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Title: Mornings in Mexico
Author: D H Lawrrence
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eBook No.: 0900391.txt
Language: English
Date first posted: June 2009
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------------------------------------------------------------------------

Title: Mornings in Mexico
Author: D H Lawrrence


First published 1927



CONTENTS

1. Corasmin and the Parrots
2. Walk to Huayapa
3. The Mozo
4. Market Day
5. Indians and Entertainment
6. Dance of the Sprouting Corn
7. The Hopi Snake Dance
8. A Little Moonshine with Lemon




1--CORASMIN AND THE PARROTS


One says Mexico: one means, after all, one little town away South in the
Republic: and in this little town, one rather crumbly adobe house built
round two sides of a garden _patio_: and of this house, one spot on
the deep, shady veranda facing inwards to the trees, where there are an
onyx table and three rocking-chairs and one little wooden chair, a pot
with carnations, and a person with a pen. We talk so grandly, in capital
letters, about Morning in Mexico. All it amounts to is one little
individual looking at a bit of sky and trees, then looking down at the
page of his exercise book.

It is a pity we don't always remember this. When books come out with
grand titles, like _The Future of America_, or _The European
Situation_, it's a pity we don't immediately visualize a thin or a fat
person, in a chair or in bed, dictating to a bob-haired stenographer or
making little marks on paper with a fountain pen.

Still, it is morning, and it is Mexico. The sun shines. But then, during
the winter, it always shines. It is pleasant to sit out of doors and
write, just fresh enough and just warm enough. But then it is Christmas
next week, so it ought to be just right.

There is a little smell of carnations, because they are the nearest
thing. And there is a resinous smell of ocote wood, and a smell of
coffee, and a faint smell of leaves, and of Morning, and even of Mexico.
Because when all is said and done, Mexico has a faint, physical scent of
her own, as each human being has. And this is a curious, inexplicable
scent, in which there are resin and perspiration and sunburned earth and
urine among other things.

And cocks are still crowing. The little mill where the natives have their
own corn ground is puffing rather languidly. And because some women are
talking in the entrance-way, the two tame parrots in the trees have
started to whistle.

The parrots, even when I don't listen to them, have an extraordinary
effect on me. They make my diaphragm convulse with little laughs, almost
mechanically. They are a quite commonplace pair of green birds, with bits
of bluey red, and round, disillusioned eyes, and heavy, overhanging
noses. But they listen intently. And they reproduce. The pair whistle now
like Rosalino, who is sweeping the _patio_ with a twig broom; and
yet it is so unlike him, to be whistling full vent, when any of us is
around, that one looks at him to see. And the moment one sees him, with
his black head bent rather drooping and hidden as he sweeps, one laughs.

The parrots whistle exactly like Rosalino, only a little more so. And
this little-more-so is extremely sardonically funny. With their sad old
long-jowled faces and their flat disillusioned eyes, they reproduce
Rosalino and a little-more-so without moving a muscle. And Rosalino,
sweeping the _patio_ with his twig broom, scraping and tittering
leaves into little heaps, covers himself more and more with the cloud of
his own obscurity. He doesn't rebel. He is powerless. Up goes the wild,
sliding Indian whistle into the morning, very powerful, with an immense
energy seeming to drive behind it. And always, always a little more than
life-like.

Then they break off into a cackling chatter, and one knows they are
shifting their clumsy legs, perhaps hanging on with their beaks and
clutching with their cold, slow claws, to climb to a higher bough, like
rather raggedy green buds climbing to the sun. And suddenly the
penetrating, demonish mocking voices:

'Perro! Oh, Perro! Perr-rro! Oh, Perr-rro! Perro!'

They are imitating somebody calling the dog. _Perro_ means dog. But
that any creature should be able to pour such a suave, prussic-acid
sarcasm over the voice of a human being calling a dog, is incredible.
One's diaphragm chuckles involuntarily. And one thinks: _Is it
possible_? Is it possible that we are so absolutely, so innocently, so
_ab ovo_ ridiculous?

And not only is it possible, it is patent. We cover our heads in
confusion.

Now they are yapping like a dog: exactly like Corasmin. Corasmin is a
little fat, curly white dog who was lying in the sun a minute ago, and
has now come into the veranda shade, walking with slow resignation, to
lie against the wall near-by my chair. 'Yap-yap-yap! Wouf! Wouf!
Yapyapyapyap!' go the parrots, exactly like Corasmin when some stranger
comes into the _zaguán_, Corasmin and a little-more-so.

With a grin on my face I look down at Corasmin. And with a silent,
abashed resignation in his yellow eyes, Corasmin looks up at me, with a
touch of reproach. His little white nose is sharp, and under his eyes
there are dark marks, as under the eyes of one who has known much
trouble. All day he does nothing but walk resignedly out of the sun, when
the sun gets too hot, and out of the shade, when the shade gets too cool.
And bite ineffectually in the region of his fleas.

Poor old Corasmin: he is only about six, but resigned, unspeakably
resigned. Only not humble. He does not kiss the rod. He rises in spirit
above it, letting his body lie.

'Perro! Oh, Perr-rro! Perr-rro! Perr-rr-rro!!' shriek the parrots, with
that strange penetrating, antediluvian malevolence that seems to make
even the trees prick their ears. It is a sound that penetrates one
straight at the diaphragm, belonging to the ages before brains were
invented. And Corasmin pushes his sharp little nose into his bushy tail,
closes his eyes because I am grinning, feigns to sleep and then, in an
orgasm of self-consciousness, starts up to bite in the region of his
fleas.

'Perr-rro! Perr-rro!' And then a restrained, withheld sort of yapping.
The fiendish rolling of the Spanish 'r', malevolence rippling out of all
the vanished spiteful aeons. And following it, the small,
little-curly-dog sort of yapping. They can make their voices so
devilishly small and futile, like a little curly dog. And follow it up
with that ringing malevolence that swoops up the ladders of the sunbeams
right to the stars, rolling the Spanish 'r'.

Corasmin slowly walks away from the veranda, his head drooped, and flings
himself down in the sun. No! He gets up again, in an agony of
self-control, and scratches the earth loose a little, to soften his lie.
Then flings himself down again.

Invictus! The still-unconquered Corasmin! The sad little white curly
pendulum oscillating ever slower between the shadow and the sun.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud,
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

But that is human bombast, and a little too ridiculous even for Corasmin.
Poor old Corasmin's clear yellow eyes! He is going to be master of his
own soul, under all the vitriol those parrots pour over him. But he's not
going to throw out his chest in a real lust of self-pity. That belongs to
the next cycle of evolution.

I wait for the day when the parrots will start throwing English at us, in
the pit of our stomachs. They cock their heads and listen to our gabble.
But so far they haven't got it. It puzzles them. Castilian, and Corasmin,
and Rosalino come more natural.

Myself, I don't believe in evolution, like a long string hooked on to a
First Cause, and being slowly twisted in unbroken continuity through the
ages. I prefer to believe in what the Aztecs called Suns: that is, Worlds
successively created and destroyed. The sun itself convulses, and the
worlds go out like so many candles when somebody coughs in the middle of
them. Then subtly, mysteriously, the sun convulses again, and a new set
of worlds begins to flicker alight.

This pleases my fancy better than the long and weary twisting of the rope
of Time and Evolution, hitched on to the revolving hook of a First Cause.
I like to think of the whole show going bust, _bang!_--and nothing
but bits of chaos flying about. Then out of the dark, new little
twinklings reviving from nowhere, nohow.

I like to think of the world going pop! when the lizards had grown too
unwieldy, and it was time they were taken down a peg or two. Then the
little humming birds beginning to spark in the darkness, and a whole
succession of birds shaking themselves clean of the dark matrix,
flamingoes rising upon one leg like dawn commencing, parrots shrieking
about at midday, _almost_ able to talk, then peacocks unfolding at
evening like the night with stars. And apart from these little pure
birds, a lot of unwieldy skinny-necked monsters bigger than crocodiles,
barging through the mosses; till it was time to put a stop to them. When
someone mysteriously touched the button, and the sun went bang, with
smithereens of birds bursting in all directions. On a few parrots' eggs
and peacocks' eggs and eggs of flamingoes smuggling in some safe nook, to
hatch on the next Day, when the animals arose.

Up reared the elephant, and shook the mud off his back. The birds watched
him in sheer stupefaction. What? _What in heaven's name is this
wingless, beakless old perambulator_?

No good, oh birds! Curly, little white Corasmin ran yapping out of the
undergrowth, the new undergrowth, till parrots, going white at the gills,
flew off into the ancientest recesses. Then the terrific neighing of the
wild horse was heard in the twilight for the first time, and the
bellowing of lions through the night.

And the birds were sad. What is this? they said. A whole vast gamut of
new noises. A universe of new voices.

Then the birds under the leaves hung their heads and were dumb. No good
our making a sound, they said. We are superseded.

The great big, booming, half-naked birds were blown to smithereens. Only
the real little feathery individuals hatched out again and remained. This
was a consolation. The larks and warblers cheered up, and began to say
their little say, out of the old 'Sun', to the new sun. But the peacock,
and the turkey, and the raven, and the parrot above all, they could not
get over it. Because, in the old days of the Sun of Birds, they had been
the big guns. The parrot had been the old boss of the flock. He was so
clever.

Now he was, so to speak, up a tree. Nor dare he come down, because of the
toddling little curly white Corasmin, and such-like, down below. He felt
absolutely bitter. That wingless, beakless, featherless, curly, misshapen
bird's nest of a Corasmin had usurped the face of the earth, waddling
about, whereas his Grace, the heavy-nosed old Duke of a parrot, was
forced to sit out of reach up a tree, dispossessed.

So, like the riff-raff up in the gallery at the theatre, aloft in the
Paradiso of the vanished Sun, he began to whistle and jeer.
_'Yap-yap!'_ said his new little lordship of a Corasmin. 'Ye Gods!'
cried the parrot. 'Hear him forsooth! _Yap-yap!_ he says! Could
anything be more imbecile? Yap-yap! Oh, Sun of the Birds, hark at that!
_Yap-yap-yap!_ Perro! _Perro! Perr-rro!_ Oh, _Perr-rr-rro!_'

The parrot had found his cue. Stiff-nosed, heavy-nosed old duke of the
birds, he wasn't going to give in and sing a new song, like those fool
brown thrushes and nightingales. Let, them twitter and warble. The parrot
was a gentleman of the old school. He was going to jeer now! Like an
ineffectual old aristocrat.

'_Oh, Perr-rro! Perr-rro-o-o-!_'

The Aztecs say there have been four Suns and ours is the fifth. The first
Sun, a tiger, or a jaguar, a night-spotted monster of rage, rose out of
nowhere and swallowed it, with all its huge, mercifully forgotten insects
along with it. The second Sun blew up in a great wind: that was when the
big lizards must have collapsed. The third Sun burst in water, and
drowned all the animals that were considered unnecessary, together with
the first attempts at animal men.

Out of the floods rose our own Sun, and little naked man. 'Hello!' said
the old elephant. 'What's that noise?' And he pricked his ears,
listening to a new voice on the face of the earth. The sound of man, and
_words_ for the first time. Terrible, unheard-of sound. The elephant
dropped his tail and ran into the deep jungle, and there stood looking
down his nose.

But little white curly Corasmin was fascinated. '_Come on! Perro!
Perro!_' called the naked two-legged one. And Corasmin, fascinated,
said to himself: 'Can't stand out against that name. Shall have to go!'
so off he trotted, at the heels of the naked one. Then came the horse,
then the elephant, spell-bound at being given a name. The other animals
ran for their lives and stood quaking.

In the dust, however, the snake, the oldest dethroned king of all, bit
his tail once more and said to himself: '_Here's another! No end to
these new lords of creation! But I'll bruise his heel! Just as I swallow
the eggs of the parrot, and lick to the little Corasmin pups._'

And in the branches, the parrot said to himself: _'Hello! What's this
new sort of half-bird? Why, he's got Corasmin trotting at his heels! Must
be a new sort of boss! Let's listen to him, and see if I can't take him
off.'_

Perr-rro! Perr-rr-rro-oo! Oh, Perro!

The parrot had hit it.

And the monkey, cleverest of creatures, cried with rage when he heard men
speaking. _'Oh, why couldn't I do it!'_ he chattered. But no good,
he belonged to the old Sun. So he sat and gibbered across the invisible
gulf in time, which is the 'other dimension' that clever people gas
about: calling it 'fourth dimension', as if you could measure it with a
foot-rule, the same as the obedient other three dimensions.

If you come to think of it, when you look at the monkey, you are looking
straight into the other dimension. He's got length and breadth and height
all right, and he's in the same universe of Space and Time as you are.
But there's another dimension. He's different, There's no rope of
evolution linking him to you, like a navel string. No! Between you and
him there's a cataclysm and another dimension. It's no good. You can't
link him up. Never will. It's the other dimension.

He mocks at you and gibes at you and imitates you.

Sometimes he is even more _like_ you than you are yourself. It's
funny, and you laugh just a bit on wrong your face. It's the other
dimension.

He stands in one Sun, you in another. He whisks his tail in one Day, you
scratch your head in another. He jeers at you, and is afraid of you. You
laugh at him and are frightened of him.

What's the length and the breadth, what's the height and the depths
between you and me? says monkey.

You get out a tape-measure, and he flies into an obscene mockery of you.

It's the other dimension, put the tape-measure away, it won't serve.

'Perro! Oh, Perr-rro!' shrieks the parrot.

Corasmin looks up at me, as much as to say:

'It's the other dimension. There's no help for it. Let us agree about
it.'

And I look down into his yellow eyes, and say:

'You're quite right, Corasmin, it's the other dimension. You and I, we
admit it. But the parrot won't, and the monkey won't, and the crocodile
won't, neither the earwig. They all wind themselves up and wriggle inside
the cage of the other dimension, hating it. And those that have voices
jeer, and those that have mouths bite, and the insects that haven't even
mouths, they turn up their tails and nip with them, or sting, Just
behaving according to their own dimension: which, for me, is the other
dimension.'

And Corasmin wags his tail mildly, and looks at me with real wisdom in
his eyes. He and I, we understand each other in the wisdom of the other
dimension.

But the flat, saucer-eyed parrot won't have it. Just won't have it.

'Oh, Perro! Perr-rro! Perr-rro-o-o-o! Yap-yap-yap!'

And Rosalino, the Indian _mozo_, looks up at me with his eyes veiled
by their own blackness. We won't have it either: he is hiding and
repudiating. Between us also is the gulf of the other dimension, and he
wants to bridge it with the foot-rule of the three-dimensional space. He
knows it can't be done. So do I. Each of us knows the other knows.

But he can imitate me, even more than life-like. As the parrot can him.
And I have to laugh at his _me_, a bit on the wrong side of my face,
as he has to grin on the wrong side of his face when I catch his eye as
the parrot is whistling _him_, With a grin, with a laugh we pay
tribute to the other dimension. But Corasmin is wiser. In his clear,
yellow eyes is the self-possession of full admission.

The Aztecs said this world, our Sun, would blow up from inside, in
earthquakes. Then what will come, in the other dimension, when we are
superseded?



2--WALK TO HUAYAPA


Curious is the psychology of Sunday. Humanity enjoying itself is on the
whole a dreary spectacle, and holidays are more disheartening than
drudgery. One makes up one's mind: On Sundays and on _fiestas_ I
will stay at home, in the hermitage of the _patio_, with the parrots
and Corasmin and the reddening coffee-berries. I will avoid the sight of
people enjoying themselves'--or try to, without much success.

Then comes Sunday morning, with the peculiar looseness of its sunshine.
And even if you keep mum, the better-half says: Let's go somewhere.

But, thank God, in Mexico at least one can't set off in the 'machine'. It
is a question of a meagre horse and a wooden saddle; on a donkey; or what
we called, as children, 'Shanks' pony'--the shanks referring
discourteously to one's own legs.

We will go out of the town. Rosalino, we are going for a walk to San
Felipe de las Aguas. Do you want to go, and carry the basket?'

_'Cómo no, Señor?'_

It is Rosalino's inevitable answer, as inevitable as the parrot's
'Perro?' '_Cone no, Señor?_'--'How not, Señor?'

The _Norte_, the north-wind, was blowing last night, rattling the
worm-chewed window-frames.

'Rosalino, I am afraid you will be cold in the night.'

'_Cómo no, Señor?_'

'Would you like a blanket?'

'_Cómo no, Señor?_'

'With this you will be warm?'

'_Cómo no, Señor?_'

But the morning is perfect; in a moment we are clear out of the town.
Most towns in Mexico, saving the capital, end in themselves, at once. As
if they had been lowered from heaven in a napkin, and deposited, rather
foreign, upon the wild plain. So we walk round the wall of the church and
the huge old monastery enclosure that is now barracks for the scrap-heap
soldiery, and at once there are the hills.

'I will lift up my eyes unto the hills, whence cometh my strength.' At
least one can always do _that_, in Mexico. In a stride, the town passes
away. Before us lies the gleaming, pinkish-ochre of the valley flat,
wild and exalted with sunshine. On the left, quite near, bank the
stiffly pleated mountains, all the foot-hills, that press
savannah-coloured into the savannah of the valley. The mountains are
clothed smokily with pine, _ocote_, and, like a woman in a gauze
_rebozo_, they rear in a rich blue fume that is almost cornflower-blue
in the clefts. It is their characteristic that they are darkest blue at
the top. Like some splendid lizard with a wavering, royal-blue crest
down the ridge of his back, and pale belly, and soft, pinky-fawn claws,
no the plain.

Between the pallor of the claws, a dark spot of trees, and white dots of
a church with twin towers. Further away, along the foot-hills, a few
scattered trees, white dot and stroke of .a hacienda, and a green, green
square of sugar-cane. Further off still, at the mouth of a cleft of a
canyon, a dense little green patch of trees, and two spots of proud
church.

'Rosalino, which is San Felipe?'

'_Quien sabe, Señor?_' says Rosalino, looking at the villages;
beyond the sun of the savannah with black, visionless eyes. In his voice
is the inevitable flat resonance of aloofness, touched with resignation,
as if to say: It is not becoming to a man to know these things.--Among
the Indians it is not becoming to know anything, not even one's own name.

Rosalino is a mountain boy, an Indian from a village two days' walk away.
But he has been two years in the little city, and has learnt his modicum
of Spanish.

'Have you never been to any of these villages?'

'No, _Señor_, I never went.'

'Didn't you want to?'

'_Cómo no, Señor?_'

The Americans would call him a dumb-bell.

We decide for the farthest speck of a village in a dark spot of trees. It
lies so magical, alone, tilted in the fawn-pink slope, again as if the
dark-green napkin with a few white tiny buildings had been lowered from
heaven and left, there at the foot of the mountains, with the deep groove
of a canyon slanting in behind. So alone and, as it were, detached from
the world in which it lies, a spot.

Nowhere more than in Mexico does human life become isolated, external to
its surroundings, and cut off tinily from the environment. Even as you
come across the plain to a big city like Guadalajara, and see the twin
towers of the cathedral peering around in loneliness like two lost birds
side by side on a moor, lifting their white heads to look around in the
wilderness, your heart gives a clutch, feeling the pathos, the isolated
tininess of human effort. As for building a church with one tower only,
it is unthinkable. There must be two towers, to keep each other company
in this wilderness world.

