radials gave a final-sounding crunch as Carole's Peugeot settled into
snow-drifted ditch. Snowflakes as big as
feathers floated relentlessly down through the graying dusk, sparkled
the downcast beam of her one undamaged headlight, and, it seemed to
Sotterthwaite, landed with a soft plop.
stretch for nearly the eternity of miles she had driven during the last
days, silence so deep that the hiss of steam form Peugeot's ruptured
the small staccato pops of the engine cooling were only feeble
the intense stillness. Carole mused
that not even the desert hills surrounding Tel-el Farah, where she had
scenes last Spring for an archeology documentary, had encompassed such
silence. Carole switched off the
headlight, cautiously tried wiggling her toes, stretched her arms.
At least I'm
not hurt. In the darkening stillness, her thoughts
seemed almost to echo from the snow-cloaked pines across the road. Her father had given her a "Tourist
Guide to Motoring in America," just the day before her parents both
died. Carole pushed back the thought as
a fresh wave of sorrow washed through her. First
things first. The Tourist
Guide had explicit instructions about surviving winter storms: Stay
your car. Carry a survival kit. Keep warm. The
blanket her mother had given her, proud
green-and-black McKay tartan
of her mother's Scotch lineage, was on Peugeot's back seat. She had a torch in the ... "glove
compartment," the Tourist Guide had advised her in it's
American Terms. She thought about
checking the damage to her new car, about looking to see what had
the horse which had so suddenly materialized on this road through
flares in her
toolbox under the seat; they made small globes of sputtering red light
the road in the quickly-falling snow. The
horse lay already blanketed by white, its neck twisted beyond life. The Peugeot's frond end was smashed, pushed
back beyond the radiator. The last
farmhouse she remembered on this two-lane highway to Duluth was at
kilometers behind her. Nothing to do
but wait, she decided.
September 19. The
tourist guidebook had promised brilliant
displays of autumn leaves along Lake Superior's North Shore, not a
summer snow on the road from Fargo! Carole
snuggled into the cocoon of warmth in the tartan blanket which now
her on the front seat of her wounded Peugeot, sipped lukewarm tea
her mercifully undamaged Thermos, and keened her ears to the silent
surrounding her. Somewhere in the
woods, a branch snapped from the unaccustomed weight of first snow. So quiet I can hear a snowflake land,
Carole mused as she listened to the enveloping whispers of the
snow. She tucked the blanket more
snugly around her feet, and thought about her trip to this particular
snow-filled ditch in the Minnesota north woods.
planned this trip for you for a long time, you know."
David Abernathy had sat with Carole in her
father's study the morning after the funerals. Carole
looked around the familiar room of the Devonshire
watching July sunlight play through the ancient leaded panes of the
window, dancing across the gilded book-spines on the far wall. The comfortable pungency of the Reverend
Doctor William Sotterthwaite's pipe smoke still seemed to hang in the
air. Almost as if he's still here,
thought. Almost as if my mother's
sitting across from him, almost as if they're still talking, laughing,
one of the brilliant tapestries of shared wit that had been her
in the deep leather chair that head been "hers" for as long as she
could remember. David had been waiting
for her as she came back form her early-morning walk; one of the
hats she almost always wore outside hung from the stag's antlers on the
behind her. "That can be your
special privilege," her father had told her when a six year old Carole
burst into his study filled with excitement about a butterfly she had
emerging form its chrysalis.
Carole Sotterthwaite had
grown into a slender, athletic young woman. Her
jet-black curls shone faintly auburn in the sunlight,
skin had undertones of golden tan. Her
dark brown eyes were slightly almond-shaped -- "Probably Genghis Khan
himself sneaked across the Channel," her mother had gently teased her.
haven't heard a word I've said." David's
voice had brought her back to the study abruptly,
to the aching
emptiness of her parents' unexpected death.
"I was saying
you that you're parents had planned to give you this trip for a long
before you and I decided to make it our honeymoon.
You know how your mother felt about your having a chance
the States before you had to make up your mind about your dual
independence, Carole had thought. Her
father had been honored with a yearlong teaching Chair at the
Minnesota. She had been born in
Minneapolis, a much-loved only child. She
had been brought back to England a two-month old baby
citizenship. "Keep your options
open. You don't have to device until
your twenty-first birthday," her mother had told her.
"We'll make sure you have a chance to
see the States before you make up your mind."
birthday came next April. "Carole,
I know you're grieving for your parents rather deeply right now," David
was saying to her. "You and I both
agree that our wedding should be a time of joy, not sorrow. Taking this trip will give you a chance to
mourn and to heal, to find yourself. When
you get back, we can get married, maybe honeymoon in
When you get
what was he saying? Carole
glanced at her fiancé with a startled
question in her eyes.
"I was going
tell you last week, I'd just heard. Then
your parents were in that accident, and I didn't want
to bother you
with anything else. But, we've got to
talk about it."
"What do we
talk about?" Carole looked at her
fiancé carefully. David was an
aristocratic young man of thirty-one, blond, blue-eyed, well bred. The Abernathy’s had been friends of her
family for as long as she could remember, except perhaps his spinster
who seemed to Carole to be sharply critical of her.
David had been almost like an idolized older cousin to
her childhood; they had been engaged for years. "What's
actually. Just at a rather awkward
time. I've been offered a fellowship at
Oxford this year. You know how much
that could mean to my career."
"And ... ?"
already being delivered through a dealer in Los Angeles.
It's booked back here from New York on
January 15. You've done more driving on
the Continent than I have; you're an expert driver on either side of
road. You've had your immunizations,
your passport and visas are in order, your tickets are paid for, and
reservations have been made. And Carole,
you know how excited your parents were about giving you this
trip. Don't disappoint them now." David had been making an appeal to her, Carole
thought. "You know how much
I'd like to be with you. You also know
how much this Fellowship will mean to my career."
the Fellowship, Carole thought. He was
a bright young scholar, but didn't have the incisive brilliance that
... had. She bit her lip.
David was still talking.
" ... give
chance to really understand the States. We'll
miss each other, but you'll be fine. You
did well enough earlier this year, clear across the
Hemisphere with the B.B.C. film crew."
between her and her fiancé during her internship, Carole thought. He had seemed proud when she graduated from
the University early, had said he shared her honor of being chosen for
internship. But, something had changed,
something she couldn't quite pin down.
David had kissed Carole gently at Heathrow. "Don't
worry," he told her in the hubbub of the
terminal. "Your parents' ... your
solicitor, now, has everything under control. I'll
stop by the Abbey House from time to time, keep an
eye on things
for you. You won't need to
worry." He touched her chin
gently. "Good-bye, Carole."
His words of
echoed in the subdued booming of the jet's engines, at odd moments
long flight to Los Angeles.
lovely: deep brown real leather upholstery and exactly the sky-blue
had imagined. "A custom job,
ma'am," the elderly owner of the dealership told her.
He assured her that he had checked
everything out thoroughly, and offered to go along on a short ride "so
can get used to driving on the right side of the road, ma'am."
freeways weren't too different from the Autobahn, Carole decided as she
back into the dealership. "You're
an excellent driver, ma'am, you'll have a good trip."
The dealer told her he'd spent two years of
"the War in England, and I've always liked the British.
There's a full set of maps in the glove
compartment, so once you get out of this spaghetti bowl, you can't get
this great country! Welcome to
America." He gave her a friendly
salute as she left.
playing tourist in Southern California: Hollywood, Disneyland, Sea
San Diego Zoo, and a trip to Tijuana, where she bought a lovely
bracelet inlaid with turquoise.
had kept in touch with some of his former students.
Carole had found his address book among his papers; her
had told her before the accident that he would give her a list of old
friends she might want to call. She
hesitated, then called the number of Professor Lionel Warren at the
Institute in San Diego.
Sotterthwaite! Of course, your father
had written that you might call. I've
heard about what happened, the accident--we're terribly sorry. My wife and I would love to have you for
dinner this evening, do you have other plans?"
Warren and his
wife were lovely warm people, and dinner stretched into an evening
laughter and fond memories of her parents. Perhaps
David is right, Carole thought. Time and
distance will heal the pain. As she
prepared to leave, the Professor's wife pressed a
package into Carole's hand. "Your
parents loved you more than anything else in this world, Carole. Remember that. In
this box is just a small thing my husband and I thought you
ought to have. You can open it at your
hotel. Don't forget to call us if you
need anything, you can call collect. You'll
have a good trip!" The older woman hugged
unwrapped the box, which contained a leather pouch, beautifully
beadwork and obviously an antique. Inside
the pouch, nestled in pungent herbs--sage, she
pipe bowl of ancient stone and an intricately carved wooden pipe stem,
embellished with a delicate pattern worked in flattened, dyed porcupine
quills. She recognized it as a
"woman's pipe" from her father's books. The
stone was meticulously carved into the form of a turtle.
As the waves of Mission Bay lapping on the
beach outside her hotel lulled her to sleep, Carole drowsily wondered
former student at the University of Minnesota had given Professor
Sotterthwaite's daughter such a valuable antique.
the Peugeot's air conditioning as she drove across the desert to
Phoenix. She had been advised, "leave
you miss the worst of the heat," and was already on the road when
was barely a faint wash of pink over the mountains to the east of San
Diego. She had stopped more than once
to take pictures of boulder-strewn mountains heaved toward the sky in
dawn light, of the desert stretched toward eternity gleaming in the
early-morning sun, of cactus nestled in ancient lava flows. As she drove onward, the earth and sun-filled
sky shimmered in waves of afternoon heat; the buildings of downtown
seemed at first to be a mirage. "2:45 - -
- 110E - - - 2:46 - - - 110E - - - " a
bank sign flashed at her as she
drove past. She chuckled at the
Americans' refusal to adopt the International Metric Standards,
110 degrees Fahrenheit sounded a lot hotter than 43E Celsius.
The heat hit
the breath of a smelting furnace when she stopped for petrol ...
"gas." The grandfatherly
Hispanic who pumped gas didn't even seem to be sweating.
"Sí, señorita, you have about a three
and half hour drive to the Grand Cañon. You
have reservations, no?"
reservations changed to a
reservation for one, she thought sadly.
chiquita." The elderly man smiled
kindly at her. There is a good restaurante
across the road, it is air-conditioned. You
could have a good dinner, rest from your driving, and
still get to
the Grand Cañon village for your room reservation.
When you leave, be sure to stay on the Maricopa Freeway;
number will change but you won't get lost if you follow the signs. Have a good visit to America, linda
cooled perceptibly when Carole left the restaurant.
The richly spiced Mexican food had been delicious, and the
dimness of the dining a welcome respite from the sun.
Thank you, old man, she thought. Thank
you for the suggestion, and thank you for calling me
"beautiful." The elderly Mexican was still
pumping gas as Carole headed back toward the freeway; he smiled and
raised his hand in
as she drove past.
The sun was
low in the
sky as Carole went through Flagstaff; she stopped in the high desert
the city to film one of the most spectacular sunsets she had ever seen. Stars were strewn across the sky like
ten-carat diamonds sprinkled on black velvet as she crossed into the
forest. They seem so close I could
almost reach out and gather them, Carole thought.
Sotterthwaite?" The desk clerk at
the Bright Angel Lodge handed her a key. She
thought only briefly about her postponed honeymoon as
she rinsed off
desert dust in the shower, closed her eyes to a persistent afterimage
endless miles she had driven that day.
swiftly into the shadows of the Grand Canyon as Carole breakfasted in
rustic hotel dining room. She was
planning to spend the day hiking in the canyon, and was already dressed
jeans, warm jacket over a light cotton blouse, and the desert walking
which had served her so well in Tel-el Farah. She
had been walking across the lobby toward her room to
get her hat,
her cameras and her canteen, when she heard her name called from the
Sotterthwaite?" The young woman
working behind the counter this morning smiled at her.
"I thought that's who you are. Hank,
that's who was working here last
night, forgot to give this to you when you came in."
She apologized, "Hank's new
here." She handed Carole an
airmail envelope with a British stamp, addressed to her in David's
how her hand shook as she reached for the envelope; hoped that the
behind the desk wouldn't hear her heart pounding. Hat
and cameras unfetched in her room, she walked out of the
Bright Angel Lodge.
There was a
the rim of the Grand Canyon. Carole sat
there in the early morning sun, the wind ruffling unnoticed through her
curls. She turned the envelope over in
hands, puzzling at the taped-up flaps--maybe Customs had opened it, she
thought--then slit the end with her room-key. Her
brow furrowed as she took four typewritten pages from
David had complained jovially that typewriting her love letters from
the letter began. The young woman bit
her lip and breathed deeply to calm her pounding heart.
David's letters to her had always begun with
for writing you at the Bright Angel Lodge, but this was the earliest
which I could be certain." Carole
looked at the postmark on the envelope. It
had been mailed the day after she left London!
particularly badly about your reading this on what we had both hoped
the happiest night of your life. ..." A
chipmunk unnoticed scampered at Carole's feet, begging
for a handout.
