by Gianina D’Andrea
The pavement ran dark with rain, and darker with nightmares; streetlight eyes gleamed in curbside puddles, following her. Rain had washed the toxic grayness from the air, momentarily. Her shoes slapped the wet sidewalk, but to she forced her mind to see a corridor of trees. Her lungs pumped hard, reaching for the aromatic green of spruce after rain. Her ears remembered the soundlessness of each step sinking into sphagnum moss. And she thought of the moon men who had leapt like children, free of earth’s gravity.
She hurt. Oh, God how she hurt! And it was hard to know how far the street corner was. No depth perception. Keep running. Turn your head farther to watch both sides, that’s all.
A car. Into the shadows by the building. Keep your head down. Cover up
the white tennis shoes. The cab cruised by and was gone. The fire in her
lungs had eased. She winced as she pulled her shoulder away from damp bricks. Go!
When she reached the chain link fence at the rear of the compound, she slipped the pack from her back and removed the bolt cutters. She sat down on wet grass and closed her eyes, letting air fill her lungs again, stilling her mind. There was a time for fear, for flight, and a time for stillness. She could not stop the adrenalin pumping in her veins, but she must blank out the horror—for now. She must be strong for her mother, and the spirit-wolf who had told her what she must do.
She opened her eyes and scooped up a handful of wet earth, and smeared each white shoe. She started to do the same to her face, then hesitated. It’s all right. The Mother will know you. She smeared an irregular camouflage pattern on her face, and picking up the bolt cutters, proceeded to cut out an opening in the fence. She shouldered the pack again, easing it gently over her left arm.
Spirit-wolf, lead me. Guide me to your heart. . .
The pack was heavy now, and she was weaker. Her shoes squished water and her jeans were soaked from the knees down. An occasional car passed at the far end of the alley, but she barely listened. The pack on her back moved, and there was whimpering, and a sharp squeal. The sound of claws on pavement quickened behind her.
She stopped and knelt, and the wolf stopped, too. She gazed into the yellow eyes and softly chanted a song of her mother’s people. But the true song was wordless, flowing between them, from the Child in her to the Child in the wolf. She poured all her trust into this silent song, and asked for trust in return.
She rose wearily and continued, and the click of clawed feet followed her.
Swinging a cracked board aside, she climbed through the broken window of an old warehouse, being careful not to let the pack bump against the window frame. She held the board and waited until the pack shifted again and the cubs cried. A shape leapt silently through the opening, and yellow eyes gleamed at her before she let the board fall back over the window.
From her jacket pocket, she pulled out a small flashlight. She wondered how long the batteries would last, then reflected that it didn’t matter; this was a one-way trip. For the first time, she felt unsure. But the wolf was still with her; the impossible had already happened. The rest would be true, as well.
She found the entrance she had seen in the dream. It took all her strength to get it open, but at last she stepped into the musty tunnel. The wolf followed.
They navigated the twists and turns of darkness, bearing ever downward until her head throbbed and the light was noticeably dimmer. When she heard a sound like water in a cavern, she became aware of thirst. By the remaining light, she rubbed the mud from her face, and drank of the cold fresh water. A short distance away, she heard the sound of the wolf’s tongue lapping.
She made a song of mourning then, and turned off the flashlight, so she could sing it in the darkness. She let tears wash the toxic gray life away from her soul, and when she was once again clean, she turned on the light and found a spot beside the rock wall away from the river.
Opening the pack, she picked the three wolf cubs out and set them down. Her flashlight beam caught the large yellow eyes that watched from a few feet away! Next she tossed a portion of the animal carcass she had stolen from the wolf enclosure.
She, herself, would fast and pray. But now, she must sleep. She settled in the least painful position, trying not to put pressure on her wounded shoulder, or her throbbing eye.
She would sleep and fast and pray, in the manner of her mother’s people. Of her people. And wait for the Dancer to come.
“What can it mean, Father?” Vincent paced across the chamber.
“Well, Vincent, sometimes dreams can be symbolic. Perhaps the door represents an awareness within yourself that you’re trying to reach.”
Vincent sat down. “It’s the same dream every time. There’s a door in the wall of my chamber. It seems so real, I wake and try to find it. Maybe there’s a hidden door behind the stone—is that possible?”
“I don’t know. Go on, Vincent.”
“When I can’t find the door, there’s such a feeling of loss, Father. As if something precious has slipped away. And the pain of that loss is unbearable.”
