AUTUMN in New Mexico, as well as in many other parts of the world, is the most beautiful time of the year. The rains are over, and vegetation is refreshed and has developed. Yellow flowers cover the slopes of the higher ranges; the summits are crowned with glistening snow again; the days are pleasant and the nights calm, clear, and wonderfully cool. Nature in autumn seems to display its greatest charms to allure mankind into placid submission to the approach of rigid winter.
Autumn has come, and the two adventurers of whose reception we have spoken in the last chapter are still guests, kindly treated and waiting for the guide to give the signal of departure for the south. A few days the old man had said,--in a few days he would himself go to the southern pueblos of his tribe. But upon The rabbit-bunts there followed ceremonial dances which lasted for days, and Hayoue and Zashue could not leave until they were over. Then it required several days to rest and to perform certain rites, and Zashue and Hayoue could not leave on that account. Furthermore, Zashue being Koshare, the Kosare of the Tanos held him back for certain performances of their own, and Hayoue could not or would not start alone. Afterward, Hayoue being Cuirana, the Cuirana held something in store for him, and Zashue did not care to start without his brother. And when all that was finished the old man was not ready; and so they are waiting and waiting, and autumn
is here in all its beauty, and Hayoue and Zashue, Zashue as well as Hayoue, begin to chafe; but it is of no avail; they must wait.
While they are thus waiting until it pleases their friend to start, we shall precede them to that south which is their objective point, in order to anticipate if possible the cravings of the two adventurous young men. They may overtake us there, perhaps when we least expect it.
About thirty miles south of Santa Fé, the southern rim of the so-called Basin of Galisteo is bounded by a low and shaggy ridge running from east to west, whose crest is formed of trap-dyke sharply though irregularly dentated. In Spanish this ridge and another similar one which traverses the plain several miles north of it, running parallel to the former, is called very appropriately El Creston, for if seen from a distance and edgewise it strikingly resembles the crest of an antique helmet. The plain of Galisteo expands between crestones, and on the edges of it stand several villages of the Tanos. Of the Galisteo Basin a Spanish report from the sixteenth century says: "There they have no stream; neither are there any running brooks nor any springs which the people could use."
The mountain clusters of the Real de Dolores and Sierra de San Francisco, and beyond these the high Sandia chain, divide the Galisteo country from the valley of the Rio Grande in the west. To the south there extends a dreary plain as far as the salt marshes of the Manzano; eastward spread the wooded slopes of the plateau; above the Pecos border upon the basin. To the north the plain rises gradually, traversed only by the northern creston, until it merges into the plain of Santa Fé.
On the southwestern comer of the Galisteo Basin a broad channel discharges its waters into it, passing between the [paragraph continues]
San Francisco range and the mountains of Dolores. The channel is arid. Mountain torrents rush through it only in the season of thunder-storms, and they have burrowed and ploughed through its surface, scarring it with deep furrows and shifting waterfalls. Near the mouth of the pass and at no great distance from the plain, one of these arroyos has cut through an ancient village, exposing on both banks the lower walls and rooms of its buildings, visible on the surface only as irregular lines and quadrangles of rubbish. The village must have been quite large for an Indian settlement, since seven rectangles with wing-like additions can still be traced. This village in ruins is called to-day the Pueblo Largo, and the name is not inappropriate.
At the time of which we speak, the Pueblo Largo was inhabited, and in as high a state of prosperity as Indian pueblos ever attain unto. It contained, as the ruins attest, nearly fifteen hundred people of the Tanos tribe. Its name was Hishi. The name is well known to-day to the remnants of the Tanos, for they have piously preserved the recollections of their former abodes.
Hishi is not on a beautiful site. It lies in a wide ditch rather than in a valley. No view opens from it, and sombre mountains loom up in close proximity both to the north and west. In the rear of the village, the soil rises gradually to a low series of ridges, from the top of which, at some distance from Hishi, the eye ranges far off toward the plains and the basin of the salt lakes. These ridges are convenient posts of observation. Scouts placed there can descry the approach of hostile Apaches. The latter roam up and down the plains, following the immense herds of buffalo, and prey upon the village Indians whenever the latter present any opportunity for a successful surprise.
