THE MAKTA ISLAND SERIES
(for the full series in paperback click the photo above)
Romance-Adventure Fiction Novella
© Copyright Cupideros, Tuesday, February 4, 2016
Violinist Muriel Lennox, a psychic, is abandoned alone with religious minded Preacher Glen Norman on Makta Island. Together, they must survive from each other’s passions and trusted abilities until hope fulfills their dreams of rescue.
MAKTA ISLAND IN THE PACIFIC
EAST OF JAPAN WEST OF HAWAII
AND NORTH OF FIJI, COOK AND MICRONESIA ISLANDS
Below in the desolate undiscovered seas of the Pacific, East of Japan, near their Bonin Island and West of Hawai’i and South of Micronesia Island discovered by James Cook in his three voyages on the Endeavour (1768-1771), Resolution (1772-75) and Resolution (1776-79) men scrimmage for a prize and rarity on their voyage from Australia to Los Angeles, California. Unnoticed above, God watched alone from outside and inside all the participants, principally the two underdogs chosen to deliver a dour message to the crew aboard the Valiant sailed by Captain Burriss.
Glen Norman waved his tattered Bible. “Captain Burriss you can’t put us off on Makta Island. There won't be another ship for months!” Glen’s black pants were dirty from scuffling with the men; he held his black waistcoat over his left arm.
“My violin will be destroyed! Why the humidity alone will soften the strings into silence,” said Muriel Lennox, a pretty blonde with a dainty apple-bottom shape under her eighteenth-century-black bustle dress and holding her black violin case across her modest chest.
“Maybe not another ship for a year. Ye two vermin should have considered that, when you refused my men her sexual charms,” Captain Burriss pointed to shocked Muriel, “and this demon preacher roughed up my men, and not to mention hitting me good right eye with your blemin’ Bible.”
“Aye, Aye!” the crowd of sailors yelled.
"Preacher supposed to be a man of peace," said another injured sailor favoring his knee.
“Ye fight like a demon pugilist not a preacher,” Captain Burriss snarled. “God will see ye in Hell.”
“Not my God!” said Glen.
“Nor my God!” said Muriel. “You've no right to my person. I'm a blessed creature in God’s eye.”
“Ye may be blessed, but ye’s damned on Earth," vent Captain Burriss.
Captain Burriss reminded Muriel more of a selfish pirate than a merchant sea captain.
“Why I'll.“ Glen moved closer to Captain Valiant. All of his injured men groaned and pulled back.
Muriel bending down, to the consternation of the sore men and she reached and pulled out a small pistol with a white marble handle. “There will be no more fighting and threatening of my person, Captain Burriss. Preacher Glen and I will get off on Makta Island. You, Boswain Rolt, lower the dinky in the waters.”
Rolt nodded, “Aye, Ma'am. Sorry the way the men behaved.”
Muriel kicked her two black granny boots together. “May God see you all in Hell or under the dust of my feet.”
Captain Burriss winced, and then put his callous finger up to his red, sore right eye.
The dinky lowered. First, Muriel got into the little rowboat. She sat down and kept her pistol pointed to Captain Burriss’ face. “It may be your ship Captain Burriss, but it is God’s world.”
Glen barked, “God governs and sees all Captain Burriss. If you despicable roughens make it landside, I'll be surprised.”
“Be off with you. Makta Island has savage cannibal eating tribes. You won't last a week. And that dinky boat is fit more for a fire than for sailing. Hoist the sails, Rolt.”
Glen grabbed the oars.
Muriel held onto her violin and the pistol.
Glen said, “We need to wait while the ship’s waters calm.”
“We’ll be all right,” Muriel commented. “God is everywhere. He isn't limited to the pages of your book.”
After some minutes, Glen began rowing. “On to Makta Island. God bless us with peace.”
“And the safety to avoid becoming the meal of cannibals,” Muriel added.
Muriel never loved the seagoing life ever since her dad sailed away eight years ago to America for bigger audiences than Australia offered. She was only fourteen at the time. Her dad said the trip was too dangerous for someone her age. And how right he was. Twenty-two did not make her much safer. Though, her wiser spirit kept her smarter as she quickly befriended Preacher Glen Norman, a quiet seriously religious man, who kept to himself, and avoid drinking grog on the Valiant for the ten days of their abrupt journey. She wasn't particularly religious. Religions hold on her centered on the peaceful words of trust and loyalty God held for those who believed in him. Sure scandalous text existed in the Bible but Muriel disregarded those as aberrant forewarning of the baser instincts capable in man, if not held in check by the lofty goals of God's mercy and grace.
Her body lurched to the rowing rhythm of Preacher Glen Norman, who had claimed to sail to America to preach the Gospel. In fact, he'd lost his faith and only regained it when seeing a clear need to play the part God, evidently, intended for him. Men only wanted money and they wanted it fast. They didn't' care how they earned it in England and Australia. Everywhere he went men wanted gold, country resources and lastly, if ever at all, to preach the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. He quit for a time and became a boxer. Earning prize money in this fashion, until he nearly beat a man to death; Glen fought enjoying and listening to the roars of the English crowd. And now, he nearly beat up an entire ship crew to save one person, who for some feverish reason, he felt compelled to save. Of course, not many loved heroes of the spiritual kind and God predicted as such. Glen rowed and smiled a respectful smile. If he done anything good in his life, this fight for Muriel was it. All his other preaching in his younger days fell on rocky, barren, good, or fertile ground and which it landed Glen never knew.
"Glad you had that gun. I was plum out of fighting spirit," he lied to Muriel clutching her violin. He didn't see how the violin would last. Already in his mind, he saw himself breaking it apart for firewood. Plato was right. Artists in utopia fell into the superfluous category.
"'Bring it out as a last resort my brother said.’" She glanced down into her bosom where the little marble pistol lay safe from the splashing waves getting on her black granny boots and ankles. ”It only has two shots.”
Glen nodded and rowed. At least the girl had brothers. We might survive this little adventure, if she is the hardy type.
Muriel sensed his thoughts. "I know Plato said artist contributed nothing to Utopia. But I beg to differ. Even in Utopia, good music is appreciated. Even, if that music only breaks up the day with some entertainment."
"Better clutch that tight to keep the waves off of it," Glen replied.
Muriel held things. Glen held nothing but his Bible and the oars. And here she was loaded down with objects, gun, violin, her dress and clothes and her body. All things separate from her soul that no one but God seemed to value. "I can cook."
