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by L. H. Hall

Chapter 39 - Sarah's Ultimatum


by L. H. Hall

Chapter 39

Sarah's Ultimatum

Julie's wish was not granted. They were not sitting off shore the next morning, or the next, but on the morning of the sixth, shortly before dawn the dogs started barking. No one sleeps when forty or fifty dogs, that never bark without a reason, start barking. I bounced out of bed and ran to the telescope in the entrance and began to scan the ocean. Finally, after what seemed to be an hour, on the northern edge of my field of vision, I saw them. Red and green lights, still several miles out to sea, appeared to be coming toward the island.

Debbie burst into the room. "They're coming! They're coming! Jamie can see them from the ledge. He's building up the fire with the green wood."

We were dressed to meet our parents within minutes. Sarah had even made a poncho-diaper for Deejay and folded a sheet rag inside of it. There was nothing to do but wait and watch. As the day dawned, they traveled more southerly; so it was easier to see them through the telescope. Then, I saw the most amazing thing. There must have been twenty or more dolphins standing on their tails, and leaping through the air, and just porpoising in front of the boat.

"Those wonderful dolphins are escorting them in," I told Sarah who was standing beside me, trying to see without a glass.

"Some more wonderful dolphins are trying to get our attention." She pointed to the beach below the cave.

Sure enough, five dolphins were standing on their tails a few yards off shore. I ran to the patio where the others were fighting over whose turn it was to use the two binoculars. "Pile the green wood on the fire and grab some jerky if you're hungry, the dolphins are waiting for us to take us to meet them."

We made the descent to the beach in record time, even with little Deejay, who could have cared less.

The dolphins were waiting in the shallows, when we reached the beach. I set Deejay in front of me, on the largest, most powerful of the animals. They needed no guiding. They knew where we wanted to go, and they even calculated where the boat would be when we got to it. We had never been so far from shore, or ridden so fast for such a long distance. Deejay was ecstatic. She loved the dolphins, and apparently loved the speed. Within minutes we could see Three pair of binoculars and a camera staring at us, and three children leaning over the guard rail of the boat as we approached. Finally, as we closed in, they dropped their glasses, and I recognized my mother and dad.

"That's Momma! I know it is!" Sarah rode beside me. "She's older but she looks the same as I remember."

"Mine too," I said, as we waved. They waved in return, wondering at the sight of their grown children, and their grandchild, riding a school of dolphins.

They threw a ladder overboard and Dad came part way down as my ride slid up to it. "Meet your granddaughter, Dad," I handed Deejay up to him. "I'm Timmy."

He took Deejay, and handed her on up to Mr. Jennings; then helped me onto the ladder. I climbed up past him, into my mother's arms. Sarah followed, and then the girls. Jamie came on board last.

"And just who might this be, and who does she belong to?" Mr. Jennings asked, when he got a chance, holding up his granddaughter. "That's Deejay, Daddy. She's Timmy's and mine, but it's okay. We're married." Sarah answered.

"And who married you?" Dad asked.

"Jesus did." I hugged him. "But, if that doesn't satisfy you, we'll be happy to let you do it again, right now if you wish."

"They had a beautiful wedding. I wish you could have been there," Debbie hugged her father.

"We'll tell you about it when things quiet down." Jamie found his mother's arms.

They passed the baby, who was not so sure she liked all this attention, around for everyone to admire.

"Why Deejay?" Mrs. Jennings nuzzled her granddaughter.

"For Deborah Julia, Silly."

"That's my little Julie, all grown up." Mrs. Jennings hugged her youngest daughter, laughing. "Still calling people, 'Silly.'"

"I'll be fifteen in January," Julie announced proudly. That's how old Sarah was when she and Timmy got married.

"How about you, Jamie?" Mother asked. "Is one of these beauties your wife?"

"No way! Yuk!" Debbie exploded.

"I couldn't marry my sister, Mom!" Jamie protested. "What do you think I am. You didn't have me long, but long enough to teach me better than that."

"Didn't Timmy marry his sister then? Mother asked."

"Oh! No!" Julie responded. "They've been Mom and Dad ever since we've been on the island, and moms and dads are supposed to be married."

