was the cave, breathing." She shivered. "That's all."
"It was the long cave," said Thumb, although he didn't believe this, "and it was me, looking for you."
Someone was playing a bone flute. Probably Oak, who usually had trouble sleeping. The notes were soft and drowsy and a little downcast. It was a song of leaves dropping from trees and birds flying south, a song of the end of summer.
The next morning, Blue asked Thumb and Oak to walk with him to the river for a hunting council. Although Oak was Thumb's half-brother, they had never been close. Oak was younger than Thumb. Their mother had died giving birth to him and their luck had been tangled ever since. But with Quick and the others tracking the reindeer herd, Oak was the best hunter in camp.
He was a simple man, better with his hands than his head. He could throw a spear farther than any of the people, but he could scarcely tell a story straight through. He had no lover and so was always restless. The mothers said that he