But the most valuable piece of news she had heard from the intruders was that three days hence a solemn dance, the ayash tyucotz, was to be performed at the Rito. These ceremonies, which are always of a religious nature, are proposed generally by the principal shamans to the civil chiefs,—in council or privately,—either on the strength of some presage or dream, or as a public necessity. The proposal agreed to, as it usually is, the time is set; but no publication is made either of the performance or of the hour until the day on which it is to occur or the evening previous. But the matter is talked about at home, in the circle of friends, and thus it gradually becomes known to everybody as a public secret, and everybody has time to prepare for it. Shotaye mixed very little with the people at the Rito; she hardly ever went to see any one, and such as came to see her had other matters to talk about. It was no surprise to her to learn that an important dance was near at hand; but it was a source of much gratification nevertheless. For until the dance was over nothing could or would be undertaken against Say and herself. After the performance, it was equally sure that several days would elapse ere the council could meet in full, as the religious heads of the tribe had yet to go through ceremonies of a private nature. At all events, it proved to her that there was no immediate danger, and that she still had time before her. With time, so the resolute and wary woman reasoned, there was hope.
Thus musing and speculating, she sat for a long while. The fire went out, but she did not notice it. At last she arose, unfolded several robes and mantles, which she easily found in the dark, and spread them out on the floor for her couch. Shotaye could go to sleep; for at last she saw, or thought she saw, her way clearly. She had fully determined upon her plan of action.
Shrill cries, succeeding one another in quick succession, ending in a prolonged shout, proceed from the outer exit of the gallery that opens upon the court-yard of the large building.
The final whoop, caught up by the cliffs of the Tyuonyi, echoes and re-echoes, a prolonged howl dying out in a wail. Men’s voices, hoarse and untrained, are now heard chanting in rhythmic and monotonous chorus. They approach slowly, moving with measured regularity; and now strange figures begin to emerge from the passage-way, and as they file into the court-yard the chant grows louder and louder. A refrain—