by L. H. Hall
We were not
in any hurry to get up the following morning. We awoke dreading
Sarah's impending exile, and lay in each other's arms until our
bodies ached from the bed. In all our years on the island, it was
the first time I had still been in bed when the sun peeped over the
jungle. We skipped breakfast and went to the beach. The dolphins,
were glad to see us and eager to play. We let them throw us around
for a while before we rode down to the cove to see if Jamie was
there. I wanted to assure him that we were well, and that I would
join him after Sarah left, but he was not in sight.
The sun was
still in the eastern sky when our stomachs reminded us that we had
cheated them out of breakfast. We returned to the cave for an early
lunch. Then, we awaited the inevitable pain in the stomach that was
Sarah's signal to leave. The afternoon wore on, and turned into
evening and the warning signal did not come. At sundown Sarah
smiled as a light suddenly beamed from in her eyes. "C'mere." She
led me to the double lounge, "I want to tell you something."
When I was
seated, she sat facing me, leaning back on my legs. "I've been
puzzled all afternoon because the pains in my stomach didn't start.
They always start about noon, but they haven't started."
think us being married might have something to do with it?"
think--maybe--it has everything to do with it. I think I remember a
big girl saying something in the rest room at school when I was
would you still love me if I was big and fat like Tina Jergens?"
never be that fat, but I would love you no matter what you looked
like. Remember what I said in our wedding vows, I will love you
always, no matter what you look like."
"Even if I
had a big fat belly that stuck out to here?" She held her hands out
in a circle a foot away from her belly.
your belly stuck out that far." Then I remembered the big bellies
on the goats before the kids were born, and I corrected myself.
"I'd love you even more if your belly stuck clear out there."
sure, but maybe--I remember that big girl in school saying she
wanted to have a baby so she wouldn't have to go through that every
month. She said women don't get sick like that when they're
pregnant. Would you mind if we had a baby?"
screamed. "When will you know for sure?"
know. Maybe, I'm just slow starting this time, but I never have
been before. My stomach always hurts Wednesday afternoon and I need
to be in the ravine before bedtime."
tell everybody! We're gonna have a baby!"
Silly! We can't tell'em yet. We gotta wait 'til we're sure."
her, and kissed her. "We can tell'em, 'Maybe.' Besides, the girls
will be expecting you. They might think we drowned in the crater."
hadn't thought of that. I'd better go tell them I'm okay. I just
haven't gotten sick yet."
with you to the ridge. It'll be getting dark soon."
just to the ridge. I don't want to embarrass them. Debbie was
awfully embarrassed that time you and Jamie came down there."
know anything was different. I just thought she wanted a soft
cushion to sit on, like the grass mattresses we make at the lake."
and that was embarrassing."
I could hear
the girls screaming and laughing from where I waited for Sarah on
the ridge. I pictured them with their arms around each other in a
circle, jumping up and down, and dancing round and round. Sarah had
obviously told them what she suspected.
in time to watch the bats come out. It was fully dark when the dogs
got excited, and Jamie came panting out of the cave. "What happened
to you? I've been expecting you all afternoon. How come you're not
in the ravine, Sarah? Ain't this the day you always go?"
have to go today?"
know for sure, but I don't think pregnant women have to go to the
women? Does that mean you're gonna have a baby?"
women have babies, but I am not sure I'm pregnant. I just might
be. All I know is that I didn't have to go to the ravine, today."
couldn't expect me to leave my beautiful bride to join the likes of
you when it wasn't necessary, could you?"
course not, but I got worried when you didn't show up by dusk. The
dumb whales weren't around. I had to swim across the cove entrance
and run all the way up here, only to find you two lovers sitting
here casually making love talk. It makes me sick. I wore myself
out for nothing!"
Jamie," I apologized. "We didn't figure it out ourselves until just
before dark. We went over and told the girls, but it was too far
for us to go down to the lakes tonight."
understand. Congratulations, Ma." He bent over and gave Sarah a
kiss on the cheek. "And you too, Pa."
"I am not
your Ma! And Don't you ever call me that again!" Sarah snapped at
him. "You can call me Mom, or Momma, or Sarah, or even Mother, if
you want, but don't you ever let me hear you call me and Timmy, Ma
and Pa, or Mammy and Pappy again. My mother didn't like those
names, and neither do I?"
