This Sight is Continuously Evolving


Children of the Coyote

The History of the Fug-a-we

Chapter 8
"A Day for Lessons"

    As the eastern sky begins to lighten, Lizard foot stirs in his robe. Flipping back one corner, he blinks out at the gray pre dawn. He sits up, looks around, scratches his head and then stands up. He walks to the creek, squats, dips out a double hand full of cold water and pours it over his head. Then he dips up more and takes a long drink.
    Lizard goes back to his fire and rummages around in the coals. Finding some live embers he adds some small pieces of kindling and soon has a cheery blaze. He sits looking into the fire for some minutes thinking of what his next course of action should be. He decides that today he will not travel. He needs to practice with his rock thrower and decides that it is a good idea to set some snares for small game. Some fresh meat would be a good supplement to his finite supply of jerky and other foods that he carries with him.
    After a breakfast of, pemmican, nuts, and dried berries, he sets to work making snares. He takes the coil of grass rope that he carries and begins unwinding one of the strands. He retrieves the slightly dull natural flake of stone from his pack and commences to worry the strand of cordage into several pieces about the length of his arm. At one end of each he makes a sliding loupe.
    Picking up the snares and his club he leaves the camp, works his way through the briers and begins looking for the small tunnels and trails that are used by rabbits, squirrels, grouse and quail to move through the thick brush. When he finds a suitable trail, he attaches one end of a snare to a springy low branch. He spreads the loupe to fit the opening, using two thin twigs forming a "V" to hold the noose open. After he has set all his traps he returns to his camp. Back at camp he folds the robe and puts all his belongings into the pack. Next he ties one end of the rope to the pack straps, throws the loose end over the limb of a tree and hoists the pack up into the air tying the loose end of the rope to another lower branch.Once his food is safely stashed he picks up the rock thrower and bag of rocks, then heads up stream to get away from his trapping area.
    Up stream, Lizard comes to a gravel bar with lots of round rocks. Looking around he notices a broken tree across the creek, about 20 yards away. He collects a small pile of stones and begins to practice throwing them. First he tries with just his arm, as one would normally throw a rock. He has used this method all his life and is pretty good at it. He can consistently hit the break in the tree but at that distance there is not much power in the hits. Then he tries the rock thrower. The first several stones he throws with the thrower strike with considerable force, in the creek directly in front of him. After much practice the rocks are flying well over the target and a long way into the woods on the other side of the creek. After even more practice he manages to hit the broken tree just once, right at its base. The hit is not where he is aiming but the force tears a large chunk of bark from the side of the trunk.
    "This will never do," he exclaims out loud."There is no way I can hit anything with this, let alone be accurate enough to kill something" he grumbles.
    Temporarily disgusted, he decides to stop practicing for a while and explore the creek. Sliding the handle of the rock thrower in his belt, he slowly wanders up stream.
    The creek is not large, only a rocks throw across at its widest. The water is clear and cold. Most places are not more than waist deep. Occasionally he comes to a very deep hole. In the depths of these he can see large fish cruising the bottom. He watches the fish for a long time thinking of how he might get one.
    Suddenly, he hears a loud splashing farther up stream. Quietly, Lizard fades back into the woods and sneaks up stream to see what is happening. After several yards Lizard hears the splashing to his left. He stops and listens for a while, then he hears another splash. Zeroing in on the sound he creeps toward the edge of the creek.
    Peering from under the brush near the edge of a deep hole he sees a young black bear chasing a large fish in a riffle. First dashing up stream and then down stream the bear pounces on the fish but the fish escapes leading the bear into deep water. Swimming submerged the bear gets very lucky and catches the fish in his mouth. It surfaces directly in front of Lizard, less than an arms length away.
    The boy lets out a yelp of surprise and stands up disturbing the bushes on both sides of him. The young bruin startled by the sudden appearance of the human, drops the fish, turns around, swims to the shallows, and splashes out of the creek. Attaining the opposite shore the adolescent black bear stops and turns to look at Lizardfoot. Lizard raises his hands above his head and gives the bear his most ferocious growl.