The buffalo himself not infrequently comes to graze within a short distance of Hishi. South of the present
ruins lies the buffalo spring. When the dark masses of this greatest of American quadrupeds are descried from the heights above the village, the Tanos go out with bow and arrow; and woe to the straggling steer or calf that lags behind. Like the wolf, the Indian rarely attacked any but isolated animals. Only when a communal hunt was organized, and a whole village sallied forth to make war upon the mighty king of the prairies,--only then, previous to the introduction of fire-arms, could the redman venture to assault even a small herd or the rear-guard of a numerous column.
September is drawing to a close, and the autumnal sky is as cloudless and as pure over Hishi as it is over most of the other portions of New Mexico. But in the hollow where the village is situated the sun is scorching, as Hishi lies much lower than the "corner in the east" and lower than the Rito. The chaparro flowers, in dense masses of deep yellow, carpet the earth; and the dark pine forests on the mountain-slopes stare, while yellow streaks sweep up among the dusky timber. In the distance we catch a glimpse of the eastern slope of the Sandia range glistening in the bright yellow hue of the flowers that cover miles of its slanting surface.
On the ridges south of Hishi human figures stand. They are scattered, watching and spying attentively. They are videttes,--outposts, placed to scan the plains and the slopes of the mountains, lest some enemy sneak up and pounce upon the defenceless village. For at the time of which we are speaking the Tanos, or Hishi, are not only defenceless, but singularly unsuspecting and heedless of danger. They would be at the mercy of an enemy, were it not for these guards and scouts, who watch and pry, straining every organ of perception that their people at home may be without care while singing, praying, and making merry. [paragraph continues]
Is not the dance now going on at the village danced, prayed, and sung for their benefit also?
Whenever these outposts turn toward their pueblo they see clouds of dust rising from it, hear loud rhythmic shouting, whoops and yells, beating of drums, and the shrill sounds of flutes. A haze seems to cover the tall and long terraced buildings quite distinct from the vertical columns of sand-whirls that drift over the plain of Galisteo, in calm weather rising above the horizon like thin films of smoke.
It is a great day at Hishi. A dance is performed, songs are sung, and prayers and sacrifices are offered that shall be powerful with Those Above. The people make merry over the fruits of the soil that have now matured. They are grateful, and they wish to be precious to the higher powers in years to come. The great harvest dance is performed to-day. A long procession perambulates the long village. The Koshare trot ahead. They are the same black and white goblins with whom we are already acquainted, but their bodies are decorated now with ripe fruit, with small squashes and ears of corn, all strung to cords of fibre or buckskin, and hung over their shoulders like wreaths. Wild sunflowers adorn their heads. They are followed by the Cuirana, whose bodies are daubed over with bluish clay. Then the general public tramp along. The procession is divided into four sections, the faces of all being painted ad libitum. The first detachment is led by an old man whose snow-white hair supports a wreath of yellow blossoms. He is the so-called summer cacique.
The winter cacique leads on the second group. Behind each ear he wears a tall plume from the wings of the eagle, and around his neck are strung rows upon rows of sacred shell beads, turquoises, and gaudy pebbles. The third is preceded by the great shaman of the hunt. His dress is a tight-fitting suit of buckskin; long fringes depend from
his sleeves, and the front and shoulders of his jacket are profusely embroidered with porcupine-quills. A small plumelet of eagle-down dances over his head. The last section is led by the highest shaman. His head is also decorated with yellow flowers, and a green and a yellow plume stand erect behind each ear. The war shaman is not to be seen; the spirits of strife have nothing to do with the feast of peace. The war captain and his assistants accompany the procession to keep order and clear the way.
This long, long pageant winds on, meandering through the pueblo to the sound of drums, of flutes, and of monotonous chants; the white satyrs go ahead, then follow the blue ones, then come in single file the men, vigorously stamping, and behind each a woman, tripping lightly.