"... but I realize that it would be best to tell you this before you
back to England. I tried to tell you
before you left, but I did not have the heart to add to your pain.
"By the time
you read this, Lizette and I will have been married.
Of course you remember Lizette, my second cousin from
a beautiful Englishwoman of the best breeding ..."
The words on the page blurred into illegibility,
and hot tears splashed onto them.
lying coward!" Carole
spat the words into the morning. The
chipmunk ran up a tree chattering at
her. Carole crumpled up the letter,
three pages unread, and was ready to hurl it into the abyss of the
when her eyes focused on the "NO LITTERING" sign. She
stuffed the balled-up letter into the
pocket of her jacket, and stood staring into the uncovered eons of the
As the sun
rose in the
brilliantly clear air, occasional strollers along the canyon rim
a crowd of tourists. The timelessness
of the vista stretched before her gradually filtered into Carole's
she finally turned to walk back to the hotel. "But
I can't stay here." She must have said it
aloud, a garishly dressed American
curiously at her.
A half an
hour later, Carole had cancelled her week's paid reservations, and was
east, toward Cameron, Tuba City, "all points eastward," she chuckled
bitterly. The smooth purring of the
Peugeot's motor, the humming of her tires on the road, the vast rich
the high desert under its turquoise bowl of sky were soothing, an
panorama within which her own disappointment, her own recent losses
smaller in proportion.
Highway 160, an almost fragile-seeming ribbon of modernity across
Navajo lands. Occasionally, she saw a
hogan, a small round traditional house in the distance, or the minute
a boy and his family's sheep against the horizon. The
traffic on the road was light: an occasional pickup truck, a
evening, and the desert met with the Rocky Mountains.
"Welcome to Cortez," a sign told her.
And then another, "Motel -
VACANCY." Carole pulled into the
drive. She was soaking in an impersonal
pink motel bathtub when she finally started considering what she was
do next. Her parents had kept in touch
with friends in Minnesota, in Minneapolis and in Duluth, why not visit
them? She had nearly three months before
Peugeot was booked back to England, and her own ticket had been
a one-year open-reservation return. Her
dual citizenship meant that she needn't worry about the expiration of
British tourist visa. Clair had a
continent to explore, and enough traveler’s checks to cover film, gas,
hotels as long as they weren't the Ritz. The
young Englishwoman towel-dried her curly hair, quickly
ran out to into the crisp Rocky Mountain air to get her maps and Tourist
driving through the Rockies to Denver, three days of stopping by the
the road whenever she pleased to film the heart-stopping scenery, to
the thin clean pine-scented air, three days of marveling at the fierce
gentle wonder of the mountains. She had
skied in the Alps, of course, and had even briefly visited the
her B.B.C. internship, but somehow the Rockies coupled awe-inspiring
with a feeling of intimate kinship. She
drove out of Denver across the plains toward North Platte with the
parting from a friend.
highways across the Great Plains had their own rhythm.
They seemed to Carole almost a world of
their own, perpetually flowing back and forth across golden expanses of
ripening grain and vast cattle ranches. Denver
to North Platte, North Platte to Lincoln, Lincoln
to Omaha ...
After the first hundred miles, Carole saw familiar faces in the truck
passed and was later passed by cars she recognized.
The Rambler sedan she had just passed slowing for the Rest
exit belonged to an elderly couple. She
remembered hearing them talking as they sat at the next table in a
two hundred miles back, overhearing that they were going to their
Bar Mitzvah in Chicago. She remembered
hearing the driver of the cattle truck that passed her, telling other
at the counter that he hoped that his next run would be back home to
in "Sain' Louie."
Town exit, and thought about the Boys Town Christmas seals on American
Christmas cards her father had gotten during her childhood. She stopped for gas just outside of Omaha,
and stood for a few minutes watching a great orange ball of a sun
through the dust of the Great Plains toward the horizon.
As she came
out of the
washroom, Carole saw a familiar-looking, battered green station wagon
Minnesota license plates clatter and heave its way toward the Service
Plaza. The vehicle seemed to gather a
last bit of strength to struggle up the driveway, then quit altogether
to the parking area, black smoke pouring out from under the bonnet ...
"hood." A tall
Scandinavian-looking woman got out, and quickly pulled her little girl
after her. Carole remembered seeing
them in a rest-stop washroom, the woman gently combing the child's
hair. "Don't worry, Missy,"
she heard her say, "we can go back to the farm and help Grandma and
Grandpa for awhile."
opened the hood of her car, and seemed to be looking at the motor with
of despair, consulting with one of the men from the service plaza. Words drifted through the dusk to Carole as
she stood, transfixed, still near the washroom door.
"Fifty dollars! I
know that old clunker doesn't have another mile in her, but just the
worth more than fifty dollars! Bus
tickets cost more than fifty dollars."
"Take it or
it, miss. I could charge you to have it
towed out of here, you know." The
man slammed the hoot shut and started walking back toward the pool of
the gas pumps.
She was going to Minnesota. The
stranger had seemed kind and gentle when
she combed her child's hair, and she looked honest.
The blonde woman and her daughter were still standing,
helplessly, at their station wagon.
me." Carole spoke first.
"Were you going to Minnesota?"
"Just east of
Warren. My folks have a farm
there. My name's Kirsten Larsen, and
this is my daughter Missy." Missy
held out her hand politely.
hand gravely. "I'm Carole
Sotterthwaite." She took a deep
breath. "I couldn't help
overhearing what the service-man said about your car.
Perhaps I could give you a lift."
farm before dawn. Carole, dozing as
Kirsten drove, woke when the Peugeot headed down a gravel road toward
farmstead. Light was already streaming
from the kitchen window. Carole was
urged to stay for breakfast--the smell of homemade was wafting from the
as she helped Kirsten carry her battered luggage into the farmhouse. "Rest before you go," Mrs. Larsen
had told Carole after a hearty farm breakfast. "I
know it's a long drive from Omaha, and probably neither
you girls slept much."
woke in the
tidy spare bedroom, it was late in the morning. "It's
not often we have a visitor, particularly a neighbor
to Sweden." She had stayed for "a
little lunch"--Carole thought she heard the table creaking under its
stay another day or two. It's nearly a
six hour drive to Duluth." Mr.
Larsen added, "There's a smell of snow in the air."
Carole considered their offer. The
balmy warmth of the morning had been replaced
by an autumn crispness in the hour spent over lunch and coffee, and she
see clouds above the eastern horizon.
sure you won't stay another few days, here's a snack for the road." Mrs. Larsen loaded a massive wicker hamper
into the back seat of the Peugeot. "You're
a lovely girl, you know you're welcome here any
time. Be sure to write."
The whole family waved to Carole as she
drove out of the farmyard.
Carole glanced at her
watch. It was nearly one o'clock. She felt rested, renewed by the warmth of
the Larsen family. I should be in
Duluth by seven, she thought.
one-thirty, she was
beginning to wish she had listened to the old farmer.
Slate-gray clouds filled the sky, and it was getting cold. She turned the heater in the car up.
straight to Highway one," the Larsen’s had told her.
"Go east on Highway one, then the road
is better if you go south on
fifty-nine--that's in Thief River Falls. Keep
going to Highway two. That
will take you straight into Duluth."
o'clock, the snow
began to fall, a thick veil of wet snowflakes that stuck to everything. Carole peered through a white screen of
dancing snowflakes, trying to read signs covered with snow. Had she already passed Thief River
Falls? She stopped at the side of the
road, got her jacket, boots and woolen hat out of the trunk, and put
on. She studied her map.
That town by the river, ten miles back--that
must have been it--but I didn't see a sign. Highway
one has a "T" intersection farther on, I can't
that one, Carole thought. If the
weather doesn't clear up, I can find a motel in Bemidji tonight. Carole drove eastward, into the storm.
The wet snow
on the road, and Carole had to slow to 45, then to 30 to keep her
the slippery road, in spite of the Michelin all-weather radials. It was almost five o'clock when she reached
the corner T in the road. She had been
traveling through pine woods for perhaps ten miles; as she turned south
the road curved through low hills covered with pines and aspen.
quickly in the
storm; she switched on the lights. The
densely falling snow sparkled like a science-fiction kaleidoscope in
headlight beams. Carole peered into the
maelstrom: the road was a barely distinguishable ribbon of trackless
with shadows of ditches dropping on both sides.
seemed like there was a horse silhouetted against the snow on the road
her. She honked her horn, and it turned
to face her. She braked carefully and
honked again--the horse was running toward her like a maddened bull. Carole braked harder, but the Peugeot
skidded out of control and slithered toward the ditch as horse and car
Carole shivered slightly,
and clicked on her torch to check the time. 10:30. She had been waiting
the ditch for nearly five hours. Highway 1
was a State Highway--surely someone would come.
She ate a
sandwich, made with still aromatic fresh bread, from the "snack"
hamper Mrs. Larsen had given her. Carole
smiled to herself. I
should have listened but at least I won't starve! She
scraped her frosted breath from the car windshield again,
looking into the still, white night. It
seemed as though the snow wasn't falling as heavily, at least. Carole switched on the car radio, turned the
dial across FM and AM static, and finally heard a scratchy Yankee voice
in and out of the static. "Silence
is golden, golden ..." Carole
turned the radio off again, and huddled into her blankets.
had left half a pack of Marlboros in
the car. Although Carole didn't often
smoke, she lit a cigarette and smoked it slowly, watching the glowing
in the darkness. The snow stopped
falling; she scraped the frost off the car window again and watched a
peek through a break in the clouds.
It was nearly
when she saw the lights. First, a
distant flicker against the snow from around the curve of the road,
miles away. Then, a steady pattern, two
lights from the top of a distant vehicle, scanning the woods, going
slowly. Carole watched, hardly daring
to hope. The vehicle came closer.
She turned on
headlight, honked her horn, and waved her torch out the window. A pickup truck stopped on the road by her, a
person in a parka jumped down from the box and shined a spotlight
her. "Aniin, niiji," she
heard a young man's voice call to her.
person in a
parka got out of the cab. An older
woman's voice this time, with an accent she had never heard. "Are you OK?"
"I hit a
my car went into the ditch." Carole's
voice sounded shaky and her English accent echoed
back at her
from the woods. "The front end of
my car is rather badly smashed."
called to her,
"What about the..."--a pause--"horse?"
neck is broken. I'm awfully sorry, I
don't know whose horse it was. Maybe
you'll know. It's over there under the
snow." Carole got out of the Peugeot and
with her arm.
the woman's voice stopped near Carole. "Come
on, it's warm in the pickup." She
helped Carole, whose legs were suddenly shaky, into the cab. Carole smelled coffee, and was handed a warm
cup. "Warm up awhile, you must
have been down in that ditch for a long time. We'll
get your car out for you."
The motor on
truck was kept running, and the heater poured warmth over Carole. She sipped the hot coffee, and watched in
glimpses lit by the spotlights as --inexplicably--the four people
dead horse over to the pickup truck, and lifted and shoved it onto the
back. In the brief flashes of light
piercing the night, the huge horse looked oddly mis-shaped,
strange. She felt the springs of the
truck sag, then settle lower under the weight of the dead animal in the
back. A heavy chain was run to the
bumper of the Peugeot, and hooked around the twisted front bumper. Over the blast of the heater and the low
roaring of the motor, Carole thought she heard words of an unknown
The woman got
the cab. "We're going to try to
pull your car out now. Did you finish
your coffee? OK, then, hold on, we'll
have to jerk it out."
accelerated amazingly quickly, Carole thought, on the slippery highway. The chain snapped taut with a
"clang," and Carole was almost thrown forward toward the dash. The tires of the pickup whined against the
snow; they moved forward about six feet before they stopped.
woman had opened the door and
shouted. "We'll have to jerk it a
couple more times," she told Carole.
was out of
the ditch. Carole sat alone in the cab
of the pickup again, and watched the dimly lit silhouettes of the
examining her car, then apparently talking. The
woman came back to the truck.
urgent, that you were driving in this storm?"
"No, I didn't
expect snow in September."
spend the night with us. We can tow
your car home, and you can decide what you want to do in the morning."
warmth in the voice of this woman whose face she had not yet seen. "Thank you," she said quietly.
It seemed to Carole as
though they had driven another fifteen miles, slowly through the snowy
towing her Peugeot. The boy rode in the
cab with Carole; the woman drove. Someone
steered the Peugeot, another rode in the back with
horse. To Carole, the woman's silence
somehow seemed more companionable than most conversations, and she was
to sit quietly as they drove. A yard
light shone over a house near the road, then another.
make a phone call tonight?"
Carole thought, no one
was expecting her, no one was worrying. "No,
and the yard lights disappeared in the darkness behind them. "You must have been waiting a long time
in that ditch. Your tracks were filled
woman turned onto a gravel road, and
drove north into what looked to Carole like dense forest.
