by L. H. Hall
arrived at the cave, they were amazed at our home and what we had
done. "If you can do all this with no tools," Mr. Jennings gasped,
"imagine what you could do with a good set of tools."
have tools, Mr. Jennings. I had something better. I had God to
guide me and teach me. We couldn't have survived a week without
Him." I started to tell them our story, and how Sarah and I had
been forced to grow up overnight, and make adult decisions, but
Debbie interrupted me.
Dad, I mean, Timmy. I hope you'll excuse the slip, Daddy." Her
eyes filled with tears, and she gave her father a hug. "Timmy's
been our dad for nine years, and we call him that sometimes. It's a
habit. I don't mean any disrespect to you. We call Sarah 'Momma,'
a lot too. Timmy, lets gather in a prayer circle, and give thanks
for their safe arrival and our reunion."
Debbie. Thanks for reminding me. Mr. Jennings, I hope you don't
mind; I've turned your daughters into religious fanatics. Sarah
almost strained her voice shouting it from the Top of the World, the
night of her last birthday."
you!" Mrs. Jennings patted me on the back. "God has done a work in
our lives too, but what's this, 'Top of the World'?"
"It's up on
the mountain. We'll take you there. I hope you have a camera and
lots of film."
"We do, lots
of it. We're real camera buffs."
"When we get
up by the Top of the World, that's when we'll tell you about the
wedding." Jamie took Mother's and Dad's hands as the prayer circle
assembled. "We couldn't even begin to do it justice anywhere else."
you hear that story, Mr. Davis," Sarah took Dad's other hand. "We'd
like you to marry us again. We won't be any more married, but we'll
know we have your blessings and we'll have a piece of paper to prove
it to the world. No one has ever been allowed on the Top of the
World, but the three of us. Now I'm inviting you."
"Your dad is
a minister now, maybe you'd rather he did it," Dad offered.
the two of you officiate together?" I asked.
"We might be
able to do that." Mr. Jennings reached up and grasped Deejay's arm,
closing the final link in the prayer circle.
not wait to be asked to lead out in prayer. "Lord God almighty,
Ruler of the universe, our wonderful, loving, heavenly Father, you
know how much we thank you for keeping our parents and our little
brother's and sister safe through the years, and bringing them to us
for this blessed reunion." She broke down and could not continue,
but she had made known the greatest joy on every heart. Julie
picked up the prayer with hardly a pause until she too began to
sob. Jamie followed her; then Sarah and me. The little children
and our parents followed. Many of us broke in for a second turn.
After a full half hour of pure heart felt thanksgiving, Dad
finished, "And most of all we thank you, Father, for caring for our
children and raising them to be your servants. We are proud that
they are 'Religious fanatics,' as Timmy jested. It is in the
precious name of your blessed Son, Jesus Christ of Nazareth, we
offer this praise and thanksgiving."
another half hour weeping in each other's arms before I noticed the
children, still in their swimsuits, standing in the hot sun. "Get
the kids inside! They'll be blistered in this sun." They were
already a bright red. I grabbed a machete, and ran to the Aloe
plant for a leaf.
in The Name of Jesus, I ask you to heal these little bodies. Please
don't let their visit on our beautiful island be spoiled for them by
this sunburn; and forgive me, Lord, for not noticing it sooner." I
rubbed pieces of aloe leaf over their burned bodies. "Now, you kids
get your bodies covered, long pants and long sleeves if you have
them, until about supper time, I'll tell you when; then we can go
The day was
filled with questions and answers. One of the first things my
mother wanted to know was, "You all seem so educated with such a
wonderful vocabulary. How have you done it? and don't tell me
God. I know he had a hand in it, but it took some work on your
school every day but Sundays, holidays, and once in a while we can
talk Timmy into a few days vacation, but usually he's an old
stick-in-the-mud." Julie poured some lemonade into bamboo cups.
"We all read
well," I explained. "We don't have many books, but we've each read
them all through several times. You can see how worn out the Bible
is. We can multiply by all the numbers up to sixteen, and I think I
figured out how to divide a little. We figured out how to do some
of the common fractions. I am afraid we don't write well. We only
had three pencils and a pen, but the pencils and ink have been gone
for years. We get a red dye out of some berries. That's what I use
to make the calendars on the wall. I didn't know just when to have
leap year, but I knew it was every four years; so, I figured that if
four times any number equaled the last two digits in the year, that
would be a good time to have a leap year. We figure Debbie will be
Debbie's birthday!" Mrs. Jennings exclaimed. Now, tell us about
your amazing vocabulary. You use words commonly that college
students might not know.