    Turning on it's heals the bear crashes off through the brush on the opposite side of the creek and disappears out onto the prairie.
    With trembling knees, and a racing heart the boy sinks to the ground at the edge of the pool. Then he sees the fish floating on the surface of the water. "That will make a fine meal, all I have to do is get it out of the water." Thinks Lizard.
    The humans have not yet learned to swim. Living on the prairie they seldom encounter any water too deep to wade across, so there has never been any necessity for them to learn. Lizardfoot reaches down and grabs the base of one of the long willow saplings near by. Working it back and forth he breaks it off at the base. He reaches out with the stick and begins pulling the dead fish toward the shore.
    Just as he is about to land the large trout, the bank on which he is standing collapses and Lizard falls into the deep hole. He instinctively he holds his breath and as soon as his feet touch bottom he pushes off. He breaks the surface flailing his arms, then sinks again. He knows that if he doesn't make the right decision quickly he will die here on this creek and never complete his mission and never see Tagalong again. He remembers the bear's movements in the water and begins imitating what he had seen the bear do.
    It works! He breaks the surface of the pool and although he has taken in some water, he manages not to sink again. By (bear) paddling furiously Lizardfoot makes it to the shallows. When his hands touch the gravel bottom he pulls himself to the edge of the creek, turns around and sits in water up to his waste. Lizard coughs and sputters for a while, then he considers what just occurred. He realizes that he has done something quite remarkable. He has survived falling in deep water. Not only that but he has been able to move through the water. ( Forgotten the trout, drifts away on the current)       After he has rested, he stands and removes the belt of weapons from around his waste. He cautiously wades toward the deep part of the pool. As the water reached his chest he leans forward and begins "bear paddling." Lizard is amazed that he can actually swim around with his head above the surface of the water.
    He plays at this for some time, then taking in a breath he puts his face in the water and opens his eyes. He can see the bottom. It's blurry to be sure but he can make out fish swimming below him.
   "The fish!" he thinks as he lifts his head above the surface and looks around. "Where did it go?"
   By now the dead trout has drifted far down stream and out of sight.
    Then he realizes that he might be able to catch one, the way the bear had. After several failed attempts to grab fish, he becomes tired of this game and paddles to the shallows.
    As he wades to the shore a frog leap's from a rock into the water. Lizard watches the frog as it swims swiftly away from him, noting it's swimming style. Standing in ankle deep water Lizard mimics the frog's technique with his arms. After a few moments he returns to the deep part of the stream. When the water reaches his waist he leans forward and leaps in. As he dives beneath the surface he begins swimming the way he had seen the frog swim.
   "This is a much more efficient method than that of the bear," he thinks as he surfaces. "I wonder if I can do this and keep my head out of the water"
   After several attempts, he is 'frog stroking' around the pool with comparative ease. Lizardfoot is ecstatic he laughs out loud, reveling in this new skill.
   "What a great power this is" he thinks. "To be able to swim through the water like a frog."
   After a long time playing in the water, he becomes tired and hungry. He decides to head back to his camp. As he approaches the area, he circles to check his snares. All the traps are empty but one, it holds a small rabbit. The unfortunate rabbit had put its head through the loupe upon entering a tunnel under a berry bush. In struggling to free itself the creature only tightened the noose and strangled. Lizard picks up the rabbit, and carries it to camp.
    Within a short time lizard has the bunny skinned and hanging over his fire. The aroma of cooking flesh fills the clearing and causes his stomach to growl with anticipation.

    Bigmouth's morning is not going as well as Lizard's.
    Just after dawn, he hears a noise out side the small opening of his cave. When he looks out he is horrified to see a very large bear sniffing around the slide below his hide out. He looks about the cave and notices that even though the entrance is rather small the cave appears to be fairly deep.
