Puslapio vaizdai

them blacks callin' me,' he said, leaping to his feet. Now, while I was not anxious for his company, I felt an urge to invite him to go with me; but, to my relief, he refused on the ground that his masters would follow, capture, and kill him. When the ululation was again heard, he seemed panic-stricken, stood a moment irresolute, then turned and fled into the bush as a dog would on hearing the insistent call."

The man stopped, and I hazarded the remark that it was strange to meet a white man thus, because the chances against an encounter were slight.

"That's so," he said.

"And the reference to those strange earth creatures. Did n't you learn anything further?”

He looked at me and shook his head, doubtfully, and a little puzzled frown appeared and disappeared.

in admiration. Nothing else is so
gorgeous. I have watched as the light
struck them, and have seen them
change from violet to steel-blue, but
colors that live. Then the bird moves
slightly, and the blue is blue-green,
then again gold-green, and there are
crimson flashes and purple. And there
was the valley, and it was the valley of
quetzals and butterflies, and in it lived
the gentle people. I stayed there
many months, peaceful months, only
to leave in sorrow.
to leave in sorrow. A gentle people,
indeed! Never did I hear a harsh
word or see an ungentle thing. I do
not think that they knew of war or of
violence. To live was sweet in that
valley of flowers and birds. There
were sounds of living things as sweet
as the musical ripples of a little brook,
and the breeze was soft and laden with
perfume. So I came to love the gentle

"No. But I may have seen one, too. people and their land. I don't know."

"May I hear?" I asked.

"There's nothing to tell, because I 'm not sure. And yet-" He passed his hand over his brow. "I may have been mistaken. It was after I had left the gentle people, and I was not myself then. I was worried, grieved, half starved. It is all muddled.

"You see, after Elfner left I decided to find the valley he had told me of, and I did find it without any particular difficulty. It was a bird that attracted me, a quetzal. If I had not gone toward it, I might have missed the place. But I never could resist watching a quetzal, for it is the most wonderful thing that God has made, the most exquisite thing in creation. To see it, a living thing of metallic green-goldgreen and scarlet-breasted, with tail feathers of jet and ivory, is an experience. You watch it and lose yourself

"It may seem odd to tell you this, but I have told you much, and the mood is on me, and the place in which I tell it to you is odd, here where there is the noise of people and of the moving train and where there is glaring light or sooty smoke, and where every one is burdened with the stern anxiety of duty. And yet it all comes to me as the memory of a summer day may come to some poor fellow in prisonthe memory of that spot where existence is facile and where trifles give joy and where people live as birds live. While there I knew a fresh vigor of soul. I always seemed to be on the point of grasping and understanding things, and the thought lived in me always that I should never do a thing to bring the sorrow of the outside world among this people. The memory is strong upon me now, and it came to me as a dull blow when I read the

bulletin up-town. I felt as the prisoner might when the judge said the deathsentence. It seemed to mean that, you know."

The man paused, and relit his pipe. He gave a puff or two and laid it aside again. Then he leaned back in his seat, folded his arms, and dropped his chin on his chest.

"All this noise about us must make what I tell you seem unreal. I appreciate that fully. Sometimes I think that out there I lost something well worth the losing, and found instead a precious thing. Looking back, I seemed to have touched the supernatural. I wonder if you understand. What I lost enriched me, and I seemed to have lost forever my own people and

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"There was a child there, a thing of beauty, who led me about at times after I had been accepted as a visitor. Endol was her name, and she was a dancing creature, who weaved circlets of flowers and often brought to me, laughingly, water to drink, bearing it in a flattish shell which held only a taste. I see her now, a bright fairy, dancing and chasing the cloud shadows on the green, playing with the birds, clapping her hands as she ran after butterflies, but never trying to catch them. Do you know, at such times the memory of my own land was as a dark and fearful dream. I remembered slum children. The memory of the things that clatter about us in houses and in cities, and the fret and the evil and the filth and the sickness-these things bore upon me and oppressed my spirit. Now, sitting here, remembering that valley of joy, it is as if I were in hell, and it is from that hell that I am trying to escape, for all has been dark and ugly since I left.

