Wes Boyd's
Spearfish Lake Tales
Contemporary Mainstream Books and Serials Online


Book 1 of the Dawnwalker Cycle

a novel by
Wes Boyd
©2002, ©2008

Chapter 25:
September 1995

Myleigh was pretty well packed up. "We need to get out of here as early as we can tomorrow morning," she said. "I expect Mike and Cheryl will be here around noon, and we should be out by then."

In spite of fans running in several windows, it was hot in the apartment after the sun had beaten in all day, but fortunately the end was in sight, even though the apartment wouldn't cool off to where it was comfortable much before morning. Myleigh was wearing her black bikini, just to be a little cooler. The last time Randy had been up to see her, the heat had been so bad they hadn't stayed at the apartment any longer than necessary, but had taken his new tent out to a secluded lakeside campground where the breeze of the big lake could get to them. It had been a lot better, and Myleigh had appreciated the break from the continuing heat in the apartment. Even though the dorm rooms weren't air-conditioned, they'd be better than this upstairs oven.

"Yeah, I wouldn't want to get in their way."

"Cheryl called the other day to let me know their schedule," Myleigh smiled. "It has been months since she and Mike have seen each other. I would imagine that they're a bit anxious, and have plans for the afternoon."

"Can't say as I blame them," Randy grinned. "This is their last year, too, huh?"

"Yes," she smiled. "And none too soon for them. At least this will have been their last summer apart. She told me she and Mike plan to marry after graduation."

"You know, that doesn't seem as far off as it once did," he replied offhandedly. It was something that had been on his mind all the way up to Marquette. "Two years ago, it seemed like a long way off, now, I'm better than halfway, and it seems like the end is in sight."

"It's but a few short months for me," she sighed. "In spite of the summers, this has been a very wonderful period for me, perhaps the best of my life. And, you've helped this summer be much less distasteful than in years past. I must thank you for it."

"That's what friends are for," he replied, some good times from over the summer up here coming to mind. "Have you heard anything from Crystal? I haven't heard a thing since I was down there in July."

"Yes," she smiled. "She called several times. We had some nice chats. I shall miss that girl in another few months. You and she have made life very wonderful for me."

"Like I said, that's what friends are for. Is anything interesting happening with her?"

"Not a great deal that we talked about," she replied nonchalantly, "And I expect she'll tell you when she gets here. Much of it about the rafting I do not pretend to understand, anyway."

"Too bad you couldn't have gone down there with me," he said. "That was fun." Actually, Randy was just as glad Myleigh hadn't been around the incident at the Ocoee takeout ramp, although he'd told her about it. He figured she'd gotten an earful of it from Crystal, anyway, but there was no need to ask.

"Yes, it would have been interesting, but it just was not possible, given that I could not get away from work when you called to make the offer," Myleigh replied with a shake of her head. "Probably now, I never shall. But, I'm glad you were there for Crystal."

"When is she coming back?" he asked, trying to get off of that subject. It wasn't something he was comfortable talking about, although the gang above Spearfish Lake Appliance had gone through it with him in detail.

"Not till late Sunday," she said. "She's going to work Thursday and Friday, drive to Glen Ellyn on Saturday, pack some things, and come up here Sunday. So, she shan't be around to help us move."

"Not really a problem," Randy replied. "The car is full, but I talked to Matt yesterday. He's going to meet us at the dorm when they open it tomorrow. We'll unload the truck and the car, and then come over and move you out of here. It really shouldn't take very long, and we should be gone by the time Mike and Cheryl get here."

"Good," she said. "We should be set up in the dorm by tomorrow night. Perhaps we can work on a duet."

"I'd like that," he smiled, and decided to let the cat out of the bag a little. "I've got a surprise for you. I don't know if I should tell you now, or keep it till we can get the instruments out." He'd brought his guitar and they'd spent some time playing together on his trips up over Memorial Day and the Fourth, but it had been too damned hot on his early August trip, and they hadn't even tried.

