Frank merriwells athlete.., p.20
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       Frank Merriwell's Athletes; Or, The Boys Who Won, p.20
 

          

  CHAPTER XX--THE SUN DANCE

  By this time the boys had arisen, hastily made their toilets, eaten a"snatched" breakfast, and were coming forth to witness the ceremonies.

  It was interesting to watch the crowd gathering from all directions.Some who had come to witness the ceremonies had traveled many hundredmiles. There were many Mexicans, not a few cowboys, Indians from varioustribes, ranchers and sports, travelers and women.

  While mass was going on in the little white chapel, the Pueblos, forwhose benefit it was said, were busy elsewhere with preparations for thereligious ceremony, in which they have the fullest belief.

  The men were in the subterranean _estufas_, dressing their bodies andperforming those secret rites which no white man is ever permitted towitness.

  The women were in the labyrinths of the great pyramids, deckingthemselves out in their finest apparel for the celebration, for thePueblos had Sunday clothes, and not a few of the garments were rich andhandsome.

  Mass was over at last, and then came the procession of the saints.

  In the chapel were several images. These were taken up in mysterious aweby the women present and carried to the door.

  Outside the chapel a piece of sheeting was raised aloft on poles by fourIndians to form a canopy to protect the images from the heat of the sun.The procession moved off toward a little bower of green limbs near thebigger pyramid.

  At the head of the company marched the idiot drummer, beating away withmight and main on his snareless drum.

  Close behind him followed two Pueblos, who fired guns as rapidly as theycould load them, presumably to frighten away evil spirits.

  Then came the women with the images.

  The figures were placed in the little bower, so they might overlook thefield where the races and sports were to take place.

  Not far away on a pole at least forty feet high were suspended a sheep,pieces of bread known as tortillas, and little sacks that were filledwith various kinds of grain.

  These were the fruits of the field, and were thus hung as a thankoffering to the Sun Father, by whose grace it was possible to raiseenough to supply the community.

  At length the male Pueblos were seen emerging from holes in the ground,entrances to their subterranean council chambers.

  Women and children, bedecked in their handsomest garments, appeared onthe terraces. They wore bright robes and sheepskin leggins, the latterbeing white as paper.

  Ordinarily these Indians wore clothes in which they could have passedmuster in any civilized community, but now all who were to take part inthe ceremonies appeared stripped to the breechclout, some of which werefancifully decorated and adorned.

  Some of the men had worked red ribbons and skeins of yellow yarn intotheir long black hair, and all were painted, although, unlike NorthernIndians, the Pueblos try to please in their appearance, instead ofmaking themselves as horrible as possible.

  Some were half white and some half blue, while others were marked withgeometrical figures. Some were of one solid color from crown to toe.

  Not a few of them were adorned with handsome white eagle feathers, andsome had their heads almost entirely covered with downy feathers.

  Among the Pueblos the feather is a symbol of prayer. They say the eaglesoars toward the sun at will, and his soft white feathers float upwardon the breeze, like thoughts.

  When the eagles are breeding the Pueblos go into the mountains andcapture the young, which are kept in captivity for Saint Geronimo Day.

  And so it is that when the Indian decorates himself on this greatoccasion with fluttering feathers each feather is equivalent to a prayerthat is constantly ascending to the Sun Father.

  To say the least, the idea is poetical.

  By the time the sun dance was ready to begin more than fifteen hundredwitnesses had assembled, and more were coming.

  Inza and Miss Abigail intrusted themselves to the care of the boys, whofound for them a fine position to witness the celebration.

  "Where is Merriwell?" asked the spinster, looking around. "I heard himtalking to you in front of the tent, Inza, but I have not seen him thismorning."

  "I believe he is trying to make some arrangements so that the boys maytake part in the sports of the day," answered the girl, quietly.

  "Gracious!" exclaimed Miss Abigail. "What a crazy notion! I don'tunderstand how he can want to have anything at all to do with themhorrid Indians! If the Indians were beaten at any of their games, theymight get angry and kill us all."

  "Nefer you been afrait mit dot," said Hans, who had been egged on byBarney and Ephraim to make one more attempt to win the good will of MissAbigail. "Uf they tried dot mit you they vos sure to get left alrettyqueek. I vos here, und I don'd let yourself be scalped. Yaw!"

  The spinster gave him a look that nearly froze him on the spot.

  "You!" she exclaimed. "You would fall all over yourself trying to getout of the way if you thought there was any danger."

