Michael and Gabrielle came home the next day. On the trip, she had been unusually quiet and in her eyes was a faraway look. They got on with their usual routines, but Gabrielle didn't seem as energetic or as enthusiastic as before. And because it was such a small change in her behavior, Michael thought nothing about it, although deep down inside, he felt troubled.

It was evening one day. Gabrielle was still awake. Michael is probably asleep like everyone else, she supposed. She got up and left the room. Michael had been awake though, and listened as she let herself out. After awhile, she didn't come back. As the clock in the hall struck midnight, he let himself out after dressing. He walked outside. Gabrielle wasn't there and one of the horses was missing from the stables. "I can't believe she left!"

"Who left?" His father had come up behind him.

"Gabrielle. I'm afraid she's gone back. She's trying to get back to her people," he muttered to himself.

"What people? We took them all."

"No, you didn't. We found a note telling her where they were. We met them and stayed the night with her tribe." As soon as he said those words, a sick feeling entered his stomach.

"We'll go after her in the morning." They both went back inside.

After breakfast the next day, Michael and Will left to bring Gabrielle back. Michael led the way. When they came up to the lake, he alone went to get her. Gabrielle was working with her family and it was already dusk. She was surprised and scared to see Michael. "Quickly," he said. "You must leave. My father has followed me to bring you back. I know this place means a lot to you, but you must run or be brought back. Go!"

Gabrielle was still confused, but she got up on the horse who had brought her and galloped away. He quickly explained to her family. "She'll be back, I promise you, but for now, you must hide yourselves for my father may want to take you back with us."

Michael came back and when Will asked where she was, he said, "She's gone. They're all gone. I don't know where they could have gone..."

"They'll know," Will said, pointing to a group of dogs that had finally caught up with them, brought from one of the wagons driven by another slave. The dogs soon caught her fresh track and pulled on the chains, whining to be let go.

It was evening and the dogs were quick on her trail with Michael and his father right behind them. Soon, they came up to her. She had been resting, but now, as she heard the thundering hooves and barking dogs coming closer, she got up on the horse again and tried to go on quickly, but the horse was tired and so was she.

Michael's father came up in view of Gabrielle. He raised a gun he had been holding and shot her, after carefully calculating the point on her back. "No father!" Michael yelled out, quickly realizing what his father was up to. Too late. Gabrielle sat upright for a moment stiff with pain before she slumped forward and slid of the horse's back. Michael got off his horse, went to her, and held her.

She painfully raised a hand to touch his cheek. With her last breath, she whispered into Michael's ear, speaking in her own language, "Thank you... I love you." Gabrielle closed her eyes and died in his arms.

Michael couldn't believe what happened. Just a few seconds ago she was alive and now she was dead. And all he could do was cradle the lifeless body, telling her things that he wished he had said before. It was awhile before he could do anything else. He ignored his father, carrying Gabrielle's body over to his horse. He draped her over the saddle and led the way back.

He went to Gabrielle's former village and came to stand before the solitary tree. As quickly as he could, he dug a shallow grave and carefully put Gabrielle's body in. Will watched, thoughtful, but didn't help. He left before the body had even been placed inside. As Michael finished, the sun rose and he looked, remembering the times they had sat in his room watching the sun rise. He didn't cry. He went to the lake after he was done and told them the story. He gave Ivy the necklace back. Then, he cried with her family and friends. "I'm so sorry," he said.

Ivy came up to him. "Why are you sorry? You didn't do anything wrong. You tried to let her go, but you loved her and went after her. You didn't know that your father would kill her. It wasn't your fault. Anyway, she's not gone. She's here in you, me, in everyone and everything she loved. Her spirit will never die. Don't blame yourself."

"You are wise for a ten year old. But you are right." After a pause, he went on. "I must go. I'm sorry to have to leave you like this. I'll visit occasionally. I'll..."

"Don't make promises you aren't going to keep," Ivy warned.

Michael was startled by her direct comment. He stared at her, before dropping his head in agreement. "Then I guess this is good-bye."

Ivy nodded. They held hands once before Michael turned away to go back to the place he called home.