The following was originally published October 16, 2010 at http://janineblue.blogspot.com/2010/10/excerpt-from-passing-light.html
EXCERPT FROM THE PASSING LIGHT
Prologue


I, Margaret Cummins of Philadelphia Pennsylvania, am a hidden Polish Jewish exile who seeks to re-create a story that tells my truth and also helps all others who are similar to me. I write The Passing Light, based upon a diary written in the mountains and by the rivers of Pennsylvania in the mid eighteenth century. My memories span three centuries: the eighteenth when my ancestors arrived in America as Christians to emigrate in safety and to live in secret; the twentieth century with two world wars, human suffering and triumph; the twenty-first century of conflict with other nations as America became the attacked on September 11, 2001. The journeys of my ancestors through Eastern Europe, across lands they did not know with a religion they did not practice was perilous. When they found a place in America with others who were also hiding from the threats of death from war, they still hide as they lead quiet lives with the home as a haven and a fortress. To develop my compassion for my family relatives who were so kind as to find a land where they could live, I study others who have also moved across continents to be free. Therefore, I imagine that I am in Ireland during the potato famine, as the pains of the Irish seem similar to that of my own Jewish relatives.
My voice is female in origin, but I have experienced the events of time as no other. My characters are revelations through the art of writing. I create Jonathan, emigrant from Ireland to America, who represents the common man as he tries to protect his sister Joan, who stands for the loss of love as a child and who lives a painful short life. I embody hope inside the character of Daighre, emigrant, and spouse of Jonathan and peace in Quinlin, American worker and landowner, the spouse of Joan. To represent the freedoms I know exist in America, I create a new generation of characters who are born in America, Lily, Joan’s daughter, and Elon, an African American former slave, who will marry Lily.
I found a small journal, of worn leather, during an archeological dig in Pennsylvania on a tiny island in the Susquehanna River in the early twenty-first century. As my past was cruel to me, I intend to live my life as an adult in the service of other beings to share my suffering and to bring joy to others through story telling. My name is Margaret Cummins, a resident of twenty-first century Philadelphia, I live near a national monument that commemorates the tragic Irish potato famine and the resilience of the Irish people who chose to immigrate to the United States (and Philadelphia specifically) in search of a more prosperous life.
Through a series of chapters, use of my imagination based on my experiences on earth, I want to tell the truth about how my understanding of those who kept the diary were able to withstand famine, cold, homelessness, drought, and fear through faith in the love God provides. While I hope to concentrate on the historical features of my imaginings based on true accounts of the time, I create the story as a fiction work based on my truth, not that of any other human.
I am the story teller of this novel. But my tale is also about my twenty-first century struggles with a life laden with miseries and joys as well. My voice is within each character, but I feel most akin to Daighre, the woman who wrote the journal from long ago. I was born in Pennsylvania, in a small town some miles beyond Philadelphia. I am of Judeo Christian birth, the child who experienced the second world war as a memory that my father held in his troubled mind due to his prisoner of war experience and his marriage to a mentally ill woman.
My mother sheltered me from life as much as she could to hide her illness as an only child, I came to love her illness as my illness, and I will always treasure the years I tried to save her as she had fits of anger that almost killed her. But during her eighty years on the earth, she had a good life because I gave up any joys that others desired for me such as marriage and children and family to care for her dream of love. I cannot change the upbringing I experience or the pain from loss of the mother I loved no matter what. I cherished her. She lay in a bed most of her life and I surrounded her with my life, a treasure to me. Now, she has passed away, I look for light everywhere to share her peace that I feel she has gained through death to a new life with Goodness.
Margaret, she would call! I ran to her side form the day I could walk until the day she died. I never married but embraced archeology as a profession later in life to surround myself with understanding the human condition. We as a species imagine that we pass through a portal or a way to a different space when we die. I know we do as my characters are based on ghosts that light our way. We are not alone. Spirit guides us as we transfer the energy of love that exists when we live one life into another. So I offer my reader the knowledge that I humbly gained through the dimension of faith, hope and live that have beckoned me to write. My first book, I join you in the quest for a peaceful existence with insight and comprehension of the past to prepare for the future.
