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.