Part 7

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PART SEVEN:

Silver Eagle Feather

DESPITE WHAT THE native had said...the trek back to his camp seemed to take forever.

Charmian supposed it was merely the layout of the Island.  Nothing was simply flat or inclining.  It alternated.  Just as soon as she'd gotten used to walking, they had to climb up.  Then they had to climb down.  Then they had to go around something.  It seemed the woods was just full of twisted roots and rocks and numerous things to trip over.  And trip she did, several times; while Drake somehow always managed to skip and land on his feet, Charmian kept landing on her face.  By the time the three of them exited the trees and came into a smallish clearing, she was coated with dirt and had more than a few scrapes on her arms and knees.  Not to mention an ugly scowl on her face.

"We're here!" Drake said cheerily.  Stick-In-The-Dirt held up his hand, but not to silence Drake.  Charmian noticed that as soon as they entered the camp their arrival had been noticed.  Natives began appearing out of small rounded buildings--wigwams was the only word Charmian could think of--staring curiously in their direction.  There wasn't a hostile face among them, though a few appeared to be suspicious.

Well...I can't blame them.

"Welcome back," one of them, a brave from the looks of it, said, approaching.  He wore two upright feathers on his head as well, but they were paired together, not separated to resemble rabbit's ears as they were on Stick-In-The-Dirt.  A small piece of horn hung on a leather strand around his neck.  He cast a look at Charmian and Drake but didn't speak to them directly.

"I'm sorry it took me so long," Stick-In-The-Dirt replied, wiping his brow.  "They showed up on a different part of the beach, not where they usually do.  I couldn't see them at first so I had to listen for the sound of their voice."

"Are they lost or do they come here with a purpose?"  The brave looked at them again and frowned a little.  "They appear to be lost..."

"They say they were sent here.  On word of another.  They have a mission."  When the brave looked surprised Stick-In-The-Dirt waved it off.  "They would not tell me more.  They wish to speak with Francois--"

"The Frenchman is not here right now.  I believe he's off making sketches again."

"--or perhaps Silver Eagle Feather.  Is Silver Eagle Feather in the camp today?"

The brave fell silent and this time stared at the two teenagers outright.  Charmian felt like squirming.  Stick-In-The-Dirt turned to her and offered a reassuring smile.

"No fear.  Silver Eagle Feather is Black Elk Horn's wife.  Of course he is concerned when strangers should ask to speak with her."  He turned back to the brave--Black Elk Horn, Charmian assumed his name was.

"I trust their mission is important, Elk.  They're young so I doubt they would have come here on their own unless sent by someone."

"Sent by who?"

"This they would not say.  They prefer to speak with Silver Eagle Feather."  He craned his neck, searching the camp, which had become crowded with the various natives peering at the newcomers.  "Is she here?  I've told them she can tell them more that they need to know--ah, here she is, right on time, as always."

Both Charmian and Drake were the ones to crane their necks this time.  The crowd of natives parted to allow one of their number to come through.  As the approaching woman came up close and stopped before them, Charmian and Drake had their first look at Silver Eagle Feather.

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