The Thing in the Stone

Story, first published: If, March 1970

The protagonist, an old man, the typical Simak loner who sits in his rocking chair and walks the hills, can listen to the stars. He is conscious of a creature buried deep in the limestone floor of an old wildcat den. The old man is trapped in the cave but frees himself by going back in time millions of years when the alien is exiled. The story ends on a question: does the old man have the right to free the alien exile? To get an answer, he will ask the stars.

Ewald, Robert J.: When the Fires Burn High and the Wind is from the North, p.106