"Let me show
them," Debbie ran to the little book shelf, and picked up the ragged
dictionary. "This is our second most sacred book. It was like new
before five little kids got their hands on it. Here," she closed
her eyes, let the book fall open and laid her finger on the open
pages. "No, I know that one." She went through the process three
times before she found a word she did not know. "Insidious; it's
spelled, 'i-n-s-i-d-i-o-u-s.' It's an adjective. It means: 'lying
in wait; treacherous; advancing imperceptibly;' add 'l-y' to make it
an adverb, or 'n-e-s-s' to make it a noun. That's my word for
today. Have you got that everybody? Now, we will all use it, and
test each other as often as we think about it until it becomes a
common word in our vocabulary. We each pick a word to share with
the others every day. That way we have the same vocabulary, and
learn five new words every school day."
Mr. Jennings pulled his daughter onto his lap, "I hope you don't
mind. It's been such a long time. I thought you were dead, until I
saw your mother, twenty years younger, riding a dolphin to meet us
this morning. I never believed we would find you alive. I am so
very, very proud of you girls. My lap has been empty for so long."
They squeezed each other and wept together for several minutes.
We told our
story about being nearly beaten to death by the dolphins; how they
had made us go in the right direction to find water; how Sarah and I
became Momma and Daddy; how we found the cave, and the stuff left
for us; about the man on the beach, and his calendar, which had
reminded us we had to keep track of time. We told them about how
valuable my ninth birthday present from Dad had been. He could not
even remember giving me the compass with magnifying glass, that had
saved our lives, or teaching us how to use it to start a fire. We
told them about: the goats; the bats; the sugarcane syrup; the salt,
the fruit; about the time we almost lost Sarah because we would not
put her in the Lord's hands and let her go; about the miraculous
healing of Jamie's foot, and the many other healings. We told them
about our holidays, Memorial Day and Thanksgiving, and how Easter
was the first Sunday in April because we did not know how to figure
it. We did not talk about the places we wanted to show them.
When we were
getting ready for lunch the dolphins had helped to provide, the men
went with me to the den room to get the rest of the floppy handled
skillets we had stored there for this occasion.
when he saw them. "I wondered about them when Sarah asked you to
get them. Those are army mess kits. That's what soldiers carry to
eat out of in the field of battle."
huh? That's new to my vocabulary, that can be my word for today.
We didn't know what they were. One part looks like a frying pan so
we just called them floppy handled skillets." I was somewhat
about describes them." Mr. Jennings eased my discomfort.
returned through the bat room, Mr. Jennings scuffed his feet in the
soft dirt on the floor. "You said there are bats, Are those bat
sounds I hear?"
be a fortune in bat guano." He scuffed a hole several inches deep
with his foot. "I want to explore this cave with a good light. If
we could mine it, and get it on a ship reasonably, you'd be set for
want to do anything to spoil this island for any amount of money."
I needed convincing. "I want this to be a place I can return to
with my family, and not have its beauty and isolation destroyed. I
love this place too much to destroy its ecology."
returned, Sarah and the mothers were coming out of the cool fruit
cupboard. "Dave, they even have a walk-in refrigerator. Mrs.
Jennings extended a flashlight. "Take this light and go in there,
but look out for the milk."
poor goats! excuse me!" I started to get the milk pail. "We've
been so excited; we forgot to milk them."
I'll get'em, Timmy." Jamie looked at the fish over the fire. "Have
we got time before lunch, Sarah?"
the time. Those poor nannies have to be relieved, I know what it
When the two
had disappeared into the goat pen, Mrs. Jennings spoke quietly.
"Debbie, do I understand correctly that you don't care much for
What ever gave you that idea?" Debbie responded in shock.
"The way you
reacted when it was suggested that he might consider himself married
to one of you girls." Mrs. Jennings defended her assumption.
not only love Jamie from the heart of every cell of my body, he and
Julie are the best friends I'll ever have in the whole world. It's
going to kill us girls to have to be separated from him. I'll never
love any man more than I do him, but he's my big brother. He would
never touch me, nor would I allow him to, and it's the same way with
Julie. I guarantee you, Mother, all three of us are still virgins,
and so were Timmy and Sarah, until their wedding; even though, they
consider themselves to have been married by God, the day He placed
us on this island."
corrected. I misinterpreted your reaction, but he seems like such a
nice young man. I think he would make a good husband and father."
the best in the world, and I envy the woman who gets him, but it
can't be me or Julie. Not now anyway. If we have to be separated
for several years, we might think differently."
had put the milk in the cooler, Debbie said, "Jamie, we have to
watch what we say. We gave our parents the wrong impression by our
reaction when they suggested that you might be married to one of
us. They thought we didn't like each other."
be kiddin'! I'm sorry. I love my sisters, but we have grown up as
brother and sisters, and nothing else. I'll remember not to react
so strongly in the future."
