A BRIGHT morning followed the night on which Tyope underwent his adventures. He slept long, but it attracted no undue attention and called forth no remarks on the part of his wife and daughter. They were wont to see him come and go at any hour of the night. It was very near noon when he awoke at last, and after disposing of his late breakfast, à la mode du pays, sauntered off to parts unknown to the others. The day was one of remarkable beauty. No dim foggy city sun cast a sullen glance at the landscape. The sun stood in the zenith of a sky of the deepest azure, like a flaming, sparkling, dazzling meteor. Still its heat was not oppressive.
On the mesa above the Rito a fresh wind was blowing. The shrubbery was gently moved by the breeze. A faint rushing sound was heard, like distant waves surging back and forth. In the gorge a zephyr only fanned the tops of the tallest pines; a quietness reigned, a stillness, like that which the poets of old ascribe to the Elysian fields.
There is not much bustle about the big house on the Tyuonyi. The men are out and at work, and the children have retired to the court-yard. A group of girls alone enlivens the space between the main building and the new home of the Corn people. They are gathered in a throng while they talk, laugh, and chatter, pointing at the fresh coat of clay which they have finished applying to the outside of the new building. Their hands are yet filled with
the liquid material used for plastering, and they taunt each other as to the relative merits of their work.
One of the maidens, a plump little thing with a pair of lively eyes, calls out to another, pointing at a spot where the plaster appears less smooth and even,--
"See there, Aistshie, you did that! You were too lazy to go over it again. Look at my work; how even it is compared with yours!"
The other girl shrugged her shoulders and retorted,
"It may be, but it is not my fault, it is yours, Sayap. You did it yesterday when we beat off the boys. You pushed Shyuote against the wall and he thumped his head here. See, this is the mark where he struck the clay. You did this, Sayap, not I."
Sayap laughed, and her buxom form shook.
"You are right; I did it, I served the urchin right. It was good, was it not, Aistshie? How I punished the brat, and how he looked afterward with his face all one mud-patch!"
"Yes," Aistshie objected, "but I did more. I faced Okoya, despite his bow and arrows. That was more than you did."
The other girls interrupted the scornful reply which Sayap was on the point of giving. They crowded around the two with a number of eager questions.
"What was it?" queried one.
"What happened yesterday?" another.
"Did you have a quarrel with boys," a third; and so on. All pressed around begging and coaxing them to tell the story of yesterday's adventure. The heroines themselves looked at each other in embarrassment. At last Aistshie broke out,--
"You tell it, Sayap."
"Well," began the latter, "it was yesterday afternoon
and we were just putting on the last touches of the coating, when Okoya and little Shyuote his brother--"
A clod, skilfully hurled, struck her right ear, filling it with sand and cutting off the thread of her narrative rather abruptly. Sayap wheeled around to see whence the blow had come. The other girls all laughed, but she was angry. Her wrath was raised to the highest pitch however, when she discovered that Shyuote was the aggressor. On a little eminence near by stood the scamp, dancing, cutting capers, and yelling triumphantly.
"Shyuote is small, but he knows how to throw."
"Fiend," cried Sayap in reply. She picked up a stone, raised it in the awkward manner in which most girls handle missiles, and running toward the boy hurled it at him. It fell far short of its mark, of course, and Shyuote only laughed, danced, and grimaced so much the more. As Sayap kept advancing and the other girls followed, he threw a second clod, which struck her squarely in the face, and so sharply that blood flowed from her nose and mouth. At the same time the rogue shouted at the top of his voice,--
"Come on! All of you! I am not afraid. You will never catch me!"
And as the majority of his pursuers came on, while two or three remained behind soothing and consoling Sayap, who stood still, crying and bleeding, he thrust out his tongue at them its full length, performed a number of odious grimaces, and then nimbly clambered up between a group of erosive cones that lay in front of the cliff. He turned around once more to yell defiance and scorn at his pursuers, and disappeared on the other side. Farther pursuit being hopeless, the girls clustered around the weeping Sayap and held a council of war. They vowed dire vengeance on the lad, and promised their injured sister to improve the first opportunity that should present itself.
