Read CHAPTER VII of Tales of Aztlan, free online book, by George Hartmann, on ReadCentral.com.

THE FIGHT IN THE SAND HILLS. THE PHANTOM DOG

A number of years had I lived with my relatives when uncle found it expedient to sell out his business. He had prospered wonderfully in his commercial ventures. Long since had his coffers absorbed most of the money circulating within his sphere of trade. Thereafter he accepted commercial paper in payment for merchandise, and trade grew immensely. Our customers soon learned how easy it was to affix their signatures to promissory notes and to mortgages on their lands or cattle, their horses, sheep, crops, and chattels. Of course there was a little interest to be paid on the indebtedness, but as it was merely a trifling one and a half per centum per month or eighteen per cent yearly, it was of no consequence. And it was so easy to pay your debts. Just think of it, people bought everything they needed and longed for at the store and paid for it by simply signing their names to several papers. When the day of payment came, they could liquidate their debts by renewing their obligations. They simply signed a new set of similar papers with the interest compounded and added to the original debt. Surely Don Guillermo was conceded to stand highest in popular estimation of any set of men who had ever come to the Rio Grande. Had he not shown the people how to do business in a convenient and easy manner? Under such a system nobody worried or labored very much and life was like a pleasant dream. But alas! there has always been a beginning and an ending to everything under the sun, good or evil. The awakening from an easy life’s dream was occasioned by a crushing blow. It fell on the day of final reckoning, when Don Guillermo, my good uncle, thought the time was propitious to realize something tangible on sundry duly signed, sealed, and witnessed instruments. There was a rumpus; neither earthquake nor cyclone would have caused a greater commotion in the community. What, then, did this lying gringo mean by resorting to the trickery of the United States law courts and the power and services of the county sheriff? Why did he wrest their property from them? Had this gringo not always accepted their signatures as a legal tender for the payment of their debts? Had he not told them time and again that their handwriting was better than gold? If uncle had fallen into the clutches of these furious people, he would undoubtedly have been lynched. But he had wisely disposed of all his property in the country and had left with his family for the States. I remained in the service of the buyer of and successor to his business.

Soon after I began to feel lonesome, restless and dissatisfied, and that life among the natives was not as pleasant and satisfactory as formerly may be easily imagined. In fact, the gringos were now cordially hated and envied by a certain class, the element of greatest influence among the people. This produced a feeling of unpleasantness not to be overcome, and I resolved to emigrate to California, overland, by way of Arizona. I longed for the companionship of people of my own race and wanted to see more of the world. There was an opportunity to go to a mining town of northern Arizona, with several ox-teams which were freighting provisions. The freighter, Don Juan Mestal, assured me that he was very glad to have the pleasure and comfort of my company and would not listen to an offer of remuneration on my part. He said there was the choice of two routes; one road passed through the country of the Navajo Indians and the other road led past Zuhl, the isolated Pueblo village. Don Juan said that he would not go by way of Zuni, if he could avoid it, as he was prejudiced against this tribe. Not that they were hostile or dangerous, but he had acquired a positive aversion, amounting to abhorrence, for those peaceful people when he, as a boy, accompanied his father on a trading expedition there. At that time he witnessed the revolting execution of a score of Navajos who had been apprehended as spies by the Zunis. These unfortunates came to their village as visiting guests, it being in the time of the harvest of maize, when these Indians celebrate their great Thanksgiving feast. A young Navajo chief, who led the visiting party, aroused the ire of the old medicine chief of the tribe, who had lately added a new attraction to his household, beshrewing himself with another lovely young squaw. It was said that the enamored damsel had made preparations to elope with the gallant Navajo chief, but was betrayed by the telltale barking of the dogs, great numbers of which infest all Indian villages. The old doctor accused the Navajos of espionage and had them taken by surprise and imprisoned in an underground foul den. Then met the chiefs of the tribe in their estufa, or secret meeting place, to pass judgment on the culprits. The old medicine chief smoked himself into a trance in order to receive special instructions from the great Spirit regarding the degree of punishment to be inflicted on the unlucky Navajos. After sleeping several hours, he awoke and announced that he had dreamed the Navajos were to be clubbed to death. After sunrise the next morning these poor Indians met their doom in the public square of the village unflinchingly in the presence of the whole population.