"One day Endol brought me a golden-colored flower, a new one to me. I saw that she bore a shell in her left hand. When I made a motion to take it, she prevented me. Playfully, I held her, and as I did so, she chanced to tip the shell, and a yellowish sand poured forth and lay lightly on a large leaf. Looking, I saw that it was gold-dust. At that Endol laughed, stooped, scattered the gold, and, gathering the grains that lay on the leaf, threw them afar.

"That naturally set me to wondering as well as wandering, for thus far I had confined my walks to the upper end of the valley. As it fell out, the next day I came upon a flat rock at the foot of a vine-hung tree, and there in plain view was a shell, much larger than that


which Endol had had. It held golddust, and a few nuggets, the best of them not larger than a small pea. The shell had apparently been set there and forgotten with the carelessness of a child tired of a plaything. The gold was not free from iron dust, but I saw at a glance that the vein from which it had been taken was extraordinarily rich. So it came to me to think that this people knew nothing of the value of gold and perhaps used it as a plaything. I suppose I should have left it there, but I did not. Few men living as you and I have lived in a workaday world could resist the temptation to bear it away. So I took it to the bower in which I slept.


"Now, Endol and another child met me on the way and, chattering and laughing, reached for the shell. I handed it to them. Their actions astonished me. They drew slightly aside; their merriment fell from them, and they held a rapid, whispered confer

Endol's friend, the older of the two, seemed the most urgent, and her counsel apparently prevailed, for they set off running down the valley with the gold. They seemed possessed of a new fear, one that I could not understand.

"Soon after they returned with others, men and women, and I could see that there was consternation. I I was reminded of a crowd I once saw running to the pit-mouth when the news of trouble came.

"Sima, a handsome youth with a splendid head ornament of quetzal feathers, addressed me. He was gentle, almost persuasive. At first I could not understand what he was driving at. There were evidently references to a people and the setting sun, and in the midst of his discourse others came up

and now and again tried to aid him in making me understand, as people will do all over the world when a foreigner is dense. Presently Sima ceased, and another, an older man, took up the parable. He grew excited in the telling of the tale and, as I gathered, was eager to impress upon me that there was an evil time when hate and murder and greed, until then unknown, had come into the land. But it was not until he roughly fashioned a cross with a couple of sticks and broke it to pieces that a light dawned on me. Then when he told me of white men from the north, it dawned upon me with clearness that here was a tribal memory of the coming of Pizarro into the land of the Incas. Understanding that, I could piece things together, the ancient wrong done to a gentle people in the name of the cross, the white man's greed for gold, which had been a specific cause of strife and disorder, the hopeless resistance of an unarmed people, and the cruel acts of retaliation. From another point of view I saw what the lust of empire meant, and I saw how those who preached civilization, philanthropy, and religion came burning, shooting, destroying, and subjugating the weak, the simple, the harmless. The forefathers of this people had escaped. What wonder, then, that to them gold stood as an evil, something to hide and thrust away as unclean lest its glitter again attract these who bear death in their hands.

"I saw all that in a flash, and I understood the vague sense of imminent chaos that must have possessed the simple, happy folk when they pondered on what might happen if goldmad white men again came ravening. The wonder was that they did not slay me when first I came.

"The gold-bearing sand was exceptionally rich in the little river. Grubbing about, I found pockets in the bed-rock full of gold. I even amused myself for a time extracting some of it and piling it in little heaps here and there on stones, and once I dammed up a section of the stream, turning the current so as to expose the river-bed, thus laying bare a new and unexpected vein. But it meant nothing to me then, for I still enjoyed the sighing of the wind through the silky grass, the sweetness of the day, and the fullness of the earth. The water that dripped sparkling from my finger-tips was finer to me than the sifting gold.

"One day I found the cave. I had not found it before simply because I had not sought it. There was no attempt on the part of the folk to conceal its location, nor was there displayed any desire to keep me from it.

