The Trail Book
Mary Austin et al
Part 3 out of 4
Lenape, 'but I do not know what you will find at the end of it.' Then he
loosed his arm from my friend's shoulder, took a step back, and the
forest closed about him.
"We were two days more on the trail, though we did not go directly to
Cool Waters. Some men of the Painted Turtles that we met, told us the
fight had passed from the neighborhood of the towns and gathered at Bent
Bar Crossing. Our fathers were both there, which we made an excuse for
joining them. At several places we saw evidences of fighting. All the
bands of Lenni-Lenape that were not too far in our territory had come
hurrying back toward Fish River, and other bands, as the rumor of
fighting spread, came down out of Shinaki like buzzards to a carcass.
From Cool Waters to Namae-sippu, the Dark Wood was full of war-cries and
groaning. At Fish River the Tallegewi fell in hundreds ... there is a
mound there ... at Bent Bar the Lenni-Lenape held the ford, keeping a
passage open for flying bands that were pressed up from the south by the
Painted Turtles. Ongyatasse went about getting together his old band
from the Three Towns, fretting because we were not allowed to take the
front of the battle.
"Three days the fight raged about the crossing. The Lenni-Lenape were
the better bowmen; their long arrows carried heavier points. Some that I
found in the breasts of my friends, I had made, and it made my own heart
hot within me. The third day, men from the farther lake towns came up
the river in their canoes, and the Lenape, afraid of being cut off from
their friends in the Dark Wood, broke across the river. As soon as they
began to go, our young men, who feared the fight would be over without
them, could not be held back. Ongyatasse at our head, we plunged into
the river after them.
"Even in flight the Lenni-Lenape were most glorious fighters. They dived
among the canoes to hack holes in the bottoms, and rising from under the
sides they pulled the paddlers bodily into the river. We were mad with
our first fight, we youngsters, for we let them lead us up over the bank
and straight into ambush. We were the Young-Men-Who-Never-Turned-Back.
"That was a true name for many of us," said the Mound-Builder. "I
remember Ongyatasse's shrill eagle cry above the '_G'we! G'we_!' of the
Lenni-Lenape, and the next thing I knew I was struggling in the river,
bleeding freely from a knife wound, and somebody was pulling me into a
canoe and safety."
"And Ongyatasse--?" The children looked at the low mound between the
Council Place and the God-House.
The Mound-Builder nodded.
"We put our spears together to make a tent over him before the earth was
piled," he said, "and it was good to be able to do even so much as that
for him. For we thought at first we should never find him. He was not on
the river, nor in our side of the Dark Wood, and the elders would not
permit us to go across in search of him. But at daylight the gatherers
of the dead saw something moving from under the mist that hid the
opposite bank of the river. We waited, arrow on bowstring, not knowing
if it were one of our own coming back to us or a Lenape asking for
parley. But as it drew near we saw it was a cropped head, and he towed a
dead Tallega by the hair. Ripples that spread out from his quiet wake
took the sun, and the measured dip of the swimmer's arm was no louder
than the whig of the cooter that paddled in the shallows.
"It had been a true word that Ongyatasse had given his life and his luck
to White Quiver; the Lenape had done his best to give them back again.
As he came ashore with the stiffened form, we saw him take the white
deer amulet from his own neck and fasten it around the neck of
Ongyatasse. Then, disdaining even to make the Peace sign for his own
safe returning, he plunged into the river again, swimming steadily
without haste until the fog hid him."
The Mound-Builder stood up, wrapping his feather mantle about him and
began to move down the slope of the Town Mound, the children following.
There were ever so many things they wished to hear about, which they
hoped he might be going to tell them, but halfway down he turned and
pointed. Over south and east a thin blue film of smoke rose up straight
from the dark forest.
"That's for you, I think. Your friend, the Onondaga, is signaling you;
he knows the end of the story."
Taking hands, the children ran straight in the direction of the smoke
signal, along the trail which opened before them.
THE MAKING OF A SHAMAN: A TELLING OF THE IROQUOIS TRAIL, BY THE ONONDAGA
Down the Mound-Builder's graded way the children ran looking for the
Onondaga. Like all the trail in the Museum Country it covered a vast
tract of country in a very little while, so that it was no time at all
before they came out among high, pine-covered swells, that broke along
the watercourses into knuckly granite headlands. From one of these,
steady puffs of smoke arose, and a moment later they could make out the
figure of an Indian turning his head from side to side as he searched
the surrounding country with the look of eagles. They knew him at once,
by the Medicine bundle at his belt and the slanting Iroquois feather,
for their friend the Onondaga.
"I was looking for you by the lake shore trail," he explained as Oliver
and Dorcas Jane climbed up to him. "You must have come by the
Musking-ham-Mahoning; it drops into the Trade Trail of the Iroquois
yonder,"--he pointed south and east,--"the Great Trail, from the
Mohican-ittuck to the House of Thunder." He meant the Hudson River and
the Falls of Niagara. "Even at our village, which was at the head of the
lake here, we could hear the Young Thunders, shouting from behind the
falls," he told them.
A crooked lake lay below them like a splinter of broken glass between
the headlands. From the far end of it the children could see smoke
rising. "We used to signal our village from here when we went on the
war-trail," said the Onondaga; "we would cut our mark on a tree as we
went out, and as we came back we added the war count. I was looking for
an old score of mine to-day."
"Had it anything to do with the Mound-Builders?" Dorcas wished to know.
"He said you knew the end of that story."
The Onondaga shook his head.
"That was a hundred years before my time, and is a Telling of the
Lenni-Lenape. In the Red Score it is written, the Red Score of the
Lenni-Lenape. When my home was in the village there, the Five Nations
held all the country between the lakes and the Mohican-ittuck. But there
were many small friendly tribes along the borders, Algonquian mostly."
He squatted on his heels beside the fire and felt in his belt for the
pipe and tobacco pouch without which no Telling proceeds properly.
"In my youth," said the Onondaga, "I was very unhappy because I had no
Vision. When my time came I walked in the forest and ate nothing, but
the Mystery would not speak to me. Nine days I walked fasting, and then
my father came to find me under a pine tree, with my eyes sunk in my
head and my ribs like a basket. But because I was ashamed I told him my
Mystery was something that could not be talked about, and so I told
"My father was pleased because he thought it meant that I was to be a
very great Shaman myself, and the other boys envied me. But in my heart
I was uneasy. I did not know what to make of my life because the Holder
of the Heavens had not revealed himself to me. To one of my friends he
had appeared as an eagle, which meant that he was to be a warrior, keen
and victorious; and to another as a fox, so that he studied cunning; but
without any vision I did not know what to make of myself. My heart was
slack as a wetted bowstring. My father reproached me.
"'The old women had smoke in their eyes,' he said; 'they told me I had a
son, now I see it is a woman child.'
"My mother was kinder. 'Tell me,' she said, 'what evil dream unknots the
cords of your heart?'
"So at last I told her.
"My mother was a wise woman. 'To a dog or a child,' she said, 'one
speaks the first word on the lips, but before a great Shaman one
considers carefully. What is a year of your life to the Holder of the
Heavens? Go into the forest and wait until his message is ripe for you.'
She was a wise woman.
"So I put aside my bow and quiver, and with them all desire of meat and
all thought of killing. With my tomahawk I cut a mark in that chestnut
yonder and buried my weapon at the foot of it. I had my knife, my pipe,
and my fire-stick. Also I felt happy and important because my mother had
made me believe that the Holder of the Heavens thought well of me. I was
giving him a year in which to tell me what to do with my life.
"I turned east, for, I said, from the east light comes. It was an old
trail even in those days. It follows the watershed from the lake to
Oneida, and clears the Mohawk Valley northward. It was the Moon of
Tender Leaves when I set out, and by the time nuts began to ripen I had
come to the lowest hills of the Adirondacks.
"Sometimes I met hunting-parties or women gathering berries, and bought
corn and beans from them, but for the most part I lived on seeds and
roots and wild apples.
"By the time I had been a month or two without killing, the smell of
meat left me. Rabbits ran into my hands, and the mink, stealing along
the edge of the marsh to look for frogs, did not start from me. Deer
came at night to feed on the lily buds on the lake borders. They would
come stealing among the alders and swim far out to soak their coats.
When they had made themselves mosquito-proof, they would come back to
the lily beds and I would swim among them stilly, steering by the red
reflection of my camp-fire in their eyes. When my thought that was not
the thought of killing touched them, they would snort a little and
return to the munching of lilies, and the trout would rise in bubbly
rings under my arms as I floated. But though I was a brother to all the
Earth, the Holder of the Heavens would not speak to me.
"Sometimes, when I had floated half the night between the hollow sky of
stars and its hollow reflection, the Vision seemed to gather on the
surface of the water. It would take shape and turn to the flash of a
loon's wet wing in the dawning, Or I would sit still in the woods until
my thought was as a tree, and the squirrels would take me for a tree and
run over me. Then there would come a strange stir, and the creeping of
my flesh along my spine until the Forest seemed about to speak ... and
suddenly a twig would snap or a jay squawk, and I would be I again, and
the tree a tree....
"It was the first quarter of the Moon of Falling Leaves," said the
Onondaga filling his pipe again and taking a fresh start on his story.
"There was a feel in the air that comes before the snow, but I was very
happy in my camp by a singing creek far up on the Adirondacks, and kept
putting off moving the camp from day to day. And one evening when I came
in from gathering acorns, I discovered that I had had a visitor. Mush of
acorn meal which I had left in my pot had been eaten. That is right, of
course, if the visitor is hungry; but this one had wiped out his tracks
with a leafy bough, which looked like trickery.
"It came into my mind that it might have been one of the Gahonga, the
spirits that dwell in rocks and rivers and make the season fruitful."
"Oh!" cried Dorcas, "Indian fairies! Did you have those?"
"There are spirits in all things," said the Onondaga gravely. "There are
Odowas, who live in the underworld and keep back the evil airs that
bring sickness. You can see the bare places under the pines where they
have their dancing-places. And there are the Gandaiyah who loose wild
things from the traps and bring dew on the strawberry blossoms. But all
these are friendly to man. So I cooked another pot of food and lay down
in my blanket. I sleep as light as a wild thing myself. In the middle of
the night I was wakened by the sound of eating. Presently I heard
something scrape the bottom of the pot, and though I was afraid, I could
not bear to have man or spirit go from my camp hungry. So I spoke to
"'There is food hanging in the tree,' I said. I had hung it up to keep
the ants from it. But as soon as I finished speaking I heard the Thing
creeping away. In the morning I found it had left the track of one small
torn moccasin and a strange misshapen lump. It came up from and
disappeared into the creek, so I was sure it must have been a Gahonga.
But that evening as I sat by my fire I was aware of it behind me. No, I
heard nothing; I felt the thought of that creature touching my thought.
Without looking round I said, 'What is mine is yours, brother.' Then I
laid dry wood on the fire, and getting up I walked away without looking
back. But when I was out of the circle of light I looked and I saw the
Thing come out of the brush and warm its hands.
