The Tiger Excerpt

The Tiger PB front NEW

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ISBN: 978-098366017

The Tiger   The secrets to defeating the great devourers of human achievement, sleep and death. The conclusion of the Livingson saga, which brings the dialogs between the host and his guests, and the lives of the Livingsons, full circle. At the same time it establishes a viable, repeatable hope for the future, so desperately needed in our world, by uniting the great knowledge with the practical being efforts necessary for changing our tomorrow.

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Excerpt from The Tiger  © J.L.Lawson 2011

Back down the beach where George Lawrence had been sitting, near to where Lila was laying down for a nap, Mia and Lena waded ashore and sat down on either side of her. They could just make out the receding figures of Olly and George Lawrence way down the shore. Lila became aware of them and rolled over to look up into their faces. “Hello, sleepy head,” cooed Lena. Lila smiled drowsily and rose up on one elbow. “We thought we’d spend a little ‘girl-time’ with our little sister,” lazed Mia, reclining next to her.

“Ooh, that’s…” and Lila yawned, “…splendid. I have wanted to apologize again for interrupting your story…and in the very first few minutes of our meeting too!”

The twins giggled, “She’s a treasure alright…” “A pearl of great value, to be sure…” Lila could only just grin when the twins started that sort of running banter. It was like it was coming from one person but from two directions at once.

“I would like to hear about that evening in Bombay, and why Olly is always right.” Lila petitioned.

“And she never forgets…” “That can be good, could be not so good…” “Withholding any decision about that…” “Not enough data, but we like her…” “Oh, yes. Very much indeed…” “And we never forget anything either…” “True, true. I forgot that…” And they erupted into more giggles which infected Lila as well. “So, we were just leaving this administration building after registering our application for entering some area that was otherwise proscribed, or something, and were headed to the cafe where we were to meet Uncle Jean and Hannah.” “I wanted to go through a market area, and…” “I wanted to go around by that little street where they make all the gold things.” “Anyway, Olly says, ‘No, we go through this alley here and up over the bridge to Front Harbor and the cafe—No sidetrips,’ but I whimpered…” “And I pouted and pulled him toward the golden lane.” “Whereupon we were headed off to take the long way around to the cafe.” “We arrived as the merchants were just closing most of their stalls and packing up…” “So, we figured the other market areas were likely closing for the evening as well…” “And we apologized to him for being naughty.”

Lila was training herself to just listen to them, and not try to know which was speaking at the moment. She interjected, “And that was when Olly was right? I don’t understand.”

“A little impatient, isn’t she…” “Aren’t we all from time to time…” “Quite right.” “Well we turned out of the lane and then just from out of nowhere…” “A side alley, of course…” “These two enormous, foul-smelling…” “Unwashed, poorly dressed, disheveled…” “Rather ugly men blocked our passage…” “Just a few steps ahead of us…” “There was a rush of air and their hats were suddenly down over their eyes…” “We walked right between them unnoticed…” “I looked back just as they noticed we had passed them…” “She nudged me to look; when they stepped forward in pursuit…” “There was another rush of wind and their pants fell down around their ankles…” “And they were stopped again.” “They gave up either from embarrassment or frustration…” “Didn’t matter to us. It was just so strange and funny at the same time…” “We looked at Olly and he was just smiling…” “’What are you smiling at?’ I asked him…” “He said, ‘You two, and your detours. Maybe next time you’ll listen…I just hope I’m there, if there is a next time’.” “He had just that afternoon told us the particulars about his interesting training experience with papa…” “About papa being everywhere at once which had forced him to be nowhere.” “Those had been his words: being nowhere.” “So, now we were very curious…” “I asked him what had he meant about being nowhere?” “And he instantly stopped to keep us from walking into a puddle in our next step…” “A puddle that wasn’t there…” “Well, it was there the moment we stopped. Someone was throwing out dishwater at that very moment…” “We would have walked right into it…” “And just as suddenly both of us felt kissed.” “I mean kissed like a woman wants to be kissed.” “We nearly swooned.” “We held his arms a little tighter…” “And cooed, ‘Ooh Treasure!’…” “But to tell the truth, that’s not exactly what I thought…” “My first real kiss would be like…” “But it was certainly satisfying…” “Very satisfying, all the same.”