Every man is loaded with fruit of some kind, and carries corn and squashes also in each hand. Every woman or girl bears on her head a basket of willows or yucca filled with corn-cakes, yucca preserve, and other delicacies, products of the vegetable kingdom. It is a procession of baskets filing through Hishi, solemn and sober, and in the main extremely monotonous. At intervals the Koshare break ranks to cut a few capers, but to-day the Delight Makers of the Tehuas are remarkably decent, for they are those, par excellence, who say grace. Since their labours have been rewarded, and the crops are now ripe, and the people have sufficient food, they are merry in the prospects of an easy winter, and there is no need of any artificial delight-making.
The procession has passed through the entire village and returned to one of its main squares. The end of the pageant is still on the march when the Koshare break ranks again and cluster in the centre of the square. From every side bystanders come up with fruits, scattering them over the ground where the Delight Makers are waiting; and when the soil is well covered with squash, corn, and other vegetables,
the white satyrs begin to dance with the most serious faces, singing and lifting their hands to the skies. Gradually the whole of the offering is crushed, and at last pounded into the earth by the feet of the dancing clowns. The earth has brought forth the necessaries of life to man; now man, in token of gratitude, returns a tribute to the earth.
As soon as this part of the ceremony is over, there arises a great shout from all sides. Ears of corn, gourds, cakes of corn meal, pieces of dried preserve, ripe fruits of the yucca, are thrown up into the air; the baskets are emptied, and bystanders run home to replenish them. Whoever can catch anything proceeds to devour it at once. The whole tribe displays its gratitude by throwing heavenward the food which heaven has enabled it to raise. Man intercepts and enjoys it after the will and the deed have satisfied the invisible powers on high.
The usual mass of spectators are gathered on the roofs and along the walls of the houses. When the noisy distribution of offerings begins, many run to get their share. But it is not those who are most eager that are most considered; it seems that the bulk of the food thrown into the air is showering down upon a row of houses on whose terraces stands a group of men, women, and children who seem no part of the inhabitants of Hishi, manifesting this not so much in dress as from their distant and timid deportment. All of them are very poorly clad, the children mostly naked; and yet here and there a girl among them wears a new hide, and some old woman a new white cotton wrap. Their pieces of clothing appear like new mendings on old rags, or like a substantial shawl thrown over scanty vestments. The older members of this peculiar group look down upon the merry spectacle below with grave and melancholy eyes; the younger would fain be merry also, but sadness
lurks in their smiles. The children alone yield fully to the excitement and happiness of the hour. As the gifts fall down from above the older ones do not attempt to seize them; the girls and younger women gather what they can and place them carefully in a heap. What the children do not succeed in devouring at once is taken away from them and placed with the rest. They are improving the opportunity to lay in stores, and the Tanos lend them a willing hand. Spectators below turn over to them what has fallen to their share, others place what they have secured with the little hoard the strangers are accumulating. For these people, so poorly clad and looking so needy, must be strangers in the village of Hishi. Strangers, yes; but strangers in need; and could there be any sacrifice, any offering, more agreeable to those on high than the feeding of people whom they allow to live by thrusting them on the charity of fellow-beings? These strangers are after all but children of the same spiritual parents from the upper world, and as such they are brothers, sisters, and relatives.
That the strangers are village Indians can easily be seen. It is proved by the cut of the hair, and by the rags which still protect their bodies from absolute nakedness. But the tongue they speak is different from that spoken by the people of Hishi. To us, however, it is not new. We have heard that dialect before. It is the Queres language, the language of the Rito. The strangers are the lost ones whom Hayoue and Zashue have sought so anxiously and with so much suffering, and for the sake of whom they have exposed their lives a hundred times perhaps, in vain. Zashue was right, the fugitives had turned south from the Bocas; and hid Hayoue been less self-sufficient they would have found them ere now.
Still we miss among that little band of Queres fugitives those with whom we have become more closely acquainted. [paragraph continues]
In vain we look for Say Koitza, for Mitsha, for Okoya. Can it be true, as Hayoue surmised, that his bosom friend, Zashue's eldest son, is dead?
The throwing about of fruit has ceased; the dance is resumed, and new figures may appear. Everybody hushes, and fastens his gaze on the performance.
