Connor was helping Lindsay fix breakfast. They had slept a little late, due to Lindsayís restlessness.
"Tell me about your new class," she asked him.
"Well, I have a nice-sized groupĖ15 students. Nine boys and six girls. They all seem pretty bright, too."
"Umm. Think theyíll teach the teacher?" She was quoting his own statement from the day he had been hired there.
He laughed. "Well, I guess Iíll just have to see they donít."
She laughed in return as she kissed him, and carried their plates to the table. She eased herself gently into the chair with a deep sigh. "Oh. I feel so heavy. You know, for as old as these chairs have to be, Iím amazed that they take so much weight."
"Funny; I was thinking about them last night."
"What? About the chairs?"
"Yes. About the way they turned up."
She tilted her head, puzzled, but remained silent, and he continued.
"What I mean is, do you remember how Mrs. Shultz said she found them?"
She shrugged. "Yes; she said SootyĖ" she stopped as she got the point, and Connor nodded, finishing the thought for her.
"Thatís right; Sooty found them!"
She raised her eyebrows, and they both looked at the cat, who was looking up at them.
They ate in silence, contemplating this, and finally Connor changed the subject. "It wonít be long now, will it? Are you anxious?"
She smiled. "More than. It seems like itís been so long."
Connor grinned wickedly. "Just be glad youíre not an elephant. They take 22 months."
"Oh, thank you so very much!"
He laughed quietly.
"Actually," she said after a while, "I think that extra sleep did some good. I havenít felt this energetic in a long time."
"Good! Iím glad for you. I know how tired youíve been lately."
She smiled without comment, but said: "Connor, do you know whatís three days from now?"
"Mm. The 25th."
His laughter was rich and full. "Oh, come on, honey. You donít think Iím that much of a dunce, do you?" His beautiful grey eyes held a wicked glint. "Of course I know itís our first anniversary."
Her smile was dreamy. "Itís been quite a year, hasnít it? A wonderful year."
He took her hand. ""You know, when I married you, I thought I couldnít possibly love you any more than I did just then. But now I know I hadnít even begun. Thank you so much for loving me."
"It wasnít by choiceĖI couldnít have helped it if Iíd wanted to, which I didnít. And you know, as much as I love and want this baby, and though itís the most cherished part of my lifeĖConnor, you are my life! You make everything make sense, even when nothing makes any sense at all."
He kissed her fingers, and his eyes held volumes.
When he had heard what Mustafa started to say, Peter had stopped him and gathered Anton and Mia. Now the Egyptian was at the morning Round Table in the Conference Room, and he began again.
"Five years ago, it was I who substituted the false scarab for the real. Since their origin, it has been the charge of my ancestors, and now myself, to protect them."
"Protect them. From what, Mustafa?" Megan asked.
"Where did they originate?" Anton wanted to know.
"This I do not know. We were told only that they were too powerful for unknowledgeable hands, and that they must remain hidden."
"But why are they powerful, Mustafa?"
He looked at Peter. "There are two scarabs; as your beautiful wife has translated, one is the Eye of Horus, the other the Eye of Set. The first one found was the Eye of Set, which projects from the dark unconscious. The one you have, the eye of Horus, does the opposite."
"Because Set was evil, and Horus was good," Megan supplied.
Mustafa closed his eyes and nodded once.
"But thenĖhow do you explain what happened to me?" Mia asked.
"AhĖnow you ask the question that has been troubling me. I do not know why. That is why I feel I must take it away, and hide it, so that no one else is ever placed in danger."
"Where is the other one?"
His eyes turned to Peter, and a small smile crossed his lips. "Safely hidden."
Anton was thoughtful. "Can you give me some time to think about this, Mustafa?"
Mustafa hesitated, then answered slowly: "Until this evening. But then I must have your answer."
Anton nodded and smiled. "Youíll have it; I promise."
They had just finished cleaning up after breakfast when Connor smiled at Lindsay.
"Iíve just had a thought, honey. Letís take the day and drive up to Franconia Notch State Park. Weíve never been up there, and something tells me it may be quite a while before we have another day just to ourselves."
"And why would you say that?" Lindsay laughed, then frowned in puzzlement. "Franconia Notch," she repeated slowly, then gasped as light dawned. "The Old Man! Oh, yes! I think itís a gorgeous idea! Itís a beautiful day, and even a bit cooler than usual!"
