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contact. And even supposing this bug- in all probability demean himself toward bear to be a fact instead of a fiction, it bim in a spirit very different from that of still remains true that if a person with such the man who, having never seen a murdispositions were to meet with a desperate derous cut-throat, had spent all his life in ruffian of the character described, he would hating him.- New Review.
THE BLESSED OPAL; OR, THE STORY OF THE FIFTY-THREE GENERALS.
BY HORACE HUTCHINSON.
It was at the time when Mexico, in its “ It is in the National Museum. It is the impatience of rulers under ordinary desig- calendar stone that is in the cathedral.” nations, was consenting to be more or less “Ah, yes—true, you are right.” controlled by a military official whom the A green lizard glanced along the bough public knew as the Governor, and by a of a tree toward the Governor's head. It subordinate, a privileged fidus Achates shone in the sun like a living emerald, and known to the people as the Lieutenant. it seemed to wait for his next words. It was also the year in Mexico when the Still, do you not think we should refashion in sombreros was in the direction move it?" of the lowest crowds.
The Lieutenant did not answer. He The Gorernor commented on this fact was a man of few words, and no theoloto his Lieutenant, as they sat under the giau. . shade of the trees in the great plaza. The The Governor twirled his mustaches scent of the flowers from the market round
thoughtfully. He wore immense black the corner of the cathedral was wafted to
mustaches, twisted out on either side. them. The flower-girls were there, in the His eye and his nose were accipitral, and circular arbor and the booths, tying up his dark face revealed the strain of Montebouquets of violets and roses, though the zuma with an admixture of the conquering calendar called it winter. It was a para
blood. dise of flowers, if not of lovely women. Just for a day-no, a moment—I
The Lieutenant had nothing to add to should like to see it,” he said, reverting his superior's observation about the som- to his former thought, " a great day of breros.
the great War-god. No, I should not like “It is a beautiful building,'' the Gov- to see it, but just once to see a reproducernor said, by and by.
tion of it—without its fearful tortures. " Which ?” the Lieutenant asked, for How many thousand human victims do beautiful buildings surrounded them. they say were slain in a day on his altar ?"
“ The cathedral, of course,” said his The Lieutenant again did not answer, but Excellency impatiently. “I should like the Governor showed no offence. The to have seen it,” he added presently, find- two men knew each other. The Governor ing that the Lieutenant made no response put these questions as to a second self. to his admiration, “ I should like to see it When the Lieutenant did not answer, it now - if only for a moment—restored to was equivalent to his saying that he did the likeness of the temple of the great god not know. Huitzilopochtli. The Saints forgive me ! “My opal will not show me the past,” -I mean it only as a spectacle. The the Governor said simply. Cross is triumphant. But think of it, “I don't know," his second self obo Don Pedro—the great hideous image, the served, “ that I altogether believe very dancing priests, the yet live hearts upon much in that opal of yours. the altar-that
altar that we see there What, Lieutenant ! Do I understand in the edifice devoted to the true service. you to say you do not believe in it ?” Do you think it should be there, Don A humming-bird, which had been play. Pedro ? Is it not a profanation ? Should ing about in one of the trees of the plaza, we not have it removed ??'
darted down and hovered as if struck by “The altar stone is not there,” Don the flash of the Governor's eye. " Do Pedro answered dryly, pointing westward. you shoot ?" a gentle American lady had
once asked him-he was a favorite with before him, rested his left hand on his ladies. “I do not shoot ze animal, knee, the elbow outward, and, with the madam, I keep zat for ze human," he had opal held in his right hand, turned himanswered in his best American—which self half-round to his Lieutenant and exwas not good. And the lady had declared pounded the visions of the opal. “I saw," that sparks of visible fire flew from his eyes he said, “mist and trouble—then sunas he said it—for which she admired him shine and joy. In the midst of the joy all the more.
The humming-bird seemed walked Indian warriors, men of the race similarly fascinated as it quivered-sta- to which, on the one side, my ancestors tionary, but with wings working at invisible belonged. Had they been clad in the speed-before the Governor as he repeated guise familiar to us of the Indian warrior his question, “Do I understand that you I had thought little. More I might have do not believe in it? It has been blessed.” thought had they been decked in the splen
“I know," the Lieutenant answered ; dor of the warriors of the Montezumas “yet even so I have my doubts of it." in the gold, the cotton mail, the wondrous
" Then I discharge you, sir,” the Gov- feather-work, the broideries. They were ernor cried, with energy that scared the in none of these, Don Pedro—they bore humming-bird to its palm-tree again. “I the uniform of our full field-officers of todischarge you from your position about day, although they were on foot." my person, and from the service.”