I told them." Debbie hugged him.
pity," Mrs. Jennings pouted.
"I want to
show you something." Julie picked up the old worn Bible from its
stand. "Timmy wrote this two days after we arrived on the island."
Jennings took the Bible. "'Father: Timothy Allen Davis, born
November 13, 1941; Mother: Sarah Lee Jennings. Born, July 25,
1942; Married, December 13, 1950. That's when we started being Mom
and Dad. Children: James Edward Davis, born, February 1, 1943;
Deborah Sue Jennings, born, October 7, 1943; Julia Marie Jennings,
born, January 20, 1945. Sarah Jennings and I adopted the above
children, December 13, 1950, because we're all orphans, and Sarah
and I are the oldest.' It's signed in a child's handwriting,
'Timothy Allen Davis,' and below that is 'Deborah Julia Davis, born
May 6, 1958.'"
says in the Bible that they was married and became our mom and dad,
and we were their kids the day we got to the island. That really
truly makes Jamie our brother." Julie pointed to the Family
Register in the Bible.
best brother two girls ever had. I don't know how we'll ever get
along for even one day without him." Debbie's voice broke and she
sobbed on Jamie's shoulder.
At lunch I
asked, "How did you all survive the crash, especially, you, Mrs.
"We were all
saved. You and the pilot who was killed when the waves broke
through the cockpit were the only ones lost."
big wave? You were on the wing with us."
never touched me. I lost my balance and fell, but the life-raft had
opened up right in front of me. I fell into it. More life-rafts were
blown up and all the passengers got into them. We stayed where we
could see each other, but everyone was looking for you. We called
for you until we could hardly talk. The rescue ship came for us but
the search for you went on for days, until they found your
life-jackets. They found four of the five, and gave up. There were
sharks in the area, but no blood was found on the lifejackets. They
looked like they were unfastened and taken off, but there was no
land for nearly a hundred miles."
immediately declared dead, but in my heart I knew better." Mother
continued. "The Lord clearly told me you were alive, and that we
would find you when the time was right. This was for both our
benefit and yours. I grieved for you in my heart, but I knew you
were in the Lord's hands, and that he would take care of you. I was
at perfect peace in my heart that I would see you again, and hold
you in my arms, even when my own husband ridiculed me for what I
knew to be true. We still wouldn't be here if it hadn't been for
Dave and Linda. I have prayed for all of you children everyday,
several times a day, but the Lord reminded me continuously through
all these years, 'You gave them to me. They're mine. Leave them in
my hands, and when the time comes, I will give them back to you.
They will make you proud.' Oh, how proud I am of the way you have
grown up, and for what you have done."
and contentment, and the hope your mother had, along with your
father's devotion to his heavenly Father is what caused me to really
give my life to Christ." Mrs. Jennings told her story. "I, like
your father and Dave, believed you were dead, but I so admired your
parents for their commitment to God."
your mother broke through my bitter heart, and I found peace in
Christ. She continued. The nineteenth I learned Bobby was coming,
and on Julie's birthday, I did something I never do. About noon I
suddenly became so exhausted; I lay down. The next thing I knew, I
was in this cave. The bamboo rooms weren't here; there was a pile
of trash in that corner; and there was a fire on that rock where it
is now. I saw you older girls and you boys around the fire, naked
except for brief blue shorts similar to what you have on now.
Julie was lying on a blue U.S. Navy blanket just beyond those
ashes in the cave, asleep. She got up and came to meet me. I tried
to get to the rest of you, but a voice from somewhere said, 'No,
this is only for Julie and you. She asked so tenderly for you to
come to her today. It broke my heart so I brought you. You'll see
them all again when the time is right.' She was so happy to see me;
she had missed me so much. She giggled her little girl's
giggle--it's haunted me ever since--when I tickled her. I asked her
how she would like to have a baby brother or sister. She got so
excited over that. Then, it was time. I had to leave. I said
good-by, and she was so shocked that I couldn't take her with me.