Shyuote, on the other hand, felt proud of his success. His revenge was, he felt, a glorious one. Still he was careful not to forget the counsels of prudence, and instead of returning to the house by a direct route, which might have carried him too near the enraged damsels, he sauntered along, hugging the cliffs. for some distance, and then cautiously sneaked into the fields below the new homes of the Maize clan. Once in the corn he felt safe, and was about to cross the brook to the south side, when the willows bordering the streamlet rustled and tossed, and a voice called to him from the thicket,--
"Where are you going, uak?"
Shyuote stopped, and looked around for the speaker; but nobody was visible. Again the boughs rustled and shook, and there emerged from the willows an old man of low stature, with iron-gray hair and shrivelled features. He wore no ornaments at all; his wrap was without belt and very dirty. In his left hand he held a plant which he had pulled up by the roots. He stepped up to Shyuote, stood close by his side, and growled at him rather than spoke.
"I asked you where you were going. Why don't you answer?"
Shyuote was frightened, and stammered in reply,--
"To see my father."
"Who is your father?"
The features of the interlocutor took on a singular expression. It was not one of pleasure, neither did it betoken anger; if anything, it denoted a sort of grim satisfaction.
"If Zashue is your father," continued he, and his eyes twinkled strangely, "Say Koitza must be your mother."
"Of course," retorted the boy, to whom this interrogatory seemed ludicrous.
"And Okoya your brother," the old man persisted.
"Why do you ask all this?" inquired the child, laughingly.
A look, piercing and venomous, darted from the eyes of the questioning man. He snarled angrily,--
"Because I ask it. I ask, and you shall answer me without inquiring why and wherefore. Do you hear, uak?"
Shyuote hung his head; he felt afraid.
"I forbid you to say anything about what I say to you to your mother," continued the other, grasping the left arm of the boy.
Shyuote shook off the grip, and also shook his head in token of refusal. The old man seized the arm again and clutched it so firmly with his bony fingers that the lad screamed from pain.
"Let me go!" he cried. "You hurt me, let me go!"
"Will you do as I bid you?" asked his tormentor.
"Yes," sobbed the child. "I will obey. My mother shall not know anything. Let me go, you hurt!"
The man loosened his grip slightly.
"To your father you shall say that I, the Koshare Naua,"--the boy looked up at him at these words in astonishment,--"send word to him through you to come to my house on the night after the one that will follow this day, when the new moon sets behind the mountains. Do you hear me, boy?"
Shyuote stared at the interlocutor with mouth wide open, and with an expression of fear and surprise that evidently amused the other. He gave him a last look, a sharp, threatening, penetrating glance; then his features became less stem.
"Have no fear," he said in a milder tone. "I will not do you any harm; but you must do as I say. Go to your nashtio now, and tell him what I said." With this he
wheeled about and left the boy as abruptly as he had appeared. Shyuote stood gaping and perplexed.
He felt very much like crying. His arm still ached from the grip of the old man, and while he was rubbing the sore spot his anger rose at the harsh and cruel treatment he had suffered. He thought of rushing home to his mother forthwith and telling her all about the bad old man, and how he had forbidden him to say anything to her. Still, the Koshare Naua was not to be trifled with, and Shyuote, young and childish as he was, had some misgivings about betraying his confidence. His father had told him that the Naua, or chief leader of the Koshare, was a very wise and therefore a very powerful man. Zashue, who as soon as Shyuote was born had pledged the child to become one of the Delight Makers, was educating the lad gradually in his duties; and Shyuote had already imbibed enough of that discipline to feel a tremendous respect for the leader of the society to which he was pledged to belong. He suppressed the thoughts of rebellion that had arisen, and strolled on, crossing the creek and hunting for his father among the corn-patches on the other side. But his good-humour had left him. Instead of being triumphantly buoyant, he felt morose and humiliated.
Zashue Tihua was at work in the fields of the Water clan, on the southern border of the cultivated plots. He was not alone; another young man kept him company. It was his younger brother, Hayoue. They were weeding side by side, and exchanging remarks while the work went on. Zashue looked up, and his handsome face brightened when he discovered Shyuote coming toward them through the maize. A visit from his favourite child, although by no means an unusual occurrence, was always a source of pleasure. He liked to have Shyuote around him when he was at work.
Throwing a small, sharp stone-splinter toward the boy, he called out to him,--
"Come, take this okpanyi and begin weeding where you stand. Weed toward us until we meet, and we will go home together to the yaya."
