THE CHILDREN OF THE SUN GOD.





No difficulty whatever was experienced in reaching that retreat,

and milder prisoner never knew a guard than Ixtli proved himself

to be, silently yielding to each impulse lent his arm by Waldo,

smiling when, as sometimes happened, he was brought more nearly

face to face with that armed rear-guard.



Nor were the Gillespie brothers worried by sound, sign, or token

of more serious trouble from others of that strangely surviving

race. And it was not long after reaching the rendezvous from

which the professor had sailed in the early dawn, that the

youngsters agreed the echoes of their Winchesters could not have

reached the ears of the Lost City inhabitants.



"That's plenty good luck for one soup-bunch," quoth Waldo, yet

adding a dubious shake of the head as he gazed upon their bronzed

companion. "And if it wasn't for this gentleman in masquerade

costume--"



"Ixtli friend. Ixtli feel like heart-brother," came in low,

mellow accents from those smiling lips.



There certainly was naught of guile or of evil craft to be read

in either eyes or visage, just then; but the brothers could not

feel entirely at ease, even yet. How many times had warriors of

his colour played a cunning part, only to end all by blow of

tomahawk, thrust of knife, or bolt from the bended bow?



At a barely perceptible sign from Bruno, his brother drew apart,

leaving their "white elephant" by himself, yet none the less

under a vigilant guard.



"He seems all right, in his way," muttered the elder Gillespie,

"but how far ought we to trust him, after what we promised uncle

Phaeton?"



"Not quite as far as we can see him, anyway. Still, a fellow

can't find the stomach to bowl him over like a hare,--without a

weenty bit of excuse, at least."



"That's it! If he'd try to bolt, or would even jump on one of

us, it would come far more easy. Look at him smile, now! And I

hate to think of clapping such a bright-seeming lad in bonds!"



"Time enough for all that when he shows us cause," quickly

decided Waldo, with a vigorous nod of his curly pow. "Pity if a

couple of us can't keep him out of mischief without going that

far. And we want to pump the kid dry before uncle Phaeton gets

back; understand?"



Bruno gave a slight start at these words, but his eye-glow and

face-flush bore witness that the idea thus suggested had not been

unthought of in his own case.



"Then you really think--"



"That there's more ways than one of skinning a cat," oracularly

observed Waldo. "Without showing it too mighty plainly, one or

the other of us can always be ready and prepared to dump the

laddy-buck, in case he tries to come any of his didoes. And, at

the same time, we can be hugging up to him just as sweetly as

though we knew he was on the dead level. Understand?"



Possibly the programme might have been a little more elegantly

expressed, but Waldo, as a rule, cared more for substance than

form, and his speech possessed one merit, that of perspicuity.



Having reached this fair understanding, the brothers dropped

their aside, and moved nearer the young Aztec.



Ixtli gazed keenly into first one face, then the other, plainly

enough endeavouring to read the truth as might be expressed

therein, as related to himself. What he saw must have proved

fairly satisfactory, since he gave another bright smile, then

spoke in really musical tones:



"Good,--brother, now! That more good, too!"



In spite of the suspicions, which seem inborn where people of the

red race are concerned, both Bruno and Waldo felt more and more

drawn towards this remarkable specimen of a still more remarkable

tribe; and not many more minutes had sped by ere the younger

couple were chatting together in amicable fashion, although

finding some little difficulty in Ixtli's rather limited

vocabulary.



Not a little to his elder brother's impatience, Waldo apparently

took a deeper interest in the recent adventure than in the

subject which claimed his own busiest thoughts, but he hardly

cared to crowd the youngster, lest he make matters even worse.



Aided by the sort of freemasonry which naturally exists between

lads of an adventurous nature, Waldo readily succeeded in picking

up considerable information from the Aztec, even before broaching

that all-important matter.



Ixtli was the only son of a famed warrior and chieftain of the

Aztecan clans, by name Aztotl, or the Red Heron. He, in common

with so many of his people, had witnessed the approach and abrupt

departure of the strange bird in the air, and had hastened forth

in quest of the monster.



He failed to see aught more of the strange creature, but,

disliking to return home without something to show for the trip,

remained out over night, then chanced to fairly stumble into the

way of a mighty grizzly.



There were a few moments during which he might possibly have

escaped through headlong flight, but he was too proud for that,

and but for the timely arrival and prompt action on the part of

his white brothers would almost certainly have paid the penalty

with his life.