They were placed in a row, facing the sun, about ten feet apart. A Zuni executioner, armed with a war club, was stationed in front of each victim, and another one, armed likewise, stood behind him. A war chief raised his arms and yelled, and forty clubs were raised in air. Then the great war drum, or tombe, boomed out the knell of death. There was a sickening, crashing thud, and twenty Navajos fell to earth with crushed skulls, each cabeza having been whacked simultaneously, right and left, fore and aft, by two stone clubs in the hands of a pair of devils.

It had always been an enigma to me that the Pueblo Indians, who were not to be matched as fighters against the Apache and Navajo had been able to defend their villages against the onslaught of these fierce tribes, their hereditary enemies. Don Juan Mestal enlightened me on that topic. He said the explanation therefor was to be found in a certain religious superstition of the Navajos and Apaches, which circumstance the Pueblo Indians took advantage of and exploited to the saving of their lives. When they had reason to expect an attack on their villages, the Pueblo laid numerous mines and torpedoes on all the approaches and streets of their towns. While these mines did not possess the destructive power of dynamite or gunpowder, they were equally effective and powerful, and never failed to repulse the enemy, especially if reinforced by hand grenades of like ammunition, thrown by squaws and pappooses from the flat roofs of their houses. By some means or other it had become known to the descendants of Montezuma that when an Apache stepped on something out of the ordinary “he scented mischief” and believed himself unclean and befouled with dishonor, and fancied himself disgraced before God and man; and forthwith he would hie himself away to do penance at the shrine of the nearest water sprite. This superstition they brought from Asia, their native land.

When the day of our departure drew near, I visited my numerous friends to bid them farewell and receive many like wishes in return. I must own that I felt a pang of sadness when I saw tears well up in the innocent eyes of sweet maidens and saw the fires dimmed in the black orbs of lovely matrons whom I had held often in my arms to the measure and tuneful melody of the fantastic wild fandango; musical Andalusian strains which words cannot describe soul-stirring, enchanting, promising and denying, plaintive or jubilant, songs from Heaven or wails from the depths of Hades. Here I lived the happiest hours of my life, but being young, I did not realize it then.

When I came to the house of Don Reyes Alvarado, who was my chum and bosom friend, and also of like age, he gave me a pleasant surprise. He informed me that there would be a dance at the Hancho Indian’s settlement that same night, one of those ceremonial events which I had long desired to attend in order to study the customs and habits of these descendants of the Aztecs. Their social dances are inspired by ancient customs and are the outbursts of the dormant, barbaric rites of a religion which these people were forced to abandon by their conquering masters, the Spaniards. Outwardly and visibly Christians, taught to observe the customs of the Roman Catholic Church and to conform to its ritual, these people, who were the scum and overflow from villages of Pueblo Indians, were yet Aztec heathens in the consciousness of their souls and inclination of their hearts.

