Chapter XII

Up: Contents Previous: Chapter XI Next: Chapter XIII

THE presidio, or garrison, which Captain Balthazar Carillo commanded was just nine miles north of San Xavier del Bac, at what is now known as Tucson. Some writers claim great antiquity for this town, antedating its first settlement to that of Jamestown and Plymouth. It is said to have been visited by the missionaries as early as 1600. It is now the most important town in Arizona, and has in the last decade "successfully combatted much of the old eastern prejudice against it as the unpromising American Desert." Systematic irrigation is now all she requires to develop her great agricultural resources. Her great mineral wealth is unquestioned.

At the time of which I write, the garrison consisted of but forty odd men, showing how

[page 168]

completely these Pima tribes had been brought under Father Kino's Christian and humanising influence.

Week after week found Captain Carillo seeking the mission and Father Kino, upon one pretext or another, until finally it became his custom to attend services there every Sunday, and dine with the family. How eagerly he availed himself of every opportunity of talking to Manuelita, or of sitting beside her. How lovely he thought her—she was gentle, yet he could see that she possessed great force of character, so strongly in sympathy with his own.

He began to realise more and more each day how dangerous this companionship was becoming, and then he would remain away a week or two, but his heart was already enslaved. He grew restless and unhappy, and his powers of resistance became involuntarily weakened. He found himself thinking of her constantly. That first consciousness of unacknowledged love in its vague mystery

[page 169]

and uncertainty was very sweet, and yet it brought with it a sadness, an anxiety that he could not throw off. The remembrance of his home in Madrid, his stately, austere father arose before him. To win his consent to such a marriage, he knew, would be impossible. But when he was with her, and would lift his eyes suddenly to hers, her sunny smile and soulful eyes would make him feel the ineffable sweetness of that subtle exchange of love, yet unuttered, but which stirs the inmost depths of a lover's soul. He would forget all else save that he loved her and would sacrifice all to win her. No sacrifice, he then thought, would be too great to make for the woman so beloved.

And Manuelita, how quickly her heart beat after these interviews, as she sat at her window, night after night, after he had left her, looking out upon the beautiful starry heavens, and dreaming the dream that all maidens of every clime and race have dreamed. ‘‘Did he love her, did she love him?’’ Yes, she

[page 170]

knew that she loved him, with all the intensity of her strong nature. and what a treasure of sweet faith and poetic fancy love brings; love had gone on deepening before her like a sweet, vague mystery: every pulse of life rejoiced in her with the joy of faith and hope and love. The thrill of a new born consciousness mysterious, inexplicable, but very sweet, stole over her; she knew that love had entered her soul, and awakened it to a new sense of life of which she had known nothing before; she knew that she loved him with a strange passion that had heretofore been denied to her. Then the warmth of her fervour would change into a deathly coldness, and with her face buried deep in her hands, a sudden chill would seize her a chill that brought with it doubt and forebodings, and a sickening fear that he did not love her; and then she would recall some little incident that would fill her heart with hope and strength once more, and she would seem to read in the silvery moon and beautiful stars the answer to her dream,

[page 171]

‘‘He loves thee, he loves thee, be happy.’’

In youth, everything seems possible, with its inspired capacity for enjoyment is its limitless field of vision which the dim future offers; the vista of coming years holds for the faith and hope of youth promises only of perpetual joy and sunshine.

‘‘I have read an old Spanish journal,’’ she said, which says that love is an idle passion which enfeebles the heart and blinds the judgment; but this cannot be true. Earnest, holy love is so beautiful; it is God-like and must be God-given."

It was an early November afternoon when Captain Carillo mounted his house to ride out to San Xavier. There was about him an air of distinction, which those who are reared from their cradle in the pride of birth and wealth acquire so unconsciously. He was tall, well formed, with graceful limbs and shoulders, and handsome in the pure Spanish type of masculine beauty, an aquiline nose, delicately thin and finely-cut nostrils, a clear olive

[page 172]

skin, hazel eyes with dark lashes, and hair and beard of a shade darker still. In his smile was a special charm, which lit up each feature of his singularly handsome face.