"It was an opening in a hillside almost six feet long and four high, a square, natural gap, and the chamber within was at least thirty by thirty. The rays of the western sun flooded the place. For over three hundred years, perhaps, the people had hidden their gold there. From that you may have some idea how things were. The stuff lay scattered over the floor of the cave. I worked my fingers through the gold near the opening, and it was knuckle-deep before I touched the rock. In the farther corner was a sloping heap of the stuff, and it had been there so long that the iron dust had blown away. It shone dully as the sun touched it. Here and there were small nuggets, some as large as a cherry. Leaving the cave, I found a pile of them, oddly shaped, laid along a large, flat rock. They were evidently the playthings of children. I remember

noticing one, flattish and almost heartshaped. It had a hole through it, and I strung it and hung it round my neck. Look at this."

As he spoke he fumbled at his soft shirt-collar and pulled up a little nugget, which he handed to me.

"It's all I have to show," he said as he returned it to its place. “That night I did not sleep. Strangely enough, my mind took a twist. The life I was living fell behind me, as it were, and I was filled with a new desire. It was not really a desire for wealth, but rather a desire for power. That was it, a desire for power. That old newspaper I told you of came to my mind, with all that it stood for. I began to dream of walking into my native town, into Hillsboro, and showing off. Crazy, is n't it? But it was so. They were were day-dreams that might have pleased a boy, and it is almost too banal to tell, the rapid succumbing to temptation. I had a vision of becoming the local 'big man,' of buying out the banker, of building a fine house, of owning a splendid automobile, of servants, and all that kind of thing. Things! things! things! The pageantry of wealth! So dreaming, the quiet of the valley and the peace of it became a hateful thing, and I longed for the sound of a thousand footsteps and a thousand wheels, for the noise of streets, and the haste and the clatter and the excitement. Gradually the idea took possession of me that the gold was mine and that it was a weak sentimentality which would prevent a capable white race from using that which a brown-skinned folk knew not how to use. I planned and dreamed, planned and dreamed. The poison was at work.

"Weeks and weeks it took me to


carry the gold to the hidden canoe. thought at the time that I was unwatched, but I do not think so now. Some of the stuff I loaded direct from the river sand, but by far the greater part I bore from the cave. Of course there were days when I hesitated, half repenting. But, on the whole, greed had me.

"One day I saw Sima and Capaca, standing side by side, looking at me, and I was suddenly overcome with shame. There fell away from me my desire to leave. The glamour faded. It was as if I had been discovered handling filth by those whose good opinion I valued, and the hot blood rushed tingling to my cheeks. I wanted to make my peace with the people again, but knew that to do so was hopeless now. So I stood irresolutely by my canoe, and I hated myself for my insincerity.

"Sima came down to me. He said no word, but, with a look half-pity, half-contempt, handed me his spear, and with a gesture dismissed me and turned his back. For a moment I wished that he had thrust the spear through me.

"So it was that I came to leave the valley where I had known peace, and from then time was for me little but physical weariness. There were days when I lay half dead in the canoe on my bed of gold, tortured by flies and things that bit and stung-days and days of misery when I wished myself dead. Once, it seemed ages, a hovering cloud of insects followed me, sometimes settling on me so thickly that my arms were black. My bodily suffering was great, but greater still the suffering within.

"I think that day after day in that jungle drove me mad, and there were

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through a canon of dark-brown earth through which great roots thrust themselves like snakes. Days of impenetrable gloom there were, and there were days when all about me there seemed to be hushings, then hissing whisperings and pointing fingers and peering eyes. Again there was a sensation that music was about me, and I seemed to hear at a distance the opening chords of a brass band. I knew that I was fever-stricken.

"Once I dared to land at a place where the virgin forest seemed to end. There was a great green, open space, a mighty clearing, and a fringe of trees between that and the river. I was the victim of a strange hallucination, and it was as if the whole world were moving swiftly to the right, swiftly, horri

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