Father frowned. “Do you think this dream might have anything to do with Catherine? Are you afraid of losing her?”
“You think that’s what it means?”
“It’s a possibility.”
Vincent sighed. “I only know that there’s an urgency to this dream. Somewhere I need to go. Something I need to do.” He rose. “I’m going to find Narcissa.”
Father turned away. “Oh, Vincent, really—”
“I must.” He headed up the steps.
Vincent tapped out a call for Narcissa on the pipes, and waited for answers to come back. No one had seen her for days. Probably down in the lower levels again, he thought. He headed for his chamber to prepare himself for a journey, and found Mouse waiting in the tunnel by his chamber entrance.
“Heard you call for Narcissa,” Mouse said. “Saw her two days ago. Headed down.”
“Did she say where she was going?” Vincent proceeded into his chamber with Mouse following.
“Getting things for her magic Didn’t say where.” Mouse watched Vincent packing. “Going to find?”
“Problem? Maybe Mouse can help.”
Vincent smiled. “Not this time. I need to talk to her about a dream. A door I need to find.”
“Door? Plenty of doors up top. Get you one—”
“Not that kind of door. Maybe a magical one.” Vincent clamped a hand on his shoulder.
Mouse frowned. “Magic. Better talk to Narcissa.”
Vincent picked up the lantern from his table and stepped past Mouse. “I may be gone a day or two.”
As he walked, Vincent felt Catherine’s presence within him. She was well, safe, going about her life. The discontent Vincent felt did not come from her, but from—he searched for words to define what he was feeling. From—a limited way of seeing. There was a maddening certainty that if he only looked in the proper way, he could find the answer. Did the door represent possibilities he dared to see only in sleep, in dreams?
Let your heart find the door.
He stopped. It sounded like Catherine’s voice speaking within him. He listened, but there was no more. Vincent continued on, listening through the maze of tunnels, trying to fathom the maze within himself. He let the sense of urgency drive him, direct him, and at some point, he began to believe he would find the solution.
Unconsciously, his pace had quickened, and part of him watched like a curious observer of himself. He wondered where he was going. This detachment had a peacefulness about it; he saw how much his heart knew without his being aware of it.
The path led down, down, and he no longer thought of Narcissa. He heard the waterfall in the distance as it cascaded into the pool. He would stop there for a drink before proceeding.
As he entered the cavern, the darkness subsided, and he turned off the lantern to save fuel. Day fell on the waterfall from some unknown light well far above, causing rainbows to dance in the spray. Memories descended from a less mysterious source. He touched the pouch containing Catherine’s rose.
Vincent turned slowly. The air all around was filled with misty light and rainbows. And as he looked, his astonished gaze fell on a figure sitting beside the rock wall, and there were animals surrounding her. In diffused light, he saw a bear, and a tawny mountain lion. Beyond was a wolf and deer—no—caribou. A fox slept in the figure’s lap and a hawk perched on her shoulder. Vincent was struck by an impression of ancient forests that went on forever: the pungent smell of green growth, and deep, rich earth, and timelessness. The vision was so vivid, he was alarmed, and he blinked deliberately to break the spell.
The images disappeared, but the girl and the wolf did not.
He approached slowly, still unsure whether he was seeing what he was seeing. The girl watched him and did not move.
“Don’t be afraid,” he began.
“We’re not afraid. We’ve been waiting for you.”
Vincent stared at her. “Who are you?”
She put a hand against the wall, as if to get up. “I—” She sat back down, obviously unable to stand. “I was told to face the Dancer. . .and say: ‘I am my mother’s daughter, as you are your father’s son.’”
Her head bowed forward, and after a moment, Vincent realized she had fainted. He approached slowly, so as not to alarm the wolf. Gently, he removed the cubs which were sleeping in the girl’s lap, and the wolf rumbled low in her throat. He eyed the animal until it grew silent, then he turned the girl’s face toward the light.
Her right eye was discolored and swollen nearly shut. He felt for broken bones, and when he touched her shoulder, she moaned. She had a gash on her lower lip, which was crusted with dried blood. How long had she been here? We’ve been waiting for you. But how could that be?
Vincent searched through her pack and found it empty except for bits of meat beginning to go bad. He looked around and saw pieces of bone on the stone behind the wolf. So, she had fed the animal, but probably not herself. Why?