Writing is a leaf on a tree that falls then withers. While the leaf lives, the writing speaks of human experience that may help readers to cope and to learn how to survive. Upon the time of death, the leaf becomes a part of the earth to be reborn in the next resplendent foliage. My hope is exactly that wish: may my readers learn to accept the situations you have and to prosper with the help of the Almighty. My book that tells my unique pain and survival follows.
I enter a short passage from the diary by a woman named Daighre, before each chapter which reveals the details I imagine from the diary entry. Please imagine with me and ponder our ancestors.
Rivers. Here is Philadelphia, the city where I believe the thought of writing life, the essence of the ability to tell an epic, originates, with Delaware river, a majesty. To the east and north the Lehigh and Susquehanna rivers that powerfully command the land and flood or dry as the earth desires. But rivers hold truths that show breath and calm and air as the truths of being, of God, of simply life. Thrust between his remembrances of his beloved sister and his lover, Jonathan strives to make his way in a small Pennsylvania town during the mid 20th century during the industrial boom. A light in my apartment, the image of the character, reveals the story I tell. His ghost appears as a dim light.
Nature passes by us through portals of love that diminish if we are angry or scared. Death is not an end but life starts anew by the heart memory. As you read, imagine your own life as a passing of light daily. There is no yesterday or tomorrow. Just today exists. Time does not exist. See hope: light surrounds us. Trees contain memories; nature is the passage. Rivers speak; angels exist. Recall stories daily to relieve and recreate. Writing is about nature, observe your surroundings, see light, see angels, who guide us. Your relatives are images of light that carry you through life. In conversations, notice how others remember stories told by relatives that have either confused or inspired. We carry all the memories of our ancestors. Form the shape of your memory by thinking differently about a sad experience. There is joy in all of life, even the saddest part. You form the results of the content of your life story. I select to recall my Mother as an angel who was ill to keep me from the hurtful imaginings of the darker side of life. If she had been perfect, I would not be able to sense the truths of life that I create within Jonathan, Daighre, Joan and Quin. See those who surround you as dreams of hope. Nature shows us light. Look between clouds, rivers, and leaves to seek possibilities that your life is just as it should be. Your struggle is the way.
Stay home to learn about yourself. Visions set in prayer of any type heal you as you journal or think of your life as a collage of representations or metaphors just like I portray my imaginary world in The Passing Light.
My writing helps me remember with fondness. Yet, I am troubled as I have nightmares about my mother, and the dreams do to stop. But through the inner peace that I believe comes from God, I can watch myself float, grieve and despair. I am convinced that these events are important as they make me who I am. My memories form me and my reactions to the pains I recall are a part of me. Some days I shake when I think that my life that may have been altered by the fact that I lived with a person who was mentally ill. Although I am fine, I have scars that have formed in my inner mind. Through God, I learn to accept my horrible memories and to fight the deterioration of my spirit that they cause. If I pray to God for guidance all day, I can discontinue my frightful memories and be at a peaceful spot to breathe and to live as myself. I cannot rest when I live in the past. Writing about others who also have suffered and who have to deal with the death of loved ones or the death of aspects of the personal self due to control or mental illness or strife such as poverty, I cope, I survive and I realize that life is life and I am still me. All the parts of me represent who I am today. I can love myself as a survivor of a difficult childhood, an abusive childhood, yet I can rise above the memories into an understanding that my pain and knowledge through God can heal. Without God I am nothing.
