An Excerpt from Island of the Blue Dolphins
There are no trees on the island except the small ones stunted by the
wind. When a log came ashore, as happened once in a long time, it was
always carried to the village and worked on where a chance wave could
not wash it away. That the men were sent to hollow out the log in the
cove, and to sleep beside it during the night, meant that they were there
to watch the Aleuts, to give the alarm should Captain Orlov try to sail
off without paying us for the otter skins.
Everyone was afraid he might, so besides the men in the cove who watch
the Aleut ship, others kept watch on the camp.
Every hour someone brought news. Ulape said that the Aleut woman spent
a whole afternoon cleaning her skin aprons, which she had not done before
while she had been there. Early one morning, Ramo said he had just seen
Captain Orlov carefully trimming his beard so that it looked the way it
did when he first came. The Aleuts who sharpened the log spears stopped
this work and gave all their time to skinning the otter which were brought
in at dusk.
We in the village of Ghalas-at knew that Captain Orlov and his hunters
were getting ready to leave the island. Would he pay us for the otter
he had slain or would he try to sneak away in the night? Would our men
have to fight for our rightful share?
These questions everyone asked while the Aleuts went about their preparations
-- everyone except my father, who said nothing, but each night worked
on the new spear he was making.
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