A shriek tore the night Weasel, in the grip of birth pains. The females quickly helped her away from the camp and into the secrecy of the trees. The males didn't follow but instead jumped nervously to the periphery of the camp, clutching their crude spears and collecting stones that might be thrown at predators. As soon as the big cats and hyenas heard the cry of a vulnerable human being, and smelled the blood of birth, they would come. The human females instinctively formed a circle around Weasel, facing outward, yelling and stamping their feet to cover up Weasel's cries of pain and defenselessness. She had no help. Clutching the trunk of an acacia, Weasel squatted and pushed, laboring hard while in the grip of cold terror. Above the screams of her female companions, had she heard the triumphant roar of a lion? Were a pack of cats about to fly through the trees, fangs and claws and yellow eyes, to tear her to pieces? Finally the baby came and Weasel immediately brought it up to her breast, shaking and stroking it until it cried. Old Mother knelt beside her and massaged Weasel's abdomen, as she had done to herself and her daughters over the years, coaxing the placenta to be delivered swiftly. And when that, too, was born and the females hastily buried the blood and the afterbirth, the Family gathered around the new mother to look in curiosity at the squirming creature at her breast. Suddenly, Barren pushed through and snatched the suckling infant from Weasel's arms. The females ran after her, hurling rocks. Barren dropped the baby but the females kept after her until she was caught. They tore branches from trees beat her with them, mercilessly, not stopping until the bloody form at their feet was unrecognizable. When they were certain Barren no longer breathed, they returned to the camp with the baby that was, miraculously, still alive. Lion decreed that the Family must move on, quickly. Barren's corpse and the birthing blood would attract the dangerous scavengers, particularly the vultures who could be determined and fearless. So they broke camp even though it was still night and, armed with torches, made their way across the open plain. As they trekked beneath the full moon, they heard behind them the animals rush in and growl savagely as they tore Barren's body to pieces.
Another dawn, and a light ash continued to sift down from the sky. The humans began to stir, waking to noisy birdsong and the chatter of monkeys in the trees. Watching for predators now that the periphery fires had burned out, they made their way to the waterhole where zebras and gazelles tried in vain to drink. The water could not be seen for the thick coating of soot that lay upon its surface. But the humans, able to scoop away the volcanic fallout with their hands, found water below, albeit gritty and foul tasting. While the others began to dig for eggs and shellfish, and search the shallows for frogs and turtles and lily roots, Tall One turned her eyes to the west, where the smoking mountain stood against a sky still dark with night. The stars could not be seen for the great clouds of smoke that billowed out in all directions. Turning, she squinted at the eastern horizon, which was turning pale and where the sun would soon appear. There the sky was clear and fresh, the last stars still visible. She looked back at the mountain and experienced again the revelation of the night before when, for the first time in the history of her people, she had taken separate parts of an equation and fitted them together in an answer: the mountain was spewing smoke .... which the wind was blowing eastward .... therefore contaminating waterholes in its path. She tried to tell the others, tried to find words and gestures that would convey the essence of this new peril. But Lion, acting only on instinct and ancestral memory, knowing nothing of the concept of cause and effect but understanding only that the world had always been one way and would always be so, could not make such a mental leap. What had the mountain and the wind to do with water? Taking up his crude spear he gave the command that the Family moved on. Tall One stood her ground. "Bad!" she said desperately, pointing westward. "Bad!" Then she gestured frantically eastward, where the sky was clear and where she knew the water would be clean. "Good! We go!" Lion looked at the others. But their faces were blank because they had no idea what Tall One was trying to say. Why change what they had always done? And so they abandoned camp once again and started their daily foraging while watching the sky for vultures, which could mean a carcass and the possibility of long bones filled with tasty marrow. Lion and the stronger males shook trees to bring down nuts and fruit, and seed pods which would be roasted later in the fire. The females crouched over termite hills, inserting twigs to draw out the fat insects and eat them. The children busied themselves with a nest of honey ants, carefully biting off the swollen nectar-filled abdomens while avoiding the ants' sharp mandibles. With the food coming in such meager portions, foraging never ceased. Only rarely did they come upon a newly dead beast not yet discovered by hyenas and