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Authors: Theodore Taylor

Timothy of the Cay

BOOK: Timothy of the Cay
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Table of Contents

Title Page

Table of Contents





1. USS Sedgewick

2. Looking for Work

3. Panama

4. Back o'All

5. The Raft

6. Shoes

7. Curaçao

8. Being a Slave

9. The Clinic

10. New York City

11. Obeah

12. Dr. Pohl

13. The Decision

14. Bark Gertrude Theismann

15. The Devil's Mouth

16. The Squall

17. My Bald Head

18. Home

19. The Operating Room

20. Captain

21. Awakening

22. Jennifer

23. Trees

24. The Hato

25. The Audaz Adventurero

26. Torpedoed

27. The Cay

Reader Chat Page

Copyright © 1993 by Theodore Taylor
Reader's guide copyright © 2007 by Harcourt, Inc.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or
transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical,
including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and
retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work
should be submitted online at
or mailed
to the following address: Permissions Department, Harcourt, Inc.,
6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.

First Harcourt paperback edition 2007

The Library of Congress has cataloged the hardcover edition
as follows:
Taylor, Theodore, 1921–
Timothy of the cay/Theodore Taylor.
p. cm.
Sequel to: The cay.
Summary: Having survived being blinded and shipwrecked on
a tiny Caribbean island with the old black man, Timothy, twelve-
year-old white Phillip is rescued and hopes to regain his sight with
an operation. Alternate chapters follow the life of Timothy from his
days as a young cabin boy.
[1. Caribbean Area—Fiction. 2. Shipwrecks—Fiction. 3. Survival—
Fiction. 4. Blacks—Caribbean Area—Fiction. 5. Blind—Fiction.
6. Physically handicapped—Fiction.] I. Title.
PZ7.T2186Ti 1993
[Fic]—dc20 93-7898
ISBN 978-0-15-288358-4
ISBN 978-0-15-206320-7 pb

Designed by Trina Stahl
Text set in Stempel Garamond

MV 10 9 8 7 6 5

Printed in the United States of America

For Caitlin Carroll—

wonderful, beautiful, scalawag granddaughter


My sincere thanks to ophthalmologist Dr. Roger Ohanesian of Laguna Beach, California, and to neurosurgeon Dr. Dennis Malkasian of Newport Beach, California, for their information on medical matters beyond my comprehension.

Laguna Beach, California
June 1993

CAY. A low sandy islet. But also extended to include large, higher islands with appreciable vegetation, e.g., Protestant Cay, Lovango Cay, Marina Cay, etc. CAY from Spanish
island. Sometimes spelled and pronounced KEY.


1. USS

—The navy's Caribbean command received a priority dispatch from the USS
Sedgewick :




The destroyer sped on toward Panama. She hummed and quivered along, pitching gently over the smooth sea, temporarily secured from hunting German U-boats.


Down in sick bay, the ship's hospital, I sat on a cold metal stool while the doctor checked me out. Took my USS
temperature, looked in my mouth and ears, took my blood pressure.

I told him I felt fine.

With Stew under my arm, I'd been brought aboard from the rescue boat naked as a plucked pigeon, holding Timothy's wooden-handled knife as my only possession from our time on the island.

Lieutenant Robert Heath, the doctor, couldn't believe I'd survived, alone and blind, for almost two months on that remote patch of sand up in the Devil's Mouth.

"Timothy prepared me to live alone," I said. I owed my life to him.

"Who was Timothy?" Dr. Heath asked.

A cold disk was on my chest. He was listening to my heart. Stew Cat purred in my lap.

"An old black man from the island of Saint Thomas."

But he was much more than that. He was my guardian angel, then as well as now, protecting me from danger and mistakes. Though he was dead, he still talked to me in my darkness.

During that terrible moment, only yesterday, when the navy plane flew across the island and then went away, the sound dying like a bee buzz, Timothy looked down on me and said, "Don' warry, Phill-eep, dey'll be bock." I heard him distinctly.

"From Saint Thomas, eh?"

I looked in the direction of Dr. Heath's voice. He sounded young. "Yes. Timothy got me out of the water after our ship was sunk. A few minutes before, this tomcat had crawled aboard our raft. Just crawled up there like he owned it. Timothy didn't invite him."

I had to laugh about that, Timothy sometimes saying, "dis turrible cot."

"How long were you on the cay?"

"From sometime in April until today." Five months, I thought. I'd been told this was August 22, 1942, still a time of war. According to my own "time-can," into which I dropped a pebble or piece of shell each day, I'd been alone on the cay for forty-seven days.

"What happened to Timothy?"

"He died after a hurricane hit us. He used his whole body to protect me. Wind and flying debris tore him up. Killed him."

"What a shame," Dr. Heath said sympathetically.

Yes, it was.

"What did you eat all that time?" Dr. Heath asked, adding, "Lie back."

"Oh, fish and
coconuts, sea-grape leaves..."

He made a
sound, then laughed. "Not a bad diet at that."

Then he tapped around my stomach, telling me to cough. "You were blind before the ship was torpedoed?"

"No. I got hit on the head when we were abandoning it and lost my sight a few days later, on the raft."

He made that
sound once more.

"Will I ever see again?" I asked.

"You'll have to talk to an eye doctor, but there's always a chance. You might need an operation." He paused, then said, "Phillip, I'm curious about something, really puzzled..."

