Barry and Teddy were in their short pajama bottoms and wrestling on the bottom bunk of their bed. Not unusual, werewolf kids wrestled anywhere and everywhere. The bed had been chosen especially for its sturdiness, because of that fact. They bumped against the wall a couple of times, not noticing the give in the plaster.
The third time they bumped it, they went right through the wall, and screamed as they felt themselves falling. Robby looked up from his bed, and saw the hole in the wall. Barry and Teddy giggled, shrieked with laughter, when they wrestled, but they never screamed, not unless one of them inadvertently got a knee to the groin, and then one of them might scream in pain, but not both at the same time.
Robby opened the top bureau of his dresser, grabbed his flashlight, ran over to the bunk beds, knelt on the bottom one, and shone his flashlight through the big hole. They were both lying on a floor on their backs, eyes wide with fright.
Robby's first fear eased, there was no widely gaping holes dripping blood. They were a mess, covered with plaster and dust, but other than that they looked fine. The floor was the same distance as their bedroom floor, so they'd only fallen about eighteen inches. It was going through the wall that had frightened them, not the fall itself.
“You two just found a secret room,” Robby said with humor. “It's not the recommended method, but it will do. You're just supposed to tap on the wall looking for a hollow spot behind, not knock a great big hole in it.”
He looked at the edges of the hole, and could see that there didn't appear to be any sharp bits sticking out anywhere. “If you're still alive in there, and I can see that your eyes are moving, you can get up, and I'll lift you through.” The little boys pushed themselves into a seated position and looking at each other, they giggled at the sight.
Barry was the first through and Robby set him down on the wood floor beside Blue, who had come over to watch. Since the bed was as covered with plaster and dust as the boys, he hadn't jump up to look through the hole but he was as fascinated as Robby. Teddy was next and Robby did the same for him.
“Here give me a hand, and we'll move the bunks.” They moved the bunk bed away from the wall, that caught adult attention from downstairs, and Hary showed up in the doorway, just as Robby was leaning into the hole and shining his flashlight around. She said, looking at the plaster and dust covered younger boys, “You're a mess. What happened?”
Robby said cheerfully, “They found a secret room, Mom. There doesn't seem to be much in it, an old roll top desk and a chair, is all.” Turning the flashlight in the opposite direction, “There's a door that looks like it used to go through the closet leading into this room. I know the closet has been plastered over at least twice, because I can remember you and Dad doing it once in this room.”
“Yes, you're right, we repaired the plaster that was cracking and then plastered over the old wall.” Paul joined them at that moment.
“What's going on?” he asked, and Hary told him as much as she knew. Robby climbed through the hole and Hary and Paul and the two kids moved closer. Hary told him, “Be careful, we don't know how the floor in that room is.”
“I tried the desk, and it's locked. None of the drawers are, but they're all empty. Mom, could you brush Teddy off, I'm sure you'd rather keep as much of the mess in this room as possible. We'll probably all have to take another bath, but there's no sense until we're finished.”
Hary took a duster that she kept in the closet, “Okay, Teddy close your eyes and I'll get the loose dirt off of you.” he did so and she brushed him down. “I might as well get you at the same time, Barry.” and like Teddy, he closed his eyes as his mother brushed him off.
Robby said, “Okay, Teddy put your slippers on and go up to the attic and get the bucket of keys from up there. Every key that's ever been used in this house, and discarded must be there. Hopefully we'll find one for the desk.
“Okay, Robby, I know just where it is,” as Teddy put on his slippers, and a few seconds later they could hear him pounding up the attic stairs.
Hary had gotten the loose dust and plaster up from the floor with the portable vacuum she kept in the boys' room, and they'd put a towel down and dumped the keys onto it. The three boys were kneeling around the towel, sorting through the keys looking for small keys. As Robby had said there were hundreds of keys, some still on key rings, but most were just loose.
Barry held up a small fancy one, “Here's one, Robby.”
Robby took a look at it and he got excited. He felt that this was the one. But then he'd felt the same for the other five small keys they'd found. Taking it, he picked up his flashlight and slipped through the hole. He gave a yell of triumph. “That's the right one. The top's stuck.” and after a few seconds they heard a clatter as the top went up.