    Taking the spear and club with him he scoots backward away from the entrance. Presently the interior of the cave becomes totally dark as the huge bruin pokes his nose in and sniffs. The bear's head is so large that it almost completely seals off the entrance but can not be forced through it. Bigmouth can smell the carrion odor of the bear's breath filling the cave. He retreats deeper into the cliff, holding his spear protectively in front of him. He knows that the spear will be of little use if the bear manages to enter the cave but it is the only defense he has.
    The bruin pulls his head from the opening and replaces it with an equally enormous paw, and begins feeling around as far as it can reach causing, Bigmouth to retreat even deeper into the cave.
    Suddenly the floor slopes down steeply.
    Unable to find a handhold Bigmouth is powerless to stop his slide then the floor disappears altogether and he falls backward into the darkness.
    Coming to rest on a pile of rubble he cries out as pain shoots through his lower back. Bigmouth lies there for many minutes groaning. Presently he attempts to move. Searing pain shoots down his legs causing him to gasp. As he levers him self to a sitting position, perspiration begins to form on his upper lip and forehead. He feels like he is going to be sick. When the nausea passes, Bigmouth begins feeling around for his weapons; he can hear the bear clawing at the cave opening.
    His hand falls upon the spear and he draws it to him. Using the spear as a staff and gritting his teeth against the pain he manages to lever himself to his feet. Sweat runs down his face and body from the exertion and the pain. His legs hold him up so he knows that they aren't broken. He attempts to take a step. Lightning pain shoots down from his lower back to his knees and they buckle. Holding tenaciously to the spear he manages to remain standing. His eyes have become used to the darkness and he begins to make out features in the cavern. Just in front of him and above his head he can see dim gray light outlining the hole he had fallen through. Slowly painfully he moves toward the tall opening. Reaching up he can just touch the lip. He stands there leaning on his spear, listening to the bear still clawing at the sandstone cliff trying to enlarge the opening.
    He can here rocks being dislodged at the entrance, the light in the cave increases and he knows that the bear is winning. He has to find a way out of this predicament. With the increase of light, he can see that the cave continues.
    Since there is no escape the way he entered, Bigmouth begins laboriously hobbling away from the terrible creature that claws at the cave entrance. On, into the darkness he goes. Though he still has some pain, as he continues to move. His legs begin to work better; it is no longer necessary for him to put all of his weight on the spear to walk. Now he is able used it more for guidance, as a blind man uses a cane. After blundering along for a while, Bigmouth notices the floor beginning to slope upwards. Excitedly he increases his speed.
    Speed and almost total darkness are not compatible. Soon he slams into an overhanging rock with his forehead. For minutes he lies stunned on the ground. When he regains his senses he sits for a while longer holding his bleeding head. Then searching around he finds the spear and once again levers himself to his feet. Crouching low he continues his torturous journey. Eventually the darkness begins to diminish. He can see lighter shadows around him. Cautiously now, he continues to press on. Finally he can see a light up ahead. In a short time he is at its source, a small opening at the top of a rubble strewn incline.
    A thick patch of black berries covers the outside of the exit. After a considerable struggle Bigmouth squeezes through the tiny orifice and tares through the brambles. Cut bruised and bleeding but free of the cave, it's tumbled rocks, pit falls, and darkness. He eases himself down and carefully sits on the ground with his head in his hands.
    A loud roar from the small opening galvanizes Bigmouth into action. Heedless of his pain he jumps to his feet and using the spear for support hobbles away as fast as he can.
    At the bottom of the hill he finds a small creek and knowing that he has to do something to lose the bear he steps into the stream up to his knees and begins moving as fast as he can down the middle of the watercourse. The creek bed is strewn with slick rocks of all sizes. His feet slip out from under him and he sits unceremoniously in the water. Another time he stubs a toe and fall's to his knees in the creek. He levers him self to his feet with his spear and continues his flight down stream.
