AT the time when the tribal council of the Queres was holding the stormy session which we have described in the preceding chapter, quite a different scene was taking place at the home of the wife of Tyope. That home, we know, belonged to Hannay, the woman with whom Tyope had consorted after his separation from Shotaye; and it was also the dwelling in which he resided when other matters did not keep him away. The tie that bound Tyope to his second wife was of rather a sensual nature. Hannay was a very sensual woman, but in addition to this she possessed qualities that made her valuable to her husband. She was extremely inquisitive, listened well, knew how to inquire, and was an active reporter. On her side there was no real affection for Tyope; but her admiration for his intellectual qualities, so far as she was able to appreciate them, knew no bounds. It amounted almost to awe. Their connection was consequently a partnership rather than anything else,--a partnership based on physical affinities, on mutual interest, and on habit. Of the higher sort of sympathy there was no trace. Neither had room for it among the many occupations which their mode of life and manner of intercourse called forth.
If Tyope was shrewd and cunning, and if he made of his own woman his eye, ear, and mouth, as has been said in one of the previous chapters, Hannay was not a fool. She did not of course understand anything of his plans and
schemes, and he never thought it necessary to inform her; but she knew how to manage him whenever anything aroused her curiosity. She contrived to gratify this sometimes in a way that her husband failed to detect,--by drawing from his talk inferences that were exceedingly correct and which he had no thought of furnishing. For Tyope knew his wife's weakness; he knew that if her ears and her eyes were sharp, her tongue was correspondingly swift; and he tried to be as guarded as possible toward her on any topic which he did not wish to become public property. Nevertheless Hannay succeeded in outwitting her husband more than once, and in guessing with considerable accuracy things that he did not regard as belonging within the field of her knowledge. So, for instance, while he had carefully avoided stating to her the object of the council, she nevertheless had put together in her own mind a number of minor points and hints to which he attached no importance, and had thus framed for herself a probable purpose of the meeting that fell not much short of the real truth.
The main desire that occupied Hannay's mind for the present was the union between Okoya and her daughter Mitsha. Okoya had, unknown to himself, no stronger ally than the mother of the girl. The motive that actuated her in this matter was simply the apparent physical fitness of the match and the momentary advantages that she, considering her own age and the loose nature of Indian marriages, might eventually derive from the daily presence of Okoya at her home. In other words, she desired the good-looking youth as much for herself as for her child, and saw nothing wrong in this. From the day when Okoya for the first time trod the roof of her dwelling in order to protect Mitsha, she had set her cap for him. But she knew that there was no love on the part of Tyope for the relative;
of Okoya, paternal or maternal, and she was too much afraid of him to venture open consent to a union that might be against his wishes. In her mind Tyope was the only stumbling-block in the path of the two young people; that is, in the way of her own desires.
She had consequently set to work with a great deal of tact and prudence in approaching Tyope about the matter. After a number of preparatory skirmishes, she at last ventured to tell him of it. To her astonishment he took it quite composedly, saying neither yes nor no, and displaying no feeling at all. He saw not the least objection to having Okoya visit her house as often as he might please; in fact, he treated the matter with great indifference. This was a decided relief to her, and she anxiously waited for Okoya's first visit to impress him most favourably regarding not merely herself but her husband.
Tyope indeed did not attach the slightest importance to Okoya personally. The youth had no value for him at present; he did not dislike him; he did not notice him at all. The boy was as unobjectionable to him as any one else whom he did not need for his purposes. But there were points connected with the union that affected Tyope's designs very materially, and these would come out in course of time, although he foresaw them already. In the first place, intermarriage between the clans of Tanyi and Tyame was not favourable to his scheme, which consisted in expelling gradually or violently four clusters,--Tanyi, Tyame, Huashpa, and Tzitz, from the Rito. The last-named cluster he wanted to get rid of on account of Shotaye, whom he feared as much as he hated; the other three he wished to dispossess of their houses, which were the best secured against decay on the Tyuonyi, in order to lodge therein his own relatives and their partisans. Had Okoya aspired to the hand of a daughter of the Turquoise clan. [paragraph continues]
Tyope would have been in favour of his pretensions at once.