"Then I knew that it was human, so I dropped my blanket over it from
behind and it lay without moving. I thought I had killed it, but when I
lifted the blanket I saw that it was a girl, and she was all but dead
with fright. She lay looking at me like a deer that I had shot, waiting
for me to plunge in the knife. It is a shame to any man to have a girl
look at him as that one looked at me. I made the sign of friendship and
set food before her, and water in a cup of bark. Then I saw what had
made the clumsy track; it was her foot which she had cut on the rocks
and bound up with strips of bark. Also she was sick with fright and
"For two days she lay on my bed and ate what I gave her and looked at me
as a trapped thing looks at the owner of the trap. I tried her with all
the dialects I knew, and even with a few words I had picked up from a
summer camp of Wabaniki. I had met them a week or two before at
Owenunga, at the foot of the mountains.
"She put her hand over her mouth and looked sideways to find a way out
of the trap.
"I was sorry for her, but she was a great nuisance. I was so busy
getting food for her that I had no time to listen for the Holder of the
Heavens, and besides, there was a thickening of the air, what we call
the Breath of the Great Moose, which comes before a storm. If we did not
wish to be snowed in, we had to get down out of the mountain, and on
account of her injured foot we had to go slowly.
"I had it in mind to take her to the camp of the Wabaniki at Owenunga,
but when she found out where we were going she tried to run away. After
that I carried her, for the cut in her foot opened and bled.
"She lay in my arms like a hurt fawn, but what could I do? There was a
tent of cloud all across the Adirondack, and besides, it is not proper
for a young girl to be alone in the woods with a strange man," said the
Onondaga, but he smiled to himself as he said it.
"It was supper-time when we came to Crooked Water. There was a smell of
cooking, and the people gathering between the huts.
"There was peace between the Five Nations and the Wabaniki, so I walked
boldly into the circle of summer huts and put the girl down, while I
made the stranger's sign for food and lodging. But while my hand was
still in the air, there was a shout and a murmur and the women began
snatching their children back. I could see them huddling together like
buffalo cows when their calves are tender, and the men pushing to the
front with caught-up weapons in their hands.
"I held up my own to show that they were weaponless.
"'I want nothing but food and shelter for this poor girl,' I said. I had
let her go in order to make the sign language, for I had but a few words
of their tongue. She crouched at my feet covering her face with her long
hair. The people stood off without answering, and somebody raised a cry
for Waba-mooin. It was tossed about from mouth to mouth until it reached
the principal hut, and presently a man came swaggering out in the dress
of a Medicine Man. He was older than I, but he was also fat, and for all
his Shaman's dress I was not frightened. I knew by the way the girl
stopped crying that she both knew and feared him.
"The moment Waba-mooin saw her he turned black as a thunderhead. He
scattered words as a man scatters seeds with his hand. I was too far to
hear him, but the people broke out with a shower of sticks and stones.
At that the girl sprang up and spread her arms between me and the
people, crying something in her own tongue, but a stone struck her on
the point of the shoulder. She would have dropped, but I caught her, I
held her in my arms and looked across at the angry villagers and
Waba-mooin. Suddenly power came upon me....
"It is something all Indian," said the Onon-daga,--"something White Men
do not understand. It is Magic Medicine, the power of the Shaman, the
power of my thought meeting the evil thought of the Wabaniki and turning
it back as a buffalo shield turns arrows. I gathered up the girl and
walked away from that place slowly as becomes a Shaman. No more stones
struck me; the arrow of Waba-mooin went past me and stuck in an oak. My
power was upon me.
"I must have walked half the night, hearing the drums at Crooked Water
scaring away evil influences. I would feel the girl warm and soft in my
arms as a fawn, and then after a time she would seem to be a part of me.
The trail found itself under my feet; I was not in the least wearied.
The girl was asleep when I laid her down, but toward morning she woke,
and the moment I looked in her eyes, I knew that whatever they had
stoned her for at Owenunga, her eyes were friendly.
"'_M'toulin_,' she said, which is the word in her language for Shaman,
'what will you do with me?'
"There was nothing I could do but take her to my mother as quickly as
possible. There was a wilderness of hills to cross before we struck the
trail through Mohawk Valley. That afternoon the snow began to fall in
great dry flakes, thickening steadily. The girl walked when she could,
but most of the time I carried her. I had the power of a Shaman, though
the Holder of the Heavens had not yet spoken to me.
"We pushed to the top of the range before resting, and all night we
could hear the click and crash of deer and moose going down before the
snow. All the next day there was one old bull moose kept just ahead of
us. We knew he was old because of his size and his being alone. Two or
three times we passed other bulls with two or three cows and their
calves of that season yarding among the young spruce, but the old bull
kept on steadily down the mountain. His years had made him weather-wise.
The third day the wind shifted the snow, and we saw him on the round
crown of a hill below us, tracking."
The Onondaga let his pipe go out while he explained the winter habits of
"When the snow is too deep for yarding," he said, "they look for the
lower hills that have been burnt over, so that the growth is young and
tender. When the snow is soft, after a thaw, they will track steadily
back and forth until the hill is laced with paths. They will work as
long as the thaw lasts, pushing the soft snow with their shoulders to
release the young pine and the birches. Then, when the snow crusts, they
can browse all along the paths for weeks, tunneling far under.
"We saw our bull the last afternoon as we came down from the cloud cap,
and then the white blast cut us off and we had only his trail to follow.
When we came to the hill we could still hear him thrashing about in his
trails, so I drew down the boughs of a hemlock and made us a shelter and
a fire. For two days more the storm held, with cold wind and driven
snow. About the middle of the second day I heard a heavy breathing above
our hut, and presently the head of the moose came through the hemlock
thatch, and his eyes were the eyes of a brother. So I knew my thought
was still good, and I made room for him in the warmth of the hut. He
moved out once or twice to feed, and I crept after him to gather grass
seeds and whatever could be found that the girl could eat. We had had
nothing much since leaving the camp at Crooked Water.
"And by and by with the hunger and anxiety about NukÚwis, which was the
name she said she should be called by, my thought was not good any more.
I would look at the throat of the moose as he crowded under the hemlock
and think how easily I could slit it with my knife and how good moose
meat toasted on the coals would taste. I was glad when the storm cleared
and left the world all white and trackless. I went out and prayed to the
Holder of the Heavens that he would strengthen me in the keeping of my
vow and also that he would not let the girl die.
"While I prayed a rabbit that had been huddling under the brush and the
snow, came hopping into my trail; it hopped twice and died with the
cold. I took it for a sign; but when I had cooked it and was feeding it
to the girl she said:--
"'Why do you not eat, M'toulin,' for we had taught one another a few
words of our own speech.
"'I am not hungry,' I told her.
"'While I eat I can see that your throat is working with hunger,' she
insisted. And it was true I could have snatched the meat from her like a
wolf, but because of my vow I would not.
"'M'toulin, there is a knife at your belt; why have you not killed the
moose to make meat for us?'
"'Eight moons I have done no killing, seeking the Vision and the Voice,'
I told her. 'It is more than my life to me.'
"When I had finished, she reached over with the last piece of rabbit and
laid it on the fire. It was a sacrifice. As we watched the flame lick it
up, all thought of killing went out of my head like the smoke of
sacrifice, and my thought was good again.
"When the meat she had eaten had made her strong, NukÚwis sat up and
crossed her hands on her bosom.
"'M'toulin,' she said, 'the evil that has come on you belongs to me. I
will go away with it. I am a witch and bring evil on those who are
kind to me.'
"'Who says you are a witch?'
"'All my village, and especially Waba-mooin. I brought sickness on the
village, and on you hunger and the breaking of your vow.'
"'I have seen Waba-mooin,' I said. 'I do not think too much of his
"'He is the Shaman of my village,' said NukÚwis. 'My father was Shaman
before him, a much greater Shaman than Waba-mooin will ever be. He
wanted my father's Medicine bundle which hung over the door to protect
me; my father left it to me when he died. But afterward there was a
sickness in the village, and Waba-mooin said it was because the powerful
Medicine bundle was left in the hands of an ignorant girl. He said for
the good of the village it ought to be taken away from me. But _I_
thought it was because so many people came to my house with their sick,
because of my Medicine bundle, and Waba-mooin missed their gifts. He
said that if I was not willing to part with my father's bundle, that he
would marry me, but when I would not, then he said that I was a witch!'
"'Where is the bundle now?' I asked her.
"'I hid it near our winter camp before we came into the mountains. But
there was sickness in the mountains and Waba-mooin said that it also was
my fault. So they drove me out with sticks and stones. That is why they
would not take me back.'
"'Then,' I said, 'when Waba-mooin goes back to the winter camp, he will
find the Medicine bundle.'
"'He will never find it,' she said, 'but he will be the only Shaman in
the village and will have all the gifts. But listen, M'toulin, by now
the people are back in their winter home. It is more than two days from
here. If you go without me, they will give you food and shelter, but
with me you will have only hard words and stones. Therefore, I leave
you, M'toulin.' She stood up, made a sign of farewell.
"'You must show me the way to your village first,' I insisted.
"I saw that she meant what she said, and because I was too weak to run
after her, I pretended. I thought that would hold her.
"We should have set out that moment, but a strange lightness came in my
head. I do not know just what happened. I think the storm must have
begun again early in the afternoon. There was a great roaring as of wind
and the girl bending over me, wavering and growing thin like smoke.
Twice I saw the great head of the moose thrust among the hemlock boughs,
and heard NukÚwis urging and calling me. She lifted my hands and clasped
them round the antlers of the moose; I could feel his warm breath.... He
threw up his head, drawing me from my bed, wonderfully light upon my
feet. We seemed to move through the storm. I could feel the hairy
shoulder of the moose and across his antlers NukÚwis calling me. I felt
myself carried along like a thin bubble of life in the storm that poured
down from the Adirondack like Niagara. At last I slipped into darkness.
"I do not know how long this lasted, but presently I was aware of a
light that began to grow and spread around me. It came from the face of
the moose, and when I looked up out of my darkness it changed to the
face of a great kind man. He had on the headdress of a chief priest, the
tall headdress of eagle plumes and antlers. I had hold of one of them,
and his arm was around and under me. But I knew very well who held me.
"'You have appeared to me at last,' I said to him.
"'I have appeared, my son.' His voice was kind as the sound of summer
"'I looked for you long, O Taryenya-wagon!'
"'You looked for me among your little brothers of the wild,' he said,
'and for you the Vision was among men, my son.'
"'How, among men?'
"'What you did for that poor girl when you put your good thought between
her and harm. That you must do for men.'
"'I am to be a Shaman, then?' I thought of my father.
"'According to a man's power,' said the Holder of the Heavens,--'as my
power comes upon him....'"
The Onondaga puffed silently for a while on his pipe.
Dorcas Jane fidgeted. "But I don't understand," she said at last; "just
what was it that happened?"
"It was my Mystery," said the Onondaga; "my Vision that came to me out
of the fasting and the sacrifice. You see, there had been very little
food since leaving Crooked Water, and NukÚwis--"
"You gave it all to her." Dorcas nodded. "But still I don't understand?"
