As I reported earlier, the red-framed mirror has vanished. It was in fact stolen from my saddlebag by one of the natives while I was assisting Dr. James in the collection and identification of various species of butterfly (Colonel Hazard, your identification of the swallowtail was quite correct, Dr. J confirmed it). No one realized what had happened until I returned for luncheon to find my bags rifled. It was then that Mr. M discovered the missing man and by that time he had several hours’ head start.
Not that anyone except me seemed predisposed to recover either man or mirror. It was only when I made it clear I would pursue him alone that Mr. M relented — and not very graciously, I might add — recruiting the best tracker among the natives to assist him in the chore.
It took us the remainder of the day to find him, dead in at the bottom of a narrow gorge, the mirror lying shattered beneath his body. He’d apparently been clutching it to his chest as he ran, failing to notice when his feet took him over the edge of the cliff.
I am camped with Mr. M (“call me Madison”) some small distance away. Of necessity we left the other native to care for his friend’s remains in whatever traditions they observe. He insisted on gathering up the shards of the mirror for their tribal medicine man to remove whatever curse was/is upon it.
I wish them luck. I find it exceedingly likely that the mirror was a carefully placed reminder for me to find and I do not think the power of the Masters can be so easily circumscribed.
Madison watches me from across our small fire, openly now. I sense he has questions. I sense answers are not all he wants. Even were I disposed to dally with a married man it would not be tonight. Tonight, I hear that chill, high-pitched whisper in every breeze, see those large, mis-shapen forms in every moonless shadow.
Was that poor man acting alone, or was he forced, possessed, somehow
required to take possession of that mirror and run? It’s a question that haunts me, a question to which I doubt Madison has any answer.
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