I, Margaret, know that God speaks to us through the actions of others. I learned to watch. I listen. I hear God the Father as a whisper or a touch or a look into the eyes of another. I recall Jonathan’s sister, Joan. She just lives plainly now, a girl with no family but the wish of a brighter future. She walks up the hill to the market to buy flour to make bread today. He watches her go. He sees the child when he looks at her, the frail little girl who stayed with me as he traveled to America. A few old pictures and a lock of hair remain in a hope chest which she left behind. Her life was like a scene of light, paths of light. But I will recall a lullaby passage that he sang to his young adopted child Lily. He repeated: Myths and Marshes:
Hush. If you are quiet you can hear the touch
of the pond
Hush. The baby ceases to cry with the lullaby. The dog still sat, the collie who lived so long, Autumn. The collie who protected her flock, her human family.”

Those unspoken moments of sadness reveal themselves during quiet times when I walk in nature. I gasp at my memories that fill my heart with such a deep utter fright! The way I remember my mother who was ill is through visions or memories of tight closed off illness that was my own reaction to yelling or violence. I know I have been changed forever by those moments and I reach to my life her and now for forgiveness and hope. She was ill. My mother was ill. I can only think of her as an invalid who would command and powerfully tell me what to do until she died. No one is allowed to control another. Reach into the heart to heal past wounds and offer grateful love to yourself and to others. Poetry is a way to find secrets you hold hear in fear of losing yourself. Speak to yourself in small sets of words to define how you feel. I often try to put dreams, memories or feelings into words to dramatically tell stories of the past, to reveal the reflections, as my study of archaeology is like a mirror into myself as a human.
On long hikes in the early part of my life I learned to love myths or stories. Finding poverty in different ways, I see poverty of self. Spend time with marsh lands in the center of Pennsylvania and New Jersey; witness the seasonal changes associated with marsh land and pond life. Go to a pond bank. Watch the cat tails sway in the wind as the colors change with the sunset. Allow yourself to be a part of the scene. The life of a marsh seems like certain aspects of the human condition: marshes are mythic marriages of plants and animals in small spaces similar to the state of family life, in particular marriage.
Mythic imaginings about pond life awaken my senses, help me survive the deaths of both parents, and witness a new awakening in myself as a feminine being. Through my new project of writing a story about a diary, I attempt to show that the marsh lands of Pennsylvania and New Jersey in the Northern part of the American Continent are dying, like the political state of the continents with too much war and conflict to live a life of peace and contentment. Poverty is also a phenomenon which coincides with the state of human nature. I will die. Millbrook Marsh in central Pennsylvania is also dying, a short death by the environmental pollution generated by the 20th century. The space is like a memory. We are saving a tiny place to remember that there used to be a larger area of greenery and grass and water.
Awakened by the view of a small area of mud and grass in the year 2002, I first stepped into the ground of Millbrook Marsh with both parents still on this planet. Eventually, age and illness took both Mom and Dad. However, I still spent time at the marsh in central Pennsylvania. My art helped me survive the deaths of both parents.
Myth. Art is my life. I am a creator. I see the spaces around me as creative endeavors that mirror my own life. So be it. I have no choice but to be within my natural state of creativity. The artful way I approach painting of marsh lands has helped me to understand life and death. I witness a new awakening in myself through writing. The breath of the air in the art comes form empty moments that captivate the soul and I breathe. But the human equivalent to perfection is only a myth. I Margaret think of the Late 19th Century. Quinlin Printing was located in the main neighborhood of the city's richest and most influential businessmen during the period that has been termed Greenwater’s golden era. The Middle District was significant for containing the Railroad headquarters and one of the largest and best preserved collections of high style domestic architecture.
And still Autumn sat. beside her human family. Old and slow, but alive and full of the confidence only a dog’s heart can produce. The miracle collie they called her. The dog who would live as long as the human she loved and followed from Ireland to the new land.”
