Pageant of San Bernardino

The Pageant of San Bernardino


Maud Adams Roberts


In the hills of Politana.
In the valley of Guamache,
Where the grasses swayed and courtesied.
Where the Sun God light the tree tops,
With the glow of fiery fingers-
Stretching up behind the mountains.
Gently beckoning to the Rain God
Praying him to smile in kindness
On the dry and thirsty land.
Where the bosom of the rich earth
Nursed the seed pods into grain fields
In the land of much contentment.
In the broad green vale of plenty;
Dwelt a tribe of mighty warriors---
Brave and fearless, fierce and strong.
Rich in lands and gold and legends.
Wronging no man, fearing none---
Dwelt a tribe of sleek limbed red men.
Straight as arrows-tall and agile.
Skilled in all the arts of warfare.
Learned in all the lore of hunting:
Fierce in fights and unrelenting.
Kind and gentle by the fireside---
Lovers to their women always.
Roving wide and unmolested,
Where the Sun God light the canyons;
Where the Sun God warmed the sweet air,
Laden with the Flowers' perfume;
Where the Rain God filled the streamlets---
Happy home of shining fishes.
In the valley of Guamache,
Land of plenty and content.

High upon the highest hill top
Stood the wigwam of the Chieftain;
Made of deer skins, richly painted,
Hung with trophies of the hunt.
Pitched upon a point of vantage,
Frowning down upon the tribesmen.
Here the Chieftain dwelt in glory---
Dwelt alone and ruled with firmness,
Never maid had won his favor;
Never love song thrilled his flute;
Spent was all his youthful manhood
By the fierce and bloody battles,
For the firesides of his tribesmen,
For the glory of Guamache,
By the dreams of mighty conquest,
By the pride of his great prowess,
With his bow and sharp-tipped arrows,
With the slung shot and the war club,
He it was who shot the arrow,
Straight across the sun-kissed valley;
Aiming at the fleeing foemen
Who had brought the curse of sickness.
Shot the arrow tipped with magic
Straight against the rock-ribbed mountain.
Pierced the caverns of the Fire God,
Sent the healing waters gushing---
Greatest Chief of all the nations,
Loved and feared by all the tribes.
Five score years his span was telling---
Near a century he could count.
Now the old man, bent and grizzled,
Leaned against the deer skin tepee,
Seeing phantoms of the past years,
Stalk before him in the dim light,
Seeing dreams of shadowy creatures---
Seeing downfall for his people,
When his spirit had departed.
Lo! He fell upon the green earth---
Fell with face upon the damp earth,
Fell with hands outstretched, imploring;
Fell with voice uplifted, praying;
Fell with curses and with pleading---
Mingled in an old man's raving,
Cursings that no son succeeded
To be Chieftain for his tribe,
Pleading for his waiting people.

Down below the towering hill top
Burned the watch-fires on their altars;
Rose the smoke from writhing victims,
Offerings to the angry Gods.
Rose the sound of drums and prayer flutes---
Praying for a younger leader;
Praying for a God-sent Chieftain---
Swayed by unexplained emotions,
An awakening new to them.
When the Sun God marked the dying
Of the century before them,
Well they knew their old Chief's spirit
Would be wafted from among them,
Would be carried on the soft breeze
To the hunting grounds beyond them,
And they prayed for new protection---
For the Spirit they had heard of,
For the Spirit of the legend
That the dying year would bring.
Straight before them stood the God plant,
Marked the Century with its growth.
High above them rose the flower stalk---
Sacred plant in honor held---
Watched the women for its flowering.
Held the red-skinned papoose high.

With the bursting of its petas
Their beloved Chief must die.