Shortly after sunset we were on our way to the sand dunes of the Rio Grande, where these poor outcasts had squatted and built their humble homes of terrón, or sod, which they cut from the alkali-laden soil of the vega. They held their dance orgies in the estufa, the meeting house of the tribe. This was a long, low structure built of adobe, probably a hundred feet long and nine feet wide, inside measure. The building was so low that I could easily lay the palm of my uplifted hand against the ceiling of the roof, which was made of beams of cottonwood, covered with sticks off which the bark had been carefully peeled, the whole had then been covered with clay a foot in depth. The floor of this long, low tunnel-like room was made of mud which had been skilfully tampered with an admixture of short cut straw and had been beaten into the proper degree of hardness. Dampened at intervals, this floor was quite serviceable to dance on. There were no windows or ventilators in this hall and only one door at the end. This was made out of a slab of hewn wood and was just high and wide enough to admit a good sized dog. The hall was brilliantly lighted by a dozen mutton tallow dips, which were distributed about the room in candelabra of tin, hanging on the mud-plastered and whitewashed walls. The orchestra consisted of one piece only, an ancient war drum, or tombe, and was located at the farther end of the room. It was beaten by an Indian, who was, if possible, more ancient than the drum. As we approached we heard the muffled sound of the drum within. “Caramba, amigo!” said my friend; “they are at it already, and judging from the sound, they are very gay to-night. Madre santissima! I remember that this is a great night for these Indians, as it is the anniversary of the Noche Triste, which they celebrate in commemoration of the Aztec’s victory over the Spaniards when the Indians almost wiped their enemies off the face of the earth. Senor, to tell the truth, rather would I turn my horse’s head homeward. Pray, let us return!” “And why, amigo,” I asked. “Because this has always been a day of ill luck for our family,” said Don Reyes. “It began with the misfortune of the famed Knight Don Pedro Alvarado, the bravest of men and the right hand of Don Fernando Cortez. In the bloody retreat of the Spaniards from Mexico, in their fight with the Aztecs, during the Noche Triste, Don Pedro Alvarado, from whom we were descended, lost his mare through a deadly arrow. “Muy bien, amigo Don Reyes,” said I; “if you fear these people, I advise you to return home to Dona Josefita, but I shall go on alone.” “I fear not man or beast!” flared up Don Reyes, “as you well know, friend, but these are heathen fiends, not human, who worship a huge rattlesnake, which they keep in an underground den and feed with the innocent blood of Christian babes. Lead on, senor, I shall follow. I see it is as Dona Josefita, my little wife, says: “If these young gringos crave a thing, there is no use in denying them, for they seem to compel! To the very door of that uncanny place I follow you, amigo, but enter therein I shall not, unless I be first absolved from my sins and shriven by the padre.”

We had now arrived at the door of the estufa (oven), where the entertainment was going on, full blast. I alighted and my friend took charge of my horse and stationed himself at the door while I got down on all fours and crawled inside. I seated myself on a little bench at one side of the entrance. When my eyes got accustomed to the dense atmosphere of the place, I observed that the room was full of people, dancing in couples with a peculiar slow-waltz step. The ladies stayed in their places while the men made the rounds of the hall. After a few turns with a lady, they shuffled along to the next one, continually exchanging their partners. As the dancers passed me by, one after another, they noticed me, and many among them scowled and looked angry and displeased. Suddenly the drum stopped for a few minutes. Then it began in a faster tempo. Now the men remained stationary, while the ladies made the circuit of the room and each one in her turn passed in front of me. They looked lovely in their costumes of finely embroidered snow-white single garments, trimmed with many silver ornaments and trinkets and in their short calico skirts and beautiful moccasins. Their limbs were tastefully swathed in white buckskin leggins, which completed the costume.

Faster and faster beat the drum, and the sobbing, rhythmic sound thrilled my senses and filled my heart with an indescribable weird, fierce longing. I saw a maiden approach taller and finer than the rest. One glance of her soft, wild eyes and I flew to her arms. “Back, Indians!” I shouted, “honor your queen!” and entered the lists of the frolicsome dance. Wilder beat the drum and faster. As the old Indian warmed to his work, he broke out in a doleful, monotonous song, the words of which I did not understand. It sounded to me like this:

Anna-Hannah
Anna-Hannah
May-Ah!
Anna-Hannah-Sarah-Wah!
Moolow-Hoolow, Ji-Hi-Tlack!
Anna-Hannah
May-Ah-Ha!

So it went on indefinitely.