He sat back in amazement. Where had she possibly come from--and with wolves!
He must get her to Father. But he couldn’t leave the wolves here, especially the young ones who couldn’t walk far. Vincent made room for them in his pack, then he gently picked the girl up and began the journey back, hoping the mother wolf would follow.
“Extraordinary!” Father said. “And no sentries discovered her. She might have died down there.”
The girl was now resting on a bed in the hospital chamber, still unconscious.
Vincent studied the floor. “Somehow, I don’t think so. She said she’d been waiting for me.”
Father stared at him. “I suppose one of the helpers could have sent her down or—”
Vincent was shaking his head.
“No,” Father said. “Not alone. A helper would have come with her.”
A cub squealed in Vincent’s pack.
Vincent let the pack down easily, and placed the cubs on the bed beside the girl.
Father smiled a bewildered smile. “Puppies?”
“Not exactly.” Vincent had heard the click of clawed feet long before they reached the hospital chamber.
“What do you mean, ’not exactly’?”
The wolf’s eyes smoldered in the candlelight at the chamber entrance.
“Dear God!” Father whispered.
Vincent quietly herded Father away from the entrance. He had seen the wolf’s hackles rise, and felt her growing uneasiness at the old man’s fear. They waited in a corner of the chamber for a long time before the wolf came forward to nose at her cubs on the bed. Then Vincent guided Father around her and out.
“I cannot treat a patient with—that —in there!”
“Let the wolves stay.” Vincent sat down at the table in Father’s chamber and stared at nothing.
Father sighed in exasperation, then looked at Vincent. “What are you thinking?”
“Her injuries. Someone did that to her.”
“It looks that way, yes.”
“Then she was running away.”
“Quite possibly. But that doesn’t explain the wolves,” Father said.
Vincent stood up. “Catherine may know something about this.” He started up the steps. “Keep everyone away from the hospital chamber until I return.” He hesitated. “And we need to find some meat for the wolf. To keep her from going hunting.”
“Yes. I had thought of that, Vincent.”
Vincent made his way up the tunnels toward the secret door, with the deep green of forests still imprinted behind his eyes. He was reminded of times from his childhood when he would stare at silhouetted trees against the moon for a long time. Then, when he looked away, for a few moments, everything he saw was superimposed with the image of trees.
Halfway across the park, Vincent paused beside the shadowed trunk of an oak, and pressed his hand against the bark. Trees marched ahead of him and behind him; he sensed that their lives by night were quite different from their daytime existence, their life forces more subdued, the fragrance of their leaves muted.
He sniffed the air, reaching for a scent like the one which had blasted his soul in the vision. But all he found was a paltry imitation, like an echo heard after it had bounced off many walls and faded to a whisper far different from the original shout.
He wondered what his daytime self might be like, as he stood there in his hooded cloak and surveyed his own dark forever.
Vincent stepped out of tree-shadow, and continued on. He had not gone far when he raised his head in surprise. There were blossoms in the night. He let a small wind guide him to the source of the fragrance; he needed the blessing of the white trees. Gathering the lowest-hanging branches in his hands, he pressed them to his face and breathed long and deep, until he began to feel less wounded.
A branch caught the pouch containing Catherine’s rose, and he freed it - gently. Yes. There were blossoms in the night.
When he reached her balcony, he tapped lightly on the glass. She threw open the doors, and he felt as if every memory he had kept of her was only a faded echo bounced off many walls.
He let out a long breath. ”You are so beautiful.”
“Vincent.” She was in his arms.
My beautiful, precious, sad love.
“What is it, Vincent?”
He held her close and breathed the fragrance of her hair before letting her go.
“Someone has come to us for protection.”
When he finished the story, Catherine said, “Wolves! Well, they would have to have come from a zoo. How did she find the tunnels?”
Vincent shook his head. “When I found her, she wasn’t afraid. She said she’d been waiting for me.”
There was fear for him in Catherine’s eyes. “I’ll check into it tomorrow.”
“Catherine. Someone hurt her badly.”
“Don’t worry, Vincent. No one will know that I’m looking.”
Vincent turned to go.
“Do you need any medicines? Bandages, antiseptic—anything?”
He paused. “Would you happen to have some raw meat?”
Catherine looked at him. “Hang on, I’ll be right back.”
—hands clutching empty space—crashing—
—limbs twisting, folding—
—slow—never-ending. . .