Rose the pale moon in the heavens---
Rose to pause above them high,
Rose to mark the centuries dying,
In the middle of the sky.
Fainter, fainter from the hill top,
Came the Old Man's wavering cry.
Hushed were all the beating tom-toms;
Hushed the moans of sacrifice.
Blanched the faces of the tribesmen,
Shook with fear the trembling women,
Paled the faces of the children,
Open-eyed, with wonder awed.
Lo! The mountains seemed to tremble:
And the earth to rock and sway!
And the Sun God burst in glory!
Telling of a new-born day.
And the Wind God rushed before them,
In a pathway straight and long;
Bearing thence their Chieftain's spirit
With a wailing, wierd [sic] death song,
And the flower stalk, tall and stately,
Opened wide to meet the sun.
With a century dead before them---
A new century begun.
And a music soft and soothing
From within the flower stalk rose,
And the new decade's bright morning
Marked the old decade's night close.

* * * *

Now the legend had recounted
How the century plant should blossom,
How the old year's grave should open,
And a new chief should come forth.

* * * *

And the Sun God flamed above them,
Sent his red rays far aslant,
Touched the mountain tops with glory,
Threw strange shadows on the ground;
Touched the flower stalk with his magic,
Sent forth sweet, melodious sound---
And with one resplendent outburst
Opened made the flower's heart;
Sent a maiden forth to rule them---
Sent a princess for their leader,
Kind of heart and fair of feature,
Willowy her form and wraith-like;
Brown her jeweled arm and bare---
Bright-eyed, fairy-footed creature.
Sent with gentleness to rule them,
Sent with love to prove her power---
Sent in wisdom's way to guide them,
Sent with joy to fill the land
With rare tales of future glory,
With strange dreams of new life sent,
To the valley of Guamache---
Land of plenty and content.

Lo! Before them rose strange tribesmen---

Rose Fair Maidens

Rose young braves, straight-limbed with beauty,
Rose fair maidens decked with gay hues;
Like young birdlings light among them,
Rose from rocks and trees and bushes---
Rose and danced, and sang strange music
Filled the valley with their love songs.
Taught the mocking birds to sing,
Danced with youth and joy and beauty
Danced and sang and loved and mated---
Rang the valley with the flute song,
Bent the willows low to listen,
Laughed the yellow mustard blossom,
Opened wide the golden poppy,
Decking all the plains and hillsides.
Like a sea of sunlight shining,
Rang the hills of Politana
With a tale of new content---
Filled the valley of Guamache
With a new life Heaven-sent.

Empty Tent
From the rough gray rocks retreating,
Gazed the jealous-hearted tribesmen:
Gazed upon their dying war-fires,
Gazed upon the empty tent.
The deserted deer skin tepee,
Hung with trophies of the hunt.
Long and earnest were the councils
Of the old man set aside.
Low and threatening were the mutterings,
Of the women of the tribe.
Well they knew their doom was settled,
Marked the march of progress' feet.
Angry-hearted, cruel-visaged,
Sat them down to watch and wait.
Sat them down like ancient Stoics---
Silent, ready for their fate.
At the empty tent before them,
Gazed the old men, worn and bent.
Last of all the early tribesmen,
In the Valley of Content.


Over burning, sandy deserts---
Over rocky beds of rivers,
Over mountain peaks and canyons,
Mountain Peaks and Canyons
Threading San Gorgonia's way;
Worn by days of toil and travel,
Foot-sore, weary, plodding onward---
Ever hopeful, ever faithful,
Resting neither night nor day.
Urged by holy heart desires,
For the red man's soul's salvation,
Came the grim Franciscan Friars.
Holy Fathers sworn to works---
Came the faithful band of heroes,
Bold crusaders of the West.
Came to plant the cross of Christians
In the land of savage War Gods,
Came to plant the faith of Jesus
In the red man's wild abode;
Came to offer free salvation,
Came in friendship's sweet intent,
To the valley of Guamache---
Land of plenty and content.
Smiled the season's Gods upon them---
Smiled in greeting and in welcome,
Bloomed the wild rose by the wayside,
Soothed the path for sunburned feet.
Sang the bluebird and the linnet,
Sang of springtime love and wooing,
Thrilled the redman's soul with longing---
Thrilled his sense with pleasure sweet,
Warmed his heart with fond desire.
Love was stirring in his blood;
Eager was he for the story;
Wise the Fathers chose the hour,
Tenderly and well he pleaded
For the white man's friendly God.
Told them how his Savior loved them;
How he died for all mankind;
How the white man's God was his God---
How in patience he stood waiting
To receive them in his tent,
On the hills of Politana,
Land of plenty and content.
So the white man's God was their God---
Learned they of his precious lore;
Learned they of the white man's labor---
Arts they never knew before.
Moulded bricks of brown adobe,
Moulded tiles of sunburned earth,
Built the chapels and the cloisters,
Built the stockade for the cattle,
Stilled the war cries of Guamache,
Lived in love and sweet content---
In the land of Politana,
Where the holy men were sent.

