The Clan of the Cave Bear Jean M. Auel 1 The naked child ran out of the hide- covered lean-to toward the rocky beach at. Auel, Jean M - Earth's Children 05 - The Shelters of Stone. Home · Auel, Jean M Auel, Jean M - Earth's Children 03 - The Mammoth Hunters UC · Read more. Contains Five Audiobooks by Jean M. Auel: The Clan of the Cave Bear, The Valley of A literary phenomenon, Jean M. Auel's prehistoric odyssey is one of the Glossary accurate: free from error; close to the correct amount ruthenpress.info
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Contains Five Audiobooks by Jean M. Auel: The Clan of the Cave Bear, The Valley of Horses, The Mammoth Hunters, The Plains of Passage, and The Shelters. Descargá gratis el libro The Clan of the Cave Bear - When her parents are killed by an earthquake, 5-year-old Ayla wanders through the forest completely alone. Descargá gratis el libro The Land of Painted Caves - In this, the extraordinary conclusion of the ice-age epic series, Earth's Children, Ayla, Jondalar, and their.
Finland was an integrated part of the Kingdom of Sweden at the time, and a Swedish colony in the New World was bound to include subjects from Finland as well.
In two years' time, the number of Finns in the settlement had grown to fifty, and was increasing. New Sweden changed hands to Dutch control in , but many Finns had already entered, and the Finnish community, while small, was growing. John Morton , the politician who signed the U.
Declaration of Independence on behalf of Pennsylvania in , was his great-grandson. Migration to North America from Finland continued throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, but it was very sporadic in nature and only a few individuals and groups dared make the move. This was largely due to the long distance between Europe and America, and the difficulties associated with crossing it. However, as the Industrial Revolution began with the turn of the 19th century, bringing with it such technological innovations as railways and steam ships , these obstacles slowly began to disappear.
While the rest of Europe was industrializing, Finland, by now a Grand Duchy of the Russian Empire , was to a great extent excluded from the revolutionary process. The society was largely agrarian, and unemployment was rising, resultant from population growth and the fact that there was now little land left to cultivate in the country.
America, on the other hand, possessed abundant natural resources but lacked a work force. Rural life in Finland during the s seemed doomed to remain laborious, stunted, and forever at the mercy of unpredictable weather.
In , a severe crop failure in Finland drove masses of Finns, especially from rural Ostrobothnia , into migrating to Norway , from where they later moved to the United States and Canada. So a group of Laestadian preachers and followers immigrated to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan bringing their beloved sermons. In the Finnish Laestadians started their own congregation at Calumet , Michigan.
By the Laestadian movement in America resulted in 68 churches and a communicant body of over 8, In the s, there were only 3, migrants from Finland, but this figure was rapidly growing. New migrants often sent letters home, describing their life in the New World, and this encouraged more and more people to leave and try their luck in America.
Rumors began of the acres of land that could be cleared into vast productive fields and the opportunity to earn "a barrel of American dollars" in mines, factories, and railroads. There were also professional recruiters, or "agents," employed by mining and shipping companies, who encouraged Finns to move to the United States.
This activity was frowned upon by the authorities of the Grand Duchy, and was mostly done in secret. It was eventually brought to an end in the late s by legislation in the U. The movement was strengthened even further in , as the Russian government started an aggressive, coordinated campaign for the Russification of Finland.
Many Finns chose to escape the repression by migrating into the New World, and, during the s, there were , new migrants. Most Finns who left for America came from the impoverished rural regions of Ostrobothnia. Earthquakes were an evil that had never failed to bring devastating loss and wrenching change into her life, and there was nothing she feared more. Finally she realized she was wet and took her hide tent out of her carrying basket. She pulled it over her sleeping fur like a cover and buried her head beneath it.
She was still shaking long after she warmed up, but as the night wore on the fearful storm abated, and she finally slept. Birds filled the early morning air with twitterings, chirpings, and raucous caws. Ayla pulled back the cover and looked around her with delight.
A world of green, still wet from the rain, glittered in the morning sun. She was on a broad rocky beach at a place where a small river took a turn toward the east in its winding, generally southward course. On the opposite bank, a row of dark green pines reached to the top of the wall behind them but no farther. Any tentative strivings above the lip of the river gorge were cut short by the slashing winds of the steppes above. It gave the tallest trees a peculiar blunted look, their growth forced to branching fullness.
One soaring giant of near perfect symmetry, spoiled only by a spire growing at right angles to the trunk, grew beside another with a charred, jagged, high stump clinging to its inverted top. The trees were growing on a narrow strip on the other side of the river between the bank and the wall, some so close to the water that bare roots were exposed.