"Aye! That's wonderful." Glen looked behind him as Makta Island drew closer. "Don't worry about the heathens on Makta. If we made if off the Valiant, we can survive on Makta until someone rescues us. All we need to do is find water before three or four days."
"Undrinkable," advised Preacher Glen Norman. "You can try it but you'll be wanting twice to three times the water afterward."
Muriel's violin teacher told her. “Never take a man's advice at face value. God's advice you can take, but man often forgets God's advice and substituted his own." Muriel reached down in the sea and scooped up a taste of the sea. Immediately, she spat it out. "Pure salt. A person can make nice ice cream from that using the right other ingredients."
"Ice cream. I love ice-cream."
"Different varieties of ice cream. Seasons and preserve meat, too, with salt."
"Good. If we find meat on the island." Glen asked her. "Take a good look around. This view won't be available for some months to come. Tell me what you see. Any coves, high places with clearings? How are the trees, palms, any trees with fruits? And see if you can find a nice place to set up camp. Somewhere away from the ocean, dry, protected at least on two sides."
What Preacher Glen Norman asked filled Muriel's brain with purpose. She looked around, not just seeing the isolated island now. She began to see with explorer's eyes. She even saw through the eyes of a chef or mom cooking dinner for young ones now. "I see a cove, that's an indentation in the land," Muriel pointed carefully. It is on the other side of the island, it is disappearing from view now."
"Damn." He flipped his head back to the left this time to see the cove vanishing. "Wish I had asked you that earlier. You see any birds? We can eat them if need be. Otherwise, We will be eating bugs."
Muriel kept looking. Her swan neck glanced this way and that, as the island grew closer. "I see birds flying higher in the trees on the mountains."
"Good where you see birds there must be fresh water."
Muriel clasped her violin tighter. "Thank God."
"Didn't say we’d find the water before three or four days, though. Could be out of reach, too?"
"Oh. I pray to God we find water and fast." For the first time, Muriel forgot she was a woman. She didn't think of protecting her body or what her body was doing. Fortunately, she held her violin against her chest that stopped any accidental spillage of her décolleté that might distract Preacher Glen from his rowing duties. "Palms. I see palms. They have coconuts I heard."
"Not all palms. Some though," said Preacher Glen rowing slower, but steady. This girl is going to be useful. Thank you God for providing a helpmate--not a romantic helpmate, but a partner in survival.
"I plan to be very useful. And I'll treat you as if you were my own dad or brother. I won't expect anything more than us working together to survive. I had a good dad and brother. They didn't bother me--inappropriately if you--"
"Aye! That's good, lass." He nodded. "A woman should be brought up like a lad, to accomplish something, defend herself, and make something useful of herself to God and humanity."
"We can use the row boat for fire and shelter," she nodded like Preacher Glen.
He chortled. "Trying to save your violin?"
"All I can. It is my life outside of God. I'll show you when we get settle in. I even think I could catch food with it. Play something nice and sweet and attract the animals." Muriel felt sick saying those words. Never in her life had she considered where food came from. Now, in this barbaric situation, here, she offered to slaughter something by luring it to its death with beautiful music. "I don't look ashen saying that, Preacher. Do I?"
"A little miss." He stopped rowing for a minute.
Muriel's heart dropped when he stopped rowing.
The shipped bobbed in the ocean, drifting away from the cove and not toward it.
God wondered what was his servant doing. Here, his helpmate offered to sacrifice her music to get food and he was resting his muscles. Good strength given to him by God for this purpose.
She must do something, Muriel thought. Her blue eyes watched the sweat on his brow. His smooth shaved chin and oval face relaxing. But she always watched the waves taking the ship back out to sea and further away from the Makta Island coastline.
"I can do it, Glen. Something inside inspires me to help you reach America. You can save souls. You have saved souls," Muriel acknowledged.
Glen heard those words, and sat upright and grabbed the beatup oars. "I have done a little preaching in my day,” he gushed and begun rowing again. For the second time, his purpose sparked inside him. If she thinks I have saved souls, maybe I have. Maybe God speaks through this woman.
Muriel prayed to God. Forgive me for lying. He looked like he's given up on saving souls except for defending a lady's honor. I am so so very grateful for that protection you provided God. God helps us to help ourselves. "You can preach to the birds and mammals and plants, Glen. I won't mind. Keep up your practice. Don't let this time dull your skills to grab those lost souls looking for just a pinch," Muriel held up her long slender fingers in a pinch symbol, as if adding just a pinch of sweetness to a soup or meat, "of good encouragement.”
Glen rowed harder. "I think God's given me my second wind." He huffed, grimaced, and rowed and the waves became smoother as he steered the dinky rowboat closer to Makta Island.
"We're nearly there!" Muriel watched the white coastline coming into view. How romantic the beach, if this were inhabited with waiters, cooks, servants, and houses and society? She saw fish swimming in the ocean. "Look fish!" Muriel pointed. "We can eat fish."
Preacher Glen looked overboard. He laughed. "Ha, ha ha, ha. Yes, together, we can."
Glen rowed. Muriel surveyed the coastline all she could. Such an opportunity would never come again until they needed to leave Makta Island. She looked in the water and gasped startled. She saw the face of what looked like a heathen or Indian native. He looked mean. Then she saw him sinking back into the ocean. She shook her head.
"What did you see? You looked frightened."
"Nothing, Glen. I saw a sunken treasure."
"Now Muriel don't go making up things to inspire me. I'm going to protect us both, God willing."
"I'm a little psychic."
"By the devils, you're a witch, a conjurer! I can't believe I protected a worker of inequity. God protected me from your adversary," he bellowed at Muriel.
God stared out of Muriel's eyes at Glen. How can you be so naive? Have you not heard of a prophetess? One blessed by God to see the future, be a watchperson, Glen.
Muriel startled. "I'm not evil. I believe like you in God. 'She picked up his Bible and held it to her forehead. "Your sister lives in Ireland and she has two little girls, one blonde and one redhead. Prescilla is your sister’s name."
Glen stopped rowing. "By God you're a prophetess! Thank God we should easily find water now!"
Muriel sighed. She half smiled. One-minute Glen was ready to cast her into the fire and brimstone as a witch; the next moment, he wanted to ride her on his shoulders as a heroine prophetess as he rowed on to Makta Island.
Then one of Glen's oars broke. "Oh!" Glen frantically looked around. "Catch that oar!"
Muriel held her violin and Preacher's Bible in one hand and then reached for the three-quarter oar with her other hand. "I got it."
