That was it. There was no altar, nor holy fire, nor high priest, nor flint lancet. She hadn’t been anywhere, and she hadn’t even screamed, except in imagination. She was on her blanket, alongside of her niece, in the house of the Moqui chief, and as safe as need be.
But the visionary terror had scarcely gone when a real one came. Coronado appeared—Coronado, the descendant of the great Vasquez—Coronado, whom the Moquis would destroy if they heard his name—of whom they would not leave two limbs or two fingers together. From her dormitory she saw him walk into the main room of the house in his airiest and cheeriest manner, bowing and smiling to right, bowing and smiling to left, winning Moqui hearts in a moment, a charmer of a Coronado. He shook hands with the chief; he shook hands with all the head men; next a hand to Thurstane and another to Glover. Mrs. Stanley heard him addressed as Coronado; she looked to see him scattered in rags on the floor; she tried to muster courage to rush to his rescue.
There was no outcry of rage at the sound of the fatal name, and she could not perceive that a Moqui countenance smiled the less for it.
Coronado produced a pipe, filled it, lighted it, and handed it to the chief. That dignitary took it, bowed gravely to each of the four points of the compass, exhaled a few whiffs, and passed it to his next blanketed neighbor, who likewise saluted the four cardinal points, smoked a little, and sent it on. Mrs. Stanley drew a sigh of relief; the pipe of peace had been used, and there would be no bloodshed; she saw the whole bearing of her favorite’s audacious manoeuvre at a glance.
Coronado now glided into the obscure room where she and Clara were sitting on their blankets and skins. He kissed his hand to the one and the other, and rolled out some melodious congratulations.
“You reckless creature!” whispered Aunt Maria. “How dared you come up here?”
“Why so?” asked the Mexican, for once puzzled.
“Your name! Your ancestor!”
“Ah!!” and Coronado smiled mysteriously. “There is no danger. We are under the protection of the American eagle. Moreover, hospitalities have been interchanged.”
Next the experiences of the last twenty-four hours, first Mrs. Stanley’s version and then Coronado’s, were related. He had little to tell: there had been a quiet night and much slumber; the Moquis had stood guard and been every way friendly; the Apaches had left the valley and gone to parts unknown.
The truth is that he had slept more than half of the time. Journeying, fighting, watching, and anxiety had exhausted him as well as every one else, and enabled him to plunge into slumber with a delicious consciousness of it as a restorative and a luxury.
Now that he was himself again, he wondered at what he had been. For two days he had faced death, fighting like a legionary or a knight-errant, and in short playing the hero. What was there in his nature, or what had there been in his selfish and lazy life, that was akin to such fine frenzies? As he remembered it all, he hardly knew himself for the same old Coronado.