Lhwuethnê woke in an empty sleeping nest. That was not right. Her mate had left early to tend the far orchards, but her daughter should have still been fast asleep, curled against her side for warmth. She sat up and looked around.
"Shellela?" she called but there was no answer and no sign of the child. Lhwuethnê climbed out of the sleeping nest and dropped lightly to the floor. She called again, but was answered only by the soft creaking of the house as the tree swayed in the wind.
She searched the house with concern mounting to real worry. There was no telling what sort of trouble a child could get in to while the adults slept. Especially a child like Shellela. Just before she reached the level of panic, she caught a flicker of movement outside.
Lhwuethnê grabbed her coat and pulled it on over her night shirt as she hurried out the door. The cold morning air bit at her face and hands.
There, out on the thick, main branch that supported the house, was a tiny figure in a too-large night shirt spinning in slow pirouettes, with her face and hands up turned to the falling snow. The snow flakes melted into rivulets on her pale skin and glittered in her white hair.