As the long hot day was turning to twilight, the host of the Sguush straggled to a halt near the ancient oasis that had been their mainstay for generations. Little growth and less water remained there. Many people wept, while some sat down and stared emptily at the ground or into the darkening sky.
The litter of the Old One was borne through the crowd, and set down beside the muddy pool that was the remnant of the ancient lake. The Old One leaned on her attendant’s arm, and came to the edge of the water. Then she planted her staff in the mud, and turned to survey the people.
‘We are the Sguush!’ she cried.
Hesitantly they replied, ‘We are the Sguush.’
‘We are strong!’
This time they answered more boldly, ‘We are strong.’
‘This land is ours!’
‘Yes! This land is ours!’
The Old One nodded. ‘Firsts, gather around the pool. Divide the water sparingly among the people so that none go without, while none takes too much. The earth tells me that so we shall come through this night, and there shall be still some water for the morning.’
‘The earth has spoken!’ they responded.