Chapter 16 Summary
Jeffrey Greggson enjoys his new life on the island. His constant companion is Fey, a golden retriever that George had bought. George resents that the dog seems interested only in the boy, but he resigns himself to wait for the new litter due soon. Jean is not sure she wants more than one dog in the house. Fey follows Jeff everywhere, except when the boy goes bike-riding.
One day, Jeff decides he wants to go swimming with his friends. Jean has become used to the water and feels no fear for Jeff’s safety, so long as he does not swim alone. Jeff and his friends bike over the causeway to Sparta. Jean’s heart clenches when she hears the tsunami warning siren, knowing that Jeff is across the channel on Sparta. Jeff is alone on the beach, his friends having climbed up the hill. He feels a slight movement beneath his feet, and the water swiftly recedes toward the ocean.
It is some hours later that Jeff is found; he is safe. The causeway had been broken by the tsunami, stranding him on the island. There had been minimal damage and no loss of life on New Athens. Jeff had been thinking about swimming across the channel when he was rescued.
That night, as he lies in bed, Jeff imagines himself telling his parents that he had heard a big man’s voice goading him to run up into the hills. When Jeff climbs up the path, he comes across a huge boulder blocking his way. The voice tells him to cover his eyes, which he does. He feels an intense flash of heat. When he opens his eyes, the boulder is gone. Jeff wants to know who the voice belonged to. So does George. Jean, who has not been interested in “paranormal” activity since the party at the home of Rupert Boyce, fears that there might be something psychologically wrong with Jeff. The next day, she takes him to a psychiatrist, who tells her that Jeff has an active imagination that he is using to deal with his frightening experience.
When the causeway is repaired, George bikes over. He follows the path that Jeff took up the hillside and finds a place where the rocks have been fused by an intense heat. He wonders who or what was there to protect Jeff. First, Jean had had her experience at the Boyces’, and now Jeff has this. He wonders if Karellen had anything to do with Jeff’s rescue.