WHEN, at the close of the eventful meeting of the council at which the accusation against Shotaye and Say Koitza had fallen like a thunderbolt upon the minds of all present, the principal shamans warned the members of that council to keep strict silence and to fast or pray, that reminder was not to be understood as imposing on them the obligation of rigid penitence. Secrecy alone was obligatory; it remained optional with each how far he would carry his contrition. The three caciques, however, and the chief medicine-men had to retire and begin rigorous penitential ceremonies. Therefore the Hishtanyi Chayan had said that he was going to speak to the leading penitents at once.
Some of the fathers of the tribe, however, took the matter so much to heart that they obeyed the injunction of the great medicine-men literally, and took to sackcloth and ashes as soon as they reached home. Their motives were extremely laudable, but their action was by no means wise. They lost sight of what the shaman had strongly insisted upon; namely, that none of them should, by displaying particular sadness or by dropping mysterious hints, attract attention, and thus lead the people to surmise or suspect something of grave import. The shaman knew the human heart well, at least the hearts of his tribe; but with all his well-intended shrewdness he overlooked the fact that the very recommendations he gave had fallen on too fertile ground, and consequently worked more harm than good. [paragraph continues]
For the majority of the councilmen were so horror-stricken by the disclosures of Tyope and of the Koshare Naua, that they went to do penance with a zeal that could not fail to draw the attention of everybody around them. Thus Kauaitshe, the delegate of the Water clan, and Tyame, he of the Eagles, and several others considered it their duty to fast. Not a word concerning the meeting passed their lips; but when on the following morning each one of them retired to a secluded chamber or sat down in a corner of his room, his arms folded around his knees, speechless, motionless, when he refused to partake of the food which his wife or daughter presented to him,--when he persisted in this attitude quietly and solemnly, it could not fail to attract attention. The father, brother, or husband fasted! Whenever the Indian does penance it is because he has something heavy on his mind. In the present instance, as it happened immediately after the council, it necessarily led to the inference that at that council momentous questions must have been discussed, and also that these questions had not been solved. Otherwise, why should the councilmen fast?
Penitence, with the Indian, is akin to sacrifice; the body is tormented because the soul is beyond human reach. The fasting is done in order to render the body more accessible to the influence of the mind. Often, too, one fasts in order to weaken the body, in order to free the soul from its thralls and bring it into a closer relation with the powers regarded as supernatural. At all events, fasting and purifications were a sure sign that serious affairs were in process of development, and such proceedings on the part of some of the nashtio could not fail to produce results the opposite of what the shaman had intended.
It would have been different had the yaya alone retired for penitential performances; nobody would have been struck by that, for everybody was accustomed to see them
at work, as such voluntary sacrifice on their part is usually called; it was their business. But since the nashtio, also, at least in part, performed similar acts, it could not help producing, slowly and gradually but surely, a tremendous amount of gossip and a corresponding number of speculations of a rather gloomy nature.
That gossip was started in the cave-dwellings of Tzina hanutsh. The stout representative of the Water clan had married into that cluster, and lived consequently among them with his wife. He returned home wildly excited; he did not go to rest at all; and when his family awoke they saw him sitting in a comer. As soon as he declined to eat, remaining there in morose silence, they all knew that he was grieving and chastising himself. Everybody thought, "The nashtio of Tzitz since his return from the council is doing penance. What can have happened last night!"
Owing to the custom which compels a man to marry outside of his own clan, the abodes of the women of each clan were frequented by their husbands. They of course belonged to different clans. Their natural confidants were not their wives, still less their children, but their clan-brothers and clan-sisters. During the day that followed the council, a man whose wife was from the Turkey people, but who himself belonged to Shyuamo, went down to the caves of the latter. There he was received with the remark;--
"The nashtio of the Eagles, Tyame, who lives with us, is fasting."
He replied in surprise, "And Kauaitshe is also doing penance."
A third, whose wife belonged to the Bear clan, was within hearing; and he quickly added, "The delegate from Hiitshanyi dwells with Kohaio; he, too, is fasting!" It was strange! People said nothing, but they shook their heads and separated.