"Do tell," she smiled. "Pray, don't keep me in suspense."

"Nooo," he said slowly, savoring the moment. "It'll be more fun if I can keep you wondering about it. I will give you a hint, though."

"What, pray tell?"

He grinned. It was fun to tease Myleigh, fun to get her going, and there hadn't been enough of that. In spite of having seen her several times over the summer, he'd missed her. "Let's just say that I spent a lot of time over the summer improving my skills in ways that Crystal will appreciate, so I thought I should do something you would like, also."

"Randy, now that you have awakened my curiosity, I shall be half the night wondering about it," she teased back. "Of course, I expect and dearly hope to be awake half the night, anyway."

"Thought you had something like that in mind," he grinned. It wasn't unanticipated, but with Myleigh, you never knew for sure.

"Yes, and I've been looking forward to it, too," she smiled at him. "However, that leads directly to something that Crystal and I talked about our trysting that I feel I must discuss with you."

"It doesn't surprise me that the two of you have discussed it," he replied. "I sometimes wonder just what the two of you have not discussed."

"In this case, Randy, she relayed the discussion you had with her regarding the protocols we should follow in the future, and I find myself comfortable with the suggestion. That means, of course, that after tonight our dalliances will be rare indeed."

"You mean, about keeping it off campus, and when we do, we try to keep from being too blatant about it to her, and the other way around?"

"Yes, exactly. I agree, to do anything less would make it rather awkward, and especially, awkward for you. You are uncomfortable with this situation aren't you?"

"Very uncomfortable. I feel like I'm cheating on the both of you so much it's like a country music album."

She shook her head and laughed with delight, then turned serious. "Please, try not to feel that way. Although we have not exactly used those words, Crystal and I agree that you are doing nothing of the sort, although I must admit that I can understand why you should feel that way. Partly, I think it is because we have all been so honest with each other."

"Well, yeah," he said, half expecting her to say something like that, but still surprised at it. "It's a little scary how there are so few secrets between the two of you."

"I do not think we have many," she smiled. "And, I feel that neither of us entertains any secret desire to possess you for ourselves. She told me of your theoretical discussion of the possibility of marriage, and I particularly enjoyed your equating a ring on the finger to a ring through the nose. Tell me, have you considered the idea between us?"

"Of course," he said. There was absolutely no point in covering it up. "It's fun to think about, but I can't picture you in a vine-covered cottage by the side of the road. A vine-covered lecture hall on some campus somewhere, certainly. But, I can't see us making a life in Spearfish Lake, and that's where I'm almost certainly going to wind up, unless something drastic happens."

"Dear me," she frowned. "Is this something else that's happened over the summer?"

"No," he said, not wanting to get into that discussion right this instant. "It's been there all the time. It just came into sharper focus this summer. I don't really have much choice but to go back. I don't feel like going into it, but the end result is that I can't see taking you away from your dreams and spending a life in Spearfish Lake together. You'd hate it, and hate me for it. So, no. I hope we can stay friends forever, but married? We'd better not, if we want to stay friends."

"I confess, that is a relief to me," she said. "Crystal mentioned that you told her that you thought it might be a distant possibility with her in the future."

"I did," he laughed lightly. "That was just before I told her about the ring through the nose business. It's a little different with her. She may eventually settle down enough to be able to consider it, when she decides to quit being Lady Tarzan. That could take years, and might not happen at all. But, I wouldn't want her to change much or it would take away the things I like about her."

"Yes, I think I can understand the drift of your thinking," she said thoughtfully.

"It's the same as I wouldn't want you to change much, either," he added, looking directly at her. "Like I said, I've thought about it a lot. We'd be damn fools not to enjoy each other -- and that means the three of us -- while we've got each other, because it isn't going to last for long."

