Say Koitza suffered him to continue, and listened with increasing interest to the talk of her husband. It might be the last time. Little by little, as he went on, with harmless, sometimes very clumsy, jokes and jests, she became oblivious of her wretched prospects, and her soul rested in the present. She began to smile shyly at first, then she even laughed. As Zashue ate he praised her cooking; and that gratified her, although it filled her with remorse and anguish. The children came also and squatted around the hearth, Okoya alone keeping at a distance and eyeing his mother suspiciously. Could she in his presence really feel as merry as she acted? Was it not evidence of the basest deception on her part? So the boy reasoned from his own standpoint, and went out into the court-yard in disgust.
The sun set, and a calm, still night sank down on the Rito de los Frijoles. As the sky darkened, evidences of life and mirth began to show themselves at the bottom of the gorge as well as along the cliffs. Monotonous singing sounded from the roofs of the big house, from caves, and from slopes leading up to them. Noisy talking, clear, ringing laughter, rose into the night. Old as well as young seemed to enjoy the balmy evening. Few remained indoors. Among these were Zashue and his wife. The woman leaned against him, and often looked up to his face with a smile. She felt happy by the side of her husband, and however harrowing the thought of her future seemed to be, the present was blissful to her.
After a while Zashue rose, and his spouse followed him anxiously to the door, trembling lest he should leave her alone for the night. She grasped his hand, and he stood for a while in the outer doorway gazing at the sky. Every sound was hushed except the rushing of the brook. The canopy of heaven sparkled in wonderful splendour. Its stars blazed, shedding peace upon earth and good-will to man. The woman’s hand quivered in that of her spouse. He turned and retired with her to the interior of the dwelling.
[Footnote 4: This tradition was told me by Tehua Indians, and some friends among the Queres subsequently confirmed it.]
[Footnote 5: This fire-cure was still practised by the Queres not very long ago.]
We must now return to the fields of the Rito, and to the spot where, in the first chapter of our story, Okoya had been hailed by a man whom he afterward designated as Tyope Tihua. That individual was, as we have since found, the former husband of Shotaye, Say’s ill-chosen friend. After the boys had left, Tyope had continued to weed his corn, not with any pretence of activity or haste, but in the slow, persistent way peculiar to the sedentary Indian, which makes of him a steady though not a very profitable worker. Tyope’s only implement was a piece of basalt resembling a knife, and he weeded on without interruption until the shadows of the plants extended from row to row. Then he straightened himself and scanned quietly the whole valley as far as visible, like one who is tired and is taking a last survey of the scene of his daily toil.