The dancers have formed a wide ring. Men and women hold each other by the hands, and dance in a circle around the place which has been covered with objects of sacrifice. One after the other, the Koshare, the Cuirana, after them each one of the four sections, step within the circle. stamping down the fruits spread out there. Two or three of the Delight Makers improve the occasion to cut some of their usual capers, and the spectators laugh to their heart's content. Laughter is contagious, it captures even the melancholy group of Queres; the old among them smile, the young chuckle, the children shout and yell from sheer delight. One boy in particular is very conspicuous from the intense interest he takes in everything the Koshare are doing. He is about ten years of age. A dirty breechclout constitutes his only vestment, but a necklace of multi-coloured pebbles adorns his neck; and as often as a Koshare grimaces, or makes an extraordinary gesture, or displays his tongue to the public, this boy jumps up, screams and shouts, and screeches in delirious joy. His whole heart is with the Koshare; he imitates their movements, improves on their gestures to such a degree that those around him smile, exchanging winks of approval as if saying, "He will be a good one."
The head of a girl slowly rises through a hatchway; and as her face turns toward us, we recognize the soft, beaming eyes of Mitsha Koitza. The maiden looks thinner, her features sharper. She remains standing on the notched beam serving as a ladder, and calls out,--
No reply is made to the call. The din and noise of the dance drown her voice, and all are so occupied by the sights that none pay any attention to her. The youngster who has been devoting all his time to the pranks of the Delight Makers jumps forward in his enthusiasm, and would have tumbled sheer over the low parapet encircling the roof had not one of the men standing near grasped his hair and pulled him back. It saved the boy's life, but the urchin is highly displeased at the informal manner in which he is restrained. He screams and struggles to free himself. Again the voice of the maiden is heard; this time it is louder and the tone commanding.
"She is calling you, uak," the man says who has saved the brat.
"I won't go," retorts our old friend Shyuote, for he it is who attempts to play at Koshare here.
"Shyuote, come to sanaya!" again calls the maiden.
The mention of his mother creates a stir among the bystanders. They forget the dance and turn toward Mitsha. Shyuote still refuses to obey, but the others push him forcibly to the hatchway. Several of the women approach Mitsha, and one inquires of her in a subdued voice,--
"How goes it below?"
The girl's eyes fill with tears. At last she whispers,--
"It goes--to Shipapu." She turns around and disappears beneath, sobbing. Shyuote is sent after her.
The people stand and shake their heads. The news wanders from lip to lip, "She is dying." All the pleasure, every interest in the performance, has vanished. Indifferent to the celebration, the Queres hang their heads in sadness; yet no complaint is heard, not a tear glistens in those mournful eyes. She is only dying, not dead.
But who is dying? The query cannot be answered up here. Let us go down and follow Mitsha.
In the dingy room of an Indian home, where light and air penetrate through a single diminutive air-hole, sit and crouch half a dozen people. They surround at some distance a human being whose head rests on a bundle of skins, the body on a buffalo-robe. The knees are drawn up, and cotton mantles cover the lower extremities. The chest, scantily covered with a ragged, dark-coloured wrap, heaves at long intervals; the extremities begin to stretch; the face is devoid of expression; the eyes are wide open, staring, glassy; the lips parted; and on each side of the mouth-corners ominous wrinkles begin to form. The sufferer is a woman., and as we look closer we recognize her as Say Koitza, the wife of Zashue. He must hasten his steps if he wishes to find her upon earth, for she is dying!
It is very still in the room. The prayers which the medicine-man of the Tanos has been reciting are hushed, the little idols of lava with red-painted faces and eyes made of turquoises by means of which he hoped to conjure the sickness, lean against the wall useless. Those whose duty it is cower about the dying woman, and look on speechless. How faint the breathings grow, how the chest rises and falls at longer intervals, weaker every time! They listen as the rattling in her throat becomes harder and slower. They dare not weep, for all is not over.
Say Koitza is dying! Not the sudden death she once prayed for when Topanashka her father went over to Shipapu; but still she dies a painless death,--she dies from exhaustion.
What is going on in her mind while the fetters which tied her soul to the body are being dissolved? That body is henceforth powerless; it has no wants, no cravings. The soul becomes free. Can it already glance beyond? Not
yet, for as long as earthly matter clings to him man cannot perceive the other world. Flashes of light gleam through the mist in which he is plunged, through both physical weakness and the efforts of the soul to become free. The body struggles for preservation, the spirit for freedom from its henceforth useless shell.
