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FIVE ALIVE

By L. H. Hall


 

FIVE ALIVE

By L. H. Hall

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Chapter 1 ... The Sea
Chapter 2 ... Aches and Pains
Chapter 3 ... The Cave
Chapter 4 ... Man on the Beach
Chapter 5 ... Fruit
Chapter 6 ... The Journal
Chapter 7 ... Aloe
Chapter 8 ... New Friends
Chapter 9 ... God's Christmas Tree
Chapter 10 ... Sunday School
Chapter 11 ... Hidden Treasure
Chapter 12 ... Swimming Pool
Chapter 13 ... The Dark Night
Chapter 14 ... Workaholic
Chapter 15 ... Christmas
Chapter 16 ... Goats
Chapter 17 ... Julie
Chapter 18 ... The Lookout
Chapter 19 ... Bats
Chapter 20 ... Making Plans
Chapter 21 ... Terraces
Chapter 22 ... Lake Four
Chapter 23 ... The Dolphins
Chapter 24 ... Unhappy Birthday
Chapter 25 ... Homecoming
Chapter 26 ... Disaster
Chapter 27 ... The Handyman
Chapter 28 ... Sarah
Chapter 29 ... The Baby
Chapter 30 ... Debbie
Chapter 31 ... Ridges and Ravines
Chapter 32 ... Growing Up
Chapter 33 ... Trapped
Chapter 34 ... The Big Day
Chapter 35 ... Surprise
Chapter 36 ... Deejay
Chapter 37 ... The Promise
Chapter 38 ... Discovered
Chapter 39 ... Sarah's Ultimatum
Chapter 40 ... Guests
Chapter 41 ... The Wedding

 

Chapter 23

The Dolphins

 

The last of the stars had not faded when Sheba nudged me to let me know she had brought the breakfast.  "You're in a hurry, aren't you, Sheba?"  I asked sleepily.

She answered with a low bark and lay down.  They had not waited for me to select my choice of meat, as usual.  I  could hear the pups some distance away arguing over the other carcasses.

I called the others, and went to dress the rabbit.  Sarah stirred up the fire, and had it burning brightly by the time the meat was ready to cook.  The others were already having their early morning plunge when Sarah and I joined them.

We did not stay in the lake, but a few minutes.  Sarah returned to the breakfast preparations while the rest of us packed the bedrolls.  We had decided the night before to leave as early as possible.  By the time the meat was  cooked, we were ready, except for eating, and extinguishing the fire.  Jamie and I had even run down to the next level with the bedrolls, so we could take one last ride down the water slide when we left.

Sarah sat, staring across the lake, as she ate her breakfast.  "What are you  looking at?"  I asked.

"Nothing.  I was just remembering my dream.  On this side of the lakes there was a beautiful park with swings and slides and all kinds of stuff to climb on, and over there," Sarah pointed across the lakes, "were houses, a school and a church.  Our parents and all of our friends, and a lot of people we didn't know were here.  There must have been a hundred kids playing in the lakes.  It was so real.  I almost cried when I woke up and realized that we were still alone on the island.

"I have dreams like that,"  Jamie admitted.  "Sometimes there are so many kids around, I have to go into the jungle to think and pray."

"I wish I could have a dream like that."  Debbie chewed wistfully on a bone.

"Me too, but let's go."  Julie  finished eating, and after excusing herself,  extinguished the fire.

A few minutes later we were in Crescent Lake again.  We stayed in the shallows near the jungle and followed the rim of the lake to the left until we emerged at the point.  The lake seemed to be a little shallower than it had the night before.  I assumed the tide must be out.  Probably the water level falls and rises with the tide.  There must be an underwater runoff, or maybe it just seeps through the sand.  We still had another hundred yards to go after we left the lake before we reached the rim that hid the water in the cove.

Obviously the sea was at low tide.  The water level was way below the high water marks on the steep sandy banks.  The waves coming in were just lazy swells like big ripples in a lake.  There was not a white cap in sight.  I went down the steep bank to check the depth of the water and found myself in over my head in a moment.  The cove was deep.  I figured they might even be able to run a destroyer in at high tide.  Of course, I did not know how deep a destroyer sat in the water, either.

It was a quiet, peaceful place.  The sound of the surf could be heard only if we stopped talking and listened for it.  It was the kind of place people on boats might come for a picnic, or to set up a camp while they harvested fruit or goats from the island if they knew about them. 

