Mara, no, the boy, was fifteen now; and was just now old enough to accompany Pada
and her brothers when they went out to hunt. The first sun was rising in the west, dawn
had begun. Mara set out with Pada and the elder two brothers from the hut, with Amtra
waving silently, and Naamah still asleep. It was the day of her first hunt. Since she was
the youngest, she had to carry a pouch full of extra pebbles, and the sack full of fruit that
Amtra had sent. Mara tagged along at the back of the line, trying dutifully to step where
her brothers were stepping, hoping to not make a sound. Small twigs and leaves and nuts
that her brothers and Pada had missed suddenly found themselves under her bare foot.
Small crunches and loud snaps could be heard whenever Mara took a step. The brother
in front of her stopped short, and Mara bumped into his back as he turned halfway
around hissing at her.
"Curse it all you inept rock! I can't believe that a brother of mine is making so much
noise. Watch where you step!"
"Tubal!" Pada spoke in a stern, low voice from the head of the line. "Enough. Do not
mock him, you were no better your first time. Show him the correct way to move, and
let him learn by example."
"Yes Pada." Tubal replied in a respectful tone, while shooting a fearsome glare over his
shoulder at Mara. Tubal began exaggerating his steps, mocking Mara as she struggled
to get her shorter frame to go where Tubal's long reach went. Mara grit her teeth, biting
back the anger roiling inside her. She was determined. She would not be mocked
anymore. Mara would become the best hunter there was, better than Pada even, then
they would finally look at her as something other than the useless, unwanted son. When
she did become the best, everyone would look at her as favorably as Naamah does every
day that he finds time to play with her.