Are mind and body merely one? Does not death put an end to everything that we ever were and can be? Does there remain after death anything beyond the memory of our former existence, preserved in the hearts of our fellow-beings? Nobody has ever returned from beyond the grave to tell u-. how he felt, what he thought, while dying. But a dying person always casts rays of light over his surroundings, and the surroundings of dying Say Koitza are not without their lesson for us.
What do we see? A man sits near the dying woman. He lifts up his hands and stares; it is the medicine-man, and he has done his utmost; he is powerless, his art useless. What he did was done in the conviction that spiritual influences, however grossly conceived and coarsely applied, could compel the soul to master the body's ailment, could prop up the sinking machinery and strengthen the motive power without regard to its decaying tools. To-day, provided the body is helped along with physical means, the soul would remain against its will, or against the will of what stands in closer relation to it originally than the form which it has animated here beneath. If mind and body were one, either method could be successful. Neither is, when death steps in to proclaim their separation.
By the side of the shaman a young man leans against the wall. He is well-built and lithe. His head is bent so low in grief that the dark hair streams over his face, concealing his features. The youth is mourning, mourning deeply. Over what? Over the body or its sufferings? No, he
mourns because of an impending separation. From what? From the form of her whom he will miss? No, for that form will not leave this earth in substance. He mourns for something that goes beyond his grasp, and remains beyond it so long as he himself moves upon this earth.
Mitsha also is here. She has properly no right to be, for she does not belong to the same clan as Say; but she has remained, and nobody has objected to her presence. She has not craved permission, it has come by tacit consent. Mitsha has felt that Say was approaching the point when the soul breaks loose and flits to another realm, and she wishes to remain with her to the last. If that soul should drop like a shrivelled fruit, to decay and perish forever, nobody would bend to gaze fondly at it. But if it flutter upward, we follow it with our eyes as long as we can, unconsciously thinking, "How happy you are, free now; and how much I wish to be with you." The very grief caused by the separation, the longing, the clinging to him or to her whom we know to be leaving us, are signs that there is something beyond, something which we are loath to lose but sure to find again elsewhere. Mitsha has known Okoya's mother but little, but the fearful distress of the past two months has brought them together at last. Now the girl weeps, but not loudly, at the thought of separation. If death be annihilation, tears are of no avail. But if death be a promise of life in another condition, then, child, well may you shed tears, for your grief is a token of hope.
Shyuote stands at the foot of the beam, gaping. His mother lies so still, she breathes so loudly. How well she must be sleeping! Why did they call him down at all? It would have been much nicer upstairs where there are Koshare to be seen. He knows well enough that sanaya is sick, but as long as she has such good rest she ought to feel well. A child is not afraid of a dying mother, and when
she has breathed her last is convinced that she must be happy. To be well is compatible in the minds of children only with life. Death therefore appears to them as a step into a better and more beautiful existence. Children and fools tell the truth. The gleam of light which from dying Say is cast on her unruly son is but the rosy hue of a hopeful twilight.
The remaining occupants of the room stand with sad looks; they are all women but one, a middle-aged man. They do not feel the occasion except so far as there is a certain solemnity connected with it. Silent and grave, they watch a process going on whose real nature they cannot understand except as a momentous and appalling change. Change is only transformation, not annihilation.
Say Koitza has been lying thus for several days. The end is near at hand, and yet hours may elapse ere she dies. So still it is in the apartment that nobody dares even move. Rising and falling come the song and the noise of the dance from the outside, but they seem to halt at the little opening, as if an invisible medium would interpose itself, saying, "Stay out, for within there ripens a fruit for another and a better world."
Mitsha glides over to the young man with the dark, streaming hair and touches his arm lightly. He looks up and at her. It is Okoya,--Okoya, whom we believed to be dead, but who stands here by the side of his dying mother. He also looks emaciated and wan. After all the dangers and misery of a protracted flight this hour has come upon him. The eyes of the two meet; their looks express neither tenderness nor passion, but a perfect understanding that betokens a union which even death cannot destroy. It is that simple, natural attachment which forms the basis of Indian wedlock when the parties are congenial to each other.