"That's how I feel about it, and I think it safe to say that Crystal would agree," she smiled. "Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow, we shall die. But this summer has been something of an aberration, in any case. If we should follow the wise policy that you and Crystal have discussed, and which I firmly agree upon, the opportunities such as tonight will be limited, and we must take them when we can. Tonight is one of the few chances we shall have remaining."

"We'll just have to make some chances," he said, agreeing with her. While he'd miss some chances, it did cut down on the possibility of trouble. While he intensely enjoyed the sex, there were plenty of other things about the two that he enjoyed intensely, too. "Crystal and I will probably be on weekend trips once or twice before it gets too cold. You and I will just have to find some excuse to get away when we can."

"Considering the situation, I'm sure Crystal will be pliable and fair," she smiled. "But, as you said, we should not be blatant about it. Now, what's this about your having to go back to Spearfish Lake when you graduate? I thought you were not particularly interested in that."

"I wasn't planning on it, especially to the plywood plant," he admitted. "I won't go into a lot of details, mostly because nothing's set in concrete, but we have an extensive family business down there, and I wasn't sure there was much to interest me. However, it turns out there's some problems coming up that make it a lot more challenging than I'd expected. There's nothing immediate, and I've got time to get ready for them, but that's why I've changed my classes around for this fall, and changed my minor. I'm going to be carrying a heavier and tougher load than I expected last spring. There may not be as many chances for playing around as there might have been."

"Oh, dear," she said with concern. "Is it going to be all work and no play for Randy?"

"Less play, anyway," he said. "It just means that we're going to have to make the play count for more. There's periods coming up when I'm going to have to do some serious pounding the books."

"Is there going to be anything I might tutor you on?" she asked helpfully.

"I doubt it," he shook his head. "Unless you can help with math and engineering. I probably couldn't have even put the new minor together if I didn't already have some classes toward it."

"Then undoubtedly not," she replied, shaking her head. "If there's anything Crystal or I can do, please advise us."

"I will," he smiled. "I'm afraid that may be limited to 'Leave me alone, I've got to study.' It probably means that Crystal and I won't be working out as much, either."

"Then we should enjoy ourselves while we still have that chance," she grinned.

"It's awful hot in here," he commented. "What would you say to going down to the beach and having a swim to cool off?"

"A capital idea, Randy," she grinned. "However, most of my things are packed up, and I shall have little else to wear should I get wet what little I do have on." She paused for a moment, then smiled a joyful smile and went on. "On the other hand, I shall not be needing to wear anything when we return, so it shouldn't matter. We're just going to get hot and sweaty again, but the relief shall be welcome."

"You mean from the heat?"

"Oh, that too."


"Hiya, Randy, howya been, eh?" Matt said as Randy pulled up to the dorm early the next morning. It was good to see him again, to hear his Yooper accent. Over the years, Matt had become about as good a male friend as he had, at least at Northern, although their interests didn't coincide a whole lot. But, that was all right; they got along well enough.

"Oh, pert' good," Randy smiled, and took a sip from the coffee cup he'd brought with him. It sounded funny to be talking Yooper again. "I stopped off an' picked up Myleigh, yaah? We gotta get her stuff outa her place when we get done here, so she's gonna help us, eh?"

"Holywa, long drive, eh? You gotta be tired, yaah?"

Randy didn't want to admit that he'd spent the night with Myleigh. It might come out in the future, and it might not. He really hoped it wouldn't -- he'd really rather it didn't get around the campus, more for the girls’ sakes than for his. So, he'd decided to try to let on that he'd driven most of the night, without actually saying that he had come up the day before. "Nah, I'm OK, eh?" he told him. "Godda coupla hours sleep, I'll be fine, yaah?"

"Got a new kayak ta go wid' da surfboard, I see."

"Yaah, sometime taday I gotta take 'em over ta da PEIF," Randy explained. "But let's get dis stuff moved, first."

