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trouble

Summer in Paradise

(Montana Territory – 1876)

Bren, growing up in 16th century Tudor, England, knew what hard work and poverty were all about. Many times in the winter months she and her father could barely feed themselves or keep warm. Yet, in the Lakota tribe, though people were busy (especially the women), there always seemed to be enough.

At first, Bren did not like the jerky made out of buffalo, elk, and deer. However, soon she developed a taste for the chewy food. One day, Wichapi persuaded her brother to take her and Bren to see a buffalo hunt.

Early in the morning, Wichapi shook Bren, saying, ” Key kta yea!” to Bren before the sun rose over the hills. The chill of the air made it difficult for Brenzel to leave the sturdy warmth of her buffalo blanket. “No, no, Chapi,” (Bren’s nickname for her new friend), “just a little longer, please.”

Wichapi, clearly annoyed, said, “The day and the braves wait for no one, you must get up or you will miss the hunt!”

“Oh, okay. . .you’re so mean,” Bren said as her skin shrunk in various places, turning into goosebumps as she stood up to slip on her buckskin dress.

Chaska

In the morning sun on this early summer’s day, she felt refreshed by the night’s sleep, and her buckskin dress was surprisingly warm. Chaska, Wichapi’s brother, met them by the ponies and greeted his sister enthusiastically, clearly excited about the hunt. Tall, lean, and muscular, Chaska was every inch the picture of a Lakota man in his prime. Even at this age, other men naturally allowed him to assume leadership. One of the tribe’s best hunters, he regularly fell the great Tatanka for his people.

“You and your new friend take the pack horses,” he said, pointing to the ponies hobbled in the meadow. “Be ready when we go,” then turned and walked away.

Bren, frowning said, “Wichapi, I don’t think your brother likes me.”

“Why do you say that?” Wichapi asked as she caught one of the horses.

“Well, he never speaks to me at all,” Bren replied.

“Oh, that is just his way. Besides, he is afraid of you,” Wichapi finished as she gave Bren one of the braided ropes to lead a waiting appaloosa.

Raised eyebrows

Then, with a slightly mischievous smile, Wichapi continued, “Don’t ever tell him I said this, but he thinks you are beautiful. I think he wants to make you his wife.”

“What? What do you mean?” Bren sputtered incredulously. Wichapi just looked at Bren with raised eyebrows, as Bren suddenly understood, “So, that is why he doesn’t speak to me?”

“Well, yes, and also the fact that some think you are the White Buffalo-Calf woman.”

“Oh, I see…” Bren said, remembering how his leg muscles rippled as Chaska walked away that morning.

Quiet

(Vatican City – 1647)

An old man walked slowly down the cold stone abbey, heading for the lighted stairs at the end of the hall. Gently, with the utmost care, he placed his foot on the first step, testing it for sound. Step by step, gently as a mouse, he ascended to the upper rooms where his destination lay. Not a sound, he thought to himself, not a sound, or disaster!

Am I in trouble?

“Father Donovan, it’s late!” Tim whispered as he opened the door to his small room, lighting his only candle from the one the priest carried. “What is it? Why have you come? Am I in trouble?” Tim asked.

Closing the door softly behind him, the old man removed his hood and sat down on a small stool saying, “No Tim, everything is perfectly okay,” the priest assured his young friend. “Tim, I knew your father well, and he would be very proud of how far you have come,” Father Donovan commented.

Tim, thinking back to his father’s mysterious death almost 12 years before, simply said, “Thank you.” “I am sorry I’ve nothing to offer you,” the young man added, feeling his poverty keenly.

Heavenly provision

The old priest replied, “No, no, don’t apologize. In fact, I’ve brought something for you,” taking out a bundle from his robe. “Come, let us feast!” Father Donovan said as he placed fresh bread and cheese on Tim’s bed.

Eating the heavenly provision with true delight, Tim waited for his mentor to reveal the purpose of his visit. Finally, after Tim finished his last slice, the priest said, “You know I love you like a son.”

“Yes, Father, I know you do, and I appreciate everything you’ve done for me,” Tim admitted.

Continuing, the late-night visitor said, “I worked very hard to get you this position, Tim, and now I have a favor to ask of you.”

Surprised, Tim said, “Anything, Father.”

Talisman

Seeming to hesitate for a moment, Father Donovan took out another small bundle from beneath his robes, carefully unwrapping it for Tim to see. In the midst of the cloth lay a silver crucifix. Tim exclaimed, “Father, that is exactly the type of crucifix Cardinal Jenkins wears!”

Father Donovan put his finger to his lips, signaling Tim to quiet down. Taking the crucifix and holding it up in the candlelight until it’s shadow shown huge against the wall, the old priest asked, “Can you tell me anything about it?”

“Well,” the young man said, “the Cardinal insists that I kiss it when I meet him in the morning, and then again when I leave him at night,” Tim confessed.

Putting the cross away, the priest, with a knowing look said, “I suspected as much.”

Seeing Double

(Year 1252 since Val Hala, on the planet Hala, Realm of Alethia)

In Hala, in one of the antechambers of Alethia’s sanctuary, 3 lay awake calculating furiously. Waking up beside him, 3’s lover put her hand on his arm, saying, “Darling, why aren’t you sleeping?”

Reaching over, drawing Hatty close, 3 said, “I am concerned about Bren.”

Feeling his warmth, Doc kissed his bicep, inquiring, “Why dear, what is going on? Is she in trouble?”

“When I checked in on Bren, I saw something which is impossible that I can’t explain,” 3 said with a sigh.

Doc raising up on her elbows looked at him in the morning light, his features deep in thought, and repeated slowly, “That you can’t explain?”

“Why yes, I think this is the first time. Everything has some statistical probability, however insignificant, but this…this is completely impossible.”

Hatty, dropping back down into the bed, and covering her head with the blanket, asked, “What is impossible?”

3 said, shaking his head in wonder, “Hatty, there are two of them and they are divinely connected.

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