That the two are one can be plainly seen. As yet no outward sanction has been given to their union; but they are tacitly regarded as belonging to each other, and no opposition is offered to an intimacy which lacks but the bond of marriage. Passion has little to do with that intimacy; the severe trials of the past have riveted them together on a higher plane.
Mitsha has made a sign to the young man. Both steal from the chamber noiselessly and climb to the roof. He goes first and she follows, as is customary among Indians. Once up there the dance attracts Okoya's attention for a moment. He has not seen anything of it as yet, for all day he has remained by his mother's side.
Shyuote improves the opportunity to slip out also. As he sees his brother and future sister-in-law go out, he follows. Why should he stay down any longer? His mother is well. She sleeps soundly and breathes so loud! She certainly is improving, and up there he can see Koshare. But he is careful not to let Mitsha see him; her positive ways are distasteful, so he creeps in among the spectators where her eyes cannot follow and soon has lost sight of everything in contemplation of the Koshare.
The appearance of Okoya and Mitsha on the roof attracts no attention. As long as the death-wail is not sounded, none but those of her clan have a right to be with the dying. Still one or other of the women casts an inquisitive glance at Mitsha; a slight shake of her head is sufficient answer to them. The young pair go to one side; he sits down on the parapet of the roof and she beside him. Their eyes follow the dance, but their thoughts are elsewhere. Okoya whispers at last, "Sanaya is dying."
Mitsha nods, and tears come to her eyes. Here she is not afraid to weep. Okoya continues,--
"I knew it would happen. Yonder"--he points at the
mountains--"I heard the owl, and I knew it meant what is now coming upon us."
The girl shudders. She weeps no longer; dread scenes of the past are looming up before her mind.
"In the kote," says she, "it was very bad. Do you remember over on the other side of the great river on the mesa, from which one can see so very far, almost over where we are now?"
"Not as far as that," replied Okoya, in a quiet tone, "but far enough. You are right, makatza; on the mesa we suffered much; there the Moshome did us a great deal of harm. If it had not been for you we should not be here."
"For me?" Mitsha asked in surprise.
"Yes, you. You saved me, saved the yaya, saved Shyuote from the fierce shuatyam! Yes, surely," he continued as the girl shook her head incredulously. "Do you remember, sa uishe, when one Moshome was holding my hands while another struck at me with his club? You took a big stone and hit him so that he fell and I could kill the other. Afterward you took the bow away from the dead Moshome, and you did as much with it as I did with mine. Yes, indeed, you are strong, but you are wise too, and good." He fastened his eyes on her with a deep, earnest look, and the girl turned away her face. She felt embarrassed.
"We shall be happy when you have built your house and you dwell in it as my koitza," Okoya whispered.
Mitsha cast her eyes to the ground, and a faint glow appeared on her bronzed cheeks. The young man was not misled by her manner, he knew well enough that she liked him to speak in this way.
"Sanaya goes to Shipapu," said he, moving closer to her, "and I must have a koitza. You said you would be mine and I should be your husband. It was the night of the council on the Tyuonyi. Do you remember?"
"I do, and so it will be," she said, raising her head. Her large eyes beamed upon him with an expression of softness and deep joy. "But whither shall we go? Here we are strangers; and the Puyatye, although they are very good to us, speak a tongue we do not understand. Shall we return to the Tyuonyi and live with my mother and the hanutsh?"
"Are you sure that your mother is still alive? Are you sure that there is a single one of our people alive?" Okoya objected.
Again the eyes of Mitsha grew moist; she turned her head away and Okoya heard her sobs. Well did he understand her grief; it was stirred for the fate of her parents. Had he, had she, known all that had happened on the Rito!
A tremendous shout arose from the dancing crowd below. The distribution of gifts was beginning anew. Again the majority of the missiles were directed toward the Queres; a perfect shower of provisions, cooked and raw, pattered down upon the strangers. A large ear of corn tumbled into Mitsha's lap, and she handed it to Okoya, whispering,--
"The Shiuana are good."
"They are. They are good also to the yaya, for they take her away to Shipapu, where there is no hunger as on the shore of the great stream."
