by L. H. Hall
finished drying Monday, and all was ready Tuesday morning. I had
made a sieve out of a small pan that already leaked. An extra
canteen had been hooked to each belt. The bedroll consisted of: the
two blankets and ponchos we had found on the mountain; one sheet;
the old machete; and the new supply of jerky. Fruits for two days,
some aloe leaf and another large pot were loaded into the big pot.
It was a heavy load, but we thought we could carry it and the
bedroll suspended from a bamboo pole.
After I had
vowed on my honor as a Christian that I would not tickle her on the
way to the cove, Sarah had agreed to carry one end of the pole and
let the others ride the dolphins if they showed up. I knew they
would. I had seen them through the telescope, set up in the
entrance of the west room, swimming off shore.
When we got
to the beach, the dolphins were jumping and tearing around to make
sure that we saw them. We all walked out into the surf, and they
came to us immediately. After greeting them and stroking them for a
few minutes, Sarah and I went back to our load and started down the
beach. The three dolphins that did not have a rider had a fit,
standing on their tails chattering at us, doing flips, and doing
everything they could to get us to come back into the water. "They
want us to bring this stuff out there." Sarah waved at the little
think we can handle it out there?"
know. We can try. The big pot ought to float if it doesn't get
turned over. We'll be all right."
"If it gets
turned over, then what?" I was hesitant.
bet, that if it does, they will return everything to shore for us?"
"What do we
have to lose then? Let's go."
We went back
into the surf, and the dolphins joined us again. They investigated
our load, which we set down to float in the water, and nuzzled up
to us. At first we tried to let the pot float, but the drag on the
pot kept pulling us back to the dolphin's tails. We picked the pot
up with the bamboo pole on our shoulders, and the dolphins swam in
perfect formation, so we did not drop it. Within minutes, the few
miles to the cove were behind us.
After my vow
to be nice, Jamie and I went after the sugarcane while the girls
started a fire. We had filled the canteens at the cave; so we had
syrup and saltwater on the fire within fifteen minutes after we got
there. We had laid one of the ponchos out to put the chopped pieces
of sugar cane on to keep it out of the sand. When that was done, we
returned to the jungle to get more fire wood. We wanted to keep the
fire hot to harvest as much syrup and salt as possible.
water had boiled out of the syrup, Sarah dipped a canteen cup into
it and dipped out as much of the trash as possible and poured it
into the homemade strainer. It seemed to work well. She reached in
for another cupful as I turned to the poncho to get some more pieces
of sugarcane. I had no more than turned my back when she screamed.
turned around, she was holding her foot screaming with pain. I
picked her up, as if she was a little baby, and ran to the water
with her. She didn't feel like she weighed over five pounds. The
water helped, and when the pain subsided a little, she scooted up
onto the bank and asked me to get her a piece of the aloe leaf, the
juice of which she applied to her foot and hand.
burned the back of her hand on the canteen cup, and dropped the cup,
pouring the hot syrup onto her left foot. Her hand had large
blisters on it, but didn't look too bad. Her foot was really bad.
The soul, the sides, and toes had been protected by the sand, but
virtually all the skin was gone from the front of the ankle and top
of the foot.
leaf helped, and after a half hour or so, she stopped crying. "I'm
going to need some more aloe leaf if we stay here tonight."
"I'll take a
dolphin and go after some," Jamie ran to the animals that lay in
the shallows, watching Sarah.
with him" Debbie followed.
call Sheba to follow you, and don't start up the mountain 'til she
gets there." I tried to make Sarah as comfortable as possible.
seemed to know exactly what they were supposed to do. Sheba had to
run nearly two miles around the cove to follow but she did not waste
any time. In a few minutes she was running up the other side. The
little whales also seemed to understand. They did not do any
playing but moved slowly as if waiting for the dog.
added more cane and water into the syrup, and stirred it with a
clean stick. Then, I went to the jungle, looking for just the right
branch. It needed to be about an inch in diameter, and have a
branch sticking straight out from it to fit the handle of the
canteen cup. It did not take long. I found exactly what I was
looking for. The handle part was even curved a little in the right
direction. I trimmed the crotch as necessary to make a good fit.