"The moose had begun to travel down the mountain and like a good brother
he came back for me. NukÚwis lifted me up and bound me to his antlers,
holding me from the other side, but I was too weak to notice.
"We must have traveled that way for hours through the storm until we
reached the tall woods below the limit of the snow. When I came to
myself, I was lying on a bed of fern in a bright morning and NukÚwis was
cooking quail which she had snared with a slip noose made of her hair. I
ate--I could eat now that I had had my Vision--and grew strong. All the
upper mountain was white like a tent of deerskin, but where we were
there was only thin ice on the edges of the streams.
"We stayed there for one moon. I wished to get my strength back, and
besides, we wished to get married, NukÚwis and I."
"But how could you, without any party?" Dorcas wished to know. She had
never seen anybody get married, but she knew it was always spoken of as
a Wedding Party.
"We had the party four months later when we got back to my own village,"
explained the Onondaga. "For that time I built a hut, and when I had led
her across the door, as our custom was, I scattered seeds upon
her--seeds of the pine tree. Then we sat in our places on either side
the fire, and she made me cake of acorn meal, and we made a vow as we
ate it that we would love one another always.
"We were very happy. I hunted and fished, and the old moose fed in our
meadow. NukÚwis used to gather armfuls of grass for him. When we went
back to my wife's village he trotted along in the trail behind us like a
dog. NukÚwis wished to go back after her father's Medicine bag, and
being a woman she did not wish to go to my mother without her dower.
There were many handsome skins and baskets in her father's hut which had
been given to him when he was Medicine Man. She felt sure Waba-mooin
would not have touched them. And as for me, I was young enough to want
Waba-mooin to see that I was also a Shaman.
"We stole into NukÚwis's hut in the dark, and when it was morning a
light snow was over the ground to cover our tracks, and there was our
smoke going up and the great moose standing at our door chewing his cud
and over the door the Medicine bag of NukÚwis's father. How the
neighbors were astonished! They ran for Waba-mooin, and when I saw him
coming in all his Shaman's finery, I put on the old Medicine Man's shirt
and his pipe and went out to smoke with him as one Shaman with another."
The Onondaga laughed to himself, remembering. "It was funny to see him
try to go through with it, but there was nothing else for him to do. I
ought to have punished him a little for what he did to NukÚwis, but my
heart was too full of happiness and my Mystery. And perhaps it was
punishment enough to have me staying there in the village with all the
folk bringing me presents and neglecting Waba-mooin. I think he was glad
when we set out for my own village in the Moon of the Sap Running.
"I knew my mother would be waiting for me, and besides, I wished my son
to be born an Onondaga."
"And what became of the old moose?"
"Somewhere on the trail home we lost him. Perhaps he heard his own tribe
calling...and perhaps... He was the Holder of the Heavens to me, and
from that time neither I nor my wife ate any moose meat. That is how it
is when the Holder of the Heavens shows Himself to his children. But
when I came by the tree where I had cut the first score of my search for
Him, I cut a picture of the great moose, with my wife and I on either
side of him."
The Onondaga pointed with his feathered pipe to a wide-boled chestnut a
rod or two down the slope. "It was that I was looking for to-day," he
said. "If you look you will find it."
And continuing to point with the long feathered stem of his pipe, the
children rose quietly hand in hand and went to look.
THE PEARLS OF COFACHIQUE: HOW LUCAS DE AYLLON CAME TO LOOK FOR THEM AND
WHAT THE CACICA FAR-LOOKING DID TO HIM; TOLD BY THE PELICAN
One morning toward the end of February the children were sitting on the
last bench at the far end of the Bird Gallery, which is the nicest sort
of place to sit on a raw, slushy day. You can look out from it on one
side over the flamingo colony of the Bahamas, and on the other straight
into the heart of the Cuthbert Rookery in Florida. Just opposite is the
green and silver coral islet of Cay Verde, with the Man-of-War Birds
nesting among the flat leaves of the sea-grape.
If you sit there long enough and nobody comes by to interrupt, you can
taste the salt of the spindrift over the banks of Cay Verde, and watch
the palmetto leaves begin to wave like swords in the sea wind. That is
what happened to Oliver and Dorcas Jane. The water stirred and shimmered
and the long flock of flamingoes settled down, each to its own mud
hummock on the crowded summer beaches. All at once Oliver thought of
"I wonder," he said, "if there are trails on the water and through the
"Why, of course," said the Man-of-War Bird; "how else would we find our
islet among so many? North along the banks till we sight the heads of
Nassau, then east of Stirrup Cay, keeping the scent of the land flowers
to windward, to the Great Bahama, and west by north to where blue water
runs between the Biscayne Keys to the mouth of the Miami. That is how we
reach the mainland in season, and back again to Cay Verde."
"It sounds like a long way," said Oliver.
"That's nothing," said the tallest Flamingo. "We go often as far east as
the Windward Islands, and west to the Isthmus. But the ships go farther.
We have never been to the place where the ships come from."
It was plain that the Flamingo was thinking of a ship as another and
more mysterious bird. The Man-of-War Bird seemed to know better. The
children could see, when he stretched out his seven-foot spread of wing,
that he was a great traveler.
"What _I_ should like to know," he said, "is how the ships find their
way. With us we simply rise higher and higher, above the fogs, until we
see the islands scattered like green nests and the banks and shoals
which from that height make always the same pattern in the water, brown
streaks of weed, gray shallows, and deep water blue. But the ships,
though they never seem to leave the surface of the water, can make a
shorter course than we in any kind of weather."
Oliver was considering how he could explain a ship's compass to the
birds, but only the tail end of his thinking slipped out. "They call
some of them men-of-war, too," he chuckled.
"You must have thought it funny the first time you saw one," said Dorcas
"Not me, but my ancestors," said the Man-of-War Bird; "_they_ saw the
Great Admiral when he first sailed in these waters. They saw the three
tall galleons looming out of a purple mist on the eve of discovery,
their topsails rosy with the sunset fire. The Admiral kept pacing,
pacing; watching, on the one hand, lest his men surprise him with a
mutiny, and on the other, glancing overside for a green bough or a
floating log, anything that would be a sign of land. We saw him come in
pride and wonder, and we saw him go in chains."
Like all the Museum people, the Man-of-War Bird said "we" when he spoke
of his ancestors.
"There were others," said the Flamingo. "I remember an old man looking
for a fountain."
"Ponce de Leon," supplied Dorcas Jane, proud that she could pronounce
"There is no harm in a fountain," said a Brown Pelican that had come
sailing into Cuthbert Rookery with her wings sloped downward like a
parachute. "It was the gold-seekers who filled the islands with the
thunder of their guns and the smoke of burning huts."
The children turned toward the Pelican among the mangrove trees, crowded
with nests of egret and heron and rosy hornbill.
The shallow water of the lagoon ran into gold-tipped ripples. In every
one the low sun laid a tiny flake of azure. Over the far shore there was
a continual flick and flash of wings, like a whirlwind playing with a
heap of waste paper. Crooked flights of flamingoes made a moving
reflection on the water like a scarlet snake, but among the queer
mangrove stems, that did not seem to know whether they were roots or
branches, there was a lovely morning stillness. It was just the place
and hour for a story, and while the Brown Pelican opened her well-filled
maw to her two hungry nestlings, the Snowy Egret went on with
"They were a gallant and cruel and heroic and stupid lot, the Spanish
gold-seekers," she said. "They thought nothing of danger and hunger, but
they could not find their way without a guide any further than their
eyes could see, and they behaved very badly toward the poor Indians."
"We saw them all," said the Flamingo,--"Cortez and Balboa and Pizarro.
We saw Panfilo Narvaez put in at Tampa Bay, full of zeal and gold
hunger, and a year later we saw him at Appalache, beating his stirrup
irons into nails to make boats to carry him back to Havana. We alone
know why he never reached there."
The Pelican by this time had got rid of her load of fish and settled
herself for conversation. "Whatever happened to them," she said, "they
came back,--Spanish, Portuguese, and English,--back they came. I
remember how Lucas de Ayllon came to look for the pearls of
"Pearls!" said the children both at once.
"Very good ones," said the Pelican, nodding her pouched beak; "as large
as hazel nuts and with a luster like a wet beach at evening. The best
were along the Savannah River where some of my people had had a rookery
since any of them could remember. Ayllon discovered the pearls when he
came up from Hispaniola looking for slaves, but it was an evil day for
him when he came again to fill his pockets with them, for by that time
the lady of Cofachique was looking for Ayllon."
"For Soto, you mean," said the Snowy Egret,--
"Hernando de Soto, the Adelantado of Florida, and that is _my_ story."
"It is all one story," insisted the Pelican. "Ayllon began it. His ship
put in at the Savannah at the time of the pearling, when the best of our
young men were there, and among them Young Pine, son of Far-Looking, the
"The Indians had heard of ships by this time, but they still believed
the Spaniards were Children of the Sun, and trusted them. They had not
yet learned what a Spaniard will do for gold. They did not even know
what gold was, for there was none of it at Cofachique. The Cacique came
down to the sea to greet the ships, with fifty of his best fighting men
behind him, and when the Spaniard invited them aboard for a feast, he
let Young Pine go with them. He was as straight as a pine, the young
Cacique, keen and strong-breasted, and about his neck he wore a twist of
pearls of three strands, white as sea foam. Ayllon's eyes glistened as
he looked at them, and he gave word that the boy was not to be
mishandled. For as soon as he had made the visiting Indians drunk with
wine, which they had never tasted before and drank only for politeness,
the Spaniard hoisted sail for Hispaniola.
"Young Pine stood on the deck and heard his father calling to him from
the shore, and saw his friends shot as they jumped overboard, or were
dragged below in chains, and did not know what to do at such treachery.
The wine foamed in his head and he hung sick against the rail until
Ayllon came sidling and fidgeting to find out where the pearls came
from. He fingered the strand on Young Pine's neck, making signs of
"The ship was making way fast, and the shore of Cofachique was dark
against the sun. Ayllon had sent his men to the other side of the ship
while he talked with Young Pine, for he did not care to have them learn
about the pearls.
"Young Pine lifted the strand from his neck, for by Ayllon's orders he
was not yet in chains. While the Spaniard looked it over greedily, the
boy saw his opportunity. He gave a shout to the sea-birds that wheeled
and darted about the galleon, the shout the fishers give when they throw
offal to the gulls, and as the wings gathered and thickened to hide him
from the guns, he dived straight away over the ship's side into the
"All night he swam, steering by the death-fires which the pearlers had
built along the beaches, and just as the dawn came up behind him to turn
the white-topped breakers into green fire, the land swell caught him.
Four days later a search party looking for those who had jumped
overboard, found his body tumbled among the weeds along the outer shoals
and carried it to his mother, the Cacica, at Talimeco.
