The four days at the expiration of which the council was to take place were drawing to a close, for it was the night of the fourth, that on which the uuityam was to meet. It was a beautiful night; the full moon shone down into the gorge in its greatest splendour, and only along the cliffs was it possible to walk in the shadow. The air was cool and balmy; not a breeze stirred; and the population of the Rito seemed to enjoy the luminous, still, and refreshing hours that followed upon a warm and busy day. Laughter, singing, shouting, came from the roofs and the vicinity of the houses, as well as from the caves and their approaches. The people felt happy; few if any suspected that a momentous question agitated the minds of some of their number.
Two men were walking along the cliffs toward the group of cave-dwellings which the Prairie-wolf clan inhabited. They hugged the rocks so closely that most of the time their figures disappeared in the inky shadows of projecting or beetling cliffs and pillars. One of these men asked in a low tone,—
“Are you going to the uuityam?”
“I am,” replied the other.
The words were spoken in a tone sufficiently loud to enable any one acquainted with the inhabitants of the Tyuonyi to recognize in the first speaker Tyame Tihua, the delegate or councilman from the Eagle clan, in the other, our old friend Topanashka. After exchanging these few words both continued their walk in silence.
The round chamber in which the meetings of the tribal council were usually held exists to-day as a semicircular indentation in the cliffs, the rudely arched ceiling of which is still covered with a thick coating of soot. The front wall has crumbled long ago. At the time we speak of it was entire, and the apartment formed a nearly circular hall of more than usual size, with a low entrance in front and two small air-holes on each side of the doorway.