by L. H. Hall
the next day, we packed light, taking only two blankets and sheets,
one machete, jerky, our eating utensils and the ponchos, all wrapped
up in one large roll. "I wonder if we'll see Frosty or Star or
Tina, or any of the other goats we turned loose," Julie commented.
know. They might even be up on the mountain in Goat Field." I
moved the telescope a little so we could pass through the entrance.
kids no longer needed the nannies' milk, we had taken them with
Star, Nanny, Tina, back to Goat Field and released them. Without
kids to feed, Sassy and Stinker, my favorites, provided us with more
than enough milk. I had finally, but barely, gotten close enough to
stinker to milk her. The ones we had released would still come
running to greet us in the wild whenever they saw us. I was sure by
this time that we would never have any trouble catching any of them
if we wanted to take them back to the pen. I definitely planned to
take Frosty back before she had her first kid. She was the overall
favorite of all of us.
It was quite
a surprise when we got to the beach to see the baby's raft lying
within three feet of the larger one. We carried the larger raft to
the water and one of the dolphins came to claim it, but the baby was
trying her best to get it. Jamie tied the fire bucket to the baby's
raft and carried it down to her. She was anxious to get it.
how the little raft got clear up on the beach," Sarah pondered.
must have flipped it up there when the baby tired of it. You saw
how far they flipped me that time. They have good aim too. They
knock me down with a fish every time I turn my back on one of them.
It's on purpose too! They never hit any of the rest of you." I
lashed the bedroll to the raft.
Sarah stroked a little whale that sidled up to her. "Good girl.
it's funny, don't you?"
and so do the dolphins and everybody else, including you."
climbed onto the big raft and lay down. We each found a dolphin,
and eased into the deep. The dolphin, pulling the sled, seemed to
know that Sheba was not up to a long swim if she should fall off,
and stayed close to the shore. She glided smoothly and easily down
the coast, into the cove, and pulled close enough to the bank for
the old dog to get off.
gave the pail a rough ride trying to keep up with her mother whom
Jamie was riding. The bucket survived, and when we got to the cove,
little dolphin decided to keep her raft again, along with its load.
We had quite a time retrieving the fire pail.
and I got off at the south side of the cove entrance where we always
had our fire. Debbie and Julie rode into the cove to beach the big
raft that had been left near the bank. A little while later, Sarah
saw the little raft flying through the air to land near the big one.
started easily, and we played in the cove for nearly an hour while a
good bed of coals was formed. When we directed the little whales
toward the fire, I knew what would happen, if I did not keep an eye
on the playful animals. I backed out of the water onto the bank,
and around behind the fire, watching them. They seemed not to be
paying any attention to me, but the moment I turned my attention to
the fire, and squatted down to scoop up the coals, I got hit in the
head with dinner. This time seven dolphins and four kids were
laughing at me, when I picked myself up out of the sand. "One of
these days your gonna miss!" I screamed, shaking my fist at them.
"That hurts!" I broke into laughter. I wanted to be mad, but I
could not help myself. I'll never know why they picked me to be the
brunt of their jokes. The only thing I can figure is that I was the
biggest, and they were trying to knock me down to size. They let me
know they were the bosses of the beach as will as the sea.
the fish and threw the refuse at them. It did not last long or
pollute the sea. We scooped up the coals and started for the lake.
I carried the fish and the coals. The rest mounted dolphins and rode
into the cove where the bedroll awaited them.
We had not
been at Lake Four Camp long enough to start the fire before we heard
the bleating of goats and looked up to see, what looked like, the
whole herd rushing at us, hopping and skipping. Not only did our
own friends come to nuzzle us, and get petted; several others came
almost to us, but stopped a few feet away. One of them was a black
and tan nanny with a white blaze on her nose, followed by a pair of
half grown twins.
there's the nanny that adopted the orphan," Julie squealed
gleefully, jumping up and down clapping her hands.
"I see her,"
I knelt down to give Frosty a hug as she nibbled at my hair.
got really quiet. Julie and Debbie, talking very softly with their
arms outstretched, moved ever so slowly toward the nanny. Sheba,
and the pups came to attention, but did not move or make a sound.
Slowly the girls advanced. The nanny stood frozen watching them.
Nose and fingers were inches apart when the nanny moved slowly to
smell of the fingers. The girls froze. Nothing moved for nearly a
minute, that seemed like an hour, until the nanny withdrew and
walked slowly away. The girls were disappointed, but did not press
the issue. There would be another time, another day. They would
make friends with the black and tan nanny with a white blaze on her
nose and her twins.
her Blaze," Sarah turned with the rest of us to collecting fuel for
a fire. "The one with the white ear is the orphan. Thank you,
Jesus. They're big enough to survive on their own now."
poured the coals into the fire pit, feeling a little jealous. "I
think they could, but its nice for them to have a momma."
