Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell

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Chapter 15 Summary

As long as Karana can remember, there have been wild dogs on the Island of the Blue Dolphins; after the Aleuts killed most of the men, their dogs joined the others and the pack grew much bolder. Even before the ship came, the dogs were raiding and prowling through Ghalas-at, but then the ship came. The girl is sure the pack is as bold as they are because of their leader, the one with the gray fur and the yellow eyes.

No one had ever seen this dog before the Aleuts arrived, so they must have left him behind; he is much larger than the others, who all have short hair and brown eyes. She has killed four of the dogs, but the pack has grown because new dogs have been born; the young dogs are even wilder than the old ones.

She gathers armloads of brush to put in front of their cave once they have come back to sleep after a night of prowling. She has her bow and five arrows and two of the spears; she circles quietly around the mouth of the cave and leaves all her weapons except one spear. She sets fire to the brush and pushes it into the cave. There is no sound from inside as she climbs onto a nearby rock ledge with her weapons to watch and wait. The fire burns high, but most of the smoke stays in the cave. She determines to save her arrows for the leader.

None of the dogs emerge from the cave until the fire dies. Several dozen come trotting out, but many more are still in the cave. The next dog out is the leader. Unlike the others, he does not run away; instead he stands sniffing the air. Karana is close enough to him to see his nose quivering, but he does not see her until she raises her bow, a move that does not frighten him. He is facing her, ready to spring, when the arrow pierces his chest. He turns away, takes one step, and falls. More dogs exit the cave, and she kills two of them.

Karana jumps from the ledge carrying both her spears and discovers the gray dog has moved while she was killing the other two. He cannot have gone far due to his wound, yet she cannot find him anywhere near the cave. After waiting a long time, she enters the cave. It is deep, but she can see clearly. Far back in a corner she sees a half-eaten fox carcass and a black dog with four gray pups. One of the tiny balls of fur walks toward her; she would like to hold it, but the mother leaps to her feet, baring her teeth. Karana raises her spear and backs out of the cave. The gray dog is not here.

Night is approaching, so she follows the trail the dogs use and finds the broken shaft of an arrow, gnawed off at the tip. Farther on, she sees his uneven tracks in the dust; she follows them, but darkness falls before she finds him. It rains for the next two days, and she spends her time making more arrows. On the third day she takes her weapons and follows the trail. The rain has washed away any tracks, but she starts at the rock where the tracks left off days before. She found the gray dog on the other side of the rocks. He is only ten paces away, so she can see him clearly and is certain he is dead. As she is about to throw her spear, the dog lifts his head from the ground and then lets it drop.

She is used to animals playing dead until they suddenly attack or run away. The spear is her best choice from this distance, but she is better with the bow and arrow. She climbs the rocks and prepares to shoot—but...

(The entire section is 1,000 words.)