THE four days at the expiration of which the council was to take place were drawing to a close, for it was the night of the fourth, that on which the uuityam was to meet. It was a beautiful night; the full moon shone down into the gorge in its greatest splendour, and only along the cliffs was it possible to walk in the shadow. The air was cool and balmy; not a breeze stirred; and the population of the Rito seemed to enjoy the luminous, still, and refreshing hours that followed upon a warm and busy day. Laughter, singing, shouting, came from the roofs and the vicinity of the houses, as well as from the caves and their approaches. The people felt happy; few if any suspected that a momentous question agitated the minds of some of their number.
Two men were walking along the cliffs toward the group of cave-dwellings which the Prairie-wolf clan inhabited. They hugged the rocks so closely that most of the time their figures disappeared in the inky shadows of projecting or beetling cliffs and pillars. One of these men asked in a low tone,--
"Are you going to the uuityam? I am," replied the other.
The words were spoken in a tone sufficiently loud to enable any one acquainted with the inhabitants of the Tyuonyi to recognize in the first speaker Tyame Tihua, the delegate or councilman from the Eagle clan, in the other,
our old friend Topanashka. After exchanging these few words both continued their walk in silence.
The round chamber in which the meetings of the tribal council were usually held exists to-day as a semicircular indentation in the cliffs, the rudely arched ceiling of which is still covered with a thick coating of soot. The front wall has crumbled long ago. At the time we speak of it was entire, and the apartment formed a nearly circular hall of more than usual size, with a low entrance in front and two small air-holes on each side of the doorway.
As the two men approached the place, they noticed that a number of others were already congregated in front of it, but that no light issued from the interior. It was a sign that the council was not yet assembled, and especially that the religious chiefs had not made their appearance. Those who were present assumed any posture imaginable, provided it gave them comfort. They talked and conversed about very unimportant matters, and laughed and joked. There was no division into separate groups, foreshadowing the drift of opinions and of interests; for no lobbying was going on. Every one seemed to be as free and easy as in his own home or in the estufa among his companions, and the greatest apparent harmony prevailed. One man only had retired to a rocky recess where he sat aloof from the others in the darkest shadow of the already shadowy spot. It was the old chief of the Delight Makers, the Koshare Naua.
When the last two comers reached the group and offered the usual greeting, the conversation--in which the delegate from Tzitz hanutsh, a short, stout man, and his colleague from Oshatsh had been the loudest participants--came to a sudden stop. The subject of the discussion was not a reason for its abrupt breaking off, for it was merely the all-absorbing topic as to whether two summers ago it had
rained as early as this year. It was out of respect for the maseua, out of deference to his presence, that the other clan representatives became silent, all except one. That one was Tyope, who continued the subject, as if he intended to display greater independence than the rest. Nevertheless, as no one paid attention to his speech, he felt at last constrained to drop into silence. Not for a long time, however, for as if he wished to atone for his lack of civility he called out to Topanashka,
"You are late, sa nashtio!"
"Early enough yet, satyumishe," replied the old man quietly, and Tyame remarked,--
"Shyuamo dwells nearer to the uuityam than we. The Turquoise men have everything close at hand,--the tapop, the place, everything, and everybody. All we have is the maseua," he added laughing, "and he is very old."
The laughter became general, and Tyope said in a tone of flattery,--
"Our nashtio is old, but he is still stronger than you, Tyame. He is also wiser than all of us together. Our father is very strong, runs like a deer, and his eye is that of an eagle."
There was something like irony in this speech, but Topanashka took no notice of it. He was looking for the tapop, a difficult task in the darkness, where a number of men are grouped in all kinds of postures. Finally he inquired,--
"Where is Hoshkanyi?
"Not here," came a reply from several voices.
"And the yaya?"
"Tza yaya," was the negative answer.
"Then we are not too late," said the war-chief, turning to Tyame. He sat down among the rest, and the talk went on as before his arrival.
At last the governor came. He offered a short greeting and received a careless reply. Then he crawled into the cave, and his assistant followed him. Soon a rustling noise was heard inside, a grating like that of a drill followed, and everybody outside became silent. The tapop was starting the council-fire, and he used for the purpose that venerable implement of primitive times, the fire-drill. It was a sacred performance, therefore the sudden silence of all within hearing of the process. Little by little a glimmer of light illuminated the entrance of the cave; the fire had started, which was a favourable omen. Now the conversation might be resumed, but nobody entered the room. The fire was burning, and its light shone vividly through doorway and port-holes, and the men outside were beginning to move and to yawn, and some had even fallen asleep, but no one gave a sign of impatience. Stillness prevailed; it was so late that all noise and bustle had ceased, and the rippling and rushing of the brook alone pervaded the night.
Several more men approached from various directions;, their steps were almost inaudible, and when they reached the company each invariably uttered a hoarse "guatzena, sa uishe." One by one the new-comers glided into the estufa, until six of them had entered. Then a metallic sound was heard within, as if two plates of very hard material were beaten against each other. All rose at once; those who had fallen asleep were shaken and pulled until they woke; and one after another filed into the chamber, Topanashka being the last. The metallic sound produced by two plates of basalt had been the call to council.
