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Odyssey from Africa 12c

Chapter 12 c The fireflower (cont.)

When at last they had descended 
Back down to the forest clearing 
Rosy sidled up to Lisa
Yielded up the flowering branches
Now they had secured the fire flowers, 
Now achieved the day's objective 
Back they climbed through upland forest
Back to humid lowland jungle

To the winding river valley 
Of the Antainambalana
Following its long meanders
Downstream as it slowed and broadened

Now the shadows of the evening 
Fell upon the Island Kingdom 
Darkness rapidly descending,
Lisa and her brother Matto
Thought about the hours of travel
In the dark that lay before them
Lisa worried that their parents
Might be anxious at their lateness
Matto's thoughts were with Ipiki
Was the little bat still breathing?
Holding out against the sickness?
Then their guide called out to stop them
And he summoned them together 
To a narrow wooden jetty
At the margin of the river
Close to several wood-built houses
Of a river trading station.
Now upon the flowing water
They could faintly see a lantern
On a boat that headed upstream
Slowly it approached the jetty
And the lapping of the oarsmen 
Could be heard as it came nearer
Straining hard against the current 
Finally the boat was tethered 
To a ground-sunk mooring pylon From the boat a light was glowing 
Round a cabin door amidships 
Voices called out from the cabin
And their guide gave friendly answer
So it thus became apparent 
That the boat had come to meet them
Then the cabin door was opened 
Out walked Han, and then came Kwona!
Quick the children ran to meet them 
Well relieved to see their parents
Lisa saw that Han and Kwona
We're disquieted by something 
As they walked into the cabin
By the lamp they saw the healer
Saw the frail and kindly woman 
Who had sent them on their journey 
Then upon a wooden table 
Both the children saw Ipiki
Hanging from the sisal handle 
Of the wooden water bucket
But they had to strain their hearing
To discern Ipiki's breathing 
He was clearly getting weaker 
As the troubled mood attested 
Thus their parents and the healer 
Felt there was no time to squander 
So they turned at once to business 
Plucked the petals of the fireflower 
Placed them all into the bucket
Just beneath the bat Ipiki
Han already worked his fire-stone
Soon the sparks inflamed the tinder
And he carefully dropped the fire flake
On the pile of orange blossoms 

Copyright © | Year Posted 2017

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