Lila sighed, “That was…What was that?! Did you mean to say that: Dr. Oliver made those rogues’ hats fall over their eyes, then their pants to fall down, and then he kissed you both at the same time? Then at the same moment he kept you from being doused with water, and all the while you were holding onto both his arms?” The twins looked at each other, then back at Lila.

“It doesn’t sound as dramatic…” “When you say it…” “It was really very exciting.” “That was his way to demonstrate what it was really like to be…” “Nowhere. Or as Papa and MamaKat have been accused of doing:” “Being in two places at once.” “Olly is always right, you see…” “Because, he has often already looked ahead…” “Just a little…” “Just far enough.” “It’s a time-space thing.”

Lila wasn’t sure what to think. Olly and George Lawrence were nearly within conversation range, and she smiled at him as he approached. Olly looked at her face, “Ladies have you been telling tales out of school? It appears Lila has endured one of your special renditions of a story.” Mia and Lena nodded, but were still smiling.

Lila responded, “Just some girl-time among sisters…” and winked to the twins.

“She’s a catch…” “A real keeper…”

Olly reached for them, “I want a hug, or I shant even consider giving you my dessert tonight…after you finish your own.”

“Monster!” “Beast!” and the twins nearly picked him off the ground in their exuberance. George Lawrence and Lila both enjoyed the look on Olly’s face.

Hannah called from shipboard, “How about some iced tea?” That got all their attention. Alouette and Aria, who were laying nearby, dragged themselves up and joined the waders heading back to the yacht.

James and Becka had been chatting with Jean and Hannah about their recent sojourn near Tanjungkarang-Telukbetung, after they had finished a coastal sweep of the Malay peninsula for survivors of the flash flooding that occurs nearly every year along the rivers. “We have been especially busy offering guidance in boiling water to prevent cholera, dysentery, a few other nasties. Mosquito netting is in high demand at all times….” Hannah would have listed the gamut of illnesses, diseases and debilitating conditions they find on their tours, but her audience’s expressions made it clear they did not have a physician’s detachment for the subject. “Suffice it to say, we have to restock after every voyage.”

Becka wasn’t naïve enough to think they just stopped in at a medical supply warehouse and just picked up what they needed in a shopping cart. “Where do you resupply? How can you afford all the medicines and such? It seems unending and expensive.”

Jean was ready for that one as part of his ‘duties’ were to both secure their safe passage through some otherwise iffy political regions, as well as coordinate with the regional medical establishments…Where there were any at all. “You’d be surprised just how many societies and charities and what-nots there are in the western world who are more than willing to provide financially for missions such as ours. The other side of that coin is that most people will give their money gladly; so long as someone else does the time getting their hands dirty. It’s a tradeoff like most things—someone’s got to actually do the work of the society or charity so that their reputation remains solid in acceptable circles.”

Hannah looked at her husband and tsked at his cynicism, “It is easy to become jaded out here, but it is Jean who sends the progress reports, photographs and highlights of our success stories…He’s not really as cynical as he sometimes sounds.”

She rubbed his shoulders, and he just melted, “I’m pampered. I’ll do anything to stay on your good side my angel.”

James recalled their last journey of assistance, “So, have you gotten stuck in one location, and become unable to restock when you really needed to? I just remember you had that rash of influenza around Macau and Hong Kong, and couldn’t get away for weeks.”

“That wasn’t due to a supply problem, nor did it lead to one. So far as we have been able to determine the only therapeutic measure that shows any hint of success in dealing with influenza is transfusing blood from recovered patients to new victims. That can only become a supply problem if we run out of needles and tubing. The real problem is blood typing and compatibility issues. While we are in the Philippines and have access to American military physicians, we are hoping to get more information, and test kits—whatever is the latest best thing…We don’t get many trade journals delivered out here.”