“There's just a couple of things. A book and a small box. Oh no,” he groaned, “the box is locked as well, and I certainly haven't seen any keys that would be small enough to open it.” Robby handed the box and the book to Hary and climbed through the hole.
looking at the box, while Robby flipped though the book, which turned
out to be a diary. He read a few excerpts and he went cold as he saw
some of the things written there. Coming to the last page, on which
there was writing, the entry caught his attention, for it was in elegant
copper-plate handwriting, completely different from the scrawl in which
the rest of the diary was written.
Nov 5, 1864
'I, Robert Richard Hansen, make this last entry. Possibly I should have destroyed this book when I came upon it, since it chronicles the life of a truly evil man; a man called Benson W. Hansen. The man who I am supposedly named after, the man who is supposed to be my father.
If the reader is a descendant of mine, please take comfort in the fact that the supposed fact is a total lie. I was born in England in 1812, the son of Augustus Hansen and Mabel Pierce, both orphans, and we traveled to this new land of America in 1819 after I could control my change. If you are my descendant you will know what that means. Unfortunately, both of my parents died on board ship, and I landed in the port of Charleston, South Carolina, an orphan like my parents before me.
The crew and captain cared little for my newly orphaned state nor did any of the other passengers... Well I should not say all; one did care, for he was the first mate and an Elder. All I had ever heard him called aboard ship was Benson, and he seemed a good enough man to a seven-year-old boy. When I left the ship and he came up to me, with the incredible charm that was part of his evil, I fell under his spell immediately.
Somehow, he was aware of the money belt containing one hundred English pounds, hidden under my breeches. To this day, I do not know how he found out about the money. He proposed that he pretend to be my father, and that we travel west, and it was not until we arrived in this area that has come to be known as Benson, that he showed his true colors.
He stole the money that I had on my person and purchased some land, in this area. Possibly, he intended to do away with me, but obviously he did not, and treated me as his son. The diary will tell you what he did to me. Be warned it is not pleasant. It was not until we arrived in this area that he added the name Hansen to his own, stealing that from me as well. It was then I found out he was an Elder, and as an Elder he of course knew what I was, and what many people in this area were.
As an Elder, he lorded over our people, only showing his charm. To those few of our people he showed his evil side, they died, and he was never suspected.
When I was sixteen I ran away, and headed into the true Wild West, and for ten years I enjoyed myself immensely, traveling with the natives and others. But then I began to get restless, feeling that I wasn't accomplishing anything. I was lucky at that time to find a pocket of gold nuggets, and I took some of it, knowing that it would be there if I needed it in the future. What I took was not enough to make me rich, but enough so that I could travel East and get a good education as a doctor.
Then I returned to Benson's Place, as this area had begun to be called, to see if I could mitigate some of the wrongs that Benson Hansen was still perpetuating among our people and humans. I was in fact able to do some good, because among his many faults Benson was a coward, and I had grown to be a big man, almost twenty pounds over two hundred, and outweighed Benson by close to forty pounds.
I knew I could not stop him completely, there were many little things that he was able to get by me, which I only heard about later. He was the only person in our area who was rich enough to own slaves, though he could only afford a man and a woman and their children. However I think when he purchased them, he began his downfall; our people do not like slavery, and disapproved of his purchase.
He blustered his way through it; he was an Elder after all. They would have torn him to pieces if they had realized that Jacob was of our people, but he managed to hide that fact, and with threats to the lives of his children, Jacob did not dare tell anyone.
It was completely by accident that I found out what Jacob was and our esteemed Elder inadvertently revealed it himself. I demanded he release them immediately, and he agreed to free Jacob. But he said what would his family do, they had some of his blood in their veins but they were only partly of our people, so could not change, so he would not be disobeying our law by holding them.
He proposed an agreement, that if Jacob could return within a year of his release and give him two hundred dollars he would free his whole family. He was sure that a Negro would be unable to raise that kind of money, and he knew that at that time that I didn't have it. But he didn't know about the gold that I had found.
I gave Jacob careful directions, and he left returning six months later with the gold. Since I didn't want Benson to know about the gold, I went to Cormier to a man I could trust, and he changed it into gold coins.
After returning to Benson I gave the gold coins to Jacob telling him that I would go with him to see Benson. Unfortunately I was called out on an emergency and when I returned to my home Jacob was gone.
