Kanana: The Jungle Girl – Chapter 8 Excerpt

The Jungle GirlAn hour later, we stopped to rest beneath a small tree that sat out on the grass away from the rest of the forest. The sun was warm, but the little tree provided enough shade. I was just starting to feel drowsy, when Kanana got up and stepped over to a small green plant growing amid the brown grass. Kneeling down, she dug into the ground with her knife. I stepped over to watch her. About twelve inches below the surface, she uncovered two large tubers. Cutting them away from their roots, she pulled the vegetables out and peeled them.

“Henry eat,” she said, handing me one.

I took a bite to find something very much like a mild radish, but with a much greater water content.

“This is good,” I said, feeling my thirst quenched more than my hunger abated. “I’m getting hungry.”

“Kanana say eat harbi-togo. Henry not eat.”

“We don’t eat bugs where I come from.”

“Not in Boston,” said the jungle girl. “In Boston we eat what Henry say. In Kanana’s land we eat what Kanana say.”

A loud bellow a short distance away brought all conversation to a halt. We looked up to see a great shaggy form lumbering toward us. It looked like a frightening cross between a bear and a horse, and though it wasn’t quite as big as Giwa, it was fully as large as the bull elephants of Africa. Though I had never seen one alive, I knew from my visits to the Boston Society of Natural History what it was. It was a megatherium or giant sloth. I also knew that it was a plant eater.

As I watched, it stood up on its hind legs, stretching to a height of twenty feet, and bellowed again. Kanana grabbed me by the sleeve and jerked me almost off my feet.

“Run,” she hissed.

“It’s a sloth.”

The gigantic monster shifted from its slow walk to a sort of jog. Still holding onto my sleeve, she turned and ran toward the trees, pulling me along with her. I stumbled a few steps, but regained my footing and ran along with her. Looking over my shoulder, I could see that we were easily outdistancing the megatherium, and I wasn’t running as fast as I was able, so I knew that Kanana wasn’t.

“It’s big and all, but it’s a herbivore, isn’t it?”

“Utuga bad all the time. Utuga kill lion. Utuga kill Giwa. Utuga eat plants, trees. Sometimes eat meat.” She slowed to a brisk walk as we reached the tree line. “Henry eat what Kanana say. Henry run when Kanana say.”

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