Will had listened carefully, and really could only say that once the Victoria’s renovations were completed, he’d be happy to act as courier for anything they wished to present to the societies and charities back in Europe and the States which might be better transmitted in person.

Hannah brightened considerably, “There are a number of those particular assignments which take the personal touch…Jean, will you two sort those out before Will leaves to complete his circumnavigation? It would be marvelous for him to perform this double duty for us?”

“You know I will my cherub…Now how about some iced tea? I feel far less sated than I did a few hours ago,” he commented. Hannah went to the companionway and called to the others laying on the beach.

Once all of the company were sitting in chairs around the deck under an awning over the boom, their arose a discussion about a ceremony for James and Becka’s union. “As the dialog seems to be about us, I think we should have a say in the plans.” James commented as the various options were cast about.

Becka mused aloud, “One little decision: ‘to not be left behind’ led to Mama Belle pushing me out the door, you all receiving me with open arms, and now this happiest of occasions in both our lives…” She put her head on James’s shoulder.

Mia announced, “It’s Papa’s pebble!” Lena nodded enthusiastically, although no one else seemed to have the least idea what was papa’s pebble. Mia looked from one to the next of them, “It’s a story Papa told us when we were about to leave with Olly for Malvern. He showed us a little stone and told us this story…” Lena took over:

When Papa Harry was a year or so from leaving for his British education, he spent most all his time with his head in some book. Mama Belle had had enough of it, and shooed him out of the house, “Go and do something truly instructive—Out of doors, for a change of pace,” she said. So he dutifully went out for a walk along the shores of the lake. After quite a while he settled upon a boulder at the water’s edge and sat looking into the shallows, and the beautiful dark round stones glistening below. He picked up a little pebble much lighter in color than all those others around it, and dropped it into the water next to a collection of leaves gathered on the surface. The ripples from the impact of the littlest stone grew out and away in perfect circles, and he was fascinated by them. What caught his eye however was a newly hatched mayfly that got washed onto the edge of those leaves from the ripples he’d caused. It struggled trying to right itself in its new surroundings. At that moment a chickadee dropped from a low branch just above him and snatched up the mayfly—ending its chances for its one day of life and reproduction. Curious that the bird didn’t swallow it straight away, he followed it. The little bird fluttered here and there between trees and across glades, and Harry kept track of its every movement.

It came to land at a nest in the low branches of a tree where there was the instant sound of a single fledgling chirping at her mother’s return. Harry looked about and noticed a short ways off the crumpled and bloody body of a near dead fox with a split left ear laying beneath a bush. As the fledgling was fed, and the mama bird took off for another foray, the fledgling made a bold beat of its growing wings and accidently tumbled to the pine needle strewn floor of the forest. Its ineffective struggles to make sense of the world outside of the nest caught the attention of the fox who was likely living out its remaining hours of starvation and injury. The fox inched toward the pitiful acrobatics of the small bird which could easily have evaded such a weak and desperate attack as the fox was able to bring. But after dragging itself the six or seven feet from the bush to the base of the tree, the little bird hadn’t escaped and so became the last meal of the fox.

Harry thought, ‘Well that’s a fine how-do-you-do. The mayfly got eaten by the bird, who has now been eaten by the near dead fox, and no one’s the better for it!’ He maintained his vigil upon the scene, but the fox just lay there seemingly having used the last of its energy in the exertion of his last meal. Harry tied a bit of string to the branch holding the now empty nest, thinking that he would return the next morning just to see the end of the story. He went back to the lakeside, found the boulder upon which he’d sat, and searched for the light colored pebble that had started the little adventure. It stood out from the darker stones around it, and so he retrieved the little stone and put it in his pocket as he walked back home.