* * * *

Sighed the night wind in the fir tree,
Sighed the soft wind in the bluegum,
Moaned the Wind God for his altars,
By the White man's hand laid low,
Raged the Sun God in his anger,
Swept the valley with his hot breath,
Burned the grasses on the hillside,
Scorched the cornfield and the grain field,

Drooped the yellow poppy blossoms,
Dried the sweet spring, drank its waters,
Hid the rivers in the sand,
Pointed with long, fiery fingers
To the Chapel on the hillside,
Blew his burning flaming nostrils,
Over Politana's land.
From the rocky, craggy mountains,
Gazed the warriors grim and aged;
Jealous-hearted, fierce old warriors,
Gazed upon the scene below them,
Saw the ashes of their war-fires---
Saw the cloisters on the hill top,
Saw the altars low in ruins;


Rose and danced their savage war dance,
Mixed the red paint, built new war fires,
Gathered round-them, sat in council,
Watched the Sun God sink to rest.
Then arose one dauntless spirit,
Straightened out his aged limbs.
Stood erect, as gay young warrior,
Folded arms across his breast,
Lifted up his voice in protest:

"Warriors! Look! The Sun God's sinking,
Angry is his blood-red visage,
Vanished is the Rain God from us,
Dry and parched our fathers' lands---
Hot and fierce the Wind God rages,
Feel you not the hillside tremble?
See the Fire God boils the springs.
Slay the white man and his false God,
He it is has done these things.
See our empty wigwams standing,
Where is Politana's tent?
Once it marked the Chieftain's power
In the valley of content."

Jealous-hearted gazed the warriors,
On the rocky mountain standing,
Saw the tepee made of deer skins,
Hung with trophies of the hunt,
Where their Chieftain dwelt in glory---
Dwelt and ruled with mighty power---
Saw and stood in awful silence,

War Club

Grasped the tomahawk and war club,
Grasped the long bow and the arrows;
Waited breathless in the moonlight
For the mighty Spirit's calling---
Like an onward rush of waters
When the cloudburst fills the canyon---
Like the maddened roar of rivers
Racing forward to the sea.
No man leading, none commanding,
Shouting war songs, beating war drums,
Came the furious, jealous tribesmen-
Came the threatening murderous band
Bent on bloody dark destruction,
In Guamache's quiet land.
Tomahawk and war club brandished
Sent the red blood gushing outward,
Poisoned arrows stung the young hearts
Of the maidens and the lovers,
War knives stilled the feeble wailing
Of the papoose at the brown breast---
Stilled the anguished cry of mother's
Stamped the death mark, laid them low;
Struck the kneeling padres, praying,
Calling on their Lord for shelter---
Calling on the Virgin Mary---
Calling loudly, never doubting.
And the crimson stream of life blood
Told the story to the sea.
Lo! Across the western Heavens
Rolled a storm-cloud dark and threatening,
Dropped its mourning veil around them,
And shut out the awful scene.
Rolled the storm-cloud filled with tear drops---

Wept in torrents

Wept in torrents for the carnage,
Wept and wailed and beat the mountains.
Groaned in peals of awful thunder.
Mother Nature's voice protesting
At the slaughter of her children,
Reached them cool and moistened fingers,
Slacked their hot thirst---their fever-fanned---
Night shut out the slaughtered village
That had marked Guamache's land.

