MORE than eight days had elapsed since the one on which Shotaye had pledged her new friend, the Tehua warrior, to meet him at the homes of his tribe. She had not redeemed that pledge. In appearance she was unfaithful to Cayamo, as her knight was called; and yet her lack of compliance with her promise was not intentional. She calculated that her case would have come up by that time; and until this occurred, the energetic woman had no intention of leaving the Rito, much less of forsaking her friend Say Koitza. Now that her case had been delayed, the eight days had grown to nearly ten. The chayani and the caciques were fasting still, as well as some of the clan delegates.
Twelve days had passed, and it was the last day of official penance. That evening something was sure to occur to relieve the situation. So everybody thought at the Tyuonyi; so Shotaye thought herself. But she felt more than usually excited and worn out. It was not fear; it was the natural longing of a soul replete with energy and activity to see a matter ended that kept her in suspense. In regard to Say Koitza she felt perfectly reassured; the woman had not shown herself at her cave, and must feel quiet, cautious, and careful.
When the sun rose on the fourth day, it found Shotaye just about to take her morning meal. That was soon over, for there was no coffee, no hot rolls, no butter. It consisted merely of cold corn-cakes. When she had satisfied
her appetite, she rose, shook the crumbs from her wrap, and went out. She had made a full toilet; that is, she had rubbed her face with her moistened hands and dried it with a deerskin, whereby a little more dust was added to her cheeks. She felt pro forma clean.
It was yet so early that hardly any one showed himself out of doors. The sun peeped up behind the volcanic heights in the east, casting a glow over the summits and crests that rise above the Rio Grande in that direction. The Tetilla stood out boldly, crowning the black ridges with its slender, graceful cone.
Shotaye strolled down the Rito. A few people were about; but regardless of these and what they might think or say, she wandered along past the dwellings of the Eagle clan. What if Tyope should see her? "Let him see me," she thought; "let him become convinced that I know nothing, that I rest easy, without any suspicion whatever of the dreadful fate he has prepared for me. Later on he may find out that his former wife is more than a match for him."
She went on and on, and passed the big house. A few men stood on the roofs, gazing motionless in the direction where the sun rose like a mass of melted ore. Farther she went, always down stream, quietly and with the greatest apparent unconcern. A girl from Yakka hanutsh greeted her in a friendly voice; she returned the greeting cheerfully. The cliffs wherein Oshatsh, Shutzuna, and lastly Shyuamo resided were to her left as she passed the grove where Okoya and Shyuote had had their first discussion. Here she turned to the north, in the direction of the spot where she had met the Tehua Indian. Even on this upward trail, rocky as it was and overgrown with shrubbery, her form was plainly distinguishable from below. But Shotaye scorned to conceal herself, she walked without haste or
hurry; her errand was perfectly legitimate and everybody might see her undertake it.
Everybody might indeed witness her doings as far as these could be seen. She simply took a walk on the mesa of the Bird, Ziro kauash. She hoped also to gather some useful plants,--such as the shkoa, a spinach like vegetable; asclepias; apotz, a fever-medicine of the genus artemesia, and many other medicinal herbs known to the Indian and used by him. For it had sprinkled if not rained every day of late, and last night's rain was still visible in the drops that covered the leaves. The ground was soft, and her step left plainly distinguishable tracks. Not only might every one see her; she almost invited people to follow her on her wanderings. Tyope, the Koshare Naua, the Chayani, might trail and spy out her movements as much and as long as they pleased, step by step if they wished; for the real object of her stroll they would never be able to guess.
After reaching the top of the plateau, Shotaye sat down on a protruding rock, from which she might look over the whole valley beneath. She cared little for this; her main object was to rest and to think. What she now undertook was a step preliminary to the last act. A trail almost indistinguishable, so little was it used of late, led from the Rito to the north, where the Tehuas dwelt in caves in the rock which they name Puye. This trail was the object of Shotaye's search. We know of her intention to take refuge among the northern tribe of village Indians, but she had meanwhile determined upon something else. She not only wanted to go but had determined upon returning! Yes, she would return, though not alone. With armed men from the Puye she intended to return in the stillness of the night. She would hide her companions at the approaches to the Tyuonyi, and lie in wait for Tyope and the old Delight Maker, for the Chayani also if possible. [paragraph continues]
The Tehuas would reap many scalps; she would have had her revenge; and the deed could be so performed as to make those at the Rito believe that the Navajos were the perpetrators. This was her plan, and she did not feel the slightest scruple or compunction. For years she had been, among her own people, the butt of numberless insults and mortifications. Now it had gone so far that her life even was in imminent peril. Ere this should be lost, she would prove to her enemies that she was alive, and terribly alive!
