Jane Whitefield walked out of the lobby and down Main Street for two blocks to the tobacco shop. When she entered, the studious-looking young man with the pipe looked up from the book he was reading and went to turn the knob on the sound system to make Mozart’s Third Horn Concerto recede to a safe distance. 'What can I do for you today?' said the young man.

'I’d like a bag of the best grade of pipe tobacco,' she said. She held up her hands in a bowl shape. 'About this much.'

He put his pipe under her nose and waved it back and forth. 'What do you think of this?' he said. 'I make it for myself. A little Latakia, some prime Virginia, and a little secret I happen to know about.'

She dodged the blue-gray smoke and wrinkled her nose. 'You cut it with sumac to take the bite out of it?'

The young man looked genuinely injured. 'Are you in the business?'

'Just a guess,' she said. 'I heard you were the best tobacconist in town.' This seemed to make up for her knowing.

He led her beyond the glass door into the humidified room, reached to the top shelf, and took down a cannister. He weighed some of his precious mixture and put it into a plastic bag for her. 'I hate to part with this stuff,' he said. 'But for you—' he flipped his wrist to pour another stream of shreds into the bag—'anything. I assume you don’t smoke it yourself, so I guess this isn’t the beginning of a beautiful friendship.'

She paid him in cash and put the bag into her purse. 'No, I don’t smoke,' she said, 'but if it’s good I’ll be back.'

Jane Whitefield parked her rented car by the curb on Maplewood Avenue and walked up the sidewalk. It was a quiet street full of three-story nineteenth-century houses shaped like plump boxes, built close together near the curb. This part of Rochester had a lot of placid old neighborhoods like this, left from a time when people who had money wanted to live on streets that seemed urban, where a carriage could pull up to the front door and lawns weren’t of much interest because people were only a mile and a generation from the farm. Most of the houses had been partitioned into apartments now, but there were probably fewer people living in them than in the old days, when a family included eight children and two servants. She came to the end of the street and crossed over into the little park.

The grass here was the bright, luminous green that seemed to come in early April and last only until the new blades grew tall in the warm weather. When she stopped to pluck a blade, it was swollen and crisp, and when she split it, her hand was wet with chlorophyll. The trees were old, much older than the houses. They had long ago grown to their full height, and now some of the trunks were four feet in diameter. She could see the buds on the lower branches already, waiting for this part of the earth to tilt a little closer to the sun before they were ready to unfurl into leaves.

Jane Whitefield passed to the left of the big Romanesque structure of the Christian Science church. It looked old and white and heavy, like a mausoleum now that the central part of the city had changed. Then she walked on to the edge of the grass, leaned over the thick iron railing, and looked down into the gorge.

Fifty feet below her, the dark ribbon of the Genesee River moved along sedately to the north, far from its source in Pennsylvania and still a day’s walk from Lake Ontario. Genesee meant 'pleasant banks.'

Down in the gorge, the river was maybe forty feet across at its widest point, and beside it, up a pebbly bank, was about a hundred feet of flat, weedy ground. As she stared at the flat place below her, it wasn’t spring anymore. The leaves were thick and dry on the trees, and the air was hot. It was late in the summer.

The village of Gaskosago had been on that spot along the water, the elm-bark longhouses all oriented east to west, the smoke that rose from the chimney hole in the center of each roof going up in a straight line, only to be dispersed by the steady breeze from this side when it rose to the top of the chasm. On a quiet afternoon, the small children would play down there in the cool, clear water. Mothers never did much watching of children after they could walk, because the people believed it would stifle the self-reliance they would need later.

The women were up here on the level ground, working with hoes and digging sticks to chop the weeds and turn the soil around the roots of the cornstalks. The plants were almost ready for harvest, so the women gossiped and laughed as they worked, invisible to each other through the tall stalks. In the early spring they had planted the corn, and then after it had sprouted, they had planted the beans and the squash so the vines could grow up the cornstalks to keep the vegetables off the ground. They called the plants the three sisters. Only the women were up here, because crops not tended by women would not grow. The men were out hunting or fighting.

Then, down in the village below, a couple of the dogs that had been splashing in the water with the children started barking and growling. Jane watched as a young woman stopped and listened to it. When it didn’t stop, she looked up from her work and walked to the edge of the field. She could see that women were running out of the cornfield to the low limbs of the trees where they had hung their babies in cradleboards.

One of the older women hurried to the edge of the gorge and shouted 'Go-weh! Go-weh!' at the children below. She waved her arms up and down frantically and screamed at them to run. Suddenly, the older woman’s body gave a spasmodic jerk, and a big red blotch exploded out of her back as she fell backward. There was the loud report of the rifle, echoing back and forth among the rocky cliffs above the village for a second. Jane watched the young woman turn her head to try to see where it had come from.

What she saw were the first of the four thousand soldiers streaming out of the woods from the east. They were already on the flats, setting fire to the cornfields and the orchards. The young woman threw down her digging stick and began to run. There were more rifle shots now, first a loud, long barrage of many guns fired at once and then a ragged, uneven patter as single soldiers leveled their sights on someone running. The young woman sprinted, dashing among the tall cornstalks, making sharp turns and zigzags until she was in the woods. She ran to the north and west. Before long there were more women, a few slipping between the trees with cradleboards on their backs, others with bigger children they had scooped up in their arms, all of them trying to fade into the deep forest and away from that awful place.

Jane closed her eyes and took a couple of deep breaths to erase the feeling of panic, and when she opened them, she stared up and away, at the quiet Victorian houses across the street from the park. All of that had happened long ago. The man who had ordered the attacks was named George Washington. From that day in 1779 until now, the only way of referring to any American president in the Seneca language was Destroyer of Villages.

The people who had lived here didn’t call themselves Seneca. They were the Nundawaono, the People of the Hill. The name came from their having come into the world on a hill at the head of Canandaigua Lake, about thirty miles south of here. But everybody had been gone from this place for a long time. The only ones left here were the Jo-Ge-Oh—the Little People.

Jane Whitefield opened her purse and pulled out the pouch of pipe tobacco. She tossed a pinch down into the gorge. 'This is for you, Stone Throwers,' she said quietly. 'Thank you for the luck with Rhonda. She’s safe now.' The Stone Throwers were one of the three tribes of Jo-Ge-Oh. They were only about as tall as a person’s hand, but they were very strong in spite of their size, and they looked very much like the Nundawaono who had lived here once. They made a practice of saving people from the horrible things that could happen, taking victims out of the world and hiding them.

The second tribe of Jo-Ge-Oh was responsible for making sure the plants of the western part of New York State came up on time and flourished, and the third for guarding the several entrances of the underworld around here, to keep the supernatural beings down where they belonged. The Stone Throwers lived only in the rocks of the Genesee. They were hopelessly addicted to tobacco and had no supplier except the Nundawaono. Jane held the pouch at arm’s length and poured the rest of the tobacco down into the gorge, watching the brown shreds sprinkle and spread out in the breeze to become invisible. 'There you go, little guys. Don’t let it stunt your growth. This is for Rhonda.'

The Little People had, in their occasional discussions with the Nundawaono, specifically requested fingernail clippings. It was their hope that the large animals that were a nuisance to little people everywhere would smell the clippings and think there were full-sized human beings around. Jane Whitefield glanced over her shoulder to see if anyone was looking, took out a small plastic bag and undid the seal, then poured her fingernail collection down to them. ’’Take these, and keep the luck coming.'

Jane Whitefield walked back across the green grass to Maplewood Avenue, got back into her rented car, and drove out toward Mt. Read Boulevard. She could pick up the Thruway and be home in Deganawida in a couple of hours.

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