- Thort takes his family down south, through Sectors 85 and 86, and finally arrives in the dry warm climes of Sector 87.
- They live off the land for a few days and eventually find a farm inhabited by an older couple. They let Thort’s family live in their barn.
- Thort works in the fields with Styg and earns dinner for himself and his family. Evanor helps with household chores. Lem quietly amuses himself.
- One evening at the dinner table, Styg mentions to Thort that he had heard of another family, three days distant, with a blue child. Quiet people, minded their own business and kept to themselves. Styg never actually saw them himself; just heard talk about them.
- Styg asks Thort to take one of the stronger farm animals, hitch it to the two-wheeled cart, and drive to the next village to bring back supplies. Thort hitched up a drac (a rather ugly dragon slightly larger than a mule) to the cart and drove off uncertainly in the direction of the village. Styg hrumphed to himself about Thort’s choice of animals. Everyone knew that dracs were contrary as hell and dumb as all get out.
- By mid-day Thort finally side-steps the drac and cart into the village, ties the drac to the nearest hitching post, and starts looking for the general store on foot. He finds the store eventually, walks in, and looks around with his list in hand. While he is looking for sacks of seed, Thort meets Kivo who is closely inspecting an open sack of seed. Thort gets to talking with Kivo and finds out comes from a village 3 days from this one. Kivo has a wife and mumbles something about a little daughter. Thort and Kivo exchange a few humorous anecdotes at the expense of their respective wives, but Kivo deflects any discussion about the younger generation. Truth is that Thort doesn’t volunteer any specific information about his child either. He’s just asking to be polite and to keep the conversation from dying off. Kivo looks Thort in the eyes sadly and says he’s got a blue daughter about 5 years old. Thort grabs both Kivo’s shoulders with his large hands and says incredulously, “What? You have a blue kid too? We have one ourselves, a blue boy named Lem, about the same age as yours!” They compare notes and part company amicably with promises to visit sometime.
- Thort told Evanor about Kivo and his blue girl that night as they lay beside each other in the unbaled hay. Lem’s eyes were shut but his ears were listening.
Mike Stone, Ra’anana Israel