thing they had for boiling things in was an autoclave.”

“That thing you sterilize instruments in?”

“Yeah. And you know how small it is. No way you could get a whole body in one of those things.”

Elizabeth sighed. “I know I’m going to hate myself for asking this, but-”

“Well, he just put it into the autoclave a piece at a time, right, Milo?” asked Bill.

“Of course. What else could he do? The process was going to take at least twelve hours to do anyway. He started at six o’clock, as soon as the animal science people had gone home for the day. And he just stayed there that night, tending his autoclave and stacking up the clean bones.”

“What does this have to do with you?” asked Elizabeth.

Milo grinned. “There he is, by himself, dressed in ragged cutoffs and an old T-shirt because it’s… uh… inelegant work,” he finished lamely with a glance at Elizabeth. She nodded solemnly, and he continued. “It’s three o’clock in the morning, not another soul in the building, when suddenly the door to the lab bursts open and in walk three campus cops, guns drawn.”

He waited for a moment so that Bill and Elizabeth could grasp the situation. Elizabeth nodded slowly, “So-they think-”

“Oh, sure! They think they’ve caught Jack the Ripper’s grandson! And he doesn’t have any identification on him. It’s in his good clothes, which he left in his office. At three o’clock in the morning, who’s he going to call? Remember he’d just gotten here and didn’t know many people.”

“Did they arrest him?” asked Bill.

“Yep. He tried to explain what was going on, and they allowed him to go without handcuffs on the strength of that, but they were going to take him down and put him in a cell until they got things straightened out.”

“He went to jail?”

“No.” said Milo. “That’s where I come in. Three a.m. was my break time, when I walked across campus to Burger World for something to eat. That’s what would keep me awake until breakfast time. So I’m strolling past the animal science building when the three cops come hustling out the front door, clustered around a prisoner. I knew the cops, of course. They’d stop in and pass the time with me every now and then. I said hello to Boyce and Wade, and then I saw who it was they’d arrested. Dr. Lerche and I recognized each other at the same time, in fact, but before I could say anything, Dr. Lerche said: ‘This man can identify me! He is my new lab assistant.’ ”

“So you identified him?” asked Elizabeth.

“Oh, sure. I would’ve anyway, but when he said I had the lab job, I would’ve let him be whoever he wanted. The cops apologized and left, and Dr. Lerche and I went over to Burger World and drank coffee and talked. I’ve been working for him ever since. It’s a great job.”

“It sounds interesting,” Elizabeth agreed. “I’d like to study bones-what do you call it?”

“Forensic anthropology. Would you like to work on a dig some time? We often use students as field workers, and I could probably get you hired. I know Dr. Lerche isn’t teaching second summer session, so he might be planning to do field work somewhere. Are you interested?”

“It sounds wonderful,” said Bill.

Milo turned to gape at him. “You mean you’d like to come along?”

“No. I was thinking of getting rid of the two of you for the rest of the summer. Six weeks without bones or weeds. Wonderful!”


ALEX didn’t know she was there. His office door was open, but she had heard him in conference with a student, so she waited in the hall without announcing her presence. She didn’t mind waiting. It would give her time to decide what to say.

Tessa Lerche studied the bulletin board beside the door of her husband’s office. It contained the usual end-of- term notices posted by undergrads: ride needed to D.C. area; apartment to sublet; textbooks for sale-cheap! Nothing ever changed except the phone numbers. The “Professional Typing-Reasonable Rates” looked like the cards she used to post when Alex was in grad school, the lean years when a few term-paper jobs meant the difference between peanut butter and hamburger. At the time those years had seemed a long prologue to what she had thought of as “real life.” Looking back now, she saw that time as a golden age. Alex had studied a great deal, but he had also talked to her about his work. She had typed his papers. Now his work was put on computers by one of his assistants, and he seldom discussed it. Perhaps she should have continued to go on digs with him as she had out west, but over the years her interest had decreased and she had been less willing to spend blazing summers in the desert. She was thirty-three now. Her looks wouldn’t stand the weeks of roughing it as they used to. Once you passed thirty, you couldn’t take your looks for granted. She jogged, and moisturized her skin regularly, and she watched her diet. Sometimes people still mistook her for an undergrad. Alex never seemed to notice, though. He came home for dinner; there was no nonsense about worrying where he was or with whom, but even when he was at home… he wasn’t. He’d eat his dinner in an abstracted way, making polite murmurs to her attempts at conversation, and he’d spend the rest of the evening at his desk in the den, hunched over a column of figures, while she read or watched television. When she asked him what was the matter, he’d shrug and say, “Nothing,” or that he was tired, or the work wasn’t going well. She had decided that their marriage was in a seven-year slump, a thing to be waited out as gracefully as possible-until this morning’s discovery had convinced her otherwise. She had been straightening up Alex’s desk-which he preferred her not to do-when she found the yellow legal pad he made notes on. Scribbled in the margins beside data on Paleo-Indian cultures were the words “Mary Clare” written over and over.

“Excuse me, ma’am. Are you waiting to see the professor?”

Tessa looked up, wondering what her expression had been. The man was not a student. He was tanned and wiry, nearing forty, with a head so bald that he must have shaved it. He had the sort of brown eyes that can express feelings, and at the moment his were radiating concern for this distraught stranger he’d found in the hallway. He might be one of Alex’s colleagues, Tessa realized. Whoever he was, he was waiting to see Alex, and he would be listening outside while she said whatever she was going to say to her husband.

“You feeling all right?” he asked gently.

She forced herself to meet the man’s eyes. “I-I got an F,” Tessa stammered, and fled.

Alex Lerche blinked at the visitor who sat on the other side of his desk toying with a Sioux buffalo-jaw knife. People usually commented on the fur and beadwork on the hilt, but the bald man in the khaki jumpsuit was running his fingers along the iron blade with an expression of cheerful inquiry.

“Wouldn’t be a bad hunting knife, but I’d hate to have to take it into combat.”

“Combat?” Lerche considered it. “I don’t think the Sioux-”

The visitor smiled. “I was talking about Nam. Spent a couple of years there in Special Forces. I was acquainted with a couple of Indians over there, and nary a one of us carried one of these.”

“You’re interested in Indians, Mr… er…”

“Comfrey Stecoah. Reckon I am interested in Indians, seeing as how I am one. I’m looking for Dr. Lurch. Might you be him?”

“It’s pronounced Lair-ka,” the professor murmured. The correction was automatic. “It’s a Danish name. And you say you’re an Indian?”

“Uh-huh,” he grinned, reading the thought on Lerche’s face. He did not look like most people’s conception of an Indian, and he knew it. He was tanned, but not as dark as many of the Southwestern Indians; his features included a nose too broad to fit the stereotype, and-since he was shaved bald-his hair was a matter for speculation. “I came to see you because I hear you’re an expert on Indian cultures.”

“I have done some work with Plains Indian cultures,” said Lerche cautiously. “What would you like to know?”

“It’s not a question of knowing. It’s a question of proving. I know your work involved the Indians out west, but you’re the closest thing we got to an expert in these parts, so you’ll have to do.”

Lerche smiled in spite of himself. “What, exactly, will I have to do?”

“My people want you to conduct an archaeological expedition on our land. Well, that is, it

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