Economics 101, a Novel, ch_25 -- Looking for Trees, Finding Cucumbers

(The story starts here:
The previous chapter is here:

One of the problems with novels is that you often want to skip the tedious part and get to the good stuff.

(Movies? TV?)

The same seems to be true in writing a novel.

I find that I have put poor Karel and Bobbie in a very difficult and awkward situation. It has often been tempting, while writing thus far, to create an easy way out.

One item, as an example: since I forgot to mention the storm winds that blew Wycliffe off course while he was on auto-pilot, I will have a little extra work to do when it comes time for Paul and Bob consider extending the line that they traced from the cache island to the area where Wycliffe and Zedidiah's plane was discovered. (That plane is also a bit of a thorn in my side.) More on that in a later chapter, I suppose.

So it is tempting to just forget about the cross-winds, tell you I was kidding about how the searching never got out that far, and let there be a joyful reunion in the middle of the third week. And then Bobbie and Karel get to go home, make the usual arrangements for a proper Mormon wedding in the temple, and let them start enjoying married life.

Hmm. Talk about things ceasing to be simple.

When I do the final re-write, to clean up some grammar and spelling and maybe some of the structural misfeatures, maybe I'll mention that cross-wind. I'll make that decision when I get there.

But the whole premise of this novel is to give me an excuse to write scenes which demonstrate economic principles simply enough that, eventually, we will be able to start doing the math.

This uninhabited island thing is a time-honored tradition, you know -- Alexander Selkirk was not the first real person to be castaway on an uninhabited island, and Robinson Crusoe is not the first such fictional character. (And not the last, either.)

(And my conclusions are somewhat significantly different from either Defoe's or Rousseau's, nor the other et. al. Otherwise, I would have tried some other topic to try to cut my writing teeth on.)

Which lot of hot air is a long-winded apology for the continued detailed description of how Bobbie and Karel keep themselves and each other alive without the kissing and other silly stuff.

Wycliffe? Oh, yeah. Wycliffe needs some more help, now that he has more people to keep an eye on. Let me see, what can I do for him? In the following, hope I am neither too cavalier, nor too blasé:

Wycliffe came back to Bobbie and Karel's island, having watched the Pratts, the Whitmers, and Professor MacVittie to the hotel on their first night on the main island, he was surprised, and more than a little taken aback, to see a new but familiar face with his grandparents. (Yeah, this is a little deus ex machina. Forgive me. And don't assume too much, either.)

"Hanaka! What are you doing here? Did your father ..."

"No. Dad has been a good Dad for the last year. But our financial situation still hasn't been easy. I was out in the ocean fishing during that last storm, and didn't make it through."

"Your father must be devastated."

"At least, this time, he is avoiding the drink."

"That's good to hear."

"So, I have been given the option to come help you keep an eye on your friends. Would it help you?"

"What about your family?"

"Mom is helping Dad."


"It seems to help Mom to be able to help him, too."

"Well." And he still did not know what could be offered to console or encourage, so he said, "I sometimes think it would be helpful to have a female point of view. I mean, I'm sad to see you here, but I definitely wouldn't mind your help."

So that you know, Bobbie and Karel were also familiar with Hanaka and her father's story, having met and befriended them during their research on the first island.

Why is this important? Well, as Wycliffe noted, he could benefit greatly from access to the female point of view while trying to keep an eye on Karel and Bobbie.

On the second Monday morning, Bobbie and Karel were exercising on the beach, and Bobbie mentioned an impression she had received during her morning prayers.

"I wonder what other kinds of trees might be here on this island?"

Karel finished a set of sit-ups before responding. "I've been thinking about that, too. It would be a waste to cut down a couple of a hundred of the trees we used to tie the trunks down, just to make one half of this hut, and then we would still have to fill in the cracks."

"Maybe we can find something useful for filling in the cracks, too."

So, after catching something for breakfast, they cleared their packs, took their bearings on the peak, and entered the forest to the south of their camp.

They climbed more or less steadily, finding new plants to take samples of in some of the more level areas -- including wild squashes and lentils. There was a clearing of about a hundred yards with a grass that looked like millet. Near a feeder stream, they found wild cucumbers.

They came to a larger stream that they thought would be the southeast stream, and followed it back north and west to its head, finding more wild cucumbers in patches and what looked like fir trees at the head. From the head of the stream, they turned back south and east, and the way became much steeper.