"I should tell you, my name is Rose
toward Carole in the darkness of the pickup cab. "This
is the ancestral land of the Bear Dodem--the
White people call it Lac Rouge Indian Reservation.
We're just about home, now."
and Carole saw the lighted windows of a small house in the clearing. "My name is Carole Sotterthwaite,"
she said softly.
around a curved driveway, and stopped so that Carole's Peugeot was
the door. "Welcome, Carole."
Carole sat at
kitchen table of Rose's house, drinking some deliciously warming herbal
eating homemade bread and some kind of soup. The
light of the kitchen showed Rose to be a dark,
aged woman, Carole thought--but she had helped lift that horse! One of the boys had brought her suitcase in
for her and hauled in the hamper. The
cold wouldn't hurt her cameras, Carole decided. The
young boy shyly handed Carole her car keys, and told her the
car was locked.
bathroom and handed her a clean towel. "You've
probably been through too much today to want to
much?" Carole nodded; she was
getting drowsy in the warmth of the house. Carole
was shown a bed with the most beautiful patchwork
quilt she had
ever seen, and, she thought she could hear the voice of her mother from
childhood, "before you could say 'Jack Robinson,'" she slept.
streamed in the
window. Carole could hear the sounds of
the household around her, voices talking and laughing, the motor of a
the yard. She smelled coffee, baked
bread, and the deep brown aroma of some kind of roasting meat. Carole got up and looked around the room
where she had slept. Two beds neatly
made with vibrant quilts, a small hammock hung from the walls over one
them. Her suitcase stood beside her bed. Carole looked out the window at the sunlight
sparkling on the snow, at the forest surrounding her, at the azure sky. She dressed and made the bed, pausing to
admire the vibrant interplay of colors on the quilt.
She brushed her hair, and opened one of the two doors in
room--the closet. She closed it, and
walked into the main room of the house.
Rose and a
sat at the kitchen table, and a toddler stood near a bright braided rug
looked at her with big eyes. A tall man
had his back to her, pouring himself a cup of coffee at the stove. Rose pointed with her eyes at the bathroom
door; Carole walked quickly into the bathroom and shut the door.
washed and with light makeup, Carole entered the kitchen-living room
again. At the kitchen table, drinking
coffee, sat ... Carole took a sharp breath ... the handsomest man she
glowed a golden
brown, and the plaid flannel shirt he wore rippled over his muscles as
illustrated what he was saying with his arms and hands.
His hair was raven-black, lightly frosted
with gray at the temples, glistening with rainbow highlights. The air around him seemed to crackle with
his electricity. He ... Carole looked
down, embarrassed, when he looked toward her with deep dark eyes and
staring at him. The man smiled at her;
Carole felt a delicious warmth spreading through her.
hunter! Come have a cup of coffee and
sit down with us." The man's voice
was deep and resonant; he sounded warm and friendly.
"The cups are
the cupboard." Rose pointed with
her lips and a slight nod of her head, and winked, Carole felt with
understanding, at her.
noticed her shaking hands as she poured her coffee.
She sat on the only empty chair at the table, the one just
the corner from the man. She could feel
his warmth smoldering through the air toward her, and steadied herself.
rifle," the man told her.
the ..." again that pause "... horse you hit yesterday?"
"Did you honk
horn at it?"
"Yes, but ..."
Rose told her.
"That was a bull-moose, my girl, not a
had never seen a moose before.
bull-moose will think a car horn is the voice of another male
to fight. That's why he charged at
you. The moose didn't win, but,"
Rose looked at her sympathetically, "neither did your car."
"A lot of men
for a lifetime, and never get a moose," the man said.
"You come to Lac Rouge, and in just a
few hours you have one. But," he
sounded kind now, "it doesn't take three weeks to get a rifle ready for
your next hunt."
Carole took a
sip of her
coffee. "And, you don't have to
tow it out of ditches and through storms," she mused.
"Thank you," she said to Rose. "Is
there a Peugeot shop near
word in what seemed to be her native language, indicating the man with
gesture of her eyes, "has been looking for parts this morning. The nearest Peugeot dealer is in
Minneapolis, about 260 miles, 420 kilometers, from here."
Carole thought, it's
less than that from London to Paris!
parts in Bemidji." The
devastatingly handsome man with the unpronounceable name was talking to
her. "Maybe three weeks, maybe
longer, that's what they said at 'Bunyan Auto. We
can fix your car for you, but it may take some time.
Would you like your car 'by the book,' or so
that runs OK and looks OK?"
stay as long as you like, Carole," Rose added.
whirlpool in the young Englishwoman's mind. Her
brand-new Peugeot, sleek sky-blue machine ... what did
the man mean
by 'OK'? She thought about an old
pickup truck she had driven behind for several miles on the Navajo
running smoothly at 45 miles per hour, but so patched it had been
for her to tell what color it had once been, or even which company had
it. But, what if Peugeot parts had to
be sent by sea from France to this remote place? She
simply sell her once-beautiful new car--but who would buy
it? If the Peugeot ran, at least, she
could drive it to New York and ship it home to be fixed properly. Maybe that was best. "OK
is good enough," she
said. "Do you know yet how much it
"You can pay
the parts we need to buy. We might have
some parts that will fit around her. As
for anything else, you don't need to think about it.
My mother-in-law"--the man indicated Rose--"likes you
and enjoys your company."
married! Carole's heart fell like a
curling stone shattering too-thin ice, and sank through the floor.
talking to the
man. "Ah-bi-noo-jee," she
used a different word this time, "you're going to Bemidji today,
"I think so."
pay deposit to order parts there." Rose
did not say this to Carole, but Carole thought she
understood. She went back into the bedroom
to get her
woman, who had
been sitting so quietly that Carole had almost forgotten her, was
toddler in boots, hat and jacket when Carole came back into the room. The man still sat at the table, finishing
his coffee. Carole hesitantly sat down
again, and handed the man a hundred dollar bill. "Will
this be enough?"
will bring you your change."
quickly, although her nearness to the man made her tremble in spite of
herself. "Maybe you could get some
petrol for yourself, and whatever Rose needs."
"Petrol. Ahau`." He added,
"Later this afternoon we could move your Peugeot
to my garage. It would be easier to
work on, there." Carole shyly
handed him the keys, and in spite of herself, felt a surge of warmth
as their fingers brushed together.
'Indian' woman had already put on her own jacket, and was going outside
her child. The man quickly drank the
last of his coffee, put the cup in the sink, and went to the door. He turned to Carole. "See
Carole sat at
kitchen table with Rose. "So, you
have a new name, Sha-ga-nosh-equens. That
means 'little Englishwoman.' Are you?"
feeling as if she only caught surface glimpses of what was going on
among these indigenous people. The
morning had been a blur of more people, a delicious lunch of food she
identify, of children who seemingly appeared from nowhere to help her
the rest of her things from the Peugeot. Even
when these kind people were talking English, it
seemed like another
confusion. "Don't worry about it,
my girl. Sometimes"--she used an
unintelligible word again, the one she had called that devastating
man--"tells jokes you will not understand right away."
paused, "son-in-law. Would you
tell me his name more slowly?"
chuckled, and spoke
the name more slowly, but Carole could not catch the sounds. "He was given a Christian name,
Françoise, by the Missionaries, but he is proud of his Ahnishinahbæótjibway
identity and never uses it. Some people
call him 'Zuus-way,' though."
An image of comic-book illustrations,
"Pow! Smack!" came unbidden into her mind. What
that man did to her heart--but he was married! Carole
take a look at your moose?
"It's not far.
You might want your jacket."
remembered that it was still supposed to be summer, Carole thought, as
walked across Rose's yard. The snow had
melted to islands of white in the shade. The
air was almost alive, sparkling clean, a nearly
ambrosia of pine trees in the woods, loamy earth, a hint of wood smoke. Carole had oddly foolish wearing her
accustomed wide-brimmed had; the sun caressed her skin and hair with
sparkled through the leaves of the trees in gem-colors of emerald and
ruby and amber and topaz. Birds and
squirrels moved with quick assurance through the woods.
Rose motioned for her to look up: there was
a pair of bald eagles soaring through the top of the azure sky.
seemed to be
hanging in the trees just beyond a shed at the edge of the yard. Hanging, actually, from a rope tied around
its neck, looped over a massive branch, and tied at the other end to a
truck loaded with short sections of logs. In
the daylight, Carole was surprised that she had
mistaken it for a
horse. Covered with dark brown hair,
the moose was bigger than an enormous draft horse.
Its legs were long and slender, and on its head lolling
taut ropes, was a set of flat antlers nearly eight feet across.
going to do with your moose?"
you hunt them?"
It had been
Carole remembered. "Can I give the
moose to you?"
with the others who were hunting with me last night: Red, Little Joe,
and," Rose chuckled, "Zuus-way." She
moose needs to be skinned."
nodded. "I can help."
dressed in beige linen slacks, a pale turquoise silk shirt and an
cotton cream-colored windbreaker. "I have
some old clothes that you can wear."
yard in the jeans, cotton-flannel shirt, nylon windbreaker and running
that Rose had dug out of a cardboard box in the closet.
She watched as Rose backed up the pickup
truck until the moose rested on the ground. Someone
had already gutted it and stuffed the cavity with
grass. "We had to put him away from the
until you decided what to do," she explained, and handed Carole a sharp
butcher knife. "Watch and
It took most
afternoon for the two women to skin the enormous animal and cut it into
that they stacked in the shed, next to the rolled hide and cardboard
someone had filled earlier with the organ-meats. "Tonight
is going to be cool enough," Rose
explained. "Tomorrow, I can
package and freeze what we don't give away. My
niece would like the hide, if that's alright with you."
in several swimming meets at University, and had carried more than
pounds of photographic equipment for many miles during her internship. But, Rose picked up hindquarters that Carole
could not budge, and lifted them easily onto the shelves in the shed. Carole looked down at her borrowed clothes:
they were patterned in shades of red and oxblood. She
could feel a streak of dried blood on her face, where she had
absentmindedly pushed her hair out of the way. Rose
looked at her and smiled. "You did a good
job, my girl. There is a basin in the tub
to soak your clothes, and you
can take a hot
As Rose and
crossed the yard, Carole saw two teenage boys attaching the Peugeot to
truck. Rose stopped to talk to them,
but Carole, who had never as much as plucked a chicken before that day,
rush of aftershock at her blood-spattered clothes, a delayed reaction
butchering a moose. She rushed into the
house, into the bedroom, and grabbed clean clothes and shampoo from her
As she opened
bedroom door to go through the larger room, she saw Zuus-way standing
middle of that room, looking right at her. "Aniin,
presence of that man standing alone in the room shot through Carole,
her into a tornado of conflicting emotions. She
stood rooted to a spot by the doorway for a moment,
looking at him
in round-eyed shock. Then, with a small
moan light a frightened rabbit, she bolted into the bathroom and locked
After a week
household, Carole had begun to feel comfortable with the gentle rhythm
among these traditional Ahnishinahbæótjibway. She had learned to pronounce their
indigenous name, Ah-neesh-ee-nah-bay-ot-chib-way, and thought she
understand why they objected to what they called "that White man's
stereotype, 'Indian'." She had been
surprised to learn that Rose was 67 years old, and had begun to think
almost as a grandmother of her own, the "Grammar" she had often
wished for as a child.
becoming friends, also. Irene had
laughed when Carole told her she thought the young woman was
wife," then explained that her husband was in the Air Force, stationed
overseas, and that she and the toddler, a precocious little girl named
"Waa-bi-gwens -- Little Flower" were "staying with Grandma until
Big Joe's tour of duty is up."
sense the "interconnectedness of life," as Rose explained to her, and
had been able to help cut up the front shoulder of the moose which Rose
for the family. She had been fascinated
by Rose's description of the unfettered life of the moose and her
how the animals gave "We, the People, that's what Ahnishinahbæótjibway
means" the gift of their meat; she was starting to sense a profound
in her hosts' way of life.
moose-butchering clothes had washed out as good as new; Rose had given
soap powder to soak them in overnight, and told her, "they fit you
keep them" as she showed her how to use the old Maytag
wringer-washer. Carole added her
road-soiled clothes to her laundry, grateful for Rose's instructions on
fold her pants as they went through the wringer, so as not to break the
She had hung
out on the line in the yard in a morning saturated with vibrant autumn
sunlight. When turning out the pockets
of her jacket, she found the crumpled letter she had received from
could scarcely believe it--less than two weeks earlier.
She held the soggy ball of onionskin and
airmail envelope in her hand for a moment, noticing that the
were still clear. She did not want to
read three and a half pages of self-justification and blame, she
wadded the ball more tightly and tossed it into the woods.
"The hell with you, David! I'm
glad Lizette is the one stuck with
you! You deserve each other!"
