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GONE now was the great show of pageantry. The banners no longer ?uttered proudly in the blazing sun of New Spain, and the armored soldiers of Charles T had lost their great air of bravado. The raw land had reached up to smite the conquistadors, and the glory of the Spanish Crown dragged in the dust. Coronado had said, "We fear not for our lives, for the arm of the true God is over us." But it seemed to every man, from mounted cavalier to lowly foot soldier, that only the dark spirit, El Diablo, traveled with them.

The advance patrol of Don Carlos de Hernandez, who was as fanatical as Coronado himself, wasted itself upon the unknown desert and, if this madness continued, was surely doomed.

"Me thinks," even Don Carlos began to say, "that this heathen devil of an India lies."

His doubt was confided only to his nephew, Don Miguel Cordova, a very young man who was fresh from Spain and upon his virgin adventure. But Don Miguel was not surprised. He too had suspicions of the native guide, a cunning fellow who talked a few words of the white man's tongue, learned from the good friars. and professed to be a Christian. But . . . a wondrous city rolled Quivira, where there was a great tree hung with countless bells of pure gold—where every native possessed dishes of the same bright metal, as well as jugs and images and all manner of ornaments? To even so young and inexperienced a man as Don Miguel, it seemed beyond belief. Yet it was Quivira that the conquistadors sought.

"Don Miguel . . ."

The cry came from an agonized throat. Don Miguel turned his gaunted mount about and saw that yet another man had fallen. The eighth in two days. Madre de Dior! thought Miguel, and felt pity in his heart. That he too might die here in this empty land seemed a certainty, yet his heart could go out to these other wretched humans.

He saw how the foot soldiers—only the two caballeros were mounted—straggled in a ragged line. They were crossbowmen, arquebusiers and swordsmen, transported across the seas and now turned into sorry creatures by the desert. No longer did the dream of riches lay in their dulled eyes. No fanaticism drove them, as it did the fierce Don Carlos. But the Indian bearers, who came last, moved steadily under their burdens and were untouched by blazing sun and scorching heat. "They are the children of this land," thought Miguel, "and so it cannot harm them."

"Miguel, come along!"

Don Carlos was shouting from his place at the head of the column. He was looking back at his nephew, and the fires of hell seemed to glitter in his black eyes. He had a hawkish beak of a nose, a cruel traplike mouth. Don Carlos was one of Coronado's most trusted captains. There was no mercy in him, no sympathy for the weak. If a man fell, he remained where he fell. Again Don Carlos bellowed, "Miguel, come along!"

But the fallen man cried out, "Have mercy—!"

Miguel was swayed. He ignored his uncle's command, risked Don Carlos' temper. He rode back and dismounted. He took the goa...

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