On her side, upstream of the rocky beach, supple willows arched over, weeping long, pale green leaf-tears into the stream. The flattened stems on the tall aspens made the leaves quiver in the gentle breeze. White-barked birches grew in clumps while their alder cousins were only high shrubs.
Lianas climbed and twined around the trees, and bushes of many varieties in full leaf crowded close to the stream. Ayla had traveled the parched and withered steppes so long, she had forgotten how beautiful green could be. The small river sparkled an invitation, and, her fears of the storm forgotten, she jumped up and ran across the beach.
A drink was her first thought; then, impulsively, she untied the long thong of her wrap, took off her amulet, and splashed into the water. The bank dropped off quickly and she dove under, then swam to the steep opposite side. The water was cool and refreshing, and washing off the dust and grime of the steppes was a welcome pleasure.
She swam upstream and felt the current growing stronger and the water chilling as the sheer walls closed in, narrowing the river. She rolled over on her back and, cradled by the buoyant water, let the flow carry her downstream. She gazed up at deep azure filling the space between the high cliffs, then noticed a dark hole in the wall across from the beach upstream.
Could that be a cave? The young woman waded back to the beach and sat down on the warm stones to let the sun dry her. Her eye was drawn by the quick perky gestures of birds hopping on the ground near the brush, pulling on worms brought close to the surface by the night's rain, and flitting from branch to branch feeding on bushes heavy with berries.
Look at those raspberries! They're so big, she thought. A flurry of wings welcomed her approach, then settled nearby. She stuffed handfuls of the sweet juicy berries in her mouth. After she had her fill, she rinsed off her hands and put her amulet on, but wrinkled her nose at her grimy, stained, and sweaty wrap.
She had no other. When she had gone back into the earthquake-littered cave just before she left, to get clothing, food, and shelter, survival had been her concern, not whether she would need a change of summer wraps. And she was thinking survival again. Her hopeless thoughts on the dry and dreary steppes were dispelled by the fresh green valley. The raspberries had stimulated her appetite rather than satisfying it.
She wanted something more substantial and walked to her sleeping place to get her sling. She spread out her wet hide tent and damp fur on the sun-warmed stones, then put on her soiled wrap and began looking for smooth round pebbles.
Close inspection revealed the beach held more than stones. It was also strewn with dull gray driftwood and bleached white bones, many of them piled in a huge mound against a jutting wall.
Violent spring floods had uprooted trees and swept away unwary animals, hurled them through the narrow constriction of sheer rock upstream, and slammed them against a cul-de-sac in the near wall as the swirling water tore around the bend. Ayla saw giant antlers, long bison horns, and several enormous, curving ivory tusks in the heap; not even the great mammoth was immune to the force of the tide.
Large boulders were mixed in the deposit, too, but the woman's eyes narrowed when she saw several medium-size, chalky gray stones. This is flint! I'm sure of it. I need a hammerstone to break one open, but I'm just sure of it.
Excitedly, Ayla scanned the beach for a smooth oval stone she could hold comfortably in her hand. When she found one, she struck the chalky outer covering of the nodule. A piece of the whitish cortex broke off, exposing the dull sheen of the dark gray stone within.
It is flint! I knew it was! Her mind raced with thoughts of the tools she could make. I can even make some spares. Then I won't have to worry so much about breaking something. She lugged over a few more of the heavy stones, flushed out of the chalk deposits far upstream and carried by surging current until they came to rest at the foot of the stone wall. The discovery encouraged her to explore further. The wall, that in times of flood presented a barrier to the rushing torrent, jutted out toward the inside bend of the river.
Contained within its normal banks, the water level was low enough to allow easy access around it, but when she looked beyond, she stopped. Spread out before her was the valley she had glimpsed from above. Around the bend, the river broadened and bubbled over and around rocks exposed by shallower water.
It flowed east at the foot of the steep opposite wall of the gorge. Along its near bank trees and brush protected from the cutting wind grew to their full luxuriant height. On her left, beyond the stone barrier, the wall of the gorge veered away, and its slope decreased to a gradual incline that blended into steppes toward the north and east. Ahead, the wide valley was a lush field of ripe hay moving in waves as gusts of wind blew down the north slope, and midway down its length the small herd of steppe horses was grazing.
Ayla, breathing in the beauty and tranquility of the scene, could hardly believe such a place could exist in the middle of the dry windy prairie. The valley was an extravagant oasis bidden in a crack of the arid plains; a microcosm of abundance, as though nature, constrained to utilitarian economy on the steppes, lavished her bounty in extra measure where the opportunity allowed it. The young woman studied the horses in the distance, intrigued by them. They were sturdy, compact animals with rather short legs, thick necks, and heavy heads with overhanging noses that reminded her of the large overhanging noses of some men of the Clan.