The next morning he remembered his aim to check up on the dying fox. He found the tree with the empty nest by the string dangling from its branch, but there was no fox! He got down and looked at the ground more closely and spied the erratic tracks of an injured animal leading off in a direction toward town. ‘Likely carried off and eaten by another, larger animal—maybe a coyote…’ he thought. But the tracks were small like the fox’s not the size of a coyote at all, and they were erratically spaced. He shrugged and followed them. An hour or so later he came to the back of the McPherson’s farmyard. The tracks led over toward the henhouse, and Harry at once realized that that last meal had revitalized the fox just enough to seek more food. As he approached he rounded a clump of trees unseen from the house; he heard a man yell, and there was the split-eared fox—impaled with a pitchfork. The loud voice suddenly called out again, but in pain to the house: “Janice! I said I’d get that fox if he showed his face here again, and I have. But I think I’ve broken my ankle in the bargain—the damn rascal forced me to turn too quickly in my muddy boots…”

His wife ran out the back door, wiping her hands on her apron. He called to her, “Send Veronica to fetch the doctor, at least she’ll have something useful to do now that she’s back from wasting my money at college!” The young lady had just poked her head out the door and heard her father’s comments. Chagrined and anxious to prove she wasn’t good for nothing, she called to him, “I’ll have him back here in no time. You’ll be fine daddy, just be patient,” and she ran from the house toward where she thought the physician’s house was. Unfortunately she had been gone for a few years, and the old doctor had left town; a young fellow fresh from Medical School had arrived in his stead, and he resided in different house…

After asking frantically for his whereabouts she located him at last—a handsome and very gentle young doctor he was too. She led him to her father; the ankle was set, and he promised to return to check on his recovery as soon as he could—which was very soon indeed. The young physician had taken an immediate fancy to Veronica, and over the next few months courted her and they married.”

Lena’s audience was stunned at the tale. Becka said, “Papa’s pebble, that is one interesting story of relationships, consequences and connections…”

Lena interrupted, “That’s not the end of the story!” Mia picked it up from there:

The happy couple had a son, and the doctor’s family became pretty well respected in our little village. So, it happened that her husband was invited to speak at a conference in Sacramento, and she took her son to shop for clothes that would put their little family in the best light possible while visiting the big city. The lad’s clothes were fitted and arranged for delivery before their train was to depart in a few days. She let him go for some candy and window shop at Hasting’s. That was the day of the big fire. The doctor’s wife had just come out of Goodman’s and checked at the candy shop—no junior. There was a clanging and yelling up the street, and she saw to her horror that Hasting’s was all aflame. She dropped her packages and ran up to the blaze where the volunteer firemen were just beginning to pump water onto the inferno.

She looked at every face in the crowd that was gathering there and still did not see her son. She screamed aloud, “Billy! My Billy is still in there!” and she fainted. One of the young volunteers fighting the blaze dunked a rag in the water barrel, wrapped it around his face, and without a second thought—rushed into the burning store. The inferno roared, and just over the crashing and clamor everyone could hear the young fireman’s voice calling for the boy. After what seemed an eternity he emerged with the lad in his arms, and they collapsed on the ground next to Veronica, the doctor’s wife. Coughing and sputtering, they each came to at about the same moment and the crowd went wild with cheers and jubilation. The boy was safe, the fire was brought under control, and that young fireman—who hadn’t helped at a fire before that day—was a bona fide Hero. The photographer was summoned, pictures were taken and the story was sent all the way to Sacramento where it was in all the papers.”

Lena continued, “That young man only had one surviving relative: an uncle with a farm over in Contra Costa county who came to Tahoe City for the first time just to congratulate his nephew in person and to express his deep pride—a Mr. Ivory, by name…”

Becka gasped, “Marcus Ivory!? The man that Sarah Bunker fell in love with? Who courted her and she finally married? The man who took her from Tahoe? That’s what prompted my taking up teaching the Tahoe School?!”

Lena answered, “One and the same. So do you see what we saw when we remembered the story of Papa’s Pebble?” The expressions upon the faces of their family were priceless, then James broke the moment of revery. “What precisely did this pebble look like?”

