The Syrian Saber

Part I – People Can Make a Difference: Back to 2013 
Chapter One
High Tide

Involvement Expands
   In 2013, before the robbery of the New York Fed, The Directory was going about its business of creating a new world order. 
   Daniel Barkley was making plans for an expanding ministry.
   Mohammed was embroiled in his mediation and consultant work for a peaceful jihad. 
   The CIA was planning a changeover in Iraq to a covert operation.
   Harold Warren and Sarah Montgomery were successful stock brokers in a Wall Street brokerage firm in New York City. 
   People get settled into their way of life. They may attain all they wished for—at least most of it. Then, at the peak of their success, there comes a nagging concern that maybe they should have achieved or acquired more or something different. Perhaps something could be given for the needs of others rather than attained for self.
   How does a person become involved in the needs of others who may be far-removed and of no seeming consequence in the grand scheme of things? Is it by self-determined choices or is there a Higher Order of destiny to be achieved by the spiritually minded above what can be imagined by one who is locked into the materialistic?
Sometimes there is a rude awakening. Sometimes a gradual enlightenment will shine into a person’s life and a new venture will unfold. Possibilities emerge. People learn they can make a difference and that it does matter what they choose to do.
We must believe both self-determination and Higher Order destiny are at the roots of our choices. Is one more desirable than the other?  
   At least two people had an abrupt change in their life’s agenda that would proclaim that the latter is definitely to be desired. To Harold Warren and Sarah Montgomery would come the challenge to protect some of God’s First People, the indigenous tribes of Cape York Peninsula in Far North Queensland, Australia, from the powerful of this world even as the Wanderers did during the Dreamtime of the indigenous in this present Ice Age. 

Harold Warren Heads West
   Harold was a native of New York and lived in the northern part of the state, an only child with loving parents. His father was president of a community bank and was prosperous but not extremely wealthy. Harold never knew of the need for anything. He attended area public schools, where he excelled academically. He had no trouble being accepted into a prestigious Ivy League School. By the age of twenty-two, he had completed undergraduate and MBA courses with academic honors. He chose Wall Street over law school.
   During Harold’s years of college life, aside from his major in economics and business management, he minored in cultural anthropology. After graduation, he maintained contact with the university alumni activities. He especially enjoyed an open door to the office of Dr. Robert Windham, the Chairman of the Department of Cultural Anthropology and occasionally had lunch with him. 
   Doctor Windham’s special interest was Native American history and folklore, especially the Apache tribes of New Mexico and Arizona. On one occasion at lunch, he explained a planned eleven-student study trip to the Chiricahua National Monument in southeast Arizona. “I have a couple of students I want to take with me but they lack the funds to make the trip. Would you be interested in sponsoring those two students for me?  I estimate the cost will be around $2,000 each for the six-week tour. 
   “We need accommodations, but there are no nearby inns or other lodgings, just provision for campers. However, Faraway Ranch is at the entrance to the National Park. It’s primarily a tour stop and has no provisions for guests. It would be the ideal place to stay. And there is a stable nearby where we could keep the horses we need for exploration of the territory.”  His voice trailed off as if he had new thoughts.
   “I would be glad to sponsor the two students for you,” Harold said. “And I have some friends in the National Park Service. Maybe I could give you a name and number to call. You can use my name as a reference. See if they can arrange something for the university and your study group. At Faraway Ranch, there should be a resource for renting a number of horses for the time you are there. I believe you can work something out on both counts.”
   As they departed they agreed to stay in touch. Each thought something had been set in motion that would result in an accomplishment for which both would be proud.

- - - - - - - -

   Harold’s entire life had been spent in the northeast, with summer trips to the coasts of Maine and Eastern Canada. After employment, he settled into a well-structured “life of the times” with a Manhattan apartment and a BMW. He rode the subway to work each day, using the car for an occasional evening out or weekend visits with his parents. He ate breakfast at Starbuck’s, lunch in the office or the next door deli, and dinner occasionally at home or in one of his favorite restaurants. 
   Harold was now twenty-nine years old. He had frequent dates as well as a fair number of extended relationships, but none with the possibility of marriage. His six years of dedicated work at the firm focused on building a guarantee for a secure future and developing a long list of dedicated investors as clientele that would stay with him. He was successful by any standard. But he needed something different. Where could he go to find it, whatever it might be?  
   He thought, This is a big world. There must be a place where I can go and find answers to some new questions that are plaguing me, however vague they may be. I must visit a travel agent. 
   He made a few phone calls and surfed a bit on the web before deciding where he would begin.