To lay this troubled spirit I tossed him a handful of coins, with the unfortunate result that his guttural song became, if anything, more loud and boisterous. I had no thought of exchanging my partner, as the Aztec maiden clung to me. With closed eyes and parted lips she moved as in a blissful dream. I have known Christian people become frantic under the impetus of great religious excitement and I have seen them act very strangely, also have I seen Indians similarly affected during their medicine-ghost dances. Now I, who had not thought it possible of myself, had become more savage and uncontrollable than any one. I suppose it was the irritating, monotonous sound of the war drum that did it, jarring my nerves, and the peculiar Indian odor in the stifling hot air of the close room, enhanced by the exhilarating sensation of threatening danger, and that in the presence of the adored sex. Assuredly all this was more than enough to set me off, as I am naturally impulsive and of a high-strung nervous temperament.

I must say that considering the modest costumes of these Indian ladies and their bashful and shrinking disposition, it does seem strange that they should fascinate one like myself of the Saxon race. To be sure the sight of the bared shoulders and necks of society belles when undressed in the decollete fashion of their ball gowns ravishes and gluts our sensuality, but a momentary glimpse of the Indian maid’s brown knee flashing by during the excitement of the fandango is just as suggestive, and the inch of hand-made embroidery on the edge of their short skirts is as effective as priceless lace on gowns of worth. And the Indian fashion has this to recommend it, that it is the less expensive of the two costumes. Ever watchful, ever on the alert, I saw the sheen of a knife flash from its scabbard in the hazy air, and my beautiful partner shivered and moaned in my arms. “Dog of an Indian, dare and die,” shouted I, angrily. Four times I made the circuit of the room, and when again opposite the entrance of this man-kennel, I heard the voice of my faithful friend, Don Reyes Alvarado, calling me anxiously. I gave my lovely partner in charge of her tender-hearted sisters, for the poor wild thing had fainted and lay limply in my arms. The strong arm of my companion grasped me and drew me out into the fresh air, where I almost collapsed, overcome.

“Surely, amigo,” said Reyes, “you will not blame me now for not entering, but you have endurance, for Dios! I should not have survived so long. Thank God you came out alive! When I saw them pass in knives, I had my doubts and momentarily expected to hear the report of your revolver. But when I saw you pass by infatuated with Jtz-Li-Cama, the cacique’s daughter and wife of the murderous scoundrel, El Macho, then I gave you up. Oh, see what is happening now. Amigo, you have broken up the dance. So it seemed. The drum was silent now and we heard the voices of men arguing in the Aztec idiom. Of a sudden the lights were extinguished and the crowd came out with a rush, and silently they stole away in the darkness.

“Now, amigo,” said Reyes, “let me tell you something, which may haply serve you well. Knowing that an American accomplishes things which a Mexican like myself must let alone, I advise you to try for the hidden treasure of La Gran Quivira. Seeing that you are in the good graces of Jtz-Li-Cama, you might prevail with the cacique to guide you. He is said to be the only living man who knows the secret of the trove in the ruins of the sacred temple of the ancient city. The Indians believe that this treasure, which the Aztecs hid from the Spaniards, is guarded by a terrible phantom dog, the specter of one of the great dogs of Fernando Cortez which ravened among their Aztec ancestors. They fear the specter of this fabled Perro de la Malinche more than anything else on earth, as it is said to harrow their souls in Hades as it ravened their bodies when in the flesh.”

