Economics 101, a Novel, ch_26 -- Finding Trees and Other Important Stuff

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

You're wondering, I suppose, why we needed to know that Hanaka came to help Wycliffe.

When Karel and Bobbie were considering descending to the lagoon by way of the lake, it was Hanaka who pointed out that the lake would present a number of dangers to them, and initially warned Bobbie against it. Wycliffe had been aware that the rainwater that collected in the crater was standing water, having no outlet except into the ground. But Hanaka was more familiar with such dangers as the mosquitoes that would breed there, and the very dangerous diseases they carried.

And it was then in response to Wycliffe's added warnings that Karel decided to follow Bobbie's apparently illogical opinion.

Usually, in non-religious contexts, such intangible inclinations and disinclinations are described as "hunches" and such, as I have mentioned before. In religious contexts, they are often considered as something along the lines of inspiration or temptation.

After some discussion and consultation with Greg and Georgiana, it was decided that it would be wise to try to influence them a little further, to help them avoid the crater lake as yet. Authorization for interference in dreams was sought and obtained.

"I've never given anyone a dream before." Hanaka remarked to Wycliffe as they watched their charges sleeping under the stars with the tent between them.

"I don't know that I would say that," he replied, somewhat distractedly.

"Huh?" Hanaka looked at Wycliffe. "Oh." She smiled appreciatively. "Thanks."

"Just being honest. I watched, and a lot of the boys your age would get a dreamy look in their eyes whenever you were around."

"Anyway, ..."

"Yeah. Thats not what you meant. I haven't really done this before, either. The first time I was going to do this, I said, half to myself, half to them "I'm glad you guys took the warning," before they were asleep, and they heard and saw me."

"They didn't scream?"

"They were surprised, but, no, they didn't scream."

Greg explained: "When you are authorized, people who are prepared don't find much to be scared of when you bring them a message. This is particularly true when the messenger, the person in charge of delivering the message, is known to the person receiving it."

"Okay. So, what do we do, again?"

Wycliffe summarized what they had talked about before: "Say Bobbie's name. When she stirs, describe the path to her. And I'll do the same with Karel."

Karel stirred, muttering in his sleep, "Wycliffe?"

"Huh?" Wycliffe was caught by surprise, but he responded quickly and told him: "Head straight west from the camp towards the lagoon."

Then Hanaka said, "Bobbie, ...," and Bobbie stirred. So Hanaka the same thing Wycliffe had said, and Bobbie mumbled, "Hanaka?" without waking.

So she told her again, "Go west from the camp to the lagoon."

"Karel?" Now Bobbie was awake.

"Bobbie?" And now Karel was awake.

"Did you say something about going to the lagoon?"

"No, but I had the impression you did. Or maybe it was Wycliffe."

They both crawled out of their bedrolls and met each other in front of the tent, looking around them, half-expecting to see Wycliffe.

Wycliffe signaled Hanaka to remain silent.

Karel continued, "Something about going straight west to the lagoon."

"Same here. But, it wasn't Wycliffe that I heard. It didn't sound like you, either. Do you remember Hanaka on the first island?"

"She said Wycliffe had helped her and her dad understand each other. Come to think of it, I think I heard her voice, too, in addition to Wycliffe's."

"Maybe we're supposed to stay away from the lake?"

"Maybe so. I hope nothing bad has happened to Hanaka and her dad."

"Me, too. Is Wycliffe going to talk to us now?"

They looked around, and not seeing Wycliffe or anyone, they looked at each other and shrugged. Then Karel said, "I guess we try going straight west to the lagoon in the morning."

"Can't see any reason not to."

And they returned to their bedrolls.

After they were asleep again, Wycliffe and Hanaka and Wycliffe's grandparents agreed that the purpose had been accomplished with the least potential damage and went on to other business.

As the sun rose, Karel's eyes opened, and he could still remember the impressions he had felt during the night. He called out, "Bobbie?"

On the other side of the tent, Bobbie stirred. "Mmmmm?"


"Mmmmmyeah? Karel?"

"Are we going to the lagoon today?


And they got up and said their prayers individually, then got some exercise down on the beach and got some breakfast, eating it with a bit of breadfruit left over from the previous evening. Planning ahead, they roasted a breadfruit while cooking breakfast.

And then they got ready for another hike. Bobbie put the roasted breadfruit in her pack, wrapped in a T-shirt, and gave Karel the notebook and pencil. Karel put the notebook and pencil in his backpack with the flint and the hand axe.

"Here's the fish line and hook," Bobbie said, and Karel took them and put them in his pack, too.

And they both packed their swimsuits, putting them in Karel's pack, as well.
They started into the woods directly west from their camp, heading up the mountain towards the area between the artesian lake and the ridge between the lakes.

Within ten minutes' distance from camp, they found a large stand of smallish bamboo about an inch in diameter, which they explored and examined for about a half an hour.

