Chapter 26 Summary
That winter Karana does not ever go to the reef. She eats the food she has stored and leaves the house only to get water from the spring. Even if Rontu had been with her, she would not have left the house often because the winter storms and winds were strong. She does make four snares from notched branches.
Once during the summer she saw a young dog that looked like Rontu. Though he was running with one of the packs of wild dogs, she was sure he must be Rontu’s son. He was larger than the other dogs, had heavier fur and yellow eyes, and ran gracefully like Rontu. During the winter, she makes the snares so she can catch him in the spring. Now that Rontu is gone, the wild dogs come to her house often. Once the worst of the storms are over, she baits the snares with fish and sets them outside the fence. She catches several dogs the first time, but not the one with the yellow eyes. She sets them free because she is afraid to “handle them.”
She makes more snares and resets them, but though the wild dogs come close, they will not touch the fish. She does catch a little red fox. It bites her when she takes it out of the snare, but soon it follows her around the yard and begs her for abalone. The fox is a thief, and every time Karana is away the resourceful creature finds a way to get into the food, no matter how well she has it hidden. Finally she has to let the fox go back to the ravine. Often she still comes scratching at the fence at night, begging for food.
Karana is about to give up on trying to catch the young dog when she thinks about the toluche weed which the villagers sometimes used to catch fish in the tide pools. It is not actually a poison, but when it is added to the water the fish turn over on their backs and float. She digs some of the root and drops it into the spring where the wild dogs drink. She waits all day, and the pack finally arrives at dusk and drinks thirstily. Nothing happens. They frisk around as always then trot away.
Then she remembers xuchal, something the old men of her tribe used to use. It is made from ground-up shells and wild tobacco. She makes a big bowl of it and pours it into the spring, once again hiding in the brush to wait. The dogs arrive at dusk. They sniff the water, recognizing something unusual, but soon they drink. They begin...
(The entire section is 685 words.)