Juan tugged frantically at Robert’s arm and raised his voice above the howling wind. "You don’t understand!" he shouted. "This is going to be a big blow! Your father’s cottage will never stand a hurricane. Tell your family to go to town or come to our house."
Robert shook loose from Juan’s grip. "You’re just trying to scare me. You and your talk about a big blow! Do you think my folks haven’t been in a storm before?"
"I’m sure they have." Juan tried to speak calmly. "But a hurricane isn’t a regular storm. It’s much worse. My uncle calls a hurricane a big blow because the wind blows so hard that it flattens houses, trees, and sometimes nearly everything within its path. You haven’t lived here in Puerto Rico long enough to know how dangerous a hurricane can be. Won’t you and your folks please come to Uncle Luis’s house? Go and ask your father right now."
"No," Robert answered, turning away. "I’m going home to tell my parents what a big braggart you are. They’ll get a kick out of your tall storm tales."
No doubt Robert’s father would, Juan thought as he faced the wind along the path to the stoutly built house where he lived with his uncle.
Uncle Luis had tried to befriend their new neighbor, but without success. "It seems as though Mr. Martin doesn’t want to trust anyone," Uncle Luis had commented. "He seems to think I just want to get something out of him."
Robert seemed to be that way too, Juan thought. Two weeks ago, shortly after the Martin family had moved into the cottage in the grove next to Uncle Luis’s sugar-cane farm, Juan had invited Robert to go to church with him. But Robert had merely made a face.
"Yeah," he sneered, "you want me to go to church with you so you can win a star or something."
Juan had nodded. "I do want to win a star–a star for Jesus," he told Robert. "I want you to come to church so that you can learn how much Jesus loves you, and then you will love Him too."
But Juan had been wasting his breath just as he had today when he had tried to warn Robert about the hurricane that was coming. Juan had heard the weather report on the radio, and he had lived all of his 10 years in the hurricane country of Puerto Rico, so he could tell almost as well as Uncle Luis by the whine in the wind when a big blow was expected.
Uncle Luis was waiting on the porch with a rope in his hand. He grinned when he caught sight of Juan. "I was about to send out the police to rope you and drag you in," he teased. "Couldn’t have my favorite nephew blown away, and we’re certain to be in for a night of it."
Juan nodded. "I tried to warn Robert about the hurricane, but he wouldn’t listen. I told him to tell his father that they should go into town or come here, but he just laughed at me."
The grin left Uncle Luis’ face. "Mr. Martin will laugh too until he finds out a hurricane isn’t a laughing matter. By then it will be too late. I’ve been so busy getting the stock into safe shelter that I haven’t had time to think about the Martins. Come on. We’d better go and talk some sense into them."
By now the wind had risen to such a whine that Uncle Luis had to shout to make himself heard. Juan shouted back. "Do we have time? Isn’t the hurricane about to strike?"
"Maybe it’ll hold off," Uncle Luis answered. "Anyway, we have to try. Jesus would want us to help someone in trouble."
Juan sighed and turned to follow his uncle.
Rain pelted hard against Juan’s face and swirled into his eyes. At times he had to hang on to his uncle’s coat to keep from being swept off his feet. At last they reached the Martins’ cottage, and Uncle Luis pounded on the door.
When Mr. Martin opened the door, his lean face wore a worried frown. "Come in," he invited gruffly.
Uncle Luis shook his head. "We haven’t time. All of you tie yourselves together with this rope, and we’ll start back for my house. This cottage will never ride out the storm."
Mr. Martin opened his mouth to reply when behind him came a sudden crash and bits of flying glass showered over the inside of the cottage.
"A tree has broken the window!" Robert’s mother screamed.
"Don’t worry about it now," Uncle Luis told her. "Hurry! Take this rope. We haven’t a moment to lose."
In a few minutes all five persons were fastened to Uncle Luis’s rope. The wind was much stronger now, but it was at their backs. It pushed and battered and beat them on. Rain soaked them to the skin, and the roar of the storm made speech almost impossible.
Robert, who was tied next to Juan, managed to shout, "I’m sorry I didn’t listen to you! I wish I could do something now to help, but I guess I can’t."
"Yes, you can," Juan yelled back. "Keep going and pray that Jesus will help us reach our house safely."
To Juan it seemed like hours that Uncle Luis led them. Every few minutes someone fell and had to be helped up. Debris washed against their legs, and several trees crashed close by. The unharvested sugar cane lay flat on the sodden ground.
Juan lost all sense of direction. He didn’t even know
they were home until he fell exhausted on something rough and solid and realized that it was the front entrance of the house.
When they were all safe inside, everyone sat silently for a while. Then they began talking all at once.
Mr. Martin had the final word. Looking at Uncle Luis, he shook his head with wonder. "You and the boy risked your lives by coming after us. And after we’d been so unfriendly to you too."
Uncle Luis smiled, a twinkle in his eyes. "We’re all friends in the sight of the Lord. Sometimes we have a little trouble finding it out."
Mr. Martin turned to Juan, a smile on his face. Putting his hand on Juan’s shoulder, he glanced at Robert. "Son, I think we’d better start going to church with this boy, don’t you?"
Robert grinned back at his father and exclaimed, "Oh, yes!"
Juan had such a warm and happy feeling in his heart that he didn’t mind the roar of the hurricane anymore. He was just glad that he had been praying and that Jesus had answered his prayer.