Wednesday, December 21, 2011


“So, how many times can you make the stone skip Nike?”  “I don’t know; at least 14 or 15 times.”  “Show me then.”  Nike gripped the flat stone, about the size of his palm, with his index finger wrapped around its curved edge, his thumb opposing, and his pointing finger supporting from below.  He drew the object back cocking his arm behind him.  With a whipping motion of his arm almost parallel with the water he fired the stone in the direction of the sea.  It spun as it roped out over the calm waves and dropped flat side toward the water.  Glancing the surface in an iteration of smaller and smaller jumps the stone gave up its energy to the sea and sank.  “That was only nine hero; better try again.”
Nike, now 16 years old, and Betawee had been interested in each other for a few months by this time.  Kimeril was not aware exactly how interesting their relationship had become.  Betawee was a beautiful yet beguiling young woman.  She was from Kimeril’s settlement and was Nike’s second cousin.

Nike turned in her direction tipping his head to one side and called on his best smirk to accept the challenge.  He perused his vicinity of the cost more carefully this time and chose a near perfect specimen of a skipping stone.  Completely flat on both sides its circular edge had been beveled smooth by 150 years of jostling with the other stones in the surf of the Sea of Ashkenaz.  Nike then secured his footing at the proper distance.  He bent deeply at the knees.  With great concentration he whipped this stone as the other but with more force and a truer aim.

“How old are you Beta?”  He said; hands on hips, grin on face.  “You know I just turned seventeen.”  She said laughing as she tossed her hair unable to hold back a look of adulation; for that is the number of skips made by Nike’s stone.  “Come here then.”  Betawee slid off the large rock where she had been perched.  She brushed the sand from her legs and buttocks as she walked over to Nike.  As was their customary embrace, she stood with her toes on his.  He reached his hands in, palms turned out and backs sliding along her hips, and clutched her hands.  Fingers locking he pulled her close by drawing her arms around him to his lower back.  Fingers still locked the two tall frames seemed pasted together from lips to toes.  I admit; it was cute, that is, if one did not look upon it for too long in one stretch of time.

“Again with the kissing!”  Billaad was on his way back from the delta.  “I thought you told me that jealousy was wicked Billaad?”  Billaad stopped and looked tiredly at the smug Nike.  “Not at all what I said boy.  To covet is wicked.  It is a decided action of the heart.  It is akin to stealing but lacks the physical deed.  I covet nothing of yours.  Jealousy is emoted.  Like all feelings it can influence for good or for evil.  In any case, one can’t be held in account for what one feels.  If I am jealous of you, then it is not how you think.  Indeed you have much to boast of: strength, coning, beauty, position.  But he that glories, let him glory in the Lord.  For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.  For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as pure to our God and Father.  If you receive a different spirit which you have not received, then you may well put up with it for a time.  Yet a day will come when you have no remedy.  Even though I am untrained in speech, yet I am not in knowledge.  But we have been thoroughly made manifest among you in all things.  [2 Corinthians 11]  And now, after a hard days work which you would do well to be jealous of, I am returning home to my loving wife and family.  You would do well to be jealous of this also as it dwarfs any base pleasure derived from the casual and caviler.  If you have any questions about what I have said, then I suggest you take it up with your father Kimeril.”  Billaad resumed his steady pace back to the village.  “Woe!  Lighten up Billaad!  I was only stirring your soup man.”  Nike then turned face and full attention back to Betawee.  In between kisses he shared with her.  “That guy is way too serious.”  “And a little weird; don’t you think; espoused to one husband, you, what is he talking about?”  She replied.

As you can probably tell, over the years Billaad had developed a strong and consistent relationship with God the father.  It did not necessarily come easy nor did it happen all at once.  But the shock of Crill’s untimely death, the increasing vacuousness of his mother’s paintings, together with his own emptiness, caused Billaad to search, seek, and then find the Holy Spirit of God.  Billaad called upon the name of the Lord and was saved.  Hallelujah!  Billaad was blessed of God.  Although his earthly possessions were modest, his family, friends, and God’s faithfulness continually filled his heart with joy unspeakable.  When trials and tribulations did come his memories of his boyhood friend and their times together were a buoy of hope in the storm; not a weighty stone of depression.  He would even on occasion and for the rest of his days on earth visit the face stone to talk to his old friend.

Most often the topic of these discussions was Crill’s younger brother Nikelus.  Nike was a baby when Crill died and so had no memory of him.  His mother Philia and Kimeril both shared regularly with Nike about Crill but Nike was not all that interested.  In fact he had grown tired and even a bit irritated at these accounts.  He was especially short nerved when his parents would bring up the fact that Crill knew God personally, all be it a short time hear on earth, at the age of ten.  Nike had no such knowledge.  Further, Nike was not interested in such knowledge.  Despite many one-on-one discussions with Kimeril, Philia, and even Billaad, Nike remained disinterested in and sometimes even annoyed with the idea of God.

Don’t be mistaken and think Nike some sort of malcontent.  He was very well liked and a very pleasant fellow to all.  He did his chores, he was polite, he was funny and kind.  He was all the things Billaad had mentioned and more.  He was not particularly industrious nor was he one to make long term commitments, but, his charm, his manors, and his wit were enough to make up for any of these minor short comings; at least from an earthly perspective.  “What a good kid.”  This would be one of the first things out of anyone’s mouth if asked to describe him.

This general high regard from all, as it turned out, was one of the biggest stumbling blocks to Nike’s coming to know the Lord.  Of what need to him was this God, whoever He was?  After all, Nike, son of the chief, envy of all those worldly, he had everything going for him.  What sense could he make of Billaad’s ramble standing there on the breathtaking shores of the Sea of Ashkenaz, the beautiful Betawee in his arms and not a care in the world?  True evil was but a myth to him carried on in the worn out stories of the menacing Gog.  And don’t even mention God’s wrath as poured out on the wickedness of man in the great flood.  There was certainly too much fun to be had in each and every day to waste time listening to those impossibilities.  For him, turning a woman’s head or a glance of Betawee’s form as she moved was enough to disintegrate any care of eternity.

A short time later Nike and Betawee also returned to the village.  They went to Nike’s house where Nike had some unfinished mending to the roof he needed to work on.  As he fashioned the repairs, Betawee joined the women of his long house in the preparation of the evening meal.  Betawee’s contribution was both welcomed and encouraged by her parents as well as Nike’s.  You see both sets of parents approved of the potential marriage of the two.  So any encouragement they could give in securing the union in a proper fashion was helpful to all.