This was still further a source of displeasure to Shyuote, who above all things disliked work. He had not come down to the fields to toil. What he sought for was a friendly chat with his father, a few hours of lounging and loafing near him. Disappointed and pouting, he bent over the work assigned, while the two men went on with their task as well as with their conversation.
Hayoue was taller than his brother, and a strikingly hand. some young Indian. His eyes had a more serious and less mischievous expression than those of Zashue. He was yet unmarried; but, notwithstanding, a marked predilection for the fair sex formed one of his characteristics. He was held in high esteem by the leading men of the tribe, Tyope and his adherents excepted, for his sagacity, good judgment, and personal valour.
"I tell you," Zashue spoke up, "Shyuote will become a good one."
Hayoue shrugged his shoulders and replied,--
"You should know your own children better than I, yet I tell you Okoya also is good; besides, he is wise and reserved."
"Yes; but he is too much with the women, and his mother stands nearer to him than his father. He never follows me to the fields unless I tell him. Look at the little one, on the other hand. He will be a man."
While his brother spoke Hayoue had quietly observed Shyuote; and the slow, loitering way in which the boy performed his work had not escaped his observation. He said,--
"It may be. To-day he certainly acts rather like an old woman. See how loath he is to weed the plants."
"You always prefer Okoya," replied Zashue. "You like him because he never opens his mouth unless an arrow is forced between his teeth."
"And you prefer Shyuote because you are making a Koshare of him," Hayoue answered, with great composure.
"He surely will become a good one, a better one than I am."
"If he becomes as good a Delight Maker as you are, Zashue, we may be satisfied. Shall you soon retire to the estufa?" he inquired, changing the subject of the conversation.
"I don't know; the Naua has not said anything as yet, but the time is near at hand when we should begin to work. Before going into the round house in the rocks, we ought to be sure that there are no Navajos in the neighbourhood. You are Kauanyi, a member of the order of warriors," he added with a side-glance at his brother, "do you know anything of the sneaking wolves in the mountains?"
Hayoue denied any knowledge concerning the Navajos, adding,--
"I did not like it when that fellow Nacaytzusle ran away from us. He knew too much of our ways."
"He can do no harm. He is glad to stay among his people."
"Still I don't trust him," Hayoue muttered.
"Neither would I, if I were in your place," Zashue taunted, and a good-natured though mischievous smile lit up his features. "If I were you I would keep still better guard over Mitsha Koitza."
"What have I to do with the child of Tyope," exclaimed the other, rather contemptuously.
"Indeed?" queried Zashue, "so you, too, are against Tyope? What has he done to you?"
"Nothing, but I mistrust him as much as I do the Navajo."
These last words were uttered in such a positive manner--they were so earnestly emphasized--that they cut off the conversation. It was plain that Hayoue had made up his mind on the subject, and that he did not wish to have it broached again.
"Sa nashtio," called Shyuote over to where the brothers were weeding in silence, "come over here; I must tell you something, but I must tell it to you alone."
Hayoue at once turned away, while Zashue called the lad to him. But Shyuote protested, saying that only his father was to hear his communication, and Zashue at last went where the boy was standing. It vexed him, and he inquired rather gruffly what he had to say. Shyuote made a very wise and important face, placed a finger to his lips, and whispered,--
"The Koshare Naua told me to tell you that you should go to see him, not to-morrow, but the day after, when the moon goes behind the mountains."
"Is that all!" exclaimed Zashue, disappointed and angry, is that all you had to say? That much you might have shouted to me. There was no need of being so secret about it, and"--he glanced at the insignificant and careless work the boy had performed--"is that all you have done since you came? You are lazy, uak! Go home. Go home at once to your mother and tell her that I shall not return for the evening, but will stay with Hayoue in the caves." And as Shyuote, dismayed and troubled, appeared loath to go, Zashue turned to him again, commanding in a very angry tone,--
"Go home! Go home at once!"
Shyuote left in haste; he felt very much like crying. Hayoue said to his brother,--
"Didn't I tell you that Shyuote was lazy? Okoya is far, far more useful."
"Let me alone about Okoya," growled Zashue; and both went on with the work as before.
