You are getting worried. Early this morning your uncle found Laumdae's bed empty and one of the skiffs gone, and, of course, you agreed to help look. But even with the whole family out and nearly a day of searching, you have yet to find any trace of the child. He has always been quick to complain about unfairness, always a bit of a loner, and you suppose he really must have intended to leave. If he is still on the river, even Ampuae's narrow skiff might not be able to find him. In the forest, oxbows and backwaters make a maze to befuddle even the most alert.
So, with your friend Phoyaa, you set out into the woods to look for your cousin. You followed deer trails, mostly, and blazed your own paths when no others seemed apparent. Phoyaa complained about the rain a great deal. Somewhere around noon, you ran into your aunt. She instructed you to go down along the river itself, looking for the skiff Laumdae took. Therefore, after sheltering under a fallen log for a brief lunch of bread and salmonberries, you began that long and stumbling trek. It is very difficult to hike along a forested river's length, and it is even more so in an unfamiliar area. You did play in the forest when you were young, but you never went more than a few kilometers, and now the tortuous waterway is your only guide home. If you do find Laumdae's skiff, will you be able to find Laumdae?
You call his name as you walk, hoping for the slim chance that he will come running up and beg to go home. Hoping he has not drowned or fallen afoul of a forest cat. The rain and the river and the leaves seem to dampen your cries, though, and Phoyaa has stopped calling entirely. The sun is beginning to set.
But just now, as you crunch down a stony beach covered in snail shells, with undergrowth to your right and water to your left, you spot a dark shape 20 meters across the river. It is the skiff!
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