The morning is still early, the brilliant sun does not burn too much.
Tomorrow is the shortest day. The savannah valley is shadeless, spotted
only with the thorny ravel of mesquite bushes. Down the trail that has
worn grooves in the turf--the rock is near the surface--occasional
donkeys with a blue-hooded woman perched on top come tripping in silence,
twinkling, a shadow. Just occasional women taking a few vegetables to
market. Practically no men. It is Sunday.

Rosalino, prancing behind with the basket, plucks up his courage to speak
to one of the women passing on a donkey. 'Is that San Felipe where we are
going?'--'No, that is not San Felipe.'--'What, then, is it called?'--'It
is called Huayapa.'--'Which, then, is San Felipe?'--That one'--and she
points to her right.

They have spoken to each other in half-audible, crushed tones, as they
always do, the woman on the donkey and the woman with her on foot
swerving away from the basket-carrying Rosalino. They all swerve away
from us, as if we were potential bold brigands. It really gets one's
pecker up. The presence of the _Señora_ only half reassures them.
For the _Señora_, in a plain hat of bluey-green woven grass, and a
dress of white cotton with black squares on it, is almost a monster of
unusualness. _Prophet art thou, bird, or devil?_ the women seem to
say, as they look at her with keen black eyes. I think they choose to
decide she is more of the last.

The women look at the woman, the men look at the man. And always with
that same suspicious, inquiring, wondering look, the same with which
Edgar Allan Poe must have looked at his momentous raven:

'_Prophet art thou, bird, or devil?_'

_Devil, then, to please you!_ one longs to answer, in a tone of
_Nevermore_.

Ten o'clock, and the sun getting hot. Not a spot of shade, apparently,
from here to Huayapa. The blue getting thinner on the mountains, and an
indiscernible vagueness, of too much light, descending on the plain.

The road suddenly dips into a little crack, where runs a creek. This
again is characteristic of these parts of America. Water keeps out of
sight. Even the biggest rivers, even the tiny brooks. You look across a
plain on which the light sinks down, and you think: Dry! Dry! Absolutely
dry! You travel along, and suddenly come to a crack in the earth, and a
little stream is running in a little walled-in valley bed, where is a
half-yard of green turf, and bushes, the _palo-blanco_ with leaves,
and with big white flowers like pure white, crumpled cambric. Or you may
come to a river a thousand feet below, sheer below you. But not in this
valley. Only the stream.

'Shade!' says the _Señora_, subsiding under a steep bank.

'_Mucho calor!_' says Rosalino, taking off his extra-jaunty straw
hat, and subsiding with the basket.

Down the slope are coming two women on donkeys. Seeing the terrible array
of three people sitting under a bank, they pull up.

'_Adios!_' I say, with firm resonance.

'_Adios!_' says the _Señora_, with diffidence.

'_Adios!_' says the reticent Rosalino, his voice the shadow of ours.

'_Adios! Adios! Adios!_' say the women, in suppressed voices,
swerving, neutral, past us on their self-contained, sway-eared asses.

When they have passed, Rosalino looks at me to see if I shall laugh. I
give a little grin, and he gives me back a great explosive grin, throwing
back his head in silence, opening his wide mouth and showing his soft
pink tongue, looking along his cheeks with his saurian black eyes, in an
access of _farouche_ derision.

A great hawk, like an eagle, with white bars at the end of its wings,
sweeps low over us, looking for snakes. One can hear the hiss of its
pinions.

'_Gabilán_,' says Rosalino.

'What is it called in the _idioma_?'

'_Psia!_'--He makes the consonants explode and hiss.

'Ah!' says the _Señora_. 'One hears it in the wings. _Psia_!'

'Yes,' says Rosalino, with black eyes of incomprehension.

Down the creek, two native boys, little herdsmen, are bathing, stooping
with knees together and throwing water over themselves, rising, gleaming
dark coffee-red in the sun, wetly. They are very dark, and their wet
heads are so black, they seem to give off a bluish light, like dark
electricity.

The great cattle they are tending slowly plunge through the bushes,
coming up-stream. At the place where the path fords the stream, a great
ox stoops to drink. Comes a cow after him, and a calf, and a young bull.
They all drink a little at the stream, their noses delicately touching
the water. And then the young bull, horns abranch, stares fixedly, with
some f the same Indian wonder-and-suspicion stare, at us sitting under
the bank.

Up jumps the _Señora_, proceeds uphill, trying to save her dignity.
The bull, slowly leaning into motion, moves across-stream like a ship
unmoored. The bathing lad on the bank is hastily fastening his calico
pantaloons round his ruddy-dark waist. The Indians have a certain rich
physique, even this lad. He comes running short-step down the bank,
uttering a birdlike whoop, his dark hair gleaming bluish. Stooping for a
moment to select a stone, he runs athwart the hull, and aims the stone
sideways at him. There is a thud, the ponderous, adventurous young animal
swerves docilely round towards the stream. '_Becerro!_' cries the
boy, in his bird-like, piping tone, selecting a stone to throw at the
calf.

We proceed in the blazing sun up the slope. There is a white line at the
foot of the trees. It looks like water running white over a weir. The
supply of the town water comes this way. Perhaps this is a reservoir. A
sheet of water I How lovely it would be, in this country, if there was a
sheet of water with a stream running out of it! And those dense trees of
Huayapa behind.

'What is that white, Rosalino? Is it water?'

'_El Blanco? Si, aqua, _Señora_,_' says that dumb-bell.

Probably, if the _Señora_ had said: Is it milk? he would have
replied in exactly the same way: _Si es leche, _Señora_!_--Yes,
it's milk.

Hot, silent, walking only amidst a weight of light, out of which one
hardly sees, we climb the spurs towards the dark trees. And as we draw
nearer, the white slowly resolves into a broken, whitewashed wall.

'Oh!' exclaims the _Señora_, in real disappointment. 'It isn't
water! it's a wall!'

'_Si, _Señora_. Es panteón._' (They call a cemetery a
_panteón_, down here.)

'It is a cemetery,' announces Rosalino, with a certain ponderous, pleased
assurance, and without afterthought. But when I suddenly laugh at the
absurdity, he also gives a sudden broken yelp of laughter.--They laugh as
if it were against their will, as if it hurt them, giving themselves
away.

It was nearing midday. At last we got into a shady lane, in which were
puddles of escaped irrigation-water. The ragged semi-squalor of a
half-tropical lane, with naked trees sprouting into spiky scarlet
flowers, and bushes with biggish yellow flowers, sitting rather wearily
on their stems, led to the village.

We were entering Huayapa. _Ia Calle de las Minas_, said an old
notice. _Ia Calle de las Minas_, said a new, brand-new notice, as if
in confirmation. _First Street of the Mines_. And every street had
the same old and brand-new notice: 1st Street of the Magnolia: 4th Street
of Enriquez Gonzalez: very fine!

But the First Street of the Mines was just a track between the stiff
living fence of organ cactus, with poinsettia trees holding up scarlet
mops of flowers, and mango trees, tall and black, stonily drooping the
strings of unripe fruit. The Street of the Magnolia was a rocky
stream-gutter, disappearing to nowhere from nowhere, between cactus and
bushes. The Street of the Vasquez was a stony stream-bed, emerging out of
tall, wildly tall reeds.

Not a soul anywhere. Through the fences, half deserted gardens of trees
and banana plants, each enclosure with a half-hidden hut of black adobe
bricks crowned with a few old tiles for a roof, and perhaps a new wing
made of twigs. Everything hidden, secret, silent. A sense of darkness
among the silent mango trees, a sense of lurking, of unwillingness. Then
actually some half-bold curs barking at us across the stile of one
garden, a forked bough over which one must step to enter the
chicken-bitten enclosure. And actually a man crossing the proudly
labelled: Fifth Street of the Independence.

If there were no churches to mark a point in these villages, there would
be nowhere at all to make for. The sense of nowhere is intense, between
the dumb and repellent living fence of cactus. But the Spaniards, in the
midst of these black, mud-brick huts, have inevitably reared the white
twin-towered magnificence of a big and lonely, hopeless church; and where
there is a church there will be a _plaza_. And a _plaza_ is a
_zócalo_, a hub. Even though the wheel does not go round, a hub is
still a hub. Like the old Forum.

So we stray diffidently on, in the maze of streets which are only
straight tracks between cactuses, till we see Reforma, and at the end of
_Reforma_, the great church.

In front of the church is a rocky _plaza_ leaking with grass, with
water rushing into two big, oblong stone basins. The great church stands
rather ragged, in a dense forlornness, for all the world like some big
white human being, in rags, held captive in a world of ants.

On the uphill side of the _plaza_, a long low white building with a
shed in front, and under the shed crowding, all the short-statured men of
the _pueblo_, in their white cotton clothes and big hats. They are
listening to something: but the silence is heavy, furtive, secretive.
They stir like white-clad insects.

Rosalino looks sideways at them, and sheers away. Even we lower our
voices to ask what is going on. Rosalino replies, _sotto voce_, that
they are making _asuntos_. But what business? we insist. The dark
faces of the little men under the big hats look round at us suspiciously,
like dark gaps in the atmosphere. Our alien presence in this vacuous
village, is like the sound of a drum in a churchyard. Rosalino mumbles
unintelligibly. We stray across the forlorn yard into the church.

Thursday was the day of the Virgin of the Soledad, so the church is
littered with flowers, sprays of wild yellow flowers trailing on the
floor. There is a great Gulliver's Travels fresco picture of an angel
having a joy-ride on the back of a Goliath. On the left, near the altar
steps, is seated a life-size Christ--undersized; seated upon a little
table, wearing a pair of woman's frilled knickers, a little mantle of
purple silk dangling from His back, and His face bent forward gazing
fatuously at His naked knee, which emerges from the needlework frill of
the drawers. Across from Him a living woman is half-hidden behind a
buttress, mending something, sewing.

We sit silent, motionless, in the whitewashed church ornamented with
royal blue and bits of gilt. A barefoot Indian with a high-domed head
comes in and kneels with his legs close together, his back stiff, at once
very humble and resistant. His cotton jacket and trousers are
long-unwashed rag, the colour of dry earth, and torn, so that one sees
smooth pieces of brown thigh, and brown back. He kneels in a sort of
intense fervour for a minute, then gets up and childishly, almost
idiotically, begins to take the pieces of candle from the candlesticks.
He is the Verger.

Outside, the gang of men is still pressing under the shed. We insist on
knowing what is going on. Rosalino, looking sideways at them, plucks up
courage to say plainly that the two men at the table are canvassing for
votes: for the Government, for the State, for a new governor, whatever it
may be. Votes! Votes! Votes! The farce of it! Already on the wall of the
low building, on which one sees, in blue letters, the word
_Justizia_, there are pasted the late political posters, with the
loud announcement: Vote For This Mark (+). Or another: Vote For This Mark
(-).

My dear fellow, this is when democracy becomes real fun. You vote for one
red ring inside another red ring and you get a Julio Echegaray. You vote
for a blue dot inside a blue ring, and you get a Socrate Ezequiel Tos.
Heaven knows what you get for the two little red circles on top of one
another Suppose we vote, and try. There's all sorts in the lucky bag.
There might come a name like Peregrino Zenon Cocotilla.

Independence I Government by the People, of the People, for the People!
We all live in the Calle de la Reforma, in Mexico.

On the bottom of the _plaza_ is a shop. We want some fruit. '_Hay
frutas?_ Oranges or bananas?'--'_No, Señor_.'--'No fruits?'--'_No
hay_!'--'Can I buy a cup?'--'_No hay_.'--'Can I buy a _jicara_, a
gourd-shell that we might drink from?' '_No hay_.'.

_No hay_ means _there isn't any_, and it's the most regular
sound made by the dumb-bells of the land.

'What is there, then?' A sickly grin. There are, as a matter of fact,
candles, soap, dead and withered chiles, a few dried grasshoppers, dust,
and stark, bare wooden pigeon-holes. Nothing, nothing, nothing. Next-door
is another little hole of a shop. _Hay frutas?--No hay.--Qué hay?--Hay
tepache!_

'_Para borracharse_,' says Rosalino, with a great grin.

_Tepache_ is a fermented drink of pineapple rinds and brown sugar:
to get drunk on, as Rosalino says. But mildly drunk. There is probably
_mescal_ too, to get brutally drunk on.

The village is exhausted in resource. But we insist on fruit. Where,
_where_ can I buy oranges and bananas? I see oranges on the trees, I
see banana plants.

'Up there!' The woman waves with her hand as if she were cutting the air
upwards.

'That way?'

'Yes.'

We go up the Street of Independence. They have got rid of us from the
_plaza_.

Another black hut with a yard, and orange-trees beyond.

'_Hay frutas?_'

'_No hay._'

'Not an orange, nor a banana?'

'_No hay._'

We go on. _She_ has got rid of us. We descend the black rocky steps
to the stream, and up the other side, past the high reeds. There is a
yard with heaps of maize in a shed, and tethered bullocks: and a
bare-bosom, black-browed girl.

'_Hay frutas?_'

'_No hay._'

'But Yes I There are oranges--there!'

She turns and looks at the oranges on the trees at the back, and
imbecilely answers:

'_No hay._'

It is a choice between killing her and hurrying away.

We hear a drum and a whistle. It is down a rocky black track that calls
itself The Street of Benito Juarez: the same old gent who stands for all
this obvious Reform, and Vote for (o).

A yard with shade round. Women kneading the maize dough, _masa_, for
_tortillas_. A man lounging. And a little boy beating a kettledrum
sideways, and a big man playing a little reedy wooden whistle, rapidly,
endlessly, disguising the tune of _La Cucuracha_. They won't play a
tune unless they can render it almost unrecognizable.

'_Hay frutas?_'

'_No hay._'

'Then what is happening here?'

A sheepish look, and no answer.

'Why are you playing music?'

'It is a _fiesta_.'

My God, a feast! That weary _masa_, a millstone in the belly. And
for the rest, the blank, heavy, dark-grey barrenness, like an adobe
brick. The drum-boy rolls his big Indian eyes at us, and beats on, though
filled with consternation. The flute man glances, is half appalled and
half resentful, so he blows harder. The lounging man comes and mutters to
Rosalino, and Rosalino mutters back, four words.

Four words in the _idioma_, the Zapotec language. We retire, pushed
silently away.

'What language do they speak here, Rosalino?'

'_The idioma._'

'You understand them? It is Zapoteca, same as your language ?'

'Yes, _Señor_.'

'Then why do you always speak in Spanish to them?'

'Because they don't speak the _idioma_ of my village.'

He means, presumably, that there are dialect differences. Anyhow, he
asserts his bit of Spanish, and says _Hay frutas_?

It was like a _posada_. It was like the Holy Virgin on Christmas
Eve, wandering from door to door looking for a lodging in which to bear
her child: Is there a room here? _No hay_!

The same with us. _Hay frutas? No hay!_ We went down every straight
ant-run of that blessed village. But at last we pinned a good-natured
woman. 'Now tell us, _where_ can we buy oranges? We see them on the
trees. We want them to eat.

'Go,' she said, to Valentino Ruiz. He has oranges. Yes, he has oranges,
and he sells them.' And she cut the air upwards with her hand.

From black hut to black hut went we, till at last we got to the house of
Valentino Ruiz. And to I it was the yard with the _fiesta_. The
lounging man was peeping out of the gateless gateway, as we came, at us.

It is the same place!' cried Rosalino, with a laugh of bashful agony.

But we don't belong to the ruling race for nothing. Into the yard we
march.

'Is this the house of Valentino Ruiz? _Hay naranjas_? Are there
oranges?'

We had wandered so long, and asked so often, that the _masa_ was
made into _tortillas_, the _tortillas_ were baked, and a group
of people were sitting in a ring on the ground, eating them. It was the
_fiesta_.

At my question up jumped a youngish man, and a woman as if they had been
sitting on a scorpion each.

'Oh, _Señor_,' said the woman, there are few oranges, and they are
not ripe, as the _Señor_ would want them. But pass this way.'

We pass up to the garden, past the pink roses, to a little orange-tree,
with a few yellowish-green oranges.

You see; they are not ripe as you will want them,' says the youngish man.

'They will do.' Tropical oranges are always green. These, we found later,
were almost insipidly sweet.

Even then, I can only get three of the big, thick-skinned, greenish
oranges. But I spy sweet limes, and insist on having five or six of
these.

He charges me three cents apiece for the oranges: the market price is two
for five cents: and one cent each for the _limas_.

'In my village,' mutters Rosalino when we get away, 'oranges are five for
one cent.'

Never mind! It is one o'clock. Let us get out of the village, where the
water will be safe, and eat lunch.

In the _plaza_, the men are just dispersing, one gang coming down
the hill. They watch us as if we were a coyote, a _zopilote_, and a
white she-bear walking together in the street.

'_Adios!_'

'_Adios!_' comes the low roll of reply, like a roll of cannon shot.

The water rushes downhill in a stone gutter beside the road. We climb up
the hill, up the Street of the Camomile, alongside the rushing water. At
one point it crosses the road unchannelled, and we wade through it. It is
the village drinking supply.

At the juncture of the roads, where the water crosses, another silent
white gang of men. Again: _Adios!_ and again the low, musical, deep
volley of _Adios!_

Up, up wearily. We must get above the village to be able to drink the
water without developing typhoid.

At last, the last house, the naked hills. We follow the water across a
dry maize-field, then up along a bank. Below is a quite deep gully.
Across is an orchard, and some women with baskets of fruit.

'_Hay frutas?_' calls Rosalino, in a half-voice. He is getting bold.

'_Hay_,' says an old woman, in the curious half-voice. 'But not
ripe.'

Shall we go clown into the gully into the shade? No; someone is bathing
among the reeds below, and the aqueduct water rushes along in the gutter
here above. On, on, till we spy a wild guava tree over the channel of
water. At last we can sit down and eat and drink, on a bank of dry grass,
under the wild guava tree.

We put the bottle of lemonade in the aqueduct to cool. I scoop out a big
half-orange, the thick rind of which makes a cup.

'Look, Rosalino! The cup!'

'_La taza!_' he cries, soft-tongued, with a bark of laughter and
delight.

And one drinks the soft, rather lifeless, warmish Mexican water. But it
is pure.

Over the brink of the water-channel is the gully, and a noise--chock,
chock! I go to look. It is a woman, naked to the hips, standing washing
her other garments upon a stone. She has a beautiful full back, of a deep
orange colour, and her wet hair is divided and piled. In the water a few
yards up-stream two men are sitting naked, their brown-orange giving off
a glow in the shadow, also washing their clothes. Their wet hair seems to
steam blue-blackness. Just above them is a sort of bridge, where the
water divides, the channel-water taken from the little river, and led
along the top of the bank.