vultures, and the humans would strip off the hide and gorge themselves on meat. Tall One walked with dread: The water will be worse ahead. Toward midday she climbed a small hillock and, shading her eyes, scanned the lion-yellow savannah. When she immediately started calling and flapping her arms the others knew she had found a clutch of ostrich eggs. The humans approached cautiously, espying the large bird guarding the nest. The black and white feathers told them it was a male, which was unusual, as it was normally the brown females that sat on the nest during the day, while the males sat on it at night. This one looked huge and dangerous. They kept a lookout for the female, who certainly must be nearby and who would be just as lethal defending her nest. Lion gave a shout and Hungry and Lump, Scorpion and Nostril and all the other males went running at the ostrich with sticks and clubs, yelling and hooting and making as much noise as possible. The giant bird flew up off the nest with a great flapping of its wings and confronted the intruders, chest feathers standing out, its neck extended forward as it attacked with its beak, kicking with its powerful legs. Then the mate appeared, an enormous brown menace racing across the plain at top speed, her wings outspread, her neck extended forward, her call high and screeching. While Lion and the males kept the birds engaged, Tall One and the other females gathered as many eggs as they could and sprinted away. Reaching a clump of trees, they immediately began to crack open the enormous eggs and gobble the contents. When Lion and his companions came breathlessly back, having left two distraught ostriches to fret over a destroyed nest, they grabbed their share, hammering at the thick-shelled eggs to make holes, then scooping out yolk and white with their fingers. A few shouted with delight when they found ostrich chicks in their eggs, and popped the wriggling and squirming creatures into their mouths. Tall One took an egg to Old Mother, cracked open the top and placed it in the elder's hands. When she was certain Old Mother had eaten enough, Tall One finally sat back to eat the last egg she had saved. But no sooner had she cracked it open than Lion loomed over her. He snatched the egg from her and upended it into his mouth, swallowing the enormous yolk in one noisy gulp. Then he tossed the empty eggshell aside and seized her, turned her over onto her knees and holding her wrists with one hand and pressing her neck down with the other, thrust himself inside her while she howled in protest. When he was done, he shambled off for a nap, looking for the nicest piece of shade. He came to the best spot only to find Scorpion defiantly sitting with his back to the tree. A raised fist and a roar from Lion, a brief clash of wills, and Scorpion sulked resentfully away. At midday they slept, when the savannah was peaceful. A pride of lions lounged in the sun not far off, but the remains of a kill nearby – which was being finished off by vultures and which the humans had no interest in, themselves being full – told Tall One's people that the cats had recently fed and therefore posed no threat. While the Family dozed, Tall One rummaged through the shattered eggshells, hoping to find remnants of yolk and white. But worse than her hunger was her thirst. Once again she observed the smoke clouds in the sky and sensed that the farther they went in that direction, the worse the water was going to be.
The smoking mountain had gone to sleep, its plume of cinder and ash dwindling so that the air had cleared a little. After days of subsisting on roots and wild onions and the rare nest of eggs, the humans were now craving meat. They followed a mixed herd of antelope and zebra, knowing that the big cats would be doing the same. When the herd paused to graze, Nostril climbed a grassy hillock to stand lookout while the others crouched hidden in the grass. Through the stillness of the morning, as the day warmed and the earth began to bake, the humans watched and waited. Finally, patience was rewarded. They saw a lioness moving stealthily through the grass. The humans knew how she would hunt: since most animals could run faster than a lion she would stay upwind, undetected, and creep closer to the grazing beasts until she was in range to outrun her prey. Tall One and Old Mother, Baby and Hungry and the rest crouched motionless, their eyes on Nostril as he marked the progress of the cat. Suddenly she shot forward, sending startled birds to flight. The herd bolted. But the lioness was swift, running only a short course before catching up with a lame zebra. She flew into the air and sliced a massive paw across its flank, sending the animal onto its side. As the zebra struggled to get up, the lioness was upon it, clamping her jaws over its muzzle and holding it there until, gradually, the beast suffocated to death. As the lioness dragged her kill toward the shade of a baobab tree, the humans followed – upwind and silently. They squatted down again when they saw the pride of males and cubs rush forward for the feast. The air was filled with briefly with savage growls and hisses as the lions fought each other before settling down to devour