"Then what are we waiting for? Race you to the car?"
"Of course not!" she laughed. "You know Iíd beat you!"
Laughing, too, he swept her into his arms and kissed her. "Iíll give you a head start!"
Peter spent the rest of the day running light experiments on the scarab.
"Of course there are no eyes on scarabs," he told Megan, "but at least we can see what happens when we project light at different angles."
He went on to tell her that the skullsí eyes lit when light was shone in them in the right way, and that they were known to reveal wonderful things. After a time, they started getting interesting results.
"Oh, man!" Peter muttered, "I just wish I had more time!" Then he turned to Megan. "I wonder what Antonís thinking?"
Their day together turned out quiet and peaceful. Their trip to Cannon Mountain was smooth and they were awed by the beauty of the natural rock formation.
Connor and Lindsay sat on one of the numerous benches surrounding Profile Lake and stared up at the red granite ledge.
"Itís amazing that weíve been here nearly a year and havenít been up to see this," Lindsay commented. "Itís beautiful!"
"I thought maybe we could stop by The Flume on our way home."
"Oh, yes, letís! Oh, Connor, this is wonderful!" She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "Mm! Smell that mountain air!"
He smiled at her. "Feel like walking for a while?"
She nodded, and they moved on.
It was early evening when the team again met with Mustafa.
"Iíve been thinking a lot today," Anton began, "and Mustafa, I want to ask you a question."
"Are you truly a government official, or is that just your cover?"
He frowned slightly. "Cover. I do not think I understand this meaning."
"What I mean is, did you just say you worked for the government so you could get near the scarab?"
"Ah! No, truly I am with the government."
"Good! Now as I understand it, you want these two objects separated. Permanently, without a chance of their being brought back together again."
"Yes; that is right."
"All right. Now hereís what I proposeĖour organization has an archives that just our people have access to. Iím asking you to authorize us to take it home with us. If the one is here, and the other thereĖ"
Mustafa brought his hands together in one loud clap. "It will be so arranged! One hopes by noon tomorrow!" He held out his hand in a Western gesture. "My thanks, wise friend!"
He shook hands with all of them, and quickly left.
Peter was looking at Anton with admiration. "Well. Guess weíll have to start calling you ĎSolomon.í"
Anton laughed. "Itís a good solution. It also gives you access to it, so you can continue your research. In your leisure time!" he emphasized, with mock sternness.
Peter laughed and hugged Megan, then even hugged Mia.
Connor and Lindsay returned from their day tired but relaxed. The countryside had been beautiful, the weather fine. They had had dinner in a restaurant with a spectacular view of the mountains.
"What a wonderful idea you had! Everything was just lovely!" She settled on the love seat and picked up Sooty. Connor sat beside her, and lifted her feet to his lap so he could rub them. "Umm! I think Iíll keep you."
He laughed. "I should hope so."
She smiled at him through lowered lashes. "Do you know what the best part was?"
"I counted twelve covered bridges! Counting ours."
He shook his head and laughed silently. "Are you ready to go up to bed?"
"Just as soon as I feed Sooty."
"Stay put. Iíll do it."
When that was taken care of she started to get up, then yelped a little. "Ow! Must have been riding too long. Muscle spasm in my back."
He helped her to her feet. "Just put your arm around me."
"Gladly," she smiled, and gave him a little squeeze, besides.
They both slept heavily for several hours, then Lindsay had to slip out of bed. In less than a minute she was back. "Connor! Wake up!"
He jolted awake. "What?"
"Itís started! The babyís coming!"
"Are you sure?"
"Oh, yeah! Am I ever!"
All of a sudden, his usual cool deserted him, and it took him twice as long to dress. Lindsay was torn between laughing at his confusion and crying in pain.
"Honey, please. I need you calm."
This got through, and he settled down, although he was three shades paler than usual.
"Do you need help getting dressed?"
She shook her head. "Just get my light coat from the closet."
For the second time that night, he helped her with the stairs.
"That back pain must have been labor," she fretted on their way. "Itís been going on for hours, and I didnít know."
"Well, at least thereís no way youíre going to miss the grand finale."
She gave him a sideways glance and moaned as another contraction hit.
He grabbed her hand. "Hold on, honey, hold on; weíre almost there."