The Mystery Tomb

By: Eva Pohler

“I didn’t hear you come down here,” she said. “What do you want?”

“I want you to answer my question. Why can’t you let them be? Why do you have to disturb and humiliate my ancestors like this?”

“I don’t want to humiliate them,” she insisted.

“You want to display their bones and their goods like animals in a zoo.” He stepped over the tree and stood inches from her, bringing the fear back to her trembling body, but his voice became gentler. “How can someone so beautiful be so heartless?”

Did he say beautiful?

Hang on. Did he say heartless? No one had ever called her heartless.

She backed away, gathered her shoes from the rock, and hurried a few steps up the hill from him before turning to say, “You’re the heartless one. I want to give those people a voice. You want to stifle their contribution to modern society before they even have a chance to make it.”

She reached around her face and bunched her windblown hair in a single fist. “Well I won’t let you do it.” Then she turned and walked away, back up the hill to the distant manor.

Back in her room, Samantha changed into her comfortable nightshirt, grabbed her cell phone, and climbed into bed. How dare he, she thought. How dare he try to stop her from learning about her people?

The silver-framed photograph on the antique nightstand fell back, so she set it upright.

She realized now, upon closer inspection, that this was a picture of Tukihëla’s mother, Rebecca. Brandon had shown her another portrait down in the music room. This photo was taken when she was a girl of ten or so. Two barrettes pinned back blonde curls, and grey eyes narrowed in a scowl. Rebecca lifted her little chin defiantly as she stood in her plaid dress in the front of Gellermann Manor holding a red dachshund. Samantha put the photo back on the nightstand beneath the antique Tiffany lamp and sat against her pillows on the bed.

Samantha sighed in the full-sized antique oak poster bed and sank into the cream satin linen, as she stared at the enormous window opening on to the front of the estate. She turned off the Tiffany lamp so she could gaze out the window and the starry landscape and forget the man who called himself Tukihëla Nisha.

She decided to look up his name in her Algonquian dictionary, so she flipped back on the lamp and grabbed the book from her bag.

Tukihëla meant “awaken.” She leafed through to the N’s. Nisha meant “two.”

She slammed shut the book and returned it to her bag on the floor by her bed. She flipped off the lamp, closed her eyes, and pleaded with the river of forgetfulness. Why couldn’t she get the image of Tukihëla Nisha out of her head?

When the image refused to leave, she took up the cell phone and called her grandma to tell her the news of the day’s discovery. She was going to wait until morning, but then remembered it was still only seven o’clock in Texas.

Plus, her grandma’s voice would cheer her up.

“So those skeletons you found are without question ancestors of mine?”

“I believe so, Grandma. I’m ninety-nine percent sure they are. We haven’t gotten the DNA test yet. I’ve sent samples of my blood and fibers from several of the bones to our lab.”

“You should use my blood, or your father’s.”

“What does it matter?”

“You’re right. Of course it doesn’t matter. Anyway, I’ll have to come up and see the place for myself!”

“Not right now, though I’d absolutely love that. There’s a bit of a kink in our plans. Another descendant has appeared, and he doesn’t like what we’re doing.”

“Oh, dear. That’s too bad. I hope you won’t let this obtuse person stop you.”

“You know me.”

“That’s right. So I won’t come now, but I will come eventually.”

“I’d like that.”

“A fellow descendant? I really must meet him.”

Samantha imagined her boisterous grandmother meeting the solemn Tukihëla Nisha.

“By the way, it was our discovery of the Mësingw that provided the final proof,” Samantha added.

“You mean Misink, don’t you?”

“Isn’t that what I said?”

“No. I’ve told you before, you need to say ‘sink,’ like a kitchen sink.”

“Grandma, I know what I’m talking about. I interviewed lots of folks in Oklahoma. They even spelled it for me.”

“M-I-S-I-N-K. Short for Misinkhalikàn.”

“That’s not what they said. Oh, it doesn’t matter, anyway. It’s the same guy, I’m sure of it, with the face that’s half red and…”

“Half black. Look, I know what I’m talking about, too. My Grandma Kexi told me a story about Misink. I told it to you when you were little, but your mother didn’t like it. She was afraid my stories would undermine your Christian values.”

“But you’re Christian.”

“I know, I know. Well, we both know your mother can be a bit ridiculous. Anyway, shall I tell you the story again?”


“Alright then. A long, long time ago there lived three boys no one loved, not even their parents. People threw rocks at them and called them names, and no one knows why. One day when they were out in the woods, a hairy-looking person with a face painted half red and half black jumped in front of them and said he was Misinkhalikàn. He said he would protect them from the others. So they followed him to the sky and he showed them his home, promising them strength and power.