I tried to tie it to the cup with small vines. It did not work. I
could not get them tight enough to hold it securely. Finally,
overruling Sarah's objections, I tore a hem from the sheet, and tied
the handle to the cup, and tore some more strips and bandaged the
aloe leaf to Sarah's foot and hand. This done, I
returned to the fire, and tested out my dipper. It worked well. I
poured all the gooey mash I could out of the pan, and squeezed and
strained it into the cups, and carefully poured the cool syrup into
the extra canteens. I threw the trash strained from the syrup into
the fire. I also continued to add sea water to the salt pot.
beginning to get a little worried about Jamie, and Debbie, but
finally, I saw them coming. Jamie had a full leaf about four feet
long under his arm. They said they had to wait on Sheba to get
there, and then she did not want to come back very badly, but she
was coming. She showed up a half hour later on the other side of
the cove entrance. When she saw us, she barked a couple of times,
and lay down to rest.
I filled the
pots again, and waded out into the cove entrance to be met by the
dolphins. One of them towed me across the cove to check on Sheba.
I decided that she was all right, She was just tired. She had a
right to be. She was an old dog, and had just run at least fifteen
miles. I petted and praised her for a few minutes, and asked the
dolphin to take me back.
As much as I
tried to steer her straight across the cove, she went where she
wanted to go. For ten minutes she let me know she wanted to play.
This was not punishment. She was playing. The three younger kids
got the idea and joined us. I guess the dolphins thought they had
worked enough. It was time to play for a while.
others came out to play, one of the dolphins took me back to Sarah
and my cooking. I strained some more syrup, and started another
batch. "How are your burns doing now?"
pretty bad. I need to go to the bathroom, and I don't think I can
walk by myself."
I'll have to help you."
don't think Debbie is big enough."
I helped her
up. She was ten times as heavy as she had been when I carried her
to the water when she first got burned. "You sure got heavier."
"What do you
carried you to the water, you hardly weighed anything. Now, it's
all I can do to help you up when you're doing most of the work."
probably because you were excited and didn't feel my weight. I'm
sure glad you were here and knew what to do."
but I knew we had to get that hot syrup off your foot. That was the
only thing I could think of to cool it. I thought about the Aloe,
but I didn't think it would do any good until we got the hot syrup
"I think you
did the right thing."
"I hope so."
heavily on me, she managed to make it the few steps to the edge of
the jungle. I tried to help her looking the other way to give her
squat." She grabbed me with her other hand almost falling. "I have
to be able to sit on something."
I helped her
back to the ground, and ran back to the fire for the machete. In a
few minutes I had two dozen sticks about two feet long. I laid them
in a crisscross fashion to make a sort of small box for her to sit
on. I helped her onto it. It seemed sturdy enough, so I started
to leave. "Let me know when you're through."
helped her back to the beach, she was raving about the stool. All
the kids had to leave their dolphins and go look at it. I thought
it was quite embarrassing. "I'll bet with some bamboo and vines you
could make us a real toilet with a hole in the ground and everything
so we won't have to squat anymore. We girls hate to squat."
"We boys do
When the sun
was overhead, I called the others to come for lunch, and the words
were barely out of my mouth, when I got knocked down again, and
three dolphins were sitting out there laughing at me. "I think you
did that on purpose." I picked up a fish nearly two feet long and
shook it at them. They chattered some more, and did a flip in the
air, before they settled down, and went after their own dinner.
also showed considerable concern for Sarah. Several times during
the morning, one or two at a time would come as close as they could
and chatter at her. After she had talked to them, they had eased
back into the water and swum slowly off. The only time one of them
did anything boisterous around her was when one had thrown the fish
mid-afternoon I had all five extra canteens filled with syrup. We
had planned to go up to Lake Four, and swim, but there was no way
Sarah could walk that far, and we were not going to leave her. I
did not even want to play with the dolphins. I did not want to
leave her. She might need me, and I would not be there. I sat
there with her, talking. She tried to get me to go play, but my
whole body had sympathy pains for her. Even when she told me it did
not hurt too badly, I did not believe her.
what the saltwater would feel like on my burns," she remarked one
time after one of the dolphins had come to talk to her.
"I think it
would sting bad. If you get salt in a sore, it really smarts."
"I want to
care. The dolphins have to take me home. I won't be able to walk
that far for a week, and I want to go home tomorrow. I want to see
what it's gonna feel like, now."
When I could
not discourage her, I helped her into the water. She cringed.
"Wow! That smarts! It's just like someone put alcohol on my
ankle. It's funny. It doesn't hurt the burn. It hurts really bad
above it. I think it will quit stinging in a minute when I get used
"I told you
it would smart."
