‘Up,’ she said, ‘before others come to seek him. Nay, you must.’
Now, again we were struggling forward through the bushes, my mind filled with a great wonder that grew slowly to a whirling nothingness. For a while it seemed to me as though I were lost in an evil dream and walking on red hot irons in my dream. Then came a vision of armed men with lifted spears, and of Otomie running towards them with outstretched arms.
I knew no more.
OTOMIE PLEADS WITH HER PEOPLE
When I awoke it was to find myself in a cave, where the light shone very dimly. Otomie leant over me, and not far away a man was cooking a pot over a fire made of dry aloe leaves.
‘Where am I and what has happened?’ I asked.
‘You are safe, beloved,’ she answered, ’at least for awhile. When you have eaten I will tell you more.’
She brought me broth and food and I ate eagerly, and when I was satisfied she spoke.
‘You remember how the Tlascalan followed us and how—I was rid of him?’
’I remember, Otomie, though how you found strength to kill him I do not understand.’
’Love and despair gave it to me, and I pray that I may never have such another need. Do not speak of it, husband, for this is more horrible to me than all that has been before. One thing comforts me, however; I did not kill him, the sword twisted in my hand and I believe that he was but stunned. Then we fled a little way, and looking back I saw that two other Tlascalans, companions of the senseless man, were following us and him. Presently, they came up to where he lay and stared at him. Then they started on our tracks, running hard, and very soon they must have caught us, for now you could scarcely stir, your mind was gone, and I had no more strength to carry you. Still we stumbled on till presently, when the pursuers were within fifty paces of us, I saw armed men, eight of them, rushing at us from the bushes. They were of my own people, the Otomies, soldiers that had served under you, who watched the Spanish camp, and seeing a Spaniard alone they came to slay him. They very nearly did so indeed, for at first I was so breathless that I could scarcely speak, but at last in few words I made shift to declare my name and rank, and your sad plight. By now the two Tlascalans were upon us, and I called to the men of the Otomie to protect us, and falling on the Tlascalans before they knew that enemies were there, they killed one of them and took the other prisoner. Then they made a litter, and placing you on it, bore you without rest twenty leagues into the mountains, till they reached this secret hiding place, and here you have lain three days and nights. The Teules have searched for you far and wide, but they have searched in vain. Only yesterday two of them with ten Tlascalans, passed within a hundred paces of this cave and I had much ado to prevent our people from attacking them. Now they are gone whence they came, and I think that we are safe for a time. Soon you will be better and we can go hence.’