Carole had half-laughingly shouted in the direction of the pitched-away
Carole to see
the sugarbush where the family made maple syrup and maple sugar every
spring. She had helped stack firewood
for the winter, and had gone "fall-fishing," as the Ahnishinahbæótjibway
called it, with Rose. Carole had found
where she was on her map of Minnesota, and from the map she knew that
was a big lake. That knowledge hadn't
prepared her for the lake itself, stretching from the wooded, rocky
to the horizon. The water was
sapphire-blue, sparkling from a billion facets in the clear autumn sun.
setting the gill nets from a small outboard boat in the warm afternoon
pulling the nets the following morning had moved her deeply. The big lake had been glassy-smooth,
occasional shreds of mist hovering near the surface of the water in the
pre-dawn light. The nets were pulled from
the water with the outboard motor shut off; as they pulled the nets
boat, the motion also moved the boat along the line of nets. The air was cool but not frosty, and
breathing was inhaling a potent tonic for the spirit.
The fish caught in the nets were still alive, and they
fire opals in molten silver as they were pulled from the water in that
light. As Carole and Rose worked their
way along the line of nets in the still, early morning, the sky was
by the still-unseen sun into luminescent pink, and then into a vast
golden-glowing dome, counterpointed by the silhouettes of great blue
against the eastern sky, by the wheeling cries of sea gulls, by the
figures of pelicans floating behind the boat hoping for a handout. The mirrored surface of the water echoed the
blazing symphony of the sky, and the sky resounded to water, until it
though the two women were working in the midst of a vast crescendo of
singing light. The morning song of the
lake climaxed when the great golden ball of the sun climbed above the
sending rivers of molten fire in torrents across the water, turning the
patches of mist into golden streamers, igniting the heavens in the
glory of a
new day. "For a moment I could
feel God himself in the sunrise," Carole told Rose later that morning.
"We all feel
it," Rose answered. The two women
were disentangling fish from the gill nets, then hanging the long nets
on cedar racks at one side of the yard. "My
husband's grandfather was born during a sunrise like
such a moment is his namesake, a song of Grandmother Earth and the Midé,
and of we, the Ahnishinahbæótjibway who
have been one with
this place since the beginning of human time." Rose
started removing fish from the last net, quickly slipping
the nylon mesh free from the gills and tossing the fish in a handy box. "It may be harder to see the harmony
and beauty if you are suffering from hunger in the bitter cold, Carole,
or," Rose said almost to herself, "if you have to pull nets in a fall
storm, and the lake takes your child, but," she looked at Carole, "it
all has meaning, and each moment is in its own way a gift."
Later in the
Carole had watched Rose deftly filleting the mound of fish: her knife
quickly four times in the son, and another set of fillets flipped into
dishpan, another set of guts into the box for the dogs.
She wondered if Rose had lost a child to the
lake, but did not want to ask.
Zuus-way since she had run, panicked, into the bathroom the day she had
skin the moose. Later that evening,
Rose had given her $57, "your change, and Zuus-way feels badly that he
frightened you." Carole felt
"badly," too. She had lain,
sleepless, for many hours in--she had begun to think of it as
"her"--bed, seeing his high-cheeked face, his smile, the lively
bottomless pools that his eyes seemed. She
had tossed restlessly, hearing the soft sleep sounds
of Rose of
Irene and her daughter, watching the stars twinkle beyond the trees,
the waxing moon soar through the night, and once sleeplessly watching
dawn light wash against the eastern sky. She
had turned the burning question every way she could in
mind. Her morals were too high to look
twice at a married man, no matter what. Even
if his simple presence in a room turned her blood to
fire and her
knees to water.
he mean by
studied "Kinship Structure" in an anthropology class during her
junior year at University. At the time,
the charts and diagrams, the dry mathematical formulae of formal
analysis, had seemed pointless, useless abstractions.
Unusual for Carole, she had merely learned enough to pass
exam with high marks, then promptly forgotten it all.
But during the last week, during her nightly torment,
terms chased each other through her head, if Z was to FS as ...
avuncular ... did the Ahnishinahbæótjibway
use Iroquoian or
Siouan kinship terminology ... and she couldn't possibly decide if a
could possibly be a son-in-law without having a wife!
Carole awoke in the mornings feeling rested, but each
aching longings and the circuitous questions returned.
There must be a keystone to this torment of
a jigsaw puzzle, she had thought sleepily the night before.
28 was gray and drizzly. "We need
the rain," Rose said, putting a pan of biscuits into the oven and
a skillet of venison gravy. Waa-bi-gwens
toddled into the kitchen, still tousled by sleep, chattering happily
"bikit an gavee," then--Carole turned quickly from the bowl of bread
she was kneading to look at her, about "unka saway."
The child had
ears, Carole thought, as a minute later Zuus-way's venerable green
purred into the yard. Rose smiled at
her, and then winked in a mischievous way that Carole couldn't have
grandmother could wink. "Shall I
tell him you need bread to put in your oven, Carole?"
Carole blushed a brilliant red. As she
had become a more comfortable part of this household, the other women
more freely around her, and some of their conversation included a
them--interplay of double entendre. Carole
had begun to appreciate their humor, regretted that
clumsiness with the English words--but Ahnishinahbæótjibway
thought patterns--kept her from playing their talking games, and
furiously every time they teased her, usually about Zuus-way. Was she that obvious about the feelings she
tried to keep locked in her heard, or did she perhaps talk in her sleep? Their teasing was gentle, friendly, and
between--yes, she had begun to think of them as "family," but...
room to see her with her hands covered flour, her face blushed a
seemed almost ... subdued. True, she
admitted to herself as she concentrated on kneading the bowl in bread
of her, and watched the man only from the corners of her eyes, his
warmth and electricity
still made the air touching him dance with excitement, until he almost
true that he moved with a powerful and fluid grace that made even the
gifted athletes she had ever seen seem clumsy blobs by comparison, true
the very atoms in the walls of the house seemed to realign themselves
harmonize with his personality--but he seemed subdued.
even tried to
suppress her rising, relentless attraction to this man with the
name, during the long nights of the previous week, with racism, much as
repelled her, much as she detested herself for trying.
"Woman, he is an Indian,"
she tried to tell herself in forced tones of anger during the night,
her heart sang, glorying in every syllable, "he is Ahnishinahbæótjibway." She tried to conjure up the stereotyped and
bigoted images that every European and American child was exposed to,
she could see was the gentle kindness of the people under whose roof
awake, their dignity and their beauty. She
had tried to imagine scenarios of herself, with an Indian
man, socializing with her English friends, even the searing
of David's Aunt Cornelia, but what they might think made absolutely no
difference. All that she could make
herself see during those restless nights was the unbounded glory of
this man as
she really did see him.
If he was
would go as soon as her car was fixed, telling him no more than the
fading scarlet of her face probably already told him; she hadn't said
to anybody. She would remember his
warmth, his shining beauty and the magnificent warmth of his spirit,
and in the
remembering the English sky would brighten and the birds sing more
harmoniously, she would ... knead the bread. Carole
kneaded the bread vigorously. She turned
the bowl and pushed her knuckles through the
dough, nearly through the bowl and into the counter.
Carole kneaded with a rhythmic desperation, as though she
somehow knead the tumultuous singing of her soul into silence at the
Zuus-way when he opened the door; he had held the little girl for a few
and listened to her chatter, with sincere interest, it seemed to Carole
kneaded. He put the child back on the
floor, and she toddled toward her mother.
the stove, took a cup out of the draining-rack by the sink, and poured
a cup of "black-medicine-water," she had been told the Ahnishinahbæótjibway
word meant literally. He replaced the
large white-flecked dark blue enamel coffeepot on the back of the
gas-and-woodburning kitchen stove, where on cool days it stayed warm
steadily stronger. Zuus-way, the man
she had never seen move without purpose, who never floundered or wasted
walked to the table and set the coffee-filled cup down.
He walked back to drain-rack, picked up a
spoon, and set it down. He rummaged
through the silver and picked up a second spoon. He
stood about six feet from where Carole was standing kneading
bread as though her life depended on it. Zuus-way
looked at the spoon he held in his hand, as
though that small
piece of stainless steel could reveal to him the answer of a perplexing
question. Carole could smell the
clean-washed aroma of the man, underscored by the myrrh of his vibrant
masculinity. She turned the bread bowl
again and pushed her hand into the gleamingly elastic ... sensual ...
turned his head
toward her. "Hello,
Carole." His eyes were pools of
warmth, tenderness, concern, even love for her.
her heart quaked. "Hello,
Zuus-way." He smiled briefly at
her, and her blood felt like the crimson fire of a newly risen sun on
the lake. Zuus-way walked back to the
table, sat down,
and began absently stirring his plain black coffee as he talked to Rose
bread dough. If she kneaded it any
more, she realized, the biscuits and loaves would probably bounce all
from here to Minneapolis. She covered
the bowl, placed it in a warm spot near the stove, and cleaned her
hands. She poured herself a cup of coffee,
walked, carefully and on shaking legs, to the table.
that you might like to see how your car is getting fixed," Rose said to
her, after she sat down. "He's
going over there now. I'd like to see,
too--I'll walk over there with youse if you'd like."
Carole nodded, unable to trust her voice.
drizzling, but the sky remained a leaden gray. They
walked along the path that Carole remembered as
leading to the
sugar bush, through trees still glistening with moisture.
Somehow walking in the woods is strangely
calming, Carole thought as the three of them turned down another path
not noticed before.
extensive gardens, mostly dormant since the first frost, although
lettuce and cabbage still stood as proud rows of green.
She saw a young apple orchard at the far
side of the garden, and then they turned into the woods again on
Zuus-way's garage, as well as several other buildings.
There was a circular log house, roofed and
with large windows in place, but, Zuus-way told Carole, "it's not
inside, yet." The house stood on a
knoll overlooking the big lake.
The inside of
garage was warm, heated by a wood-burning stove made from a barrel in
corner. Carole's Peugeot was in the
middle of the poured concrete floor, resting on large blocks of wood. An elderly man was looking at the
motor. "My uncle," Zuus-way
said. "He spent four years in
France during the War, and he understands how the French think. He's been helping me out on your car."
the two men looking at the motor, talking. "The
parts they needed came in two days ago, that's what
said," Rose told her. Carole
marveled. She couldn't see the front of
the car, but the right fender had been crumpled by her collision with
moose. It looked seamlessly new.
one." The old man pulled a large
piece of machine from under the bonnet of her car, and tossed it in a
scrap iron by the wall. "That one
either." Another part followed. Carole looked worried, then saw Rose's
smile. "Trust them," she said
in a soft voice.
The two men
from their car, talking with their hands, talking in a mixture of Ahnishinahbæótjibway
and English. The old man smiled at
French! She answered in the same
language. The old man laughed, then told
her in nearly flawless French that 'boo-shoo' was a Creole word from
trade, that it had been a real pleasure working on such a beautiful
machinery as her Peugeot, that she owned him no more than the moose
meat he had
already been given, that he had once been in Suffolk on R & R
war and had spent a very pleasant evening with the Reverend Giles
Sotterthwaite, was she related?"
"He was my
grandfather!" Carole's interjection made barely an eddy on the old
stream of conversation, who went on to tell her that he hoped one day
herself and Zuus-way and tell her some of the stories her grandfather
him, that her car should be better than new in an hour or so, and, then
English, that he had better get back to work.
to say, so she just said "thank you." She
was still wondering abut what the old man had told her as
Zuus-way invited her and Rose to his "unfinished house" for some
coffee and cake.
maybe, but beautifully finished, Carole thought as she looked about the
spacious room. The walls of the
building were cedar-logs. The bark had
been removed, and the logs planed on two sides so that they fitted
without chinking into walls, but were left round on the inside and
the house. Like satin corduroy, Carole
thought. The floor was polished
ash-wood; the ceiling vaulted toward wedge-shaped panels of skylight on
south side and a cozy-looking loft on the north. The
house was about fifty feet across, Carole estimated.
Floor-to-ceiling cabinetry and bookshelves
filled four of the--Carole counted them--sixteen sides; large windows
of the walls gave the house a feeling of airiness, bright inside even
overcast day. Carole and Rose sat at a
beautifully crafted wood table near a window with a superb view of the
fresh coffee in the kitchen, which was both separate from the expanse
main room, and integrated into the circle of the house.
The center of the room was dominated by a
fireplace of beaten copper, stone and glass, constructed so that the
burning cozily within looked almost like an open fire.
The bookshelves were already lined with books. A desk was set in another alcove-like space
between two of the walls with cupboards and shelves; above the desk
there was a
window. Through one of the south side
windows, Carole thought she saw fruited tomato plants--and an orchid in
bloom--on a terrace, then realized that she was looking into a
greenhouse. The house was only partly
desk, a table and three chairs, and a large double bed covered with a
rug were the only furniture, but it did not seem empty.