Continuing west, they climbed above the bamboo, and the foliage returned to the mix of tropical scrub and grasses they found elsewhere, most which they still hadn't yet found much use for. As they came near the artesian lake, however, they saw more new plants, some of which the recognized as edible vegetables and other useful stuff. But they took no samples, only notes, because they wanted to keep the breadfruit relatively clean.

Cresting the ridge and descending again, they found more trees, scrub, and grasses they didn't recognize. Then they came to a wide field that was under shallow water, and filled with some sort of plant with small flowers. They stopped so Bobbie could sketch the plant, and then they circled the field to the north, looking for the source of the water. Shortly they came to the brook whose mouth they had seen emptying into the lagoon.

Along the brook, they found more useful vegetables -- wild cabbages, onions, leeks, and such. Which led Bobbie to comment, "It looks like we've found our green-grocer,"as she took more notes.

Crossing the brook, they found another wide field, not under water, where a bushy plant with beanpods grew, that Bobbie recognized as early soybean. And Karel said, half to himself, "We're going to have to build storage bins."

Following the brook below the field of water, they crossed the brook again and came to another stand of bamboo of medium size, about three inches in diameter. Again, they explored and examined the stand.

Continuing along the brook, they came to the lagoon. Going back into the trees, they followed it further to the south and came to another stand of taller trees including mango, banana, plantain, some kind of quince, and even almonds. Karel said, "I think it's time for lunch."

"I'm getting hungry, too."

"Do we go for fish?"


So they separated twenty or so yards from each other, with trees between them, turned their backs to each other, and changed into their swimsuits. Karel picked a couple of ripe mango, said "Here you go!" and tossed one to Bobbie. Then he grabbed an unripe mango, too.

Walking out to the sandbar, they set their packs down, with the ripe mangoes. Then Karel backed away and said, "Catch!" and threw the unripe mango to Bobbie. She laughed and caught it, and threw it back, and they tossed it back and forth, talking and laughing. Then Bobbie caught the mango and charged him. Karel set up to catch her, but she slipped past, laughing. He ran after, and, when he caught up, picked her up and ran for twenty yards with Bobbie hanging over his shoulder, laughing and kicking. Then he stopped, set her gently on her feet and yelled, "Touchdown!"

They both drew a few ragged breaths and then Bobbie ran laughing for the ocean.

Karel grinned as he watched her, then called out, "I'll go get the fishing line!" and went back for it. When he came back to the water, she was waiting in water waist deep, and he waded out and joined her. She quietly pointed out a nest of clownfish swimming among the tentacles of their host anemone, and they quietly watched them for a few minutes. When they backed away, Karel said, "Yeah, breadfruit and bananas would be good for lunch. No need for fish."

But Bobbie took the line and hook and the now-bruised, unripe mango and waded out a different direction. She used a bit of mango for bait and soon had a trout, which she quickly put out of its misery. Then they took the trout back to the lagoon-side beach, where they changed back to their regular clothes and built a small fire to roast the fish.

Sitting back-to-back under the trees at the edge of the lagoon while they ate the mangoes for an appetizer and waited for coals to form, to lay the fish on, Karel said, "We really could have gone with just breadfruit and banana and mango."

But Bobbie said, "But then we wouldn't have gone into the water. And we needed to go into the water."

"Oh? mmmyeah. We wouldn't have seen the clownfish."

"Well, that, too."

After a pause that somehow felt awkward, Karel concurred. "Uhh, yeah, that, too."

More silence. After a bit, Karel stood up and checked the coals, blew out the flames, and laid the fish on top of the coals. Then he sat back down, facing Bobbie, taking her hand.

Then Bobbie broke the silence. "We've found a lot of stuff this morning. It's going to be a lot to process. I think it's time to go back, collecting samples as we go, and see what we've got and figure out how to use it."

"I want to take some bamboo back."

"That's probably a good idea, too."

And neither moved.

After a bit, Bobbie said. "I'm beginning to see how we might actually survive here without getting rickets or something equally bad."

Another pause.

Then Karel said, "What I wouldn't give for a saw. With a saw, we could make a two- or three-room hut and chairs and a proper bamboo cooking grill and be done within a week or two."

"Can we make them without a saw?"

"I think so. But it's going to take a lot longer, and a lot more planning. And maybe a lot more wood and bamboo."

"Do we really need two rooms?"

After some thought, Karel said, "Well, I guess, if we make one room wide enough, we could put the luggage in the middle like we have with the tent. It would save time and material, probably."

"I suppose we could do that, keep them dry and all that. Assuming we can make a good roof."

"Banana leaves might help with the roof. Yeah, the roof and walls are going to be a problem unless we use a lot of trees and bamboo, or find some way to cut boards from fir trees with large trunks."

"You know, if I had a saw, there's something I'd be quite willing to trade it for."

They both thought for a moment. Then Karel said, "I think I want to go over that ridge," pointing to the ridge above the south side of the lagoon, "to see what's there. Do you feel like we shouldn't?"

"Guess I don't. Let's do it. But the fish is going to be burnt."