I thought I understood why the goats had not cleaned up the last strip of jungle.  They had no reason to.  There was plenty of food on the terraces above, and Crescent Lake was too salty to drink, so the goats did not come down further than the last freshwater lake.

Standing at the high water mark looking back toward the jungle, no one would ever imagine that Crescent Lake existed, or that there was an easy water trail to the beautiful Goat Terraces above.  I doubted if it could be seen standing on a large fishing boat.  The goats were safe unless someone started nosing around the jungle that appeared to come right down to the beach.

It was so peaceful that when the sun peaked over the trees, I thought about making camp deep in the cove.  It was large enough; we would have several hours of its torturous rays.  I said nothing, and we moved on down the eastern beach toward the sea. 

As the noise of the surf grew louder, the jungle on our left seemed to thin out, the beach grew flatter, and the distance between the high water mark and the water grew wider.  When we reached the entrance to the cove, the water seemed so shallow, I wondered if there was a channel deep enough for a row boat to enter the cove.  I must have walked two hundred yards out into the entrance before the water reached my hips. It was getting deeper, and it was still a half mile or so to the opposite beach, so I decided probably there was such a channel.

We stood there, looking out over the great expanse of the sea with all its mysteries, and all its dangers.  "It gives me the creeps."  Sarah remembered our ordeal.

"Yeah," Jamie agreed.  "So much water in one place.  I'm sure glad I'm not out there again."

"Me too."  Julie spoke the sentiments of the rest of us.

"Look!  There are some dolphins."  Debbie pointed toward the sea.  "Dolphins."

Sure enough, a half dozen dolphins were porpoising a hundred feet, or so, off shore.

"Hi, dolphins."  Julie waved at them.  In a moment, six dolphins were standing on their tails chattering at us.

We all waved and yelled, "Hi!"

The dolphins dropped back into the water and disappeared, only to come back out of the water and momentarily fly through the air, heading west.  As we watched, they alternated swimming and flying and turned into the cove.  We dropped everything and ran after them to where the water started to deepen.  There, the dolphins turned again, and came to the shore, their heads out of the water chattering at us.  One even hoisted herself half way onto the bank.

Before I could stop him, taking no precautions, Jamie ran out to them, and started rubbing one on the back.  "Look out for those teeth!"  I yelled.  "Those are wild animals!  They might want you for lunch."

"No, they don't.  They won't hurt us.  They saved our lives.  Remember?"  He turned to stroke another one.  "Thanks for saving us."

"You can't be sure, it's the same ones."

"I can."  Sarah went out to pet one.  "They wouldn't have come into the cove and up to the shore if they didn't know us.  I think they are staying around here watching us to make sure we are safe."

"I think they want us to come and pet them."  Debbie started into the water.

"Yeah."  Julie followed.

"Maybe, but be careful," I relented.  What Sarah had said made sense.  "No one can deny they purposely led us back here."

Sheba and the pups were having a fit, just waiting for me to give the word, but I calmed them down.  They still did not seem to like it, but stopped barking and eventually relaxed.

The Dolphins did not even seem to know the dogs were there.  They knew the dogs had to come into their playground to get them, and would not stand a chance against them in the water.

Jamie had no fear, and used no more caution than he would have if he were playing with a puppy.  He was right in the water with them.  They made no move to attack him, and showed no fear of him.  After a moment the one who had beached herself slid back into the water, and came up with Jamie straddling her nose.  The others were all chattering at us like we were old friends.

"I think she wants to give me a ride."  Jamie slid off her nose.

"I had all the dolphin rides I want!"  Sarah backed off.

"Yeah, but this time she was easy, she didn't hurt."  The dolphin had turned and was lying in the water quietly in front of Jamie as if waiting for him to get on her back.  "I'm gonna try to ride her."  He had a little trouble getting on, but she never moved.  It was like she had been trained.  When he had straddled her behind the dorsal fin, she moved slowly into the cove."

By this time I had joined them in the water with the animals, who seemed to enjoy us as much as we did them.  Sarah was the next one brave enough to be taken for a ride.  She did not straddle hers. She just hung onto its dorsal fin, and let it pull her through the water.  One by one, the rest of us joined in the games.  Since there was one more dolphin than there were children, the extra dolphin seemed to be jealous.  She tried to come between us and the ones we were hanging on to.