Present among the group of women were: Philia, Palia, Lynda, Betawee, and Nike’s two older sisters (Helleen and Gildalee).  When Betawee entered the kitchen area the work was already in full swing and the group was a buzz concerning the evening meal.  Betawee caught on quickly that the men (Kimeril, Grip, Tiras, and Engain) had hunted down and killed a lesser dragon.

Yes, as it turns out the shapes that darted about so quickly in and out of the shadows so as not to be recognized on the fishing expedition were a variety of reptile slightly larger than a man.  As the settlement expanded and their population grew, well, man and dragon began to ‘bump’ into each other.  Scavengers mostly but when the presence of one close to the settlement became known, the men would hunt it down and kill it as a precautionary measure.  One of the children might become too much of a temptation for the beasts.  The hunting procedure was not too difficult.  They simply killed one of the livestock.  Took the carcass out into the woods.  Camouflaged their position and waited.  Sooner or later, the beast would come upon the dead animal to feed and the men would coordinate their attack.  Fortunately for settlement, the meat of the dragons tasted very good.  And so, it would be a fine feast this night for the family of Kimeril.  Here is some of what the ladies had to say to each other:

Philia:  Betawee, come on in darling and sit down here next to me.  We will get you started on the salid.
Palia:  Where is that handsome boo of yours?
Betawee:  Oh, somewhere overhead I expect.
Gildalee:  Please, don’t put the brat on too high a pedestal.
Helleen:  Sister, now don’t you forget, Nike has been floating ten feet off the ground for the past two months over this one.
Gildalee:  Yea, you would think he would learn after crashing to the ground over the last one.
Philia:  Girls!  That is no way to talk to Betawee.  She is an honored guest in our home and you will treat her with the respect she deserves.  Now apologize!
Helleen:  I am sorry if what we said upset you Betawee.  We meant no disrespect to you.
Gildalee:  Yes Betawee, I am sorry also.  We like you.  We are just not so taken by Nike’s charm as so many others seem to be.  Nike has not treated the girls he has seen in the past well at all.  He smothers them with superficial platitudes for a short period of time only to become distracted by some other girl.  His charm then becomes unfocused and the girl drops him like a stone.  I am sorry mother but you know that it is all true.  These remarks of ours are meant to caution Betawee not insult her.

There is an awkward silence as the women continue their work.

Lynda:  Do we then not know where Nike is?
Philia:  He is on the roof working to repair a leak.

The women all broke into a roll of subdued laughter that cut the tension.

Philia:  Gildalee, your brother is not perfect.  I think you question his intensions too harshly.  Did any of us know what we were doing when first we excited the attentions of a man?  Nike has, I will admit, been fumbling around in his relationships with girls.  His individual faults are no more severe than were those of his father Kimeril when he was Nike’s age.  Are they worse than your husband’s were Helleen?  What about yours Gildalee?  If Betawee is to be cautioned, then it is a general caution she should receive.
Betawee:  I like Nike; faults and all.

There was more laughter from the group but this time it was less guarded.

Palia:  That is plan enough for all to see.
Lynda:  And don’t let any of us nags spoil it for you dear.

The women continued to work while tossing about some related banter among them to the effect that their husbands still had plenty of faults and a good dousing into Betawee’s wide eyed enthusiasm might help them through some spots here and there.  And then came an interjection for the whole group:

Philia:  I do hope and pray that one of Nike’s stumbling blocks would be removed and without haste.
Betawee:  I know Philia.  You would have him pay more attention to his family; especially his younger sisters.  And I agree.
Philia:  No Betawee.  That is not what I am talking about.  I pray to the Father daily that he would call on the name of the Lord and be saved.
Betawee:  Yes, I have been meaning to ask.  What is it exactly that you all mean by that?
Philia:  I love the Lord, because He has heard my voice and my supplications.  Because He hath inclined His ear unto me, therefore will I call upon Him as long as I live.  The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow.  Then called I upon the name of the Lord; O Lord, I beseech thee, deliver my soul.  Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful.  The Lord preserves the simple: I was brought low, and He helped me.  Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee.  For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from failing.  I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living.  I believed, therefore have I spoken: I was greatly afflicted: I said in my haste, All men are liars.  What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?  I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord.  I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people.  Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.  O Lord, truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant, and the daughter of thine handmaiden; thou hast loosed my bonds.  I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the Lord.

Just then there was a load cry from outside the building: “Oh my God; Oh my God!”  The women all spring from their work and rushed out of the long house.  Just as they were exiting, Nike leapt from the roof above and landed some 5 cubits to their right.  The women all let out a shriek of surprise.  Betawee, shouted, “Nike!  What is the matter?”  He paid the calls from the women no mind and dashed toward the stand of trees about 30 cubits from the house.  Something high in one of the trees caught the women’s’ attention.  It was a child; a young girl.  She seemed to be dangling from a branch.  The women, hands to their hearts and mouths, began to move quickly toward the seen.

Nike bulled through the small crowd at the base of the tree and sprang up the trunk foothold to foothold; branch to branch.  In a flash, he and the rope slung over his shoulder, he had been using in his work on the roof, disappeared into the foliage of the great oak that stood at least 40 cubits high.  About this time little Haran, eight years old, climbed down to the last branch, five cubits high, and plopped to the ground.  Dusting himself off, he moved toward the crowed as they started at him.  “What were the two of you thinking?”  “Is there anyone else up their?”  “If anything happens to her…”  The boy belted out in a loud voice:  “I told her not to come.  I told her it was too dangerous to climb so high.  She would not listen!”  Just then Gildalee wrapped her son up in her arms and carried him some distance from the group as they both broke into a flood of tears.  Some in the crowd continued to shout out interrogations in the boy’s direction.  Philia called out for them:  “STOP!  Gildalee will find out what is what from the boy.  We should all bow our heads in prayer for the child and for Nike who has gone to her rescue.”  “Philia, it is Estrala.”  Lynda informed her friend as gently as she could.  “Yes, and we will pray for her now.”  Replied Philia and she led the group in a short but direct prayer for her two children high above in the tree.

Nike had reached Estrala’s height.  He was still close to the center of the tree and his sister was out on a small broken limb.  There were no limbs close to her that could possibly hold him.  She was positioned at a Y in the branch.  Under her right arm pit went one limb of the Y.  The other limb appeared to have been shoved between her dress and her back.  The end of the branch was shooting out of the top of her dress at the neck; right behind her head.  She was crying.

“Estrala.”  “Yes?  Nike, is that you?”  “Yes, are you alright?”  “Nike, I am so scared.  Please help me.  I am going to fall.”  “Hold on sister.  Will you hold on tight?”  “Yes I will but you have to help me.”  “I am.  I will be right there.  Just hold on.”  “Ok.”