They had heavy shaggy coats and short stiff manes. Though same tended to gray, most were shades of buff ranging from the neutral beige of the dust to the color of ripe hay. Off to one side stood a hay-colored stallion, and Ayla noticed several foals of the same shade. The stallion lifted his head, shaking his short mane, and whinnied. She started walking down the field close to the brush that hugged the stream.
She noted the vegetation without consciously thinking about it, as aware of the medicinal qualities as she was of the nutritional values. It had been part of her training as a medicine woman to learn and collect plants for their healing magic, and there was very little she couldn't identify immediately. This time food was her aim. She noticed the leaves and the dried umbeled flower stalk that pointed to wild carrots a few inches below the ground, but passed them by as though she hadn't seen them.
The impression was misleading. She would remember the place just as precisely as if she had marked it, but vegetation would stay put. Her sharp eyes had picked up the trail of a hare, and at the moment she was concentrating on securing meat. With the silent stealth of an experienced hunter, she followed fresh droppings, a bent blade of grass, a faint print in the dirt, and just ahead she distinguished the shape of the animal hiding in camouflaging cover.
She pulled her sling from her waist thong and reached into a fold of her wrap for two stones. When the hare bolted she was ready. With the unconscious grace of years of practice, she hurled a stone and the next instant a second one, and heard a satisfying thwack, thwack. Both missiles found their mark. Ayla picked up her kill and thought about the time she had taught herself that double-stone technique. An overconfident attempt to kill a lynx had taught her the extent of her vulnerability.
But it had taken long sessions of practice to perfect a way to place a second stone in position on the downstroke of the first cast so she could rapid-fire two stones in quick succession. On her way back, she chopped a branch from a tree, sharpened a point on one end, and used it to dig up the wild carrots. She put them in a fold of her wrap and chopped off two forked branches before returning to the beach. She put down the hare and the roots and got the fire drill and platform out of her basket, then began gathering dry driftwood from under larger pieces in the bone pile, and deadfall from beneath the protective branches of the trees.
With the same tool she had used to sharpen the digging stick, one with a V-shaped notch on the sharp edge, she shaved curls from a dry stick. Then she peeled loose hairy bark from the old stalks of sagebrush, and dried fuzz from the seed pods of fireweed.
She found a comfortable place to sit, then sorted the wood according to size and arranged the tinder, kindling, and larger wood around her. She examined the platform, a piece of dry clematis vine, dug a little notch out along one edge with a flint borer, and fitted an end of the previous season's dry woody cattail stalk into the hole to check the size.
She arranged the fireweed fuzz in a nest of stringy bark under the notch of the fire platform and braced it with her foot, then put the end of the cattail stalk in the notch and took a deep breath. Fire making took concentration. Placing both palms together at the top of the stick, she began twirling it back and forth between her hands, exerting a downward pressure.
As she twirled it, the constant pressure moved her hands down the stick until they nearly touched the platform. If she'd had another person to help, that would have been the time for that person to start at the top. But, alone, she had to let go at the bottom and reach quickly for the top again, never letting the rhythm of the twirling stop, nor letting up the pressure for more than an instant, or the heat generated by the friction would dissipate and would not build up enough to start the wood smoldering.
It was hard work and allowed no time to rest. Ayla got into the rhythm of the movement, ignoring the sweat that formed on her brow and started running into her eyes. With the continuous movement, the hole deepened and sawdust from the soft wood accumulated. She smelled woodsmoke and saw the notch blacken before she saw a wisp of smoke, encouraging her to continue though her arms ached.
Finally, a small glowing coal burned through the platform and dropped onto the nest of dry tinder beneath it. The next stage was even more critical. If the ember died, she'd have to begin all over again. She bent over so that her face was so near the coal she could feel the heat, and began to blow on it. She watched it grow brighter with each breath, then die down again as she gulped another mouthful of air.
She held tiny curled shaving to the bit of smoldering wood and watched them brighten and turn black without igniting. Then a tiny flame burst out. She blew harder, fed it more shavings, and, when she had a small pile burning, added a few sticks of kindling.
She rested only after the large driftwood logs were blazing and the fire was firmly established. She gathered a few more pieces and piled them nearby; then with another, slightly larger notched tool, she shaved the bark off the green branch she had used to dig up the wild carrots.