The interior of the estufa was as brightly illuminated as a small fire could make it, the smoke of which found egress through the door and the two air-holes, or rose to the low ceiling, where it floated like a grayish cloud. The air
was heavy and stifling, and the odour of burning pitch proceeded from the pine wood with which the flames were fed in the centre of the room. Close to the fire the tapop had squatted, with three aged men by his side in the same posture. All three wore short, black wraps with red stripes. We recognize in one of these men, who sit with humble, downcast looks, the chief penitent, or Hotshanyi; the other two are his assistants, the shaykatze and the uishtyaka. In their immediate neighbourhood sat three others, whose hair also was turning gray; but they sat upright and looked around with freedom and assurance. Their dress had nothing particular or distinctive about it, but each carried on his head feathers of a certain kind. One, with a tall, spare figure, an intelligent face, and dark complexion, wore behind each ear one blue and one yellow feather. He was the Hishtanyi Chayan, the principal medicine-man of the tribe. Next to him was the Shkuy Chayan, or great shaman for the hunt, equally tall, slender, and with a thin face and quick, unsteady glance. The third, or Shikama Chayan, was an individual of ordinary looks and coarse features, who was decorated by a single upright feather. The leaders of the societies of the Koshare and Cuirana had squatted among the central group, while a projection that ran around the whole room served as a bench, or settee, for the representatives of the clans.
This arrangement corresponded closely to the degree of importance of the various officers, or rather to their assumed proximity to the higher powers under whose protection the tribe believed itself to be placed. The tapop, as chairman of the meeting, occupied the middle, together with the principal religious functionaries,--the yaya, or mothers of the tribe. On the outer circumference were placed the nashtio, or fathers, the delegates of the clans. The Koshare Naua and his colleague of the Cuirana held
an intermediate position. Topanashka, as military head, and the assistant governor, who had neither voice nor vote, sat beside the entrance, guarding it. A lieutenant of the maseua crouched outside to prevent the approach of eavesdroppers.
As soon as the rustling noise occasioned by so many people taking their seats in a small room had subsided, the Hishtanyi Chayan again seized the two basalt plates and caused them to ring. When the metallic sound was heard, everybody became very quiet; and not one of the twenty-three men that composed the meeting moved. All maintained the deepest silence, fastening their eyes on the ground. The shaman scattered sacred meal to the six regions, then he raised his eyes to the ceiling, and finally turned to the three caciques with the formal greeting, "Guatzena, yaya!" then to the others, with "Guatzena, nashtio!"
Raising both hands upward, he pronounced the following prayer:--
"Raua Pāyatyama our father, Sanatyaya our mother, Maseua, Oyoyāuā! You all, the Shiuana all, the Kopishtai all,--all, raua! Hear what we shall speak, witness all our deeds. Make wise the heart, cunning the ear, bright the eyes, and strong the arm. Give us wisdom and goodness, that our hearts may listen ere we say 'yes,' 'no,' or 'perhaps.' Assist your children, help the Zaashtesh, that they may remain united among themselves, wise, far-seeing, and strong. We call upon you, the Shiuana, the kopishtai; whisper to us good thoughts and guide us to the right. To you, Pāyatyama, Sanatyaya, Maseua,--to all of you we pray. Raua, raua! Ho-ā, ho-ā, raua!"
Again the speaker scattered yellow meal in front of the principal penitent, who only bowed in a dignified manner in response. The remainder of the assembly uttered an affirmative "Ā, ā," and one after the other rose and deposited sacrificial meal before the cacique. When each of them
had resumed his scat, the Hishtanyi Chayan turned to the tapop and looked inquiringly.
Hoshkanyi Tihua assumed an air of solemn importance, for he was to play a prominent rôle. He glanced around the circle pompously; but when his eye caught the cold gaze of Topanashka he felt almost a chill, and shrank to natural and more modest proportions. He looked quickly in the direction where Tyope was sitting; but the delegate from Shyuamo hanutsh held his face covered with both hands, and did not notice the pleading look of the little governor. So the latter began in an unsteady tone,--
"Hotshanyi, shaykatze, uishtyaka, and you, the mothers of the tribe, hear me! Hear me also, you who are our fathers,"--his voice grew stronger; he was recovering assurance. "I have called you together to listen to what I say." He crowed the last words rather than spoke them.
"My brother, the nashtio of Shyuamo hanutsh," continued he, "has spoken to me and said,"--he stopped and shot a glance of inquiry over toward Tyope, but Tyope failed to note it,--"satyumishe has said, 'Tapop, my hanutsh is numerous and has many children, but only very little maize; the motātza and the makatza are many, but of beans there are few, and the field we are tilling is small."' Hoshkanyi Tihua was manifestly pleased with his own eloquence, for he again looked around the room for marks of admiration. Only the icy look of Topanashka met his gaze, and he proceeded more modestly,--
"My brother from Shyuamo then said to me, 'See here, nashtio Tapop, there are the people from Tzitz; they are the least in numbers on the Tyuonyi, and yet they have as much ground as we; and they raised as much maize and even more beans, for they are higher up than we, and get more water than we. Now, therefore, call them together,
all the yaya and the fathers, and say to them, "Shyuamo hanutsh demands from Tzitz hanutsh that it should share its field with us, for where there are two mouths of Shyuamo there is only one of Tzitz; but when Tzitz raises one ear of corn, Shyuamo grows not more than one."'"
He had spoken, and drew a heavy sigh of relief. The most profound silence reigned. Tyope remained with his head bowed and his face covered with both hands. Topanashka sat rigidly immovable, his cold piercing gaze fastened on the tapop. The representative of the Water clan made a very wry face and looked at the fire.