"I know, but
it's cool too. I think it's starting to stop stinging. I want to
get on a dolphin."
said, than done," as the fairy tales say, a dolphin nosed between
us, and she lifted her sore foot over her back. The dolphin moved
off slowly and smoothly, and took her around and round the cove.
The rest of us were being thrown and dunked, when the dolphin
decided to go to the bottom without warning or roll over, but hers
was as gentle as a lamb, never making a sudden move, or turn that
might dislodge her.
foot?" I asked after she had been riding for a while.
fine. I can hardly tell it was burned. The cool water feels good
there are a million nasty germs in it though." I guided my ride
away from her. "I hope you don't get sick from the water. "I'd
sure hate for you to get blood poison and die. I don't know what
I'd do without you."
Jesus will make sure I get all better. You'll see; in a week you
won't even know I ever got burned."
you're right." I directed my dolphin to the camp, and put a canteen
cupful of fresh water, with one of the bandages in it, into the fire
to boil. When it had boiled for several minutes, I dug a hole in
the wet sand above the water line, and half buried the cup in it
cool. I returned to the dolphins for a little while. Then I called
Sarah to come out of the water. She guided the dolphin to the camp,
and gingerly walked out of the water by herself. "I think that sea
water is good for it."
"It might be
if it wasn't for the germs and stuff. I just boiled some water.
Lets wash it off, and put some clean Aloe on it. I unwrapped the
foot, and more skin came off. It was shriveled from being in the
water so long. Otherwise, it looked good. There was no swelling.
"Jesus," I prayed, "I don't know why you let this happen to Sarah,
but please help her to get better, I couldn't stand it if she got
finished binding a fresh piece of aloe to Sarah's foot and started
to unbandage her hand, Sheba barked three time and lay her head back
down between her paws. Prince, Buster, and Rascal got up, stretched
and took off down the beach.
"She must be
sick," I put the old bandage into the canteen cup to be washed and
boiled. "She sent the pups after dinner."
probably just tired, and decided it was time for the pups to get
her over again after I finish this." I looked at her hand. It was
not burned as badly as her foot. None of the skin had peeled off
yet, but it was swollen and looked angrier. "Maybe that sea water
is good for it. Your foot is all shriveled from being in the water
so long, but it isn't swollen like your hand is."
hurts worse too."
because of the swelling, I think. Your foot is burned a lot worse.
I covered the burn with a fresh piece of aloe leaf, and bound it
with a clean bandage.
turned to Sheba. "Let's see what's wrong with you." I looked her
over, and felt for any cuts or bruises, and examined her feet, but I
saw nothing. "She just decided to be lazy, today. I guess that's
one of the privileges of being a mommy with half grown children."
kids got tired of playing with the dolphins and returned to camp.
Jamie, Debbie and Julie went after fresh water, and I kept the salt
water boiling. It sure got boring sitting around the camp, but we
could not do anything else. Sarah wanted us to go on up to Lake
Four and swim for a while. She said Sheba would take care of her,
but none of us would even consider leaving her. We would have gone
back to the cave, but I thought Sarah needed another day to
recuperate before we tried to get her up the mountain. The little
whales would take her to the beach below the cave in a lot less time
than she spent riding in the cove, but it would be really hard for
her to get up the mountain.
We were all
glad when the stars began to twinkle in the moonlit sky. At least
we had something different to talk about, and we could watch for
others were asleep, I added wood to the fire, and filled the
saltwater pot. I sat for a long time looking out over sea,
daydreaming that someone would see our fire, come to investigate,
and take us home; so, we could find a doctor for Sarah, and I could
be "just" a little boy again. I knew that could never happen. I
knew no one would see our fire. I do not know how long I sat there,
but the moon that had risen in the early afternoon was setting,
before I lay down to sleep,
crying with pain. She wanted to soak her burns in the sea again,
but I could just visualize the giant germs attacking her, eating her
flesh away, and causing infection. I boiled and cooled some sea
water and bandages to wash and wrap her burns. She really howled
when I poured the saltwater on them, but the aloe juice and leaves
were soothing. I had wanted to use fresh water but she wanted the
sea water. After breakfast she was able to get to the bathroom
stool with Debbie's help.
The salt pot
had boiled dry by the time I got around to checking it. It had a
thick crust of salt in it that I scraped out into a canteen cup.
