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Scions of the Sphinx, Chapter 2.1

For a while, they simply meandered through the forest. Chief occasionally paused to inspect a bush or flower, but mostly they simply strolled among the trees. They finally stopped at a giant gnarled oak on the outskirts of the grove of redwoods that dominated the heart of the forest. Chief let out a low whistle, and dozens of animals appeared: foxes, bunnies, and raccoons, along with countless squirrels and chipmunks, many with fat acorns stuffed into their chubby cheeks.

Not for the first time, Bobby marveled at the diversity of life within the Eagle’s Nest. Animals and plants from widely divergent native habitats all coexisted here in perfect harmony. It was yet another one of the Eagle’s Nest’s many mysteries.

Kneeling among the crowd of critters, Chief held out a hand containing seeds and nuts taken from his haversack. Bobby and Jinx gasped in unison as the animals formed a line, approaching one at a time to take a treat from Chief’s palm. In turn, Chief took a moment to inspect each creature from head to tail before sending it on its way.

When he was done, Chief moved on, guiding Bobby and Jinx deeper into the forest. Arriving at a young cedar, he repeated the procedure from moments before, except this time it was a flock of birds that answered his call. Alighting on the nearby branches, orioles, blue jays, and red-bellied woodpeckers all waited their turn to be inspected and receive a treat. There was even a red-tailed hawk that pointedly ignored all the other birds.

Several of the jays nestled against Chief’s palm. Jinx and Bobby just stood there, slack jawed at the old Native American’s ability to commune with the denizens of the forest on such a deep level.

“The animals seem to have adapted nicely to having so many humans in their midst,” said Chief, lifting from his arm a white-crowned sparrow that had become a bit too attached. Bobby and Jinx nodded their silent agreement.

As they headed back to the trail, Chief paused. “Ah, my ambass-a-‘deers’ have arrived.”

At first Bobby didn’t know what he meant. Then Ehawee and her brother, Huritt, stepped out from behind a nearby thicket. So light-footed were the tawny doe and majestic buck that neither Bobby nor Jinx had heard them approach.

Huritt, the large and powerful buck, dipped his head and trotted up to Chief as he might another member of the herd. Bobby ran a hand through his short blond hair and whistled. Huritt’s antlers had grown since the last time he’d seen him—still covered in velvet, but thicker and prouder, with royal nubs just beginning to show on the widened beam.

Chief placed a hand on each animal’s neck and closed his eyes. Bobby and Jinx waited as a long moment passed. Finally Chief opened his eyes. The two beautiful deer turned and trotted back into the forest.

“Come,” said Chief. “There is someplace we must go.”

The boys exchanged excited glances and followed their host deeper into the forest.