She opened her eyes to light and the softness of a bed under her. Where--? She sat up too fast and nearly passed out.
The Dancer. She focused her thoughts on the memory of mist and light and rainbows. The Dancer had come for her.
Wolf. She looked around in panic.
“She’s over there,” a man’s voice said from the chamber entrance. “Feeding her cubs.”
She peered into the shadows and saw the form lying on the floor, eyes watching warily.
“I’d—um—I’d like to give you something to eat, too.” The man glanced nervously at the wolf.
“Come in slow. Don’t look directly at her.”
He stepped forward hesitantly. She saw that he carried a bowl of soup; the scent of the steaming broth made her aware of the hollowness within her that had gone far beyond hunger. He wore strange robes and walked with a cane.
Her emotions threatened to intrude, to bring fear and despair to this dream-place. The man must have sensed it, for he stopped at the foot of the bed and smiled.
“It’s all right. You’re safe here.”
She glanced at the wolf, and saw that she was licking the cubs, ignoring him. She relaxed a little and looked down at her bandaged shoulder.
“I could hold the soup, if you like. I could even feed you—”
She moved to a cross-legged position on the bed. “I can do it.”
“I’m a doctor,” he said. “Your shoulder’s not seriously broken, but there’s likely a greenstick fracture.”
She looked up.
“A crack in the bone.”
The broth was good, but she knew she must take only a little at a time. It had been too long since she’d eaten.
“Most people around here call me Father.”
She let the spoon rest in the bowl. “Then you’re his father?”
“I raised Vincent, yes.”
“Can you tell me your name?”
She considered all the names her mother had given her to let her know she was a child of the People. Someone who belonged to the land and the sky and the water, like the rest of her forgotten race. The Dancer would understand all those names; she would tell him her true-name. Which one should she tell this man?
He nodded. “Star. That’s a beautiful name.”
Horror just outside the consciousness, threatening to break through the walls of magic enclosing them and this room.
“Are you all right?”
“I think I’ve had enough soup. Thank you.”
“Before, you said not to look directly at the wolf. Why?”
“She might take it as a challenge.”
“I see. Then—she’s not a pet.” ”
Father narrowed his eyes a moment. “As in wakan? Sacred?”
She looked at him in surprise, and he smiled.
“She’s a spirit-wolf.”
“And she led you to the tunnels.”
“No. She gave me the dream. The dream led me here.”
No. You don’t see. You’re trying to trap me. . .Mother, let my heart speak the truth and not be afraid.
In the corner, the wolf rose slowly and stared in their direction.
Star said, “Is there some meat for her?”
Vincent appeared in the chamber entrance. His gaze found the wolf, and he said, “Father?”
“Ah, Vincent.” There was relief in Father’s voice. “What have you got there?” ’
The Dancer opened a package and tossed a large piece of meat toward the corner of the chamber. The wolf feinted out of the way, then came forward, sniffed it, and carried it back into the shadows.
Star closed her eyes. Grief, pain, blackness was descending.
In the corner was a stolen wolf, eating. At the foot of the bed, a skeptical man. And in the doorway, a being named Vincent.
Father rose and said, “Her name is Star. I think she might feel more comfortable talking to you.”
She opened her eyes and Father was gone,
Vincent came and sat on the edge of the bed. She looked into the face that was not quite human, the eyes that knew depths of pain, the hands that could protect or rend. And she compared the way she felt in his presence to the feeling in the dream.
The Dancer. Mother, let my faith be strong.
“We have a mirror pool,” he said, “where you can see the stars. When you feel stronger, I’ll take you there.”
Catherine tried to shake off the cold of the morgue. The Pathologists report had described the deceased as Native American, about forty years old, probably from one of a number of northern tribes. Her body showed evidence of old injuries--broken bones that had healed incorrectly, most likely without treatment. Her current injuries included bruises that would never heal, a shattered cheekbone, and a broken neck.
Catherine let rage warm her; it was safer than being swallowed up by sadness.
She arrived at her apartment building and went up. She made herself a cup of tea, and watched the balcony windows, waiting impatiently for the fall of the early spring dark.
As soon as the park had faded to shadows, she made her way, with senses alert, toward a drainage tunnel. She found a stone, and was about to tap out a message when the secret door slid back and a cloaked figure stood silhouetted there. He swung open the iron gate for her and brought her in. And they were sealed in the safety of his world.
