sitting on the ground

"Niñas," Leon said to them, "regain your courage. We are numerous, and
shall be able to start again tomorrow morning without any fear of being
disquieted by the Indians."

"Captain," Maria answered him, "it is vain for you to try and
tranquillize us; we have heard what the soldiers are saying to one
another, and they are prepared for an attack which appears to them

"Señor Captain," Inez said, in her turn, "we are the daughters and
sisters of soldiers, so you can tell us frankly to what we are exposed."

"Good heavens! do I know it myself?" Leon remarked. "I have taken all
the precautions necessary to defend the hacienda dearly, but still I
hope that we shall not be discovered."

"You are deceiving us again," Maria said with a smile, which was
sorrowful, though full of grace and charms.

"Besides," Leon continued, without replying to the young lady's
interruption, "be assured that, in the event of an attack, both I and
my men will be dead ere an Indian crosses the threshold of this door."

"The Indians!" the young ladies could not help exclaiming, for they had
before them the recollection of their captivity at Garakouaïti, and
trembled at the mere thought of falling into their hands again.

Still, this terror was but momentary. Maria's face soon reassumed the
delicious expression which was habitual to it, and it was with the
softest inflexion of her voice that she addressed him.

"Captain," she said to him, "my sister and I wish to ask a favour of
you--will you promise to grant it to us?"

"What is it, Señora? Speak, for you know that I am only too happy to
obey the slightest wish of yours."

"Then you swear to grant it me, whatever it may be?"

"Without doubt," Leon answered; "but what is it?"

"Give me the pistols hanging from your girdle."

"Pistols! Great Heaven! what would you do with them?"

"Kill ourselves," Maria said, simply, "sooner than return to the Indian

"Oh! am I not here to defend you?"

"We know it," Inez added, "and know, too, that you are the noblest and
bravest of all your comrades: but I join my entreaty to that of my
sister, and beg you not to refuse us."

"If you were killed, Leon," Maria at length said, "must not I die too?"

Inez looked at her sister, and was silent.

Leon started, and drew the pistols from his girdle.

"Here they are," he said, as he handed them to the ladies.

And, without adding a word, he left the room, with his face buried in
his hands. Maria and Inez threw themselves into each other's arms, and
passionately embraced.

At the moment when Leon re-entered the patio, Harrison walked up to
him, and said, as he pointed to several rows of black dots, which
seemed crawling at no great distance from the hacienda--

"Look there, captain."

"They are Indians," Leon answered; "every man to his post."

An hour passed in horrible anxiety. All at once, the hideous head of a
redskin appeared above the enclosing wall, and took a ferocious glance
into the patio. Leon raised his axe, and the Indian's body fell back
outside, while the head rolled at the captain's feet. Several attempts
of the same nature, made at different points of the wall, were repulsed
with equal success.

Then the Indians, who had expected to surprise a few sleepy guasos,
on seeing themselves so unpleasantly received, raised their war yell,
and rising tumultuously from the ground on which they had hitherto
been crawling, bounded upon the wall, which they tried to escalade
on all sides at once. A belt of flame then flashed forth round the
hacienda, and a shower of bullets greeted them. Several fell, but their
impetuosity was not checked, and a fresh discharge, almost in their
faces, which caused them enormous loss, was unable to repulse them.

Ere long, assailants and assailed were contending hand to hand. It was
a fearful combat, in which men only loosed their hold to die, and in
which the conquered, frequently dragging down the conqueror in his
fall, strangled him in a last convulsion. For nearly half an hour it
was impossible to judge how matters went; the shots and the blows of
axes and sabres followed each other with marvellous rapidity.

At length the Indians fell back: the wall had not been scaled. But
the truce was not long; the Indians returned to the charge, and the
struggle recommenced with new obstinacy. This time, in spite of the
prodigies of valour, the smugglers, surrounded by the mass of enemies
who attacked them on all sides simultaneously, were compelled to fall
back on the house, defending every inch of ground; their resistance
could not last much longer.

At this moment shouts were heard in the rear of the Indians, and
Wilhelm rushed upon them like a hurricane at the head of his band.
The redskins, surprised at this unexpected attack, fell back in
disorder, and dispersed over the country. Leon, taking advantage of the
opportunity, dashed forward at the head of twenty men to support his
ambuscading party and complete the defeat of his enemies. The pursuit
did not last long, however, and the smugglers returned to the hacienda,
for the Indians had vanished like shadows.

Two hours passed without any incident. Leon gave orders to repair the
damage done by the enemy, and then went to the young ladies, in order
to learn how they had endured this fearful assault. On entering the
room, he stumbled over the body of an Indian. The captain recoiled;
a cold perspiration bathed his face; a convulsive tremor seized upon
him, and he was on the point of losing his senses. A terrible thought
crossed his mind; he feared he should see the young ladies killed.
Looking sharply about the room, he saw them crouching in a corner, and
a cry of delight burst from him.

"Oh!" he exclaimed, "what has happened here?"

Maria, without answering, took the torch, which was burning in a ring
against the wall, and illumined the Indian's countenance.

"Tcharanguii!" he exclaimed.

"Yes," she said, "and it was this that killed him." She displayed with
savage energy the pistol that she held in her hand.

"Oh!" said Leon, falling on his knees, "Heaven be thanked!"

"Captain, captain!" Wilhelm shouted, as he rushed into the room, "here
are the Indians!"

Leon hurried out. The fight had recommenced between his men and the
Indians. Day was beginning to break, and discovered an entire army of
Indians forming a circle round the hacienda.

"Comrades!" Leon said, in a thundering voice, addressing the smugglers,
"we cannot hope to conquer, but we must die like brave men."

"We will!" they replied, with an accent of sublime resignation.

They were only twenty-nine in all, for sixty had been killed in the
first two attacks.

"Do not let us waste our powder," Leon added; "but make sure of our

The horizon was gradually growing clearer, and friend and foe could
perfectly distinguish each other. There was something painful in this
spectacle of twenty-nine calm and stoical men, who had all made a
sacrifice of their life, and were preparing with heroic carelessness to
support the onrush of thousands of implacable enemies.

All at once Leon uttered a cry of surprise; he had just recognised the
grand chief of the Moluchos, who was advancing at the head of a portion
of the army to carry the hacienda by storm.

"Diego!" he shouted.

"Leon!" Tahi-Mari replied.

And then turning to the fighting Indians, he commanded them to stop.

Then, rushing towards the man who had been his friend, he said--

"You here! Why, unhappy man, you must wish for death!"

"Yes," Leon replied.

"Oh! I will save you!"

"Thanks, Diego. But will you also save those who are with me?"

"Those who are with you have killed five hundred of my men during the
night. Oh! the incarnate demons! Yes, I ought to have suspected it; you
alone were able to withstand an army for a whole night in a dismantled
ruin. Save them," he added--"no, it is impossible."

"In that case, good-bye," Leon said, as he prepared to turn away.

"Where are you going, brother?"

"To die with them, since their death is resolved."

"Oh, you will not do that?"

"Why should I not do it? Why have you forgotten, that you were for a
long time their leader, but will now sacrifice them to your blind fury?"

"Oh! I cannot let the Soto-Mayor family escape thus!"

"That family left me at the Parumo of San Bautista, after the Indian
bullets had killed the general's wife."

"Are you speaking the truth?"

"I have only two ladies with me."

"Wait!" said the chief of the redskins, and returned to his band.

Leon said a few words to Wilhelm, who dashed into the house to inform
the young ladies that they were out of danger, but only on condition
that they wrapped themselves so carefully in their rebozos that their
features could not be recognised.

Leon saw Tahi-Mari talking with great animation for about ten minutes
among the Molucho chiefs: at length they separated, and Diego returned
to him.

"Brother," he said to him, "you are an adopted son of the Moluchos;
you can retire withersoever you please with the men whom you command,
without fear of being disquieted."

"Thanks, brother," Leon said; "I recognise you in that."

"Where will you go?" Diego asked again.

"To Valparaíso."


"Why good-bye; do you never wish to see me again?"


"Listen; in a week I shall be free from any engagement. Where will you
give me a meeting?"

"At the Rio Claro," said the Indian chief.

"I will be there."

The two friends parted as in the happy days of their friendship, and
then the captain joined his men, while the Indian put himself at the
head of his army again.

"To horse!" Leon then said.

The smugglers obeyed; and then forming a close squadron, they left the
hacienda at a canter, having the two veiled ladies in their midst. The
Indian army made way for them to pass; and the twenty-nine men rode
with head erect through the dense ranks of the Moluchos, who watched
them pass without evincing the slightest impression. Six days after,
Maria and Inez de Soto-Mayor were in safety behind the walls of the
convent of the Purísima Concepción.



The appearance of Valparaíso had greatly changed. It was no longer
the careless, laughing town which we have described, echoing from
morning to night with gay love songs, and whirling round with a wild
sambacueca. No! its gaiety had faded away to make room for sombre
anxieties. Although its sky was still as pure, its sun as hot, and
its women as lovely, a veil of sadness had spread over the forehead
of the inhabitants, and chilled the smile on every lip. The streets,
usually so full of promenaders and so noisy, were gloomy and silent.
The shops--nearly all deserted and closed--no longer displayed to
purchasers from all countries those thousand charming trifles of which
the Creoles are so fond.

Numerous troops of soldiers were encamped in all the squares; strong
patrols marched through each district, and the ships anchored in the
bay, with nettings triced up and ports opened, were awaiting the moment
for action; while at intervals the beating of the drums or the dull
ringing of the tocsin, terrified the timid citizens in their houses,
where they hid themselves under triple bolts and locks.

What was occurring, however, was sufficient to excuse the terror of
the alarmed population. Tahi-Mari, the great Molucho chief, at the
head of the twelve allied Araucano nations, after seizing the forts
of Araucas and Tulcapel, and massacring their garrisons, had taken
Valdivia, which he plundered, and continuing his march with more than
two hundred thousand Indians, had subjugated Talcahueno, Concepción,
Maule, and Talca. In spite of the desperate efforts and courage of
General Don Pedro Sallazar, who at the head of six thousand men had
vainly attempted to arrest the invader, the Spanish army, conquered in
five successive actions, was dispersed, leaving Tahi-Mari at liberty to
march upon Santiago, the capital of Chili.

Only one resource was left Don Pedro Sallazar, that of collecting the
relics of his defeated army, and entrenching himself on the banks
of the Massucho, in order to dispute its passage with the Indians,
who were preparing to cross the river. This he did with the help; of
four thousand men, whom Don Juan brought to him, though not without

The President of the Republic had called under arms all the youth
of Chili, and in the towns, pueblos, and villages, the citizens had
eagerly placed themselves at the disposal of the military authorities,
who had armed and sent them off to Valparaíso, which was selected as
headquarters, owing to the proximity of that town and Santiago.

On the eighth day after the arrival of General Soto-Mayor's daughters
at the convent of the Purísima Concepción, at about midday, three or
four thousand men, forming the volunteer contingent, were piously
kneeling in the Plaza del Gobernador and attending the divine service,
which the Bishop of Valparaíso was celebrating in the cathedral for the
success of their arms. In all the towns of the republic, novenas and
public prayers had been ordered, to implore heaven to save the country
from the immense danger which menaced it.

When mass was ended, the soldiers rose to their feet and closed up in
line. Then a brilliant staff, composed of general officers, at the head
of whom was the commandant of Valparaíso, came out of the cathedral and
stood on the last step of the peristyle. The governor stretched out his
arm as a signal that he wished to speak, and the drums beat a prolonged
roll. When silence was re-established, he said:--

"Chilians! the hand of God presses heavily upon us: the ferocious
Indians have rushed upon our territory like wild beasts; they are
firing our towns, and plundering, burning, massacring, and violating on
their passage. Soldiers, you are about to fight for your homes; you are
the last hope of your country, who is looking at you and counting on
your courage; will you deceive its expectations?"

"No!" the volunteers shouted, brandishing their weapons frenziedly.
"Lead us against the Indians!"

"Very good," the general continued; "I am happy to see the noble ardour
which animates you, and I know that I can trust to your promise. The
President of the Republic, in his solicitude for you, has chosen as
your commander one of the noblest veterans of our War of Independence,
who has claimed the honour of marching at your head--General Don Juan
de Soto-Mayor."

"Long live General Soto-Mayor," the soldiers cried. The general, upon
this, stationed himself by the side of the governor, and all were
silent for the sake of listening to him.

"Soldiers!" he exclaimed, in a fierce voice, and with a glance
sparkling with enthusiasm, "I have sworn to the President of the
Republic that the enemy should only reach Santiago by passing over our

"Yes, yes, we will all die. Long live General Soto-Mayor!"

At this moment the doors of the cathedral, which had been shut, were
noisily opened; a religious band could be heard; the bells rang
out loudly; a cloud of incense obscured the air; and an imposing
procession, with the bishop at its head, came out under the portico,
and ranged itself there while singing pious hymns. On seeing this,
soldiers and generals knelt down.

"Christians!" said the bishop, a venerable, white-haired old man, whom
two vicars held under the arms, "go whither duty summons you. Save your
country, or die for it. I give you my pastoral blessing."

Then, seizing a magnificent standard, on which sparkled a figure of the
Virgin, embroidered in gold, he said--

"Take this consecrated flag. I place it in the hands of your general,
and Nuestra Señora de la Merced will give you the victory!"

At these words, pronounced by the worthy bishop, a perfect delirium
seized upon his hearers, and they swore with many imprecations and with
tears in their eyes to defend the flag which General Soto-Mayor waved
over their heads with a martial air, and to conquer or die in following
him. The volunteers then marched past the staff and the clergy, and
returned to their cantonments at the Almendral.

The general had already taken leave of the governor, as the troops had
completely evacuated the square, and was preparing to return to the
mansion which he had inhabited since his arrival from Valdivia, when
he heard his name pronounced behind him just as he was on the point of
mounting his horse. He turned his head quickly, and uttered a cry of
joy on recognising Captain Leon Delbès.

"You here!" he said.

"Heaven be praised, I have found you, general!"

"Where are my girls?" the old gentleman asked, anxiously.


The general opened his arms to the young man, who rushed into them.

"Oh, my friend, what do I not owe you! My poor children! for mercy's
sake take me at once to them. Where have you left them?"

"At the convent of the Purísima Concepción, general, as I pledged
myself to do."

"Thanks! Come then with me; while we are going we will talk together,
and you will tell me how I can recompense the eminent service which you
have done me."

"General, I beg you do not revert to this subject. When I started to
seek the two young ladies who had been torn from you I accomplished a
duty, and I cannot and will not accept any reward."

The general looked at Leon, seeking to read his thoughts in his face,
but he could not divine anything.

"Ah!" he answered, "we shall see. Caramba! You are a man of heart, but
I have a desire to be a man of my word. Let us hasten at once to the
convent, for I am longing to embrace my poor girls."

"But, general, my presence may perhaps be inopportune--I am only a
stranger, and--"

"Sir! the man who devoted himself to save my children cannot be
regarded as a stranger either by them or me."

The captain bowed.

"Let us start," Don Juan continued. "You are on foot, so I will send my
horse home."

"Pray do not do so, general, for my horse is waiting a few yards off."

Leon whistled in a peculiar manner, and almost immediately the general
saw a horseman, leading another horse by the bridle, turn out of the
Calle San Agostino. It was our old acquaintance, Wilhelm.

"Here it is," said Leon.

Wilhelm had come up, and after saluting the general, said to the
smuggler, in a low voice:

"Captain, here is a letter which has arrived for you, and which Master
Crevel bade me to give you, adding that it was very pressing."

"Very good," said Leon, taking it and putting it in his pocket, without
even looking at the handwriting. And he leapt on his horse.

"Follow us," he shouted to Wilhelm.

"All right, captain."

The two gentlemen rode off in the direction of the convent, escorted by
Wilhelm, and followed by the general's servant. On the road the general
overwhelmed Leon with questions as to the way in which he had contrived
to find his daughters; and the captain described his expedition to
him. When he came to the rescue which he accomplished by pretending to
deliver Inez and Maria from the possession of the fiend, the general
could not restrain a burst of laughter.