On the other hand, Okoya was very young; he might be flexible if properly handled; and in case the boy, whose father was already a Koshare and completely under Tyope's influence, could be induced to join the society of the Delight Makers, it would be a gain fully compensating for the other disadvantages of the situation. One more Koshare in Tanyi, and one who would dwell with Tyame, besides, after marriage, was a gain. It would facilitate the realization of the plan of a disruption of tribal ties by creating disunion among the clans most powerful, after Shyuamo. Tyope did not care for the expulsion of certain special clusters as a whole, provided a certain number and a certain kind of people were removed. But the matter of making a Koshare out of Okoya was a delicate undertaking. His wife had already suggested as much to him, and he had insinuated to her that she might try, cautioning her at the same time against undue precipitation. Finally he left the whole matter in her hands without uttering either assent or dissent, and went about his own more important and much more intricate affairs.
Hannay awaited Okoya with impatience, but the youth had not appeared again. He was afraid of Tyope and also afraid of her. The warnings of his mother and Hayoue he had treasured deeply, and these warnings kept him away from the home of Mitsha. Still he longed to go there. Every evening since the one on which Say encouraged him to go, he had determined to pay the first regular visit, but as often as the time came his courage had abandoned him and he had not gone. And yet he must either go or give up; this he realized plainly. There might be a possibility of some other youth attempting the same, and then he would be too late, perhaps. There was no thought on his part of
giving up; he felt committed; and yet he was more afraid of going to call on the maiden than he would have been of encountering some wild beast. Not on Mitsha's account, oh no! He longed to meet her at her own home, but he feared both her parents.
Say Koitza instinctively noticed her son's trouble, and she became apprehensive lest out of timidity he might suffer to escape him what she now more and more regarded as a golden opportunity. At last, on the evening when the council was to meet, a fact that was well known to all, she said to her son,--
"I hear that sa nashtio maseua is going to the uuityam to-night; in that case Tyope will be there also." More she did not say, but Okoya treasured the hint, and made no remark about it, but at once thought that the time had come to pay a visit to the maiden. After the sun had gone down he went out and leaned against the northern wall of the big house, gazing steadily at the dwellings of the Eagle clan. There were too many people about yet for him to attempt the call, and furthermore it was so early that the council could hardly have assembled. By the light of the moon he saw clearly the movements of the people, although it was impossible to recognize individuals at any distance. The boy sat down and waited. From where he rested he could not fail to notice when the delegates of the clans that inhabited the big house left for the council, and that would be the signal for his own starting. His heart beat; he felt happy and yet anxious; hope and doubt both agitated his mind.
One of his comrades stealthily approached Okoya, sat down on the ground beside him, threw one arm around his shoulders, and began to sing loudly. Okoya chimed in, and the two shouted at the top of their untrained voices into the clear still night. Such is the custom in Indian villages. [paragraph continues]
A third one joined them, finally a fourth. The latter lay down on his stomach, rested his elbows on the ground, his chin in both hands, and sang in company with the others. Soon after, two men issued from the gangway and walked down the valley; at last another went in the same direction. These were the members of the council, and now it was time for Okoya. As soon as the song reached a pause, he stood up, said "sha," and turned to go. One of his companions seized him by the ankles, saying, "It is too early for you to go to see the girls;" and all together added, laughing, "Don't go yet, later on we will all go together."
But Okoya stepped firmly on the arm of him who attempted to hold him back, so that the boy loosened his grip; then he jumped into the passage, where they could not see him. He disliked to have any one notice that he went to see Mitsha. Waiting in the dark passage for a short time, he glided out at last on the side farthest from where the boys were still sitting and singing, crossed the ditch into the high corn, and went through the latter upward until opposite the western end of the building. Crossing the ditch again, he reached the slope that led to the buildings occupied by the people of the Eagle. In order to mislead his comrades, in case they should be on the lookout, he went higher up along the cliffs till he reached the caves of Tzina hanutsh. Here he looked back. The, three boys were singing lustily the same monotonous rhyme at the same place where he had left them.