"Then use it. Muriel, row for your life before the current takes us back out to sea!"
Muriel's blonde hair crumbled limb as the dinky rowboat neared land. She clutched her violin much as Glen, grinning, held fast to the one oar, turning best he could to step onto dry land first. He laughed in relief. He gritted out, "I never thought I'd be so happy to be eaten by cannibals." He flashed a look to Muriel who waited in her black dress, her limp blonde hair and wide expressive blue eyes shocked.
She stifled a quiver and held fast her thin lips closed. How in God's name can he say that? Doesn't he know that out of his mouth man is ruled by the tongue? She settled on a moderate response as she took Preacher Glen's rough pugilist hand as he helped her step out of the small rowboat. "I, for one, intend to make it to America Preacher Glen." As her left foot stepped onto shore, her right foot's black granny boot punched a hole in the bottom of the dinky rowboat. She struggled to free her foot, grasping the violin and her eyes pleading to Glen for help.
"Put your hand on my shoulder." Preacher Glen grabbed her slim waist and jerked her up. "There." He set her on the white sand beach of Makta Island. "No worse for harm--to your violin I mean."
Muriel replied blandly and pulled the hairpin out holding up her long, curly blonde hair. Without hesitation, she stared him in the eyes, "There will be no more talk of being eaten by cannibals. You as a preacher should know better. Life and Death are in the tongue the Good Book says."
Preacher Glen's small blue eyes opened in shock. "Ma'am. You quote the Bible well. I'll let you say the sermons and prayers over our meals."
Muriel gave a weak smile. "I always was a headstrong, independent gal. My dad was right to make me wait until I grew up before going abroad. A couple of years younger and I would have taken my violin, pistol, fist and feet to those despicable sailors aboard the Valiant. And that swashbuckling, selfish, and unreliable pirate of a Captain Burriss, too!" Muriel examined her black bustle dress. Water drenched the hem. Now sand began to decorate her dress hem in white beaded sandy designs, almost like diamonds.
Preacher Glen looked at the boat. "I'm glad you're not a Judy Dollymop, but your gallies ruined the boat." High fashion Glen said smartly to himself. Now we have no Plan B for getting off Makta Island. "Kinda wanted to keep this as Plan B." He looked solemn as to the seriousness of their situation for the first time.
Muriel stopped her quiescent study of her dress hem, and examining her violin. "I am sorry Preacher Glen, but Captain Burriss did say that boat was due for the fire pile soon anyway."
"He did at that," Glen confirmed as he huffed and pulled the rowboat further up the sandy white beach. "Mind giving me a hand, Misses."
Muriel found watching him interesting. Back in England that's all the men allowed her to-do, the older she got as a child. By the time she was fifteen, all physical activities stopped, except horseback riding, and none dared weaken their own reputation by asking her for help. Preacher Glen obvious felt no shame being alone, without society to tell him how to behave.
Muriel's granny boots dug into the pristine white sandy beach with each step and tug on the rowboat. "It's heavy as stone."
"You're only using one hand is why," Preacher Glen said, as he put his back into his effort. He leaned back, letting all his one hundred and eighty-pound weight complete what he viewed as step two of a many-stepped process.
"I can't put my violin anywhere. The boat still has water in it. The sand will injure the inner sound of my violin if it gets inside the little musical notes on the front, Preacher Glen."
"I don't think that violin is going to last this Makta Island adventure," Preacher Glen said, as he flashed a grimace. "Sorry to foretell that for you Miss Lennox."
Muriel put her all into dragging the ruined boat. Her little black granny boot heel hole in the boat sucked in more and more sand. "We can repair it surely."
"I hope so. Stop it up with some clay and twine maybe. I do not know."
They had pulled the rowboat ten feet away from the tide rolling up the beach. Preacher Glen fell down to the ground, and Muriel fell down to one knee as well before recovering quickly. She gave quick brisk brushes to her black bustle dress.
"Yes, Preacher Glen."
"You can call me. Glen. Or Glen Norman when you are angry. I'm not much of a Preacher. If I were--"
"What did you want to say to me, Glen," Muriel cut him off before more words that are disastrous came out of his mouth. For, she really believed in the Bible.
"Yes,” Preacher Glen took a big breath.
God watched the two and laughed. Here it comes.
"Miss Lennox. No one is on this deserted, pristine little island. No society. No teas. No one. No one knows anything about or even cares about how you're dressed."
Muriel's ears burned. "How can you say that? You're here. I'm here."
"I am no society. I lost my faith in the Good Book. Seen too much evil and not enough good."
"You are lying." Muriel started to walk away.
"Wait!" Preacher Glen pleaded. "All right! I will give it a go, to be a gentleman, see that we behave in a proper way. And I don't mean anything naughty." Preacher Glen paused. "I'll adhere to society. The devil goes away when he finds the door shut against him. It takes two fools to argue. None are so deaf as they that will not hear. It's a long road without a turn . . . whatever you want but," Preacher Glen raised his voice. "We have to work together or we'll never survive Makta Island."
Muriel stopped in her tracks. She didn't like a man raising his voice to her; she'd turned down two suitors back in London who had. But she liked the other things he said. "Those words brought music to my soul, Glen Norman."
Preacher Glen nodded.
God laughed at the scene. It wasn't always that two unlikely characters always sharpened the character of one another, but these two seem to be a perfect match.
Muriel came and plopped down beside Glen. She murmured, dolefully, "For a moment I thought you barrage me with the quixotic compliment an empty vessel made the most noise." She chortled, her décolleté in her corset jostled in unison with her laughter.
Glen stared and turned away before quelling his actions became a chore and not a delight.
That's a good boy God said watching the two. Helpmate does not always mean helping yourself to the mate.
"No," Glen said graciously, looking back at the pretty oval face of Muriel Lennox, violinist, twenty-two and in the prime of her beauty. "Oh, oh, oh!" Glen's face suddenly lit bright like the sparkles of sun bouncing off the many waves in the turquoise sea before them.
Muriel let her wide blue eyes smile. "It's a long road without a turn." Muriel gave a curt nod of agreement. "I needed to hear that one." Her dimples appeared in her youthful face and Glen Norman, the Preacher, wondered why he took up being a Man of God.
"Occasionally, the philosopher comes out in me. You have to study religion to get to philosophy classes, though." Glen held out his right hand. "It is nice to me you, Miss Lennox."
"It is nice to meet you, too, Glen."
