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The air was full of the chill and blast of winter, and with the first snowflakes great discontent broke out in camp, and Coronado realized that he must find a place to make his men more comfortable. 

"There are ten big community houses on top of that spider-shaped rock," he said, one morning to a squad of soldiers who had been drilling on parade ground, "and I want possession of it for the troops. Someone must go ahead first and report the situation."

"The rock is so high that our bullets scarcely reach to the top," said the scout, who had galloped over to the pueblo to spy out a way of doing what Coronado commanded. "But there are four winding paths leading up the sides, and we can ascend in single file."

"Have you tried it?" asked Coronado.

"Yes, and found it quite an easy task. I spent last night there, and as the rays of the sun took leave of the lofty Sierras, I felt forsaken, and as if I were about to float away into the darkness."

"Did the Indians suspect your purpose in coming?"

"Certainly not, and all my gloomy feelings passed away as soon as the fires began to blaze on the roofs at different heights of the same building. Inside the houses laughing voices greeted me, and I was glad to be the guest of such simple people."

"Do you think we would be safe from attacks and surprises at night?"

"Perfectly. And when once up there it would be almost impossible to come down at night. The narrow paths are really unsafe except in daylight."

It was not long until the Spaniards had forcible possession of the village, and during the long, dreary winter months they went about in rusty helmets, battered cuirasses, ragged doublets, and worn-out boots, while the Indians wrapped themselves in thick coverings made of rabbit skins. Every morning the bell called them to mass, and then the criers went up and down announcing the day's duty to everyone in the camp. On the plains below was heard the neighing of horses, the lowing of cattle, and the bleating of sheep.

In the pueblos nearby the Indians danced and gathered around the fires to listen to the old men's stories of their past, and as the winter drew to a close the Spaniards were no longer homesick and despondent, but ready and willing to test the truth of some of the things the Indians had told them of the Wrathy Chieftain and the Kingdom of Quivera.

At Pecos, the scouts were received with music and presents of cotton cloth and handfuls of turquoises, because the inhabitants were not sure but that the white men came from the sun, and were sent by the Golden Hearted, whom they revered and honored as the Wrathy Chieftain.

In this village, they met a strange-looking Indian.

We will name this fellow the "Turk," because he looks so like one, and find out, if we can, where he lives. "Maybe his people have gold," said the soldiers, as soon as they arrived at Pecos.

"My home is very far to the east," said the Turk, when questioned, "and we have plenty of gold."

"What is the name of your country!"

"Quivera and my king's name is Tatarax. He wears a long beard, and worships a golden cross and an image of the Queen of Heaven."

Had the Spaniards been at all cautious and shrewd they would have taken pains to find out how true this statement was, but they were so tired of being in camp, that they were glad of an opportunity to go on another expedition in search of an El Dorado, which they always hoped to find.

"The chiefs of the Pecos have taken a gold armband of mine," said the Turk, wishing to make trouble between them and the Spaniards. "No matter what I say to them, they will not give it back to me."

He described the band as being so wide and heavy that Coronado was induced to seize the chiefs and carry them off to another pueblo in the hope of compelling the Pecos Indians to pay a big ransom for them. In addition, the Spaniards demanded cotton clothes and provisions for their journey. The Indians refused and fought two weeks before Coronado became satisfied that the Turk never had such a thing as an armband, and that there was no gold in the village.

"It is no use to waste time looking for treasures in this part of the world," he finally told his men, and they immediately began to question the Turk.

"I know a country," he declared, "where there is a very wide river that has fish in it as big as a horse. The people tip their canoes with gold, and sometimes there are forty rowers in a boat. Every vessel they use is made of gold and silver."

All the time he was talking he watched the faces of the soldiers with keen craftiness, and when he saw how delighted they were, he made the story just as big as he could.

"There are plenty of such places," he said, with a toss of his head, "but my country of Quivera is the most important of them all, and I will take you there first."

When anyone gets lost on the plains where there are no hills or trees to mark the way, they wander around in a circle and finally get into a perfect frenzy by coming back to the same place over and over again.

This was what happened to the Spaniards under Coronado. They returned in a wide bend to Pecos, after marching for months on the desolate plains.

"Led around in a circle," he said, "as if by some evil spirit. Everywhere we went we found ourselves surrounded by herds of misshapen, crinkly-wooled cows. Some of them had calves, and the bulls had beards of sunburnt hair. Our horses took fright and ran away, while some of them plunged and threw their riders over their heads."

"Were these woolly cows ferocious?" asked the good padre, who had remained at Pecos to teach the Indians, and had never seen a buffalo.