Okay! Why don'tcha like'em?"
know, except my momma slapped my mouth for calling her that one
time, and I don't like'em."
know. I read it in one of the books and thought it sounded cute,"
he apologized, but added, "Now I know how to tease you, and get you
better not!" She jumped and ran after him with her fists doubled
ready to fight.
Okay! I here ya. MA! He ran off the cliff in feigned fear of her.
him into the darkness of the night. I went to the edge of the
patio, but I couldn't see much. They wrestled around in the water a
few minutes, and started up the path together, laughing, with their
arms around each other. I met them at the edge of the patio where
it meets the trail.
is, Dad, I brought 'er back to you. I don't want'er. She hits too
"Just so you
never hit back," I warned, laughing.
"You know I
wouldn't hit her or one of the girls, except maybe little love taps,
when I'm teasing them." He gave her a little hug before he released
her. "And, by the way, Mom, will you do me a big favor?"
that, Son?" Sarah poked him again.
"Get me a
little brother. There's already too many women on this island."
promises. What will be, will be."
stomach pains did not come that day, or the next. The girls came
back from the ravine. Sarah still did not have to go. About the
time the girls made their next trip into exile, Sarah had started
missing breakfast. More and more often, she did not feel well in
the mornings. The very sight or smell of the breakfast on the spit
sent her running toward the toilet. Usually it was to far away and
we had a mess to clean up. She did not have to visit the ravine
that month, or the next or the next, and a few more. As the days
and weeks past, she began to feel like eating breakfast again, in
fact, she wanted to eat all the time. Like my mother used to accuse
me, I began to think she was hollow all the way to her feet. She
did not seem to gain much weight, except in the tummy, and it did
not get much bigger for a while.
beginning to think it was a false alarm until one night we were
lying awake, talking, and Sarah put my hand on her tummy. It moved
under my hand. I jerked my hand back. "It's all right, Daddy.
He's just saying, 'Hello.'" She put my hand back on her. It moved
he been doing that?"
it a little bit for quite a while, but it's only been strong enough
to feel like that for a few days."
supposed to do that?"
"I'm sure it
is. If it wasn't, it wouldn't be doing it. Stop worrying. God's
taking care of this baby. Everything's just like it's supposed to
glad we have Him to depend on?" I rubbed her tummy tenderly.
didn't, I would be a nervous wreck. I'd be scared to death. Can
you imagine what it would be like for me, growing up here, on this
island with no pregnant women around. With no one who knows
anything about having babies except what we've seen of the dogs and
goats. I'm certainly not going to lick my baby clean, or chew off
"What are we
going to do?"
"A long time
ago--maybe it was the first time we were on Top of the World. I
think it was, but I'm not sure. You told me if I ever needed God to
talk to me, He would, and I would have total confidence in what he
"I think I
remember. It seems like you had asked me how I could be so
confident about things I say." I felt our son move again.
think so. Over the years I have learned, just like you and the
others have, that God always tells us what to do when we need it.
When this baby does something I don't understand, Jesus lets me know
it's all right; that it's the way it's supposed to be. When the
time comes, He'll tell one of us what we're supposed to do at just
the right time. I'm as confident of that, as I am that you love me,
or that God is real."
great?" I squeezed her close to me.
We had known
from the beginning that our baby was a boy. That's what Jamie had
ordered, and although Sarah had not promised, that's what we planned
to have so we men would not be outnumbered. "Imagine, if it
happened to be a girl, we'd be outnumbered two to one!" He
exclaimed, one day when we were gathering a supply of firewood.
I let it
pass. I too wanted a son, but I would be happy with whatever God
gave us. After all I was the head of the family, and king of the
island so my vote out numbered all of theirs. I did not push it or
abuse my authority, but when I made a decision it was accepted. On
rare occasions my error was pointed out to me by any of the four.