Creating characters who feel the type of remorse and guilt I feel helps me to heal. I pray that my God will heal me a I walk through nature and I observe the creator’s places of love. I feel honesty is the best method of healing for me, as no one seem to understand the truths I face. My heritage is both that of those who follow Christ and those who are of Jewish heritage. I am also a practicing yoga student with the faith that all generations of my ancestors have influenced my genetic code and my voice. I can speak with knowledge passed form my parents and grandparents. My recipes, my home, my thoughts, my memories surround me as I push forward to write about hope and healing. When I found the diary by Daighre of the 20th century, I speak as the voice of the authors when I describes my inner pain and triumph representative of the human speaking talent. My creation character acts as a bridge from the past to the future. My imagination is in my own language pattern, so I think in English but please translate the language into that of whom ever is speaking by listening to the soft quiet touch of human kindness evident in writing. I am creating a fiction work that is a part of my own healing.
I am the voice of the dual authors’ consciousness, as both authors experienced poverty, abuse and illness in the 20th century of materialism post World War II Industrial Era, but found healing through faith of human compassion non-religious yet like all religions of the world with a very spiritual tone and theme, a reaching to the Almighty, in the 21st Century. God comes to us in the whisper of the morning sunrise, the quiet of the wind at noon and the pleasant aroma of the evening calm. Seek your own healing through writing when you can. Journaling for me is a way to cope, a way to see the truth. Medicine in the west is based on the cultural heritage of the west, a striving for materialism. Yet medicine of the east, the oldest forms of life from other continents, show us ways to heal by action and inner peace of God. The basis of my statement is a feeling I have since I realized that I am half Jewish. I know that my beginnings take me far off into other continents and other places that have given me knowledge deeply tucked away in memory. As I travel in my adult years, I strive to reach for healing through writing about my going sand comings and my insights that I gain from prayer especially the Old Testament Psalms. I, Margaret, think that Daighre kindly shares her love with Jonathan but her strength is like mine. She is the image of the Almighty and the faith she carries is from eons of faith passed down through the strength of the gift of life and the power of God. When we heal the inner pain sheds and the truth of our being come forth. We can then live for others. We can feed the poor and take little to sustain others rather than grasping for things to serve as a false faith. I am free now. My memories still occur but the need for recognition has been replaced by the love of God. The gift of faith. The truth that we are here for a short time to peacefully aid. I represent the poor as we are children of the parents who struggled with 20th century failures and 19th century political turmoil that lead to the famine. I particularly reflect and echo the poor who experienced potato and bread famines. My hope is that our readers envision a new future with equal food and dignity for all humans. 
Daighre lives the life of the married woman after she meets Jonathan and they take their vows. She brings a kindness to him and helps him find a life in Greenwater. Her life represents the metaphor of home.

Margaret Cummins

Chapter One


Jonathan 1836-1936
1900

Diary Entry by Daighre
“In this small fragile book, which I call writing between rivers, I write about my experiences in Ireland and America in the early 20th century as an observer. I am a young woman who loves to write my thoughts. 
When I write, I try to recall the emergency of the potato famine in the later half of the 19th century, the great famine, the human tragedy that I saw and felt and whisper to you as a remembrance and a painful tribute to my family who died.
Today, as I write my memoir diary for those who will listen in the future, I am writing about my dreams. I am in Ireland as a child. I now am a married young woman with a wonderful husband named Jonathan. But my happy life in America was not so in Ireland. I was alone and frightened often.
This is what I felt in Ireland. It is night. I am hungry. I see only darkness as I look around the small little brown cabin where we dwell. No food. No food. What will I do?During the time of the Great Hunger, my famine in my beloved Ireland means epidemics of illness with fevers. My neighbors are dying from the "famine fevers." Disease spreads by handling the clothing of a loved one.
Diarrhea developed in parents as they were walking to different villages in search for food. Many would sweat which lead to a collapse and death.
Famine. Her symptoms are crampy, abdominal pains that improve after watery diarrhea.
