SHOTAYE had taken no part in the great dance, and no one had missed her. It was known that whenever the Koshare appeared in public she was certain to stay at home. In point of fact she seldom left her cell, unless it was to ascend one of the mesas for the purpose of gathering medicinal herbs. Shotaye enjoyed the reputation of being a strange and even mysterious being; and so long as her services were not absolutely required, nobody cared to intrude upon her. Nevertheless, she often received visitors of the male sex. She despised men most thoroughly, but accepted their attentions if profitable.
On the day following the ayash tyucotz Shotaye left her cave in quest of vegetable medicaments. We have seen how she met Okoya, and how they greeted one another. The boy's sullen manner amused her; she attributed his morose ways to the effects of an over-lively night. Onward she went, down to the edge of the brook, then turned to the right up the course of the streamlet. That the skies threatened to become overcast and that rain might overtake her during the day mattered little. Whenever the Indian is bent upon the performance of some task, sunshine or rain, moonlight or snow, are matters of indifference. Shotaye strolled on regardless of things above or below. People were of as little interest to her as the clouds. The latter could do her errand no harm, and that errand everybody might know if they chose to follow her.
Wandering up the gorge of the Rito and along its northern limit, the woman soon reached the upper part, where the cliffs crowd the water's edge, where the southern slopes become more rugged and the valley terminates. There a series of gigantic steps, formed by high and beetling rocks, closes the Rito to the west. Down that mass of ledges the brook trickles from its source, and a trail, formerly much used by the Navajos on their raids, creeps up, meandering over and between crags, ledges, and shelves of bare rock. This trail was seldom trodden at that time, and then only by armed men, for it was regarded as dangerous. Notwithstanding the proximity of the settlement at the Rito, the Navajos--Dinne, or Moshome--lurked here quite often, and many an unfortunate had lost his life while ascending the trail alone.
Shotaye was therefore travelling an exceedingly hazardous road, but she did not think of danger. Many a time before had she clambered up and down this rocky labyrinth, and while the Dinne fairly swarmed, nothing had ever happened to her. It is true that she was exceedingly wary, and had in her innumerable excursions gathered quite as much knowledge of the tricks of war as the most experienced scout, so that she felt almost intuitively the approach of danger. She had gradually become imbued with the idea that she was invulnerable. To-day, therefore, she moved along this dangerous trail with the greatest apparent nonchalance. Furthermore her thoughts so completely absorbed her that while ascending from the level of the Rito she unconsciously went on thinking of nothing else but of what Say Koitza had told her in the cave, and of the plans for relief which she had begun to devise, or at least to revolve in her mind.
The trail is not only rough and long, it is very steep in places; and the woman stopped for rest, sitting on a ledge
of rocks. Below her the vale was no longer visible; a dark chasm yawned at her feet; out of it the cliffs of the Tyuonyi rose like the heads of giants.
One more difficult stretch had to be overcome before Shotaye could reach the timber crowning the plateau on the northern cliffs of the Rito. Massive benches or ledges, abrupt and high, seemed to render farther ascent impracticable. But Shotaye kept on after a short stop without the slightest hesitation. The trail wound its way upward. It crept from rocky step to rocky step, led her from crags to narrow bands skirting dizzy cliffs, until she came to a level where the timber of the northern mesa was easily reached. Once in the shade of pines she looked around; the original object of her expedition returned to her mind, and she scanned with particular care the underbrush in hope of finding there the herbs on which she based the efficacy of her cures. It thundered audibly, but that was nothing to her.
There, close to a juniper-bush, grew one of the coveted plants. She went to it, knelt down, and began to pull it up by the roots.
Suddenly she felt both of her upper arms seized with irresistible power. Her body was jerked backward. Ere she could think of resistance, she was lying on the ground. Not a shriek, however, escaped her mouth, for although surprised, the woman had presence of mind enough to think that either Tyope or some Navajo must have attacked her. In either case it was useless to scream, for in either case she was lost. As soon however as she was able to glance at her captor her worst fears were dispelled.