It was just six months before that he had ridden out on this road for the first time, and what a change in his life it seemed to have brought to him; then he had known only the love of a man for his home ties, his father, the friends and companions of his youth, with an occasional passing fancy for some bright eyes and winning smile—now the one love of his life that seemed possible to him threatened to overwhelm him with the first serious sorrow he had ever known. His father's wish for him, the only son and inheritor of his name and fortune, he well knew was that he should win distinction in his profession and wed one whose lineage was as proud and whose fortune was as ample as his own. And he had allowed his affections to fix themselves upon a woman in such a different sphere of life; a young creature,

[page 173]

beautiful, gentle and well educated, with something even of a young goddess about her, in her beauty, and strength, and innocence united. In these savage surroundings there seemed to have fallen upon her a fragrance of the violet of her own woods, and the sweetness and freshness of the dawn and of the dew; the mystery and spirituality of this weird land clung to her, and the romance and silence of her untold history seemed responsive to that of the land in which she dwelt, and he knew that he loved her as he would never have strength or faith to love again.

As he rode through this dreary waste of country these thoughts made him very sorrowful.

‘‘Why,’’ he asked himself, ‘‘could not love and duty go together? Were there any in whom inclination and duty harmonised?’’

A warm blue smoke lay in the various dells and mountain gaps, softening the landscape, and a few of summer's wildlings still dotted

[page 174]

the wayside. As he turned to look back upon the presidio, the wild mustard grew thicker and thicker, with its slender stems and hundreds of fine feathery branches linked in the gleaming sunshine like a great field of gold. The mesquit bush, Algaroba Glandulosa, a species of acacia, but at this season robbed of much of its foliage, was the only approach to a tree that met the eye. Where the land was moist, it grew taller and spread out its branches; here and there were clusters of the grease-wood, a low evergreen bush, of a rich, yellowish green which, all winter, affords a delightful rest for the eye. All around him the granite tops of the mountains threw their shadows against the evening sky, from which the sun's crimson glow still shone. As he neared the mission, nature's face became more luxuriant: here the pretty Santa Cruz river swollen with the early autumn's rains, lay bathed in the warm sunshine, reflecting on its bosom the shadows of the overhanging trees; the crimson glories of the skies kindled

[page 175]

the summits of the mountains, that stood like nature's towers to guard this little smiling valley.

When he reached the mission he found that Father Kino was not well and was in his room. Brother Ramirez was absent on some mission duty, and Catiche was flitting in and out, dividing her time between Father Kino, about whom she was most solicitous, and Manuelita, to whom she was giving expression to her anxiety.

‘‘My child, it makes me so unhappy to see the dear Senor so suffering. If I could only do something to help him; it is so little to love him, and not be able to do anything for him, when he has given his life for us.’’

‘‘Oh, Catiche! What will become of us if he is taken from us?’’

‘‘Do not speak of it, dear child: the good God would not be so cruel to me again. I have besought him so to spare him.’’

‘‘But Catiche, Father Kino says that we must always say, ‘‘Thy will, not mine, be done.’’’’

[page 176]

‘‘But I have not said it, child. I have prayed that he should be spared to us, to us who love him so much and need him so much. I have asked the good Lord, Manuelita, to take me and to spare him to you all,’’ said the faithful creature, lowering her voice to a whisper.

Putting her arms around Catiche's neck very tenderly, Manuelita said, ‘‘Ah, but Madre, he could not spare you either. I think I am the most useless one of us all, and would be the easiest spared.’’

‘‘Oh, no, child, that would break the Senor Padre's heart, as well as mine.’’

The faithful creature seemed to be absorbed in thought for a moment, and then turning to her beloved child she said, ‘‘The Senor Padre must be right; it is probably well to say, ‘‘Thy will be done!’’’’

Captain Carillo found Manuelita sitting out on the veranda singing a plaintive little Indian song that she had learned from Catiche: there is a soft melancholy in these

[page 177]

Indian songs that touches the heart, especially the young lover's heart. She was sad and distrait as he had never seen her before, for a maiden's sadness is at her lover's absence, not in his presence; what lover can withstand the sorrow or suffering of the woman he loves? He saw the suppressed tears gathered in her eyes, and in one of Catiche's absences from the room he sought to comfort her. Could any position be more dangerous for the lover who hesitates before telling his love? Drawing his chair near to her he said:

‘‘Your song was sad and plaintive—a song should give expression to joy and gladness, should it not?’’

‘‘No, not always. It is the refrain of an overburdened heart, though to me it is no relief to-night; my heart is very sad: the good Father is very ill, you know.’’

Taking her hand gently in his he made use of the conventional platitude, ‘‘You must not grieve so, he will soon be well again.’’

[page 178]

Turning her honest, soulful eyes upon his she asked, ‘‘Do you think so?’’