[Illustration: "She could see the thoughts of a man while they were
still in his heart"]
"She was a wonderful woman, the Chief Woman of Cofachique, and
terrible," said the Pelican. "It was not for nothing she was called
Far-Looking. She could see the thoughts of a man while they were still
in his heart, and the doings of men who were far distant. When she
wished to know what nobody could tell her, she would go into the
Silence; she would sit as still as a brooding pelican; her limbs would
stiffen and her eyes would stare--
"That is what she did the moment she saw that the twist of pearls was
gone from her son's neck. She went silent with her hand on his dead
breast and looked across the seas into the cruel heart of the Spaniard
and saw what would happen. 'He will come back,' she said; 'he will come
back to get what I shall give him for _this_.'
"She meant the body of Young Pine, who was her only son," said the
Pelican, tucking her own gawky young under her breast, "and that is
something a mother never forgets. She spent the rest of her time
planning what she would do to Lucas de Ayllon when he came back.
"There was a lookout built in the palmetto scrub below the pearling
place, and every day canoes scouted far to seaward, with runners ready
in case ships were sighted. Talimeco was inland about a hundred miles up
the river and the Cacica herself seldom left it.
"And after four or five years Ayllon, with the three-plied rope of
pearls under his doublet, came back.
"The Cacica was ready for him. She was really the Chief Woman of
Cofachique,--the Cacique was only her husband,--and she was obeyed as no
ordinary woman," said the Brown Pelican.
"She was not an ordinary woman," said the Snowy Egret, fluffing her
white spray of plumes. "If she so much as looked at you and her glance
caught your eye, then you had to do what she said, whether you liked it
or not. But most of her people liked obeying her, for she was as wise as
she was terrible. That was why she did not kill Lucas de Ayllon at the
pearling place as the Cacique wished her to do. 'If we kill him,' said
the Chief Woman, 'others will come to avenge him. We must send him home
with such a report that no others of his kind will visit this coast
again.' She had everything arranged for that."
The Egret settled to her nest again and the Pelican went on with the
"In the spring of the year Ayllon came loafing up the Florida coast with
two brigantines and a crew of rascally adventurers, looking for slaves
and gold. At least Ayllon said he was looking for slaves, though most of
those he had carried away the first time had either jumped overboard or
refused their food and died. But he had not been willing to tell anybody
about the pearls, and he had to have some sort of excuse for returning
to a place where he couldn't be expected to be welcomed.
"And that was the first surprise he had when he put to shore on the
bluff where the city of Savannah now stands, with four small boats,
every man armed with a gun or a crossbow.
"The Indians, who were fishing between the shoals, received the
Spaniards kindly; sold them fish and fresh fruit for glass beads, and
showed themselves quite willing to guide them in their search for slaves
and gold. Only there was no gold: nothing but a little copper and
stinging swarms of flies, gray clouds of midges and black ooze that
sucked the Spaniards to their thighs, and the clatter of scrub palmetto
leaves on their iron shirts like the sound of wooden swords, as the
Indians wound them in and out of trails that began in swamps and arrived
nowhere. Never once did they come any nearer to the towns than a few
poor fisher huts, and never a pearl showed in any Indian's necklace or
earring. The Chief Woman had arranged for that!
"All this time she sat at Talimeco in her house on the temple mound--"
"Mounds!" interrupted the children both at once. "Were they
"They built mounds," said the Pelican, "for the Cacique's house and the
God-House, and for burial, with graded ways and embankments. The one at
Talimeco was as tall as three men on horseback, as the Spaniards
discovered later--Soto's men, not Ayllon's. _They_ never came within
sound of the towns nor in sight of the league-long fields of corn nor
the groves of mulberry trees. They lay with their goods spread out along
the beach without any particular order and without any fear of the few
poor Indians they saw.
"That was the way the Chief Woman had arranged it. All the men who came
down to the ships were poorly dressed and the women wrinkled, though she
was the richest Cacica in the country, and had four bearers with feather
fans to accompany her. All this time she sat in the Silences and sent
her thoughts among the Spaniards so that they bickered among themselves,
for they were so greedy for gold that no half-dozen of them would trust
another half-dozen out of their sight. They would lie loafing about the
beaches and all of a sudden anger would run among them like thin fire in
the savannahs, which runs up the sap wood of the pines, winding, and
taking flight from the top like a bird. Then they would stab one another
in their rages, or roast an Indian because he would not tell them where
gold was. For they could not get it out of their heads that there was
gold. They were looking for another Peru.
"Toward the last, Ayllon had to sleep in his ship at night so jealous
his captains were of him. He had a touch of the swamp fever which takes
the heart out of a man, and finally he was obliged to show them the
three-plied rope of pearls to hold them. To just a few of his captains
he showed it, but the Indian boy he had taken to be his servant saw them
fingering it in the ship's cabin and sent word to the Chief Woman."
The sun rose high on the lagoon as the Pelican paused in her story, and
beyond the rookery the children could see blue water and a line of surf,
with the high-pooped Spanish ships rising and falling. Beyond that were
the low shore and the dark wood of pines and the shining leaves of the
palmettoes like a lake spattered with the light--split by their needle
points. They could see the dark bodies of the Indian runners working
their way through it to Talimeco. The Pelican went on with the story.
"'Now it is time,' said the Cacica, and the Cacique's Own--that was a
band of picked fighting men--took down their great shields of woven cane
from the god-house and left Talimeco by night. And from every seacoast
town of Cofachique went bowmen and spearsmen. They would be sitting by
their hearth-fires at evening, and in the morning they would be gone. At
the same time there went a delegation from Talimeco to Lucas de Ayllon
to say that the time of one of the Indian feasts was near, and to invite
him and his men to take part in it. The Spaniards were delighted, for
now they thought they should see some women, and maybe learn about gold.
But though scores of Indians went down, with venison and maize cakes in
baskets, no women went at all, and if the Spaniards had not been three
fourths drunk, that would have warned them.
"When Indians mean fighting they leave the women behind," explained the
Pelican, and the children nodded.
"The Spaniards sat about the fires where the venison was roasting, and
talked openly of pearls. They had a cask of wine out from the ship, and
some of their men made great laughter trying to dance with the young men
of Cofachique. But one of the tame Indians that Ayllon had brought from
Hispaniola with him, went privately to his master. 'I know this dance,'
he said; 'it is a dance of death.' But Ayllon dared do nothing except
have a small cannon on the ship shot off, as he said, for the
celebration, but really to scare the Indians."
"And they were scared?"
"When they have danced the dance of death and vengeance there is nothing
can scare Indians," said the Brown Pelican, and the whole rookery
agreed with her.
"At a signal," she went on, "when the Spaniards were lolling after
dinner with their iron shirts half off, and the guns stacked on the
sand, the Indians fell upon them with terrible slaughter. Ayllon got
away to his ships with a few of his men, but there were not boats enough
for all of them, and they could not swim in their armor. Some of them
tried it, but the Indians swam after them, stabbing and pulling them
under. That night Ayllon saw from his ships the great fires the Indians
made to celebrate their victory, and the moment the day popped suddenly
out of the sea, as it does at that latitude, he set sail and put the
ships about for Hispaniola, without stopping to look for survivors.
"But even there, I think, the Cacica's thought followed him. A storm
came up out of the Gulf, black with thunder and flashing green fire. The
ships were undermanned, for the sailors, too, had been ashore feasting.
One of the brigantines--but not the one which carried Ayllon--staggered
awhile in the huge seas and went under."
"And the pearls, the young chief's necklace, what became of that?" asked
"It went back to Talimeco with the old chief's body and was buried with
him. You see, that had been the signal. Ayllon had the necklace with him
in the slack of his doublet. He thought it would be a good time after
the feast to show it to the Cacique and inquire where pearls could be
found. He had no idea that it had belonged to the Cacique's son; all
Indians looked very much alike to him. But when the Cacique saw Young
Pine's necklace in the Spaniard's hand, he raised the enemy shout that
was the signal for his men, who lay in the scrub, to begin the battle.
Ayllon struck down the Cacique with his own sword as the nearest at
hand. But the Cacique had the pearls, and after the fighting began there
was no time for the Spaniard to think of getting them back again. So the
pearls went back to Talimeco, with axes and Spanish arms, to be laid up
in the god-house for a trophy. It was there, ten years later, that
Hernando de Soto found them. As for Ayllon, his pride and his heart were
broken. He died of that and the fever he had brought back from
Cofachique, but you may be sure he never told exactly what happened to
him on that unlucky voyage. Nobody had any ear in those days for voyages
that failed; they were all for gold and the high adventure."
"What I want to know," said Dorcas, "is what became of the Cacica, and
whether she saw Mr. de Soto coming and why, if she could look people in
the eye and make them do what she wanted, she didn't just see Mr. de
Ayllon herself and tell him to go home again."
"It was only to her own people she could do that," said the Pelican.
"She could send her dream to them too, if it pleased her, but she never
dared to put her powers to the test with the strangers. If she had tried
and failed, then the Indians would have been certain of the one thing
they were never quite sure of, that the Spaniards were the Children of
the Sun. As for the horses, they never did get it out of their minds
that they might be eaten by them. I think the Cacica felt in her heart
that the strangers were only men, but it was too important to her to be
feared by her own people to take any chances of showing herself afraid
of the Spaniards. That was why she never saw Ayllon, and when it was at
last necessary that Soto should be met, she left that part of the
business to the young Princess."
"That," said the Snowy Egret, "should be my story! The egrets were
sacred at Cofachique," she explained to the children; "only the chief
family wore our plumes. Our rookery was in the middle swamp a day inland
from Talimeco, safe and secret. But we used to go past the town every
day fishing in the river. That is how we knew the whole story of what
happened there and at Tuscaloosa."
Dorcas remembered her geography. "Tuscaloosa is in Alabama," she said;
"that's a long way from Savannah."
"Not too long for the Far-Looking. She and the Black Warrior--that's
what Tuscaloosa means--were of one spirit. In the ten or twelve years
after the Cacique, her husband, was killed, she put the fear of
Cofachique on all the surrounding tribes, as far as Tuscaloosa River.
"There was an open trail between the two chief cities of Cofachique and
Mobila, which was called the Tribute Road because of the tribes that
traveled it, bringing tribute to one or another of the two Great Ones.
But not any more after the Princess who was called the Pearl of
Cofachique walked in it."
"Oh, Princesses!" sighed Dorcas Jane, "if we could just see one!"
The Snowy Egret considered. "If the Pelicans would dance for you--"
"Have the Pelicans a _dance_?"
"Of all the dances that the Indians have," said the Egret, "the first
and the best they learned from the Wing People. Some they learned from
the Cranes by the water-courses, and some from the bucks prancing before
the does on the high ridges; old, old dances of the great elk and the
wapiti. In the new of the year everything dances in some fashion, and by
dancing everything is made one, sky and sea, and bird and dancing leaf.
Old time is present, and all old feelings are as the times and feelings
that will be. These are the things men learned in the days of the
Unforgotten, dancing to make the world work well together by times and
seasons. But the Pelicans can always dance a little; anywhere in their
rookeries you might see them bowing and balancing. Watch, now, in the
True enough, on the bare, ripple-packed sand that glimmered like the
inside of a shell, several of the great birds were making absurd dips
and courtesies toward one another; they spread their wings like flowing
draperies and began to sway with movements of strange dignity. The high
sun filmed with silver fog, and along the heated air there crept an
eerie feel of noon.
