THE CAT

Chapter XX

The boy lay awake in the night, listening to the slight changes of small jungle sounds, as they worked their way through the heavy material to arrive at the side of the river where they were encamped. The warrior was asleep. The boy knew that because his snores were part of the mass of sounds constantly forming the rhythm of jungle nightlife that he’d come to know. The river’s rushing water, gentle but as constant and hard as a rock, was the main feature of life near the river. The gurgling flow covered other incoming sounds at the same time it served as a mask for potential outgoing sounds that creatures, such as the boy himself, might not want other predators to hear.

He rolled out of the lean-to, knowing that his passage out of the shelter would be heard by the two women, if not anyone else in the vicinity. Using leaves and dried vines for coverings had its disadvantages, not the least of which was that the coverings were not a whole lot of protection against the cold. And the much greater cold was coming with the approach of winter. They needed to trade for quality animals pelts and they needed to do it quickly if they were going to be able to allow the women sufficient time to work the leather and bend the skins to their needs. The boy picked up his short spear and headed for the river’s edge just down from the camp. The raft was tied just off a great clump of the stuff, where’d they’d left it and Hasti. It took only seconds to reach the spot. The raft was pushed into the bank by one of the many eddies that worked around and around in small naturally formed coves up and down the river.