Here and There in Yucatan/Maya Romance


In the famous city of Chichen Itza there is much rejoicing and great preparation, for Chanbel, the valiant and noble young lord, is to be united to the beautiful Lilá (dew-drop).

And she? Alas! the tears fall thick and fast from her dark lashes when her hand-maids are not by; she loves not Chanbel. He is good and devoted, but her heart is given to another whom she has been forbidden to see, even to think of, because when yet a babe she was betrothed to the one who will soon so gladly claim her as his bride! For she is beautiful as the loveliest flower; with eyes bright as the glorious sun they worship; gentle as the placid water of the lakelet; pure as the mountain air;—so says Chanbel, and he is happy.

Lilá wanders amid the flowers on the broad terraces surrounding her childhood's home; her maids marvel at her down-cast looks. Is she ill? Have they displeased her? No, but she wishes to be alone. They retire. Then she abandons herself to her meditations. "Cruel fate! that binds me to one I can never love! Where, where is my beloved Canek!" Her sad eyes linger upon the setting sun that tomorrow will shine on her unhappy nuptials. But see! she starts! for there near the foot of the terrace, stands Canek. One sign and he is gone. Lilá is transformed. Her eyes are bright, her cheeks flushed—she has understood.

The day dawns fresh and fair; the bride is made ready. Joyous as the gayest bird warbling amid the bright blossoms of her garden, she comes forth from her chamber to adore the rising sun; no one could suspect that she loves not Chanbel.

Now music resounds on all sides; the banquet is prepared, garlands wreathe the great stone pillars, flowers strew the floor. Who so happy as the bridegroom? for Lilá smiles; and at eventide the white-robed Tatkin (priest) will wed them. Suddenly, louder than the acclamations and songs of gladness, there resounds upon the balmy air a war cry. What! are they not at peace with every nation? And yet—warriors are rushing at full speed towards the festive scene. "To arms! to arms!"

The banquet hall is invaded; confusion reigns. The women flee to inner chambers, wailing "Lilá! Lilá!" The men fight desperately; Chanbel is insane with rage. He slays man after man, for his promised bride has been carried away in the arms of their leader. The hall decked with flowers becomes a scene of carnage; the floor is stained with wine and blood.

Away! away! go Canek and Lilá; not daring to stop till far beyond the domains of the powerful empire from which they are fleeing; only resting beneath the trees when night overtakes them; subsisting on the fruits of the forest. After many days they reach a beautiful lake where boats await the dauntless Canek and his stolen bride. Then they set sail, and soon arrive at the other side of the lake Peten Itza, where they make their home, calling the place Tinibacan, which means "Where we spread our sails to dry."

  1. Published in "Home Journal."