“Please thank the Karmapa for his kind assistance, but I must take the manuscript there myself.”
Sukhang hesitated, pushing back his cap and scratching his head. His pained expression made it clear he was uncomfortable with her reply and didn’t want to confront the Karmapa. She nodded to him, and he finally spoke in his most beseeching voice.
The monk speaking for the Karmapa glowered at Sigourney and yelled at Sukhang, who hung his head and nodded vigorously.
“Karmapa demand you turn over manuscript now,” Sukhang translated. “Say it too dangerous for you to deliver.”
Sigourney stared at the monk. His angry posture and haughty behavior told her he wasn’t used to being disobeyed. Power radiated from the man. Whatever his motives, he wasn’t to be trifled with. Silence grew like a malignant tumor around her. Her nails dug into her palm as she clenched her fist around the statue hidden in her pocket. The voices continued to chant, but she realized the head monk couldn’t hear them. Only she and the Karmapa knew of their presence.
What had she gotten herself into by coming here, and what should she do? How long could she defy this belligerent monk? Sigourney looked back at the Karmapa and saw a tiny smile playing at the corners of his broad-lipped mouth. He knows the manuscript is warning me, she realized. As soon as Sigourney understood this, another insight manifested itself in her consciousness. The head monk had his own agenda, an agenda that put other interests ahead of hers and the book’s, and the Karmapa knew it. She drew another deep breath.
“I want to respect the Karmapa’s wishes, but I think it would be more dangerous for monks to transport the manuscript to Samye than it will be for me. The Chinese are watching every monastery and searching every monk. I can go disguised as a pilgrim and slip past them, just as I did coming here. I will cover my skin with charcoal and butter oil and dress as a poor pilgrim who is visiting the monasteries. I will protect the manuscript and never let it out of my sight, just as I have done for the past five days.”
Sukhang translated as she spoke, hesitantly at first, then with greater strength as he felt the power of her conviction. When he finished, the head monk opened his mouth to speak, but the Karmapa raised his hand.
“Enough,” he said. He spoke English! Had he understood everything she had said? “I know very little English,” he continued in answer to her question. “You have honored Tibet and done a great . . . “ he turned to Sukhang and said something.
Sigourney's Quest - Excerpt
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