"We're here and we'll make the best of it. I'll try to watch my devil’s tongue." Glen pondered to himself. Maybe that's why his preaching never worked. He had a rational tongue and a spiritual tongue. The two contradicted one another. He had to choose.
Muriel opened her black violin case. She pulled out the sensitive bow. She blew on it once and then again. She plucked a few of the violin strings, A and B minor cords. "I am not perfect either, Glen. I have to tell myself God supports me; in spite of all the things I see my sex endure." She put the violin to her neck and turned to Glen. "We are music to one another, each person in this world, if only we tune in." She began playing a lovely Mozart piece, a happy tune, a serenade.
Glen listened. His ears shocked by the beauty of her talent. He stared at the white pristine sands. He glanced up to the sky as her notes, Mozart's notes, took him out of his complicated rational, only-here thoughts. Glen picked up a small sprig with two tiny leaves and he put it in his mouth. He chewed on the branch. He thought about home. His mind played over the opportunities in his life where God did him a favor and not a curse. Glen understood for a moment the glory of God.
Then Muriel stopped playing.
Muriel had her violin and bow back in its black case in a second. "You did not seem to be listening." Muriel got up. "That's fine, really, Glen Norman. But at least stop me from wasting my time trying to make this bleak deserted island a home for the short time we have on it." Muriel walked up and toward the bushes. God she hopped he didn't follow her. She had to pee.
Glen rose. "I'm sorry. I was listening. You are a talent, Miss Lennox." Glen took the sprig out of his mouth and tossed it to the beach. He stood there hands on hips staring back and forth at the boat and the sea. He began to drag the boat further up the beach. Tonight, he planned on them using it as their shelter. They'd sleep under it for warmth, after putting down some palm leaves.
The island looked really big from their stranded perspective. "Thank you, God for saving that poor girl's honor through my sometimes glorious and sometimes wicked hands. I will curb my paradoxical tongue and bring you more believers when we reach America. Please help us reach America. I don't want to die on this deserted island."
Glen turned around. "Muriel! Muriel!" Glen waited and rushed up the white sand beaches to a small brown patch that turned instantly into the thickest leaves and palms and flowers designed by God's own hand. He rushed and stopped to look for her footprints that disappeared after leaving the white sands. Muriel!"
"I'm not far. But come no further! It is nature time."
"Do not use any leaves with three prongs or three separated leaves! It's poisonous."
Silence filled the air. Then the rushing sound of surf consumed Glen's ears. He listened and it was true. It was as if the island was one gigantic seashell. He got a sense of warmth and peace to the island. They hadn't explored it, but first after they found a source of water and food they would.
He raised his hand to his eyes, and looked out. He pulled out his pocket watch. He dried it out. It worked. He chortled, loudly. "A miracle! A miracle!" Glen shouted.
Muriel emerged out of the thick dark-green bushes, and adjusted her black bustle skirt. She had pulled her long blonde curls back in a ponytail. Each lingering step of her walk rallied around her confidence that Glen play the gentleman and she play the lady. Civilization in an uncivilized place, peace and understanding, working together and establishing life's needs until someone rescued them from Makta Island.
Muriel returned and neared Glen.
God watched as Muriel returned without her violin. That girl I kept telling her not to forget it.
Glen said, "Muriel where is your violin?"
Muriel's face dropped. She turned ghostly and rushed back into the bushes. "Please, God!
Please, God don't let some monkey run off with it!"
I am helping you child, God said. Look to your right, to your right!
Glen heard her anguish and fear and sorrow all rolled into one. He didn't have the heart to tell her
he doubted if she'd make it off the island with it.
"I got it!" Muriel yelled.
The loud sound of brushes, palm leaves and twigs snapping emerged as Muriel did. Her presence unmistakable. And Glen gave up all notions of women being the gentler sex, as she broke through, crushed and demolished every living plant in her path.
"Thank you, Glen for telling me that." She cradled the violin case. "I don't know what I'd do. I'd still have God." She looked up into the sky.
You still have me child, God said. Maybe I need to teach them better the difference between
their left and their right.
"God is great. Take a look at this. My pocket watch is still keeping time. With all that water, I splashed on my pants. It works."
"That is a miracle, Glen. Life has no accidents. We meet those we're supposed to meet."
"Not exactly," Glen said sarcastically. "I never hope to meet Captain Burriss again."
"Who knows how my life onboard the Valiant without you may have been."
"That scum, galley rat had no right to demand your honor."
"God sure taught him a lesson," Muriel smirked, thinking back at Captain Burriss' swollen right eye and his injured lecherous sea crew.
I agree. Maybe God taught Captain Burriss a lesson, that not every girl is his for the taking."
"Imagine how many times--"
"I don't want to think about that, Glen. Shameful. May the curse of God be on Captain Burriss."
"I almost see you as a pal. If you were a man, I put my arm around your shoulder and we discuss the plans for today, getting shelter, finding a source of water."
"I found water already."
"Coconut palms. Mrs. Siviller said she drank coconut milk from a straw in the Philippines.
"Show me where this is."
"Why not?" Glen Norman said after stopping taking the giant steps forward up the brown and
Muriel hesitated. She blushed. "If I showed you . . .” Muriel hated her body. Her corset made it so easy to need the bathroom too often. And I'll be mortified when he sees that I'm just like all the men. I mean he must know, but still. She fanned herself. She scanned her memory thinking of some other palm trees. She didn't see any.
"Yes, show us. We can survive for twenty days without food, using our will power, and with God's power even longer. Logic says we can't survive more than three or four days without water. We need water, Muriel!"
"I'll show you." She started to walk in front of him. "I was going--using--well nature and I looked around and saw them. They were too heavy to carry. So then, I looked up and saw some, too."
Women are too delicate. One thing embarrasses them; another thing mortifies them; a third brings them shame. For Heaven's sake what could be the problem. Glen stomped behind Muriel; he watched as her skirt latched and snagged on every twig, leave, and cutoff the sun from the colorful flowers on Makta Island.
When they got there, Muriel pointed first to the treetops above.
"You did it! Thank God! Water. Water." Glen picked Muriel up for a second time and he twirled her around as if they danced in a London ballroom in a castle of a Prince. He put her down. "See those small coconuts. Those hold the most water, coconut milk."
He had not realized his footage when he felt something wet, and mushy. By some homogeneous arrangement, he set Muriel feet clear of the substance. But in his turning her, had swirled a little too close to the base of the palm tree. He looked down. "Oh, oh!"