Even unfurnished, Zuus-way's house gave
Carole a sense of being surrounded by warmth, security, serenity, and
house," she told Rose.
and built it himself. He cut the trees,
sawed the logs, even made the window-frames and the furniture. He's been working on it nearly a year."
cups and a steaming coffeepot to the table, then a delicious-looking
"apple-hazelnut-maple sugar coffee cake, my own recipe," he explained
almost shyly. He poured a cup of coffee
and handed it to Carole, and was pouring a second cup.
Rose stood quickly. "I forgot to
tell Irene I left a loaf in the oven." She
turned to Carole. "Your
car will be ready to drive home in another hour, maybe less. I'll run home, it's not far on the short
path. You're safe here, my
girl." She quickly put on her
jacket, and ran with surprising speed across the clearing.
poured a second
cup of coffee, and looked reassuringly at Carole. Her
heart danced at the nearness of the man, but--Carole was
surprised--she did feel secure, amazingly peaceful, unafraid... alone
man in his unfurnished house. Zuus-way
started talking to her gently, quietly, telling her about his orchard,
of his house, his ideas of improving life for his people, "but you've
here over a week, and haven't seen the rest of the Reservation yet. You might like to look around, later."
Zuus-way kept talking, kindly and gently to
her, gradually encouraging her to talk about herself, her life in
her family. Her heart throbbed in
counterpoint to their conversation, her blood glowed with warmth at the
nearness of the man sitting across the table from her, but at the same
Carole found herself enjoying sitting and quietly conversing, sharing
of the drizzle joining platinum-gray sky to slate-gray lake,
encompassed by the
circle of the house.
cups of coffee, then third. He produced
a pack of cigarettes from his pocket, and offered Carole one. They smoked tobacco together in a silence
that was somehow more of an intimate conversation than any words could
been, and Carole felt her unaccustomed shyness gradually fading. Then Zuus-way spoke, "Carole, are you
feeling better, now?"
was surprised: an hour's quiet
conversation with this surprising man had brought her to realizing
strength in herself that she had never realized she had.
"Thank you, Zuus-way."
Carole, I found something that belongs to
you." She could feel his concern
washing over her, an undercurrent of love and support.
He walked over to the desk, and brought
something back. "I found this out
in the woods... the ink on the envelope was washed away, so I read most
before I realized it was yours. I dried
it out for you." He sounded almost
bashful. "I apologize for
intruding on your privacy." He
handed her the envelope containing David's letter, slightly crinkled
"I don't mind
you read it." Truly, she
didn't. Her feelings for David were a
pale shadow, almost a farce of what could be, she thought.
read it to the end?"
done. I'm better off without
him." She found she could say this
as a simple statement of truth, without anger or pain.
read the last two pages. There's
something in there that you should know." He
glanced at the still-leaden sky, the way some men check
Carole thought. "I'll go see what
Uncle Rusty's doing to your car. There's
more coffee, cake, smokes ... I'll be back." His
smile flooded Carole's heart with
Alone in the
house of a
man whose name she still could not pronounce, Carole watched a lone
circling above the lake for a few minutes, then unfolded the crinkled
pages of crinkled onionskin ordered so that page 3 was on top. Carole signed deeply, and began reading:
while you were off cavorting around the world last spring.
I knew that you had illusions about
"women’s' liberation," but hoped that six months of playing at Men's
work in the uncivilized world would bring you to your senses. I told Suzanne that all I could give her
would be an affair for the time being; I would retain my commitment to
you had settled down and come to your senses about a woman's place in
world, when you came back. I was still
testing you: were you really the woman who would be best suited to be
the wife of an aristocrat, or were you only the "daughter," and I say
that with reservations, of a scholar who helped me a great deal with my
academic career ... of a family whose noble blood had been greatly
since their foolish loss of the Sotterthwaite Estate during the War of
treated you honestly, Carole, particularly considering the ambiguous
station of your family. I want you to
remember that. I was also thinking of
your own good: would you be happier as a spinster career woman,
"fulfilled" by trying pitifully to do some petty thing in the Man's
World? Or, would you be happier, full
of your sweet infatuation, as the titled wife of a man whose passions
only be fulfilled by a more experienced and passionate woman? I tried to make the best decision for you,
and still had it under consideration when your parents so unexpectedly
typewritten sheets on the table, and stared out the window. She took a cigarette from the pack that
Zuus-way had left, lit it, and watched a heron standing in the shallows
lake, half-hidden by the reeds near the shore. She
poured a cup of coffee and sipped at it. The
writing did not sound like the David Abernathy she had
since childhood... she took the first page of the letter from the
compared the type characters from the part that she had read by the
Canyon with the page she was reading--it was undoubtedly the same. She thought she recognized the typewriter as
the old Royal portable that had belonged to David's Aunt Cornelia for
as she had known her; remembered the slight nick on the "e" and the
faintly uneven spacing of the "f." Although
David had chided her for her typed letters from
handwritten letter is so much more intimate," he had said--but it would
not be uncharacteristic for him type to save the extra few pence
postage a longer letter would require.
cigarette, and stubbed it out in an elegantly handmade copper ashtray
to her that the artist was Zuus-way. She
sighed--there must be a reason that he had thought it
read the letter to the end. She picked
up the onionskin and began reading again:
will tell you, clearly and succinctly: I found out quite quickly that
Cornelia was more accurate in her assessment of your breeding, than
had thought. You do recall her astute
observation that your somewhat homely, odd foreign physical appearance
not have come from--was your mother really that naive--a medieval
Tartar! Cornelia had always believed that
you were a
bastard child. She was not the only one
who believed that the sly gypsy your father so innocently befriended,
the post as your family's gardener until a year after your birth, had
succeeded where your father has failed as a Man; that it was this
rascal who made your mother with child after fifteen barren years. If your father legitimized the consequences
of his cuckold, that was quite well enough his business.
My aunt was concerned about the possibility
of your inheriting--you know as well as I do the entailment of the
and the other pitiful holdings--but at the time I believed that your
as a wife outweighed the possible encumbrances of such a petty estate.
you will recall, after your parents' death, I had occasion to spend a
deal of time at Abbey House, such was your disproportionate and
hysterical grief. It was so that I found a
paper that more
than vindicates my Aunt's opinion of you. You
are not a shiftless gypsy's bastard, Carole, you are a
perhaps a bastard of even less savory ancestry. Adopted,
in a word.
hands shook slightly, and she
sighed deeply as she turned to the final page of the letter.
understand as well as I do that I could
not bring common blood, particularly of such impure mixture as you
apparently are, into the Abernathy line. As
Aunt Cornelia herself put it, "The Devil alone knows
people her parents might have been." I am
certain that you also realize that, in no
would the entailment on the Sotterthwaite family properties, however
are, allow inheritance by anyone not properly of the Sotterthwaite line. You know the terms of the ancient
entailments as well as I do. You are
now known for what you have always been, a commoner of insubstantial
your return to England, you will have found that the Abbey House and
furnishings, the land and Sotterthwaite Trust, and whatever else not
in the decedent's immediate personal effects has quite properly been
the LEGITIMATE heirs. I have further
relieved you of the necessity of disposing of those items that would
suitable to a person of your presently obvious common class. In consultation with my solicitor, it has
been determined that a settlement of ,500 per annum would be indeed
retain a certain fondness for you, and would not like to see you
for, as I am certain that you would decline still further without such
provision. I am thus prepared to offer
you a position, perhaps as a parlor-maid at one of my estates. I view of your over-riding infatuation and I
can most reasonably continue to assume total inexperience, and in light
disfavor which completely depriving you of my quite renowned expertise
area would comprise, I am also prepared to offer you occasional
liaison. Although obviously I could not
possibly legitimize any ensuing issue, such would be of quite superior
and thus by their native ability you would be insulated from a
impecunious old age. Blood always tells.
anticipate your return.
the sheets of
paper on the polished surface of the table, and gazed out at the lake,
curtained by the drizzle into an apparent infinity.
She shook her head as though to clear it.
"He's mad! Mad as a hatter!"
always had an
inner sense of her own self-worth. She
excelled in sports, in school, and had completed her internship with
commendations. Although she had
felt pangs of inconsolable loneliness as a child, she was deeply loved,
knew it, by her parents ... adopted parents. She
poured a cup of coffee, and after a moment's
hesitation, lit a
cigarette. "So, I'm adopted,"
she said to herself quietly, "and somehow I'm not surprised."
were still her parents in her heart--had a profound love for her. Her birth parents? Perhaps
dead, Carole thought, perhaps crippled by poverty and
wanting me to have better. She glanced
again at David's letter, folded it back into the envelope.
"David," she told the letter,
"perhaps what un-nerved you was that I might see you clearly. Your father has his bouts of melancholia,
Cornelia is more than eccentric, and you--thank you for helping me see
closely before it was too late. The
true aristocrats of England tolerate you as an arrogant 'poor
the good human beings you reject as being 'lower class' laugh at you
pretensions. So, you can take your
so-called generous offer and stuff it up your oh-so-certifiably
purebred anatomy! Parlor-maid and
convenient dalliance indeed! And I'll
tell you that to your face when I come back to England--if I
to England!" Carole took a deep
breath. "Be it on your head!
My father told me, 'Title doth not a
noble man make.' Fare well, mad pretender."
her cigarette, then got up and put the letter in the fireplace at the
Zuus-way's house. She watched as the
thin airmail paper smoldered and burst into flame, and tried to will
up the chimney with the smoke, dissipating harmlessly over the vastness
north country. She was sitting at the
table crying when Zuus-way returned.
"Do you have
stiff British upper lip back now, Carole?" Carole
had talked gently to her, they had talked together, and finally laughed
together at the arrogance of David's letter, while the afternoon turned
deepening dusk. "So, you're
enough, it seems like I've always known, somehow, and it's never
mattered. My parents--and they were
parents--wanted me and loved me. I
think that's what's important."
Do you wonder who your birth parents
"I'm a little
curious, maybe. If they're not dead,
they must have had a good reason to give me up. It
must be a terribly difficult decision, for a woman to give up
aren't worried about their social class,
"We are all
darkness. Carole and Zuus-way sat in
the night, talking quietly. Carole was
acutely conscious of the man across the table from her, aware of his
could smell the heady perfume of his masculinity blended with a hint of
oil--from her car, she thought.
"So ... your
in England is gone?"
"I don't know.
I've got a good education, good references
as a cinematographer. I certainly won't
need to be a parlor-maid!"
"My ticket is
open booking. It's good until the end
of January. I thought I might travel in
the States a bit more, look around, think about what to do."
"I told Rose
morning I'd had word that you might lose your house in England, and
needed to tell you about what I'd heard. She
told me that she's glad you're with her, that you
always have a home
in her house."
Zuus-way. She's a wonderful
"So are you,
Carole, you're a beautiful woman, a beautiful person.
You deserve much better in life than that ... that what
thought she heard
tenderness trembling in the man's voice. Her
heart shook. "Thank
They sat in
a few minutes. Carole felt an intense
yearning to be closer to the man who sat across from her, but at the
felt shy. She sighed.
go look at your car?"
No, I want to
night with you, Carole thought. I'm
trembling with longing, I want to yield to your passion, to give you my
and my heart. I want to spend the rest
of my life with you! But I still don't
know if you're already taken. Carole
guided her to
the garage with a flashlight, and switched on the garage lights. The Peugeot was parked on the floor,
gleaming with fresh polish. "It's
front end with the flashlight. "It's not
quite the same as it was." The
car now sported an elegant grille, rather than the
streamlined down-swept lines from the Peugeot factory, but to Carole it
as though it harmonized even better with the rest of the car than the
design had. "We had to improvise
on some parts. Here, take a look at the
different, less cluttered. "It
looks almost alive," Carole said.
"Rusty is a
than it ever had, quietly and smoothly, but with the dynamic energy of
racecar. "He thinks it might get
better gas mileage."
drove a few
miles on the highway, then turned around. To
Carole, the car rode like it was soaring. "Did
he put on wings?"
chuckled. "You'll have to pay attention to
speedometer." He turned into a
gravel road, and in a few minutes they were parked in Rose's yard. "I left my pickup here. Rose
might be worried about you." He walked
with Carole to the door. "Would you like
to take a ride
you in the morning." Zuus-way
touched her gently on the cheek, and his light touch left a trail of
her skin, a surge of warmth within her. "No,
Carole, I'm not married. I've been single
for five years. See you tomorrow, you
beautiful, bashful woman." He turned away,
walked a step, stopped. "Ahnishinahbæótjibway
people have always known that the woman is the one who chooses."
until the lights of the pickup truck disappeared, until the chill of
air had cooled the burning glow of her skin.
old clothes; Irene was ironing the pieces flat. "We're
making a blanket," the young woman
explained. "We weren't sure if
you'd be home tonight." She
grinned. "But, there's some supper
in the oven. You ought to get mad more
often--your bread really rose!"
with roast mallard, wild rice stuffing, potatoes and gravy, home-canned
beans, wild cranberry sauce, and a chunk of the bread she had kneaded,
baked a golden brown. Rose handed her a
cup of spicy-smelling herb tea. Carole
ate while the other two women worked and talked and laughed. Waa-bi-gwens was sleeping on the couch.
plate in the sink, and asked Rose what she could do to help them. "You don't need to."
what you said. Thank you."
home here. You look tired, my
drained the events of the day had left her, and lay in bed only a
listening to the other two women working before she slept.
