It was nothing Clara could put her finger on, but once she began to suspect it, every event, every word, every sight pointed to the inevitable truth; the end was near.
Morning mist had yielded to sunshine that promised an early spring break up on the Homestead. Icy rivulets trickled through shrinking snowdrifts; even the birds sang a cheerful song today. Warm breezes softened the blue-white fields of snow that had slept all winter—fields that had produced so little the year before, but had demanded so much. The strong young men had plowed and seeded while women and children had weeded, watered, and prayed for a bumper crop. Stubbornly, the earth refused to do its part. Clara saw elders shaking their head at the paltry harvest, all but destroyed by July drought and unrelenting August rain. She heard whispers that the money had run out, the Homestead would be forced to turn to the World for supplies once again. Whispers flew through the camp, like bitter dregs of defeat; the mighty had fallen.
If the Homestead failed, what would become of Clara?