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well as of the son of civilization. Her husband, he told her, was a forlorn fugitive in the forests of a hostile country; he was the chief of a powerful nation and could surround her with luxuries and wealth. Could she hesitate to accept his love in preference to that of a man who was lost to her.
These persuasions excited only horror and anguish in the soul of the faithful wife. Her love for her husband was proof against all that Siripa could say, and also against the fear of slavery or death, which might follow her rejection of his suit. In fact, death seemed to her a smaller evil than life as the wife of this savage suitor, and she rejected his offers with scorn and with a bitter contempt which she hoped would excite his rage and induce him to put her to instant death.
Her flashing eyes and excited words, however, had a very different effect from that she intended. They served only to heighten her charms in the eyes of the cacique, and he became more earnest than ever in his persuasions. Taking her to his village, he treated her with every mark of kindness and gentleness, and showed her the utmost respect and civility, doubtless hoping in this way to win her esteem and raise a feeling in her breast corresponding to his own.
Meanwhile, Hurtado and his men returned with the provisions they had collected, and viewed with consternation the ruins of the fort which they had so lately left. Their position was a desperate one, alone and undefended as they were, in the midst of treacherous tribes; but the fears which troubled the
minds of his comrades did not affect that of Hurtado. He learned that his wife was a captive in the hands of the cacique of Timbuez, and love and indignation in his soul suppressed all other feelings. With a temerity that seemed the height of imprudence, he sought alone the village of the chief and demanded the release of his wife.
Siripa heard his request with anger at his presumption and savage joy at having at his mercy the man who stood between him and the object of his affections. Determined to remove this obstacle to his suit, he at once ordered him to be seized, bound to a tree, and pierced with arrows.
This was not unseen by Miranda, and, filled with anguish, she rushed out, cast herself at the Indian's feet and pitifully pleaded with him for her husband's life. The force of beauty in grief prevailed. Hurtado was unbound, but he was still kept in captivity.
Lover as Siripa was, he had all the undisciplined passions of a savage, and the fate of husband and wife alike was at constant risk in his hands. Now, tormented with the fury of jealousy, he seemed bent on sacrificing the husband to his rage. Again, the desire of winning the esteem of Miranda softened his soul, and he permitted the husband and wife to meet.
As the days of captivity passed the strictness of their detention was relaxed and they were permitted greater freedom of action. As a result they met each other more frequently and under less restraint. But this growing leniency in the cacique had its
limits: they might converse, but they were warned against indulging in any of the fond caresses of love. Jealousy still burned in his soul, and if Miranda would not become his, he was resolved that no one else should enjoy the evidence of her affection. The situation was a painful one.
Husband and wife, as Hurtado and Miranda were, they continued lovers as well, and it was not easy to repress the feelings that moved them. Prudence bade them avoid any show of love, and they resolved to obey its dictates; but prudence is weak where love commands, and in one fatal moment Siripa surprised them clasped in each other's arms and indulging in the ardent kisses of love.
Filled with wild jealousy at the sight and carried away by ungovernable fury at their contempt of his authority and their daring disregard of his feelings, he ordered them both to instant execution. Hurtado's old sentence was renewed: he was bound to a tree and his body pierced with arrows. As for Miranda, she was sentenced by the jealous and furious savage to a more painful death, that of the flames. Yet painful as it was, the loyal wife doubtless preferred it to yielding to the passion of the chief, and as a quick means of rejoining in soul life her lover and husband.
Thus ends the most romantic and tragical story of love and faith that the early annals of America have to show, and the fate of the faithful Miranda has become a classic in the love-lore of the America of the south.
LANTARO, THE BOY HERO OF
The river Biobio, in Southern Chili, was for centuries the boundary between liberty and oppression in South America. South of it lay the land of the Araucanians, that brave and warlike people who preserved their independence against the whites, the only Indian nation in America of which this can be said. Valorous and daring as were the American Indians, their arms and their arts were those of the savage, and the great multitude of them were unable to stand before the weapons and the discipline of their white invaders. But such was not the case with the valiant Araucanians. From the period of Almagro, the companion of Pizarro and the first invader of Chili, down to our own days these bold Americans fought for and retained their independence, holding the Biobio as their national frontier, and driving army after army from their soil. Not until 1882 did they consent to become citizens of Chili, and then of their own free will, and they still retain their native habits and their pride in their pure blood.
The most heroic and intrepid of the Indian races, they defied the armies of the Incas long before the Spaniards came, and the armies of the Spaniards for centuries afterwards, and though they have now
consented to become a part of the Chilian nation, this has not been through conquest, and they are as independent in spirit to-day as in the warlike years of the past. Their hardy and daring character infects the whole of Chili, and has given that little republic, drawn out like a long string between the Andes and the sea, the reputation of being one of the most warlike and unyielding of countries, while to its people have been applied the suggestive title of "the Yankees of the South.”
It would need a volume to tell the deeds of the heroes who arose in succession to defend the land of Araucania from the arms of those who so easily overturned the mighty empire of Peru. We shall, therefore, confine ourselves to the exploits of one of the earliest of these, a youthful warrior with a genius for war that might have raised him to the rank of a great commander had not death early cut short his career. The second Spaniard who attempted the conquest of this valiant people was Pedro de Valdivia, the quartermaster of Pizarro, an able soldier, but one of those who fancied that a handful of Spanish cavaliers were a match for the strongest of the Indian tribes. He little knew the spirit of the race with which he would have to deal.
Southward from Peru marched the bold Valdivia with two hundred Spaniards at his back. With them as aids to conquest was brought a considerable force of Peruvians; also priests and women, for he proposed to settle and hold the land as his own