"Myleigh, it's a pleasure to see you again," Matt smiled, dropping the accent. He'd gotten to know her a bit over the spring months, too, although nothing like Randy had, of course. "Did you have a good summer?"

"Long, hot, and boring," she replied. "How were things in Spread Eagle?"

"Long, hot, an' borin', yaah?" he replied with a grin, returning to form. "Let's get started, eh? We all gonna be in da same rooms again this year, yaah?"

It was already humid and sultry, but with a little breeze as they started carrying loads up the stairs to Randy and Matt's room, but even before they finished, the breeze had become a wind, blowing hard out of the southwest. In the Upper Peninsula, along in late August or early September, hot summer day often follows hot summer day, and then, all of a sudden, a big cold front comes through, and bang, it's autumn. This looked to be the one. The wind direction was totally wrong for Randy to think about surfing, and besides he had things to do, but once the front came through, and the wind shifted, there was a possibility. Maybe tomorrow, maybe the next day. Crystal would be back then, although it'd be after a long day's drive, and she still would have to move in. If he went, he'd probably have to go alone, unless maybe Myleigh or Matt wanted to come.

With the three of them working at it, it didn't take very long to haul the stuff up to Randy and Matt's room from both the car and the truck. The most unwieldy item was a couch that the guys had found on the curb one year, and had jammed into their room ever since; that took a little wrestling. But, in an hour, the vehicles were cleared out, and stacks of boxes were scattered around the room.

Except for bookshelves and a pile of boxes of Myleigh's books, the girls hadn't accumulated much stuff. The other big item was the overstuffed chair that Myleigh liked to curl up and read in, but it wasn't as much problem as the couch had been, and it went down the stairs to the pickup easily, unlike the tussle Randy and Myleigh had endured getting it up there. Everything managed to fit into Matt's pickup truck and the Dodge.

In the end, Myleigh took one last pass through the apartment, to make sure she had left nothing behind, and that it was ready for Mike and Cheryl's return later in the day. "It seems strange," she told Randy as Matt waited downstairs for them, smoking a cigarette. "I've spent three summers here, and I shall probably never be here again. I've had some long and boring days here, but I've had some happy and memorable ones, mostly ones I've spent with you. I'm surprised to find that I think I shall miss this place."

"Things change," he said. "We all move on, don't we?"

"Yes, we do," she said, and turned to kiss him. "Thank you again, Randy," she smiled. "I think we'd better not keep Matt waiting."

It was harder to get the stuff up to Crystal and Myleigh's room; by now, the place had filled up with students moving into the dorm, and they couldn't manage to park real close to the door. But, by noon, the truck was emptied for the last time; Myleigh went to her room to start unpacking and organizing, while Randy and Matt did the same. Since they'd already lived together for two years, and they had much the same stuff as the year before, the process went quickly; they knew pretty well what had to go where. By noon, it was as if they'd never left.

"Dat's about it fer now, eh?" Matt grinned as they finished up. "S'pose ya wanna go over an' see your gal, yaah?"

"Naw, no big rush," Randy said. "Ay tink we gotta go ta da grocery an' get somethin' fer da refrigerator, eh? An', I gotta take da kayak and da surfboard over ta da PEIF. An', I tink when I get back, I take a nap. I dinn't get a lodda sleep last night, yaah? Wanna come?"

"Yaah, you betcha," Matt agreed. "Ya an' dat Myleigh, ya get 'long pretty good, eh?"

"Just friends," Randy told him. "It's just a liddle strange ta not have Crystal 'roun', yaah?"

Matt shook his head. "I still tink ya're crazy fer messin 'roun' wid dose two, but dey're good kids, yaah?"

"Yaah," Randy grinned. "Wouldn't want eider of dem ta get pissed wid me, though. So whad'ya do dis summer, eh?"

"Nodda lot," Matt grinned. "Had some fine times wid my old gal friend. Ay tink maybe we get married sometime, yaah. How 'bout you?"

