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HOME > Classical Novels > Vanished Arizona33 > CHAPTER 31. SANTA FE
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 I made haste to present Captain Summerhayes with the shoulder-straps of his new rank, when he joined me in New York.  
The orders for Santa Fe reached us in mid-summer at Nantucket. I knew about as much of Santa Fe as the average American knows, and that was nothing; but I did know that the Staff appointment solved the problem of education for us (for Staff officers are usually stationed in cities), and I knew that our frontier life was over. I welcomed the change, for our children were getting older, and we were ourselves approaching the age when comfort means more to one than it heretofore has.
Jack1 obeyed his sudden orders, and I followed him as soon as possible.
Arriving at Santa Fe in the mellow2 sunlight of an October day, we were met by my husband and an officer of the Tenth Infantry3, and as we drove into the town, its appearance of placid4 content, its ancient buildings, its great trees, its clear air, its friendly, indolent-looking inhabitants, gave me a delightful5 feeling of home. A mysterious charm seemed to possess me. It was the spell which that old town loves to throw over the strangers who venture off the beaten track to come within her walls.
Lying only eighteen miles away, over a small branch road from Llamy (a station on the Atchison and Topeka Railroad), few people take the trouble to stop over to visit it. "Dead old town," says the commercial traveller, "nothing doing there."
And it is true.
But no spot that I have visited in this country has thrown around me the spell of enchantment6 which held me fast in that sleepy and historic town.
The Governor's Palace, the old plaza7, the ancient churches, the antiquated8 customs, the Sisters' Hospital, the old Convent of Our Lady of Loretto, the soft music of the Spanish tongue, I loved them all.
There were no factories; no noise was ever heard; the sun shone peacefully on, through winter and summer alike. There was no cold, no heat, but a delightful year-around climate. Why the place was not crowded with health seekers, was a puzzle to me. I had thought that the bay of San Francisco offered the most agreeable climate in America, but, in the Territory of New Mexico, Santa Fe was the perfection of all climates combined.
The old city lies in the broad valley of the Santa Fe Creek9, but the valley of the Santa Fe Creek lies seven thousand feet above the sea level. I should never have known that we were living at a great altitude, if I had not been told, for the equable climate made us forget to inquire about height or depth or distance.
I listened to old Father de Fourri preach his short sermons in English to the few Americans who sat on one side of the aisle10, in the church of Our Lady of Guadaloupe; then, turning with an easy gesture towards his Mexican congregation, who sat or knelt near the sanctuary11, and saying, "Hermanos mios," he gave the same discourse12 in good Spanish. I felt comfortable in the thought that I was improving my Spanish as well as profiting by Father de Fourri's sound logic13. This good priest had grown old at Santa Fe in the service of his church.
The Mexican women, with their black ribosos wound around their heads and concealing14 their faces, knelt during the entire mass, and made many long responses in Latin.
After years spent in a heathenish manner, as regards all church observations, this devout15 and unique service, following the customs of ancient Spain, was interesting to me in the extreme.
Sometimes on a Sunday afternoon I attended Vespers in the chapel16 of the Sisters' Hospital (as it was called). A fine Sanitarium, managed entirely17 by the Roman Catholic Sisters of Charity.
Sister Victoria, who was at the head of the management, was not only a very beautiful woman, but she had an agreeable voice and always led in the singing.
It seemed like Heaven.
I wrote to my friends in the East to come to the Sisters' Hospital if they wanted health, peace and happiness, for it was surely to be found there. I visited the convent of Our Lady of Loretto: I stood before a high wall in an embrasure of which there was a low wooden gate; I pulled on a small knotted string which hung out of a little hole, and a queer old bell rang. Then one of the nuns18 came and let me in, across a beautiful garden to the convent school. I placed my little daughter as a day pupil there, as she was now eleven years old. The nuns spoke19 very little English and the children none at all.
The entire city was ancient, Spanish, Catholic, steeped in a religious atmosphere and in what the average American Protestant would call the superstitions20 of the dark ages. There were endless fiestas, and processions and religious services, I saw them all and became much interested in reading the history of the Catholic missions, established so early out through what was then a wild and unexplored country. After that, I listened with renewed interest to old Father de Fouri, who had tended and led his flock of simple people so long and so lovingly.
There was a large painting of Our Lady of Guadaloupe over the altar—these people firmly believed that she had appeared to them, on the earth, and so strong was the influence around me that I began almost to believe it too. I never missed the Sunday morning mass, and I fell in easily with the religious observances.
I read and studied about the old explorers, and I seemed to live in the time of Cortez and his brave band. I became acquainted with Adolf Bandelier, who had lived for years in that country, engaged in research for the American Archaeological Society. I visited the Indian pueblos22, those marvellous structures of adobe24, where live entire tribes, and saw natives who have not changed their manner of speech or dress since the days when the Spaniards first penetrated25 to their curious dwellings26, three hundred or more years ago. I climbed the rickety ladders, by which one enters these strange dwellings, and bought the great bowls which these Indians shape in some manner without the assistance of a potter's wheel, and then bake in their mud ovens.
The pueblo21 of Tesuque is only nine miles from Santa Fe, and a pleasant drive, at that; it seemed strange to me that the road was not lined with tourists. But no, they pass all these wonders by, in their disinclination to go off the beaten track.
Visiting the pueblos gets to be a craze. Governor and Mrs. Prince knew them all—the pueblo of Taos, of Santa Clara, S............
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