"On my word, captain, what you did there denotes on your part great
boldness and profound skill. I knew that you were a courageous fellow,
but I now see that you are a man of genius."

Leon tried to defend himself against such a flattering qualification,
but the general insisted, while repeating the expression of his
gratitude. In this way they reached the convent gates, and the general
and Leon went in. Here again the young man was obliged to repeat to the
curious abbess the details of his Odyssey.

The general yielded to all the transports of a real joy, and never
tired of lavishing the tenderest caresses on those whom he had thought
eternally lost. It was then that the memory of the beloved wife who no
longer lived returned to him with all the greater force. Heavy tears
poured from his eyes, and were mingled with those of his daughters.

"My children," he said to them, "Heaven has recalled your mother from
my side, and your brother, Don Juan, is at this moment exposed to all
the horrors of civil war. Hence I should only have you to cherish if
my son succumbed beneath the blows of our cruel enemies. Remain here,
then, my children, in this holy house, until the re-establishment of
peace restores us better days."

"What! are you going away again, father?" Inez asked.

"I must. I have been intrusted with the command of a division, and I
owe the little blood left me to the defence of my country."

"Oh, Heaven!" the young ladies exclaimed.

"Reassure yourselves: I hope to see you again soon: the walls of this
convent will preserve you from external dangers. I leave you here
without anxiety, until I return to be present at your taking the veil,
my good Maria, and your marriage with Don Pedro Sallazar, my dear Inez."

The young ladies made no reply, but simultaneously glanced at the
smuggler, whose face was extremely pale.

"It is to you that I confide them, my sister," the general continued,
addressing the abbess. "Watch carefully over them, and whatever may
happen, only act on my orders, or those of my son, if I am killed,
as regards Maria's taking the veil or Inez's departure, for the war
may--produce great changes and unforeseen catastrophes."

"You shall be obeyed, general," the abbess replied.

The general embraced his daughters for the last time, and prepared to
depart; but at the moment of separating from their father they appeared
visibly affected. Maria looked at Leon, striving to read in his face an
encouragement to confess to the general the slight inclination she felt
for a conventual life. The captain understood the maiden's desire, but
his face did not speak, and hence Maria's lips did not move.

On her side Inez appeared to have formed some violent resolution, for
with purpled cheeks she addressed the general, while repressing the
beating of her heart.

"Father," she said to him, with an effort, "before you leave us, I wish
to say a few words to you without witnesses."

The tone in which these words were uttered produced a certain
impression on the general.

"What have you to tell me, my child?"

"You shall know directly, father."

"Allow me to withdraw, general," said Leon; "besides," he added, "I
have some business to settle, and--"

"Señor, Inez has secrets to reveal to me," the old gentleman said, with
a smile. "I will let you go; but only on condition that you come and
see me tonight before I set out for Santiago."

"I shall not fail, general."

"Good-bye then, for the present, captain."

Leon bowed, and after exchanging a few compliments with the persons
present, left the room. The abbess also retired, though somewhat
reluctantly, followed by Maria, and the general found himself alone
with Inez. Let us leave him and his daughter together for a moment, and
accompany Leon, who found Wilhelm waiting at the gate.

"What is the matter with you?" he asked him, as he mounted his horse;
"you have a very singular look today."

"Well," the German replied, "it is because I see some fellows I do not
like prowling about here."

"What do you mean?"

"Nothing, except that we had better be on our guard."

"Nonsense, you are mad!"

"We shall see."

"In the meanwhile, let us make haste, for Diego is waiting for us at
the Rio Claro, and time is slipping away."

The two smugglers rode off in the direction of the spot fixed by
Diego for the meeting he had given the captain. Leon was thinking of
the scene which he had just witnessed at the convent, and was asking
himself what Inez could have to say to her father. Wilhelm was looking
around him suspiciously. They rode on thus for about ten minutes, when
just as they were turning the corner of the great Almendral street and
preparing to leave Valparaíso, a dozen alguaciles barred their passage.

"In the name of the law I arrest you, Señor Delbès!" one of them said,
addressing Leon.

"I beg your pardon," the smuggler said, laying his hands on his
pistols, and raising his head.

Wilhelm followed his example.

"Shall we drop them?" he asked, eagerly, in a whisper.

"We two could certainly kill eight!" Leon replied; "but I fancy that
would do us no good, as we are beset."

In fact, the first two men were joined by other ten, and a large band
of serenos speedily surrounded them.

"Surrender!" said the man who had before spoken.

"I must do so," Leon replied; "but tell me why you arrest me?" Then
he bent down to Wilhelm and whispered--"You know where we were going;
proceed there alone, and tell Diego what has happened to me."

"All right; trust to me."

"Gentlemen," Leon continued, "I have asked you for what motive you
arrest me; will you be good enough to tell me?"

"We do not know," the head of the serenos answered. "I have orders to
make certain of your body and the rest does not concern me. For the
third time, are you willing to follow us peaceably?"

Leon reflected for a few seconds, and answered in the affirmative.

"In that case, uncock your pistols."

He raised his arms and discharged his pistols in the air.

"Why, what are you about?" the sereno exclaimed; "you will give an

"You told me to uncock my pistols, and I did more, I unloaded them.
What more would you have?"

"Enough argument; march!" said the man.

"March!" the captain repeated.

And surrounded by a strong squad of police, Leon was carried off to the
governor's house. This arrest, and the two shots heard in this part of
the town, had brought to the spot a large number of curious persons.
Wilhelm mingled among them, and joined the mob that was awaiting the
prisoner coming out.

Ten minutes passed, and at the expiration of that time Leon reappeared,
escorted by twenty serenos, who led him to the Calabozo, situated on
the Almendral, at no great distance from the Convent of the Purísima
Concepción, where he was safely placed under lock and key. Wilhelm
understood that he would have no hope of seeing his captain again by
waiting longer.

"Good!" he said to himself, "I know where to find him now: let us make
haste to go and warn Diego or Tahi-Mari, for I really do not know what
to think of our friend and foe, the captain's lieutenant."

Whereupon the worthy German buried his wide spurs in his horse's
flanks, which started at a gallop in the direction of the Rio Claro.

"No matter; all this does not appear to me clear," the smuggler
muttered. "Well, we shall see."

Night was beginning to fall. As he left the town, the angelus was
ringing in all the churches, and the tattoo sounding in all the streets
of Valparaíso.



It was about ten o'clock at night. It was cold and foggy; the wind
whistled violently, and heavy black clouds coming from the south
dropped heavy rain upon the ground. Between Valparaíso and Rio Claro
--that is to say, in the gorge which had many times served as a refuge
for the smugglers, and which our readers are already acquainted
with--Tahi-Mari indolently lying at the foot of a tree, was rolling
a papelito in his fingers, while lending an attentive ear to the
slightest sounds which the gust conveyed to him and at times darting
glances around him which seemed trying to pierce the obscurity.

"Ten o'clock already," he said, "and Leon not yet arrived: what can
detain him? It is not possible that he can have forgotten the hour of
our meeting. I will wait longer," he added, as he drew his mechero from
his pocket and lit his cigarette, "for Leon must come back to me--he
must absolutely."

Suddenly a sound so light that only an Indian's ear could seize it,
crossed the space.

"What is that?" Diego asked himself.

He rose cautiously, and after concealing his horse in a dense thicket,
hid himself behind the trunk of an enormous tree close by. The sound
gradually drew nearer, and it was soon easy to recognise the gallop
of a horse at full speed. A few minutes later a rider turned into the
clearing; but he had not gone a few yards when his horse stumbled
against a stone, tottered, and in spite of the efforts of the man on
its back, slipped with all four feet, and fell.

"Der Teufel! Carajo! Sacrebleu!" Wilhelm shouted, as he fell, borrowing
from all the languages he spoke the expressions best adapted to render
the lively annoyance which he felt at the accident which had happened
to him.

But the German was a good horseman, and the fall of the horse did not
at all take him unawares. He freed his feet from the stirrups and found
himself on his legs. Still, on looking around him, he noticed that the
clearing which was deserted on his arrival, had become peopled, as if
by enchantment, by some fifty Indians, who seemed to have sprung out of
the ground.

"The deuce!" thought Wilhelm; "I fancy there will be a row, and I am
afraid that I shall come off second best."

At this moment a shrill whistle was heard, and the Indians disappeared
so rapidly that the German rubbed his eyes to see whether he was awake.

"Hilloh!" he asked himself, "is this an apparition, and are they demons
or men?"

Then, seeing that he was really alone, he busied himself with raising
his horse.

"There," he continued, when the animal was on its legs again, "I will
wait till Señor Diego arrives. Plague take the spot; it does not appear
to me so sure as formerly, and our ex-lieutenant might have chosen

"Here I am, Wilhelm!" Diego said, suddenly, as he stood before the

"Well, I am not sorry for it, lieutenant," the German answered,

"What do you want here?" the other asked him, sharply.

"I have come because the captain ordered me to do so, that is all."

"Why did Leon send you in his place? I was expecting him here."

"Ah, that is another matter, and you must not be angry with him."

"But," Diego continued, biting his moustache savagely, "what does he
expect me to do with you?"

"Hang it all--whatever you like."

"But where is he?"

"He is arrested."


"Yes; and it was before being imprisoned in the Calabozo, that he
ordered me to go in all haste and warn you."

"Arrested!" the half-breed said, stamping his foot; "that scoundrel of
a Crevel has betrayed me, and shall pay dearly for it."

"Crevel, do you say, lieutenant? Well, it is possible; and yet I do not
think so."

"I am sure of it."

"Why so?"

"I sent him a letter which he was to deliver to Leon, and in which I
warned the latter of the danger that menaced him."

"A letter, you say; and when did you send it?"

"This morning early."

"Ah!" said Wilhelm, "I have it."

And he told Diego how--as Leon had gone out when the letter arrived at
Crevel's--the latter asked him to deliver it to the captain, and that
when he received it, he put it in his pocket without reading, absorbed
as he was in his conversation with General Soto-Mayor.

"What! is the general at Valparaíso?" Diego asked, interrupting the

"Yes, lieutenant; but he will not be so for long."

"Why not?"

"Because the governor had just given him command of the new body of
volunteers, who are going to reinforce the Chilian army at Santiago."

"That is well."

Tahi-Mari whistled in a peculiar way, and an Indian appeared. The
chief of the Molucho army said a few words to him in a low voice. The
Indian bowed as a sign of obedience, and, gliding through the herbage,
disappeared. Wilhelm looked on at the scene, whistling to give himself
a careless air. When the Indian had gone, Tahi-Mari turned to him, and
laid his hand on his shoulder.

"Wilhelm," he said to him, "you love your captain, do you not, my lad?"

While uttering these words his searching glance was plunged into the
smuggler's eyes, as if questioning his thoughts.

"I love the captain? Der Teufel! do you doubt it, lieutenant?"

"No! that will do; you are an honest fellow."

"All right."

"But listen to me. Will you save him?"

"Certainly. What am I to do for that?"

"I will tell you. Where is Leon's band?"

"At Valparaíso."

"How many men does it consist of at this moment?"


"Would they all die for their captain?"

"I should think so."

"In that case, you will assemble them tomorrow at Crevel's."

"At what hour?"

"Eleven o'clock at night."


"Pay attention that Crevel does not open the door to any persons who do
not rap thrice, and say Diego and Leon."

"I will open it myself."

"That will be better still."

"After that, what are we to do?"

"Nothing; the rest is my business: remember my instructions, and be

"Enough, lieutenant."

Wilhelm remounted his horse and set out on his return. At about a
league from Valparaíso he met the column of volunteers marching to
Santiago, and gaily advancing while singing patriotic airs. Wilhelm
who was not at all desirous of being arrested as a suspicious person
for travelling at this hour of the night, drew up by the wayside, and
allowed the men to defile past him. When the last had disappeared in
the distance, the German returned to the high road, and half an hour
later re-entered Valparaíso, puzzling over the remarks of Tahi-Mari,
whose plans he could not divine.

In the meanwhile, the volunteers continued to advance, filling the air
with their martial strains. They formed a body of about four thousand
men; but of this number only one-half were armed with muskets--the
rest had pikes, lances, or forks; but their enthusiasm--powerfully
inflamed by the copious libations of aguardiente which the inhabitants
of Valparaíso had furnished to them--knew no limits, and made them
discount beforehand a victory which they regarded as certain.

These soldiers of the moment had been selected from the lowest classes
of society, and retained a turbulence and want of discipline which
nothing could conquer. The citizens of Valparaíso, who feared them
almost as much as if they had been Indians, were delighted at their
departure, for, during their short stay in the town, they had, so to
speak, organized plunder, and made robbery their vocation.

General Soto-Mayor did not at all deceive himself as to the qualities
of the men whom he commanded, and perceived at the first glance that
it would be impossible to obtain from them the obedience which he had
a right to demand. In spite of the repeated orders which he gave them
at starting to observe, the greatest silence on the march, through fear
of being surprised by the Indians, he found himself constrained to
let them act as they pleased, and he resolved to let the army bivouac
on the road, while he proceeded to his country house, whence he could
dispatch a courier to Santiago, requesting officers to be sent him
who could aid him in restoring some degree of order among the men
he commanded. It was evident that such a disorderly and noisy march
exposed them to be murdered to a man in the first ambuscade which the
Araucanos prepared for him.

It was about one in the morning when the volunteers arrived at the
general's country house. It was plunged in profound obscurity; all
the shutters were closed, and the watch dogs barked mournfully in the
deserted courtyards. After ordering a halt for some hours the general
proceeded towards his residence. At the sound of the bell a heavy
footfall was heard inside, and a grumbling voice asked who was knocking
at such an hour, and what he wanted.

When the general had made himself known, the gate turned heavily
on its hinges, and Señor Soto-Mayor entered, not without a painful
contraction of the heart, the house which recalled to him such
affecting recollections. Alas! long past were the happy days which he
had spent in this charming retreat, surrounded by all those to whom he
was attached, and resting from the fatigues of a gloriously occupied

The old gentleman's first care was to send off the courier, and then,
after taking out of the manservant's hand the candle which he held, he
entered the apartments. This splendid residence, which he had left so
brilliant and so animated, was now solitary and deserted. The rooms
he passed through, on whose floor his foot echoed dully, were cold;
the atmosphere which he breathed was impregnated with a close and
unhealthy odour, which testified the little care the guardians of the
house had displayed in removing it; on all sides were abandonment and

At times the general's eyes fell upon an object which had belonged to
his wife, and then they filled with tears, while a deep sigh issued
from his oppressed chest. At length, after visiting in turn all the
apartments in the house with that painful pleasure which persons feel
in evoking a past which cannot return, the general opened the door of
the room which had served as his bedroom. He could not restrain a start
of terror. A man, seated in an easy chair, with his arms folded on his
chest, seemed to be awaiting somebody.

It was Diego.

"Come in, my dear general," he said, as he rose and bowed courteously.

"Señor!" said the general.

"Yes; I understand. It astonishes you to see me here: but what would
you have? Circumstances allowed me no choice; and I am sure that you
will pardon me this slight infraction of etiquette."

The general was dumb with surprise at the sight of such audacity.
Still, when the first flush of indignation had passed, feeling curious
to know the object of the person who behaved to him so strangely, he
restrained his anger and awaited the result of this singular interview.

"Sit down, general, pray," Diego continued, keeping up his tone of

"I thank, you, sir, for your politeness in doing the honours of my
house; but before aught else, I should wish to know the reason which
has procured me this visit."

"I beg your pardon, general," the other replied, with a slight tremor
in his voice; "but perhaps you do not recognize me, and so I will--"

"It is unnecessary, sir. I remember you perfectly well; you are a
smuggler, called Diego the Vaquero, who abandoned us after engaging to
escort us, as did Captain Leon Delbès, in whose service I believe you

"That is perfectly correct, general; still the name of Diego is not the
only one which I have the right to bear."

"That concerns me but slightly."

"Perhaps not."

"Explain yourself."

"If the Spaniards call me Diego, the Indians call me Tahi-Mari."