From the rock dwellings of the Turkey people there was a gentle declivity to the houses which the clan Tyame had constructed against the perpendicular wall of the cliffs. Okoya walked rapidly; now that he had started, he longed to reached Mitsha's home. Children still romped before the houses; on the roofs entire families were gathered, loudly talking, laughing, or singing. Some of them had
even built small fires and cooked their evening meal in the wonderfully cool and invigourating air. The terrace of the abode whither Okoya directed his steps was deserted, but a ray of light passed through the opening in the front wall. Nothing seemed to stir inside when the boy approached.
Had Okoya glanced at that little opening he might have discerned a woman's face, which looked out of it for a moment and then disappeared within. Had he stepped closer to the wall he might have heard a woman's voice inside calling out in a low tone,--"Mitsha, he is coming!" But he neither looked nor listened; he was barely able to think. His feelings overpowered him completely; wrapped in them he stood still, lost in conflicting sentiments, a human statue flooded by the silvery moonlight.
Somebody coughed within the house, but he did not hear it. Again the face appeared in the small, round air-hole. Okoya had his face turned to the east and away from the wall of the house. At last the spectator within thought that the boy's musings were of a rather long duration, and she called out,--
"Sa uishe, opona"
He started and looked toward the dwelling, but saw only two black points peeping through the port-hole. Again the voice spoke,--
"Why don't you come in, motātza?" Now he became conscious that Hannay was calling him into her home.
His first impulse was to run away, but that was only a passing thought; and it became clear to him that he had reached the place whither he was going, and furthermore that the women were alone. Without a word of reply he climbed the roof and nimbly down into the apartment. He was still on the ladder when Hannay repeated the invitation,--
"Opona, sa uishe."
His greeting was responded to by a loud and warm "Raua, raua" from the mother, and a faint, slightly tremulous "Raua ā" from another voice, which from its softness could only be that of Mitsha. The room was dark, for the fire was about to go out; but beside the hearth cowered a female figure who had placed fresh wood on the embers and was fanning them with her breath. It was Mitsha. At the entrance of the visitor, she quickly stroked back the hair that streamed over her checks and turned her face half around. But this was for a moment only; as soon as the wood caught fire and light began to spread over the room she again blew into the flames with all her might. It was quite unnecessary, for the fire burned lustily.
Hannay stood in the middle of the floor, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand. Stepping up to the boy she said,--
"You have not been here for a long time, motātza." It sounded like a friendly reproach. He modestly grasped her fingers, breathed on her hand, and replied,--
"I could not come."
"You did not want to come," said the woman, smiling.
"I could not, he reiterated.
"You could had you wished, I know it; and I know also why you did not come." She added, "Well, now you are here at last, and it is well. Mitsha, give your friend something to eat."
The significant word "friend" fell on fertile soil. It eased Okoya at once. He sat down closer to the hearth, where the maiden was very busy in a rather confused manner, her face turned from him. Still as often as the strands of hair accidentally parted on the left check, she shot quick side-glances at him. Okoya, balancing himself on his heels, quietly observed her. It was impossible to devote to her
his whole attention, for her mother had already taken her seat close by him and was claiming his ear. She offered slight attraction to the eye, for her squatting figure was not beautiful. Okoya grew lively, much more lively than he had been on his first visit.
"Why should I not have wanted to see you?" he good-naturedly asked.
"I will tell you," Hannay chuckled; "because you were afraid."
"Afraid?" he cried, "afraid? Of whom?" But within himself he thought the woman was right. Hannay smiled.
"Of Mitsha," she said; adding, "she is naughty and strong." A peal of coarse laughter accompanied this stroke of wit. The girl was embarrassed; she hid her face on her lap. Okoya replied,--
"Mitsha does not bite."
"She certainly will not bite you," the mother answered, causing the maiden to turn her face away.
"Does she bite others?" Okoya asked. Again Hannay laughed aloud, and from the comer whither Mitsha had retreated there sounded something like a suppressed laugh also. It amused her to think that she might bite people. Her mother, however, explained,--
"No, Mitsha does not bite; but if other boys should come to see her she might perhaps strike them. But you, sa uishe,"--the woman moved closer to him,--"you, I am sure, she will not send away. Is it not so, Mitsha? Okoya may come to see you, may he not?"
The poor girl was terribly embarrassed by this more than direct question, and Okoya himself hung his head in confusion. He pitied the maiden for having such a mother. As Mitsha gave no answer, Hannay repeated,--
"Speak, sa uishe; will you send this motātza away as you do the others?"