The cynicism and anger that she wore as a protective cloak in her own world began to drop away, and her eyes brimmed.
“I think I may have found the girl’s mother.” She told him about her visit to the morgue that afternoon.
When she finished, Vincent said, ”She suffered her pain in silence, the way Star does.”
“She hasn’t told you anything more?”
“She told me about a dream. A dream that brought her here.”
“Vincent, a neighbor reported Theresa Rain Bear and her sixteen-year-old daughter missing four days ago. She was the only one in the building Theresa ever talked to. The neighbor suspected she was beaten by the man she lived with. And now the man is missing, too. He’s an archaeologist. I checked with the museums in town and found out he goes to dig sites--sometimes for months at a time. But this time, he left without telling anyone where he was going. Vincent, it’s possible Star’s mother was murdered. I need to talk to her.”
Vincent leaned back against the tunnel wall, and she sensed his reluctance.
“There’s something else,” Catherine said. “Four nights ago, a wolf and
three cubs were stolen from a zoo on
“Star came in through an old entrance in a warehouse a few blocks from there. She broke the wolf out to take her home, back to the forest. She believes this wolf is a spirit-wolf who came to her in a dream.”
“And this dream told her about the tunnels?”
“The entrance she came through has been sealed up for years, Catherine. It’s in the basement of an old abandoned warehouse—there’s no way she could have known about it.”
Catherine was silent.
“I feel a great sadness in her,” Vincent went on, “a terrible sense of loss. Her belief in this dream is all she’s holding onto. If she loses that, too—” He shook his head.
Catherine smiled sadly. “I understand about dreams, Vincent.”
...‘My grandfather fasted and thirsted himself to death and he was blessed and his spirit taken to a spirit-home’. . .
In a hidden place there was a pool that captured the reflection of the night’s starred face. By the water they had sat, and she told him what she could of the dream. Bits and pieces only, for it had been given to her alone, and was a sacred trust. At first, she was sad because he didn’t know he was the Dancer. Now, she smiled at her own impatience; the spirit-wolf would decide what to show him, and when.
Somewhere below, she heard the scratching of claws on stone. She emerged from the tunnel, and stopped. The stairs wound down and down.
“So this is where you’ve taken them.” She took a deep breath. “No, Mother—this is not a place where you can go wild.”
She started to move forward, to follow the wolf down the steps, but she could not. She forced herself, and felt a dizziness pressing on her, suffocating her.
The cubs were at various locations on the stairs. The Mother had deposited one about halfway down, and was carrying another in her mouth. Star saw a movement far below in the shadows.
The wolf opened her jaws and released the pup she was carrying, then trotted down to pick up the gray cub and continue moving her family to a safer home.
Star increased her pace.
She bent and picked up one of the cubs from where the wolf had left him. She tucked the dark, wiggling child under one arm—
—and with the lantern in the other hand, turned to head back up the steps.
Immediately, the mother wolf put down the gray cub, and started up the steps to retrieve her child. Star hesitated; she knew the wolf wouldn’t come too near the lantern, but—
Below, the gray cub, who always wandered farthest from the nest in his explorations, who was the boldest and strongest, began to move toward the edge of the step.
“No!” Star whispered.
Put down the lantern. Hold the cub out toward the Mother. Hurry!
The gray cub hovered at the edge of lantern light, then began a slow, tumbling roll, the momentum of his body carrying him over the next step, and toward the edge of the chasm—
—limbs twisting—folding— .
—hands clutching empty space—
—with a cry, the cub fell into blackness and was gone.
”No!” It was meant as a whisper, so as not to scare the wolves, but someone was screaming. It was as if she stood outside herself, and she wanted to clamp her hand over the mouth of the one who was frightening the wolves. The screaming wouldn’t stop.
Suddenly, there were arms surrounding her. She drew breath to scream again, but he held her, and she pressed her face into his cloak. Images played over and over behind her eyes, and she couldn’t contain them anymore.
“She fell—and I couldn’t stop her. . . He wouldn’t stop. . . hitting her. . .He picked up a little stone statue and—hit her in the face--I tried to grab his hand—he pushed her and her face was all crushed in. . .She fell and wouldn’t stop falling—and something snapped. . . She loved him. . . SHE LOVED HIM! How could he do that! . . . I promised I’d get her away—I said I’d take her home”. . .