the carcass. Overhead, the vultures were already circling. With stomachs growling and mouths salivating with anticipation of meat, Tall One's family waited patiently, hidden, watching. Even the children knew that silence was crucial, that it meant the difference between eating and being eaten. The afternoon grew long, shadows lengthened, the only sounds on the breeze the greedy feeding of the big cats. Nostril's back and legs ached. Hungry desperately wanted to scratch his armpits. Flies settled on bare skin and bit ferociously. But the humans didn't move. They knew that their opportunity would come. The sun dipped to the horizon. Several children started to fret and cry, but by now the cats were too full to care as they shambled away from the shredded carcass for a long nap. The humans watched as the black-maned males loped away, yawning, following by fat little cubs with bloodied muzzles. Once the lions had thrown themselves beneath the baobab tree, the vultures moved in. Nostril and Hungry looked to Lion for the signal, and when he gave it, they all rushed forward, screaming and throwing stones at the vultures. But the giant birds, driven by a hunger of their own, would not give up the prize. Spreading their massive wings, they fought beak and talon to protect what was theirs. The humans were forced to retreat, hungry and tired, a few bloodied from the encounter with the vultures. They squatted again in the grass, this time listening for the hyenas and wild dogs that would inevitably come scavenging. After a brief twilight, night fell and the vultures continued to feast. Tall One ran a hand over her parched lips. Her stomach cramped with hunger pangs. Honey-Finder's babies wailed in protest. And still the humans waited. Finally, as an effulgent moon lifted above the horizon, casting the landscape in a milky glow, the vultures flew off, gorged from their meal. Brandishing spears and howling at the tops of their lungs, the humans managed to keep the hyenas away from what was left of the zebra – little more than hide and bone. They worked swiftly, using sharp handaxes to hack the zebra's legs from its body. With their trophies over their heads, the humans ran off, allowing the hyenas to rush in to finish off tendon, ligament and hair. Within a protective stand of trees, Firemaker began at once creating fires to keep predators away. Lion and other strong men got to work stripping the skin from the zebra legs, and when they were clean, cracked the bones open swiftly and expertly to expose the precious creamy pink marrow within. Their mouths watering, the humans moaned and sighed at such a sight, and instantly their long hours of vigil in the grass, their painful joints and aching limbs, were forgotten. There was no feeding frenzy of the marrow. Lion apportioned the fatty delicacy out, and this time everyone received a share, even Old Mother.
Tall One tried again to protest the direction they were taking and this time Lion gave her the back of his hand, sending her rolling over the ground. Gathering up the children and babies, and their few possessions, the Family started again to move westward. Old Mother came to Tall One's aid, making soothing sounds as she patted her granddaughter's angry cheek. As they started to trek, breathing in the smoky volcanic air, Old Mother suddenly moaned and clutched her chest. Her steps faltered as she fought for breath. Tall One had her by the arm, holding her up. They went a few more steps when Old Mother finally let out a cry and collapsed. The others glanced at her but kept walking, their concern only for food. They watched for termite hills and berry patches, for nut-bearing trees and that rarest of all treats, a beehive. But they gave no thought to Old Mother who had given birth to half their mothers. Only Tall One cared as she tried to help the elder to walk, ultimately hoisting Old Mother onto her shoulders and carrying her. As the equatorial sun rose, the burden grew. Finally, after a strenuous trek Tall One, for all her stature and strength, could no longer carry Old Mother. They slumped to the ground and the Family, forced to stop, milled around in indecision. Lion knelt over the unconscious female and sniffed her face. He tapped Old Mother's cheeks and pried open her mouth. Then he saw the closed eyes and blue lips. "Hmp," he grunted. "Dead," he pronounced, meaning that she was as good as dead. He stood up. "We go." Some of the females started wailing. Others whimpered in fear. Honey-Finder stamped her feet and waved her arms and made mournful sounds. Big Nose gathered his unconscious mother into his arms and wept over her. Lump sat at Old Mother's side and tugged at her hands. The small children, terrified by the actions of the adults, started to cry. But Lion, taking up his spears and club, turned his back on the group and began to march resolutely westward. One by one they followed until the whole band was gone, the stragglers looking back as Tall One stayed by Old Mother. Tall One loved Old Mother with a ferocity that she could not define. When her own mother had been left behind because of an injured leg, Tall One had cried for days. It was Old Mother who had taken her into a comforting