Chapter 16 Summary
The white man’s ship does not come for her that spring or that summer, but every day Karana watches for it. She also watches for the red ship of the Aleuts. If the hunters come back, she will probably hide in the cave she has provisioned, for it is near water, surrounded by brush, and unapproachable except by way of the sea. The Aleuts did not use the spring near this cave, so they would only find her by accident. In case she has to flee, she begins working on the canoe she abandoned after her failed voyage.
It takes her two days to unbury the canoe, and she camps on the sands while she works. To make the canoe smaller, she cuts the sinews, heats the pitch to loosen it, and removes the planks. She shapes the planks to half their length and rebinds them with sinews and pitch. Though it is not beautiful, she can lift one end of it and carry it to the water. This takes her most of the summer, and all the time she works Rontu is with her. He sleeps in the shade or chases the roosting pelicans; he never catches one of the birds, but he tries until his tongue hangs out of his mouth. He has learned his name as well as a few words, and Karana talks to him often, just as if he were a human companion. Because of this, she is not lonely; only now does she realize how lonely she had been.
After the canoe is finished, the girl and the dog take the canoe on a test voyage around the island, a journey which takes them an entire day. There are many sea caves on the island; one of them is near the headland where her house is. The opening is narrow, but inside it spreads out and is quite large. This cave opens to a smaller cave, and it is so dark she can see nothing except, far ahead, a spot of light. Though she feels like turning back, she paddles forward into another large cave. In it she finds a wide shelf of rock which is dry even now, at high tide....
(The entire section is 557 words.)