After this, a fever develops along with bloody diarrhea. The bones of the frame of my parents were covered with the look and feel of death. White skin was shimmering in the light as if it were simply a covering yet a transparent substance. They lie still as if to speak to me by feelings alone. I write because I live the natural world so much that my thoughts flow between rives and mountains. The small book I hold in my hand connects my fear and my passions as well. Lucky yet so blind to the truth that there is a God who cares, I know that life is more than we see. My dreams center upon hope of humans healed from illness and poverty to enfold a better world where all can join in peace. Rivers surround me here in America in the paces where I live, in Pennsylvania. Rivers run as each path is the same, the day, the night, the journey to the next life.
But I am different. I see peace in all people.
I want to tell a story of two people I knew who changed my life. Today, I write in my travel journal as I ride in a carriage and see the beauty of the land of America to somehow let others know how to overcome poverty. It is winter, in New York City, in 1846 when I arrived on a boat from Ireland. I remember a boy who smiled at me on the boat trip that was so long but full of promise of a new life away from the hunger we all experienced in Ireland. I was so young then.
Here in the United States, supposedly a haven from harm, plight, hunger and fear, he was lost. His name is Jonathan and this is his story, the story of loss and love, of pain and hope, of triumph and deep sorrow. I eventually married that boy, as he knew my homeland and my terrible grief that enveloped me when I left Ireland. My friends are in Ireland and my family is gone, as the potato famine was too much for them. The loss of life from hunger takes away personal dignity.
When I came to the new America I had only my faith. To say that I am Catholic by choice is a question, but to say that Catholicism, or Universalism, has guided me is another. Faith is a human need, a human quality no matter what religious name we deliver to the path of God; so I am saved by the Lord God by my mystic life of prayer and commitment to helping others not by a certain church. Listen as I tell a tale that meets the minds of generations, of peoples the world over, of times here and ahead of us. Of the human spirit that is the same always. 
But today, he is in need. No food. The call from God to save others has withered in the night as he approached the new world called Philadelphia. But wait. Maybe if he prayed so hard that his sight is healed by God, he will be able to withstand the horror of his past and move to a new day.
Thrust between my remembrances leans my pain. I am the child of a very ill woman and a man of the early 20th century. I write in my diary about Jonathan, was born in Ireland and who dies in America. His story is also my story as he is my lover, friend and husband.
I must also mention the dog, Autumn. She was truly part of our family and she lived a long life, I believe it was so long because of her experiences with Jonathan and his sister before I met Jonathan in addition to the extraordinary journey we all had in the new land of America. Truly a dog with a big heart and the courage of a thousand men, Autumn protected us with every ounce of her being, and to her I am eternally grateful. I still love you Autumn.
The hardest aspect of living in the 19th century between south mountain and blue mountain was poverty juxtaposed to great wealth.”





Jonathan looked up into the night sky, wondering when the moon would reach its full brightness, its light already glistening on the fallen snow. The street lights shone yellow bright on the edges of the town, and the tall young man paused to study the place where he grew up, where his younger shy sister Joan would soon awaken to find him gone, out of bed, about town and looking for a job.
Twenty-one, six feet tall with dark thick chestnut brown hair that often covered his deep blue-green eyes, Jonathan sparked emotion in every one he met. He could evoke water from a stone, his sister would say, each time he bent a strangers ear to his needs. With the face of a common laborer, Jonathan bears the inner pain of his experiences in Ireland during the potato famine. He holds himself up by his strong will to survive. Yet, his sorrow manifests when he is troubled, as his ability to handle pain fades with time.
Perhaps I should be a salesman, Jonathan thought, or a clerk! Feeling quite confident, the young man with hopeful dreams decided that the profession of clerk would do nicely. The strong beating of hooves shook the ground. Jonathan’s coach to the city would begin the journey at the edge of Greenwater. This place, set in the Pennsylvania mountains was picturesque and graceful, a working little town with a bright future in this year 1856. The stacks of lumber piled near the gorge of the river reflected the light of the moon and the eager young man said a thank you to the Lord for his life and the opportunity to expand his world with a job in the city of Philadelphia. Eighty miles to the southeast, the ride would be bumpy but fun. Jonathan flagged the driver, picked up his sac in anticipation and climbed aboard. The large horses shook their heads and whinnied, blowing steam into the frosty December air.
