Next, with a hideous yell, leapt into the centre of the space a personage who certainly could not have complained if any one had taken him for the devil, for he had dressed himself up carefully for that very intent, in a jaguar-skin with a long tail, grinning teeth, a pair of horns, a plume of black and yellow feathers, and a huge rattle.

“Here’s the Piache, the rascal,” says Amyas.

“Ay,” says Yeo, “in Satan’s livery, and I’ve no doubt his works are according, trust him for it.”

“Don’t be frightened, Jack,” says Cary, backing up Brimblecombe from behind. “It’s your business to tackle him, you know. At him boldly, and he’ll run.”

Whereat all the men laughed; and the Piache, who had intended to produce a very solemn impression, hung fire a little. However, being accustomed to get his bread by his impudence, he soon recovered himself, advanced, smote one of the musicians over the head with his rattle to procure silence; and then began a harangue, to which Amyas listened patiently, cigar in mouth.

“What’s it all about, boy?”

“He wants to know whether you have seen Amalivaca on the other shore of the great water?”

Amyas was accustomed to this inquiry after the mythic civilizer of the forest Indians, who, after carving the mysterious sculptures which appear upon so many inland cliffs of that region, returned again whence he came, beyond the ocean. He answered, as usual, by setting forth the praises of Queen Elizabeth.

To which the Piache replied, that she must be one of Amalivaca’s seven daughters, some of whom he took back with him, while be broke the legs of the rest to prevent their running away, and left them to people the forests.

To which Amyas replied, that his queen’s legs were certainly not broken; for she was a very model of grace and activity, and the best dancer in all her dominions; but that it was more important to him to know whether the tribe would give them cassava bread, and let them stay peaceably on that island, to rest a while before they went on to fight the clothed men (the Spaniards), on the other side of the mountains.

On which the Piache, after capering and turning head over heels with much howling, beckoned Amyas and his party to follow him; they did so, seeing that the Indians were all unarmed, and evidently in the highest good humor.

The Piache went toward the door of a carefully closed hut, and crawling up to it on all-fours in most abject fashion, began whining to some one within.

“Ask what he is about, boy.”

The lad asked the old cacique, who had accompanied them, and received for answer, that he was consulting the Daughter of the Sun.

“Here is our mare’s nest at last,” quoth Cary, as the Piache from whines rose to screams and gesticulations, and then to violent convulsions, foaming at the mouth, and rolling of the eyeballs, till he suddenly sank exhausted, and lay for dead.

“As good as a stage play.”

“The devil has played his part,” says Jack; “and now by the rules of all plays Vice should come on.”

“And a very fair Vice it will be, I suspect; a right sweet Iniquity, my Jack! Listen.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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