We sit under the wild guava tree in silence, and eat. The old woman of
the fruit, with naked breast and coffee-brown naked arms, her
under-garment fastened on one shoulder, round her waist an old striped
_sarape_ for a skirt, and on her head a blue _rebozo_ piled
against the sun, comes marching down the aqueduct with black bare feet,
holding three or four _chirimoyas_ to her bosom. _Chirimoyas_
are green custard-apples.

She lectures us, in slow, heavy Spanish:

'This water, here, is for drinking. The other, below, is for washing.
This, you drink, and you don't wash in it. The other, you wash in, and
you don't drink it.' And she looked inquisitively at the bottle of
lemonade, cooling.

'Very good. We understand.'

Then she gave us the _chirimoyas_. I asked her to change the
_peso_: I had no change.

'No, _Señor_,' she said. 'No, _Señor_. You don't pay me. I
bring you these, and may you eat well. But the _chirimoyas_ are not
ripe: in two or three days they will be ripe. Now, they are not. In two
or three days they will be. Now, they are not.

You can't eat them yet. But I make a gift of them to you, and may you eat
well. Farewell. Remain with God.'

She marched impatiently off along the aqueduct.

Rosalino waited to catch my eye. Then he opened his mouth and showed his
pink tongue and swelled out his throat like a cobra, in a silent laugh
after the old woman.

'But,' he said in a low tone, 'the _chirimoyas_ are not good ones.'

And again he swelled in the silent, delighted, derisive laugh.

He was right. When we carne to eat them, three days later, the
custard-apples all had worms in them, and hardly any white meat.

'The old woman of Huayapa,' said Rosalino, reminiscent.

However, she had got her bottle. When we had drunk the lemonade, we sent
Rosalino to give her the empty wine-bottle, and she made him another
sententious little speech. But to her the bottle was a treasure.

And I, going round the little hummock behind the wild guava tree to throw
away the papers of the picnic, came upon a golden-brown young man with
his shirt just coming down over his head, but over no more of him.
Hastily retreating, I thought again what beautiful, suave, rich skins
these people have; a sort of richness of the flesh. It goes, perhaps,
with the complete absence of what we call 'spirit'.

We lay still for a time, looking at the tiny guavas and the perfect,
soft, high blue sky overhead, where the hawks and the ragged-winged
_zopilotes_ sway and diminish. A long, hot way home. But _mañana
es otro dia_. Tomorrow is another day. And even the next five minutes
are far enough away, in Mexico, on a Sunday afternoon.



3--THE MOZO


Rosalino really goes with the house, though he has been in service here
only two months. When we went to look at the place, we saw him lurking in
the _patio_, and glancing furtively under his brows. He is not one
of the erect, bantam little Indians that stare with a black,
incomprehensible, but somewhat defiant stare. It may be Rosalino has a
distant strain of other Indian blood, not Zapotec. Or it may be he is
only a bit different. The difference lies in a certain sensitiveness and
aloneness, as if he were a mother's boy. The way he drops his head and
looks sideways under his black lashes, apprehensive, apprehending,
feeling his way, as it were. Not the bold male glare of most of the
Indians, who seem as if they had never, never had mothers at all.

The Aztec gods and goddesses are, as far as we have known anything about
them, an unlovely and unlovable lot. In their myths there is no grace or
charm, no poetry. Only this perpetual grudge, grudge, grudging, one god
grudging another, the gods grudging men their existence, and men grudging
the animals. The goddess of love is a goddess of dirt and prostitution, a
dirt-eater, a horror, without a touch of tenderness. If the god wants to
make love to her, she has to sprawl down in front of him, blatant and
accessible.

And then, after all, when she conceives and brings forth, what is it she
produces? What is the infant-god she tenderly bears? Guess, all ye
people, joyful and triumphant!

You never could.

It is a stone knife.

It is a razor-edged knife of blackish-green flint, the knife of all
knives, the veritable Paraclete of knives. It is the sacrificial knife
with which the priest makes a gash in his victim's breast, before he
tears out the heart, to hold it smoking to the sun.


And the Sun, the Sun behind the sun, is supposed to suck the smoking
heart greedily with insatiable appetite.

This, then, is a pretty Christmas Eve. Lo, the goddess is gone to bed, to
bring forth her child. Lo! ye people, await the birth of the saviour, the
wife of a god is about to become a mother.

_Tarumm-tarah! Tarumm-tarah!_ blow the trumpets. The child is born.
Unto us a son is given. Bring him forth, lay him on a tender cushion.
Show him, then, to all the people. See! See! See him upon the cushion,
tenderly new-born and reposing! Ah, _qué bonito!_ Oh, what a nice,
blackish, smooth, keen stone knife!

And to this day, most of the Mexican Indian women seem to bring forth
stone knives. Look at them, these sons of incomprehensible mothers, with
their black eyes like flints, and their stiff little bodies as taut and
as keen as knives of obsidian. Take care they don't rip you up.

Our Rosalino is an exception. He drops his shoulders just a little. He is
a bit bigger, also, than the average Indian down here. He must be about
five feet four inches. And he hasn't got the big, obsidian, glaring eyes.
His eyes are smaller, blacker, like the quick black eyes of the lizard.
They don't look at one with the obsidian stare. They are just a bit aware
that there is another being, unknown, at the other end of the glance.
Hence he drops his head with a little apprehension, screening himself as
if he were vulnerable.

Usually, these people have no correspondence with one at all. To them a
white man or white woman is a sort of phenomenon; just as a monkey is a
sort of phenomenon; something to watch, and wonder at, and laugh at, but
not to be taken on one's own plane.

Now the white man is a sort of extraordinary white monkey that, by
cunning, has learnt lots of semi-magical secrets of the universe, and
made himself boss of the show. Imagine a race of big white monkeys got up
in fantastic clothes, and able to kill a man by hissing at him; able to
leap through the air in great hops, covering a mile in each leap; able to
transmit his thoughts by a moment's effort of concentration to some great
white monkey or monkeyess, a thousand miles away: and you have, from our
point of view, something of the picture that the Indian has of us.

The white monkey has curious tricks. He knows, for example, the time. Now
to a Mexican, and an Indian, time is a vague, foggy reality. There are
only three times: _en la mañana, en la tarde, en la troche_, in the
morning, in the afternoon, in the night. There is even no midday, and no
evening.

But to the white monkey, horrible to relate, there are exact spots of
time, such as five o'clock, half past nine. The day is a horrible puzzle
of exact spots of time.

The same with distance: horrible invisible distances called two miles,
ten miles. To the Indians, there is near and far, and very near and very
far. There is two days or one day. But two miles are as good as twenty to
him, for he goes entirely by his feeling. If a certain two miles feels
far to him, then it _is_ far, it is _muy lejos_! But if a certain
twenty miles _feels_ near and familiar, then it is not far.
Oh, no, it is just a little distance. And he will let you set off in the
evening, for night to overtake you in the wilderness, without a qualm. It
is not far.

But the white man has a horrible, truly horrible, monkey-like passion for
invisible exactitudes. _Mañana_, to the native, may mean tomorrow,
three days hence, six months hence, and never. There are no fixed points
in life, save birth, and death, and the _fiestas_. The fixed points
of birth and death evaporate spontaneously into vagueness. And the
priests fix the _fiestas_. From time immemorial priests have fixed
the _fiestas_, the festivals of the gods, and men have had no more
to do with time. What should men have to do with time?

The same with money. These _centavos_ and these _pesos_, what do they
mean, after all? Little discs that have no charm. The natives insist on
reckoning in invisible coins, coins that don't exist here, like _reales_
or _pesetas_. If you buy two eggs for a _real_, you have to pay twelve
and a half _centavos_. Since also half a _centavo_ doesn't exist, you or
the vendor forfeit the non-existent.

The same with honesty, the _meum_ and the _tuum_. The white man
has a horrible way of remembering, even to a _centavo_, even to a
thimbleful of _mescal_. Horrible! The Indian, it seems to me, is not
naturally dishonest. He is not naturally avaricious, has not even any
innate cupidity. In this he is unlike the old people of the
Mediterranean, to whom possessions have a mystic meaning, and a silver
coin a mystic white halo, a _lueur_ of magic.

To the real Mexican, no! He doesn't care. He doesn't even _like_
keeping money. His deep instinct is to spend it at once, so that he
needn't have it. He doesn't really want to keep anything, not even his
wife and children. Nothing that he has to be responsible for. Strip,
strip, strip away the past and the future, leave the naked moment of the
present disentangled. Strip away memory, strip away forethought and care;
leave the moment, stark and sharp and without consciousness, like the
obsidian knife. The before and the after are the stuff of consciousness.
The instant moment is for ever keen with a razor-edge of oblivion, like
the knife of sacrifice.

But the great white monkey has got hold of the keys of the world, and the
black-eyed Mexican has to serve the great white monkey, in order to live.
He has to learn the tricks of the white monkey-show: time of the day,
coin of money, machines that start at a second, work that is meaningless
and yet is paid for with exactitude, in exact coin. A whole existence of
monkey-tricks and monkey-virtues. The strange monkey-virtue of charity,
the white monkeys nosing round to _help_, to _save!_ Could any
trick be more unnatural? Yet it is one of the tricks of the great white
monkey.

If an Indian is poor, he says to another: I have no food; give me to eat.
Then the other hands the hungry one a couple of _tortillas_. That is
natural. But when the white monkey comes round, they peer at the house,
at the woman, at the children. They say: Your child is sick. _Si,
Señor_. What have you done for it--_Nothing. What is to be
done?_--You must make a poultice. I will show you how.

Well, it was very amusing, this making hot dough to dab on the baby. Like
plastering a house with mud. But why do it twice? Twice is not amusing.
The child will die. Well, then, it will be in Paradise. How nice for it!
That's just what God wants of it, that it shall be a cheerful little
angel among the roses of Paradise. What could be better?

How tedious of the white monkey coming with the trick of salvation, to
rub oil on the baby, and put poultices on it, and make you give it
medicine in a spoon at morning, noon, and night. Why morning and noon and
night? Why not just anytime, anywhen? It will die tomorrow if you don't
do these things today! But tomorrow is another day, and it is not dead
now, so if it dies at another time, it must be because the other times
are out of hand.

Oh, the tedious, exacting white monkeys, with their yesterdays and todays
and tomorrows! Tomorrow is always another day, and yesterday is part of
the encircling never. Why think outside the moment? And inside the moment
one does not think. So why pretend to think? It is one of the
white-monkey-tricks. He is a clever monkey. But he is ugly, and he has
nasty, white flesh. We are not ugly, with screwed-up faces, and we have
good warm-brown flesh. If we have to work for the white monkey, we don't
care. His tricks are half-amusing. And one may as well amuse oneself that
way as any other. So long as one is amused.

So long as the devil does not rouse in us, seeing the white monkeys for
ever mechanically bossing, with their incessant tick-tack of work. Seeing
them get the work out of us, the sweat, the money, and then taking the
very land from us, the very oil and metal out of our soil.

They do it! They do it all the time. Because they can't help it. Because
grasshoppers can but hop, and ants can carry little sticks, and white
monkeys can go tick-tack, tick-tack, do this, do that, time to work, time
to eat, time to drink, time to sleep, time to walk, time to ride, time to
wash, time to look dirty, tick-tack, tick-tack, time, time, time! time!
Oh, cut off his nose and make him swallow it.

For the _moment_ is as changeless as an obsidian knife, and the
heart of the Indian is keen as the moment that divides past from future,
and sacrifices them both.

To Rosalino, too, the white monkey-tricks are amusing. He is ready to
work for the white monkeys, to learn some of their tricks, their
monkey-speech of Spanish, their tick-tack ways. He works for four
_pesos_ a month, and his food: a few _tortillas_. Four _pesos_
are two American dollars: about nine shillings. He owns two
cotton shirts, two pairs of calico pantaloons, two blouses, one of pink
cotton, one of darkish flannelette, and a pair of sandals. Also, his
straw hat that he has curled up to look very jaunty, and a rather old,
factory-made, rather cheap shawl, or plaid rug with fringe. _Et
praeterea nihil_.

His duty is to rise in the morning and sweep the street in front of the
house, and water it. Then he sweeps and waters the broad, brick-tiled
verandas, and flicks the chairs with a sort of duster made of fluffy
reeds. After which he walks behind the cook--she is very superior, had a
Spanish grandfather, and Rosalino must address her as _Señora_--carrying
the basket to market. Returned from the market, he sweeps the whole of
the _patio_, gathers up the leaves and refuse, fills the pannier-basket,
hitches it up on to his shoulders, and holds it by a band across his
forehead, and thus, a beast of burden, goes out to deposit the garbage
at the side of one of the little roads leading out of the city. Every
little road leaves the town between heaps of garbage, an avenue of
garbage blistering in the sun.

Returning, Rosalino waters the whole of the garden and sprinkles the
whole of the _patio_. This takes most of the morning. In the
afternoon, he sits without much to do. If the wind has blown or the day
is hot, he starts again at about three o'clock, sweeping up leaves, and
sprinkling everywhere with an old watering-can.

Then he retreats to the entrance-way, the _zaguán_, which, with its
big doors and its cobbled track, is big enough to admit an ox-wagon. The
_zaguán_ is his home: just the doorway. In one corner is a low
wooden bench about four feet long and eighteen inches wide. On this he
screws up and sleeps, in his clothes as he is, wrapped in the old
_sarape_.

But this is anticipating. In the obscurity of the _zaguán_ he sits
and pores, pores, pores over a school-book, learning to read and write.
He can read a bit, and write a bit. He filled a large sheet of foolscap
with writing: quite nice. But I found out that what he had written was a
Spanish poem, a love-poem, with _no puedo olvidar_ and _voy a
cortar_--the rose, of course. He had written the thing straight ahead,
without verse-lines or capitals or punctuation at all, just a vast string
of words, a whole foolscap sheet full. When I read a few lines aloud, he
writhed and laughed in an agony of confused feelings. And of what he had
written he understood a small, small amount, parrot-wise, from the top of
his head. Actually, it meant just words, sound, noise, to him: noise
called _Castellano_, Castilian. Exactly like a parrot.

From seven to eight he goes to the night-school, to cover a bit more of
the foolscap. He has been going for two years. If he goes two years more
he will perhaps really be able to read and write six intelligible
sentences: but only Spanish, which is as foreign to him as Hindustani
would be to an English farm-boy. Then if he can speak his quantum of
Spanish, and read it and write it to a very uncertain extent, he will
return to his village two days' journey on foot into the hills, and then,
in time, he may even rise to be an _alcalde_, or headman of the
village, responsible to the Government. If he were _alcalde_ he
would get a little salary. But far more important to him is the glory:
being able to boss.

He has a _paisano_, a fellow-countryman, to sleep with him in the
_zaguán_, to guard the doors. Whoever gets into the house or
_patio_ must get through these big doors. There is no other
entrance, not even a needle's eye. The windows to the street are heavily
barred. Each house is its own small fortress. Ours is a double square,
the trees and flowers in the first square, with the two wings of the
house. And in the second _patio_, the chickens, pigeons, guinea-pigs,
and the big heavy earthenware dish or tub, called an _apaxtle_,
in which all the servants can bathe themselves, like chickens in a saucer.

By half past nine at night Rosalino is lying on his little bench, screwed
up, wrapped in his shawl, his sandals, called _huaraches_, on the
floor. Usually he takes off his _huaraches_ when he goes to bed.
That is all his preparation. In another corner, wrapped up, head and all,
like a mummy in his thin old blanket, the _paisano_, another lad of
about twenty, lies asleep on the cold stones. And at an altitude of five
thousand feet, the nights can be cold.

Usually everybody is in by half past nine in our very quiet house. If
not, you may thunder at the big doors. It is hard to wake Rosalino. You
have to go close to him, and call. That will wake him. But don't touch
him. That would startle him terribly. No one is touched unawares, except
to be robbed or murdered.

'Rosalino! _están tocando_!'--'Rosalino! they are knocking!'

At last there starts up a strange, glaring, utterly lost Rosa-lino.
Perhaps he just has enough wit to pull the door-catch. One wonders where
he was, and what he was, in his sleep, he starts up so strange and wild
and lost.

The first time he had anything to do for me was when the van was come to
carry the bit of furniture to the house. There was Aurelio, the dwarf
_mozo_ of our friends and Rosalino, and the man who drove the wagon.
But there _should_ have been also a _cargador_--a porter. 'Help
them,' said I to Rosalino. 'You give a hand to help.' But he winced away,
muttering, '_No quiero_!--I don't want to.'

The fellow, I thought to myself, is a fool. He thinks it's not his job,
and perhaps he is afraid of smashing the furniture. Nothing to be done
but to leave him alone.

We settled in, and Rosalino seemed to like doing things for us. He liked
learning his monkey-tricks from the white monkeys. And since we started
feeding him from our own meals, and for the first time in his life he had
real soups, meat-stews, or a fried egg, he loved to do things in the
kitchen. He would come with sparkling black eyes: _'Hé comido el caldo.
Grazias_!' (I have eaten the soup. Thank you.')--And he would give a
strange, excited little yelp of a laugh.

Came the day when we walked to Huayapa, on the Sunday, and he was very
thrilled. But at night, in the evening when we got home, he lay mute on
his bench--not that he was really tired. The Indian gloom, which settles
on them like a black marsh-fog, had settled on him. He did not bring in
the water--let me carry it by myself.

Monday morning, the same black, reptilian gloom, and a sense of hatred.
He hated us. This was a bit flabbergasting, because he had been so
thrilled and happy the day before. But the revulsion had come. He didn't
forgive himself for having felt free and happy with us. He had eaten what
we had eaten, hard-boiled eggs and sardine sandwiches and cheese; he had
drunk out of the orange-peel _taza_, which delighted him so much. He
had had a bottle of _gaseosa_, fizz, with us, on the way home, in
San Felipe.

And now, the reaction. The flint knife. He had been happy,
_therefore_ we were scheming to take another advantage of him. We
had some devilish white monkey-trick up our sleeve; we wanted to get at
his _soul_, no doubt, and do it the white monkey's damage. We wanted
to get at his heart, did we? But his heart was an obsidian knife.

He hated us, and gave off a black steam of hate, that filled the
_patio_ and made one feel sick. He did not come to the kitchen, he
did not carry the water. Leave him alone.

At lunch-time on Monday he said he wanted to leave. Why? He said he
wanted to go back to his village.

Very well. He was to wait just a few days, till another _mozo_ was
found.

At this a glance of pure, reptilian hate from his black eyes.

He sat motionless on his bench all the afternoon, in the Indian stupor of
gloom and profound hate. In the evening, he cheered up a little and said
he would stay on, at least till Easter.

Tuesday morning. More stupor and gloom and hate. He wanted to go back to
his village at once. All right! No one wanted to keep him against his
will. Another _mozo_ would be found at once.

He went off in the numb stupor of gloom and hate, a very potent hate that
could affect one in the pit of one's stomach with nausea.

Tuesday afternoon, and he thought he would stay.

Wednesday morning, and he wanted to go.

Very good. Inquiries made; another _mozo_ was coming on Friday
morning. It was settled.

