He hesitated, then slowly reached his hands into the fading light of the strange globe that fell from the sky. As his hands penetrated the ethereal light, Francois felt a warmth spread from his hands through his entire body. A sense of peace and calmness overwhelmed his senses and he felt tears streaming down his face that froze to his reddish, full beard.
The baby watched. His eyes were open and seemingly aware of Francois and of his surroundings. He didn’t make a sound. His dark hair tussled around his head and he gently kicked his legs as the trapper reached for him.
Francois gently scooped the child in his arms, unbuttoned his leather parka and tucked this wonder deep inside, close to his chest. The light quickly diminished and when he looked down, the orb was gone. He raised his eyes skyward and saw an amazing display of the Aurora spreading through the sky. They say that on still nights you can actually hear the Aurora. For the first time in his life, he did. In an instant, he knew the child’s name.
As he stood, reality rushed to him. It was cold. He had to get the child back to the cabin, and he had to do it soon. There was little time to waste. He started to trot back along the path he came. His mind was a curious mix of a thousand questions bubbling on top of a calm undercurrent. He body stayed focused and on task, steadfast in his journey back to the warmth and safety of his cabin in the wilderness.
He could smell the crisp and comforting smoke from the woodstove before he even caught sight of the cabin. Finally outside the door, he struggled to remove his snowshoes with one arm, the other tightly keeping the child close to his body. He entered the cabin and looked around, as if seeing the homestead for the first time. The moose stew was bubbling merrily away on the top of the woodstove and a kerosene lamp hanging from a hook in the center rafter cast a familiar glow. Francois settled back into the ancient overstuffed chair near the stove and undid the first two buttons on his coat.
When he looked inside, the child looked up with his obsidian eyes. A ghost of a smile whisped across his face and the child reached out to touch Francois’s beard. They stayed like that for a very long time. Both were entranced it seemed.
Francois studied the child through the eyes of a brand new parent. They took in the miracle of life and they shone with a love that was as deep as the mystery of God. He was not appaled or alarmed by the strange round dots that marched across the collar bone of the child. The shiny black eyes and the nearly triangular ears also did nothing to dismay the trapper.
A sudden pang of hunger jolted Francois into the present. He literally shook his head to clear his mind.
He grabbed a wool blanket from the shelf, wrapped the baby papoose style and placed him on the lone bed in the corner.
“Jeez. A baby’s got to eat. Hope you’re not too fussy. All the milk I got is powdered.”
A gurgly “Na-bah” was all he got in response.
He fumbled around the pantry and pulled out the box of milk and a pot. He scooted the stew over to one side and made a little room to warm up the water for the milk. Warmed just enough, he poured the milk into a mug, grabbed a spoon and sat on the edge of the bed. Cradling him in one arm, Francois brought a spoonful of the milk up and drizzled it into Aurora’s waiting mouth. One spoon led to another until most of the mug was empty. The baby let out an amazingly large belch and smiled. Francois laughed all the way down to his feet. “You’re welcome!”
Laying Aurora back down on the bed, Francois stood and headed for the door. “I gotta get more wood for the fire, little one. Gonna be cold as the dickens tonight.” From his makeshift papoose, Aurora watched as Francois donned his coat and boots and stepped out the door.
As Francois lifted his axe to split the first of several rounds, his mind buzzed with the events of this night. He was not a particularly religious man, but there was something happening here that was beyond his realm of understanding. He felt certain that he this was supposed to happen. Aurora for some reason was meant to find him. Where it would lead, he had no idea.
Even ten minutes was too much in this kind of cold and he gathered up the split birch. It was a big load, big enough to keep the fire going all night. That was fine with him. The fewer times he had to be out in the cold, the better.
He pushed the door open looked over towards the bed and promptly dropped the load of wood on his foot.
Aurora was gone.
He heard a soft whimper from the far corner of the cabin. Francois reached up and tilted the kerosene lamp towards the corner.
The soft, yellow light revealed a small boy curled up in the corner shivering. He looked to be about six. He looked up at Francois and there was no mistaking those eyes.