Debbie sobered. She said no more, but we all knew I had said the
wrong thing again, although it was getting a little easier. It had
been almost ten months since we had lost our mommas.
the ones we had released, stayed close to the camp. The goat kids
ran and frolicked with the human kids, and before long some of the
wild kids joined in the games under the watchful eyes of their
mothers. Blaze lay not far off watching. It did not appear to
bother her that children were handling her twins. She seemed to
know that it was all right.
twilight started to fade, Debbie tried once more to approach Blaze,
moving slowly and talking softly. The nanny just lay there. She
was a little nervous, but did not move. I think she sensed the love
and tenderness in the little girl. Debbie did not appear to be in
any hurry. She let Blaze smell of her hand; then, moved it up to
scratch her nose. Blaze seemed to enjoy that. A few minutes later
her head was in Debbie's lap. She let the little girl do whatever
she wanted. Julie and Jamie moved over to her. I thought she was
going to get up when Jamie got close, but she settled down. By the
time solid darkness had settled outside of the fire circle, the
children were all over the nanny.
We lay as
always when we camped out, talking until one by one we fell asleep.
After all the others were asleep, Sarah spoke from the opposite end
of the bed, "Isn't it strange how sometimes the very mention of our
mothers can take all the laughter out of our hearts for a while, and
other times it doesn't seem to have any effect."
guess it is." I wiped a tear from my eye, feeling very lonely. "It
always makes me feel bad when I say something like I did, and
everyone gets sad."
Timmy, I've done the same thing. It makes you feel like it's all
your fault, doesn't it?"
miss my mother awful bad, Timmy, but do you know what makes me feel
"I feel so
guilty, because I don't want them to come and find us. I don't want
to leave this island, ever. I don't want to be separated from you
and Jamie. Remember a long time ago, I told you the longer we
stayed the less, I would want to be rescued."
remember. I feel like that too. Remember I told you about being
afraid that God had delayed our rescue because I told my mother in a
dream that I didn't want to leave? I still feel like that. I get
awful lonely for my folks, sometimes, but I don't want to go home.
This is my home--No. It's our home, and I don't want it messed
"Me too, but
don't it make you feel guilty for feeling that way?"
it does, guilty and selfish."
you do, if they came for us tomorrow?"
them, of course. I'm just a little boy. They wouldn't pay any
attention to what I want."
"If I saw 'em
coming, and nobody else did, I think I'd take ever'body into the den
room and hide 'til they all left, and never tell the kids they were
like that too, but it wouldn't be right to make the kids stay here
against their will, if they had a chance to go home."
"I know, but
I love it here so much. I don't ever want to leave. I want to grow
really old and die right up there in the cave. Then I want you to
bring me down to Lake One, up there where it's the prettiest, and
you think I'll still to be here."
love it here. You won't ever want to leave me."
you think that?"
"I just know
it. An'--and--Timmy--when we get grown, do you think--maybe--maybe,
we can get--get married?"
"In a way
we're married right now. Remember I wrote it in the Bible that we
were married, and adopted the others."
teasing me, Timmy. I mean really married, and have some kids."
know who would marry us here, and if we get rescued, you'd probably
find somebody you liked better. We're just kids. It's a long time
before we'll be old enough to get married."
great-grandma was only twelve when she got married."
ain't getting married when your twelve! Not to me anyway."
I'm thirteen then."
you're twenty or twenty-five."
mean you'll marry me when I'm twenty?"
say that. Besides, maybe I already got another girl all picked out
to marry," I teased.
not have! What's her name?"
say I do have. I said I might have." I choked to keep from
"I know lots
of girls who'll want to get married when I'm ready."
there's Tina Jergens, she's real good looking too." I told a little
saying I'm not."
pretty too, as girls go."
prettier than me?"
say she was?"
Sarah, I've been thinking, If Julie is right about your mother
having another baby, you ought to have a little brother by now." I
changed the subject without answering her question."
that. I can count nine months. He must be at least a month old by
now. But I don't care about him, and don't change the subject. Is
she prettier than me?"
"I wonder if
he looks like you or Julie?"
Allen Davis! You answer me!"
what? I must have been asleep when you asked the question."
prettier than me?"
pretty all right; two big brown eyes, a nice long nose, soft, silky,
black hair under her chin and two curved horns, but I don't know if
she's prettier than you, but maybe she is."
Allen Davis! You quit comparing me to a goat!"
asked if Tina was prettier than you. I described her to you so you
could make up your own mind." I couldn't hold it any longer. I
burst out laughing.
matter" Are you two fighting, or something? Jamie asked sleepily.
