Instead of giving up he strived one more time to make eye contact with someone, anyone. There huddled in the inner ring was the prettiest little girl he had ever seen. She looked up and in the darkness her eyes sparkled. A spot of passion reflected from the meager fire. Her eyes read him from toe to head.
“There is a place for you by the fire.” She murmured, and then she opened up a her blanket to reveal a vest.
Then the circle broke for him to come through. As the boy reached the far end where a path formed, he went to sit next to her.
“Who are you?” She asked.
“I-I am Verone, a Romani like you.”
“Well then, this vest was meant for you.”
“What do you mean?”
“You see the 'V' stitched into the two portions in the front of the vest and the 'V's' making the Romani wheel on the back.”
“I stitched this for my father last summer.”
“Why are you giving it to me? Where is he?”
“He died tragically a year ago, about this time.”Verone was dumbfounded. She smiled gingerly and gently handed it to him.
“His name was Viktor. And I am finished with my mourning just today at breakfast. I was told that I must find another man to fill his vest.”
“I am not a man. This vest is for a big man. Maybe better suited for a bear...I don't know.”
She giggled and then responded,“Do not worry Verone, you will one day grow into this.”
The fire died by early morning and the chill returned. Verone saw that the clan had already moved on and he was the only one left in the cave. The extra large vest was still around him. He was huddled into it. Today, the young thief had to reach his clan. He hastily jumped up with the vest still around him. He looked about the cave for anyone or any sign of the little girl, then Verone climbed back up through the crevice. He ran down the pass.
What would his future be, he thought? Then, he passed a small camp site. The hikers had their bag on mounted on a tree. Verone walked slowly up to the bag and grabbed some food out of it. The boy ate some of the bread and fruit and cold meat as he hurried to tell his family about his wonderful blessing.