This name produced the same effect on the general as an electric shock.

"Tahi-Mari!" he exclaimed. "You!"


A flash of hatred animated the eyes of the two men, who seemed
measuring each other like two tigers brought face to face. After a
moment's silence, the general continued:

"Can you be ignorant that I have round the house in which we now are
four thousand men ready to hurry up at my first summons?"

"No, general; but you do not seem to know that I, too, have in this
house two hundred Indians, who are watching each of your movements, and
who would rush on you at the slightest signal I gave."

The general's lips blanched.

"Ah! I understand," he said. "You have come to assassinate me after
killing my wife, for now I no longer doubt but that it was you who had
us surprised in such a cowardly fashion in the Parumo of San Juan

"You are mistaken, general: it was not I who made you a widower; and it
was in order that none of my men should tear from me the prey I covet,
that I have come myself to fetch it."

"But what impels you to be so furious against those of my race, so that
the name of Tahi-Mari may be equivalent to that of the murderer of the

"Because the Soto-Mayors are all cowards and infamous."


"Yes, infamous! and it is because I have sworn to exterminate the last
of the accursed family that I have come to take your life!"


"Nonsense; a Tahi-Mari fights, but he does so honourably--face to face.
Here are two swords," Diego continued, pointing to the weapons lying on
a cheffonier, "choose the one you please; or if you like, you have your
sabre, and here is mine. On guard! and may heaven protect the last of
the Tahi-Maris, while destroying the last of the Soto-Mayors!"

"I have a son who will avenge me," the general exclaimed.

"Perhaps not, Señor Don Juan, for you know not whether he is dead or

"My son!--oh!"

And the general, overpowered by a feverish excitement, furiously drew
the pistol which he had in his belt and discharged it point-blank at
Diego. But the latter was following his movements, and at the moment
when the general's hand was lowered at him, he cut through his wrist
with a sabre-stroke. The general uttered a cry of pain, and the bullet
broke a mirror.

"Oh, oh!" Diego exclaimed, "ever treacherous; but we are too old
enemies not to know each other, and hence I was on my guard, general."

The old man, without replying, drew another pistol with his left hand
and fired. But the badly aimed shot only grazed slightly the Indian's
chest; and the bullet, after making a scratch along one of his ribs,
entered the panel of a door. Diego bounded like a lion on the old man,
who had fallen to the ground, and whose blood was streaming from the
frightful wound he had on his arm. Then he seized his long white hair,
pulled up his head violently, and compelled him to look him in the face.

"At last, Soto-Mayor, you are conquered!" he shouted.

The old man collected the little strength left him in a supreme effort;
his eyes sparkled with fury, his countenance was contracted with
disgust, and he spat in his enemy's face. At this supreme insult Diego
uttered a frightful howl, and then drew his knife with a demoniacal

In the meanwhile the sound of the pistol shots had spread an alarm
among the volunteers, and a party of them rushed tumultuously into the
house. When the soldiers entered the general's bedroom, after breaking
in the door, they found the window open and the old man stretched out
on the floor, bathed in blood. In addition to the horrible mutilation
of his arm, he had a hideous wound on his head, from which the blood
streamed down his face. Diego had scalped the unfortunate Don Juan de

A cry of horror burst from every mouth, and they hastily gave the
wounded man all the care which his wretched condition required.



Since the invasion of the Araucanos, Crevel's hostelry had lost much
of its old splendour. No longer was heard the clink of glasses or
the smashing of window panes which the noisy customers broke while
discussing their affairs. The bottles remained methodically arranged on
the shelves that lined the shop, and the time when Crevel earned a few
piastres a month, merely by counting as new the cracked ones which his
customers threw at his head in the guise of a peroration, had passed
away. The most utter vacuum had taken the place of the overflow.

At the most, not more than one or two passers-by came in during the
course of the day to drink a glass of pisco, which they paid for, and
went off again directly in spite of all the efforts and cajolery of the
banian, who tried to keep them in order to talk of public affairs and
cheer his solitude.

On the day after Leon Delbès' arrest, however, the house offered, at
about ten in the evening, a lively appearance, which formed a strange
contrast with the calmness and tranquillity which the state of war had
imposed on it. The shop was literally encumbered with customers, who
smoked without saying a word.

The silence was so religiously observed by them that it was easy to
distinguish the sound of the rain falling outside, and the hoofs of the
police horses which echoed dully on the pebbles or in the muddy pools
which covered the soil.

At nightfall the worthy landlord, who had not seen his threshold
crossed since the morning by a single customer, was preparing to shut
up, with sundry execrations, when an individual suddenly entered, then
three, then four, then ten--in a word, so large a number that he found
it impossible to count them. All were wrapped in large cloaks, and had
their broad-brimmed hats pulled down over their eyes so as to render
their features unrecognisable.

Crevel, agreeably surprised, prepared to serve his guests, with
the assistance of his lads; but though the proverb says that it is
impossible to have too much of a good thing, the extraordinary number
of persons who seemed to have given each other the meeting at his house
assumed such proportions, that our landlord eventually became alarmed,
as he did not know where to house the newcomers. The crowd, after
invading the ground floor room, had, like a constantly-rising tide
overflowed into the adjoining one, and then ascended the stairs and
taken possession of the upper floors.

When ten o'clock struck, forty customers peopled the posada, and, as
we said, not a single syllable was exchanged between them. Crevel
comprehended that something extraordinary was taking place in his
house; and he sought for means to get rid of these silent guests by
affecting preparations for closing his inn, but no one appeared to
catch his meaning. At this moment a sereno offered him the pretext
which he was awaiting by shouting outside--

"Ave Maria purísima las diez han dado y llueve." The stereotyped phrase
of the night watchman, though accompanied by modulations which would
make a cat cry, produced no impression on the company. Hence Crevel
resolved to speak.

"Gentlemen," he said aloud, as he stood in the middle of the room
with his hands on his hips, "it is ten o'clock, you hear, and I must
absolutely close my establishment."

"Drink here!" the customers replied, in chorus--accompanying the
sentence by dealing vigorous blows on the table with their pewter

Crevel started back.

"Really, gentlemen," he tried to continue, "I would observe to you

"Drink here!" the topers observed, in a voice of thunder.

"Ah! that is the game, is it?" the exasperated landlord cried, who felt
all his courage return with his passion. "Well, we will see whether I
am master of my own house."

He rushed towards the door, but had not taken a step in the street,
when a newcomer seized him by the arm and unceremoniously thrust him
back into the room, saying, with a mocking air--

"What imprudence, Master Crevel, to go out bareheaded in such weather!
You will catch an awful cold."

Then, while the banian, confused and terrified by this rude shock, was
trying to restore a little order in his ideas, his addresser, behaving
just as if he were at home, and assisted by two customers, to whom he
gave a signal, fastened the window shutters, bolted and locked the door
as well as Crevel's lads could have done it.

"Now let us talk," said the newcomer, as he turned to the stupefied
landlord. "Do you not recognise me?" he added, as he doffed his hat.

"Monsieur Wilhelm!" Crevel exclaimed.

"Silence!" the other remarked.

And he led the master of the posada into a retired corner of the room.

"Have you any strange lodgers here?" he asked him, in a low voice.

"No! if you know this legion of big demons who have collected in my
house during the last hour--"

"Well! I am not alluding to them. I ask you whether you have any
strangers lodging here. As for these gentlemen, you must know them as
well as I do."

"From the cellar to the garret there is not a soul beside these
gentlemen; but as I have not yet been able to see so much as the end of
their noses, it was impossible for me to recognise them."

"These are all men belonging to the captain's band, you humbug!"

"Nonsense! In that case, why do they hide their faces?"

"Probably, Master Crevel, because they do not wish them to be seen; and
now send your lads to bed, being careful to lock them carefully into
their attic, and after that we will see."

"Then, something is going to be done?"

"When you are told you will know. In the meanwhile, execute my orders."

"All right! all right!"

And Crevel, without any further urging, went off to carry out the order
he had received, with the promptitude of a man who knows how to obey
when he hopes to makes a profit by his obedience. When he had left the
room, Wilhelm turned to his comrades, who, during the conversation, had
remained motionless and apparently indifferent to what was going on.

"Up, gentlemen!" he said to them.

They all rose.

"Call down your companions from upstairs," Wilhelm said again.

One of the men went upstairs, and two minutes after the whole of the
smugglers were collected round the German.

"Are you all here?" he asked.

"Yes," they replied.



"You know that we have assembled to deliver the captain?"

"Yes; we are ready."

At this moment three knocks were heard on the outside shutter.

"Wait," said Wilhelm. "Silence!"

He walked to the door.

"What do you want?" he said.

"Diego and Leon," a voice replied.

"Very good."

The door was opened, and Tahi-Mari entered.

"Diego!" the smugglers exclaimed, joyfully.

"Myself, lads," the half-breed answered, as he cordially pressed the
hands offered him. "I have come to help you to deliver Leon."

"Bravo! long live Diego!"

"Silence, my friends! we must be prudent if we wish to succeed, for
we have two expeditions to attempt: hence we must arrange our plans
carefully in order to make no mistake. The first is against the Convent
of the Purísima Concepción."

The smugglers made a face.

"The second," Diego continued, without appearing to notice the effect
which the word convent had produced on the smugglers, "is against the
Calabozo, where the captain is locked up."

"Good!" the smugglers said; "we are listening." He then explained to
them all the details of his plan, and when everything was settled,
they prepared to set out.

"Hilloh, though," Diego suddenly exclaimed, "what has become of Crevel?"

"He has gone to lock up his lads," Wilhelm replied.

"A good precaution; but he is a long time over it."

"Here he is," a smuggler remarked.

"Señor Don Diego!" Crevel said with amazement, on perceiving the
ex-lieutenant of the band.

"Good evening, Crevel. I am delighted to find you in such good health."

"Thanks, caballero, but you are too obliging."

"Come, make haste, take off your apron, put on your cloak, and come
with us."

"I?" the landlord said, with a start of terror.

"Yes, you."

"But how can I be of any service to you?"

"I will tell you. Captain Leon informed me that you stood well with the
sisters of the Convent of the Purísima Concepción."

"Oh, oh! up to a certain point," Crevel answered.

"No false modesty. I know you possess the power to have the gates
opened whenever you think proper, and hence I invite you to accompany
us for that purpose."

"Oh, Lord! what can you be thinking of?" the startled banian remarked.

"No remarks; make haste, or by Nuestra Señora de la buena Esperanza, I
will set fire to your hovel."

A heavy groan escaped from Crevel's breast as he prepared to obey. It
was striking half-past ten by the cathedral dock. A second later the
Voice of the sereno croaked close to the posada.

"Ave Maria Purísima, las diez y media han dado y señora," he cried.

"It seems that it has left off raining?" said Wilhelm. "All the better."

"Come, make haste," said Diego, with a sign to the German.

"I understand, lieutenant."

Wilhelm crept out of the posada, whose door was only on the jar. A
moment later, a fall, a stifled groan, and a whistle were heard.

"Let us be off," Diego went on, pointing to the door, through which
Crevel passed meekly. All the smugglers glided out of the inn, and
walked a few yards behind each other, careful to remain in the shadow,
and preserving the deepest silence. A few minutes after, they came up
to Wilhelm, who was bearing on his shoulders a bundle, whose shape it
was at the first glance impossible to recognise.

"Here is the sereno," he said; "what shall I do with him?"

And the German pointed to the bundle on his shoulders, which was
nothing else, in fact, but the hapless watchman.

"Take him with us," Diego answered. "A passer-by might liberate him,
and that would be enough to raise an alarm."

"Very good," said Wilhelm, and he followed the party.

The smuggler had simply waited for the sereno at the corner of a house,
and when he saw him at a convenient distance, lassoed, gagged, and
bound him, and threw him across his wide shoulders, no more or less
than if he had been a bale of goods.

The band proceeded toward the Almendral. All the serenos they met
underwent the same fate as the first; like him, they were prevented
from stirring or shouting, and taken on a smuggler's back. Thanks to
this clever manoeuvre, they reached the walls of the convent without
obstacle. Eight serenos had been captured during the walk, and when
they reached their destination Diego ordered his men to lay them at the
foot of the wall which surrounded the convent. Then he turned to Crevel
and said--

"Now, compadre, we have reached our destination; we are in front of the
convent; and it is your business to get us inside."

"But, in Heaven's name, how do you expect me to do that? You do not
reflect that I have no means to--"

"Listen," Diego said, imperiously. "You understand that I have no
leisure to discuss the point with you. You will either introduce us
into the convent--in which case this purse, containing two hundred
and fifty gold onzas, is yours--or you refuse, and then," he added, as
he coldly drew a pistol from his pocket, "I blow out your brains with

A cold perspiration broke out on Crevel's forehead, who knew Diego too
well to insult him by doubting his intentions.

"Well?" the other asked, as he cocked the pistol. "Do not play with
that thing, lieutenant; I will try my best."

"To give you a better chance of success, here is the purse," the
half-breed said, throwing it to him.

Crevel seized it with a start of delight which it would be impossible
to describe; then he walked toward the convent gate, while racking his
brains as to how he should contrive to earn the money and run the least
possible risk. A luminous thought crossed his brain, and it was with a
smile on his lips that he raised the hammer to knock. All at once the
half-breed stopped his arm.

"What is it?" Crevel asked.

"It has struck eleven long since; everybody is asleep in the convent,
and so it would perhaps be better to try some other method."

"You are mistaken," the banian replied; "the portress is awake."

"Are you sure of that?"

"Hang it all!" the other replied, who had his plan, and was afraid that
he must restore the money if Diego drew back from his resolution; "the
convent of the Concepción is open day and night to people who come in
search of medicines; so leave me alone."

"In that case, go on," said the leader of the party as he let go his

Crevel did not allow the permission to be repeated, and, through fear
of a fresh objection, hastened to let the knocker fall, which echoed
noisily on the copper boss. Diego and his men were standing in the
shadow of the wall. A moment after, the trapdoor was pulled back, and
the wrinkled face of the sister porter appeared in the opening.

"Who are you, my brother?" she asked, in a sleepy voice; "and why have
you knocked at our gate at such an hour?"

"Ave Maria Purísima!" Crevel said, in his most sanctified voice.

"Sin pecado concebida. Brother, are you ill?"

"I am a poor sinner whom you know, sister, and my soul is plunged in

"Who may you be, brother? I fancy I recognize your voice, but the night
is so dark that I cannot see your face."

"And I sincerely hope that you will not see it," Crevel mentally
remarked; and added aloud--"Oh, sister, you know me perfectly well. I
am Signor Dominique, the Italian, and keep a locanda on the Port."

"Oh yes, I remember you now, brother."

"I fancy she is nibbling," Crevel muttered.

"What do you want, brother? hasten to inform me, in our Saviour's name;
for the air is very cold, and I must continue my orisons."

"My wife and two children are ill, sister, and the reverend pater
guardian of the Carmelites recommended me to come and ask you for three
bottles of your miraculous water."

"Good gracious!" the old woman exclaimed, her eyes sparkling with
delight; "three bottles!"

"Yes, sister; and I will ask your permission to rest myself a moment,
for I am so fatigued that I can scarce stand."

"Poor man!" the sister porter said, pityingly.

"Oh! it would really be an act of charity, sister."

"Señor Dominique, pray be good enough to look about and see that there
is no one in the street, for we are living in such bad times that it is
impossible to take sufficient precautions."

"There is nobody, sister," the banian answered, as he made his comrades
a signal to hold themselves in readiness.

"In that case, I will open."

"Heaven will reward you for it, sister."

The creaking of a key in a lock could be heard, and the door opened.

"Come in quickly, brother," the nun said.

But Crevel had prudently withdrawn, and made way for Diego. The latter
seized the portress by the throat, and pressing her neck in both his
hands like a vice, whispered in her ear--

"One word, wretch, and I kill you!"

Horror-struck by this sudden attack, the old woman fell back

"Deuce take the old devil!" Diego said, angrily; "who can guide us now?"