Jonathan reached a hand into his shirt pocket and pulled out a sketch he had done of his dog, Autumn. She had been a small collie, strong of will and devoted to him with every breath she took. Months ago she had disappeared in a storm that shook Greenwater from the edges of the river to the tops of the mountains. To all directions, the land sank then rose with the earth’s magnificent terrain. Autumn had been his sole refuge in many a storm and he missed her with all his breath. He peered out the window through his reflection and took in the valley past the mountain range that surrounded his home.
The Azure sky, dimming in the light of dusk shone brightly off the tops of fields of harvested corn as Canada geese grazed upon leftover corn nuggets. The pounding drum of the horse’s hooves sang loudly in the cool air. Jonathan studied the driver and cleared his throat.
“How many farms till we reach the city?” he asked in the most mature tone he could muster.
“Bought twenty five, if you count the Snifters’ place as one farm, they own near the entire ridge line from the center valley to the far mountains over the city. Darn near share with no one but their own folk.”
“My eyes never caught a glimpse of them when they were in Greenwater. My folks told me they were rich folk visiting to see about investing in some fool idea about a steel plant in Greenwater. Should ask the trees I think, before they plan tearing the forest down to build a factory. Should take decades anyway.”
“I figure they will talk forever about new prospects for power, them folk. Never did see them in church either.”
“Knew a man in these parts who skips Sundays at Moravian village. I think the elders are planning to somehow make the Christmas star shine all year. Plan on calling Greenwater the Christmas city.”
“I heard that,” the driver flashed a grin through his white hair and beard at Jonathan.
“Your name?”
“Jonathan. Jonathan Strong.”
“Billy, Billy Harper”.
The sun began to set and the two shared stories of their days in Greenwater. One big horse groaned and whinnied and clopped out of rhythm in his stride. Harper leaned down and patted his dark brown shoulder; it was drenched with sweat.
“Old Dundee needs a break. I think we rest here and wait a few hours.”
Jonathan nodded and took off his hat, rubbing his forehead with his hands. His big gentle hands that buried a good brother three years before. His hands held a beautiful girl’s hand in young love, only to lose her to the fever a year later; his hands carried his young sister high on his shoulders through fields of corn and wheat, laughing and singing at the sheer joy of being.
Jonathan Strong’s hands held the pain and strength of his historical life that started with cold dark famine in Ireland, the coffin ship ride across the ocean that he survived to come to America, to his abusive uncle and running away with Joan, to the myriad of trials that lead him to his own life as an independent citizen of a free nation. He had experienced poverty and abuse as a child and had saved his sister and himself to build a new life in America. Someone would want to hire him.
He felt the book in his jacket pocket. A Christmas Carol by a new writer, Charles Dickens. The characters in that book changed his life.
“Whoa.” Billy called to the horses. They obediently slowed and old Dundee blew warm air out his nostrils in thanks. Jonathan could see the air coming from both horses as the night air grew colder and the wind picked up, blowing the pines hard against the dark blue sky. Billy climbed down from the coach and his boots crunched on the snow cover the ground. The forest, about twenty feet up a steep gorge presented a shield to the wind and Billy chose that spot to set up a lean to, made of canvas sheets and branches from nearby trees. Jonathan helped take the harnesses off the horses, Dundee and Cedar. Cedar was a younger horse, and not a work horse at all but a stock horse. An early version of the future Appaloosa breed, Cedar was a bay roan with white hairs strewn through his dark brown coat and black mane and tail. Dundee stood two hands higher than Cedar and was much more muscular. He was a traditional Clydesdale horse with long white feathers on his legs and a red-brown body with a black mane and tail. Billy had purchased both horses in the city of Philadelphia several years ago when the stockyard sales from the west came to the river sales.