There was probably plenty to last us for two or three weeks. By
that time Sarah should be well enough to return to the cove. I
filled the pot, thinking I would get some more when it boiled away
again, but when it was dry the layer of salt was so thin, I hardly
got any more. Jamie and I took the pots up to wash them with fresh
water. I knew that it was not good to leave salt in them.
broke camp after lunch, which again was supplied by the dolphins, I
dug a large hole high on the bank, in the edge of the jungle. I
stuck the machete down to the handle in the middle of it; put the
bedroll into the pots; turned the pots upside down in the hole; and
covered it all with sand. I knew no one would steal any of it, but
I was not sure the wild dog puppies would not take off with the
blankets and ponchos. We had planned to leave the sheet too, but we
took it back for bandages. I was washing and boiling the old ones,
but we might need more.
Sheba." I helped Sarah into the water for the dolphin ride home.
"C'mon. We're going home."
old self again, was up, heading into the cove, barking at her
had been waiting for us. One slid right up to Sarah low in the
water. It was easy for her to get on. She moved out slowly and
smoothly, gradually picking up speed as Sarah guided her out to sea
and toward the cave.
My ride was
not so smooth. She got me out into the deep and dove to the bottom,
leaving me there treading water. It was not but a few seconds until
another slid under me, only to flip me back to the first one, which
had surfaced a few feet in front of me. I assumed they thought I
had not played with them enough. They were going to play with me
whether I wanted to, or not. One time I lost my canteen belt, and
the games stopped until the dolphin retrieved it and took it to
Jamie. I was in for a ride all the way up the beach. They took me
so far out in the sea I could not even see the others, part of the
time, but I knew they were playing, and I enjoyed the activity. I
had lost all fear of these wonderful, beautiful, little whales who
had saved our lives and adopted us.
and sea I had probably traveled five times as far as the others, but
the games stopped, and I sailed gently into shore to be there when
Sarah needed me to help her onto the beach.
fun out there?" Sarah eased her weight onto her sore foot. "Ouch!
fun I've had with'em. I think they did too."
dolphins, a few yards out to sea, stood on their tails chattering at
us after we were up on the shore. When we waved and told them
good-by, they did their habitual flip in the air one after the
other. They were gone.
It was rough
on Sarah, but after about an hour we finished the fifteen-minute
climb to the cave. I built the fire and milked the goats, except
for Stinker. She finally stood still for Debbie to milk, but only
after Sarah came to pet her. "I surely picked the right name for
her," I helped Sarah stand without putting weight on her foot.
was settled and the chores were done, Jamie and I went to cut some
bamboo for a toilet. Apparently, thanks to Sarah's burn, he had
already forgotten my vow of vengeance, but I was not about to act on
it. Sarah's burn had removed all desire for frivolity from my
mind. Everything I thought about was serious, and the first thing
was to get a toilet seat made for Sarah before she needed it. I
would dig a hole in the ground and build a semi-permanent structure
later. I might even make some chairs and a bed after that. I had
gotten the idea at the cove after I fixed that stool for Sarah. I
had thought a lot about it.
toilet stool was finished, Jamie came up with another idea. Debbie
and Julie stayed with Sarah, while Jamie and I followed the stream
that ran through the goat pen to the north beach. The stream flowed
northeasterly with a few small tributaries down the mountain to the
beach. It disappeared into a large dip in the sand high on the
beach, at the edge of the jungle. There was evidence of a small
pool, but at that time the sand swallowed the stream as fast as it
flowed down the mountain. We learned later that right after a hard
rain, or if we had an exceptionally high tide, a pool would form.
day, Jamie, Debbie and I constructed the toilet over the stream so
it would carry the refuse away. We all discussed it before hand,
and decided that we had enough water at the cave and on the island
in general. This one stream could be used to carry the sewage and
odors away. By supper time we had a private bamboo room with a
solid bench, large enough for the three girls to sit on. It seemed
they always liked to go to the bathroom together. I was afraid they
would fight over who went first if we made it any smaller.