Jamie had found a new game.  "Look!"  He slid back to the tail of dolphin he was riding.  The dolphin flipped him high into the air and when he came down in a perfect dive another dolphin was there to swim under him and repeat the action.

"That looks fun."  I said and slid back to my dolphin's tail.  Without warning, I, too, was flying through the air.  Another one was there to pick me up before I could surface.  She came up under me, barely missing me with her dorsal fin.  The girls were a little timid to try it, but one by one they got the nerve.  Julie was the last.  She had not practiced diving much, and was afraid she would belly-flop.  Finally, she too, was getting some diving practice.  I was afraid some of us might collide in the air, but we never came near each other, or landed near each other.  A time or two, I thought my dolphin purposefully turned so she would not throw me into danger.

The dolphins never seemed to tire.  They were always extremely careful when they approached us.  We had been pulled, ridden and swam all over the cove without realizing the beaches were getting narrower, and the water was rising higher.  The sun had moved into the western sky before my stomach began nagging at me.  "I am hungry.  I wonder how we tell the dolphins to take us back to shore?"

The playing stopped.  It was as if they had read my mind.  We started speeding toward the entrance to the cove, and in seconds the dolphins were in shallow water as near our things as possible.

The dogs, who had been left in the cove, came out yelping; as though, something was after them.

A moment later I was getting some jerky out of the pouch on my belt, with my back to the cove.  Wham!  Something hit me hard in the back, and knocked me down.  "What was that?"  I spun around angrily, thinking someone had hit me with a belt.  A dolphin was chattering at me from the cove.  A fish came flying through the air at me, and another, and another.

"It looks like it's fish for lunch," Jamie laughed.  "We'd better get some wood rounded up for a fire.  I'm not going to eat mine raw, like they do in the Philippines."

While the others went to the jungle for wood, I cleaned a couple of the larger fish, which was more than we could possibly eat.  "I hope it won't offend you, if I throw the rest of these back.  There's no need to kill more than we can eat."  The dolphins did not seem to mind, but the poor fish were doomed.  None of the fish ever saw water again.  One of the dolphins came so far up into the shallows to catch one fish in the air; she had to wait for another wave before she could get back into the water.

After lunch, we nosed around in the edge of the jungle, but did not find anything of interest.  The tide had been receding for an hour or more, when we walked down the beach to see what the sea had left.  We picked up a few of the very nicest shells. 

"Look at this, Timmy."  Debbie handed me a tiny shell with a hole in it.  "May I have a piece of fishing line to make a necklace."

"I'm sure we can spare enough string for each of you girls to have a necklace if you can find the shells, but I don't know how I could drill holes in anything."

"I've seen quite a few things with holes already in them."  Sarah dropped a piece of shell she had been carrying..

"Momma would love this beach."  I examined an especially nice conch shell.

"Yeah, mine, too.  Let me see that."  Sarah reached for the shell.  "She always complains that everybody beats her to the really good stuff on the beach."

"Momma just loves to walk the beach when the tide goes out, but she's so busy.  She doesn't get to the beach often."

"We used to go all the time, when the girls were in school," Julie remembered, "but there were so many people, we never found anything really nice."

"They wouldn't have to worry about people here."  I picked up a large sand dollar, and skipped it across the water.

"Yeah," Sarah returned the conch shell to me.  "We walk over more pretty stuff here in a few minutes than most people find in a year in the Philippines."

So often when we would do things, we thought about how much, either, our mothers or dads would enjoy doing them.  That always reminded us of our loneliness, and took all the joy out of the activity.

I thought about the dream of my family coming to the island, and my decision not to go with them.  That decision bothered me a lot. 

I wondered if I had been so selfish, not wanting our family to be split up, that I told God in the dream that we did not want to be rescued.  Could that have delayed our discovery?  "God," I had prayed many times the last two days, "please don't let my selfishness keep us from being found.  I don't want that to hold the others prisoner on this little island."   I could never feel the assurance that I was not responsible for us not being found.  I had talked to Sarah about how guilty I felt.  She said it was nonsense, but it did not help much. 

The dream had seemed so real.  I knew it was just a dream, but I still felt like they had actually been here, and I had sent them away.  I could not forget the pain in my mother's eyes when I told them I did not want to leave.  I wondered if I would ever forget.  I wondered if the other kids would ever forgive me for sending them away, and giving God the signal that I did not want us to be rescued.  Try as I did; I could not free myself from the guilt.  The only thing I could do was to keep busy, and to keep my mind on something else.