She cried her heart out. I told her to be a good girl, and mind you
and Sarah; that you would take good care of her, and someone would
find you some day, but she might be almost grown. I hugged her and
kissed her twice, before I was taken to the top of the cave to
watch. She begged me to take you girls with me, and it tore my
heart out as I watched you others gather around her to comfort her
as she wept in her sleep. The voice behind me said. 'This visit
will help ease her pain and yours. You both know the others are
alive and well.' I was on my bed again. Only minutes had passed,
and I didn't feel like I had been asleep, but the exhaustion was
gone. No one would believe me except Judy, but I have known since
then that this day would come."
not a dry eye among us. Julie, who was sitting by her mother,
cried, "See I told you she was here! I told you!" She threw her
arms around her mother and wept uncontrollably. "They told me it
was just a dream, but I knew you were here. I wouldn't listen to
them. I've always believed in my heart that you were here."
ever been to the island, Mother?" I looked at her.
"Not that I
know of. I have dreamed about you boys so many times. I always
pictured a beautiful green grassy hillside with a big wide river, or
maybe, terraces with ponds on them; with jungle all around it. I
envisioned beautiful waterfalls, and hundreds of animals. I'm not
sure what they were, maybe big dogs, but it seems like they had
looked at Sarah. She smiled knowingly. "You have been here. You've
just described the most beautiful part of our island, the view from
Lake One. You'll definitely recognize it, when we take you there. "
"Lake One is
where I dreamed a very realistic dream. All four of you came to get
us the first year we were here, I can still see the pain in your
eyes, when I refused to leave with you because I couldn't stand to
have our little family torn apart and go back to being just a kid
again. I'd grown up so fast with my all responsibilities, but I
knew that to you I was still your little nine-year-old boy. I
couldn't leave. You seemed to understand, but I've never been able
to erase the pain that I saw in your eyes from my mind, or the guilt
from my heart, that because of my selfishness, I might have delayed
our rescue and kept the girls and Jamie from their parents." I was
crying so hard, I couldn't continue; although, I had much more to
stepped up behind me, hugged me and kissed me on the cheek. "We
love you, Daddy. We missed our parents, but we wanted them here on
the island. We always dreaded the day they would come for us and
take us away from you and Jamie. That's why we ganged up on you to
get you to agree to marry Momma. We thought that way, at least you
and she could stay together, and our families would be bonded so we
could see each other. We really do love you, Timmy."
feel the pain of that rejection," Mother said, "but you didn't
delay your rescue. I knew then, and even more so now, that God had
special training for you that we couldn't give you, and when the
time was right we would be together again."
other beautiful waterfalls on the island also," I said. "The most
beautiful is hard to get to, and we can't see it from the best
vantage point, but we'll show it to you. We'll show it all to you.
I want pictures, hundreds of pictures of everything even if we have
to come back to take them. Our problem is deciding where to go
"I'd like to
see that--that--'Top of the World' you're were talking about." Mr.
Jennings looked from Sarah to me. "I want to hear the story of
because you don't approve of our marriage, Daddy, and you are in a
hurry to get it done right?" Sarah asked.
know. That might be part of it. I'm trying to be open minded
about it. I know in your hearts you believe you are within your
rights. I have never heard of people legally or morally marrying
themselves, but I will reserve judgment until I have heard about the
wedding that Jamie and the girls want to tell us about up there."
the experiences those two have had up there, Mr. Jennings, it's the
dumbest place on the island." Jamie sucked on a mango pit.
right," I admitted. "When we came down the first time, I never
intended to go back. I was almost angry when your oldest daughter
dragged me up there again on her ninth birthday. Since then, we
have been up there for all her birthdays, except one, when she was
in the ravine. Then we went up there to celebrate as soon as she
came back. The only other time we didn't spend the night up there
was her sixteenth birthday when we went up to dedicate Deejay. We
don't talk much about the experiences we have up there, even to each
other, but that one night of the year we have slept together,
innocently, wrapped in the arms of Jesus. Other than that, we
seldom touched or spoke of our love until Memorial Day, 1956, when
we decided to get married, and after that, didn't allow ourselves to
get very close until after the wedding."
won't believe it, but that rock is the softest bed I ever slept on.
Timmy once described it as, 'a soft warm cloud.'"
you sleep up there when you dedicated Deejay?" Mother wanted to
know. "You were married then."
it was too dangerous for the baby. I know now, she would have been
all right. We learned that night we don't need to go there. Jesus
will meet us anywhere we are."
early in the morning, so we can have plenty of time and get back
down before dark. It's a good three hour hike, one way. And,
Bobby, Brenda, Joey, I don't want any running and rough playing up
there. There isn't room. On one side, it's a two or
three-hundred-foot drop, straight down."
ravine?" Mrs. Jennings wondered. "I haven't heard of it before."
pretty little camp about a half hour hike from here," Debbie
explained, "where we girls used to go during our embarrassing times
until we learned how to hide it from the boys. We had it fixed up
really comfortably until we brought the furniture up here to be
ready for you."
idea." Mother smiled approvingly.
