by Rolli -
I was so happy to see my cave-friend that I just about tapped on the glass – but then I remembered that the whole point of snooping is not to be seen. After all, I still wanted to find out what Kabungo was up to. So I crouched there, watching, and listening.
The old man started talking again, but his voice was so low that I still couldn't make it out. I had no trouble, though, making out what Kabungo said.
“Ha ha, Grandpa!” she laughed, slapping her knees. “Funny!”
If my friend had looked out the window just then, she'd have seen me looking stunned. Because I didn't know Kabungo even had a sense of humor. But then, I didn't know she had a Grandpa, either. Before that, if someone had told me cavegirls could be secretive, I’d have never believed them.
The old man said something else, now, and my friend tipped backwards with laughter, right into the basket. The big dog growled at her – but all she did was put her arm around him and guffaw.
The big dog growled again (a bit louder, this time). At first, I thought there'd be a fight – but no, it wasn't Kabungo he was growling at. He lifted his head up. He sniffed the air.
“Hmm?” said Kabungo. “Hmm, dog? Meat? Meat?” Now Kabungo lifted her head and started sniffing.
The big dog barked – and looked right at the window.
Uh-oh, I thought, ducking down. A few seconds later, I heard the front door open.
“This way, dog?” said Kabungo.
As they came around the one side of the house, I ran as quietly as I could to the other side.
“Oh this way?” said my friend. The dog must have changed directions. I ran back to where I started.
The big dog barked.
“What, dog? Now that way? Oh kay.”
This went on for a long time. Finally, one of them – I'm not sure if it was Kabungo or the dog – had a brainstorm and decided that, if one of them went one way, and one the other, they'd catch me for sure. Which is just what happened.
“Grrr,” said the dog.
“Oh hi, Belly,” said Kabungo. She didn't even look surprised, really. She grabbed me by the hand.
“Come,” she said. “Meet Grandpa.”
“Oh, that's okay,” I said, trying to pull myself away. But it was no use. When Kabungo has you by the hand, it's like a boa constrictor has you, or a mousetrap, and there's just no getting away until she lets you. She dragged me around the house, through the front door, and right up to the old man.
“Grandpa. Grandpa. This Belly. Belly, hi.”
“Umm…hi,” I said, shyly.
The old man smiled. There was a stool next to his chair with a tray on it. He picked up the tray – there were some delicious-looking blueberry muffins on it – and held it out to us. Of course Kabungo grabbed one. I took one, too (to be polite). Then the old man waved his hands like he wanted us both to sit down.
Kabungo jumped back into the basket with the dog and wrapped her arms around it. I decided to sit in front of the basket – quite a bit in front. Cuz I was a lot less scared of the old man than I was of the old dog. Old men sometimes growl, but they usually don't bite.
The old guy started talking – only he mumbled so badly, I couldn't understand him at all. So I looked around the room for a bit. That was hard, too, since the cabin was dark. Aside from the fire, there were no lights or lamps that I could see. I wondered if the place even had electricity.
I could make out a few things, though. Behind the old man, in one corner, there was a stuffed bear, but it was a real stuffed bear – I mean, a bear that had been stuffed. Its eyes twinkled in the firelight. I tried not to look at them. In the other corner there was an even bigger basket – way too big for the dog. I couldn't see a bed anywhere. I wondered if the basket was where the old man slept.
Of course I took a good look at the man, too. He was amazingly tall, for such an old person. I guess not everyone shrinks. He was wearing a strange kind of green hat with long ear flaps. His whole face was sun burned except for around his eyes (he looked a bit like a raccoon). That was about all I could tell from looking, so I tried listening again. Whatever he was saying, it had to be funny.
“Het was een koude winter,” he said, folding his hands.
“Ha ha!” said Kabungo. I gave her a funny look. The only word I really caught there was “winter.” I listened a bit harder.
“Een zeer koude winter,” he went on, shaking his head seriously.
“Ha ha ha!” laughed my cave-friend.
I still didn't quite get it. I leaned forward. I listened as hard as I possibly could.
“Een zeeeer, zeeeer koude winter.”
That's when the light bulb in my head blinked on. The old man wasn't mumbling at all. In fact, he was speaking loud and clear. The only reason I couldn't understand his English was because he wasn't speaking English.