Authors: Constance O'Banyon
Tags: #Historical, #Romance, #Fiction, #19th Century, #American West, #Native Americans, #Abduction, #Indian, #Protection, #Courted, #Suitors, #Lagonda Tribe, #Savage, #Prince, #Goddess, #Rescued, #King, #White People, #Dove, #True Love
Table of Contents
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When the Spaniards first came to the New World they were told by several different Indian tribes about the Seven Cities of Gold. These seven great walled cities were said to be inhabited by a highly advanced and intelligent Indian tribe, which was very wealthy, possessing gold and silver that was used by the tribe in its everyday life. The homes of these people were reputed to be built of stone, and the palace where the king resided was said to be seven stories high.
Hernan De Soto set out on a quest to find the Seven Cities of Gold, but was unsuccessful. He died an unhappy man and was buried in the New World at the bottom of what is now known as the Mississippi River. In March of 1539, Friar Marcos set out on his quest to find the elusive cities, but he also faced defeat. On April 22, 1540, Francisco Vasquez de Coronado set out in his turn on a long and lengthy search for the legendary cities. His search took him two years, and he covered many hundreds of miles, but he, too, was unsuccessful, and he returned to Mexico in April of 1542.
No white man ever saw the Seven Cities of Gold—or if any did, he never lived to tell about it.
Were the Seven Cities a myth, or did they actually exist?
I choose to think that they did in fact exist, and have taken the liberty to let my imagination soar with my novel,
IT IS A LAND RICH IN GOLD, SILVER AND OTHER WEALTH, AND HAS GREAT CITIES; THE HOUSES ARE OF STONE, AND TERRACED LIKE THOSE IN
MEXICO; THE PEOPLE HAVE WEIGHTS AND
MEASURES, AND ARE CIVILIZED.
THEY MARRY ONLY ONCE, WEAR WOOLEN
CLOTHES . .. AND ARE RULED BY A KING.
The Indian stood on the hilltop and surveyed his surroundings. His dark eyes moved over the land, taking in every detail, missing nothing.
He stood tall and proud. There was something regal, almost noble about him. His stance gave the appearance of arrogance as he folded his arms across his bare chest that was smooth and rippled with muscles. Soft buckskin hugged his long, lean legs. His face was bronze and exceedingly handsome.
He watched as a golden eagle circled above him searching for its prey. The man raised his arm in a silent salute to his brother of the sky. A slight breeze stirred his shoulder-length ebony-colored hair. His head was encircled with a leather band that was interwoven with the purest gold. Around his upper arm he wore a golden armband in the shape of a cobra.
He was Tajarez, son of the king of the Lagonda tribe, beloved prince of his people and future king of the Seven Cities of Gold.
Tajarez had traveled far from his homeland and had been away from his tribe for many months. He had traveled in solitude and had lived off the land. It was a quest that was required of the son of the king—a journey that had been made by his father and his father's father before him, as far back as the history of the Lagonda tribe was recorded. It was a quest for inner peace and strength, to clear the mind and purify the soul. It was forbidden to speak until he returned to the Seven Cities. Tajarez had not heard the sound of his own voice since he had bid his father farewell.
He had seen twenty-six summers, and this was the first time that he had observed the white race in what they called civilization. He had seen many strange sights in his months of travel. He had watched the white men at a distance and had seen the quaint wooden structures they called forts and the crude log cabins that they lived in.
Sagas the Wise had told Tajarez many tales of the white man's cruelty to the Indians, and had he, Tajarez, not experienced that cruelty himself? His hatred ran deep for the white race, and with good cause. His mind reached backwards to a time past, when he had been only a child of four summers.
Hamez, his father, had returned from an extended hunting trip and brought with him an injured white man. The man had been half-frozen and near to death. Tajarez remembered what a strange and frightening figure the stranger had been to him at the time. He had never seen a man with white skin before, or with hair the color of fire. Not only did the man have long red hair on his head, but the lower part of his face was covered with the same red hair, as well as his chest and arms.
Tajarez could remember clinging to his mother's skirt at the time, unable to tear his eyes away from the strange sight.
"Is he a god?" Tajarez had asked his mother.
"No, my son," she had replied. "He is a white man who
comes from a faraway place where they have many strange customs and live very differently from the Lagonda."
