Sukhang handed her come clothing. “Put on over your clothes. Wear this hat. Make you look Tibetan.”
Sigourney smiled inwardly as she slipped on two layers of dresses and a jacket with sleeves much too short for her long arms. Each step in her journey was bringing her closer to Anne. All she needed was some oil and charcoal on her face to complete the transformation. The clothes immediately made her feel warmer. She carefully strapped the valise under her dresses, then nodded to Sukhang that she was ready to go.
“Many soldiers,” he told her as they began walking along the road. He took quick, busy steps that gave him the appearance of scampering. “Is the same everywhere, I think. At all monasteries. Everyone looking for you, for your book. We pretend to be peasants but not enter monastery. Go to monks’ sleeping rooms.”
The weak lights of the monastery half a mile away beckoned to her. Walking felt incredibly good after her cramped isolation, and she quickly fell into a rhythm, matching two of Sukhang’s hurried steps to one of her own. Her aching muscles began to stretch, and she felt so warm she couldn’t imagine that less than fifteen minutes ago she had been close to freezing to death. Night had fallen around her, filling the road with deep shadows that forced her to keep a keen eye on where she stepped. Sukhang proceeded with the confidence of a mountain goat, and she followed closely behind him. Stars filled the sky like swarms of fireflies, telling her the heavy blanket of clouds that had followed her up the valley was gone.
Three soldiers were talking and smoking cigarettes near the entrance to the monastery. Their casual vigilance gave her hope that she could slip into the monastery unnoticed. Sukhang walked right past the gates without looking at the soldiers. Sigourney remembered how Anne had described her humble demeanor, and she did her best to emulate her. She stuck her hands in her pockets to hide her long arms, lowered her head, and trudged modestly behind her guide. One of the guards said something in Chinese, and his companions laughed raucously. Sigourney understood it was a belittling remark about them, and she had to fight the urge to stop and confront the rude man. Nearby, a group of nomads had set up camp, encircling their campsite with a wall of large, burlap sacks to protect themselves from the wind. The glow of a small fire danced off the interior walls, and murmuring voices floated into the night.
Sigourney's Quest - Excerpt
Page 6 of 12