Shyuote stumbled across the patches of corn, rather than walked through them. He felt sad, dejected, and very wrathful. All the buoyancy with which his victory over the girls had inspired him was gone. Since that heroic feat nothing but ill-luck had crossed his path. He was angry at his father for scolding him and driving him home, in the presence of Hayoue, for whom the boy had as great a dislike as his uncle had for him. Why, it was worse than the threats and cuffs of the old Naua! It was not only an injustice, it was an insult! So the lad reasoned, and began to brood over vengeance. He was going to show his father that he, the ten-year-old boy, was not to be trifled with. Yes, he would show his teeth by refusing to become a Koshare. Would not that be a glorious revenge! The little fellow did not know that he was pledged to the Delight Makers by a sacred vow of his parent which it was not in his power to break. After a while his thoughts changed, and he concluded that it might be better to say nothing and to go home and ask for something to eat. But never, never again would he favour his father with a friendly call in the corn-patch. This latter resolve appeared to him so satisfactory, the revenge so ample for the injury received, that he forgot the past and fairly danced through the fields, hopping sometimes on one foot and sometimes on the other. He crossed the brook and reached the large house almost to his own surprise.
It was noon, and the full blaze of the sun flooded the valley with light. Not a breeze fanned the air, nothing
stirred. No vibrations troubled the picture which the cliffs, the caves, the buildings, presented in the dazzling glare. The cliffs had lost their yellowish hue and appeared white, with every protuberance, every indentation, or cavity, marked by intense shadows. The houses inhabited by the Eagle clan along the foot of the rocks were like a row of irregularly piled cubes and prisms; each beam leaning against them cast a jet-black streak of shadow on the ground. Below the projecting beams of the roofs a short black line descended along the wall, and the towering rocks jutted in and out from dark recesses like monsters. So strong were. the contrasts between shadow and light that even Shyuote was struck by it. He stood still and stared.
Something indefinite, a vague feeling of awe, crept over him. For the real grandeur of the scenery he had no sense of appreciation, and yet it seemed to him as if everything about were new and strange. Thousands of times had he gazed at the cliffs of his valley home, but never had they appeared to him as they did now. So strong was this impression, and so sudden, too, that he shrank from the sight in amazement; then he turned his eyes away and walked rapidly toward home. He was afraid to look at the colossal pillars and walls; they appeared to him like giants threatening to move. All his plans for revenge, every thought of wrath and indignation, had vanished.
Suddenly his left knee was struck by a stone hurled with such force that Shyuote bounded and screamed. At the same time six or seven boys, some apparently of his age while others were taller and older, rushed from the bushes skirting the ditch. Two of them ran directly in front of him. They were armed with sticks and short clubs, and the largest, who seemed to be of the same age as Okoya, shouted,--
"You have injured Sayap, and caused her blood to flow. you rotten squash, you shall suffer for it."
Shyuote took in the situation at a glance. He saw that only desperate running would save him from being roughly handled. He darted off like an arrow toward the cave-dwellings in front of him. Unfortunately these were the quarters of the Corn people who had not yet moved into their new homes. To them belonged Sayap and the boys that were assailing Shyuote; and as the fugitive approached the slope, he saw it occupied by other youth ready and eager to give him a warm reception. At the same time the tallest of his pursuers was gaining on him rapidly; rocks flew past his head; a stone struck him between the ribs, stopping his breath almost. In despair he turned to the left, and making a last effort flew towards the houses of the Eagle clan. Panting, blinded by exertion and by pain, he reached one of the beams leading to a roof, rushed upward along it, and was about to take refuge in the room below, when a young girl came up the primitive ladder down which he had intended to precipitate himself. Issuing from the hatchway she quietly pushed the lad to one side; then, as in that moment one of his pursuers appeared on the roof, she stepped between him and Shyuote.
"Get out of the way, Mitsha! Let me get at the wren!" cried the youth who had just climbed the roof. Shyuote fled to the very wall of the rock; he gave up all hope and thought himself lost. But the girl quietly asked,--
"What do you want with the boy?"
"He has hurt Sayap, our sister," the tall youngster answered. "He threw a stone at her and caused her to bleed. Now I am going to pay him for it."
"So will I!" shouted another one from below.
"I too!" "And I!" "He shall get it from all of
us!" yelled a number of youthful voices, and in an instant the roof was crowded with boys.
Mitsha had placed herself so as to shield the trembling lad with her own body. Very quietly she said,--
"Don't you see that he also is bleeding? Let him go now, it is enough." A stone had indeed grazed Shyuote's scalp, and blood was trickling down his cheek.
