by L. H. Hall
We were going through a period of boredom. Nothing seemed to be
exciting anymore. We needed something to add some spice to our
lives. One day Debbie came in covered with red juice from some
berries she had found. She knew better than to eat anything she
could not identify, but we thought for a few days she would forever
have big red splotches all over her body, but in a week or ten days
she was back to her normal color.
evening, I looked at Debbie with her splotches and realized we could
use the red berries to add some color to our lives. We might be
able to use it as ink, so the we could practice writing. If we
looked around, maybe we could find some other dyes.
thing I did was to make a checker board and some checkers. That was
exciting for a few days. I had to make another set, but within a
couple of weeks it was hard to find enough checkers to play one
game. Like everything else it got boring. Even the dolphins, though
maybe not really boring, became just another thing we liked to do.
The morning of September 8, we went to play with the dolphins, and
one was missing. The others were there ready to go as playful as
ever. They seemed to show no remorse over the missing one, but we
were worried. The dolphins were more chatty than usual, like they
were trying to tell us something. We played with them for a couple
of hours, and even let them take us as much as a couple of miles
from shore, but it just was not the same without number six there to
feel cheated and left out.
When it was
over, we said a sad good-by to our five friends, and received the
normal air show from them. We really worried about the missing
animal. We could only think of one reason she was missing. She
must be dead.
day, being Sunday, we did not go to the beach, but I scanned the
surf through the telescope in the west room, and through the
binoculars. Only one time was I able to spot something that might
have been number six. The other five were playing off shore
normally. Early Monday morning as soon as breakfast was over, we
went to the beach. A sixth dorsal fin was again visible through the
binoculars, but it seemed different, maybe a little slower, maybe
she did not porpoise quite as high, but she was there.
When we got
to the beach, the other five came up to greet us but number six was
not so anxious. We were sure she was the same dolphin, and she let
us know she recognized us but for several minutes she kept her
distance. We did not want to play with the others. We wanted to
see why number six was acting so strangely. She had always been so
active and playful. After several minutes of coaxing, she slowly
moved into the shallows, and we saw her problem. Swimming beside
her was a little two foot miniature. "She's got a baby!" Sarah
screamed. We all wanted to get close to the new calf, but the
mother did not quite know whether to trust us, or not. Finally, she
allowed the baby to come near.
careful," I warned them. She could kill us all with one swipe of
her tail. Don't give her any reason to think you might even
accidentally hurt the baby."
friend. She wouldn't hurt us." Julie argued
mother first." Sarah reached out to touch the baby's nose. "She'll
fight anything to protect her baby."
the calf whenever it was near enough, but we did not try to hold it,
or even try to make it change directions, with one exception. Julie
squatted down to put her arms around it one time, and just about the
time her face was above the blow hole the calf exhaled, spraying
Julie full in the face. The mother must have thought that was
funny. She started chattering, and in a moment the other five were
laughing at Julie.
funny." Julie wiped the spray from her face, laughing.
the mother seemed to relax a little. As neat as the baby was, we
wanted something more exciting. The other animals got tired of the
baby getting all the attention, and were nudging us to play.
mother swam along with us at a safe distance but did not involve
herself in the games. She stayed well out of the way, so we would
not come flying through the air and land on her calf. The sun was
well into the western sky before our stomachs reminded us that we
were hungry. As we neared the shore a thirty inch fish went flying
over our heads and landed high on the beach. Number six had
supplied our lunch. We hesitated in the water to stroke the baby
again before we went to the cave.
We were in
the surf with the dolphins every day, except Sunday, for the next
two weeks. The new calf had renewed our interest in them. By then,
the calf was waiting for us, and wanted to play. Her mother had
returned to the games of the adults, ever watchful that the calf
stayed out of the way.
remarkably less active these days. She still ruled the pups,
demanding absolute obedience, but she had stopped hunting. The pups
found their own food and supplied us with more than enough. Sheba
waited for the refuse of what the pups brought, and what leftovers
we fed her. Only if she did not want it, were the pups allowed to
touch that. Often, when we went to the beach she would climb to a
high point on the ledge where she could see us, and watch over us
from there. When she did go with us, she let the pups take the
lead. She stayed beside one of us or walked behind us. Sometimes
she would even watch us swim from the edge of the patio. However,
we never had any doubt that she would be there in a minute, and
fight to the death for us, if she were needed. We even trained her
to ride on the raft behind the dolphin when we rode the dolphins to
the cove. Sheba was getting old. We talked often about how it
seemed to hurt her to get up, or to walk, and about how lonely it
would be when she was gone.
"Do dogs go
to heaven?" Julie asked one day.
know. Maybe, if we love them enough." I answered. "I asked my dad
the same question. He didn't know either, but he said he hoped so.
He wanted to see his old dog Tippy again. He said, 'Heaven would be
awful lonely without pets,' and he didn't think God would let us be
"I bet they
do, and old Sheba'll be there too, 'cause she's the best dog in the
whole wide world." Debbie gave the old girl a hug. "Aren't you,
The rest of
us agreed, at least to the best dog part. She had surely saved our
lives, fed us and looked after us. Debbie's birthday approached
almost without warning. If I had not written it on the calendar,
she might have let us forget it. It was the Friday afternoon
before. We were sitting in the cave working. The girls were making
skirts, and Jamie and I were busy with a mat for a lounge chair.