Mia held up her fingers to show the approximate size, “It was nearly perfectly round, colored like a pearl, and had a little line around its equator, like a crack.”

James reached into his pants pocket and produced something he held up for all to see. “That’s the exact description of this little stone.” There were more gasps. “Uncle Harry gave it to me upon my graduation from the Tahoe School.” He looked at Olly and Will, “You remember, you were both standing right there…for that matter, so were you…” and he looked at Becka.

“I remember that,” she acknowledged, “Harry held up this little rock, and looking at it said something in Latin. Then although he handed it to you, he looked into my eyes as he said: ‘Keep this with you always. It’s as close as you’ll ever come to a good luck charm.’ I never forgot the oddness of that incident,” she remarked.

Olly said, “The Latin phrase wasn’t lucky charm though. I was so taken by his words; the phrase stuck with me too. Later at Malvern I recalled the phrase, and finally unraveled it; literally translated he said: The mysterious great fortune of life’s grace.”

Lena and Mia were beside themselves in delight, however no one else seemed to be caught up in the revelations quite so much as they were. Lena announced, “Don’t you see?” she held out both her hands to Becka, “You are Papa’s Pebble! That little stone that he gave to James for safe-keeping is just a symbol of the real thing—You!”

There was a unanimous sigh as all of them at once slumped back into their chairs and nearly risked falling over backwards. James still held the pebble in his fingers where all could see, while Becka just stared between it and the twins and back again. At length Lila whispered just loud enough for all to hear, “Who is Uncle Harry really? How does he do these amazing things?!”

There was no answer forthcoming as they each reflected upon the story and the man they each knew variously as: father, uncle, brother-in-law, teacher, and master. Becka was the first to break the spell. “Captain, perhaps a better name for our ship might be…” and James finished, “The Pebble.” Jean clapped first, and Will began applauding almost at once. Soon all of them were awakened from their trance and were in whole-hearted and very vocal agreement over the choice.

Will said at last, “Jamie, I think you’ve earned that Pebble, not only because of your constancy of love and friendship towards me all these years, but by your undaunted love in spite of everything for this fine woman. I will be proud to call you Uncle Captain James White Feathers Connor—Master of the Pebble,” and he crossed to his cousin and friend and embraced him. Then he bowed deeply to Becka, took her hand and kissed it. Becka blushed like a schoolgirl.

Mia was the first to speak after that touching show of affection and respect. “So, have we decided the particulars of the ceremony?”

Hannah giggled, “It would seem that was handled by Uncle Harry years ago, and we’re all just now catching up! The mysterious great fortune of love’s grace… Wow, if that doesn’t beat all!” Becka was still in tears, and James’s eyes weren’t dry either. For that matter the swings of emotions over the last hour had so untethered each of them from the ordinary that none of them knew or cared whether they laughed or cried.

Lena and Mia stood up and put their hands forward into the center of the gathering, “To Love and to all who bear it!” They were quickly joined by each and every one of their family in joyous celebration of this newest and remarkably unparalleled union.

The scientists explored the island, and recorded stories which the professor hadn’t. They photographed and documented everything that would add to their small but growing pile of data. One evening at the end of one such foray they were sitting at the evening meal with the rest of the company. James asked Hannah and Olly to explain more about the blood typing phenomena Hannah had mentioned days ago regarding influenza treatment.

“Well, there’s not much to say about it really,” Hannah replied.

Olly responded with, “It seems that taking the blood from one person who has just recovered from the infection, and transferring it to someone who currently has the illness allows the sick person’s body to benefit from the accomplishment of the now recovered person’s bodily response. The problem arises that sometimes those two people’s blood isn’t compatible. The explanation has been postulated that different people have different blood types. And some of those blood types are the root of the incompatibility. Although rare there could even be incompatibilities within the same family…it’s not a race thing or any such nonsense.”