The man, or being, whatever he might be, loosened his grip and stood erect. He looked down into her face and grinned. That grin did not in the least beautify his already horrible features. The creature was indeed a man, but so disfigured by paint and accoutrements that any one
unaccustomed to the appearance of Indian warriors in full dress must necessarily have taken him for some fiend or demon from the nether world. He was of robust build; his muscular chest was naked to the waist, a kilt of deer-hide covered his thighs, and his feet rested on small hoops laid horizontally and tied to them like sandals. Face and body were painted with a black metallic powder; under each eye there was a red dash. Out of this sinister face the eyes gleamed like living coals; and the smile, though intended for a friendly token, appeared more like a beastly leer. A close-fitting cap covered the skull to the ears, giving it the appearance of ghastly baldness. From under this protection coarse locks of black hair protruded.
Shotaye looked up at the monster, and, strange to say, returned his horrid grin with a smile and with encouraging winks. But the man did not move; he only let go her arms. So she rose. Thereupon he touched her right arm with his left hand, pointed at himself with the right, and uttered in a strange dialect, "Tehua." Afterward he pointed at her, adding, "tema quio," and accompanied these words by most significant gestures.
Shotaye did not understand the language, but the signs were clear to her.
"Koitza," she replied, imitating his motions; "Tehua hachshtze;" and with a wink, "amoshko."
The Indian shook his head; he dropped the arm of the woman, made with both hands the motion of stringing a bow, and exclaimed,--
"Uan save." Grasping the war-club that hung from his wrist he struck two or three blows with it at random, repeated the words "uan save," and looked askance.
This was beyond Shotaye's powers of comprehension. She again pointed at herself, saying,--
"Tyuonyi koitza," then in the direction of the Rito,
made the gesture-sign for killing, and looked at the stranger inquiringly and with an anxious face.
Now the Indian understood her. His eyes sparkled; he shook his head emphatically, uttering,--
"Nyo nyo tema, uan save, uan save;" at the same time he pointed to the west and brandished his war-club.
It became clear to the woman that the warrior was on an expedition against the Navajos, and not after the scalps of her own people; but it was equally plain to her that, being on the war-path, any kind of enjoyment was prohibited to him. This was a disappointment, and the strange dialogue came therefore to a stand-still. Each eyed the other in silence. All at once the stranger stepped up to her, and extending his arms to the west, asked,--
She shrugged her shoulders in silence.
"Quio," he said now, and grasped her hand; "tupoge," pointing toward the Rito. "Quio," he beckoned her to go with him. "Puye," waving his hand to the north. Lastly he grinned and whispered, "cuinda?"
There was no possibility of misunderstanding the smile and the motions, although the words, of course, were beyond Shotaye's comprehension. In return she pointed to the west again, made the conventional sign for night and sleep, and began to count her fingers. As she bent the eighth digit the Tehua stopped her, held up every finger of the right hand and three of the left, described, as if in confirmation eight times, an arch from east to west, and concluded by pointing to the north, exclaiming very emphatically,--
"Puye!" He looked at her and laughed aloud, as the Indian does when he feels delighted, pressed both hands against his chest, and uttered proudly,--
"Shotaye," she eagerly replied.
The black-painted hero burst out in immoderate laughter.
"Shotaye, Shotaye," he repeated, caught hold of one of her hands, caressed his chest with it, and danced about merrily, exclaiming,--
"Cuindae, Cayamo, cuindae, Shotaye, cuinda!" He counted the number eight several times, and then suddenly bent down. One of his sandals had become loose.
These sandals consisted, as mentioned before, of wooden hoops covered by strips of rabbit-skin and tied to the naked foot with bands of the same material. The wearer stood on them as on wheels lying flat on the ground; he was able to walk and even to run at a moderate speed, and the prints which he made, being circular, gave a pursuing enemy no clew to the direction of his going or coming.
While the man was stooping and fastening the leather thongs, Shotaye scanned his appearance thoroughly. She perceived on his back, aside from a bow and the usual quiver filled with war-arrows, a shield. The painting on that shield she examined with particular care. The target was painted white, with a black rim; and in the centre was a green crescent, with four red crosses. Such figures have no heraldic signification; they are but the creation of fancy or taste, and recall the designs of the ancient Teutons which Tacitus describes, "Scuta tantum lectissimis coloribus distinguunt."