Similar things occurred in the houses of the Tanyi. There the representative of the Bear clan was in retirement. In the big house news circulated faster than anywhere else on the Tyuonyi, and in a very short time it became known that not only the nashtio from Kohaio, but especially that the Hishtanyi Chayan and the Cuirana Naua were secluding themselves. Step by step the news got abroad and went from clan to clan, while the people compared notes without expressing opinions. At sunset it was known all over the Rito that since the council at least six of the clan delegates were fasting, besides the three shamans. When at last news came that a woman had gone to see the wife of the chief penitent, and had heard from her that her husband was working, things began to look not only strange but portentous.
In an Indian village, gossip about public affairs comes to a stand-still as soon as the outlook seems very grave. A sullen quiet sets in; the hanutsh recede from each other, and only such as are very intimate venture to interchange opinions, and even they only with the utmost caution. For any event that concerns the welfare of the community is, in the mind of the aborigine, intimately connected with the doings of Those Above. And if the Shiuana were to hear an irrelevant or unpleasant utterance on the part of their children, things might go wrong. There is, beside, the barrier between clan and clan,--the mistrust which one connection feels always more or less strongly toward the others. Instead of the excitement and display of passion that too often accompany the preliminaries of great events in civilized communities, and which too often also unduly precipitate them, among the Indians there is reticence. They do not run to headquarters for information; they make no effort at interviewing the officers; they simply and sullenly wait.
This patient waiting, however, is only on the surface. In strictly intimate circles apprehensions are sometimes uttered and opinions exchanged. But this is done in the clan, and rarely in the family.
In the present case it was not reticence alone that prevailed. The conviction that great things might be brought to light soon, caused uneasiness rather than anything else. Apprehensions were increased by the fact that only a part of the dignitaries of the tribe were doing penance. The Koshare Naua was not fasting, neither was Topanashka; and Tyope went about with the utmost unconcern. Members of the clans whose delegates kept secluded became suspicious of the fact that their nashtio, appealed more particularly to the higher powers, and hence that his constituents--such was their conclusion--were in danger of something as yet concealed from the people. Suspicion led to envy, and finally to wrath against such as appeared to be free from the necessity of intercession. Tyope had thrown a firebrand among he tribe, and the fire was smouldering yet. But it was merely a question of time for the flames to burst forth, It was even easy to guess when it must occur, for no such fast can last longer than four days. At their expiration, if not before, all doubts must be dispelled. With this absolute certainty the people rested, not content, but submitting to the inevitable.
Only two men among the Queres knew the whole truth of the matter, and these were Tyope and the old Koshare Nana. They watched with apparent calmness, but with the greatest attention, the approach of the storm which they had prepared. Everything went on to their hearts' content. They did not need to do penance, for their sinister plans were advancing satisfactorily.
And a third at the Rito, although unknown to them, also began to see the truth gradually with a distinctness that
was fearful, that was crushing to him. That man was the head war-chief, Topanashka Tihua. A series of logical deductions brought him to ravel step by step the game that was being played. He saw now why Tzitz hanutsh had been made to bear the first assault. It was on account of Shotaye. But as the demand was put, it involved ultimately the question of residence, and consequently an expulsion of the Water people. This could never have been merely on account of one woman and in order to get rid of her, since it was so easy to put Shotaye out of the way by the mere accusation of witchcraft. That accusation itself appeared to the old man to be a mere pretext and nothing else. To expel the small Water clan alone was not their object either. His daughter, the child of Tanyi, was also implicated, and with this thought came a flash of light. Not one clan alone, but several, were to be removed, and as he now saw plainly, mostly the clans occupying houses which were not exposed to the dangers which threatened the cave-dwellers from the crumbling rock. Tzitz had only served as an entering-wedge for their design that the house-dwellers should make room for the others. The more Topanashka thought over it, the more he felt convinced that he was right. And the stronger his convictions the more he saw that the plans of the two fiends, Tyope and the Naua, were likely to succeed. They were bad men, they were dangerous men; but they certainly had a pair of very subtle minds.
