Swarag – Ghost story (11)

When Swara woke the next morning, Kavyaand Ragini were still sleeping. For a moment, she thought the museum heist was a dream. But after checking under the bed and finding the peace pipe wrapped safely in a towel, she knew it really happened. She woke Kavyaand Ragini and the girls dressed, grabbed the pipe, and ran out to the garage in the back yard.
They entered the garage, and Swara closed the door. It was dark, and they could barely see each other. The girls stood in a circle facing each other, Swara holding the peace pipe still wrapped in the towel. They stood this way for several minutes, and nothing happened.
“Where’s the chief?” Kavyasaid. “What do we do now?”
“I-I don’t know,” Swara said. “He usually shows up by this time.”
“I wonder what happened,” Ragini said.
Just then, Swara’s mother hollered from outside, “Swara! Breakfast is ready!”
The girls remained absolutely still in the darkness of the garage. Swara’s mother continued to call from outside, and her voice was getting louder.
“She’s coming this way,” Ragini said.
They could hear the sound of feet shuffling just outside the door. The handle turned and the door opened. The sunlight streaming through the door was so bright, the girls had to shade their eyes with their hands.

When they lowered their hands, they were standing in the middle of the open prairie in the dreaming place. In the distance, Swara could see the line of trees that marked the location of the creek, and the teepee tops in the Indian village.
“Well that was different,” Kavyasaid.
“Definitely,” Swara said. “No tornado this time.” She unfolded the towel and checked that the pipe was still there. “Ok, let’s get to the village and finish our mission.”
The girls started across the field into the line of trees and across the creek. As they approached the village, a young man spotted them. He was carrying a rabbit by the ears, and dropped it in surprise. He whooped and ran to the village yelling for the others to come out. Men, women and children appeared from their teepees and gazed in awe at the three girls. Once they recognized the girls, they hooped and hollered and ran out to greet them. Soon, they were surrounded by the smiling faces of the villagers.
“Where have you been?” one of them asked. “Why have you not visited us for so long?”
“It’s only been a few weeks,” Swara said.
“It has been twelve years.” The voice belonged to a very old man who wore a large headdress. Swara gazed up at the wrinkled and weathered face of Chief Floating Cloud.
“Twelve years?” Swara said. “I didn’t mean to take so long.”
“It does not matter,” Chief Rajat said. “You have returned, and you are welcome as if you never left.”
“We have something for you,” Kavya said. “Something you lost a long time ago.”
“I have it right here.” Swara unwrapped the towel and held the peace pipe up. Chief Rajat’s mouth dropped open and his eyes filled with wonder. The villagers became quiet. Swara smiled up at the Chief. “We brought it back for you.”

Chief Rajat reached down and, with trembling hands, he took the pipe from Swara. “I never thought I would see this again.” He held it high above his head so all the people could see it. The tribe let out a whoop that was so loud it hurt Swara’s ears. Smiling broadly, she covered her ears and gazed happily at Chief Rajat.
Ragini leaned close and had to yell in Swara’s ear. “Just like the picture in the museum!”
Swara nodded her head. Yes, it was just like that.

Several men picked up the girls and carried them into the village on their shoulders. They set them next to the fire pit in the center of the village. Women appeared and wrapped colorful blankets over their shoulders and stuck beautiful eagle feathers in their hair. The children gave them necklaces of colored beads made from precious stones and seeds. Their faces were covered with colorful makeup. Soon, the girls were so decorated with treasures that it was difficult to recognize them. The tribe prepared a huge meal of deer meat, rabbit, and wild vegetables from the prairie. Every member of the tribe filed past the girls to present gifts and to thank them for returning the White Buffalo Woman’s gift to their village.
Once it became dark and cooler, they piled wood in the fire pit and lit a roaring fire to chase away the chill. The villagers painted their faces and brought over drums and flutes. They played and sang loudly and the women and braves dressed in their finest clothes and the men danced around the fire and the three girls.
Swara leaned towards her friends. “I am smiling so hard, my cheeks hurt.” Ragini and Kavya agreed. They brought great joy to these people. The heist was worth the risks they underwent to pull it off. They knew in their hearts they had done the right thing.

The party lasted nearly all night, and it was not until the sun began to glow on the horizon that they finally slowed down. Swara, Ragini, and Kavya were shown to a tepee near the centre of the village. Inside they found beds made from buffalo skins. The girls crawled into the beds and sighed in relief that the party was finally over. Swara said goodnight to her friends, closed her eyes, and fell into a deep sleep.


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