Shotaye evidently took an interest in the stranger. He, on the other hand, looked up to her from time to time with a terrific grin that was intended for a sweet smile. As often as he turned his face toward her she sought to decipher his real features, which the war-paint rendered utterly unrecognizable.
At last the sandal was fastened again, and the Tehua stood erect. He waved his hand to the west and north, repeated the words, "Cayamo, cuinda," and placed a finger on his lips. She nodded, raised eight fingers, softly uttered "raua, raua, Shotaye," and pointed to the north also. Thereupon he moved away stealthily; but before disappearing in the timber, he turned around once more and waved his hand northward. The woman replied with affirmative nods, and after his form had disappeared she also turned to go. Her eyes sparkled; a gleam of intense satisfaction illumined her features, as with head erect and heedless of the plants she had come to gather, she penetrated deeper into the forest. She now went due east, in a direction opposite to the one the Tehua had taken.
This had been a very remarkable meeting indeed. More than ever, Shotaye believed that she was invulnerable. The Queres of the Rito and the Tehuas, living north of them on the other side of savage mountain-fastnesses, and more than a day's journey distant, were not always on the best of terms. There was no regular intercourse between the tribes, for the speech of one differed from that of the other. Barter and traffic took place at long intervals; but as not a soul at the Tyuonyi spoke Tehua, and no one at the Puye understood Queres, such attempts at commercial inter. course usually terminated in a fracas, in bloodshed even, and the party offended sought to make things even afterward by waylaying and murdering such of the other side as might chance to wander in the neighbourhood of their abodes. Actual warfare had taken place between the tribes within the time of Shotaye's recollection, and engagements were fought; one party got worsted and ran home, the other went home, too, and that settled the matter for the time being. It was, therefore, not at all safe for an Indian from the Rito to meet one from the Puye, and vice versa. Women
made an exception, inasmuch as they were exposed only to capture and adoption in the tribe to which their captors belonged. Such compulsory adoption was rendered very easy by the fact that nearly the same clans existed among all the pueblos. But the Eagle clan, for instance, which the Queres called Tyame hanutsh in their dialect, bore in the Tehua language the name of Tzedoa.
As soon as Shotaye saw into whose hands she had fallen, she felt completely reassured. Even if she were carried off a prisoner, it was no misfortune. When, moreover, she discovered that the stranger had not even such an object in view, but was after the scalp of some Navajo, she experienced a feeling of delight. When at. last the Indian readily understood her suggestions, and went so far as to indicate a day when she should come to him at the Puye, her gladness knew no bounds. In the accidental meeting, all her hopes for relief had been realized. She was now able to save herself by flight to the other tribe, but enough time was left her to provide for the safety of her companion in peril.
She had no hope or thought of becoming the wife of her new acquaintance. He was probably married; but marriage, as we have seen, was no obstacle to temporary outside friendships. She could take refuge at the Puye without hesitation, and claim the protection of her warrior. In case she afterward felt like tying herself to one man only, there was no doubt in her mind that a domestic animal of the genus husband could easily be found. How often could she have been married at the Rito, had the men not looked upon her as a witch!
The friend whom she had now secured among the Tehuas called himself Cayamo. Thus much she had guessed, and guessed rightly. But would she be able to recognize him after his face was washed and the military undress exchanged for that of civil life? Never mind, she had noted
the paintings on his shield, and that was enough. There are no two shields alike in one village; and by uttering the name Cayamo and describing the white escutcheon with a green crescent and four red crosses--a thing easy for Indian sign-language--she could not fail to identify him. That Cayamo would recognize her and acknowledge her acquaintance she did not doubt for a moment. She even hoped to meet him half way on the trail to the village of his tribe, provided the Navajos did not kill the hero. While she sincerely hoped that he would return safe and in possession of many scalps, there was still a possibility of his own scalp being taken by the enemy. The Navajos were very cunning, and their arrows were tipped with very sharp flint. With all her feelings for her knight, and the reliance she placed on his broad shoulders, heavy neck, strong arms, and well-turned legs, accidents remained possible. In case Cayamo should never return to his native village, what then? Well, he was not the only man among the Tehuas, and that consoled her.