"Holywa, busy as hell," Randy told him. "Mostly worked pourin' concrete, but ay did have some good times, yaah? Kayakin', a liddle surfin', some workouts, some road trips, a liddle excitement. Got tagedder wid my ol' gal frien', too, but ay don' tink we get married, yaah?"

"What ya girls here tink a'dat, ey?" Matt grinned evilly. "Dey gonna be on ya ass?"

"Naw, didn't mean nuthin," Randy said. "Dat don' matter. Like I say, dey cool gals." Matt would never understand the truth, even if he told him, which he didn't plan on doing. He still wasn't real sure he understood it himself, but that didn't matter, as long as he could live with it. On campus, they could be 'just friends,' so it was just as well that the stuff that nobody but he and Crystal and Myleigh seemed to understand could be kept off it.


A little while later, Matt carried the surfboard into the storeroom at the PEIF, while Randy shoulder-carried the Mongoose. It took a few minutes at the desk to arrange for storage for the items. There was a charge, although his surfboard and Crystal's would share a rack, so he paid for her charge. They could straighten it out later.

While they were waiting, Marty happened to wander by. "New boat, huh?" he asked. "Get out with it much?"

"Yeah," Randy said. "Got quite a bit in while it was high in the spring, a little over the summer, and I took a trip down south, ran the Ocoee a few times and the Tellico once."

"Down there with Crystal?" he asked. "How's she doing?"

"Pretty good," he said. "She should be in Sunday. She's still rafting today."

"She's way the hell and gone the most experienced person at whitewater around here. You think she'd be up to being whitewater chair? I'm outa here after this semester, so we need to find someone."

"I don't know, and you'd have to ask her," Randy told him. "But don't get your hopes up. She's not a person for organized activities, much."

"Well, I can ask. Of course, she's a senior herself, isn't she? She won't be around long, either."

"She's going to have to stay another semester," Randy frowned. "But, like I said, don't get your hopes up. She runs her own train, pretty much."

"Well, how about you?" he asked. "You're a junior; you'll be around a couple of years."

"Look, I'd really rather not," Randy said. "I don't want to have to deal with all the organizing and the hassles. I'm going to be carrying twenty hours this fall, and none of it is easy stuff. I may not get out a whole hell of a lot, and spring may not be any better. If you can find someone to do all the organizing and the scutwork, I'll try and help out with the instructing and safety classes."

"Well, thanks," Marty said with a frown. He'd obviously hoped for a more-positive answer. "I'll see what I can do, and if I get desperate, I may have to ask you again. I know that you don't have the experience Crystal has, but people around here respect you."

"I wouldn't know why," Randy said. "I only got out with the club at Piers Gorge last fall, and then those two days on the last weekend last spring."

Marty grinned. "Well, maybe respect isn't quite the word. There's people around that are a little in awe of you and Crystal, you know. After that little surfin' safari up at L'Anse last spring, you're sort of legends around the club, you know. Man, that got around quick."

Randy shook his head. "I was afraid of that. It wasn't anything heroic, just colder than hell. Nice surf, though."

"I dunno," Marty grinned. "There was a kid in here earlier who watched you two, and he seems to think you two can walk on water."

"Well, if there's a surfboard involved," Randy grinned. "Otherwise, I get as wet as anyone else."

"Is what he said true about you and Crystal down on the Ocoee?"

Randy suddenly had an awful feeling come over him. That was a story he'd just as soon didn't get around campus, if it was what he thought it was, and it couldn't well be much else. "What story is this?" he asked suspiciously.

"He said he was down at the takeout ramp on the middle section of the Ocoee one day back in July. He said he watched a couple guys attack you and Crystal with knives, and you laid them out in about one second flat, like you two were some sort of superheroes."

Oooohhhhhh, shit! Randy thought, searching for words.

"What's dis?" Matt asked.

