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Authors: Maurice Gee

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Dawn had found Shy flowers. She gave them to Nick and Susan, and looked at the scratches on Susan’s face. They had healed, but a pale scar would show on her cheek. They said goodbye. Then Dawn and Bess and Jimmy and Ben crossed the river. They looked back from the trees on the other side. The Varg stood on their hind legs and roared. Dawn and Jimmy waved. Then they went south, and Nick and Susan knew that they would never see them again.

‘Don’t cry, Susan.’

‘I can’t help it. There’s nothing wrong with it. Waterworks.’

‘No, I guess not.’ His own eyes were wet. ‘What are we going to do with Aenlocht and Soona?’

‘Come with me. I think they’ll follow.’

They climbed up from the river, over a saddle, and came to a spring in a basin of hills. Nick had not seen it before. He thought it was the loveliest place he had ever seen.

‘This is what Jimmy named for me.’

‘Susan’s Spring.’

‘Just Susan.’ She looked at Aenlocht and Soona, standing side by side, and thought how well the place suited them, where water sprang fresh and cold from the depths of O. ‘There’s a cave in the hill up there. They might stay a while.’

‘And come back?’

‘Now and then.’ She left them standing with Thief and went to the shore. Nick followed her and watched while she took the bag with the old Halves from her shirt.

‘They’d make a good pair of ear-rings.’

‘They belong here.’ She held them for a moment. The whole thing had come down to this – two coloured stones in her hand. Two new people by a spring.

She threw the Halves. They flashed in the sun, and skipped on the water. Then they sank. She turned away and went to Soona and Aenlocht.

‘We’re going now, me and Nick. This is your place if you want it.’

They looked at her blankly. They could not understand:

‘Soona, I’ve got something for you.’ She reached into her shirt and took out the flute. ‘It belonged to someone I knew. Another Soona. Now it’s yours. Listen, I’ll show you what it’s for.’ She put it to her mouth and blew a note. Soona sprang back and Aenlocht shielded her. But Susan blew again, and again, and seemed to see a movement of interest in their eyes. ‘Take it, Soona.’ Gently she took her hand and coaxed the fingers open. A look of pleasure showed on Soona’s face as she felt the carved stem. She did not try to put it to her mouth but held it in her hand and smiled. She would never play it, a single note, it was too soon. Perhaps her children – or someone ten generations away – would make a sound with a simple reed, music would be born. But it seemed important that this Soona should have the old one’s flute.

‘Now, Thief.’ The Bloodcat came forward. She knew that he had moved away from her. There would be no more passing of images. But he let her place her hand on his head, and he rubbed himself once against her thigh. ‘Goodbye, Thief. You don’t have to have a name any more.’ The Bloodcat lay down in front of Soona and Aenlocht.

‘He’ll stay with them a while.’

Nick and Susan walked up to the rim of the basin. When they looked back Soona and Aenlocht were by the trees, breaking open a rotten log for grubs. Thief was drinking at the spring.

‘They’ll be all right.’

‘Yes. Come on, Susan. It’s getting late.’

They went up through the hills on to the mountain, and all afternoon climbed to the plateau. Now and then Birdfolk dipped in their flight to call goodbye. Silverwing and Yellowclaw landed and embraced them.

It was dusk when they came to the cave.

‘We’ll go back to the day we started from.’

‘Nick, do you remember when we went home before? We got a story ready.’

‘Why our hair was longer. Why our clothes were torn.’

‘And nobody noticed. We didn’t need to say anything.’

‘They’ll notice this time.’

‘We’re different people.’

They took out their Shy flowers and held them on their palms.

‘This time we’ll tell the truth.’

‘They won’t believe us.’

‘We’ll tell them anyway.’

They joined hands and approached the cave, and turned there, and stood a while, for a last look at O.

PUFFIN BOOKS

Published by the Penguin Group
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First published in 1985 by Oxford University Press
First published in Puffin Books, 1988
This edition published in 2005
This digital edition created by Penguin Group (NZ), 2012

Copyright © Maurice Gee, 1985

The right of Maurice Gee to be identified as the author of this work in terms of section 96 of the Copyright Act 1994 is hereby asserted.
All rights reserved

All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

ISBN: 978-1-74253-242-4

www.penguin.co.nz

BOOK: Motherstone
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