Nike noticed a thicker branch shooting of from the center of the tree in the direction of Estrala about five or six cubits above her.  It was also a few cubits short of her position too.  Nike squirreled his way up and out the thicker branch until he came to a spot he could secure the rope.  The branch here was about as thick as his calf where it split into two branches each about as thick as his forearm.  Nike positioned himself in the Y of this branch for a moment while he tied the rope around his chest just under his arms.  He looped the rope through the Y and grabbed hold of the other side.  This way he lowered himself down.  As he changed the position of one hand on the opposite end of the rope, the slack slid through the Y and lowered the end tied around his chest.

In no time Nike was hanging about a cubit below his sister and three cubits from her toward the center of the tree.  “Here I am Estrala.”  The young girl of eight peered over her right shoulder and could see her brother.  “Oh good, please hurry.”  “I am on a rope and I am going to swing over to you.”  “Ok.”

Down below the mood was tense.  They could see that Nike was close but they could not determine his plan nor his exact progress.  Most of the men from the adjacent long houses were all away from the vicinity at this time.  Formill was present.  He had injured his leg the week before and was recooperating at home.  “Nike!  How is it going?”  Formill shouted up.  “It goes well.”  Nike responded.  “Do you need anything?”  “Yes, all my strength.  So, I won’t be shouting down to you anymore.”  Just then Betawee said something very softly.  So softly in fact that nobody in the crowd around her heard.  She said; “Please Lord, give Nike strength.”  It was out of her mouth before she knew she was going to say it.  A rush came over her whole body followed by an inexplicable calm.  She did not know how she knew but then and there she knew Nike and Estrala would be safe.

Nike had wrapped the opposite side of the rope around his right forearm and held it in his right hand.  He began to swing back and forth; back and forth until he gained the momentum that carried him to the stranded Estrala.  At the apex of his swing he, all at once and with his left arm, reached under her left armpit and grasped the branch coming out from under her right armpit.  He then kissed his sister on the left cheek.  “Thank you Nike.  I knew you could do it.”  “Now let’s get you out of here.”  “Yes.”  The branch coming out of her dress that had been helping to keep her from falling was now an obstacle in her release.  “Sorry girl.  This might hurt a bit.  Just hold fast to my arm.”  Nike lifted his right foot up to where the branch went under her dress near her lower back.  He planted it on top of the branch and pushed down with his foot.

The branch was only sticking out the top of the dress by a little more than a cubit and Nike easily pulled it down and through.  At the same time he lifted the girl off of the branch with his left arm.  She let out a cry as the branch scraped against the cuts and bruses she had sustained in her earlier fall.  As the two swung free of her entanglement Nike asked; “Are you ok?”  “Yes, I will be fine now.”
Down below all of the swinging, cries of pain, and rustling of branches was almost too much for the crowd.  But when they caught a view of Nike pulling the two of them up; Estrala wrapped tightly around his neck they let out a great cheer.  It took many minutes more for Nike to bring the girl carefully down to the ground.  Again they were met with a great swell of cheering excitement.

Not Alone

Morning came with a bright blue sky.  There was just enough of a crack in the canopy above our pool to see the beautiful color.  This was to be our last day before heading back to the village.  Billaad and I had had enough of fishing and by midday we convinced my father to let us explore the river just above the water fall.  After eating Tiras would escort us up and over the platue.  We also would take the two dogs.  My dad and the other men would have another afternoon of fishing.
“Hey that’s my finger.”  “Don’t climb so close behind me then.”  Billaad and I were climbing up the platue near the waterfall.  We had decided it best because taking time to look for a better way might take too long and separate us too much from the group.  “Ok, I will back off but hurry up.”  I was impatient.  I had let Billaad go before me.  Tiras and the dogs were already at the top.  “Have grandpa pull you up in a bag like he did the dogs if you are in that much of a hurry.”  As you know already Billaad could be quite direct for an 11-year-old boy.

So Billaad gets to the top and says: “Wow! That’s amazing!”  “Alright, alright just get out of the way.”  I wanted to see what was so amazing.  Now, if you’ve never been a 11 or 12 year old boy, then you may not appreciate how amazing a river, a hand breadth deep, running through a bed of rocks can be.  The rocks were all different sizes.  There were small stones completely submerged.  There were rocks half in and half out of the water.  There were rocks so large the two of us could not budge them.  And, there were even a few boulders as large as a horse.  We, of course, would try to make our way to and fro by only standing on rocks with surfaces above the streaming water.  We also played a game where we were battling Gog and his Scythians.

We were having a joyous time.  Occasionally we would get close enough to the falls to wave and shout down to the men fishing.  To which my father would reply with hands waving: “Get back from the edge there!  Do you want to fall off?”  We would just laugh and then retreat back to our game.  The stream of the water had picked up a bit because of the rain and it was actually a little warmer now.  You see the rain water was a little warmer than the river water.

We had been up there a while and sensed that soon my father would call us back.  We planned one last onslaught to drive out the invading Gog when a most peculiar thing happened.  The river got very cold and the stream of water picked up considerably.  Tiras noticed it and stood up on the large rock that was his look out position.  He hollered at us to come back.  Billaad feigned back “Aahhhg!”, softly so that nobody but I would hear his mockery.  We started back but it was not fast enough for Tiras.  He gave another shout.  It was louder this time and sounded much more urgent.  We did hear that the sound of the rolling water up river from us was increasing in intensity yet again.

Tiras slid down from his watch point and started to make his way toward us on the dry rocks whose number was quickly dwindling on account of the rising water.  He met Billaad who was ahead of me and hosted him up on his back.  He was about to continue on and get me when a large rush of water hit.  This rush consumed all of the once exposed rocks between Tiras and myself (about a 5 cubit span).  Tiras held up his hand to signal I should wait there.  He quickly bounced form rock to rock with Billaad on his back and delivered him to the point where we had ascended.  The water’s edge only a few cubits from there now and the uncles were barley able to get Billaad down before the water started to rush over that section of the cliff as well.

By that time both Tiras and my dad had returned to the rock closest to me that had not succumbed to the now ice cold water.  In fact we could see some rather large chunks of ice being carried with the flow.  It was fast and deep now and 10 cubits separated my bolder from theirs.  Tiras had grabbed the rope used earlier to hoist the dogs.  He tossed me the end with the harness.  I caught it and my dad shouted as load as he could that I should secure it around the top of the now dampened rock.  It was now less than one cubit above the rushing water.  Seconds later Tiras grabbed my dads arm and pointed to another large rush of water headed our way.  The men knew that this rush would surly prevail above my rock.  They could see that I was having difficulty securing the rope.  My dad called to me again.  “Tie the harness around you under your arms!”  He said as they both demonstrated on themselves.  I understood and hastily fastened the harness in place.

