Economics 101, a Novel, ch_32 -- Weaving Important Threads Together

(The story starts here:

The previous chapter starts here: (You probably don't want to jump directly to chapter 31.))

I had to think carefully about using cliffhangers as plot devices. They can help move a plot along when it is dragging. (And I had the sense that the plot was dragging when "Planning the Hut" had so many pseudo-technical diagrams.)

The problem with cliffhangers is that the author then feels compelled to let them drive the plot. If I let that happen, it would take me away from my purpose in writing this story.

If I had used the dreams chapter immediately after the preface, or even as late as after the Storm chapter, I could have let that chapter be the reality, and kept the plot on safe grounds -- get the co-protagonists married to each other before they go to the islands and avoid the sexual, social, and moral ambiguities that exist at this point.

They could marry properly, go do their four months of research, and then ask Wycliffe if he knows of a nice island where they could gain survival experience for their delayed honeymoon while maintaining contact with the outside world.

But I'm not a good enough story-teller (someday, maybe?) to make that story interesting. And I don't have the money to take a year off to go do the on-location research (Is it still possible this late in this world's history?) that I'd have to do to make the story relevant.

Yes, it would be fun, and I'm sure my family would enjoy it, too. But I'm not a professional author with lots of royalties to keep the bills paid. I have a day job that keeps food on the table and the kids in school. (It used to, anyway. Not this year.) And I can't afford to set that day job aside.

And there is still that other option of rescuing them before those forces of nature take their toll.

Daddy could come galloping over the rainbow in Wycliffe and Zedidiah's repaired plane, to take them back to society where they could marry properly and then return to their island for their advanced research. But that option has the same problems -- knowing what I'm talking about and making the story interesting.

But keeping it interesting is not really the primary problem. If it weren't for the simplified economic models I'm trying to set up, as I say, I'd pick another story to be my first novel. And I think I've said this before, too, but contact with the outside world de-simplifies things. It leaves extra parameters in the equation that make it hard to do the math reliably using the tools we have.

You ask why I fuss about the the plot as it is?

Well, we would hope that God would not take real people (especially us?) the direction I'm taking the plot. That's my biggest temptation for derailing the plot.

Why would a just and perfect and kind and loving God put ostensibly faithful people in a situation with so many dilemmas?

I know I'm fighting the usual expectations with this kind of story.

(But He does let us go there on our own, when we choose it. And sometimes -- war, crime, immoral behavior, etc. -- he lets us take each other in such directions. And then there are natural disasters, and the rest of the question of evil. The fact that He made this world and allows us to come is very difficult to accept -- unless, that is, you accept that He could, indeed, put two such faithful people in such a situation, if He determines that is what they need -- if He determines that is where they can be of best service in bringing the gospel of happiness to other people. And I think you could only accept that if you accept the idea that He is, after all, all-powerful, and all-merciful: able and willing, as it were, to rescue us.)

Anyway, the cliffhangers are done and out of the way for the moment, let's return to the boring day-to-day story.

"Karel! Are you sleeping in, today?"

Karel didn't want to open his eyes, but Bobbie's voice was insistent and very close. His eyes opened almost by themselves, and Bobbie's smile floated upside down above him in the pre-dawn twilight. Then it turned slightly sideways and she pressed her lips against his.

"That's just slightly cheating, I think," he said, his voice muffled by her lips.

So she lifted her head. "But you like it."

"Steal a kiss from me, and I'll ..." and he raised his head and kissed her, "... steal it back."

"Mmmmf. Okay. Too much. My fault."

"Double fault, both sides lose a point. You'd better let me sit up." So she sat back and Karel sat up, and she moved next to him and put her head on his shoulder. And Karel leaned his head against hers and put his arm around her and stroked her hair and asked, "So, to what do I owe this pleasant wake-up call?"

"Oh. I got distracted. You've been washing your clothes every morning. I haven't. I kept wishing that we would find something to use for laundry soap."


"Oh. Okay, I'll help you wash. After one more hug."
"Oh. Yeah. And I do need to wash my clothes today. Okay, let's go do laundry together. After one more hug."


I suppose I should have noted this before, but, after that first Monday, they had decided they should keep to the buddy system in the water, even when they were arguing. Especially when they were arguing. They had not yet seen sharks, but they had seen jellyfish on one day, and I already mentioned the sea anemones.

So, they would generally bathe during their morning swim, turning their backs to each other, continuing to talk to each other as they removed their swimming suits and bathed the parts that would otherwise be hard to clean. That way, if something happened to one, the other would be immediately aware.

And Karel had been taking his previous day's laundry with him and giving it a wash in the sea, even though they had no soap. And, as Bobbie just said, she had been saving hers, hoping for some sort of soap-like something to get her things a bit more clean.