"Well, it happened," Randy said, shaking his head in sorrow. Why the hell did that kid have to run off at the mouth! "A couple drunks came after Crystal with Gerber shorties. We had to neutralize them, but we both do martial arts, you know? Damn, I'd really rather that didn't get around campus."

"Too late," Marty said, a little awe in his eye, now. "I've heard about it from three people already. It's becoming part of the legend."


Randy and Myleigh had a quiet dinner in the cafeteria. It was good to pick up from where they'd left off before, joking and teasing, but Randy noticed the quiet whispers elsewhere around the room, the pointing, and the awed stares. Did that damn kid broadcast it on the PA system?

"You seem bothered, Randy. Is anything the matter?" she asked.

"Yeah," he said, half-angry but keeping it quiet so only she could hear. "The word is apparently out that Killer Clark has returned to campus with another scalp on his belt."

"Oh, dear!" she said, concerned at the news. "That thing with Crystal?"

"Yeah," he replied, shaking his head. "It seems some damn kid was down there and saw it, never said a word to us, but ran his mouth all over campus. One of those kids who saw us surfing last spring up at L'Anse."

"Well, I suppose there's nothing to be done," she said, shaking her head.

"What I ought to do is find that damn motor mouth and punch his lights out from here to next week," he said. "But I can't very well do that now, can I?"

"No, you cannot," she replied firmly. "And, for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it would make you seem like a bully yourself."

"Right," he agreed dejectedly. "Did Crystal tell you about the dinner we had with her family after it happened?"

"She said that you talked to her family, and tried to calm them down, but she did not go into any detail."

"You mean I get to tell you something, and Crystal hasn't already beaten me to it?" he asked cynically.

"Randy, calm yourself," Myleigh said firmly. "There's not much that can be done. Everyone already knows about it. Now, what was it you told her family?"

Leave it to Myleigh. She could talk sense to him when no one else could. "We were sitting around the table, and you could cut the fear with a knife. I mean, everyone in her family thought that we were capable of blowing up at any time and scattering their body parts around, so no one dared say anything. I had to give them a long lecture about the responsibilities of that kind of power, how we don't go around beating up people for the fun of it. I hoped they believed me, and weren't just being nice so they could get out of our reach before we decided to kill and maim again. No," he said, shaking his head for emphasis, "I won't pound the crap out of the little shit, but that doesn't mean I don't feel like it. I may be forced to have a little discussion with him, though."

"Randy, watch your temper!" she said sharply. "You are one of the most even-tempered people I know, but I can see you're quite angry."

"I won't even have to raise my voice," Randy smiled. "I think the fact that he knows that Killer Clark is displeased with him should be quite adequate."

"Would you please cease with the 'Killer Clark' nonsense?"

"They call Crystal that, don't they?"

"Not often, and never to her face." She smiled. "Actually, I think I can understand why they never dare do that. Yes, I suppose some people around here fear her. And, they also fear you, after last spring, so this really changes nothing."

"Yeah, you're right," he conceded. "As usual. It's just so damn irritating."

"It is better that you are irritated with it than you take pride in it," she grinned. "I'd really rather have it that way."

"All right, Myleigh," he said, "You win. I'll keep my mouth shut."

"If you're about done eating, then let us go up to the room and practice with the instruments." She got a big grin on her face. "After all, music hath charm to calm my savage lion."


Even though Myleigh and Crystal's room still seemed rather empty, with Crystal's things not there yet, it was good to sit on Myleigh's bunk, guitar in hand while she broke out Blue Beauty. There was music coming from a room down the hall, but it wasn't obtrusive. The fan brought cool air in from the open window, and outside there was a flash of lightning in the distance, far out beyond the clear skies over the big lake. In spite of the rumor going around -- except that it wasn't rumor, not at the core, although God alone knew what form it would take -- in spite of the hassles of the day, it felt that pieces of his life that had been out of place since last spring were coming back together.