"It is not enough!" shouted one of the older boys, angrily. "Get out of the way, Mitsha!"
"You shall not hurt him on this roof," replied Mitsha, in a calm but very positive tone.
"Do you intend to protect him?" cried the tallest one of the pursuers, and another one exclaimed,--
"How does it concern you? You have nothing to do here." All turned against the girl. A little fellow, who carried several large pebbles in his hand for the occasion, endeavoured to steal a march around Mitsha in order to reach Shyuote; but she noticed it, and grasped his arm and pulled him back so vigourously that he reeled and fell at full length on the roof. Then she ordered them all to leave forthwith.
"You belong to the Corn clan," she said, "and have nothing to do here on the houses of the Eagle clan. Go down! Get away at once or I will call our men. As long as I am here you shall not touch the uak."
"So you take his part?" cried the biggest one of the invaders. He raised a stick to strike her.
"Lay down your club, you dirty ear of corn," replied the maiden, "or you will fare badly." With this she drew from under her wrap a heavy war-club; it was the same weapon which Tyope had used the night previous.
The boy's arm remained uplifted, but still the attitude of the girl, her threatening look and resolute appearance, checked the assailants. Mitsha stood with apparent composure,
but her eyes sparkled and the expression of her face denoted the utmost determination. Besides she was fully as tall as most of her opponents, and the weapon she was holding in readiness looked quite formidable. But the superior number of her assailants exercised a certain pressure on these assailants themselves, and the Indian under such circumstances has no thought of chivalrous feeling. A dozen boys stood before the solitary maiden on the roof, and they were not to be intimidated by her. For an instant only neither said a word; then a threatening murmur arose. One of the lads called out to the tallest of the crowd,--
"Strike her down, Shohona!"
A stone was thrown at her but missed its aim. At this moment the boys nearest the brink of the roof were suddenly thrust aside right and left, the one who had threatened Mitsha with his stick was pulled back and jerked to one side violently, and before the astonished girl stood Okoya. Pale with emotion, breathless, with heaving chest, and quivering from excitement, he gasped to her,--
"Go down into the room; I will protect my brother." Then he turned to face the assailants.
The scene on the roof had attracted a large number of spectators, who had gathered below and were exchanging surmises and advice on the merits of a case about which none of them really knew anything. Now a woman's voice rose from amid this gaping and chattering crowd,--the sharp and screechy voice of an angry woman. She shouted to those who were on the roof,--
"Get down from my house! Get down, you scoundrels! If you want to kill each other do it elsewhere, and not on my home!" With this the woman climbed on to the roof. She seized the boy nearest to her by the hair and Pulled him fairly to the ground, so that the poor fellow
howled from pain. With the other hand she dealt blows and cuffs, and scratched and punched indiscriminately among the youngsters, so that a sudden panic broke out among these would-be heroes. Each sought to get out of her reach with the greatest alacrity. She at last released her hold on the first victim and reached out for another; but the last of the young Corn people was just tumbling down from the roof, and her clutch at his leg came too late. In an instant the roof was cleared. The young braves from the Maize clan were ungraciously received below. A number of their parents had assembled, and when the woman began to expostulate, they looked at the matter from her point of view. They saw that it was an infringement, a trespass, upon the territory and rights of another clan, and treated their pugnacious sons to another instalment of bodily punishment as fast as they came tumbling from above. The final result for the incipient warriors of the Corn people was that they were ignominiously driven home.
While peace was thus restored upon the ground it still looked quite stormy on the roof. The woman who had so energetically interfered at last discovered Okoya, who was looking in blank amazement at this sudden change of affairs. Forthwith she made a vicious grab at his ebony locks, with the pointed remark,--
"Down with you, you stinking weed!"
But Mitsha interfered.
"Mother," she said gently, "do not harm him. He was defending his brother and me. He is none of the others."
"What!" the woman screamed, "was it you whom they were about to strike, these night-owls made of black corn? You, my child? Let me tell them again what they are," and she ran to the brink of the roof, raised handfuls of dust from it, and hurled them in the direction of the caves of the
offenders. She stamped, she spat; she raved, and heaped upon the heads of the Corn people, their ancestors, and their descendants, every invective the Queres language contains. To those below this appeared decidedly entertaining; the men especially enjoyed the performance, but Mitsha felt sorry,--she disliked to see her mother display such frenzy and to hear her use such vulgar language. She pulled her wrap, saying,--
"It is enough now, sanaya. Don't you see that those who wanted to hurt me are gone? Their fathers and mothers are not guilty. Be quiet, mother; it is all over now."