She planted the forked branches upright on either side of the fire so that the pointed branch fit comfortably between them and then turned to skinning the hare. By the time the fire had died down to hot coals, the hare was skewered and ready for roasting. She started to wrap the entrails in the hide to dispose of it as she had done while traveling, then changed her mind. She rinsed the wild carrots in the river — and the blood off her hands — and wrapped them in plantain leaves.
The large fibrous leaves were edible, but she couldn't help thinking of their other use as sturdy, healing bandages for cuts or bruises. She put the leaf-wrapped wild carrots next to the coals. She sat back and relaxed for a moment, then decided to stake out the furry hide.
While her meal cooked, she scraped away the blood vessels, hair follicles, and membranes from the inside of the skin with the broken scraper, and thought about making a new one. She hummed a tuneless crooning murmur while she worked, and her thoughts wandered. Maybe I should stay here a few days, finish this hide.
Need to make some tools anyway. Could try to reach that hole in the wall upriver. That hare is starting to smell good. A cave would keep me out of the rain — might not be usable, though. She got up and turned the spit, then started working from a different side. I can't stay too long. I've got to find people before winter. She stopped scraping the skin, her attention suddenly focused on the inner turmoil that was never far from the surface of her mind.
Where are they? Iza said there were many Others on the mainland. Why can't I find them? What am I going to do, Iza? Without warning, tears welled up and overflowed. Oh, Iza, I miss you so much. And Creb. And Uba, too. And Durc, my baby… my baby. I wanted you so much, Durc, and it was so hard. And you're not deformed, just a little different.
Like I am. No, not like me.
You're Clan, you're just going to be a little taller, and your head looks a little different. Someday you'll be a great hunter.
And good with the sling. And run faster than anyone.
You'll win all the races at the Clan Gathering. Maybe not the wrestling, you might not be that strong, but you'll be strong. But who will play the game of making sounds with you? And who will make the happy noises with you? I've got to stop this, she scolded herself, wiping tears away with the back of her hand. I should be glad you have people who love you, Durc. And when you're older, Ura will come and be your mate. Oda promised to train her to be a good woman for you.
Ura isn't deformed, either. She's just different, like you. I wonder, will I ever find a mate?
Ayla jumped up to check on her meal, moving just to be doing something to take her mind off her thoughts.
The meat was more rare than she liked it, but she decided it was done enough. The wild carrots, small and pale yellow, were tender and had a sweet tangy taste.
She missed the salt that had always been available near the inland sea, but hunger provided the right seasoning. She let the rest of the hare cook a little longer while she finished scraping the skin, feeling better after she ate. The sun was high when she decided to investigate the hole in the wall. She stripped and swam across the river, scrambling up the tree roots to climb out of the deep water. It was difficult scaling the nearly vertical wall, making her wonder if it was worthwhile even if she found a cave.
She was disappointed anyway when she reached a narrow ledge in front of the dark hole and found it was hardly more than a depression in the rock. The scat of hyena in a shaded corner let her know there must be an easier way down from the steppes, but there wasn't room for anything much larger. She turned to start down, then turned farther. Downstream and slightly lower on the other wall, she could see the top of the rock barrier that jutted toward the bend of the river. It was a broad ledge, and at the back of it there appeared to be another hole in the face of the cliff, a much deeper hole.
From her vantage point, she saw a steep but possible way up. Her heart was beating with excitement. If it was a cave of any size at all, she'd have a dry place to spend the night. About halfway down, she jumped into the river, eager to investigate. I must have passed by it on the way down last night, she thought as she started up. It was just too dark to see. She remembered, then, that an unknown cave should always be approached with caution, and she returned for her sling and a few rocks.
Though she had very carefully felt her way down, in good light she found she didn't need handholds. Over the millennia, the river had cut sharper into the opposite bank; the wall on this side wasn't as steep. As she neared the ledge, Ayla held her sling ready and advanced with caution. All her senses were alert. She listened for the sounds of breathing or small scufflings; looked to see if there were any telltale signs of recent habitation; smelled the air for the distinctive odors of carnivorous animals, or fresh scat, or gamy meat, opening her mouth to allow taste buds to help catch the scent; let her bare skin detect any sense of warmth coming out of the cave; and allowed intuition to guide her as she noiselessly approached the opening.
She stayed close to the wall, crept up to the dark hole, and looked in. The opening, facing the southwest, was small. The top cleared her head, but she could reach her hand up and touch it. The floor sloped down at the entrance, then leveled out. Loess, blown in on the wind, and debris carried in by animals that had used the cave in the past had built up a layer of soil. Originally uneven and rocky, the floor of the cave had a dry, hard-packed, earth surface.
