by Miriam Sophie Marcuse-Kubitza
October 2002 (age 9, grade 4)
"Margret, wake up!" said 14-year-old Cassie. The two girls were on board the Atlantic Express, which was headed for California, where they were going to visit their aunt.
"What is it?" asked 10-year-old Margret.
"The ship is sinking!" said Cassie.
"Really?" said Margret.
"Yes! Now letís go to the deck!" Cassie said loudly. So the two girls went to the deck. Sailors were screaming, "Get into the lifeboats! Women and children first!" But no one saw the two girls.
"Come!" said Cassie.
They were about to get in a lifeboat, but suddenly the sailor screamed, "Cast off the lifeboats!" Quickly the two girls hopped in a lifeboat just as they were casting off.
"Margret, do you have your lifebelt?" questioned Cassie.
"Yes," replied Margret.
"I do too," said Cassie
All of a sudden the people in the lifeboats yelled, "The lifeboat is on fire!"
"We are still close to the Atlantic Express," someone said. So the people, including the girls, put on their lifebelts and jumped off the lifeboat. When they reached the Atlantic Express they were almost frozen, but the people were able to pry off some planks and float away. The two girls, Cassie and Margret, also floated away.
The next morning they saw an island, so the two girls tried to paddle to it. But they were too frozen, so they just looked at it longingly. They knew there were hardly any islands within 10,000 miles. All of a sudden a giant wave came and the two girls were washed upon the icy shore.
"Where are we?" asked Cassie.
"I donít know," said Margret. She had already thawed because of fright. Both girls saw dark clouds. They knew it was from a hurricane that was far away. Quickly they got up and ran towards a small ditch. Inside the ditch there was a cave.
Cassie and Margret went in and what they saw practically made them faint. They saw an Indian woman.
"Hello," said Cassie, wondering who this woman was. Margret shot right to the point. She said, "Do you live here?"
"Yes," said the Indian woman.
"Do you live here alone?" questioned Cassie.
"Yes again," joked the woman. So the girls were quiet.
"Now," said the woman, "it is my turn to talk." So the girls listened intently as the Indian woman told her story.
"Once there was a tribe here, and they left, but there was no more room on the boats for me, so I decided to stay here. Two months after they left, a terrible thing happened. A storm like this came and a lot of trees fell down. I did not know what to do, so I began to collect them. I started making a raft. That is what Iím up to right now.
"What is your name, by the way?" asked Margret.
"Keanara," said the woman.
"Beautiful name!" replied Cassie.
The two girls walked farther into the cave. They saw a kitchen, a dining room, a big bedroom, and two little bedrooms. "You may each sleep in a little room," said Keanara.
The girls also saw a beautiful living room and bathroom. They watched Keanara work on the raft. Just then they were all pushed backwards by the wind. "The storm is coming," said Keanara.
So the two girls and Keanara went into a cellar that Keanara opened. Inside the cellar there were chairs and one big table. There was a doctorís bag for people who got hurt. But what surprised the girls most was a cat bed, and in it a cat.
"Who is that?" asked Margret?
"Why, I forgot to tell you about my cat!"
"Please tell us," pleaded Cassie, for she did love cats.
"Okay," said Keanara. "When the tribe left, I was here, but a little while later another shipwreck occurred. The ship was called the Pacific Liner. One day I woke up to hear a meowing sound, and I saw a cat on a piece of wood. I ran out of the cave and into the water. I fished the cat out and took him as my pet. That is the end of my story."
"How do you speak so fluent English?"
"That is another long story, but I will make it short," said Keanara uneasily. "Once there was a visitor and he taught me English."
"Okay," said Cassie quickly. She did not want to bother Keanara. Cassie walked over to the cat and picked him up. The cellar was quite cold, so Keanara pulled some blankets off the shelf and wrapped them around themselves. When the storm was over they went out of the cellar.
For three days Keanara worked on the raft and finished it. So one afternoon Margret said to Keanara, "Can we float away from this island on the raft you made?"
"Yes, that is what it was made for," said Keanara.
"What about the cat?" asked Cassie.
"I believe he can come, since he floated on water to this island," answered Keanara.
"What is his name?" asked Cassie.
"It is Ili," replied Keanara.
The next day they prepared sandwiches and got on the raft. They floated, sometimes paddled, until Cassie and Margret spotted a small fishing boat. Before they knew it, Keanara, Margret and Cassie were lifted aboard and were off to their homeland.
"My tribe went here, and now I can show them my cat," said Keanara.
When they reached California there was a crowd of people. "Pa, Ma, and Auntie M!" shouted Cassie and Margret when they saw them waiting on the dock. Then they went into town and were brought to a small stage in the courthouse.
The two girls plus Keanara and the cat stood on the small stage and told everybody the very long story of how they survived. Then they were all escorted home. Keanara and her cat went with the Indian tribe and Cassie and Margret were brought to their house. The girls and Keanara had not known they were so close to California.
But no one knows who the visitor on the island who taught Keanara English was.
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