- - - - - - - -

   Harold had never ridden a horse, but the trail was easy to follow. The horse seemed to know where he was going. Harold stopped at the end of the rise; his horse was breathing with audible snorts after the long climb. They had been climbing all morning and were now at an elevation of about 7,000 feet. He did not dismount but took in the beauty and majesty of the rocks and ravines. Big Balanced Rock was a national monument seldom visited because of its remoteness. 
After a few minutes, his horse was breathing easier and Harold thought it time to dismount. It was just before noon, and he was ready to check out the lunch Mattie prepared for him. As he placed his weight on the left stirrup, he came to a sudden stop. 
   He saw, in the shadow of Big Balanced Rock, a lone Indian sitting astride a palomino. The horse had no saddle or stirrups and nothing but a single rope looped around the jaw area running to the Indian’s left hand. The Indian wore a short leather flap in front and back of his waist and buttocks. His thighs and lower legs were bare, and he wore no shoes. His chest was also uncovered except for a short beaded necklace. A woven cloth band around his forehead held a lone black and white feather draped across his right ear. He had long, straight black hair below his ears, held in place by the headband. He carried no weapon. Harold sensed no threat by his presence. The quiet was broken only by the wind whistling through the ravines and an occasional bird call.
   Harold settled back into his saddle and the Indian walked his horse down the slight incline and stopped short of the two horses’ noses touching. The Indian raised his right hand, smiling. Harold returned the gesture.
   “It is nice to see you, Harold. I've been waiting for you, but not for too long.” 
     “Why have you been waiting for me?” Harold had a lot of other questions but waited for the Indian to continue.
   “My name is Shantula. You are here to prepare for your next journey. It is time for you find the meaning for life that you have sought. Come, we must now travel.”
Harold rode in the wind at Shantula’s side. He was still astride the same horse and sitting in the same saddle, wearing the same clothes, and holding the same horse’s reins. But it did not matter what he did with the reins, his horse galloped on, directed by means over which he had no control until they were walking their horses through a wooded glade. They approached a narrow creek that formed a large bend with trees on one side and a clearing on the other that was the site of a small Indian village of about twenty tepees. 
   As the creek circled around the village, its narrow beginning widened into a fork at the far end of the bend. One branch veered into a wooded area that gave way to a desert scene with sparse grassy patches, and the other coursed through craggy rocks jutting through the water’s surface and emptied into a deep pool. At the far end of the pool, the edge was formed by rock walls that had a small opening through which the runoff flowed into a waterfall whose tumult could be heard from where the horses were standing. In Harold’s eyes, it was a place of complete serenity. 
   Thunder in the distance rose to the sound of hoof beats crossing the desert floor and converging on the Indian village. A troop of United States Cavalry arrived on a gallop with trails of dust clouds, riding their horses into the midst of the tepees and throwing lighted torches into each open door as mothers and children fled to the outer limits of the village. A few old men stood their ground and were cut down with pistols and sabers. One large tepee in the center of the village was not disturbed until three soldiers entered, reappearing with an elderly Indian.
   He was dressed in attire that would designate him as the chief and was compelled to walk to an awaiting saddled horse that had no rider. The chief was forced to mount and, as his tepee was set afire, the troops left as suddenly as they had arrived.
   In an instant, Harold and Shantula were sitting astride their horses inside a military garrison. It was fortified with high wooden post walls that had walkways at the top for sentry observation. 
    The main gate was opened for traffic that was for the most part single horsemen. Allowance was made for an occasional buggy or stagecoach. A clamor of troops moving about in the large central open space took everyone’s attention. No one seemed to notice the two new arrivals.
At the sound of a bugle, all troops gathered into formation in front of a central flag pole. The door to an isolated hut with iron bars over the windows opened and the shackled Indian was led to stand before the officer in charge of the assembled troops. 
   During all of this, Harold took notice of the interior of the garrison with its many buildings. It was then he spotted a gallows outside the open entry gate. The noose swayed in the slight breeze that raised up small clouds of dust below the extended arm of the gallows. His mind lapsed back to the old western films he saw as a boy, thinking, This looks much like the forts and army posts pictured in those old films but seldom seen in any modern day production.
   His thoughts were cut short as the troops were called to “Order Arms.” The officer in charge approached the Indian and unrolled a document in his right hand from which he read a list of charges that included treaty-breaking raids on government-authorized settlements with slaughter of innocent civilians and robbery of their possessions. With no time wasted after reading the charges, he declared, “Because of your guilt, you are condemned to death by hanging. The sentence will be carried out immediately.”
   Two soldiers astride horses with an unsaddled pony between them approached the condemned Indian. His feet shackles were removed, but his hands remained tied behind him. He was hoisted onto the pony and taken to the awaiting gallows. One soldier placed the noose over the Indian’s head and drew it tight around his neck. 
   In all of these proceedings, the Indian uttered nothing nor demonstrated any feeling. He set his eyes straight ahead as the two soldiers moved off together, taking the pony with them.
   The Indian Chief was left hanging in the air. He struggled only momentarily as his life drained from him. Harold knew that all who witnessed could not help holding in admiration an Indian whose life was taken from him, but one whose dignity did not suffer the same fate.
   The troops were dismissed. The officer returned to headquarters. Some walked by to jeer at the dead Indian, but most who came to the gallows looked on in somber meditation and wondered at the why of it all.
   Armed sentries patrolled the fence top during the night, passing the gallows at regular intervals. It was not until the first light of day that one sentry noticed the gallows emptied of its victim. A single strand of rope hung loosely from the neck of the gallows with no sign of anyone who might have removed the body of the Indian Chief. 
   It was never determined who visited the gallows during the night, or even if there were visitors. Apache legend now tells of a visit by a spirit from the beyond that took the body of the Indian Chief from its place of shame and dishonor to another abode where he knew life again in peace and happiness. This story’s ending merged into Harold’s consciousness without any words from Shantula.