The sun was going down in the west, its rays lighting up the ancient ruins of a proud people in the cliff opposite where Calico sat on a fallen pine tree. The scent of the still standing pines behind her filled her nostrils, and she gave a contented sigh. The older lady that sat next to her put an arm around Calico and hugged her tight. “My son….he never got around to telling you he loved you, and I am afraid he will regret that the rest of his days. But there’s no doubt in my mind that he did feel it, if that’s any consolation to you. It was his love for you that allowed him to do what he just did. I didn’t think he had any shamanic talents, but maybe I was wrong. Either way, I’m proud of him.” Calico was silent for a few moments. “Caroline, I’m awful proud of him too….and impressed. Of course, I was impressed since the minute I first met him, I still think he’s really cute. And I know he cared about me…I never told him that I returned those feelings either…I thought we both had plenty of time. I guess you just never know.” The two women fell silent then, each wrapped in her own thoughts of a young warrior that went above and beyond his talents to avenge the death of the woman he loved.
The clouds to the west were a blaze of orange and red when Calico finally spoke up again. “Is he going to be all right? And my brother, what about him? I’m really worried about Critter, he’s all alone now. And all my friends…are they safe now that Gardner is gone? I wish….I wish I could talk to them all just one last time…to let them know how much they all mean to me.” Caroline Walker, also known as Autumn Star among the Navajo, smiled softly as she replied. “I know the feeling, if only I could hug my son and kiss my husband one more time…but someday I will get to again. And you will see your brother again someday, but it will be a long time for him. It won’t seem so long for you, but time here has little meaning. The Navajo accepted me because they thought I had a special power to see into the future, most white people don’t have the same kind of ‘visions’ that the tribespeople do, but they always came easily to me. I can’t tell you everything that will ever happen to all of them, but I feel safe in saying life will end up fairly well for all your friends. As for your brother, Melinda is just giving him time to grieve, when the time is right she has every intention of letting him know she’s ready to become his wife. She will make him happy, and provide a wonderful family for him. White Eagle will face a rougher path, but when it comes to him my visions are cloudy. I know he will not die young, but beyond that I cannot discern many details.”
Calico thought for a moment, then tilted her head and looked at Caroline. “Can you see what they do with the gold I left them? I know it will come in handy for just about everyone, no one in Stone Creek has a lot of money, I hope they get some good use out of it.” The other woman shook her head. “No honey, they never do anything with it. That gold will remain in that mountain for a long time after everyone in Stone Creek joins us here. Your friends are more concerned with the real treasure you blessed them with.” The confused look on Calico’s face made Caroline laugh out loud.
“The people of Stone Creek are special, they understand that true riches lay in good friendship, in taking care of each other, and of giving of one’s self to others, both in good times and in bad. Your friends all know that you feel that way too, and that means more to each of them than all the gold in Arizona possibly could. No, that gold can stay in the mountain as far as they’re concerned….but their memories of you will hold a special place in their hearts for a long time. Now, it’s time for us to go back, as much as we would both like to stay I’m afraid it’s just not possible.”
As the two women rose to their feet, Calico considered what White Eagle’s mother had just told her. Walking side by side towards the setting sun, Calico declared, “And they will all hold a special place in my heart forever!” And with that, both women disappeared into the light.