Thursday was _fiesta_. Wednesday, therefore, we would go to market,
the Nina--that is the mistress--myself, and Rosalino with the basket. He
loved to go to market with the _patrones_. We would give him money
and send him off to bargain for oranges, _pitahayas_, potatoes,
eggs, a chicken, and so forth. This he simply loved to do. It put him
into a temper to see us buying without bargaining, and paying ghastly
prices.

He bargained away, silent almost, muttering darkly. It took him a long
time, but he had far greater success than even Natividad, the cook. And
he came back in triumph, with much stuff and little money spent.

So again that afternoon, he was staying on. The spell was wearing off.

The Indians of the hills have a heavy, intense sort of attachment to
their villages; Rosalino had not been out of the little city for two
years. Suddenly finding himself in Huayapa, a real Indian hill-village,
the black Indian gloom of nostalgia must have made a crack in his
spirits. But he had been perfectly cheerful--perhaps too cheerful--till
we got home.

Again, the Señorita had taken a photograph of him. They are all crazy to
have their photographs taken. I had given him an envelope and a stamp, to
send a photograph to his mother. Because in his village he had a widow
mother, a brother, and a married sister. The family owned a bit of land,
with orange-trees. The best oranges come from the hills, where it is
cooler. Seeing the photographs, the mother, who had completely forgotten
her son, as far as any keen remembering goes, suddenly, like a cracker
going off inside her, wanted him: at that very moment. So she sent an
urgent message.

But already it was Wednesday afternoon. Arrived a little fellow in white
clothes, smiling hard. It was the brother from the hills. Now, we
thought, Rosalino will have someone to walk back with. On Friday, after
the _fiesta_, he would go.

Thursday, he escorted us with the basket to the _fiesta_. He
bargained for flowers, and for a _sarape_ which he didn't get, for a
carved _jicara_ which he did get, and for a number of toys. He and
the Nina and the Señorita ate a great wafer of a pancake with sweet stuff
on it. The basket grew heavy. The brother appeared, to carry the hen and
the extra things. Bliss.

He was perfectly happy again. He didn't want to go on Friday; he didn't
want to go at all. He wanted to stay with us and come with us to England
when we went home.

So, another trip to the friend, the Mexican, who had found us the other
_mozo_. Now to put off the other boy again: but then, they are like
that.

And the Mexican, who had known Rosalino when he first carne down from the
hills and could speak no Spanish, told us another thing about him.

In the last revolution--a year ago--the revolutionaries of the winning
side wanted more soldiers from the hills. The _alcalde_ of the
hill-village was told to pick out young men and send them down to the
barracks in the city. Rosalino was among the chosen.

But Rosalino refused, said again _No quiero_! He is one of those,
like myself, who have a horror of serving in a mass of men, or even f
being mixed up with a mass of men. He obstinately refused, Whereupon the
recruiting soldiers heat him with the butts of their rifles till he lay
unconscious, apparently dead.

Then, because they wanted him at once, and he would now be no good for
some time, with his injured back, they left him, to get the revolution
over without him.

This explains his fear of furniture-carrying, and his fear of being
'caught'.

Yet that little Aurelio, the friend's _mozo_, who is not above four
feet six in height, a tiny fellow, fared even worse, He, too, is from the
hills. In this village, a cousin of his gave some information to the
_losing_ side in the revolution. The cousin wisely disappeared.

But in the city, the winning side seized Aurelio, since he was the
_cousin_ of the delinquent. In spite of the fact that he was the
faithful _mozo_ of a foreign resident, he was flung into prison.
Prisoners in prison are not fed. Either friends or relatives bring them
food, or they go very, very thin. Aurelio had a married sister in town,
but _she_ was afraid to go to the prison lest she and her husband
should be seized. The master, then, sent his new _mozo_ twice a day
to the prison with a basket; the huge, huge prison, for this little town
of a few thousands.

Meanwhile the master struggled and struggled with the
'authorities'--friends of the people--for Aurelio's release. Nothing to
be done.

One day the new _mozo_ arrived at the prison with the basket, to find no
Aurelio. A friendly soldier gave the message Aurelio had left. '_Adios a
mi patrón. Me llevan._' Oh, fatal words: '_Me llevan._'--They are taking
me off. The master rushed to the train: it had gone, with the dwarf,
plucky little _mozo_, into the void.

Months later, Aurelio reappeared. He was in rags, haggard, and his dark
throat was swollen up to the ears. He had been taken off, two hundred
miles into Vera Cruz State. He had been hung up by the neck, with a fixed
knot, and left hanging for hours. Why? To make the cousin come and save
his relative: put his own neck into a running noose. To make the
absolutely innocent fellow confess: what? Everybody knew he was innocent.
At any rate, to teach everybody better next time. Oh, brotherly teaching!

Aurelio escaped, and took to the mountains. Sturdy little dwarf of a
fellow, he made his way back, begging _tortillas_ at the villages,
and arrived, haggard, with a great swollen neck, to find his master
waiting, and another 'party' in power. More friends of the people.

Tomorrow is another day. The master nursed Aurelio well, and Aurelio is a
strong, if tiny, fellow, with big, brilliant black eyes that for the
moment will trust a foreigner, but none of his own people. A dwarf in
stature, but perfectly made, and very strong. And very intelligent, far
more quick and intelligent than Rosalino.

Is it any wonder that Aurelio and Rosalino, when they see the soldiers
with guns on their shoulders marching towards the prison with some
blanched prisoner between them--and one sees it every few days--stand and
gaze in a blank kind of horror, and look at the _patrón_, to see if
there is any refuge?

Not to be _caught!_ Not to be _caught!_ It must have been the
prevailing motive of Indian-Mexico life since long before Montezuma
marched his prisoners to sacrifice.



4--MARKET DAY


This is the last Saturday before Christmas. The next year will be
momentous, one feels. This year is nearly gone. Dawn was windy, shaking
the leaves, and the rising sun shone under a gap of yellow cloud. But at
once it touched the yellow flowers that rise above the _patio_ wall,
and the swaying, glowing magenta of the bougainvillea, and the fierce red
outbursts of the poinsettia. The poinsettia is very splendid, the flowers
very big, and of a sure stainless red. They call them Noche Buenas,
flowers of Christmas Eve. These tufts throw out their scarlet sharply,
like red birds ruffling in the wind of dawn as if going to bathe, all
their feathers alert. This for Christmas, instead of holly-berries.
Christmas seems to need a red herald.

The yucca is tall, higher than the house. It is, too, in flower, hanging
an arm's-length of soft creamy bells, like a yard-long grape-cluster of
foam. And the waxy bells break on their stems in the wind, fall
noiselessly from the long creamy bunch, that hardly sways.

The coffee-berries are turning red. The hibiscus flowers, rose-coloured,
sway at the tips of the thin branches, in rosettes of soft red.

In the second _patio_, there is a tall tree of the flimsy acacia
sort. Above itself it puts up whitish fingers of flowers, naked on the
blue sky. And in the wind these fingers of flowers in the bare blue sky,
sway, sway with the reeling, roundward motion of tree-tips in a wind.

A restless morning, with clouds lower down, moving also with a larger
roundward motion. Everything moving. Best to go out in motion too, the
slow roundward motion like the hawks.

Everything seems slowly to circle and hover towards a central point, the
clouds, the mountains round the valley, the dust that rises, the big,
beautiful, white-barred hawks, _gabilanes_, and even the snow-white
flakes of flowers upon the dim _palo-blanco_ tree. Even the organ
cactus, rising in stock-straight clumps, and the candelabrum cactus, seem
to be slowly wheeling and pivoting upon a centre, close upon it.

Strange that we should think in straight lines, when there are none, and
talk of straight courses, when every course, sooner or later, is seen to
be making the sweep round, swooping upon the centre. When space is
curved, and the cosmos is sphere within sphere, and the way from any
point to any other point is round the bend of the inevitable, that turns
as the tips of the broad wings of the hawk turn upwards, leaning upon the
air like the invisible half of the ellipse. If I have a way to go, it
will be round the swoop of a bend impinging centripetal towards the
centre. The straight course is hacked out in wounds, against the will of
the world.

Yet the dust advances like a ghost along the road, down the valley plain.
The dry turf of the valley-bed gleams like soft skin, sunlit and pinkish
ochre, spreading wide between the mountains that seem to emit their own
darkness, a dark-blue vapour translucent, sombring them from the humped
crests downwards. The many-pleated, noiseless mountains of Mexico.

And away on the footslope lie the white specks of Huayapa, among its lake
of trees. It is Saturday, and the white dots of men are threading down
the trail over the bare humps to the plain, following the dark
twinkle-movement of asses, the dark nodding of the woman's head as she
rides between the baskets. Saturday and market-day, and morning, so the
white specks of men, like sea-gulls on plough-land, come ebbing like
sparks from the _palo-blanco_, over the fawn undulating of the
valley slope.

They are dressed in snow-white cotton, and they lift their knees in the
Indian trot, following the ass where the woman sits perched between the
huge baskets, her child tight in the _rebozo_, at the brown breast.
And girls in long, full, soiled cotton skirts running, trotting, ebbing
along after the twinkle-movement of the ass. Down they come in families,
in clusters, in solitary ones, threading with ebbing, running, barefoot
movement noiseless towards the town, that blows the bubbles of its
church-domes above the stagnant green of trees, away under the opposite
fawn-skin hills.

But down the valley middle comes the big road, almost straight. You will
know it by the tall walking of the dust, that hastens also towards the
town, overtaking, overpassing everybody. Overpassing all the dark little
figures and the white specks that thread tinily, in a sort of underworld,
to the town.

From the valley villages and from the mountains the peasants and the
Indians are coming in with supplies, the road is like a pilgrimage, with
the dust in greatest haste, dashing for town. Dark-eared asses and
running men, running women, running girls, running lads, twinkling
donkeys ambling on fine little feet, under twin baskets with tomatoes and
gourds, twin great nets of bubble-shaped jars, twin bundles of neat-cut
faggots of wood, neat as bunches of cigarettes, and twin net-sacks of
charcoal. Donkeys, mules, on they come, pannier baskets making a rhythm
under the perched woman, great bundles bouncing against the sides of the
slim-footed animals. A baby donkey trotting naked after its piled-up dam,
a white, sandal-footed man following with the silent Indian haste, and a
girl running again on light feet.

Onwards, on a strange current of haste. And slowly rowing among the,
foot-travel, the ox-wagons rolling solid wheels below the high net of the
body. Slow oxen, with heads pressed down nosing to the earth, swaying,
swaying their great horns as a snake sways itself, the shovel-shaped
collar of solid wood pressing down on their necks like a scoop. On, on
between the burnt-up turf and the solid, monumental green of the organ
cactus. Past the rocks and the floating _palo-blanco_ flowers, past
the towsled dust of the mesquite bushes. While the dust once more, in a
greater haste than anyone, comes tall and rapid down the road,
overpowering and obscuring all the little people, as in a cataclysm.

They are mostly small people, of the Zapotec race: small men with lifted
chests and quick, lifted knees, advancing with heavy energy in the midst
of dust. And quiet, small, round-headed women running barefoot,
tightening their blue _rebozos_ round their shoulders, so often with
a baby in the fold. The white cotton clothes of the men so white that
their faces are invisible places of darkness under their big hats.
Clothed darkness, faces of night, quickly, silently, with inexhaustible
energy advancing to the town.

And many of the _serranos_, the Indians from the hills, wearing
their little conical black felt hats, seem capped with night, above the
straight white shoulders. Some have come far, walking all yesterday in
their little black hats and black-sheathed sandals. Tomorrow they will
walk .back. And their eyes will be just the same, black and bright and
wild, in the dark faces. They have no goal, any more than the hawks in
the air, and no course to run, any more than the clouds.

The market is a huge roofed-in place. Most extraordinary is the noise
that comes out, as you pass along the adjacent street. It is a huge
noise, yet you may never notice it. It sounds as if all the ghosts in the
world were talking to one another, in ghost-voices, within the darkness
of the market structure. It is a noise something like rain, or banana
leaves in a wind. The market, full of Indians, dark-faced, silent-footed,
hush-spoken, but pressing in in countless numbers. The queer hissing
murmurs of the Zapotec _idioma_, among the sounds of Spanish, the
quiet, aside, voices of the Mixtecas.

To buy and to sell, but above all, to commingle. In the old world, men
make themselves two great excuses for coming together to a centre, and
commingling freely in a mixed, unsuspicious host. Market and religion.
These alone bring men, unarmed, together since time began. A little load
of firewood, a woven blanket, a few eggs and tomatoes are excuse enough
for men, women, and children to cross the foot-weary miles of valley and
mountain. To buy, to sell, to barter, to exchange. To exchange, above all
things, human contact.

That is why they like you to bargain, even if it's only the difference of
a _centavo_. Round the centre of the covered market where there is a
basin of water, are the flowers: red, white, pink roses in heaps,
many-coloured little carnations, poppies, bits of larkspur, lemon and
orange marigolds, buds of madonna lilies, pansies, a few forget-me-nots.
They don't bring the tropical flowers. Only the lilies come wild from the
hills, and the mauve red orchids.

'How much this bunch of cherry-pie heliotrope?' 'Fifteen
_centavos_.'

'Ten.'

'Fifteen.'

You put back the cherry-pie, and depart. But the woman is quite content.
The contact, so short even, brisked her up. 'Pinks?'

'The red one, Señorita? Thirty _centavos_.'

'No. I don't want red ones. The mixed.'

'Ah!' The woman seizes a handful of little carnations of all colours,
carefully puts them together. 'Look, Señorita! No more?'

'No, no more. How much?'

'The same. Thirty _centavos_.'

'It is much.'

'No, Señorita, it is not much. Look at this little bunch. It is eight
_centavos_.'--Displays a scrappy little bunch. Come then,
twenty-five.'

'No! Twenty-two.'

'Look!' She gathers up three or four more flowers, and claps them to the
bunch. 'Two _reales_, Señorita.'

It is a bargain. Off you go with multicoloured pinks, and the woman has
had one more moment of contact, with a stranger, a perfect stranger. An
intermingling of voices, a threading together of different wills. It is
life. The _centavos_ are an excuse.

The stalls go off in straight lines, to the right, brilliant vegetables,
to the left, bread and sweet buns. Away at the one end, cheese, butter,
eggs, chicken, turkeys, meat. At the other, the native-woven blankets and
_rebozos_, skirts, shirts, handkerchiefs. Down the far-side, sandals
and leather things.

The _sarape_ men spy you, and whistle to you like ferocious birds,
and call 'Señor! Señor! Look!' Then with violence one flings open a
dazzling blanket, while another whistles more ear-piercingly still, to
make you look at _his_ blanket. It is the veritable den of lions and
tigers, that spot where the _sarape_ men have their blankets piled
on the ground. You shake your head, and flee.

To find yourself in the leather avenue.

'Señor! _Señora_ Look! _Huaraches!_ Very fine, very finely
made! Look, Señor!'

The fat leather man jumps up and holds a pair of sandals at one's breast.
They are of narrow woven strips of leather, in the newest Paris style,
but a style ancient to these natives. You take them in your hand, and
look at them quizzically, while the fat wife of the _huarache_ man
reiterates, 'Very fine work. Very fine. Much work!'

Leather men usually seem to have their wives with them. 'How much?'

'Twenty _reales_.'

'Twenty!'--in a voice of surprise and pained indignation. 'How much do
you give?'

You refuse to answer. Instead you put the _huaraches_ to your nose.
The _huarache_ man looks at his wife, and they laugh aloud.

'They smell,' you say.

'No, _Señor_, they don't smell!'--and the two go off into fits of
laughter.

'Yes, they smell. It is not American leather.'

'Yes, _Señor_, it is American leather. They don't smell,
_Señor_. No, they don't smell.' He coaxes you till you wouldn't
believe your own nose.

'Yes, they smell.'

'How much do you give?'

'Nothing, because they smell.'

And you give another sniff, though it is painfully unnecessary. And in
spite of your refusal to bid, the man and wife go into fits of laughter
to see you painfully sniffing.

You lay down the sandals and shake your head.

'How much do you offer?' reiterates the man, gaily.

You shake your head mournfully, and move away. The leather man and his
wife look at one another and go off into another fit of laughter, because
you smelt the _huaraches_, and said they stank.

They did. The natives use human excrement for tanning leather. When
Bernal Diaz came with Cortés to the great market-place of Mexico City, in
Montezuma's day, he saw the little pots of human excrement in rows for
sale, and the leather-makers going round sniffing to see which was the
best, before they paid for it. It staggered even a fifteenth-century
Spaniard. Yet my leather man and his wife think it screamingly funny that
I smell the _huaraches_ before buying them. Everything has its own
smell, and the natural smell of _huaraches_ is what it is. You might
as well quarrel with an onion for smelling like an onion.

The great press of the quiet natives, some of them bright and clean, many
in old rags, the brown flesh showing through the rents in the dirty
cotton. Many wild hillmen, in their little hats of conical black felt,
with their wild, staring eyes. And as they cluster round the hat-stall,
in a long, long suspense of indecision before they can commit themselves,
trying on a new hat, their black hair gleams blue-black, and falls thick
and rich over their foreheads, like gleaming bluey-black feathers.

And one is reminded again of the blue-haired Buddha, with the lotus at
his navel.

But already the fleas are travelling under one's clothing.

Market lasts all day. The native inns are great dreary yards with little
sheds, and little rooms around. Some men and families who have come from
far, will sleep in one or other of the little stall-like rooms. Many will
sleep on the stones, on the earth, round the market, anywhere. But the
asses are there by the hundred, crowded in the inn-yards, drooping their
ears with the eternal patience of the beast that knows better than any
other beast that every road curves round to the same centre of rest, and
hither and thither means nothing.

And towards nightfall the dusty road will be thronged with shadowy people
and unladen asses and new-laden mules, urging silently into the country
again, their backs to the town, glad to get away from the town, to see
the cactus and the pleated hills, and the trees that mean a village. In
some village they will lie under a tree, or under a wall, and sleep. Then
the next day, home.

It is fulfilled, what they came to market for. They have sold and bought.
But more than that, they have had their moment of contact and centripetal
flow. They have been part of a great stream of men flowing to a centre,
to the vortex of the marketplace. And here they have felt life
concentrate upon them, they have been jammed between the soft hot bodies
of strange men come from afar, they have had the sound of strangers'
voices in their ears, they have asked and been answered in unaccustomed
ways.

There is no goal, and no abiding-place, and nothing is fixed, not even
the cathedral towers. The cathedral towers are slowly leaning, seeking
the curve of return. As the natives curved in a strong swirl, towards the
vortex of the market. Then on a strong swerve of repulsion, curved out
and away again, into space.

Nothing but the touch, the spark of contact. That, no more. That, which
is most elusive, still the only treasure. Come, and gone, and yet the
clue itself.

True, folded up in the handkerchief inside the shirt, are the copper
_centavos_, and maybe a few silver _pesos_. But these too will
disappear as the stars disappear at daybreak, as they are meant to
disappear. Everything is meant to disappear. Every curve plunges into the
vortex and is lost, re-emerges with a certain relief and takes to the
open, and there is lost again.

