Chapter 29 Summary
After two more springs have come and gone, the ship comes back. Karana sees it at dawn from the headland on a clear, calm morning. By the time the sun is high, the ship is anchored in Coral Cove. She watches until the sun goes down while the men make camp on the shore and build a fire. She goes back to her house and tries to sleep but cannot; all she can think of is the man who once called to her. She has thought of his voice many times since that day. Every day of the spring and summer since then, she has gone to the headland and watched—always at dawn and at dusk.
In the morning she smells smoke from their fire. She goes to the ravine and bathes before putting on her otter cape and her cormorant skirt. She wears her necklace made of black stones and the earrings she made to match. With blue clay, she puts the mark of her tribe across her nose. Then she does something which makes her smile as she thinks of Ulape before she left the Island of the Blue Dolphins. Below the mark of her tribe, she carefully makes the sign which indicates that she is still unmarried, even though she is no longer a girl.
She goes back to her house, builds a fire, and cooks food for herself and for Rontu-Aru. She is not hungry, and the dog eats all the food. She tells him they will be going away from their island; he moves his head to one side, as his father used to do, but when she says no more he finds a sunny spot to lie down and take a nap. Now that the white men have come for her, Karana has trouble imagining what she will do when she arrives in their land. She can no longer see the faces of her own people since it has been so long; “they are all one.”
It is a beautiful morning, and she sees the three men long before they see her house. Two of the men are tall, and the short one is wearing a gray robe. They see the smoke from her house and follow it until they reach her. The man in the robe has a string of beads around his neck; at the end of it hangs an ornament of polished wood. He raises his hand and makes a motion at her in the shape of the ornament he wears. One of the other men speaks and she wants to laugh, for his words are “the strangest sounds she has ever heard.” She wants to laugh but does not.
She shakes her head and smiles at him, and he speaks more slowly; though his words still mean nothing to her, she now thinks they sound sweet. The sound of a human voice is precious to her. Through a series of gestures, they make a plan. They take Karana’s belongings (which she had packed into three baskets) and the cage with two young birds down to the ship. The men like what she is wearing, but as soon as she arrives at the men’s campfire, someone begins measuring her for a dress.
The dress is blue and made of two pairs of trousers sewn roughly together with white string. She nods as if she is pleased with it, but she is not. She wants to wear her own clothing, which is much more beautiful than this thing...
(The entire section is 891 words.)