In a palm tree, on an island, in the middle of the wide blue sea, was a girl.
Nim’s hair was wild, her eyes were bright, and around her neck she wore three cords. One was for a spyglass, one for a whorly, whistling shell, and one for a fat red pocketknife in a sheath.
With the spyglass at her eye, she watched her father’s boat. It sailed out through the reef to the deeper dark ocean, and Jack turned to wave and Nim waved back, though she knew he couldn’t see.
Then the white sails caught the wind and blew him out of sight, and Nim was alone. For three days and three nights, whatever happened or needed doing, Nim would do it.
”And what we need first,” said Nim, ”is breakfast!” So she threw four ripe coconuts thump! into the sand and climbed down after them.
Then she whistled her shell, two long, shrill notes that carried far out to the reef, where the sea lions were fishing. Selkie popped her head above the water. She had a fish in her mouth, but she swallowed it fast and dived toward the beach.
And from a rock by the hut, Fred came scuttling. Fred was an iguana, spiky as a dragon, with a cheerful snub nose. He twined round Nim’s feet in a prickly hug.
”Are you saying good morning,” Nim demanded, ”or just begging for breakfast?”
Fred stared at the coconuts. He was a very honest iguana.
Coconuts are tricky to open, but Nim was an expert. With a rock and a spike, she punched a hole and drank the juice, cracked the shell and pried out the flesh. Fred snatched his piece and gulped it down.
Marine iguanas don’t eat coconut, but no one had ever told Fred.