"Let's go see what's in the jungle."  Sarah threw a shell out into the sea.

"Yeah," Jamie agreed. "The beach is kind of boring."

"Oh, I dunno, the dolphins are out there waiting for us."   I had lost interest in exploring.  "It wasn't boring this morning, but we can explore the jungle if you want.  It doesn't seem to be too thick down here."

We turned inland and moved into the edge of the jungle.  Having left the machetes at the camp, we had to pick our way through a little underbrush.  We climbed a small knoll that ran parallel to the coast and dropped down into a wide, shallow valley leading toward the southeast point.

"Look!"  Jamie pointed at some redish, tall, thin, sectioned stalks.  "Doesn't that look like sugarcane?"

"It does a little," I examined a stalk. "but I can't be sure."

"I'll bet I can tell in a minute." My dad used to buy cane sections for us to chew on and suck the juice out of.  There isn't anything as good as sugarcane to chew on."  Sarah tried to break a stalk off.  It would not break.  She tried to pull it out of the ground, and it would not pull.  Finally she pulled a stalk over, broke off the little spikes, smashed a section between a couple rocks, and licked off some of the juice.

"I sure hope that isn't poison."  I watched her fearfully.

"It is pure delicious sugar."  She licked her lips.

I tasted the sap.  "Now that we have the sugar cane, how do we make sugar?"

"I don't know?"  Sarah thought for a few seconds.  "What if we chop it up and boil it?  Do you think that would get the juice out?"

"It might.  Lets try it."  I did not have any better ideas.

I ran back to camp; got a machete, and within a few minutes we had cut the rock hard outer bark from the sugar cane, and had a canteen  cup filled with small chunks of the soft inner pulp and water sitting in the coals of the fire.  We had not even thought about how we would get the cup out of the fire once it got hot.  It was not long until water was boiling away.  There was less and less liquid in the cup every minute.  When It came time to remove it from the fire we realized that we had a problem.  I finally took two machetes, put one under the handle, and the other on the other side of the cup, and carried it that way to the edge of the ocean and let the ocean water cool it. 

We were disappointed with the outcome.  We had a sticky mess, but little syrup, and it wasn't as sweet as we had hoped.  The cane slivers were delicious and easier to chew than they had been before they were cooked.  It was Jamie's idea to crush the cane in the cup to get more juice.  I found a dry stick two inches in diameter and flattened on one end to tamp the cane in the cup.  In a minute we had a thick sweet syrupy mess with a lot of sugarcane pulp in it.

We acted like we were starved the way we kept sticking our hands into the goo and licking our fingers, but it was the first sugar we had tasted since we arrived.

Sarah sat looking at the cup of sticky syrup, or what was left of it for a long time.  Finally she said, "We need something to strain it through.  Maybe when we get home, we can put some holes in one of the extra canteen cups.  Then when we tamp the cane in the holey cup, he syrup will run through into another cup, but the sticks won't."

"That's a good idea," I agreed "but how are we going to handle the hot cup to take it out of the fire?"

"Momma used to use a towel or hot pads to take stuff off the stove."  Debbie dipped her fingers into the cup again.

"Yeah, but we don't have anything like that," I argued.

"One of those blankets we got up on the mountain has some holes in it," Sarah suggested.  "We can make some hot pads out of it."

"Then all we have to do is pack all this sugar cane up to the cave," Jamie complained.        

"No we won't," Sarah planned.  "We can come down here and camp up at the fourth lake.  We can bring some buckets to get fresh water and come right down here and spend a day or two making syrup, and have fun at the same time.  We'll have a fun place to swim, and if the dolphins are around, we can play with them in the cove.  All we'll have to carry back is the syrup."

"I suppose that would be another excuse for a holiday from school."  I murmured.

"Well, it would be nice, but if you want to be an old stick-in-the-mud, we can have school down here."

"If we come very often, I'll have to be an old stick-in-the-mud.  What is a stick-in-the-mud, anyway?"  I asked.

"That's what my grandma calls Grandpa when he won't give in and let her do what she wants.  It's like something is stuck in the mud, and you can't get it out."

"That's liable to be me, if we come down here too often.  Lets go back into the jungle and see what else we can find."

"I'm thirsty, and my canteen is empty."  Julie tried to get a drink.