Often I realized it was my error, but if I did not, they complied
with my wishes. Sarah had proved many times that she would support
me, even when she really thought I was wrong. Sometimes I regretted
my obstinacy, but no one ever chided me or said, "See, I told you
so." They were tolerant and knew I did my best. They also knew
that God had set me in charge of the family, and that I tried to
find His wisdom in every major decision. We could not have survived
if I had not.
that year, was a celebration, the anniversary of the day I had
finally agreed to marry Sarah. I jokingly told them if I had it to
do all over, I would have done it seven years sooner. Then added,
"We should have waited at least five more years." I got a fist in
the stomach when I said that. Sarah was always using my stomach as
a punching bag, but the only time she ever hurt was that morning
after I had teased her so much about Tina Jergens.
It was such
an important occasion. Sarah used one of the old, worn out, holey
sheets we had found in the chest, when we first arrived, for a table
Day we again observed the Thanksgiving rule. We only discussed our
miracles and things that would give glory to God. Our beautiful
wedding, and Little Billy, as we called him, were the big miracles
of the year. Jamie had cut his foot with a machete, and it had
healed almost overnight. It happened the day after they had come
back from the wedding. We did not even know about it until the
girls had come back from the ravine the first time after our
return. The girls had taken his foot in their hands and prayed for
it. By the next morning it had looked like little more than a bad
scratch. I recounted the many, many miracles in my life, and how
God had helped me in making decisions. Sarah and the girls marveled
at how fresh the flowers for the wedding had remained for as much as
a week. They admitted keeping them in the lake. Even so, normally,
they would have wilted in the heat. When the most recent miracles
had been remembered, we looked back over the years: to Sarah's
remarkable return from death's door after she had been burned; how
the Lord had taught us to build the goat pen and the furniture; our
relationship with the dolphins; and how they had saved us. Things
like that, we would never forget.
petite girlish figure had vanished. I told her she looked like a
long legged pot belly stove, and got hit in the stomach as a
result. She was so big in February; it did not seem possible she
still had over two more months to go. The days were beginning to
drag, as they had for us the year before. We tried to stay busy and
keep our minds on other things, but we often wondered if the time
would ever come. She decided that she needed two more rockers
before the baby was born, one for the bedroom and one for the patio
so she would not have to be dragging the one we had from place to
place. She also reminded me that the baby would need a cradle to
sleep in. After he was born he would need to have lots of moss that
we could discard when it got dirty, because we had nothing to put on
using what was left of the sheets. She got the best one and showed
me how thin and rotten it was. The sheets were good for bandages if
we had a good vine to tie them on with but nothing else. The
blankets, too, were old and rotten, and far too scratchy for the
baby's tender skin. She assured me, we had nothing to dress our son
in. We would wrap him in large leaves, with soft moss and grass; to
help absorb his discharges.
be found before he is born," I suggested. "It's about time for them
to find us. Your mother told Julie that she might almost be grown.
She's thirteen, now. That's almost grown."
"You and I
are almost grown, Timmy. Do you know that we're still young enough,
they might say our wedding wasn't for real, and separate us,
especially if they find us before the baby is born."
even thought of that! There wouldn't be anything we could do about
it, at least, for a couple more years."
does come, I'll to go to the ravine and hide, 'til they're gone,"
think my parents would separate us now. If I remember what they
were like. If they found you pregnant with my child, we'd get
married whether we wanted to, or not. I don't know whether they
would accept our wedding, but if they didn't, Dad would marry us,
just so the baby would have a father. He might whip all the skin
off my bottom, but we WOULD get married."
know what my folks would do, but I still don't want to be separated
from Jamie. I think it would kill me."
are nearly grown now. They can't separate any of us for too many
years. They are strangers to us. They would almost have to put us
in prison to separate us for long. I'm a Christian, and I'm
supposed to honor my parents, but I would have to honor my vows to
you first. I would run away to be with you."
they wouldn't let you know where they took me?"
be a problem, but you could always find us by calling the mission
board. You could write to me and let me know where your were, and I
would come to you. We haven't been found yet, so don't worry about
"I guess God
knows whether they would separate us or not, and I know he
recognizes our marriage. He won't let them find us until we're old
enough, so they can't separate you and me, at least."
you're right, dear Sarah," We had been worrying over nothing;
relying on our own abilities, or lack of them, instead of looking to
Him for assurance.
have never talked about our experiences on the Top of the World,
because we believed we experienced the same thoughts and feelings.
May I ask you something about the wedding?"