He tried to recall the sister to her senses, but seeing that it was
impossible to do so, he made a sign to his men, who had rushed into
the convent after him, to gag her and bind her securely. Then, after
leaving two smugglers as sentries at the gate, he took the bunch of
keys with which the portress was entrusted, and prepared to enter the
building occupied by the nuns.

It was no easy task to discover in this immense Thebaïs the cell
occupied by Doña Maria--for our readers will have understood that
the object of the expedition attempted by Diego, was to carry off
that young lady. It remains for us now to explain what the half-breed
intended to do with her, and by what reasons he had been urged to
commit such a deed.

We must say in the first place, that Diego had the most lively desire
to attach to his cause, Leon, whom he knew to be a man of bravery and
energy, and was urged to do so not only because he intended to give
him a command in the Araucano army, but also because he had no sooner
parted with Leon after the altercation which they had while escorting
the family of General Soto-Mayor, than he regretted the rupture, now
sought every means in his power to effect a reconciliation with Leon,
the only person in the world he loved.

The first thing he did for this object was to grant Leon what the
latter had demanded so pressingly, the liberation of Don Juan, the
old general's son. He knew that he must not dream of thwarting his
friend's love for Maria, and awaited the end of this love in order to
act, thinking that the captain, at the moment when he saw himself on
the point of being separated from her whom he loved, would not recoil
from the idea of carrying her off. When he afterwards came across him
in the half-burned hacienda, and delivered him from the false position
in which he was placed, Diego did not at all suspect that one of the
females with him was no other than Maria; and great was his surprise
when the result of his enquiries told him that Leon had himself
conducted the young lady back to the Convent of the Purísima Concepción.

Certain that Delbès had only acted thus in obedience to the chivalrous
promptings of his heart, and not wishing him to be the dupe of the
honourable feelings which had dictated his conduct by losing Maria for
ever, the half-breed resolved to restore her to him in spite of himself
by simply carrying her off; and he calculated that the rumours and
scandal produced by such an event, would prevent the Soto-Mayor family
from offering any opposition to the marriage. We see that although this
reasoning was brutal, it was to a certain extent logical.

Now, in order to carry off Maria, she must be found, and it was this
that embarrassed Diego and his men, once that they had entered the
convent by stratagem. At the moment, however, when they were beginning
to lose all hope, an incident produced by their inopportune presence
came to their assistance. The smugglers had spread through the
courtyards and cloisters, careless of the consequences which their
invasion might produce, and with shouts and oaths seemed desirous of
searching the convent from cellar to garret.

The nuns, habituated to silence and calmness, were soon aroused to
this disturbance, and believing that the fiend was the author of it,
they hurriedly leaped from their beds, and, scarce clothed, ran to
seek shelter in the cell of the abbess, while uttering heart-rending
cries of terror. The latter lady, sharing the error of her sisters,
had hurriedly dressed herself, and assembling her flock around her,
advanced resolutely toward the spot whence the noise proceeded, holding
in the one hand a holy water brush, and in the other her pastoral
staff, with the intention of exorcising the demon. Suddenly she
perceived the smugglers, but ere she could utter a cry Diego rushed
toward her.

"Silence!" he said; "we do not intend you any harm; leave us alone."

Dumb with terror at the sight of so many armed men, the women stood
as if petrified. All at once, Diego noticed a novice who was clinging
convulsively to her companions.

"That is the girl!" he said to his men; "it is she whom I want!"

And joining actions to words, he seized Maria, while the other
smugglers kept back the abbess and the other sisters, who were more
dead than alive. Two men gagged the young lady, and prepared to carry
her off.

"Let us begone!" said Diego.

"Villain!" the abbess at length exclaimed, thinking of the terrible
account which she would have to render to General Soto-Mayor, "if you
have the slightest fear of heaven, restore me that young lady!"

"Silence!" Diego replied.

And pointing a cocked pistol at the abbess, he forced her to be a
spectatress of what was going on. At this moment, another young lady,
with agitated features and garments in disorder, rushed toward the
half-breed, and, clinging to him, shrieked despairingly--

"My sister!--give me back my sister!"

Diego turned, his eyes sparkled, and his face assumed an expression of
hatred which made the nuns turn pale.

"Oh, oh!" he said, with a ferocious joy; "Inez here?"

"Yes, I am Inez de Soto-Mayor, and this is my sister; for mercy's sake,
restore her to me."

"Your sister? Yes, I will restore her to you, but not yet;" and seizing
the poor girl in his powerful arms, he raised her in his arms, and
threw her over his shoulder.

"Now, let us be off, my men," he shouted to the smugglers, who stood
round him gloomy and silent, as if ashamed of their cowardly conduct.
Ten minutes later, no one remained in the convent but its peaceable
inmates. Once outside, Diego ordered Wilhelm and Crevel to carry Maria
to the posada kept by the latter, with instructions to deposit her in
the green room. Then wrapping Inez in a poncho, he entrusted her to
two other smugglers, whom he led into a little lane, where a man on
horseback was waiting. This done, he rejoined his band, who advanced
prudently towards the Calabozo, keeping in the shadow of the walls, and
redoubling their precautions.

This time they would not have to deal with harmless women, but with
soldiers. And let us say it in praise of the men whom Diego commanded,
they were desirous of fighting with enemies capable of defending
themselves, in order to expiate the disgraceful part which they had
played in the affair of the convent.

A sentry was walking up and down in front of the prison, and a cavalry
picket was stationed a short distance off. The smugglers had dispersed,
and anxiously waited till Diego should form a decision. The latter was
cursing the presence of the cavalry, and knew not what he had best
do. All at once the prison gate opened: two torches gleamed in the
obscurity, and Diego saw the Governor of Valparaíso come out, and, at
his side, Captain Leon Delbès, with whom he was conversing.

The half-breed made a sign to his men to conceal themselves in the
doorways, and walked alone toward the two gentlemen, while feigning the
movements of a belated passer-by. The torch bearers had re-entered the
prison, and the governor was mounting his horse, and taking leave of

"I thank you, general," the latter said, "for the eagerness you have
displayed in setting me at liberty."

"On learning your arrest, captain, General Soto-Mayor hurried to tell
me that he would be answerable for you, and to beg me to release you
from prison, which I should have done sooner had I not been compelled
to be absent from Valparaíso the whole day, for an affair of the
highest importance."

"Pray believe, general, in my deep gratitude."

"Do not forget, if any misadventure were again to happen to you, to
apply to me, and I will hasten to come to your aid."

Leon bowed his thanks for the last time, and the two gentlemen parted.
The general, followed by his escort, returned to the palace, and Leon
walked toward the Calle San Agostino. He had not gone twenty yards when
he came face to face with Diego, who had turned back to meet him.

"Good evening, Leon," he said to him.

"Diego! you here! what do you want here, imprudent man?"

"I came to save you, but I see that you do not require my assistance,
and I congratulate you on it."

"Thanks, brother!" Leon answered, with emotion. "As you see, I am free."

"In that case, I have only to withdraw with the men who joined me for
this enterprise."

The smugglers had left their lurking places, and thronged round their

"Thanks, my friends, thanks for what you intended to do. I shall not
forget it."

"Now," Diego continued, "I have nothing more to do here, and so I am
off. Good-bye, Leon; you will soon hear from me."

"What! are you going?"

"To join my friends. And you?"

"I intend to remain at Valparaíso."

"Good! I need not repeat that, whenever you like to join us, you have
only to come."

"Thanks, brother! I have not forgotten it."

"Once again, good-bye."

"Let me at least accompany you."

"No; do you go to Crevel's, for your presence may be necessary there."

"What do you mean by that?"

"You will soon learn."

And, without further explanation, Diego proceeded to the spot where the
smugglers who guarded Inez were waiting for him. The man on horseback
dismounted. Diego took his place, and, throwing Inez across the saddle,
he dashed off at full speed along the Santiago road, shouting--

"Each his share! I have mine!"

The two smugglers rejoined their comrades, and then the band divided
in two parts: one moiety returned to Dominique, the Italian's, where
they were lodged, while careful to hide from their landlord the
compromising part which Crevel had thought proper to make him play
in the drama at the convent. The other smugglers scattered about the
obscure hostelries of which there were such a large number on the



It was a frightful thing to see Diego's headlong gallop along the road
from Valparaíso to Santiago. In the shadows of the night, the shapeless
group of the horse, and the two human beings it bore, made the sparks
fly out of the pebbles on the road. The animal's powerful hoofs bounded
along, pounding everything that they settled on, while its outstretched
head cleft the air. Its ears were erect, and from its open nostrils
issued jets of steam which traced long white tracks in the darkness.

The horse dashed along, uttering snorts of pain, and biting between
its clenched teeth the bit which was covered with foam, while blood
and perspiration poured from its flanks, which were torn by the spurs
of its impatient rider. And the greater its speed grew, the more Diego
tortured it, and tried to make it go faster. The trees, the houses, and
rocks disappeared with an extraordinary rapidity on either side of the

Inez, half dead at the moment when the half-breed dragged her from
the convent, felt herself recalled to life by the movement which the
horse imparted to her body. Her long hair trailed in the dust, and
her eyes, raised to heaven, were bathed in tears of despair, grief,
and powerlessness. At the risk of dashing out her brains against the
stones, she made extraordinary efforts to escape from her ravisher's

But the latter, fixing on her a glance whose expression revealed
ferocious joy and lubricity, did not appear to notice the horror which
he caused the maiden; or rather, he appeared to derive from it a source
of indescribable pleasure. His contracted lips remained dumb, and only
at intervals allowed a shrill whistle to pass, destined to redouble the
ardour of his steed, which, exasperated by the pressure of its rider,
hardly touched the ground, as it were, and devoured the space like the
fantastic courser in the German ballad.

"Stay, child," Diego said, suddenly, as he raised Inez on his horse's
neck, and compelled her to look at a country house which they were
passing; "here is your father's house, the haughty General Soto-Mayor,
call him to your assistance."

And a savage grin succeeded these words.

"Father!" the maiden cried, whom he had freed from her

This cry died away in hollow echoes, and the house disappeared again
in the dizziness of this mad ride and the horse still galloped on.
Suddenly Inez, collecting all her strength, leaped forward with such
vivacity that her feet were already touching the ground, but Diego was
on his guard, and ere she had regained her balance, he stooped down
without checking his horse, and seizing the maiden by her long hair,
he raised her, and placed her again before him. A sob burst from Inez'
chest, and she fainted.

"Oh! you will not escape me," the half-breed shouted; "I have you, and
no one in the world will be able to tear you from my hands!"

In the meanwhile, day had succeeded darkness; the sun rose in all
its splendour, and myriads of birds saluted the return of the light
by their joyous carols. Nature was awakening gaily, and the sky of a
transparent azure, promised one of those lovely days which the blessed
climate of South America has alone the privilege of offering.

A fertile and deliciously diversified landscape stretched out on either
side of the road, and became blended with the horizon. The maiden's
lifeless body hung on either side of the horse, following all the
joltings which it imparted; with her head thrown back, and covered with
a livid pallor, eyes closed, lips blanched and parted, teeth clenched,
neck bare, and bosom heaving, she palpitated under the large hand of
the Vaquero, which pressed heavily upon her.

At length they reached a devastated hacienda, in which a hundred
Indians, painted for war, were encamped. Tahi-Mari gave a signal,
and a horse was brought him. It was high time, for the one which had
borne him from Valparaíso hardly halted ere it fell, pouring from
mouth, nostrils, and ears a flood of black thick blood. Diego got into
the saddle again, caught up the maiden in his arms, and prepared to
continue his journey.

The Indians, who doubtless only awaited the coming of their chief,
imitated his example, after throwing a few flaming logs upon the roof
of the hacienda, in order to leave a trace of their passage. Ere long
the whole band, at the head of which Diego placed himself, dashed
forward, surrounded by the cloud of dust which they raised.

After a few hours' ride, whose rapidity surpasses all description, the
Indians saw the lofty steeples of the capital of Chili standing out
on the horizon, beneath a cloud of smoke and fog which hung over the
city. The Araucanos turned slightly to the left, galloping through the
fields, and trampling down the rich crops that covered them. In about
half an hour they reached the first Indian sentries, and they soon
found themselves within the camp of the twelve Molucho tribes.

Let us examine for a moment the state in which the war was. As we
have already said, after several sanguinary combats, the Chilians,
suddenly attacked by the Araucanos, who had invaded their territories
on all sides at once, to the number of 200,000, had been, in spite of
prodigies of valour, completely defeated and compelled to retreat.

The Moluchos had surprised their enemies without giving them time
to assemble. The population of Chili was only composed, at that
time, of two million and a half, scattered over a territory of vast
extent, nearly as large as Germany. The towns are very remote from
each other, and the means of transport are almost unknown. We can
therefore understand the difficult position in which the besieged found

The Chilian army, which should be composed of 10,000 men, never
consists of more than 7,000, scattered through distant garrisons;
and for that very reason it is very difficult to assemble it under
pressing circumstances. The soldiers, usually recruited by force,
are, as a rule, thorough scamps, whom peaceful people fear as much as
the Indians, for they know that when they pass into a province they
plunder, burn, and violate absolutely as if they were in a conquered
country. Hence the government only quarters a very small number in
the great centres of population, removes them as far as possible, and
subdivides them so as to be able to keep them under more easily, and
never allows a whole regiment to remain in the same province at once.

What became of this organization when the Araucanos declared war? The
Chilian government, attacked simultaneously on all sides, was unable,
in spite of all its efforts, to collect a force sufficiently imposing
to boldly face the Indians and drive them back. Hence, the only chance
was to check their advance by harassing them and having outpost fights,
by means of which it was hoped that they might be discouraged, and
induced to return to their forest fastnesses.

These tactics were certainly good, and had often been employed
successfully. This time again they would have, in all probability,
succeeded, through the military science and discipline of the
Spaniards, if they had not had to contend against this countless mass
of Indians, and above all, if the latter had not been commanded by
Tahi-Mari. The Molucho chief had not indulged in idle boasting when he
told the Ulmens of the twelve nations that he was acquainted with all
the resources of the Spaniards, and was certain of conquering them.

In fact, after dashing on Valdivia like a starving tiger on the prey it
covets, his road as far as Santiago had been one triumphant progress,
in which he overthrew, destroyed, and plundered everything, and left
behind him a long sanguinary track, marked at intervals by numerous
horribly mutilated Spanish corpses. Advancing with a sword in one hand
and a torch in the other, this modern Attila wished to reconquer the
Chilian territory by wading up to his knees in Spanish blood.

Nothing was sacred to him, neither age nor sex; old people, women
and children, were pitilessly tortured. The twenty years which he
had spent in traversing the various countries of America had proved
of service to him, by familiarizing him with strategic ideas and the
mode of employing military forces, through watching the manoeuvres and
exercises of the Spanish armies, whose entire strength consisted in
skilful tactics. Tahi-Mari's first care, therefore, was to employ the
ideas which he had acquired in introducing a species of discipline in
the ranks of the Moluchos.

The Chilians no longer understood the method of fighting the Indians.
They no longer had the skirmishes to which they were accustomed, but
real battles, fought according to all the rules of warfare, whose
observance on the part of Araucanos beyond measure surprised them.

In this way victors and vanquished had arrived beneath the walls of
Santiago. The Indians, after pushing on a reconnoisance even in the
suburbs of the city, had boldly halted a short distance from its gates,
and were bravely preparing for a storm. A frightful terror had seized
on the inhabitants of Santiago. The richer emigrated in crowds, while
the rest prepared, like the troops, to offer a vigorous resistance.

The President of the Republic had smiled disdainfully, when he saw from
the ramparts the enemy getting ready for a serious attack; but when
he had distinguished the perfect concord with which this multitude
acted--with what skill the posts were established--taking advantage
of the slightest accident of ground, and only operating with the most
consummate prudence; selecting with discernment the weakest spots of
the fortress, and holding the river Mapucho above and below the city,
so as to let no succour or provisions reach it--his forehead became
wrinkled with anxiety, and a deadly fear seized upon him; for he
understood that his enemies were guided by an experienced chief, whose
military genius would easily overcome the obstacles opposed to him,
if time were granted him to take his measures and establish himself
securely in the position which he occupied.