That’s what caught Aria’s attention. “Father has made passing reference to this. I wonder…could the examination of blood types be an ideal opportunity for the study of human variation without cultural prejudice? It would then be just a matter of establishing the distribution of an inherited trait passed from generation to generation—a map of lineages after a fashion.”

Olly responded, “The work in this field has been begun by Dr. Landsteiner, an Austrian biologist. It has no doubt progressed since we’ve been out of circulation—pardon the pun. As we said, Hannah and I are looking forward to some catch up work over the next several months. We hope to meet with some of the American doctors at the base, and we’ll definitely pore over all the journals that have been published since the last time we were able to read any of them. It will be a pleasure to have this additional focus especially if your hypothesis is a viable course of action.”

Hannah added, “We can easily keep records of all our phlebotomies to include type—once we find out how…”

The four ethnographers were now just as anxious as the captains to have the ships completed and spend more time in Manila Bay. Will had certainly become the one most excited over the shipyard’s progress. Over the five weeks the Hannah had now spent safely sheltered in the narrow strait between Mactan and Opan, the Victoria had undergone a near complete transformation. All that remained was to rig the new mast, and fit her sails. Will had been going everyday to view the progress, but the next time they all went the change in his ship was almost shocking. It seemed to not be the same ship at all. The smooth skin of the hull, although still white with a narrow band of crimson around the gunwales, was seamless and far sleeker than the planking of her former hull. Her deck was now as open as a dance floor and near as large. Only a slight rise before the cockpit which extended nearly to the bow was all that remained of the deck house. Deck lights and hatches punctuated the expanse without interrupting the smooth beauty of the continuous decking. Gone were the Victoria’s former two masts, and in their place situated near midships was the single spire of hollow aluminum towering over her. Even the Mule in Rouge had received a new skin, and she hung from the stern as a proud daughter of the new mothership. Will grinned at the rest of the company and announced, “I’m going to rechristen her: Tygress, and the dinghy shall be her Cub! Ooh, that reminds me…Jean? Where were you able to procure the Evinrudes, I want one for Cub.”

Jean smiled, “I’m sure we can find one for Cub; the Golden Hind and the Half Moon will be needing them as well.” Then in a hushed voice he confided that there was a healthy black market anywhere the military went in the world, and what was more, anything that could be had by someone in the States could be purchased even way out here. Aloud he continued, “While we have a shipyard nearby I have been wanting to make an addition to the stern boarding platform…” he called to James who joined their discussion. “I want to get Jan to add a retractable mounting plate to the stern boarding deck platform so that we can affix the Evinrudes, and have power when it’s required. It won’t be much for cruising, but very handy in harbors and marinas.” James nodded his approval of the same for the Pebble, and Will went to examine the new stern of the Tygress to decide how he might take advantage of that accessory.

Jean’s ‘hush-hush’ assertion became a reality not so very long afterward, and the slightly higher cost of acquiring the Evinrudes was more than made up for by their pristine condition. Jan DeVott was just as proud of the yard’s work upon the sister ship as he’d been with his own work upon the original. “Because you let my crews look over your handiwork on the interior, the decks and the rest of the Hannah, they were able to replicate the plans much better…not all of them can even read a design plan,” he intimated. Whether they could or couldn’t they were industrious, thorough and amazingly quick at the construction. What had taken the twins and their uncle years to do, Sr. Fernandez and Jan’s crews did in just under two months. So a little over a week after the Tygress had been christened and awaited her maiden voyage, the Pebble was launched and christened.

Will stood proudly at the wheel of his ship; Jamie was at the helm of his and Becka’s while Jean piloted the Hannah, and they set off for Manila harbor as a small, but most elegant fleet of ships. The Tygress proved much quicker than her previous incarnation, and Will was trembling with anticipation as he trimmed and heeled her nearly to the top of the bulwarks making close to thirteen knots. Where once he couldn’t have hoped that she might keep up with her sisters at any point of sail, now she was as Mia and Lena had forecast: very frisky!

 

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