Kanana: The Jungle Girl – Chapter 4 Excerpt

The Jungle GirlMy jungle girl was nowhere to be seen but it was obvious that she made this her home, at least sometimes. The mat where I had slept was on one side of the room, covered in a mattress I now recognized as savannah grasses. On the other side was a similar bed, along with several pieces of ancient luggage. Opening them up I found clothing that might have come from America or Europe but that was some ten or fifteen years out of style, not that I kept up with such things. There were a few very nice pieces of gold jewelry and a small personal journal.

I couldn’t read the book. It was in a foreign language that I was able to identify as Russian only by the peculiar additions to the alphabet. From the inside cover I determined that this was the journal of one Aleksandra Christyakova-Romanov. I scanned the pages and found the names Robert James Haldane and Aleksandra Haldane. From this scant evidence I pieced together a picture of a Russian woman who married an Englishman. Perhaps he had visited Russia on business or in some diplomatic capacity, had met the young woman and married her. I knew of course that Romanov was the family name of the Russian monarchy, but surely there were others as well with that surname.

Stuck between the pages in the back of the book were five photographs. They were of people I could not know, of course. Nor could I identify the locations where they were taken. Three were snapshots of people standing in front of unidentifiable buildings. All that I knew was that they had not been taken in Elizagaea—most likely somewhere in Europe. The fourth was a baby picture in an opal shaped vignette. The child was curly-haired and swaddled and could have been a boy or a girl. The final picture was a studio portrait of three people—a distinguished looking man with a thin mustache, a beautiful woman in a long white dress, and a pretty little girl of about six or seven. None of the pictures but this last was labeled. It had on the back, written with a very light touch of pencil in small delicate letters, “Robert, Me, Katarina, 18 April 1895.”

Had I discovered the origin of my jungle girl? Was she the child in the picture—this Katarina? Kanana could have been about twenty-four years old, though it was difficult to judge from what I had seen of her mud-covered form. But if this was true, what was she doing here? I could well imagine the route taken by the Haldanes—across the Atlantic, riding the rails of America’s transcontinental railroad, and then across the Pacific by ship. But why? There was no way to know, unless I could translate the journal or if Kanana/Katarina could remember and tell me.

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