“It wasn’t your fault.” He held her tighter.
“It was! I told her I’d take her home, and she’s dead!”
“You have to forgive yourself.”
She sobbed. “Vincent. . the cub—”
After a time, a kind of numbness crept into her heart, like the cold in the cavern. There was no sound except the drip of water somewhere in the darkness. Vincent stirred.
“Star, this is Catherine, a friend. Will you let her take you back to Father?”
Star looked up, surprised. The woman had stayed so quiet, she hadn’t realized anyone else was there.
She drew a shuddering breath. “If I don’t follow the wolf, I’ll lose her.”
“I’ll find her,” Vincent said.
“Come on,” Catherine said softly.
She let Catherine guide her, but she felt empty and alone. From somewhere far below, a long wail echoed eerily through the tunnels. She listened to it reverberate in the deep places, like the cry of a lost soul. Star stopped and closed her eyes.
“She’s found the cub.”
In Father’s chamber, Star sat on the steps, huddled close to the railing, and stared bleakly into the candle flame.
Catherine knelt in front of her. “Star, I’m sorry, but I have to ask you a few questions. I’m with the D.A.’s office.”
She studied Catherine in the lamplight, in the candlelight that flickered across her face.
Yes. The Dancer and the woman. In mottled sunlight and leaf-shadow, walking. The Dancer in firelight, and the woman watching, as a woman’s eyes seek her love, the one who dances only for her, who dances in her dreams. She would answer the questions.
“Did Paul Tielhard kill your mother?”
“Was he the one who hurt you? Because you saw what he did?”
“He tried to kill me, too. He chased me, and I ran upstairs into the bathroom. There were some scissors in there, and when he came to get me, I stabbed him. I thought I killed him. I ran down the steps to help my mother, but --”
Catherine put a hand on her shoulder. “You didn’t kill him. We have to find him so we can arrest him.”
Star turned away. “I want to go home. I want to take the wolf and her
cubs, and I want to go home. My uncle flies a bush plane in northwestern
“Yes,” Catherine said, ”but you’ll have to testify at Paul Tielhards trial.”
“If he’s alive, he’s looking for me.”
Catherine frowned and studied the floor. “Then the safest place for you is right here.”
“You are testing me Mother,” Star said softly.
It had been three days since the death of the gray cub; the wolf had found the broken body and carried it back to the hospital chamber, guarding it.
She still searched for her dead child, and now Star had followed her down below the Serpentine to a small freshwater spring in a cave that she had to crawl on her hands and knees to enter. Into this new den, the wolf had carried her remaining cubs during the night.
“I won’t let you hide from me. I won’t let you forget me. I will find a way to take you home, as I promised.”
Star tried to put weight on her wounded arm as she crawled, and a sharp, burning pain shot up to her shoulder. She gasped and crouched doubled up on the stone floor until the ache subsided, and in the darkness, she felt a warm, wet tongue lick her face. She remained still, waiting. Soft fur brushed against her ear, and something grasped the back of her jacket and tugged. She felt herself being dragged further back into the cave.
Star offered no resistance; she let the wolf take her. When the tugging stopped, she again felt the soft, insistent tongue, and the cold nose prodding. The wolf emitted a low whine—the same one she used when speaking to her cubs, and Star wanted to cry.
. . . ‘I am thankful before the earth, I am thankful before the sky’ . .
She lay nestled close to the cubs and the wolf, breathing the warm-milk puppy-smell, and she let her thoughts drift.
. . In Grandfather’s cabin, by the wood stove in winter. . . Grandfather sitting in his rocker with the horsehide cover over the back, and a blanket over his knees, and the picture on the shelf behind him of his son who had gone to the university, and was now a doctor in the city. . .
Grandfather told the old stories to young ones who would listen, so they might not forget who they were. And he told about boarding school when he was small, and how the priests beat the boys for “talkin Indian.”
One of the cousins would go and get him water in a tin cup from the hand pump at the kitchen sink, and when he had moistened his throat, he would tell how once a white boy from the university came to write down all the words anyone could tell him of the Indian language, because he was writing a paper. And he said that the language of the People was being lost because young people couldn’t speak it anymore. This young man wanted to make a book of the old language, so it could be saved and taught to Indian students.
The language of the wolf was being lost, too. One day, it would only exist in the dream-place like this.
But not today. Today, they were alive and real, and they would find a way home.