"When half a dozen of them begin to circle together," said the Snowy
Egret, "turn round and look toward the wood."
At the right moment the children turned, and between the gray and somber
shadows of the cypress they saw her come. All in white she was--white
cloth of the middle bark of mulberries, soft as linen, with a cloak of
oriole feathers black and yellow, edged with sables. On her head was the
royal circlet of egret plumes nodding above the yellow circlet of the
Sun. When she walked, it made them think of the young wind stirring in
the corn. Around her neck she wore, in the fashion of Cofachique, three
strands of pearls reaching to the waist, in which she rested her
"That was how the Spaniards saw her for the first time, and found her so
lovely that they forgot to ask her name; they called her 'The Lady of
Cofachique,' and swore there was not a lovelier lady in Europe nor one
more a princess.
"Which might easily be true," said the Egret, "for she was brought up to
be Cacica in Far-Looking's place, after the death of her son
The Princess smiled on the children as she came down the cypress trail.
One of her women, who moved unobtrusively beside her, arranged cushions
of woven cane, and another held a fan of painted skin and feather work
between her and the sun. A tame egret ruffled her white plumes at the
"I was telling them about the pearls of Cofachique," said the Egret who
had first spoken to the children, "and of how Hernando de Soto came to
look for them."
"Came and looked," said the Princess. One of her women brought a casket
carved from a solid lump of cypress, on her knee. Around the sides of
the casket and on the two ends ran a decoration of woodpeckers' heads
and the mingled sign of the sun and the four quarters which the Corn
Woman had drawn for Dorcas on the dust of the dancing-floor.
The Princess lifted the lid and ran her fine dark fingers through a heap
of gleaming pearls. "There were many mule loads such as these in the
god-house at Talimeco," she said; "we filled the caskets of our dead
Caciques with them. What is gold that he should have left all these for
the mere rumor of it?"
She was sad for a moment and then stern. "Nevertheless, I think my aunt,
the Cacica, should have met him. She would have seen that he was a man
and would have used men's reasons with him. She made Medicine against
him as though he were a god, and in the end his medicine was stronger
"If you could tell us about it--" invited Dorcas Jane.
HOW THE IRON SHIRTS CAME TO TUSCALOOSA: A TELLING OF THE TRIBUTE ROAD BY
THE LADY OF COFACHIQUE
"There was a bloom on the sea like the bloom on a wild grape when the
Adelantado left his winter quarters at Anaica Apalache," said the
Princess. "He sent Maldonado, his captain, to cruise along the Gulf
coast with the ships, and struck north toward Cofachique. That was in
March, 1540, and already his men and horses were fewer because of
sickness and skirmishes with the Indians. They had for guide Juan Ortiz,
one of Narvaez's men who had been held captive by the Indians these
eight years, and a lad Perico who remembered a trading trip to
Cofachique. And what he could not remember he invented. He made Soto
believe there was gold there. Perhaps he was thinking of copper, and
perhaps, since the Spaniards had made him their servant, he found it
pleasanter to be in an important position.
"They set out by the old sea trail toward Alta-paha, when the buds at
the ends of the magnolia boughs were turning creamy, and the sandhill
crane could be heard whooping from the lagoons miles inland. First went
the captains with the Indian guides in chains, for they had a way of
disappearing in the scrub if not watched carefully, and then the foot
soldiers, each with his sixty days' ration on his back. Last of all came
a great drove of pigs and dogs of Spain, fierce mastiffs who made
nothing of tearing an Indian in pieces, and had to be kept in leash by
Pedro Moron, who was as keen as a dog himself. He could smell Indians in
hiding and wood smoke three leagues away. Many a time when the
expedition was all but lost, he would smell his way to a village.
"They went north by east looking for gold, and equal to any adventure.
At Achese the Indians, who had never heard of white men, were so
frightened that they ran away into the woods and would not come out
again. Think what it meant to them to see strange bearded men, clad in
iron shirts, astride of fierce, unknown animals,--for the Indians could
not help but think that the horses would eat them. They had never heard
of iron either. Nevertheless, the Spaniards got some corn there, from
the high cribs of cane set up on platforms beside the huts.
"Everywhere Soto told the Caciques that he and his men were the Children
of the Sun, seeking the highest chief and the richest province, and
asked for guides and carriers, which usually he got. You may be sure the
Indians were glad to be rid of them so cheaply.
"The expedition moved toward Ocute, with the bloom of the wild vines
perfuming all the air, and clouds of white butterflies beginning to
twinkle in the savannahs."
"But," said Dorcas, who had listened very attentively, "I thought
Savannah was a place."
"Ever so many places," said the Princess; "flat miles on miles of slim
pines melting into grayness, sunlight sifting through their plumy tops,
with gray birds wheeling in flocks, or troops of red-headed
woodpeckers, and underfoot nothing but needles and gray sand. Far ahead
on every side the pines draw together, but where one walks they are wide
apart, so that one seems always about to approach a forest and never
finds it. These are the savannahs.
"Between them along the water-courses are swamps; slow, black water and
wide-rooted, gull-gray cypress, flat-topped and all adrip with moss. And
everywhere a feeling of snakes--wicked water-snakes with yellow rims
around their eyes.
"They crossed great rivers, Ockmulgee, Oconee, Ogechee, making a bridge
of men and paddling their way across with the help of saddle cruppers
and horses' tails. If the waters were too deep for that, they made
piraguas--dug-out canoes, you know--and rafts of cane. By the time they
had reached Ocute the Spaniards were so hungry they were glad to eat
dogs which the Indians gave them, for there was such a scarcity of meat
on all that journey that the sick men would sometimes say, 'If only I
had a piece of meat I think I would not die!'"
"But where was all the game?" Oliver insisted on knowing.
"Six hundred men with three hundred horses and a lot of Indian carriers,
coming through the woods, make a great deal of noise," said the
Princess. "The Spaniards never dared to hunt far from the trail for fear
of getting lost. There were always lurking Indians ready to drive an
arrow through a piece of Milan armor as if it were pasteboard, and into
the body of a horse over the feather of the shaft, so that the Spaniards
wondered, seeing the little hole it made, how the horse had died.
"Day after day the expedition would wind in and out of the trail,
bunching up like quail in the open places, and dropping back in single
file in the canebrake, with the tail of the company so far from the head
that when there was a skirmish with the Indians at either end, it would
often be over before the other end could catch up. In this fashion they
came to Cofaque, which is the last province before Cofachique."
"Oh," said Dorcas, "and did the Chief Woman see them coming? The one who
"She saw too much," said the Egret, tucking her eggs more warmly under
her breast. "She saw other comings and all the evil that the White Men
would bring and do."
"Whatever she saw she did her best to prevent," said the Princess.
"Three things she tried. Two of them failed. There are two trails into
the heart of Cofachique, one from the west from Tuscaloosa, and the
other from Cofaque, a very secret trail through swamp and palmetto
scrub, full of false clues and blind leads.
"Far-Looking sat in the god-house at Talimeco, and sent her thought
along the trail to turn the strangers back; but what is the thought of
one woman against six hundred men! It reached nobody but the lad Perico,
and shook him with a midnight terror, so that he screamed and threw
himself about. The Spaniards came running with book and bell, for the
priest thought the boy was plagued by a devil. But the soldiers thought
it was all a pretense to save himself from being punished for not
knowing the trail to Cofachique.
"Nobody really knew it, because the Cofachiquans, who were at war with
Cofaque, had hidden it as a fox covers the trail to her lair. But after
beating about among the sloughs and swamps like a rabbit in a net, and
being reduced to a ration of eighteen grains of corn, the Spaniards came
to the river about a day's journey above the place where Lucas de
Ayllon's men had died. They caught a few stray Indians, who allowed
themselves to be burnt rather than show the way to their towns,--for so
the Cacica had ordered them,--and at last the expedition came to a
village where there was corn."
"But I shouldn't think the Indians would give it to them," said Dorcas.
"Indians never refuse food, if they have it, even to their enemies,"
said the Princess.
The children could see that this part of the story was not pleasant
remembering for the Lady of Cofachique. She pushed the pearls away as
though they wearied her, and her women came crowding at her shoulder
with soft, commiserating noises like doves. They were beautiful and
young like her, and wore the white dress of Cofachique, a skirt of
mulberry fiber and an upper garment that went over the left shoulder and
left the right arm bare except for the looped bracelets of shell and
pearl. Their long hair lay sleek across their bosoms and, to show that
they were privileged to wait upon the Chief Woman, they had each a
single egret's plume in the painted bandeau about her forehead.
"Far-Looking was both aunt and chief to me," said the Princess; "it was
not for me to question what she did. Our country had been long at war
with Cofaque, at cost of men and corn. And Soto, as he came through that
country, picked up their War Leader Patofa, and the best of their
fighting men, for they had persuaded him that only by force would he get
anything from the Cacica of Cofachique. The truth was that it was only
by trusting to the magic of the white men that Patofa could get to us.
The Adelantado allowed him to pillage such towns as they found before he
thought better of it and sent Patofa and his men back to Cofaque, but by
that time the thing had happened which made the Cacica's second plan
impossible. Our fighting men had seen what the Spaniards could do, and I
had seen what they could be."
Proudly as she said it, the children could see, by the way the Princess
frowned to herself and drummed with her fingers on the cypress wood,
that the old puzzle of the strangers who were neither gods nor men
worked still in her mind.
"The Cacica's first plan," she went on, "which had been to lose them in
the swamps and savannahs, had failed. Her second was to receive them
kindly and then serve them as she had served Ayllon.
"They made their camp at last across the river from Talimeco, and I with
my women went out to meet them as a great Cacique should be met, in a
canoe with an awning, with fan-bearers and flutes and drums. I saw that
I pleased him," said the Princess. "I gave him the pearls from my neck,
and had from him a ring from his finger set with a red stone. He was a
handsome and a gallant gentleman, knowing what was proper toward
"And all this time you were planning to kill him?" said Dorcas, shocked.
The Princess shook her head.
"Not I, but the Cacica. She told me nothing. Talimeco was a White Town;
how should I know that she planned killing in it. She sat in the Place
of the Silences working her mischief and trusted me to keep the
Spaniards charmed and unsuspicious. How should I know what she meant? I
am chief woman of Cofachique, but I am not far-looking.
"I showed the Adelantado the god-house with its dead Caciques all
stuffed with pearls, and the warrior-house where the arms of Ayllon were
laid up for a trophy. It would have been well for him to be contented
with these things. I have heard him say they would have been a fortune
in his own country, but he was bitten with the love of gold and mad with
it as if a water moccasin had set its fangs in him. I had no gold, and I
could not help him to get Far-Looking into his power.
"That was his plan always, to make the chief person of every city his
hostage for the safety of his men. I would have helped him if I could,"
the Princess admitted, "for I thought him glorious, but the truth was, I
did not know.
"There was a lad, Islay, brought up with me in the house of my aunt, the
Cacica, who went back and forth to her with messages to the Place of the
Silences, and him I drove by my anger to lead the Spaniards that way.