The tapop, had yet to perform one duty ere discussion could begin. He turned to the Hotshanyi and addressed him,--
"Sa umo, you and your brethren the shaykatze and the uishtyaka, I address; what do you say to what Shyuamo is asking? Speak, yaya; we are your children; we listen. You are old and wise, we are young and weak."
The old cacique raised his dim eyes to the speaker and replied in a hoarse voice,--
"I thank you, sa uishe,--I thank you for myself and for my brethren here that you have put this question to us. But"--the voice grew more steady and strong--"you know that it is our duty to pray, to fast, and to watch, that peace may rule among the Zaashtesh and that nothing may disturb it. We cannot listen to anything that calls forth two kinds of words, and that may bring strife,"--he emphasized strongly the latter word; "we cannot therefore remain. May the Shiuana enlighten your hearts. We shall pray that they will counsel you to do good only."
The old Hotshanyi rose and went toward the doorway. His form was bent, his step faltering. His two associates followed. Not one of those present dared to look at them. None of them noticed the deeply, mournfully significant
glance which the cacique, while he crept through the door, exchanged with Topanashka.
The address which the governor had directed to the official penitents was a mere formality, but a formality that could not be dispensed with. It was an act of courtesy toward those who in the tribe as well as in the council represented the higher powers. But as these powers are conceived as being good, it is not allowed to speak in their presence of anything that might, in the remotest manner even, bear evil consequences such as disunion and strife. Therefore the caciques, as soon as they had been informed of the subject, could not stay at the meeting, but had to retire.
This happens at every discussion of a similar nature, and their departure was merely in the ordinary routine of business. Nobody felt shocked or even surprised at it. But everybody, on the other hand, noticed the reply given by the aged Hotshanyi, felt it like some dread warning,--the foreboding of some momentous question of danger to the people. An uneasy feeling crept over many of the assistants who were not, like Tyope and the Koshare Naua, in the secrets of the case. After the departure of the caciques, therefore, the same dead silence prevailed as before.
The tapop broke the silence by turning officially to the principal shaman and asking him,--
"Sa umo yaya, what do you hold concerning the demand of our children from Shyuamo?"
The Chayan raised his face, his eyes sparkled. He gave his reply in a positive tone,--
"I hold it is well, provided Tzitz hanutsh is satisfied." He bent his head again in token that he had said as much as he cared to say for the present.
Hoshkanyi Tihua then interrogated the Shkuy Chayan, who very pointedly answered,--
"It is good."
His colleague, the Shikama Chayan, remained non-committal, saying,--
"It may be good, it may not be good; I do not know. My hanutsh is Shutzuna,"--he cast a rapid glance to where the delegate of the Prairie-wolf people was sitting,--"and we have enough land for ourselves."
The governor now addressed the same question successively to the Koshare Naua and to the leader of the Cuirana. The dim eyes of the former began to gleam; his shrivelled features assumed a hideous, wolfish expression as he spoke in a voice trembling yet clear,--
"It is well. Our brethren deserve what they demand. If the crops ripen, my children from Shyuamo are those who pray and fast most of all. My hanutsh alone counts more Koshare than all the others together. If they get more land they will fast and pray so much the more, and this they do not for themselves only, but for the benefit of all who dwell on the Tyuonyi."
The Cuirana Naua, on the other hand, gave a confused and unsatisfactory reply. In his opinion it would be well if both clans could agree.
It was next the turn of the clan delegates to be called up. They were those most directly interested, but until now they had, out of deference for their religious leaders, maintained an absolutely passive attitude. After the Cuirana Naua had spoken, however, many raised their faces, changed their positions; some looked at the tapop with an air of expectancy, others glanced around, still others seemed to denote by their demeanour that they were anxious and eager to speak. Tyope and Topanashka, alone, did not change their attitudes. The former remained with his head bent and his face covered with both hands; the latter, who happened almost directly to face Tyope, with
head erect and an expression of calm watchfulness on his features.
It was of course impossible to foretell the general feeling among the members of the council in regard to the demands of the Turquoise people. The Shkuy Chayan and the Koshare Naua had declared themselves favourable to their pretensions, but on the other hand the Hishtanyi Chayan--and his word had greater weight than their speeches--had made a very significant suggestion by reminding the governor in his reply that the matter did not properly come before the tribal council, but should be settled between the two clans directly interested. Hoshkanyi Tihua should have taken the hint; but Hoshkanyi Tihua had not the slightest tact; and besides, as a member of the clan Shyuamo, he felt too much interested in the matter not to be eager to press it at once, however imprudent and out of place such action might be. He was, moreover, utterly unconscious of the fact that he was nothing but a tool which both Tyope and the Naua wielded to further their perfidious designs.
The tapop therefore called upon the delegate of the Sun clan to speak. He dwelt not far from the Turquoise people, and he expressed himself strongly in their favour.
"It is true," said he, "and I know it to be so, that my friends of Shyuamo are hungry. I know it, and it is true also, that the Water people have too much ground. It is right, therefore, for Shyuamo to ask for a share of what they have in excess. How much it shall be, they must settle among themselves."
