Chapter 9 Summary
This is a difficult time for Karana, and she remembers spending all her time thinking about how to survive on her own. She only leaves the village to replenish her food supplies. But she will never forget the day she vowed to leave the village forever. It is a foggy day. The mist creeps in and out of the huts, reminding her of all those who are dead or gone. The noise of the surf becomes the sound of their voices. For a long time she watches and listens; when the sun comes out the fog vanishes and she makes a fire against the back wall of her home. When that hut is gone, she burns another until all of them are destroyed. Nothing but ashes mark the village Ghalas-at.
She leaves with nothing but a basket of food and walks to the place she has decided to make her new home until the ship returns. On a headland half a league west of the Coral Cove there is a large rock, and behind it is shelter from the wind about ten steps across and from which she can see both the harbor and the ocean. A freshwater spring runs from a nearby stream. That night she sleeps on top of the rock; it is flat, smooth, and high enough to keep her safe from the dogs. She has not seen them since the night she chased them away, but she knows they will one day find her new camp.
She can also store her food there. Since the ship might come any time, she does not need to keep large stores of food she may not need; instead she spends her time making weapons with which to defend herself against the dogs. They will attack her sometime, she knows, and she plans to kill them, one by one. She already has a club, but she also needs a large spear and a bow and arrow. The fishing spear her brother had is too small for her needs.
The laws of Ghalas-at say a woman cannot make a weapon, so Karana searches for any which might have been left behind. She finds nothing among the ashes of the village or in the canoes under the cliff. Remembering the black chest the Aleuts brought them, she goes to the cove and looks at the place where she last saw the chest. The beach is empty, but Karana begins poking into the sand with a stick, thinking perhaps a storm covered up the chest. She hears a thunk and keeps digging until she sees the lid of the trunk.
All morning she moves the sand so she can lift the lid; however, the tide comes in and inundates the hole she has dug. Karana braces herself and stands in the spot as the waves crash over her so she can find the chest again. When the tide turns, she continues digging. The chest is filled with beads, bracelets, and necklaces of many colors. The young girl is mesmerized by their glittering in the sun and wears some of them as she prances around the beach—until she remembers who they belonged to and throws all the jewelry far into the ocean. There are no iron spearheads in the chest.
For many days, she does not worry about weapons. The dogs come and howl under the rock and go away during the day, but not very far. She sees them slinking under the brush and watching her. One night they come back to the headland to stay. As they trot around the rock below her, Karana is scared and wonders what would happen if she broke the law of her tribe and made what she...
(The entire section is 937 words.)