embrace, and Old Mother who had fed her and slept with her after that. Mother of my mother, Tall One thought, vaguely comprehending her special connection to this female in a family that possessed no concept of kinships. Soon they were alone on the vast savanna, except for vultures circling overhead. Tall One dragged Old Mother to the safety of trees and propped her against a sturdy trunk. Day was dying. Nightfall would bring out the golden-eyed carnivores that would close in on the helpless humans. Tall One found two stones and, squatting over a pile of dry leaves, began knocking them together. It took endless patience and will, and her back and shoulders began to ache with the effort. But she had seen Firemaker do it successfully many times so she knew it could be done. Over and over, while the sky darkened and stars struggled to peep through the volcanic smoke, Tall One knocked the two stones together and was finally rewarded with a small flame. She gently blew it into life, feeding it more dry leaves until it flamed higher. Then she placed rocks around the fire, and twigs on top, and took comfort from the glow against the night. Old Mother, still unconscious, continued to breathe with difficulty, her eyes closed, his face contorted with pain. Tall One sat next to her and watched. She had seen death before. It came to animals on the savannah. It sometimes came to members of the Family. Their bodies would be left behind and the Family would talk about them for perhaps a season or two before they were forgotten. The fact that she herself might someday die never entered Tall One's head. The concept of mortality and self-awareness were less a glimmer in her mind than the distant stars. After a while Tall One realized that Old Mother would need water. When she saw a patch of flowers, almost as tall as herself, with bell-shaped speckled blooms and fuzzy leaves, she reasoned that there must be water nearby. Dropping to her hands and knees, she dug into the soil, hoping to find moisture. She heard a pack of hyenas barking nearby, their bodies making rustling sounds in the bush. The hairs prickled on Tall One's neck. She had seen hyenas take down a human being, savagely devouring him alive while he screamed. Tall One knew that it was only the fire keeping the beasts at bay and that she must get back to it soon and keep the flames going. Her digging grew frantic. Surely there must be water nearby to support such large flowers and fleshy stems. She tore her fingers on the hard earth until they bled. She sat back out of frustration, fatigue creeping through her limbs, and a strong desire to sleep. But she must find water, and she must tend the fire. She must protect Old Mother from the predators lurking in the darkness. And then she saw it, a flash of reflected moonlight. Water! Clear and blue, pooled at the base of one of the flowers. But when she reached out for it she found that the water was hard and not a small puddle at all. Scooping it up in her hand, she puzzled over the chunk of blue water that was matted with the dried leaves of the foxglove plant. How could water be solid? And yet it had to be water for it was transparent and smooth and looked as if it might at any moment be liquid. She carried the stone, created three million years earlier out of a meteorite, back to Old Mother and, cradling the elderly female in her arms, gently slipped the smooth stone between her parched lips. Old Mother immediately began to suck, saliva appearing at the corners of her mouth, so Tall One knew that the water had turned to liquid again. After a moment, however, to her surprise, the crystal slipped out from Old Mother's lips and when Tall One caught it she saw that the water was still solid. But now she could see it more clearly for the old female's tongue had cleaned the stone of its vegetative debris. The crystal fit snugly in Tall One's palm, the way an egg would lie in a nest, and it was smooth like an egg, but with a watery surface that shot back the moon's light the way a lake or a stream did. When she turned it over and then held it up between two fingers, she saw deeper blues at its heart, and then deeper still something white and sharp and glinting. A sigh from Old Mother brought Tall One's attention back from the crystal. She saw in amazement that Old Mother's lips had turned from blue to pink and that she was breathing more easily. A moment later Old Mother opened her eyes and she smiled. Then she sat up and touched her withered old breast in wonder. The chest pain was gone. Together they stared at the transparent stone. Unaware of the curative powers of the digitalis plant, they believed it was the water in the stone that had saved her. When they caught up with the Family at dawn, the others looked up from their foraging with mild curiosity, Tall One and Old Mother having already begun to recede from their memories. By gestures and limited words, Old Mother explained how the water-stone had brought her back from death and when Tall One passed the stone around to the thirsty members, they took turns sucking on it until they salivated. For a while, thirst was slaked and, for a while, everyone looked on Tall One with wonder and a little fear.