Her mother at last yielded to these gentle remonstrances, turned away from the brink, and surveyed the roof. She saw Okoya standing before weeping Shyuote, and scolding him.
"What are you doing to this child?" asked Mitsha's mother, still under the pressure of her former excitement. She was ready for another fray.
"He is my brother, and the cause of the whole trouble," Okoya explained to her. "I chide him for it, as it is my duty to do. Nevertheless, they had no right to kill him, still less to hurt the girl."
The woman had at last had time to scrutinize the looks of the young man. She herself was not old, and when not under the influence of passion was rather comely. Okoya's handsome figure attracted her attention, and she stepped nearer, eyeing him closely.
"Where do you belong?" she inquired in a quieter tone.
"I am Tanyi."
"Who is your father?"
The woman smiled; she moved still nearer to the young man and continued,--
"I know your father well. He is one of us, a Koshare." Her eyes remained fastened on his features; she was manifestly more and more pleased with his appearance. But at the same time she occasionally glanced toward her daughter Mitsha., and it struck her forcibly that Mitsha, too, was handsome.
"I know who you are," she said smilingly. "You are Okoya Tihua, your little brother is called Shyuote, and Say Koitza is your mother's name. She is a good woman, but"--and she shrugged her shoulders--"always sick. Have you any cotton?" she suddenly asked, looking squarely into the eyes of the boy.
"No," he replied, and his features coloured visibly, "but I have some handsome skins."
Mitsha too seemed embarrassed; she started to go into the room below, but her mother called her back.
"Sa uishe," she coaxed, "won't you give the motātza something to eat?"
The faces of both young people became fiery red. He stood like a statue, and yet his chest heaved. He cast his eyes to the ground. Mitsha had turned her face away; her whole body was trembling like a leaf. Her mother persisted.
"Take him down into the room and feed him," she repeated, and smiled.
"I have nothing," murmured Mitsha.
"If such is the case I shall go and see myself." With these words the woman descended the beam into the room below, leaving the two alone on the roof, standing motionless, neither daring to look at the other.
While the colloquy between Okoya and Mitsha's mother was going on, Shyuote had recovered somewhat from his fright and grief and had sneaked off. Once on the ground he walked--still trembling, and suspiciously scanning the cliff
wherein the Corn people had their abodes--as straight as possible toward the big house. Nobody interfered with him; not even his two defenders noticed that he had gone; they both remained standing silent, with hearts beating anxiously.
"Okoya," the woman called from below, "come and eat. Mitsha, come down and give sa uishe something to eat."
A thrill went through Okoya's whole frame. She had called him sa uishe, "my child." He ventured to cast a furtive glance at the maiden. Mitsha had recovered her self-control; she returned his shy glance with an open, free, but sweet look, and said,--
"Come and partake of the food." There was no resisting an invitation from her. He smiled; she returned the smile in a timid way, as shy and embarrassed as his own.
She descended first and Okoya followed. On the floor of the room, the same chamber where Tyope had taken rest the night before, stood the usual meal; and Okoya partook of it modestly, said his prayer of thanks, and uttered a plain, sincere hoya at the end. But instead of rising, as he would have done at home, he remained squatting, glancing at the two women.
While he ate, the mother watched him eagerly; her cunning eyes moved from his face toward that of her daughter like sparks; and gradually an expression of satisfaction mingled with that of a settled resolve appeared on her features. There was no doubt that the two would be a handsome pair. They seemed, as the vulgar saying goes, made for each other; and there was something besides that told that they were fond of each other also. Okoya had never before entered this dwelling; but the woman thought that they had met before, nay, that her desire had been anticipated, inasmuch as the young people already stood to each other, if not in an intimate, in a more than merely friendly, relation.
"Why do you never come to see us?" asked the woman after Okoya had finished his meal.
"I stay at the estufa during the night," was the modest reply. "You need have no fear," she answered pleasantly, "Tyope and your father are good friends. You should become a Koshare!" she exclaimed.
Okoya's face clouded; he did not like the suggestion, but nevertheless asked,--
"Is she," looking at Mitsha, "a Koshare also?"