But it was just right, so they brushed off the ash and ate it with the breadfruit and drank some water from their canteens and packed their stuff back up and got started.

As they hiked, Karel said, "Yeah, there are more important things than saws and huts."

"And proving that we are independent of the opinions of busybody parents, family, friends, and teachers."

"Heh. And schedules. We could have postponed the research for some dating and getting married."

"And the last four months, we could have been going on dates and holding hands and not worrying about what it might lead to. And maybe Wycliffe might have suggested this island as a delayed honeymoon, and then everybody would know where we are."

"Yeah. And he'd still be alive."

To which Wycliffe said, half to himself, "But I'm still alive. Just in a different world, now."

And Hanaka, who was with him, said, "Things happen."

Karel and Bobbie continued hiking in silence. Then Karel said quietly, "Sorry, Wycliffe. I guess pride is not a safe sin."

And Bobbie said, "I guess that's part of why we forgive each other. I'm sorry, too, Wycliffe. We could have had some good times together."

And Wycliffe said, "We are having some good times together. It's okay."

And Bobbie and Karel, even though they did not hear the words with their physical ears, felt a little better as they crested the ridge and looked out over the sea and the forest below.

"More bamboo."

Karel wasn't sure, from the tone of her voice, whether Bobbie was happy with the discovery or not. "They look like a larger variety."

And they hiked down to check this stand of bamboo out.

"These look to be about four inches in diameter," he said. "They could make good weight-bearing posts for a real house,".

"We don't need a real house."



"Still, these can carry a lot of weight."

"Are you going to suggest we carry a bunch of these back?"

"Oh. Well, I was thinking, maybe we could carry two if we go back by the beach. But, no, since you ask, even carrying one of these back is going to wear blisters in our hands and shoulders. It's not a five minute walk. If we take these back, we'll have to float them back in the sea, and we'll need rope for that."

"But I can tell you want to take one back."

Karel was examining several that had fallen. "True. But we're not going to." He tapped them, stood on them, kicked them, jumped on some, looking for stems that were sound.

"Not taking any of these back today," he continued. "Maybe we can head back the way we came and take one or two of the medium-sized ones."

"Well, ..."

"Which way do you want to go back?"

"I'm thinking I want to walk on the beach."

"Okay, let's go back on the beach. What I mostly want to do is plan how to actually build something. Without a saw, even a lean-to is not going to be easy."

"What should we do now?"

"Do you need to take any more notes?"

"Not really, but I guess I could."

So they got the notebook and pencil out. Then Karel got out the hand axe, as well. While Bobbie took a few more notes, Karel tried chopping on some of the less-sound fallen stems, to see what he would be able to do without a saw. Then they put their stuff back in their backpacks, hiked down to the beach, and headed back to camp.

"What are you thinking about?" Bobbie asked Karel as they walked.

"Just trying to get an idea how we can build the hut. Can we use bamboo? How should we build the roof? That kind of thing."

"You're far away."

"Sorry. Lots of details I'm trying to probe without proper mental tools to probe them. Making up stuff as I go and hoping it doesn't lead me too far astray."

"We were so close before lunch."

They had come to the southwest stream, so Karel stopped and sat on a rock and patted the rock beside him, inviting Bobbie to sit down. She remained standing for a moment, then started walking again. So Karel stood back up and followed.

"Okay, talk to me. I won't think about the hut any more for a while."

"I'm sorry. I don't know what's going on inside me. Do we even need a hut?"

"Next big storm, I don't want to worry whether the tent will fly away or not. Is there something wrong with that?"

"I want that night back."

"Wow." And they just walked for a few minutes, not saying anything. Then Karel concurred. "I do too."

And they kept on walking until they got back to camp. Then Karel sat down and said, "Can I go far away and draw up some plans for the hut?"

And Bobbie sat down about a yard away and said, "What should I do?"

"I have no suggestions. Well, are you interested in calculating the number of bamboo posts we need for a wall?"

"How about the number of rooms?"

"Won't it be best to have two rooms?"



Finally Karel replied. "I have no idea any more." And they both sat there on the ground, unable to think anything clearly, stuck between shifting priorities, for what seemed like an hour.

And Wycliffe asked Hanaka, "What should we do?"

"Nothing. I'd say, leave them to their own devices, but for the evil spirits."

"There are evil spirits around?" And, for the first time, Wycliffe became aware of another plane of existence, where evil spirits waited for any opening to whisper tempting things into the ears of the couple he and Hanaka were watching.

"I'd never noticed that before," he said.

"It's best not to think too much about them, anyway."

"Our just being here keeps them from attacking?"

"That, and Bobbie and Karel's desires for each others' welfare."

So Wycliffe and Hanaka also did nothing but watch.

Finally, Karel started drawing pictures of a hut in the dirt with his finger.

And Bobbie said, "If you're going to build a hut, I only want one room."

Karel stood up and got his scriptures and then sat back down beside Bobbie.

And they did nothing for what seemed like another hour.

Nothing, that is, but pray.

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

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