"I asked him
if that Tina friend of yours in the Philippines is prettier than me,
and he won't tell me. He keeps talking about something else."
I'll say she isn't. She's twelve years old, weighs about a hundred
and fifty pounds, with short, ugly dirty blond hair, a big ole'
round face with little squinty eyes, and a little pug nose you can
hardly see if she stands sideways to ya. She talks so loud you can
hear her a block away, if she whispers something in somebody's ear.
I don't think she ever takes a bath, she stinks so bad, but maybe,
that's because she's so fat she can't reach her bottom when she goes
to the bathroom." Jamie exaggerated slightly, but not a whole lot.
very nice, Jamie." I admonished him. "Tina isn't that bad. She can
reach her bottom. I've seen her scratching it."
Davis, I hate you for teasing me like that. I'm never going to talk
to you again."
hate me. You will talk to me again. You love me too much to stay
mad at me. I love you too--and maybe--just--maybe, if we still want
to when we get old enough, we'll really get married."
Yuk!" Jamie said.
"I love you,
too." Sarah was crying.
mean to make you cry. I was just teasing you. I guess I carried it
too far. I'm really sorry."
"I know you
was teasing. Good-night."
morning I had just stoked the fire, dressed the breakfast the dogs
had provided, and put the animal on the spit to cook. Sarah came
out of the pool. Without any warning, she closed her fist and hit
me as hard as she could squarely in the solar plexus, doubling me
that for?" Tears came to my eyes.
me like that last night." She laughed.
sorry," I tried to get my breath.
"I know you
are. You're sorry I hit you, but you aren't sorry you teased me.
You'd do it again right now, if I'd give you a chance."
"I told you
last night, I was sorry."
believe you, but now we're even."
"I really am
sorry. I didn't intend to upset you so much. I was just teasing."
I started breathing again.
accept your apology, but you know what'll happen if you ever do it
the warning. Next time I'll be on guard."
Debbie came from the pool, dripping wet. "Can I please have my
spankin's, now? I wanna have fun the rest of the day without
thinkin' about it."
think you ought to dry first, so they won't sting so badly?" I put
my arm around her.
wanna get'em over with, so I can forget'em."
I sat down and pulled her down across my lap. "C'mon, kids, Debbie
wants to get it over with." I swatted her nine times, including the
extra one to be good on, about hard enough to kill a fly. Sarah and
Julie did not hit her much harder, but Jamie remembered what she had
done to him and left a few red marks.
Now I can have a happy birthday." She took a wild swing at Jamie.
"You hit too hard."
harder than you hit me."
different. You're a boy."
think boys don't have any feelings?"
bottoms are tougher."
they aren't. It hurts us just as much as it does you, but because
we're boys, we can't cry. We have to pretend it don't hurt."
enjoyed Debbie's Most Important Person Day. We swam in the lake,
played tag, romped with the goat kids and dogs, petted the nannies,
and even milked Blaze a little. We also spent a couple hours in the
cove with the dolphins, but returned to the lake camp before
darkness settled in.
something special about the lake camp at night. It was darker than
most places on the island, with just a ribbon of stars glittering
down on us. Sometimes ghostly shapes and shadows caused by the moon
behind the trees appeared. Eerie sounds of the wind whistling
through the branches entertained us. The far off howl or barking of
the wild dogs sometimes drew a response from Sheba or one of the
pups, which awakened us. With all of this, we knew no fear. God's
blanket of protection covered us. We laughed, at the shadows and
sounds that danced through the valley. Often we tried to come up
with a make believe explanation, like, "That's the shadow of a great
dragon, watch out for the flame," or maybe it was Paul Bunyan, and
his blue ox. We did not fear them because we knew they were legends
and fairy tales. Even if they were not, God was bigger than all of
them. We trusted him to be our protector. We never said, or did
anything to try to frighten each other or cause us to have bad
dreams. If I thought someone might be getting scared, I would
remind them of all the wonderful ways God had helped us, and cared
for us on the island. Sometimes Julie or one of the others would
say something like, "Aren't you glad Jesus is in our hearts to take
care of us, so we don't have to be scared of that?" We would all
agree, and often sing praises to Him.
When we had
first come to the island I told the girls that the Psalms in the
Bible were songs that King David used to sing. When memorizing them
we made up tunes, often without rhythm or any kind of order, just a
changing pitch of our voices. The tunes to some of them changed
every time we sang them, or we might sing five tunes at the same
time, but it was beautiful music to God's ears. We sang the praises
of King David from the depths of our hearts to God. This night we
did not talk long, at least I did not. After a hard day of play, I
may have been the first to drop out of the nightly conversation.
Leonard H. Hall, Sr.