"Mine too."  Debbie checked her canteen.  "That saltwater made me thirsty all afternoon."

"Well, let's run back to the lakes and see how fast we can fill our canteens."  I was thirsty too, and we had used my water to boil the sugarcane.

The dolphins, who had been watching us and chattering all afternoon, headed for the cove when we started after water.  "They must want to play some more," Sarah observed.

"Can we play with them again?"  Julie ran ahead toward the fresh water.

"Maybe after a  while, but first, let's check the valley out where we found the sugarcane.  I want to see if there is any water.  If there isn't, we're going to have to be very careful of our water, tomorrow, until we find some.  What we take from here may have to last until we get back to the cave."

We did not go all the way around the beach, but turned east into the jungle at the point of Crescent Lake.  The underbrush was a little thicker at that point, but we were able to cut our way through easily, and within a hundred feet or so it thinned out so we did not have to do much cutting.  We headed at an angle that would take us to the south coast for a while, but then turned inland toward the ridge. I did not have any particular reason.  I just wanted to see what was up there.  Sheba did not like it.  Her hair bristled, and she continued to whine, but I continued in the direction I was going.  I was stupid, but I wanted to see what was making Sheba so nervous.  Sarah wanted to go the other direction, but she and Jamie stayed behind me with their machetes ready in case we were attacked.  The only thing I could think of was wild dogs or pigs.  Either could be very dangerous.  Sheba stopped; teeth bared, growling deep within her throat.  The pups stood alert, not knowing whether to run or stand their ground.  They were all looking at the same point in the brush.  I could see nothing or hear nothing.

"Can anyone see what they are looking at?"  I asked softly

"No," came a whispered answer from all of them at once.

"Let's get out of here."  There was a real fear in Sarah's voice.  "Remember we have to take care of the younger ones."

"All right,  Back away really slowly, and quietly.

As we backed up, Sheba and the pups backed up with us, never taking their eyes from the spot in the bushes.  It looked like they were expecting something to spring out from between two bushes, but nothing happened.  We backed off slowly for as much as fifty feet before we turned cautiously and went in a southeasterly direction toward the beach.  We never knew what made Sheba and the pups so excited.  As soon as we changed direction, Sheba was her normal, happy self again.  We made up our minds that in the future we would heed the dog's warnings, and not get ourselves into that kind of danger.  That experience destroyed any desire for more exploration for that day.

As we approached the sea, the terrain to the east started to climb, and we found a small stream.  It did not look like it would be very dependable if we went a day or two without rain.  We hoped that it would rain if we did not find a better place to fill our canteens.

When we got to the beach, we were within fifteen or twenty minutes of the southeastern point of the island.  We were all curious what we would find when we got there, but the next day was the big day for Jamie so we decided to keep  him in suspense.  It might be just a drab old sandy beach, or it might be something really beautiful and exciting.

The dolphins were there to greet us.  They followed us up the beach.  "May I go out and ride one up to the cove?"  Jamie ran to the water's edge.

"I don't know if I trust them that much."  I was hesitant.  The ocean was different from the sheltered cove.  "What if you get washed out to sea?"

"They saved us once," he argued.  "You don't really think they would let anything happen to me now, do you?

"I suppose it will be all right."  I wanted a second opinion. "What do you think, Sarah?"

"It won't hurt anything."  Debbie joined in.  "They are going the same direction we are."

"Please!"  Jamie begged.

"Let's all do it," Julie suggested.

"We've got these belts and the machetes."  I was still skeptical of going out in the open sea.  I wouldn't want to take a chance on losing the belts or hurting the dolphins with the knives."

"Can me and Jamie and Julie  ride, and you and Sarah take our junk?"  Debbie held her utility belt out to me.

"What'll we do if they take you out to sea and dump you?"  I looked for Sarah's nod.

"They won't do that, silly."  Julie laughed at the idea of not trusting the dolphins.

"They are wild animals, you know.  You can't really trust them."

"Yes we can.  They're our friends."  Debbie argued.

"Sarah?"  She had not seen my questioning look.  I had decided they would be all right, but if anything happened to one of the girls, I wanted her to have expressed her feelings about it.

"I think they will be all right.  I'm not afraid to trust the dolphins after this morning.  Like Jamie said, they saved us once; they wouldn't hurt us now."

"All right, but stay off their tails.  I took Debbie's belt.  "I don't want you flying through the air until we all get to the cove."