"No. We had another child, a boy. He was to have become a Delight Maker, but he died some time ago." The woman had it on her lips to say, "Do you become one in his place as our child," but she checked herself in time; it would have been too bold a proposal.
Okoya glanced at the daughter and said timidly,
"If you like, I shall come again to see you;" and Mitsha's face displayed a happy smile at the words, while her mother eagerly nodded.
"Come as often as you can," she replied. "We"--emphasizing the word strongly--"like it. It is well."
"Then I will go now," said Okoya, rising. His face was radiant. "I must go home lest Shyuote get into more trouble. He is so mischievous and awkward. Good-bye." He grasped the woman's hand and breathed on it; gave a smiling look to the girl, who nodded at him with a happy face; and returned to the roof again. Thence he climbed down to the ground. How happy he felt! The sun seemed to shine twice as brightly as before; the air felt purer; all around him breathed life, hope, and bliss. At the foot of the slope he turned back once more to gaze at the house where so much joy had come to him. A pair of lustrous eyes appeared in the little air-hole of the wall. They were those of the maiden, which were following him an his homeward way.
Tyope's wife was right in supposing that her daughter and Okoya were not strangers to each other. And yet not a single word had passed between them before beyond a casual greeting. As often as they had met he had said, "guatzena," and she had responded with "raua." But at every meeting his voice was softer, and hers more timid and trembling. Each felt happy at the sight of the other, but neither thought of speaking, still less of making any advances. Okoya was aware of the fact--which he felt deeply and keenly--that a wide breach, a seemingly impassable chasm, existed between him and the girl. That gap was the relation in which he stood toward Tyope, the girl's father. Or rather the relation in which he fancied himself to stand toward him. For Tyope had hardly ever spoken to him, still less done him any wrong. But Okoya's mother had spoken of Tyope as a bad man, as a dangerous man, as one whom it was Okoya's duty to avoid. And so her son feared Tyope, and dared not think of the bad man's daughter as his future companion through life. Now everything was changed.
Mitsha's mother had said that Tyope was a friend of his father, and that Tyope would not be angry if Okoya came to her house. Then he was not, after all, the fiend that Say Koitza had pictured him. On the contrary he appeared to Okoya, since the last interview, in the light of an important personage. Okoya's faith in his mother was shaken before; now he began to think that Tyope after all, while he was certainly to him an important man, was not as bad as represented. The Koshare also appeared to him in a new and more favourable light. The adroit suggestion made by the woman that he should join the society bore its fruits. Okoya felt not only relieved but happy; he felt elated over his success. He was well trained in the religious discipline of the Indians; and now that he saw hope
before him, his next thought was one of gratitude toward that mother of all who, though dwelling at the bottom of the lagune of Shipapu at times, and then again in the silvery moon, was still watching over the destinies of her children on earth., and to whose loving guidance he felt his bright prospects due.
He had no prayer-plumes with him. These painted sticks--to which feathers or down of various birds, according to the nature of the prayer they are to signify. are attached--the aborigine deposits wherever and whenever he feels like addressing himself to the higher powers, be it for a request, in adoration only, or for thanksgiving. In a certain way the prayer-plume or plume-stick is a substitute for prayer, inasmuch as he who has not time may deposit it hurriedly as a votive offering. The paint which covers the piece of stick to which the feather is attached becomes appropriately significant through its colours, the feather itself is the symbol of human thought, flitting as one set adrift in the air toward heaven, where dwell Those Above. But as in the present instance, the Indian has not always a prayer-plume with him. So he has recourse to an expedient, simple and primitive.
Two little sticks or twigs, placed crosswise and held to their place by a rock or stone, serve the same purpose in case of emergency. Such accumulations of rocks, little stone-heaps, are plentiful around Indian villages; and they represent votive offerings, symbolizing as many prayers. There were a number of them at the Rito around the big house, along the fields, and on the trails leading up to the mesa. Okoya went to the nearest one and placed two twigs crosswise on it, poising them with a stone. Then he scattered sacred meal, which he always carried with him in a small leather wallet, and thanked the Sanashtyaya, our mother, with an earnest ho-a-a, ho-a-a.
