in minutes. Jacen was proud to have the only specimens in captivity in his menagerie.
Often Jacen's most difficult job was not keeping the exotic pets caged but figuring out what they ate. Sometimes they fed on fruit or flowers. Sometimes they devoured fresh meat chunks. Sometimes the larger ones even broke free of their confinement and ate the other specimens-much to Jacen's dismay.
Unlike Jacen and Jaina's strict tutors at home on the city-covered planet Coruscant, Luke Skywalker did not depend on a rigorous course of studies. To be a Jedi, Uncle Luke explained, one had to understand many pieces of the whole tapestry of the galaxy, not just a rigid pattern set by other people.
So Jacen was allowed to spend much of his free time tromping through the dense underbrush, pushing jungle weeds and flowers out of the way, collecting beautiful insects, scooping up rare and unusual fungi. He had always had a strange and deep affinity for living creatures, much as his sister had a talent for understanding machinery and gadgets. He could coax the animals with his special Force talent, getting them to come right up to him, where he could study them at his leisure.
Some of the Jedi students-especially spoiled and troublesome Raynar-were not pleased about the small zoo Jacen kept in his room. But Jacen studied the creatures, and took care of them, and learned much from the animals.
From a small cistern Jaina had installed in the wall, Jacen ladled cool water into trays inside the cages. His motion disturbed a family of purple jumping spiders so that they hopped and bounced against the netting of the cage roof.
He ran his fingers along the thin wires and whispered to them. "Calm down. It's all right." The spiders stopped their antics and settled down to drink through