Here, they began to plan how they would protect themselves. They straightened up every young sapling, and tended the ground around other trees they would grow to hold the earth firm.
Taking large flat stones, they laid them against the walls of the caves to secure them. They agreed to break no branches for fuel, but gathered dead wood which had fallen, and pine cones and dead leaves which they mixed with a little dung and used sparingly. Most of the dung was dried and stored for manure, as it would enrich the soil when used.
They began looking for seeds and pods which they dried and kept, waiting for a time when they could plant them. They began to scatter a few grains for birds and small animals outside.
Smoke from their cooking fires could be seen from various points on the mountainside, and birds began to flit about and chatter near the hidden caves.
Dark Storm, passing at a distance, saw this strange detail. “Activity' Smoke from fires' I thought I had destroyed everything here,” it said to itself. “Can it be that I had still overlooked some living people'” It blew nearer, rumbling slowly.
Yes! There were signs of life! Animals and murmur of voices, and birds flitting about for titbits and scattered crumbs!
Its rage was enormous. It would level them all, it thought, in a matter of minutes. Circling right round the mountain it gathered its strength, then swept like a screaming meteor from one side of the mountain to the next, and went wailing over the valley onto the next mountain to survey its work. Looking back it saw many uprooted trees and loosened boulders which had come crashing down.
To be continued
Mala Marwah’s short story, Dark Storm and Bright Pearl first appeared in the children’s magazine Target edited by Rosalind Wilson. It was later published in the short story collection, The Carpenter’s Apprentice, by Katha, a Delhi-based non-profit organisation and publishing house.