Death Comes for the Archbishop

Death Comes for the Archbishop es una novela de Willa Cather publicada en 1927. Trata sobre los intentos de un obispo y de un cura de establecer una diócesis en New Mexico. Cather concibió la idea de la novela en un viaje al sur en 1912.

One afternoon in the autumn of 1851 a solitary horseman, followed by a pack-mule, was pushing through an arid stretch of country somewhere in central New Mexico.  He had lost his way, and was trying to get back to the trail, with only his compass and his sense of direction for guides. The difficulty was that the country in which he found himself was so featureless--or rather, that it was crowded with features, all exactly alike. As far as he could see, on every side, the landscape was filled up with monotonous red sand-hills, not much larger than haycocks, and very much the shape of haycocks. One could not have believed that in the number of square miles a man is able to sweep with the eye there could be so many uniform red hills. He had been riding among them since early morning, and the look of the country had no more changed than if he had stood still. He must have travelled through thirty miles of these conical red hills, winding his way in the narrow cracks between them, and he had begun to think that he would never see anything else. They were so exactly like one another that he seemed to be wandering in some geometrical nightmare; flattened cones, they were, more the shape of Mexican ovens than haycocks-- yes, exactly the shape of Mexican ovens, red as brick-dust, and naked of vegetation except for small juniper trees. And the
junipers, too, were the shape of Mexican ovens. Every conical hill was spotted with smaller cones of juniper, a uniform yellowish green, as the hills were a uniform red. The hills thrust out of the ground so thickly that they seemed to be pushing each other, elbowing each other aside, tipping each other over.
The rounded pyramid, repeated so many hundred times upon his retina and crowding down upon him in the heat, had confused the traveller, who was sensitive to the shape of things.
"Mais, c'est fantastique!" he muttered, closing his eyes to rest them from the intrusive omnipresence of the triangle.
When he opened his eyes again, his glance immediately fell upon one juniper which differed in shape from the others. It was not a thick-growing cone, but a naked, twisted trunk, perhaps ten feet high, and at the top it parted into two lateral, flat-lying branches, with a little crest of green in the centre, just above the area. Living vegetation could not present more faithfully the form of the Cross.
The traveller dismounted, drew from his pocket a much worn book, and discovering his head, knelt at the foot of the cruciform tree.
Under his buckskin riding-coat he wore a black vest and the cravat and collar of a churchman.  A young priest, at his devotions; and a priest in a thousand, one knew at a glance. His bowed head was not that of an ordinary man,--it was built for the seat of a fine intelligence. His brow was open, generous, reflective, his features handsome and somewhat severe. There was a singular elegance about the hands below the ornamented cuffs of the buckskin jacket. Everything showed him to be a man of gentle birth--brave, sensitive, courteous. His manners, even when he was alone in the desert, were distinguished. He had a kind of courtesy toward himself, toward his beasts, toward the juniper tree before which he knelt, and the God whom he was addressing.
His devotions lasted perhaps half an hour, and when he rose he looked refreshed.  He began talking to his mare in awkward Spanish, asking whether she agreed with him that it would be better to push on, tired as she was, in hope of finding the trail.  He had no water left in his canteen, and the horses had had none since yesterday morning.  They had made a dry camp in these hills last night… (Death Comes for the Archbishop, Willa Cather)

Replaced vocabulary                                                                         

heaped  blunted  cleavage  weary  baring  fringed halting

Vocabulary

haycock: a small pile of hay.
juniper: enebro.

Related posts

Mi Antonia, resumen de la obra de Willa Cather

Resources

Death Comes for the Archbishop, para leer la historia en Internet.
Meet the Past. Interesante, una actriz personificando a Willa Cather.

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