  "You don'd pelief me!" cried Hans. "I vos a corker to fight. Somedimeven dere vos some dangers meppy I peen aple to shown you der sort uf aheroes vot you don'd know I peen."

  This was very amusing to Barney and Ephraim, who were chuckling withsatisfaction.

  Frank appeared.

  "It's all right, fellows!" he exclaimed, his face glowing withsatisfaction. "I have arranged it."

  "Good stuff!" exclaimed Harry. "But what are we going to do?"

  "Take part in everything but the religious performances."

  "What else occurs?"

  "A ball game, races, wrestling match, and so forth!"

  "Hurro!" cried Barney Mulloy, in delight. "It's shport we'll be aftherhavin' wid th' spalpanes!"

  "By gum!" grinned Ephraim Gallup. "It's goin' to be a sight better'n acircus!"

  "I shouldn't have been able to fix it if it hadn't been for JohnSwiftwing," confessed Frank. "He did all the business for me."

  "Is he going to take part in any of the sports?" asked Diamond.

  "Yes."

  "Well, he is a dandy. He can run like a deer, and he has the strength ofa grizzly bear."

  "Don't I know it?" laughed Frank. "Didn't I find it out when Yale playedCarlisle. He was a perfect wonder among the Indians, and their entireeleven were bulldog fighters. They were not at all scientific in theirplay, but they gave Yale the hottest kind of a fight, and came nearbattering a road to victory several times."

  Inza did not seem to hear Merriwell's words, and she was giving him noattention. She had called Hodge to her side, and was speaking to Bart.

  As Frank turned toward the girl he heard her say:

  "It's a disgrace to civilization that the American Indian is treated insuch a shameful manner! The Indians have been robbed, and deceived, andbutchered, and lied to, till they have no confidence in white men; andnow, because once in a while an Indian imitates a white man and getsdrunk, it is said all Indians are bad! It makes my blood boil to thinkof it. John Swiftwing is a specimen of the educated Indian, and he showswhat the government might do with these unfortunates if it tried. Ithink the United States ought to be ashamed of itself! I am ashamed ofit, so there!"

  Hodge laughed.

  "You have grown very enthusiastic over this subject of late," he said."It seems to me that all your enthusiasm has been aroused since youfirst saw John Swiftwing."

  Inza echoed his laugh, but added color came to her cheeks.

  "Perhaps you are right," she admitted. "I confess I did not know therewere any Indians like Mr. Swiftwing. He was a revelation to me."

  "There are a few like him, but he is not just what he seems, you may besure of that, Inza."

  "Now stop right there, Bart Hodge! Don't tell me that he is still asavage at heart. I know better! You can't make me believe that afterseeing all the fine things there are in the East and learning how muchsuperior the method of living among white men is to the way the Indianslive that a highly intelligent fellow like John Swiftwing could desireto come back here and live as his people live."
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  "I shall not try to make you believe it, Inza," smiled Bart, "for I havelearned that it is not an easy thing to change your mind once you haveit set on anything."

  "That's so! When I am sure of a thing I'll stick to it."

  Frank bit his lip.

  "That's right," he thought. "She is the most obstinate girl in theworld. She is jealous, quick-tempered, obstinate and intractable, butstill there is an irresistible charm about her. I should dislike anyother girl of her temperament and disposition, but it is most marvelousthat the more hateful she is the greater is her attraction for me. Whocan explain that? I am sure I can't."

  He spoke to Inza, but she did not deign to give him much attention,continuing her conversation with Hodge, whose eyes twinkled as he sawthere was some sort of a misunderstanding between her and Frank.

  "They seem to be quarreling or making up all the time," Bart mentallyobserved.

  Boomp-boomp! boomp-er-boomp! boomp-er-boomp!

  The sun dance had begun, and the drummer was beating out the time with acurious and ponderous drumstick.

  The drum was a big rawhide affair, as large as a barrel, and was carriedby two men.

  The men of the two large community buildings had formed in separategroups, shoulder to shoulder, and, on an open space before the boweroccupied by the images, they began the dance.

  This dance was a curious lifting of the feet with a sharp, jerky motion,and they sang a Pueblo anthem, which sounded like this:

  "Hi yo to hoo he yo yah hay yo, He yah hi yo ye har ye he ho."

  This was a song of praise and thanksgiving to the Sun Father, and asupplication for the continuance of his favor. It was not the hoarse anddiscordant yelping of the Northern Indian, but arose and fell inrhythmical cadences and with an exactness of time that was surprising.

  The spectators watched the dance with a curious feeling of interest andfascination.

 
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