Billy watched as Jonathan lifted the harness tethers off Cedar gently. The horse stood eyeing the young man and Jonathan gently lifted his hand to touch the hair on the horse’s forehead and mane. Cedar nuzzled him back with his soft nose area and whinnied. Billy took note of this as the horse hardly responded to anyone. Badly treated by his first owner, Cedar was reserved and kept to himself, rarely responding to even Billy.
Dundee on the other hand was a ham and a handful. A character of many talents, Dundee could take Billy’s hat and toss it across a barnyard before Billy noticed it was missing. Dundee cried for Billy now and he came of the world of his own thoughts and released the harness strap and the bridle from the big old horse. He rubbed the horses all over with a clean cloth from his saddle bag; Dundee grabbed the cloth and tossed it at Jonathan.
“I think he wants me to leave” Jonathan joked.
“He just wants grub” Billy responded.
Jonathan picked up Cedar’s reins and led him a spot protected from the wind by a large tree. The smell of fresh pine filled the air and somewhere in the distance a wolf howled. The horse moved side to side uneasily.
“Whoa, boy, okay, I am here” Jonathan told Cedar as he rubbed the horse’s neck and cheek. Cedar’s eye turned and eyed Jonathan in acceptance. He calmed and stood ready for his feed bag. Footsteps crunching in the snow announced Billy’s arrival with Cedar’s feed bag.
With rugged hands worn by years of trails and horses and coaches, Billy placed the straps to the feed bag over Cedar’s ears and the horse gratefully munched and chewed the sweet feed within.
“Smells good enough for me to eat too” Jonathan commented.”
“We got traditional band and pan bread. Made the mix myself this morning” Billy said as he turned and reached for his sac. As Billy leaned down he jerked up quickly and eyed the moon. Shining brightly over the river, the moon lit the whole area. Billy clutched his heart and fell to the ground. He laid quietly.
“Billy…?Billy?” Jonathan ran to the man’s side and shook him, then panicked and wished his dog was there. He could always send her for help. He turned and looked at the horses. Billy reached up a hand and grabbed Jonathan’s wrist.
“They are yours…the horses, and the map and all I have in the coach...” He breathed heavily and gasped for air. His white beard and this hair blew in the wind. The trees shook and Dundee neighed to his master. Cedar eyed the scene and looked to Jonathan.
“Billy.” Jonathan shook Billy with his huge hands but the man woke no more. The storm hit then, as if welcoming Billy into the heavens. The sky opened and hail came in giant white forms and then snow and a blizzard began that trapped Jonathan and the horses for two days. The pines bent and sheltered them, giving them an air pocket of existence. Jonathan waited out the storm and then buried Billy there, by the pines that had saved his life. He held the map in his hand.
The paper, yellowed with age, had no label, just North and lines for mountains streams and valleys and a big x. A great horned owl hooted good morning as the sun rose over the hills. Cedar, Dundee and Jonathan had rested under a large conifer in thankfulness.
Morning came to the glen with the sounds of the Pennsylvania forest. A fox slept under the tree next to the big pine that sheltered Jonathan, and there were beavers in the nearby stream. The sun rose softly over the tree tops. Jonathan peered out through sleepy eyes and took in the splendor of the new day as God’s light shone through everything around him. The large young man stood up and shook his dark hair loose, ran his fingers through it to straighten it out, only to place his hat on his head once again.
“I think I need to spend some time fixing my appearance before I apply for that job I am thinking about,” Jonathan told Cedar. Cedar whinnied and the moist earth parted and dirt flew over the snow.
Not that deep. Jonathan thought as he reached for the feed bag on the trail saddle behind the horn. He filled a feed bag and placed it over Cedar’s ears. He filled the second feed bag, but the oat mixture fell through a hole in the bottom to the snow covered ground. Black birds flew down from their perch in the pine branches overhead and scooped up Dundee’s ration. Jonathan jumped to grab what he could save, but lost most of the grain to the quicker birds. His thick wool coat made it difficult to move fast, yet he spilled more grain from the trail bag. Dundee nibbled his breakfast off the frozen ground.