"I see. I guess that does make a difference." Mother had a puzzled frown on her face.

"I want to meet my little brother and sister, and brother-in-law." I motioned to the children; who were standing back, feeling neglected.

"How do you know who we are?" The little girl, seven or eight years old, asked.

"Well, first, Mrs. Jennings came to see Julie on her six birthday and told her she was going to have a baby; so, this big boy has to be the girls' brother."

Mrs. Jennings jaw fell almost to her breast. Her eyes looked like saucers. I thought she was going to pass out.

"And as for you and little Joey, here," I picked her up and hugged her. "You are the same two who came with Mother and Dad, when they came to see me a few months later. You might have just barely been born then, but you looked just like you do now. You are Brenda, and he is Joey aren't you?" Now, it was their turn to be shocked.

"What's my name?" The Jennings boy tested me.

"Billy." Julie jumped in.

"I don't know for sure, but I think it's Robert or Bobby. Don't they call you Bobby?"

"How do you know?"

"Jesus must have told me. Usually, I know for sure, when he tells me something, but you weren't born yet, and I wasn't sure. That's why I never told you Julie."

"I planned all through my pregnancy to name him Billy, but at the very end, we changed our minds and named him Robert William, instead of William Robert," Mrs. Jennings explained.

"I am Timmy, this other guy is Jamie. The three girls are, Sarah, Debbie and Julie, and the baby is Deejay." I pointed at each of the others when I introduced them.

They all waved, and said "Hi."

"Do you kids need to go back to the island? or can we turn straight back to civilization?" The man at the helm asked.

"Oh! NO!!!" Sarah exploded. "We're not leaving our island today, or tomorrow! This is our home. If you can't visit us in our home for two weeks, and let us show you our beautiful home, and get reacquainted here, where we feel comfortable and safe, let us off and come back when you can stay. After two weeks, we'll probably go with you, but it's scary to leave what we know and love, and go out to that strange world. We want to know somebody and what to expect."

"What if we refuse to let you off," The boatman asked.

"Those dolphins out there are leading you to a safe harbor, but if any of us jump overboard we'll have a dolphin under us within fifteen seconds." Sarah said, grabbed the baby from her mother's arms, "Watch!" and bailed over the side.

Before the onlookers could get to the side of the boat, Sarah and the baby were on a dolphin fifty feet from the boat heading for shore.

"Stop! Sarah, come back!" Her father was frantic. "We're not in that big a hurry. We'll at least take you to shore."

She turned the dolphin around and slid to within ten feet or so from the boat. "How do I know you won't take my baby and hold her so I won't jump back in and force us to go with you?"

"Tell her, Timmy," Dad pleaded. "On my honor, as a servant of God, we won't try to make you leave here against your will."

"It's all right, Sarah." I vouched for Dad. "Dad gave his word. He won't break it, I remember that much about him."

Sarah came back aboard, but she held onto Deejay, and would not leave the side of the boat where she could leap out again if necessary, for several minutes.

"We hadn't planned to be gone more than a few days." Mr. Jennings looked at Dad. But as far as we are concerned, we can make arrangements over the radio. How about you, Albert?"

Dad looked at mother, and I detected that tiniest of nods like Sarah often gave me. "I think we can make arrangements."

"How about three weeks, Albert?  It might be nice to have a quiet vacation?"

Dad looked at mother again for approval, before he agreed. "But that is the best I can do, Dave."

"That will be pushing our limit too." Mr. Jennings turned to the boatman.

"Well, I've got to get back." The boatman did not look too happy.

"Can you pick us up here three weeks from today, and post a couple letters? And, can you get a military channel on the radio?"

"Yeah, I can do all that, but it'll cost you extra."

"Naturally, I expect to pay for all your services. I have spent little enough on my girls. Do you think the little dab you charge will stop me?" He wrote a couple quick notes while Dad talked to the mission and made another radio call. Then, Mr. Jennings made some calls.

"How deep is this water boy?" the boatman asked.

"That depends. What's your draft?" I queried.

