The Last of the Cacique – Part II
The besotted Governor had arranged for the enchanting Grenadilla to join him in his chambers and watch the spectacle from the window. As they awaited the arrival of the holy procession he pressed his suit but received only laughter at his protestations of eternal devotion. Then she caught sight of the procession and the pathetic Tumilco weighed down by chains, wearing a cap emblazoned with red devils and his body enveloped in a sack.
Once more the viceroy made the same eloquent efforts pursuing the same order as before. “Cruel! Ungrateful! Hyrca tigress! What do you demand? Speak!” Grenadilla turned quickly round, and pointing to Tumilco, who just ascended the pyre, replied:
“That you should save that man’s life!”
The Governor was startled by her demand. If he met it the people would surely turn on him – they wanted their entertainment. He would have an armed revolt on his hands if he met her request. But such was his lust that he ordered the execution be suspended and the cacique brought to him. And his command came not a moment too soon – the flame had just been put to the pile.
Tumilco was brought into the Governor’s presence and that wily worthy demanded of the unfortunate heretic that he renounce his barbaric worship. He offered him a pardon if he were to receive baptism into the holy church. At the point of execution how could anyone refuse, with a shrug of his shoulders Tumilco agreed.
The Grand Inquisitor, who was melting in the heat under the weight of his vestments and who never liked the smell of burning heretics anyway, was informed. In his delight at finally having a cacique as a convert he granted the pardon in the name of mother church and all the saints.
The Governor was highly pleased with his solution until he heard the crescendoing murmurs of discontent from the crowd, unhappy at being cheated of their promised sport. What was he to do? How could he appease them? Startled by a rock hitting a window of his palacio he quickly decided hit upon a plan. Striding out onto the balcony displaying a brave front betrayed by his quaking knees he called for silence. With great pomp and solemnity he announced the conversion of the apparently penitent Tumilco and the celebration of his baptism with great ceremony the following day. There would be processions, feasting, and dancing; the beautiful Grenadilla would dance for them as she had never danced before. The jeers that had greeted his appearance turned to cheers as the fickle populace turned their thoughts from the flames of the auto da fé to the cleansing waters of the baptismal font – and the promised food, drink, and the beautiful Grenadilla.
But where was Grenadilla? The Governor had fulfilled his promise and was seeking out his prize. But she was nowhere to be found. The servants searched every room and stairwell of the palace, a whole troop of guardsmen combed the streets of the city, but she was never found. The beautiful dancer was never to be seen again in the streets of the city nor in the Mexican countryside.
The reader has probably concluded that Grenadilla, though proud and beautiful as the flower whose name she bears, has nevertheless a secret passion for the cacique, the young and handsome savage. The rules of the novel would indeed seem to require this, but truth has its rights which we are bound to respect. Tumilco is old ugly and broken down and if as, the foregoing chapter shows, Grenadilla loves him it is because the cacique took care of her in her childhood. It is because she was received by him when she was an infant, poor and forsaken, and was by him protected until circumstances, which we need not relate, compelled him to leave his native province. Grenadilla by saving the life of Tumilco had acquitted herself of this obligation.
Satisfied at having done her duty, she started that very night for Europe. It was the only way in which she could avoid the persecutions of the governor. When three months out the ship which conveyed her was wrecked. Her body was thrown by the waves upon the Spanish coast.The Flower Fairy, being at the time in those latitudes engaged in watching over the Jessamine, received the body of Grenadilla. In the spot where she found her she caused a splendid thicket of pomegranates to rise, whose fruits and flowers like the beauty and the talents of Grenadilla were delightful to behold.
WE RETURN TO THE CACIQUE
Tumilco, having been baptized under the name of Esteban, made his home in Mexico, and lived there on a small pension provided to him by the government, in consideration of his being a descendent of Montezuma. The sincerity of his conversion was often questioned, and they were thinking of again bringing him before the holy office, when he fell very sick. He asked that a physician might be called: his charitable neighbors sent him a priest.
“Brother Esteban,” said the priest, “it is time you should commend your soul to the mercy of God.”
“My name is not Esteban,” the cacique replied. “I am called Tumilco. Go about your business!”
“Think of God my brother!”
“Thy God is not mine,” said Tumilco. “Will some one open the window?”
His request was complied with. The setting sun was still bright in the west.
“There is my god,” said the cacique, “and the god of my fathers. Sun receive thy child to thy bosom.”
The priest covered his face with his hands, made the sign of the cross and murmured “vade retro Satanas.”
Tumilco was dead.
“Sooner might you prevent the sunflower from following the sun in his course, than one of these heretics from returning to the worship of their luminary. This is what we gained by not burning him.”
The charitable neighbor who pronounced the above funeral oration, had no idea that the cacique Tumilco was merely the incarnation of the Sunflower. In worshipping the sun he did but obey the laws of his being.
On this day in 1857: Dred Scott is emancipated by the Blow family, his original owners.