At the end
of the first week after Sarah was burned, she had not returned to
normal, as she had promised. Both her foot and hand were swollen
twice their sizes, and red streaks ran up her arm and leg. She was
so hot; we could hardly stand to touch her. She seemed to be out of
her mind most of the time. We had carried her out to the middle of
the stream on the patio, and poured cool water over the parts of her
body that came above the water level continuously. We did not do
anything we did not absolutely have to, but care for her and pray
around the clock. We knew that if God did not heal her, she would
die, and it did not look like He was going to. "God," I begged over
and over, "why must we go through this? You know how much Sarah
means to this family, and how much we all depend upon her! You took
us from our mothers. Please don't take the mother of this little
family away from us! We need her so badly! Please make her well!"
We all cried for her until we could not cry any more, and I prayed
until I could not pray for her anymore. Eight days--Nine days--We
did not sleep. We did not eat. We sat by our beloved Sarah,
praying. Our prayers did no good. The red streaks were up to her
right shoulder, starting across her chest, and above her left hip.
afternoon of the tenth day, we all knelt around her and I prayed,
"Lord God Almighty, ruler of the universe, I've begged for Sarah's
life. I've pleaded with you for over a week. It's done no good.
She's your child. You know best. If you take her home, you have a
good reason; and though I can't imagine how, it will be for our good
too. I won't ask you again. She has accepted you as her Savior.
Her life is in your hands. Do what you will with her; but if you
take her, Jesus, please, comfort our hearts. Help us remember that
you love her; and that you still love us. In Jesus' name, Amen!"
A smile came
on every face when they said, "Amen!" I knew they felt the same
warm glow I did, and the assurance that whatever happened, it would
be all right. We felt so good and warm inside. At that moment, we
had forgotten Sarah. "May I please have a drink of water?" Sarah
was in her right mind, and had risen up on one elbow in the stream.
"My mouth is so dry."
Lord! Thank you Jesus!" I shouted so loudly, I knew our parents
could hear us, no matter where they were. The tears had returned.
I was crying again. Where there had been no more tears, a flood of
joy washed down my face.
up, grabbed a nearby cup and dipped it in the stream above us for
anything to eat? I'm starved!" Sarah finished drinking.
"Look at her
leg!" Debbie cried.
as the ends of the red streaks, over the next few minutes, moved
down to her foot and disappeared. The streaks in her arm did the
I warmed the
soup I had made for her, but had not been able to get her to eat
during her delirium. She was sitting up when I brought her the cup
of soup. I touched her shoulder and it was cool from the water. I
touched her dry face, and for the first time in several days it did
not burn my hand.
"What am I
doing out here in the stream?"
trying to keep you cool. You've lain in the stream for over four
days, and we have been pouring cool water over you night and day."
I brought her the soup. "Want me to feed you?"
"No. I can
manage. I think." She reached for the dish.
afraid you was gonna die." Julie wiped the tears from her face.
"We prayed and prayed and prayed for you, but it looked like Jesus
was gonna take you to heaven. He wouldn't make you better."
waiting for you to quit worrying about me and tell Him to do what
was best." Sarah sipped the soup. "I was with Him. I heard
Timmy's prayer. When you all said, 'Amen,' Jesus said, 'They've
given you to me. You can go back to them, now.'"
really with Jesus?" Debbie touched Sarah's leg where the red marks
"Yes. I was
really with Jesus." Sarah took another sip of the soup.
"What did he
look like?" Julie asked.
just like his pictures to me; otherwise, I wouldn't have known him.
He was so loving and kind. He was terribly sad that you waited so
long to give me to Him, so I could get well. He said you were being
selfish. You were worrying about how bad it would be for you
without me. I could have been healed days ago, if you had given me
to Him sooner."
lesson we'll have to remember in the future." I took her dish to
refill it. "I told you that God always has a good reason for what
he does, even if we don't know what it is. This time, we know. He
wanted to teach us this lesson. He wanted us to learn to always
yield to His will."
not immediately get up and start running around and jumping off the
patio into the lake. She watched us do that for a day or two. The
evening of her healing, with a little help from Debbie, she made it
to the new toilet and back. A week later she was cooking most of
our meals, and wanted to go to the beach to play with the dolphins.
She thought they might be worried about her.
excursion to the beach, we got them to take us down the north side
of the island, but they would not stay close to shore. They took us
several hundred, maybe a thousand yards out to sea before they
turned east. They only took us far enough so we could see the
violent southeast coast from far out in the sea. They did not stay
out there long either, before they returned us to the lee side of
the island, where they seemed to be more comfortable with us. I
knew it was not fear for their own lives, that made them want to
stay on the sheltered side.
Leonard H. Hall, Sr.