It was then that the President of the Republic, no longer doubting
the imminence of the danger which the country was incurring, made an
energetic appeal to the patriotism of the Chilians; an appeal to which
they responded enthusiastically by hurrying up from all sides to range
themselves under his banner. But time was needed for this succour to
arrive, and to come the enormous distances that separated it from the
capital. In order to gain this time, the president feigned a desire to
treat with the Indians, and pave the way for negotiations.

The redskins had established their camp in the smoking ruins of
the charming country houses which surrounded the city, and whose
magnificent gardens, now, alas! devastated, seemed to make Santiago
stand out from a basket of flowers. Nothing could be conceived so
filthy, repulsive, and frightful as the appearance of this camp,
forming a girdle round the city. It was hopeless to look for parallels
or covered ways; not even a sentry could be seen watching over the
common safety.

The camp was open on both sides, and at first sight it might have been
supposed deserted, had not the dense smoke rising from the wigwams,
made of branches and erected without any apparent order, proved that it
was inhabited. A gloomy silence prevailed day and night in this strange
camp, and no human being was visible there.

The Chilians, though thoroughly acquainted with the crafty character of
their enemies, had allowed themselves to be trapped by this semblance
of neglect and carelessness. Two days after the Moluchos sat down
before the city, a strong Chilian patrol, consisting of two hundred
resolute men, left the city about midnight; and, deadening the sound
of their footsteps as far as possible, advanced into the very centre
of the camp without being disquieted. Everybody seemed asleep, and no
sentinel had given the alarm. The leader of the expedition, satisfied
with the result which he fancied he had obtained, was preparing to
return to Santiago to report the result of his reconnoisance to the
besieged, when, on turning back, he found every line of retreat
interrupted, and a countless swarm of Indians surrounding him.

The officer who had fallen into the trap did the only thing that was
left him: he fell bravely at the head of the men whom he commanded. On
the next morning, at sunrise, two hundred heads, scalped and horribly
disfigured, were thrown by the Moluchos over the walls of Santiago. The
Chilian Spaniards took the hint, and did not repeat the experiment.

When Tahi-Mari entered the camp with his band, the Indians flocked up
tumultuously, and received him with loud yells of delight. He made them
a sign of thanks, and without checking his pace, went toward his lodge,
in the doorway of which Shounon-Kouiretzi, crouching on his heels, was
gravely smoking. On seeing the commander he said--

"Tahi-Mari is a great chief; is he contented with his journey?"

"Yes," Diego replied, laconically. "My brother will watch at my door,
and allow no one to enter."

"My brother can trust to me; no one shall enter." And the Indian began
smoking again, impassively. Diego went in, carrying Inez, wrapped up in
a poncho. After removing her bonds, he laid her on some sheepskins,
thrown in a corner of the hut, which served him as a bed. Then he
fetched a calabash of water and dashed the contents in her face, but
Inez still remained motionless.

On seeing this, Diego bent down and devoted to her the greatest
attention, in order to recall her to her senses; anxiously consulting
her pulse, raising her in his arms, tapping her hands, and employing,
in a word, all the means usual for restoring a fainting person. For a
long time his efforts were sterile, and life seemed to have abandoned
the poor girl for ever.

"Can she be dead?" Diego muttered.

And he began attending to her again. At length a sigh burst from Inez's
bosom, she languishingly opened her eyes and uttered a few broken words
in a faint voice. All at once she rose.

"Where am I?" she screamed.

Diego, without answering, fell back into a dark corner of the lodge,
and fixed a serpent glance upon her.

"Where am I?" she repeated. "Maria! sister! how I am suffering! Oh,

Her memory gradually returned, and everything flooded back to her mind.
Then a shudder of terror agitated all her limbs, her haggard eyes
wandered around, and she perceived Diego.

"Oh, that man!" she said, as she hid her face in her hands. "I am lost!
Great God, I am lost!"

Diego issued from his corner, and with his eyes fixed on her, slowly
advanced toward her. Fascinated by the half-breed's sparkling glance,
she fell back step by step, with her arms stretched out, and displaying
signs of the most violent terror.

"Leave me, leave me!" she murmured. She thus reached the walls of the
hut, clung to the intertwined branches, and stood motionless, while
still looking at her persecutor, who walked toward her with an ironical

"Leave me!" she repeated, unable to offer Diego any other resistance
but her tears and her despair. But he was not the man to be affected.

"Leave you!" he answered; "do you fancy that I brought you all this
distance to restore you innocent and pure to those who are dear to you?
Undeceive yourself; henceforth you belong to me, and you will not leave
this spot till you have nothing left to refuse me."

"Oh, mother, mother!"

"Your mother is dead, and no one can come to your assistance--do you
hear; no one?"

"In that case, kill me," Inez cried, as she threw herself at the
half-breed's feet.

"No! it is your honour, not your life, that I must have."

"But what have I done to you? Great Heaven, I am only a poor girl, and
you cannot be so cruel to me without a motive."

"No, you have done nothing to me, and I feel for you neither hatred
nor love; but you are the daughter of General Soto-Mayor. Your family
dishonoured mine, and you will be dishonoured to expiate the crimes of
your relatives."

"Oh, that is frightful; you will not act thus, because you know very
well that I am innocent."

"Your ancestor dishonoured the wife of my grandfather, and she has
still to be avenged."

"Mercy, mercy!"

"No! eye for eye, and tooth for tooth!--for you the shame, for me the

"In your mother's name, pity!"

"My mother!"

This word produced such an impression on the half-breed that he bounded
with rage, and his face assumed a fresh expression of rage and fury.

"Ah, you speak to me of my mother! Mad girl! you do not know, then,
that she found herself one day in the path of a Soto-Mayor, and that he
brutally and cowardly plunged her into ignominy in order to satisfy a
moment of brutal desire?"

"Oh, Heavens!" Inez sobbed.

"You do not know that while the poor woman was grovelling in despair at
his feet, and imploring him, in the name of her God, to spare her, the
villain laughed and caught her in his arms. Do you now understand why I
forbid you invoking my mother's name?"

"Oh, I am lost!" Inez said, broken-hearted. "For the man who avenges
himself on the child of his enemy has no heart."

"Yes, you are lost! But if you fancy that my revenge, in seizing you,
has spared your father, you are mistaken, for he died by my hand."

"Woe! woe!" the girl shrieked, mad with grief.

"Yes, crushed by my blows, as I will crush all those of your race! No,
you will not escape me! It is now your turn to cry and groan--your turn
to implore in vain."

And, with the howl of a wild beast, the Indian, whose eyes were
bloodshot, and his mouth foaming, rushed frenziedly at Inez and hurled
her back on the sheepskins. Then ensued a horrible and nameless
struggle, in which the groans of the victim were mingled with the wild
panting of the savage. Inez resisted with the violence of despair, but
soon, crushed by the half-breed's grasp, she lay helpless, left to the
mercy of the man who had sworn her dishonour.

* * * *

"Brother," said Long-Scalp, appearing in the doorway, "two Spanish
chiefs, followed by several lanceros have come to offer propositions of
peace to the toqui of the twelve nations."

"Who are the chiefs?" Diego asked.

"General Don Pedro and Colonel Don Juan de Soto-Mayor," the Indian

A smile of triumph played round the half-breed's lips.

"Let them come! let them come!" he said.

"Does my brother, Tahi-Mari, consent to receive them?"

"Yes," Diego continued, assuming his Indian stoicism. "My brother will
assemble the great chiefs around the council-fire, and I will come

Shounon-Kouiretzi bowed and retired.

"The betrothed and the brother. They have arrived too late," Diego
said, so soon as he was alone.

And he left the hut, in order to preside at the council. Inez was
motionless on the couch of Tahi-Mari, the great chief of the Araucanos.



After wrapping himself carefully in his cloak, Leon pensively went
along the streets leading to Crevel's inn. Diego's last words
incessantly reverted to his mind, and he asked himself why the Indian
had recommended him so eagerly to proceed to the posada. Another
peculiarity, also, kept his mind on the rack; he had seen Diego take
from the hands of the people waiting for him a large parcel which had
all the appearance of a human body. He had also fancied that he heard
a dull and plaintive groan from this bundle. "What could it be?" Leon
asked himself in vain.

At length he reached the Calle San Agostino. The door of Crevel's inn
was ajar, and a bright light illumined the interior. Leon went in.
Crevel, seated at his bar, was talking in a low voice with Wilhelm,
who, with his arms leaning on the chimney, was probably telling him
some improper anecdotes, for the two men were laughing most heartily.
The unforeseen arrival of the captain alone arrested the flow of their
hilarity, and they exchanged a meaning glance which did not escape Leon.

"Still up!" the latter said.

"We were waiting for you, captain," Crevel answered.

"Thanks; but I would advise you to extinguish your lights, for people
might be surprised at seeing them so late."

"That is quite true," said the landlord.

"Give me the key of the green room," Leon continued. "I need rest, and
I will throw myself on the bed for an hour."

Crevel and Wilhelm looked at each other again, and winked in a most
peculiar way.

"Did you hear me?" Leon resumed.

"Oh, perfectly, captain," the landlord replied. "You can go up, the key
is in the door."

"Very good; in that case give me a light."

"You do not require it, for there is one in the room."

"Ah! now I see that you really did expect me."

"Eh, eh, I am not the only one."

"What do you mean?"

"I? Nothing, captain. Go up and you will see."

"See what?"

"I beg your pardon, captain, I forgot that it did not concern me, and

"Come, Master Crevel, will you have finished soon or not? Of whom and
of what are you speaking? Make haste and explain yourself."

"Why of the little Señorita up there--by the gods!"

"A woman in my room! Tell me, Wilhelm, do you know what Crevel is
talking about?"

"Well, captain, you must know that--well--since--"

"Ah! I really believe that it would have been wiser to go upstairs and
look for myself, you scoundrels."

And he prepared to ascend the stairs.

"Ah!" he said turning round and addressing Wilhelm; "do not stir from
here without my orders, my boy, for I may want you."

"That is sufficient, captain."

Leon went out of the room, and, as he did so, heard the landlord, who
was fastening his door, say to the German--

"The captain is a lucky fellow."

"That comes of being good-looking, Señor Crevel," the other replied.

More and more puzzled, the captain continued to ascend, and soon stood
before the door of the green room. Crevel had told the truth, the key
was in it, and a light could be seen gleaming through the cracks.
The greatest silence, however, prevailed inside. After a moment's
hesitation, the young man turned the key and entered, but at the first
step he took he stopped and uttered a cry of surprise.

A young lady, seated in a chair, and dressed in the white garb of the
novices of the Purísima Concepción, was sobbing and hiding her face in
her hands. At the captain's cry, the girl started and quickly raised
her head--it was Maria de Soto-Mayor.

Leon dared not believe his eyes. Maria in the green room! How did she
happen to be here in the middle of the night? What could have happened?
By what concourse of extraordinary events could she expect his coming?
Wild with delight at this sudden apparition, the captain fell on his
knees, murmuring--

"Oh, niña! bless you for being here."

And he tried to seize her hand and press it to his burning lips. Maria
leaped out of the chair in which she was seated, and flashed at him a
glance of supreme disdain.

"Whence, sir," she said, "do you derive the audacity to present
yourself thus to me?"

"Señorita!" Leon said, surprised and discountenanced by Maria's hurried

"Leave the room, sir," she continued, "and spare me at least the shame
of listening to your remarks."

"Good Heaven!" Leon exclaimed, who began to suspect some infamous
machination; "what have I done that you should treat me in this way?"

"You ask me what you have done? in truth, I do not know whether I am
dreaming? would you learn it from me, then, and pretend not to know?"

"Oh, Maria! I am ignorant of the meaning of this: but on my mother's
soul, I swear that a thought of insulting you never crossed my mind."

"In that case, sir, how do you explain your unworthy conduct?"

"I do not know to what you are alluding."

"Your presence here, sir, is a sufficient proof that you expected to
find me here, even if you thought proper to deny your share in the
abominable scandal which you have caused. Ah, Leon! could I suppose
that you would offer me this outrage by publicly dishonouring me?"

"Oh!" Leon exclaimed, "there is some infernal mystery in all this.
Maria, once again I swear to you that your every word is an enigma, and
I ask you how it comes that I find you in this inn room when I believed
you at the Convent of the Conception?"

Maria felt her convictions shaken by the accent of truth with which
these words were imprinted: still, being unable to believe in the
smuggler's innocence--so long as it seemed to her impossible that any
other than he should have dreamed of tearing her from the convent--she
resumed, though in certainly a milder tone--

"Listen, Leon. Up to this day I believed you a man full of honour and
loyalty. Now the action which you have committed is infamous; but tell
me that it was suggested to you by some wicked creatures. Tell me that
you have obeyed an evil inspiration, and though I could not forgive
you, for you have ruined me, I would try to forget and pray Heaven to
efface your image from my heart. For mercy's sake let us leave this den
as quickly as possible, and do not prolong a captivity which covers me
with infamy."

"Do you want to drive me mad? Good Heaven! what can have happened
during the hour since I left prison?"


"Yes, señorita, the day before yesterday, after the visit which I paid
you in the general's company, I was arrested and taken to the Calabozo,
whence I was released scarce an hour ago."

"Can that be true?"

"Yes, on my honour."

"But, in that case, on whose authority did the man act who entered the
convent at the head of his bandits and carried me off by main force?"

"Oh, Heavens!" said Leon, "that man! Oh, I understand it all now. Tell
me, Maria, did you recognise his features?"

"Stay--yes, yes, it was certainly he."


"Your friend, who accompanied us on the journey to Valdivia."

"Diego!" Leon exclaimed.

"Yes, Diego."

"Oh, woe upon him, then!"

And seizing the bell rope he rang violently. In about a quarter of an
hour, Crevel thrust a startled face through the half-open door.

"Do you want anything, captain?"

"Yes; send up Wilhelm at once."

The banian disappeared. Leon, suffering from a furious agitation,
walked up and down the room displaying all the signs of a passion on
the point of exploding. His face was pale; his muscles were contracted,
and his eyes flashed fire. Wilhelm came in. At the sight of him Maria
gave a start of terror, but Leon reassured her.

"Fear nothing, señorita; you are under my protection."

The German understood that he had committed some folly.

"Wilhelm," Leon said to him, fixing on him a scrutinizing glance,
"listen carefully to what I am going to say to you, and answer me."

"Very good, captain."

"Where did you go the day before yesterday, after my arrest?"

"To Rio Claro, to find the lieutenant."

"What did he say to you?"

"He told me that he wished to deliver you, and gave me the meeting for
last night at ten o'clock."

"He came here? What next?"

"Next, captain," the German said, twisting his hat between his fingers.
"Well, it was--"

"Speak the truth; I insist on it."

"Well, the whole band was assembled."

"And what did you do?"

"Lieutenant Diego told us that you loved a novice in the convent of the
Purísima Concepción, that he had sworn to make her yours, and we must
carry her off."

"And then?"

"Then he led us thither, and by his orders we carried off the señora
and brought her here to Crevel's, while Diego went off with another

"Another, do you say?"

"Oh, Heaven!" Maria exclaimed.

"But who was it? Will you answer?" Leon commanded him, with a rough

"On my word, captain, it was Doña Inez, the sister of Doña Maria."

"Malediction!" Leon said, furiously.

"Oh, my sister!--my poor sister!"

"The infamous fellow!" the young man continued; "what frightful
treachery! Henceforth all ties are broken between us. This, then, was
the vengeance he coveted!"

Then, addressing the German, who was looking at him anxiously, he said--

"Wilhelm, there is not a moment to lose; assemble our men, and let them
all be here within an hour."

"All right, captain."

And the German dashed down the stairs at a tremendous pace. Leon then
turned to Maria, who was sobbing.

"Courage, Señora. I cannot take you back to the convent, where you
would no longer be in safety; but will you join your father at

"Do not abandon me, Leon, I implore you," she answered. "You alone can
protect me. Oh, my poor sister!"

"If I cannot save her, I will avenge her in an exemplary manner."