But as he went he feared her anger coming to meet him more than he
feared mine that waited him at home. One day while the Spanish soldiers
who were with him admired the arrows which he showed them in his quiver,
so beautifully made, he plunged the sharpest of them into his throat. He
was a poor thing," said the Princess proudly, "since he loved neither me
nor my aunt enough to serve one of us against the other. We succeeded
only in serving Soto, for now there was no one to carry word for the
Cacica to the men who were to fall upon the Spaniards and destroy them
as they had destroyed Ayllon.
"Perhaps," said the Princess, "if she had told me her plan and her
reason for it, things would have turned out differently. At any rate,
she need not have become, as she did finally, my worst enemy, and died
fighting me. At that time she was as mother and chief to me, and I could
never have wished her so much bitterness as she must have felt sitting
unvisited in the Place of the Silences, while I took the Adelantado
pearling, and the fighting men, who should have fallen upon him at her
word, danced for his entertainment.
"She had to come out at last to find what had happened to Islay, for
whose death she blamed me, and back she went without a word to me, like
a hot spider to spin a stronger web. This time she appealed to
Tuscaloosa. They were of one mind in many things, and between them they
kept all the small tribes in tribute.
"It was about the time of the year when they should be coming with it
along the Tribute Road, and the Cacica sent them word that if they could
make the Spaniards believe that there was gold in their hills, she would
remit the tribute for one year. There was not much for them to do, for
there were hatchets and knives in the tribute, made of copper, in which
Soto thought he discovered gold. It may be so: once he had suspected it,
I could not keep him any longer at Talimeco. The day that he set out
there went another expedition secretly from the Cacica to Tuscaloosa.
'These men,' said the message, 'must be fought by men.' And Tuscaloosa
smiled as he heard it, for it was the first time that the Cacica had
admitted there was anything that could not be done by a woman. But at
that she had done her cleverest thing, because, though they were
friends, the Black Warrior wanted nothing so much as an opportunity to
prove that he was the better warrior.
"It was lovely summer weather," said the Princess, "as the Spaniards
passed through the length of Cofachique; the mulberry trees were
dripping with ripe fruit, the young corn was growing tall, and the
Indians were friendly. They passed over the Blue Ridge where it breaks
south into woody hills. Glossy leaves of the live-oak made the forest
spaces vague with shadows; bright birds like flame hopped in and out and
hid in the hanging moss, whistling clearly; groves of pecans and walnuts
along the river hung ropy with long streamers of the purple muscadines.
"You have heard," said the Lady of Cofachique, hesitating for the first
time in her story, and yet looking so much the Princess that the
children would never have dared think anything displeasing to her, "that
I went a part of the way with the Adelantado on the Tribute Road?" Her
lovely face cleared a little as they shook their heads.
"It is not true," she said, "that I went for any reason but my own wish
to learn as much as possible of the wisdom of the white men and to keep
my own people safe in the towns they passed through. I had my own women
about me, and my own warriors ran in the woods on either side, and
showed themselves to me in the places where the expedition halted,
unsuspected by Soto. It was as much as any Spaniard could do to tell one
half-naked Indian from another.
"The pearls, too,"--she touched the casket with her foot,--"the finest
that Soto had selected from the god-house, I kept by me. I never meant
to let them go, though there were some of them I gave to a soldier ...
there were slaves, too, of Soto's who found the free life of Cofachique
more to their liking than the fruitless search for gold...."
"She means," said the Snowy Egret, seeing that the Princess did not
intend to say any more on that point, "that she gave them for bribes to
one of Soto's men, a great bag full, though there came a day when he
needed the bag more than the pearls and he left them scattered on the
floor of the forest. It was about the slaves who went with her when she
gave Soto the slip in the deep woods, that she quarreled afterward with
the old Cacica."
"At the western border of Cofachique, which is the beginning of
Tuscaloosa's land," went on the Princess, "I came away with my women and
my pearls; we walked in the thick woods and we were gone. Where can a
white man look that an Indian cannot hide from him? It is true that I
knew by this time that the Cacica had sent to Tuscaloosa, but what was
that to me? The Adelantado had left of his own free will, and I was not
then Chief Woman of Cofachique. At the first of the Tuscaloosa towns the
Black Warrior awaited them. He sat on the piazza of his house on the
principal mound. He sat as still as the Cacica in the Place of Silences,
a great turban stiff with pearls upon his head, and over him the
standard of Tuscaloosa like a great round fan on a slender stem, of fine
feather-work laid on deerskin. While the Spaniards wheeled and raced
their horses in front of him, trying to make an impression, Soto could
not get so much as the flick of an eyelash out of the Black Warrior.
Gentleman of Spain as he was and the King's own representative, he had
to dismount at last and conduct himself humbly.
"The Adelantado asked for obedience to his King, which Tuscaloosa said
he was more used to getting than giving. When Soto wished for food and
carriers, Tuscaloosa gave him part, and, dissembling, said the rest were
at his capital of Mobila. Against the advice of his men Soto consented
to go there with him.
"It was a strong city set with a stockade of tree-trunks driven into the
ground, where they rooted and sent up great trees in which wild pigeons
roosted. It was they that had seen the runners of Cofachique come in
with the message from Far-Looking. All the wood knew, and the Indians
knew, but not the Spaniards. Some of them suspected. They saw that the
brush had been cut from the ground outside the stockade, as if
"One of them took a turn through the town and met not an old man nor any
children. There were dancing women, but no others. This is the custom of
the Indians when they are about to fight,--they hide their families.
"Soto was weary of the ground," said the Princess. "This we were told by
the carriers who escaped and came back to Cofachique. He wished to sit
on a cushion and sleep in a bed again. He came riding into the town with
the Cacique on a horse as a token of honor, though Tuscaloosa was so
tall that they had trouble finding a horse that could keep his feet from
the ground, and it must have been as pleasant for him as riding a lion
or a tiger. But he was a great chief, and if the Spaniards were not
afraid to ride neither would he seem to be. So they came to the
principal house, which was on a mound. All the houses were of two
stories, of which the upper was open on the sides, and used for
sleeping. Soto sat with Tuscaloosa in the piazza and feasted; dancing
girls came out in the town square with flute-players, and danced for
"But one of Soto's men, more wary than the rest, walked about, and saw
that the towers of the wall were full of fighting men. He saw Indians
hiding arrows behind palm branches.
"Back he went to the house where Soto was, to warn him, but already the
trouble had begun. Tuscaloosa, making an excuse, had withdrawn into the
house, and when Soto wished to speak to him sent back a haughty answer.
Soto would have soothed him, but one of Soto's men, made angry with the
insolence of the Indian who had brought the Cacique's answer, seized the
man by his cloak, and when the Indian stepped quickly out of it,
answered as quickly with his sword. Suddenly, out of the dark houses,
came a shower of arrows."
"It was the plan of the Cacica of Cofachique," explained the Egret. "The
men of Mobila had meant to fall on the Spaniards while they were eating,
but because of the Spanish gentleman's bad temper, the battle began
"It was the only plan of hers that did not utterly fail," said the
Princess, "for with all her far-looking she could not see into the
Adelantado's heart. Soto and his guard ran out of the town, every one
with, an arrow sticking in him, to join themselves to the rest of the
expedition which had just come up. Like wasps out of a nest the Indians
poured after them. They caught the Indian carriers, who were just easing
their loads under the walls. With every pack and basket that the
Spaniards had, they carried them back into the town, and the gates of
the stockade were swung to after them."
"All night," said the Egret, "the birds were scared from their roost by
the noise of the battle. Several of the horses were caught inside the
stockade; these the Indians killed quickly. The sound of their dying
neighs was heard at all the rookeries along the river."
"The wild tribes heard of it, and brought us word," said the Princess.
"Soto attacked and pretended to withdraw. Out came the Indians after
him. The Spaniards wheeled again and did terrible slaughter. They came
at the stockade with axes; they fired the towers. The houses were all of
dry cane and fine mats of cane for walls; they flashed up in smoke and
flame. Many of the Indians threw themselves into the flames rather than
be taken. At the last there were left three men and the dancing women.
The women came into the open by the light of the burning town, with
their hands crossed before them. They stood close and hid the men with
their skirts, until the Spaniards came up, and then parted. So the last
men of Mobila took their last shots and died fighting."
"Is that the end?" said Oliver, seeing the Princess gather up her pearls
and the Egret preparing to tuck her bill under her wing. He did not feel
very cheerful over it.
"It was the end of Mobila and the true end of the expedition," said the
Princess. Rising she beckoned to her women. She had lost all interest in
a story which had no more to do with Cofachique.
"Both sides lost," said the Egret, "and that was the sad part of it. All
the Indians were killed; even the young son of Tuscaloosa was found with
a spear sticking in him. Of the Spaniards but eighteen died, though few
escaped unwounded. But they lost everything they had, food, medicines,
tools, everything but the sword in hand and the clothes they stood in.
And while they lay on the bare ground recovering from their wounds came
Juan Ortiz, who had been sent seaward for that purpose, with word that
Maldonado lay with the ships off the bay of Mobila,--that's Mobile, you
know,--not six days distant, to carry them back to Havana.
"And how could Soto go back defeated? No gold, no pearls, no conquests,
not so much as a map, even,--only rags and wounds and a sore heart. In
spite of everything he was both brave and gallant, and he knew his duty
to the King of Spain. He could not go back with so poor a report of the
country to which he had been sent to establish the fame and might of His
Majesty. Forbidding Juan Ortiz to tell the men about the ships, with
only two days' food and no baggage, he turned away from the coast, from
his home and his wife and safe living, toward the Mississippi. He had no
hope in his heart, I think, but plenty of courage. And if you like,"
said the Egret, "another day we will tell you how he died there."
"Oh, no, please," said Dorcas, "it is so very sad; and, besides," she
added, remembering the picture of Soto's body being lowered at night
into the dark water, "it is in the School History."
"In any case," said the Egret, "he was a brave and gallant gentleman,
kind to his men and no more cruel to the Indians than they were to one
another. There was only one of the gentlemen of Spain who never had
_any_ unkindness to his discredit. That was Cabeza de Vaca; he was one
of Narvaez's men, and the one from whom Soto first heard of
Florida,--but that is also a sad story."
Neither of the children said anything. The Princess and her women lost
themselves in the shadowy wood. The gleam here and there of their white
dresses was like the wing of tall white birds. The sun sailing toward
noon had burnt the color out of the sky into the deep water which could
be seen cradling fresh and blue beyond the islets. One by one the
pelicans swung seaward, beating their broad wings all in time like the
stroke of rowers, going to fish in the clean tides outside of
The nests of the flamingoes lay open to the sun except where here and
there dozed a brooding mother.
"Don't you know any not-sad stories?" asked Dorcas, as the Egret showed
signs again of tucking her head under her wing.
"Not about the Iron Shirts," said the Egret. "Spanish or Portuguese or
English; it was always an unhappy ending for the Indians."
"Oh," said Dorcas, disappointed; and then she reflected, "If they hadn't
come, though, I don't suppose we would be here either."
