| Chapter XVII -- The Lost Tradition |
The priest travels from village to village, demanding the people build churches because the smallpox epidemic had been sent to punish them for their impiety. . .The elders met for a discussion of the problem: on the one hand there was the order to start opening the road; and on the other, the divine threat, the danger that the word of the priest might become reality. It was impossible to obey the two mandates at the same time. Their solution: work two days a week on the church, and two days a week on the road, four days of the week without rest and without wages.
Ancient mounds are broken apart for their rocks to be re-used in road and church construction. But the most curious part of it all was that the reverend father, having left the cords stretched to mark the plan of the building, went off without paying any more attention to it; as if all he had wanted was to take them away from the work ordered by the authorities. It was only fear that made them finish the highway and continue with the church. The fields were full of weeds, choking the maize. Some of the elders had already called attention to the fact that day after day long strings of hawks crossed the sky, migrating to other lands, a sure sign of coming hunger.
Chapter XVIII -- The Pilgrims
Before the Indians can start work on the regional school, the priest informs them that he made a vow during the smallpox epidemic to take all the survivors on a pilgrimage. After long deliberation experience spoke. The aged, the children and the women, except those who were needed to feed the workers, would all go on the pilrimage, while the able-bodied men would remain to lend a hand with the building, the first step of the educational program of the deputy.
A description of the pilgrimage follows; sleeping outdoors, 3 days to get there, and another 3 for the return. Their wonder at the sight of the town; the priest pushing them to their knees and taking whatever of value they had brought for charity and candles. For the money and the offerings, the Indians got relics which they hung around their necks, burned by a sun that first rose on their race before the exodus, was at the zenith when the white men arrived in the new world, and still blazes. That night the tribe slept huddled like a flock in the atrium.
After a long time, the school is finished and the deputy orders the municipal president to put the name of some distinguished benefactor or national hero over the door. And the municipal president then arranged that the name over the door should be that of the deputy himself, saying it was only fair, since the school was his work.