He stopped, and looked at his Lieu"With arrears of pay
tenant to see his impression of the vision Without a cent.
as narrated. “Ah, well, in that case
“It's a funny opal,” the Lieutenant -anything—even your opal.
said, taking it from him. Then, after There was
a silence, The Governor gazing at it awhile, he added, “I see none took out two cigars and handed one to the of these things in it." Lieutenant. The latter accepted it, and The Governor took it back from him, striking a light gave the match to the and restored it to his pocket with the air Governor, and so they sat, smoking. of suggesting an opinion that the Lieu
Soon the Governor drew from his pocket tenant never would. an opal of great size and circular form. “ You refer, I suppose,” said the latHe kissed it reverently, polished it with ter, rising to leave him after a moment's caressant coat.sleeve-then held it and ad- thought, “to the trouble at Montezutemired it, letting the sun play on it.
I will see about it to-moriow." it not beautiful ?” he asked. “A lady fie made a military salute to his superior told me once that it had in it the ghosts and went across the plaza to the palace. of all the other stones. Is it not true ?" Fifty-two, remember," the Governor
His second self did not speak, and the called after him. “At one a week that Governor fell a-gazing into the luminous, will last a year. Then he strolled away dense depths of the stone.
to his carriage that stood awaiting him trouble," he said presently, talking low, with its two fine bays, and the people as if to himself. (The humming-bird had turned and whispered to each other as he returned to spy out the glitter of the gem.) went, “ It is the Governor." 6. Trouble—a wave of trouble-then a He was stepping into bis victoria when clearing of the clouds—they are dispelled some one touched him on the shoulder. —and among them walk—ah !" he start- It was his Lieutenant. “ Did the uni. ed—“Indian warriors—one, two, three, forms seem to have been ready-made or Heavens, how many ?" He continued made to order ?” counting, while the Lieutenant nearly slept " Ready-made, of course," his Excelbeside him, till he came to fifty-two- lency replied.
" Misfits or even secondthen stopped.
hand most of them." “Heavens! Fancy fifty-two !"
“Very good. I will see to it to-morWhat ?'' the Lieutenant asked. “ Opals ? Ladies ? Ghosts ?”
The longest and the shortest days of the “Generals,” the Governor said fiercely. Mexican year come ever crowding on each
“A heavy tax on the treasury—if it other's heels. The shortest day in all pays them,
" the other commented. Mexican chronology is hoy (to-day); the Listen.” He threw out his left foot longest of all days—so long that if all were
accomplished in it that is planned the sun make a joint attack at day break the next would never set on it—is mañana (10- morning. Day, however, appeared to morrow). If but just once mañana were have broken upon the Indians some hours to be translated into hoy, one would need or so earlier than it broke upon the Reguanother Joshua to cry “halt !" to the lars ; for though the former commenced passage of the sun. But since Cortes set their attack according to orders they what he deemed a Christian foot in Vera found themselves in vain expecting the Cruz, and again away before that, so far assistance of the military, who were to as one can learn, from the days of Aztec have taken the city from the south. But or earlier and gentler Toltec, hoy never in the Lieutenant was not unobservant. It Mexican history has caught up mañana. seemed to him more simple to wait to ocMexico lives and dies awaiting mañana, cupy the town until the Indians had been and so will continue to live and die while defeated, and the fighting force of Monteit is Mexican. The Lieutenant was an ex- zutepec had departed in pursuit of them. ception to this rule, so far as was possible Then he had but to march in, with all for him to be, being Mexican. The honors of war, and occupy the flat roofs mañana wonld in time arrive when he and the houses with the barred windows, would attend to the business of the uni- and the town and its vantage points would forins and of the fifty-two generals.
