“This gold is cursed. Yu touch it, yu die or maybe even worse. The spirits torture and cripple yu. Don’ ever go touching the gold or you’re gonna die or go crazy.”
“If Dale, Mandala believes that, why did he bring her?”
“Our Great Spirits work in strange ways,” Whispering Waters smiled, taking Rose’s agitated fingers in her own and smoothing them calmly. “Yu don’ believe this do you?”
“I don’t know.” Rose shivered as the sun, giving one last shuddering heave, dropped like a pebble, behind the spiraling bluff above her.
For one exaggerated moment there was infinite darkness. She blinked, trying to adjust her eyes to the blackness. She wasn’t sure what to believe. As the drafts echoed through the branches overhead, she heard an owl wail out. She could only conclude they were in a mystical place, alien and terribly intimidating. Foreboding, like needles pricking her flesh, caused goose bumps to erupt.
“Can we eat owls?” She whispered. She’d heard Dale say there was no food here.
“No.” But Whispering Waters was smiling now, as though amused. “They are evil spirits, for sure. I can see now why. I hope for Mandala’s sake yu aren’t like her.”
“Like Elizabeth? Rose shook her head vehemently. “I will never be like her.”
Then she saw Leon approaching. He sat down gingerly beside her.
“Miss O’Neill we must stop this madness. It’s ludicrous that civilized people are acting in such a manner.”
“How do you propose we do that?” Rose whispered back. Now she could feel Dale’s mystic eyes move in her direction. He was seated on a log, by the fire. Stiffening, she turned to Leon.
“Do you know what is going on?” His pale blue eyes were round with fear.
“They are after the cursed gold. Surely, since you live here, you must have heard of the cursed gold.” She whispered.
“Of course I have heard of the gold. Miss O’Neill it is a proven, documented fact that Lemon found some gold. I’ve seen the men who have dared touch it including Lemon. I’ve heard they either burned to a crisp in mysterious fires or were seen wandering around, eyes vacant and mad. What I don’t understand is why a heathen would bring them here. He seems very enamored with you and I thought perhaps you would know.”
“He doesn’t talk to me.” She flushed, lowering her eyes as Leon looked disbelieving. “You believe there is actually gold here? I’ve read extensively on the subject and other than the legends, I can see no reason why there would be.”