"Twelve feet," he answered puzzled. "How's a boy who's been out here for nine years know about a boat's draft?"

"I've read Moby Dick and a couple other sea stories several times, and we learn five new words out of the dictionary every day but Sunday's. Then we use the new words every chance we get. I was just practicing. You'd better set out a little if you don't want her to set down in low tide. There's a deep sheltered cove down a couple miles if you'd like to come up and visit a while."

"No, I'll let you off and head back." He followed the dolphins toward the beach below the cave. "It's a long haul back. How'dja get so friendly with the dolphins?"

"We've known and played with most of them since they were calves. The others brought us here from the plane crash and adopted us. They have never left the area for more than a day or two at a time."

"Well, I'll be horn swoggled! I never heard the like! Imagine dolphins adopting kids!" The boatman shook his head.

"When you come back, come a few days early. Bring your family, and see the most beautiful place in the world." I suggested.

"Ain't got nobody but the old lady, but I might do that, and my helper, who's asleep below, might bring his old lady too. If it's all right."

"Sure, but will you do me a favor?"


"Don't ever give anybody else the location of this island." I put my arm around Sarah, who had gotten a little braver and joined me.

"It's on all the maps."

"Then don't ever tell anyone what you see here. We don't want it ruined." Sarah pleaded as she handed the baby to her mother. "I'm sorry, Momma, I was scared."

"Did you bring a mission box, Mother? I'm afraid we have most everything we need, except we can't dress appropriately for guests, especially missionaries."

"I think we can find several changes of clothes that will fit you. I was afraid you wouldn't have anything at all."

"We just about don't! We had to cut up one of our best ponchos to make these clothes to meet you."

"You knew we were coming? How?" She asked

"The same way you knew we were here. We knew the night your plane, the first we had seen in nine years, flew over and you saw our fire. Our wood pile caught on fire or you might not have seen us. It was Sarah's birthday, July 25, between eight and ten at night; I think. It was really dark and we don't have a way of telling time at night. There was a storm in the North. Sarah and I were on the Top of the World, and talked about you being up there."

"When we came down the next day," Sarah continued, "Jamie and Julie told us, almost word for word, what we had said to each other about you seeing our fire, and that you and the Jennings would be coming after us,

"That's right! That's the night I flew over. I saw the island with only one big fire on it, and I knew in my heart it was you. I asked the stewardess about the island. She checked, and told me the pilot didn't know; we were a hundred miles south of the normal route, because of a big storm. I asked if he could get me the location of the island. I would have had a boat here the next day, but your dad wouldn't listen to me. In his mind you'd been dead for nine years. He didn't want to hear about it. I called Linda and told her, and she started working on Dave, who also, didn't want to hear about it. He finally agreed to come, and she agreed never to mention you being alive again, if you weren't here. They got to the Philippines last Saturday. Together, we worked on your dad all afternoon, but he was resistant until I made the same deal with him, Linda had made with Dave. About eight o'clock that evening, he gave in, and agreed to come. We left right after the morning services Sunday."

"That would have been just about the time I prayed for you to be here for my birthday!" Debbie screamed.

"I didn't want her to come out here and be disappointed." Dad didn't like being made out to be the stick-in-the-mud.

"I want to hear everything, but lets get ashore now." Dad suggested.

"We'll have to make two or three trips with the Skiff" the boatman said.

"We'll ride the whales." I lowered my voice and whispered to Mom. "May the children ride with us?"

"Oh! No!" She almost turned pale at the idea.

"They'll be as safe in their care, as they are in your arms. Even Deejay rides alone for a little ways sometimes. Some of these dolphins are the ones that saved our lives. They adopted us, and the rest are their progeny. We've grown up with them."

"I'll ask your Father."

"Talk to the Jennings, too. We wouldn't want to take two and not three, You saw what happened when Sarah jumped overboard."

"Yes, that was amazing. She must have jumped right on top of it."

"The dolphin wouldn't let that happen, but she was out there waiting, and there are twenty more who would desert this ship in a second to protect any one of us. We have known, and played with, most of them since they were born."