As soon as the kids were in deep enough water the dolphins came to them, and let them mount, and away they went, up the beach and back again, always within sight and calling distance.  Then, without warning, Jamie turned out to sea for about a hundred yards before he started coming back in a zigzag fashion.  "Hey!  All ya gotta do is lean the direction ya wanna go and they'll turn."

The girls quite obviously started leaning because their dolphins started changing directions.

"You sure surprised me."  I slipped two of the three extra belts over my head.

"Why?  How?"

"By letting the girls go out in the open sea.  Just a few weeks ago you were panicked by it."

"I didn't have the peace in my life that I have now, and we hadn't made friends with the little whales that saved our lives.  I am as comfortable with the kids out there as I am when they go to the jungle bathroom with the dogs."

"I wish I were."

"Relax, worry wart.  Do you remember saying that God gives you the answers to questions you don't have the answer to?"

"I remember."

"I think He gave me an answer like that when I prayed for one."

"About the kids out there riding the dolphins?"

"No, silly.  About getting the syrup from the sugarcane, and how to strain it and all that stuff."

"Yeah, that's possible, but why do you think it?"

"I kinda felt like I ought to be the one to do it, but I didn't know how.  I asked Jesus, and suddenly I had the answer.  When it boils, all the water turns to steam.  If we let it boil long enough, all that'll be left will be the syrup."

 "How do you know that?"

"Momma told me about the water turning to steam.  That's what the smoky stuff is coming out of a teakettle, but Jesus made me remember it about the syrup."

"Do you think maybe that would help us get salt out of sea water faster?"  I wiped the perspiration from my eyes.

"Do you mean boil it 'til all the water is gone?"

"I guess so."

"I think it will work.  Sure it will.  When I boil meat in salt water, there's always some salt left in the pan to wash out.

"I'm going to try that tonight.  I'm going to put my canteen cup full of sea water in the fire.  When the water boils out, I'll fill it up again until bedtime, and see how much salt I have in the cup."

"It'll work.  I know it will"

"You've got a lot of confidence."

"Didn't you tell me that if I needed to know something and Jesus gave me the answer, I would be confident?"

"Yes, I did, Sarah.  I am glad you are starting to hear His voice."

"I feel so good and so warm when I feel Him near me."  Sarah crossed her arms and squeezed herself.  "Sometimes its almost like my own daddy is wrapping his big arms around me to keep me safe and comfortable."

"I know."

When we got to camp, I added wood to the coals and put a canteen cup of sea water in the fire.  Then Sarah and I joined the others who were waiting for us in the cove.

I jumped into the water and was about to climb on a dolphin who was waiting patiently for me, when another one sneaked up behind me.  She caught me with her nose and flipped me up over the other one to land on my back with a big splash.  When I got straightened out and on my feet again, they were both chattering away like they were laughing at me.

"I think they're mad at you 'cause you didn't ride up here on them."  Jamie sailed by on his ride.

About that time I was flying through the air again, but this time I landed in the deep.  One came up under me, and I went for the ride of my life.  The dolphin swam full speed straight out of the cove into the open sea at least a half mile.  Then she whirled around so fast, I almost fell off, and we headed back to the cove.  It was fun, but I must say, it was more fun heading back than going out.  When we got back, all the kids and the dolphins were laughing at me.  There, she slowed almost to a stop until I relaxed.  Then, without warning she took off again.  I slid back to her tail, and she flipped me.  I must have flown through the air at least fifty feet that time.  Another one was there to pick me up.  They were all still laughing at me.

"All right!  All right!  I'm sorry!  I should have trusted you, and let you carry all that dumb stuff up here."

The one that had taken me out to sea, stood on her tail chattering for a few seconds, and settled down.  They must have accepted my apology.  The tricks and teasing stopped.  After that, they waited for me to slide back on their tails before they would flip me.

They definitely had a sense of humor.  If we were in the water, and not on another dolphin, we never knew when one might flip us unexpectedly with her nose and laugh at us, but never did one intentionally hurt us.

Even a new and joyful experience like playing with the dolphins grows tiring.  When Sheba stood on shore, barking to let us know she had brought our supper, we were ready to do something else.  That is, all except Jamie, who continued to play with them until supper was ready.  I think even the dolphins were ready for a break, because when Jamie came to supper, the dolphins left the cove and we did not see them again that night.