I realized then how stupid I had been. I had intended to tell Jacob that Benson was an Elder prior to visiting the man. Not realizing that Benson was an Elder, Jacob would have been so anxious to see his family that he would have gone to them while I was visiting my patient. Benson would be able to detect his presence. It was with some anxiety that I changed immediately and headed after Jacob.
To my everlasting sorrow I was much too late. I heard the shot but by the time I got there, Jacob was dead. The paper that showed that he had been freed, and the gold was gone.
That was the last straw for me. I headed for Benson's home, and challenged him, but like the coward he was he ran, but he was a little overweight and he was no match for my youthful vigor, and though it took several miles I finally caught up to him. We fought and I tore his throat out, and left him there, to rot as he deserved.
I was astonished when I found that he had never written a will, so I was his sole heir. I immediately freed Jacob's family, and feeling that the life would be better for them sent them north. It wasn't until after the Civil War began that I found this hidden room, and the diary, and Jacob's gold, but I never found the paper that freed him.
Not that it is important, I can see the end of the Civil War and it will go badly for the South, and that will free all of the slaves, but I would like to be able to return Jacob's gold to his family.
I had hoped that I would be able to return it to them, in person, but the two heart attacks I've suffered over the last two years, indicate that the third and last is probably close, so I doubt I will be able to do so.
My wife and I have had twelve children in the last fifteen years, and because of our people's heartiness, ten have lived; however many of them are like my wife. I love Myrtle, but while not a bad person, she is grasping and opportunistic, and would undoubtedly keep the money for herself, so I will not reveal the existence of this room.
I hope someday that the person who finds this will have the decency to return it to them if they can find them.
Richard Robert Hansen
Robby turned to the beginning of the diary and began to read it. From the first page, he was thoroughly repulsed by what was on the paper, but it was his duty as an Elder. He didn't even notice Hary shepherding the munchkins back into the bathroom for another bath and a change of pajama bottoms, or stripping the bottom bunk and remaking it.
After that Hary looked at Robby, intending to send him for a bath as well, but when she saw the disgust on his face and the anger in his eyes, she didn't interrupt him.
It was about ten o'clock when Robby knocked on their door. He handed the diary, to her, and his voice was harsh. “Read the last entry first. I don't like to give you such unpleasant reading material at bedtime, but as a cop you're more used to it than most. I intend to seal it to Elders only. We'll inform the community that we found documents indicating that Benson W. Hansen wasn't our ancestor, but we won't tell them about the diary.”
He left the room and few minutes later they could hear the shower going in the bathroom and Robby stayed in there a long, long time, trying to get clean after what he had read.
Hary looked at the dark circles under Robby's eyes. “Didn't sleep much, huh?”
“No. I got some sleep, thanks to Blue, but not very much,” Robby said, “I think it's the helplessness that got me the most. To know except for the last time, he got away with so much, and I can't do anything about it.”
Hary nodded, saying, “I know how you feel. I don't see as much of the rotten underside, as a big city cop would, but it's enough at times to make me want to just give up. But then I help someone, and I know that I'm needed.”
“Anything that you can tell me about the teak box? I imagine that it contains, Jacob's gold.” Robby said.
“It's locked,” said Hary with a twinkle in her eye, and Robby couldn't help but giggle. “I'll take it into the station. Norm's an expert at locks and he should be able to get it open, without causing any damage.”
Steve Ross his teacher, had noticed his introspection at school and had left him alone all day, and it was still there after school when the kids were gathering in the screened off back porch, to do their homework. Robby showed them the diary, and read the last entry, which wasn't part of the sealed part of the book. He handed it to Gary and it made the rounds, with Wil getting it last. He looked at the seal, which looked like a ring, the crest on the outside and the band actually going right through the pages of the book.
“What would happen if someone just cut around the seal.” Wil asked.
Robby answered seriously, “It takes an Elder to unseal that book. It's active magic, which is not something we use very often. The metal seal is only the visible part of the magic. If you cut around it, the pages would burst into flame.”
Wil closed the book and then held it up. “Did you notice that the back cover is much thicker than the front cover?”
“No I didn't,” said Robby. He took out the penknife he kept in the pocket of the clothes he wore at home. “Here, see if there's something there beside the cover?” handing it to Wil.
