Dolphin island was not just a small island. It was miniscule, barely a hundred yards across. It was shaped like the letter C. Inside the open mouth of the C was a beautiful white sand beach that stretched out into the blue ocean. Around the rest of the island was a coral reef about twice as big across as the island itself was. Right in the center of everything was a small house.
Eleanor steered the speedboat up onto the sandy beach. Océane hopped over the side and ran ashore to fasten a line from the boat to a stumpy tree at the edge of the sand. Astrid noted with some disappointment that there were no palm trees, just a few scrawny deciduous trees and quite a few large bushes.
A young woman with short brown hair emerged from the house and stepped briskly down a wooden walkway to the shore, where she gave Océane a hug and kissed both sides of her face. Then the two of them waded out to the boat.
“Girls,” said Océane. “This is Adeline. Adeline, meet Astrid and Penelope Maxxim.”
“This is quite a surprise,” said Adeline, her French accent just as pronounced as Océane’s. “I didn’t expect Océane to bring back anyone, let alone two celebrities.”
“Oh, we’re not celebrities,” said Astrid.
“I have a copy of People Magazine in the house that says differently.”
“All right, everyone,” said Eleanor. “We have a lot of cargo to unload. Then we can talk.”
Even with all five young women pitching in, it took almost thirty minutes to get all the cargo from the boat to the house. In addition to all the computer equipment that Astrid and Penelope had brought along, and their luggage, they had several large boxes of supplies that Eleanor had bought in Tahiti.
“If you girls will help put away the groceries,” said Eleanor, once everything was safely inside, “I’ll get started on lunch.”
Twenty minutes later, the entire group squeezed together around a small kitchen table. They had to use all the chairs in the house and even then, Astrid sat on a crate. Eleanor served filets of mahi mahi grilled on a small hibachi, a salad with asparagus and duck cracklings, green olives, cheese, and French baguettes.
“Except for the fish, I feel like I’m back in Paris,” said Penelope. “Where did you find all this?”
“We brought the olives and cheese with us,” said Adeline. “Vegetables are hard to get here, but Eleanor found the asparagus in the market. She also bought the duck. That was a rare find. We ate most of it the day before yesterday. Eleanor made the bread.”
“It’s wonderful,” said Astrid. “Fresh fish must be one of the benefits of living here.”
“You can always find dolphin fish,” said Eleanor, using the alternate name for mahi mahi. Red tuna and white tuna are available in the market, and often shark. Shellfish, not so much. If you are lucky, you can get prawns. The hotels import lobster from New Zealand. There are no crabs worth eating here. The land crabs are everywhere, but they’re poison.”
“Well, where can I set up?” asked Astrid, when their meal was finished.
“I don’t understand exactly what you are setting up for,” said Adeline. “Why are you two here?”
“Mon dieu!” cried Océane, which started a conversation in French between her and Adeline.
“Now I wish that I had taken French at school with Denise and Valerie,” said Astrid.
“She told her that you’re here to build the translator,” said Penelope.
“I am sorry, Astrid,” said the French girl. “I will try to remember to speak English for you.”
“Hey, we’re in French Polynesia. You shouldn’t have to communicate in a foreign language. My watch already has and English to French translator. I need to change the settings so that it works in the reverse as well.”
“You can set up your things in the office,” said Adeline.
“There’s something else, Astrid,” said Eleanor. “I should have mentioned this before. Our power is from a propane-powered generator. We only have about 200 watts available. Our lights are all LED, so we only use about 30 for all of them, but our little refrigerator uses 40.”
“We should be okay,” said Astrid. “The Ion desktop only needs 65 watts, and the laptops less. We can run them one at a time. We’ll need about 6 watts for the router.”
The office turned out to be a small room with a single bookcase and a desk made from four cinder blocks and a pair of old boards. Astrid began unpacking her computers, her aunt helping her.
“I think we may be sleeping in here too,” said Penelope.
“Because there’s only one bedroom and its not any bigger than this room.”
At that moment, Océane entered with a sleeping bag under each arm.
“Here you go.”
“I don’t think that anyone mentioned the lack of a bed when inviting us to a mysterious tropical island,” said Penelope.
“I didn’t think,” said Océane. “I sleep in a sleeping bag here, but I should have thought that you Americans would be too fragile to go without your comfortable beds.”