I was literally stunned to immobility. I thought back to my life in Boston and my whirlwind courtship. Everything is relative—is it not? Even among the primitive people that I had met in Africa, Asia, and here in Elizagaea, one did not jump into the act of procreation without some small token ceremony or ritual. The jungle girl looked over her shoulder at me, watching for a moment, and the frowned.
“Henry not know mate?”
“Oh, I know what to do,” I said, just as I remembered that movement was still a part of my skill set.
I stood up, stepped around her, and taking her by the shoulders, lifted her up to stand in front of me.
“We’re not animals. We’re people. We don’t do it like that.”
“Kanana is lion.”
“No. Kanana is a girl.”
“Henry is girl,” she said. “Kanana is lion.”
“Henry is a man,” I corrected, “and Kanana is a girl… no, a woman. Men and women don’t behave that way. They have to take their time and get to know each other. Then they make a commitment to one another—they promise to help one another. They love one another.”
“Henry show,” she said.
She stood there, so beautiful and for all practical purposes, naked. Her eyes, so full of innocence and curiosity, looked up into mine. And as I had told Kanana, Henry is a man. He is certainly no saint. I pulled her to me and crushed her mouth to mine. I feasted on her lips as my hands ran from her face to her shoulders, and I could feel her arms snaking around my body and pulling me closer to her lithe, muscular form. Regaining control of myself, I pulled back and looked at her. She stared up at me, her lips parted, panting.
“Henry show again.”
I kissed her again, this time with more control, before stepping away. I turned away so that I wouldn’t be further temped.
“Is there a place nearby to wash?” I asked.
We climbed down and trekked through the woods about half a mile before coming to a small stream. It was barely a trickle, certainly not enough to bath in, but I could hear running water a little further on.
“Is there a river?” I asked, pointing.
“River not good,” said Kanana, and then she stretched her arms out and made a scissors motion with them.
“Croc-o-diles. Crocodiles eat Henry.”
“What about you? Won’t they eat you too?”
“No. Kanana is lion.” To add emphasis to her statement, she once again gave a throaty and very realistic lion’s roar.
Kanana started gathering large stones and placing them in the path of the stream, and as soon as I realized what she was doing, I followed suit. Soon we had dammed up the little trickle and made a small pool. It wasn’t more than eight inches deep at most, but it allowed us to sit and bathe. The jungle girl was finished first, having been already really naked. I had never been overly shy, so I quickly disrobed and washed myself. By the time I was clean and dried and had begun to dress, I noticed that my companion was gone.
Deciding that the best course of action would be to return to the tree house and wait for Kanana, I started back the way we had come. The jungle trees were alive with life, from buzzing insects to howling monkeys and squawking birds. Either the sights and sounds distracted me, or I just lost my way, but just when I thought I should be arriving at the arboreal dwelling, I stepped out onto the shore of a large river. It was as large as the river I had navigated on my steamer trunk. It could have been the same river for all I knew.
I didn’t want anything to do with the river, knowing the dangers, especially since I had already washed and drunk from the little stream. As I turned to leave however, a huge form shot out of the water and a great reptilian mouth snapped down. The crocodile’s jaws closed, missing me, and for a split second, I congratulated myself on my luck. Then the beast jerked its head to the left and clamped down on my leg just below my knee. It had me, and it immediately dragged me into the water. I tried to grab at something on shore, but I could no more stop him from taking me than a trout, once hooked on a lure at the end of a rod and reel, could have prevented me from pulling him into a net.
Suddenly, a form fell from the sky. Kanana had flown from the branches of a nearby tree, dropping right onto the crocodiles back. Before the beast, which had to weigh well over a ton, could move, she jammed her knife through its thickly armored skull and into its brain. The crocodile stopped moving and just floated. The jungle girl grasped its snout and pried the jaws apart, freeing me.
“River not good!” she growled at me.
We left the shoreline and she guided me back to the little pool. My heart was still pumping and I felt as though I could have run back to Abbeyport. Such are the effects of discovering one is still alive after having been sure of the reverse. When I sat down though, not only did I feel light-headed, I noticed my trouser leg had a large bloodstain. Kanana lifted it to examine my calf. There were a dozen round tooth marks, all bleeding.
“Henry Goode not listen,” she said angrily. “Henry stay.”
She left again, but returned in a few minutes with more mysterious jungle plants. I watched her carefully this time as she doctored me. I thought I might be able to recognize those plants if I saw them again. They had peculiar spade-shaped leaves. She chewed them up to make a paste and stuck it on my wounds, and then made a bandage with the already soiled portion of my trouser leg.