Chapter V

Up: Contents Previous: Chapter IV Next: Chapter VI

[page 55]

IT was a clear, starlight night, some weeks later, when Father Kino and his party on their return journey encamped for the night at the foot of the Picacho mountain, by the side of the wells of that name. The soldiers and guides had retired early, fatigued by the day's long ride, and knowing that they would have to rise early the following morning. Tempted by the beauty of the night, Father Kino and Captain Anza had taken their camp stools outside of the tent and here sat long in silence.

The golden shadows of the spring sunset had long left the valley, and already Dian's crescent fully marked the sky, defining the summits of the distant mountains, and enfolding in its silvery shadows all the earth's surface. Above were the cloistered stars

[page 56]

that "nunlike walk the aisles of heaven." Night reigned with a hushed, shadowy stillness, save for the soft murmur of the gentle spring-time winds, and in this weird and mystical silence each heart dreamed the dreams of love and duty.

Captain Anza's thoughts dwelt upon his beautiful home in Seville, his young wife and pretty daughter, and the long expanse of land and sea that lay between them. He would return to them in the early autumn, but that now seemed so far away that no wonder he grew sad in this hushed stillness of all nature.

The absence of the modest songster, a natural consequence of the want of groves or hedges, added to this silence and loneliness, as the shadows of early night gathered around him, and the great, silent mountains surrounded him on every side. He watched the Olympian game of the clouds and gentle winds across the vault of the brilliant heavens, and the meteor as it flashed out like the

[page 57]

springing of a shining sword suddenly from its sheath, and it all seemed so weird and mystical.

And the good Father Kino, he too dreamed his dream, in hope, which the French philosopher tells us is "the dream of a waking man." The home of his boyhood in the majestic Austrian Tyrol rose before him: it commanded one of the most magnificent views in all that mountainous region, where the vast Black Forest, with its pathless steppes, perilous and terrible as the great Konigs. See, stretched far away to the frozen heights that no sun even melts, where the golden vulture, and the slender-throated eagle only wing their way. Here the foaming rivers thundered through their rocky channels, and bathed the green hillsides with their silver light, and the deep moan of subterranean waters sounded fiercer through the silence of gorges dark with serried pines.

In the beautiful summer-time, where all was barren and rugged here, there in that

[page 58]

beautiful Austrian land the perfumed trees and shrubs scattered their bright bloom upon the mountain pathways, and the lakes were so green that they might be made of "emeralds dissolved by the sunbeams," and so deep that no soundings had ever been taken. There, through the forest's shade, babbled the little brooks, upon whose moss-grown banks the tender fronds of ferns uncurled their dainty leaves, and the soft-warbling songsters' carols were wont to stir the woods.

It had not been a happy home, even in boyhood, uncongenial and full of parental tyranny; and yet what a happy provision nature makes, that in recalling the memories of the long-gone past, only the happy and genial ones seem to come back to us!

Upon some of the memories of later years he dared not dwell. The crested waves of memory brought them back, but he resolutely put them from him. It was twenty years since he had left them. Would it be possible for him to take up again the threads of the

[page 59]

old life? He had conquered the early heart-sickness, and must not let it return. He must strengthen the courage needed for the onward flow of existence, with all its labour and privations. His generation was rapidly passing away, and a new one that he had not known possessed the old land. The tree from which he had plucked the ripening fruit had given place to what was the sapling then; new life had been grafted upon it, just as he had been grafted upon this new soil. The oaks, under whose branches he had sought shelter from the noonday sun, had spread out their roots and grown deeper into the soil, so had he become more and more a part of this land, and here his life for usefulness and service to his Master must keep him, until that rest and change should come which would be eternal.

The silvery shadows grew longer and longer, as the moon rose higher and higher, blending into harmony the great barren mountain summits, which towered above the valley in which

[page 60]

they had unfolded their tents, the soft, rosy clouds of the heavens which grew amber warm with the moon's magic light, and the purple light sleeping on the hills and the widlings which studded their slopes. Everywhere the rose and violet and silver shadows mingled in voluptuous thrills of color and beauty, ‘‘
And the deep silence which subdues the breath
Like a strong feeling, hung upon the world.
’’ The stillness became oppressive.

