This is the next part of Jungle. I struggled a bit with this section. I’m not entirely sure where I’m going with the highlighted section. I’m not sure if it won’t turn out to be fodder for cutting out. I’m leaving it there for the moment, but it’s a candidate for cutting in editing. Last time, Ellie had found a shop with a book that she liked the look of. The counterman was just about to explain about the book. You can read the story so far by going HERE.
Here’s the next part…
“We really need to be going, I’m afraid.” Mrs Lawson was missing fresh air. The air in the shop was stale, old somehow. “Do you want the book, Ellie?”
“I do, but I want to hear about it first.” She looked from her mum back to the counterman. “Why is it special sir?”
The counterman glanced up at Mrs Lawson, but only for a second. “Well, young lady, this is no ordinary book.” He looked around, as if expecting to see someone else in the shop. When he was satisfied that the group were alone, he leaned over the counter, lowering his head until he could look the children in the eye. “Make no mistake about that.” He lifted the book off the counter and blew the dust off it, and Ellie coughed. “This book came into my possession only recently, but its history is long.”
Mrs Lawson rolled her eyes. “How much is it please, sir?”
The counterman looked up at her, just for a moment, before turning back to the children. “Your children asked to know about this book, didn’t you, children.” Ellie nodded vigorously.
Mrs Lawson shook her head, but said nothing.
The counterman took this as permission to continue. “It was discovered by a Portuguese explorer, Pedro Alvarez Cabral, back in the early sixteenth century.” The counterman rolled his Rs when he spoke the name. Ellie thought it made him sound exotic. “Have you heard of Brazil?” he asked.
“Course!” said Ellie.
“Well, it wasn’t always called Brazil. When the Europeans found it, it was originally called Ilha de Vera Cruz. Island of the True Cross.”
“So he was the first person to find Brazil?” asked Ellie.
“The first European, yes, but not the first person. When he landed there, it was already inhabited by many tribes; some friendly, some not so friendly.”
“What happened?” asked Ellie.
“What happened to Cabral is not known. He faded away into insignificance. Not much is known about where he ended up.”
“What about the tribes?” Ellie didn’t like an unfinished story.
“The Europeans brought diseases with them. They couldn’t have known that, but many of the tribes were wiped out. There is some speculation that Cabral couldn’t live with what he’d done, albeit unwittingly, and his career as an explorer ended as a result.”
“So did he write the book?”
“No!” He laughed a hoarse, throaty laugh. “He was around in the 16th century, in a country that had only just met civilized people! No, they didn’t have books like that back then.”
“Then where did it come from?” If Flynn had been feigning indifference, the game was now up as he asked his question, his eyes giving him away as interested.
“Well, we don’t know. When you read it, you’ll understand why. Craftsmanship like that was many years away.”
“How did you get it?” Ellie still had questions.
“It found it’s way to me through a long line of collectors. You won’t find another like it.”
Mrs Lawson made an un-approving sound and turned her back to the trio.
“Can we see inside?” Ellie spoke in hushed tones, as if to speak loudly would break some kind of spell that the counterman had put on them.
“Not in here. I’d really rather you didn’t.”
“Why?” said Flynn. He was finally intrigued. “What will happen?”
Flynn looked disappointed.
“Probably.” The old man finished.