    After a long struggle he is far enough from his tormentor that he can leave the water. Exiting the creek on the opposite shore from that which he entered he continues limping down stream away from the bear.
    By the time the sun reaches the apex of its travel across the sky Bigmouth needs a rest. He also needs to decide what to do next. After only a little less than two days on the journey, he is battered, bruised, hungry and not certain where he is. This is not working out the way he planned at all. He always believed that his size and strength would see him through any difficulty but now he is beginning to have second thoughts. Pain, hunger, and fear, will cause introspection in even the dullest mind.
    Carefully checking his back trail and listening for any sound of pursuit he works his way into a thicket near the creek. Finding a small clearing at the water's edge he lowers himself to his knees, scoops up a hand full of water and drinks. The water is cool and refreshing but not very filling. He needs solid food.
    Drinking his fill he sits back against a small tree and tries to plan his next move. After several minutes he drifts off into a haze of fatigue. A rustling in the bushes brings him back to reality. Instantly alert, with spear in hand he waits to see what will emerge from the brush. He knows from the sound that whatever it is, it's not the bear, the sounds are that of a small animal or bird.
    Finally he sees it, a sage grouse working its way cautiously toward the water for a drink.
    Slowly, Bigmouth prepares himself, crouching next to the tree with the spear held like a club. He waits motionless his muscles tightened. He watches as the grouse slowly approaches the water and dips its beak into the stream to drink.
    He strikes viciously, hitting the bird on the back killing it instantly, and knocking it into the creek at the same time. Bigmouth leaps after his victim with out thought.
    The water in this part of the stream is very deep. His hand firmly griping the bird, he sinks to the bottom of the deep hole. Standing on the bottom he reaches up above the surface, with his free hand and flails the air. His hand strikes a branch hanging over the pool. Grabbing the limb, he pulls himself to the surface, throws the bird onto the shore and drags him self after it.
    Once out of the water he looks around for his spear. It's gone!
    He searches the small clearing with out success. Then he realizes that when he jumped for the bird he must have dropped the weapon into the water. Crawling back to the edge he looks down stream just in time to see the stick float over a small waterfall and disappear.
    In a panic he rises to his feet and begins tearing through the brush on the border of the creek in pursuit of the drifting spear. After struggling through the brambles for about a hundred yards he sees it lodged against the up stream side of a natural rock dam.
    Cautiously he wades into the pond. Fortunately the water is not over chest deep and he is able to retrieve the spear and return to shore with out incident.
    Chilled and exhausted, the new cuts and scratches stinging like fire on his body he collapses on the bank.
    After several minutes he realized that in his haste to retrieve the spear, he had left his kill upstream at the little clearing. Slowly, shakily he gets to his feet and starts working his way back up stream toward where he had left the dead grouse. The brush is much thicker than he remembers it being on his down stream chase of the drifting weapon. It is a struggle to make his way back to the same spot. He break's into the clearing just in time to see an old coyote running off with his prize. He falls to his hands and knees with a groan.
    Bigmouth lies curled in a fetal ball for a long time. Finally, he begins to be aware of his surroundings. He can hear the birds chirping in the trees around him. He becomes conscious of the sound of the stream. He can feel the breeze against his lacerated and bruised skin. He can feel the pain in his back and legs. Finally he uncurls himself, rolls onto his back and stares up at the blue sky.
    "Why am I here?" He asks himself out loud. "Why did I leave the comfort of my village to venture into the wilderness? I came here to show that 'know it all' Lizardfoot that I am smarter than he is. That I am the true hero of the Fug-a-we, not him." He answers himself. "I am bigger, stronger, braver, and smarter than any other human. I, Bigmouth should have been chosen for this quest not that scrawny boy."
    He sits up and the world spins for a few seconds. He wait's for the spinning to stop. Then he pull's him self to his feet using the spear as a prop.