‘‘We must hope so,’’ he replied, and he felt that he was guilty of another effort at deception, that carried with it little comfort to her, and increased his own embarrassment. For the first time in his life he felt a nervousness, a timidity that he had never felt in the presence of the high-born women of his own land. He knew that the good father would never be any better: the post surgeon had told him that morning that Father Kino might live a few weeks, but that he could not recover.

‘‘Do not offer me false hope. I shall need all my strength to enable me to bear the truth,’’ she said.

Drawing his chair still closer to her, and imprisoning her hand, he did suddenly the thing of all others that he had thought not to do yet. His heart told its love in spite of him, and in speaking, silenced every prompting of parental displeasure and worldly consideration.

[page 179]

‘‘Manuelita,’’ he said, ‘‘no one can ever take Father Kino's place to you, but will you not give me a place of my own, the nearest, dearest that man can hold to woman? I have loved you from the first moment that I saw you. Will you give me the right to care for you, and to protect you when Father Kino is taken from you?’’

Manuelita knew nothing of the art of coquetry, that art which in modern society makes a woman play with a man's hopes and fears, lest he think her too easily won; these oft quoted lines of Shakespeare's: ‘‘
I must uneasy make, lest too light winning
Make the prize too light,
’’ were unknown to her. Her instinctive modesty had taught her that she must wait to be wooed, but, once wooed by the man she loved, she was won. Leaving her hand in his, she asked, ‘‘Do you indeed love me?’’

‘‘Dearly, tenderly, devotedly,’’ he replied, placing his arm around her and drawing her

[page 180]

to him. ‘‘And Manuelita, does she love me, has she loved me from the first, as I have her?’’

The colour suffused her beautiful face as looking earnestly into his eyes, her own honest and sombre, she revealed such infinite love, passing all power of words, that for the moment it made him tremble.

‘‘Say, love, that you have; that love with you for me, was a first instinct, as it was with me for you.’’

‘‘Yes, I think it must have been so, but I did not know it then. I know nothing of the world, and nothing of love as others feel it, only what I have read in the few Spanish and French romances that Father Kino has allowed me to read.’’

‘‘The most beautiful romance in the world is the life and love of a fresh, pure young girl, and to such love comes as the dews and sunbeams do to the rose, it is unconscious of their warmth and power until the bud leaves the flower.’’

[page 181]

‘‘How beautiful the rose is,’’ she replied, caressing several that he had brought her, which lay in her lap, while her thoughts wandered to those he had first given her, and which she thought so tenderly guarded from human eye in the little shell-box.

‘‘Yes, it is the flower of poetry, of love, of the Greek poets and the Provence Trouvères,’’ he said; ‘‘but tell me again that you are happy in my love.’’

‘‘Yes, it makes me very happy to know that you love me,’’ and as she said this she lifted her eyes again to his with such tenderness and love that he stooped to kiss them.

‘‘Love is said to date so far back that no record of his parentage has ever been found,’’ said Captain Carillo, imprisoning her hand more closely, ‘‘it is the fulfilment of one's most beautiful dreams, the breaking of day after a long, dark night, the bursting of the sun after a clouded morn.’’

‘‘What will Father Kino say?’’ she asked hesitatingly.

[page 182]

‘‘That he is pleased, I am sure. He loves you too well not to rejoice that he will not leave you without a protector.’’

‘‘I am not sure that he will not say I have not loved wisely.’’

‘‘Not loved wisely, what do you mean?’’

‘‘It was not very long ago that he told me that they loved unwisely who loved above their station. I fear that he will not approve our love.’’

‘‘Oh, he must, he must,’’ replied Balthazar Carillo; and long he used his eloquence to encourage her hopes, for when was not love eloquent in that divine stage when the tongue has first given expression to what the eyes have long revealed? The sweetness of his words filled her with a new, strange joy. She was young, she was ignorant of the world, but her heart leaped to the glad, sweet music that told her of the love of the man, to whom she had given the earnest, passionate love of her strong nature and early youth; a love that did not reason, but only believed; a belief

[page 183]

that by the power of its own faith saw in the golden haze above and about it the shadow of the angels bending over them.

‘‘May I see Father Kino to-morrow?’’ he finally asked her.

‘‘Yes,’’ she replied, in a gentle, hesitating voice.

‘‘Do not fear,’’ he said reassuringly, ‘‘I will convince him that you have not loved unwisely,’’ and folding her in his arms once more, he bade her ‘‘good-night.’’

Up: Contents Previous: Chapter XI Next: Chapter XIII

© Arizona Board of Regents