She half-woke when Irene and Waa-bi-gwens
came to bed. "Carole," Irene
whispered. "Zuus-way's a good
man. Go for it!"
Carole in the morning as promised. Carole
had admired the Peugeot again in the early daylight.
"I ought to pay Rusty. It
really is 'better than new.'"
money. He says he's honored to work on
Reverend Sotterthwaite's granddaughter's car." Carole
bit her lip. Zuus-way told her, "He's
still your grandfather."
"He died when
four. I barely remember him."
"Death is a
part of life. Unless we are born,
unless we die, we cannot also live. But
life is also an endless cycle. Your
grandfather lives on in what your father gave you, in what you will
children and grandchildren. His body
and his bones became a part of the earth in England, and that earth
life, that which is living now and that yet to be.
Perhaps you will see him in the next world.
We could take the pickup truck today, some
of the roads are rough."
They had gone along the highway to the West;
Zuus-way showed her where she had been in the ditch.
He had driven into a seeming maze of gravel roads from the
highway, showing Carole pine plantations, aspen groves, and broad
had been cleared.
he said. At one time, this place was
full of pines: white pines 230 feet tall, jack pine, norway pine ...
Popple--aspen--grows when the pines have been cut."
They drove past a small lake, set among
yellow-leafed aspen like a sapphire in beaten gold, into a brush area. "This used to be a cedar swamp, where
the trees grew so thickly it was dark at mid-day. It
was the winter home of the deer." He
looked at Carole. "Ahnishinahbæótjibway
do not clear-cut."
another highway. "That's the road
to Bemidji, south," he said. "You can also
get here from Rose's house just by driving
the main road." He turned
north. Carole saw scattered houses, and
a few battered-looking house trailers. They
turned east onto another two-lane highway, past a
hospital surrounded by barbed-wire fencing, then a large white church. "The Catholic mission," he
said. "Trading post ... Bureau of
Indian Affairs offices ... police station ... school ... "
He pointed with his eyes and his lips as
they passed. Carole saw the big lake
shimmering to the north of the small town.
turned off the
main road toward the lake, down a road looping past nearly
houses and an apartment building. "Government
housing." The road circled back to the
main highway, and Zuus-way
driving east. Several more miles, past
nice-looking houses, dilapidated houses, an abandoned house, then
town. "That's the saw-mill. ... the
community center--most of the cars parked there today belong to people
government handouts of surplus food."
The crossed a
river, dammed to make a lake. "The
fishery," Zuus-way explained as they passed a modern-looking
building. Several miles further east,
the highway wound through some tall pines. "This
land used to be covered with pines," Zuus-way said,
"but now, if you look carefully, you can see the clear-cut behind the
trees." Zuus-way's tone was
conversational, but he seemed to Carole to be almost aloof. She wondered what he had meant by "a
woman chooses." Was he criticizing
her for her 'choice' of David? Telling
her that he was interested? As they
drove, Carole glanced at him more than once, wondering.
turned at an intersection,
and drove several miles on a secondary tarmac road.
He turned off near a river, parked, and handed Carole a
made with the delicious donut-shaped biscuits she had learned were
"fry-bread," and some kind of chopped meat. "It's
more of your moose," he said, and handed her a
thermos and two cups.
and Zuus-way asked her, "What did you see?"
places he had pointed out, described them.
are a good student. What
else did you see?"
four churches, two gas stations, the abandoned Lac Rouge restaurant,
country stores, and a boarded-up "Indian Arts & Crafts"
shop. She told him about the pawnshop,
the volunteer fire department, and the "Roads Garage."
She remembered the large building which
Zuus-way had passed without comment--the one with two signs: one
as the "Lac Rouge Humanities and Natatorium" and other proclaiming it
as the "Tribal Casino."
thought. She told Zuus-way about the
bingo hall, about the complex labeled "Tribal Housing," about the new
cars they had met on the road, and about the old and battered cars. She recounted the children she had seen
playing in the yards and along the road, some of them wearing no
jackets on the
cool day. She talked about the dogs,
gathered almost in conversation; about the yards with several new cars,
and pickup trucks parked in them, about the yards with no cars, and
yards cluttered with junked cars... about the neatly mowed lawns and
with bare empty dirt yards, about the ones filled with trash and piled
beer cans. She told him about the man
staggering drunkenly along the road, and the teenagers walking toward
trading post; about the three graveyards, one with small "houses"
over some of the graves.
visualize the trip they had taken. She
told Zuus-way about the pines close to the highway, and the expanses of
aspen and bare clear-cut places clearly visible only from the back
about piles of trees cut for no apparent reason, piled in windrows.
She told him
sparkling lakes, about the birds she had seen in the woods, about the
lines strung along the highway, about the children riding an
in the ditch, about the bread truck parked at a store and the six
of logs they and seen on the road.
did you not see? Besides
supposed to be
there that wasn't? "The trees that
had been cut down?"
what she had seen of Zuus-way's house, his yard. "Gardens? Barns? Houses
was smiling at her now, enjoying the ...
game? Carole wondered.
lights? Factories? Small
businesses and shops? A
bakery, a chemist, a clothing store? Busses,
trolleys, trains, airplanes? Horses,
cattle, and other livestock? Fences? "Deer, moose,
beavers, bears, eagles .. passenger pigeons? ... lions, tigers, and
laughed. "OK! But
we used to have panthers, lynxes, bobcats, caribou,
buffalo. And there are still a few wolves,
fishers and wolverines living in the deep woods. Shall
I give you a hint? What were the people
that you saw saying?"
"You know I
couldn't hear them."
thought, and tried to remember them
clearly. "They walked almost as if
there was a weight on their shoulders; many of them seemed sad in some
way. There were no groups of people
laughing and talking, like I've seen in Europe, the Middle East and
"A few people
dressed well and there were some expensive-looking cars parked by what
called the B.I.A. There were a few
fancy houses, and those were the only ones that had fenced yards. But most of the people here, are they
her question directly. "In the Ahnishinahbæótjibway
way," he said, "whatever we had was shared. We
had gardens, we made boats and most of the small lakes had mahnomen--you'd
probably call it 'wild rice'--in them. We
had many sugar bushes. There
was plenty of game. We built our houses
to fit our spirits and our families. There
was no government-surplus "commodity" food, no
welfare. No police station--and the
jail is a part of the police station."
thought about the
large white building she had seen on the south side of the road in the
La'rouge, its surrounding walls topped with coils of razor wire. "Oh."
Traditional community where Rose's house, my house, and a few other
is a dream which a few of us are slowly building. What
you have seen today is also a part of the Lac Rouge
reservation, an inescapable part of the present for my people, and so
it is a
part of me. You may want to see it
eating, and drank a second cup of coffee in companionable silence. Zuus-way started his pickup truck. "Would you like to visit my
Lac Rouge, heading north and then back east. They
passed through another small town. As they
drove beyond the town, it seemed to Carole that
this stretch of
land along the northern lakeshore was different, somehow, although
there were government-built houses with old cars in the yards. The trees seemed larger, and few of them
seemed as they drove past, to be almost living, speaking beings. The spirit of the place was palpable. Zuus-way's sister's house was down a gravel
road: a small tarpaper shack nestled in the woods on the south shore of
second vast lake. Lac Rouge du
Nord--Carole remembered seeing it on her map. Zuus-way
stopped the truck in the yard, the simply sat and
waited. A large black dog came around the
the shack, sniffed at the tires of the truck and then lifted his leg
each tire in turn. Carole noticed the
brown cornstalks of a garden, and a white-painted homemade boat. A woman opened the door of the shack, called
something in Ahnishinahbæótjibway, and
motioned for them to
The inside of
was neat and clean: pine-board floor scrubbed nearly white, plastic
water stacked in a corner, a bed covered with a patchwork quilt, a
out of a metal barrel, a wooden table with two benches.
The woman sat on one bench, and motioned to
them both to sit on the other.
bench. It was only about three feet
long; she did not know if she could sit with her body touching Zuus-way
keep from glowing a thousand colors of brilliant red; if she would be
think! The coffee she had been drinking
all morning provided her with a legitimate reason for at least a delay.
But, excuse me, could I use your
her lips at the back door. Zuus-way
said, "There's an outhouse out there."
As Carole was
back from the outhouse to the shack, she heard the woman's voice, "An
Englishwoman? An English
woman? She heard Zuus-way answer in Ahnishinahbæótjibway. Carole purposefully bumped into a metal ash
can near the door before re-entering the shack. A
wooden folding-chair had been set up near the bench where
Zuus-way sat. The woman motioned Carole
to it with her eyes, and offered her a cup of "real Indian tea."
gwitch." Irene had taught her the
word for 'thank you.'
continued their conversation in the Reservation language that had
but was--definitely! Carole thought--not English. Zuus-way's
sister seemed to be considerably older than he was, at
least 40, Carole estimated. She did not
seem unfriendly, but at the same time she did not extend to Carole the
warmth that Rose gave her.
soup." Zuus-way's sister--Carole
had not yet been told her name--indicated an enamel kettle on the
stove. Zuus-way filled a bowl, took a
piece of bread from a bowl covered with a piece of cloth, got a spoon
sideboard, and invited Carole to do the same.
from the bowl of soup: white-cooked eyes staring blankly from the
of some creature. She swallowed
nervously. "Good old fashioned
Indian soup, sucker-heads," the woman told her. Carole
copied the others' way of eating the soup. The
flavor, she decided, was unusual but
good. She did not eat the eyes.
came along today, Carole," Zuus-way said as he stopped the pickup truck
Rose's yard. The daylight was gradually
ebbing from gray to darker gray. He
touched Carole gently, almost shyly, brushing his fingertips against
shoulder. "I may be gone in the
morning, but I'll be home in the afternoon."
house. The short path of his light
touch against her shoulder trembled, sending quivers of warmth through
That bashful girl is home again!" Irene
seemed to be talking to the wringer
washing machine in the corner. "And,
I know she wants him." Irene's
eyes twinkled as she caricatured the reservation Métis' slightly
accent, "Her bloomers would stick to ceiling, and that's just from
looked around the room. Irene was
sitting at the kitchen table, with a saucer of tiny beads in front of
her. She smiled at Carole, genuinely
slightly mischievous. "Grandma's
gone to visit her sister in Rice Lake, and Waa-bi-gwens went with her. She'll be back sometime tomorrow, that's
what she said."
beadwork that lay on the table. Irene
had finished a dangly earring made with tiny beads and porcupine
was working on its mate. A small wooden
handloom held two short pieces of beadwork, an intricate pattern of
leaves. "They're beautiful,
for you. I thought I'd be home alone
Niiji. Have a chair. Pop
and sandwiches are in the 'fridge. Use my
beads if you like, I'll show you
finished a sandwich and popped open a can of Pepsi, she started looking
the shoebox filled with hanks of beads that Irene handed her. She studied the colors, thinking about
vibrant harmony of colors in the quilts she had seen, watching Irene
"What are you
to make, Carole?"
"I don't know
"I think I'll
another pair of earrings. You can watch
if you don't know how."
tied itself into knots, and looped itself around the short lumpy tube
that was meant to be the top of the earring. "When
you make one, it looks so easy!"
"It will come
even if you use beads that are exactly the same size."
her thread, and began to enjoy the meticulous craft.
The young women talked as they beaded, and gradually the
conversation came to Zuus-way. "He
said, 'the woman chooses.' I don't
understand," Carole said.
Waa-bi-gwens was born, I lived near the Base with Big Joe.
In California, in Germany--I saw a lot.
know who we are, we're free human beings, we own ourselves. Anthropologists would say we have a
'matriarchal society,' but as my cousin Zuus-way says, it's 'in
harmony.' We do choose our man, we
always have. It's sensible--women are
the ones who have children. It
surprised me when I realized that most White women don't know who they
almost like they're afraid to be themselves. That's
why Big Joe and I agreed that Waa-bi-gwens should
spend her two
or three of her formative years here, especially since he's on
maneuvers. Her dad comes home every leave
he gets, and
she's growing up with her people--that way, she'll know who she is."
"Were you a
when you married Big Joe? Wouldn't he
lose respect for you?"
No, Grandma watched me pretty close ... and
she approves of Big Joe. When she knew
it was serious between us, she started looking the other way. In the old way, if you stay with each other
past sunrise, it's as good as being married--and a lot more fun than a
ring, I think." Irene's eyes
sparkled. A traditional Ahnishinahbæótjibway
man knows this, and respects you. Maybe
some of the acculturated ones don't." She
looked meaningfully at Carole. "Zuus-way's
a traditional Ahnishinahbæótjibway
man, one of the best."