"I'll tell you," said the Man-of-War Bird, who was a great traveler,
"they didn't all land on this coast. Some of them landed in Mexico and
marched north into your country. I've heard things from gulls at Panuco.
You don't know what the land birds might be able to tell you."
HOW THE IRON SHIRTS CAME LOOKING FOR THE SEVEN CITIES OF CIBOLA; TOLD BY
From Cay Verde in the Bahamas to the desert of New Mexico, by the Museum
trail, is around a corner and past two windows that look out upon the
west. As the children stood waiting for the Road-Runner to notice them,
they found the view not very different from the one they had just left.
Unending, level sands ran into waves, and strange shapes of rocks loomed
through the desert blueness like steep-shored islands. It was vast and
terrifying like the sea, and yet a very pleasant furred and feathered
life appeared to be going on there between the round-headed cactus, with
its cruel fishhook thorns, and the warning, blood-red blossoms that
dripped from the ocatilla. Little frisk-tailed things ran up and down
the spiney shrubs, and a woodpecker, who had made his nest in its pithy
stalk, peered at them from a tall _sahuaro_.
The Road-Runner tilted his long rudder-like tail, flattened his crested
head until it reminded them of a wicked snake, and suddenly made up his
mind to be friendly.
"Come inside and get your head in the shade," he invited. "There's no
harm in the desert sun so long as you keep something between it and your
head. I've known Indians to get along for days with only the shade of
The children snuggled under the feathery shadow of the mesquite beside
"We're looking for the trail of the Iron Shirts," said Oliver. "Alvar
Nu˝ez Cabeza de Vaca," added Dorcas Jane, who always remembered names.
The Road-Runner ducked once or twice by way of refreshing his memory.
"There was a black man with him, and they went about as Medicine Men to
the Indians who believed in them, and at the same time treated them very
badly. But that was nearly four hundred years ago, and they never came
into this part of the country, only into Texas. And they hadn't any iron
shirts either, scarcely anything to put either on their backs or into
"Nevertheless," quavered a voice almost under Oliver's elbow, "they
brought the iron shirts, and the long-tailed elk whose hooves are always
stumbling among our burrows."
The children had to look close to make out the speckled fluff of
feathers hunched at the door of its _hogan_.
"Meet my friend Thla-po-po-ke-a," said the Road-Runner, who had picked
up his manners from miners and cowboys as well as from Spanish
The Burrowing Owl bobbed in her own hurried fashion. "Often and often,"
she insisted with a whispering _whoo-oo_ running through all the
sentences, "I've heard the soldiers say that it was Cabeza de Vaca put
it into the head of the King of Spain to send Francisco Coronado to look
for the Seven Cities. In my position one hears the best of everything,"
went on Po-po-ke-a. "That is because all the important things happen
next to the ground. Men are born and die on the ground, they spread
their maps, they dream dreams."
The children could see how this would be in a country where there was
never a house or a tree and scarcely anything that grew more than
knee-high to a man. The long sand-swells, and the shimmer of heat-waves
in the air looked even more like the sea now that they were level with
it. Off to the right what seemed a vast sheet of water spread out like
quicksilver on the plain; it moved with a crawling motion, and a coyote
that trotted across their line of vision seemed to swim in it, his head
just showing above the slight billows.
"It's only mirage," said the Road-Runner; "even Indians are fooled by it
if they are strange to the country. But it is quite true about the
ground being the place to hear things. All day the Iron Shirts would
ride in a kind of doze of sun and weariness. But when they sat at meals,
loosening their armor buckles, then there would be news. We used to run
with it from one camp to another--I can run faster than a horse can
walk--until the whole mesa would hear of it."
"But the night is the time for true talking," insisted Po-po-ke-a. "It
was then we heard that when Cabeza de Vaca returned to Spain he made one
report of his wanderings to the public, and a secret report to the King.
Also that the Captain-General asked to be sent on that expedition
because he had married a young wife who needed much gold."
"At that time we had not heard of gold," said the Road-Runner; "the
Spaniards talked so much of it we thought it must be something good to
eat, but it turned out to be only yellow stones. But it was not all
Cabeza de Vaca's doing. There was another story by an Indian, Tejo, who
told the Governor of Mexico that he remembered going with his father to
trade in the Seven Cities, which were as large as the City of Mexico,
with whole streets of silver workers, and blue turquoises over
"If there is a story about it--" began Oliver, looking from one to the
other invitingly, and catching them looking at each other in the
"Brother, there is a tail to you," said the Burrowing Owl quickly, which
seemed to the children an unnecessary remark, since the Road-Runner's
long, trim tail was the most conspicuous thing about him. It tipped and
tilted and waggled almost like a dog's, and answered every purpose of
Now he ducked forward on both legs in an absurd way he had. "To you, my
sister--" which is the polite method of story asking in that part of
"My word bag is as empty as my stomach," said Po-po-ke-a, who had eaten
nothing since the night before and would not eat until night again.
"_Sons eso_--to your story."
"_Sons eso, tse-nß_," said the Road-Runner, and began.
"First," he said, "to Hawikuh, a city of the Zu˝is, came Estevan, the
black man who had been with Cabeza de Vaca, with a rattle in his hand
and very black behavior. Him the Indians killed, and the priest who was
with him they frightened away. Then came Coronado, with an army from
Mexico, riding up the west coast and turning east from the River of the
Brand, the one that is now called Colorado, which is no name at all, for
all the rivers hereabout run red after rain. They were a good company of
men and captains, and many of those long-tailed elk,--which are called
horses, sister," said the Road-Runner aside to Po-po-ke-a,--"and the
Indians were not pleased to see them."
"That was because there had been a long-tailed star seen over
To-ya-lanne, the sacred mountain, some years before, one of the kind
that is called Trouble-Bringer. They thought of it when they looked at
the long tails of the new-fashioned elk," said Po-po-ke-a, who had not
liked being set right about the horses.
"In any case," went on the Road-Runner, "there was trouble. Hawikuh was
one of these little crowded pueblos, looking as if it had been crumpled
together and thrown away, and though there were turquoises over the
doors, they were poor ones, and there was no gold. And as Hawikuh, so
they found all the cities of Cibola, and the cities of the Queres, east
to the River of White Rocks."
Dorcas Jane nudged Oliver to remind him of the Corn Woman and
Tse-tse-yote. All the stories of that country, like the trails, seemed
to run into one another.
"Terrible things happened around Tiguex and at Cicuye, which is now
Pecos," said the Road-Runner, "for the Spaniards were furious at finding
no gold, and the poor Indians could never make up their minds whether
these were gods to be worshiped, or a strange people coming to conquer
them, who must be fought. They were not sure whether the iron shirts
were to be dreaded as magic, or coveted as something they could use
themselves. As for the horses, they both feared and hated them. But
there was one man who made up his mind very quickly.
"He was neither Queres nor Zu˝i, but a plainsman, a captive of their
wars. He was taller than our men, leaner and sharp-looking. His god was
the Morning Star. He made sacrifices to it. The Spaniards called him the
Turk, saying he looked like one. We did not know what that meant, for we
had only heard of turkeys which the Queres raised for their feathers,
and he was not in the least like one of these. But he knew that the
Spaniards were men, and was almost a match for them. He had the
The Road-Runner cocked his head on one side and observed the children,
to see if they knew what this meant.
"Is it anything like far-looking?" asked Dorcas.
"It is something none of my people ever had," said the Road-Runner. "The
Indian who was called the Turk could look in a bowl of water in the sun,
or in the water of the Stone Pond, and he could see things that happened
at a distance, or in times past. He proved to the Spaniards that he
could do this, but their priests said it was the Devil and would have
nothing to do with it, which was a great pity. He could have saved them
a great deal."
"_Hoo, hoo_!" said the Burrowing Owl; "he could not even save himself;
and none of the things he told to the Spaniards were true."
"He was not thinking for himself," said the Road-Runner, "but for his
people. The longer he was away from them the more he thought, and his
thoughts were good, even though he did not tell the truth to the Iron
Shirts. They, at least, did not deserve it. For when the people of Zu˝i
and Cicuye and Tiguex would not tell them where the sacred gold was hid,
there were terrible things done. That winter when the days were cold,
the food was low and the soldiers fretful. Many an Indian kept the
secret with his life."
"Did the Indians really know where the gold was?" The children knew
that, according to the geographies, there are both gold and silver in
"Some of them did, but gold was sacred to them. They called it the stone
of the Sun, which they worshiped, and the places where it was found were
holy and secret. They let themselves be burned rather than tell.
Besides, they thought that if the Spaniards were convinced there was no
gold, they would go away the sooner. One thing they were sure of: gods
or men, it would be better for the people of the pueblos if they went
away. Day and night the _tombes_ would be sounding in the kivas, and
prayer plumes planted in all the sacred places. Then it was that the
Turk went to the Caciques sitting in council.
"'If the strangers should hear that there is gold in my country, there
is nothing would keep them from going there.'
"'That is so,' said the Caciques.
"'And if they went to my country,' said the Turk, 'who but I could guide
"'And how long,' said the Caciques, 'do you think a guide would live
after they discovered that he had lied?' For they knew very well there
was no gold in the Turk's country.
"'I should at least have seen my own land,' said the Turk, 'and here I
am a slave to you.'
"The Caciques considered. Said they, 'It is nothing to us where and how
"So the Turk caused himself to be taken prisoner by the Spaniards, and
talked among them, until it was finally brought to the Captain-General's
ears that in the Turk's country of Quivira, the people ate off plates of
gold, and the Chief of that country took his afternoon nap under a tree
hung with golden bells that rung him to sleep. Also that there was a
river there, two leagues wide, and that the boats carried twenty rowers
to a side with the Chief under the awning." "That at least was true,"
said the Burrowing Owl; "there were towns on the Missi-sippu where the
Chiefs sat in balconies on high mounds and the women fanned them with
"Not in Quivira, which the Turk claimed for his own country. But it all
worked together, for when the Spaniards learned that the one thing was
true, they were the more ready to believe the other. It was always easy
to get them to believe any tale which had gold in it. They were so eager
to set out for Quivira that they could scarcely be persuaded to take
food enough, saying they would have all the more room on their horses
for the gold.
"They forded the Rio Grande near Tiguex, traveled east to Cicuye on the
Pecos River, and turned south looking for the Turk's country, which is
not in that direction."
"But why--" began Oliver.
"Look!" said the Road-Runner.
The children saw the plains of Texas stretching under the heat haze,
stark sand in wind-blown dunes, tall stakes of _sahuaro_ marching wide
apart, hot, trackless sand in which a horse's foot sinks to the fetlock,
and here and there raw gashes in the earth for rivers that did not run,
except now and then in fierce and ungovernable floods. Northward the
plains passed out of sight in trackless, grass-covered prairies, day's
journey upon day's journey.