The maiden no longer heard him. Absorbed in her grief, she dreamed of
the fatality which had weighed on her ever since the day when her eyes
first met Leon, and derived from them the love which was destined to
change the calm life which she led at the convent into such terrible
trials. Still, on seeing near her Leon--whose eagerness in lavishing
attentions on her was incessant--she gave him a look of ineffable
sweetness, while asking his forgiveness for having suspected him of
complicity in the outrage of which she had been the victim.

"Maria," Leon said in reply, as he covered her hand with kisses, "do
you not know that I would joyfully sacrifice my life at a sign from

"Forgive me, Leon, for I should die if your love ceased to be as noble
and pure as your heart."

"My love, Maria, is submissive to your wishes; it is the most fervent
worship--the purifying flame."

"Leon, my sister is perhaps at this time abandoned defencelessly to
the insults of her cowardly ravisher."

"Let me first restore you to your father, and then I will do all in my
power to save your sister."

"What do I not owe you for so much devotion?"

"Have you not told me that you loved me?"

"Yes, Leon, I love you, and am proud of it."

"Oh, thanks!--thanks, Maria! God will bless our love, and I soon hope
to tell your father of it. May he but approve of it."

"Does he not owe to you the life of his children? Oh, when I tell him
how I love you, and how generous your conduct has been, be assured that
he, too, will love you."

While the two young people were indulging in dreams of happiness and
the future, Wilhelm was executing the captain's orders, and Crevel's
posada was again filled by the members of the band. An hour had not
elapsed when he came to tell Leon that everything was ready for

"In that case," Leon said to him, "all you have to do is to select the
best horse you can find in the landlord's corral, and get it ready for
señorita Maria."

"All right, captain," Wilhelm answered, who knew no phrase better
fitted to display his obedience than the one which he habitually used.

"All along the road to Santiago you and Joaquin will keep constantly
by her side, and watch her carefully so that no accident may happen to
her. Do you understand?"

"Yes, captain."

"In that case make haste, and here is something to hasten your
movements," Leon continued, taking from his pocket some onzas and
handing them to the German.

"Thanks, captain. You can come down with the niña whenever you like,
for we shall be ready in a moment."

Very shortly after, in truth, Wilhelm was standing before the inn door,
holding two horses--one for Leon, the other for Maria. When left alone
with the latter, the captain took from under his cloak a large black
manta, which he threw over the young lady's shoulders, and pulled the
hood over her face.

"Now," he said to her, "let us go."

"I follow you," Maria answered.

Leaning on the young man's arm, she cautiously descended the stairs,
and found herself in the midst of the smugglers who had invaded the
convent. But, knowing that she was in perfect safety by Leon's side,
she manifested neither surprise nor fear. Assisted by him, she mounted
her horse, seized the reins, and placed herself resolutely in the first
rank between Wilhelm and Joaquin.

The captain, after giving a final glance at his band, to assure himself
that everything was in order, leapt upon the back of his mustang, and
gave the order to start. The smugglers then proceeded at a sharp trot
across the Almendral in order to reach the Santiago road.



General Soto-Mayor had been hurriedly raised by the volunteers, whom
the report of the two pistol shots had attracted to his room, a surgeon
attached to the reinforcing column was summoned, and hastened to dress
the old gentleman's frightful wounds. The terrible pain which the
scalping caused him, and the immense quantity of blood he had lost,
had plunged him into a profound fainting fit, from which it seemed
impossible for him to recover. Upwards of three hours passed before
he gave any signs of life. At length a faint sigh issued from his
oppressed chest: he made a slight movement, his eyes opened slightly,
and he muttered in a low and broken voice--

"Something to drink."

A servant brought him a bowl filled with a potion prepared by the

"Oh!" he said, a moment after, "my head is burning; what frightful

The surgeon begged him to be silent, administered a second potion, and
a few minutes after the patient's eyes closed. He had fallen asleep.

"That is what I wanted," the surgeon said, as he felt his pulse and
looked at him attentively.

"Well, doctor," an officer asked, "what do you think of the general's

"I cannot say anything about it yet, gentlemen," he answered,
addressing the persons who surrounded the old gentleman's bed; "his
wounds are very serious, and yet I do not believe them mortal. We
have numerous examples of scalped persons who have been perfectly
cured. Hence it is not the wound on the head that alarms me the most,
although it is the most painful. Tomorrow, as soon as I have removed
the bandages, I shall be able to tell you what we have to fear or hope.
Now, be kind enough to withdraw; thanks to the potion, the general is
enjoying a calm sleep, but the slightest noise might disturb him. I
will instal myself at his bedside, and not stir till he is either dead
or saved."

Upon this the doctor dismissed all the persons who filled the room,
drew an armchair up to the bed, sat down in it in the most comfortable
posture, took a book from his pocket, and prepared to spend the night
as well as he could in reading. The peons accompanying the general, on
seeing their master in so pitiable a state, unloaded the baggage and
carried it into the casa. Then each resumed possession of his lodging,
while congratulating himself in his heart at being no longer compelled
to expose himself to the dangers of war.

After the misfortune which occurred to the general, the officer who
took the command of the volunteers in his place sent out heavy patrols
in all directions in pursuit of the Indians; but their search had no
result, and they returned one after the other without discovering the
slightest sign which could put them on the track of the assassins. They
were, therefore, obliged to give up for the present all thoughts of
taking vengeance for the odious attack which had been committed on the
person of General Soto-Mayor.

Still this affair exerted a salutary influence over the mind of the
volunteers. At the sight of so terrible a fact as the one which
had just occurred, they understood how necessary prudence was when
engaged with enemies so invisible and formidable as the Indians. They,
therefore, began subjecting themselves to the claims of discipline. In
consequence, they ceased their cries and songs, and fulfilled their
military duties much more seriously than they had hitherto done.

The rest of the night passed away calmly and peaceably, and with the
exception of two or three false alarms which the sentries in their
inexperience gave, nothing happened to disturb the tranquillity of the
volunteers encamped under the walls of the Casa de Campos. At sunrise,
when the country illumined by the hot beams had lost the sinister and
gloomy aspect which darkness imparted to it, the Chilians, who, without
confessing it, had been in a state of real terror, gradually regained
courage and recommenced their gasconade, though it was moderated by the
recollections of the night.

At about eight in the morning the general woke up, and though he was
very low and his weakness was extreme, the long sleep which he had
enjoyed seemed to have greatly relieved his sufferings. The doctor,
after carefully counting his pulse, began removing the bandages which
he had placed. The appearance of the wounds was excellent; the flesh
offered no extraordinary signs of inflammation--in a word, the patient
was going on as well as could be expected. The wounds were washed,
fresh bandages put on, and another potion made the general fall back
almost immediately into the lethargic sleep from which he had roused

When midday came, the suppurating fever set in with great intensity.
The old man uttered inarticulate cries, made fearful efforts to leap
out of bed, and talked with extraordinary vivacity, making unconnected
remarks, whose meaning it was impossible to understand. The names
of Diego, of Tahi-Mari, and of the different members of his family
incessantly returned. The general was evidently suffering from some
horrible delirium aroused by the terrible scene of which he had been
the victim on the previous evening. Four powerful men were scarce
sufficient to keep him down in his bed.

From three to four o'clock in the afternoon an improvement took place;
the fever relaxed, the sick man's eyes lost that frightful stare and
expression of wildness which terrified his attendants. He recognised
his domestics, the doctor waiting on him, and even the officers who
surrounded him. Everything led to the hope that the general would be
saved; such at least was the opinion of the surgeon, who expressed it

At about six o'clock, the officers whom the general had dispatched to
Santiago, returned to the country house, bearing the instructions of
the President of the Republic. The officer who commanded the expedition
in the general's place, opened and read them. They were formal.

The president gave orders to General Soto-Mayor to proceed by forced
marches on the capital, which was in the greatest peril: he added
that he could send him no officers, in spite of his urgent request,
and concluded by requesting the general to read the despatch to the
soldiers, in order to make them understand how much he reckoned on
their patriotism in answering the appeal of the menaced country.

The officer intrusted with the interim command obeyed the orders which
he received. He assembled the troops, read to them in a loud voice the
contents of the despatch, and made them a short speech, in which, while
exalting the powerful help which they might afford to the inhabitants
of Santiago, he asked whether he could really reckon on them. A
universal and enthusiastic outburst was the response to the general's
speech, and immediate preparations were made for the departure.

The commandant--who did not wish to abandon General Soto-Mayor
defencelessly in his house, which was open to all comers, and might at
any moment be invaded by the Indians--chose from among his volunteers
fifty men, to whom he entrusted the defence of the casa, after
exhorting them to behave properly, and placing them under the command
of an alférez. Then, this duty fulfilled, he took leave of the surgeon,
after recommending him to neglect nothing in restoring the general's
health, and took the road to Santiago at the head of his volunteers.

The night passed without any incidents worthy of record. The men
left in charge of the house had closed the gates and had entrenched
themselves in the interior. Toward morning they heard the sound of
a horse galloping at full speed. They had scarce time to notice the
rider, who departed rapidly, after halting for an instant before the
house. Some inarticulate sounds reached the ears of the sentries, but
before the latter could think of challenging, horse and rider were a
long distance off. It was Diego returning to Santiago with his victim.

The general's state was satisfactory; the fever had considerably
decreased, the wounds continued to offer the most favourable aspect,
and with the exception of the atrocious sufferings he felt in his head,
the old gentleman had regained a little calmness. Suddenly a loud sound
of horses was heard on the road, and a servant hastened into the sick
man's chamber, announcing that Captain Leon Delbès had just arrived,
and had important news to communicate to the general. The surgeon tried
to oppose the interview which Leon requested, alleging that his patient
needed absolute repose; but, on the repeated entreaties of the latter,
he was obliged to consent, though resolved to put a stop to it whenever
he thought it advisable.

The captain, as we know, had left Valparaíso in the company of Maria,
with the intention of proceeding under the escort of his band to
Santiago, where he expected to find the general. But, while passing
in front of the country house, he was astonished at seeing; the gates
open, and a picket of lanceros in the courtyard. Not knowing to what
to attribute the warlike appearance which this peaceful mansion had
assumed, he halted his band and went up to the gate for the purpose
of enquiring. The old manservant, who had been left as guardian, and
had admitted his master two days previously, was at this very moment
occupied in front of the house, and Leon questioned him.

The worthy man then told him in the fullest details the assassination
attempted on the person of his master, and the hopeless efforts which
had been made to discover the perpetrators. On listening to the
narrative, the captain trembled and guessed at once that Diego must
have passed that way. In truth he was the only man he knew capable
of committing a similar crime and surrounding it with such mystery.
Moreover, the project of vengeance which Diego nourished against the
Soto-Mayor family, sufficiently indicated him to Leon for the latter to
entertain no doubt as to his guilt.

Locking up in his bosom the feeling of horror which the half-breed's
deed inspired him with, the captain returned to Maria to announce to
her that her father, rather seriously wounded, was at the moment at
the Casa de Campos, and hence it was unnecessary to go farther, and if
she saw no inconvenience, he would at once place her in his hands. The
young lady who, in following Leon, had no other object but to join her
father and place herself under his protection, begged to be at once
led to him. But, on Leon remarking that her unexpected presence might
be fatal to the general, by causing him too lively an emotion, she
consented that Leon should warn him first.

The captain led his band into the courtyard, and then sent a footman
to the old gentleman to request an interview. When he entered the
general's bedroom, and found him lying on a bed of pain, with his head
wrapped up and his face more livid than that of a dying man, he felt
affected by the deepest compassion. It was in fact a melancholy sight
to see this old man, who had but a few days previously been so strong
and robust, now broken by suffering and lying there horribly mutilated.

"Señor Don Juan, it is I, Leon Delbès," he said, addressing the wounded

The general offered him his left hand, and a smile played round his
bloodless lips.

"Have you any new misfortune to announce to me, captain?" the old man
said, in an almost unintelligible voice. "Speak--speak."

Leon started at the sound of this faint voice, and held his tongue,
not daring to tell an unhappy man who was on the brink of the grave of
the new misfortune which had fallen on him without his knowledge. The
general noticed the young man's agitation, and felt that he had guessed

"It concerns my daughters, does it not?"

"Yes, general," Leon replied, hanging his head sadly.

"Are they dead?" the old man asked, with a tremor in his voice.

The surgeon read in his face the nature of the feelings he was
undergoing, and seemed to fear the captain's answer, but the latter
hastened to speak.

"No, general, they are alive, and one of them accompanies me."

"But the other?"

"Is no longer in Valparaíso."

"What has happened, then, at the Convent of the Conception?--speak."

"It has been attacked, general."

"I understand," the old man said, "one of my daughters has fallen again
into the hands of the Indians--the name of her who is left me?"

"Doña Maria, general!"

"And it is again you who restore her to me, my friend. Thank you, and
Heaven grant that I may soon be able to reward you in the way you

Leon gave a gesture of refusal.

"Oh! I know how a noble heart like yours should be rewarded."

Leon bowed and made no answer.

"But, for mercy's sake, tell me what you know with reference to Inez,
and do not be afraid of grieving me, for I am resigned to undergo all
the misfortunes which God may send me as an expiation for my sins."

The young man then told him of the rape of Maria's sister, while
carefully holding his tongue as to the circumstances under which he had
recovered the other young lady. Then he told him of his intention of
going to Santiago to find Diego, in whose power Inez was. On hearing
that it was Tahi-Mari, who had robbed him of his child, the general, in
spite of his courage, felt tears of grief bedew his eyes.

"O God!" he exclaimed, "punish me if I have offended you, and I will
bow my head beneath the punishment but will you allow this man, this
villain, to heap up crime upon crime, to strip me of what I hold the

There was a moment's silence, which the old gentleman was the first to

"My friend," he said to Leon, "you told me that Maria had been saved by
you, and yet I do not see her."

"She awaits your permission to present herself to you, general."

"Let her come--let her come!"

A peon was ordered to go and fetch Maria, who was kneeling in her
mother's room, and soon after, the maiden was standing before her
father; but on seeing the condition in which the murderer had left him,
she could only sob. The old man made a sign that he wished to embrace

"My daughter," he said, after pressing his lips on the novice's virgin
forehead, "since the walls of a convent have not protected you from the
fury of my enemies, and I know not whether I shall ever see my other
children again, you will henceforth remain with me, if," he added,
"Heaven grant me the strength to live."

"Oh, thanks, father--thanks! for the convent is death, and I wish to
live to love and cherish you."

"What do you say?"

"Forgive me, father, but I suffered so deeply at being separated from
those whom I love."

"This is strange! and yet your sister Inez asked three days ago to
speak to me in private, and asked my permission to take the veil in
the Convent of the Conception, as she was determined not to marry Don
Sallazar, who loves her. I believed that it was you, child, who had
persuaded her to this."

"Oh, no!" Maria murmured.

The doctor, who had hitherto contented himself with displaying the
dissatisfaction which he felt on seeing the general fatigue himself
with talking, thought it prudent not to allow the interview to go on,
and made an observation to that effect.

"Thanks, doctor," said the general, "for the interest you take in my

"General," said Leon, "the doctor is right; my presence is no longer
necessary here. I will hasten to Santiago, and ere long I hope you
shall hear from me. Señora Doña Maria does not require my services
further, and so I will retire."

"Oh, father!" Maria could not refrain from saying, "if you only knew
how brave and generous he is!"

The general made no reply, and seemed to be reflecting.

"Doctor," he said, suddenly addressing the surgeon, "you must arrange
some plan for transporting me to Santiago."

"What are you thinking of, general?" the other exclaimed, falling back
a couple of steps, so great was his surprise; "it is impossible."

"And yet it must be," the old man remarked calmly. "If my son is still
alive, he is at Santiago with General Don Sallazar; I wish to see them."

"What?" said Leon.

"Once again, it is impossible," remarked the doctor, who was grieved to
see the obstinacy with which his patient supported his resolve.

"You, Captain Leon," Don Juan continued, "will go on ahead, since you
still offer me your assistance, which has been so precious to me; we
shall meet at my cousin's, Senator Don Henriquez de Castago."

