At the hospital compound, Bart examined Romelle and began stitching her wound.
Thrilled to see them arrive, Dash embraced his son. "God was with you, boy! Now I shall call in the search parties I dispatched throughout the valley."
As he spoke, a lama rode into the compound at full speed. Slung across the pommel of his saddle was Rebel. Riderless, Fate galloped at his side.
The lama jumped down with the unconscious dog in his arms.
"I was riding near the escarpment looking for clues when I recognized Lady Tara's black mare standing half-hidden in a glade. She had her head down as if feeding, but when I rode closer, I saw her licking this open wound on the dog, who lay collapsed beneath her."
Dash took Rebel from the lama's arms and hurried toward the hospital.
"I must perform surgery while there is still time," he called over his shoulder. "There is not a moment to spare."
Of the two shots fired by the Manchus at Rebel, one had grazed the dog's right ear, while the other ripped the flesh on his left side, fracturing his ribs before passing out through soft tissue. The latter wound had led to great loss of blood, which weakened him considerably and slowed his return to the valley from the cliff outside the Golden City.
Bart deduced that the dog's life had been saved by his zigzag course around large rocks when he charged the Manchus.
"That captain was a superb marksman, to judge from the shot that killed Chavadzy," Bart observed in the operating room. "After regaining consciousness, Rebel must have wobbled down to the valley floor and collapsed. I suspect Fate found him there and dragged him into the glade to nurse him. Animals like those two make me realize that man is certainly not the only reasoning life form on the planet!"
"Yes," Dash responded, putting the finishing touches on his skillful work with Rebel, "and I imagine we'll find your horse and Doctor Chavadzy's hidden somewhere in the valley."
Romelle regained consciousness while Bart stitched her wound. "Father, give me a pressure treatment. I'm feeling a little pain."
In measured cadence, Bart applied fingertip pressure to areas at the back of her head for half a minute. Becoming drowsy, she asked softly, "And Dayan...the Phantom General...is he here?"
Dash shook his head. "My son has gone off again, Romy. He had to return to his troops at once to alert them to the Manchu column the dragoon said was on its way to Dragon's Heart. We are at war. At last!"
As her eyes closed, she whispered, "Did he give you a message for me?"
"Only that your name is his prayer."
She smiled and faded into sleep.
That evening, Romelle and Bart dined alone at the cottage. Dash had returned to the temple to perform his priestly duties.
"The pressure treatment you used to anesthetize me when I regained consciousness on the operating table, Father," she said, "why aren't such techniques used in the West? No dangerous drugs or chemicals are involved, just the touch of a human hand!"
"The closed Western mind needs to be opened," he replied. "That's how my work with Doctor Dash began many years ago, comparing notes on Western and Oriental methods. In China and Japan, there are medical establishments devoted to healing with needle insertions and pressure."
She became thoughtful. "It's your work that has saved Alexis' life. If you could share that news with the world, it would make you famous, and would further your cause of medical cooperation between Western and Oriental cultures."
Bart shook his head. "That's a state secret of the Imperial Russian Empire. It can never be told. But I've been giving thought to your idea of continuing my research in America and France. If only I could afford to set up labs there, and a telegraph line here for communication with Dash in securing plants and herbs!"
Romelle drew in her breath sharply. "Oh, Father, forgive me! In all the excitement since I came to the valley, I've neglected to tell you that Philo left you a fortune, including Duncan Cargo. You can afford anything you want!"
Bart stepped away from her, shocked. "It can't be true! I deserve nothing from him! I brought grief to his family from the beginning. If I hadn't caught Jane stealing a statuette, Nelle might have lived a normal life span. If it hadn't been for me, Ardie might be alive today. Irene might not have lost her mind and tried to murder you. Brad might have had a very different life. And in the end, I killed Philo Duncan! He died because of the ruby I gave him. No, I can't accept!"
Dash turned to father and daughter. "Bart, if Captain Duncan had not rescued you, Alexis might have died, as might thousands of my countrymen. Madame, I need not reiterate what we owe to you. God works His wonders in mysterious ways, as you know from Christian teaching. Each of us is a petal in the unfolding of His holy purpose. None of us can see what the totality of that purpose may be. Captain Duncan fulfilled what God demands of us all - to act according to our highest sense of right every moment of our lives."
Bart sighed. "You're right Dash. I shall try to accomplish good for mankind with Philo's wealth."