Wil took the penknife and probed carefully with it, and suddenly a compartment in the back cover popped open. They all looked with wonder at the sheet of paper that Wil pulled out. “It was right under your ancestor's eyes all the time, only the book was so familiar to him that he never saw it.”
Wil handed it to Robby unopened. Robby opened it carefully, just in case it was fragile, and read it through several times. The writing was the same as the diary, but it was more difficult to read because the ink was more faded.
he read it aloud:
'I, Benson W. Hansen, hereby free the slave known as Jacob Mallet, and pledge that if he returns by the same date in 1851 with the sum of 200 dollars, I will free the rest of his family, consisting of his wife, Maisie, and four children, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Amanda.
Signed Benson W. Hansen
Witnessed by Benson W. Hansen Jr.
Witnessed by Rev. Thomas Richmond'
Suddenly Robby felt a presence; different from any other he had ever felt before. He looked up and was not surprised to see a large black man standing, looking around with some confusion.
“Hello, Jacob,” Robby said calmly, “Welcome back to the land of the living.”
The other children gasped as they realized that they were looking at a real ghost. The confusion quickly faded from Jacob eyes and his intelligent face took on a look of humor, as he looked at Robby. “With that face, and those eyes you have to be a Hansen.”
Robby bowed, “True, I am Robert Richard Hansen, most people call me Robby.” He affectionately rubbed Teddy's head, who was staring with awe, at the man who he could partially see through, “This is my little brother, Teddy. The little one over there trying to hide behind Lyle, is my adopted brother, Barry Hansen-White, no less a Hansen despite the fact that he has none of our blood running through his veins. Lyle is my cousin, also a direct descendant of Robert Richard Hansen, who you, and everyone knew as Benson W. Hansen Jr., and the four of us are werewolves as you were. Gary Wilson over there with the brown hair and gray eyes is also a werewolf, but Wil with the brown hair and eyes is a Gypsy, and Jenna, the tall one of the group, with the black hair and eyes, she’s Sasquatch.”
Robby asked, “I assume that reading the paper that gave you your freedom, brought you back from the Spirit Realms. Why did you choose not to pass on?”
Jacob looked at him solemnly; “I could not pass on until I was sure that my family knows that I didn't abandon them.”
“They know,” said Robby earnestly, Picking up the diary he turned it to the last entry and began to read Robert Richard Hansen's statement. Tears of joy were running down Jacob cheeks.
When he was finished reading the entry Robby looked at him, telling him, “He was right about not having the opportunity to look for your family. He died less than ten days after he wrote that in the diary. He didn’t die of a heart attack however, but from a fall from a horse after visiting one of his patients, in a hard rainstorm. They say he died with a smile on his face, because his death resulted from doing his duty to his patients.”
Jacob explained, “Benson lied about none of my children being able to change. Maisie was my second wife, and while she had some werewolf blood in her veins, it wasn't enough for my two younger children to change. My two older children were born of my first wife and could change, though they were still very young, at the time of my death, both of them under ten.” Jacob stated. He looked wistful “I wish I could see that money go to my family.” he smiled, “I doubt it's worth much today but I still would like to see them get it.”
“I am aware that a visit from the Spirit Realms can usually only occur once,” said Robby, “so normally you would pass on now. But I am the first werewolf Healer born in over a hundred years, and a Healer can reach into the Spirit World and call you back one additional time. I am also an Elder, so I can call on resources to see if we can locate your family and bring them here, so that you may see them. If you have no descendants that can be found, then I can reach into the Spirit World and tell you that as well, so you won't have to linger, wondering.”
“I thank you for that, Elder. I will wait willingly until I hear word from you, either way. Goodbye for now.” and then Jacob faded from sight.
They were driving through a middle class neighborhood, the driver a black minister and a werewolf Elder. “How will you know if this is the same family, Robby, the name is Maillete?”
“From the research that has been done over the last two weeks, every indication is that they are the same family, and I will know, Reverend. Even though Jacob was in the Spirit Realm, I could still read his DNA pattern. If they are his descendants, they will have the same pattern.” Robby said.
“Do you know what the Spirit Realms are, I've discussed it with other Elders, but this is the first time a Healer has been available.” the minister asked.
