Death on the Trek (A People of the Wind Mystery, #2)(paperback) by Kaye George

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ISBN: 9781611878622
Pages: 236

The Neanderthal tribe of Enga Dancing Flower must trek south to flee the approaching glacier, but the distance is long and the food is scarce. When a venerable elder drowns crossing a flooded river, Enga suspects that it was not an accident, and that a murderer travels with them.


It was several suns after Bodd Blow Striker and Fall Cape Maker had joined the tribe. Enga Dancing Flower had held some anger toward her mate for his unkindness regarding them for some time, but she was no longer angry. He had made her understand, in thoughts and in caresses, that he had been considering her own well being.

Just before the time of darkness fell, as most of them were preparing to have something to eat before they slept, two of the Hamapa males and one female ventured off to look for game. Sannum Straight Hair, one of the older males, and Teek Bearclaw set off at a lope, following a set of paw prints in the soft dirt. They both thought the tracks had been made by caribou. If they found a caribou, Fee Long Thrower, who was with them, carried her spear in readiness to bring it down.

Enga gnawed a piece of jerky. She watched Whim, the baby of Fee and Bahg, crawling in the dirt, getting chewed bits of jerky from the adults. He had been given the name Whim in the early Naming Ceremony, held before they left. It would have been nice to have the ceremony in the new place, and after Whim and Sooka had been alive for twenty full moon cycles, the number of all fingers and all toes. That was the way it had always been done.

She tried to imagine their new place. It could not be in these barren lands. They had to find a place with much water and plant growth, to support the large animals they must have for food, clothing, and tools.

She was getting weary of having nothing but hard, dried meat to eat. The tribe had survived on jerky during many Cold Seasons, but was accustomed to having fresh meat in the warm and hot seasons. 

However, she tamped down her annoyance and impatience. She knew that they must make this trek to survive. They could not have stayed where they were. The Great Ice was approaching and the winds that swept off it were so cold, many things died as it approached, plants and animals alike. If they kept going, they would escape the area of blight created by the ice. Hama had told them that Dakadaga promised that. They would get to the land Enga dreamed about. She put her hand inside her waist pouch and rubbed the wooden figure of Aja Hama, who had been so dear to her. Maybe it was not a proper thing to do, but she sent pleas for well-being out to the spirit of the Aja Hama. She was not an actual Spirit, the kind they danced and sang to, but Enga did not care. She petitioned her anyway.
She heard shouting. Sannum and Teek and Fee were back very quickly. Had they found game? Would they eat fresh flesh?

The tribe surged toward the returning ones, hope in every heart. However, the hands of both Sannum and Teek were empty. Fee dragged her spear behind, her head was bowed.

Teek closed his eyes and gave out a picture of what they had seen.

Enga drew in her breath when she saw the form of a female, torn apart.

The cat of long tooth, Ung thought-spoke. 

Others agreed. The female had encountered a cat and the cat had slain her.

Bodd and Fall, in spite of being still somewhat weak, followed Teek at a quick pace back to where they had found the body, beside a tiny brackish pool.

When they returned, they both shed tears. Their shoulders shook.

She was my mate, thought-spoke Bodd. We have lost two babies. And now I have lost her.

Enga felt her own tears forming and her lips trembled. What a horrible thing to happen after losing two babies, which was a horrible thing already.

Vala Golden Hair stepped forward and put a hand on his shoulder to comfort him.
There was discussion of what to do, whether or not they should spend the time and energy on a proper funeral. The Gata males told them that their own funerals were similar to those of the Hamapa. 

Thoughts were exchanged as they squatted together to eat and sip small amounts of water. At last it was decided by all, even Bodd, that they should proceed. They would leave her body for the animals and it would return to Brother Earth.

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