After smoking a few cigarritos, my friend proposed to ride home, as there was really nothing else to be done. We rode slowly along, enjoying the beautiful night of this faultless climate, and I shall ever remember this night to my last day. There was a pleasant, refreshing odor in the air, the scent of the wild thyme which grows in these sand dunes. The moon rose over the Manzana range and flooded the broad valley with its soft, silvery rays. Suddenly, at a sharp turn of the trail, we found ourselves surrounded by silent forms arisen from the misty ground. “Don Reyes Alvarado,” spoke the voice of the Indian, known as the macho, “I have come for revenge and am now ready to wipe out the insults you heaped on me when you charged me with the theft of your calves. I challenge thee to fight. Alight from thy horse, cowardly Spaniard! To-night of all nights shalt thou feel the Indians’ blade between thy ribs.” “Fight him, amigo,” I said. “I shall enforce fair play.” But my friend Reyes whom I knew to be a man of both strength and courage, weakened, being cowed with the superstition of the unlucky Noche Triste. “Tomorrow I shall fight thee, Indian,” he answered “not at nighttime, like a thieving coyote.” “If thou wert not astride thy horse and out of my reach, thou wouldst not dare say that to me, thou cuckold dupe of the Americans!” sneered the Indian. This insult to my companion angered me, and I demanded a retraction and an apology therefor from the Indian. When the macho flatly refused and repeated the insult in a more aggravating manner, I replied that I feared not to meet him or any other goatherding Indian and was ready to fight him on the spot.

Saying this, I dismounted and threw my horse’s bridle to my friend Reyes to hold. Then the cacique, or Pueblo chief, the father of Jtz-Li-Cama, appeared and demanded our weapons. “I shall not interfere in this fight, senores,” said he, “if you surrender your weapons to me, the lawful alguacil (officer) of this district.” He then took the macho’s knife, and I gave him my revolver and stripped for the fray.

I advanced and scratched a circle of about twelve feet diameter in the deep sand with my foot, then I stepped to the center of this ring and awaited my antagonist. I cautioned my friend Reyes to see to it that no one else overstepped the line. To the lonely sand dunes of the Rio Grande unwittingly I thus introduced the manly sport of the prize ring. But the battle was not fought for lucre or fame, nor according to the London Prize Ring Rules; it was fought in defense of a friend’s honor, and the stake was life or death. The Indian made a rush for me, but I avoided him and warded off his blows. I did not touch him till I saw my chance, and then I tapped him under the chin which sent him sprawling. He arose promptly and came for me in a rage, when I felled him with a blow on the head. Again he came, and this time he gave me a stunning blow in the face, which maddened me so, that I took the offensive and laid him low with a terrific hit. I was now thoroughly infuriated and threw all caution to the winds. When he arose once more, I attacked him. He took to his heels and I followed him up. I noticed then that the whole crowd of Indians were running after us, but I had now become reckless and did not mind. Then I stumbled over a root and fell face down in the sand. Before I could arise fully the macho had turned and thrown himself upon me. I managed to turn over on my back and gripped him by throat and face, so that he was really in my power, and I felt that he was subdued so that I could easily force him under, and, small wonder, for with the terrible grip of my hand had I once crushed a man’s fingers in a wrestling match. Now I used the macho’s body as a shield against the furious onslaught of his people, who attacked me with rocks, clubs, and anything they could lay hands to. I thought, and I never ceased thinking and planning for one moment, that the affair looked very serious for me, when I saw the cacique approach with my pistol in hand, exclaiming, “Now, gringo, thou shalt die, on the altar of the god, at the sacred shrine of Aztlan, I shall lay thy quivering heart!” In vain I looked for help from my companion, who had sought safety in flight. Something had to be done and that quickly. Surely I had one trusty friend, true as steel, who would not forsake me in the extremity of my peril. I bethought me of my little “American bulldog” which I had picked up in the cars in Kansas, and which had ever since followed me faithfully. “Sic-semper-Cerberus-Sic!” My right hand stole to my hip, a short sharp bark, and the treacherous cacique fell over with a crimson stain on his forehead. At the same moment a weird, uncanny yelp pierced the night, and a tremendous shaggy phantom cloud obscured the slender sickle of the moon. Terrified, the Indians screamed “El Perro! El Perro de la Malinche!” and shrilly the voices of frightened squaws took up the refrain, “Perro! Perro! Gringo Perro!”

When I staggered to my feet, I was alone, sorely bruised and wounded, but master of the field. I recovered my revolver, which lay at my feet and contrived to mount my horse, whose bridle had caught on the greasewood brush, and I headed for home.