Was it possible to defeat their object? Other men, differently constituted from Topanashka, might have come to the conclusion that it was best to. leave the Rito with their people at once, without any further wrangling, and make room peaceably. To this he could never consent. None of his relatives or their friends should be sacrificed to the intrigues of the Turquoise people. Rather than yield he was firmly determined that the Turquoise people
themselves should go. But only after they had done their worst. It was true, as Tyope had said, that a division of the tribe entailed a dangerous weakening of both fragments; but then if it must be, what else could be done? Still he was in hopes that the Shiuana would not consent to a separation, and in his firm belief in the goodness of Those Above he resolved, when the time came, to do his utmost for the preservation of peace and unity. But it was a crushing weight to him. Not a soul had he with whom to communicate, for his lips were sealed; not one whom he might enlighten and prepare for the hour of the crisis. And he felt unconsciously that he was the pillar on which rested the safety of his people,--he and the Shiuana! The feeling was no source of pride; it was a terrible load, which he longed in vain to share with some one else. Topanashka did not attempt to do penance externally; he was too shrewd for that; but he prayed as much as any one,--prayed for light from above, for the immense courage to keep silent, to hope, and to wait.
The news that Kauaitshe, the delegate from Tzitz hanutsh, was fasting had reached the cave-dwellings of his cluster late in the afternoon. Zashue had carried it thither, communicating the intelligence secretly to his mother and sister. They were speaking of it, the old woman with apprehensions, and Zashue in his usual frivolous manner, when Hayoue entered.
"Do you know," said he, "that the nashtio, of Tyame is doing penance?"
"So does ours," remarked Zashue, growing serious. He began to see matters in a different light.
"What may this all be about?" wondered the younger brother.
The elder brother shrugged his shoulders, sighed, and rubbed his eyes; and all four kept silent.
"Is it perhaps from the uuityam?" asked Hayoue; and his mother exclaimed--
"Surely it is."
"Then something must have occurred," continued Hayoue; and with a side-glance at his brother, "I wonder if Tyope is fasting also?"
Zashue denied it positively, and added, "The Naua is out of doors."
"In that case it is our people again who have to suffer." His passion was aroused; he cried, rather than spoke "The Shyuamo never suffer anything. Who knows but the shuatyam, Tyope, and the old one have again done something to harm us!" Ere Zashue could reply to this sally the young man had left the cave.
When Hayoue stood outside he noticed Shotaye sitting on her doorstep.
"Guatzena, samām," he called over to her.
"Raua A," the woman answered, extending her hand toward him as if she wished to give him something.
He went over to her, took the object, and looked at it. It was the rattle of a snake.
"Where did you get this?" he asked.
"I found it above, where a rattlesnake had been eaten. Do you want it?"
He shook the rattle and inquired,--
"Will yon give it to me?"
"It is well; and now I will tell you something that you don't know yet. Our father, Kauaitshe, is fasting."
"He is right," Shotaye remarked; "it will make him leaner."
Both laughed, but Hayoue said with greater earnestness,
"Tyame is doing penance also.
"Then he is with his woman from Shyuamo," flippantly
observed Shotaye; "it will make Turquoises cheaper." She turned away with an indifferent air. Her careless manner struck the young man, and when he saw that she would not speak, but only gazed at the sky, he went off with the present he had received. He felt differently; he took the matter very seriously. He directed his steps toward the tall building where it might be possible to ascertain something else. Hayoue was afraid of the Turquoise people and their designs.
Shotaye was far from indifferent to the piece of news which Hayoue had brought to her. But neither was she surprised. She expected as much. It was therefore easy for her to appear perfectly calm and unconcerned. She was fully convinced that her case had been the subject of last night's discussion in the council, but the fact that the delegates were doing penance proved that the matter was still pending, and that no conclusion had been reached. There was consequently time before her still, and the reprieve amounted to about four days. She had time to reflect and to prepare her course of action. The sooner she was alone and left to her own musings the better, and that was why she turned away so abruptly from the young man. Hayoue drew from her manner the inference that the woman busied herself with thoughts entirely foreign to his own, and did not wish to be disturbed. But as soon as he turned to go she watched him through one comer of her eye. When he was far enough away, she rose, and slowly crept back into her dwelling.
We need not follow the train of thought that occupied Shotaye.
