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After lunch 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.
"I don't 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.
When the 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.
"I wonder how the little raft got clear up on the beach," Sarah pondered.
"The mother 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.
"I know." Sarah stroked a little whale that sidled up to her. "Good girl. Nice dolphin."
"You think it's funny, don't you?"
"Of course, and so do the dolphins and everybody else, including you."
Sheba 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.
The baby 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.
Sarah, Jamie 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.
The fire 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.
I cleaned 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.
"Look, 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.
It suddenly 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.
"We'll name 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."
"Yes." I poured the coals into the fire pit, feeling a little jealous. "I think they could, but its nice for them to have a momma."
"Yeah." 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.
Our goats, 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.
As the 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."
"Yeah, I 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."
"I know, Timmy, I've done the same thing. It makes you feel like it's all your fault, doesn't it?"
"I still miss my mother awful bad, Timmy, but do you know what makes me feel worse?"
"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."
"Yeah, I 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 with."
"Me too, but don't it make you feel guilty for feeling that way?"
"Of course it does, guilty and selfish."
"What would you do, if they came for us tomorrow?"
"Go with 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 here."
"I'd feel 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 bury me."
"What makes you think I'll still to be here."
"Because you love it here. You won't ever want to leave me."
"What makes 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."
"Don't be teasing me, Timmy. I mean really married, and have some kids."
"I don't 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."
"My great-grandma was only twelve when she got married."
"Well, you ain't getting married when your twelve! Not to me anyway."
"Maybe, when I'm thirteen then."
"Maybe, when you're twenty or twenty-five."
"Does that mean you'll marry me when I'm twenty?"
"I didn't say that. Besides, maybe I already got another girl all picked out to marry," I teased.
"You better not have! What's her name?"
"I didn't say I do have. I said I might have." I choked to keep from laughing.
"What's her name?"
"I know lots of girls who'll want to get married when I'm ready."
"Well, there's Tina Jergens, she's real good looking too." I told a little fib
"Are you saying I'm not."
"No. Your pretty too, as girls go."
"Is she prettier than me?"
"I didn't say she was?"
"You know, 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."
"I know 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?"
"Timothy Allen Davis! You answer me!"
"Answer what? I must have been asleep when you asked the question."
"Is Tina prettier than me?"
"She's 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."
"Timothy Allen Davis! You quit comparing me to a goat!"
"Well, you 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.
"What's the 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."
"Yu-uk! 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.
"That wasn't very nice, Jamie." I admonished him. "Tina isn't that bad. She can reach her bottom. I've seen her scratching it."
"Timmy Davis, I hate you for teasing me like that. I'm never going to talk to you again."
"You don't 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."
"Yukky Yuk!" Jamie said.
"I love you, too." Sarah was crying.
"I didn't 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."
The next 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 up.
"What was that for?" Tears came to my eyes.
"For teasing me like that last night." She laughed.
"I'm 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."
"I don't 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.
"Now, I accept your apology, but you know what'll happen if you ever do it again."
"Thanks for the warning. Next time I'll be on guard."
"Timmy?" 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."
"Don't you think you ought to dry first, so they won't sting so badly?" I put my arm around her.
"Nope I wanna get'em over with, so I can forget'em."
"All right," 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.
"Thank you. Now I can have a happy birthday." She took a wild swing at Jamie. "You hit too hard."
"Not any harder than you hit me."
"That's different. You're a boy."
"Do you think boys don't have any feelings?"
"Boys' bottoms are tougher."
"Oh, no, 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."
We all 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.
There was 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.
Copyright © 1995
Leonard H. Hall, Sr.
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