To reconnoitre the ground, to study every detail of it, to store her memory with everything that might be useful of valuable in the lay of the land, was what she had come for now. After she felt thoroughly rested she rose, and continued her walk. Where she had been sitting, the trail was plain, for there it descended into the gorge. So she only noticed the place and then went into the shrubbery to seek for plants. She gathered a few leaves of the dark-green shiutui, sauntered from juniper-bush to juniper-bush, glanced from time to time upward into the tops of pines to see whether they bore edible nuts of the kind now called piñons, or threw stones at the noisy birds that fluttered about.
Again she came upon the trail, and her trained eye could follow it for some distance until it disappeared in the timber. So far she felt sure of her impressions for the future and turned away to the right, penetrating deeper into the forest. She could find her way even at night, for the moon shone still. Besides, once acquainted with the spot whence she had to start, it mattered little whether there was any path or not. The Indian needs only two points to guide himself,--the place of departure and the spot where he wants to arrive. Moreover, for her flight it was better not to follow the trail at all. She felt sure of meeting some one of the Tehuas in the vicinity of the Puye.
The topographical details attracted the woman's attention much more than the path. She studied them carefully, pretending to hunt for plants. Unconsciously she went farther and farther, regardless of time, for it was yet early. The surface of the Ziro kauash is slightly undulated, as well as the mesa to the south of the Tyuonyi; the timber is relatively sparse; the pines are grouped together at intervals; and juniper and cedar bushes cover it uniformly like an extensive, irregular plantation.
Such is the topography of the mesas west of the Rio Grande, from the Rito until one is beyond, and opposite to San Ildefonso. They are traversed and cut by deep ravines and cañons, which run generally from west to east, emptying their waters after storms into the valley of the river through narrow gaps, or terminating before reaching the stream against a towering wall of volcanic rock. Ere Shotaye noticed it, the shrubbery had begun to grow thinner, until she noticed in front something like a vacant space, indicating a gap; beyond that gap there was timber again. This told her that she had reached the brink of the first canon north of the Rito.
In these solitudes game is not by any means so plentiful as might be supposed. This is particularly the case in the vicinity of Indian settlements. The merciless methods of communal hunting either exterminate or frighten away most of the larger animals. Roaming tribes send parties of men, hunters or warriors, long distances away; and these not only slaughter but frighten the deer, the mountain sheep, and the mountain goat, driving them into regions less accessible to man. The turkey alone, that noble bird, with its dark, iridescent plumage, remains everywhere; and Shotaye had already heard their loud cackling and calling before she entered the high timber. Several gobblers as well as hens had runaway on her approach; at last they rose into the
air one after the other, flapping their wings until they settled down on a tall piñon that was visible from where the woman stood. There were four birds on the tree. With necks extended and eyelids alternately opening and shutting, they peered down on her, ready to soar away at the least suspicious motion. Shotaye could not resist glancing at them. It seemed as if something was creeping up the tree very slowly. Like a grayish streak, a long body flattened itself against the trunk. Shotaye grew attentive, and the more so as the suspicious object all at once disappeared below the nethermost branches. The turkeys themselves were so occupied with the appearance of the woman that they lost thought of everything else. One of them, a gobbler, braced himself up, his breast bulged out, his head and neck drawn in; then quickly thrusting them forward, sent out a loud cackle. At this moment the pine-branches were violently tossed about. With noisy flapping of their wings the hens rose into the air; their companion flapped his wings but once or twice, and disappeared in the tree-top. For a moment the twigs and branches rustled and rattled; then all was still. A panther had surprised them and secured one for his breakfast. A long distance off might be heard the cackling of another gobbler; the forest was full of turkeys.