be his, Now the trouble at Montezutepec had Matters turned out much according to occurred on this wise. The municipal the expectation of the Lieutenant, but not authorities had been injudicious. They entirely so ; for there are in the neighborhad attempted to enforce some of the hood of Montezutepec, and a little to the laws. Naturally this was resented by the north of it, the remains of buge pyramids, inhabitants of Montezutepec, who forth- larger than even that of Cheops. For this with had carried the Court House by as- being the highest point of all the country sault and put most of the offenders to round, and lying moreover in a clearing of death at the muzzle of the six-shooter. the tropical forest, it naturally was first to There was nothing unusual in this. Each catch the rays of the morning sun ; for morning on rising the Governor consulted which reason it had been held in high his opal, as a kind of revolution barometer, honor by the pious Aztecs as a favorite to discuss the probabilities of rebellion. haunt of the sun-god, and this pyramid But on this occasion the insurrectionists had been erected by them to his glory. seemed inclined to go beyond their recog- To the said pyramid then the Indians renized rights—and the Governor sent down treated, when the Montezutepecans pressed his Lieutenant to punish them. They were hard upon them; and there they stood and in soine force, had full possession of the shot, killing and being killed, while the town, and would take a good deal of pun- Lieutenant without opposition invested the ishing. Montezutepec is a fair-sized coun- town, until out of an original number of try town, and the flat roofs and barred some hundreds there remained alive conwindows of the houses are excellent van- siderably less than one hundred. Of this tage posts, as has been many timnes proved one hundred there subsequently died of in Mexican warfare. Wherefore the Gov- their wounds a number which left but ernor said, reading from the depths of his fifty-two survivors ; and that the remnant opal, “ I perceive Indian warriors, and by were not killed in cold blood is to be acthem the brunt of the assault is borne.' counted for only by the fact that the Mon
The Lieutenant marched down without tezutepecans were puzzled to know what opposition into the neighborhood of Mon- to do with the corpses they had, and did tezutepec, and by strong threats, small not wish to add to their number. To con. gifts, and big promises obtained the as- firm their decision the news arrived of the sistance of a hardy local tribe of Indians. occupation of their town, from the other His plan of campaign was to divide forces. side, by the Lieutenant. In fact they At a certain time, he said, the Indians found him so completely established that should march into the town upon the north to all intents and purposes the town had side, while he with his men having made ceased to be theirs ; and having no suffia détour, would simultaneously invade the cient weight of artillery to dislodge him, town from the south. So the two detach- they adopted the best possible means of ments parted for the night under orders to coming to terms by capturing and handing New SFRIES.—YOL, LIV., No 3.
over to him their own ringleaders, whom to lose. Here, like him, the Governor the Lieutenant immediately executed, and sat, caressing bis blessed opal and gazing returned to Mexico city to report that jus- over the fair city when an American was tice had been done.
brought into his presence with a letter of A year later, and the fifty-two survivors introduction from Señor Saloman Bensadi. of the Indians who had rendered the Lieu- The American removed a high bat of tenant, what bis report speaks of as “ some astonishing glossiness in response to the assistance'' in the affair of Montezutepec, Governor's bow, and presenting bis letter are still waiting till the mañana of his of introduction, seated himself upon a promises shall become the hoy of their chair which had been brought at the Govfulfilment. They are Indians of a hardy ernor's command. When the latter had and warlike tribe-able to make their finished the perusal of Señor Bensadi's waitings noticeable, wherefore the Gov. note, he looked at the American for a full ernor sits in the plaza beneath the ornate minute without speaking, and the glossycathedral of San Francisco and reads vis. hatted man bore the inspection with the ions off his opal ; and on the morrow
blandest composure. the mañana having for once and for this The American bad the appearance of special object turned itself into a hoy, pictures of the apostles, though this of tailors are instructed to furnish at the cheap- course does not apply to his dress, which est possible cost, fifty-two suits of general- was of sombre black finished off with elasofficers' uniforın, to clothe the compara- tic-side boots. His hair, however, was of tive nakedness of the Indian warriors in apostolic length, falling upon his shoulders, the neighborhood of Montezutepec. In a and of venerable whiteness. His face was year's time the last surviving Indian had clean shaven save for a fringe which sugbeen appointed a general-officer of the gested a hálo. Nevertheless, he was not Mexican Army with authority to wear the an apostle, but a general-General Shel. uniform which a bountiful government drake. Another general,” the Governor supplied to him, to draw the pay (if he commented, "that makes fifty-three. could get it), and take cominand of any “You have not adopted the native that he could find to obey him.
head-dress, the sombrero, I perceive," the Meanwhile the fifty-two generals sat in Governor said, when he had done looking full uniform at the fifty-two doors of fifty- at him. two palmetto-reed cabing under the mighiy 'No.' trees of the Mexican forests. Their wives They wear them
low this year ; and daughters sat around them, patting there is hardly room for the lace.” from hand to band the tortyas for their The subject of sombreros seemed withmeals. Their little brown children sprawled out fascination for the visitor. He did nakedly at their feet. The tame parrots not answer. The Governor did not purskie sat on the branches of the ebony trees and the topic. wondered at them. The giant creepers
“ You are interested in railways, my stretched their great arms aloft and wove friend, Señor Bensadi, writes me.' themselves into cable-strong lacery over At length the apostolic visitor spoke. the heads of the generals as over any But before he did so, he solemnly stretched others of the tribe. There was no differ- forth his hand, as though to take under its ence between them and their neighbors, benediction the whole valley of Tenochsave perhaps that they drank more pulquè titlan. and misconducted themselves in rather " Your Excellency," he said, savoring more high-toned style. But this did not the words as though they tasted well in satisfy them. They wanted more than his mouth, “your Excellency, here you this. They had the effrontery to ask for have a great country, a noble, a fair coun
try- the fair roofs and domes, and minaIt was a warm summer, and the Gov- rets of Mexico—the Venice of the Azernor bad shifted his quarters from the tecs" city to Chapultepec. He sat on the ter- “ You have read Prescott's Conquest of race of this favored spot, the bill whence Mexico ?" the Governor interrupted him Montezuma was wont to gaze over the be- to ask. loved city which, as the prophecies of the The visitor bowed. Fair God whispered to him, he was soon * So have 1,” said the Governor.