Robby shook his head, saying, “The Elder Historians, despite the disappearance of Healers a century ago, were always hopeful that they would reappear, and there is History, available only to Healers, but I'm afraid that the Spirit Realms are as much an enigma to us as to anyone else. When a spirit, a ghost if you will, appears in the Outer Spirit Realm where we can see them, they do not remember anything about the Inner Spirit Realms except they know that it is a way station to somewhere, and they chose when they move on. They can be called twice. Once by the criteria they set, in Jacob's case it was the reading out loud of his freedom papers, and once by a werewolf Healer, or a shaman, or witch doctor or other spiritual adviser who has some magical ability, depending on whether the person is totally human or were.”
They turned into a driveway just after he finished speaking. There were seven adults or late adolescents, and three children. Eight of the faces had smiles of welcome, but two were glaring with venomous dislike. Robby said, with humor, “It looks like I'm not one hundred per welcome, Reverend.”
“I sort of got that impression when I came by yesterday to tell them about your visit.” Reverend Miller said a smile on his face. “But I think you'll find that most of them will be very welcoming.”
Robby got out of the car. He was uncomfortable, in a new blue suit, white shirt and tie; Blue jumped down from the car seat to join him. He waited for the Reverend to come around the car and then with Blue pacing slightly in front of them, they walked to the steps of the porch. Robby was very seldom shy, and in this case it was if he were meeting a bunch of close family members, that he had only seen a few days before, so quickly and comfortably was he integrated into those waiting. Except for two, and since they seemed to wish to ignore him, he ignored them as well.
Robby loved Mama Maisie Maillete at first sight, a slim youthful looking black woman in her early sixties, which was still young for a werewolf. She was about his mother's height which was five seven, but her eldest son Jordan, a high school teacher, was a good foot or more taller. His wife Delia was the second tallest woman Robby had ever met, being around six feet two inches tall, and of course all of the children were somewhat tall for their age. Robby had to stifle a grin as he realized the oldest, even though he was about five feet five inches tall, was at about the same stage of pre-pubescence as he was.
Robby gave him a tug and whispered in his ear, and he and the boy, Martin, laughed together, “Yeah, it's a bummer isn't it. I got lucky,” Martin said, “With my Mom and Dad so tall, it at least looks like I've entered puberty, even though in reality its about three or four years away.”
The next was a girl of about ten, wearing a pretty dress, and seeing the twinkle in her black eyes, Robby said, “I bet that's the first time your Mom's been able to get you into a dress since the last time you went to church.” Jade giggled and her mother laughed, and said, “You've got that right.” At twenty-five pounds Blue wasn't a cat a child of Jade's age picked up casually, but she bent down and gave him a good petting.
Malcolm was the youngest at six and a half, and Robby could tell from his aura that he hadn't begun to control his change yet. He smiled, “I bet you're just waiting for that first time that you can change all by yourself.” Malcolm nodded vigorously, a grin on his face. “My brother Teddy was about your age the first time he changed, but I was almost seven before I managed it, so you may get lucky or you may have to be patient like I was. But my littlest brother is just five so he has to wait a year and a half to two years before he can control his changes.”
The next one introduced was Luther, who was about thirty, one of the two who had been glaring. Robby wasn't surprised that he and the next, Tania, refused to shake his hand. It didn't bother Robby. If they weren't even willing to try to make friends and missed out on a good thing, that was their bad luck.
The next was Clay, at about twenty, he smiled, “I was named after Muhammad Ali. Mom thought that calling me Muhammad was going a bit too far, since I was a Christian. They felt that he deserved to be honored, so she and my dad settled on Clay which was his original last name.
Mary Ann was the last, a pretty teen-ager of about eighteen or nineteen. She laughed, a sweet musical laugh, “Mom always says that she was watching a Gilligan's Island marathon, when she went into labor with me. Personally, I consider it an honor. Whenever someone comes up to me and asks why I have such a dumb name, I always ask them when was the last time they made millions of people laugh.”
Robby nodded approval.
The kids were sitting on the floor, with Blue lying beside Jade, enjoying her petting. Robby and the others were sitting on comfortable chairs and couches, that is everyone but Luther and Tania who preferred to stand. “We learned recently of a secret room in our house, we found a box containing two hundred dollars and...”
Luther burst out, “What do you want to do, give us a pittance of two hundred dollars to salve your parent's conscience, because your ancestors owned slaves, well I don't want any part of it, how about you Tania?”