Everybody did not appear to be satisfied with this; but when the tapop summoned the representative of the Bear clan to give his opinion, the speech of the latter was not only stronger, it was even offensive to the Water people. He accused them of having done wrong in not sharing their
fields with the clan of the Turquoise some time before, since it was the duty of those who had too much to divide with those who were poorer. He said that it was wrong on the part of Tzitz to have remained silent when they knew how much Shyuamo did for the tribe, while at the same time they had net enough for their own existence. He charged the tapop, in the name of the council, with delinquency in not having required the Water people to share their superabundance with those of the Turquoise. The delegate of Kohaio was not only aggressive in his speech, but his manner of delivering it was brusque and violent, and created quite a stir; and many of the members cast glances at him which were not of a friendly nature.
It was now the turn of the delegate of the Water people; and much depended upon what he would say, for he was, besides the members from Shyuamo, the party most interested in the proceedings. Kauaitshe, as he was called, was not, unfortunately, the man for the situation. Short and clumsy in figure, extremely good-natured and correspondingly slow in thought and action, he was intellectually heavy and dull. When the demand upon his clan was first formulated, he listened to it like one whom it does not concern, and only gradually came to the conception that the matter was after all of prime importance to him and to those whose interests he had been selected to defend. Kauaitshe was thunderstruck upon arriving at full comprehension; he was bewildered, and would much rather have run away from the council. But that was impossible. He heard the men speak one by one, and--what to him caused most anxiety--he saw the moment approaching when he also would be called upon; and the prospect filled him with dismay. What should he say! What could he say! The injustice intended toward his constituents, the necessity of undertaking a task for which he felt himself
incapable, terrified him at first and soon drove him to utter despair; and as all weak and lazy natures, when they see themselves driven to the wall, become frenzied, Kauaitshe, when the tapop turned to him, exploded like a loaded weapon, venting his wrath upon the governor instead of calmly discussing the matter itself. He saw in the governor not only a member of the clan whose plans were detrimental to the interests of his kinsmen, but chiefly the instrument by means of which he was placed in the present difficult position. His face turned dark, then yellow. His eyes glowed like embers. Bounding from his seat, he advanced toward the chairman and hissed,--
"I have heard. Yes,"--his voice became louder,--"I have heard enough. Enough!" he screamed. You want to take from us what is ours! You want to rob us, to steal from my people in order that your people may prosper and we may suffer! That is what you want," and he shook his clenched fist in the face of the tapop. The latter started up like an irate turkey, and screamed,--
"You lie! what we want from you is right! You are only a few people, and you are lazy; whereas we are many and thrifty; you are a liar!"
"Hush! hush!" sounded the voice of the principal shaman, between the shouts and screams of the disputing parties.
"No! no!" shrieked Kauaitshe, "I will not hush. I will speak! I will tell these friends--"
"Water-mole!" yelled the tapop in response; and both the Koshare Naua and Tyope cried at once,--
"We are Shyuamo, not shuatyam." Their voices sounded like the threatening snarls of wild beasts.
"Hush! hush!" the Hishtanyi Chayan now sternly commanded. Rising, he grasped the little governor by the shoulder, pulled him back to his place on the floor, and
warningly raised his hand toward Kauaitshe, whose mouth one of his colleagues had already closed by force.
"If you hope for light from Those Above," the medicine-man warned the delegate from Tzitz, "you must not name in their presence the powers of darkness." To the tapop he said,--
"Do your duty, but do it as it ought to be done!"
Kauaitshe reeled back to his place, where he sat down in sullen silence. It happened to him as it always does to any one who loses his temper--at the wrong time and in the wrong place; after the flurry is over, they find that they have wasted all their energies, and remain henceforth incapable of any effort. The delegate of the Water people was hors du combat for the remainder of the evening.
The incident had made an impression on the assembly. Nearly everybody shared more or less in the excitement. Now that quiet was restored, apparent calmness seemed to prevail in their minds again. The men stared as motionless as before; but their faces were dark, and many an eye displayed a spark of passionate fire. Topanashka had not moved during the quarrel, and Tyope hid his face in his hands as before.
Hoshkanyi's voice still trembled as he called upon the representative of Tanyi hanutsh. The latter replied,--
"There is more land yet at the Tyuonyi; let Shyuamo increase their ground from some waste tract."
"There is no room for it," growled the Koshare Naua.
"I say there is," defiantly retorted the other.
The delegate of the Prairie-wolf people was not only of the same opinion as his predecessor, he even mentioned a tract of waste land that lay east of the cultivated plots, from which Shyuamo might take what they needed. The speaker of Tzina hanutsh, however, was of an adverse opinion. He remarked that it was always better for a
smaller clan to divide their ground with a more powerful one, as in that case larger crops would be raised. As matters stood, he added, only a portion of the land belonging to the Water people was tilled. This the member from Huashpa denied, and reminded him that the Hishtanyi Chayan had suggested that the whole matter should be settled by the two clans privately. Both the Cuirana Naua and Tyame, the delegate of the Eagle clan, could not refrain from expressing their approval in an audible manner by the customary "A-a," and the Shikama Chayan slightly nodded assent.
It was already late, but nobody thought of the hour. On such occasions the Indian can sit up whole nights without ever thinking of rest. Not only was everybody interested, but the excitement, although barely visible on the surface, was rapidly growing; and personal ill-feeling and spite cropped out more and more.
Tyame having expressed himself in favour of the opinion of the delegate from Huashpa hanutsh, the tapop could not refrain from going out of the ordinary routine in order to slight him, and to give the floor to the member from Hiits Hanyi. This flattered the popular delegate, and he accordingly spoke so strongly in favour of the claim presented by Shyuamo that at the close of his speech several voices at once grunted assent. Both parties were growing decidedly bitter.