There seemed to be but one dark point in the otherwise bright outlook. Would she have time to put her plans in execution? Would the Koshare, would Tyope, leave her sufficient respite? Things might have taken place during and after the dance that changed the face of matters and precipitated them beyond remedy. In case, for instance, that the Delight Makers had overturned Say's household as they were wont to overturn others, and had discovered the feathers, was not all hope gone? Shotaye suddenly recollected how Okoya had greeted her that morning,--how surly his glance, how gruff and unfriendly his call. Was that significant? Still, if the secret had been disclosed, there would surely have been some noise about it the night before. On the other hand, it might be that the council had the case in hand and preferred not to make anything public for the
present. What if the council were in deliberation at the very moment, discussing her fate and that of her accomplice? Would it not be safer, instead of returning to the Rito, to follow the tracks of her new friend, Cayamo, and join him on his dangerous errand?
Yes, it would have been safer, provided Cayamo would have tolerated the companionship of a woman. But this he was not allowed to enjoy, and furthermore, what would then become of that accomplice of hers? The latter thought staggered her.
Shotaye was a very strange woman. She was heartless, cold-blooded, merciless, remorseless, in everything that concerned her relations to others. One person only she excepted in her selfish calculations, and that was her accomplice and victim, Say Koitza. Happen what might, she could not forsake Say. She must at all hazards go back to the Tyuonyi, call at her house, and find out from her whether or not anything had occurred that might jeopardize her plans and designs. In case matters were unchanged, she intended to tell her friend the occurrence of the day, giving her at the same time directions for the future.
Shotaye quickened her step, for the road was long. It was not advisable to return by the trail she had taken in coming, for she needed a pretext for running into the abode of Say Koitza as if by chance. At last she noticed the change in the weather and the approaching shower, and thought it a good plan to regulate her gait so as to reach the valley and the big house when the storm broke. She might then seek shelter under her friend's roof and avoid suspicion.
Crashing thunder roared in the high Sierra, and as Shotaye looked around she saw the rain-streaks that swept down on the mesas in advance of the shower. The Sierra de la Jara had vanished in the clouds, and gray fleeces
whirled about the flanks of the Sierra de San Miguel. She stood on the brink above the eastern end of the Rito, and began to descend over boulders and crags, and through bushes. Only a part of the valley was visible; in the corn-fields not a living soul appeared. Faster and faster Shotaye ran, regardless of rocks and shrubbery. The western mountains were completely shrouded, lightning tore the clouds, thunder bellowed nearer and stronger. At last she reached the bottom and turned toward the houses, panting, perspiring, but untired. As she passed the new house of the Corn clan, the first angry blast of the storm met her, and she had to stop. It filled her with lively satisfaction, however, to see how accurately she had regulated her movements. She might get into the big house almost unnoticed, for the rain began to fall.
At the moment when Hayoue and Okoya found shelter in the caves of the Water clan, Shotaye dashed through the gangway of the building. A tremendous shower was falling, and as soon as she entered the court she was drenched from head to foot, to the great delight of those who, well protected themselves, were standing in the doorways of their quarters. One single voice called to her to come in, but she took no notice of it. Blinded by the torrents of falling water, she groped her way along the walls, and finally stumbled into the open door of Say Koitza's home. Not a single thread of her scanty clothing was dry; her hair, soaked and dripping, clung to her forehead and cheeks as if glued to the skin; water filled her eyes, nostrils, and ears. She removed the hair from her brow, shook herself, coughed, sneezed, and looked around. The room was empty, but in the inner cell a fire crackled on the hearth; and Say came out. At the sight of her friend she burst into a hearty laugh, and asked,--
"Where do you come from?"
"Tziro kauash." Shotaye coughed, then in a whisper she inquired,--
"Are you alone?"
Say's brow clouded, and a deadly pang seized her. What meant this query, this call so unusual, so mysterious? In a low, hollow tone she replied,--
"We are alone," and turned back into the kitchen. Her friend's question sounded like a prelude to dismal tidings.
