by L. H. Hall
only been on guard a few minutes. I had lain back, relaxing, and
was almost asleep when Sarah screamed, "Timmy! Jamie! Help me!!!
I jumped up,
like nothing was wrong with my leg, grabbed the machete, and ran out
to see a pack of ten or twelve dogs spread out along the east edge
of the patio. They stood there watching us, growling. "Debbie,
Julie, you get back in that other room! Now! Jamie, get the
clubs. Move slowly." The leader of the pack began to advance.
There was no question what he wanted, but Sarah and I were between
him and the meat, and did not dare move. "God," I prayed. "Help
us." The words were hardly out of my mouth, before there was a
flash of white from my right, and the dog was rolling on the
ground. Sheba had come to the rescue. "You get in there with the
girls, Sarah." The fight lasted less than a minute, and Sheba was
standing next to me, facing the pack, growling. The wounded dog got
up and limped off with his tail between his legs. Sheba stood
frozen, still growling until the last of the pack disappeared into
the jungle. Then she whined and nuzzled my hand to be petted. I
stroked her head a few times, and bent down to give her a big hug.
She licked my face. Then, I felt something moist. I looked at my
hand. Blood! She had whipped the big dog, but he had gotten a
piece of her shoulder. She was not hurt badly, but she would have a
sore shoulder for a few days. "C'mon, girl. We'll put some
soothing medicine on it." Sheba followed me into the cave. The
girls returned from the west room, and after I rubbed a piece of
the aloe leaf onto her wound, Sheba went to each of the others to
get acquainted, and receive her thanks.
have to worry about her any more." Sarah petted her protector.
got us a good guard dog!" Jamie spoke the feelings of all of us.
forgot all about the meat!" Sarah ran outside.
her, expecting the meat to be gone, but the dogs must have
frightened the birds away. There was not a bird in sight.
watch the meat." Julie followed us onto the patio.
you're too little to handle that big stick to scare the birds, and
what if the dogs come back?" I asked.
take care of me. Won't you, Sheba?" The big dog, standing beside
her licked her face, ran to the ledge, jumped upon it, and lay down
to lick her wound.
"I guess, if
Sheba is going to protect you, you can stand guard for a while." I
found the largest strip of meat, and threw it to the dog, who caught
it in the air.
The next few
hours were uneventful. The clouds rolled in around noon. We all
had to hustle to get the meat into the cave, before the daily rain
hit with a vengeance; but an hour later the patio was dry enough to
put it back. Sheba never touched a piece of the meat. When the
rain started, she disappeared but returned to her post when we
started to put it out again. The sun was beginning to dip into the
western sky when she got up, stretched, ran over to the north edge
of the patio, barked just once, and slipped into the jungle. A half
hour later she dropped a large suckling pig at the edge of the
stream, and ran into her den.
was not as easy to dress as the other animals had been. I finally
pared the skin off, like you'd pare a big potato. Then we put the
pork skins into a big pan and fried them to get the grease out of
them. I remembered that Mother had never put grease in the pan to
fry pork. She said there was enough in the meat. We fried the
piglet for supper and had lots of grease left for frying until it
spoiled, which was not very long in the tropical heat.
dark we had come back from our nightly visit to the edge of the
jungle, and lit the fire in the cave. I had gotten the Bible to
read a passage for devotions when Sheba whined at the entrance to
her den. "Come on over here, girl," I called. "C'mon, Sheba."
She came out
of the shadows, followed by her family. Jamie and Julie started to
run to the puppies, but I stopped them. "Sheba is still a wild
dog, She was friendly today, but she might not be so friendly if
you mess with her pups."
Sheba had no
intention of being unfriendly. She led the pups over, lay down
between us and the fire, and began to lick her sore shoulder. It
was obvious that Sheba had attacked her mate, a big, gray mixed
breed dog that resembled an Australian sheep dog. Several of the
pups were definitely his.
the pups were crawling all over us. We each selected one to call
our own, and then the three younger children got to fight over who
was going to get which of the other three. They could not make up
their minds; so, I put the three extra pups behind me. Sarah found
three small twigs of different lengths. Debbie drew the longest.
She got the first pup I took from behind my back, and Jamie got the
last one with the short stick. I did not know how we could be
fairer. We spent the rest of the evening trying to come up with
good names for them. Mine was Bruno. Sarah named hers Prince.
Jamie's were Butch and Rascal. Debbie chose Buster and Tippy. Julie
thought hers were cuddly and silly. She called them Cuddles, and
third night in a row, the mountain started rattling over our heads.
We huddled, as usual, by the entrance, but Sheba did not pay any
attention to it. She just lay by the fire with her chin on her
paws, looking at us like we were being silly. After a moment or
two, she barked softly a couple of times and closed her eyes. I
went back to the fire. "If Sheba thinks it's safe, it's safe.
scary." Julie settled down beside me, put my arm around her, and
snuggled up to me to play with her puppies.