‘‘Reverie is called happiness, I believe,’’ said Captain Anza. ‘‘It must be so only to the young, to whose ignorance the sorrows and disappointments of life are quite unknown, to whom all the future seems to be in their own hands, to make of it what they will.’’

‘‘Yes, the amulet of imagination is a wonderful thing, and no age is quite without it, happily. Day dreams come to us all, shadowy visions that brighten the eye and stimulate the heart, fairly sounds that, while we listen,

[page 61]

bind us in their spell, and heal many a bleeding wound. There is much courage needed to bear heroically the burdens of life, whose waters are often as bitter as those of Marah,’’ said Father Kino.

‘‘I am afraid I did not bring this amulet with me,’’ said Captain Anza. ‘‘I seem to myself something like the camel that we read of in the Hebrew proverb, who went abroad to look for horns, and lost his ears. I came out here to New Spain in search of fame and wealth, and I have found neither, and have lost the pleasures and happiness of my beautiful home.’’

‘‘You will return to them soon, and will recall this as a valuable part of your life's experience. The lessons of the world are an important part of a man's education; it is not always a joyous experience, though a most salutary one.’’

‘‘I hear, Father, that your propose to remain here permanently. Is this so?’’

‘‘Yes. I know of nothing that will take

[page 62]

me from my work here. Having once put my hand to the plough I will not turn back.’’

‘‘What a dreary time you will have of it, you have more philosophy than I could have to reconcile to it.’’

‘‘It is not philosophy, my son, that has reconciled me to it, but religion. My thoughts and time are given to my labor; half of the unhappiness of life is the result of discontent, and that comes from idleness; industry often opens the door to duty and religion. There is neither philosophy, as you term it, nor virtue in morbid repinings.’’

‘‘You certainly have a genius for conversion, Father. These creatures seem very devoted to you.’’

‘‘The secret of my success has been in concentration, which is all important to a great work. I have devoted myself to them and to nothing else.’’

‘‘Do you hope to accomplish much towards their civilization and education? I doubt the

[page 63]

wisdom of teachin gthem too much. Will it make them any happier?’’

‘‘That depends opon what we teach them: there is no danger of their learning too much. I must first teach them how to learn.’’

‘‘Do you hope to be able to change their habits of life?’’

‘‘Yes, but very gradually. There are two educations, that of the mind, and that of the soul. My labor will be to little purpose if I educate the former and leave the latter a barren waste. I will aim to so teach them that they will first understand the nature of their Creator, their duty towards Him and towards one another.’’

‘‘You have set yourself a Herculean task, verily.’’

‘‘I hope it will not prove so. The natural course of reasoning among ignorant and superstitious people tends to polytheism; this is my principal difficulty. I have grown much attached to them, and where this is the case labour among then is not so hard. Affection

[page 64]

is first the broadest basis for good, and I have made it synonymous with ambition in my efforts at success.’’

‘‘The nights here are certainly very beautiful,’’ said Captain Anza. ‘‘I have never seen a more perfect atmosphere. Those mountains, twenty miles distant, seem as though we had but to reach out the hand to touch them.’’

‘‘All nature is very beautiful, she is so full of surprises and variety. I am not surprised that the Greeks called her Kosmos—beauty. And yet I do not think it an instinctive feeling. It comes with culture and refinement. All men are more or less impressed by the face of the world, but great love and enjoyment of it come with that culture which forms taste. These poor children of the desert appreciate the effects of a storm, or the value of a heavy rain, but these beautiful nights so full of mystery and suggestion they do not understand. To me they are so full of the mysteries connected with these regions, the wonderful ruins, those great barren masses of

[page 65]

porphyritic stone placed there by some terrible convulsion of nature, all contain a wonderful story surpassing any fiction.’’

‘‘But it all needs water so sadly,’’ said the captain, ‘‘no landscape can be perfect without it.’’

‘‘I was not thinking of it as a landscape,’’ replied Father Kino, ‘‘but as a wonderful phenomenon of nature, mystical, grand, awe-inspiring and worship-compelling. How full of spirituality those shadows resting on the mountain peaks just under the moon there, they seem to almost speak to us.’’

‘‘Why, Father, I did not know you was a poet before.’’

‘‘Only in the sense that I have a soul in which knowledge passes into feeling, and returns seeking further knowledge from the exquisite pleasure of refining sensation. This is what I believe Aristotle called purifying the passions! I am, however, a poet quite unworthy of this beautiful poem that lies open before us.’’