Both women squatted close to the fire. Not a word was spoken. The new-comer was busy drying herself, and the mistress of the house was struck by her rather cheerful looks. Possibly her sad presentiment was wrong. It was almost impossible to talk, except in a very loud tone; for the rain fairly roared, peals of thunder followed each other in quick succession, flashes of yellow lightning quivered outside of the little port-hole. The room itself was very dark.
How often had the two women sat here years ago in anxious doubt, but hopeful at last! How often had Say Koitza complained to her friend on this very spot,--complained of her illness, of the sad outlook before her; and when she began to recuperate how often she told Shotaye about her plans for the future. Now that future had come, and in what shape!
The roaring outside diminished gradually, the thunder sounded more remote. Through the roof of mud and brush rivulets of water began to burst, forming little puddles on the mud floor and dripping on the heads of the two women. Shotaye took no notice of it, but Say moved to avoid the moisture. The roof seemed a sieve, the floor became a lagune.
"Have the Koshare been here?
"They have," the other said, "and they turned every, thing upside down, but found nothing."
Shotaye drew a long breath, exclaiming,--
"Then everything is right, all right; and you are safe!"
But the wife of Zashue Tihua shook her head mournfully "No, sa tao," she replied, "it cannot save me. I am lost, lost beyond hope."
"Rest easy, sister. Believe me," the medicine-woman assured her, "you are saved; they can do you no harm."
It rained softly in the court-yard; inside of the room it went on, pat, pat, pat, pat, dripping through the ceiling.
Shotaye resumed the conversation.
"Speak, sa tao," she said; "speak, and tell me what you think. Why is it that you still believe that bad men will be able to do you harm? Don't you know, sister, that you are safe from them now, and that they cannot injure you any more?"
Say Koitza shook her head gloomily and replied, pointing to her ear and eye,--
"Sanaya, what the ear hears and the eye sees, the heart must fain believe."
"Then speak to me; tell me, sa uishe, what it is that your ear has heard, your eye has seen, that makes your heart so sad." The woman spoke softly, entreatingly, as if she was soothing a sick child. But the object of her sympathy sighed, and continued, in the same tone of utter despondency,--
"Sister, had you been present at the ayash tyucotz, when all the people danced and sang, your eyes would have seen what the heart could not approve. I saw my son Okoya Tihua, the child of Tanyi hanutsh, dancing beside Mitsha Koitza, the girl from Tyame; and she is the daughter of our base enemy."
"Is that all that causes you trouble, koya?" Shotaye very placidly asked.
"Listen to me further, yaya," Say entreated. "This
morning I took the boy to task for it, and then I found out that Mitsha is near to him,--nearer than his own mother. I discovered that he goes to see her, and thus gets to the house of the woman of whom they say that she is Tyope's ear and eye, tongue and mouth. What do you say to that, sa tao?"
Shotaye smiled. "Have you ever spoken to Mitsha?"
"Never!" exclaimed Say. "How could I speak to one whose mother is a sand-viper, and whose father a carrion crow?"
"Is that all?
"You know," Say cried, "how mean Tyope is! If my child goes to see his child, is it not easy for the young serpent to ask this and that of my son? Then she will go and tell the old sand-viper, her mother, who will whisper it to Tyope himself. Don't you see it, sister?"
The argument was forcible, and Shotaye felt the truth of it. The other proceeded,--
"Okoya may have been going with the girl for a long while; and I knew nothing of it. Have you found out, sister,"--she leaned forward and looked at her guest with a very earnest expression,--"how the Koshare have learned about the owl's feathers in my house?"
The other shook her head and shrugged her shoulders.
"Neither have I," continued Say; "but might not Okoya--" The hand of her friend closed her lips.
"Hush!" cried the medicine-woman, imperatively; "speak not, believe not, think not, such a thing I Okoya is good; I, too, know the boy. He will never do what you suspect."
But Say was too excited to listen to her. She drew Shotaye's hand away from her mouth and exclaimed,--
"Remember that it is but a short time that the Koshare have known about the feathers."
"And remember, you, that Okoya is of your own blood!"