As the weeks passed and it seemed that the white man
would live, Tajarez had lost his fear of the man who was
called O'Malley, and spent most of his time in the home
of the medicine man, where O'Malley was recuperating.
Tajarez was fascinated with the color of the man's eyes,
for they were the color of the gray squirrel, and if Tajarez
looked close enough he could see his own reflection
mirrored in the transparent depths.
O'Malley encouraged Tajarez to spend time with him.
It seemed to amuse him to teach an Indian boy to speak
English. It did not take Tajarez long to master the language, for he was intelligent and eager to learn.
O'Malley was an educated man and at one time had been a tutor to a wealthy man's children in England, so he taught Tajarez to speak proper English. He would laugh heartily at the young boy's cultured speech, for it
was indeed amusing to him to hear a young Indian boy
speaking the purest English.
O'Malley remained with the Lagonda tribe for six summers. He proved himself to be a brave and worthy
warrior and was soon accepted by everyone. He even became blood brother to Tajarez's father, Hamez, which
was a very great honor.
Tajarez would listen, fascinated, as O'Malley told him
of his boyhood home in a place called Ireland. He told
him of many faraway places. One was called the United
States of America, and it was ruled by a great king, called
a president, who lived in a place called Washington. He
also told Tajarez of the many modes of transportation
used by the white man—large horse-drawn carriages, and
big ships that could transport many people to faraway places over the big waters.
Tajarez had listened intently to O'Malley's words, dreaming of one day seeing these wondrous sights. He had loved O'Malley and thought of him as his best friend, after his father, of course.
Tajarez's eyes burned with hatred as he remembered how O'Malley had betrayed that friendship and kindness with treachery and death. He had worn a false face under the guise of friendship. O'Malley had craved the gold and riches of the Lagonda tribe. He had also wanted Tajarez's sister, Tirza, and had been the cause of her death, and of his mother's as well.
O'Malley had asked Hamez for his daughter, wanting her for his wife, but Hamez had told him Tirza was already pledged to another and was honorbound to keep that pledge. O'Malley had become enraged when Hamez told him that Tirza loved the one she was to wed, and had bided his time to wreak his treachery. His chance came one day when Hamez and most of the warriors were away from the city. O'Malley had laden four horses with gold and furs. He had then tried to force Tirza to accompany him. When she refused and fought to get away from him, her mother heard her struggle and came to her daughter's aid. O'Malley struck Tajarez's mother a blow that had killed her instantly. He had then forced Tirza to go with him. Using her as a shield, he had gotten past the guards at the entrance to the cities.
The world was not large enough for O'Malley to hide. When Hamez returned home and discovered what he had done, it did not take long for him to track O'Malley down. In fact, O'Malley was a prisoner before the sun had set the first day. It had been too late to save Tajarez's sister, however. Tirza, feeling shame and dishonor, had used a knife and taken her own life.
O'Malley had died a long and agonizing death. He died the death of a coward, and cried out for mercy many times before he finally breathed his last. Hamez had himself lashed O'Malley to a tree. Then he had taken his knife and slit his stomach open just enough that it took many days for him to die in agony.
It had been a horrible and bloody sight, but Tajarez had watched with hatred in his eyes and wished that the man he had once looked up to as his friend could die many times over. His heart had cried out for revenge. His grief had been almost unbearable. He would never again see his sweet, gentle mother or his beautiful sister.
Hamez had been wild and unconsolable in his grief and had ridden away from the Seven Cities. He did not return for six moons.
Sagas the Wise had tried to comfort the young Tajarez. "Give your father time to find peace within himself and face the sorrow that lies within his heart. It is not good for the people to see their king grieve. While you and I know your father to be a man with strengths and weaknesses like everyone else, the people expect much from their king." Sagas shook his head wearily. "Sometimes I believe they expect too much; but that is the way it has always been." Tajarez remembered Sagas reaching for his hand and peering down into his face. He remembered thinking at the time that the eyes that held so much compassion at that moment also held many of the secrets of the universe. "One day, little prince, you will wear the crown of the Seven Cities. Then you will know it is a crown that weighs heavily on a man at times."
