Part 3

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The Story Of An Island

CHARMIAN STOOD STARING at Miss Anne for a long while, speechless, before realizing that her voice was working again.  She coughed slightly, clearing her throat, just in case it decided to give out on her again.

"S...story?" she stammered, and hated that she did so.

Miss Anne tilted her head just a bit, as if indicating the picture.  "Behind that.  The picture you hold.  Everything has a story.  That picture has a most intriguing one."

"Really?"  Drake this time; once again, Charmian had forgotten he was even there.  What was it about him that made him so forgettable when he was so annoying?  He took the picture from Charmian's hands and held it out at Miss Anne, as if he were a policeman showing her a composite drawing.  "How's it go?  What do you know about her?  Who is she, anyway?"

Miss Anne smiled slightly.  "Please, bring those stools over here and make yourselves a bit more comfortable.  I'm afraid they're not that much to sit on, but it's better than standing all day."

The two teenagers did so, dusting the seats off and sitting down while Miss Anne sat on an old chair near the corner of the room.  There was hardly any space for sitting, and Charmian assumed the stools must be meant for reaching the higher shelves.  As soon as they sat down all three of them fell silent, and the only thing Charmian could hear for several moments was the faint humming of some machine far back in the store.  She'd never noticed the sound before, but then again, she'd never heard the store so quiet as this.  She supposed it was the anticipation.

Anticipation--?  She also suddenly realized just how interested she was in learning about the mysterious red-haired girl.  Why should a mere photograph pique her interest so much?  Didn't she have better things to do than spend her time pondering over old pictures?  Still, she had to know.  She told the practical part of her mind to shut up for once and sat forward on the stool, waiting for Miss Anne to begin.

The woman started out by nodding at the picture again.  "That girl there is an Indian.  Native American.  That is a very old photo, from the late 1800's, yet she lived even before that time."

"Huh?"  This from Drake.  Though at the exact same moment he'd said it, Charmian herself had been thinking, Huh?

"It's rather difficult to explain," Miss Anne replied.  "That young woman and her...tribe...they lived in the 1700's, from what I know.  This photo however must have been taken in the 1800's, as there were no cameras before then, not that I know of.  Plus there is a date scribbled on the back, under the frame; I believe it's post-Civil War."  She folded her hands on her lap; the sunlight shining through one small high window cast orange and yellow patterns across her dress and the floor, as if some of the autumn leaves had been spilled at her feet.  "But the person who took the photo gave it to its previous owner in the 1900's.  Less than a decade ago, in fact."

"Huh?"  Charmian this time.  She was beginning to think Miss Anne had gone completely nuts.

"Ma'am, that doesn't make any sense," Drake elucidated.  "I mean, that would mean it had to have been taken in, like, three different centuries...and...well, that's not possible, is it?  I mean, unless you mean something else, I'm confused..."

"No, I mean exactly what I said."  Miss Anne cleared her throat.  "Perhaps I'm getting ahead of myself.  I'll begin from the beginning, at least, what I know of it."  She glanced up at the window as she began to speak.

"The young woman in that photo is named Red Bird.  I've already told you she's a native.  She comes from an island--you both know it as Mackinac Island, but for her it has a different name."

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