Tyame noticed the intended slight; so when Hoshkanyi called him up he opened his talk with the remark,--
"One can see that you are Shyuamo."
"That is what I am," the little fellow bragged.
"But you are tapop also," Tyame objected.
"Why do you speak thus? Are you angry that you could not be used for the place?" venomously inquired the governor.
"If I were in your place," retorted the Eagle, "I should do as is customary, and call upon each one in turn."
"You have time enough left to speak against Shyuamo," said the chief of the Delight Makers in a wicked manner.
"That I shall do, most assuredly," exclaimed Tyame. "I am against giving Shyuamo any more ground than they have at present. You have enough for yourselves, for your women, and for all your children. Do more work in the field and do less penance; be shyayak rather than Koshare!" He rose and turned toward Tyope. "Your woman belongs to our hanutsh, and I know that it is not you who feed her; and so you are, all of you. You live from other people's crops!"
Tyope looked up, and his eyes flashed; but in a quiet tone he answered,--
"Your woman is Shyuamo; you know best how it is." The other continued with growing passion,--
"And when your wife was from Tzitz everybody knew that it was not you who supported her, but that she maintained you!"
Loud murmurs arose, and the Shkuy Chayan called Tyame to order, so that Tyope did not have time for a reply to this insulting insinuation.
Of all the clans represented three had yet to express their views. These were the clans of Yakka, of the Panther, and Shyuamo. The delegate of the Corn people was no friend of Tyame's, therefore he spoke directly against what the Eagle had intimated. He emphasized how detrimental it might become for a small cluster to own too much tillable land while a large and important clan was suffering for the lack of vegetable food. With notable shrewdness, he exposed to the meeting the danger for the whole tribe in case one of its principal components should begin to decrease in numbers. He wound up by saying,--
"The strong hanutsh are those who maintain the tribe, for they are those who give us the most people that do penance for the welfare of all, be they Koshare or Cuirana. They also have the greatest number of warriors and hunters. If they have nothing to eat, they cannot watch, pray, and fast in honour of Those Above! So the Shiuana and the Kopishtai become dissatisfied with us, and withdraw their protection from their children; and we become lost through suffering those to starve who are most useful." But he omitted altogether the important fact that there was still waste land in the gorge, and that it was far preferable to redeem such tracts than to create dissension.
Still it must be acknowledged that the clearing of timbered expanses, such as those on the eastern end of the valley mostly were, opposed great difficulties to the Indian. At the time when the Rito was settled, the native had only stone implements. To cut down trees, to clear brush even, was a tedious and protracted undertaking when it had to be performed with stone axes and hatchets. Fire was the most effective agent, but fire in such proximity to the dwellings was a dangerous servant. On the western end there was no tillable land beyond the patches of the Water clan. Still, if there had been any disposition on the part of Shyuamo to be reasonable, they would have remained satisfied with extending their field slowly and gradually toward the east; but neither Tyope nor the Naua really wanted more land; what they desired was strife, disunion, an irremediable breach in the tribe.
The Panther clan, whose representative had to speak now. was a cluster which belonged neither to the larger nor to the smaller groups. Occupying, as was the case, a section of the big house, the Panther people were consequently near neighbours of Tanyi, and they sympathized generally with the latter. Their delegate, however, was Koshare, and
he leaned not so much toward the Turquoise as toward what seemed to be the desire of the leading Delight Makers;--the Naua and Tyope. He therefore expressed himself bluntly in favour of Tzitz hanutsh giving up a certain quantity of land to the clan Shyuamo, without stating his opinion or suggesting in the least how it ought to be done.
Every member of the council, Tyope and Topanashka excepted, had spoken. The majority of votes seemed in favour of the claim represented, but it is not plurality of votes which decides, but unanimity of opinion and conviction; and finally and in the last instance, the utterances of those who speak in the name of the powers above. The shamans had given their opinions, the Shkuy was manifestly favourable to Shyuamo, but his colleague, the Hishtanyi Chayan, had spoken in a manner that restricted the point at issue to a discussion among the clans directly interested. The Histanyi Chayan was a personage of great authority, and many of those who were on the side of the Turquoise people thought his word to be law in the end. They had shown themselves friendly toward their brethren of Shyuamo, willing, however, to abide by what the closing discussion would bring to light. That discussion was yet to commence, and the opening was to be the speech of Tyope himself. Much stress also was laid upon what Topanashka would say, for he too was to take part. Some had their misgivings concerning the real object of the move which every one felt certain Tyope and the Koshare Naua had set on foot; and when the tapop summoned Tyope to speak at last, there was something like a subdued flutter among the audience. Many turned their heads in the direction of the speaker, others displayed in their features the marks of unusual attention.
Tyope rose slowly from his seat. He looked around quietly; there was a sardonic smile on his lips. His eyes
almost closed; he spoke in a muffled voice, slowly and very distinctly. He was evidently master of his subject, and a natural orator.