The last hook fastened I looked up to my dad with a smile on my face: “I did it!”  I yelled.  They were bracing themselves.  I turned up stream just as the rush hit my rock.  It hit me waist high and with such force to drive me into the icey torrent.  I was carried quickly down stream until I felt a fierce and sudden jolt of the end of the rope.  The rush quickly passed and the water was about to the top of my stomach. and moving fast.  I could not stand against the current and gave up any attempt to do so.  I could feel my father and grandfather pulling me against the current.  I tried lying on my back with my head pointed up stream.  I made myself as stiff as I could like a board so as to ride the current and keep my head above water.

It was working well.  A few times my head would dip under the water and the icy cascade would work to push me to the bottom.  I would drive my heals into the rocks below as hard as I could and push my head out and then regain the stiff board position gliding through the water.  As my elders worked to pull me closer to their rock small chunks of ice pelted my back and shoulders.  I was very cold now but I could here the shoots of my dad to hang on; that they would have me out soon.  Moments later I looked up and I could see them.  Just then the current grabbed me and pulled me under.  As I struggled to pop my head out a large chunk of ice hit me square on the top of my head.

The next thing I knew, I could hear the crackling of the fire.  As I opened my eyes I could see my dad’s face.  He smiled and said; “Hi Crill how do you feel son?”  To which I responded, “Miss me?”  My dad wrapped his arms around me, kissed my check and said; “It’s so good to talk to you son, we thought we might lose you.”  “What happened?”  I asked.  “As far as I can tell, just before we pulled you out a large chunk of ice hit you in the head.  You have a nice gash on your head that we bandaged up after we brought you to camp.  We then changed you out of the wet cold clothing and set you near the warm fire.  And here you are.”  “Where did all the icy water come from and so fast?”  “We don’t know.  That has never happened before.  The Guslar has not heard of it happening any where either.”  He has heard some wild stories from trappers about mountains of ice to the north.  Maybe the icy water came from those mountains?”

“How’s your head Crill?”  Asked Billaad.  He was peering over my dads shoulder munching on some fish.  “It hurts but I think it’s ok.  How about you?”  “I’m fine.  You should have seen it Crill.  The water came all the way up to the edge of our camp for a little while.  It was a little scary and the horses were going crazy.  We were all worried about you too.  It’s nice to see you talking and all.  Want some fish?”  “Na, I am not hungry.  I think I will just lie here and rest.”

The next morning was another beautiful one.  I was aloud to sleep in a little.  My dad woke me when we were about all packed up to go.  We ate a light breakfast and were on our way.  As we walked down stream along the trail that morning we could see from various vantage points some of the damage done by the rushes of ice water.  Small trees were uprooted.  Debris logs were jammed and caught in a number of different obstacles, like well routed large trees and rock formations.

I asked my dad what the rushes would do to the delta.  He did not know but was hopeful the majority of the crops would survive.  I also made a confession to my dad as we walked.

“Dad.”  “Yes Crill.”  “You know when I was alone on that rock?”  “Yes, son.”  “Well, I was really scarred.”  “I don’t blame you boy, I would have been scared too.  I mean you could have been seriously injured or worse.”  “Yea, I was scared like that but I mean a different scarred.”  “Different how?”  “It is kind-a hard to explain.”  “Will you try?”  “The worst part about being on that rock was that I was alone.  You were down below and Tiras was carrying Billaad to safty.  And I was alone.”  “But God was with you.”  My dad put his hand on my shoulder to reassure me.  “No dad, he was not.”  I stopped and my dad stopped.  The others then stopped and looked at us.

“Grip, let’s take a break at that clearing just ahead.   You all go on and Crill and I will catch up.”  Grip acknowledge and the others proceeded.  “What do you mean God was not with you?”  “I am telling you dad; God was not there on that rock with me.  I was all alone.”  “Crill, you were just scarred.  God is always with us.”  “Dad, I am telling you He was not with me on that rock and He is not with me in the ways you describe that He is with you.  I was alone!”

I could see that my dad was perplexed and frustrated by my testimony.  After a pause he said: “Why would He not be with you?  Now, let’s go and take a break with the others.”

Now, at the clearing my dad and I were seated together and the Guslar came over and asked if he could join us.  We welcomed him.  Crill, you seemed upset back there.  Did it have anything to do with your incident on the river?  Does your head feel alright?”  “My head is fine.  It is my heart that troubles me.”  “How so?”  “Like I told my dad; I was alone on that rock.  My dad was down below, Tiras was rescuing Billaad and God was somewhere else.”  “But, God is everywhere Crill.”  “Maybe Mr. Guslar but He was not with me on that rock; I was alone.  And that’s not all; if I would have died in that river, then I fear I would have been alone forever.”

“Wait a minute Crill!”  My dad jumped in.  “God loves you and if for some reason, as you say, He was not with you on that rock, then that was only temporary.  He would not allow you to spend an eternity apart form Him.  Why do you think He would do such a thing to you; one he loves so?”  “I don’t know.  Dad, is God with you?”  “Yes, He is son.”  “How do you know?”  “His Spirit makes His presence known to me everyday in the communion of prayer.”  “And if you did not have this communion?”  “Well, I guess I would not know.”  “Dad, I have no such communion.  I mean I pray to Him and all but I have no communion.  God is not with me.”  “Do you want Him to be with you?”  Asked the Guslar.

“After that incident on the river?  I do and more than anything.  I don’t want to be alone forever.”  “Then call upon His name.”  “How do I do that?”  “Are you right with Him Crill?”  “What do you mean?”  “Do you always do what is right in His eyes?”  “No!”  “Can you do right always?”  “I don’t think so.”  “Does He want you to do right always?”  “Yes.”  “Then call on His name to make you able to do right and to forgive you when you do wrong.”  “That’s all I have to do?”  “You can think of another way?”  “No.”  “Then what have you got to lose?”  “Nothing, I guess.  I have nothing to lose.”  “What do you have to gain?”  “I would be accepted by God and not rejected on account of sin but what is His name?  How can I call if I don’t know His name?”  “God has always existed.  He exists now.  He will always exist.  God is.  He is the great ‘I Am’.  His name is “I Am!”

Before I knew it I fell on my knees right there next to my dad and the Guslar.  I bowed my head and outstretched my hands without really knowing why.  I started to cry as I said, with a load vice these words:

“God, I know I do wrong.  Please forgive me.  And I know I am alone helpless to do right.  I call on your name, ‘I Am’, to save me.  Please create in me a new heart.  Please bless me with your presence and may I not be alone forever.  Amen.”

