... the reaction of feeling was so strong that, had she let herself go, she could have laughed as wildly as a maniac. ... my neck sometimes; that made me think we were going north or west a good deal,—at least it seemed as if we were.
Author: Richard Baxter Townshend
Publisher: G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS
To Santiago accordingly Stephens had made his way in the hope of solving the mystery of the secret mine. This hope, however, was one which he could not avow openly at the first meeting, and when he presented himself before the chiefs of the pueblo it was of gold and not of silver that he spoke. He told them of his past toils and adventures, and the red men seemed to take a fancy to him on the spot. Hitherto these [Pg 14]Indians had persistently enforced their right to prevent any man not of their own blood from taking up his abode within a league of their village of Santiago, a right secured to them by special grant from the kings of Old Spain. What was there about this man that melted their obduracy? Some charm they must have found in the face of this lone wanderer, for him alone among white men had they admitted as a permanent guest to the hospitality of their most jealously guarded sanctuary. Perhaps there was something of pure caprice in their choice; perhaps it was in a way due to the effect of physical contrast. For in this case the contrast between the white man and the red, always marked, was as striking as it could possibly be. He was as fair as they were dark. With his white skin, his grey-blue eyes, and his curling golden hair, worn long in frontier fashion, he was as fair as any Norseman that ever boasted his descent from the ancient Vikings. "Gold," said Tostado, one of the chiefs, as Stephens sat in the midst of them on the occasion of his first visit; "we ask you what sort of a life you live, and you answer us that you live only to search for gold. Why, here is the gold. You carry it with you"; and with a reverent grace the fine old chief laid his dark fingers gently on the long yellow locks that flowed down from under the prospector's wide sombrero. The grey-blue eyes of the far-wandered man—one who like Ulysses of old had withstood the buffets of capricious Fortune through many adventurous years—found an expression of genuine friendliness in the dark orbs of this redskin chief, who smiled gravely at his own jest, as if in half-excuse of its familiarity. Tostado[Pg 15] gazed into the white man's eyes a moment longer, and then turned to the circle of his fellow-chiefs. "See," he said, "the white man's eyes are the same colour as our precious turquoise stones; they are the colour of our sacred jewel, the Shiuamo, that I wear as the head man of the Turquoise family," and he pointed to his breast where a large polished turquoise hung from a circlet round his neck. "The white man has travelled far; he is weary; he shall stay with us and rest a while; and we will give him an Indian name, and he shall be as one of ourselves. Let him be called 'Sooshiuamo,' 'Turquoise-eyes.' My brothers, say, is it good?" "Yes, it is good," they answered, "it is good. From henceforth Sooshiuamo is one of us; he is our brother." And in this fashion the roving gold-seeker had obtained amongst them the acceptance he desired. Felipe, with his striped blanket gracefully draped round him, came and stood just behind his employer, but said nothing. On a rough table were a tin cup and tin plate and an iron-handled knife; a small coffee-pot was bubbling in the ashes on the hearth. Stephens held a frying-pan in his left hand, and beside him on a tent-cloth on the floor lay a large smooth boulder and a hammer, with which he had been pounding his tough dried meat before cooking it. He now stood up to his full height, and turning his face, flushed with the fire, to Felipe, pointed with the steel fork held in his right hand to a great wooden chest against the wall at one side of the room. "Go and take an almud of corn and give it to the stock," said he. "Give Morgana her extra allowance."