Adabi laid down the maggoty bread at Bi’s feet. “Please, eat your fill. The earthen-beings behind will not suspect you, and those of air and light ahead will have other concerns.”
Adabi’s feet rested on the saxboard of the river boat, Thirsty for the Sea, as she tied a knot in an end of one of the boat’s lines. In her linen-draped lap lay a worn cedar box, its top the span of a large hand, tied on with simple twine. The boat’s owner, now paddling at the stern of the eye-prowed vessel, watched her with curiosity while his son, a boy of nine named Kaal, watched Adabi’s hands. The boy’s head was shaved where his father’s was close-cropped and black, spattered with grey at the temples. His skin like his father’s: dark as a cloudless desert night sky, and marked with gold stars, as was the tradition of his people when they ventured across land and sea. Kaal watched her nimble fingers with his warm brown eyes as she finished the elaborate knot, then whispered to it. He reached out his hand in curiosity and Adabi let him take it from her calloused fingers.