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Chapter Twenty-six 


 

Yield Not to Adversity, But Press On More Bravely

۞

Immediately Thomas Robertson knew who Hanna Crow was, but he also knew in his heart that this coincidence was more than that; it was a confirmation. The chance being so remote, it must be providence. He thought to himself if coincidence was the manifestation of guardianship by a deity, and divine direction to ones destiny, then too many fall short of finding and following their true path. Self-determination and fate was a two-way street: it required active engagement to find the connecting point to ones rightful path in life, and it could happen on some unannounced humdrum afternoon while waiting for a bus, or visiting a church on some trip in Upper Burma, but many never made the effort to reflect on why a coincidence happened and what it is telling them.

"Well then, could you be Reverend Crow's daughter?" Her bare earnestness when she turns to him almost knocked him over.

"How-"

"I know a little about William Lewis Crow and the founding of this church, that's all." The sparkle in Hanna's eyes made him want to touch her face, her skin light ochre, like the red hue of the church stone.

"Yes, I am his daughter. He died just before I was born." He saw sadness in her eyes.

When the kettle whistled and Hanna poured the tea, he walk around the room. That was when he saw a framed painting of a phoenix holding 13 arrows and 13 olive branches in its talons, the same as the coin he found in Mandalay. Thomas was convinced this church contained the answers to his questions.

"That was my father's favorite winged one," she said, using the same term as Josh when referring to birds.

"That's a phoenix, isn't it?"

"A Phoenix. Yes, the firebird. It was used on United States coins up to 1902 when the eagle replaced it. My mother used to tell me how he carried around a rare US coin for good luck." His heart pounding as he processes her words, he realized how tired he was because of his urge to hold her for a long moment.

"Hanna, one of the reasons I came to Burma is to find a religious stone tablet with engravings that was believed to have been brought here from Tibet around the time the Chinese invaded." Hanna left the mugs steaming on the counter, curiosity deep in her features.

"Stone tablet?"

"After meeting a Native American elder in Canada last summer, everything changed for me. I've been doing my own research into this prophecy and it points to your father being the one who might have transported this sacred relic here to Upper Burma. That's the whole thing right there. That's my purpose for coming here, as outlandish as it sounds." Something in her demeanor changed. He worried she might think he was some kind of religious zealot, but the kindness in her mouth showed him otherwise.

"It was outlandish enough to bring you here." Bringing two hot mugs of tea to the table, Hanna tilted her head as she looked into his tired eyes, seeing it meant something to him.

"True," he said.

"And it's a long way from Rangoon on the train."

"Yes it is, though it was a...an experience." He picked up the mug. "Did your father have a place where he kept valuable items like a sacred religious item? What I'm getting at is, did your father have an archive where he would keep religious things that he may have come across in his research?"

"I think there was a discussion about that after his death, but I don't think it was ever settled. There are some things here at the church but I don't think they're valuable."

"Where? Or I mean like what?"

"His papers are in the refectory." Hanna picked up her mug of tea and took him by the arm towards the church.

"I'll try not to spill," he said, balancing the meniscus of tea.

"Can I ask you why you're so interested in this prophecy?"

"Because I'm an identical twin and the prophecy says it is a twin who will find the stone and reunite it with the stone in North America." He blushed. "It sounds crazy, doesn't it?" She smiled at him.

"Do you know what my father spoke about the most? It wasn't about work, and it wasn't about wealth; it was about being a twin."

"Do you know why?" he asked in a gentle voice.

"I think I do now. My great grandfather was a Cree Indian from Canada so he thought he may be part of this prophecy you're talking about, but he wasn't a twin. My mother told me how he was always on the lookout for a twin coming to Burma looking around for some lost religious artifact." After all the miles and strange encounters, Thomas felt safe for the first time in years.

Stepping into the cool refectory with portraits on the walls and wooden rafters overhead, in the middle of the room there was a sturdy table that look older than the war. When Hanna flipped on the light he saw vestments hanging from the wall and books on a shelf. It felt like a secret chamber.

"I have something to show you," he said, compelled to confess and confide. "The keepers of ancient Native American prophecies are the Hopi Indians in Arizona. Do you know anything about the Hopi Prophecies?"

"I've heard of the Hopi Indians, yes. But not about the prophecies."

"I believe there is a connection between the Kachin people and the Red Man of North America, as I have reason to believe your father did too. So far I have tracked down a number of clues along the way. They have pointed me here." He pulled out the map with the proverb as well as the coin. "These are the first clues I found in a monastery in Mandalay, right beside Mandalay Hill and the Royal Palace." Hanna gasped when he handed her the coin.

"Is this my father's good luck charm?"

"I think it is. When I found it in one of the marble tablets at the monastery, I didn't know what it was."  

"It's a phoenix. The same as the painting."

"Do you know what the Latin inscription means?"

"PLURA means many, and UNUM means together. I think."

"Of course!" he said, making no effort to hide his admiration. "A United Plurality!"