After I was done praying I looked up as my father came in to hug me.  The Guslar was looking up to heaven and praising God.  All the other men and Billaad were just starring at me mouths open wide but I did not care.  I was crying and laughing at the same time and uncontrollably.  I can’t describe much of what happened to me in those moments but I can tell you that I was no longer alone.

As we walked on that afternoon it was becoming clear to the men that we would not make the site we had camped at on the way up the river.  We were all tired and the excitement of the journey up river had turned to drudgery as we made our way down river.  Besides, my head had begun to hurt.

Settled around the fire, bellies full and tired, the men’s talk started to center around tomorrow’s trek.  There was much debate on whether or not we could make it all the way back in one day.  Here we had one of the few disagreements I can recall between Grip and my dad.  Grip was adamant that our group in its present condition could not cover the remaining distance in one day’s time.  Kimeril was just as sure that we could.  Never heated the dialogue did become intricate.

“Look Kim, on the way up we only covered barely two thirds of what remains in a day and we were fresh and keen to move.”  “Awe yes but we had a late start and our focus was the wide eyed amazement of discovery not the narrow road toward home.”  They went on but it was about this time that the pain in my head became much more acute.  I attempted to bear up but its affects were visible to the men and uncle spoke up.

“Crill, what’s the matter boy?”  This brought the attention of the other men.  Billaad had fallen asleep some time before.  When I failed to answer Grip and my dad stopped their banter and attended to my painful distress.

“Crill.  Crill!”  My dad had come to my side and grabbed my hand.  I was a little disoriented.  I could hear him and when I made eye contact, although fuzzy, I smiled.  “Are you all right?”  “My head really hurts dad.  And I am dizzy.”  “Someone get a cold compress and let’s give them some room to breath.”  Grip instructed the men.

“Can I get you something Crill; a drink of water?”  My dad was getting frantic and looking about indecisively; worried.  I could hear him and all the men as they talked amongst each and another as to what was the best course of action to help me.  But the sound of their voices became increasingly far off or a little muffled.  Also, my vision was blurred; the periphery so much so as to make those figures unrecognizable.  I could see my dad though and he was so attentive.  He was stroking my face as they laid the cold cloth on my forehead.

“Dad.”  “Yes son, I am here.”  “I am not alone dad.”  “That’s good son.  We are all here boy.”  “Grandpa, is he hear?”  “Yes, Crill.  Now hang on son.  You are going to be all right.  This is probably a small relapse from your accident.  I am right here with you and here I will stay right through the worst of it son.  I love you.  How is the pain?”  “I love you too dad.  It hurts a lot now.  I think I would like to go to sleep.  Maybe that will make me feel better.”  Grip shuck his head and my dad responded; “No son why don’t you wait a while.  Stay up and talk with me like the other night ok?”  “Sure dad I liked that.”

The men were all scurrying around now.  They checked the wound sight on my head but that looked pretty good.  It had never swelled up much and the gash had no puss on it.  “Dad!”  I exclaimed.  “I can’t see!”  The light of the fire had gone out in my mind and it was pitch black to me now.  “I am right here son.”  My dad gripped my hand tight and bent close kissing my check.  “Oh dad I can’t see you.  Please keep talking dad.  Would you pray dad?”

“Yes son.  Dear God.  Lord I ask you to be with my son Crill now and comfort him.  Ease his suffering father.  May the pain be removed and his sight restored.  Lord be with us now to set things right and new and it is in you we trust.  Amen.”  “Thank you dad.  You are good to me.  I am not alone dad.  But I need to rest.  Will we see mother and Nike tomorrow?  I’ll talk to you again in the morning dad goodnight.”  “No son, stay with me now.”


We covered a lot of ground the next day.  The surrounding mountains were getting bigger.  The trees were getting taller the river was getting narrower but it seemed to be moving faster.  And the fish were jumping higher.  When we reached a water fall in mid afternoon my father said, “This is it.”  It was a beautiful spot.  The falls were about 15 or 20 cubits high with a large pool about 25 cubits wide and some 70 cubits long.  A beaver had built a damn which help exaggerate the natural size of the basin.  There was a large clear dry platue on the eastern side (our side) of the river some 30 cubits removed with about 5 or so cubits elevation above the river.  Our camp would be close enough to see the pool but far enough away as not to disturb the sport.
There was enough time left in the day to set up camp, fish for dinner, and begin work on a raft that would float us out into the pool.  There would be little conversation this night; all men old and young fast asleep shortly after dark.  That is except for our sentry.  One of the adults stayed awake to keep the fire going and ward off any inquisitive nighttime visitors.

The next day was full of activity; fishing, building exploring, story telling, and eating.  Incidentally, I was wrong.  One of the men was an outstanding cook.  The Guslar prepared the fish in so many different ways on that trip that none got sick of eating it.  He had a bag of spices and refused to tell anyone what any of it was.  I didn’t care; I just ate it up.

After dinner and around the campfire we played a game of sorts.  The Guslar started the game; he called it Mujde.  Billaad’s uncles knew this word.  It was a word of the language of the people of Gomer.  The Guslar knew many of the languages.  Let me explain.  As I have said before after the confusion at the tower of Babel each tribe (sons of 2nd generation patriarchs) spoke their own language.  The 2nd generation patriarchs themselves, like Tiras and Gomer, together with Noah and his sons and all their wives spoke the first tongue.  The speakers of the first tongue can’t learn any of the new languages and none of the 3rd generation and beyond can learn the first tongue.  However, people can learn the individual tribal languages across tribal boundaries.  This learning is difficult and some are more gifted than others but it can be done.  All three of the brothers, sons of Ashkenaz, learned our tribal language for example.  And, as we came to find out this night, the Guslar could speak many of them.  It seemed there was no end to his bag of tricks.

In any case, Mujde is the building of a story one sentence at a time.  The Guslar brought out a rock the size of a man’s fist.  But this was no ordinary stone.  It was what remained of a once larger crystal type structure that had been worked by chisel, sand, and polish so that it was smooth and shaped like the body of a fish, minus the tail fins.  The stone was to be tossed about those present at the fire.  Each time you held the stone you were to add one sentence to the story.  If you dropped the rock, then you were out and could contribute no more.  The crystal stone played with the light from the fire as it passed silently threw the air from man to man.  It would glow a changing assortment of colors and so was easily traced through the dark night of our forest camp.

