S I X T Y - O N E


T H R E E,


Where he stands, he has a view of the city and its grand canal. Never has it appeared more glorious than it does here at this moment.

Quinn tries to help a woman on a windmill, her punishment for adultery in a Sealtown court of religious law. He cannot gain her release from the windmill, nor the court's pardon--for she has

been given a death sentence and the man who committed adultery--where is he? He must have won pardon with a bribe. All Quinn can do is bring her water on a sponge, and when she swings down close enough he quenches her terrible thirst.

She can no longer speak, she is so weak, but her eyes say everything her voice cannot express. She gives him a look that says she has never received such kindness before. Weeping for her, Quinn departs--for the authorities, he senses, will soon be coming to drive him away from her.

Quinn encounters a hurdy-gurdy playing man in the street, but notices the wretched monkey without its tail. Called devils, long-tailed animals, unless domesticated cattle or livestock, must be destroyed, or suffer the loss of the tail, due to the strict religious law of the country. That is the cause of so many maimed cats and dogs in the city and country, Quinn discovered. He buys the monkey and pays a kind shopkeeper to keep him in his walled garden the rest of its days, as there is no way to return him safely to the far south jungles. The cruel riverboat men, Quinn knew from experience, would take the monkey's travel fare and then throw him overboard to the man-eating fish!

Quinn the Bluebird encounters a blind boy in the Grand Suk, Sealtown's Covered Bazaar:

Quinn touches the boy's eye with a feather and a dried plant that heals many bad afflictions, taken from his hidden medicine pouch, and after a prayer the boy's eyes regenerate in their sockets, and he can see! The whole Suk comes running, a crowd gathers, but Quinn has already slipped away.

Hearing of Quinn's good deeds (who in the city has not heard the reports of this visiting medicine-man, though he is but a youth in age?), a high official sends the royal city governor to invite Quinn to a private conference in the Chief of Court Ceremony's garden pavilion, a kiosk-like summer house given him by the Sultan himself.

The reason for the private conference is that the official, the Court Cup-Bearer of the Nectar of Isma, has a very ill son, about to die, whom all the court physicians have failed to cure. But he has heard about Quinn praying over and touching sick people and they are miraculously healed. A desperate father, no matter who he is, will do anything that can possibly save a dying son, so he has called in the infidel and stranger, an Indian no less, to do what his physicians have all failed to do. The Laws of Isma, however great, can produce no miracles of healing, he knows. And doctors can only do the possible. What he needs for his son is the impossible--a cure.

Quinn is led to the garden pavilion of an estate perched high above the city-- and it is warm there, due to the warm springs that issue from the great mountain, producing warmth for pools and fountains and gardens. Not only is it pleasant all year round, but it is most private and desirable for interviews, being away from the great mansion where there are the eyes and ears of many servants and relatives.

Quinn, as he often does, seeks guidance with spiritual means, which he has learned has helped in the past: sand paintings. He knows that often illness is the result of other causes than what are apparent. Men of the previous world poisoned the earth with huge, poison arrows that spouted fire at the ends and did not need a drawn bow to send them forth. Wherever the arrows stuck into the earth, people got sick and died, and nobody could live there again. The hoop of the whole world has been broken, and religion cannot fix it. Illness is the result, illness of all kinds. He must have the truth, however hard a truth it is to face. With the surgery of the Truth, there can be healing, for in the presence of Truth, all darkness, bondage, and falsehood must flee away, and when they flee, sickness of every kind no longer has power to afflict people and flies away with them.

What do the sand painting images reveal? A spirit-journey of fifty champions. And what is the prize they are seeking? He sees the Golden Hoops that carry each champion to the quest-ship. But what will they, joined together, find at the end of the danger-filled voyage? Will the Sacred Hoop of the World ever be restored? What can it be other than...?

The woman on the windmill, who was being punished for adultery (with her married lover going unpunished) flashes into his mind.

Quinn knows now--the father has sinned, and this painting that has just revealed itself to him is speaking of what everyone in the dying world needs to hear. He shares the painting with the father, who also grasps the Truth is speaking to him--and he confesses a secret to Quinn that is one many men would have to confess--if only they were truthful and sought healing for their souls (and their families in turn). Quinn prays for the dying boy, touching him with a feather of grace, and he quickly recovers. Quinn is offered a fortune by the grateful father, but accepts nothing but what he can quickly give away to the poor, the widows, and the beggars in the adjoining neighborhoods and leaves the rich and powerful man's gilded cage. Beyond the mansion's high, gated walls, Quinn sees he is again exposed to the evil of the whole society, and not even the powerful Court Cupbearer can protect him--for Kolumbia is ruled, not so much by the Sultan, as by the religious system, and the iman is a chief representative holding the real power for which the exalted Sultan in the palace of the Divine Porte high above the City is but a glittering, golden figurehead.

He pauses when he reaches a high point where he has a view of the city again, and cannot help but turn to the Father Spirit who is above all the world and its troubles and turmoil.

He does not get very far when he is stopped by the Iman's men. They jeer at him, pull at his clothes, and since they surround him with a quickly growing crowd, his way of escape is shut off.

Seeing they had the people more or less on their side, the men, now grown to a large mob, grabbed Quinn and hustled him off through the streets to the gates. They took him to a cliff overlooking the great river, and still calling him gutter names--imposter, robber of widows, infidel, and contaminator of Holy Sealtown--they cast him off like they cast their garbage into the river.

The air was, at that moment, full of the giant birds of heaven, the eagle-condors. They had been borne on a wind that swept them to this point above the river. Quinn was spinning in space, but he did not have to fall very far.

He fell against one of the giants and instinctively grabbed hold of it.

Quinn hitches a ride.

The bird flew downwards almost immediately, bearing the unwanted burden. When the giant was near the water it let go.

Quinn is swept down river and will most likely drown in the strong currents.

Yet the creatures served the Father Spirit here as well as everywhere else, and a great fish rose from the murky depths and bore Quinn up in the water.

When the Bluebird and his helper reach a fishermen, the carp sinks into the depths, leaving Quinn to be drawn by their nets.

Recognized, he is found alive and is quickly taken to their village, where he is safe, and there he mends under their tender care.

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