"Yaya, nashtio, Tapop, I have heard what you have all said, and it is well, for it is well for each one of you to have spoken his thoughts, in order that the people be pleased and delight come into their hearts. For there are many of us, the fathers of the tribe, and each one has his own thoughts; and thoughts are like faces, never two alike. For this reason did I speak to our father the tapop that he should call in the uuityam, in order that all might hear and that nobody could say afterward,--I Shyuamo hanutsh has taken from Tzitz hanutsh what belonged to the Water people, and behold we knew nothing about it!' Shyuamo hanutsh"--he raised his voice and glanced around with flashing eyes--"has many people; Shyuamo is strong! But the men of the Turquoise are just! They go about in daylight and speak loudly, and are not like the water that roars at night and drops into silence as soon as oshatsh brightens the world." After this fling at the delegate of the Water clan, Tyope paused a moment; he seemed to wait for a reply, but none came, the explanation of his action in carrying the matter before the council appearing to satisfy all. "Shyuamo hanutsh," he proceeded, "is great in numbers but weak in strength, for its people have no food for themselves, and what they raise is barely enough for their koitza, their makatza, and the little ones. They themselves must starve," he cried, "in order that other clans may increase through the children which my men beget with their daughters!"
The most profound silence followed these words. The speaker paused again and looked around as if challenging an answer. He felt very sure of his point.
"We have worked, worked as hard as any one on the [paragraph continues]
Tyuonyi, but our numbers have grown faster than our crops. Go and look at the field of Shyuamo and you will see how many are the corn-plants, and how large the ears of corn, but the field is too small! We have not more land than the Turkey people, and not as much as the Water clan! When during last summer no rain fell, notwithstanding all our fasting, prayer, and sacrifice, when yamunyi dried up and kaname shrivelled, Tzitz hanutsh still had enough to eat, and its men grew fat!" This hint at the stout representative of the Water clan created great hilarity. Her representative growled,--
"You are not lean either."
Without noticing this interruption, Tyope proceeded,--
"Its women and its children are well! But we, at the lower end of the cliffs,"--he extended his arm to the east,--"starve in order that your daughters and the little ones whom we have begotten to the other clans shall not perish. We had no more than food enough to pray for, to fast for, in order that the Shiuana might not let our. brethren be lost." Here the Koshare Naua, as well as the representative of the Panther clan, uttered an audible "Ā-ā;" and even the Shkuy Chayan nodded. "How many Koshare are there in Tzitz hanutsh? How many in Tanyi? How many in Tyame who would sacrifice themselves for the ripening of fruit? How many in Huashpa? Shyuamo alone has as many Delight Makers as the remainder of the Zaashtesh. One single clan as many as eleven others together! And"--he drew himself up to his full height and fastened on the delegate of the Water clan a glance of strange fierceness, as he cried--"while your Koshare feed themselves well between the fasts, ours starve to regain strength after they have watched, prayed, and starved!"
This explosion of bitter reproach was again followed by deep silence. Tyope was indeed a fascinating speaker. [paragraph continues]
The maseua and the Hishtanyi Chayan were the only ones whom his oratorical talent could not lead astray. He proceeded in a quieter tone,--
"We need more land. Some of our fathers have suggested that we should extend our territory to the eastward and open the soil there. They mean well; but there is not enough, and the pines are too near. Shall we go as far as Cuapa, where there is enough soil, or where the kauaush descends to the painted cave? Shall we go and live where the Moshome would surround us and howl about like hungry wolves? No! Ere we do this we have thought to say to our brethren, Tzitz has more land than it needs; Tzitz is our brother; and we will ask them, "Satyumishe, give us some of that of which you have too much, so that we may not be lost."' But not to the Water people alone did we wish to speak; no, to all of you, to the yaya nashtio and the tapop, that you all may know it and assist us in our need. For rather than starve we shall leave the Tyuonyi and look for another place. And then," he concluded, "you will become weak and we shall be weak; and the Moshome, the Tehuas, and the Puyatye will be stronger than the Queres, for we shall be divided!"
He resumed his seat in token that his speech was ended. From all sides sounded the affirmative grunt "Ā-ā-ā," the Shkuy Chayan and the Cuirana Naua even nodded. Tyope had spoken very well.
Hoshkanyi Tihua was delighted with the talk of his clan-brother. Forgetful of his position as chairman he looked around the circle proudly, as if to say, "He can do it better than any one of you." The stillness that followed was suddenly broken by the voice of the Hishtanyi Chayan, who called out in a dry, business-like manner,--
"Our brother Tyope has spoken well, and all the others have spoken as their hearts directed them to speak; but my
brother"--he emphasized the my--"the maseua has not yet said what he thinks. My brother is very wise. Let him open his heart too us."
There was a slight commotion among the assembled parties. The speech of Tyope had so monopolized their attention that none of them had thought of the maseua. Now they were reminded of his presence through the principal medicine-man himself, and that reminder acted like a reproach. The eyes of all, Tyope and the Koshare Naua excepted, turned toward the doorway, where Topanashka was quietly sitting. The two men from Shyuamo affected to pay no further attention to what was going on.
Topanashka Tihua remained sitting. He directed his sharp, keen glance to the Hishtanyi Chayan, as if to him alone he condescended to speak. Then he said,--
"I believe as you do, nashtio yaya, but I also believe as you, Tyope, have spoken." So great was the surprise caused by this that Tyope lifted his face and looked at the old man in blank astonishment. Kauaitshe stared at Topanashka like one suddenly aroused by a wondrous piece of news.
"Tyope is right," continued the maseua; "Shyuamo has not soil enough. He is also right in saying that there is not room enough on the Tyuonyi for making new plantations."