We played a few rounds that night and the stories were whimsical nonsense but they brought laughter to the group.  One of the stories however seemed to have been put together with meaning.  Guslar held the stone to start and it went like this:

Guslar:  There once was a King, perfect and true.
Kimeril:  His subjects were many and his lands vast.
Brother1:  The power of this King was unsurpassed.
Guslar:  His great throne was white; his judgments were right.
Crill:  His laws were for good.
Kimeril:  But they were misunderstood.
Billaad:  There came one who lied.
Brother2:  He said the King was not fare; did not care.
Grip:  He said the law was a joke.
Billaad:  He said don’t you want to be happy?
Crill:  He said don’t get on your knees; do what you please.
Grip:  Sadly the people listened.
Kimeril:  They burned the King’s law.
Brother1:  They scorned his judgments.
Brother2:  They betrayed one another; sons, wives, brothers.
Kimeril:  It seemed all was lost and the kingdom rewend.
Guslar:  The King sent prophets to warn his subjects.
Crill:  They would not listen.
Guslar:  Chastening to instruct the people.
Billaad:  They would not be corrected.
Grip:  Were the people and kingdom so cherished by the King lost to the destruction of their own selfish ways?

At this point grip tosses the stone to Kimeril.  It is a poor toss however and my dad can only get his finger tips on it and the stone is deflected right into the lap of Tiras.  He has been sitting with us around the fire most of the evening and all during this story.  It had been as unspoken rule that we would not toss the stone to him as he could not add a sentence to the tale and so doing would only bring him embarrassment.  His quick reflexes reacted to the errant object and he snatched it cleanly form the air with one hand before, I am sure, he knew what he was doing.

Everyone was silent now.  The pause lasted so long.  Billaad and I looked at one another, gave our shoulders a slight shrug and made faces as it to say; what can he do?  The other men made blank stairs at the ground, the fire or each other in an effort to escape the discomfort of the situation; all except Kimeril.  He gazed into Tiras’s eyes with a hopeful expectation.  His mouth hung slightly open and there was a hint of a smile on his mouth.  I can remember thinking:  “What is he waiting for?  Does he actually think he is going to say something?”

It was a long time.  Tiras would look at the rock in his hand and then at the men.  He did this a few times.  I wanted the Guslar to say something funny or break into some delivery that would end this awkwardness.  I mean would we not speak again that night?  Finally the Guslar shifted in his seat and opened his mouth to speak; but, at that very moment with my dad’s expectant eyes still on him Tiras burst to a standing position with his eyes lifted up above us to the canopy of tree limbs and beyond.  Then he pointed with up stretched arm and extended finger as he lowered his gaze upon us at the fire.  H started to speak.  But it was not the grunts and stammer of a futile attempt to use our language.  It was a fluent lament uttered in verse unrecognizable to us all, even the Guslar.  It must have been first tongue.  I had never heard anyone speak it before.  It had a beautiful sound to it; kind a rhythmical.

Anyway Tiras went on for a bit, still pointing up while looking at us.  Then he spoke for a while pointing up while looking at the rock in the other hand.  Then he spoke with a kind of thunder in his voice as he brought his raised hand down and pointed at the rock.  He then spoke softly as he cupped the rock in both hands and peered into its shape.  He then spoke with anger in his voice and tears in his eyes as he continued to hold the cupped rock in his hand yet lifting it up a bit.  He stared each of us down during this part of his display.  The final part of his speech was softer but still tearful.  He walked over to the fire and as he closed he lower the stone and then dropped it in the fire.

Tiras walked a ways off from the fire and the men and it was quiet again.  Kimeril then got up and walked over and put his arm around his father.  As we watched the crystal now in the fire glow a dark red, Billaad announced: “Now that was defiantly more than one sentence.”  His statement and the quiet laughter that fallowed relieved the tension and the evening broke up into small talk, prayer, and good nights.  I could here Tiras and Kimeril humming the tune to the bedtime song my dad sang to me as a kid.  I determined to ask him about that in the morning.

The next day it rained.  It was a pretty stiff rain too.  Now I like fishing, but not in the rain.  Most of the men were undaunted.  They all spent at least part of the day angling for a catch.

Billaad and I spent the day in the tented shelters we had constructed for just such an occasion.  We did not get a lot of rain but this was the season for it.  Fortunate for our quest to understand the flood, the Guslar spent most of the day in the shelter as well.  We went over to him as he sat working intently on some small object he was constructing out of this and that.

“What are you doing?”  Asked Billaad.  “I am making a lure to help catch the fish.”  Responded the Guslar.  “What’s a lure?”  “Well it is supposed to look like an insect that has fallen in the water.”  “Oh I get it.  It attracts the fish so you can catch them.”  “Correct young Billaad.  You are an intelligent boy.”

“Crill.  What is it you are pondering?  The Guslar noticed I was looking out into the rain as it fell steadily.  “I am wondering sir if this is the type of rain that flooded the earth when Noah built the ark.  It is coming down pretty hard.”  “The rain of the flood was a good bit harder yet but most of the water came when vast underground caverns full of water burst open.  Much of the surface of the earth crumbled and the waters prevailed over it.  It rained for forty days but the water prevailed upon the earth an hundred and fifty days.”  “How do you know all this; even the number of days?”  Billaad was somewhat skeptical.  “I’ve spoken with Noah himself on the subject.  He told me these things and more.”  “You talked to Noah?”  Now I was skeptical.  “Nobody around here has even seen Noah since before the big confusion.  Anyway he speaks the first tongue like Tiras.  How could you understand him?”

“I knew Noah before the great confusion; before the tower.  I knew him on the journey from the ark.  My name is Elam, first born of Shem, eldest son of Noah.  Noah spoke these things to me as we sojourned from the ark.”  “Did you ever see the ark?”  I asked.  “No, my first memories are of the highlands [name] above the great plain of the two rivers.”  “Let’s get back to the water.  You say it prevailed 15 cubits above the tallest mountains.  My uncles say that there are mountains where they are from that touch the sky.  How could the water have been that high?”  “Remember now Billaad, the mountains that exist now did not exist before the flood.  In fact, most of the mountains your uncles are talking about did not even exist until recently.  When I lived on the highlands as a small boy the mountains were nothing like they were on the journey through them after the great confusion.  They must have formed between the end of the flood and the confusion.”  “How did they form?”  “That; I can’t tell you.  All I can tell you is that they formed sometime in my lifetime.”

“What happened to all the water?”  Billaad said unrelentingly.  “Where do you suppose it went Billaad?”  The Guslar sat back pausing in his work on the lure and put one hand on his knee and turned his head to one side.  “I don’t know!”  Snapped Billaad.  “I don’t even know that it was ever here.  You’re the one saying there was so much water.  All I am asking is: If it was here and covered everything by 15 cubits, then where did it go?  Did it just disappear?”  One of Billaad’s uncles was in from the rain and overheard Billaad’s complaints.  “Billaad!”  He scolded.  “you show respect when talking to your elders.”  “I am sorry Mr. Guslar.  I did not mean to be disrespectful.  It is only that I hear all these different stories about who God is, where we came from, and how the world was formed.  I get frustrated.  I don’t know what to believe.  I want to believe what you say about God and the flood but the part about all this water makes no sense to me.”  “I forgive you Billaad.”  The Guslar put his fist on his heart as he responded.