Then followed more thanks and broken expressions of gratitude,

all of which Waldo magnanimously waved aside as wholly

unnecessary.



"Don't work up a sweat for a little thing like that, old man. Of

course we saw you were an Injun and--ahem! I mean, how in time

did you happen to catch hold of our lingo so mighty pat,

laddy-buck?"



"My brother means to ask who taught you to speak as we do,

Ixtli?" amended Bruno, catching at the wished-for opportunity now

it offered.



"And who was that nice little gal with the yellow hair? Is

she--what did you call her? Gladys--And the rest of it

Edgecombe?"



Waldo was eager enough now that the ice was fairly broken, but

his very volubility served to complicate matters rather than to

hasten the desired information.



Ixtli apparently thought in English pretty much as he spoke

it,--slowly, and with care. When hurried, his brain and tongue

naturally fell back upon his native language.



Sounds issued through his lips, but, despite all their animation,

these proved to be but empty sounds to the eager brothers. And,

divining the truth, Bruno checked his brother, himself acting as

questioner, pretty soon striking the right chord, after which

Ixtli fared very well.



Still, thanks to his difficulty in finding the right words with

which to express his full meaning, it took both time and patience

for even Bruno to learn all he desired; and even if such a course

would be desirable, lack of space forbids giving a literal record

of questions and answers, since the general result of that

cross-examination may be put so much more compactly before the

generous reader.



The first point made clear was that the young Aztec owed his

imperfect knowledge of the English language to certain Children

of the Sun, whom he named as if christened Victo and Glady. With

this as starting-point, the rest formed a mere question of time

and perseverance.



Growing in animation as he proceeded, Ixtli told of the coming to

their city of those glorious children; riding upon the wings of

an awful storm, yet issuing unharmed, unawed, bright of face, as

the mighty orb the sons of Anahuac worshipped.



He told how an envious few held to the contrary: that these

fair-skins had come as evil emissaries from the still more evil

Mictlanteuctli, mighty Lord of Death-land, who had laden them

with pestilence and brain-sorrow and eye-darkness, with orders to

devastate this, the last fair city of the ancient race.



With low, sternly suppressed tones, the young warrior went on to

tell of what followed: of the wicked attempt made by those

malcontents to punish the bearers of death and misery; then, his

voice rising and growing more clear, he told how, from a

clearing-sky, there came a single shaft flung by the mighty hand

of the great god, Quetzalcoatl, before which the impious dog went

down in everlasting death.



"Struck by lightning, eh?" interpreted Waldo, who seemed born

without the influence of poetry. "Served him mighty right, too!"



Bowing submissively, although it could be seen he scarcely

comprehended just what those blunt words were meant to convey,

Ixtli spoke on, seemingly with perfect willingness, so long as

the adored "Sun Children" formed the subject-matter.



From his laboured statement, Bruno gathered that the sudden death

of one who had dared to lift an armed hand against the woman so

mysteriously placed there in their very midst awed all opposition

to the general belief in the divine origin of mother and child;

and ere long Victo was installed as a sort of high priestess of

the temple more especially devoted to the Sun God.



That was long ago, and when Ixtli was but a child. As he grew

older, and his father, Red Heron, was appointed as chief of

guards to the Sun Children, Victo took more notice of the lad,

and ended in teaching him both the English tongue and its

Christian creed, so far as lay in his power to comprehend.



Then came less pleasing information concerning the Children of

the Sun, which went far to prove that the death of one

evil-minded dog had not entirely purged the Lost City, and it was

with harsher tones and frowning brows that Ixtli spoke of the

head priest, or paba, Tlacopa the evil-minded, who had built up a

powerful and dangerous sentiment against both Victo and Glady,

even going so far as to declare before the holy stone of

sacrifice that the Mother of Gods demanded these falsely titled

Children of the Sun.



"The fair-faced God must come soon, or too late!" sighed the

Aztec, bowing his head in joined palms the better to conceal his

evident grief. "He has promised to come, but hurry! They

die--they die!"



This was hardly an acceptable stopping-point, but questioning was

of little avail just then. Satisfied of so much, the brothers

drew apart a short distance, yet keeping where they could guard

their more or less dangerous charge, conversing in low tones over

the information so far gleaned from the Aztec's talk.



"Well, we'll hold a tight grip on him, anyway, until uncle

Phaeton gets back," finally decided Waldo, speaking for his

brother as well.





THE CHILD-MIND; AND HOW TO SATISFY IT THE CHILDREN'S PARTY. facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Feedback