“We might take your description from “I am not much nearer getting a concesthat, and go on.” He spoke bad Ameri- sion for a railroad.” can, The visitor did not fully understand When the Governor went into his study him.
the Lieutenant was there writing. “Yonder looms the great white cone “ There is another general,” he said ; of Iztaccihuatl, 'the white woman' look- an American this time.'' ing toward her lord and master, Popoca. The Lieutenant did not answer, but tapetl, “the mountain that smokes- ceased writing in order to listen with atsmoke !!
tention to the words of his superior, The American shook his head, but the " There are too many generals in MexiGovernor nevertheless lighted a cigar. co," the latter went on. The visitor paused and watched the smoke Still the Lieutenant did not answer. begin to curl round the Governor's mus- Perhaps he was thinking that the Govertaches. But,” he then went on, in a nor's remark boded ill for his own chances. different tone, at length allowing his hand It seemed that the other's thought had to assume a more natural position, “but forecasted the possibility of this reflection, you have no railways—I would not say for his next words were :“Unless we renone, nay, but hardly any. That inesti- move a few, promotion in the higher ranks mable blessing, however,” he said, rising seems at a standstill. Listen," he conproudly, and tapping himself upon the tinued, fiercely, as if the Lieutenant had breast-pocket of his frock coat," that in- been constantly interrupting him. “ While estimable blessing I am able to give you yonder American was speaking of childish
The Governor understood him sufficient- things, I read a vision in my opal.” He ly well to draw out the magic opal and went to the window and paused a moment, become absorbed in its depths. When looking out on the infantry and field-guns the General had spoken for some five min- in the court-yard of the palace, on the utes more to the same purpose, his Excel- monnted sentries here and there visible lency began to speak likewise. The
among the great cypress trees at the foot American listened respectfully, and the of the rock on which the palace was built. Governor read the vision : “ I see dread- Then he looked over the tree-tops away to ful things happening-things that require the white city, and then began speaking in my presence within the house. You will a dreamy voice—“I saw a banquet, there forgive me, I know, when I say good- were above a hundred guests, one hundred by.”
and four to be precise. One half of these " What a magnificent opal,” the Ameri- were in the uniform of general officers, can observed.
My friend, Señor Ben- but their hue was swarthy. They sat sadi, has some very fine ones."
alternately with soldiers of common rank, “ This one has been blessed," the Gov- but of fairer face. And the banquet went ernor said gravely, as if rebuking the im- merrily until the dessert—then all was plied comparison. Pray inspect the confusion. Can you interpret the vision ?" palace, the grounds, the giant cypresses, The Lieutenant laughed a low appreciahe continued, courteously. “ You may tive chackle. “ It is a funny opal,” he see traces of the bath which Montezuma said. “ I will start mañana (to-morrow).' carved out of the living rock, and Aztec A fortnight later the hearts of the fiftyhieroglyphs. You may also find crowns two generals at the fifty.two doors of the of hats without the brim, brims of hats palmetto-reed huts were cheered to receive without the crown, old preserved meat an invitation from the Governor's Lieu. cans and old boots, all bearing signs of a tenant to a great banquet in the neighborbigh antiquity, but clearly belonging to a hood of Montezutepec.
“It was the in. later civilization than the Aztec. There is tention of the Government,” the invitaalso a well-preserved aqueduct. Good- tion said, “ in recognition of their noble
patience in awaiting the arrears of pay, “A singular man,” the American re- which had unaccountably iniscarried, to flected, as he drove back, past the statues show its appreciation by requiting them in of the Montezumas, and re-entered, by way such full manner that they should never of the Alameda, the city of Mexico. hereafter utter a word of complaint against “But,” he mentally added, as he alight- its generosity. To inaugurate this great ed in the court-yard of the Iturbide Hotel, consummation the Lieutenant on behalf of