She came upon the stranger by accident. She had been scavenging in the tall foliage that fringed the western lake for salamander eggs when she had heard him at the water's edge. She had never seen him before – a tall youth with broad shoulders and muscular thighs – and as she spied on him she wondered where he had come from. The Family had arrived at the lake the day before to find the water covered with ash and all the fish dead and rotting. Foraging for turtle and reptile eggs had proven fruitless, and the vegetation along the shore was so choked with volcanic ash that otherwise edible roots had come up black and inedible. Bird life had left so there were no nests filled with the good eating of crane and pelican eggs. There was only a small flock of ducks struggling for survival among the withered cattails and reeds. All able-bodied family members had dispersed in a wide area in search of food while the elderly and children remained at a camp on a rocky ledge that was relatively safe from predators. Tall One had spotted a small group of zebras kneeling at the water's edge, trying to drink through the ash, when she had espied the young stranger. He was doing a puzzling thing. While holding a long strip of animal sinew, looped and fitted with a stone, with his other hand he tossed a pebble onto the water, causing the mallards to suddenly take flight. Then the stranger swung the sinew over his head and let loose the stone. Before Tall One's astonished eyes, the stone shot through the air and hit one of the ducks, causing it to plummet. The youth splashed out into the shallow water and retrieved the dead bird. Tall One gasped. The stranger stopped. He turned in her direction and peered intently at the wall of grasses until Tall One, inexplicably emboldened, stepped out. She felt bold because she was wearing the powerful water-stone on a grass string around her neck. It lay between her breasts like a giant drop of water, its cloudy center, formed three million years ago when cosmic diamond-dust had melded with earth quartz, shimmering like a heart. She and the stranger regarded each other warily. His appearance was slightly different from that of the Family: his nose a different shape, his jaw stronger, his eyes an intriguing moss-color. But his hair, like that of Tall One's family, was long and tangled and matted with red mud, but he had decorated it with bits of shell and stone, which Tall One thought very fetching. Most intriguing about him was the belt of ostrich eggs that hung about his waist on a belt of woven reeds. The eggs had holes in them and the holes were plugged with mud. Although their languages were dissimilar, the young male was able to explain that his name was Thorn and that he had come from another family across the plain, in a valley Tall One had never seen. Through gestures and sounds, he told Tall One how he had come to be named Thorn. As he hopped around howling in mock paid, mimicking his accident as he massaged his buttocks where many thorns had imbedded themselves, Tall One quickly grasped that he had gotten his name from when he had fallen into a thorn bush. She laughed hysterically, and when he was finished, pleased by her laughter, he held out the dead bird to her. She grew somber. A memory suddenly darkened her mind: long ago, before Lion was the leader, before the leader named River even, when Tall One had been very small, two strangers coming into the camp. They had come from over the ridge, where the Family had never gone. All were wary at first, and then the new males had been accepted into the group. But then something had happened – a fight. Tall One remembered the blood, and the Family's leader lying dismembered in the grass. One of the two strangers had taken his place and the Family followed him after that. Was this stranger going to kill Lion and become the new leader? While she watched him in silent curiosity, Thorn caught a few more ducks with his sling and rocks, and together they took them back to Tall One's camp. The Family shouted with delight over the fowl, for they hadn't tasted flesh in days, and then they turned their curiosity to the newcomer. Children peered shyly from behind their mothers' legs while older girls eyed him boldly. Honey-Finder reached down and tickled Thorn's genitals, but he jumped back, laughing, his eyes on Tall One. When Lion gestured to the ostrich eggs around the stranger's waist, Thorn untied one and offered it to him. Lion puzzled over the plugged hole, figured it out, then dipped his finger in the hole and was stunned to find water inside instead of yolk. Thorn demonstrated by up-ending the egg and letting water dribble into his mouth. Then he gave the egg to Lion to drink. The Family was astounded. What sort of bird laid eggs with water inside? But Tall One understood: Thorn had put the water in the empty eggshells. From there she drew an even more startling conclusion, one which she had no words for and which was only a struggling idea in her mind: Thorn carried water with him against future thirst. They threw the ducks onto the fire, singeing off the feathers and partially cooking the flesh, and the Family enjoyed a feast that night, ending it by merrily throwing bones at one another. Old Mother happily sucked on duck marrow and gulped down the fresh water from the ostrich eggs. All the females in the group eyed the new young male, whose antics and strength aroused them. And even the males, for a while, were happy to welcome the intruder into their midst.