He sighed, and gazed to the west, where the San Francisco mountains stood. Beyond them, along the northern base of the Sierra de Sandia, in the sandy bottom of the Rio Grande, uninhabited at this time, they had suffered from hunger and heat. There misery had reached its climax. It is terrible even in our days to be compelled to flee from house and home in time of war into the cold, strange world. And yet nowadays one can flee to one's kind; and where there are human beings there are hearts. But in the days of old, and for Indians, it was not only distressing, it was ghastly to be obliged to fly. Nature alone stared them in
the face, and Nature has no heart, although it is said that we are one with her. The Navajos had driven away the fugitives, had tracked and tormented them fearfully, and yet once relieved from the enemy's clutches and thrust upon Nature alone, the wretched band regretted the days when the ruthless enemy swarmed about them. The Moshome at least fed those whom they captured, and those whom they killed were happy forever. Nature knows but law and force, and whoever depends upon her at a time when her laws will not tolerate the existence of man, falls a victim to the power of her forces.
Now all this was past. It rained gifts about them, and with a sad smile Mitsha gathered them into a little pile. Okoya looked on; he thought the girl was making provision for their future household.
The distribution stopped, for the dancers were resting. They began to sit down along the walls of the ho-uses to rest and to enjoy the needed recess. Mitsha took some of the fruit on her arm, and said to Okoya,--
"Come, let us go down again."
"What do you want to do with that?" asked he, designating her little burden.
"I give it to the Chayan for what the Shiuana are doing for our mother."
Even in the state of most abject poverty, the Indian shows gratitude to Those Above.
The head of a man rises above the hatchway and signals the two young people gravely, sadly. They descend hastily; Okoya remains standing in the middle of the room, and Mitsha goes over to him as soon as she has deposited her burden. As nobody notices her she grasps his hand, and he presses it softly with his own. Say Koitza remains in the same position as before, but she lies more extended, and her chest heaves no longer. The by-standers are motionless
like statues, expectant. A last rattle sounds from the throat of the woman; a deep heavy effort, and all is over. Light froth issues from her lips. Say Koitza. has breathed her last.
It has become very quiet outside, as if men there had guessed at what was going on within. In the little apartment it is as still as the grave,--a stillness which speaks louder to the heart than the mightiest sound, and which is appropriately designated by the popular saying, "There is an angel flitting through the room."
This stillness might have lasted long; but now the noise and uproar arise again outside, and with full power the sounds of delight and mirth break into the dingy cell like mighty waves. With the departure of life from the body, it is as if a barrier that forbade entrance to noise from the outer world had been drawn away, permitting the sounds of joy to come in triumphantly, now that the soul is free. They find an echo inside, a dismal echo of lamentations and tears. Mitsha cannot weep boisterously like the rest., neither can Okoya. The two lean toward each other sobbing; the girl has grasped his arm with both hands, her head rests on his shoulder, and she weeps.
The lament below has been heard on the roof; it is a signal to rush down and join in it. Soon the room is crowded with people; the women grasp their hair and pull it over their faces. Dismal wailing fills the cell. Among the others stands Shyuote, who has been told that his mother is dead. He plants himself squarely with the rest, and howls at the top of his voice. In front of the house the dance continues, and the monotonous chant and the dull drumming ascend to the sky; alongside of it the death-wail.
Tanos also crowd into the room; the throng is so great that the last comers must stand on the beam. Suddenly they are pushed aside; a tall young man rushes down and
makes room, regardless of the weeping and howling crowd. Up to Okoya he forces his way; throws his left arm around him and Mitsha; his right hand seizes the hand of the youth and presses it against his breast. It is Hayoue, who has come from the north at last,--his heart guiding him to that friend whom he has so bravely, so unwearyingly sought.
Another Indian rushes down after Hayoue, his motions not less anxious, not less rapid and determined. He makes his way to the body and falls down upon his knees, staring with heaving chest but tearless eyes into the placid, emaciated face. It is Zashue Tihua. With a tension akin to despair he searches for lingering life in the features of that wife whom he formerly neglected and afterward suspected, whom he at last anxiously sought, and now finds asleep in death.