Chapters 13 and 14 Summary

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For each day that they have been on the cay, Timothy drops a small pebble into an old can he found. He and Phillip landed on the island on April 9, 1942, and there are now forty-eight pebbles in the can.

On this day, Timothy decides that Phillip must learn to provide fish for himself in case he, Timothy, should again be incapacitated by malaria. Timothy catches fish and langosta with a sharp stick, but Phillip’s blindness will prevent him from using this method, so he makes several fish hooks from old nails for him. Timothy has found an “outrageous good [fishing] ’ole” on the reef and has driven pieces of driftwood every two feet along the route there so Phillip will be able to feel his way along. When they reach the coral-walled pool, Timothy shows Phillip how to find mussel to use as bait. Having fished before with his father, Phillip is able to bait his hook, drop the line, secure the fish when he feels it grab the mussel, and flip it up out of the water over his shoulder. Recognizing that he is learning “to do things all over again, by touch and feel,” Phillip experiences a deep sense of satisfaction. From that day on, Phillip does all the fishing. Timothy even lets him go out on the reef alone, but while he is there, Phillip senses that his mentor is always close by, silently looking after him.

Timothy and Phillip find a lot to talk about. Although Timothy is completely at home among the Caribbean Islands, he has never thought much about their origins. Phillip, however, knows a little bit about geography and earth science, and when he explains how the islands and wildlife might have gotten there in the very beginning, Timothy listens “in fascination...speechless.”

At the end of that week, Phillip decides he is ready to climb the coconut tree. Ecstatic, Timothy guides him, but when Phillip is about ten feet up, he freezes, overcome by fear. Timothy gently tells him, “’Tis no shame to ease your own self back downg to d’san’,” but Phillip does not want to disappoint his friend, so he starts climbing again and succeeds in securing the coconuts.

With this accomplishment, Phillip feels that he has graduated from the survival course Timothy has fashioned for him. That night, as they lie side by side, Phillip reflects that at first he had thought that his companion was ugly, but now he seems “only kind and strong.” He facetiously asks, “Timothy, are you still black?” and Timothy laughs uproariously.

One morning in July, Timothy and Phillip are down on the beach when they hear a sound like a rifle shot. Timothy recognizes that the distinctive noise is made by the waves passing by with peculiar intensity, a signal that “a veree bad starm is comin’.” Under Timothy’s guidance, the two rush to prepare themselves for the onslaught of a hurricane. First they lash the water keg to the trunk of a palm tree at the highest point on the island, then they tie a rope securely around the girth of the same tree. If the water reaches that height, they will have to lock their arms over the rope and hang on for dear life.

As they continue with their preparations, Timothy explains that storms do not usually come to the area until September or October; when they come in July, they are especially dangerous. Late in the day, the two friends share a meal that is larger than usual because after the hurricane abates, the fish and wildlife may not return for at least a week. After they eat, Timothy cleans his knife and lashes it up with the water keg and announces to Phillip that they are now ready.

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Chapters 11 and 12 Summary

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Chapters 15 and 16 Summary