You can ask me about anything. I don't mind talking to you about
our experiences, now that we're married. I didn't want to talk
about them before because I thought we were too young to be so much
in love. I was afraid if we talked about them, we might do things
we shouldn't. You'll never know how much I wanted to hold you in my
arms, way back when we were nine and ten years old. That first day
at the lakes, just before Sheba killed the nanny, we got really
serious. Remember? You asked me if I thought it was love. I
wanted to hold you so close and tell you that I knew it was love,
but all I could say was, 'We're to young for that stuff.' If I
hadn't, we would never have been able to wait until we were married,
to enjoy the privileges reserved for marriage."
she said. "I've thought about that conversation a lot of times. I
thought at first you didn't care, but after my ninth birthday, I
knew you did care, and why you didn't want to talk about it."
you want to know about the wedding?"
started praying, and all through the ceremony did you feel like you
About the time in the prayer when I said 'We present ourselves to
each other,' I felt like some warm--force filled us, and we rose
about three feet above the rock. We sort of hovered there, until I
kissed you . . ."
we were kissing we slowly settled back until our feet were on the
rock again." She finished the sentence for me. "That is the same
experience I had."
was when we came down."
"I wonder if
the others knew."
they would have said something if they had."
tempted to ask Debbie, but I'm afraid she'd think I'm nuts"
them. We know where we were."
the hollow of God's hand."
that isn't the first time we have been there either."
agreed. "That is the only rock I've ever slept on that felt like a
cloud." I finished her sentence. "We really did experience the
same feelings and thoughts."
"I knew we
"I did too,
and I knew you did."
following days and weeks Jamie and I spent many hours in the jungles
looking for perfect curved limbs for the rockers that Sarah had
asked for. We had found two that would work, but they did not match
closely enough to be used on the same chair. With each of us
carrying one for comparison we searched every day for several days,
only to come home in the evening with nothing.
while the girls were in the ravine, Sarah had gone to spend the day
with them, while we searched the ravines to the West.
Sarah have to go to the ravine anymore?" Jamie asked.
know. That's just the way their bodies work, I guess. When they
get pregnant, the embarrassment stops until after the baby is born."
ever find out what is so embarrassing to them. When we took the
furniture down there to Debbie, I didn't see anything that would be
fact that we were there, and saw her in her condition was
condition? She seemed all right to me."
get up, did she? and did you see what she was sitting on?" I asked
had a grass cushion in a chair."
ever wonder why? She never puts grass in her chair at home, does
"I guess she
wanted something soft to sit on. We sleep on a pile of grass when
we sleep at Lake Four."
ran away to the ravine that first time, I practically forced her to
tell me. I felt as the leader of the family I needed to know if
there was something wrong with her. She didn't go into detail, only
that when girls become women, embarrassing things happen in their
bodies. If they were in the normal world, they could go to the
store and get what they need to hide it, but out here the only thing
they can think of to do is to hide during that time. Sarah asked me
not to tell you anymore than I had to, to keep you from asking
embarrassing questions. That's what I did."
happens to them? Do you know?"
got married, Sarah filled in the details of what happens, but not
why. I don't think she knows. The night she discovered she didn't
have to make her scheduled trip to the ravine, she remembered
hearing some older girls talking in the rest room at school about
pregnant women not getting sick, as they call it. All she knew
about any of it was what she overheard those girls talking about. I
guess she was so young; her mother hadn't prepared her for
really get sick?"
they get awful bad stomach cramps, and their back hurts sometimes.
I examined a potential rocker. "You've heard them mention that their
stomach hurts before they go."
remember that, but I still don't see what there is to be embarrassed
know if I will be breaking my promise to Sarah, or not. In fact, I
think I said 'I couldn't promise, but that I wouldn't tell you more
than I had to. You're older, now. I think you're wise enough to
keep it to yourself and never mention it to any of the girls, but
you have to promise."
you what I know." I went on to explain to him what I knew of the
details of the girls frequent problems.
that would be embarrassing," he said when I had finished. "Of
course, I'll never mention it to them. I wouldn't humiliate them.
I care too much for them."