"No," breathed the poor creature thus sorely pressed. A thrill went through the frame of Okoya; he looked up, and his eyes beamed in the reflex of the fire. The woman had watched him with the closest attention, and nothing escaped her notice. Her eyes also sparkled with pleasure, for she felt sure of him.
"Well, why don't you give the motātza some food?" she asked her daughter again. "On your account he has walked the long way from the big house. Is it not so, Okoya?"
"Yes," the boy replied innocently.
Quick as thought Mitsha turned around, and her eyes beamed on him for an instant. He did not notice it, and she forthwith stepped up to the hearth. Even though she lacked evening toilette, Mitsha presented a handsome picture; and her friend became absorbed in contemplation of the lithe, graceful form. She lifted the pot from the fire, placed the customary share of its contents before Okoya, and retired to a comer, whence she soon returned with a piece of dried yucca-preserve, regarded as a great treat by the Indians, because it has a sweet taste. As she was placing the dessert on the floor, the boy extended his hand, and she laid the sweetmeat in it instead of depositing it where she had originally intended. Okoya's hand closed, grasping hers and holding it fast. Mitsha tried to extricate her fingers, but he clutched them in his. Stepping back, she made a lunge at his upper arm which caused him to let go her hand at once. Laughing, she then sat down between him and her mother. The ice was broken.
"You are very strong," Okoya assured her, rubbing the sore limb.
"She is strong, indeed," her mother confirmed; "she can work well, too."
"Have you any green paint?" the girl asked.
"No, but I know a place where it is found. Do you want any?"
"I would like to have some."
"For what do you use the green stone?"
"Next year I want to paint and bum bowls and pots." Mitsha had no thought of the inferences that he would draw from her simple explanation. He interpreted her words as very encouraging for him, not only because the girl understood the art of making pottery, but he drew the conclusion that she was thinking of furnishing a household of her own.
Hannay improved the opportunity to still further praise her child. She said,--
"Mitsha does not only know how to paint; she can also shape the uashtanyi, the atash, and the asa." With this she rose, went to the wall, and began to rummage about in some recess. Okoya had meanwhile taken one of the girl's hands in his playing with her dainty finger, which she suffered him to do.
"See here" the woman cried and turned around. He dropped the girl's hand and Hannay handed something to him.
"Mitsha made this." Then she sat down again.
The object which Okoya had received from her was a little bowl of clay, round, and decorated on its upper rim with four truncated and graded pyramids that rose like prongs at nearly equal intervals. The vessel was neatly finished, smooth, white, and painted with black symbolic designs. There was nothing artistic in it according to our ideas, but it was original and quaint. Okoya gazed at the bowl with genuine admiration, placed it on the floor, and took it up again, holding it so that the light of the fire struck the inside also. He shook his head in astonishment and pleasure. Mitsha moved closer to him. With innocent pride she saw his beaming looks, and heard the admiring
exclamations with which he pointed at the various figures painted on the white surface. Then she began to explain to him.
"Lightning," said she, indicating with her finger a sinuous black line that issued from one side of the arches resting on a heavy black dash.
"Cloud," he added, referring to the arches.
"Rain," concluded the maiden, pointing at several black streaks which descended from the figure of the clouds. Both broke out in a hearty laugh. His merriment arose from sincere admiration, hers from equally sincere joy at his approbation of her work. The mother laughed also; it amused her to see how much Okoya praised her daughter's skill. She was overjoyed at seeing the two become more familiar.
Okoya returned to his former position, placing the vessel on the floor with tender care; and Mitsha resumed her sitting posture, only she sat much nearer the boy than before. He still examined the bowl with wonder.
"Who taught you to make such nice things?" he asked at last.
"An old woman from Mokatsh. Look," and she took up the vessel again, pointing to its outside, where near the base she had painted two homed serpents encircling the foot of the bowl.
"Tzitz shruy," she laughed merrily. The youth laughed, so did the women, all three enjoying themselves like big, happy children.
"For whom did you make this?" Okoya now inquired.
"For my father," Mitsha proudly replied.