"It was the Caciques' idea that the Turk was to lose the strangers
there, or to weaken them beyond resistance by thirst and hunger and
hostile tribes. But the buffalo had come south that winter for the early
grass. They were so thick they looked like trees walking, to the
Spaniards as they lay on the ground and saw the sky between their huge
bodies and the flat plain. And the wandering bands of Querechos that the
Expedition met proved friendly. They were the same who had known Cabeza
de Vaca, and they had a high opinion of white men. They gave the
Spaniards food and proved to them that it was much farther to the cities
of the Missisippu than the Turk had said.
"By that time Coronado had himself begun to suspect that he should never
find the golden bells of Quivira, but with the King and Do˝a Beatris
behind him, there was nothing for him to do but go forward. He sent the
army back to Tiguex, and, with thirty men and all the best horses,
turned north in as straight a track as the land permitted, to the Turk's
country. And all that journey he kept the Turk in chains.
"Even though he had not succeeded in getting rid of the Iron Shirts, the
Turk was not so disappointed as he might have been. The Caciques did not
know it, but killing the strangers or losing them had been only a part
of his plan.
"All that winter at Tiguex the Turk had seen the horses die, or grow
sick and well again; some of them had had colts, and he had come to the
conclusion that they were simply animals like elk or deer, only
"The Turk was a Pawnee, one of those roving bands that build grass
houses and follow the buffalo for food. They ran the herds into a
_piskune_ below a bluff, over which they rushed and were killed.
Sometimes the hunters themselves were caught in the rush and trampled.
It came into the Turk's mind, as he watched the Spaniards going to hunt
on horseback, that the Morning Star, to whom he made sacrifices for his
return from captivity, had sent him into Zu˝i to learn about horses, and
take them back to his people. Whatever happened to the Iron Shirts on
that journey, he had not meant to lose the horses. Even though suspected
and in chains he might still do a great service to his people.
"When the Querechos were driving buffalo, some of the horses were caught
up in the 'surround,' carried away with the rush of the stampeding herd,
and never recovered. Others that broke away in a terrible hailstorm
succeeded in getting out of the ravine where the army had taken shelter,
and no one noticed that it was always at the point where the Turk was
helping to herd them, that the horses escaped. Even after he was put in
chains and kept under the General's eye on the way to Quivira, now and
then there would be a horse, usually a mare with a colt, who slipped her
stake-rope. Little gray coyotes came in the night and gnawed them. But
coyotes will not gnaw a rope unless it has been well rubbed with buffalo
fat," said the Road-Runner.
"I should have thought the Spaniards would have caught him at it," said
"White men, when they are thinking of gold," said the Road-Runner, "are
particularly stupid about other things. There was a man of the Wichitas,
a painted Indian called Ysopete, who told them from the beginning that
the Turk lied about the gold. But the Spaniards preferred to believe
that the Indians were trying to keep the gold for themselves. They did
not see that the Turk was losing their horses one by one; no more did
they see, as they neared Quivira, that every day he called his people.
"There are many things an Indian can do and a white man not catch him at
it. The Turk would sit and feed the fire at evening, now a bundle of dry
brush and then a handful of wet grass, smoke and smudge, such as hunters
use to signal the movements of the quarry. He would stand listening to
the captains scold him, and push small stones together with his foot for
a sign. He could slip in the trail and break twigs so that Pawnees could
read. When strange Indians were brought into camp, though he could only
speak to them in the language of signs, he asked for a Pawnee called
Running Elk, who had been his friend before he was carried captive into
Zu˝i Land. They had mingled their blood after the custom of friendship
and were more than brothers to one another. And though the Iron Shirts
looked at him with more suspicion every day, he was almost happy. He
smelled sweet-grass and the dust of his own country, and spoke face to
face with the Morning Star.
"I do not understand about stars," said the Road-Runner. "It seems that
some of them travel about and do not look the same from different
places. In Zu˝i Land where there are mountains, the Turk was not always
sure of his god, but in the Pawnee country it is easily seen that he is
the Captain of the Sky. You can lie on the ground there and lose sight
of the earth altogether. Mornings the Turk would look up from his chains
to see his Star, white against the rosy stain, and was comforted. It was
the Star, I suppose, that brought him his friend.
"For four or five days after Running Elk discovered that the Turk was
captive to the Iron Shirts, he would lurk in the tall grass and the
river growth, making smoke signals. Like a coyote he would call at
night, and though the Turk heard him, he dared not answer. Finally he
hit upon the idea of making songs. He would sing and nobody could
understand him but Running Elk, who lay in the grass, and finally had
courage to come into the camp in broad day, selling buffalo meat and
"There was a bay mare with twin colts that the Turk wished him to loose
from her rope and drive away, but Running Elk was afraid. Cold mornings
the Indian could see the smoke of the horses' nostrils and thought that
they breathed fire. But the Turk made his friend believe at last that
the horse is a great gift to man, by the same means that he had made the
Spaniards think him evil, by the In-knowing Thought.
"'It is as true,' said the Turk, 'that the horse is only another sort of
elk, as that my wife is married again and my son died fighting the
Ho-he.' All of which was exactly as it had happened, for his wife had
never expected that he would come back from captivity. 'It is also
true,' the Turk told him, 'that very soon I shall join my son.'
"For he was sure by this time that when the Spaniards had to give up the
hope of gold, they would kill him. He told Running Elk all the care of
horses as he had learned it, and where he thought those that had been
lost from Coronado's band might be found. Of the Iron Shirts, he said
that they were great Medicine, and the Pawnees were by all means to get
one or two of them.
"By this time the Expedition had reached the country of the Wichitas,
which is Quivira, and there was no gold, no metal of any sort but a
copper gorget around the Chief's neck, and a few armbands. The night
that Coronada bought the Chief's gorget to send to his king, as proof
that he had found no gold, Running Elk heard the Turk singing. It was no
song of secret meaning; it was his own song, such as a man makes to sing
when he sees his death facing him.
"All that night the Turk waited in his chains for the rising of his
Star. There was something about which he must talk to it. He had made a
gift of the horse to his people, but there was no sacrifice to wash away
all that was evil in the giving and make it wholly blessed. All night
the creatures of the earth heard the Turk whisper at his praying, asking
for a sacrifice.
"And when the Star flared white before the morning, a voice was in the
air saying that he himself was to be the sacrifice. It was the voice of
the Morning Star walking between the hills, and the Turk was happy. The
doves by the water-courses heard him with the first flush of the dawn
waking the Expedition with his death song. Loudly the Spaniards swore at
him, but he sang on steadily till they came to take him before the
General, whose custom it was to settle all complaints the first thing in
the morning. The soldiers thought that since it was evident the Turk had
purposely misled them about the gold and other things, he ought to die
for it. The General was in a bad humor. One of his best mares with her
colts had frayed her stake-rope on a stone that night and escaped.
Nevertheless, being a just man, he asked the Turk if he had anything to
say. Upon which the Turk told them all that the Caciques had said, and
what he himself had done, all except about the horses, and especially
about the bay mare and Running Elk. About that he was silent. He kept
his eyes upon the Star, where it burned white on the horizon. It was at
its last wink, paling before the sun, when they killed him."
The children drew a long breath that could hardly be distinguished from
the soft whispering _whoo-hoo_ of the Burrowing Owl.
"So in spite of his in-knowing he could not save himself," Dorcas Jane
insisted, "and his Star could not save him. If he had looked in the
earth instead of the heavens he would have found gold and the Spaniards
would have given him all the horses he wanted."
"You forget," said the Road-Runner, "that he knew no more than the Iron
Shirts did, where the gold was to be found. There were not more than two
or three in any one of the Seven Cities that ever knew. Ho-tai of
Matsaki was the last of those, and his own wife let him be killed rather
than betray the secret of the Holy Places."
"Oh, if you please--" began the children.
"It is a town story," said the Road-Runner, "but the Condor that has his
nest on El Morro, he might tell you. He was captive once in a cage at
Zu˝i." The Road-Runner balanced on his slender legs and cocked his head
trailwise. Any kind of inactivity bored him dreadfully. The burrowing
owls were all out at the doors of their _hogans_, their heads turning
with lightning swiftness from side to side; the shadows were long in the
low sun. "It is directly in the trail from the Rio Grande to Acoma, the
old trail to Zu˝i," said the Road-Runner, and without waiting to see
whether or not the children followed him, he set off.
HOW THE MAN OF TWO HEARTS KEPT THE SECRET OF THE HOLY PLACES; TOLD BY
"In the days of our Ancients," said the Road-Runner between short
skimming runs, "this was the only trail from the river to the Middle Ant
Hill of the World. The eastern end of it changed like the tip of a wild
gourd vine as the towns moved up and down the river or the Queres
crossed from Katzimo to the rock of Acoma; but always Zu˝i was the root,
and the end of the first day's journey was the Rock."
Each time he took his runs afresh, like a kicking stick in a race, and
waited for the children to catch up. The sands as they went changed from
gray to gleaming pearl; on either side great islands of stone thinned
and swelled like sails and took on rosy lights and lilac shadows.
They crossed a high plateau with somber cones of extinct volcanoes,
crowding between rivers of block rock along its rim. Northward a
wilderness of pines guarded the mesa; dark junipers, each one with a
secret look, browsed wide apart. They thickened in the ca˝ons from which
arose the white bastions of the Rock.
Closer up, El Morro showed as the wedge-shaped end of a high mesa,
soaring into cliffs and pinnacles, on the very tip of which they could
just make out the hunched figure of the great Condor.
"El Morro, 'the Castle,' the Spaniards called it," said the Road-Runner,
casting himself along the laps of the trail like a feathered dart. "But
to our Ancients it was always 'The Rock.' On winter journeys they camped
on the south side to get the sun, and in summers they took the shade on
the north. They carved names and messages for those that were to come
after, with flint knives, with swords and Spanish daggers. Men are all
very much alike," said the Road-Runner.
On the smooth sandstone cliffs the children could make out strange,
weathered picture-writings, and twisty inscriptions in much abbreviated
Spanish which they could not read.
The white sand at the foot of the Rock was strewn with flakes of
charcoal from the fires of ancient camps. A little to the south of the
cliff, that towered two hundred feet and more above them, shallow
footholds were cut into the sandstone.
"There were pueblos at the top in the old days," said the Road-Runner,
"facing across a deep divide, but nobody goes there now except owls that
have their nests in the ruins, and the last of the Condors, who since
old time have made their home in the pinnacles of the Rock. He'll have
seen us coming." The children looked up as a sailing shadow began to
circle about them on the evening-colored sands. "You can see by the
frayed edges of his wing feathers that he has a long time for
remembering," said the Road-Runner.
The great bird came slowly to earth, close by the lone pine that
tasseled out against the south side of El Morro and the Road-Runner
ducked several times politely.
"My children, how is it with you these days?" asked the Condor with
"Happy, happy, Grandfather. And you?"
The Condor assured them that he was very happy, and seeing that no one
made any other remark, he added, after an interval, looking pointedly at
the children, "It is not thinking of nothing that strangers come to the
house of a stranger."
"True, Grandfather," said the Road-Runner; "we are thinking of the gold,
the seed of the Sun, that the Spaniards did not find. Is there left to
you any of the remembrance of these things?"
"_Hai, hai_!" The Condor stretched his broad wings and settled himself
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