Not long thereafter I met my friend Reyes, who was followed by a retinue of péons. “Gracias a Dios. Amigo!” he exclaimed, on seeing me. “I came after your body, if it were to be found, and here you are alive. When I heard the report of firearms and knowing that those devils had your weapon, I feared the worst. How on earth did you manage to escape them? Seeing you down and beset by the whole tribe, I gave you up for dead and fled.”

I told my friend that with God’s help and the phantom dog’s assistance I had beaten off my assailants, and I thought that the cacique had been sorely bitten by the dog. Dona Josefita was very anxious and excited. When she saw me coming, she cried, “The saints preserve us, oh here he is! Mercy, how he looks, pobrecito! he is cut all to pieces. Hurry, Reyes, bring him in here and lay him gently down. Hombre, husband, coward! how couldst thou abandon thy friend who fought for thy honor, not fearing the death. I wager that pale hussy, Jtz-Li-Cama, was, as usual, the cause of this strife between men!”

The kind lady then attended deftly and skillfully to the dressing of my wounds, applying soothing herbs and healing ointments, which tended to allay the fever, and she nursed me with the tenderest care, so that in a week’s time I was as well as ever, though not without a feeling of regret for my too speedy recovery.

Of course, there arose the rumor of a fierce battle between Americans and Indians. To silence this silly talk and to avoid unpleasant complications, I surrendered myself to the alcalde of the precinct and accused myself of having disturbed the peace of the realm. Pleading my case, I stated that as there was nobody but the peace disturbers involved, and as said parties did not make any further claim upon the Honorable Court, therefore, under the statute of the Territory and the Constitution of the United States, the law required that the court mulct the guilty parties in the payment of a nominal fine and discharge the culprits. The Honorable Court decreed that I as an American ought to know the American law best, and discharged me after I paid my self-imposed fine. The administering of justice in cases of importance was, of course, relegated to the United States Circuit Courts, but Uncle Sam did not care to meddle with the many troublesome alcaldes or justices of the peace, as he did not understand the Spanish language very well. This was certainly humiliating and embarrassing, but who can blame him, as no one is over anxious to be rated an ignorant person.

My Mexican friends decided to give a farewell party in my honor. Accordingly they made great preparations. They secured the largest sala, or hall, in the township and scoured the country for musicians fiddlers and guitar players. Every person of any social notability was invited. They drew the line of social respectability at péons, or bondmen. This was a happy-go-lucky caste of people who possessed no property nor anything else, and consequently they had no cares and were under no responsibility of any kind, as the wealthier classes, who virtually owned them, had to provide for their necessities. The system of peonage in New Mexico had been abolished with the abolition of slavery in the United States, but the péons did not realize the wretchedness of their deplorable social status, and in their ignorance they regarded their bondage as a privilege, believing themselves fortunate to have their wants provided for by their patrones. They were treated kindly by their masters and looked upon as poor relations and intimate but humble friends.

The entertainment was to be of the velorio (wake) type, which begins as a prayer meeting and ends in a dance. My friends exerted themselves to the utmost to make this event the social climax of the season. They sent a committee to the pueblo of Isleta for several goatskins full of native wine, and incidentally they borrowed San Augustin, the pueblo’s famous image saint, who they intended should preside over the velorio. As this prayer meeting was to be in my honor and for the sake of invoking the protection of the saints on my journey, they thought it best to procure San Augustin, who being the patron saint of the heathen Isleta Indians, would not mind giving a heretic Protestant gringo a good send-off, as he was accustomed to deal with heresy. They also procured a dozen fat mutton sheep, which were to be barbecued and served with chile pelado to the invited guests, surely a tempting menu and hot! The ladies baked bollos, tamales and frijoles. Melons and cantaloupes were brought in by the cartload. I was waited upon by a committee and received a formal invitation; for everything was done in grand Spanish style. When I arrived at the festive hall the ceremonies began. The ladies knelt before San Augustin, praying and chanting alternately. I took my customary station at the door, as master of the artillery. At the singing of a certain stanza and after the words, “Angeles, y Seraphim es! Santo! Santo! Santo!” I received my cue from one of the deacons who gave the order: “Fuego, maestro!” and I discharged my double barreled shotgun and a brace of six shooters in lightning-like succession. Surely this was pious devotion, properly emphasized, and it kept San Augustin from falling asleep. I used up a pound of gunpowder that night, and this was said to have been the grandest, most successful velorio ever held in that part of the world. At eleven o’clock I announced that my battery was overheated and too dangerous to reload, which stopped the praying and the grand baile began. There were several hundred dancing couples, who enjoyed themselves to the utmost until sunrise, and nobody thought of leaving for home until everything eatable and liquid was disposed of.