"What may Tyope want with it?" asked the boy. "I have seen uashtanyi like this, but they stood before the altar and there was meal in them. It was when the Shiuana appeared on the wall. What may sa nashtio use this for?"
"I don't know," Mitsha replied, and her eye turned to her mother timidly askance and with an expression of doubt.
Hannay saw here an excellent pretext to put in a word of her own which she had wished to say long before.
"I will tell you, sa uishe; I will speak to you as I would to my own child." The artful flattery had its desired effect. Okoya became very attentive; he moved closer apparently to the mother,--in reality, to the daughter.
"You know Tyope is a Koshare, and I am Koshare too; and he is very wise, a great man among those who create delight. Now it may be that you know also what we have to do."
"You have to make rain," said the youth; for such was the common belief among the younger people about the duties of the society.
Hannay and Mitsha looked at each other smiling, the simple-mindedness of the boy amused them.
"You are right," the woman informed him. "After we have prayed, fasted, and done penance, it ought to rain, in order that yamunyi may grow to koatshit, and koatshit ripen to yakka." In these words she artfully shrouded the true objects of the Koshare. It enhanced their importance in the eyes of the uninitiated listener by making him believe that the making of rain was also an attribute of theirs. "'See, uak," she proceeded, "on this bowl you see everything painted that produces rain." One after the other she pointed out the various figures. "Here you see the tadpole, here the frog, here the dragon-fly and the fish; they, as they stand here, pray for rain; for some of them cry for it, when the time comes others live in the water, which is fed from the clouds, or they flit above the pools in summer. Here is the cloud and lightning, and"--she turned the vessel bottom side up--"here are the Shiuana themselves," pointing
at the two homed serpents. "These live everywhere where Tzitz is running or standing. In this uashtanyi we keep meal in order to do sacrifice at the time when rain ought to fall. The pictures of the Shiuana call the Shiuana themselves! So you see what the Koshare want with this thing."
Okoya's lips had slowly parted in growing astonishment; and Mitsha, to whom the explanation was not altogether new, watched the expression of his features with genuine delight.
"And--when you pray and scatter meal out of this,"--pointing to the bowl,--"does the rain always come?"
"Why, then, did it not rain last summer?"
"That I cannot tell you," said the woman. "Only the Shiuana know. Besides, there are bad people who stop the rain from coming."
"How can they do that?" cried both Okoya and Mitsha in surprise, neither of them having heard as yet of such a thing.
"I must not tell you that," said Hannay, with a mysterious and important air; "you are too young to know it. Tell me, Okoya,"--her voice changed with the change of the subject,--"does Shotaye Koitza often come to see your mother?"
This question was highly imprudent. But Hannay was often imprudent. Smart and sly in a certain way, she was equally thoughtless in other matters. The query so sudden, so abrupt, and so uncalled for must, she ought to have foreseen, look extremely suspicious. And yet Okoya was on the point of answering, "She was at our home a few days ago." In time, however, he bethought himself of the warnings she had received, and replied in an unsteady tone,--
"I don't know."
Hannay noticed his embarrassed manner, and saw at a glance that he was forewarned. The "no" of the boy told her "yes." The discovery, however, that Okoya was on his guard was rather disagreeable; it angered her so much that her first impulse. was to send him away. But she soon changed her mind. The youth was obedient; and if now he obeyed the counsels of his people, why might he not later on become accustomed to submission to his wife's people also? At all events he was good-natured, and according to Hannay's conceptions, good-natured folk were always silly. That smart but ill-natured persons might also prove extremely silly on occasions was far from her thoughts, and yet the very question she had imprudently put to Okoya was an instance of it.
It did not occur to her that it might yet be problematic whether Okoya would ever become a traitor to his own people. She could not conceive how anybody might be different from her and from Tyope, and of course she had no doubt concerning his ultimate pliability. And she relied also upon the influence Mitsha would exert upon her future husband, taking it for granted that her child had the same low standards as her parents. That child Hannay regarded merely as a resource,--as valuable property, marketable and to be disposed of to the most suitable bidder. In her eyes Okoya appeared as a very desirable one.