"About what?"

"How did you manage for two months without that old man? How did you get food? You couldn't see."

"He'd made fishing poles for me. Strapped them to a palm tree before the hurricane hit. He'd planned for me to be alone. Planned everything. And I knew that whole island like I knew my house in Curaçao. After I buried him I put our hut back together and started a fire."

"Remarkable," said Dr. Heath. "Really remarkable..."

I had just been doing what Timothy had taught me.

"Now, sit up again. I'm going to tap your knees with a mallet to test your reflexes. Have you had that done before?"


I wondered how the doctor looked. How big was he, how old?

I'd been doing that all day, trying to imagine faces, starting with the two sailors who rescued me. I knew how Timothy looked, having seen him for two days before my sight failed. But now I had no way of telling age or looks except by voice.

The doctor tapped between my knee joints, then said, "Well, that's it. You're as healthy as anyone on this ship, a lot healthier than some. Remarkable."

"I was lucky," I admitted.

"Now, I've ordered a bland diet for you to begin with..."

I'd already had a milkshake.

"...since your stomach probably won't be ready for hamburgers or steak..."

Oh yes, it is, I thought. Yes, it is! If I never have another fish it will be too soon.

"...for a few days. So instead, things like rice and mashed potatoes and soup..."

"Can I have gravy?" Could I have every single thing that I'd missed on the cay? Everything. Macaroni and cheese. Hot dogs. Hamburgers. Ice cream. Candy.

He chuckled. "Yes, you can have gravy. Anything else?"

"Candy." That was something I'd really missed.

"Sure, what kind?"

"Hershey almond, Baby Ruth..."

"I'll have the ship's store guy come in."

"And will you feed my cat?"

"He's already been fed. Milk and rice. He was hungry. Anything else?"

I shook my head. "No, thank you."

"Glad to have you aboard," he said, and departed.

I think all the officers on that destroyer walked into sick bay that afternoon, and half the ship's crew, just to look at Stew Cat and me.

Lieutenant Commander Nathaniel Murry, USN, commanding officer of the
came in first. He said, "You're one lucky boy. Do you know how far we were off the beaten ship track?"

"No, sir."

"I got a report from Naval Intelligence that a Nazi U-boat was refueling from a Nicaraguan ship back up in here. Otherwise, I wouldn't have come near these lousy waters. They're beautiful but treacherous as a lit fuse. Coral reefs all over the place. They'll take your bottom out like it was cut with scissors."

"Where are we?" I asked.

"About a hundred seventy miles off the Nicaraguan and Honduran coasts, in waters called the Nicaraguan Rise. I came in as far as the Serranilla and Serrana banks..."

Timothy had mentioned those dangerous reefs.

"...then headed east again. But turned back to get you. If that Catalina from Coco Solo hadn't spotted your smoke, I'd a been long gone..."

The Catalina was a twin-engine flying boat, I knew.

"Thanks for turning back."

"My pleasure."

He'd already sent a message to my parents in Curaçao, saying I'd been rescued. My father worked in the Dutch refinery on that island, off the coast of Venezuela. He was a petroleum engineer.

Carruthers and Gomez, the two sailors who'd brought the small rescue boat into the cay, had told him what they'd seen: my fire pile, the hut, my fishing poles.

"Where are we headed?" I asked.

"Cristobal, at the Panama Canal entrance. We'll hand you over to the naval hospital, get some fuel, fresh vegetables, milk, and eggs, and head out to sea again."

He went back to the bridge.

After the food tray was brought in, I spent the rest of the afternoon talking to the hospital corpsmen. They had dozens of questions. It was kind of fun being a celebrity.


On the cay, I usually knew when it was daylight because of the sun's warmth and when it was night because of the coolness. And, of course, your body tells you when to sleep. Aboard ship, I was too excited to go to sleep immediately after the announcement was made that the "smoking lamp" was out. Time to bed down, except for the duty watches. The corpsman assigned to me, who would also sleep in sick bay in case I needed anything, asked me if it was okay to turn out the light. I had to laugh.

Then he caught himself. "Oh, I forgot you can't see."

"That's okay." He wouldn't be the last to forget my blindness.

Quiet settled over the ship. Cool air blew down on me. The engines whined. The whole hull quivered at top speed. The corpsman said that when we were going twenty-five knots no torpedo could hit us.

I remember that night as being strange, one of many strange days and nights to come. I remember the feel of the bed and the clean sheets; the sounds and smells of the ship, knowing someone other than Timothy was just a few feet away. All of it strange. Most of all, I guess it was the knowledge that I wouldn't be alone anymore; that I wouldn't die on that forgotten, nameless cay, become a skeleton for someone to find someday.

There had been times when I almost gave up. At those times I "talked" to Timothy and he "answered" back. Who else was there to talk to, except Stew Cat? At first, I was lonely and frightened, but I'd always feel better after talking to Timothy. I'd imagine what he'd say to me and even imitate his voice. Imagination is a very powerful thing when you're alone and blind.

I finally went to sleep but awakened after a while, panicking on hearing the turbines' high-pitched whir. For a moment I didn't realize I was no longer on the soft sand floor of the hut, wrapped in deep silence.

Even Stew Cat was uneasy that night. He slept by my shoulder, snuggled against me.

BOOK: Timothy of the Cay
2.26Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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