Benjamin continues working long hours for Kaliel September. Kaliel instructs Benjamin in rowing and in other ways of the sea. Benjamin learns that many of the rocks in the area have their own names, like Emu Rock and Fountain Point. Benjamin does a good job, but eventually Kaliel gets suspicious, accusing Benjamin of trying to win favor with Mr. Benn to take Kaliel’s place on a ship.
As Benjamin continues to learn from Kaliel, he goes from being a student to a rival, causing Kaliel to regard him with suspicion. The dangerous rocky water perhaps also reflects Benjamin’s uncertain relationship with Kaliel, as he tries to learn from the more experienced sailor without appearing to be a threat.
April and May pass, and eventually it’s June. One day, Kaliel September tells Benjamin that he just saw someone who looked like Nina around the area lately, just an hour ago. Benjamin worries for her safety and goes to find her to try to get her to go back to the Forest or Miss Weatherbury. He asks around and finds a sailor who says he saw someone like Nina on a boat.
Since South Africa is in the Southern Hemisphere, June is the beginning of winter, although a coastal region like the setting of this novel would still have mild temperatures. Winter can be an uncertain time, and the uncertainty of the weather perhaps mirrors Benjamins struggle to decide what type of person he wants to be.
Benjamin finds Nina standing on the beach. She is wearing new clothes, and he doesn’t recognize her at first. When they greet each other, Nina says she was looking for him. When they hug, Benjamin feels his body “stirring” and gets mad at himself. He also scolds Nina, asking where she’s been. She says she left Miss Weatherbury when Benjamin asked her to deliver the news of Benjamin’s departure. In the Forest, Nina found that her mouth-organ was rusty and her glass bottles were dirty, so she decided it was time for her to leave the Forest too.
Benjamin has sexual feelings toward Nina, which would be taboo if she’s his sister. The novel has made it clear, almost from the beginning, that Benjamin is not the real “Lukas,” and yet there is still just enough uncertainty to cause Benjamin to feel shame. Nina’s rusty mouth-organ and dirty bottles symbolize the last things that were keeping her connected to the Forest, and so with them gone, she is free to move on to a new life in the village.
Nina finally admits that while she left Miss Weatherbury, she eventually came back and is now a companion servant who eats at the dinner table with her, hence the new clothes. Benjamin warns her that Elias and Barta had better not find out about where she’s staying, but Nina says nothing could change her mind and make her go back to the Forest.
The relationship that Nina builds with Miss Weatherbury parallels the one that Benjamin is building with Kaliel. Both Nina and Benjamin have found a mentor patient enough to help them learn an important skill, although the relationship is based on them being inferior to their instructor.
That night, Benjamin struggles with his new sexual feelings toward Nina. He wonders if it’s truly possible that he’s her brother or if maybe he’s Fiela’s child after all. The next morning, a ship comes into the fog. Benjamin talks about it with Mr. Benn. Mr. Benn needs an oarsman right away, and since Kaliel September apparently went into town to visit his mother for her birthday without first seeking permission (in fact, he’s off fishing to make extra money), Mr. Benn dismisses him. Mr. Benn asks Benjamin to go fetch Kaliel’s first replacement.
Although Kaliel isn’t nearly as greedy as Elias, he nevertheless lets his desire to make money get the better of him—chasing down extra money apparently causes him to lose his main job. Fishing, in a sense, suggests humanity’s attempt to control and repurpose nature for personal gain. In this way, then, the negative consequence that Kaliel faces as a result of his greed underscores the novel’s condemnation of human attempts to control the natural world.
Benjamin thinks he can use Kaliel September’s absence to somehow get on a boat, but then Kaliel himself shows up, dashing his plans. Kaliel sends Benjamin off to the oyster beds. When Benjamin gets there, he finds Nina, who has a message for him. Apparently, a man from Petrus was looking for “Benjamin Komoetie” to tell him that his brother Dawid has died. The news shocks Benjamin.
Once again, however, Benjamin finds that he’ll have to wait a little longer before he can finally get a position as a proper oarsman. This passage is the first time in a while that the name “Benjamin Komoetie” has appeared in full in the text, and just hearing it (along with the news of Dawid’s death) seems to send Benjamin back to his old life.