Part 13

13 0 0

PART THIRTEEN:

Sugar Loaf

CHARMIAN, DRAKE, AND the others glanced down toward the trees as a new racket commenced.  Drake actually started to creep back behind Charmian when she slapped his arm and moved away.  Whatever it was, it couldn't be any worse than anything else they'd had to deal with today.

Still, she kept her hands fisted and her feet ready to flee, in case one of those antlered monstrosities appeared yet again.  She'd seen what they could do to a creature as big as X; they could make mincemeat out of her.

The crashing noises grew closer and louder until a form emerged from the treeline and...Charmian could have sworn there was a collective letting out of breath.  It was a human who stepped out, and not a native; he was well dressed, if somewhat archaically, in a brown suit and hat, and as soon as he saw them, his eyes grew big and he waved a hand at them.

"OH!" he shouted.  "There you are, stay put, right there, I'm coming up right now!"

The others watched as he hurried forward.  Tal Natha cocked his head and frowned just slightly, a look of canine puzzlement.  The well-dressed man made it partway up the incline before tripping on a rock and falling forward, right on his face with a loud "Oof!"  A small case he'd been carrying fell to the grass and popped open, papers flying everywhere.

Silver Eagle Feather smiled and Red Bird tried not to giggle.  Drake goggled.  Charmian had to hide her grin; she had sudden visions of Drake almost falling flat on the pavement back home.

The man quickly pushed himself up, dusting himself off and gathering the papers as best he could with a little cough.  "Sorry about that--stupid Island--I swear this place is set up to murder me sometimes--"  Stuffing the papers in the case haphazardly, he continued up the slope, now extending a hand their way, babbling in a slight English accent.  "Good to see you, good to see you, I was starting to think I was hearing things but it looks like I was right after all, I hope the day finds you well and none of you are in any serious trouble, as that just means more--"

He froze, suddenly noticing Tal Natha staring back at him.  His face, already too pale, went even paler.  His eyes grew to the size of marbles and he started stammering.  "Huh--huh--huh--"

Another halloo came from the woods, but just the smallest rustling sound.  Another man came out from the trees and looked up at them.  This one was also white, but not dressed so well as the first; he seemed to be all in leather and furs, a rifle slung over one shoulder, and he didn't make so much noise or trip when he came their way.  On his way up the slope he took the other man's arm and pulled him along, smiling up at the others.

"Bonjour," he said.

Silver Eagle Feather's smile was just as wide as his.  "Hello, Francois.  You have good timing."

"Actually, it was Alexander this time.  He heard all the racket even before I did.  I must be distracted today."  He tipped his fur hat at the others.  "Good day, Miss Red Bird, Lord Dreamspinner, and you two--?"

"This is Charmian and Drake," Silver Eagle Feather said.  "They come from the mainland."

"Ah.  My kind."  He finally reached them and took Charmian's hand.  She almost expected him to kiss it, but he bowed his head instead, tipping his hat again.  "I hope you find the Island as pleasant as I do."

"Sort of."  Despite her hesitation Charmian couldn't help smiling.

"Are you Francois, the one they keep telling us about?" Drake cut in.

Manitou IslandRead this story for FREE!