“Star?” It was Vincent’s voice near the cave entrance in the outer tunnel. She crawled slowly away from the wolf, not sure the Mother would let her leave.
“Star? Are you there?”
“Just a minute, Vincent.” She crawled toward the light at the opening, awkwardly, on her knees and one hand.
“You found the wolf.” Vincent helped her to stand. Catherine was beside him.
“She wants to stay in the cave,” Star said. “It’s ok. I’ll bring her food, and I’ll stay with her.” At Catherine’s expression, she said, “It’s all right. She says I’m her child now.”
Catherine and Vincent exchanged a look.
“Catherine needs to ask you some questions.”
“Star, can you remember any dig sites that Paul Tielhard might have talked about—places he planned to visit?”
“You can’t find him.”
“No. Not yet. Anything you can remember might help.”
Star looked into the lantern. “He mentioned one in
“Because he’s not stupid. He knows I wanted to go home—that’s where he’ll go.”
“Maybe,” Catherine said. “And maybe he’s not that stupid either.”
“How safe would you be if you went home?” Vincent asked.
Star smile wryly. “My mother’s relatives would help me disappear so no one could find me. It’s almost as good as here.”
Vincent carried the lantern, and their shadows grew and danced on the wall.
Catherine said, “It’s all so strange. . .Vincent, I’ve read stories about wolves adopting people, but—I always thought of them as just stories. Do you think she’ll be safe? I mean—it’s like she’s obsessed with taking this wolf home because she couldn’t keep the promise to her mother.”
“Perhaps,” Vincent said.
Catherine looked up at him. “Perhaps?”
Vincent stopped. “Star’s belief in a dream, and in the spirit-wolf brought her to us. Her people believe in spirits and magic And the fact that she’s here--”
Catherine was silent.
Vincent studied her. “What are you thinking?”
“If there were any place in the world above where you might be accepted, it would be among a people like Star’s people.”
He stared at their shadows on the wall. “As a spirit? Or perhaps a demon?”
“As—wakan— is that the word?”
They walked on slowly through the darkness, each lost in thought.
“Reservations?” Catherine suggested in desperation. “He specializes in finding Indian artifacts.”
Joe Maxwell nodded. “We’re checking that out, but he doesn’t just go to
dig sites in the States. Last year, he helped discover a Mayan burial
Joe sat on the edge of his desk. “Three years ago, he was at an
excavation in northwestern
Catherine said nothing.
Joe flung a handful of papers down on his desk. He stuffed his hands into his pockets and paced over to the window.
“We’ve talked to museum curators from here to
That evening, Catherine rode the elevator to the eighteenth floor, wishing that something would tell her the decision she had made was the right one. She turned the key, and entered her apartment; without taking off her coat, she went to sit on the couch beside the phone.
She had been growing more uneasy by the day, since she talked to Star. The underground community was not happy that a wild wolf had taken up residence in the tunnels. More than that, she sensed that the girl was getting ready to run again. And Paul Tielhard might be somewhere out there waiting for her.
Catherine reached for her address book beside the telephone, and looked
up a name. She punched a series of numbers which would ring a phone in
“Suzanne? Hi! It’s Cathy Chandler. . .I know! Almost three years — I wasn’t sure you still lived there. How’s Mark?. . Really! At the university?. . No, I’m with the D.A.’s office now. . . Absolutely grueling at times. . . Listen, Suzanne, I wonder if you could do me a small favor. . . I’m trying to contact a man named Jack Rain Bear. . .”
—and as I was green and carefree—
Catherine walked the tunnels toward Vincent’s chamber, as she had come once before with a message for him--
—’I rented a van !’ —
because she had seen him and herself in the poem he had read, and the possibility of meadows—
—in the sun that is young once only—
’It was a dream, Catherine—a beautiful, impossible dream . . .’
But others’ dreams were possible. Devin and Charles had gone to the mountains. And tonight she was driving Star and—a spirit-wolf, for God’s sake—to a remote lake where a float plane would land in the morning.
She continued on, her footsteps echoed hollow and alone.
She entered Vincent’s chamber and he looked up from the book he was reading. Behind him, the yellow stained glass panel glowed warmly, simulating day.
“I brought the van,” she said. “It’s in the park.”
“Good.” He put down the book and rose.
“We’ll be going to a lake almost on the Canadian border. It’s in a remote area--there won’t be any border guards.”
