In the Luce Bay, once a year, a land bridge joined Timothy's island with the mainland. On that day, Arctic Wolf Senior and Arctic Wolf Junior, and three foxes, ran down the rocky, wet bridge to the mainland. Arctic Wolf Senior, who was named Penrith, by Timothy, and Arctic Wolf Junior, who was called Lowthar, met a small pack of other wolves, including Penrith's mate, Belsay, and learned the news of the mainland to share with Timothy.
The three foxes, Carrick, Ayr, and Lanark, also ran to a large den of land foxes to share the news and bring back one or two of the younger ones to join the animals on the island. This year, four vixens were chosen.
The news gathered in the pack and in the den shattered the animals. In fact, Penrith had intended to stay until nightfall, when the bridge was sinking into the sea, but the great wolf left early. And, this time, he came back to Timothy's island with the mate, Belsay.
The animals did not speak until they reached Timothy, who was surprised to see them return so early in the evening.
Carrick spoke first. "Master, a band of men were overheard miles away by the foxes at Arboarth. Inside a house near the den, one fox overheard the taking of an oath to find Alba's jewels. You need to prepare for an invasion."
Timothy, who, if he knew his age, was sixteen, blanched. He did not know evil. His heart was as pure as a four-year-old child. He could hardly understand Carrick's words.
Penrith spoke next. "We shall defend you, but you must lead us. We are your servants, as my tribe has been for fifty-two generations. We shall do as you instruct us, Master Timothy."
Timothy spoke with a shaking voice. "I know nothing of men who want to take the jewels of my ancestors. I do not understand why they want to come here and disturb our peace. I do not know what to do."
Penrith spoke again. "We must consult Ringsend, the ancient sea turtle. This great beast has seen hundreds of years of men and knows the types of evil which are found in the hearts of some men. I shall ask him to come to us, now."
Timothy agreed, and the group of animals walked to the far western shore which faced the setting sun. More animals now had heard of the great danger to come upon the island, and soon, a large group followed Carrick to the shore, behind Timothy.
Timothy's reddish hair burned bright in the sunset. He kept his thoughts to himself, but he knew he was no match against four grown evil men. He had no weapons, or skills of weaponry. He only could pray for advice from his servants and friends, and pray and pray.
The group, now made up of all the inhabitants of the island, stood at the edge of the beach. The great wolf made a loud call, and soon all saw the trail in the sea of the great turtle.
Ringsend was the oldest and wisest animal who dwelt in and around the seas of Timothy's island. The great beast was even older than most thought. And, his ancestors had met Timothy's ancestors hundred of years ago when the men and women crossed over the land bridge, open only one day of the year.
The great turtle knew the evil hearts of some men, as its own kin were slaughtered for fun and not for food.
But, Ringsend was pure of heart, and had no hatred of humans. And, Timothy was like its own son, Ringway.
Timothy knelt down on the sand and rock to speak with Ringsend. "Great One, I know not what to do. I shall be meeting men who want Alba's jewels. What should I do?"
Ringsend stayed in the water by the edge. The sun was setting slowly and a long twilight lit the beach and the many animals waiting to hear its advice.
"In your Bible, there is a wise phrase, that the wages of sin is death. These men will not prevail against us, but we must be prepared. Evil destroys itself, so here is my plan." Then, the turtle explained a simple plan to Timothy, which shall unfold in this story. Part of this plan was that the animals were not to speak in the presence of the evil men, but pretend to be dumb. The animals would guard the four sides of the island, and Ringsend would travel to the far side of the bay to find a great bear which lived in the forests of Ae, but visited the shores and spoke with Ringsend. This great bear would be asked to guard the coast and watch for the four evil men.
After this meeting, Timothy took over the true role of Master, the name he bore among the animals.
The entire fox den was to watch and guard the western coast, facing the Mull of Galloway. These foxes were to remain hidden until Timothy needed them, and they crouched in the ferns and underbrush.
The two male wolves were sent to the southern side of the island to watch for a ship or coracle. A large ship could not come into the bay near Timothy's island, but ships could leave a smaller boat to come near.
Penrith's mate would stay with Timothy and be his personal bodyguard.
The five badgers, all fierce warriors, including the females, were sent to the northern coast, to hide in the small copse of trees which faced the now hidden land bridge. The badgers had made deep holes in the ground in the copse and no men could see them. The hedgehogs were called upon to be patient and wait for orders. But, Timothy did not want them harmed.
The eastern side of the island remained in the guardianship of the entire rabbit warren. They were excellent at creating chaos.
The only thing to do now was to wait. Timothy went into his hut and opened his Bible. He wondered whether Alba's jewels were worth the lives of his animals. But, a cryptic line written on the inside cover haunted his memory.
"To the altar will go Alba's jewels."
Timothy did not understand the meaning of the line, but he knew that no evil men could take the chest from his island.
To be continued.....