It was in the main the same that had filled her mind during the last week. One thing was certain, she was not silly enough to fast. She would not commit such a blunder. Neither would she call on Say Koitza. She regarded her
companion in danger as sufficiently advised, and felt sure that the wife of Zashue was prepared for any event. Why then disturb her? It might only lead her into committing some disastrous blunder. Without Shotaye's direct knowledge Say was sure to do nothing at all, and that was the best for both. For the present, all that could be done was to remain absolutely quiet and to wait.
Hayoue, on the other hand, was not so philosophical. As he strolled down the valley, his mind was deeply agitated. It seemed clear to him that a grave question had been propounded at the council, and it could only have originated through some deviltry on the part of the evil spirits of the Turquoise clan, Tyope and the old Naua. This made him very angry, and he vowed within himself that when the time came he would take a very active part in the proceedings.
He would rather have commenced the fray at once by slaughtering Tyope and his accomplice; but then, it was not altogether the thing to do. Neither would it do to go about and inquire at random. Nothing was left to him but to have patience and wait.
Waiting, however, did not interfere with his disposition to talk. With a nature as outspoken as that of Hayoue, it was impossible to wait without saying something to somebody about it. But to whom? At home he could not speak, for there was Zashue, and he was never impartial when any one of the Koshare was concerned. Okoya would be far preferable, and he determined upon looking him up. His nephew was not in the big house, and Hayoue went out to the corn-patches. The Indian goes to his field frequently, not in order to work, but simply to lounge, to seek company, or to watch the growing crops. Okoya was in his father's plot, sitting comfortably among the corn; but it was not the plantation that occupied his thoughts, they were with Mitsha; and he pondered over what she had told him
the night before, and how he might succeed in making her his beyond cavil. Looking up accidentally he discerned the form of his uncle coming toward him, and his face brightened. He motioned Hayoue to come, and this time Hayoue was eager to meet Okoya.
The uncle wore a gloomy face, and the nephew noticed it at once. But he thought that if his friend intended to confide in him he would do so spontaneously. He had not long to wait. Hayoue sat down alongside of him and began,--
"Do you know where sa umo is,--the maseua?"
"He is at home, I think. At least he was there when I went away."
"Is he doing penance?
Okoya stared at Hayoue in astonishment.
"No, he ate with us. Why should he fast?"
"Do you know," Hayoue continued to inquire, "that the nashtio of Tzitz and the nashtio of Tyame are fasting?"
"I did not, but I know that the Hishtanyi Chayan is at work."
Hayoue extended his neck and pricked up his ears. "What," said he, "the yaya also?"
"Indeed, the Cuirana Naua also. Did not you know it? You are a nice Cuirana."
The uncle shook his head.
"That is bad, very bad indeed," muttered he. Okoya was perplexed. At last his curiosity overcame all diffidence and he asked,--
"What is it, satyumishe nashtio? Do you know of anything evil?"
Hayoue looked at him and said,
"Okoya, you and I are alike. When your heart is heavy you come to me and say, 'My heart is sad; help me to make it light again;' and when I feel sorrow I go to you
and tell you of it. When you came to me up there he pointed to the west--"it was dark in your heart. Today it is night in mine."
The speech both astonished and pleased the boy. He felt pride in the elder's confidence, but was too modest to express it. So he merely replied,--
"Nashtio, I am very young, and you are much wiser than I. How can I speak so that your heart may be relieved? You know how I must speak, and when you tell me I will try and do it."
He gazed into Hayoue's features with a timid, doubting look; he could hardly conceive that his uncle really needed advice from him.
It was Hayoue's turn to sigh to-day. Slowly he said,--
"Last night the uuityam was together, and to-day the yaya and the nashtio are fasting."
Okoya innocently asked,--
"Why do they fast?"
"That is just what I want to know," Hayoue impatiently exclaimed, "but surely it bodes nothing good."
"Why should the wise men want something that is evil?" said the other, in surprise.
"You are young, motātza, you are like a child, else you would not ask such a question. The wise men are doing penance, not because they intend harm, but in order to prevent the people from being harmed. Do you understand me now?"
It began to dawn on Okoya's mind; still he had not fully grasped his uncle's meaning.
"Who is going to do evil things to us? Are there Moshome about?"