Tajarez did not understand much of what Sagas had said to him that day, for his grief had been too new and it was the first time in his young life that he had been exposed to cruelty and death. "Why did O'Malley do such an evil thing, Sagas? I do not understand." He had fought hard against the tears that stung his eyes, knowing that a Lagonda warrior did not cry. Crying was for women and babies, and not for the son of a king.
Sagas had looked at him kindly. "It will do no harm if you cry, little prince. No one will know but the two of us." Tajarez had shaken his head, and swallowed the big lump that came to his throat, refusing to let even Sagas see his weakness.
"In answer to your question," Sagas said in a voice that shook with emotion, "I do not know why O'Malley did the things he did when he was shown only kindness and friendship by your father. It was a grievous way to repay your father for saving his miserable life and making him a part of the Lagonda tribe." Sagas paused as though considering how to continue. His face was creased and wrinkled but the dark eyes were full of intelligence, for Sagas the Wise had seen over one hundred summers, and as his name suggested, he was indeed a very wise man. His dark eyes seemed to look inward as he spoke to the boy. "Many long moons ago, when the white man first came to our land, they called themselves Spanish conquistadors. Word had come to the Lagonda of the cruelty with which they treated the Indians they had come in contact with. The Spanish killed the men and children and raped the women. Your ancestor, the king at the time, was called Tajarez, like yourself. He was a very wise ruler. Hearing that the Spanish were searching for the Seven Cities, and being told that they were crazed in their quest for the yellow metal we have in such abundance, the king sent out scouts to make friends with them and pretend to guide them to our cities, while in truth they led the Spanish in the opposite direction. The Spanish searched for a very long time, but did not find our cities, nor has any white man ever set foot in our cities until the man O'Malley was brought here by your father. The white man is different from us. While we use the gold in our everyday life, it is useful to us, but nothing more. The white man seems to worship gold, and he does many evil deeds to acquire it."
"I hate all white men. When I am a man I will kill them all," Tajarez had vowed. "This I swear on the graves of my mother and sister."
The old man shook his head sadly. "You cannot kill all the white men. They are as many as the stars in the sky. Nor can you stop their numbers from coming to our land. I have seen in a vision the future of this land. It will be populated by the white race. They will build great cities and push the Indian off their land."
Tajarez's eyes had grown wide with fear, for everyone knew that when Sagas saw a vision it would come to pass, for he was blessed with the gift of sight, and had never been wrong. "Is there nothing we can do to stop them, Sagas?"
The old man's eyes blazed for a moment, as though rejecting the idea of the white man's supremacy over the Indian. Then he shrugged his shoulders. "No more than you can say to the sun,
do not rise.
" Then Sagas did a strange thing. Taking the young Tajarez's face in his hands, he looked deeply into his eyes. "You cannot know it, my prince, but you yourself will help shape the destiny of your people. Your birth was foretold many summers ago, before the white man ever came to this land. The day of your birth, I knew you were the one spoken of in the old prophecy."
It did not occur to Tajarez to doubt Sagas. Too many times he had looked into the future and predicted the present.
Tajarez remembered feeling fear at Sagas's words. "Tell me what will happen, Sagas. How will I shape the future of my people?" he had asked.
Once more the wise old eyes had turned inward, as though Sagas was in a trance. When he spoke the words were familiar to Tajarez, for it was a prediction that had been handed down from father to son for many generations. Every one of the Lagonda tribe was familiar with the prophecy:
When the Golden One comes there will be peace
and plenty, The past will be revealed to the few and the
many. One man will die; another shall weep, There will be love where the Golden One sleeps.
"What does it mean, Sagas? I do not understand," he had said.
The old man had looked at him absentmindedly. "You will know when the time is right," he said, and he would say no more no matter how Tajarez pressed him.
"It does no one good to know too much about the future. Sometimes it is a very heavy burden for me to bear. I am not as young as I once was. Besides, to abuse the power is to lose it," Sagas had told him.
It was not until months later that Sagas had mentioned the prophecy to Tajarez again. Tajarez had been swimming in the river with his cousin, Anias, when Sagas had appeared on the riverbank and motioned for Tajarez to come to him. Tajarez had swum quickly to the bank and stood dripping wet before Sagas, waiting for him to speak.
"The Golden One was born today," he had said in a matter-of-fact voice. Then he turned on his heels and walked away, leaving a startled Tajarez with many unanswered questions.