"Do you think maybe these dolphins were trained to play with people, and escaped from their trainers?"  I took a bite of meat."

"Why would you ask that?"  Sarah had a puzzled expression on her face.

"They're wild animals.  You don't just go up to a wild dolphin, or any other animal, and jump on its back and go for a ride.  It's totally unrealistic."

"They aren't wild!"  Jamie was indignant at the suggestion.  "They're our friends."

"I know."  I argued.  "That's what is so unrealistic.  Why?"

Debbie wiped her mouth on her hand. "I think they are the ones that saved us."

"Yeah, I think so too; but even so, why would they be so tame and spend hours playing with us?

Sarah had not said anything, or acted like she even wanted to get into the discussion.  She just sat there listening, and I would bet she was praying about it.  "Sarah," I asked, "what do you think?"

"I do not know.  I hadn't thought about it until you asked the question."  She spoke slowly, thinking about what she would say next.  "I agree that they are the ones that saved us.  You're right.  It is unrealistic for wild animals to act that way.  Maybe they know we are just kids and feel responsible for us.  Maybe they have adopted us.  That's the only explanation I can think of."   

"You may be right, but answer this question.  Why did they treat me so rough when I got into the water a while ago?  It was fun, but I was scared to death she was going to dump me out there in the middle of the sea, and leave me."

"Silly, Timmy, you're really silly." Julie put her canteen down, laughing.  "She wouldn't do that."

"I think it's because you didn't ride up the coast with us."  Jamie filled his empty dish with sand and scrubbed it.

"Neither did Sarah."

"Yeah, but, I'm a girl, an' I'm littler than you."

"Do you think they care about that?"

"I don't know, but I'm glad they didn't throw me as far as they did you when you came back into the cove."

"I think they knew it was you who didn't trust them."  Jamie shook the sand from his dish.

"It's my place not to trust'em.  I gotta look out for your safety.  Besides, how could they know that?" 

"Animals can sense things like that.  Daddy always said not to be afraid when I'm around strange animals, 'cause, they will smell it."  Debbie chewed the meat off a small bone.  "Maybe they smelled your fear."

"I wonder if they smelled my fear when I was flying through the air?"

"Did you notice?  There was a dolphin right where you landed before she ever threw you."  Sarah threw a bone to Prince.  "If she hadn't moved, you would have hit her."

"I didn't know that, but I knew I was picked up almost as soon as I hit the water."

"As unrealistic as it may be, I think we can trust the dolphins to take care of us when we are in the water.  Maybe even more than we can trust Sheba in the jungle."  Sarah's faith in the dolphins was without reservation.

"I wonder if they would take us on their backs to someplace where there are people."  Julie's question was a ray of hope to all of us.

"I don't know."  I seriously considered her question, and decided it would not be wise to try.  "They brought us here.  It's a very long way to another island.  "Remember we couldn't see any land from up on top of the mountain even with the big telescope.  It must be over a hundred miles to the nearest land.  I don't think they would take us that far.  It would be too dangerous for us, and they would get too tired."

About dark I let the water boil until the cup was dry.  I had taken breaks during the afternoon to keep it filled.  The inside of the cup was covered with a thick film of salt.  I had gotten as much in one afternoon as I did in three or four days at the salt rock.  "Look, Sarah."  I showed her the salt.  "Maybe we can make salt and syrup at the same time,"

"We'd even get more, faster, if we boiled it in a bigger pan.  Maybe we can bring that big pot that we sometimes use for a stool down here and leave it just for that.  It's too big for anything else.  I've always wondered why Mr. Wilcox had it."

"I hope I don't have to carry it down here."  Jamie unrolled his bedroll.  "That thing's heavy."

"Two of us can carry it, and we can take turns."  I carefully folded the salt in a leaf and deposited in the pouch with my jerky.  "We can get it down here.  It won't be too bad."

"Maybe it will float and we can ride a dolphin and pull it."  Debbie helped Sarah make the bed.

"That's thinking."  I patted her on the back.  "But maybe the dolphins will think differently."          It was a light night.  The moon was high overhead before the stars added their brilliance to the dark canopy.  After the last few nights on the dark, terraces, it was nearly too light to sleep; and the sound of the surf, that we weren't used to, did not help much either.  It had been a long, exciting day.  We were tired, and soon entered into the world of dreams.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright 1995

By

Leonard H. Hall, Sr.

 

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