As the boatman eased toward the shore, preparing to drop anchor, our parents went into a huddle. Sarah and Debbie were called into it; and finally, the younger brothers and sister, who, a moment later, scrambled down to the cabins below squealing, and returned seconds later wearing swimming suits anxious to try riding the dolphins.

Jamie and I helped the men bring the baggage from the cabins below, and load the skiff at the stern. On one trip, I overheard Sarah say, "Momma, if there's any toilet paper or soap on board you'd better bring it. We haven't had any for nine years."

"We don't have any coffee or tea either." I almost fell down the steps into the cabin area.

"What?" Mrs. Jennings had not even thought of us doing without such dire necessities. "What have you done?"

"Without!" Sarah laughed. "Several hours of swimming each day and frequent baths; and leaves, grass and sand have helped."

"Did you hear that, Judy?" Mrs. Jennings called mother into a huddle. "Dave!" After a minute, he went to the boatman.

When the skiff was loaded, I untied it and said, "C'mon kids, can you swim?" I was sure Brenda and Joey had been swimming since they were two, but I did not know about Bobby. The engines were shut down, and I jumped off the stern with the skiff rope in my hand. The children and my little family followed.

"See ya on shore." Julie hit the water.

"All right kids," A dolphin came up under me and I handed the skiff rope to another. "Don't kick too hard, keep your legs apart, and the dolphins will do the rest."

"Oh!" Brenda rose out of the water on the back of the little whale, before I finished speaking. In a couple seconds the boys were squealing as they felt their rides slide under them.

"Watch everybody." I called as I moved away from the boat, and slid back onto my dolphin's tail.

"Timmy!!!" Mother screamed, watching me sail twenty feet through the air to another waiting ride, that immediately flipped me back to the first.

"That looks like fun." Brenda released the dorsal fin she had been hanging onto.

"Don't you try that, Br . . ." Mother called, but it was already too late. Brenda was already flying through the air, followed by the two little boys who made perfect dives into the water twenty or thirty feet away only to come up on the backs of other animals.

"Don't do that again!" Mother ordered. "Timmy I thought you said those animals were safe!"

"Hang onto their dorsals kids, I called. We can play later. I swirled my ride around close to the boat. "They are safe, Mother, but they can't swim with us on their tails, and they think we want to play. If you really want to see something, watch me when we get to shore."

The skiff was beached, waiting for us to unload, when we got to shore, but I did not pay any attention to it. I just walked up on the beach with my back to the sea.

"Timmy, watch ou . . ." I heard my mother's voice as I got whacked in the back, and landed on my face in the wet sand.

I got up, picked up the fish, and turned, shaking my fist, yelling at the dolphins! The whole school stood on their tails, laughing at me. Then a dozen large fish came flying through the air. I selected four, and threw the rest back to the waiting animals who fought over them.

We unloaded the skiff, and pushed it back into the water. A moment later it was back at the stern of the boat, and to my astonishment, as much as anybody's, the dolphin rose up on her tail and tried to hand them the rope. When they could not reach it, she threw it at them, almost hitting the boatman in the head.

We said our good-byes to our sea friends, and watched the usual air show which was rather spectacular, since the school had grown so large.

"I am the only one who has ever been hit with a fish." I started the climb to the cave. "But every time I turn my back on them when the games are over, I get hit with a fish. They never miss. The only times they don't, are when Deejay is liable to get hurt. They and the dogs are as protective of her as we are."

"Dogs?" Mrs. Jennings asked.

"Yes, we have around fifty; so many we've quit trying to name them. That's not counting the puppies that are being born continuously, but the pack has pretty much stabilized at around fifty adults. You don't have to worry about them, as long as they don't think you are a danger to Deejay. Then, I don't know what they would do."

"What are you doing with so many dogs?" Dad asked.

"We can't kill them. They protect us and feed us. They never foul our cave or patio, and they're always there when we need them. They were barking at you this morning when you weren't much more than a dot on the horizon." I went on to tell them about how God had blessed us with our wonderful Sheba, whose loss still grieved us. I also mentioned our acquisition of Little Sheba and Laddy, and the special ones we wanted to take with us.

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Leonard H. Hall, Sr.

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