“I agree, Luther. Let's get out of here.” she sneered. They started to head for the door and then stopped, unable to move.
Robby spoke very softly, his words like chips of ice, “You aren't even ready to listen to what I intended to say. Well listen to this. I will be inviting the rest of your family to come to Benson tonight, the minister knows exactly where. I will invite them, I order you to be there by nine o'clock. Or else! You may go now.” and he released them, and they lurched trying to retain their balance, they glared back at him and stalked out of the door.
Robby turned his attention back to the others, “As I said we found a box containing two hundred dollars which belonged to Jacob Mallet, in a hidden room. Unfortunately my ancestor died before the end of the Civil War and never had a chance to look for Jacob's family. He kept the room hidden, even from his family, because he did not trust his family to do the right thing, he said that they were too much like his wife. He asked whoever found it to try and find his family and return the money to you. Since I am an Elder and this was werewolf business, I was able to use all of our resources to look for you.”
“We traced you here to Prescott, only a hundred miles from Benson. As I told your other children, I invite you to come and receive the money. There is a good reason for you to go there, rather than my just presenting it to you here. The minister will assure you of that.”
Robby looking at them could see the wheels going behind Martin's eyes, then they lit up and he started to speak. *No Martin, they will find out tonight and your aunt and uncle will learn what intolerance can bring.*
Martin stared at him for a minute and then nodded his head.
It was a large affair and though solemn, there
was somewhat of an atmosphere of a party, in Seamus Riley's large field.
They were all there, even the reluctant Luther and Tania. He nodded
to Teddy who stepped up to the microphone of the PA system. “This
diary was found in a secret room at our house. Me and Barry were wrestling
and we fell right through the wall.” He waited for the laughter to
subside. “The diary has been sealed by an Elder, all except for the
last entry, which goes like this:
'Nov 5, 1864
I, Robert Richard Hansen, make this last entry. Possibly I should have destroyed this book when I came upon it, since it chronicles the life of a truly evil man; a man called Benson W. Hansen. The man who I am supposedly named after, the man who is supposed to be my father.
If the reader is a descendant of mine, please take comfort in the fact that supposed fact is a total lie. I was born in England in 1812, the son of Augustus Hansen and Mabel Pierce, both orphans, and we traveled to this new land of America in 1819 after I could control my change. If you are my descendant you will know what that means. Unfortunately, both of my parents died on board ship, and I landed in the port of Charleston, South Carolina an orphan like my parents before me.'
continued reading the entry in his clear treble, ending with the words:
Richard Robert Hansen'
took his place at the microphone, and while he was pretending to read
it, he had actually memorized it.
'I, Benson W. Hansen, hereby free the slave known as Jacob Mallet, and pledge that if he returns by the same date in 1851 with the sum of 200 dollars, I will free the rest of his family, consisting of his wife, Maisie, and four children, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Amanda.
Signed Benson W. Hansen
Witnessed by Benson W. Hansen Jr.
Witnessed by Rev. Thomas Richmond'
Robby put his hand on top of Blue's head as Barry began and he called, *Jacob, it is time you returned, I have found your family and they are waiting here for you.* They just don't know it yet, thought Robby with humor.
As Jacob began to appear, Robby stood up and approached the semi-transparent figure. He greeted him with a bow, saying, “Hello, Jacob, I welcome you for what will be the last time in our world. I have located your family. Your three youngest died without issue, having each lived well over one hundred years. Your eldest, Matthew, had four children; I mention this fact because it is important. His two youngest sons' grandchildren married each other. One was Homer Maillete, and he was a fireman who was killed in the line of duty in nineteen eighty-seven the other was Maisie Maillete, who is here today, with her five children and three grandchildren.”
Robby turned and held out his hand, “Maisie, would you like to greet your several times great-grandfather?” She got up without fear and walked up to Jacob tears in the corner of her eyes. She said, “I would have recognized you anywhere, my uncle and my husband looked just like you.” and then she wept unashamedly.
Jacob reached out and touched her cheek and she could feel the faint sensation of a caress. Robby motioned Jacob's family forward and they moved toward him a little uncertainly, as everyone else moved back to give them some privacy.
After about a half-hour, Robby could see that Jacob was beginning to fade a little. He stepped up to the microphone, “I hate to break this up, but Jacob's remaining time in this world has only a few minutes to go and I have one more thing that must be said.”