"Ā-ā," the delegate from the Turquoise interjected.
"It is true our brethren are suffering for want of land whereon to grow their corn. It is equally true that Tzitz hanutsh has more land than it needs, and it is well that Shyuamo should ask for what it wants and not leave the Zaashtesh forever. Tyope has well spoken."
Nothing can describe the effect of this speech. Even the chief of the Delight Makers smiled approvingly a hideous, satanic grin of pleasure. He felt like loving the speaker;
that is, provided the schemer had been capable of liking anybody but himself. The eyes of Tyope sparkled with grim delight. Kauaitshe and Tyame hung their heads, and reckoned themselves lost forever. The maseua continued, still addressing the principal shaman,--
"But you are right also, nashtio yaya, when you say that it is Tzitz hanutsh who shall decide whether or not it wishes to part with some of its fields for the benefit of the Turquoise people." Both Tyope and the Koshare Naua grew very serious at these words. "We cannot compel the Water people to give up any of their soil."
"No," the Shikama Chayan audibly whispered.
"But if Shyuamo hanutsh says to Tzitz hanutsh, 'We will give you such and such things that are precious to you it you give us the land,' and does it,--then I am in favour of compelling Tzitz hanutsh to give it; for it is better thus than that the tribe should be divided and each part go adrift. These are my thoughts, sa nashtio yaya."
The Hishtanyi Chayan actively nodded assent, and all around the circle approving grunts were heard. The old man's speech satisfied the majority of the council, with the sole exception of those who represented the clan Shyuamo; it was now their turn to become excited, and the Koshare was the first one to display his dissatisfaction.
"What shall we give?" he muttered. "We are poor, we have nothing. Why should we give anything for that which does not help the others? It will help us, but only us and nobody else. We give nothing because we have nothing," he hissed at last, and looked at Tyope as if urging him to be firm and not to promise anything under any circumstances. Tyope remained mute; the words of the maseua appeared to leave him unmoved. But Tyame, the man of the Eagles, became incensed at this refusal on the part of the Turquoise people. He shouted to the Koshare Naua,--
"What! you will give nothing? Why are you Koshare, then? Why are you their chief? Do you never receive anything for what you do? You are wealthy, you have green stones, red jewels from the water; you have and you get from the people everything that is precious and makes the heart glad. You alone have more precious things than all the rest of us together!"
"It is not true!" exclaimed Tyope.
"We are poor!" screeched the Koshare Naua.
Kauaitshe now interfered; he had recovered from his stupor and yelled, "You have much, you are wealthy!"
Turning against Tyope he shouted to him,--
"Why should we, before all the others, give you the soil that you want? Why should we, before all the others, give it to you for nothing? You are thieves, you are Moshome, shutzuna, tiatiu! No!" He stamped his foot on the ground. "No! we will give you nothing, nothing at all, even if you give us everything that the Koshare have schemed and stolen from the people!"
The commanding voice of the Hishtanyi sounded through the tumult,--"Hush! Hush!" but it was of no avail; passions were aroused, and both sides were embittered in the highest degree.
The delegate from Tanyi jumped up, yelling, "Why do you want the ground from Tzitz alone? Why not our field also;" and he placed himself defiantly in front of Tyope.
The member from Huashpa cried,--
"Are the Water people perhaps to blame for the drought of last year?"
"They are!" screamed the Koshare Naua, rising; "Tapop, I want to speak; make order!"
"Silence!" ordered the little governor, but nobody paid any attention.
"Satyumishe Maseua," now shouted the principal shaman, "keep order, the nashtio Koshare wants to speak!"
The tall man rose calmly; he went toward the cluster of wrangling men and grasped Kauaitshe by the shoulder.
"Be quiet," he ordered.
Nobody withstood his determined mien. All became silent. Topanashka leaned back against the wall, his gaze fixed on the Koshare. Everybody was in suspense, in expectation of what the Naua might say. He coughed, and began addressing the leading shaman,--
"Yaya Hishtanyi, you hear that the Water people refuse to give us the land that we so much need. They ask of us that we should give them all we have for a small part of theirs. The motātza from the hanutsh Huashpa has asked whether Tzitz hanutsh is perhaps the cause that the crops failed last year. I say it is the cause of it!"
"How so?" cried Tyame.
"Through Shotaye, their sister," replied the old man, slowly.
It was not silence alone that followed this utterance. A stillness ensued so sudden, so dismal, and so awful that it seemed worse than a grave. Every face grew sinister, every one felt that some dread revelation was coming. Tyope held his head erect, watching the face of the old maseua. Topanashka's features had not moved; he was looking at the Koshare Naua with an air of utter unconcern. The Hishtanyi Chayan, on the contrary, raised his head; and the expression of his features became sharp, like those of an anxious inquisitor. In the eye of the Shkuy Chayan a sinister glow appeared. He also had raised his head and bent the upper part of his body forward. The Shikama Chayan assumed a dark, threatening look. The name of Shotaye had aroused dark suspicions among the medicine-men. Their chief now asked slowly, measuredly,--
"You accuse a woman of having done harm to the tribe?" Henceforward he and his two colleagues were the pivots around which the further proceedings were to revolve. The tapop was forgotten; nobody paid attention to him any longer.
"I do; I say that Shotaye, the woman belonging to Tzitz hanutsh, has carried destruction to the tribe."
"In what way?"