Vincent nodded. “Cullen has built a crate for the wolf. Star protested, but she realizes the wolf might run before she gets on the plane and can be taken to safety.”
“So she’s agreed to it?”
“Well, I think I’ll feel better driving them if I know the wolf’s not loose in the back of the van. Are they ready?”
“This way.” Vincent took her by the arm.
In Father’s chamber, Star was saying goodbye.
“Thank you for letting us stay,” she said to the old man.
Father clasped her hand. “Good luck, Star.”
She came to stand before Vincent. “One day, you will know what it means that you are the Dancer. I feel it.”
“Be safe,” he said. “Be happy.” He embraced her.
Cullen and Mouse helped load the crate with the wolves into the van, and Star climbed in back to be with them. Catherine drove out of the park, and they began the journey north.
Hours later, Star climbed into the seat beside her. Catherine was glad of the company; she was getting drowsy.
“They’ve calmed down,” Star said. “The cubs are sleeping.”
“Good. There’s a thermos of coffee behind the seat, and a couple of cups. Why don’t you pour us some?”
Catherine sipped her coffee, and mileposts and yellow lines glided through the silence.
“Star,” she said, ”how safe would—what would your people think of Vincent?”
The girl didn’t answer for several minutes.
“Some would be afraid,” she said, at last. “But I think they would respect his right to be what he is. Among my family—if they knew he helped me, he would be protected without knowing he was being protected.”
They looked at each other in the dimness, and there was only the hum of the engine, and the monotony of tires on pavement.
Vincent sat quietly in his chamber. He watched how the candle flames flickered on the stone statue by the wall, heightening the illumination on the face, then relegating it to shadow. He inhaled the familiar smell of hot candle wax, focused his awareness on himself sitting in the chair beside the table. And he wondered in exactly what way he had changed since Star and the wolves came to the tunnels.
He wondered why he had told no one—not even Catherine—about the vision by the waterfall. About the earthen, primeval greenness that had filled him like a memory from another life in which he might have once been free.
’I am my mother’s daughter, as you are your father’s son.’ Words came suddenly back to him, and he shifted in the chair. Where had he heard those words before. . . Narcissa. He had walked into her chamber, and she hadn’t heard him approach, but she knew.
—’I saw you in the waters’—
And he had looked into the bowl on the table before her. ’All I see is ripples and reflections—the flame of the candle.’
And she, amused, ’You are your father’s son’.
Star clung to the ancient beliefs of her mother’s people, and followed a dream to the tunnels. To find him. To tell him, as Narcissa had, that he was his father’s son—
—but also, the Dancer.
Vincent rose uneasily; he felt that somehow those two things were in grave conflict.
It was late, and he was tired. He would think more about it tomorrow.
A curious rose light illuminated the stained glass panel behind his bed, like an elusive dawn he couldn’t touch. It was just at the periphery of his vision, but when he turned to look, it was gone.
He knew the sequence: he looked around his chamber, as he had done before in this same dream. He noticed the rose light on the table, the books, the candle burning low. Then his gaze turned toward the wall where a door appeared.
But the dream was different this time. Beside the door, Star beckoned to him. Vincent rose from his bed, determined to open the door before it had a chance to vanish.
Star motioned him forward.
Vincent touched the rough wood, half-fearful. But it was solid, and it swung open onto another world.
He saw himself and Catherine walking under trees, in light and color that dazzled him. Star stepped through the doorway, then turned and smiled, motioning him to follow. Vincent hesitated, afraid that if he moved, the vision would disappear. But Star stood there, motioning urgently.
He stepped through, into the picture, and the vision of himself and Catherine was gone. He looked down and found that he was standing ankle-deep in leaves of red and gold and purple. He kicked at them experimentally, and they rustled crisply, flying and tumbling.
Vincent looked up and saw green and gold and red looking down at him, and rivuleted gray and brown bark--the real color of trees and of the world. He turned around and around, looking at everything, and his arms rose from his sides, as if he would embrace the universe, as if he would fly.
He could not contain his joy. Looking up, he whirled out from beneath the trees, and gasped in awe. The sky! Deeper and clearer blue than he could ever have imagined.
Vincent turned to look at Star, to ask her how—
But the eyes that looked back at him were bright gold as the leaves, and
as full of joy as his heart. And the face he looked into was not Star’s,
but the face of the wolf, laughing.