Cantro III

Lonely sat the little Princess,
Never smiling, never singing,
Danced her braves and maids before her,
Vainly hoping to beguile her---
Lonely sat before the wigwam,
Gazing on the ruined mission;
Dreaming of the kind old padres---
Of the flocks and herds and vineyards:
Of the Neophytes departed
Who had meekly done her will;


Of the quiet of the cloisters
Perched on Politana's Hill.
Rose the round moon, pale and ghostly.
Telling of the harvest time,
Bare the meadows of the wheat sheaves,
Where the merry rompers gathered,
Stacking high the golden grain---
Nothing now but haunting shadows
On Guamacbe's sunburned plain.

Stole the tender little night breeze,
Kissed the brown-checked, sad-eyed maiden,
Stooped and kissed the barren hillside,
Fitted to the canyon's edge---
Kissed the rock-ribbed gray old mountains,
Shook the trees in dancing glee.
Whispered to the listening maiden:
"I've a secret, follow me.
Weep not, princess, ,joy is coming,
In Guamache's blood-stained sands
Sleeps a power grave and mighty---
Greater than the warrior bands."
Then he flew to tell the story
Over ocean's white-curled crest,
And it found a welcome lodgment
In old Spain's romantic breast,
Listened to the fickle night breeze,
Heard the story that it told:
"Every drop of Christian blood shed
Shall return in yellow gold."
Sailed away the venturous Spaniard
To the land the rainbow spans---
To the vale of wealth and conquest
To Guamache's fairy land.

To every man belonged a dukedom---
For the generous-hearted King
Parcelled [sic] out the Friar's broad lands,
Gave the wealth of California,
Hills and vales and river sources,
With a flee and lavish hand.
Spanish Dons looked out in hauteur
Over fertile broad domains;
Every hacienda sheltered
Blood as blue as royal Spain's
Dotted shores with Spanish galleons,
Bearing cattle, hides and gold.
Politana laughed in gladness,
Forgot the massacre's black shame---
Bent the knee to do him homage
When the Spanish Governor came.
Those were days of idle pleasure,
There was gold for every man.

There were bull-fights, cock-games, races,
There were feasting, wine and women,
Fine apparel, silk, and gold lace.
Looked the soft-eyed senorita
From beneath her rich mantilla,
Coyly beckoned with her glances
To the anxious, kneeling swain.
Lightly sang the seranata---

Gallant Spanish Cavalier

Gallant Spanish cavalier;
Rang the music of the mandolin
Telling love's sweet old refrain.
Those were days of song and laughter,
Free from sordid greed of gain---
Happy days of Politana
Ere the Yankee gringo came.


Idle days and nights of pleasure
In the land of Politana,
Swiftly flew in golden seasons,
Lands and herds, rich source of income,
Multiplying fiftyfold,
Satisfied the lazy Spaniard
And shut out the dream of gold.
Dignified old snow-capped mountains.
Crowned with stately fir and pine,
Sphinx-like have you kept the story
Of your hidden treasure mine.
Through your passes rough and rocky
Crept the romance of the West;
The romance of the unknown ages---
Nature's fabulous bequest;
Crept across the sandy deserts,


Stole into the Zion City;
Like a phantom did it seem.
Knocked at chamber door at midnight,
Made the prophet's wondrous dream---
Rose old Brigham Young at daybreak
Turned his keen gaze toward the west.
Gathered round him were the faithful
Eager they to catch his words:

"In a vision sent from Heaven
Strange things are revealed to me,
Where the sun sinks there's a mountain;
Stamped upon its Western face
Is a mighty pointed arrow,
Placed upon it by some magic,
By a Chieftain brave and fearless,
Shot across the sun-kissed valley,
Aimed to slay a warlike foe.
At its point are healing waters
Where the red men sick and dying
Bathe and gain now life and vigor.
Rise and lead your sons and daughters---
Blaze the trail and find the land."

Every follower of the prophet
Started at his chief's command.
Plodding onward through the summer
Through the winter's cold and deep.