"He is young, and the makatza has great power over him, for he likes her. When Zashue"--her voice trembled and she turned her face away with a suppressed sigh--"came to me and I went to him, he often told me things about your people,--things that your hanutsh would not have liked, had they known that I knew of them."
"Hush! I tell you again. Hush, koitza!" the other commanded. "Hush! or I will never listen to you any more. You loathe your own flesh, the very entrails that have given birth to the motātza! I tell you again, Okoya is good. He is far better than his father! Thus much I know, and know it well." She looked hard at the wife of Zashue, while her lips disdainfully curled. Say cast her eyes to the ground; she did not care to learn about her husband's outside affairs.
It was very still in the dark room. Even the rain was scarcely heard; and from the ceiling it dripped in one place only,--the very spot where the owl's feathers had lain buried. It seemed as if the waters from heaven were eager to assist in obliterating every trace of the fatal tuft. Shotaye turned away from her friend indignantly; the mere thought of a mother accusing her child, and such a son as Okoya, was revolting to her. Say hung her head and pouted; and yet she felt that Shotaye was right, after all. And then it was so gratifying to hear from Shotaye's own lips how good her son was.
"Sanaya," she asked after a while, timidly, "tell me for what you came."
"No," the other curtly answered.
Say started. "Be not angry with me," she pleaded. "I do not mean anything wrong."
"And yet you slander your best child."
Say Koitza began to sob.
Shotaye continued, angrily,--
"You may well weep! Whoever speaks ill of his own blood, as you do, ought to be sad and shed tears forever. Listen to me, koitza. Okoya is good; he will not betray anybody, and least of all his mother. And hear my words,--Mitsha also is good; as good as her father is bad, as wise as her mother is foolish. Even if Okoya had found the feathers and had told makatza of it, she would keep it to herself, and the secret would lie buried within her heart as deep as if it rested beneath the nethermost rock on which the Tetilla stands. And in the end let me tell you,"--she raised her head defiantly and her eyes flashed,--"if Okoya likes the girl and she wants him, they are sure to come together. You cannot prevent it; neither can Tyope, the tapop, the Hotshanyi,--not even the whole tribe! Those on high hold the paths of our lives; they alone can do and undo, make and unmake."
Say wept no more. She was convinced, and lifted her eyes again.
"Mother,"--it was Shyuote's voice which called into the outer room from the court-yard,--"mother, come out and look at the fine rainbow." With this he dashed into the inner door and stood there, the very incarnation of dirt. He had been playing at Delight Makers in the mud-puddles outside with some of his comrades, and was covered with splashes of mud from head to foot. Say bounded from her seat and pushed back the forward youngster.
"Who is with you, sanaya?" he inquired, while retreating.
"Nobody, you water-mole! I want to be alone. I have no time to look at your rainbow. Get away!" and she hustled him outside and quickly returned to the kitchen.
But Shyuote, not satisfied with his mother's statement, rushed to the port-hole to see for himself. This Shotaye had expected; and as soon as his dirty face darkened the opening, it received a splash of muddy rain-water that caused the boy to desist from further prying.
After Say had resumed her seat by the hearth, Shotaye bent toward her and whispered,--
"Mark me, the Shiuana are with us; the rainbow stands in the skies. Those Above know that what I speak to you is the truth." Okoya's mother nodded; she was fully convinced.
The cave-dweller took up the former subject again.
"Do not misunderstand me, sister," she said; "I do not say that it is well that Okoya should go to the house of the girl's mother. There is danger in it. But your son is careful and wise, and Mitsha is good, as good as our mother on high. Therefore don't cross his path; let him go as he pleases; and if Mitsha should come to you, be kind to her, for she deserves it. All this, however,"--the tone of her voice changed suddenly,--"is not what I came to see you for. What I have to tell you concerns me and you alone. Keep it precious, as precious as the green stone hidden in the heart of the yaya; and whatever may happen, be silent about it, as silent as the mountain. Keep your lips closed against every, body until the time comes when we must speak."
Say nodded eagerly, and Shotaye was fully satisfied with the mute pledge, for she knew that the woman dared not betray her.
