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Prologue

1 January 1925

My Dear Friend Stephen,

I write to you after all these years to entreat of you one final request. I can turn to no other; I can trust no other. It is rumored that I am an embittered, half-crazed old man. Yes, even in my isolation, I hear these things. Only you know the truth behind my bitterness. Only you know the deep sense of failure I feel toward the one person whom I could have helped. And only you know that my mind is still clear, although now dedicated to one cause.

I have done much searching, much reading, and, when I was again able, much praying. The spiritualists and Madame Blavatsky have given me no clear-cut answers, but they have given me hope—hope that is strengthened by the words Eliza spoke to me when she was but a child and again in the hour before she so needlessly left me.

My preparations are now complete. There is no guarantee this will work, but I have done all that is humanly possible. And if there is a just God, if there is a loving God, Eliza and I will be together again. Here. In the home I built for her. In the home she grew to love in the few short months I was privileged to have her with me.

I ask—I plead—that you defend my estate, my wishes, and the Will that I have written. Some will say these are the demands of a deranged man. You have the strength and the position to counter those accusations, to preserve what I have so painstakingly and deliberately established until, God willing, we return.

Before the coming of the white man's religion, our people believed that the spirits of the departed lingered—near their bodies, our people said, but could it not be near persons or places they loved? When once again I felt, other than pain, I became aware of Eliza's gentle touch, of her gentle presence. She is no longer with me, and I am bereft. But I must believe that our separation is temporary. I await only your answer before I, too, can begin the adventure that lies before us.

Farewell, my dear friend.

David

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Framed