From Chapter I, “Continuity: Through Five Centuries”
"In the Odyssey, Ulysses went into the shadow world and met with the spirits of the dead, many of whom he had known while living. But before he could communicate with them, he had to make a blood offering, for only a sip of that essence of life could give them the capacity to answer his questions. Of those who have passed on, the memory of we the living is our blood offering; it gives our ancestors life, that they may communicate. In place of blood, much research and understanding, with a careful assembly of facts, makes it possible to present a lucid picture of the people presented in this book.
"As the researcher learns more about the people recorded in this book, they assume some life, and as Ulysses found in the world of the spirits, they take brief leave from the Caverns of Oblivion. So with the recorded thoughts of those who went before us as a guide, I accept the example set by that master of history, Herodotus: I will try, as he did, to differentiate actual record from legend, and together with that which of personal experience I can relate, attempt to define something of these ancestors, their comrades, and their contemporaries."
(As written in the original forward by)
Carl L. Duaine
Zapata, Texas 1987
It was a dramatic moment in history when Cortes stepped onto the beach of the continent at the point he was to name Vera Cruz. Inland lay a barbaric empire, felt rather than known. Like Caesar at the Rubicon or Alexander at the Hellespont, Cortes was not at that moment troubled by any suppressed thought of failure. The die was cast. But here, the analogies end. Caesar was already a man accustomed to succeed, with Roman legions at his back and a rich part of the Roman dominion already in his possession. Alexander was a King in his own right, leading an army trained by his father, Philip, to unmatched excellence and whose loyalty was unquestioned. And both Caesar and Alexander had minute knowledge of their adversaries and the odds that they faced. Not so with Cortes, who had basically either his fortune to win or his life to lose. His army was newly under his command, its loyalty untested and unknown. Ahead were doubtless adversaries, also untested, and unknown.
"Cortes was not at that moment troubled by any suppressed thought of failure..."
Who was this daring leader who landed on an unexplored world and thereupon burned his ships, saving only the iron? (Iron was valuable as gold to these men.) As the ships burned and sank, the men under Cortes realized that there would be no turning back. That was what Cortes wanted - he had no money to pay them, yet without their support, he was due to be hanged for treason by Velasquez. Unlike Caesar or Alexander at their turning points, he made the decision to embark upon his conquest with barely more than will, that of his own and that of his men - an audacity almost incredible, even in the light of his historic success.
From Chapter II, “La Entrada: Exploration and Conquest”
"She looked out the window to see a jacal on fire and her Indian cook being attacked by a band of wild raiders. Old and sick as she was, Doña Juliana was a worthy daughter of Don Bernabe. Jumping up and taking machete in hand and a shield on the other arm, she opened the door to let her wards in to safety and found herself in a swirling mob of Indians. One of the sons of the cook was at the door, unwounded, just behind was his mother who had taken nine arrow wounds, and trailing was his brother, also wounded. As the first boy tried to get into the house, a wild Indian seized him by the arm and started dragging him away. Doña Juliana jumped out of the house, dropping her shield and catching the boy’s other arm. In the momentary tug-of-war that ensued, she cut the Indian across the head with the machete, almost removing an ear. With another cut she opened the Indian’s scalp and he let go of the boy who fled into the house with his mother and the wounded son."
From Chapter XVI, Chapa and the Zavala Era
He caught a movement at the edge of a thicket... - only a glimpse, but for an instant a cold chill gripped his body. His spirit took hold, and his judgment was in command. “It was a man that made that move,” he thought, “and he is hostile. He will go back for the others... They know that I am here with the goats and that I am armed, but I am old, and I have not many years to lose. To finish with me will cost them.”
He thought of the shadow land from which no Indian ever returned and then of the Heaven and Hell of the white man. At that moment he knew not what to believe, but then even the doubting was removed. He knew, as he had told Don Gonzalo, that he was a man, and a man does not surrender his charges to the enemy...
The old man saw his chance. He arched an arrow... (He) knew a moment of exultatoin as he pictured the iron barb striking... It was a deadly kidney shot...
As he fitted another arrow, the Indian in his rear raised himself for a moment and let fly. The stone struck squarely between the old one’s shoulder blades. Gasping, he fell forward. Now the Tepehuanes raced in to club the old man over the head, all except the two wounded ones. The first dragged himself to the little stream with the slug of the arquebus burning in his side. The second lay struggling for breath with the iron barb in his vitals. Even as Gonzalito sank under the last merciful blow he was thinking, "coyotes, I have made you pay."
From Chapter XVII, “The Original Mexicans”
The drought continued in South Texas. By the new year of 1813, his livestock were in bad shape. He decided to make his move onto the new range at the first sign of spring. In late February... he departed for Charco Redondo, sixty miles away... Don Matias needed the new ranch as never before. In the early spring, he moved his herds northward. They may have been cattle or sheep, probably both, together with his horse herds. With his Indian riders he slowly worked the cattle and horse herds ahead as his sheepherders followed on foot behind the carts that carried the supplies. As evening fell, the cattle and horses were scattered out to graze under the eye of a rider. The rest gathered around the carts to eat.
By dusk, the sheep had moved in close and were bedded down. Each group had its own supplies, as later the groups would split, but on the trail, they camped close to each other for mutual protection. By March, the herds had made the ranges of the proposed new land holdings, El Rancho de las Aguas Frias.
"In the early spring, he moved his herds northward."
All the Indians and mestizos working for the white men were now quite integrated into the comparatively safe society that the white man had created with their support. They no longer feared starvation or annihilation by enemies. Living within the shelter of towns or well-defended ranches, their families were quite safe, but they had great fear of the Comanches. Their ancient enemies, the Lipan peoples, caught between the advancing Spanish and their Indian partners on one side and the Comanches on the other, were by now either working with them or had been pushed off to the west.
From Chapter XXII, “The Stubborn Advance North”