Only that which is utterly intangible, matters. The contact, the spark of
exchange. That which can never be fastened upon, for ever gone, for ever
coming, never to be detained: the spark of contact.

Like the evening star, when it is neither night nor day. Like the evening
star, between the sun and the moon, and swayed by neither of them. The
flashing intermediary, the evening star that is seen only at the dividing
of the day and night, but then is more wonderful than either.



5--INDIANS AND ENTERTAINMENT


We go to the theatre to be entertained. It may be _The Potters_, it
may be _Max Reinhardt_, _King Lear_, or _Electra_. All entertainment.

We want to be taken out of ourselves. Or not entirely that. We want to
become spectators at our own show. We lean down from the plush seats like
little gods in a democratic heaven, and see ourselves away below there,
on the world of the stage, in a brilliant artificial sunlight, behaving
comically absurdly, like Pa Potter, yet getting away with it, or behaving
tragically absurdly, like King Lear, and not getting away with it: rather
proud of not getting away with it.

We see ourselves: we survey ourselves: we laugh at ourselves: we weep
over ourselves: we are the gods above of our own destinies. Which is very
entertaining.

The secret of it all, is that we detach ourselves from the painful and
always sordid trammels of actual existence, and become creatures of
memory and of spirit-like consciousness. We are the gods and there's the
machine, down below us. Down below, on the stage, our mechanical or
earth-bound self stutters or raves, Pa Potter or King Lear. But however
Potterish or Learian we may be, while we sit aloft in plush seats we are
creatures of pure consciousness, pure spirit, surveying those selves of
clay who are so absurd or so tragic, below.

Even a little girl trailing a long skirt and playing at being Mrs
Paradiso next door, is enjoying the same sensation. From her childish
little consciousness she is making Mrs Paradiso, creating her according
to her own fancy. It is the little individual consciousness lording it,
for the moment, over the actually tiresome and inflexible world of
actuality. Mrs Paradiso in the flesh is a thing to fear. But if I can
play at being Mrs Paradiso, why, then I am a little Lord Almighty, and
Mrs Paradiso is but a creation from my consciousness:

The audience in the theatre is a little democracy of the ideal
consciousness. They all sit there, gods of the ideal mind, and survey
with laughter or tears the realm of actuality.

Which is very soothing and satisfying so long as you believe that the
ideal mind is the actual arbiter. So long as you instinctively feel that
there is some supreme, universal Ideal Consciousness swaying all destiny.

When you begin to have misgivings, you sit rather uneasily on your plush
seat.

Nobody really believes that destiny is an accident. The very fact that
day keeps on following night, and summer winter, establishes the belief
in universal law, and from this to a belief in some great hidden mind in
the universe is an inevitable step for us.

A few people, the so-called advanced, have grown uneasy in their bones
about the Universal Mind. But the mass are absolutely convinced. And
every member of the mass is absolutely convinced that he is part and
parcel of this Universal Mind. Hence his joy at the theatre. His even
greater joy at the cinematograph.

In the moving pictures he has detached himself even further from the
solid stuff of earth. There, the people are truly shadows: the
shadow-pictures are thinkings of his mind. They live in the rapid and
kaleidoscopic realm of the abstract. And the individual watching the
shadow-spectacle sits a very god, in an orgy of abstraction, actually
dissolved into delighted, watchful spirit. And if his best girl sits
beside him, she vibrates in the same ether, and triumphs in the same orgy
of abstraction. No wonder this passion of dramatic abstraction becomes a
lust.

That is our idea of entertainment.

You come to the Indian and ask him about his. He hasn't got one.

The Indians dance around the drum, singing. They have their great
spectacular dances, Eagle dance, Corn dance. They have the dancing,
singing procession between the fires at Christmas. They have their sacred
races, down the long track.

White people always, or nearly always, write sentimentally about the
Indians. Even a man like Adolf Bandelier. He was not a sentimental man.
On the contrary. Yet the sentimentality creeps in, when he writes about
the thing he knows best, the Indian.

So it is with all of them, anthropologists and myth-transcribers and all.
There is that creeping note of sentimentality through it all, which makes
one shrug one's shoulders and wish the Indians to hell, along with a lot
of other bunk.

You've got to de-bunk the Indians, as you've got to debunk the Cowboy.
When you've de-bunked the Cowboy, there's not much left. But the Indian
bunk is not the Indian's invention. It is ours.

It is almost impossible for the white people to approach the Indian
without either sentimentality or dislike. The common healthy vulgar white
usually feels a certain native dislike of these drumming aboriginals. The
highbrow invariably lapses into sentimentalism like the smell of bad
eggs.

Why?--Both the reactions are due to the same feeling in the white man.
The Indian is not in line with us. He's not coming our way. His whole
being is going a different way from ours. And the minute you set eyes on
him you know it.

And then, there's only two things you can do. You can detest the
insidious devil for having an utterly different way from our own great
way. Or you can perform the mental trick, and fool yourself and others
into believing that the befeathered and bedaubed darling is nearer to the
true ideal gods than we are.

This last is just bunk, and a lie. But it saves our appearances. The
former feeling, of instinctive but tolerant repulsion, the feeling of
most ordinary farmers and ranchers and mere individuals in the west, is
quite natural, it is only honesty to admit it.

The Indian way of consciousness is different from and fatal to our way of
consciousness. Our way of consciousness is different from and fatal to
the Indian. The two ways, the two streams are never to be united. They
are not even to be reconciled. There is no bridge, no canal of connexion.

The sooner we realize, and accept, this, the better, and leave off
trying, with fulsome sentimentalism, to render the Indian in our own
terms.

The acceptance of the great paradox of human consciousness is the first
step to a new accomplishment.

The consciousness of one branch of humanity is the annihilation of the
consciousness of another branch. That is, the life of the Indian, his
stream of conscious being, is just death to the white man. And we can
understand the consciousness of the Indian only in terms of the death of
our consciousness.

And let not this be turned into another sentimentalism. Because the same
paradox exists between the consciousness of white men and Hindoos or
Polynesians or Bantu. It is the eternal paradox of human consciousness.
To pretend that all is one stream is to cause chaos and nullity. To
pretend to express one stream in terms of another, so as to identify the
two, is false and sentimental. The only thing you can do is to have a
little Ghost inside you which sees both ways, or even many ways. But a
man cannot _belong_ to both ways, or to many ways. One man can
belong to one great way of consciousness only. He may even change from
one way to another. But he cannot go both ways at once. Can't be done.

So that, to understand the Indian conception of entertainment, we have to
destroy our own conception.

Perhaps the commonest entertainment among the Indians is singing round
the drum, at evening, when the day is over. European peasants will sit
round the fire' and sing. But they sing ballads or lyrics, tales about
individuals or individual, personal experience. And each individual
identifies the emotion of the song with his own emotion.

Or the wild fishermen of the Outer Hebrides will sing in their intense,
concentrated way, by the fire. And again, usually, the songs have words.
Yet sometimes not. Sometimes the song has merely sounds, and a marvellous
melody. It is the seal drifting in to shore on the wave, or the
seal-woman, singing low and secret, departing back from the shores of
men, through the surf, back to the realm of the outer beasts that rock on
the waters and stare through glistening, vivid, mindless eyes.

This is approaching the Indian song. But even this is pictorial,
conceptual far beyond the Indian point. The Hebridean still sees himself
human, and _outside_ the great naturalistic influences, which are
the dramatic circumstances of his life.

The Indian, singing, sings without words or vision. Face lifted and
sightless, eyes half closed and visionless, mouth open and speechless,
the sounds arise in his chest, from the consciousness in the abdomen. He
will tell you it is a song of a man coming home from the bear-hunt: or a
song to make rain: or a song to make the corn grow: or even, quite
modern, the song of the church bell on Sunday morning.

But the man corning home from the bear-hunt is any man, all men, the bear
is any bear, every bear, all bear. There is no individual, isolated
experience. It is the hunting, tired, triumphant demon of manhood which
has won against the squint-eyed demon of all bears. The, experience is
generic, non-individual. It is an experience of the human bloodstream,
not of the mind or spirit. Hence the subtle incessant, insistent rhythm
of the drum, which is pulsated like the heart, and soulless, and
unescapable. Hence the strange blind unanimity of the Indian men's
voices. The experience is one experience, tribal, of the blood-stream.
Hence, to our ears, the absence of melody. Melody is individualized
emotion, just as orchestral music is the harmonizing again of many
separate, individual emotions or experiences. But the real Indian song is
non-individual, and without melody. Strange, clapping, crowing, gurgling
sounds, in an unseizable subtle rhythm, the rhythm of the heart in her
throes: from a parted entranced mouth, from a chest powerful and free,
from an-abdomen where the great blood-stream surges in the dark, and
surges in its own generic experiences.

This may mean nothing to you. To the ordinary white ear, the Indian's
singing is a rather disagreeable howling of dogs to a tom-tom. But if it
rouses no other sensation, it rouses a touch of fear amid hostility.
Whatever the spirit of man may be, the blood is basic.

Or take the song to make the corn grow. The dark faces stoop forward, in
a strange race darkness. The eyelashes droop a little in the dark,
ageless, vulnerable faces. The drum is a heart beating with insistent
thuds. And the spirits of the men go out on the ether, vibrating in waves
from the hot, dark, intentional blood, seeking the creative presence that
hovers for ever in the ether, seeking the identification, following on
down the mysterious rhythms of the creative pulse, on and on into the
germinating quick of the maize that lies under the ground, there, with
the throbbing, pulsing, clapping rhythm that comes from the dark,
creative blood in man, to stimulate the tremulous, pulsating protoplasm
in the seed-germ, till it throws forth its rhythms of creative energy
into rising blades of leaf and stem.

Or take the round dances, round the drum. These may or may not have a
name. The dance, anyhow, is primarily a song. All the men sing in unison,
as they move with the soft, yet heavy bird-tread which is the whole of
the dance. There is no drama. With bodies bent a little forward,
shoulders and breasts loose and heavy, feet powerful but soft, the men
tread the rhythm into the centre of the earth. The drums keep up the
pulsating heart-beat. The men sing in unison, though some will be silent
for moments, or even minutes. And for hours, hours it goes on: the round
dance.

It has no name. It has no words. It means nothing at all. There is no
spectacle, no spectator.

Yet perhaps it is the most stirring sight in the world, in the dark, near
the fire, with the drums going, the pine-trees standing still, the
everlasting darkness, and the strange lifting and dropping, surging,
crowing, gurgling, aah--h--h--ing! of the male voices.

What are they doing? Who knows? But perhaps they are giving themselves
again to the pulsing, incalculable fall of the blood, which for ever
seeks to fall to the centre of the earth, while the heart like a planet
pulsating in an orbit, keeps up the strange, lonely circulating of the
separate human existence.

But what we seek, passively, in sleep, they perhaps seek actively, in the
round dance. It is the homeward pulling of the blood, as the feet fall in
the soft, heavy rhythm, endlessly. It is the dark blood falling back from
the mind, from sight and speech and knowing, back to the great central
source where is rest and unspeakable renewal. We whites, creatures of
spirit, look upon sleep and see only the dreams that lie as debris of the
day, mere bits of wreckage from day-consciousness. We never realize the
strange falling back of the dark blood into the downward rhythm, the
rhythm of pure forgetting and pure renewal.

Or take the little dances round the fire, the mime dances, when two men
put on the eagle feathers and take the shield on their arm, and dance the
pantomime of a fight, a spear dance. The rhythm is the same, really, the
drums keep up the heart-pulsation, the feet the peculiar bird-tread, the
soft, heavy, birdlike step that treads as it were towards the centre of
the earth. But there is also the subtle leaping towards each other of the
two shield-sheltered naked ones, feathered with the power of an eagle.
The leaping together, the coming close, the circling, wary, stealthy
avoidance and retreat, always on the same rhythm of drum-beats, the same
regular, heavy-soft tread of moccasined feet. It is the dance of the
naked blood-being, defending his own isolation in the rhythm of the
universe. Not skill nor prowess, not heroism. Not man to man. The
creature of the isolated, circulating blood-stream dancing in the peril
of his own isolation, in the overweening of his own singleness. The glory
in power of the man of single existence. The peril of the man whose heart
is suspended, like a single red star, in a great and complex universe,
following its own lone course round the invisible sun of our own being,
amid the strange wandering array of other hearts.

The other men look on. They may or may not sing. And they see themselves
in the power and peril of the lonely heart, the creature of the isolated
blood-circuit. They see also, subsidiary, the skill, the agility, the
swiftness, the daunting onrush that make the warrior. It is practice as
well as mystery.

Or take the big, spectacular dances, like the deer dance, the corn dance.
The deer dance in the New Year. The people crowded on the roofs of the
pueblo: women, children, old men, watching. The two lines of men,
hunters, facing one another. And away at the stream which comes running
swiftly from among the cotton-wood trees, the watchers, watching eagerly.
At last, over the log bridge, two maidens leading the animals: two
maidens in their black shawls and wide white deer-skin top-boots, dancing
with a slow, delicate-footed rhythm, facing out, then facing in, and
shaking their gourd rattles delicately, marking the rhythm as the drums
mark it. Following the maidens, all the animals: men in two columns, and
each man an animal, leaning forward each on two slim sticks which are his
forelegs, with the deer-skin over him, the antlers branching from his
head: or the buffalo hide, from whose shaggy mane his bent head peers
out: or a black bear, or a wolf. There they come, the two long lines of
wild animals: deer, buffalo, bear, wolf, coyote, and at the back, even
tiny boys, as foxes, all stepping on those soft, pointed toes, and moving
in slow silence under the winter sun, following the slow, swinging
progress of the dancing maidens.

Everything is very soft, subtle, delicate. There is none of the hardness
of representation. They are not representing something, not even playing.
It is a soft, subtle _being_ something.

Yet at the same time it is a game, and a very dramatic naïve spectacle.
The old men trot softly alongside, laughing, showing all their wrinkles.
But they are experiencing a delicate, wild inward delight, participating
in the natural mysteries. They tease the little boys under the fox-skins,
and the boys, peeping with their round black eyes, are shy and confused.
Yet they keep on in the procession, solemnly, as it moves between the
ranks of the wild hunters. And all eyes are round with wonder, and the
mystery of participation. Amused, too, on the merely human side of
themselves. The gay touch of amusement in buffoonery does not in the
least detract from the delicate, pulsing wonder of solemnity, which comes
from participating in the ceremony itself.

There you have it all, the pantomime, the buffoonery, the human
comicalness. But at the same time, quivering bright and wide-eyed in
unchangeable delight of solemnity, you have the participating in a
natural wonder. The mystery of the wild creatures led from their
fastnesses, their wintry retreats and holes in the ground, docilely
fascinated by the delicacy and the commanding wistfulness of the maidens
who went out to seek them, to seek food in the winter, and who draw after
them, in a following, the wild, the timid, the rapacious animals,
following in gentle wonder of bewitchment, right into the haunts of men,
right into the camp and up to the hunters. The two long lines of wild
animals delicately and slowly stepping behind the slow gyration of the
two dark-fringed maidens, who shake their gourd rattles in a delicate,
quick, three-pulsed rhythm, and never change their wide dark eyes, under
the dark fringe. It is the celebration of another triumph, the triumph of
the magical wistfulness of women, the wonderful power of her seeking, her
yearning, which can draw forth even the bear from his den.

Drama, we are told, has developed out of these ceremonial Glances. Greek
drama arose this way.

But from the Indian's ceremonial dance to the Greek's early religious
ceremony is still a long step. The Greeks usually had some specified
deity, some particular god to whom the ceremony was offered. And this god
is the witness, the essential audience of the play. The ceremony is
_performed_ for the gratification of the god. And here you have the
beginning of the theatre, with players and audience.

With the Indians it is different, There is strictly no god. The Indian
does not consider himself as created, and therefore external to God, or
the creature of God. To the Indian there is no conception of a defined
God. Creation is a great flood, for ever flowing, in lovely and terrible
waves. In everything, the shimmer of creation, and never the finality of
the created. Never the distinction between God and God's creation, or
between Spirit and Matter. Everything, everything is the wonderful
shimmer of creation, it may be a deadly shimmer like lightning or the
anger in the little eyes of the bear, it may be the beautiful shimmer of
the moving deer, or the pine-boughs softly swaying under snow. Creation
contains the unspeakably terrifying enemy, the unspeakably lovely friend,
as the maiden who brings us our food in dead of winter, by her passion of
tender wistfulness. Yet even this tender wistfulness is the fearful
danger of the wild creatures, deer and bear and buffalo, which find their
death in it.

There is, in our sense of the word, no God. But all is godly. There is no
Great Mind directing the universe. Yet the mystery of creation, the
wonder and fascination of creation shimmers in every leaf and stone, in
every thorn and bud, in the fangs of the rattlesnake, and in the soft
eyes of a fawn. Things utterly opposite are still pure wonder of
creation, the yell of the mountain-lion, and the breeze in the aspen
leaves. The Apache warrior in his war-paint, shrieking the war-cry and
cutting the throats of old women, still he is part of the mystery of
creation. He is godly as the growing corn. And the mystery of creation
makes us sharpen the knives and point the arrows in utmost determination
against him. It must be so. It is part of the wonder. And to every part
of the wonder we must answer in kind.

The Indians accept Jesus on the Cross amid all the rest of the wonders.
The presence of Jesus on the Cross, or the pitiful Mary Mother, does not
in the least prevent the strange intensity of the war-dance. The brave
comes home with a scalp. In the morning he goes to Mass. Two mysteries!
The soul of man is the theatre in which every mystery is enacted. Jesus,
Mary, the snake-dance, red blood on the knife: it is all the rippling of
this untellable flood of creation, which, in a narrow sense, we call
Nature.

There is no division between actor and audience. It is all one.

There is no God looking on. The only god there is, is involved all the
time in the dramatic wonder and inconsistency of creation. God is
immersed, as it were, in creation, not to be separated or distinguished.
There can be no Ideal God.

And here finally you see the difference between Indian entertainment and
even the earliest form of Greek drama. Right at the beginning of Old
World dramatic presentation there was the onlooker, if only in the shape
of the God Himself, or the Goddess Herself, to whom the dramatic offering
was made. And this God or Goddess resolves, at last, into a Mind occupied
by some particular thought or idea. And in the long course of evolution,
we ourselves become the gods of our own drama. The spectacle is offered
to us. And we sit aloft, enthroned in the Mind, dominated by some one
exclusive idea, and we judge the show.

There is absolutely none of this in the Indian dance. There is no God.
There is no Onlooker. There is no Mind. There is no dominant idea. And
finally, there is no judgement: absolutely no judgement.

The Indian is completely embedded in the wonder of his own drama. It is a
drama that has no beginning and no end, it is all-inclusive. It can't be
judged, because there is nothing outside it, to judge it.

The mind is there merely as a servant, to keep a man pure and true to the
mystery, which is always present. The mind bows down before the creative
mystery, even of the atrocious Apache warrior. It judges, not the good
and the bad, but the lie and the true. The Apache warrior in all his
atrocity, is true to his own creative mystery. And as such, he must he
fought. But he cannot be called a _lie_ on the face of the earth.
Hence he cannot be classed among the abominations, the cowards, and the
liars: those who betray the wonder.