Shotaye burst out laughing. The panther had done well. He had enough to satisfy his appetite, besides, and there was no danger of her being attacked. The American panther is not dangerous to man; but he carries a mouthful of very sharp teeth, and his claws are long; he is a powerful animal, agile and large. Nobody can foretell what might happen in case he should be ill-humoured. The woman began to scan the landscape around; it was a clear space, and she could see the bushes from their tops down to the ground. The base of one of these bushes attracted her
attention. Almost level with the soil, something black appeared beneath its branches. As she examined it more closely she saw that it was not really black, but of a grayish brown, like the colour of the soil. It was neither a plant nor was it a part of the earth itself, nor a stone. It might be some animal. The more she looked the more she became satisfied that it was neither animal's skin nor fur. The object was hairless. Only the skin of a human being could appear so smooth. Her first impulse was to hide; but before she could execute her purpose the object moved slightly, and something white appeared above the black. It was disk-like, and on it there was some object of a red colour. The eyes of Shotaye sparkled; she abandoned all thoughts of concealment or of flight, and fastened her gaze on the strange thing beneath the shrub. It became clearer and clearer to her that it was a human form, and that on its back was a white shield decorated with red. That shield she knew to be Cayamo's.
But what could Cayamo be doing here? Or was it perhaps not he, but some Navajo who had vanquished the proud warrior and was carrying home his weapons in triumph? The latter appeared rather improbable, and yet who could tell? At all events the man was alive, for he had moved. It was equally certain that he had not seen her. In order to clear up all doubt Shotaye looked around for shelter, and saw near by a bush that afforded a scanty hiding-place. She glided to it noiselessly; and changing her position, got nearer to him, and was even able to see more of his body and dress. The first glance satisfied her that he was not a Navajo, but a village Indian, and indeed her friend Cayamo.
Every trace of fear disappeared. Shotaye left the shelter of the bush and stepped up toward him rather noisily, at the same time calling his name. He did not reply; and as
she came nearer, the regular breathing and the heaving of his chest showed the cause of his silence; the great warrior from the Puye was fast asleep! Under different circumstances she would have left him and quietly retired, but now she could not; the opportunity was too favourable, matters too threatening for her. She must be recognized by him once more, must show to him that she still counted on his pledge, on his friendship, his protection. Yet she did not wake him, but went close to his prostrate form and bent over it, even holding her breath for a while.
He slept profoundly. The war-paint on his face was sorely blurred; the campaign had not improved his appearance,--the face with closed eyes resembled a lump of dirt rather than a human head, his kilt was tattered, and his legs covered with scars and scratches. The circular sandals, much dilapidated, were tied to the belt; and close to them was another object, which Shotaye began to examine attentively, while her eyes flashed at the sight of it. It was a piece of human skin covered with gore and straight hair partly plaited. Her heart began to pulsate proudly and in delight, for she saw that Cayamo had secured a scalp, the scalp of a Navajo! Cayamo was a great warrior! Shotaye was careful not to touch the trophy, for no woman is allowed to handle the sacred token until after its taking has been duly celebrated in the great dance of the tribe. But lest the hero might wake up prematurely and notice her presence in too close proximity to the repulsive laurels which he had won, Shotaye quietly withdrew and sat down at some distance from him, where he could easily see her, and quietly awaited his rising from the slumbers of fatigue.
In point of fact it was not proper for her to remain so close to him. The scalp-crowned warrior must keep aloof from the other sex until he has been purified and has
danced. Shotaye relied upon the extraordinary circumstances, and upon his interpretation of her presence as having run after him, to obtain his forgiveness. Further. more they were alone; and a few moments spent in the practice of sign-language could not, she trusted, deprive the scalp of the magic qualities attributed to it. Had it been a warrior from the Rito she would have left him long ago.
Cayamo was manifestly tired, for he slept hard. The sun stood close to the zenith, and still he dozed. The luminary of day did not only illuminate, but its heat was scorching; the shadows under cover of which Cayamo had retreated were moving gradually, and the unkempt head of the hero became exposed to the most direct rays. The heat began to disturb him, he groaned, stretched himself, moved uneasily, and attempted to turn over. In this he bent his shield, and the hard leather struck him in the ribs. Cayamo woke up! He opened his eyes and yawned, closed them again, then opened the lids a second time, when his look became suddenly a stare of surprise. Lightning-like he rose to a sitting posture, and grasped the bow as well as his war-club. In this position he stared at the woman, who smiled, winking and placing a finger on her lips. As soon as she whispered "Shotaye," the threatening flash in his eye vanished; he dropped both weapons and threw his features into a repulsive, hideous grin intended for a soft smile. Then he rose. It was very plain that he felt overjoyed, and that he would fain have expressed his delight to the woman through some clumsy caress, but he restrained his feelings and became serious.
Extending his arm to the west, he shook his head in a warning manner, pointed to himself, made the sign indicating the act of men coming, and said, "Uan save;" then he waved his hand northward, afterward at the sun; and finally he pointed at Shotaye, uttering,--
"Uiye tha, 'two days!'"
