Perspiration damped her brow. An hour ago she had been freezing. Now, she was uncomfortably warm, but she didn’t know if she was permitted to remove her jacket. The boy never moved a muscle or changed his serious expression.
Sigourney turned her attention to the monk who had spoken. He stood with hands on hips, making it clear he was unhappy. Instinctively, she knew from his assumption of authority that he must be Tsurpu’s head monk. “Please tell the Karmapa it is not my intent to cause trouble,” she said in a halting voice. “I am hiding from these soldiers so I can return a very important manuscript to the Tibetan people. To the Samye Monastery.”
Sukhang spoke rapidly to the monk, who glared at them both. Sigourney was beginning to feel rather foolish standing there. Surely the Karmapa already knew this. Otherwise, why would he have accepted her visit? And why were they not permitted to talk to him? They were forced to talk to this other monk, instead, and it was clear that he wasn’t very sympathetic to her circumstances. To make matters worse, she had no idea how clearly Sukhang was translating her words. She knew enough about languages and interpreters to know the true meaning of a dialogue could easily become lost under such circumstances.
The monk spoke angrily to Sukhang, who shifted his feet uncomfortably. “Karmapa say you leave manuscript with him. He see it get to Samye.”
There it was. The moment of truth. The Karmapa was willing to take it off her hands, just as John had suggested. All she had to do was hand it over and high tail it back to Lhasa, before further damage was done to her already fragile situation. She could be home with Debbie in a matter of days. But could she be sure the manuscript would be safe? Sigourney was trying to understand the misgivings she had felt ever since the robed monk had entered the room. She could feel a wayward spirit flying about her, looking for a place to land.
Before Sigourney could decide how to respond, the voices of the chanting monks began to rumble inside her valise. The manuscript was speaking to her, warning her of danger. She watched the Karmapa’s eyes. They blinked. He heard them, too! A hint of movement caught Sigourney’s attention, and she turned her head in time to see a dark shadow fall across the monk’s face. Sigourney tried to breathe but couldn’t get enough air. The darting spirit was stealing her air and suffocating her. She opened her mouth and sucked at the oxygen in the room like a baby at her mother’s breast. At last, she caught her breath and stared at the monk. The shadow was gone, but she had seen it. It was the same warning Anne had described in her diary! This was Tsurpu’s head monk, and he was the source of danger she had sensed. In that instant, Sigourney knew her fate was sealed. She had no choice but to continue her quest, to turn away from home and plunge further into the icy unknown. She gripped the wooden statue in her pocket and took several more deep breaths. The spirit had landed, and her breathing returned to normal.
Sigourney's Quest - Excerpt
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