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Out Of The Cold
By S. A. Barton
Copyright 2012 S. A. Barton
Find other stories by S.A. Barton on his Smashwords profile.
Bear Paw leaned back from the litter of flint chips and flakes covering his heavy moosehide skirt and stretched and rolled his aching back against the rough trunk of the tall and ragged pine behind him. The bones of his spine cracked and flakes of bark snapped free with smaller pops. He sighed and watched his breath, white and cloudy, rise and then fade into the invisible wind.
He was cold. He worked his hands under his lean bony butt to capture the sparse heat there. It wasn’t enough. He was cold, his hands were cold. He had been cold all the time when he was a child, when his people began following the Great Ice as she fled to sun-rises-right, and he was cold now as a man with the first streaks of gray coming into his beard. It seemed, he thought as he looked around, that the grass and trees were less lush, the hunting harder, the nights colder and the sun weaker than when he was a boy.
But he was only a man and knew only the hunt. He knew it well, but it was the Wise Women who decided each spring to follow the Great Ice, from whose feet the water of life flowed and in whose wake Her gifts of precious flints were found. The women said to follow Great Ice, and it is for men to follow women—where in nature do the women chase after the men? Nowhere. Deer, bear, fish, or people, it is the woman who the man follows.