Neil was assiduously working on some of his trachoma research, trying to take his mind off of the fight. It was an idea that was much better in theory than reality, so far he had fixed up two chemicals that formed a noxious gas that forced him to flee out of his cabin, and as a result of his haste he had knocked over two of his slides that promptly shattered on impact with the floor. He cursed roundly, his anger more than such an annoyance should provoke.

It still filled him with resentment to remember how Christy had dismissed him from being her doctor as if she was declining a hat style.

He had raced all of the way home frustrated by all of the things that he wanted to tell her, but did not think of at the time, he winced, tousling his already unruly hair as he remembered how he had lost his temper and swore at her, not one of his best moments, even if she had been very irrational. She had an excuse, he did not. He sighed and put his face in his hands.

He sat there for longer than he could remember, till there was a tapping at his door, "Come in" he called.

His heart skipped a beat as Christy stepped into the room. He jerked his head up and looked at her, speechless.

She was muddy and panting; her hair had fallen out of its bun and was hanging loosely around her shoulders.

He got to his feet worried; he opened her mouth to tell her to sit, but she started to pour words out almost to fast for him to follow.

"Neil I am so sorry, I am so sorry, I did not really mean all of the things that I said to you, I don't know why I was so horrible, I was just so overwhelmed by David saying I might be pregnant, and I should marry him, and I thought you could not stand being around me because of what I am now, I was so hurt I did not know what to do. I was not thinking clearly, and then I realized some of what happened, but I know it is not what I think, and I don't know what to do any more, oh, I know you are not a hypocrite." Christy stood there panting, looking at him pleadingly, her eyes begging him to forgive her. In a flash his aggravation was gone

He turned to the table and pulled out a chair.

"Sit down lass, what were you thinking? How long have you been running?"

She shook her head.

Then he sat across from her,

"I am sorry for yelling at you this afternoon, Christy; but you were being impossible" a ghost of a smile crossed her face. He got up and filled a cup with water, "Here, drink this."

"So, you are worried about being pregnant?"

Christy flushed dark red and nodded, it was amazing that she was still so squeamish, but there it was, she was. "Could I be?"

He smiled at her, "No"

"How do you know? Are you certain?"

"I did graduate from a fairly respectable university, yes, I am sure." He teased.


"Have you had a period since?"

Christy choked on her water and looked at him with horrified eyes.

Neil ignored her discomfort.

"There, you see?"

"How did you..?"

"I am a doctor as I mentioned before, Christy, I was one of the ones attending you."

She nodded her eyes down cast. Then she redirected the conversation.

"While we are being so candid, Neil, what happened when you left?"

Neil looked at her sternly, "Are you sure you want to hear it?"

Christy nodded.

"I left the mission to hunt and kill them when I found them." His eyes were flinty and dark. "I know I am a doctor, and have taken an oath to do no harm, but murder was in my heart, God help me, it is there still."

Suddenly he looked a thousand years older.

Christy had tears in her eyes, as she shrank from him. Then slowly she studied him, "But you didn't."

"No, I did not," He said savagely, "They were already dead when I got to their hideout, someone had already done the job. But make no mistake, I would have, I would do it still if they were alive."

"Who.?." Christy asked.

"That is not so easy; every man over fifteen in the cove would be capable and willing to do it. I do know of at least one person who was gone at the same time.

Christy thought for a second,

"David?" Neil shrugged," He was gone, but then Uncle Bogg and Bob Allen both were gone for days around that time as well, and I know that they would regard it as a matter of duty to find them and handle it their way.

That is what I am trying to say Christy; I am at heart a mountain man, I could have murdered."

Christy smiled at him,

"I can not judge you. I do not know if God is a myth, and I have been tricked all of my life. I don't know what is real any more" She sighed, suddenly feeling letdown for some reason "I really should get back to the mission" She scooted her chair back. She halted as Neil placed a hand on her shoulder,

"Christy, I just want to tell you, you are one of the most beautiful women I have known, and nothing could ever change that in my eyes. I am not saying that I am pretending that this never happened, I am saying it does not matter." He tilted her chin up till she met his eyes.



"I am so scared. What do I do about loosing my faith, will I get answers? Will I turn agnostic like you? How do I handle my life now?"

Neil held out his hand and helped her to her feet and walked her towards the door, they stepped out into the evening air.

For the longest time he just looked into the night in silence, the sound of crickets filled the air with there droning

Then he turned to her,

"There are no easy answers in life; I do not know what to say, lass, but I do know you will be fine."

"Come, I will walk you back to the mission"

Together they walked into the dark, still night.