“Maybe the water went back into the caverns after the 150 days?”  I posed.  “Could be Crill, but the men who were there said that the water burst out of the caverns.  This describes destructive forces over most of the surface of the earth.  Say you take a bottle from your mom’s kitchen and fill it with water.  If you pour the water out in to a large basin, then the water can be drained back it; but, if you burst the bottle open, then the water would explode out and the bottle would be destroyed; broken into pieces.  Instead of draining back into the bottle the water would prevail over the broken pieces of the bottle in the basin.”  “But that leaves us back to not having anywhere for the water to go.”  Billaad moaned discouraged.

“What if it is still here?”  Uncle interjected.  “Interesting, what makes you say that uncle?”  “Well, look out side.”  He said.  “There is quite a bit of water coming down from the clouds.  How much is up there I wonder?”  “This is a good point.  Some, we don’t know how much, is in the clouds.”  “The Sea of Ashkenaz holds a lot of water.”  I added.  “Yes, and how many seas are there in the world and how big are they?”  “We don’t know any of that?”  Billaad protested.  “True but we do know that the Sea of Ashkenaz is not the only one and it is not the biggest.  Both the Great Sea and the Caspian are much larger.”  “Well then, if the water from the flood is in the seas then these low places must not have existed at the time of the flood.”  Uncle concluded.  “Correct!  And, since the low places must have formed after the flood and the mountains formed also after the flood, then they must have formed at he same time and perhaps as a result of the same set of forces.” The Guslar was very exited now.

All of a sudden an idea came to me and I became exited with the Guslar.  “Hey, each spring when I get a new matrass it is flat.  The first few nights I notice that when I lie down on it some spots squish down easy and some squish down with more difficulty.  Suppose after the flood the earth was like that and the water went to the places that squished down easy; would not that make the low places we see now in the seas?”

“Great idea Crill!  I believe it would.  Now, as you make the low place in your mattress, what happens to the rest of the mattress?”  “It raises up.”  “Yes, so at the end of the flood the earth squished down more in some spots.  The water rushed to those spots making the seas.  At the same time the earth’s surface was pushed up in other spots making the mountains.  This must have been going on for the rest of the year that Noah was on the ark.  This would have make the highlands of Ararat and the sea of Askenaz.”

“It could have gone on a long time afterward too.  It could have made deeper seas and the mountains that touch the sky.”  I added.  Billaad was just staring down at the ground playing with his lips with the tips of his fingers.  “Did you have any other questions Billaad?”  Asked the Gusler.  “No…, no not right now.”  “I have one.”  “What is it Crill?”  “What did you make of the end of the story that Tiras gave last night?”  We all had a bit of a snicker on our face with that question.  Billaad could not help himself and let out a gafaa.

“It’s hard to say Crill.  It seems to me, based on his gestures, that the King himself came down from his thrown and made some sort of ultimate sacrifice so that the people would be saved from themselves.  But that is just a guess.”  “But he could not have even known what the story was about.”  “He should not have been able to I agree.  But it seemed like he did.  Hey, by the way, have a look at this.”  The Guslar had dragged the crystal out of the embers with a long stick and washed it off.  It was white as snow.  All the varied discolorations were gone and it was solid white.  “What happened to it!”  I exclaimed.  “I don’t know Crill, but passing through the fire seems to have completely changed the stone.”  Responded the Guslar.

What About the Ark?

Billaad and I slept long and hard that night.  When we woke up we were surprised to find that the men had decided we all would stay a whole day at this sight.  We would rest and fish and give the horses a break.  One of them seemed a bit lame.  Grip thought a day would help it recover.  It’s funny.  With all Grip knew and could figure out you might pick him to be your leader.  But as smart as he was, decision time was never a comfortable moment for him.  In fact it was always more then a moment.  He was one to analyze analyze and analyze and never act.  My dad was a man of action.  Grip would say: That’s the kind of man you need as a leader; the one who can decide.

After breakfast Billaad and I found Grip mixing a bunch of barriers together with a stick.  He had a feather and an old piece of animal hide as well.  “What are you doing Grip?”  Billaad asked as he set down on the ground next to Grip who was sitting against a tree.  “Well, I am trying to devise a system of characters we could use to represent the words we use as we speak to each other.”  “Why?”  I asked.  “Suppose you want to tell your uncle Macedon something; something that is important and complicated.  It needs explaining.  But, you can’t go and see him; for whatever reason.  If you could record your words using these characters painted in these colored barriers on this animal skin, then you could send the skin with the message to your uncle and he would then know the important thing.”  “Couldn’t Crill just tell me and then I could go and tell Macedon?”  “Sure but you might not remember it right.  This is a complicated message and even one item out of place would destroy its meaning.”  “What if Macedon came to me?”  “Macedon is very busy what with leading his village and all.  Do you think he has the time to travel all the way here to receive the message?”  Kimeril leads a village and we are all having a swell time tromping around the woods with him and we are not looking for anything; except fish.  But we have those at our village?”  Billaad had a way of rambling on.  “If it takes so much time to lead a village how can Kimeril take days to look for something we already have at our village?”

“Ok, ok, how about I put away the barriers and hide and you guys tell me what you are up to?”  Grip rubbed his scalp back and forth with both hands as he spoke these words and then stowed his work.  I can only guess that we convinced him his new invention was unnecessary.

Billaad then just spit it out: “We want to know how Noah got all the animals onto one boat.”  “Why?  Do you think that is a huge problem for God?”  We looked at each other for a moment and then turned back to Grip and spoke in unison: “Yea, there are a lot of different kinds of animals.”  Then Grip asked some things we had not thought to ask.  “”So, are you telling me that the God who created all the kinds of animals would not know to tell Noah and his sons to build a boat big enough to hold two of each kind?”  Before we could respond he continued.

How big was the boat?  How many kinds are there?  How much room does each kind require?  How big were the ones he took, I mean did he take baby animals, young animals, or adult animals?  How much food do they need to survive?  How long were they on the ark?

I jumped in here: “The Guslar said they were on the ark for over a year!”  “Alright, good, can you answer any of the other questions?”  We could not.  “Ok then before we can conclude this as a huge problem for God, let’s get an idea of what sort of problem we have here.  Then we will see if God, the Almighty, could have handled it.”