Muriel's face watched as objective and detached as possible. She studied his face as if it were the Mona Lisa's brushstrokes. She waited to run away in shame, but at the same time, the coconut milk up in the top of the trees held her feet fast,
Be gracious Glen, God said. You will be off the island in two hours. Going back where you came from but off Makta Island nonetheless.
Glen looked around. His small blue eyes moved to the older darker coconuts. He bent down and picked on up. "These darker coconuts have coconut oil. We can't drink it, but it is good for healing and suntanning. We can cut out these and make nice pots to cook over a fire and eating meals."
She slowly let her eyes drift to the large, dark brown, large three-lined grooved coconut. "Maybe the oil can help preserve my violin and bow from Makta Island." She placed her left hand on the large dark coconut.
"I believe so. This is good news. Who knows maybe we would have found it sooner or later. It's a good thing, Muriel."
"Just say what you're thinking Glen."
"This is good, good find. Muriel. You know how it is in England, and America will be no different, the streets are full of it."
God laughed. Good Norman.
Muriel felt a lot better. "How soon can we get one?"
"The seawater is making your lips dry and cracked."
"You can see it?"
"Not like we're under the light of candles. This is in sunlight." Glen waved his hands and he started to takeoff his shoes. He stopped and walked away and scrapped his feet. He looked up into the thick canopy of jungle. Birds chirped. He heard a quacking noise. "What's that?"
"I think we are in the Garden of Eden. I saw a partridge or duck, blue and gray or something, with gray and black bill stripes."
Glen chortled. He laughed. "You're a very useful woman. You see visions that come true, find food."
Again, Muriel gave a hesitating smile. She didn't mind being a helpmate. It was easy, the way it was going. "I didn't have a vision to see the palm trees. I looked up." But her visions remained outside of her control. They came to her. She didn't caused them, and usually the sight warned her of something.
Glen pointed. "I see another palm tree over there. But let's stay with this one."
Glen put his shoes over onto a purple leave the size of a picture book. He took off his socks. "I need to use my bare feet."
"It's high up, Glen."
"God willing, I can do this. I'm a physical sort of guy; ask Captain Burriss," Glen quipped.
"We're a tough team," Muriel cooed. She really liked Glen more. He didn't really seem like a preacher once you got to know him. He forgot himself and just let himself be a gentleman. Not that she knew how a preacher was supposed to act on a deserted island with a single woman. And if they stayed on this island, they were bound to get to know each other as friends more and more.
She watched Glen ascend the palm tree. The grated bark gave Glen a good grip for his feet and hands. He climbed halfway up and then tired. He squeezed the palm tree and took off his black belt. He looped it around his waist and the tree. He turned the buckle around to his back and slid the belt up first before continuing his climb. Up-and-up he went, until he reached the top of the tree.
Anchored by his belt, he yelled down. "Water and food coming up. Stand clear!"
Muriel backed up out of the way. So many leaves covered the sky, Glen disappeared, but Muriel heard and saw the fruit of his work. One-by-one, coconuts, small ones and medium sized ones, dropped to the ground. The hard fruit landed like cannons and crushed whatever plants had the misfortune to be in the way. Twelve coconuts of the small variety and six of the medium-sized lay at the foot of the tree, as Glen climbed down.
Muriel rushed to the smaller ones and tested it. She shook it. She looked for something to open the coconut. Her purse had several items.
Glen climbed down the last two feet of palm bark and carefully placed his barefoot in a clean spot. "You have anything in that purse to open it?"
"I do not know."
"Let's go back to the boat. I have an idea."
Glen and Muriel searched the beach for rocks, sharp rocks, large rocks and tried several things to get the coconut open.
She felt as if they were idolizing food, being obsessed with getting the coconuts to open and yield their precious liquid fruit. She sat in the sand, legs apart, not worrying about how she looked; even though her legs pointed to the sea and Glen faced the sea as well. And after thirty minutes of failure, she touched her dry, cracked lips. "If we can just get one of the older ones open, I can put the oil on my lips."
Glen worked on the larger, darker coconut. He kept pounding it against a rock. Then he realized he had it all reverse. "How about this? He picked up the rock and pounded it on the coconut's lined side.” It cracked open.
Muriel reached in to the oily substance and coated her thin lips. She gave a reverse smile. "That's not a bad ointment."
"Lips feel better?"
"I think I've got the hang of this." Glen picked up a large sharp rock. He hefted the smaller light-brown coconut and tapped it on the lined side. The young coconut split right in two. And Muriel watch the precious milk spilling out on to the sand.
”More is left. Here," Glen handed her half the coconut. Muriel looked at the watery white substance held in a white little cup. Thirsty, she hoisted the coconut up to her lips and drank heavily. Coconut milked dripped down her small chin and coated her think lips, and spilled on the front of her black-bustle dress' top. She didn't care. All that mattered was they were not dying of thirst.
"At least if the cannibals eat us, they won't die of thirst," quipped Glen.
Muriel laughed, and then shook her head. "No cannibals, Glen remember?"
"I won't say it but we have to be realistic. If Captain Burriss said there were some, maybe they are."
"Scientist and people in positions of importance lie; they lie in our magazines and even books. You know that. They talk as if women are feeble minded. They said investing in cotton in America was a good buy."
Glen gurgled more of his coconut half. He wiped his lips with his white shirtsleeve. His black garter ties kept his sleeve in place. "In America the North just finished defeating the South. Cotton is king no more--Industrialization is king."
"I'm not going to the South but the West," Muriel emphasized. "I'll play in the grandest halls of the land there."
"I can't believe how stupid Captain Burriss was."
God watched them gorging off the sweet coconut milk. He hoped they hadn't forgotten to say grace.
Glen handed a small coconut to Muriel. "I do believe in a woman as helpmate. If you're going to cook, you need to know how to open one of these. Besides, if I'm--" he grinned, “taken by the cannibals. You'll be able to survive on your own."
"I'm taking this to learn to cook, quench my thirst, and letting God handle any cannibals." She took the coconut end grasped the sharp, small rock that almost looked like a stone age knife and cracked it deftly into two pieces. She handed one-half to Glen. "You're half, helpmate."
"Thank you, Miss Lennox." He chuckled, and his small blue eyes gleamed.
I wonder whether she sees anything in a dried up, faithless preacher who is trying to regain his faith and inspire souls to believe in God. He gurgled down his coconut milk. "I need a new shirt, while you’re cooking."