The Family stayed by the lake, feasting on Thorn's ducks for as long as they lasted. Thorn didn't sit by the fire as the other males did, chipping stone tools and fashioning spears. There was a restlessness in him, and a need for attention. To Tall One he seemed like a big child, eager to make others laugh with his capers. Before their mildly curious eyes he gamboled and romped, jumped and mimed, for no apparent reason. But after a few nights of this, with Tall One being the first to understand what he was about, the Family began to grasp that there was meaning to the newcomer's shenanigans. He was telling stories. Audiences in a future age would call him a ham, but Tall One's family was held in thrall by his theatrics. Entertainment was unknown to them, and the recounting of past events even more alien. But as they began to understand his gestures and sounds and facial expressions, they began to see the stories emerge. They were simple tales, tiny dramas in which Thorn acted out a hunt with the people victoriously carrying a giraffe haunch back to the camp, or a near-drowning in which a child was saved, or a fierce struggle with a crocodile, resulting in death. Thorn soon had Tall One's family laughing and slapping their thighs, or crying and wiping tears from their cheeks, or gasping in fear or grunting in wonder. Food might be scarce on this lake abandoned by other animals, and the water might be foul and brackish, killing even the resident fish, but Thorn made the humans forget their thirst and hunger as he told over and over again the comical story of how he got his name. They never tired of "seeing" him fall into the thorn bush and suffer the thorns being plucked out of his buttocks. And then one night he astounded them further by suddenly transforming himself someone else. He got up from his place by the fire and began to shuffle around the circle in a strange manner – his left arm curled up to his chest, his left leg dragging behind. At the first they gave him puzzled looks, and then they gasped. He looked just like Scorpion! Suddenly terrified, they looked around to see if Scorpion was still there – had he somehow taken possession of Thorn's body? But there he was, looking at the newcomer in shock. Scorpion's left side had been growing increasingly numb, rendering his left arm and leg almost useless. And then, before their startled eyes, Thorn jumped into another stance, swaying his hips and pantomiming stuffing his face with food. Honey-Finder! Nostril shouted out in anger and fear, but some of the children were laughing. And then when Thorn tugged at his long matted hair until it stood out, and walked with small mincing steps – and everyone instantly recognized Baby – others began to laugh. Soon he had everyone howling with hysterics and it became a game. He would shamble along, examine a stick, and everyone would shouts, "Snail!" He would scratch his back up and down on a tree and everyone would call out, "Lump!" And when he lifted a small boy onto his back, hooking the child's arms under his chin and the boy's legs around his waist in imitation of the putrid hide Lion wore, everyone clutched their stomachs and shrieked with laughter. Thorn was happy to make them laugh. This family was not unlike his own: they foraged for the same food, followed ancient paths, lived by the same structure: females and children grouping together, the males in their own separate group, yet all striving for the survival of the Family. The females engaged in the same grooming and child-rearing sessions while the males whittled spears and cut handaxes from stones. Anger was swift to rise and quickly died. There were the familiar jealousies and envy, friendships and enemies. Old Mother reminded him of Willow in his family, with her bandy legs and withered breasts and toothless gumming of her food. Nostril and Lump reminded him of his siblings, and how he had romped with them when they were young. And then there was Tall one. She was different from the others in this family, not just taller but also wiser. He saw how somberly she would observe the smoking mountain on the horizon, how her brow would furrow at the sight of the black clouds billowing across the sky. He himself had observed the same phenomenon and found it troubling. But more than Tall One's intelligence was Thorn drawn to her strong body, her long limbs and firm stride. He liked the way she laughed, and how she treated the weaker females with fairness and always made sure everyone had something to eat. She made him remember the females in his own family, a memory that was rapidly growing dim. Thorn didn't know why he had left his family. One morning an inexplicable restlessness had come over him. He had gathered his handaxe and his club and had left. Other males before him had done the same: his mother's brother, Short Arm, and Thorn's older brother, One Ear. Not all males left Thorn's family. Most stayed. But the wanderlust gripped a few in each generation, and when they went away they never came back. Thorn had walked away from his sleeping family with vague images in his mind: of the female who had given him life, of his female siblings. Now, as he looked at this tall alluring female, he was not aware that the shortage of willing females in his family had been at the root of his departure, that he had left out of instinct, just as other young males from other human groups had from time to time over the generations joined his own family. Thorn hadn't said good-bye. In time, the Family will have forgotten him just as, in time, Thorn would forget them.
Excerpted from The Blessing Stone © Copyright 2012 by Barbara Wood. Reprinted with permission by Griffin Trade Paperback. All rights reserved.
The Blessing Stone