Sarah put the skirt down, and looked at Debbie. "Do you know what
Debbie didn't look up.
going to let it slip by without saying anything?" Sarah picked up a
long grass leaf and worked it into the skirt.
need a birthday. I'll be eight when the time comes. 'Sides it's on
Sunday. We can't do nothing anyway."
want to have your turn being the Most Important Person for a day?"
I looked at her.
"Not if I
gotta get all those spankin's. Eight and eight's sixteen, an' eight
more is--twenty-four, an' eight more is--thirty-two, an' ever'
body'll gimme an extra one. That's thirty-six spankin's and four
pinches on my poor bottom. That's a lot of spankin's. My bottom
will hurt so bad, I won't be able to sit down for a week."
"I done it.
It wasn't so bad," Jamie boasted.
spankin' you, neither. I saw how hard you spanked Sarah."
the one who hit me so hard. I'll get even with you next year."
Sarah shook her fist at Jamie. "Debbie, think about me. I had to
take forty swats and four pinches, and I sat down afterwards."
bottom's bigger'n mine, an' tougher too."
have to take forty-four, and I know you won't take it easy on me,
like I do you." I knew how she felt. I was beginning to dread my
big," Debbie protested. "You won't even get a spankin'. We can't
even catch and hold you."
"Oh, yes, we
will!" Jamie stripped the leaves from a vine.
"You held me
down while Sarah was tickling me, and I was really fighting to get
away. I imagine you can hold me to give me a birthday spanking." I
pulled a vine tight in the mat.
"But I don't
want no spankin'."
spankings are a game, and we're gonna keep on doin' them, but I
don't think we have to try to hurt people, or to scare the girls out
of having birthdays. Right? Jamie." I glared at Jamie. He knew
he'd better agree.
s'pose, but you ain't no little girl."
"I took it
easy on you, Jamie. Think about next year when you're spanking me.
I know I can spank harder than you can." I dreaded the day. "What
do you wanna do, special, Debbie?"
"We can't do
nothin'. I told ya. It's on Sunday. All I can do is get a spankin'."
Jesus wouldn't mind if we switched Saturday and Sunday this week.
We'll move Sunday up to Saturday. Then, we can say your birthday is
on Saturday, instead of Sunday. How would that be?" I wove a vine
in and out of the warp vines.
"Could we go
to the lakes Saturday, I mean Sunday evening so we'd be there all
day Saturday?" Debbie giggled. "That sounds funny, Saturday coming
so. We'll have to have a cold camp, and either eat jerky for supper
Sunday and breakfast Saturday, or eat supper early Sunday here at
the cave. We'll still have a cold breakfast Saturday. That does
sound funny, doesn't it? And it's hard to say too."
"We could go
down to the beach at the cove early Satur--Sunday, build a fire on
the beach, and carry some coals up to the lake in a bucket." Sarah
put her work down again. "Maybe Jesus wouldn't mind if we played
with the dolphins in the cove while the coals were getting ready
think He would mind this time." I started a new vine. "That's a
good idea, Sarah."
think Sheba will want to ride on the raft?" Jamie stroked the old
dog beside him.
know. We'll give her the opportunity. That gives me another idea.
I'm gonna make a little raft for the baby to pull. We won't put
anything on it, but maybe she'll have fun pulling it. Whadaya
"What if she
won't pull it?" Debbie asked.
will have wasted a few short bamboo scraps and about a half hour of
time. We've got plenty of both." I got up. "Come on, Jamie, we
can finish this later. Let's make the raft now."
Jamie and I
selected six Bamboo poles about two inches in diameter and three
feet long, and a couple short one-inch cross pieces to keep the big
ones flat. By the time I had the raft lashed together, Jamie
brought me a half-inch vine about fifteen feet long. I tied both
ends of the vine to the front of the raft. "Let's go see if she
likes it. Does anybody else want to go?"
Sarah came out of the cave.
"To see if
the baby dolphin likes her new raft."
"I was just
gonna wash the sheets, but I can do that later, if it don't rain."
Debbie predicted. "You can bet on it."
wash'em tomor--no, tomorrow's Sunday this week. You've got me all
mixed up. I'll wash'em next week when we get back from the lakes."
It took the
baby dolphin a few minutes to get acquainted with the raft. Her
mother had to show her what to do a couple of times; but then, she
took it and headed out to sea. The next thing we knew, the raft was
standing straight up on its nose. It disappeared momentarily, only
to bob up and lay down again. After playing with it for a half hour
or so, the baby was pulling it around as smoothly as her mother
"What do you
think she would do if I lie down on it?" Julie asked.
"Try it, and
find out." Sarah clapped her hands, a call the baby always
baby came to Sarah, Julie lay down on the raft that settled into the
water. When Julie was ready, Sarah pushed the baby away. She towed
Julie a little way, maybe twenty feet, before the mother nosed under
the raft, flipped Julie off, then reared up and laughed at her.
Maybe she was scolding her, but we called it laughing. At least the
mother did not seem to be mad at her. We did not add any more
weight that day.
When we got
ready to go to the cave, the baby was still towing the raft. We
tried to take it to put it up on the beach but she would not let us
have it. She had the vine securely in her mouth and would not
release it for anything. Finally we left it with her. We said our
farewells and headed up the mountain as the raft headed out to sea.
I assumed that would be the last we'd see of the raft, but it did
Leonard H. Hall, Sr.