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"I wonder if the lake has missed us." Sarah mused.
"I don't know, but I'll bet it will welcome us." I made sure the milk wouldn't turn over in the stream.
Nothing else needed to be said. Jamie and Julie were racing to the edge of the patio, and Sarah and Debbie were running down the path, calling the dogs. I guess I'll be the old wet hen this time, I thought. I wanted to go swimming, but I was not in any big hurry. I did not know why I felt the way I did. There was something nagging at my mind, but I could not figure out what it was. It was like trying to remember something, and I did not know what I wanted to remember. Maybe it was something I had seen that had not registered in my thoughts. I was at the edge of the patio. I turned around once to see if I could see anything of importance. As I turned, I looked up at the mountain. There it was! I stepped back and fell into the lake below, and as I was falling, I saw what was really troubling me. In the shock of falling, I managed to turn over and make a halfway decent backward dive. I went straight down until my ears began to hurt before I thought of climbing for air. When I finally got to the surface, I scampered out as fast as I could.
At first Sarah chided me for showing off; but then, she realized I had something important on my mind. "What's the matter?"
"We forgot to build a fire!"
"Oh! No!" She remembered. "It's a good thing you remembered it, or we wouldn't have had a fire tonight."
I grabbed a handful of dry leaves, and twigs on the way up the trail, and in a few minutes I had a good fire going.
I turned my attention to what had really surprised me. Forty of fifty feet above the cave entrance, was another opening that looked like another cave above ours. We've got to check that out tomorrow. There are surely a lot of caves in this mountain. It must be hollow.
I was at ease, and joined the others in the lake.
When Sheba and Buster interrupted our swim, I went up to clean the meat to find two animals lying there, a rabbit, and a slightly larger animal I did not recognize. "What's the idea, Sheba? Isn't one enough, or are you going to stop hunting in the mornings?" She barked, a soft low bark, and I picked up the rabbit. It would be the easiest to dress. I thought I would do it first, but as soon as I picked it up, Sheba called her puppies to their supper, and dragged the other animal into the jungle. She had let me select the one I wanted first, and the puppies got the other one. I could hear the puppies arguing over the kill, but Sheba came back and waited for the refuse of the rabbit.
When the nightly racket in the mountain started, I remembered seeing the cave entrance above. We were still afraid to go out, but I decided to see if there was anything up there. I went outside to look, and received the shock of my life. "C'mere! Look!" Coming out of that cave were thousand upon thousands of bats. The sky was so full of them, we could hardly see it for several minutes. Then, I remembered the squeaking, and the high window in the big room between the main cave and Sheba's den room. It must have taken thirty minutes for all the bats to get out. "It's no wonder we don't have a lot of mosquitoes and other flying insects," I said. "It must take tons of insects to feed that mob every night."
"I thought it was funny we never saw mosquitoes," Jamie concurred. "It's impossible to sleep without a mosquito net at home. I mean the Philippines."
"That is our home, Jamie," I consented. "It's okay to call it home."
"I'm kinda starting to think of this cave as home now, he admitted."
"Me too. 'Cause Momma said it might be a long time before somebody finds us," Julie sighed sadly, "but I wish we could get rescued tonight."
"I ain't gonna believe Momma said that," Debbie argued.
"She did too! Tell 'er, Sarah!"
"Momma was talking to you, Julie. I didn't hear her."
"See there! Sarah said Mommy talked to me."
"It was just a dream." Debbie continued the argument.
"It was not! Mommy was really here, and she told me."
"She did not!"
"She did too!" Julie was starting to cry.
"If Julie had a dream," I interrupted to stop the argument, "it was a very special dream in which your mother really talked to her. I think Jesus has been telling me the same thing since the first day we got here. I hope I am wrong, but I think we will be here for quite a long time. I'm sorry, but since the first day we got here, I've felt this way. Sarah can tell you. She and I have talked about it before."
Debbie ran to Sarah, crying, "Sarah, it ain't true! Don't let him say that! Please say it ain't true."
"I'm sorry, Debbie, but what Timmy said is true. We had a fight about it right after we got here."
"But he don't know! Jesus doesn't talk to him!"
"I think He does. Timmy is responsible for us. I think Jesus helps him by telling him what to say and do. Jesus might tell him other things too."
"C'mere, Debbie," I sympathized. I don't want to hurt you. Don't you know I love you! C'mere."
"I don't want to. I don't like you any more."
"Yes you do. You're just mad at me, right now, cause I said something you didn't want to hear. Come here. I want to put my arms around you and pray for you, like I did for Sarah last night."
"Go on, Debbie," Sarah coaxed. "It sure made me feel a lot better. I'm happier today than I've been anytime since the plane crash."
"I don't want to." Debbie came to me crying and put her arms around my waist. "Please tell me it ain't true, Timmy."
"I can't do that, Debbie. Do you think I would tell you a lie that would make you feel bad? I might tell one to keep from hurting you, but I wouldn't try to hurt you. I love you, Debbie. I really do, just like I love Jamie and Julie and Sarah. We're a family. I'm responsible for you 'cause I'm the oldest. We both know I'm not your daddy. I never could be, but as long as we're on this island, I've got the same responsibilities your daddy had when you were at home. You seem to me like you are my very own little girl. I don't like to see you sad."
Now let's pray. "Dear Lord God Almighty, I ask you in the name of Jesus, please put your arms around Debbie, and let her know that you love her. Comfort her sad heart, and help her to be really happy on this beautiful island you prepared for us. Help her not to be so homesick, and, Lord, please take special care of her momma and daddy. Keep them safe until she and her sisters can see them again. Lord, I pray for all the rest of us too. Please let us all have that same joy, peace and contentment in our hearts that Sarah and I experienced on the mountain. Amen."
"I love you, too." Debbie squeezed me. "If I can't have my real daddy, I'm glad I've got you to be my pretend daddy to take care of me. And, I'm glad I've got Sarah for a pretend momma too, but I want my real, true momma and daddy so bad. I miss them so much!"
"I know you do. We all miss our parents. Let's get around for bed." I kissed her on the forehead.
Copyright © 1995
Leonard H. Hall, Sr.
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