The Price family is in the process of traveling to Bulungu (it’s not immediately explained why). Leah considers everything that’s happened recently. Adah told her about the strange man she’s seen meeting with Axelroot. Also, Leah considers the gunfire she heard in the distance a few days before.
It’s not revealed why the Prices are walking through the jungle here, but by now their situation in the village has become unsustainable. They have no loyalty left to Nathan and no reason to stay around any longer.
The family proceeds to walk along the road to Bulungu. They travel light to save themselves effort. Adah has trouble walking for long periods of time, and Rachel is unusually quiet. On the walk, Leah considers why Nathan isn’t traveling with the rest of the family: he refuses to abandon his post in Kilanga for any reason. In the last few months, since just before Ruth May’s death, Leah has grown much closer with her mother than her father. Leah imagines Nathan back in the village, baptizing more children.
Leah fills in the picture for us: after Ruth May’s death, Orleanna makes the decision to take her children out of the Congo before anything else can happen to them. Nathan stubbornly refuses to leave his post, as usual. Notably, Kingsolver doesn’t show us the confrontation between Orleanna and Nathan—we’re left to imagine how Nathan discovers the news that his family is leaving him.
After two days of traveling through the forest, the Prices (minus Nathan) arrive in Bulungu. They catch fevers shortly afterwards, and yet their visit to Bulungu is full of “celebration.” Leah stays in a hut that belongs to a student of Anatole. While sick, she receives visitors, including Anatole. Anatole is kind and loving, and he calls Leah “beautiful.”
Sometime between now and the ants crisis, Anatole seems to have developed feelings for Leah. Or perhaps he’s had feelings for her all along, and only now, when Leah is free from her racist father, is he expressing these feelings.
Leah explains what happens in the following weeks. Orleanna and Adah leave Leopoldville, returning to the U.S. Nathan is still stationed in Kilanga. Rachel has left with her “devil savior,” Axelroot. Anatole is taking care of Leah in the absence of her other family members. Leah has made the choice to stay with him, putting her own life in some danger.
The pacing of this chapter is faster than we’ve been used to, and this sets the tone for the rest of the novel. So far, we’ve been dealing with days, weeks, or months—from hereon out, Kingsolver will measure time in months, years, and even decades.
Anatole takes care of Leah. Leah thinks about how their “relationship” has changed lately—they sleep in the same bed, albeit “chastely.” Leah is attracted to Anatole, but Anatole always laughs and teases her. He will not marry her, at least not yet. And yet Leah isn’t particularly young for a bride—Anatole reminds her that many men in the Congo marry ten-year-old girls.
Leah and Anatole’s relationship is unconventional in many ways, but certainly ends up being the happiest love story of the novel.