The Bone Fires, Part 3
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||edHelper's suggested reading level:
||grades 4 to 6
||Flesch-Kincaid grade level:
||abide, Adag, apparition, sober, sustenance, ritual, apprehension, determination, uncertainty, flesh, thrust, flickering, certainly, spirit, cattle, heap
The Bone Fires, Part 3
By Mary Lynn Bushong
1 Soon it was time to drive the tribe's cattle between the fires. The herdsmen slowly drove the animals up the side of the hill and through the gap between the flames. The younger animals were nervous, but the older cows had been through the ritual many times and stayed calmer. The people lined up on either side, encouraging the animals through the gap, and it was finally accomplished.
2 Once the animals were through, the branches that remained off to the sides were piled in the gap between the fires. Like living beings, the fires sought this new source of sustenance and engulfed the new wood. It soon became a single huge fire.
3 The moon was high when the ceremony was nearly complete. Adag glanced around at the crowd. This was the time for lighting the torches for the home fires. Together they would get the fire for their homes that would be maintained for the next year.
4 The Boaire chose the first torch and thrust it into the fire and raised it again, flaming. Then each man followed his example. Adag watched his own father light the family's torch. Finally, each one was lit, and all the people returned to their homes.
5 Adag's mood was much more sober as he followed his family back to their home. He felt a mild apprehension over his mother's determination to invite his brother's spirit to join them. Would he truly appear?
6 Adag looked around surreptitiously in the flickering light of the torch. Perhaps it had been just a trick of the shifting light and smoke coupled with the day that made him think of Neil.
7 Finmed dropped back to speak with him.
8 "Adag," she said, keeping her voice low, "did you really see Oran's name in the nut meats, or were you joking?"
9 Adag heard the uncertainty in Finmed's voice. He knew that she couldn't abide Oran but wouldn't fight what she thought was her destiny. He smiled. "I was just teasing you, Finmed. I didn't see any names, certainly not Oran's."
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