As she peered around the edge, Ayla could detect no sign that the cave had been used recently. She slipped in, silently, noticing how cool it was compared with the hot sunny ledge, and waited for her eyes to adjust to the dim interior. There was more light in the cave than she expected, and when she moved in farther, she saw sunlight through a hole above the entrance and understood why.
She also understood a more practical value to the hole. It would allow smoke to get out without filling the upper reaches of the cave, a distinct advantage. Once her eyes adjusted, she discovered she could see surprisingly well.
Light coming in was an advantage, too. The cave was not large but not small either. The walls angled back from the entrance, widening until they came to a fairly straight back wall. The general shape was roughly triangular, with the apex at the mouth and the east wall longer than the west. The darkest place was the east back corner; the place to investigate first. She crept slowly along the east wall, watching for cracks or passageways that could lead to deeper recesses holding hidden menaces.
Near the dark corner, rock cleaved from the walls lay on the floor in a jumbled heap. She climbed the rocks, felt a shelf, and emptiness beyond it. She considered getting a torch, then changed her mind.
She hadn't heard, smelled, or felt any signs of life, and she could see a little way in. Putting her sling and stones in one hand, wishing she had stopped to put on her wrap so she would have a place to put her weapons, she hoisted herself up on the shelf. The dark opening was low; she had to stoop to move inside. But it was only a recess that ended with the roof sloping to meet the floor of the niche. At the back was a pile of bones.
She reached for one, then climbed down and worked her way along the back wall, and along the west wall back to the entrance. It was a blind cave, and, except for the small niche, had no other chambers or tunnels leading to unknown places.
It felt snug and secure. Ayla shaded her eyes against the bright sunlight as she walked out to the far edge of the cave's terrace and looked around. She was standing on top of the jutting wall. Below her on the right was the pile of driftwood and bones, and the rocky beach. To the left, she could see far down the valley. In the distance, the river turned south again, curving around the base of the steep opposite wall, while the left wall had flattened into steppes.
She examined the bone in her hand. It was the long legbone of a giant deer, aged and dry, with teeth marks clearly imprinted where it had been split to get at the marrow.
The pattern of teeth, the way the bone had been gnawed, looked familiar, and yet not. It had been made by a feline, she was sure. She knew carnivores, better than anyone in the clan. She had developed her hunting skills on them, but only the smaller and medium-size varieties. These marks had been made by a large cat, a very large cat.
She spun around and looked at the cave again. A cave lion! That must have been the den of cave lions once. The niche would be a perfect place for a lioness to have her cubs, she thought.
Maybe I shouldn't spend the night in it. It might not be safe. She looked at the bone again. But this is so old, and the cave hasn't been used for years.
Besides, a fire near the entrance will keep animals away. It is a nice cave. Not many are that nice. Lots of room inside, a good dirt floor. I don't think it gets wet inside, spring floods don't reach this high. There's even a smoke hole. I think I'll go get my fur and basket, and some wood, and bring up the fire. Ayla hurried back down to the beach. She spread out the tent hide and her fur on the warm stone ledge when she returned, and put the basket inside the cave, then brought up several loads of wood.
Maybe I'll get some hearthstones, too, she thought, starting down again. Then she stopped. Why do I need hearthstones? I'm only staying a few days. I've got to keep looking for people. I've got to find them before winter…. What if I don't find people? The thought had been hovering for a long time, but she hadn't allowed herself to frame it precisely before; the consequences were too frightening.
What will I do if winter comes and I still haven't found any people? I won't have any food put away. I won't have a place to stay that is dry and warm, and out of the wind and snow. No cave to…. She looked at the cave again, then at the beautiful protected valley and the herd of horses far down the field, then back at the cave again.
It's a perfect cave for me, she said to herself. It would be a long time before I found one as good. And the valley. I could gather and hunt and store food. There's water, and more than enough wood to last the winter, many winters. There's even flint. And no wind. Everything I need is right here — except people. I don't know if I could stand it, being alone all winter.
But it's already so late in the season. I'm going to have to start soon to get enough food stored. If I haven't found anyone yet, how do I know I will? How do I know they'd let me stay if I did find the Others. I don't know them. Some of them are as bad as Broud. Look what happened to poor Oda. She said the men who forced her, like Broud forced me, were men of the Others.
She said they looked like me. What if they are all like that? Ayla looked again at the cave, and then at the valley. She walked around the perimeter of the ledge, kicked a loose rock off the edge, stared off at the horses, then came to a decision.
Next spring I can start looking for the Others again. Right now, if I don't get ready for winter, I won't be alive next spring. She used sound only for names or to emphasize the rich, complex, and fully comprehensive language she spoke with the graceful flowing motions of her hands.
