The rumble stopped and we stayed hidden in the bushes and among the trees. The twolegs came up to the Head Mandi (“get it?), and weren’t we astonished to see who it was!
We had had several visitors before, all men, so we were all on guard because the men we had met at home did absolutely nothing. They were fed and taken care of by Nurseys, and they were kept away from all of us girls. The men didn’t even know how to fight, so, of course, we had to do that too.
The twolegs who stepped out into the circle was a woman! Chitkin and I had crept close enough to hear what was being said. Chitkin said, “Her name is Caro Loff and she is a writer. She wants to write a story about how things work on a coco plantation.”
“Chitkin, that’s not going to help us escape from here. What good will she do by writing a story?”, I asked.
Chitkin looked all around before whispering, “Cello, this Caro Loff might get the real story out to all sorts of twolegs in far away places, and they might do something.”
Old Head Mandi was explaining that they had no idea what happened to the coco beans once they were taken away from the plantation.
Caro explained, “They are mixed in a big factory with oils and made into chocolate. Haven’t you tasted chocolate?!”
“No, that is not our concern, here. We take care of the little ones and make sure that we all get paid by getting as many coco beans into the baskets. And that’s it.”
Caro Loff asked all sorts of questions: where did the young ones stay while working, what kind of food did they eat, how many hours a day did they work, was it safe, how much were they paid, and when did they get to go home?
The Mandis just told lies about all of these things, as though we were all just as happy as ants and aphids! How can Caro Loff believe this?
“Chitkin, Caro is looking our way! Do you think she’s seen us?”, I mouthed to Chitkin and pointed over to the circle, my eyes wide and twitchers, well, twitching.
“Yes, Cello, I think…maybe, she did!” whispered Chitkin. “Maybe we can give her a sign that we have been listening!”
“That’ll be way too dangerous, Chitkin.” I squeaked.
Chitkin got closer and whispered close to my head, “You must act as if it is impossible to fail. Gramma Feebly told me that is an old African saying. We don’t have any other choice that we’ve thought of, that’s for sure.”
“Wait, Chitkin.” I said when I noticed that Caro Loff was coming our way.
She stopped just about where we were hiding in the bush, but as she was leaving, she seemed to drop something. Whatever it was, it got stuck in the bush. Did Caro do this on purpose? I didn’t know but Chitkin, bold as she always is, started to climb over to the glittery thing, just when we heard the stomping of big feet coming our way. A Mandi!
Caro Loff was going away and we hadn’t any time to get a message to her to take back to Canada, wherever that was.
Stomp, stomp. Gratch! Gratch!
Chitkin was digging in the ground just under the bush we were hiding in. What was she doing, when the Mandi was only a few steps away?! But I didn’t dare speak in case the Mandi could hear where we were.
The Mandi was thrashing in the bushes all around us. Gratch! “I know you’re here somewhere and when I find you…Gratch!”
Chitkin and I jumped down to the ground just before the Mandi swung her enormous legs through our bush. Dirt and leaves sprayed all over. Gratch!
“Ocellus! Quick! Under this rock!”, Chitkin half shouted, half whispered.
“But…but…”, I trembled.
Chitkin pushed me under the rock and she followed right behind. Then there was this awful sound of more bushes being torn up and three or four of our work mates came tumbling and screaming out.
“Aha!”, shrieked the Mandi, and scooped them all up in one triumphant Gratch!
The Mandi stepped on the rock Chitkin and I were hiding under, and we had no place to run to!
END CHAPTER #5