Jennings just nodded.
Davis," Sarah changed the subject. "May we see the clothes you
brought for us." These things are terribly warm. They don't let
any air pass through them."
good idea. I'm sure I have something that will fit you. I asked
the Lord to guide me in selecting the sizes. Still, I brought a
variety of sizes."
"Here is a
box for you boys," she indicated rather small box compared to the
girls', when we had moved into the cave. You should find some
things to fit, and that's the shoe box." She pointed to a larger
nearly went crazy. They, each, must have made a dozen trips to the
girls' room and come out modeling something different. Some were
too large, some too small. Some looked nice. Some were hideous,
but they had fun. There were skirts that came nearly to the floor.
There were blouses, shorts, underwear, and socks. Mother had
thought of everything.
up a garment. "What's this stupid looking thing."
brassiere." Her mother laughed. "Come on I'll show you. It looks
like it might fit."
later Julie burst out of the room displaying the garment. "Don't
this look stupid. I don't think I like it. It feels terrible."
followed her out, trying to stop her. "That's an undergarment,
Julie. Men aren't supposed to see that. Get back in here." She
tried to be serious, but couldn't help laughing with everyone else.
what's the sense in wearing it, if nobody's s'posed to see it."
Julie started back toward the room.
you in place."
matter? Are you afraid they're gonna fall off?"
roared, as embarrassed Mrs. Jennings got her daughter into the room,
out of sight.
suits." Sarah squealed as they approached the bottom of the box.
"We were afraid you wouldn't bring any."
should have known better than that," Mom said. "He knows we always
have swimming suits with us."
mind if we wear these all the time until we leave?" Sarah came out
of the changing room in the swim wear. "It the first thing I've
found that's even a little comfortable."
all agreed. "There are several, so you can have a change." Mother
picked up several more suits.
Jamie and I
each found a couple changes of clothes that would fit us, but we,
like the girls elected to wear swimming trunks and tee-shirts.
we didn't bring anything for Deejay," Mother apologized, "but we
didn't even consider the possibility that we might have a
grandchild. I have a sewing kit with me. I can make her something
to wear until we get to a store."
wouldn't wear them anyway. Sarah pointed at the naked baby, who had
just come with a dog from her nap in the west room. You saw what
happened to her clothes, when we put her down this morning. We have
never had any clothes for her. Today is the first time she ever had
gasped Mrs. Jennings. "What did you do about the messes?"
"We had moss
and leaves. They helped a little." Sarah smiled. "Mostly, we just
took a lot of baths. Why do you think she started swimming when she
was four or five days old?"
"It's a good
thing you had plenty of water." Dad picked up the little girl, and
nuzzled her. "You must have been a mess."
When it came
to the shoes, none of us wanted anything to do with any of them. We
finally each found a pair that was less uncomfortable than the
others, and agreed to put them on just before the boat docked in the
Philippines. I laughed when, reminiscing, I told them how painful
it had been walking in the rocky stream, and through the jungle that
first day, and how we had missed our shoes.
conversations wore on through the afternoon. The kids began to show
their boredom. When the sun was about halfway to the western
horizon, Deejay patted me on the leg. "Daddy, sim."
we all take a dip in the lake. When they came out of the cave after
changing, Julie was laughing; telling the kids that when she was
six, she thought she was big; too big to be scared to jump off the
cliff. Bobby, without asking anyone, followed Debbie and Julie off
the cliff, and started to tease Brenda and Joey about being scaredy
we've always had a rule on this island. We never, ever, tease
anybody about being scared. Everybody is scared of something, and
can't help it. I was thirteen when we stopped sleeping in one big
bed, and for months after that, I was really scared when I woke up
at night, and couldn't touch Julie or Jamie. I sure didn't want to
be teased about that. This is our home, and when you're in our home
you live by our rules."
you spoil all the fun."
"I know how
you feel," Jamie remembered. "I used to feel like that too, until I
thought Debbie was going to tease me about being scared of a few
little old bees. After that, I knew why Timmy and Sarah made the
amazed to watch Deejay swim and jump off the diving rock, and
shocked when we told them why we built the fence across the patio,
and that she loves to have one of us jump off the cliff with her in
think I would want to jump from up there." Mrs. Jennings shuddered.
"And can you
imagine Julie pulling such a trick on her sixth birthday?" Mother
had overheard Julie's story.
Bobby did it. He couldn't be outdone by a six-year-old girl." Mrs.
Jennings apparently knew her son.
settled we moved the lounges and rockers to the patio, and let the
fire burn low, while we watched the bats and the stars fill the sky,
as we had done so often.
Leonard H. Hall, Sr.