It was the only language she remembered. Once her decision was made, Ayla felt a sense of relief. She had dreaded the thought of leaving this pleasant valley and facing more grueling days of traveling the parched windy steppes, dreaded the thought of traveling any more at all.
She raced down to the rocky beach and stooped to get her wrap and amulet. As she reached for the small leather pouch, she noticed the glitter of a small piece of ice. How can there be ice in the middle of summer? It was not cold; it had hard precise edges and smooth flat planes. She turned it this way and that, watching its facets sparkling in the sun. Then she happened to turn it at just the right angle for the prism to separate the sunlight into the full spectrum of colors, and caught her breath at the rainbow she cast on the ground.
Ayla had never seen a clear quartz crystal. The crystal, like the flint and many of the other rocks on the beach, was an erratic — not native to the place. The gleaming stone had been torn from its birthplace by the even greater force of the element it resembled — ice — and moved by its melted form until it came to rest in the alluvial till of the glacial stream.
Suddenly, Ayla felt a chill colder than ice crawl up her spine, and sat down, too shaky to stand thinking of the stone's meaning. She remembered something Creb had told her long ago, when she was a little girl…. It was winter, and old Dory had been telling stories.
She had wondered about the legend Dory had just finished and asked Creb. It had led to an explanation of totems. They would probably desert people who wandered homeless for very long. You wouldn't want your totem to desert you, would you? Ayla reached for her amulet.
He found you a home, didn't he? The Cave Lion is a strong totem, Ayla. He chose you, and he may decide to protect you always because he chose you — but all totems are happier with a home. If you pay attention to him, he will help you. He will tell you what is best. How do you know when a totem is telling you something? Yet, he will tell you. Only you must learn to understand. If you have a decision to make, he will help you.
He will give you a sign if you make the right choice. Usually it will be something special or unusual. It may be a stone you have never seen before, or a root with a special shape that has meaning for you.
You must learn to understand with your heart and mind, not your eyes and ears; then you will know. But, when the time comes and you find a sign your totem has left you, put it in your amulet. It will bring you luck. Cave Lion, are you still protecting me? Is this a sign? Did I make the right decision? Are you telling me I should stay in this valley? Ayla held the sparkling crystal cupped in both hands and closed her eyes, trying to meditate as Creb always did; trying to listen with her heart and her mind; trying to find a way to believe that her great totem had not deserted her.
She thought about the way she had been forced to leave and of the long weary days traveling, looking for her people, going north as Iza had told her.
North, until…. The cave lions! My totem sent them to tell me to turn west, to lead me to this valley. He wanted me to find it. He's tired of traveling and wants this to be his home, too. And the cave that was home to cave lions before. It's a place he feels comfortable. He's still with me! He hasn't deserted me! The understanding brought a relief of tension she hadn't known was there.
She smiled as she blinked back tears and worked to loosen the knots in the cord that held the small pouch closed. She poured out the contents of the small bag, then picked them up, one by one. The first was a chunk of red ochre. Everyone in the Clan carried a piece of the sacred red stone; it was the first thing in everyone's amulet, given to them on the day Mog-ur revealed their totem. Totems were usually named when one was a baby, but Ayla was five when she learned hers.
Creb announced it not long after Iza found her, when they accepted her into the Clan. Ayla rubbed the four scars on her leg as she looked at another object: It seemed to be the shell of a sea creature, but it was stone; the first sign her totem had given her, to sanction her decision to hunt with her sling. Only predators, not food animals that would be wasted because she couldn't return to the cave with them.
But predators were more crafty, and dangerous, and learning on them had honed her skill to a fine edge. The next object Ayla picked up was her hunting talisman, a small, ochre-stained oval of mammoth ivory, given to her by Brun himself at the frightening, fascinating ceremony that made her the Woman Who Hunts.
She touched the tiny scar on her throat where Creb had nicked her to draw her blood as sacrifice to the Ancient Ones. The next piece had very special meaning for her and nearly brought tears again. She held the three shiny nodules of iron pyrite, stuck together, tight in her fist. It was given by her totem to let her know her son would live.
The last was a piece of black manganese dioxide. Mog-ur gave it to her when she was made a medicine woman, along with a piece of the spirit of every member of the Clan. Suddenly she had a thought that bothered her. Does that mean when Broud cursed me, he cursed everyone?
When Iza died, Creb took back the spirits, so she wouldn't take them with her to the spirit world. No one took them back from me.
A sense of forboding washed over her. Ever since the Clan Gathering, where Creb had learned in some inexplicable way that she was different, she had occasionally felt this strange disorientation, as though be had changed her.
