“Just Henry,” I heard myself reply, even though I wasn’t aware of where I was or to whom I was speaking.
Food was pushed into my mouth, and I managed, barely, to chew and swallow. Afterwards water was given to me and I drank. I don’t know how long this continued, but eventually I found the strength and will to sit up. I was still in the stone room where Kanana had tied me down. She was there, slicing pieces of cooked meat and putting them on a wooden platter. I jumped to my feet and immediately fell to the floor. She rushed over.
“What have you done to me?” I shouted, shrugging her away.
I pulled up my shirt to look at the arrow wound, but all that remained was a slight scar.
“Good, Henry Goode.”
“Just Henry,” I replied, anger still tinting my words.
“Good, Henry,” she said, retrieving the plate and bringing it to me. “Eat.”
“You seem to speak much better now.”
I took the food offered, but I was far from mollified.
“What did you do to me? I had maggots crawling on me. And you poisoned me.”
“Kanana give… um, medicine. Kanana give… mags?”
“Kanana give maggots. Maggots eat… um, dead Henry. Not eat live Henry.”
I thought she was explaining that the maggots ate only the putrefying flesh and not the good, living flesh. I was no doctor, but I wasn’t ready to buy into that proposition. On the other hand, there was no denying that I seemed fine now. Still, I couldn’t help the nagging fear that I would burst open, sprouting a horde of vile insects.
“Henry tell Kanana…” she pointed at the plate.
“Food, plate, meat, fruit.” I supplied her with words which she eagerly repeated as I ate.
When I had finished, she motioned me to follow. A door in the room led out onto a small balcony. Beside it, flowing from somewhere in the mountain’s core, water shot forth from the rock face, creating a waterfall and cascading down to a beautiful blue pool some ten feet below. Kanana jumped up onto the low stone wall that formed the balcony’s edge and then dived into the water below. She surface and then waved at me to follow her.
“Is it deep enough?” I called, ignoring the fact that she had just dived in.
She gave me another wave.
“Water. Henry…” She pinched her nose.
“I stink? Yes, I do.”
I climbed up on the wall and with none of the gracefulness the jungle girl had shown, jumped into the water. It was much cooler than the muggy air, but not too cold. When I surfaced, I looked down. The water was clear enough for me to see my feet and the pool’s bottom below them, but a cloud of dirt and filth began darkening the water around me. I was embarrassed, but then I looked toward Kanana and found she was swimming in her own cloud as the mud that had coated her body as long as I had known her was washed away.
I forgot about myself as I watched the transformation of this wild creature into a lovely young woman with perfect skin and dark brown hair. She had a cute button nose, and her widely spaced green eyes narrowed naturally into a squint when she smiled, as she did when she saw me watching her. Swimming over, she tugged at the sleeve of my shirt.
“Off,” she said, and then gracefully swam away across the pool.
I peeled off my outer clothes only to find my underclothes even more disgusting. Once the last of my things were removed, I submerged myself and began scrubbing as best I could with both hands.
Kanana was back with a handful of fronds from some forest succulent plant. Squeezing them in her palm, she created a sudsy lather.
“Soap,” she repeated as she pushed them toward me.