Timpoochee’s peaceful sleep on the floor of his father’s canoe was disturbed by a rustling noise in a tree limb above him and below which the craft was pulled to the shore.
It was the flapping of great wings.
Through is blurred vision, Timpoochee saw what he thought was the long ears and feathered tuft of tskili perched above. Two round eyes stared fire into the night.
He sat up, rubbed his own eyes and gazed again into the tree above him. This time he saw Old Hunter walking along the limb, his hands behind his back. Yufala and the others were nowhere to be found.
“Timpoochee,” the old man addressed the boy from the tree limb. “Or should I call you by the name, ‘Timpoochee Kinnard’?”
“Old Hunter?” the boy called out, rising to his feet. “If that you? Have you come back from the death of the bear?”
Timpoochee suddenly stopped, shocked by what he heard coming from Old Hunter’s mouth.
“Old Hunter, why do you call me Kinnard? You know me. You know my name is Timpoochee, the boy whose skin is the color of clay.”
“I call you by your name,” Old Hunter replied. “By the name given you at your birth.”
“My birth? You know of my birth?”
“Indeed I do, Timpoochee Kinnard, and I know a great many more things.”
“Why did you not tell me of these things in many hours we sat talking over the old days as you visited Grandmother Ama? You do not know by name. You are only a dream. Be gone and let me sleep.”
The old man laughed, a loud screeching laugh which filled the forest for its eerie cry.
“Why do you laugh, Old Hunter?” Timpoochee was hurt, confused. “And do not call me by that name.”
“A name is only what your are called, young one,” said the old man, quietly. “You call me Old Hunter but is that what I am?”
“I don’t understand, old friend. But if you have news to tell me, please, tell me that I might resume my sleep.”