"I think the
mountain is trying to talk to us," Jamie decided.
knows something we don't," Debbie agreed.
"I just wish
it would keep it's thoughts to itself," Sarah muttered. "I don't
like my mountains talking to me."
while after the racket in the mountain stopped, Sheba got a drink
and ran out into the night, but reappeared moments later. She
yelped, and started toward her den. The puppies ran after her.
Jamie did not want to let his pups go, but when Sheba stopped
halfway to the den entrance and whined, he released them.
we'll see a lot of them from now on," Sarah watched them disappear.
I went out
to soak my leg in the stream again, while Sarah rubbed some more
juice from that "aloe leaf," as Debbie called it, onto their
sunburns. It had surely taken the fire out of the burns. We were
hardly even red any more, and my leg was much, much better. The
kids were all rubbed down, and Debbie was just finishing rubbing it
on Sarah's back when I returned.
I sat down,
and Debbie also did the honors for my back, while I did the front,
and Sarah sliced off a fresh strip for my leg. "I want you to keep
this on all night,"
trying to be the boss now." I grabbed her by the wrist and pulled
her down across my legs and started tickling her.
No! No!! No!!! Stop!!! Timmy! Stop!!! Please stop!" She
didn't you? Didn't I tell you I'd get even." I continued to
tickle. She continued to scream and giggle.
fair." She took a wild swing at me when she finally wiggled free.
We all got
excited, and had a good laugh. Then Julie said, "Tickle me, Timmy."
her and tickled her. "Not too much," she screamed. "Just a little
I let her
go, and Debbie came up for her turn.
Jamie. It's your turn." I laughed, knowing what he would do.
"Oh, no you
don't!" He was on the patio before I got the words out.
back. I was only teasing."
won't tickle me."
Come on back. Let's read the Bible and say our prayers." I was
going to read the Twenty-Third Psalm, but when I opened the Bible,
my eyes focused on Psalm Ninety-One. "Listen to this. Dad says that
when the Bible falls open to this Psalm, it means that God is
promising to take care of us."
it mean?" Julie asked when I had finished.
just what it says. A thousand people could die on one side of us,
and ten thousand on the other side, but we will be all right."
Come and kneel around me while we say our prayers. Sarah tied my
leg up so tight; I can't kneel tonight, so I'll have to sit down to
hear you if you sit down to pray?" Julie wondered.
can. We can pray anywhere, and He will hear us. We kneel, when we
can, to show Him respect, but if we have a stiff leg, like I do
tonight, He knows we respect Him without us kneeling."
prayers, we went through the yukky nightly ritual of kissing
everybody good-night. Soon after we had lain down, Sheba came out
and lay between us and the entrance. It was good to know that she
was there to protect us. I fell asleep without worrying for the
first time since we awoke from our troubled sleep on the beach.
slept well. When I awoke the jerky was laid out, Sheba was at her
post on the ledge, the pups were frolicking in the stream with the
kids and Sarah was trying to dress the animal Sheba had brought in.
She was making a mess of it, but I had to give her credit for
trying. "Why didn't you wake me." I stretched, feeling relaxed and
rested. My leg was even tolerable.
sleeping so peacefully, I decided to let you sleep until you wanted
to get up."
that as soon as I go to the bathroom." I started for the jungle.
you help me, but I need to learn how to do it."
good idea; then, you can if you have to." In a minute after I
returned, the meat was frying.
The day was
much like the day before, only we had the puppies to play with, the
wild dogs kept their distance, and Sheba helped us with the birds.
When I took
the leaf from my leg, the infection and swelling had disappeared.
Only a slight redness close to the cut remained. The best part, it
did not hurt much at all. I continued to soak it in the cold
stream, and kept pieces of the aloe leaf bound to it. In the
afternoon we took some of the large pots and buckets, and made
another trip for fruit and vegies.
Mr. Wilcox's notebook the best papayas and mangoes were a little
farther down the north slope from, the orange grove. We cut a trail
farther down toward the beech. The first fruit we came to were some
coconuts lying on the ground. I cut the large hulls from five to
make them easier to carry. I wanted to make bowls, and try to
squeeze the oil out of the white meat as I had seen done in the
villages I had visited with Dad.
we found papayas, mangoes, and some banana trees with green bananas
on them. The bananas had to be picked green, or the insects and
lizards would get them. We would have to come back for them. We
would have to cut the tree down to get them, and I did not want to
waste any. We would make a special trip for bananas. We needed
ripe, edible fruit that trip.
several mangoes and papayas, and on the way back we discovered
several potato vines. We had really enjoyed the first ones. Our
pails and pots were full, but we picked as many as we could stack on
with us this time instead of following us in the bushes. We all
felt so much safer.
returned to the cave, Sheba brought her pups out, and she
disappeared. We did not have to ask where she had gone. We knew
she would return with more meat.
Leonard H. Hall, Sr.