Hayoue was struck by the remark. He had not thought of this possibility. It might be that the older men had learned something of the approach or presence of Navajos. [paragraph continues]
A few moments of reflection, however, convinced him of the utter improbability of the suggestion. If there were danger of this the warriors, to whom he belonged,--that is, the special group of war magicians,--would have been the first to be informed of it; and they would all be now in the estufa preparing themselves for duty, and the maseua first of all. Instead of it the old man was up and about as usual. No, it could not be; and he accordingly said,--
"It may be that some sneaking wolf is lurking about, but I do not believe it. See here, satyumishe, I belong to those who know of war, and I should certainly have heard if there were any signs of the Dinne. And our father the maseua would not have remained about the big house. No, umo, it is not on account of the Moshome that the yaya and nashtio take no food."
"But if there are no Moshome about, whence could there come danger to us?"
"From there;" and Hayoue pointed to distant cliffs where some of the cave-dwellings of Shyuamo were visible it the diminutive openings in the rock.
"Why from there?" From Shyuamo hanutsh."
"What can Shyuamo want to do harm for?"
Hayoue grew really impatient.
"You think of nothing else but your girl," he grumbled.
Have you forgotten already what I told you of Tyope and of that old sand-viper, the Naua?"
It thundered in the distance; a shower was falling south of the Rito, and its thunder sounded like low, subterranean mutterings. Hayoue called out,--
"Do you hear the Shiuana? They remind you of what I said."
The parts were reversed. It was now the uncle who
reminded the nephew of the voices from the higher world. Okoya hung his head.
"Listen to me," continued Hayoue; "I know that you do not like it that I speak against Tyope, but I am right nevertheless. He is a bad man and a base man; he only looks at what he desires and to the welfare of his hanutsh. Toward others he is ill-disposed; and his companion is worse yet, the old fiend."
"Yes, but what can they gain by doing evil to others?" Okoya asked.
"I don't know."
How can I know it, then? I am much younger, much less wise than you."
Hayoue saw the candour of the boy and it troubled him. It was true; Okoya was too young yet, too inexperienced; he could not fully understand what Hayoue was suspecting, and could not give him any light or advice. It was useless to press him any further. But one thing Hayoue had achieved, at all events. He had enjoyed an opportunity to vent his feelings in full confidence, and that alone afforded him some relief. After musing a while he spoke again,--
"Let it be what it may, I tell you this much, brother: be careful, and now especially. Speak to nobody of what I have told you; and should you go to see Mitsha, keep your ears open and your mouth shut. I cannot find anybody to speak to except you and the maseua, but our father I dare not ask, for when the others are fasting Topanashka's lips are closed until the time comes to act. Meanwhile, brother, we must wait. I am going back to the katityam, for it is not good to run about and pry. Nobody knows anything but the yaya and the nashtio, and these do not speak to us." With these words he rose and left Okoya alone.
Much as the latter was attached to his father's brother, he was still glad to see him go. The sinister hints which [paragraph continues]
Hayoue had dropped were as good as incomprehensible to him. That the Zaashtesh could be damaged through some of its own people he could not conceive; still he believed it, for Hayoue had said so and it must be true. But it was equally true that Okoya's thoughts were with his own affairs exclusively, and his uncle's talk affected him mainly on that score. It increased his already uneasy feelings. The fear that Mitsha would be given him only on condition that he became Koshare was now stronger than ever, and his prospects appeared still further complicated in the light of Hayoue's disclosures. Nevertheless, nothing was absolutely certain so far; and he could not precipitate matters. In his case, too, there was nothing left but to wait.
The shower, which was sending floods of moisture into the valleys farther south, only grazed the Rito, sending a short and light rain upon its growing crops. It surprised Zashue upon his return to the big house, and drove him to shelter at his own, that is, his wife's home. He did not really care to go there, for since the time when he and Tyope had searched the rooms, Zashue had kept rather away from his spouse.