"Growing up in a church environment I picked up some Latin." He showed Hanna the second Latin piece.

"TU NE CEDE MALIS means Yield not to adversity, and SED CONTRA AUDENTIOR ITO means but press on more bravely." Smiling, he put his hand on her shoulder.

"You're amazing." Then he handed Hanna the first Kachin proverb.

"THE PIGEON LEFT AND THE CROW TOOK HIS PLACE," she said.

"It was the first Kachin Proverb."

"I've of this before," voice peppered with excitement.

"That's when I was put on the path to your father. Before that I was following Eugenio Kin Kaid. I found out more information about your Dad when I was in Katha. That's when I knew I would have to come here and see this church. But that's not all." He showed her the map of Katha.

"What's this?"

"It's the second clue I found at a church in Katha. That's where I was yesterday."

"Incredible."

"The second proverb is: THOUGH THE MONKEY IS IN A HURRY, THE TREE BRANCH IS NOT."

"My mother says that!" Thomas then showed her the grandfather key.

"I found this at the church in Katha. But I also found out some information that begins to give all this some much-needed perspective." Thomas paused, and took a deep breath. "I learned something about your father's death. I don't mean to be insensitive so tell me if you want me to stop."

"No, go ahead. It's all right Thomas." Hearing Hanna say his name made him move closer to her.

"Do know where he was found?"

"Mandalay."

"Do you know where in Mandalay?"

"No, just that he was found dead there."

"I was told your father's body was found in the Mandalay Fort moat."

"No. Are you sure?" Her hand covered her mouth.

"I spoke to a reverend a few days ago at Kin Kaid's church in Katha who knew of your father and he filled in some missing pieces. He thinks your father was killed by mercenaries hired to kill smugglers of religious items out of Tibet after the Chinese invasion in 1958. Your Dad's favorite good luck charm was literally found two-hundred yards from the moat. I think your father had successfully smuggled the sacred stone tablet from Tibet and brought it here to Burma. And as a safety measure he set up a trail of clues as a backup so the relic could be found in case something happened to him."

"Which turned out to be wise."

"Yes, very wise indeed. He set up a clever trail for those who believe in the prophecy, and for only those who were an identical twin. The first clue I found in Mandalay had to do with twins that I don't think a non-twin would've figured out. The two Kachin proverbs were to help me find my way, and the coin and a key have yet to find their use. The puzzle is still incomplete but I believe it will be solved. It must."

"Why do you think it must?" He looked for a moment at the untouched mugs of tea on the table.

"Because I met you." He had to say it, pausing. "Because of that painting of the phoenix in the common room. Because of so many unlikely coincidences." He was thrilled to see her cheeks flushed; she had caught his double entendre and the reason for the pause.

"Do you think the stone tablet is here in my father's church?"

"Yes," he answered without hesitation. In the silence they could hear something outside the front entrance.

"No." Her hands suddenly covered her face.

"What is it?"

"Reverend Thu is back. He's very protective of his church, and he is suspicious of foreigners. He won't be happy if he catches us in here."

  

 
 
 
 
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Part One - Canada
1.      The Twin From the East Returns  
2.      The Sundancer  
3.      Waxing Gibbous 
4.      The Second Coming of the Messiah 
5.      The Sacred Twin Story 
6.      The Sign of the Pahana 
7.      Palongawhoya and Poqanghoya 
8.      Rainbow Thunderbird and Red Phoenix 
9.      The True White Brother 
10.    The Lost Louis Riel Notebooks 
 
Part Two - Hong Kong
11.    A Mixture of Revulsion and Pity 
12.    A Classroom of Scallywags 
13.    Illegitimati non Carborundum 
14.    The Distant Fire of Empyrean
 
Part Three - Burma
15.    The Monastery of Sacred Tablets 
16.    The Outpost of Tyranny 
17.    When the 12th Moon Comes 
18.    The Pigeon Left & the Crow Took His Place 
19.    Go North and Find Your People 
20.    Finding Orwell 
21.    Though the Monkey is in a Hurry, the Tree Branch is Not 
22.    The Castle at God's Toes 
23.    The General and Sergeant Betel Nut 
24.    The Tattooed Station Master 
25.    Reverend Crow's Life's Work 
26.    Yield Not to Adversity, But Press on More Bravely 
27.    A Bitter Cuppa Tea 
28.    The Thirteenth Tribe 
29.    When a Lamp is Lit You Must Expect Insects 
30.    John the Christian 
31.    A Guardian Angel Named Hanna 
32.    The Bar Car & Betel Nut 
33.    The Son of Light 
34.    Slipping the Karmic Knot
 
Part Four - Hong Kong
35.    The Tonsure Warning 
36.    The Phoenix Reborn 
37.    Touching the Empyrean 
38.    Joshua the Gatekeeper 
 
Part Five - Canada
39.    Lapsit Exillis 
40.    Thunderstones 
41.    The Time of Great Purification  
         
 
 
  

  
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