...just when Wambui was beginning to wonder if they were ever going to get there,
Grandmother stopped. They were in a little opening in a part of the forest where Wambui had never been. Grandmother
put her hand on the trunk of a small tree with yellow leaves. "Here we are," she said. "This is the Muugu tree.
It is the cure for Mirithi's fever."
Wambui studied the tree very carefully so that she would remember what it looked
Grandmother pulled a little knife out of her bag. Wambui watched as she cut
a thin strip of bark from the trunk of the tree.
"You must take only a few small strips of bark, and only from one side of the tree,"
said Grandmother. "If you take too much or cut all the way around the trunk, the tree will die. So that's
enough from this one. Now, let's see if you can find me another Muugu tree."
Wambui walked around, looking carefully at every tree. She had to look for
a long time before she found what she was looking for.
"Very good," said Grandmother. "You see, I told you this is not like
the Mwana or Muthiia. It is not so easy to find a Muugu tree. That is why this place is so special."
It was already night-time when Wambui reached the road that led to her village,
and it was very cold. She wished she could go home to get her sweater and to tell Papa, Njenga and Aunt Ruth that she
was all right. But Papa would not let her go out again till morning. That might be too late.
So she pulled up some long grass and put it under her blouse to help keep her warm.
She started to follow the road in the other direction, toward the next hill. There was enough moonlight to see where
she was going, but all around her the fields were dark and scary. She picked up a big, heavy stick to use in case she
came across wild animals, and she sang songs to stay awake.
She walked and walked until she became so sleepy that she was tripping over her
own feet. When she finally came to the other village, she couldn't keep her eyes open any longer.
"I'll sleep for just one hour," Wambui promised herself. She looked
around for a warm place to sleep. After a little while she found a little wooden shed with a big brown and white cow
in it. The cow looked surprised to see her, but it didn't seem to mind when she lay down in a pile of straw in the corner.
Just before she fell asleep, Wambui remembered that she was supposed to take the bus to Nairobi first thing in the morning,
to take the scholarship test.