She felt a tingling, a prickling, a goose-bump-raising nausea and weakness, and a deep fear of what her death might mean to the entire Clan. She tried to shake off the feeling. Picking up the leather pouch, she put her collection back in, then added the quartz crystal. She retied the amulet and examined the thong for signs of wear.
Creb told her she would die if she ever lost it. She noticed a slight difference in weight when she put it back on. Sitting alone on the rocky beach, Ayla wondered what had happened before she was found. She could not recall anything of her life before, but she was so different.
Too tall, too pale, her face nothing like those of the rest of the Clan. She had seen her reflection in the still pool; she was ugly. Broud had told her often enough, but everyone thought so. She was a big ugly woman; no man wanted her. I never wanted one of them, either, she thought. Iza said I needed a man of my own, but will a man of the Others want me any more than a man of the Clan? No one wants a big ugly woman. Maybe it's just as well to stay here.
How do I know I'd find a mate even if I did find the Others? Jondalar crouched low and watched the herd through a screen of tall, golden-green grass, bent with the weight of unripe seed heads.
The smell of horse was strong, not from the dry wind in his face carrying their hot rangy odor, but from the ripe dung he had rubbed on his body and held in his armpits to disguise his own scent if the wind shifted.
The hot sun glistened off his sweaty bronzed back, and a tickle of perspiration ran down the sides of his face; it darkened the sun-bleached hair plastered to his forehead. A long strand had escaped from a leather tie at the nape of his neck, and the wind whipped it, annoyingly, in his face. Flies buzzed around him, landing occasionally to take a bite, and a cramp was starting in his left thigh from holding the tense crouch.
They were petty irritations, hardly noticed. His attention was focused on a stallion nervously snorting and prancing, uncannily aware of impending danger to his harem. The mares were still grazing, but in their seemingly random movements, the dams had put themselves between their foals and the men. Thonolan, a few feet away, was crouched in the same tense position, a spear held level with his right shoulder and another in his left hand.
He glanced toward his brother. Jondalar lifted his head and flicked his eyes at a dun mare. Thonolan nodded, shifted his spear minutely for better balance, and prepared to spring.
As though a signal passed between them, the two men jumped up together and sprinted toward the herd. The stallion reared, screamed a warning, and reared again. Thonolan hurled his spear at the mare while Jondalar ran straight for the male horse, yelling and whooping, trying to spook him. The ploy worked. The stallion was not accustomed to noisy predators; four-legged hunters attacked with silent stealth. He whinnied, started toward the man, then dodged and galloped after his retreating herd.
The two brothers pounded after them. The stallion saw the mare fall behind, and nipped her in the flanks to urge her on. The men yelled and waved their arms, but this time the stallion stood his ground, dashing between the men and the mare, holding them off while trying to nudge her on. She took a few more faltering steps, then stopped, her head hanging. Thonolan's spear stuck out of her side, and bright scarlet rivulets stained her grayish coat and dripped from matted strands of shaggy hair.
Jondalar moved in closer, took aim, and cast his spear. The mare jerked, stumbled, then fell, the second shaft quivering in her thick neck below the stiff brush of a mane.
The stallion cantered to her, nosed her gently, then reared with a scream of defiance and raced after his herd to protect the living. Let's take what we want back to the river, then we won't have to carry water here. Jondalar pulled his bone-handled knife out of the sheath and made a deep cut across the throat.
He pulled out the spears and watched blood pool around the mare's head. He reached into his pouch and fondled the stone figurine of the Mother in an unconscious gesture.
Zelandoni is right, he thought. If Earth's children ever forget who provides for them, we may wake up someday and find we don't have a home. Then he gripped his knife and prepared to take his share of Donii's provisions. Here, give me a hand. A few sparks floated up with the smoke and disappeared into the night air.
We could make it at least as far as the Losadunai before the worst of the winter. It's more open, less protection, fewer trees for fires. Maybe we should have tried to find the Sarmunai. They might have given us some idea of what to expect, what people live this way. I was going to make this Journey alone to begin with… not that I haven't been glad for your company.
Look at her. When we started, she was flowing east. Now it's south, and split into so many channels, I wonder sometimes if we're still following the right river. I guess I didn't believe you would go all the way to the end, no matter how far, Thonolan. Besides, even if we do meet people, how do you know they'll be friendly? Discovering new places, new people. You take your chances. Look, Big Brother, go back if you want. I mean it. Jondalar stared at the fire, rhythmically slapping a stick of wood into the palm of his hand.
