The girl shivered in the chill darkness. The howl of a Hunter in the valley below as it discovered the abandoned Reindeer remains was unnerving. From the front of her tiny stone shelter she peered hopelessly at the distant flame that lit the entrance to her mother's shelter. The scent of the cooking meat made her nose tingle and her stomach rumble.
Hiding out here, away from her mother's wrath, had seemed the wise course during the light of the day. Now a torn moccasin seemed a small thing while the jaws of the Hunters loomed large.
Fishing in her pouch she took out her treasure. It glowed with the colours of the sun-wet sky, and the girl had been named after it Shiny Pebble.
A movement in the dark startled her. Quickly she pushed the pebble into a crevice and crouched down awaiting her fate.
"You stupid girl," Thinking Hand whispered. "I thought you were old enough to know better than to stay out after dark. Tomorrow we start back south. What would you have done then?"
Shiny Pebble was too relieved to see her father to reply. Slipping out of the shelter she bent low and crawled after him.
Creswell Crags are believed to have been summer shelters during the last Ice Age, as man trekked after the reindeer..." the tour guide's voice droned on. Katharine slipped from the group, trying to imagine long-dead mammoths and hyenas. A tiny cave at the foot of the cliff caught her attention. It was just big enough for her to pretend it was her bedroom. She clambered in. In a crack, just inside, she found it.
"Come out of there," her mother's exasperated voice startled her. "I've told you before not to wander off on your own, and you've scuffed those new shoes!"
Katharine slid out into the sunlight.
"Look, Mum." She held out her palm. "It's a shiny pebble."
Copyright 1997 Helen Purcell Houldsworth