Then they were out, on the rocky top of the ridge, and they could see the island around them.

Below them to the west, they could see a large crater lake, and, beyond that, the lagoon. To the north, they could see the artesian lake, partially hidden by the trees there. A ridge ran, ascending in a curve, from the artesian lake to the much larger crater lake. The ridge they had seen before on their way along the beach to the lagoon seemed to be a continuation of that ridge.

They thought they could see traces of the brook descending to the lagoon below the artesian lake. And they could see several clearings and other patterns of foliation variance, and marked them out for later exploring.

Looking out across the sea to the west, they saw whitewater and rocks in a semicircle, evidence of reefs. To the east, they saw what they thought might be another island, but were not sure.

They sat back to back on a rock while Bobbie sketched what they saw into their map.

"Have we had enough exploring for a day?" She asked.

Karel said, "I think I want to take a look at the lake and maybe hike down to the lagoon."

"What time is it?"

"About ten thirty."

"We didn't bring any lunch."

"Or flint for making fires to cook what we catch on the beach there. That was an oversight. But it shouldn't take too long to get down to the lagoon, and we can walk back around by one thirty or so."

"... if we don't stop for samples on the way down, and if the trees and stuff aren't growing too thick. I'd like to check what we have, anyway."

"uhh, ..."

"I want to see if ... these ... cucumbers ... are edible!"

"Oh. Okay. I was just wanting a look at those trees down below the lake and by the lagoon. But we can do that tomorrow, I guess."


"You were the one who said you felt impressed that we needed to look for more trees!"

"You felt it, too."


"And now you feel a need to see if these cucumbers are edible."

"Hmm. I, uhm, think I see what you mean." Karel laughed.


"Oh, I just remember arguing with my sisters sometimes. Things that don't make sense, and then, later on, they do."

Bobbie responded with another emphatic nasal grunt.

And they hiked back down to the southeast stream and took a drink from it. "I guess," said Karel, as he filled his canteen cap, "if there are parasites, we should be getting used to them, a little bit."

Then they followed the stream down to the beach, just to be sure it was the southeast stream. And then they walked back up the beach, joking and laughing, and went back to camp to check their samples in their books.

They set the lentils to boil before they got out their books. The fir tree needles checked out to probably actually be fir, and the squash, lentils, and cucumbers looked to be edible varieties, and the grass appeared to be millet.

So they ate a bit of shiso, for parasite control, then ate breadfruit, squash, and lentils for lunch and polished it off with cucumbers.


"Don't say a thing."

"Sometimes I just want to take you in my arms and"

"give me a nice big hug. I'd like a hug."


So they shared a nice, big, friendly hug and got busy reading their scriptures.

I'm not sure how much effort I should take to explain things, but Mormons will offer several reasons for the para-proscriptions they observe. Alcohol, tobacco, cocaine, marijuana, etc. are known for the bad effects they can have on health, but they are also habit forming and mood altering.

And modern tobacco, alcohol, and so forth, are, well, manufactured to be even more habit forming than they would be in their natural state. Those who make them want their revenue stream unimpaired.
It sort of goes without saying, but God, who loves a cheerful giver to his friends, also loves a cheerful giver to his enemies. And it's hard to be a cheerful giver when you're looking for a way to make real sure you have enough money for your next hit.

Part of loving God is learning to love your fellow human being even when you're not sure where your next meal or your next good feeling is going to come from.

Guaranteed revenue streams are evil, and not in the wink-wink-sort-of-way.

What does that have to do with Karel and Bobbie deciding to be satisfied with a hug instead of the deep, passionate kiss that we all know they really, really want?

Good question.

After reading their scriptures, they sat in the shade and made more rope, brainstorming about ways to cultivate their food sources without messing up the ecological balance on the island.

But they weren't able to come to any conclusions except that, if they were only taking enough to eat, they shouldn't really have any problems. And getting used to the growing cycles would just take living there a while.

Getting enough millet to make some sort of bread occasionally would still require some research, but they shouldn't really starve.

And, since they were not harvesting anything to take to large, hungry markets thousands of miles away, there really wasn't any reason to push the balance.

In the afternoon and evening, they practiced making more rope, and separating out the hemp seed for later culinary experimentation.

And, at night, they retired separately to their own sides of the camp, with the tent between them, underneath the stars.

(The link to the next chapter will be here when it's ready is here:

(The chapter index is here:

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