Chapter Twenty-Eight

And so onward they marched, all the next day. Early the following day the passage began to widen. At first two ox carts could travel abreast, then three, then four, then they began to see grass and a few bushes. Then they came to the opening of a small, narrow valley that stretched off into the distance. Now on either side of this valley, the mountains were like sheer walls, and as the people traveled down it they became more nervous. Many complained someone was watching them.
2 As they marched, one of The old Fox's Elders suddenly cried out and jumped back.
3 "What is the matter?" asked The Old Fox.
4 "There are six of us," his companion cried, "but there are seven shadows!"
5 The Old Fox looked to where he pointed. And sure enough, there was a seventh shadow! It looked like a man's shadow from the head down to the waist, but at the waist it began to grow narrower and narrower until it ended in a sharp point. The Old Fox approached the shadow and it sped away, to appear again some distance ahead of them.
6 The Old Fox went out ahead of the others and he was soon surrounded by The Shadows, dancing in and out, spinning around and around.
7 The Old Fox returned to the others. "Go and tell all the people what you have seen," he ordered. "This is The Valley of Shadows, but here we are to fear no evil, for The Lords are with us. Though these shadows are strange, they are harmless, and we are to pay them no heed. Tell the people not to be afraid!"
8 The Elders did as they were told. It was towards dusk when they were well within the Valley that The Old Fox stopped. Off to their left was a great stretch of sand, flat and smooth. He walked to it.
9 Suddenly The Shadows formed a half circle on the sand, their points going inward. "Yes!" said The Old Fox. "I understand. Thank you! Bring shovels," he cried, "baskets....quickly!"
10 The people obyeyed. At the face of the cliff they began to dig. Soon they had a hole a man and a half deep, and two men across. "Enough!" ordered The Old Fox, "Come out!"
11 "But Lord," argued one of the diggers, "the ground is not even damp."
12 But again The Old Fox commanded "Come out!" Reluctantly the men obeyed. The Old Fox rose his staff over his head in both hands, then pointed its narrow end into the hole. Suddenly, a dark spot appeared at the bottom of the hole. It quickly spread and covered the entire hole. And then the water began to rise. Within moments it filled the entire hole! 13 "Look," some cried, "the hole is freshly dug, and the water rose quickly, yet it is crystal clear!"
14 "Someone put in a bucket," commanded The Old Fox, "and give me a cup." He was quickly obeyed. He drank deeply of the water. "It is delicious!" he cried, "It is like it has honey in it! It is fine! Drink!"
15 The people quickly filled their buckets and skins, and in a short time were enjoying the fine water.
16 "We must set up troughs," ordered The Old Fox, "and make bucket lines to water our animals. But do not let them up to the spring. We do not want the water of this spring fouled with their droppings, or, water. Put up a fence of poles and ropes.
17 We will stay a few days and rest. There is grass here for the animals to eat, and some food that can be gathered. We have yet a ways to journey, and it will be hard, but we are almost there! We will raise The Temple, have music and joy. For tomorrow there shall be a mating."
18 Now, the celebration erupted throughout the camp, for there were no more popular persons in the whole caravan than Gray Dove and Thorn Blossom. Barely had Gray Dove reached his tent that evening than a large group of his friends appeared.
19 "You'll not spend the night here!" they said. They seized him, and literally carried him to another tent, where a joyous feast had been prepared. Half the night they feasted, drank, and danced, and swapped stories of many a merry adventure. One by one, each finally laid down on his sleeping mat and dozed off!
20 Gray Dove was awoken in the morning by someone shaking his shoulder. He opened his eyes to see two masked men standing over him. They carried large ceremonial clubs. "You will come with us!" they commanded.
21 Now, Gray Dove's friends, as by tradition, made like they would rescue him, but the club bearers drove them off. They took Gray Dove to a tent where there was a leather tub filled with water. "Give us your clothes," the men ordered, "and bathe."
22 Gray Dove shut the curtains around the tub and threw out his clothes. He was glad he had remembered to put on some old garments the day before, for he knew these clothes were being burned.
23 As he bathed, he heard someone enter, and he heard Yellow Blossom's voice outside the curtain. "Your clothes are laid out, master," she said, "and your tent is prepared. New cushions and a sleeping mat have ben laid. The tent has been scrubbed within and without, and the incense of sweetwood has burned all night."
24 "Thank you," answered Gray Dove. He emerged from the bath and dressed and began to realize he had had no breakfast. The guards appeared at the door.
25 "Come," they commanded. They led him to a small tent and placed before him a meager meal of bread, meat, and water, which he quickly disposed of.

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