    After standing for a while, he makes his way out of the tree lined creek and onto the open hillside where he can travel with out fighting his way through the thick underbrush along the stream.
   "I have to find Lizard's trail," he thinks.
    Bigmouth has lost track of his direction while underground escaping the bear. When he came into the light, his only thought was to flee from the giant bruin as fast and as far as possible. Now, he has no clear idea of where he is. He climbs the hill on his side of the creek. When he reaches the top he looks all around.
    Far across the creek he can see the white line of the mountains on the horizon. To his right he sees the hill country marching off to become a black smudge at the extremes of his vision. To his left, he sees the hills flowing down to the rolling prairie, and behind him, more prairie. As he stares off toward the mountains he sees a thin coulomb of smoke rising from behind a far off ridge.
    "Lizard foot" he growls to himself.
    After watching the smoke for a while, he decides to head directly for it.
    Carefully he retraces his steps down the hill. He works his way back to the stream. Here the water is no more than knee deep. Carefully he crosses the stream.
    On the other side he finds a way through the undergrowth. Once out in the open again he climbs the hill and proceeds down the other side. At the bottom is another creek, and after that, another hill. On it goes up one side, down another, cross a creek or a gully fight through the brush then climb another hill. At the top of each hill he has to rest for several minutes. Not having eaten anything except the raw rattler the previous evening, his strength is fading. At the top of one rise he realizes he can not continue in this manner. As he sits and looks out over the country he notices that all the drainage's flow to a larger stream witch intern flows Southwest. That, he decides, is where the smoke is coming from. Lizardfoot must be camped along that stream. Bigmouth stands shakily, and starts walking north down the ridge toward the large stream.

    The sound of growling slowly penetrates Tagalongs dreams. The pack she is using as a pillow is suddenly jerked out from under her causing her head to hit the floor, bringing her instantly alert. She sits up suddenly and hits her head on the sealing of the den.
    "Ow" she complains rubbing her head. "What the.....?" "Oh, it's you" she laughs. "You can't have that" she scolds, as she grab's the pack and tries to get it away from the pup.
    The pup has one of the straps in its teeth. With its legs locked it pulls on the strap shaking its head and growling. She pick's the squirming puppy up, by the back of the neck, and removes the strap from its mouth. She turns the pup so they are face to face and says, "leave that alone."
    The young canine licks Tag's nose with a warm pink tongue.
    Laughing, Tagalong rubs the pup's head and begins inspecting the animal closer. First she notices that it is female. Then she notices that this is not exactly like any wolf pup at she had seen. Though it has the basic shape of a wolf, there are some noticeable differences. The nose is not as long, nor as pointed as a wolf pup's. The ears are shorter, and the coloring is not like any of the wolves she has seen before. The muzzle, chest, belly, and the insides of the legs are white with white feet. The hair along its spine is black fading to gray down the sides. Behind the neck is a large white spot. The tail which curls up over its rump, is white on the bottom and gray to black on top with a white tip and most remarkable of all are the pup's startling blue eyes.
    "You are a very strange little one," she remarks, "I don't think I have ever seen any creature with blue eyes."
    "Are you hungry?" Tagalong asks, as she puts the pup down.
    She reaches into her pack and pulls out two strips of jerky. The smaller piece she lays on the ground for the pup the other is for herself. The pup attacks the jerky with gusto; growling and shaking the tough dried meat in its mouth. When Tagalong finishes her portion, she takes a drink from the bladder, then cupping her left hand near the floor she pours some water into it. The pup sniffs at her hand, then begins licking up the water. After the water is all gone, the pup continues to lick Tag's hand and fingertips, causing her to laugh.
    "Well, it's time to go. What am I going to do with you?" She mumbles to the pup. "I can't leave you here to starve."       Turning around in the small den, she backs out of the entrance pulling the pack out with her. She rearranges some things in the pack so that there is room for the pup to fit on top of the small calf robe, then she reaches in to the den and picks up the little animal and puts it in the pack.