So they changed into their swimsuits and took Bobbie's their laundry down to the beach and washed it and brought it back and hung it up to dry, hanging some of it in trees because there was no place else. Then they did some exercises and went back in the water to get breakfast and did the usual morning stuff.


And Bobbie had some ideas for rearranging the camp a little bit, so they spent a couple of hours moving things around and then moving some of it back.

"Well, I must say, I'm glad you didn't want to move the tent."

"Now that you mention it, ..." and Bobbie gave Karel a sneaky grin as Karel started to get his back up. And they laughed. "Not today, anyway."

"So, can we go look at bamboo now?"

"Yes, lets. Which bamboo, and are we bringing any back?"

"Good question. Let's start with the nearby stand."

So Karel grabbed the hand axe and they went up and looked around the stand of smaller bamboo.

"Can we use the fallen culms?"

[JMR201607220750 -- They needed more of the fallen bamboo:

"I don't know. Maybe we can. Let's see what we can do with a few of them." So they picked up six of the fallen culms that appeared in better shape and took them back to camp. So they picked from among the fallen culms that appeared in better shape as many as they could carry together and took them back to camp.

They set their load down, and Karel looked at the pile and said he wanted more. So they went back for another load.

When they set that load down, Bobbie said, "I hope that's enough."

"We can always go back for more."


Karel cut a section of the trunk of a fallen tree to use as a mallet, and then used the axe as a chisel to cut a ring around a culm. Cutting the ring deeper and deeper, they were able to cut through one of the culms without it splintering.

The next one splintered before they could get it properly cut. Bobbie took the axe and split that one down its length, and then they cut it in slats, seeing how they would bend. They tried to weave the slats, but the slats were too stiff. So they tried cutting it into finer strips, but they ended up shredding.

So they took the shreds and tried weaving those, and that seemed to work.

At that point, they got out their books and read more about bamboo, discovering instructions for leaching out the sap by standing the posts up after cutting, or by soaking them in stream water, as well as showing examples of basket and panel weaving.

"So when is this rainy season that we should be harvesting three months before?"

"I think it starts pretty soon, which is one of my reasons for wanting to build the hut."

"So we're too late for that."


"How do we tell a mature culm from a young one?"

"We'll have to observe the bamboo growing over several years."

"No time for that."


"So the only thing we can really do to make sure our hut won't self-destruct too quickly is leach the culms."

"Yep. And that's going to take several weeks."


"That means we'll have to postpone getting married even longer."

"Or we just need to be careful not to get me pregnant until we have some place for me to sit and do nothing out of the sun when I get morning sickness. Two weeks is a bit arbitrary, but it's our date. I'm not waiting any longer."


"'Cause I don't like having to crawl around the tent to wake you up. And turning our backs to each other while we bathe is just so arbitrary. Et cetera."

"What are we going to do about the buddy system when you're pregnant?"

"Cross that bridge when we get there."

So they went back to the nearest stand and examined some of the standing culms, tapping them to listen to their sound, looking at the color, shaking them carefully to see how much sway they had. And they cut down ten of the culms that seemed thickest and most solid, with the yellowest leaves, since they had no other way to determine their age. That took about an hour and a half. And they took the ten culms and tied them together with hemp rope and set them in the surf to soak, weighting the rope down with some large stones that they carried down to the beach together.


Returning to camp, Bobbie asked, "What are you going to do with all this old bamboo?"


"Well, I've been thinking about clothes and stuff in the bottom of the trunks."

"Well thought. Let's make a rack to put the trunks up on."



So they cut one of the old culms in half for the ends. Using hemp stalks, they lashed thirty or so of the others on top of the ends, side-by-side, with about an inch gap between each. Then they cut several more in half and lashed them underneath, spaced about nine inches apart.

They moved the trunks away from the wall and cleared the ground on the downhill side, and set the rack on the cleared ground. Finally, they lifted the trunks on top of the rack.

"That should keep things from going moldy quite so fast."

At which point they emptied the trunks, spreading their belongings out on the rack and the tarp and left things to dry.


And then they took a break for lunch.

In the heat of the early afternoon, they dug out their scriptures and re-read the parts that seemed relevant to setting up a government.

"You know, the only time in the scriptures where they start with only two is Adam and Eve."

"What kind of government did they set up?"

"Near as I have ever been able to tell, a government by consensus. There isn't much to go on, but what there is doesn't indicate a lot in the way of an over-arching government, other than God and natural consequence."


"Cain wasn't arrested, wasn't given a life sentence in some jail, wasn't put to death. He and those who joined him were just naturally separated from the more direct interactions with God and angels when they left. That's not anarchy, but some people who refuse to understand what the Spirit of Truth is will probably think it is."