"But you got
married in a church, didn't you?"
"We got a
from the courthouse, and Zuus-way signed for us. The
County didn't accept that for years, but they've started
to. We got the papers because of the
to the Air Force. Big Joe was stationed
"somewhere in the Middle East--they don't tell us where
exactly." Carole told Irene about
filming the digs in Israel, and the women talked about what it was like
there. Then, they talked some more
Carole took a
breath. "Irene, I didn't see a
chemist anyplace we went today, and I think Zuus-way took me all over
There's a chemistry department at the
University in Bemidji."
blushed bright red. "What I meant was, uh
took another deep breath, "a store to buy, uh, pro ... uh...
You don't really need them with Zuus-we,
he's always been careful and I'm sure he doesn't have AIDS or anything
that. He's been waiting for someone
like you; he hasn't been with any women in over a year, I'm pretty sure. And, I've seen him looking at you, Carole,
like he's hoping you're just full of babies. He
really loves you--I've never seen him act like he is
now. But, if you feel better using
at first, mmm, there isn't any place to buy them on the Reservation. They give them away at the hospital, but if
I went up there and got some for you, somebody would start some gossip,
to make trouble for Big Joe and me. And,
you probably don't want to be asking at the Hospital
yourself. There's a drugstore in
Clearbrook, you could
probably buy some there. ... My cousin Susie will let me borrow her car. I'll take you in the morning."
"I've got a
car. The way Zuus-way's Uncle Rusty
fixed it up, it's beautiful."
"I know. It's
an expensive car with English license
plates. Susie won't mind loaning me
hers. I don't have to tell her what you
need to get."
"You and your
grandmother, so many people around here, have done so much for me
"It's in the
beading one of the strips of loom-work to a barrette, and started on
one. Carole was still working on the
earring, and held it out to look at it. "It
looks nice, Carole. The
colors you used look ace together." Carole
added another porcupine quill.
"I don't know
many children your grandmother has."
three. Her oldest son, he's the one who
died with my grandpa on the Big Lake. Twenty-one
years ago tomorrow. Grandma likes to go
see her sister this time of year. He
married a woman from Granite Falls,
Michelle Black Horse was her maiden name. She
was a Dakota Métis, mostly White... but she was
a good woman, and I
think it did something to her when her husband died.
She was pregnant when it happened, and they already had an
daughter. Carole, that's her younger
daughter, was born in Minneapolis. Grandma
wanted them to stay here with her, but Michelle
might be hard on Grandma. I don't know
what happened in Minneapolis--the last time anybody around here saw
almost fifteen years ago. Michelle,
that's my Auntie, came to visit then, and said she was going out west
someplace, maybe Montana. She might
have gotten married again.
her husband really did something to her, and then she got worse after
was born, sometimes walking around like she was looking for somebody. Carole seemed pretty lonely, too, even when
she was only five. Maybe it was because
of the way the Big Lake took my uncle and my grandpa.
They'd set nets, then a big storm came up that night. 'Leave the nets, we can get more,' that's
what Grandma said, but Grandpa thought the freeze-up was coming early
year. There was already ice on the
edges of the lake, and they took the boat out anyway.
They never found them. That's
what Grandma said.
ma. My dad's from White Earth, and they
have a house over there. Grandma raised
me, that's the old way, and I've got two younger brothers in White
Earth. I go up there to visit sometimes. Zuus-way's mother was from White Earth,
too--that's how we're related: his mother was my father's cousin,
cousin, really. She died when he was
just a little guy. You're a lucky
woman, Carole--Zuus-way's one of the best guys around.
When I was younger, I used to wish I wasn't
related to him, ho-wah! but I'm happy with Big Joe, he's even nicer,
anyway, because being the wife of a man like Zuus-way... he's got some
responsibilities keeping this community going."
get another can of Pepsi from the refrigerator. "Want
I don't know if I'll ever get anybody's
relatives straight! There seem to be so
many of them."
"Each of us
have thousands of relatives. There are
old people who know a lot of our peoples' genealogy, but I don't think
knows it all anymore. A lot of people,
even some from here, I know I'm related to them, but I don't know
how. Then, there are the people who
were adopted out--there was a lot of that until just a few years ago,
sometimes those people come around here, looking for their roots,
find out who they are. Some of them are
pretty pitiful. The adoption agencies
and their White families don't tell them anything.
They're lost people; they have a tough time making it in
White world because they get defined as 'Indians,' and some of them act
Hollywood movie, trying to be a Real Indian. They
don't know what it means to be Ahnishinahbæótjibway
but thoughts tumbled through her head. "Adopted
people are pitiful?" she asked.
No, of course not. There
are different kinds of adoption, and some of the people
raised by Whites, in what amounts to being molded into the White
Indians--some of those people, I really feel sad for them.
Big Joe, his folks died but he was raised by
his," she grinned at Carole, "you'd say 'second cousin once
removed.' He knows who he is, he knows
who his relatives are, and he isn't trying to be anybody else's ideas
of who he
should be. There's nothing 'pitiful'
about him." Irene tied the thread
on the second barrette, which she had just finished beading. "Let me comb your hair for you,
reflection in the small hand-mirror Irene handed her.
Her permanent had started to grow out in the month--not
month, yet! she thought--that she had been in the States.
Her hair was combed back into the barrettes,
and the long earrings dangled nearly to her shoulders.
Irene had given Carole a blouse "to
match the earrings," a delicately patterned turquoise calico
by satin ribbons appliquéd across the shoulders.
wide-brimmed hats had sat on the shelf at the top of Rose's closet
first day on the Reservation; her sunscreen languished unused in the
her cosmetic bag. Carole enjoyed the
newfound pleasure of the wind stroking her hair, the warm sunlight
her clean-scrubbed skin in the often cool autumn air.
As she gazed at her reflection in the hand-mirror, Carole
surprised to see how deeply the sun had touched her with a warm golden
"I must have
making that shirt for you," Irene said delightedly.
"Ho-wah! You look Ace." Irene
studied the young Englishwoman. "You could
almost 'pass' for one of us!"
glistened off the autumn leaves as Irene and Carole drove to Clearbrook. Past the Reservation boundary, Carole saw
some farms set in a mosaic of woods and fields, cattle and a few
cornfields, the deep brown of fresh-plowed earth, the surprising green
car expertly. "A good Indian
car," she told Carole, summarizing the old Chevy sedan of nearly
indeterminate color; the car had Lac Rouge license plates.
As they drove across the farmland, another
car with Reservation plates passed going in the other direction; the
filled that car nearly to bursting waved and glanced curiously at
Carole. "They'll be wondering who's the
'Shi-nabbe' in town," Irene told Carole happily. Carole
had worn the earrings and barrettes, but wondered if
simple jewelry could change the way she looked by much.
in front of
the drugstore in the small town. "The
Chemist, ma'am," she said. "I
can wait for you in the car."
into the store, walked through the aisles hoping that she would not
have to go
to the older male pharmacist to ask for the "condoms" Irene had told
her to ask for. Ah! There
was a discreet display toward the back
of the store. Carole selected a brand
at random, and walked slowly back toward the front of the store,
she should buy something else so her sole purchase wouldn't seem so
obvious. Carole contemplated the
veterinary supplies, the cosmetics, the vitamins, the knick-knacks, and
thought about Irene waiting in the car. At
the least the cashier is a woman, she thought, and went
to pay for her
single purchase. The gray-haired woman
put the package of condoms in a small paper bag. "Have
a nice day, now," she said, giving Carole a
friendly, conspiratorial wink.
As she walked
the car, Carole noticed a restaurant on the corner.
"I'll buy us lunch," she told Irene. The
restaurant was new and spacious, filled
with light from big windows giving a view of the street.
Several of the tables were filled with
farmers drinking coffee and discussing harvest-time crop prices, the
and the upcoming hunting season. Carole
heard snatches of their conversation as she followed Irene to a table
the back of the restaurant.
and watched the easygoing pace of Clearbrook's main street as they ate
hamburgers and fries. A plump young
blonde woman got out of a new pickup truck, and walked into the grocery
across the street carrying her baby. A
pickup truck full of baled hay went by. A
towheaded young boy rode his bicycle down the sidewalk;
the sun gleaming through his flying hair. A
maroon State Highway Patrol car cruised down the street,
around at the end of the block and came back toward the restaurant. They parked next to Irene's borrowed car,
Carole noticed, as she watched the two men enter the restaurant and
empty table near where Carole and Irene were sitting, and ordered
coffee. Carole looked down at her
she could feel the blue eyes of the older patrolman staring at her. Irene quickly drank the rest of her
coffee. "Let's go," she said.
county road that led back to the Reservation. "This
is still Ahnishinahbæótjibway
she told Carole. "All the way to
Thief River Falls. We never sold it,
and anyway it was never paid for."
Rose had not
returned from Rice Lake, Irene observed as they drove into the yard. "See, there aren't any new tracks in
the gravel. She'll be back sometime
today, though. We'll probably go to
her hair, and wondered what to wear. It's
odd what a person knows before they see it, she
thought as she
unpacked lacy French silk panties and bra; she had bought them two
earlier in anticipation of her honeymoon, and had tucked them into a
her suitcase the day before she left Devonshire. Carole
dressed carefully, tingling with anticipation as she put
on the silky black lingerie, then the cream-colored linen slacks and
rose-colored silk blouse she had finally decided on.
She folded plainer clean underwear, jeans, a wool shirt,
sports shoes wrapped in a plastic bag, and after a moment's hesitation,
shirt Irene had given her, into an overnight bag she planned to leave
going to be with Zuus-way, she thought. She
combed her hair, examined her reflection wearing the
barrettes and earrings, and decided their brilliant colors did not fit
more subdued rose color of her blouse. She
put the beadwork jewelry in her purse, combed her hair
tried a small pair of gold earrings. Although
women she knew did
not wear cosmetics, she applied a touch of lip-gloss, and the barest
perfume. She slipped her feet into
beige loafers--gravel roads and high heels just did not go together,
thought with amusement.
lovely!" Irene's eyes were shining
with excitement as Carole entered the kitchen; they laughed together as
did a model's step and turn. "Have
a cup of coffee with me before you go. I'm
so glad for youse--I just know you two were made for
The two young
drank their coffee quietly. Carole
vacillated between nervousness and tingling anticipation, her cheeks
flushed with excitement and her dark brown eyes were sparkling. She checked her purse again: yes, the small
paper bag was still there. So was the
turquoise and silver bracelet she had bought in Mexico.
"I want to give this to you, Irene. I
don't know if I would have the courage to
do what my heart tells me is right, what I want to do, without you,
bracelet on her wrist and admired it. "Mee
gwitch. Sure, you
would have. You're just being bashful. Now go on, my woman-cousin, he's waiting for
you." The way that Irene said
"woman," Carole felt strong, tall and proud, radiantly beautiful.
The engine of
Peugeot purred with power. Carole drove
to Zuus-way's house.
was parked in his yard, but he did not answer his door.
Carole twisted the strap of her purse
nervously, and started to feel scared. Then
he heard his voice call from behind the barn. "Aniin,
was trembling as he walked around the
corner of the outbuilding, carrying a hammer and pliers, and a roll of
wire. He was dressed in blue jeans and
a blue plaid flannel shirt, taller than ever in cowboy boots. A beaded leather pouch hung from his
belt. Carole could feel her whole body
responding to his vibrant masculinity, watching him walk toward his
He smiled at
sparkling dark brown eyes met Carole's and her heart glowed. "We'll have a dairy cow next
sprig," he told her, flicking his eyes toward the roll of wire he
carried. "Take a walk with me? You haven't seen the rest of our place,
her as he spent the afternoon showing Carole the barn, empty but
ready for horses, and a little cow." He
showed her his wood-shop, the wind-generator he was
small orchard. He talked in a
conversational tone to her about the garden, showed her the
chicken coop, the full root cellar, the solar-electric panels on the
of the house. He explained the
heat-storage system of the solar greenhouse, and Carole looked in
wonder at the
two orchid plants blooming above the tomatoes and salad vegetables.
talked, Carole could feel a rising interplay of feeling between them. She was sincerely interested, fascinated, by
the careful artisanship and ingenious engineering that Zuus-way had put
his buildings; deeply impressed by his conviction and his wisdom as he
explained his dreams for "the People." At
the same time, his voice was caressing her, stroking the erect
nipples of her breasts into mounds of fire, tantalizing her, awakening
an intense awareness of her womanhood.
explanations of the
care and feeding of a "little Jersey" dairy cow, the circuitry of his
solar-electric systems were, Carole realized, also a passionate
love-song. In the nuances of his deep
in the electricity of the crystalline air between them, in harmony with
sparkling sun that warmed them and the gentle earth they walked on, he
singing to her, wooing her, keening her to an intense awareness of
around her and within her.
side, but not yet touching physically, to a grassy hillock overlooking
Lake. Zuus-way took a small wooden
flute from his beaded leather pouch, and spoke quietly, "this is not
really a traditional Ahnishinahbæótjibway
instrument, but I
like the sound of it. I live both the
old and the new, and try to find a balance." As
the cool breeze stirred her hair, as the late afternoon sum
shimmered on the water and danced among the translucent red and gold
the earth and the sky embraced them, Zuus-way began to play the flute. The tones of the instrument were clear and
harmonious; the song seemed to Carole to be both ancient and newly
born, to be
one with eternity but wafting on nascent moments. The
song soared on the air, embraced her, chronicled his love for
her. Birds in the woods accompanied the
melody of the man. The song began as a
small green bud, burst into full flower. "I
have dreamed of you," the music told her heart. "You
are here, and I am yours to choose." Carole's
heart answered, her spirit
answered, the core of her very being answered, "Yes!