Grip began:

The account of the flood and the ark as I heard from my father and he from his tells us that the ark was as tall as one of these very large trees or 30 cubits.  It was 50 cubits high and 300 cubits long.  So, if the ark were the shape of a box then its volume or amount of space it took up, would have been 450,000 cubic cubits.  But of course, the ark was probably not in the shape of a box.  The sides would have been curved and the ends tapered at least to some degree.  Also, they would have lost some space due to the inner construction of floors, it had three levels, walls, and supports.  We will have to make a guess at how much space in the boat was lost due to these factors.  Let’s say that they lost a third of the total rectangular volume due to the factors mentioned.  So, now they have 300,000 cubic cubits.  How much is that?  Well, that would be box 67 cubits high, 67 cubits wide, and 67 cubits long.  Yea, that’s kinda big.

Tiras told your dad, before the tower mind you, that there were about 12,000 kinds of animals on the ark.  Now, it might seem that there might be more than that; just think about how many different types of birds there are.  But, there all birds right?  Of course they are all birds.  Some of the types of birds are very similar.  Some are quite different.  I think we can all agree that some of the different types are the same “kind”, say ducks and some of the different types might in fact be different kinds of animals.  With this in mind, 12,000 kinds seems reasonable.

This would give the average pair of animals a space of 25 cubic cubits.  Now, if we allow 5 of those to store food, water, and hay for the pair, then the average pair would get a space that was 2x2.5x4.  If we take a ram and a ewe as the average pair, this space seems ample for their needs.

“Wait a minute!”; Billaad had a question.  “Five cubic cubits does not seem like enough to store enough food and water to last a year for two animals.  I think that is a problem.”  “Billaad, do you see bear during the season of white?”  This question was Grip’s retort.  “Well, no, not really, maybe once in a great while.  What does ..”  Grip jumped back in here with: “Where are they then in the season of white?”  Billaad replied, “Well, my dad told me that they go into a cave and go into a deep sleep for long periods of time because there isn’t enough food during that time.”  “Did you know that all animals are capable of these long periods of deep sleep?”  Grip really seemed to be enjoying the back and forth.  “No, really?  All animals?”  Billaad was starting to see where Grip was going with his questions.  “Yes boys, and that is just what the animals on the ark did.  They went into a deep sleep for long periods of time during the year on the ark.  They were in dark cozy spaces and they just slept the time away.  They did not need much to eat or drink.  They did not need much care at all.

“So, you can see that the size of the boat described by the Guslar, the number of kinds of animals that exist and the amount of food needed for the reported time all lead us to conclude that the ark was big enough for the job assigned to it.  Really not a problem at all for the Creator.”

“Ok, but, how did Noah get all the kinds to the ark?”  “Why?  Do you think that is a huge problem for God?”  Grip was having some fun with us now.  “How long was it after Noah was warned that the flood occurred?  Would animals have been afraid and run from Noah and his sons?  Has God no say over the affairs of His creation?”  “We don’t know these things; that is why we ask?”

“Let me ask you:  Do you like watermelons?”  Grip queried.  “Yes.”  Was our reply.  “Well, how do you get watermelons?”  “They grow in the garden.”  “How did you get the plants in the garden?”  “We planted a seed.”  “Is that all?  How does the seed grow into the plant and how does the plant grow the melon?”  We did not know.  “Do you think it is easier for God to get a couple animals in a boat or to grow melons from a seed?”  “Animals in a boat I guess.”  I said.  “But the melon from a seed is natural.  It happens all the time.  How often do you see a deer just walk into a boat because some old guy with a beard tells it to?”  “Yea, my dad said that God put the fear and dread of man into the animals.  They would run away from Noah and the boat not go into it.”

“You both are correct.  Suppose, “… And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female.  Of fowls after their dind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive.” It is not now the design of God that animals would just go into the ark at the beckoning of man.  Now they would have to be trapped or trained to do such a thing.  Crill when did your dad say that God put the dread of man in the heart of the animals?”  “He did not say.”  “Well, what did the Guslar say was the relationship between animals and man before the flood?”  “He said they were at peace.”  “Would we have been at peace if man was going around killing and eating animals?  Would they dread us if there was peace?”  “No, I guess not.”  “It was after the flood that God gave the animals as meat to us.  That is why they dread us now.  That is why we would have to work hard to get them in a boat now.  But before the flood, when there was peace between man and animals it would have been nothing for Noah to get them in the boat.  It would have been as natural as planting a seed in the garden, watering it, taking care of it, and watching it grow.  In fact Noah probably just watched the animals go on the ark and then tended to their needs.”

“Wow, when you put it like that it sounds so easy.”  Billaad proclaimed.  “I don’t know about easy.  Noah and his family had to tend to many animals for over a year.  I would not say easy.  But I would say that, with God’s provision, it was not a huge problem.”

“There you guys are!”  My father had approached us from the river.  “I have been looking for you; it’s time to fish.  Who’s ready?”  Billaad and I sprang up with excitement as we both shouted; “I am!”  And, we ran down to the river.

That night after dinner we packed up our gear so that all we had to do in the morning was roll up our beds, have a bite for breakfast and load up the horses before we headed up river again deeper into the forest.  It was a great night under the stars.  We could see them through the gap in the canopy made by the breadth of the river.  My roll was next to my dad’s.  Billaad’s was in between his uncles’.  My dad and I talked for some time before I fell asleep.  We talked about the stars.  We talked about the trip.  He even admitted that the Guslar and Grip were probably right about the flood.  We talked about grandpa.  I had not realized before that night how much my dad respected and admired his dad.  He said that if it had not been for Tiras many more would have died at the Istranca Daglar.

I could not get any more details about the Istranca Daglar that night.  None of them would ever talk about it.  All I ever found out was that Billaad’s grandfather Ashkenaz betrayed our whole family and his own three sons that went with us.  We talked about mom and my baby brother Nike.  To hear my dad talk it’s as though Nike thinks more of me than anyone else in the world.  I don’t know about that but we do have good times together.  I told my dad that I loved him and mom and Nike and our whole family.  And then I told my dad that I loved him again and I thanked him for taking me on the fishing trip.  He did not have to you know.  I am sure it would have been an easier more relaxing trip without a 12-year-old kid to worry about.  He told me he loved me.  He told me that having me with him was the best part of the trip and he would not even have wanted to go without me.  But he also told me that there was one who loved me more than he did.  I asked him who that was.  He said that father God loved me more than any human could and that I should always trust in and look to Him in good times and in troubles.  We prayed together.  We both cried a little too but it was ok; everyone else was asleep.