He said gravely, “When Benson died, the hidden room that we found in the house remained hidden. We do not know how my namesake found the room, but in it he found Jacob's gold. It was at the beginning of the Civil War and he did not live to see the end of the war so he was never able to find Jacob's family and return the money. He asked any of his descendants to return the money to Jacob's family if they could be found. Well we were able to do so, and as a Healer, I can confirm they are indeed his descendants.”
Robby explained, “When I went to Maisie Maillete's home to tell her about the money I intended to tell her everything at that time, but I ran into some intolerance in the form of Luther and Tania, who refused their share of the money. I decided to wait until tonight to tell them everything. It's too bad they refused it, Jacob, because as Martin guessed, your two hundred dollars has become very, very valuable. The coins are so rare that the entire amount is actually close to seven hundred thousand dollars today.”
There was astonishment on the faces of the Maillete family and horror on two faces, and joy on Jacob's face.
Robby looked at Luther and Tania, saying dryly, “A lesson about the folly of intolerance, perhaps. If you had been tolerant enough to let me finish my sentence you would have known that it was Jacob's gold that I was trying to return, not a pittance I was trying to give to salve my family's conscience. The money will be given to those who were quite willing to accept what they thought was a few dollars because it came from an ancestor.”
“It's up to them to decide whether you will share in the money or not. It's their money not mine.” Robby winked at Jacob who had a broad grin on his face, and told him, *I think Maisie will let them suffer a little, but I think they'll end up with an equal share.*
Robby felt the pull in Jacob's mind away from the material world, and said softly, “It's time for you to go Jacob. I think the rest of your family is calling you. Goodbye and say hello to my ancestor for me.”
Jacob clasped his two hands over his head as he slowly faded from view. There was emotion on the faces of almost all of the Maillete family, even those of Luther and Tania, though especially evident on the faces of Maisie and her eldest son Jordan. Malcolm was obviously too young to understand why the rest of his family was both so happy and yet sad at the same time.
Robby said, “One of the reasons I went to the city, instead of just having Reverend Miller extend the invitation to the Maillete family, was because he asked me to give him a last opinion, because a total of five Elders are needed for this type of decision. I totally agreed with him, and since this gathering was being held, it was decided to hold this ceremony at the same time. Would the Elders please gather here.
Reverend Miller and a second Elder from the city, Charles Ramond, and Robby's grandfather and another black Elder from the local werewolf community joined him at the microphone.
Robby explained, “A lot of people here tonight were there at my mother and Paul Wilson's wedding, where a ceremony like this took place. It was a very unusual ceremony due to my age. Normally Elders, when they are chosen, are between the ages of fifteen and forty. By that time, the thing that defines us as Elders is fully mature. But obviously, it doesn't always occur between those ages, the Elders decided in my case that it had happened earlier, and in less unusual cases it happens when the werewolf gets older.
“I think Jacob would be proud of what is about to occur, and I wish he could have stayed long enough to see it. Maisie would you please come before us.” Jordan had a broad grin on his face as he pushed his mother towards the gathered Elders. Her face looked shocked, but she slowly made her way towards them, and when in front of them she looked at each of them in turn and gave a shallow bow to each.
“Maisie Maillete, upon being judged and chosen by five Elders we ask you to join us, in this responsible position,” Robby intoned. “We ask you to become a new Elder, to serve our community?”
Maisie answered from what she had been taught in identical words to Robby's nine months before, “I accept, knowing the responsibilities that will now be mine. I will not shirk my duties, knowing at times I will have to judge my own kind.”
Maisie bowed her head, eyes twinkling a little as she had to bow a little more because of Robby's small size. But her face was solemn as they put their hands on her head, and reaching carefully into her mind, awakening the new abilities, and giving her the knowledge that an Elder needed.
They withdraw their hands, *Welcome, Elder.*
She turned and faced the rest of the werewolves and they bowed to her in silence and respect.
Sam Matthews had checked out the floor of the secret room, and had found that it was a sound as the rest of the house, so since it wasn't a load bearing wall it had been decided to remove the wall completely. Then they moved the bunk beds over against the new wall, and the roll top desk had been moved into the study downstairs. It gave the three kids a little more room in their bedroom. What did they need more room for? More room for wrestling of course, after all they were werewolf kids.