The Last Unicorn by William deBuys

The Last Unicorn by William deBuys

Author:William deBuys
Language: eng
Format: epub
Tags: Nature / Animals / Wildlife, Nature / Environmental Conservation & Protection, Nature / Endangered Species
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Published: 2015-03-09T16:00:00+00:00

The packs must be rebalanced. Because the rice bags are much lighter, the other loads require adjustment. Viengxai grins as I open my pack and remove the tent and sleeping pad, handing them to others. Viengxai shoves his own small rucksack into the vacant space and closes the pack. We stand around as the new loads are negotiated. If anyone looks his way, Viengxai lifts the pack and pantomimes a backbreaking weight. Other porters, including Bone, come by to test it. They lift the pack and laugh and look at Viengxai with jealousy, incredulous that he should complain.

Robichaud and I cross the river to check the camera trap. Robichaud had hoped for a civet, but the fish scraps are undisturbed. Coming back, we meet Bone and Kham Laek. Bone holds a one-liter aluminum bottle I’ve carried around for almost forty years. Bone asks, “Whose is this?”

“Mine,” I say.

“Can I have it?” A grin wrinkles the scar on his cheek.

Robichaud says, “I will get you two of them when we get back.”

I say, “No; I’ll give it to him.” The bottle is as old as the war scrap we found yesterday. My filtered bottle seems adequate to my needs, which leaves nostalgia the only reason to keep the aluminum bottle, and Bone’s enthusiasm trumps nostalgia.

Robichaud translates. Bone beams. Robichaud chides him, “But you have to stay at Thong Kouang and go back with us. This bottle spends the night at Thong Kouang.” Bone is very pleased. He extends a hand to shake, Western-style, but it is his left. We shake.

“One more thing,” adds Robichaud. “When we want hot tea water, we can borrow it back, okay?”

“I’ll bring the water myself!” says Bone over his shoulder, as he and Kham Laek bolt for the river.



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