"In preventing the rain from falling in season."
"And she has succeeded!" ejaculated Tyope, in a low voice,--so low that it was not heard by all.
The Shkuy Chayan continued the interrogatory. Nobody else uttered a word; not even the Hishtanyi spoke for the present. The latter disliked the woman as much as any of his colleagues; but he mistrusted her accusers as well, and preferred, after having taken the initiatory steps, to remain an attentive listener and observer, leaving it to his associates to proceed with the case. The Shkuy, on the other hand, was eager to develop matters; he had been secretly informed some time ago of what was known concerning the witchcraft proceedings of Shotaye, and he hated the woman more bitterly than any of his colleagues did; and as the charge was the preventing of rain-fall, it very directly affected his own functions,--not more than those of the Hishtanyi, who is ex-officio rain-maker, but quite as much.
For drought not only affects the crops; it exerts quite as baneful an influence upon game; and game, as food for man, is under the special care of the Shkuy Chayan. He is the great medicine-man of the hunt. Drought artificially produced, as the Indian is convinced it can be through witchcraft, is one of the greatest calamities that can be brought upon a tribe. As a crime, it is worse than murder, for it is an attempt at wholesale though slow extermination. The sorcerer or the witch who deliberately attempts to prevent
rain-fall becomes the object of intense hatred on the part of all. The whole cluster of men assembled felt the gravity of the charge. Horror-stricken, they sat in mute silence, awaiting the result of the investigation which the Shkuy Chayan proceeded to carry on.
"How do you know that the aniehna"--he emphasized the untranslatable word of insult, and his voice trembled with passion--"has worked such evil to the people?" The query was directed to the Koshare Naua. The latter turned to Tyope, saying,--
"Speak, satyumishe nashtio." He squatted again.
The eyes of all, Topanashka's excepted, who did not for a moment divert his gaze from the chief of the Delight Makers, were fixed on Tyope. He rose and dryly said,--
"I saw when Shotaye Koitza and Say Koitza, the daughter of our father the maseua,"--everybody now looked at the war-chief in astonishment, dismay, or sorrow; but he remained completely impassive,--"who lives in the abodes of Tanyi hanutsh, caused the black corn to answer their questions. And there were owl's feathers along with the corn. It was night, and I could not hear what they said. It was in the beginning of winter; not last winter, but the winter before."
"Is that all?" inquired the Hishtanyi Chayan in turn. It displeased him to hear that Tyope had been eavesdropping in the dark,--the man had no business in the big house at night.
"I know also," continued Tyope, "that Shotaye gathered the feathers herself on the kauash toward the south."
"Did you see her?"
"Yes," boldly asserted Tyope. He lied, for he dared not tell the truth; namely, that the young Navajo was his informant.
"Is that all?" queried the Hishtanyi again.
"After we, the Koshare, had prayed and done penance in our own kaaptsh I at one time went back to the timbers on which we climb up to the cave. At their foot, below the rocks, I found this!"
He drew from beneath his wrap a little bundle, and handed it to the shaman, who examined it closely and gave it to his colleagues, who subjected the object to an equally thorough investigation. Those sitting along the wall bent forward curiously, until at last the bundle was turned over to them also. So it went from hand to hand, each one passing it to the next with sighs and marks of thorough disgust. The bundle was composed of owl's feathers tied to a flake of black obsidian.
"I found a second one," quietly said Tyope, pulling forth a similar bunch. Now the council gave demonstrations not only of amazement but of violent indignation; the shamans and Topanashka alone remained calm. Both bunches were given to the tapop, who placed them on the floor before him.
The Hishtanyi Chayan inquired further,--
"Where did you find the feathers? Say it once more."
"At the foot of the rocks, where we ascend to our estufa on cross-timbers."
"Did you see who put them there?"
"When do you think they were placed there?"
"While the Koshare were at work in the estufa."
"Do you know more?"
"Nothing more." Tyope sat down, and the interrogatory was over.
It was as still as a grave in the dingy, ill-lighted chamber. No one dared even to look up, for the matter was in the hands of the yaya, and they were still thinking over it. The demands of Shyuamo hanutsh were completely forgotten,
the owl's feathers had monopolized the attention and the thoughts of every one in the room.
At last the Hishtanyi Chayan rose. He threw a glance at his colleagues, who understood it, and rose also. Then the great medicine-man spoke in a hollow tone,--
"We will go now. We shall speak to our father the Hotshanyi, that he may help us to consult Those Above. Four days hence we shall know what the Shiuana think, and on the night following"--he turned to the tapop--"we will tell you here what to do. In the meantime,"--he uttered these words like a solemn warning,--"hush! let none of you exchange one word on what we have heard or seen tonight. Let none of you say at home, 'I know of something evil,' or to a friend, 'bad things are going on in the tribe.' Be silent, so that no one suspect the least thing, and that the sentence of the Shiuana be not interfered with. Nasha!" he concluded, and went toward the exit. Ere leaving the room, however, he turned once more, adding,--
"And you go also. Each one for himself and alone. Let no one of you utter words, but all of you pray and do penance, keep open your ears, wide awake your eye, and closed your lips."
With this the shamans filed out, one after the other. Their muffled steps were heard for a moment as they grated on the bare rock. One by one the other members of the council left the chamber in silence, each wending his way homeward with gloomy thoughts. Dismal anticipations and dread apprehension filled the hearts of every one.