"Believe me," she continued, "your life is safe. You will not, you cannot, be harmed."
Say Koitza looked at her in surprise; she could not realize the truth of these hopeful tidings.
"They found nothing in your house," resumed the other, [paragraph continues]
"because, I presume, you removed the feathers in time, and in this you were wise. If Tyope says that he saw you holding owl's feathers in your hands, and you have not kept them, who can speak against you at the council? Rest assured of one thing. Tyope is at the bottom of all our troubles, and unless he or somebody else watched you while you buried the hapi at the foot of the beams on which the Koshare go up to their cave, nobody will believe him when he rises against you. Are you sure," she added, "that nobody saw you?"
"They were all up there, so Zashue himself told me."
"Tyope," Say replied with animation,--"I saw Tyope. He was outside, clinging to the rock on high like a squirrel to a tree. But he could not see me."
"Then, child, you are safe; let them do as they please."
"But if he comes and says, 'I saw Say and Shotaye with black corn, and owl's feathers on it; and I heard them ask of the evil corn to speak to them'?"
"Then everybody will say, 'Shotaye is a witch, Say only her tool; we must punish Shotaye, she must be killed,' and that will be the end of it."
She brought her face so close to that of her friend that the latter, while unable to see her features, clearly felt her breath. The last words of the medicine-woman shocked Say. She stood toward Shotaye almost in the relation of a helpless child, and the thought of seeing her friend exposed to death produced a feeling of dismay and sadness.
"But, sanaya," she asked, "how can they harm you and let me go free? Am I not as guilty as you? What you did, was it not for me, for my good? Why may I not go along if they send you to our mother at Shipapu?"
"Hush, sa uishe," the other retorted. "Do not speak thus. I have led you to do things which those on high do
not like, so I alone must suffer. Nevertheless"--she laid her hand on the other's lap--"rest easy; I shall not die."
In her simplicity, Say, when Shotaye mentioned the probability of her suffering capital punishment, had not thought of her children and of the consequences that would arise in case she herself were to share that fate. She felt greatly relieved upon hearing the cave-woman speak so hopefully of her own case, for she bethought herself of those whom she would leave motherless. But her curiosity was raised to the highest pitch. Eager and anxious to learn upon what grounds Shotaye based her assurance of safety, Say nestled close to her side in order not to lose a syllable of the talk. It was necessary, for Shotaye proceeded in a slow solemn whisper,--
"Sister, I shall be accused and you will be accused also. If you are brought before the council, and they ask you about our doings, deny everything, say no to everything, except when the black corn is spoken of. That you may confess. They will inquire of you why we used the evil cobs. Answer, and mark well my words, that you did not understand what I was doing, that you only did what I told you to do. Lay all the blame on me."
"But it is not true," the little woman objected. "Never mind, provided you go free."
"They, then, will kill you!" Say cried. Be not concerned about me; I will save myself. How can you?"
"That is my secret; still this I will confide to you her whisper became scarcely audible as she added, "I shall flee!"
"Whither?" gasped Say in surprise.
"To the Tehuas! But, sa tao, be silent, as silent as the stone, as quiet as kohaio when in winter he is asleep. Whatever you may hear, heed it not; what you may see, do not
notice. Deny everything you can deny, and what you have to confess lay on me. Do as I tell you, sa uishe," she insisted, as Say moved uneasily, "and trust to me for the rest."
Shotaye arose, shook her wet garments, and stepped into the outer room. There she turned around once more. and repeated in a low but impressive voice,--
"Sa tao, trust in me, and believe also that Okoya is good, and Mitsha better yet. Be kind to both and be silent."
She stepped into the court-yard, and Say Koitza remained standing in the doorway.
The rain had ceased; the sky was clear again, all ablaze with the richest golden hues over the crest of the big houses. It was near sunset. Say watched her friend as she went to the entrance; and as Shotaye's form vanished in the dark passage Okoya emerged from it, coming toward his mother, slowly, shyly, but with a smile on his countenance. That was surely a good omen, and she anticipated the timid "guatzena" with which he was about to greet her by a warm and pleasant "raua opona."