    Swinging the burden onto her back she retrieves the spear and begins backtracking to where she had left Lizarfoot's trail. With the pup looking over her shoulder she is again in pursuit of her friend Lizardfoot.
    After following the Bigmouth's tracks for a short time, she comes to the rocks behind which Lizard had taken refuge from the buffalo stampede. She is relieved to see that Lizard has survived. Now she has three sets of tracks to follow Lizard's, Bigmouth's, and the bear's.
    Soon she leaves the buffalo trail behind and is following the path of crushed grass left by the two men and the bruin. She is now into the hill country. Approaching a ravine she stops where the trails separate. Inspecting the two trails, she decides that the bear has turned off to the right. The other trail continues toward the Northwest.
    "This must be the trail of Lizardfoot" she mumbles to her self as she continues on straight ahead.
    Had Tag turned to the right she would have discovered the bear digging at the entrance to Bigmouth's cave just around a bend in the gully less than a half mile away.
    Tagalong travels at a steady pace. Up one hill, down another, crossing a small stream or dry gully at the bottom of each hill. She stops several times on the hilltops, to watch the large herds grazing in the valleys.
    For a long time she watches a pack of wolves harassing an old feeble buffalo cow. Separating the cow from the herd, the wolves run her in relays until she is exhausted. Finally unable to run further the cow stops to make a final stand. The wolves surround the unfortunate animal. With her head low, foam running from her mouth and nose, the cow paws the ground and charges her tormentors. As she charges the wolves in front of her, the others attack from the rear sinking their sharp teeth into her flanks, causing the cow to turn to fend them off. She is finally dragged to the ground by several of the predators at once. Lowing pitifully the old cow tries to regain her feet, without success. Eventually her struggles cease and the wolves begin to feed.
    Tagalong shudders, turns from the scene and continues her travels. Presently, she drops into a valley containing a clear fast running stream. The sun has passed the midpoint of its arc across the sky and Tagalong is getting hungry. She follows the stream to the left until she comes to a small clearing. Entering the clearing she finds a spot next to the water, removes the pack and sits with her feet in the cool stream. She reaches into the pack and lifts the pup out setting it down on the green grass.
    The tiny creature has been cooped up in the pack for a long time and now wants to play. It tries chewing on Tagalong's fingers, Tag lets out a yipe, rolls the pup on it's back and rubs it's belly. The little creature grippes her wrist with it's forepaws and chews on her arm.
    "Ouch! Stop that!" She says. "Don't chew on me." "I'm your friend, not prey".
    Tag withdraws her arm from the pup's grip and begins rummaging through the pack. She brings out the parfhetch containing her supply of jerky and another with pemmican cakes. All this time the pup is busy investigating, and chewing on every thing she pulls from the pack. It now has the jerky container in its mouth. Growling, the pup tosses the package from side to side as if it were killing some small creature.
    "Give me that!" Tag scolds reaching for the folded rawhide container. The pup backs away with the parfletch clenched tightly in its mouth. Once out of Tag's reach the pup drops the package and waging its tail, it barks a squeaky whining bark.     Tagalong is shocked. She has never heard any wolf make that sound before. Again the pup bark's, then drops to its belly. With its chin on forepaws, it's tail wagging, the pup watches Tag with intelligent blue eyes. Then the whelp sits back on its haunches and begins to scratch behind its ear with a hind foot. Tagalong quickly snatches up the jerky container. The little animal bounces toward her but is distracted by a butterfly that flutters between them. The pup leaps into the air in an attempt to catch the colorful insect and falls on to her back. Several more times the pup tries for the butterfly before it escapes over the stream. The little canine sits on its haunches for a few moments watching the fluttering form disappear into the foliage across the creek. Then she returns to her pursuit of the jerky.