The Indian, so long as he is pure, has only two great negative
commandments.

_Thou shalt not lie._

_Thou shalt not be a coward._

Positively, his one commandment is:

_Thou shalt acknowledge the wonder._

Evil lies in lying and in cowardice. Wickedness lies in witchcraft; that
is, in seeking to prostitute the creative wonder to the individual mind
and will, the individual conceit.

And virtue? Virtue lies in the heroic response to the creative wonder,
the utmost response. In the man, it is a valiant putting forth of all his
strength to meet and to run forward with the wonder. In woman it is the
putting forth of all herself in a delicate, marvellous sensitiveness,
which draws forth the wonder to herself, and draws the man to the wonder
in her, as it drew even the wild animals from the lair of winter.

You see this so plainly in the Indian races. Naked and daubed with clay
to hide the nakedness, and to take the anointment of the earth; stuck
over with bits of fluff of eagle's down, to be anointed with the power of
the air, the youths and men whirl down the racing track, in relays. They
are not racing to win a race. They are not racing for a prize. They are
not racing to show their prowess.

They are putting forth all their might, all their strength, in a tension
that is half anguish, half ecstasy, in the effort to gather into their
souls more and more of the creative fire, the creative energy which shall
carry their tribe through the year, through the vicissitudes of the
months, on, on, in the unending race of humanity along the track of
trackless creation. It is the heroic effort, the sacred heroic effort
which men must make and must keep on making. As if hurled from a catapult
the Indian youth throws himself along the course, working his body
strangely incomprehensibly. And when his turn comes again, he hurls
himself forward with greater intensity, to greater speed, driving
himself, as it were, into the heart of the fire. And the old men along
the track encourage him, urge him with their green twigs, laughingly,
mockingly, teasingly, but at the same time with an exquisite pure anxiety
and concern.

And he walks away at last, his chest lifting and falling heavily, a
strange look in his eyes, having run with the changeless god who will
give us nothing unless we overtake him.



6--DANCE OF THE SPROUTING CORN


Pale, dry, baked earth, that blows into dust of fine sand. Low hills of
baked pale earth, sinking heavily, and speckled sparsely with dark dots
of cedar bushes. A river on the plain of drought, just a cleft of dark,
reddish-brown water, almost a flood. And over all, the blue, uneasy,
alkaline sky.

A pale, uneven, parched world, where a motor-car rocks and lurches and
churns in sand. A world pallid with dryness, inhuman with a faint taste
of alkali. Like driving in the bed of a great sea that dried up
unthinkable ages ago, and now is drier than any other dryness, yet still
reminiscent of the bottom of the sea, sandhills sinking, and straight,
cracked mesas, like cracks in the dry-mud bottom of the sea.

So, the mud church standing discreetly outside, just outside the pueblo,
not to see too much. And on its façade of mud, under the timbered
mud-eaves, two speckled horses rampant, painted by the Indians, a red
piebald and a black one.

Swish! Over the logs of the ditch-bridge, where brown water is flowing
full. There below is the pueblo, dried mud like mud-pie houses, all
squatting in a jumble, prepared to crumble into dust and be invisible,
dust to dust returning, earth to earth.

That they don't crumble is the mystery. That these little squarish
mud-heaps endure for centuries after centuries, while Greek marble
tumbles asunder, and cathedrals totter, is the wonder. But then, the
naked human hand with a bit of new soft mud is quicker than time, and
defies the centuries.

Roughly the low, square, mud-pie houses make a wide street where all is
naked earth save a doorway or a window with a pale-blue sash. At the end
of the street, turn again into a parallel wide, dry street. And there, in
the dry, oblong aridity, there tosses a small forest that is alive: and
thud--thud--thud goes the drum, and the deep sound of men singing is like
the deep soughing of the wind, in the depths of a wood.

You realize that you had heard the drum from the distance, also the deep,
distant roar and boom of the singing, but that you had not heeded, as you
don't heed the wind.

It all tosses like young, agile trees in a wind. This is the dance of the
sprouting corn, and everybody holds a little, beating branch of green
pine. Thud--thud--thud--thud--thud! goes the drum, heavily the men hop
and hop and hop, sway, sway, sway, sway go the little branches of green
pine. It tosses like a little forest, and the deep sound of men's singing
is like the booming and tearing of a wind deep inside a forest. They are
dancing the Spring Corn Dance.

This is the Wednesday after Easter, after Christ Risen and the corn
germinated. They dance on Monday and on Tuesday. Wednesday is the third
and last dance of this green resurrection.

You realize the long line of dancers, and a solid cluster of men singing
near the drum. You realize the intermittent black-and-white fantasy of
the hopping Koshare, the jesters, the Delight-Makers. You become aware of
the ripple of bells on the knee-garters of the dancers, a continual
pulsing ripple of little bells; and of the sudden wild, whooping yells
from near the drum. Then you become aware of the seed-like shudder of the
gourd-rattles, as the dance changes, and the slaying of the tufts of
green pine-twigs stuck behind the arms of all the dancing men, in the
broad green arm-bands.

Gradually come through to you the black, stable solidity of the dancing
women, who poise like solid shadow, one woman behind each rippling,
leaping male. The long, silky black hair of the women streaming down
their backs, and the equally long, streaming, gleaming hair of the males,
loose over broad, naked, orange-brown shoulders.

Then the faces, the impassive, rather fat, golden-brown faces of the
women, with eyes cast down, crowned above with the green tableta, like a
flat tiara. Something strange and noble about the impassive, barefoot
women in the short black cassocks, as they subtly tread the dance,
scarcely moving, and yet edging rhythmically along, swaying from each
hand the green spray of pine-twig out--out--out, to the thud of the drum,
immediately behind the leaping fox-skin of the men dancers. And all the
emerald-green, painted _tabletas_, the flat wooden tiaras shaped
like a castle gateway, rise steady and noble from the soft, slightly
bowed heads of the women, held by a band under the chin. All the
_tabletas_ down the line, emerald green, almost steady, while the
bright black heads of the men leap softly up and down, between.

Bit by bit you take it in. You cannot get a whole impression, save of
some sort of wood tossing, a little forest of trees in motion, with
gleaming black hair and gold-ruddy breasts that somehow do not destroy
the illusion of forest.

When you look at the women, you forget the men. The bare-armed,
bare-legged, barefoot women with streaming hair and lofty green tiaras,
impassive, downward-looking faces, twigs swaying outwards from subtle,
rhythmic wrists; women clad in the black, prehistoric short gown fastened
over one shoulder, leaving the other shoulder bare, and showing at the
arm-place a bit of pink or white undershirt; belted also round the waist
with a woven woollen sash, scarlet and green on the hand-woven black
cassock. The noble, slightly submissive bending of the tiara-ed head. The
subtle measure of the hare, breathing, bird-like feet, that are flat, and
seem to cleave to earth softly, and softly lift away. The continuous
outward swaying of the pine-sprays.

But when you look at the men, you forget the women. The men are naked to
the waist, and ruddy-golden, and in the rhythmic hopping leap of the
dance their breasts shake downwards, as the strong, heavy body comes
down, down, down, down, in the downward plunge of the dance. The black
hair streams loose and living down their backs, the black brows are
level, the black eyes look out unchanging from under the silky lashes.
They are handsome, and absorbed with a deep rhythmic absorption, which
still leaves them awake and aware. Down, down, down they drop, on the
heavy, ceaseless leap of the dance, and the great necklaces of
shell-cores spring on the naked breasts, the neck-shell flaps up and
down, the short white kilt of woven stuff, with the heavy woollen
embroidery, green and red and black, opens and shuts slightly to the
strong lifting of the knees: the heavy whitish cords that hang from the
kilt-band at the side sway and coil for ever down the side of the right
leg, down to the ankle, the bells on the red-woven garters under the
knees ripple without end, and the feet, in buckskin boots furred round
the ankle with a beautiful band of skunk fur, black with a white tip,
come down with a lovely, heavy, soft precision, first one, then the
other, dropping always plumb to earth. Slightly bending forward, a black
gourd rattle in the right hand, a small green bough in the left, the
dancer dances the eternal drooping leap, that brings his life down, down,
down, down from the mind, down from the broad, beautiful shaking breast,
down to the powerful pivot of the knees, then to the ankles, and plunges
deep from the ball of the foot into the earth, towards the earth's red
centre, where these men belong, as is signified by the red earth with
which they are smeared.

And meanwhile, the shell-cores from the Pacific sway up and down,
ceaselessly on their breasts.

Mindless, without effort, under the hot sun, unceasing, yet never
perspiring nor even breathing heavily, they dance on and on. Mindless,
yet still listening, observing. They hear the deep, surging singing of
the bunch of old men, like a great wind soughing. They hear the cries and
yells of the man waving his bough by the drum. They catch the word of the
song, and at a moment, shudder the black rattles, wheel, and the line
breaks, women from men, they thread across to a new formation. And as the
men wheel round, their black hair gleams and shakes, and the long
fox-skin sways, like a tail. And always, when they form into line again,
it is a beautiful long straight line, flexible as life, but straight as
rain.

The men round the drum are old, or elderly. They are all in a bunch, and
they wear day dress, loose cotton drawers, pink or white cotton shirt,
hair tied up behind with the red cords, and banded round the head with a
strip of pink rag, or white rag, or blue. There they are, solid like a
cluster of bees, their black heads with the pink rag circles all close
together, swaying their pine-twigs with rhythmic, wind-swept hands,
dancing slightly, mostly on the right foot, ceaselessly, and singing,
their black bright eyes absorbed, their dark lips pushed out, while the
deep strong sound rushes like wind, and the unknown words form themselves
in the dark.

Suddenly the solitary man pounding the drum swings his drum round, and
begins to pound on the other end, on a higher note, pang--pang--pang!
instead of the previous brumm! brumm! brumm! of the bass note. The
watchful man next the drummer yells and waves lightly, dancing on
bird-feet. The Koshare make strange, eloquent gestures to the sky.

And again the gleaming bronze-and-dark men dancing in the rows shudder
their rattles, break the rhythm, change into a queer, beautiful two-step,
the long lines suddenly curl into rings, four rings of dancers, the
leaping, gleaming-seeming men between the solid, subtle, submissive
blackness of the women who are crowned with emerald-green tiaras, all
going subtly round in rings. Then slowly they change again, and form a
star. Then again, unmingling, they come back into rows.

And all the while, all the while the naked Koshare are threading about.
Of bronze-and-dark men-dancers there are some forty-two, each with a
dark, crowned woman attending him like a shadow. The old men, the bunch
of singers in shirts and tied-up black hair, are about sixty in number,
or sixty-four. The Koshare are about twenty-four.

They are slim and naked, daubed with black and white earth, their hair
daubed white and gathered upwards to a great knot on top of the head,
whence springs a tuft of corn-husks, dry corn-leaves. Though they wear
nothing but a little black square cloth, front and back, at their middle,
they do not seem naked, for some are white with black spots, like a
leopard, and some have broad black lines or zigzags on their smeared
bodies, and all their faces are blackened with triangle or lines till
they look like weird masks. Meanwhile their hair, gathered straight up
and daubed white and sticking up from the top of the head with
corn-husks, completes the fantasy. They are anything but natural. Like
blackened ghosts of a dead corn-cob, tufted at the top.

And all the time, running like queer spotted dogs, they weave nakedly,
through the unheeding dance, comical, weird, dancing the dance-step naked
and fine, prancing through the lines, up and down the lines, and making
fine gestures with their flexible hands, calling something down from the
sky, calling something up from the earth, and dancing forward all the
time. Suddenly as they catch a word from the singers, name of a star, of
a wind, a name for the sun, for a cloud, their hands soar up and gather
in the air, soar down with a slow motion. And again, as they catch a word
that means earth, earth deeps, water within the earth, or
red-earth-quickening, the hands flutter softly down, and draw up the
water, draw up the earth-quickening, earth to sky, sky to earth,
influences above to influences below, to meet in the germ-quick of corn,
where life is.

And as they dance, the Koshare watch the dancing men. And if a fox-skin
is coming loose at the belt, they fasten it as the man dances, or they
stoop and tie another man's shoe. For the dancer must not hesitate to the
end.

And then, after some forty minutes,' the drum stops. Slowly the dancers
file into one line, woman behind man, and move away, threading towards
their kiva, with no sound but the tinkle of knee-bells in the silence.

But at the same moment the thud of an unseen drum, from beyond, the
soughing of deep song approaching from the unseen. It is the other half,
the other half of the tribe coming to continue the dance. They appear
round the kiva--one Koshare and one dancer leading the rows, the old men
all abreast, singing already in a great strong burst.

So, from ten o'clock in the morning till about four in the afternoon,
first one-half then the other. Till at last, as the day wanes, the two
halves meet, and the two singings like two great winds surge one past the
other, and the thicket of the dance becomes a real forest. It is the
close of the third day.

Afterwards, the men and women crowd on the roofs of the two low round
towers, the kivas, while the Koshare run round jesting and miming, and
taking big offerings from the women, loaves of bread and cakes of
blue-maize meal. Women come carrying big baskets of bread and guayava, on
two hands, an offering.

And the mystery of germination, not procreation, but _putting
forth_, resurrection, life springing within the seed, is accomplished.
The sky has its fire, its waters, its stars, its wandering electricity,
its winds, its fingers of cold. The earth has its reddened body, its
invisible hot heart, its inner waters and many juices and unaccountable
stuffs. Between them all, the little seed: and also man, like a seed that
is busy and aware. And from the heights and from the depths man, the
caller, calls: man, the knower, brings down the influences and brings up
the influences, with his knowledge: man, so vulnerable, so subject, and
yet even in his vulnerability and subjection, a master, commands the
invisible influences and is obeyed. Commands in that song, in that
rhythmic energy of dance, in that still-submissive mockery of the
Koshare. And he accomplishes his end, as master. He partakes in the
springing of the corn, in the rising and budding and Baring of the corn.
And when he eats his bread at last, he recovers all he once sent forth,
and partakes again of the energies he called to the corn, from out of the
wide universe.



7 - THE HOPI SNAKE DANCE


The Hopi country is in Arizona, next the Navajo country, and some seventy
miles north of the Santa Fé railroad. The Hopis are Pueblo Indians,
village Indians, so their reservation is not large. It consists of a
square track of greyish, unappetizing desert, out of which rise three
tall arid mesas, broken off in ragged pallid rock. On the top of the
mesas perch the ragged, broken, greyish pueblos, identical with the mesas
on which they stand.

The nearest village, Walpi, stands in half-ruin high, high on a narrow
rock-top where no leaf of life ever was tender. It is all grey, utterly
grey, utterly pallid stone and dust, and very narrow. Below it all the
stark light of the dry Arizona sun.

Walpi is called the 'first mesa'. And it is at the far edge of Walpi you
see the withered beaks and claws and bones of sacrificed eagles, in a
rock-cleft under the sky. They sacrifice an eagle each year, on the
brink, by rolling him out and crushing him so as to shed no blood. Then
they drop his remains down the dry cleft in the promontory's farthest
grey tip.

The trail winds on, utterly bumpy and horrible, for thirty miles, past
the second mesa, where Chimopova is, on to the third mesa. And on the
Sunday afternoon of 17th August black automobile after automobile lurched
and crawled across the grey desert, where low, grey, sage-scrub was
coming to pallid yellow. Black hood followed crawling after black hood,
like a funeral cortège. The motor-cars, with all the tourists wending
their way to the third and farthest mesa, thirty miles across this dismal
desert where an odd water-windmill spun, and odd patches of corn blew in
the strong desert wind, like dark-green women with fringed shawls blowing
and fluttering, not far from the foot of the great, grey, up-piled mesa.

The snake dance (I am told) is held once a year, on each of the three
mesas in succession. This year of grace 1924 it was to be held in
Hotevilla, the last village on the farthest western tip of the third
mesa.

On and on bumped the cars. The lonely second mesa lay in the distance. On
and on, to the ragged ghost of the third mesa.

The third mesa has two main villages, Oraibi, which is on the near edge,
and Hotevilla, on the far. Up scrambles the car, on all its four legs,
like a black-beetle straddling past the school-house and store down
below, up the bare rock and over the changeless boulders, with a surge
and a sickening lurch to the sky-brim, where stands the rather foolish
church. Just beyond, dry, grey, ruined, and apparently abandoned, Oraibi,
its few ragged stone huts. All these cars come all this way, and
apparently nobody at home.

You climb still, up the shoulder of rock, a few more miles, across the
lofty, wind-swept mesa, and so you come to Hote-villa, where the dance
is, and where already hundreds of motor-cars are herded in an official
camping-ground, among the piñon bushes.

Hotevilla is a tiny little village of grey little houses, raggedly built
with undressed stone and mud around a little oblong _plaza_, and
partly in ruins. One of the chief two-storey houses on the small square
is a ruin, with big square window-holes.

It is a parched, grey country of snakes and eagles, pitched up against
the sky. And a few dark-faced, short, thickly built Indians have their
few peach trees among the sand, their beans and squashes on the naked
sand under the sky, their springs of brackish water.

Three thousand people came to see the little snake dance this year, over
miles of desert and bumps. Three thousand, of all sorts, cultured people
from New York, Californians, onward-pressing tourists, cowboys, Navajo
Indians, even Negroes; fathers, mothers, children, of all ages, colours,
sizes of stoutness, dimensions of curiosity.

What had they come for? Mostly to see men hold _live rattlesnakes_
in their mouths. '_I never did see a rattlesnake and I'm crazy to see
one!_' cried a girl with bobbed hair.

There you have it. People trail hundreds of miles, avidly, to see this
circus-performance of men handling live rattlesnakes that may bite them
any minute--even do bite them. Some show, that!

There is the other aspect, of the ritual dance. One may look on from the
angle of culture, as one looks on while Anna Pavlova dances with the
Russian Ballet.

Or there is still another point of view, the religious. Before the snake
dance begins, on the Monday, and the spectators are packed thick on the
ground round the square, and in the window-holes, and on all the roofs,
all sorts of people greedy with curiosity, a little speech is made to
them all, asking the audience to be silent and respectful, as this is a
sacred religious ceremonial of the Hopi Indians, and not a public
entertainment. Therefore, please, no clapping or cheering or applause,
but remember you are, as it were, in a church.

The audience accepts the implied rebuke in good faith, and looks round
with a grin at the 'church'. But it is a good-humoured, very decent
crowd, ready to respect any sort of feelings. And the Indian with his
'religion' is a sort of public pet.

From the cultured point of view, the Hopi snake dance is almost nothing,
not much more than a circus turn, or the games that children play in the
street. It has none of the impressive beauty of the Corn Dance at Santo
Domingo, for example. The big pueblos of Zuni, Santo Domingo, Taos have a
cultured instinct which is not revealed in the Hopi snake dance. This
last is uncouth rather than beautiful, and rather uncouth in its touch of
horror. Hence the thrill, and the crowd.

As a cultured spectacle, it is a circus turn: men actually dancing round
with snakes, poisonous snakes, dangling from their mouths.