"They are very terrible when they stampede. If they catch sight of a white man, they lower their heads and with a quick, short bellow set off at full tilt in a heavy, rolling gallop. On they come, like a mad rush of waters, tails high in the air and their big eyes gleaming with fright. We had much ado to keep out of their way, for they would run over and trample all to death."

"No wonder your horses ran away," said the padre. "It was quite enough to frighten anything."

"Finally we met some of the people who go around the country with the cows. They make tents of the hides and wear them for blankets, and keep huge dogs to carry their food and baggage. They were friendly to us, but knew nothing of Quivera and its treasures."

But the feeling of helplessness and desolation of the plains gradually left the Spaniards, and then they were ready to follow the Turk's lead again. This time they got lost in the desert, and many of them wandered off and died from thirst, and their bodies were eaten by wolves and coyotes. They kept going round and round in a circle until their tongues hung out of their mouths and they were delirious. In the hot, quivering air they imagined they saw cities, and lakes and springs of water, and they laughed and cried, and sung and danced in a raging fever. At last they began to suspect the Turk.

"He is purposely leading us astray," they said. "He is trying to lose us on these desolate plains where we will starve to death. He intends to desert and leave us here."

They put the Turk in chains, and then he confessed that he had never seen the big stone houses he said were in Quivera, but stoutly insisted that the country was rich in gold and silver.

The Prairie Indians begged Coronado to turn back.

"The land of Quivera is forty days' journey toward the north," they said, "and you will suffer from hunger long before you reach other tribes."

But Coronado had spent all his money and was in debt deeply, so he determined to take twenty-nine picked horsemen and go forward. Leaving the rest of the company to find their way back to Pecos, he engaged some new guides among the Prairie Indians and pushed on determined to find Quivera. They rode directly north until they came to a place in Kansas near where the city of Leavenworth is now located.

In the meantime, the Pecos Indians went on the warpath and refused to receive or aid the Spaniards who left Coronado and went back to them. He found them encamped before the pueblo when he returned months after, weary, empty-handed, and disappointed.

"I have found Quivera and explored it well," he said, "but it has no permanent settlement, and no gold and silver. I was expecting to see houses several stories high, made of stone. Instead of that, they are simple huts and the inhabitants are perfectly savage."

The Turk tried to secure his freedom by saying that the Pecos Indians had hired him to lose the Spaniards on the plains, but no one paid any attention to him. In revenge he said to the people of Quivera:

"Do not let one of these white men escape alive. They will bring others of their kind and rob you of all your possessions and ill-treat your women and children. They have already killed many of the Pecos."

Someone told Coronado what was being said, and he ordered his soldiers to take the Turk out and hang him to the first tree they found, which they did.

Coronado spoke the truth about Quivera, but even the men who went with him believed that there was a land nearby where they would find great riches, and they kept repeating all the stories about El Dorado until Coronado was obliged to promise them that he would make another effort to find it.

"If we go north again we can be certain of good food for the soil is the best that can be found for all kinds of crops. In Quivera we were given plums, nuts, very fine grapes, mulberries, and flax. I really believe we shall make some important discoveries very soon."

One day at Pecos after he had made friends with the Indians, he was tilting with an officer in his command when his saddle girth broke while his horse was running at full speed. He fell on his head and was run over and so badly hurt that for days it was thought he would die. Before he got well news came from Mexico that the Indians behind him were on the warpath, and then he knew he must retreat as quickly as possible. So instead of going in quest of the roving band of Quivera Indians, he was obliged to return to the city of Mexico. Here the Viceroy received him coldly and upbraided him, saying:

"It is a source of keen disappointment and regret to me, that you, my trusted friend and favorite officer, should abandon the rich treasures of the north. I wish you to go to your estate and live in retirement for the remaining years of your life. I will try to find some one more worthy of my confidence for future work."

Reduced to poverty, with many debts unpaid, and disgraced by the Viceroy, the poor unfortunate nobleman lived only a few years on his estate in Mexico and died heartbroken over his failures.

Everybody in Mexico believed that he was mistaken, and several other expeditions set out to find the Kingdom of Quivera. More than a century afterward the legend settled around one of the missions founded by the padres, and for years people thought this was the Grand Quivera. Great treasures were supposed to be buried there by the missionaries when the insurrection of 1680 came. That year all the Indians in the region of Arizona and New Mexico organized a general uprising and they not only killed all the whites they could find but sacked and burned the missions. And that is the last ever heard of the one known as the Grand Quivera. No treasures were ever found in or near its ruins. There are ten curious maps of that time and each one locates the kingdom of Quivera in a different place. One of them brings it as far north as the Sacramento Valley in California.

Really Quivera is a will-o'-the-wisp, and from a roving band of Indians, has become a wandering treasure city, and a land of vague and mysterious proportions.