Chapter II

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CATICHE had been with Father Kino about two years when, one February morning, he said to her—

‘‘Catiche, Pacheco, the Pima chief, has sent in a runner to say that he is very ill and begs me to come to see him. I have long wished to visit Casa Grande, see the famous ruins of the Gila valley, and go up to the Moqui towns. I will take you back to your old home if you would like to go.’’

‘‘No, Senor Padre,’’ she replied, ‘‘all I loved were killed, husband, children—my old father died soon after—there is no one for me to return to. I will never leave the Senor Padre, if he will keep me. He is now my

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father. And my flowers,’’ 'she continued, looking at the beautiful plants which stood in their painted bowls and pots on the shelves of the verandah, ‘‘these must be my children. I have nothing else now to love but them and the good senor.’’

‘‘I am told that the Moquis have lovely terraced gardens on the mountain sides of their cliff dwellings,’’ said Father Kino.

‘‘Yes, we all loved flowers; mine seem to love me and to know me;’’ and an unusual smile lightened her sad face as she plucked a dead leaf from one of them. ‘‘They would miss me, I am sure.’’

She seemed to have intuitively felt that tender sentiments so exquisitely expressed by Shelley in his beautiful poem of the Sensitive Plant, where the plant so mourned the death of the young girl who had watched over and tended it with such love and care, that it wept itself into a leafless wreck.

‘‘Do you not sometimes think, Senor

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Padre, that it may be that the spirits of those who have loved us, and have been taken away from us, come back to us in some way, so that we may love them again, and that they may comfort us? And in what form so beautiful as the flowers?’’

‘‘I think, my poor child, that it is the wise and merciful God who permits us to draw this comfort and pleasure from his beautiful creations; he makes them to grow and to blossom and to fill the heart with love and gladness. If Catiche would only believe in and love Him, and pray to Him, it would bring her more comfort and happiness than even these lovely flowers do.’’

‘‘But the Senor Padre said that once the spirit came in the form of a dove, why not then in the form of a flower? A bird, a flower—they seem to go together. Why may not the bird draw the spirit from the flower and bring us the message from those we love in its beautiful songs. The birds

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see the flowers die, but we cannot,’’ she continued.

‘‘But who made the flower to blossom so beautifully, and the birds to sing so sweetly,’’ he would ask her, hoping to win an ally in her poetic nature.

‘‘The earth is the child of the sky, which sends its waters first to moisten the soil, and then its glorious sun to give it warmth and make the flowers blossom,’’ she would reply.

‘‘Yes, but when your sun goes down in the evening it is drowned in the water,’’ he would urge, ‘‘whereas the Christian's God never slumbers nor removes His watchful care from the smallest of His creatures or plants.’’

The old Indian tradition then existed that the setting sun was drowned in the Pacific, which they called "the sea of death," while the Atlantic from which it rose in the morning they called, "the sea of life."

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Catiche, shaking her head, would say, ‘‘I do not know who watches over them at night, but I know that they are beautiful and that I love them.’’

Father Kino had almost despaired of Catiche's conversion: for the first few months her aversion to Christianity was decided and outspoken, and she resisted all his efforts to instruct her in the Christian faith with remarkable strength and courage. When he would tell of the dispensations of Providence being wise and good, she would say, ‘‘The Indian's god could not have been more cruel: he took from me all on earth I loved.’’

When he would urge upon her the necessity of forgiving her enemies, ‘‘the murderers of my husband and children?’’ she would ask. ‘‘I cannot, I will not.’’

‘‘Our Saviour forgave those who tortured and put Him to death,’’ the good priest would urge.

‘‘Yes,’’ she would reply, ‘‘we can forgive

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what is done to ourselves, but not what is done to those we love.’’

‘‘What a true, faithful heart!’’ the priest would say, as she turned from him; ‘‘time will soften it, and I must not despair.’’

She was a comely woman of two and thirty, erect, and very intelligent, as the Moquis generally were. Long months after she came to Father Kino he won her story from her. She was a half-caste, her father a Spanish trader, and her mother a Moqui of the best and most intelligent class, and she was their legitimate offspring. She was the wife of a Moqui chief, and the mother of two boys, who had all been killed by the Apaches before her eyes. She had been taken to their mountain fastness, and there held as a slave for five years, subjected to every species of cruelty and inhumanity. At the expiration of that time she had been sold to Pacheco, the Pima chief.

‘‘I saw them dance around the scalps of

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my husband and my boys, and you would ask me to forgive them?’’ and she gave vent to great bursts of tears, which had been lying in wait to avenge themselves for her self-control in telling this story of misery and suffering.

‘‘Do you not remember that our Saviour said, ‘‘Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do?’’’’

‘‘But I could not say that of them, for they did know what they did,’’ she would reply.

‘‘Yes, but we cannot say 'forgive us our trespasses,' unless we add, 'as we forgive those who trespass against us,'’’ he would urge.

‘‘I do not say it, I cannot ask to be forgiven with such a condition: could you forgive them?’’ she asked, looking at Father Kino very earnestly.

‘‘Not of myself, I fear, but with God's grace I hope,’’ he replied thoughtfully.

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‘‘I have not this grace, and I loved them so,’’ she replied turning away, while a convulsion of suffering like a great seismic wave shook her whole being.

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