[page 66]

‘‘Did you learn anything of the history of your Moqui woman in their towns?’’ asked the captain a moment later.

‘‘Yes, I found an old chieftain who remembered her well. They were going to an adjoining town when surprised by a band of merciless Apaches, who, like all these nomadic tribes, are bold and active, and live by war and plunder. They will travel long distances, I am told, to raid upon another band of Indians. The scanty herbage with which their region is supplied offers but little food, and not being fond of work their only resource is in murder and rapine.’’

The conversation was here interrupted by the sound of a gentle wail, as of some young animal in distress.

‘‘What was that?’’

‘‘I cannot imagine; we will see,’’ replied Father Kino.

Advancing a few steps nearer the well or water hole, the feeble wail was again heard, and there, upon the ground, beside the water,

[page 67]

under a tall flowering suhara cactus, lay a woman, from whom the life-blood was rapidly flowing, and in her arms a babe of some four or five months. A beautiful dark-eyed babe that looked up smilingly into Father Kino's face as he stooped over her to take her from the arms of her unconscious mother.

Life flickered for a few moments in the dying mother's face, a smile illumined it, and all was still. Soft gleams of moonlight, cold and silvered, enfolded in their rays mother, child and priest, while the cactus of a thousand years looked down from its lofty heights upon the saddest sight in nature, a babe bereaved of its mother.

The child, as if awed by death, hushed its sobs, and lay quietly in Father Kino's arms.

‘‘What can it mean?’’ asked Captain Anza.

‘‘Another Apache outrage, I fear,’’ and removing his cassock and spreading it upon the ground Father Kino gently laid the babe

[page 68]

upon it. Stooping over the dead mother he examined her wound.

‘‘She was evidently left here mortally wounded, and not long ago,’’ he said. ‘‘I should say that she was a half-caste, Maricopa and Spaniard.’’

‘‘What a pretty woman she was,’’ said Captain Anza, looking at her earnestly.

‘‘Yes, and very young, scarcely twenty, I should say. The Maricopas were almost exterminated by the ancient wars, and finally settled on the lower Colorado River, having moved gradually from the Gulf of California. We will carry the body to the tent and bury it to-morrow at the foot of this cactus,’’ said Father Kino.

Under the suhara they buried the young mother the following morning just at sunrise, when the morning air was delicious, and the sun bathed the land with a golden glow. Mountain heights that had been dark and sombre by night, now cleared to the first kiss of the rising sun, and the purple mists

[page 69]

of early morn now melted into the gold and violet hues of the sun's quickening rays. Golden discs of sunlight rested upon the smiling babe and the face of the noble priest as he chanted the service for the dead.

‘‘We will give her a Christian burial,’’ he said, ‘‘we cannot say that she was not one.’’

‘‘Poor creature,’’ said Captain Anza, ‘‘life's troubles are over for her, and just beginning for her poor babe.’’

‘‘She is young; she cannot have had much real trouble,’’ replied Father Kino; ‘‘and then she lived in the ignorance which, with these poor souls, brings much resignation, if not actual content. Happiness depends so much more upon what is within us, than upon outward circumstances in any position in life. Their wants are few, and I do not think they have much ambition to create others.’’

‘‘They are very cruel to their women. I saw one the other day return from his long hunt, throw his game upon the ground, and order the old woman to take it. She did so

[page 70]

very patiently, skinned and cut it up and prepared a portion of it for his supper,’’ said Captain Anza.

‘‘This is an important lesson I am trying to teach them,’’ replied the good father. ‘‘Kindness in their homes, especially to their wives and mothers. Kindness and affection are the broad basis of human happiness, Women even more than men owe much to Christianity for the amelioration of their condition. From the midst of ignorance and superstition came a contempt for physical weakness under the ban of which women fell.’’

On their homeward journey Father Kino and Captain Anza alternately carried the baby; they seemed afraid to entrust her to any one else.

‘‘What a pretty little thing it is, and how fair,’’ said the captain. ‘‘If my wife were only here she would keep it. What shall we do with it?’’

‘‘I will keep her,’’ replied Father Kino,

[page 71]

gently but firmly. ‘‘I will take her to my poor Catiche and give her a human flower to love and care for; she is so good, so true, that the babe will never miss a mother's care.’’