He did not suspect her any longer; but the very conviction on his part that she was innocent, and that consequently he had wronged her, kept him away from her presence. The weaker a man is, the less he likes to acknowledge guilt. He feels ashamed of himself, but will not acknowledge it. The Indian in this respect is as tough as other people, if not tougher. To beg pardon for an offence committed is to him a very difficult task. He is a child, and children rarely make atonement unless compelled. They conceal their guilt, and so does the Indian. If he has wronged any one, the redman persists in acting as if nothing had happened, or he pouts, or avoids the party offended. Zashue did not pout, but he avoided his wife's
dwelling as much as possible, and felt embarrassed when there, or as had been the case a few days ago, when the matter of Okoya's wooing was discussed, he availed him. self of the first pretext to take leave. To-day it was different; he had to go there for shelter. Say received him in her usual way, almost without a word, but with a look that was at once friendly, searching, and unsteady. It was dark in the inner room, and Zashue failed to notice his wife's glance.
Say also had heard of the fasts and penitence to which some of the officers of the tribe had submitted; and she rightly surmised that the accusation against Shotaye, and against herself perhaps, had at last been made, and was the cause of such unusual proceedings. But Shotaye had judged her well when she decided upon not troubling Say with a visit. It was unnecessary, for Say took everything calmly and with perfect composure. The positive assurance of Shotaye that she was safe, and still more the words of her father to the same effect, had completely reassured the woman. She looked forward to coming events with anxious curiosity rather than with apprehension, Still as her husband unexpectedly entered her dwelling, she could not resist the temptation to sound him, and to find out, if possible, what he thought about affairs. While kneading the corn-cakes she therefore asked, in a quiet, cool manner,--
"Hachshtze, do you know that the nashtio are fasting?"
"All of them?"
"I don't know," she replied, going on with her work, "and yet I know this much,--that sa nashtio does not fast. He ate with us and is going about as usual."
"What may it all mean?" he inquired of her.
She shrugged her shoulders, and asked,--
"Does Tyope do penance?"
In view of the intimate relations existing between Tyope and Zashue this was a very natural question, and yet it stung Zashue. He interpreted it as a covert thrust. But as he bethought himself of the charges which Hayoue had uttered against the delegate from Shyuamo, a whole series of ideas rose within him so suddenly, and so far from pleasant or comforting to himself, that he forgot the conversation and inclined his head in thought.
Say Koitza was too much absorbed by her work to notice the change in her husband's manner at once. After a few moments of silence she reiterated her question. Zashue appeared to wake up; he started, saying,--
"I don't know; but why do you ask this?"
The woman realized that her inquiry might have been imprudent, but with great assurance explained,--
"Because he is nashtio, and a great one at that. Shyuamo is a strong hanutsh, and what it wants will be done. It alone can do more than Tzitz and Tanyi together."
The quick, bold, apparently unpremeditated reply relieved Zashue of an undefined feeling of suspicion that had arisen within him. During his moment of thoughtfulness he had been led from the accusations of Hayoue against Tyope unconsciously to the accusation which Tyope had launched before against Shotaye and his own wife. Quick as lightning it flashed upon his mind that that accusation had perhaps been formulated again, and this time officially before the council. And if Say were innocent, as he still believed, why did she inquire about him who was the originator of it? He did not attribute her query to a guilty conscience, for the Indian has but a very dim notion about human conscience, if he thinks of it at all. He would have gone further and have seen in the utterance of his wife the evidence of some positive knowledge. Did Say know anything about the real object of the stormy visit
which he and Tyope paid to her home during the dance of the ayash tyucotz? Her ready reply to his mistrustful inquiry had allayed suspicions as to her guilt for the time being, but on the other hand he felt strong misgivings that she had found out something, either of what the Koshare said or thought concerning her, or about the attempt which Tyope and he had failed in. One thing, however, grew to be more and more certain in his judgment; namely, that a charge proffered against Shotaye was probably the cause of the extraordinary fastings going on among the tribal heads. More he could not surmise, still less find out. But he determined upon being very guarded toward his wife hereafter. Say, on her side, had a similar feeling toward him. The breach which social customs already established between man and wife was gradually but surely widening.
Still they continued to talk quietly. No one seeing them together in the dingy kitchen would have suspected a lack of harmony, or discontent, much less the sinister preoccupations lurking in the heart of each. Both felt that it was useless, that they must abide their time, avoid imprudent words and queries, conceal from each other their misgivings, and wait.