"I knew you
would feel that way. That's why I was able to tell you."
happen after the baby is born? Won't Sarah have a big problem for a
while? Is she going to take the baby to the ravine?"
thought about it. That's a problem that will probably last for a
lot longer than a few days. I don't know what she will do, but I
don't want to be cut out of the first few days of my son's life.
Maybe I can talk her into staying in our room as much as possible."
"I'd like to
be able to see my baby brother, too, but I could stay at Lake Four
or the cove 'til she gets over it." Jamie volunteered.
to her about it, and let you know what she wants."
happens if the baby comes while the girls are at the ravine?" Jamie
posed another question I had not thought of.
know. I sure wouldn't know what to do."
would. Doesn't God always help us when we can't help ourselves?
Debbie and Julie are frightened too. We were talking about it the
other day. I told them not to fret over it. God would be there
with them to instruct them. They will know what to do, and when to
do it, when the time comes. You know, you and Sarah aren't the only
ones to hear from the Lord. He talks to the rest of us, too."
Jamie." I put my arm around him, resting my hand on his shoulder.
"You are wise beyond your years. I need to be reminded sometimes.
I am so prone to try to figure things out on my own. I forget to
listen to the Holy Spirit."
me. Give credit where credit is due. I don't know anything."
Jamie, but you listen, and sometimes I forget to."
It took a
few more days and a few more miles of walking and slashing our way
through the jungle, but we finally found two matched pairs of
rockers for Sarah's chairs.
after Jamie and I had our conversation in the jungle, I talked to
Sarah about it. "What are we going to do if the girls are in the
ravine when the baby comes?"
and Jamie will help me, of course." She didn't even hesitate. It
was already settled in her mind.
think the girls ought to do that?"
"I want them
to help if they are here. I certainly want you to be with me, and I
don't want Jamie to be left out if he doesn't do anything but hold
thought . . ."
little as we have to cover ourselves, we are a family without
modesty. I am proud of my baby. I think his, or her, birth should
be a family affair. If I were to die in childbirth, I would want
you all to be there."
going to die! God snatched me away from my parents and made me grow
up really fast. He surely wouldn't take you away from me and leave
me to raise my son alone."
"I know he
wouldn't. I have no fear of that." She seemed perfectly at ease.
"There is one thing that worries me."
really mind terribly if your son is a daughter?"
not, especially if she looks just like her mother. We could name
her Baby Sarah."
wouldn't be wise. She won't be a baby all her life," she mused.
"Can you imagine a fifty year old woman called 'Baby'?"
"That's not exactly what I meant."
you said," she teased. "Why don't you say what you mean?"
We could name her, Sarah Lee Davis Junior. and call her Junie."
Deborah Julia Davis better. If he's a boy, as we expect, he'll be
Timothy James, after the two most important men in my life. We'll
call him Jimmy."
like that. I think he is looking forward to the baby almost as much
as we are, and he will be ecstatic that you want him to be part of
"I know he
will. That's why I want him with us. I thought about it for a long
time before I made my decision. I couldn't help thinking how lonely
he would be, sitting in the main cave alone, worrying while rest of
us were in here where the action was going on. I made the decision
several months ago and I have never regretted it, or had any desire
to change my mind. And I want to have the baby outside on the table
rock, where God won't have to look down through all this rock."
you might want to have him on Top of the World."
laughed. "I can hardly walk. Can't you just see me climbing the
mountain? or do you expect to carry me up there? That's a big rock,
but I wouldn't want to take a chance of somebody falling into the
jungle. with our baby in his arms Besides, the Top of the World is
our place and our place alone, not our children's."
you going to do after the baby's born?"
"What do you
be a lot of bleeding for a while, won't there? Do you plan to take
the baby to the ravine?"
not! That would be ridiculous!"
thought . . ."
a person cuts himself, he is expected to bleed. There won't be
anything embarrassing about the after effects of childbirth. I will
keep myself as clean as possible, and maybe stay in our room more
than usual. Other than that, I think life will be normal. Of
course, the baby will require a lot of my attention. That will be
different from now, but normal for then. When I start my cycles
again, I'll probably take him to the ravine."
that is being ridiculous."
you're not a woman."
thank Him too. If you were, you couldn't be my husband. I would
have to be an old maid, and would never be a mother. I would never,
never let anyone but you touch me."
Leonard H. Hall, Sr.