‘‘How will you bring her up? If you educate her above her surroundings you will make a 'déclassée' of her.’’

‘‘I shall educate and train her as if she were my own child.’’

‘‘You will have to send for 'Fénélon on Female Education,'’’ laughed Captain Anza.

‘‘Not a bad suggestion; it is philosophical in its principles, and practical in detail, and as it was the means of Louis XIV. making him tutor to the young Duke of Burgundy, for whose moral improvement he accomplished so much, I think I will act upon your suggestion,’’ said Father Kino good-naturedly.

‘‘Female education is so generally neglected; they are taught dancing, embroidery, to read and write, and that is about all,’’ said the captain.

[page 72]

‘‘We will not teach her dancing,’’ replied Father Kino smiling, ‘‘but substitute neatness, economy, and industry. Catiche is an admirable housekeeper, and will teach her a woman's duties in that line, and while I shall not make a pedant of her, I shall educate her well, with the view of making her a blessing to her people.’’

‘‘May I name her?’’

‘‘Yes, her Christian name; I will give her my own surname, and she shall be to me as my own daughter.’’

‘‘Then we will name her Manuella; it was my mother's name, and is my little daughter's.’’

So Manuella she was baptised, and Manuelita she was always called, and never child was reared by more tender and loving hands. When Father Kino placed her in Catiche's arms, and told her the story of the poor mother and the helpless babe, she wept tears of joy as well as of sorrow over her.

‘‘The Holy Mother has sent her to you,

[page 73]

to comfort and make you happy,’’ he said.

‘‘I will take her and not ask who sent her. The good Senor Padre has given me another blessing. To him I owe all, and him I will thank,’’ she replied.

And the little maiden grew lovelier and sunnier-natured each day. The good priest would watch her as she lay asleep with her beautiful dark lashes trailing her flushed cheeks, and his great tender heart awakened to a deeper, stronger love than he had ever known before, the love of a father for a daughter. As the years crept on her little feet never wearied of following him; and as the little fingers grew in length and strength she would twine them in his, and press his strong hand to her delicate lips, saying ‘‘Yo amo mi bueno padre, tanto, tanto.’’

Then as she grew older, and her young mind began to expand, she would sit upon his knee while he told her the beautiful stories from the Scriptures, adapting them to her childish intellect, and she would say,

[page 74]

‘‘Tell me about Ruth, tell me about Rebecca at the well,’’ showing early the sentimental tendency of her young imagination. Often would the good Father tell her the story of Queen Esther, and how she saved her people, and draw a beautiful lesson from the story for her: how in a different way she was to grow up to save her people and to be a blessing to them. And the child would repeat them all to Catiche, and dwelt much upon the lesson of devotion to her people that Father Kino sought to inculcate in her youthful mind and imagination. ‘‘The bueno padre says that I must be like Esther,’’ she would say to Catiche, ‘‘that I must be a blessing to my people and save them,’’ and she would gather around her the young children and delight them with these same beautiful stories.

Then as she grew still older and learned to read well herself, she would sit beside Father Kino in the evenings, and read to him the wonderful stories from the German Minnesingers, and like most young girls, she was

[page 75]

fond of tales of suffering innocence, promptly vindicated or avenged.

‘‘This love of vindication or revenge is the only element of the Indian about my daughter,’’ he would say sadly sometimes, laying his hand tenderly on her head.

‘‘But, padre mio,’’ she would answer, ‘‘is it not right that the wicked should be punished and the good rewarded?’’

‘‘Not in our way or time, my child. 'Vengeance is mine, I will repay,' says the Lord, and we must be contented to leave it all with Him; we may not do good hoping and looking for a reward, we must look for the reward in the consciousness of having done our duty.’’ And drawing her hand into his, he would ask, ‘‘Will not my little daughter try to feel that this is the right way? I saw her the other day, only yesterday, I think it was, turn her back upon one of the little Indian boys in great disgust.’’

‘‘Ah, but, padre mio, he had taken his little sister's cake from her and would not

[page 76]

give it back, and I went to call Catiche to come and punish him.’’

‘‘And thus lost an opportunity, my child, of winning his respect and affection, by patience and remonstrance. Are you not to be little Esther to these people, and do them good all the days of your life?’’ And the tender-hearted child burst into tears, ‘‘I will never do it again, padre mio,’’ she said.