She could not fully comprehend. Until better informed she drew the conclusion that the Navajos were in pursuit of him, but more she failed to understand. To ascertain his meaning she pointed at him, then at herself, raised four of her fingers, and asked,
Cayamo shook his head, counted two on his fingers, accompanying the gestures with the words,--
"Tema quio Puye," pointing to the north at the same time. Now her doubts were cleared. Shotaye saw that two days hence she would be expected among the Tehuas. She nodded eagerly and rose. If the Navajos, as she rightly concluded, were on her warrior's trail, it was unsafe for both of them to remain here long; but neither could she insinuate to Cayamo that she would like to go with him at once. To her surprise the man bent down and with his fingers drew a line on the ground which ran in the direction where the cave-dwellings of the Tehuas were situated. The woman bent over him with great curiosity.
"Tupoge," said Cayamo, indicating the southern end of the line and looking askance. Shotaye nodded that she understood, and he slowly moved his fingers along the line to the north, uttering,
The northern terminus of the streak he designated as Puye. Finally he made a mark across the middle of the line, saying very positively,--
"Uiye tha Shotaye Teanyi." These words he accompanied successively with the signs for the number two, for male Indian, and for the meeting of two persons.
Nothing could be clearer. Two days hence Shotaye was to leave the Rito for the Puye; and as Cayamo himself would be unable to meet her, owing to the ceremonies which
he had to perform in honour of the scalp, some male friend of his, called Teayni, would meet her half-way and conduct her safely to the abode of his people. With a radiant face the woman nodded assent, and made other gestures expressive of delight and agreement. Cayamo took advantage of his cowering posture to fasten the war-sandals to his naked feet, and then rose and took the trail towards the north, but Shotaye held him back in token of misgivings. He understood her motive, but pointed to his circular footgear and smiled. It was clear that he trusted to the round tracks left by that contrivance for safety. So he went on toward the brink of the gorge that lay before them. As soon as his form had sunk below it, Shotaye also turned, this time in the direction of the Rito.
Everything was right at last! She felt safe, completely safe; for the road was clear to her, and furthermore Cayamo, of whose attachment she was now fully convinced, would provide for a guide during the second half of the journey, which was utterly unknown to her. Everything was moving to her fullest satisfaction, provided she could escape from the Rito.
In regard to that matter she had scarcely any doubt, unless--and this thought came to her while she was wending her way slowly homeward--some one should have followed her and witnessed the strange meeting between her and Cayamo. In that case everything might be lost. But there were not the slightest marks of human presence about. Nature, even, seemed to slumber in the heat of the day; an occasional lizard rustled through the dried twigs and fallen pine needles, a crow sat on a dry limb, and high up in the air an eagle soared below the mares' tails that streamed over the sky. It would have been very disagreeable, to say the least, if one or other of the Navajos who were in pursuit of Cayamo should cross her path; but of this she
had little fear. She was already too near the Rito for that. Soon the gorge opened at her feet, showing a placid, lovely picture,--the little valley down below, huge pines raising their dark columns by the side of light-green corn-patches, and the tall pile of the big houses looming up like an enormous round tower. But Shotaye was not affected by scenery. Walking along the brink to the west she at last reached the upper end, where twelve days ago she had ascended, and where the brook, swollen by late rains, now gushed down the ledges in a series of murmuring cascades. Here she began her descent, and as the sun disappeared behind threatening clouds over the western mountains, she entered her home again. Shotaye had spent nearly the whole day on the mesa, had spent it profitably, and was--so she fancied--in complete security as regarded her ultimate designs.
And yet had the woman, after taking leave of the strange Indian and after the latter had gone out of sight, peered into the shadow of the pines on one of which the panther had so nimbly captured the unsuspecting turkey, she might have noticed something that would have greatly modified her ideas on this point. For behind one of them there stood, all the while she and the Tehua were carrying on their pantomime, a human figure intently watching them. Pressed against the trunk of a tree there was, motionless, quiet, calm, not a common spy, but a cool observer of her doings, whose presence was accidental, but who not only watched but at the same time judged and passed sentence on her actions.