Muriel laughed. "I do not do laundry. Look at this dress it is not fit for wearing anymore, the top piece anyway." She laughed hard and drank some more. From over the coconut's white fuzzy end, she looked into Glen's eye, the eyes of a man who so far saw her as his equal. Of course, she did find the food. He rowed them to shore. They were at an even count, and God received all the glory. "I thank you Lord, God for this food, safety and Makta Island, but keep the Cannibals away. I thank you in advance, Amen."
Glen laughed and laughed. ”No seminary would ever let you pray. You're, too, familiar with God."
God said, Watch it Glen Norman. Your salt and sugar tongue is what caused you to lose faith.
Muriel drank three more coconuts. "I'm hungry." She looked at the coconut fizzle. "We can eat this coconut fizzle, right?"
Glen drank all of his coconut milk. He had as many half coconuts cups around him as Muriel. He picked one up. Scrape the coconut meat away from the sides and eat. ”It is better than nothing."
Muriel had a hairpin in her purse. Just as she pulled it out to eat coconut meat, she saw a triangle-face Indian, his black eyes looking at her angrily. She lurched backward and screamed and dropped her coconut and the hairpin. "He's coming to get us, Glen. He's coming to get us!" she railed, her slender hands shaking. She picked up her black violin case to shield herself. "And he is not alone!" She screamed. "They're going to shrink our heads to the size of these small coconuts."
God watched concerned. Visions often startled his subjects until they got used to their skill.
Glen slapped her, once across each of her tender cheeks. “Talk sense. What? Who? From where?"
Muriel sat quiet, still, almost in disbelief. "The Cannibals." She turned and pointed, "From over there." She pointed East, over the mountains. Sometimes Muriel wished for a prevision warning. No, the visions came suddenly."
"Prophetess you had a vision." Glen held her. He hugged her. Child. Not all visions come true; some are symbolic."
"Tell me what you saw? Everything?"
Glen stared into the sea unable to let the ominous vision take hold of him. "We believe in science. No one can shrink a human head that small. We'll fight them. We can defend ourselves. When are they coming, Muriel?"
"Soon," Muriel acknowledged quietly. "Soon. He doesn't mean to bring them, but many will come anyway. Unless, we can find a way to get off the island first."
Glen disliked this most about faith, facing the impossible. Being devoted and trusting, God called for two different minds a pliant and a courageous mind. So cannibals wanted the same thing civilized men wanted money, and power. Money they wanted fast. They had no money, Muriel and he. They possess nothing to bargain with, except, Muriel's person. Glen shook his head. No matter where he turned, Muriel's body became the wealth he didn't possess. If he married her, he would own her by law. He didn't want to own anyone by law or religion.
Muriel prayed. "God help me to accept your will. If the cannibals should eat us, no. I will not let them eat me! God protect me from those heathens!" Muriel grew angry. "All my life, I struggle trying to be a nice girl, the girl all society wants me to be. Everywhere I go people circumstances try to force my path down the path of destruction. I am destined to succeed."
Glen took a deep breath. "I need to show you how to make a plow fire. I need to show you many things." He stood up. He studied Makta Island. "I believe this is a good place for us, Muriel. We need to find a high place or a hiding place from the Cannibals. Only if they are coming here, they visited Makta Island before. What made them leave?"
"Leave. I think that is the message the vision is trying to tell us. He is warning us to leave before it is too late."
"It's already too late. We're stuck. But I see the hill. We can go up there and make a fire to signal a boat. We can use your shiny corset material to reflect light to the sea and attract attention.
Muriel found his plan practical. “Corsets are unnecessary anyway.”
“Then we will have a chance. I can repair the boat. We can try to make it to another island." Glen sat back down next to Muriel. "Muriel try to have a vision on your own. Try to see a way off this island. Are there any nearby islands we can make with this boat, once repared? How many people have lived on Makta before?"
Muriel shook her head in open denial. "Glen do not ask me to try to see. They come to me. That's how they work."
"Scientific processes occur in anything, Muriel." Glen went back to opening another coconut for milk. He tapped on the lined side. Easily the fruit gave up its delicious liquid inner contents, and Glen drank heavily. "Here take this, Muriel. Worrying about the future isn't as important as worrying about the present"
"You're going to take my clothes off me. Strip me naked." Muriel said slowly drinking the coconut milk.
"I am not. We need your corset to signal a ship. We will need your skirt as a covering for our lean-to-shelter or Tepee."
"Tepee. I see you making a Tepee in the end."
"In the end?"
"Before the cannibals come in force to get us. If we hail a ship though, we can escape."
"Nothing is going to hurt you, Muriel."
"That is true, but it is you they will hurt."
Glen didn't like those words.
Muriel didn't like her own words.
God said, we'll see about that. Good son, now pay attention to your surroundings.
Muriel hated the ebb and tide of things. She remembered her words to Captain Burriss. Maybe getting eaten alive wasn't God's plan. She shuddered at the disgust of the Valiant Men's desire. No. I was right. Muriel put the coconut down. "I want to play my violin."
"No! I forbid it, Muriel. That violin is dangerous. I completely forgot I was on Makta Island last time you played. I dreamed, fantasized myself back in England around society and social rules. It pulled me into a world that doesn't exist, Muriel. We must be continuous minded, sober."
"God gave us music to forget our sorrow, pains and anguish--for a moment. Music lightened the burden of living as all art does."
"And too much art drives a society mad, leaves them behaving irresponsibly," Glen said raising his voice, the look of complete fear beginning to crowd his face.
"My music fed us! Or have you forgotten so quickly. As for the Valiant, you think I want to remember the rotten vessel, full of noise and Sodom and Gomorrah desires! You think I want to remember fifty percent of the world thinks I don't have a soul. That I am the weaker sex. I need my music." Muriel began to struggle to open her violin case.
"I forbid it!"
"You're just a preacher, not God!"
The two struggled with her black violin case. Muriel clutching it to her chest, and Glen trying to take it away. Muriel unsnapping the case's hooks and Glen snapping them back shut.
Look up you two. Do it now! God said.
In an obstinate and rash act, Muriel sudden reached out and gave Glen two sharp slaps across his face. The fierce courage fire of resoluteness lit her wide blue eyes. She didn't care if he could beat her. In a duel of pistols, she'd get even and end his life.
"Yes, I did."
Too late. God said. Why do my subjects make their lives so difficult?