Then he turned homeward. The very thought of that home, however, made his heart heavy and sad. For more and more he became convinced that his mother was false to him. The assertion made by Tyope's wife that he was welcome in her house, and that Tyope would not object to his visiting there, worked another breach in the faith he was wont to place in his mother's words. Not that the invitation to join the Koshare had exercised any influence upon his opinion regarding that society of men and women. He mistrusted, he hated, he feared them as much as ever, but toward Tyope personally he felt differently. His thoughts were carried back to the gloomy subject; one by one his doubts and misgivings returned with them, and a longing after some friend to whom he might communicate his fears and whom he might consult with absolute confidence. As he was thus pondering and walking on, slowly and more slowly, he saw at some distance two men climbing up toward where the cave-dwellings of the Water clan lay. One of them was his father; he recognized him at once. Who was his companion? He stopped and looked. It was his father's brother, Hayoue; and with this it seemed as if a veil had suddenly dropped from his eyes. The tan, slender young man yonder, who was advancing up the declivity at such an easy gait, was the friend upon whom he could fully rely, the adviser who would not, at least purposely, lead him astray. Hayoue was but a few years older than Okoya. The relations between the two were those of two brothers and chums, rather than those of uncle and nephew. Hayoue was not a member of his clan, consequently not exposed to any influence which his mother, through her father, Topanashka, might attempt to exert. Hayoue, he knew, disliked the Koshare as much as he disliked them himself, and Hayoue was thoroughly trustworthy and discreet, though very outspoken if necessary,
and fearless. Yes, Hayoue was the friend in need he so anxiously desired to find, and now that he had found him be resolved to seize upon the first opportunity of consulting him on the subject that so seriously troubled his mind. He was so delighted at this sudden discovery, as it might be called, that he attributed it to an inspiration from above, and stood for a moment in doubt whether he should not return to the stone-heap and offer another prayer of thanks to the mother above, for what he considered to have been a gift of her goodness to him. But the house was too near, and he bethought himself of Shyuote and what the mischievous urchin might have done since he had left him. He entered the front room of his mother's dwelling with a lighter and easier mind than the day before, and what he saw at once diverted his thoughts into another widely different channel.
Shyuote sat in a corner, and his eyes were red from crying. Beside him stood Say, agitated and angry. Without giving her elder son time to speak, she asked,--
"Who sent the boy to the fields?"
"I don't know," replied Okoya, in astonishment. He knew nothing of Shyuote's morning rambles. "He must know; how could I tell?"
"He says that they drove him from the corn because he threw mud at a girl," added the mother.
"That is quite likely," rejoined his elder brother. "That is why the lads of the Corn clan intended to beat him, I presume."
"Why did you not stay with your father?" cried Say.
"Because,"--he held his arm up to his eyes and commenced to sob,--"because my father drove me off."
Why did he drive you away?"
Because--" He stopped, then raised his head as if a sudden and wicked thought had flashed across his mind. [paragraph continues]
His eyes sparkled. "I dare not tell." He cast his eyes to the ground, and a bitter smile passed over his lips.
"Why dare you not tell?" both Say and Okoya inquired. "Has sa nashtio told you not to say anything about it?"
"Not he, but the Koshare Naua." It was like an explosion. Say Koitza felt a terrible pang; she stared vacantly at the wicked lad for a moment, and then turned and went into the kitchen. Shyuote wept aloud; his brother looked down upon him with an expression of mingled compassion and curiosity.
The doorway was suddenly darkened by a human form, and with the usual guatzena the grandfather, Topanashka, entered the apartment. Okoya stood up quickly and replied,--
"What is the boy crying for?" inquired the old man.
"The Corn people tried to hurt him because he threw something at one of their girls," Okoya explained.
"Is that all? I heard scolding and crying' going on here, and so I thought I would come and see what was the matter. Where is your yaya?"
Say, when she heard her father's voice, came out and leaned against the entrance to the kitchen. Her face was convulsed, her eyes glassy. Topanashka scanned her features quietly and then said in a cold tone,--
She understood the meaning of his cold, searching gaze, and gathered all her strength to meet it with composure.
"Shyuote cries also," she said, "because his father sent him home from the fields."
"Why did Zashue do that?
"This he dare not tell, for the Koshare Naua"--her voice trembled at the mention of the name--"forbade
him to say anything about it." Her eyes clung to the features of her father. Topanashka, turned away slowly and quietly, and she followed him to the door. As he was crossing the threshold he whispered to her, "There is nothing new as yet."