"But, general?"

"But, doctor, you will do whatever you like; have a litter made, or
invent any mode of transport that you please, for I intend to go to
Santiago with my daughter Maria, even if I die on arriving."

"At least, wait a week."

"It is your opinion that I cannot be removed today?"

"Most certainly."

"Well, I will wait till the day after tomorrow; between this and then
prepare all that you want, and do not trouble yourself about the rest.
If an accident happens to me, the blame will rest on myself alone."


"I have spoken, and I warn you that, if you do not consent, I shall
blow out my brains, or rather tear off my bandages, and die here."

And the old gentleman prepared to suit the action to the word.

"Stay!" exclaimed the surgeon, who found himself compelled to yield, "I
will act in accordance with your wishes."

"Very good," the general replied; "and now I will try to take some
rest, for my strength is exhausted, I feel."

Leon prepared to bid farewell to the general, and leave the country

"Good-bye, my friend," the patient murmured; "in two days we shall
meet again, or, if not, it is to you--you alone--I confine the care of
guarding Maria. Go, and may Heaven aid you to find Inez."

Leon bent his knee before the old man.

"Sir," he said to him, with profound emotion, "my life and heart belong
to you; take one and break the other if you like, for I can no longer
conceal from you the secret that devours me--I love your daughter, Doña

"Father, father!" Maria also exclaimed, as she fell on her knees by the
side of the general's bed; "forgive me, for I love him in return."

As his sole answer, Don Juan de Soto-Mayor held out his hand to the
young people, who covered it with kisses and burning tears. A glance of
ineffable happiness was exchanged between the smuggler and the novice.

"Now I am strong," Leon exclaimed, as he rose. "You shall be avenged,
Don Juan."

And he rushed out of the house. In a second, all his men were ready to

"Companions!" he shouted, as he leaped on the back of his mustang, "to
Santiago at full gallop!"

A whirlwind of dust rose, enveloping men and horses, who disappeared on
the horizon. Two days later, a young lady on horseback was riding by
the side of a litter carried by two mules, in which lay an old man, and
a military surgeon and fifty lanceros escorted them. They were Maria de
Soto-Mayor, the general her father, and the doctor, who were proceeding
to Santiago.



When Tahi-Mari reached the council lodge, the great Molucho chiefs
were already assembled. A compact crowd of Indian warriors silently
surrounded the approaches of the lodge, and pressed forward to hear the
resolutions which were going to be formed by the Ulmens.

On perceiving the formidable toqui of the Moluchos, the warriors
respectfully fell back to let him pass, and Tahi-Mari entered the hut.
His face was haughty and frowning, and everything about him indicated
pride and resolution. He sat down on the trunk of a tree reserved for
him, and which enabled him to survey the assembly. After looking round
him for a moment, he began to speak--

"For what purpose have my brothers, the Ulmens of the twelve nations,
assembled?" he asked.

"The pale-faces," Huachacuyac replied, "have sent two great chiefs to
discuss peace with us."

"The Spaniards," Tahi-Mari continued, "have two tongues and two faces.
My brothers must be on their guard, for they wish to deceive them by
false promises, while they are preparing the means to destroy them."

"Matai," said the Ulmens, "our brother is learned: he is a great
warrior; he will judge."

"What is the opinion of my brothers? We cannot refuse to receive the
messengers of peace," Huachacuyac remarked.

"My brothers speak wisely: let the Spanish chiefs be brought in, and we
will hear them."

A movement took place among the Indians; Shounon-Kouiretzi went in
for a moment, and returned almost immediately, conducting General Don
Pedro Sallazar and Colonel Don Juan de Soto-Mayor. They were unarmed,
but their bold bearing and haughty brow showed that they did not
experience the slightest fear at finding themselves at the mercy of
their barbarous enemies.

A dozen lanceros, unarmed like them, halted at the lodge-door.
Shounon-Kouiretzi motioned the two officers to sit down on trunks of
trees not so high as the one employed by the chief, then after lighting
a calumet, he handed it to Tahi-Mari, who smoked it for an instant and
restored it to him. The latter then presented it to Don Pedro Sallazar,
who passed it to Don Juan. The calumet soon went the round of the
assembly and returned to Tahi-Mari, who finished it. After this the
toqui threw the ashes towards the strangers, saying, in a loud voice--

"These chiefs and the soldiers who accompany them are the guests of the
Ulmens of the twelve Molucho nations: the warriors will respect them
till sunset."

This ceremony performed, there was a profound silence.

"What do the Spanish warriors desire?" Tahi-Mari at length said; "the
white chiefs can speak, for the ears of my brothers the Ulmens are

Don Pedro Sallazar rose and said in Indian, a language which he spoke
with considerable facility--

"Grand Ulmens of the twelve nations, you, oh formidable toqui, and all
you red warriors who are listening to me, your great white father sends
me to you; his heart bleeds at seeing the numberless misfortunes which
war has caused; his ears are filled with the complaints of mothers
reduced to despair and of children who are weeping for their fathers
killed in action. The country is devastated, the towns are only piles
of ashes, and the rivers and streams whose waters were so limpid are
now corrupted and fetid with the number of corpses they bear along.
His mind being saddened by these terrible calamities, and wishing at
length to restore tranquillity and abundance to this unhappy land, your
great white father asks of you through my voice that the axe should be
buried between us, peace be re-established among us, and the redskins
and palefaces henceforth form one united nation. Let my red brothers
reflect: I have spoken."

Don Pedro Sallazar sat down again, and Tahi-Mari immediately replied--

"The Ulmens of the twelve great nations have never desired war; they
have avoided it as long as they could, and now endure it. It is not the
Molucho nation that dug up the hatchet. It is now three hundred years
since the Spaniards landed in our country. Our tribes had no liberty
upon the seashore, but the palefaces pursued them as if they had been
like wild beasts, and compelled them to take refuge in the deserts of
the Andes. Why, after tearing from the poor Indians the fertile and
sunlit lands which they possessed, are they now trying to rob them of
the uncultivated plains and reduce them to slavery? Why do they wish to
destroy their religion, and their laws, and drive them into the eternal
snows? Are not the Indians and Spaniards sons of the same Father? Do
not the priests of the palefaces themselves say so? Let my brother the
Spanish chief answer."

"Yes," said Don Pedro, rising, "the great chief of the Moluchos is
right; but why renew old quarrels and revive ancient animosities?
Is not the country vast enough to support us all? Why should we not
live in peace together, each following our laws and professing our
religion? We are ready to grant our Indian brothers all they ask that
is just and equitable. I have come here to listen to the propositions
of the Ulmens, and the great Spanish chief will ratify them if they are

"It is too late," Tahi-Mari replied, rising in his turn; "the Moluchos
are resolved to regain their liberty, which was unjustly torn from
them; they are tired of living like wretched vagabonds on the
snow-covered mountains; now that they have descended into the plains
warmed by the sunshine they do not wish to leave them."

"The Ulmens will reflect," Don Pedro resumed. "They must not let
themselves be led astray by a slight success; the Spaniards are
powerful, and victory has ever been on their side up to this day."

"And then, too," said Don Juan, rising in his turn, "what do you
hope to obtain? Do you fancy yourselves sufficiently strong, even if
you succeed in capturing Santiago, to contend against the immense
forces which will come to crush you from the other side of the Great
Salt Lake? No; the war you are waging is a senseless war, without
any possible object or result. Commenced under the persuasion of an
ambitious chief, who employs you to carry out schemes of which you are
ignorant, you are only instruments in his hands. Believe my words and
those of General Sallazar; accept the frank and loyal peace which
we propose to you. This man, whom you have appointed your toqui, is
abusing you and deceiving you, and driving you towards an abyss into
which you will fall if you do not listen to the voice of reason, which
addresses you through our lips."

A lengthened tumult and menacing effervescence followed these remarks
of the young man. The chiefs anxiously questioned each other in a low
voice. Don Juan's bold language had produced a certain impression on
them, and some of them recognised its correctness. Tahi-Mari alone
remained impassive; not a muscle of his face had moved, and the trace
of any emotion might be sought in vain upon his countenance. When the
effect produced by Don Juan's speech was slightly calmed, he rose, and
giving his foe an ironical glance, he said--

"The young Spanish chief has spoken well, and if he does not count
many years he has a great deal of wisdom. Peace is good when loyally

"And we do offer it loyally," Don Juan remarked eagerly.

"Ah! my brother must pardon me," Tahi-Mari said, with a sarcastic smile.

"That demon is meditating some roguery," Don Pedro said, in a low
voice, to his companion; "we must be on our guard."

"My brothers the Ulmens," Diego continued, "have heard the words
pronounced by the two Spanish chiefs, and if they were really the
expression of their thoughts I would join my voice to theirs in urging
you to accept the peace they offer; but unfortunately here is a proof
of the bad faith which regulates their conduct."

Tahi-Mari drew from under his poncho a paper, which he slowly unfolded,
while a quiver of curiosity ran along the ranks of the Indians, and the
two Spanish officers exchanged glances in which anxiety was visible.

"This despatch, my brothers, was found this very day upon a Spanish
soldier, who was the bearer of it. My brothers, the Ulmens, will listen
to me as I read it; and then see the amount of confidence which they
ought to place in the sincerity of our enemies."

"We are listening;" the Ulmens said.

"This is it," Diego remarked, and read:

"'My dear General,--The Indians are pressing us closely, and have
placed us in a most precarious position; still I hope to gain a few
days by making them proposals of peace, which will have no result, as
you can easily imagine; but will give the reinforcements you announce
to me time to come up. Do not delay, for I am anxious to deal a
decisive blow, and drive the rebels for ever from these parts.'"

"This letter, signed by the President of the Republic, is addressed
to the general commanding the province of Coquimbo. My brother can
consult: I have spoken," and Tahi-Mari resumed his seat.

A movement of fury seized the Ulmens, who rushed on the Spanish
officers with the intention of tearing them to pieces.

"Back, all of you," Tahi-Mari shouted in a thundering voice, "these men
are inviolable!"

The Indian stopped as if by enchantment.

"The word of an Ulmen is sacred," the half-breed continued. "Let these
chiefs return to the lodges of their white brothers; my brothers will
show these perfidious Spaniards that the great chiefs of the twelve
Molucho nations are as merciful as they are powerful."

Don Pedro and Don Juan, after escaping the peril that menaced them,
prepared to depart.

"A moment," said Tahi-Mari; "you will not leave the camp alone; follow

And leaving the council lodge, he pointed towards his wigwam, in front
of the two officers and their escort of lanceros, who had awaited them
at the door.

On reaching the door of his abode, Diego went in, but came out again
almost immediately, holding by the hand a veiled female.

"There," he said, addressing Don Juan, "take away this girl, who
wearies me, and whose verses no longer possess any charms for me;
perhaps she will succeed in pleasing some of the soldiers, for she is

Then with a rapid movement he tore off the veil that concealed the
prisoner's features, and pushed her towards the officers.

"Inez!" the latter exclaimed, in horror.

It was indeed Inez; though not to be recognized by others but them,
as her face had assumed so strange an expression, and her eyes were
wandering. She turned her head in all directions, looking stupidly
around her, and then suddenly folding her arms on her chest, she sang
with an accent of ineffable sadness the following lines from an old
dance song:--

    "From the corner,
    From the corner of the Carmen
        To the rock,
    To the golden rock,
        I have seen a,
    I have seen a girl descend,
    Singing the Sambacueca."

"Oh!" Don Juan murmured in despair; "great Heaven, she is mad."

"And I have not even a sword," Don Pedro exclaimed, wringing his hands

"Ah, Don Juan de Soto-Mayor, you did not expect I fancy, to find your
sister in Tahi-Mari's lodge? Take her back, while awaiting the end
of my vengeance; for, as I told you, I do not wish to have anything
more to do with her; and you, Señor Don Pedro, are you not her assumed

"Wretch! why did I not listen to the feeling of aversion, with which
you inspired me, when I saw you at the house of General Soto-Mayor? I
ought to have killed you before you made me fall into the trap which
you and your gang laid for us in offering to escort us."

"Coward!" Don Juan said in his turn, his eyes full of tears; "kill the
brother after dishonouring the sister, for I hate you and defy you."

And, raising his hand, he sprang forward to strike Diego on the face;
but the latter at once guessing the young man's intention, seized his
arm and held him as in a vice.

"I need but to give a signal, and your head and that of your companion
roll at your feet; but I will not give it."

And with a sudden push he threw Don Juan far from him.

"Begone," he said coldly, "for no one will touch your person, which is
sacred to all in this camp, our two families no longer reckon insults
and wrongs, Don Juan, and this one will be requited with the rest."

During this time poor Inez, apparently not noticing what was going on,
was crouching in a corner, and with her head in her hands and her
long hair covering her face, was humming in a low voice a hymn to the
Virgin. Without making any reply to Diego the young men walked up to
Inez and made her rise. She offered no resistance, but continued to

    "'The birds in the sky,
    The fishes of the sea,
    The wild beasts of the forests,
    Celebrate her glory.'"

"What is the matter, Señor Caballero?" she suddenly asked, as she broke
off her chant and looked at her brother, "you appear sad. Would you
like me to sing you a pretty sequidilla?"

    "'Señorita, señorita,
     Raise your little foot.'"

"Oh," said Don Juan, "what madness! Inez, my sister, recognise me. I am
Juanito, your brother, whom you love so dearly."

A flash of intelligence passed into the maiden's eyes, and a smile
played round her lips.

"Juanito!" she said. "Yes, yes," she exclaimed clapping her hands,

    "'Juanito is a brave,
    A brave whom I love,
    A handsome fellow dressed,
    All in cloth--"

A hoarse burst of laughter interrupted the song.

"Why try to arouse her memory?" Tahi-Mari said, with a shrug of the

"Oh!" Don Juan exclaimed, turning to him, "all your blood will not
suffice to avenge us."

"As you please, caballero: but in the meanwhile be off, or I cannot
answer for your safety."

"Not yet," said a thundering voice, which vibrated through the air.

A great disturbance broke out in camp, and a man covered with
perspiration and dust proceeded towards Tahi-Mari's hut. It was Captain
Leon Delbès, on seeing whom Diego turned pale, but remained motionless.
Leon advanced toward him thrusting aside every obstacle that barred his

"What have you done with General Soto-Mayor's daughter?" he asked,
fixing his eyes on the half-breed's.

The smuggler's entrance had been so unexpected, his action so
extraordinarily rash, that all the Indians who witnessed the scene
stood as if petrified with admiration and amazement. On hearing Leon's
question Diego looked down, but made no reply.

"What have you done with her, I ask you?" the captain repeated with a
passionate stamp of his foot.

At this moment the young lady, to whom nobody paid attention, leant on
his shoulder, and with a charming smile began singing again in a sweet
and melancholy voice--

    "Seated at the corner of a street,
    They tell me that my chuca sells,
    They tell me that she sells flowers."

"Oh!" Leon exclaimed, "I understand it all now. Unhappy child! unhappy

And quick as thought, he drew a pistol from his girdle, and placed the
muzzle against the half-breed's chest. The latter, calm and haughty,
raised his eyes and looked at Leon, without making the slightest motion
to escape death. The young man trembled, and let his weapon sink again.

"And yet I cannot kill him!" he said, the first feeling of surprise
over. The Indians rushed furiously on him to make him pay dearly for
this insensate attempt.

"Stay," Diego said, "this man is an adopted son of the Moluchos, and I
forbid you touching him."

The Indians fell back.

"Is this the way in which you avenge yourself?" Leon exclaimed. "What!
instead of attacking your enemy face to face, you cowardly carry off a
child to make her your victim! Oh! I curse the day when my hand clasped
yours for the first time: I believed you to be a man of heart, and you
are a ferocious brute. I no longer hate you, I despise you."

"Leon, your heart is no longer your own; it belongs to a Spanish girl,
and a cloud covers your mind; one day you will render me justice."

"Never!" Leon replied, "never! I curse you, and I swear by the ashes
of my mother, that if you let me leave this place, my vengeance shall
pursue you; you will ever find me on your road ready to fight you and
overthrow your plans."