"Why you little minx. I'd hardly fight you in a duel of pistols." He raised his fist into a kangaroo's boxing style, the style of pugilist prizefighters, professional and under the table. "I just a certain smack you one, but you're the weaker sex." He turned around in frustration. "God save me from this helpmate!" Then he cast his eyes out into the distance on the hope of escape.
"Muriel?" Glen said as he slowly walked forward, pulled like seawater to the moon.
"I'm not apologizing for playing," she had her violin out and put it to her chin. She waved her bow in the air artfully.
"Muriel is that a ship I see. Schooner perhaps." Glen pointed in the distance. He kept walking toward the surf unsure if his eyes saw true.
Muriel brushed off three notes of another Mozart piece a Symphony Forty. She stopped. "God, yes! A ship! A ship!"
Glen shouted. "Help! We're here!" Glen shouted. "Why didn't I teach you to build the plow fire first? They could see our smoke."
Muriel hollered so loud she was losing her voice. "Hello! Hey! Don't sail away!"
"My music. If I played!"
Yes, child. That's it play your music! God said.
"Start playing for your life, Muriel. Strike up a lively number."
Muriel's fingers trembled. She hated when people pressured her, but she quickly got off a raucous happy Mozart crescendo. Her fingers sent the violin bow dancing across the river of strings on its own island of her reddish-brown pine violin base. Her eyes excited waited for a reaction.
Far off in the distance Geoff, one crewmember of the merchant ship Masterly, listened to the strange faint sound. He yelled down, "Aye, Captain Horton. I hear music over there," Geoff shouted, "on Makta Island."
Captain Horton stopped giving orders to his crew. "Let me see the map. Makta Island," he said to his Quartermaster.
His Quartermaster said, "Makta Island, the Land of Cannibals," in a sad tone.
"Not on the map."
"Sir, you won't find anyone putting it on a map either. Captain Cook said he once landed on Makta Island for supplies, but the fierce natives nearly had him for dinner instead."
"Horse feed. I don't believe that. Point it out on my map Quartermaster."
"Makta Island would be right there. Between Japan, East of its Bonin Island, North of Marshall Islands, and West of Hawai’i. Rumor is you always see a mist when fresh victims have fallen into its trap." The Quartermaster listened. "Lively Mozart piece. But I'm not much of a concertgoer. Heard he was a boy genius."
"Mozart, Mozart. I heard of him, too." Captain Horton took out his spyglass. He looked into the distance."
God waved his hands. I'm not through teaching these two yet. If they'd listened earlier.
"You hear it,” shouted Geoff, up in the crow's nest, now looking with his own spyglass."
"I hear nothing. Only you and Quartermaster hear it."
"Not so, I hear, it, too, said a third sailor."
"Captain Burriss said Makta sucked fools into its waters. I'm not an explorer. We're a merchant ship. We trade. That's how we make our money, men. Beside the fogs all about the place. If the rumors are true, as you related Quartermaster, we best steer clear of Makta Island."
"Maybe on our way back, sir?" questioned the Quartermaster concerned.
"That'll be in three months. If the cannibals haven't got them by then, hunger or disease may have. I doubt it."
"Aye, Aye, Sir." The neckbeard Quartermaster signaled up to the crow's nest Geoff.
"Whatever you say, Quartermaster." Geoff closed his spyglass. "May God help you whomever you are."
Glen kept jumping and yelling. He ran up to the surf and into the waters, shouting. "Don't leave us! Come back!"
Muriel played louder and harder. She feared breaking one of her violin strings. But the reaction she wanted failed to bring a response to the ship. She played and walked closer to the surf; she played another loud, waltz tune. She played right behind Glen's shouting drowning him out with her lovely spirited notes.
Glen dropped his arms. "It is too, late." He spun in a circle. He kicked up the sugar white sand of the beach. "You can cut out that noise now."
"Noise! This noise could have saved us--saved us from the cannibals. If you'd just let me play at the moment I wanted to. Now they are too far away down South, going back to Australia."
"My fault. You're making this my fault," Glen fumed.
"Yes, it is. Music those bored people's ears on that ship most definitely needed to hear. My music could have saved us," Muriel mocked and sneered at Glen.
"God help us." Glen turned back to the rowboat. He paused, froze in his steps.
I tried, son. I tried, God said.
"Next time, let me play," Muriel needled him again, pointing her bow at his chest like a sword.
I haven't given you the gift of music in vain, said God.
Glen waved his hands in tiny circles behind his back. "Keep playing, again," Glen said softly in a whisper. "Something soothing."
A partridge blue and gray, with black-and-white underbelly, and black beak walked out of the brush. Five of them, a mom and four little ones following.
Muriel hurryingly struck up the serenade she first played once on Makta Island. The one that put Glen into a dream of wishes and hopes. She felt bad because the future of the partridge. Maybe they came to get water. She didn't know.
The music drew them to her. They walked toward her, personally, not the turquoise surf.
Glen moved in a wide circle. He stalked the bird in a roundabout manner approaching, one stealth step at a time. Just when things seemed unworldly in the peaceful music, Glen lunged out at the family of partridges and he grabbed the mom duck around her belly. The little ones stayed there in confusion, and at the quacking of the mom--they finally burst into a sprint running back into the brush.
Muriel had tears in her eyes.
"We have food! Real food!" he laughed, 'Ha ha ha ha."
"Yes. We won't starve on Makta Island." Muriel walked up to Glen holding the quacking, wiggling creature. "Can't we keep it as a pet, and grow more?"
"You think her husband is going to come save her now?"
"I supposed not. Better to take our blessings as it comes." Muriel considered herself a murder of sorts. She was just as bad as Captain Burriss taking something because she desired it. Why was like such a mix of take and brutalizing others and things?
"Discretion is the better part of valor," Glen crooned. "And we need the valor of meat to survive." He walked back to the boat, where he laid the partridge's neck out and took out his pocketknife and swiftly cut off the head of the blue and white bird, sending its soul to Heaven and its blood all over the bottom of the rowboat bringing them to Makta Island.
Muriel said, "In Revelation, the animals will get their revenge on man."
Muriel plucked the partridge of its feathers as she watched Glen making the plow fire.
"You want to take a long piece of cedar or some other hardwood tree. Cut it in half. First break off a shorter piece from the tree and cut a flat shape cut at a forty-five degree angle. This will be the plow. You'll sharpen the point on a rock like so until it is very sharp. Or you can take a sharp stone and cut a groove in the flat longer piece. This is the groove that will collect the embers."
That is right, son. Don't leave your helpmate helpless, God said.