Yes! I am here and I choose
you, I love you! Yes!"
continued, tender, passionate. Zuus-way
told her with flute song that he gave her that which he had dreamed,
them together. Her promised her that
which was his to give her forever. Then,
the flute sang for both the man and the woman,
birth of their love, the miracle that man and woman were two yet one,
complimentary nature and in harmony a greater being.
The song brought forth their dreams, told of their
children to be
born and raised, their grandchildren and great-grandchildren; embraced
the eternal circle of life. The song
celebrated to Carole her one-ness with the man standing near her, their
one-ness together with all the harmony of life of Grandmother Earth,
that would fill their lives, the love that could be theirs beyond their
and into the mystery of the world beyond death. "This
is the dream," the song told Carole. "This
is the mystery, the beauty, the
reality. This is the gift we will share
forever, this is love."
blazed with the
brilliant colors of the sunset, and echoed in that sunset were the
the eternity around them, part of them. And,
the song completed its circle. "I have
dreamed of you," Zuus-way sang to Carole with his
flute. "I am here and I am yours
for the choosing."
returned to the leather pouch. An eagle
soared through the evening sky and circled them. The
man and the woman stood side by side, in the cool evening,
waiting. As Carole stood by the
aboriginal man in the deepening dusk, on the earth of his peoples'
she knew the certainty of her heart. "Shall
we go to our house," she said to him.
"We go, then,
together." Carole and Zuus-way
walked to their round log house, entering through the southern door. He turned on the lights, and walked to the
fireplace at the center of the room.
was empty; he
had removed the ashes from the grate and the stonework beneath it. There was a basket containing birchbark, a
box of kindling and another box of wood near the fireplace. He began laying birchbark on the grate, and
motioned for Carole to help him. Together
they placed the kindling, then larger pieces of
wood. He handed Carole a kitchen match,
lit the fire.
the edges of the birchbark, then blazed comfortably.
Zuus-way placed some herbs on the copper top of the
and the smoke of a sweet woodsy incense perfumed the air.
He suggested to Carole that she sit on the
bear-rug that he had placed near the fire, and went into the kitchen.
of venison, fish, partridge, potatoes, baked beans, two wooden plates,
smaller bowl of maple sugar, a pot of steaming herbal tea; birchbark
wild rice, cornbread, squash, and blueberries. They
filled their plates with this feast, and Zuus-way
handed Carole a
carved wooden spoon and a miniature birchbark plate.
The man and the woman put a small portion of each kind of
the birchbark plate. Zuus-way added a
pinch of tobacco from a small beaded pouch, then handed the pouch to
she could do the same. He then placed
the birchbark plate in the fire, saying a few words in his language.
eat!" he told
Carole. The feast was delicious. Carole was intensely aware of everything
her: the circle of the house encompassing them in warmth with the
at the center, the tastes, aromas and textures of the food they ate
and of the Ahnishinahbæótjibway land
around them of which the
food was a part, of the intensity of the love between herself and
the feelings deep within her body, of her heating anticipation of the
come. A full moon had risen: the
silvery light danced on the water of
the lake and the moonbeams through an eastern window harmonized with
glow of the house' slights and the flickering of the fire.
They sat near
on the bearskin rug, drinking their tea after their meal, sharing a
serene but vibrant intimacy highlighted by their conversation. At the same time, the air between and around
them was electric with sensual anticipation. Zuus-way
filled a small stone-bowled pipe. "Tobacco
and kinni-kinnik," he explained to
Carole. He lit the pipe, and then
offered it with respectful familiarity to the spirits of his harmonious
reality. He smoked for a few moments,
then with a slight gesture indicated that Carole was invited but not
to smoke the pipe with him.
evening with Rose about the meaning of the pipe, and she trusted
Zuus-way. She accepted the pipe he offered
her. As she smoked with her man, she once
became aware of her deep and personal connection with the vast
harmonies of the
universe, this time even more intensely than she had been during the
the Big Lake. She felt her spirit in
intimate contact with Zuus-way's; she felt him with her as she glimpsed
mysteries of Being. She began to
understand what Rose meant when she said that "Our religion is not
The pipe had
smoked. Zuus-way looked at Carole, and
what he said with his eyes, tenderly, lovingly, passionately, was
words. Then, he spoke.
"Carole," he said, his voice
filled with emotion, "The seed of a child is ripe within you tonight. Your woman-scent is replete with your
like the perfume of a flower or the autumn scent of a doe.
Without protection, we will have a
baby. I would like that very much, to
have children, to raise them, with you. But,
I also understand that many things have happened for
you in a very
short time. You may not be ready,
yet--and the woman is the one whose body carries the baby, nourishes
child. I hope to be with you for the
rest of my life. There is plenty of
time to wait if that is what you would like to do.
I do not have any disease, and neither do you, so it is up
whether or not to use those, uh, 'pajoggin suits' you brought with
you." Zuus-way then picked up the
dishes from their meal, and carrying them into the kitchen, left Carole
her own feelings clearly.
never had a
blood transfusion, had never used hard drugs, she was a virgin, so I
AIDS, she thought. She believed what
Irene had told her, what Zuus-way told her, that he had no disease to
her. She could feel the storms of
anticipated passion within her, but she had been thinking about having
with Zuus-way even before she had talked to Irene about getting the
condoms. Living in the same household
as Waa-bi-gwens had intensified her yearning for children of her own;
the child with her mother and grandmother had given her some insight
value and appreciation of children in traditional Ahnishinahbæótjibway
herself, even before her trip to Clearbrook to buy condoms, that she
have children with Zuus-way; the purchase had been a statement of her
to make live with him more than anything else, she decided. Was tonight too early, would a child nine
months from now be too soon? Zuus-way
had told her his feelings, and that he respected her own.
'The woman's right to choose,' he had
said. She glanced toward the man--he
was still in the kitchen, giving her privacy to make her own decision
his preference influencing her. He had
warned her, in his way, that her body, like a doe in heat, had an
its own. In her mind, in her heart, was
she ready to make an irrevocable commitment to a child to be born, to
father, to this land? She understood
the reasons, as she was looking within herself to reaffirm her
Zuus-way had shown her the Reservation in the way that he had, helping
see for herself that the life of his people in this small fragment of
once-vast nation was not an easy one. Was
she ready to bring a child into this life, to commit
it? With Zuus-way, yes!
She knew that she had decided nearly as soon
as she had met him, and was now, with his affirmation, certain that her
was right. She looked toward the
kitchen again. Zuus-way was walking
back toward the center of the house, walking toward her.
rubbed her palm gently with his thumb. Waves
of ecstasy surged through her, and she felt moist
anticipation deep within her body. They
looked into each other’s eyes, and for Carole there was nothing else in
world but this moment, the passion yearning within her, the trembling
anticipation of the two of them together. He
glanced meaningfully toward her purse, "Are you sure
don't want the condoms?" he asked.
love you. I am yours
forever. I am ready for our
children." Her voice trembled with
passion. "Yes, Zuus-way,
"Then I am
too, woman." He kissed her
tenderly, gently, and Carole felt her bones tremble, melt with desire. "I love you, Carole," he said
quietly, and she could see the profound feeling in the infinite depths
They stood by
and the velvet darkness of the house was lit by the dance of flickering
firelight and the cool serene streams of silver moonlight.
Zuus-way kissed her again, and Carole could
feel the tempestuous heat of his passion, tempered by his gentleness,
live and his understanding of her own inexperience.
Slowly, he undressed her, caressing her, cherishing her,
every atom of her body to her own passion beneath his powerful fingers. He unhooked her lacy black silk bra, and
with loving fingers stroked her breasts into pulsating mounds of fire. He bent down and kissed a nipple gently, and
Carole felt waves of tumult wash through her, surging in harmony to the
she felt for the man, leaving a phosphorescent wake of burning desire. Her hands trembled with the palpable
electricity between them as she unbuttoned his shirt ... unfastened his
lay on the
bed together, he caressing her and then she at first shyly touching
stroking him with fierce passionate joy. The
heady perfume of his sweet masculinity blended with
the clean sunshine
scent of the sheets, the incense of the birch and pine-wood, and the
his kinni-kinnik. The moonlight and
firelight embraced them in the soft darkness of the night, and the
of the wind in the trees, the sounds of the hearth-fire, the gently
of the lake and the night-sounds of the living forest surrounded them
quiet symphony. With joyful curiosity,
Carole's fingers gently explored the powerful thrust of Zuus-way's
as he trembled in anticipation beneath her hands, her first tentative
were transformed into fierce desire.
He dipped his
into the tumultuous moistness between her legs, and with an artist's
heightened her desire, their passionate love weaving a profound bond
them, until her craving for union with his man pounded within her with
urgency of a thunderstorm. "Now,
Zuus-way, now! I love you... make love
to me ... Zuus-way!"
her with a
gentle power, slowly, tenderly, pressing against her hymen with
rhythm, until it was she who, with an upward thrust of her hips, ripped
maidenhead against the potency of his manhood, the momentary pain
by desire into a counterpoint of harmony, a flash of lightening in the
all-encompassing intensity of their coupling. He
remained nearly motionless within her, the fervent
potential of his
virility subtly caressing her heated depths, and then in a harmony of
desire, they moved together to the brinks of climax, plateaus of
then spiraled upward again, soaring in passion which ignited every
body and soul, bonding them in profound intimacy, linking them in
pleasure with the male and female essence of every atom in the
burning with ecstasy. The moon had
reached the zenith when they could restrain themselves no longer, and
euphoric mysteries of climax met them, pulsing the vibrancy of life,
of their bodies joining as their spirits melded in incandescent
their hearts and souls touched, and Carole was certain that Zuus-way
with her in the certainty of new life, their child begun within her.
together in the
limpid afterglow, snuggled together in the clean sheets and soft furs
Zuus-way's bed as the hearth-fire burned to embers and the fire between
quietened into a profound tenderness, the deep satiation of the moment
confidence that they would share a lifetime of such passion. Before she drifted off into deeply fulfilled
sleep, Carole remembered a Maya vase she had seen in a museum, pottery
celebrating the coupling of man and woman, and drowsily thought that
understood the sacredness of that piece of art, cuddling closer to
Zuus-way. "I love you,
Carole," he said sleepily, and hugged her to him.
As the first
dawn reflected across the lake, Carole wakened and kissed the
man next to her. Smiling, he awoke, and
as the wisps of cloud high in the late September sky turned pink and
golden, as the sun rose across the lake, they made love again, gently,
passionately, in joyful exploration of the love that they knew would
grow for a
showered together, laughing as they soaped each other's backs, tenderly
each other with warm water, glorying in their bodies as revealed by the
early-morning. They dried each other
with thick fluffy towels from Zuus-way's cedar-lined linen cabinet, and
together, caressing with rising passion, in front of the big mirrors
had installed above the sink. Carole
marveled at Zuus-way's manhood erect against her side, and impulsively
down to kiss the tip peeking from his tautly stretched hood of
trembled in response and she felt her newly awakened womanhood
surging moisture, the heat of her desire yearning toward him.
onto the counter, and she drew him gently toward her with her legs
lightly around his slender buttocks, until the silk-smooth head of his
rested, throbbing eagerly, against the hot moistness of her portal. Zuus-way stood there, touching her with
sensitive longing promise of passion, caressing her body with strong
hands, leaving searing lip-prints of kisses from her ear-lobe, down her
to her breasts. Carole groaned in
ecstasy, "Oooh, Zuus-way," and he sealed her lips with a delicate
kiss. "Shh. You'll
wake the baby."
with love for Zuus-way and for their newly-conceived child nestled
depths of her womb; she arched with unmitigated pleasure toward his
he painted streams of desire along her spine, across her breasts, and
belly. He leaned toward her to kiss her
neck, and she turned her head to accommodate him, glimpsing him in the
mirrors. She watched him with rising
fervor, and the reflections of their eyes met.
remained still, the tip of his turgid manhood bathed with the hot,
of her love, craving union but savoring their rising anticipation. They made love with their eyes, cherishing,
adoring, treasuring their intimacy ...
this book should be finished and published?