And as a religious ceremonial: well, you can either be politely tolerant
like the crowd to the Hopis; or you must have some spark of understanding
of the sort of religion implied.

'Oh, the Indians,' I heard a woman say, they believe we are all brothers,
the snakes are the Indians' brothers, and the Indians are the snakes'
brothers. The Indians would never hurt the snakes, they won't hurt any
animal. So the snakes won't bite the Indians. They are all brothers, and
none of them hurt anybody.'

This sounds very nice, only more Hindoo than Hopi. The dance itself does
not convey much sense of fraternal communion. It is not in the least like
St Francis preaching to the birds.

The animistic religion, as we call it, is not the religion of the Spirit.
A religion of spirits, yes. But not of Spirit. There is no One Spirit.
There is no One God. There is no Creator. There is strictly no God at
all: because all is alive. In our conception of religion there exists God
and His Creation: two things. We are creatures of God, therefore we pray
to God as the Father, the Saviour, the Maker.

But strictly, in the religion of aboriginal America, there is no Father,
and no Maker. There is the great living source of life: say the Sun of
existence: to which you can no more pray than you can pray to
Electricity. And emerging from this Sun are the great potencies, the
invincible influences which make shine and warmth and rain. From these
great interrelated potencies of rain and heat and thunder emerge the
seeds of life itself, corn, and creatures like snakes. And beyond these,
men, persons. But all emerge separately. There is no oneness, no
sympathetic identifying oneself with the rest. The law of isolation is
heavy on every creature.

Now the Sun, the rain, the shine, the thunder, they are alive. But they
are not persons or people. They are alive. They are manifestations of
living activity. But they are not personal Gods.

Everything lives. Thunder lives, and rain lives, and sunshine lives. But
not in the personal sense.

How is man to get himself into relation with the vast living convulsions
of rain and thunder and sun, which are conscious and alive and potent,
but like vastest of beasts, inscrutable and incomprehensible. How is man
to get himself into relation with these, the vastest of cosmic beasts?

It is the problem of the ages of man. Our religion says the cosmos is
Matter, to be conquered by the Spirit of Man. The yogi, the fakir, the
saint try conquest by abnegation and by psychic powers. The real conquest
of the cosmos is made by science.

The American-Indian sees no division into Spirit and Matter, God and
not-God. Everything is alive, though not personally so. Thunder is
neither Thor nor Zeus. Thunder is the vast living thunder asserting
itself like some incomprehensible monster, or some huge reptile-bird of
the pristine cosmos.

How to conquer the dragon-mouthed thunder! How to capture the feathered
rain!

We make reservoirs, and irrigation ditches and artesian wells. We make
lightning conductors, and build vast electric plants. We say it is a
matter of science, energy, force.

But the Indian says No! It all lives. We must approach it fairly, with
profound respect, but also with desperate courage. Because man must
conquer the cosmic monsters of living thunder and live rain. The rain
that slides down from its source, and ebbs back subtly, with a strange
energy generated between its coming and going, an energy which, even to
our science, is of life: this, man has to conquer. The serpent-striped,
feathery Rain.

We made the conquest by dams and reservoirs and windmills. The Indian,
like the old Egyptian, seeks to make the conquest from the mystic will
within him, pitted against the Cosmic Dragon.

We must remember, to the animistic vision there is no perfect God behind
us, who created us from his knowledge, and foreordained all things. No
such God. Behind lies only the terrific, terrible, crude Source, the
mystic Sun, the well-head of all things. From this mystic Sun emanate the
Dragons, Rain, Wind, Thunder Shine, Light. The Potencies of Powers. These
bring forth Earth, then reptiles, birds, and fishes.

The Potencies are not Gods. They are Dragons. The Sun of Creation itself
is a dragon most terrible, vast, and most powerful, yet even so, less in
being than we. The only gods on earth are men. For gods, like man, do not
exist beforehand. They are created and evolved gradually, with aeons of
effort, out of the fire and smelting of life. They are the highest thing
created, smelted between the furnace of the Life-Sun, and beaten on the
anvil of the rain, with hammers or thunder and bellows of rushing wind.
The cosmos is a great furnace, a dragon's den, where the heroes and
demi-gods, men, forge themselves into being. It is a vast and violent
matrix, where souls form like diamonds in earth, under extreme pressure.

So that gods are the outcome, not the origin. And the best gods that have
resulted, so far, are men. But gods frail as flowers; which have also the
godliness of things that have won perfection out of the terrific
dragon-clutch of the cosmos. Men are frail as flowers. Man is as a
flower, rain can kill him or succour him, heat can flick him with a
bright tail, and destroy him: or, on the other hand, it can softly call
him into existence, out of the egg of chaos. Man is delicate as a flower,
godly beyond flowers, and his lordship is a ticklish business.

He has to conquer, and hold his own, and again conquer all the time.
Conquer the powers of the cosmos. To us, science is our religion of
conquest. Hence through science, we are the conquerors and resultant gods
of our earth. But to the Indian, the so-called mechanical processes do
not exist. All lives. And the conquest is made by the means of the living
will.

This is the religion of all aboriginal America. Peruvian, Aztec,
Athabascan: perhaps the aboriginal religion of all the word. In Mexico,
men fell into horror of the crude, pristine gods, the dragons. But to the
pueblo Indian, the most terrible dragon is still somewhat gentle-hearted.

This brings us back to the Hopi. He has the hardest task, the stubbornest
destiny. Some inward fate drove him to the top of these parched mesas,
all rocks and eagles, sand and snakes, and wind and sun and alkali. These
he had to conquer. Not merely, as we should put it, the natural
conditions of the place. But the mysterious life-spirit that reigned
there. The eagle and the snake.

It is a destiny as well as another. The destiny of the animistic soul of
man, instead of our destiny of Mind and Spirit. We have undertaken the
scientific conquest of forces, of natural conditions. It has been
comparatively easy, and we are victors. Look at our black motor-cars like
beetles working up the rock-face at Oraibi. Look at our three thousand
tourists gathered to gaze at the twenty lonely men who dance in the
tribe's snake dance!

The Hopi sought the conquest by means of the mystic, living will that is
in man, pitted against the living will of the dragon-cosmos. The
Egyptians long ago made a partial conquest by the same means. We have
made a partial conquest by other means. Our corn doesn't fail us: we have
no seven years' famine, and apparently need never have. But the other
thing fails us, the strange inward sun of life; the pellucid monster of
the rain never shows us his stripes. To us, heaven switches on daylight,
or turns on the shower-bath. We little gods are gods of the machine only.
It is our highest. Our cosmos is a great _ennui_. And we die of
ennui. A subtle dragon stings us in the midst of plenty. _Quos vult
perdere Deus, dementat prius_.

On the Sunday evening is a first little dance in the plaza at Hotevilla,
called the Antelope dance. There is the hot, sandy, oblong little place,
with a tuft of green cotton-wood boughs stuck like a plume at the south
end, and on the floor at the foot of the green, a little lid of a
trap-door. They say the snakes are under there.

They say that the twelve officiating men of the snake clan of the tribe
have for nine days been hunting snakes in the rocks. They have been
performing the mysteries for nine days, in the kiva, and for two days
they have fasted completely. All these days they have tended the snakes,
washed them with repeated lustrations, soothed them, and exchanged
spirits with them. The spirit of man soothing and seeking and making
interchange with the spirits of the snakes. For the snakes are more
rudimentary, nearer to the great convulsive powers. Nearer to the
nameless Sun, more knowing in the slanting tracks of the rain, the
pattering of the invisible feet of the rain-monster from the sky. The
snakes are man's next emissaries to the rain-gods. The snakes lie nearer
to the source of potency, the dark, lurking, intense sun at the centre of
the earth. For to the cultured animist, and the pueblo Indian is such,
the earth's dark centre holds its dark sun, our source of isolated being,
round which our world coils its folds like a great snake. The snake is
nearer the dark sun, and cunning of it.

They say--people say--that rattlesnakes are not travellers. They haunt
the same spots on earth, and die there. It is said also that the snake
priest (so-called) of the Hopi probably capture the same snakes year
after year.

Be that as it may. At sundown before the real dance, there is the little
dance called the Antelope Dance. We stand and wait on a house-roof.
Behind us is tethered an eagle; rather dishevelled he sits on the coping,
and looks at us in unutterable resentment. See him, and see how much
'brotherhood' the Indian feels with animals--at best the silent tolerance
that acknowledges dangerous difference. We wait without event. There are
no drums, no announcements. Suddenly into the _plaza_, with rude,
intense movements, hurried a little file of men. They are smeared all
with grey and black, and are naked save for little kilts embroidered like
the sacred dance-kilts in other pueblos, red and green and black on a
white fibre-cloth. The fox-skins hangs behind. The feet of the dancers
are pure ash-grey. Their hair is long.

The first is a heavy old man with heavy, long, wild grey hair and heavy
fringe. He plods intensely forward in the silence, followed in a sort of
circle by the other grey-smeared, longhaired, naked, concentrated men.
The oldest men are first: the last is a short-haired boy of fourteen or
fifteen. There are only eight men--the so-called antelope priests. They
pace round in a circle, rudely, absorbedly, till the first heavy, intense
old man with his massive grey hair flowing, comes to the lid on the
ground, near the tuft of kiva-boughs. He rapidly shakes from the hollow
of his right hand a little white meal on the lid, stamps heavily, with
naked right foot, on the meal, so the wood resounds, and paces heavily
forward. Each man, to the boy, shakes meal, stamps, paces absorbedly on
in the circle, comes to the lid again, shakes meal, stamps, paces
absorbedly on, comes a third time to the lid, or trap-door, and this time
spits on the lid, stamps, and goes on. And this time the eight men file
away behind the lid, between it and the tuft of green boughs. And there
they stand in a line, their backs to the kivatuft of green; silent,
absorbed, bowing a little to the ground.

Suddenly paces with rude haste another file of men. They are naked, and
smeared with red 'medicine', with big black lozenges of smeared paint on
their backs. Their wild heavy hair hangs loose, the old, heavy,
grey-haired men go first, then the middle-aged, then the young men, then
last, two short-haired, slim boys, schoolboys. The hair of the young men,
growing after school, is bobbed round.

The grown men are all heavily built, rather short, with heavy but shapely
flesh, and rather straight sides. They have not the archaic slim waists
of the Taos Indians. They have archaic squareness, and a sensuous
heaviness. Their very hair is black, massive, heavy. These are the
so-called snake-priests, men of the snake clan. And tonight they are
eleven in number.

They pace rapidly round, with that heavy wild silence of concentration
characteristic of them, and cast meal and stamp upon the lid, cast meal
and stamp in the second round, come round and spit and stamp in the
third. For to the savage, the animist, to spit may be a kind of blessing,
a communion, a sort of embrace.

The eleven snake-priests form silently in a row, facing the eight grey
smeared antelope-priests across the little lid, and bowing forward a
little, to earth. Then the antelope-priests, bending forward, begin a
low, sombre chant, or call, that sounds wordless, only a deep, low-toned,
secret Ay-a! Ay-a! Ay-a! And they bend from right to left, giving two
shakes to the little, flat, white rattle in their left hand, at each
shake, and stamping the right foot in heavy rhythm. In their right hand,
that held the meal, is grasped a little skin bag, perhaps also containing
meal.

They lean from right to left, two seed-like shakes of the rattle each
time and the heavy rhythmic stamp of the foot, and the low, sombre,
secretive chant-call each time. It is a strange low sound, such as we
never hear, and it reveals how deep, how deep the men are in the mystery
they are practising, how sunk deep below our world, to the world of
snakes, and dark ways in the earth, where the roots of corn, and where
the little rivers of unchannelled, uncreated life-passion run like dark,
trickling lightning, to the roots of the corn and to the feet and loins
of men, from the earth's innermost dark sun. They are calling in the
deep, almost silent snake-language, to the snakes and the rays of dark
emission from the earth's inward 'Sun'.

At this moment, a silence falls on the whole crowd of listeners. It is
that famous darkness and silence of Egypt, the touch of the other
mystery. The deep concentration of the 'priests' conquers for a few
seconds our white-faced flippancy, and we hear only the deep Hah-hà!
Hah-ha! speaking to snakes and the earth's inner core.

This lasts a minute or two. Then the antelope-priests stand bowed and
still, and the snake-priests take up the swaying and the deep chant, that
sometimes is so low, it is like a mutter underground, inaudible. The
rhythm is crude, the swaying unison is all uneven. Culturally, there is
nothing. If it were not for that mystic, dark-sacred concentration.

Several times in turn, the two rows of daubed, long-haired, insunk men
facing one another take up the swaying and the chant. Then that too is
finished. There is a break in the formation. A young snake-priest takes
up something that may be a corn-cob--perhaps an antelope-priest hands it
to him--and comes forward, with an old, heavy, but still shapely
snake-priest behind him dusting his shoulders with the feathers,
eagle-feathers presumably, which are the Indians' hollow prayer-sticks.
With the heavy, stamping hop they move round in the previous circle, the
young priest holding the cob curiously, and the old priest prancing
strangely at the young priest's hack, in a sort of incantation, and
brushing the heavy young shoulders delicately with the prayer-feathers.
It is the God-vibration that enters us from behind, and is transmitted to
the hands, from the hands to the corn-cob. Several young priests emerge,
with the bowed heads and the cob in their hands and the heavy older
priests hanging over them behind. They tread round the rough curve and
come back to the kiva, take perhaps another cob, and tread round again.

That is all. In ten or fifteen minutes it is over. The two files file
rapidly and silently away. A brief, primitive performance.

The crowd disperses. They were not many people. There were no venomous
snakes on exhibition, so the mass had nothing to come for. And therefore
the curious immersed intensity of the priests was able to conquer the
white crowd.

By afternoon of the next day the three thousand people had massed in the
little _plaza_, secured themselves places on the roof and in the
window-spaces, everywhere, till the small pueblo seemed built of people
instead of stones. All sorts of people, hundreds and hundreds of white
women, all in breeches like half-men, hundreds and hundreds of men who
had been driving motor-cars, then many Navajos, the women in their full,
long skirts and tight velvet bodices, the men rather lanky, long-waisted,
real nomads. In the hot sun and the wind which blows the sand every day,
every day in volumes round the corners, the three thousand tourists sat
for hours, waiting for the show. The Indian policeman cleared the central
oblong, in front of the kiva. The front rows of onlookers sat thick on
the ground. And at last, rather early, because of the masses awaiting
them, suddenly, silently, in the same rude haste, the antelope-priests
filed absorbedly in, and made the rounds over the lid, as before. Today,
the eight antelope-priests were very grey. Their feet ashed pure grey,
like suède soft boots: and their lower jaw was pure suède grey, while the
rest of their face was blackish. With that pale-grey jaw, they looked
like corpse-faces with swathing-bands. And all their bodies ash-grey
smeared, with smears of black, and a black cloth today at the loins.

They made their rounds, and took their silent position behind the lid,
with backs to the green tuft: an unearthly grey row of men with little
skin bags in their hands. They were the lords of shadow, the intermediate
twilight, the place of afterlife and before-life, where house the winds
of change. Lords of the mysterious, fleeting power of change.

Suddenly, with abrupt silence, in paced the snake-priests, headed by the
same heavy man with solid grey hair like iron. Today they were twelve
men, from the old one, down to the slight, short-haired, erect boy of
fourteen. Twelve men, two for each of the six worlds, or quarters: east,
north, south, west, above, and below. And today they were in a queer
ecstasy. Their faces were black, showing the whites of the eyes. And they
wore small black loin-aprons. They were the hot living men of the
darkness, lords of the earth's inner rays, the black sun of the earth's
vital core, from which dart the speckled snakes, like beams.

Round they went, in rapid, uneven, silent absorption, the three rounds.
Then in a row they faced the eight ash-grey men, across the lid. All kept
their heads bowed towards earth, except the young boys.

Then, in the intense, secret, muttering chant the grey men began their
leaning from right to left, shaking the hand, one-two, one-two, and
bowing the body each time from right to left, left to right, above the
lid in the ground, under which were the snakes. And their low, deep,
mysterious voices spoke to the spirits under the earth, not to men above
the earth.

But the crowd was on tenterhooks for the snakes, and could hardly wait
for the mummery to cease. There was an atmosphere of inattention and
impatience. But the chant and the swaying passed from the grey men to the
black-faced men, and back again, several times.

This was finished. The formation of the lines broke up. There was a
slight crowding to the centre, round the lid. The old antelope-priest (so
called) was stooping. And before the crowd could realize anything else a
young priest emerged, bowing reverently, with the neck of a pale,
delicate rattlesnake held between his teeth, the little, naïve, bird-like
head of the rattlesnake quite still, near the black cheek, and the long,
pale, yellowish, spangled body of the snake dangling like some thick,
beautiful cord. On passed the black-faced young priest, with the
wondering snake dangling from his mouth, pacing in the original circle,
while behind him, leaping almost on his shoulders, was the oldest heavy
priest, dusting the young man's shoulders with the feather-prayer-sticks,
in an intense, earnest anxiety of concentration such as I have only seen
in the old Indian men during a religious dance.

Came another young black-faced man out of the confusion, with another
snake dangling and writhing a little from his mouth, and an elder priest
dusting him from behind with the feathers: and then another, and another:
till it was all confusion, probably, of six, and then four young priests
with snakes dangling from their mouths, going round, apparently, three
times in the circle. At the end of the third round the young priest
stooped and delicately laid his snake on the earth, waving him away,
away, as it were, into the world. He must not wriggle back to the kiva
bush.

And after wondering a moment, the pale, delicate snake steered away with
a rattlesnake's beautiful movement, rippling and looping, with the small,
sensitive head lifted like antennae, across the sand to the massed
audience squatting solid on the ground around. Like soft, watery
lightning went the wondering snake at the crowd. As he came nearer, the
people began to shrink aside, half-mesmerized. But they betrayed no
exaggerated fear. And as the little snake drew very near, up rushed one
of the two black-faced young priests who held the snake-stick, poised a
moment over the snake, in the prayer-concentration of reverence which is
at the same time conquest, and snatched the pale, long creature
delicately from the ground, waving him in a swoop over the heads of the
seated crowd, then delicately smoothing down the length of the snake with
his left hand, stroking and smoothing and soothing the long, pale,
bird-like thing; and returning with it to the kiva, handed it to one of
the grey-jawed antelope-priests.

Meanwhile, all the time, the other young priests were emerging with a
snake dangling from their mouths. The boy had finished his rounds. He
launched his rattlesnake on the ground, like a ship, and like a ship away
it steered. In a moment, after it went one of those two black-faced
priests who carried snake-sticks and were the snake-catchers. As it
neared the crowd, very close, he caught it up and waved it dramatically,
his eyes glaring strangely out of his black face. And in the interim that
youngest boy had been given a long, handsome bull-snake, by the priest at
the hole under the kiva boughs. The bull-snake is not poisonous. It is a
constrictor. This one was six feet long, with a sumptuous pattern. It
waved its pale belly, and pulled its neck out of the boy's mouth. With
two hands he put it back. It pulled itself once more free. Again he got
it back, and managed to hold it. And then as he went round in his looping
circle, it coiled its handsome folds twice round his knee. He stooped,
quietly, and as quietly as if he were untying his garter, he unloosed the
folds. And all the time, an old priest was intently brushing the boy's
thin straight shoulders with the feathers. And all the time, the snakes
seemed strangely gentle, naïve, wondering and almost willing, almost in
harmony with the man. Which of course was the sacred aim. While the boy's
expression remained quite still and simple, as it were candid, in a
candour where he and the snake should be in unison. The only dancers who
showed signs of being wrought-up were the two young snake-catchers, and
one of these, particularly, seemed in a state of actor-like uplift,
rather ostentatious. But the old priests had that immersed, religious
intentness which is like a spell, something from another world.

