awakened the next morning by the sound of the dog's growl. There
was Sheba with our breakfast in her mouth. "Hello, Sheba," I sat
up, wincing with pain. I did not know what hurt worse, my leg or my
sunburn. I looked at the red bodies of my family, and I knew that
they, too, would wake up in pain, but I was helpless. I managed to
get to my feet and out to the patio where the dog stood, still
holding a freshly killed animal. "C'mere, Sheba. Bring it to me."
She cocked her head, as though she were remembering something from
her distant past, but did not move or drop her kill. "Aren't you
going to let me have it, this morning, Sheba?" I asked. "C'mon
over here and let's get acquainted. Come, Sheba. C'mon. You didn't
have to bring us meat this morning. We still have plenty from last
night, and you didn't even stay around long enough for me to thank
you." I took a step toward her with my hand stretched out to her,
but a low growl stopped me. "I guess you're not ready, yet. I'll
wait until you are. I'm sure glad you're here. I wouldn't be able
to feed the family without you." I moved away to the fire rock, and
began laying the kindling for a fire. The sun was still behind the
jungle in the eastern sky. It was too early to start the fire with
the glass, but I found some coals in the cave. Sheba continued to
watch me until I returned to the patio; then she gave a low bark,
dropped the meat, and trotted into the cave wagging her white tipped
I lay down
in the cold water for a few minutes. It felt good to my burning
body. I wanted to stay there all day, but I had an animal to
dress. I was really sorry she had brought it, but if I did not take
care of it, she might not bring any more.
dressed the meat, I awoke the others. "Get up now. You can take a
nap later, if you want too. We'll have to stay in the cave most of
yourself. Aren't you sore?" Sarah touched his shoulder lightly. "I
"We can go
out in the early mornings, but during the middle of the day we all
have to stay in the cave," I informed them.
"We need to
put the meat out to dry, and somebody will have to keep the birds
and animals away," Sarah remembered.
turns." I hung breakfast over the fire on the spit. "Whoever is out
in the sun will have to wear the tee shirt. C'mon. Get up, and I'll
slice the meat so it will dry."
There was a
lot of whining and crying about sunburn. The bruises and scrapes
were still there, but they were getting better, and we were used to
them. The sunburn was something new.
By the time
I began feeling the heat of the sun on my burn, we had finished
breakfast; the meat sliced and laying on the rocks and ledge; and
birds were already beginning their raids. It would take constant
attention if we were to have any for ourselves.
I put the
tee shirt on, planning to take the first watch, and was about to
tell the others to go into the cave when Julie said, "Sarah, I need
some of that stuff Momma put on me when I got sunburned last
stuff?" Sarah asked.
know--that leaf from her plant. It made me feel better."
that Aloe something plant," Debbie reminded her.
"You know we
don't have any of that." Sarah remembered her mother's Aloe Vera
plant at home.
do! Out there." Julie pointed toward the ledge. "I saw it when we
comed up here the first time. It's just like Mommy's; only it's a
right; I saw it too. I remember thinking about Momma's plants when I
saw it," Debbie agreed. "I know it's the same kind only bigger, a
look." Sarah moved toward the ledge. "That's good stuff if it's
know if I can get over that wall; my leg hurts so bad."
okay. You and Julie stay and watch the meat. Jamie and Debbie can
go with me."
"But I wanna
go too." It was Julie's idea, and she did not want to be left out.
"But, I need
you to help me. None of us are ever supposed to be alone. What if
a pack of wild dogs come up wanting to get this meat."
gonna stay here, if wild dogs are coming!"
had said the wrong thing, so we relented and let her go. They were
hardly out of sight when Jamie reappeared over the ledge. "We need
that big long knife! Those leaves are bigger'n we are!"
"It's in the
cave," I said, swinging a long stick at some birds. "Be careful with
it; I've got it pretty sharp."
In a moment
he had the machete, and was out of sight again. I wished I had gone
with them. I worried they might get hurt, but it was a senseless
worry. Within a few minutes they appeared over the ledge. Sarah,
Debbie, and Jamie were carrying a long pointed leaf about six or
seven feet long. It was so fat, it looked like it was round. "They
couldn't have got it without me." Julie was carrying the machete.
"They wouldn'ta had anybody to carry the knife."
careful with that knife, or you'll cut yourself."
same kind of plant. I already got some juice and put it on my
shoulder. It helps," Julie announced.
them off the ledge and into the cave with it, as I watched a couple
pieces of our meat disappear. "You'll have to stay in the cave
anyway. The sun will still burn you, even if it doesn't hurt."
I got back
to the patio just in time to whack a big bird as it picked up a long
strip of meat. "I'll eat you too!" He fell to the ground, but
before I could get to him, he was up and gone without my meat.
"I'll bet that'll teach you."
tee shirt. Sarah wants you inside. That stuff is good. I feel
better already." Jamie was covered from head to foot with the slimy
rubbing a piece of the leaf on Debbie when I entered the cave. "Cut
off a piece, and rub it on yourself. I'll put some on your back
when I finish with the girls."
I sliced off
a piece and began rubbing my shoulders and chest. It felt cool and
soothing. I worked my way down the front of my body carefully
avoiding the cut on my leg. "Don't forget to put some on your face
too," Debbie reminded me
I did not
know whether I wanted it on my face, but I complied with her
demands. Then I felt the soothing ointment on my back. Sarah was
through with the girls.
I felt like
a different person when she finished. "Now if you could work that
kind of magic on my sore leg, I'd be all right. My leg is getting
worse. It had a lot of pus in it when I soaked it this morning."
"I am going
to try, but first put some of this on my back."
she said, when I had finished.
I sat down.
A moment later she brought a fresh piece of the leaf, two or three
inches longer than the wound, and laid it directly against the cut.
"Hold this, while I get something to tie it on."
good. I was afraid to put it on the cut."
some on a bad sore I had one time. She told me there aren't any
germs on the inside of the leaf. My sore got better right away."
won't have to cut my leg off after all."
I couldn't do that! I'd just have to let you die." She was
teasing, but I knew she was right.
cut his leg off," Julie piped in. "I don't want Timmy to die."
not going to die, and nobody's going to cut his leg off, either.
It's going to get all better now." Sarah patted me on the shoulder.
"We've got it all fixed up."
"I was only
kidding with Sarah, Julie," I took Julie's slime covered hand and
kissed it. "Ooh! That stuff is bitter."
I couldn't do it, not even to save your life." Then she laughed,
"Besides, what good would you be around here with only one leg. I'd
have to do all the work, and you would probably even make me feed
tell you what to do."
you couldn't catch me to make me do it."
out a way." I took a playful swing at her.
it. "Just like you can't catch me now. Nanna nanna, nah, nah."
for that. Just wait. You'll forget about it, and I'll getcha."
"Oh, no, you
won't." She stood just beyond my reach. "Nanna, nanna, nah, nah."
didn't have my leg tied up so I can't bend it," I tried to get up.
"I'd get you now."
you, Timmy." Debbie started toward her sister. Sarah took off
running, and the chase was on.
It was the
first time since we left Manila; there had been any playing. I
thought it was a good sign, and prayed, "Dear Lord, please don't let
it be the last." I finally got to my feet, stiff legged, and joined
in the chase, but my leg hurt too badly to catch her. Soon things
settled down. I had made up my mind to wait for the opportunity and
about time somebody else came out here," Jamie called. "These birds
are working me to death."
"I'll do it
for a while," Sarah offered. "Give me the shirt."
Leonard H. Hall, Sr.