Now the date of our departure had arrived, and very sad, indeed, was I to leave these people who had done their very best to make me feel at home with them and who seemed to be really fond of me. I consoled Dona Josefita somewhat with the promise that I would return some day and find her the treasure of La Gran Quivira. Don Juan Mestal, the freighter, seemed as reluctant to leave as I was; something was always turning up to delay our start. But at last we were off.

After three days of travel, we came to a small town, where I met a Mexican whom I knew on the Rio Grande, where he had formerly lived. He invited me cordially to the wedding of his sister, which was to be on the next day at old Fort Wingate, an abandoned fort, and then a Mexican settlement. This man said that he had come on purpose to meet me, as he had heard of my intentions to leave the country. Although I did not like the man, who was said to be jealous of Americans, I accepted his urgent invitation more from curiosity to learn what he meant to do than for other reasons.

The next morning I started early from camp and rode over to the little town, distant fifteen miles. When I arrived in front of my prospective host’s house I caught a glimpse of two men, who were sneaking off toward an old corral. Then I knew what was in the wind, for those two men were known to me as desperate cutthroat thieves and highwaymen; their specialty was to waylay and murder American travelers. My kind friend professed to be overmuch delighted at my arrival. He took charge of my horse and invited me into his house, where I met the bridal couple and their friends, who were carousing and gambling. I joined and made merry with them. At ten o’clock the whole party made ready to proceed to the chapel, where the marriage ceremony was to be performed. I simulated the part of a very inebriated person, a condition which they looked forward to with hope and satisfaction, and told them that I would stay at the house to await their return. When everybody had left I thought I might as well get under way, feeling lonesome. I went out and around to the rear of the house, where the corral was, to get my horse, but found the gate fastened with chains and securely locked. The corral walls were built of adobe, and the two walls of it were a continuation of the side walls of the house, and its end wall formed an enclosure or backyard. My horse was there, and I found my saddle in one of the rooms of the building, hidden under a blanket. I entered the corral through the back door of the house, caught and saddled my horse, and then led him out to the street. This was a very laughable manner of leave-taking. The house was cut up into a labyrinth of small rooms, just large enough for a horse to turn around in, and the doors were low and narrow. As I could not find the outer door, I led my horse successively into every room in the house.

There is no furniture such as we use in a typical Spanish dwelling, no bedsteads, tables, or chairs. The inmates squat on divans arranged on the floor around the walls of the rooms, and at nighttime they spread their bedding on the floors. Some of the rooms were nicely carpeted with Mexican rugs. My horse must have thought he had come to a suite of stables, for he acted accordingly. He nosed around after grain and hay, whinnied and pawed, and seemed to enjoy himself generally. At last I found the right door, came out into the street and rode to the church to tender my best wishes to the happy couple and bid them adios. When the party emerged from the chapel they seemed to be very much surprised at seeing me. I told my host that I regretted to leave them so early in the day, but had an appointment to keep elsewhere. I would ride slowly out of town so that they could overtake me easily, should they wish to see me later, but nobody came, and after several hours I caught up with my companions.