"Your will be done, brother: my hand will never be laid upon you to ask
an account of your outrages. But woe to the Spaniards who have broken
our friendship!"

"Speak no more of friendship, since you have crushed my life and
destroyed my happiness for ever."

"Are you saying the truth?" Diego asked, feeling doubt glide into his

But already the captain, followed by Don Pedro, Don Juan, and Inez
was crossing the camp, through a triple row of Molucho warriors, who
watched without daring to attack them, though their desire so to do was
great. They soon reached the spot where their horses were waiting, and
half an hour later were all four at the house of Senator Don Henriquez
de Castago. While all proper care was being given to the unhappy Inez,
Leon Delbès told the two officers--in what state he had left General
Soto-Mayor, and of; his speedy arrival at Santiago accompanied by
Maria. When he had finished this painful narrative, Don Pedro and Don
Juan, struck by the same misfortunes, displayed toward Leon the most
lively feelings of esteem and friendship, while complimenting him on
the attachment which he had not ceased to display toward the Soto-Mayor

"Sir," Don Pedro said to him, "if during the course of our unhappy
journey to Valdivia, I for a moment misunderstood your noble qualities,
forgive me, for today I declare to you it is a friend who sincerely
offers you his hand."

Leon pressed the general's hand warmly.

"Don Juan and I are going to inform the senate of the result of our
mission; you remain in this house till the general arrives."

The smuggler bowed, and the three men separated, respectively
enlightened as to the feelings of esteem which they professed for each



Leon's first care on reaching Santiago had been to inquire after the
residence of Don Henriquez de Castago, and to inform him of the visit
which General Soto-Mayor intended to pay him. At the same time he told
him of the purpose of his own journey. Don Henriquez eagerly placed
his house at the smuggler's disposal, and told him of the perilous
mission which was being attempted at that very moment by General Don
Pedro, and his cousin, Colonel Don Juan, in going to the toqui of the
Araucanos to make him proposals of peace. It was then that Leon, after
quartering his men, set out in all haste for the camp, in order to
obtain news of Inez, and at the same time help the two officers if they
were in danger. We know what occurred in consequence of this exploit.

Two days after these events, General Don Juan de Soto-Mayor and his
daughter Maria arrived at the capital of Chili. Thanks to the numerous
precautions which the surgeon had taken, the old gentleman had suffered
but little through the journey, and the state of his health was more
satisfactory than might have been supposed. So soon as he reached the
house of senator Don Castago, he was put to bed, and Leon took upon
himself to inform him of the release of Inez, the outrages of which the
poor girl had been the victim, and the madness which had resulted from
them. The general begged her to be brought to him, and when she was in
his presence he embraced her, and covered her with tears.

Inez could not at all understand her father's grief, whom she did not
at all recognise; but struck by the old man's suffering appearance, she
at once installed herself by his bedside, and would not quit it again.
Her madness was gentle and melancholy; she spent long hours without
breathing a syllable, or sang to strange tunes snatches of songs which
she had formerly known.

On her side, Maria, attentive and devoted even to self-denial, lavished
on Don Juan the most affectionate care, and the old man discovered at
each moment in his daughter the germs of the noblest qualities of the
heart. Leon's name was never pronounced by the general without arousing
in her thoughts of joy and happiness; but, understanding what kindness
and gentleness her father had displayed in not spurning the smuggler's
love for her, she silently awaited the moment when she would be able to
yield entirely to the happiness of belonging to the man whom her heart
had selected.

The general, as we may suppose, had been beyond all expression
surprised on hearing the community of feeling between the captain and
Maria; but penetrated with gratitude for the eminent services which the
young man had rendered him, he heartily desired that an opportunity
might offer itself to fill up the distance that separated Leon's rank
from his. But it was no easy matter.

In the meanwhile, the position of the Chilians shut up in Santiago
was beginning to grow serious. The Indian lines were being gradually
drawn closer round the town, intercepting the communications with the
exterior, and preventing news from being received. The provisions would
soon run short; want was already being felt in the poorer districts,
and wretched people, with worn and haggard faces, might be seen
wandering about the streets and loudly demanding bread.

General Sallazar had succeeded, it is true, in crossing the Masincho
after a glorious battle with the Indians, and entered Santiago; but
it was far more difficult to drive away the besiegers who surrounded
the city. Situated in the heart of the Chilian republic, the capital
is at a great distance from the frontier; and as it had no reason
to apprehend foreign attacks, owing to the impassable deserts that
separate the states, it had not been fortified.

Attempts had been made hastily to throw up a few breastworks, but
workmen were wanting. Discouragement seized on the population, and the
inhabitants, terrified at the sight of the Indians, filled the churches
with their lamentations, and offered up vows and novenas, instead
of combating their enemies energetically, and dying courageously in
defence of their homes.

Eight days passed thus, and during this period Leon distinguished
himself greatly by making daring sorties at the head of his men,
in which he captured herds of cattle or flocks of sheep, which
revictualled the town and restored a little courage to the population.
One evening, after carefully visiting all the posts with Don
Juan, General Sallazar, Leon was preparing to take a few hours of
indispensable rest after a fatiguing day, when suddenly the bells
of all the churches began pealing, shrieks were heard, and soldiers
galloped through the town, shouting, "To arms! to arms!"

The Indians were beginning the assault by attacking the town on all
sides simultaneously. The danger was imminent, and there was no time
for hesitation. The salvation of the whole population was at stake.
The three gentlemen shook hands silently, and rushed in different

The night was dark and rainy; the west wind howled furiously in the
hills near the town, and from time to time a dazzling flash rent the
horizon, and preluded the rolling of the thunder which was blended with
the sharp sinister crash of the musketry fire. The drums beat, and
bugles brayed; the churches were crowded with women and children, who,
piously kneeling on the slabs, prayed God, the Virgin, and the saints
to come to their assistance.

The tumult was frightful. The cries of the wounded, the hurrahs of the
combatants, and above all, the war yells of the Indians, who bounded
like panthers upon the last defenders of the town. All this formed a
din rendered more horrible still by the sight of the fire which was
beginning to tinge the sky with a red and ill-omened glare.

Tahi-Mari, naked to the waist, his hair in disorder, and his features
contrasted by the thirst for carnage and destruction, held an axe in
one hand and a torch in the other. He was seen rushing at the head of a
band of veteran redskins into the thickest of the Spanish battalions,
cleaving a bloody track for himself--felling and pitilessly massacring
all those who dared to oppose his fury. Santiago was one immense
crater--the fire embraced the whole city; its devouring flames had
dissipated the darkness, and spread around a light which allowed the
dark outlines of the combatants to be seen as they struggled with the
sublime energy of despair.

A countless swarm of Indians had invaded the town, and fighting was
going on on all sides. The Spaniards disputed the ground inch by inch,
and the streets, the squares, and the houses were the scene of a
horrible massacre. Tahi-Mari, ever in the first rank of the Indians,
excited his soldiers by his shouts and example. All was lost, and the
Chilian capital had at length fallen into the power of the Araucanos.
The burning buildings fell in with a crash, burying beneath their ruins
assailants and assailed. The churches were given up to pillage, while
the women and girls, torn half naked from their houses or from the
foot of the altar, endured the last violence which their cruel victors
inflicted upon them.

All hope of flight or rescue seemed annihilated; the redskins, drunk
with carnage and spirits, rushed furiously upon the relics of the
despairing population. It was at this moment that the President of the
Republic, followed by a few devoted soldiers, formed a hollow square on
the Plaza de la Merced, in the centre of which he placed all the aged
persons, women, and children, who had escaped the fury of the Indians.

Suddenly loud shouts were heard, and three heavy bodies of men,
commanded by Don Juan, General Pedro Sallazar, and Leon Delbès,
debouched from three different streets. In the centre of the one
commanded by Leon, was old Don Juan carried on a litter, with Maria
and Inez by her side. Leon placed the persons whom he had saved in the
centre of the square formed by the President, and called on Don Juan
and Don Pedro's detachments.

"Now," he cried to the President of the Republic, "fall back, while we
support you."

"Do so," he answered.

And the square fell back with all those whom it contained. "Forward!"
Leon shouted, "kill! kill!"

And the three bands, facing the startled Indians, threw themselves upon
them and commenced a frightful butchery. The square De la Merced was
literally encumbered with combatants. The Moluchos, incessantly pushed
forward by their comrades, who arrived to their help, fell impassively
beneath the lances and sabres of the Spaniards, who protected the
flight of the President as he retired and took in his charge all those
persons incapable of bearing, arms. The fugitives soon reached the city

The contest had lasted more than an hour. A countless number of
corpses covered the ground and formed a rampart for the Spaniards,
who redoubled their energy. At this moment Tahi-Mari appeared in
the square. At a glance he judged the position, and rushed upon the
Spaniards. The shock was terrible. Don Pedro and Don Juan recognised
their common enemy, and cutting their way through the dead and wounded,
both attacked him at once.

"Ah!" Diego shouted, "we meet at last, then."

"Yes," Don Pedro retorted, as he aimed a sabre cut at him, "and for the
last time, I hope."

"You have told the truth," said Diego, as he parried with the handle of
his axe the blow aimed at him; "die, then!"

And he cleft his head open. The unfortunate Don Pedro stretched out
his arms, rolled his eyes wildly, and fell from his horse, murmuring
the name of Inez. The Spaniards uttered a cry of grief, to which the
Indians responded by a shout of triumph.

"It is now our turn," Tahi-Mari exclaimed, as he dashed towards Don

"Yes," the young man replied, "our long standing quarrel will be at
length decided."

The two enemies rushed upon each other with clenched lips and bloodshot
eyes, fighting furiously, caring little about dying, provided that one
killed the other. But at each instant a crowd of Indians or Spaniards,
drawn by the moving incidents of the fight, came between them and
separated them. When this happened they made extraordinary efforts to
come together again, overthrowing the obstacles that were in their way,
and constantly seeking each other, only one thought occupied them--that
of satiating their vengeance; every other consideration was effaced
from their minds, and forgetting the sacred interests which they had
to defend, they only thought of their personal hatred. Ere long those
who separated them fell back, and they found themselves once more face
to face.

"Defend yourself, Tahi-Mari," Don Juan shouted, as he dashed at the
Indian chief.

"Here I am," the latter shouted, "and you are about to die."

Suddenly leaping from his horse, he cut the sinews of the colonel's
horse with a blow of his axe. But Don Juan probably expected this
attack, for when his horse fell uttering a long snort of pain, he was
standing with his feet freed from the stirrups. Then began, between
these two men, a combat impossible to describe, in which rage and
fury took the place of skill. Tahi-Mari wielded his terrible axe with
unparalleled dexterity; Don Juan had his sabre welded to his wrist, and
followed the slightest movements of the other.

Each observed the other, and calculated the value of his blows. Eye
on eye, chest against chest, panting, with foreheads streaming with
perspiration, and their features violently contracted by hatred, they
watched for the decisive moment. Don Juan was bleeding from two deep
wounds; he felt his strength becoming exhausted, and felt as if he
could no longer hold his sword. Tahi-Mari had also received several
wounds, not dangerous, it is true, but which were, for all that,
visible on his face and movements.

All at once, the half-breed, profiting by the fact that his enemy,
who had constantly been on guard, left himself uncovered, aimed a
blow at him with his axe. Don Juan raised his sword, but only parried
imperfectly, and the axe was buried deeply in his shoulder. Collecting
all his strength, he had to keep his feet; but tottering involuntarily,
he fell to the ground, heaving a deep sigh. Diego burst into a yell of
triumph, and rushed upon the young man.

"At last," he said.

At the same moment he received a violent blow, and he fell back
blaspheming. He rose with lightning speed, and saw Leon Delbès before
him, who had rolled him in the dust by dashing his horse's chest at him.

"Oh!" the Indian exclaimed, as he let his axe fall, "always he between
this family and me!"

"Yes, I! Tahi-Mari--I, whom you must kill before you can reach your
enemies--I, who have sworn to tear your victims from you: attack me.
What are you waiting for?"

A combat seemed to be going on in Diego's mind, and then he remarked,
as if speaking to himself:--

"No, no; not he, not he! the only man who ever loved me on this earth.
Now, for the other," he added, as he looked furiously around him, "he
can never have enough of Spanish blood."

And slipping on one side, he rushed back into the thick of the fight.

"What!" cried Wilhelm, who had just stationed himself by Leon's side,
"will you let that hyena escape, captain?"

"Yes!" Leon answered, as he shook his head sadly, "my hands shall not
be dyed with that man's blood; his life is sacred to me."

"That is possible," the German grunted, "but it is not so to me! And
then, again, the opportunity is too fine, and it is doing a service to

And before Leon could prevent his design, he raised his rifle to his
shoulder, and fired. Diego made an enormous leap, turned half round,
stretched out his arms, and fell with his face on the ground. The
captain rushed towards him and had to raise him; the Indian looked at
him for a moment, his eyes were fixed on his with an expression of
ineffable tenderness, and pressing his hand forcibly, he said in a low

"Thanks, thanks, brother, but it is useless; I feel that I am going to

Suddenly, by a supreme effort of will, and aided by the smuggler, he
succeeded in gaining his feet again. Then, his black eyes flashed with
pride and triumph.

"Look!" he exclaimed, "they are flying, those cowardly Spaniards are
flying! I die; but I am the victor, and almost avenged."

And he found sufficient strength within him to utter his terrible
war cry. Suddenly, a jet of black blood rose to his lips; his body
stiffened with a horrible convulsion, and he fell dead. Still, his eyes
were open, and his lips, curled by a smile of bitter irony, seemed to
defy his conquered foes, even after he had drawn his last breath.

"Back, der Teufel! back, or we are lost!" Wilhelm exclaimed, as he
seized the bridle of Leon's horse and pulled it back.

"Oh!" the smuggler said, as he wiped away a tear, "that man was made of

"Stuff, why pity him?" Wilhelm said, carelessly; "he died like a

The fall of Tahi-Mari, which was not known to the Indians for some
minutes, did not at once check the order of the battle. Leon's band,
which had advanced too far, had extraordinary difficulties in
effecting a retreat, and joining the debris of the army marching on

       *       *       *       *       *

The Moluchos, deprived of the man of genius, who had conceived the
plan of this daring campaign, and who was alone capable of bringing it
to a satisfactory conclusion, henceforth were a body without a soul.
Dissensions broke out among them, each chief claiming to succeed the
great Tahi-Mari, and they could not come to any understanding. The
league of the twelve nations was; broken; the Ulmens no longer acted
harmoniously, and soon undertook isolated expeditions, which had
disastrous results.

The Indians were for nine days masters of Santiago; at the end of that
time, the Spaniards, who had vigorously assumed the offensive, expelled
them from the capital, and pursued them even beyond their frontier
line. Of the 200,000 men who had invaded the Chilian territory, 40,000
at the most succeeded in regaining the inaccessible llanos which serve
as their retreat. The others found death in the land which they had
for a moment hoped to conquer. Such was, through the imbecility of the
chiefs, the result of this enterprise, which, if better conducted,
might have changed the fate of South America.

Six months after these events Leon Delbès was married at the church of
La Merced to Doña Maria de Soto-Mayor. The old general and his son,
Don Juan, who had both recovered from their wounds, were present at
the ceremony, offering up vows for the happiness of the young couple.
Inez lived for a year without regaining her reason, but her madness
had become a sort of gloomy and taciturn melancholy, which nothing
in the world could remove. She expired one day without pain, for her
death-agony was a pallid smile, in the midst of which her soul fled

As for the secondary characters of the story, we will mention their
fate in a few words. The band of smugglers was broken so soon as Leon
left to go and live with the general. Wilhelm, for his splendid conduct
on the night of the capture of Santiago, was given a commission as
lieutenant in the Chilian army. The worthy abbess of the Convent of
the Purísima Concepción continued to sell her aqua milagrosa at the
fairest price. And one fine day, Master Crevel, tired of the annoyance
the police inflicted on him, placed the ocean between them and him by
returning to France.


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