She saw that the courtship, if thus it may be called, was advancing most favourably; and thought it proper, now that the ball was in motion, to allow it to roll alone for a short time,--in other words, to leave the house under some pretext, abandoning the young folk to themselves. After her return she intended to sound Okoya again, though in a more skilful manner. So she replaced the bowl in its niche and went toward the ladder. Before ascending it she turned and said.--
"I will be back soon."
The youth smiled, and she gave him a knowing, significant wink, climbed on the roof and down to the ground, and remained standing outside for a while, until she thought that the young people had forgotten about her. Then she glided noiselessly to the air-hole and peeped in. They still sat by the hearth, examining together some object the nature of which she could not discover; and Mitsha was explaining something to the boy. Evidently the girl was showing him another piece of her handiwork. She heard them laugh merrily and innocently. They were like children at play. Satisfied with the outlook, Hannay crept off to a neighbour's dwelling where the whole family was gathered on the house-top. She took her seat by the old folk and joined in the conversation. That conversation was nothing more nor less than the merest gossip,--Indian gossip, as genuine as any that is spoken in modem society; with this difference only, that the circle of facts and ideas accessible to the Indian mind is exceedingly narrow, and that the gossip applies itself therefore to a much smaller number of persons and things. But it is as venomous, the backbiting as severe and merciless among Indians as among us; and there is the same disposition to criticise everything that does not strictly pertain to us and to our favourites, the same propensity to slander the absent and to be of the same opinion as those present so long as they are within hearing distance.
Gossip has a magic power. It fascinates more than any other kind of conversation. It fascinated Hannay, and time rolled on without her noticing it. The night was so beautiful, so still, so placid, and it felt so comfortable outside on this terrace, whereon the moon shone so brightly, that Hannay sat and sat, listened and talked, until she had forgotten the young folk at home.
Suddenly a dark shadow covered the roof; the change was so abrupt that everybody looked around. What a moment ago was plunged in the silvery bath of the moon's rays was now wrapped in transparent darkness. But the valley below and the slope in front were as softly radiant as before. The moon had disappeared behind one of the cliffs, and the shadow of the rocks was now cast over the houses of the Eagle. It reminded the talkers that it was late, and it also reminded Hannay of her visitor. She clambered hurriedly off and hastened home. Again she looked through the circular vent. It was dark inside, and still. After listening a while she distinguished regular breathings. It was easy to recognize them as those of Mitsha, who was soundly, peacefully asleep. Hannay, as soon as she reached the floor of the apartment, called out,--
"Sa uishe!" No reply.
"Sa uishe!" No answer.
She groped about in the dark until her hands touched the sleeping form. She pulled the girl's dress and shook her by the arm until she sighed and moved, and then asked,--
"Sa uishe, has your father come?"
"No," murmured the still dreaming child,
"Where is Okoya?
"He has left."
"Will he come again?"
"Oh, yes," breathed Mitsha softly; then she turned over, sighed, and spoke no more.
Hannay was happy. The boy would return! That was all she cared for. She really liked him, for he was so candid, so good, and so simple-minded. With such a son-in-law much was possible, she thought. Okoya could certainly be moulded to become a very useful tool to her as well as to Tyope. The woman felt elated over the results of the evening; she felt sure that not withstanding one
egregious mistake, of which of course she would be careful not to speak, her husband would be pleased with her management of affairs. It was long after midnight when that husband returned to the roof of his wife, and Hannay was already fast asleep.
Okoya had gone long before Hannay thought of returning. He went home happy, and satisfied that Mitsha henceforth belonged to him. And yet after all there was a cloud on his mind,--not a very threatening one, yet a cloud such as accompanies us everywhere, marring our perfect happiness whenever we fancy we have attained it. Mitsha had said to him, while they were alone,--
"If you were only Koshare, the sanaya would give me to you."
Okoya thereupon imagined that without Hannay's consent he could never obtain the maiden. On the other hand, the idea of joining the Delight Makers did not at all suit him. He feared in that case the opposition of his mother. After he had returned to the estufa and lain down among the other boys, who were mostly asleep, he revolved the matter in his mind for a long time without arriving at any conclusion whatever. Had he been less sincere and less attached to his mother, such scruples would hardly have troubled him; had he owned more experience he would have known that his apprehensions were groundless, and that Hannay could not, if she wished, prevent him from becoming Mitsha's husband.