Dragged the weary nights and mornings,
All unmarked the flight of time.
Long and dangerous was the journey---
Dark and drear the untried forest;
Steep and high the bleak old mountains;
All unbroken was the trail;
Slow and cumbersome the oxen,

Patiently their burdens bearing,
Marched beside them like bold soldiers---
The intrepid pioneers.

Rose before them grim, gaunt hunger,
Like an awful haunting shadow,
Bleaching bonus upon the hot sands
Marked the work its pang had done.
Told the tale of slow starvation,
Told the tale of parching thirst,
Told the tale of savage red men
In Death Valley's hollow basin.
Rushing cloudbursts swelled the river.
Desert winds the schooners swayed-
Onward pressed the brave pathfinders.
Loyal-hearted, undismayed.
Saw before them in the distance,
Breaking through the mountain fastness,
Leading to the promised land;
Like a gateway into Heaven,
Like a beacon light at sea,
The open sesame to fortune---
Cajon's welcome narrow pass.
Shouted loud for joy the women,
Found new heart the tired old men,
Excelsior! the watchword sounded.
Songs of praise their voices sang,
And the echoes far resounded
Till Guamache's valley rang.
These were men of brawn and muscle---
Toilers of the field and sod,
Seeking homes in faith and freedom,
Law-abiding, fearing God.
Rich rewards for all their hardships
Came to them on every hand.
Opened wide the hidden caverns,
Poured forth piles of yellow gold.
Gushed forth streams of buried waters
To irrigate the thirsty land.
Each man sought to help his neighbor,
Built log cabins for their shelter,
Built the stables for the cattle,
Gathered round the great stone fireplace,
Happy when the toil was over;
Laughed and chatted with each other.
Telling tales of rare adventure.
In marriage gave their sons and daughters---
Laid a loyal, firm foundation
For a progeny of thrift.

A hundred years in slow procession
Marched before the little princess;
Many moons have shone and darkened.
Now, the Century is closing
And her reign is almost done.
Happy "Native Sons and Daughters"
Listen to the thrilling story
Of their old, gray-bearded grand-sires---
Gay young beaux of '49.
How they fought the savage Indians,
Trapped the brown bear, killed the wild deer,
Mined the gold, layed out the cities
And subdued the bold frontier.
Weary little Princess leaning
'Gainst the faded open wigwam,

Soon the spell that holds you waiting
Will encircle you no more.
Gaze across the fertile valley
With rich stores endowed by nature,
See, she mixed her varied pigments
To paint the rare and beauteous scene
Orange groves all green and golden,
Bridal blossoms 'neath their leaves;
Fruits that rival Eden's garden,

Eden's garden
Ripening in the summer sunshine.
Lo! The Century Flower is fading---
Night is settling o'er the land.
Like some little fairy creature
Sits the brown maid all alone.
Sees the younger generation,
Happy-hearted, careless children,
Reap in luxury the harvest
Toiling forefathers have sown.
Like some little fairy creature
All the world a dream before her---
Longing for her banished people,
Breathlessly she waits the ringing
Of the century's midnight chime.
Lo! The magic spell has fallen
Over Politana's land.
Hushed the night-bird in the willows,
Stilled his love-song to his mate;
Every grass-blade, every insect,
Lulled to silence---seems to wait.
Ticks the great clock in the tower---
Heaven's signals to repeat;
See, it points the midnight hour;
Tells the Century's retreat.
Droops the tall flower stalk before us.
Opens wide its generous heart;
Good-bye, loving little princess,
It is time for us to part.
See the red flame lights the heaven
Answering the Fire God's cry.
Good-bye, loving little Princess,:
It is time for you to die.
Tell the warriors, when you greet them,
In the Hunting' Grounds beyond us:

Little Fairy
"We remember them but kindly."
Outlined in the poet's eye
Are their straight-limbed, brown-skinned figures,
'Gainst the glowing western sky.
Fleeing from the march of progress,
We can see their flying feet.
To the east we turn our faces
The new Century to greet.
Though your shadowy form has vanished
From the hills of Politana,
We will meet you, little Princess,
In the land of the "Manana."

Stand Church
Old Mission Church, Agua Mansa, 1852

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