Chapter 24 Summary
Spring on the island is beautiful once again. Tainor and Lurai build a nest in the tree where they are born, and when they hatch two ugly fledglings, Karana knows they will one day be as beautiful as their parents. She names them and clips their wings, as well, and soon they are also tame. A gull with a broken leg also becomes part of her family, and her yard seems like a happy place. Yet she thinks about Tutok and Ulape, wondering if they have real children, so different from Karana’s children and not what she had always hoped to have.
Karana decides to start early collecting abalones in case the Aleuts come again, and one day she sees a herd of otter frolicking in the kelp bed, playing much like the Ghalas-at children used to play. She looks for Mon-a-nee, but all the otters look alike to her and she continues filling her canoe with abalones. One of the otters follows her as she paddles to shore. When she stops, he dives and comes up on the other side of her. She had been sure she would not know him, but she is so sure this in Mon-a-nee that she feeds him one of the fish she caught.
For two moons she does not see the otter again, and then one morning when she is fishing he appears out of the kelp—followed by two baby otters the size of puppies. They are slow because they cannot swim and have to hold on to their mother until she can teach them to swim. When Karana offers Mon-a-nee a fish, he waits to see what the baby otter will do; they are more interested in the girl than the fish, so he grabs the fish and places it in front of them. She throws him another fish, and he does the same thing; still the babies are not interested in the food and come to nuzzle Mon-a-nee. It is then that Karana realizes the otter she saved is a female and the mother of these two babies. She looks at the animal and changes her name to Won-a-nee, which means Girl with the Large Eyes.
The young otters grow fast and are soon eating fish from Karana’s hand, but their mother likes abalones better. They make a game of the feeding and she teaches her babies to do the same tricks with Karana. After this summer with Wan-a-nee and her children, the girl never kills another otter. She wears her otter cape until it wears out, but she never makes a new one. She kills no more cormorants, seals, or wild dogs, and she never tries to kill another sea elephant. Ulape and her father would have laughed at her for feeling this way, but after she has had these animals for friends, she will never be able to kill them: “Without them the earth would be an unhappy place.”