A short time after Shotaye had set out on her walk, Topanashka Tihua also started in the same direction. With all the self-control he had maintained, inward agitation and sorrow nearly overcame him. The nearer the hour came when the momentous question that was going
to shake the existence of the tribe to its very foundations would be taken in hand, the more conscious he became that he was carrying a terrible load, and that upon his action depended nearly everything. The feeling of responsibility was crushing. He had, of course, ascertained nothing new; neither had he thought of making notes of what met his gaze. But on this last day he felt the necessity of being alone ere the dread moment came. Others could not help; he was alone with his thoughts, and yet, as he did no fasting, not alone in the proper use of the word. On that last day, therefore, he resolved upon retiring to some solitude. It would attract no undue attention, and he would have done according to the spirit of the shaman's instructions. After leaving the Rito he climbed to the northern mesa, and instead of resting on its brink as Shotaye had, he strolled into the timber perfectly at random, hardly conscious whither he directed his steps, and content to be for once alone with his dismal thoughts.
However much he speculated and reflected upon the matter, he drew not the slightest comfort from it. The main factor he lacked; namely, a knowledge of the judgment which Those Above would render. This the chayani alone knew, and they alone would proclaim it at the council. If the case of Shotaye only had been before the meeting, his position would have been very simple. All he had to do was to kill her if found guilty, and he was ready to do this at any time. He did not especially hate the woman, and all he cared for in such an event was to perform his duty. In regard to his daughter Say he no longer entertained any apprehension. Matters, however, had degenerated into a venomous contention between two clans, amounting almost to a schism in the tribe. If now the Chayani in the name of the Shiuana proclaimed that Shyuamo was right, and the others, his own clan included,
resisted, what then? He had to obey, he had to execute what Those Above decreed; for that purpose was he called maseua, like him who bears the same name and is the most active among all the deities on high. What the Shiuana determined was right always.
The old man sat down under a tree and attempted to ponder over this little query of "always." But he did it in vain. It was a problem perhaps not beyond the reach of his intelligence, if it had been properly cultivated, but far beyond the limits which training and custom had set to the working powers of that intelligence. He staggered from doubt to doubt, and finally gave it up. No other conclusion could he reach than to wait. But waiting alone gives no light, does not comfort, gives neither strength nor wisdom. Strength and wisdom, so the Indian believes, are gifts from above, and can be obtained by prayer. Topanashka came to the conclusion that he would pray. He picked up a stone, and was searching his memory for one of the many formulas that the Indian has in his rituals, when a faint pattering sound attracted his attention.
It was as if something glided through brushwood. He forgot to pray, and listened. Now it sounded again, at a greater distance from him. Only some animal could have produced the noise; a human being would either have come up to him if a friend, or kept absolutely still if a foe. He looked and looked, and at last caught a glimpse of the panther's yellowish fur gliding along the ground. When a cat glides stealthily she is on the hunt. His curiosity was fully aroused; he longed to see what the animal was hunting and how he would succeed. Furthermore the panther is in the eyes of the Pueblo Indian the symbol of the greatest physical power. A feeling overcame the old man as if this symbol was presenting itself to him at the very time when he needed the greatest moral strength himself; and the
animal appeared like a living fetich, a hint from Those Above. He followed the movements of the puma eagerly. The tree where the turkeys sat stood near; he had heard their gobblings long ago without paying any attention to them. But now they explained the movements of the gigantic cat; he was creeping up to the birds. The puma approached the tree noiselessly; at its foot he laid down his head, and raised his tail, sweeping the ground with nervous force. Now the beast of prey began to climb the trunk of the pine carefully and noiselessly. He reached the lower branches and disappeared within their maze. Then followed his spring; and the turkeys flew away, all but one. With a tremendous leap the cat broke through the tree-top and down on the ground, with the wriggling bird in his jaws, and trotted off howling.
Topanashka had witnessed the performance with interest and with genuine pleasure. He admired the strength and the swiftness of the animal hunter. Unconsciously his thought turned back to the intended prayer, and he earnestly addressed it now to Those Above, that they might give to his heart the strength which the panther had shown in his limbs. Placing two sticks on the ground before him and a stone over them, he rose to go. But another sight met his eyes, and he stood still as if rooted to the soil, gazed and gazed. His eyes opened wide, then his expression became dark and almost fierce.
On the clear space beyond the pines on which the puma had caught his prey, a woman sat near a cedar-bush; and in the shade of the bush a man rested. The first glance convinced Topanashka that the man wore paint, and carried the accoutrements and weapons of a warrior. It was not a warrior from the Rito; he was positive it could not be. Nor was it a Navajo. He undoubtedly belonged to some foreign tribe of village Indians, in all probability to the [paragraph continues]
Tehuas. What was he here for? And what business had the woman in his company? Indians in war-paint do not associate with women. Topanashka, strained his eyes, and recognized to his astonishment and dismay the woman Shotaye.