Muriel noticed even the woodcutting possessed music of its own. She focused on trying to place it within her music categories. It sounded more like a high-pitched base sound. Could also be a cello? "Where did you learn all this?"
"Dad teaches it to his son, when out hunting. Stuff like that."
"Nobility," Muriel almost sneered. She didn't like the rich, although they were the ones who paid for her and her dad's livelihood.
"Not exactly, close, Earl of a Count of something. I became a preacher because of all the waste of the rich. They give large amounts to the poor, but out of their rich coffers, it merely adds up to sixpence. I wanted to help the poor," he said as he kept sharpening the stick on the stone.
"The poor rarely get to hear me play. We do charity concerts at orphanages, though."
"That's the idea of it I guess. Help out where we can," Glen held up the sharpened stick. "See this point or with my pocketknife I can cut a groove into a longer piece."
Muriel was plucking the belly of the bird now.
"The groove will get wider and wider as you scrape. You have to hold the stick like so." Glen showed his hands, palms down, right on top of his left. ”If you sit, it is easier. Some people kneel in the Philippines where I was a preacher. But sitting is easier, especially for a woman."
Muriel stopped plucking the blue and gray partridge feathers. The sun was curving toward the horizon. "It will be dark soon."
"We won't need to start the fire but once. Get one fire and then vigilantly keep it going. We'll both do that."
Muriel laughed. "Man doing women's work?" she scoffed, and shook her head, but kept watching him work the fire plow.
Good daughter, don't let him think you're to worship him. You're only to worship me, daughter, God said.
"On the island, we work together. When you're up, and I am down, you'll bring me back up. I will do the same when you are down and I am up. That's the way a marriage supposed to work."
"But we're not in a marriage, Glen," Muriel said softly. The idea of marrying a preacher seemed revolting in her childhood. Missionaries who tricked foreign people into believing in Christianity turned her off to religion. God, she believed in, though. "I am staying single. I need to keep my career going."
"No, we are not in a marriage." Glen stopped. "Almost there. Marriage is the highest form of partnership. Even a monk is in a relationship (not sexual) with God. Principal is the same. See the groove is wide and deep enough for the embers to collect at the top. Here."
Muriel had taken a mirror and in secret, she hadn't told to a soul, not even God, she viewed herself. How similar to herself the fire plow was? And the fact of its works similar to what her older sister called making love. People used more vulgar names for the act, but all in all, it was the same one object rubbed against another causing passionate fire or heat. Of course, her sister was right in all things socially. Men were lousy at making human fire. Also, they encouraged women to worship them, which God strictly forbid. Follow yes; listen to, yes, but worship a man, no.
Muriel gave a soft, "A huh!" She was a virgin. But her sister knew her way around men like a deck of playing cards knew a card cheat's hand.
"Then from this point you simply apply more pressure using your hands, faster."
Muriel stopped and mimicked his motions. Partridge feathers stuck to her fingertips, giving the impression her fingers might take flight.
Glen laughed. "You do the funniest things, Muriel."
"You make the funniest expressions, when you’re making fire, Glen." Muriel countered, in a huff. Men always gave themselves away to the perceptive female eye. Those facial expressions on Glen face, if she wanted, them, she'd see them as they made love. Muriel didn't care for his snarling facial impressions. In her mind, a man when making love should wear an awe and artistic smile of lust on his face. His well shaven face. She hated neckbeards on men.
Glen went back to applying pressure and rubbing the fire plow faster.
Muriel plucked faster getting into his rhythm.
Muriel watched as tiny, barely visible smoke rose from the fire plow.
Glen stopped. "Then you take the embers and pour or scoop them onto some dry grass. Like this snake grass you gathered beforehand, and formed into a bird’s nest."
Muriel liked being useful. Gathering dead dry grass was fun. She worked alone and again plucked the grass out of the ground. She formed a small bird’s nest reminding her of the dead partridge they needed to eat. Many times the little partridge ducklings came to her mind, but it had to be done. It had to be done she reminded herself. She and Glen needed to survive to get to America. How terribly sad the country must be after brother fought against brother for five years? They needed to hear her relaxing music. Her music healed men's soul and she, too, longed to do her part in God's great architectural work.
Glen poured the embers into the birds nest of grass. Quickly he fed wind by blowing on the nest and embers.
The nest began to smoke. Glen blew some more. Glen's eyes never left from the nest. Finally, he had it smoking so much his face disappeared randomly. Muriel found it hard to fathom Glen's features in the disappearing white-grayish smoke. Suddenly, Glen picked up the birds nest and waved it before him like a flag and it burst into flames. "There! Aha!" Glen laughed.
Muriel smiled. "It doesn't look hard."
"Hard. No. But you'll need pressure and speed to create hot embers into the wood. A fire plow can be made out of almost any hardwood."
Ask him about soft woods, too, God said. Men loved if you asked questions.
"And soft woods?" Something caused her to ask that, but she didn't understand why. She never knew much about woods, except a violin was carved from pine wood.
"Soft woods, but the fire plow only takes a couple of burns. Hardwoods give you more burns for your carving work on the tree limb." Glen had dropped the burning birds nest on the ground. "Hand me those twigs you gathered"
Muriel was useful. She began to put them into the fire, before Glen spoke.
"Good. You surprise me. First you're interested in theoretical things and turn like a right angle toward practical things."
"Being useful is a mix of ideas and the practical,"
"That it is, yes."
They build up a nice fire. Both watched and listened to its crackling and the popping of the wood embers.
Muriel especially tried to categorize the fire. What type of rhythm is that? How can she translate that into a musical composition? "We made it Glen. We're going to survive our first day on Makta Island," she explained, crisply.
Nodding, Glen agreed. He watched the fire. His small blue eyes looking up at Muriel. "You're the woman I always wished to meet."
"What kind of woman was that?" Muriel said, after she pushed the stick into the fully plucked partridge and placed it on the shortened Y frame sticks. Sticks Glen broke and placed on either side of the fire, far enough away from the flames, not to burn.
"Practical and idealist, a balanced woman."
Muriel smiled. She suppressed the tickling sensation in her belly. Preacher Glen Norman confessed he like me more as a wife than as an adventure partner on a lost island. But back in civilization, she feared his return to rules and male posturing. "I want, if I did decide at some point to marry, a man capable of admitting talking to woman, serious entertaining the thought of her being an equal mate, valuable in more than just the beauty ways."
God said, That's right. Wrap him around your fingers, Muriel. One finger at a time before civilization turns him into a brute again.