    By this time Tagalong has opened the package, and has a piece ready for her little friend, she holds out the meat to the pup and it takes it and lies down with the food between its front paws, chewing and growling softly. Tag munches thoughtfully on her own food and watches her little companion. "This is definitely not a wolf, or coyote, or even a fox. I have never seen any animal like this before." She thinks. "Are there others like this one?"
   After Tagalong and the puppy finish eating, Tag refills her water container. As she does so, she notices that the stream bottom is composed of many small, round rocks. This reminds her that she has not practiced with the new weapon that her and 'Rock Thrower' devised. "This is as good a place as any to try it." She thinks.
    Stashing her food at the bottom of the pack (to keep it out of the jaws of her furry little friend), Tagalong folds the robe and stuffs it on top of the food. She walks to a nearby tree and hangs the pack from a branch as high as she can reach.      Returning to the creek she collects a small pile of stones and pulling the leather implement from the bag on her belt she begins experimenting with the device. First she puts the slip knotted thong around her index finger then she places the other thong in her palm and closes her hand. Next she folds the oval in the middle and centers it at the end of the two thongs. She picks up a round flat stone and puts it in the pouch formed by the oval. She swings the rock back and forth testing the weight and the feeling of the stone at the end of the sling. Her first try is an under hand throw. The release is late and the rock goes straight up. Tagalong has to dodge the falling stone to keep from being hit on top of her head. She tries several times to release the projectile at the correct moment but is not happy with the result. Her best effort only manages to send the stone in a high arc, landing in the middle of the stream. Then she tries swinging the sling around in a circle over her head and releasing as it comes forward. The stone flies across the creek and severs a limb from a small tree on the other side.
    "That's more like it." She says to her self.
    Tag tries several more rocks. With each attempt she gains more control. Consistent accuracy eludes her but she is still pleased with the results of her first trial with the new tool. After practicing for a considerable time her arm becomes tired so she decides to quit for the day.
    The puppy has fallen asleep near the tree from which the pack is suspended. Tagalong walks to the tree and picks up the small ball of fur, nuzzles it to her face and is rewarded with a warm wet tongue on her nose. With the pup in one hand she reaches up and takes down the pack with the other. She puts the puppy into the pack and swings it onto her back. Taking up the spear Tagalong resumes her search for Lizardfoot.
    Since the creek is shallow where Tagalong stopped for lunch she decides to cross there. After crossing the stream she turns right and walks until she finds a trail coming out of the woods along it's edge. Then turning left she climbs the hill. When she reaches the top Tag stops to catch her breath.
    Looking to the Northwest she sees a thin coulomb of smoke rising into the clear blue sky. She ponders the smoke for a short while and decides that it must be where Lizardfoot is camped. A shiver of anticipation goes through her body. Soon she will be with her friend, just like it has always been. Her and Lizard hunting and exploring together. "We are almost there," she says to the pup that was looking over her shoulder.
    "Soon you will meet Lizardfoot." The pup whines and licks her ear. "Stop that" she giggles. Tagalong starts off down the hill toward the smoke, at a slightly faster pace. The smoke has diminished to just a thin wisp rising slightly above the trees by the time she arrives.
    Cautiously she works her way into the forest, as quietly as she can Tag slips through the thicket surrounding Lizard's camp spot. Stopping at the edge of the brush, she listens and watches for any movement. The camp appears deserted. Tag enters the clearing and moves to the smoldering fire pit. With her spear she rummages in the coals, finding the remains of rabbit bones. Next, Tag walks around inspecting the small clearing, trying to determine if Lizard is near by. She sees the crushed grass where he slept. She follows the trails where he set his snares and the trail he made up stream.
    She returns to the deserted camp spot.
    Dejectedly, Tagalong surmises that Lizard has left the area, and is even now continuing his quest to the Northwest. Her only option is to cross the stream and try to pick up his trail again.
    The creek is only knee deep near the camp spot so Tagalong crosses easily. On the other side she begins looking for Lizard's trail. In a few moments she finds his tracks and is soon climbing the hill in pursuit of her friend.

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