"When did they start having kings?"

"That would be the first Pharoah, wouldn't it?"

"And Ham was imitating, according to his interpretation, his father Noah, when he set his son up as the first Pharoah."

"And maybe his grandfather."

"The next king we care about is Saul."

"There are the kings among the Jaredites, but then there is also Melchizedek's father."

"And they were continually warned not to, but the people insisted on having kings."

"Right. Except we are not sure about Melchizedek and his father. Anyway, Melchizedek was a prince, rather than a king, according to what we know."

"Why did the people insist?"

"Because God is invisible to people who don't believe, and forcing people to believe doesn't work."


"Even for people who believe, there's always the problem of interpreting what is seen."

"And that can't be forced, either."


"So the problem with kingdoms is what?"

"A misunderstanding of what a true king is."

"A true king or queen is a steward, and he or she receives that stewardship from God."


"So everyone, really, is supposed to be a king or queen over their own stewardship."

"Right. And if they would, there would be no need of external government, the problem being how to get people to learn their stewardship from God, and how to get them not to assume that their stewardship includes too much."

"Or not enough. Which is why I'm Republican and you're Democrat."

"Well, yeah, but we skipped a bunch of steps."

"But that's basically what it is, isn't it? You found the Democratic ideologies worked better for you in trying to understand your social and political stewardship, and the Republican ideologies worked better for me."

"And we thought we were such political opposites."

"Misunderstandings abound."

"Well, you think governments should stay more out of the way of people that are not having problems, and I think that governments should extend help to people who have problems when the non-government social institutions fail."

"Neither of which idea is particularly wrong."


"So what should our Constitution look like?"

"Jesus Christ should be our King, and we can say so, just as long as it is just us two. If other people come to this island, or if our children become adults here, we may need to refrain from saying so in the Constitution."

"So, set it up so that no man can be the one-and-only king over the whole island."

"But that's a little hard to do right now."

"Oh? Why?"

"Because, with no one but you and me here, whether we set up a democratically elected republic or a kingdom, it's basically the same thing. You are the queen and I am the king. If we don't cooperate, we'll die here, so we have to be co-equal. That makes us democratic. But there is no one else that has a vote. So that makes us despots."

"Quit playing games with my mind."

"It's not a game. That's pretty much the way it is."

"And that still doesn't help us set up a government that can issue a marriage license."

"Maybe it doesn't, maybe it does, but we need to study this out a bit more."

"And pray."

So they prayed, offering thanks for being able to discuss the subject without arguing, and asking for help setting things up right.

"Bobbie, did we ever identify that white flower in the water near the artesian lake?"

"No, we didn't."

So they got out their books again and leafed through it. This time, they saw it.

"That looks like wild rice."

"That would be nice to have. Let's read about what to do with it."

And they read about it, trying to guess ahead about how they would harvest and use it.

When the temperature cooled down in the late afternoon, Bobbie grabbed her hat and said, "We need to go get groceries." And off they went, taking their empty backpacks with them.

After supper, they [JMR201607221026: repacked the trunks and ] brought in Bobbie's laundry. Then they spent some more time making rope, which they were beginning to get good at. And they retired under the stars again, with the tent between them.

Sometime around two in the morning, Karel woke up, listening and wondering why he was awake. He was almost drifting back to sleep when he heard distant thunder, and the wind brought him a hint of the smell of rain.

"Bobbie!" he called out as he got and and started rolling up his bedroll. "Bobbie, it's gonna rain. We need to take cover!"



"Oh." And she got up and started gathering up her bedroll.

Karel dumped his bedroll in the tent, made sure Bobbie was up and taking care of hers. "I'll get the tarp over the trunks. You check for tools and stuff we've left lying around."


Bobbie grabbed the rope they had made and the shredded bamboo and brought it up to put on the trunks. They groceries were already inside the tent, so there wasn't anything else to worry about.

"All the tools are in the tent. The [JMR201607221028: four fallen remaining old ] culms we haven't done anything with should be okay, maybe?"

"Oh, I don't want them getting wet in this rain."

So they carried those culms up, but they wouldn't fit under the tarp. So they set them on the ground and tied the tarp over the trunks rope and bamboo scraps and retired to the tent.

"The wind is getting a little chill." Bobbie said as she climbed into the tent.

Karel tied the tent flaps shut and turned around to roll out his bedroll. Bobbie had already rolled it out beside hers.


"You're not leaving me to catch cold."

"Good point."

And they retired together in the tent for the first time since the last storm.

(And I don't need to tell you that they behaved themselves properly, do I?)

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

(The chapter index is here:

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