He could not contain himself any longer. Like a shadow he moved forward and hid behind the trunk of a pine, whence he could see more and better. From there he witnessed the strange pantomime of Shotaye and Cayamo. He was too far off to hear the words, but the gestures spoke plainly enough. As they pointed and gesticulated to the west, north, and south, he thought that they were planning some murderous surprise for the Queres,--that Shotaye was betraying her own people and conspiring with an enemy of her own stock. Fierce wrath filled his heart. Yes, Tyope's charge was true; the woman was a witch, and had Topanashka been armed he would have sought to kill her on the spot. But though he had no weapons, his hand clutched a stone, raised it from the ground, and held it in readiness. The interview ended, the Tehua disappeared, and Shotaye went in the direction of the Rito. Topanashka felt tempted to follow her at once, to overtake her if possible and secure her person, or even to execute summary justice; but she was sure not to escape him. She had evidently not noticed his presence and had gone back to her den in the cliffs in complete security. There, on this very evening, he would seize her, drag her before the uuityam, disclose her shameless and dangerous plots, and doom her to the horrible death she deserved to suffer.
Whither was her accomplice, the Tehua, going meanwhile? He was probably returning to his people to report, and to lead back those in whose company he intended to carry out the projected assault. The old man could not stop him, being himself unarmed; but he could follow at a distance, cautiously
and without exposing himself to danger. For it was possible that the hellish plot had developed much further, and that the warriors from the north were lurking already near by to pounce upon the Queres at daybreak. It was not only from the instinct of the old warrior scout, it was out of a sense of duty as head war-chief that he determined at once upon following the Tehua. As soon as Shotaye, too, was out of sight, he went over to the spot where the interview had taken place and examined the soil carefully. The round impression made by a war-sandal struck his eye; it proved to him beyond any possibility of doubt that his inferences were correct. The old man straightened himself to his full height. His piercing glance went in the direction whither the Tehua had gone. He bent forward again and followed the same line toward the north.
The sun had just set over the Rito. It disappeared behind dense clouds; a storm was gathering in the west. Its wings were spreading like tentacles; they pushed on to meet the moon, whose light was just rising in the east as a dim whitish arch. The orb itself still remained below the horizon. Gusts of wind whirled up the gorge from the east at intervals, causing the pines to sigh, the willows and poplars to rustle. The corn whispered and tinkled. The usual bustle prevailed about the houses and in front of the caves.
Before the grotto where the council was to meet that night, men were standing, sitting, or lounging. They were the delegates who had come to listen at last to the oracle which was to be revealed to them through the mouth of the great shaman. Their number was not yet complete; the Tapop, Tyope, the Koshare Naua were there, but neither the Caciques nor the Chayani nor the Maseua had
put in an appearance. Everybody was silent, hardly a word was heard from time to time, seldom a whisper. The men were in part exhausted by long penitence, but mostly depressed as if some nightmare was still weighing upon them. The obligation to be silent imposed by the medicine-man was yet in force.
One by one those who were lacking came. The medicine-men appeared at last, and only the yaya and the maseua were missing. The tapop, prompted by a wink of the Hishtanyi Chayan, went into the cave and prepared the council-fire. It burned well, but nobody came.
Distant thunder rolled through the clouds; lightning flashed from them in fiery red tongues. The wind continued to blow in gusts, but at long intervals only. Between gust and gust it grew dismally, anxiously, still. The singing, shouting, laughing of the people had almost ceased. Now the wind again whirled up the valley stronger than before, and as its noise ceased, a plaintive sound, a distant howling, floated on the air. It waxed in strength and power till it rose into the night shrill and heart-rending. The men listened in surprise. Sobs, cries, shrieks, from time to time a piercing scream, were the dismal sounds that struck upon their ears. All came from the large building; it was a lament by many voices, the sad, soul-rending lament over the dead!
Breathlessly they listened. Hurried footsteps rushed toward them, several men came running up the slope. When the foremost of them reached the group he asked, panting,--
"Where is the tapop?"
Hoshkanyi Tihua stepped forward and inquired,--
"What has happened? What do you want?"
"Our father the maseua," gasped the man, "is dead! He was killed on the Ziro kauash!"
"Who killed him?" demanded the principal chayan, placing himself in front of the speaker.
The Indian raised his arm on high; from it depended a circular object. As the pale light of the rising moon fell on it, it was plainly distinguishable as a circular war-sandal!