Suddenly, he jumped up and threw the stick on the fire, stirring up another host of sparks. He walked over and looked at the cords of twined fibers strung out close to the ground between pegs, on which thin slices of meat were drying.
For that matter, what do I have to look forward to? You're born, you live the best you can while you're here, and someday you go back to the Mother. After that, who knows? The sun was already up when Thonolan crawled out of the tent, rubbed his eyes, and stretched. I told you to wake me. He squatted down in front of the fire, cupping the bowl in both hands. The early morning air was still cool, the grass wet with dew, and he wore only a breech-clout. He watched small birds darting and flitting around the scant brush and trees near the river, chirping noisily.
A flock of cranes that nested on an island of willows in mid-channel was breakfasting on fish. Isn't that what you were worried about when I went to bed? Though why you'd stay up all night for that, I'll never know. Now, if there was a woman around… Do you have one of Doni's blessed hidden in the willows…. Then his smile softened. I'm going with you, all the way to the end of the river, if you want. Only, what will you do then?
I thought the best thing for me to do was go to bed. You're not fit company for anyone when you get in one of those moods. I'm glad you've decided to come along. I've sort of gotten used to you, bad moods and all. Right now I could use a little trouble.
It'd be better than sitting around waiting for that meat to dry. But now I'm not so sure I should tell you what I saw. You wouldn't want to wait around for fish to dry, too.
The Great Mother? Do you think I can make a fish come and show off for you? The two men walked to the edge of the river and stood near a fallen tree that extended partway into the water. As though to tempt them, a large shadowy shape moved silently upstream and stopped under the tree near the river bottom, undulating slightly against the current. The hyenas and wolverines can have a share. Let's get the spears," Thonolan said, anxious to try the sport.
She'd just slip off a spear — we need something with a back hook. It wouldn't take long to make. Look, that tree over there. If we cut off limbs just below a good sturdy branch fork — we don't have to worry about reinforcing, we'll only use it once," Jondalar was punctuating his description with motions in the air, "then cut the branch off short and sharpen it, we've got a back hook…".
They turned around to go back, then stopped in surprise. Several men had surrounded them and looked distinctly unfriendly. Who knows how long they've been out there. I've been up all night watching for scavengers, They could have been waiting until we did something careless, like leaving our spears behind.
Thonolan tried to think self-assured and smiled what he hoped was a confident grin. He put both his hands out and started toward them. One of the men said something in an unfamiliar language and two others sprang toward them. With the points of spears they were urged forward. They were brought back to their own campfire and pushed down roughly in front of it. The one who had spoken before barked another command. Several men crawled into the tent and hauled everything out.
The spears were taken from the backframes and the contents spilled on the ground. He was reminded to sit, forcibly, and felt a trickle of blood running down his arm. I don't think they're in a mood for objections.
Don't they understand rights of passage for those on a Journey? The one who seemed to be the leader spat out a few more words and the two brothers were hauled to their feet.
Thonolan, in his loincloth, was given only a cursory glance, but Jondalar was searched and his bone-handled flint knife was taken. A man reached for the pouch fastened to his belt, and Jondalar grabbed for it. The next instant he felt a sharp pain at the back of his head and slumped to the ground.
He was stunned for only a short while, but when his head cleared, he found himself stretched out on the ground, staring into Thonolan's worried gray eyes, his hands bound with thongs behind his back. The two men lay on the ground, listening to voices and watching the strangers moving about their camp. They smelled food cooking and their stomachs growled.
As the sun rose higher, the glaring heat made thirst a worse problem. As the afternoon wore on, Jondalar dozed, his lack of sleep from the night before catching up with him. He woke with a start to shouts and commotion. Someone had arrived. They were dragged to their feet, and gaped in amazement at a burly man striding toward them carrying a white-haired, wizened old woman on his back. He got down on all fours, and the woman was helped off her human steed, with obvious deference.
A bruising blow in his ribs silenced him. She walked toward them leaning on a knobbed staff with a carved finial. Jondalar stared, sure he had never seen anyone so old in his life. She was child-size, shrunken with age, and the pink of her scalp could be seen through her thin white hair. Her face was so wrinkled that it hardly looked human, but her eyes were oddly out of place.
He would have expected dull, rheumy, senile eyes in someone so old. But hers were bright with intelligence and crackled with authority. Jondalar was awed by the tiny woman, and a little fearful for Thonolan and himself. She would not have come unless it was very important. She spoke in a voice cracked with age, yet surprisingly strong. The leader pointed at Jondalar, and she directed a question to him. She spoke again, tapped her chest with a hand as gnarled as her staff, and said a word that sounded like "Haduma.
She stared at him speculatively, then spoke to the leader.