The young boy launched his bull-snake. It wanted to go back to the kiva.
The snake-catcher drove it gently forward. Away it went, towards the
crowd, and at the last minute was caught up into the air. Then this snake
was handed to an old man sitting on the ground in the audience, in the
front row. He was an old Hopi of the Snake clan.

Snake after snake had been carried round in the circles, dangling by the
neck from the mouths of one young priest or another, and writhing and
swaying slowly, with the small, delicate snake-head held as if wondering
and listening. There had been some very large rattlesnakes, unusually
large, two or three handsome bull-snakes, and some racers, whipsnakes.
All had been launched, after their circuits in the mouth, all had been
caught up by the young priests with the snake-sticks, one or two had been
handed to old-snake clan men in the audience, who sat holding them in
their arms as men hold a kitten. The most of the snakes, however, had
been handed to the grey antelope-men who stood in the row with their
backs to the kiva bush. Till some of these ash-smeared men held armfuls
of snakes, hanging over their arms like wet washing. Some of the snakes
twisted and knotted round one another, showing pale bellies.

Yet most of them hung very still and docile. Docile, almost sympathetic,
so that one was struck only by their clean, slim length of snake nudity,
their beauty, like soft, quiescent lightning. They were so clean, because
they had been washed and anointed and lustrated by the priests, in the
days they had been in the kiva.

At last all the snakes had been mouth-carried in the circuits, and had
made their little outrunning excursion to the crowd, and had been handed
back to the priests in the rear. And now the Indian policemen, Hopi and
Navajo, began to clear away the crowd that sat on the ground, five or six
rows deep, around the small _plaza_. The snakes were all going to be
set free on the ground. We must clear away.

We recoiled to the farther end of the _plaza_. There, two Hopi women
were scattering white corn-meal on the sandy ground. And thither came the
two snake-catchers, almost at once, with their arms full of snakes. And
before we who stood had realized it, the snakes were all writhing and
squirming on the ground, in the white dust of meal, a couple of yards
from our feet. Then immediately, before they could writhe clear of each
other and steer away, they were gently, swiftly snatched up again, and
with their arms full of snakes, the two young priests went running out of
the _plaza_.

We followed slowly, wondering, towards the western, or north-western edge
of the mesa. There the mesa dropped steeply, and a broad trail wound down
to the vast hollow of desert brimmed up with strong evening light, up out
of which jutted a perspective of sharp rock and further mesas and distant
sharp mountains: the great, hollow, rock-wilderness space of that part of
Arizona, submerged in light.

Away down the trail, small, dark, naked, rapid figures with arms held
close, went the two young men, running swiftly down to the hollow level,
and diminishing, running across the hollow towards more stark rocks of
the other side. Two small, rapid, intent, dwindling little human figures.
The tiny, dark sparks of men. Such specks of gods.

They disappeared, no bigger than stones, behind rocks in shadow. They had
gone, it was said, to lay down the snakes before a rock called the
snake-shrine, and let them all go free. Free to carry the message and
thanks to the dragon-gods who can give and withhold. To carry the human
spirit, the human breath, the human prayer, the human gratitude, the
human command which had been breathed upon them in the mouths of the
priests, transferred into them from those feather-prayersticks which the
old wise men swept upon the shoulders of the young, snake-bearing men, to
carry this back, into the vaster, dimmer, inchoate regions where the
monsters of rain and wind alternated in beneficence and wrath. Carry the
human prayer and will-power into the holes of the winds, down into the
octopus heart of the rain-source. Carry the corn-meal which the women had
scattered, back to that terrific, dread, and causeful dark sun which is
at the earth's core, that which sends us corn out of the earth's
nearness, sends us food or death, according to our strength of vital
purpose, our power of sensitive will, our courage.

It is a battle, a wrestling all the time. The Sun, the nameless Sun,
source of all things, which we call sun because the other name is too
fearful, this, this vast dark protoplasmic sun from which issues all that
feeds our life, this original One is all the time willing and unwilling.
Systole, diastole, it pulses its willingness and its unwillingness that
we should live and move on, from being to being, manhood to further
manhood. Man, small, vulnerable man, the farthest adventurer from the
dark heart of the first of suns, into the cosmos of creation. Man, the
last god won into existence. And all the time, he is sustained and
threated, menaced and sustained from the Source, the innermost
sun-dragon. And all the time, he must submit and he must conquer. Submit
to the strange beneficence from the Source, whose ways are past finding
out. And conquer the strange malevolence of the Source, which is past
comprehension also.

For the great dragons from which we draw our vitality are all the time
willing and unwilling that we should have being. Hence only the heroes
snatch manhood, little by little, from the strange den of the Cosmos.

Man, little man, with his consciousness and his will, must both submit to
the great origin-powers of his life, and conquer them. Conquered by man
who has overcome his fears, the snakes must go back into the earth with
his messages of tenderness, of request, and of power. They go back as
rays of love to the dark heart of the first of suns. But they go back
also as arrows shot clean by man's sapience and courage, into the
resistant, malevolent heart of the earth's oldest, stubborn core. In the
core of the first of suns, whence man draws his vitality, lies poison as
bitter as the rattlesnake's. This poison man must overcome, he must be
master of its issue. Because from the first of suns come travelling the
rays that make men strong and glad and gods who can range between the
known and the unknown. Rays that quiver out of the earth as serpents do,
naked with vitality. But each ray charged with poison for the unwary, the
irreverent, and the cowardly. Awareness, wariness, is the first virtue in
primitive man's morality. And his awareness must travel back and forth,
back and forth, from the darkest origins out to the brightest edifices of
creation.

And amid all its crudity, and the sensationalism which comes chiefly out
of the crowd's desire for thrills, one cannot help pausing in reverence
before the delicate, anointed bravery of the snake-priests (so called),
with the snakes.

They say the Hopis have a marvellous secret cure for snakebites. They say
the bitten are given an emetic drink, after the dance, by the old women,
and that they must lie on the edge of the cliff and vomit, vomit, vomit.
I saw none of this. The two snake-men who ran down into the shadow came
soon running up again, running all the while, and steering off at a
tangent, ran up the mesa once more, but beyond a deep, impassable cleft.
And there, when they had come up to our level, we saw them across the
cleft distance washing, brown and naked, in a pool; washing off the
paint, the medicine, the ecstasy, to come back into daily life and eat
food. Because for two days they had eaten nothing, it was said. And for
nine days they had been immersed in the mystery of snakes, and fasting in
some measure.

Men who have lived many years among the Indians say they do not believe
the Hopi have any secret cure. Sometimes priests do die of bites, it is
said. But a rattlesnake secretes his poison slowly. Each time he strikes
he loses his venom, until if he strikes several times, he has very little
wherewithal to poison a man. Not enough, not half enough to kill. His
glands must be very full charged with poison, as they are when he merges
from winter-sleep, before he can kill a man outright. And even then, he
must strike near some artery.

Therefore, during the nine days of the kiva, when the snakes are bathed
and lustrated, perhaps they strike their poison away into some inanimate
object. And surely they are soothed and calmed with such things as the
priests, after centuries of experience, know how to administer to them.

We dam the Nile and take the railway across America. The Hopi smooths the
rattlesnake and carries him in his mouth, to send him back into the dark
places of the earth, an emissary to the inner powers.

To each sort of man his own achievement, his own victory, his own
conquest. To the Hopi, the origins are dark and dual, cruelty is coiled
in the very beginnings of all things, and circle after circle creation
emerges towards a flickering, revealed Godhead. With Man as the godhead
so far achieved, waveringly and for ever incomplete, in this world.

To us and to the Orientals, the Godhead was perfect to start with, and
man makes but a mechanical excursion into a created and ordained
universe, an excursion of mechanical achievement, and of yearning for the
return to the perfect Godhead of the beginning.

To us, God was in the beginning, Paradise and the Golden Age have been
long lost, and all we can do is to win back.

To the Hopi, God is not yet, and the Golden Age lies far ahead. Out of
the dragon's den of the cosmos, we have wrested only the beginnings of
our being, the rudiments of our Godhead.

Between the two visions lies the gulf of mutual negations. But ours was
the quickest way, so we are conquerors for the moment.

The American aborigines are radically, innately religious. The fabric of
their life is religion. But their religion is animistic, their sources
are dark and impersonal, their conflict with their 'gods' is slow, and
unceasing.

This is true of the settled pueblo Indian and the wandering Navajo, the
ancient Maya, and the surviving Aztec. They are all involved at every
moment, in their old, struggling religion.

Until they break in a kind of hopelessness under our cheerful, triumphant
success. Which is what is rapidly happening. The young Indians who have
been to school for many years are losing their religion, becoming
discontented, bored, and rootless. An Indian with his own religion inside
him cannot be bored. The flow of the mystery is too intense all the time,
too intense, even, for him to adjust himself to circumstances from the
darkest origins out to the brightest edifices of creation.

And amid all its crudity, and the sensationalism which comes chiefly out
of the crowd's desire for thrills, one cannot help pausing in reverence
before the delicate, anointed bravery of the snake-priests (so called),
with the snakes.

They say the Hopis have a marvellous secret cure for snakebites. They say
the bitten are given an emetic drink, after the dance, by the old women,
and that they must lie on the edge of the cliff and vomit, vomit, vomit.
I saw none of this. The two snake-men who ran down into the shadow came
soon running up again, running all the while, and steering off at a
tangent, ran up the mesa once more, but beyond a deep, impassable cleft.
And there, when they had come up to our level, we saw them across the
cleft distance washing, brown and naked, in a pool; washing off the
paint, the medicine, the ecstasy, to come back into daily life and eat
food. Because for two days they had eaten nothing, it was said. And for
nine days they had been immersed in the mystery of snakes, and fasting in
some measure.

Men who have lived many years among the Indians say they do not believe
the Hopi have any secret cure. Sometimes priests do die of bites, it is
said. But a rattlesnake secretes his poison slowly. Each time he strikes
he loses his venom, until if he strikes several times, he has very little
wherewithal to poison a man. Not enough, not half enough to kill. His
glands must be very full charged with poison, as they are when he merges
from winter-sleep, before he can kill a man outright. And even then, he
must strike near some artery.

Therefore, during the nine days of the kiva, when the snakes are bathed
and lustrated, perhaps they strike their poison away into some inanimate
object. And surely they are soothed and calmed with such things as the
priests, after centuries of experience, know how to administer to them.

We dam the Nile and take the railway across America. The Hopi smooths the
rattlesnake and carries him in his mouth, to send him back into the dark
places of the earth, an emissary to the inner powers.

To each sort of man his own achievement, his own victory, his own
conquest. To the Hopi, the origins are dark and dual, cruelty is coiled
in the very beginnings of all things, and circle after circle creation
emerges towards a flickering, revealed Godhead. With Man as the godhead
so far achieved, waveringly and for ever incomplete, in this world.

To us and to the Orientals, the Godhead was perfect to start with, and
man makes but a mechanical excursion into a created and ordained
universe, an excursion of mechanical achievement, and of yearning for the
return to the perfect Godhead of the beginning.

To us, God was in the beginning, Paradise and the Golden Age have been
long lost, and all we can do is to win back.

To the Hopi, God is not yet, and the Golden Age lies far ahead. Out of
the dragon's den of the cosmos, we have wrested only the beginnings of
our being, the rudiments of our Godhead.

Between the two visions lies the gulf of mutual negations. But ours was
the quickest way, so we are conquerors for the moment.

The American aborigines are radically, innately religious. The fabric of
their life is religion. But their religion is animistic, their sources
are dark and impersonal, their conflict with their 'gods' is slow, and
unceasing.

This is true of the settled pueblo Indian and the wandering Navajo, the
ancient Maya, and the surviving Aztec. They are all involved at every
moment, in their old, struggling religion.

Until they break in a kind of hopelessness under our cheerful, triumphant
success. Which is what is rapidly happening. The young Indians who have
been to school for many years are losing their religion, becoming
discontented, bored, and rootless. An Indian with his own religion inside
him _cannot_ be bored. The flow of the mystery is too intense all
the time, too intense, even, for him to adjust himself to circumstances
which really are mechanical. Hence his failure. So he, in his great
religious struggle for the Godhead of man, falls back beaten. The
Personal God who ordained a mechanical cosmos gave the victory to his
sons, a mechanical triumph.

Soon after the dance is over, the Navajo begin to ride down the Western
trail, into the light. Their women, with velvet bodices and full, full
skirts, silver and turquoise tinkling thick on their breasts, sit back on
their horses and ride down the steep slope, looking wonderingly around
from their pleasant, broad, nomadic, Mongolian faces. And the men, long,
loose, thin, long-waisted, with tall hats on their brows and low-sunk
silver belts on their hips, come down to water their horses at the
spring. We say they look wild. But they have the remoteness of their
religion, their animistic vision, in their eyes, they can't see as we
see. And they cannot accept us. They stare at us as the coyotes stare at
us: the gulf of mutual negation between us.

So in groups, in pairs, singly, they ride silently down into the lower
strata of light, the aboriginal Americans riding into their shut-in
reservations. While the white Americans hurry back to their motor-cars,
and soon the air buzzes with starting engines, like the biggest of
rattlesnakes buzzing.



8 - A LITTLE MOONSHINE WITH LEMON


'Ye Gods, he doth bestride the narrow world
Like a Colossus...!'


There is a bright moon, so that even the vines make a shadow, and the
Mediterranean has a broad white shimmer between its dimness. By the
shore, the lights of the old houses twinkle quietly, and out of the wall
of the headland advances the glare of a locomotive's lamps. It is a feast
day, St Catherine's Day, and the men are all sitting round the little
tables, down below, drinking wine or vermouth.

And what about the ranch, the little ranch in New Mexico? The time is
different there: but I too have drunk my glass to St Catherine, so I
can't be bothered to reckon. I consider that there, too, the moon is in
the south-east, standing, as it were, over Santa Fé, beyond the bend of
those mountains of Picoris.

_Sono io!_ say the Italians. I am I! Which sounds simpler than it
is.

Because which I am I, after all, now that I have drunk a glass also to St
Catherine, and the moon shines over the sea, and my thoughts, just
because they are fleetingly occupied by the moon on the Mediterranean,
and ringing with the last farewell: _Dunque, Signore! di
nuovo_!--must needs follow the moon-track south-west, to the great
South-west, where the ranch is.

They say: _in vino veritas_. Bah! They say so much! But in the wine
of St Catherine, my little ranch, and the three horses down among the
timber. Or if it has snowed, the horses are gone away, and it is snow,
and the moon shines on the alfalfa slope, between the pines, and the
cabins are blind. There is nobody there. Everything shut up. Only the big
pine tree in front of the house, standing still and unconcerned, alive.

Perhaps when I have a _Weh_ at all, my _Heimweh_ is for the
tree in front of the house, the overshadowing tree whose green top one
never looks at. But on the trunk one hangs the various odds and ends of
iron things. It is so near. One goes out of the door, and the tree-trunk
is there, like a guardian angel.

The tree-trunk, and the long work table, and the fence! Then beyond,
since it is night, and the moon shines, for me at least, away beyond is a
light, at Taos, or at Ranchos de Taos. Here, the castle of Noli is on the
western skyline. But there, no doubt it has snowed, since even here the
wind is cold. There it has snowed, and the nearly full moon blazes
wolf-like, as here it never blazes; risen like a were-wolf over the
mountains. So there is a faint hoar shagginess of pine trees, away at the
foot of the alfalfa field, and a grey gleam of snow in the night, on the
level desert, and a ruddy point of human light, in Ranchos de Taos.

And beyond, you see them even if you don't see them, the circling
mountains, since there is a moon.

So, one hurries indoors, and throws more logs on the fire.

One doesn't either. One hears Giovanni calling from below, to say
good-night! He is going down to the village for a spell. _Vado giù
Signor Lorenzo! Buona notte!_

And the Mediterranean whispers in the distance, a sound like in a shell.
And save that somebody is whistling, the night is very bright and still.
The Mediterranean, so eternally young, the very symbol of youth! And
Italy, so reputedly old, yet for ever so child-like and naïve! Never,
never for a moment able to comprehend the wonderful, hoary age of
America, the continent of the afterwards.

I wonder if I am here, or if I am just going to bed at the ranch. Perhaps
looking in Montgomery Ward's catalogue for something for Christmas, and
drinking moonshine and hot water, since it is cold. Go out and look if
the chickens are shut up warm: if the horses are in sight: if Susan, the
black cow, has gone to her nest among the trees, for the night. Cows
don't eat much at night. But Susan will wander in the moon. The moon
makes her uneasy. And the horses stamp around the cabins.

In a cold like this, the stars snap like distant coyotes, beyond the
moon. And you'll see the shadow of actual coyotes, going across the
alfalfa field. And the pine trees make little noises, sudden and
stealthy, as if they were walking about. And the place heaves with
ghosts. That place, the ranch, heaves with ghosts. But when one has got
used to one's own home-ghosts, be they never so many, and so potent, they
are like one's own family, but nearer than the blood. It is the ghosts
one misses most, the ghosts there, of the Rocky Mountains, that never go
beyond the timber and that linger, like the animals, round the
water-spring. I know them, they know me: we go well together. But they
reproach me for going away. They are resentful too.

Perhaps the snow is in tufts on the greasewood bushes. Perhaps the blue
jay falls in a blue metallic cloud out of the pine trees in front of the
house, at dawn, in the terrific cold, when the dangerous light comes
watchful over the mountains, and touches the desert far-off, far-off,
beyond the Rio Grande.

And I, I give it up. There is a choice of vermouth, Marsala, red wine or
white. At the ranch, tonight, because it is cold, I should have
moonshine, not very good moonshine, but still warming: with hot water and
lemon, and sugar, and a bit of cinnamon from one of those little red
Schilling's tins. And I should light my little stove in the bedroom, and
let it roar a bit, sucking the wind. Then dark to bed, with all the
ghosts of the ranch cosily round me, and sleep till the very coldness of
my emerged nose wakes me. Waking, I shall look at once through the glass
panels of the bedroom door, and see the trunk of the great pine tree,
like a person on guard, and a low star just coming over the mountain,
very brilliant, like someone swinging an electric lantern.

_Si vedrà la primavera._

_Fiorann' i mandorlini_--

Ah, well, let it be vermouth, since there's no moonshine with lemon and
cinnamon. Supposing I called Giovanni, and told him I wanted:

'_Un poco di chiar' di luna, con canella e limone..._'



THE END



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