About this time she said to him one day, ‘‘Padre mio, all the little children here have mothers—where is my mother?’’

And he told her the story of how he found her in her dying mother's arms, and how he had interpreted her last conscious smile into a blessing upon her orphaned babe. ‘‘Helpless little babes like you have the Blessed Virgin for their mothers,’’ he replied, ‘‘and I will give you a picture of her that you may always see how she looks,’’ and he attached a silver medal of the Virgin Mary to a blue ribbon and hung it around her neck. ‘‘And,’’ he continued, ‘‘this Holy Mother has lent you

[page 77]

madre Catiche to take care of you, so you must be very good to her and not give her any unnecessary care.’’

‘‘I will,’’ she replied. ‘‘Madre Catiche is so good, but she is not just like mi bueno padre.’’

She did not question her paternity, but seemed perfectly happy in the thought that Father Kino was her father, and loved him as such. When she grew older, he explained to her that he was not her father, but that he loved her as much as if she were his own child, and that as it was quite improbable that she would ever know anything definite of her own father, she must always consider him as such.

‘‘I could not love any other half so well,’’ she replied, ‘‘all the world does not hold another like him.’’

And thus this lovely bud blossomed into the beautiful human flower, and with her intellectual growth came an intense desire to be of great use to Father Kino in his work among her people.

[page 78]

Father Kino loved his home among these Indians, who were all so devoted to him, and his long life and labors among them had brought him into full sympathy with them. Twice a day they repaired to the adobe church, in the morning to mass, and in the evening to prayer, and although it not unfrequently happened that some who had seemed most interested in their new faith, deserted it and returned to the superstitions of their tribe, yet he was unwearied until he had brought them back again. By constant association with them he mastered the idiomatic turns and arrangements which they gave their sentences, and in all of his services appealed strongly to their imaginations, a most important element in an Indian's character.

They were much interested in the entire reformation which he effected in their marriage ceremony, which had up to this time been simplicity itself, When the parents had given their consent to the union, the young man came by night to the wigwam where his

[page 79]

bride lived with her parents, sat upon a mat by her side for some time, and then rising led her away to a wigwam that had been prepared, in their rude, bare way, for them. This constituted the ceremony which made them man and wife. They liked the solemnity of the church marriage which he instituted among them; it appealed strongly to the imagination of the young people, and but few went back to the old custom.

‘‘How pretty it is,’’ the young girls said, and the good father's blessing upon them after the ceremony, as they knelt before him added much to its beauty and solemnity.

At these times Father Kino often grew very sad when he thought of the possible fate of the child that he had rescued from death and watched over with so much tenderness and love. What would it be when he was taken from her? He could never hope to unite her in marriage with any one, never ask God's blessing upon her as a wife. An Indian was of course out of the question;

[page 80]

she was so different from all those around her, so pretty, so refined in her manner, and had been so carefully raised. Once it came to him to send her to Germany, but he could not bear the thought of separating her from himself or from Catiche.

Catiche adored her, and what all Father Kino's patience and gentleness had not been able to accomplish, love for Manuelita did for this faithful, devoted woman. When Manuelita was about five years old she noticed that Catiche did not pray, so leading her by the hand one evening as she went to say her prayers at the good priest's knee, she said:

‘‘Padre mio, madre Catiche has come to say her prayers; may she say them with me?’’

‘‘Certainly, my child,’’ he replied, drawing a chair to his side, and indicating to the embarrased woman that she could kneel there beside the child she loved so well. ‘‘I am sure it will make her so much happier,’’ he continued, looking tenderly at her, and here

[page 81]

at Father Kino's knee the obdurate woman offered up her first prayer by the side of the babe who had opened her heart to divine comfort as well as to human love.

And here in this atmosphere of love and holiness Manuelita grew into the lovely maiden that we saw in our opening chapter: nothing further was ever learned of her parentage or history.

In the half-caste it is strange how frequently one race seems to conquer the other. In Catiche the Moqui Indian predominated, while in Manuelita was seen nothing but her Spanish blood, which induced Father Kino to conclude that her mother must also have been a half-caste, and her father a Spaniard.

Up: Contents Previous: Chapter IV Next: Chapter VI

© Arizona Board of Regents