"Now, I believe last night you were teasing me that you had a surprise to present when we had the instruments out," she smiled. "Now, what might it be?"

"Oh, a couple little things," he grinned, as he picked up the guitar, checked the tune, made a couple little adjustments, and proceeded to start in on the bridge of Golden Apples of the Sun. It was not easy music, and they'd always rejected doing it together before, just because neither he nor Crystal were guitar players enough to accompany her, although she'd done it solo for them.

She sat watching and listening to him, jaw agape, just letting him run through it. It was pretty good. Once he got past the bridge, she joined in with the harp, and together they sang the refrain. "My gracious, Randy," she said as they finished. "You've been practicing."

"Yeah, some," he said nonchalantly. "Actually, more than just practicing. Do you remember me telling you about the guys I've been working out with?"

"The martial arts experts who awe you so much? Yes, you've told me."

"You remember me telling you about Blake? The guy with all the black belts?"

"Yes," she replied with a frown. But, I'm afraid that I don't remember clearly."

He smiled. "Well, one of his day jobs is being a professional guitar player. After the whitewater died down in the spring, I asked if he'd give me a few lessons, and he was willing. We spent a few nights out on the porch of his house, just picking away. I think I learned something."

"My gracious, yes, you did."

"He's a good teacher," he smiled. "I'll never be as good as he is, mostly because I'll never have the chance to practice that much at the level he does. But Jennifer never played the guitar that well till he taught her, and now she's almost as good as he is."


"That's the gal he plays with. She lives up the street from me a ways. She and I played together some, too. But, that's not the surprise."

"My gracious, more?"

"Yes," he grinned. He could see he had her really curious, now. "They're always working on new material, and they write most of it. A lot of it they do because they like it, not because it's commercial. In fact, they reject most of the stuff they write, because it's not commercial, flawed somehow, or not the kind of thing that people expect Jennifer to do. Anyway, I asked them if they'd be nice enough to let me borrow a few of their rejects, the kind of things we like to do."

"And they did?"

"I've got about twenty pieces here, lyrics and demo tapes, all original material, and I can get more if we need them. We're welcome to play with it, add on frills or whatever, but they asked that we don't record it or copy the tapes. However, Jennifer would like to hear a couple of pieces done with the harp, so we have been asked to record that. It was little enough to ask, and I agreed."

"Pray, let us hear what some of this music is like."

"Thought you'd never ask," he grinned. He got up, took a cassette tape from his guitar case, popped it into the portable tape player on the desk, and set it playing. "This one is called Dawnwalker," he explained as the lead of the tape ran off. The song was heart-wrenching, a lament of an Irish wife who goes down to the shore every morning to see if her husband's fishing boat has come in, or perhaps catch some glimpse of it on the horizon. It was terribly moving, a woman's warm, clear voice wondering daily if she's a widow, suspecting that she is. By the time the tape was nearing the end, Myleigh was lightly fingering her harp, trying out the melody without actually playing it.

"My word," she said as the tape clicked off. "That's really extraordinary."

"Yeah, it's pretty good," Randy grinned. "It gets to me a little, too. You're only the fourth person to have heard it."

"Who are the others?" she asked curiously.

"Jennifer, Blake, and me," he said.

"That was Jennifer singing?" she asked. "She has an exceptional voice. It sounds familiar, somehow, but I can't quite place it. That piece was a reject? My word, what do they keep?"

"Stuff that's more commercial. They play parties of friends, sometimes, and they never do any of their regular stuff there. Those parties are sort of a legend around Spearfish Lake, and I've been lucky enough to have been to a couple of them."

"My word," she said, shaking her head. "Let us hear the tape again, and this time, I shall play along with it to try to set it. I cannot think of anything more fit for the Celtic harp."

"I told you I had a surprise for you," he said. "Now, we have a choice. We can work these up one at a time, or we can pig out."

"We can hear some of the others some other time," she said flatly. "I want to learn to play Dawnwalker tonight."

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