“Water next, boys,” Jonathan announced. He heard the running water over the hill and climbed up to get the bucket from its hanging post on the tree. Steel clanked and he felt a chill run through him, but Jonathan kept a pace up the hill to where the Beaver family had built a beautiful dam across the water, creating a pool of clear deep water even in the cold of winter. He knelt down and thought that he had to be more careful because he only had two pair for this trip. Joan made several pairs a year and Jonathan always requested brown and grey rather than black. Black reminded him of his father’s passing and the less he remembered how helpless he felt watching the strongest man he had ever known become ill and pass to heaven the better. But then he realized that here in this cold vast wilderness not even twenty miles from home, his father’s strength would be with him and the strength of the Lord would protect him.
Cedar called from the glen, a high neigh that echoed through the wood. Then Jonathan heard the sound of rearing horses in the snow and a pounding of hooves on the land. The ice under the snow where the horses reared crackled and gave way and the wind blew loudly, carrying the cry of the horses further and louder to Jonathan’s ears.
What could possibly have gone wrong in ten minutes? Jonathan thought as he ran down the hill to where the horses waited, hitched to stakes embedded in the snow, the camp supplies scattered about the tree where they had spent the night. He slid down the slope and arrived not ten feet from his horses.
A sight met Jonathan’s gaze…snow from the tree had fallen and covered his horses and both were rearing up, frantically trying to clear their backs and their heads of the frozen white snow. The snow fell and settled on the frozen earth, and Cedar thankfully brushed his cheek against Jonathan’s shoulder. Dundee gave a strong whiney and shook his head up and down in thanks. Jonathan went over and brushed them with his gloved hands, cleaning their faces, backs and manes gently so as not to rattle them more. He offered them water from the bucket he had filled at the stream and prepared his gear for the journey ahead. Perched on Cedar, he looked longingly at the cross made of timber he had placed where Billy lay.
He muttered, “I will find the sight from the map Billy and deliver the message the map holds.”
He nickered to Cedar and softly brushed the horse’s side with his boot. The gelding moved forward into the new day, across the fields in the shadow of the mountain where Billy lay. Though Jonathan was an accomplished rider from years of working at the local stables as a boy, riding a horse for twenty hours a day was bumpy and erratic and hurt your bones unless you remembered to feel the horse’s stride and glide with the motion of the legs and the beat of the hooves. Then there were the unpredictable turns when a branch would fall or the wind would pick up and the horses would rant and wave across the road up and back, never really listening to Jonathan’s commands. Once, a gust of wind spooked Dundee and the trail bags full of food stores went flying and landed down a ravine. The weather had been rough, snow and ice, but thunderstorms were forming, Jonathan could smell them in the wind. The thunderstorms were the worst. Odd for the middle of winter, there were several storms in the valley beyond the mountain and Jonathan needed to find a place where it was dry and quiet and safe for him and the horses to wait out the storm. Many rock formations were present in the terrain around him and he noticed that some of the spaces looked large enough to hold a man and two horses. Carefully he guided Cedar through the largest opening, in the shadows on his right, as the lighting brightness gave way to damp inner parts of the cave. Jonathan saw that the opening became larger and widened into a much bigger cavern. They would take refuge here, in this beautiful cave with glistening crystals, tall stalactites and stalagmites hanging like chandeliers and rising like fountains. Openings in the cave ceiling caused eerie shadows where the lighting would pass, causing light to channel brought the spaces and over the horses and the man. He could still hear the crash of the thunder and see the brightness of the lightening. Cedar and Dundee continually controlled their need to flee. The horses actually liked Jonathan, for horses became untamed and wild during thunderstorms because of the smells created by the thunder and lighting. Yet, they waited with him, eyeing his reactions to the sounds and smells outside the cave. Cedar’s bangs hung loosely over his large emotional eyes, and he nudged Jonathan’s face with his muzzle. “Its all right boy, we wait here til the storm is over.” He stroked Dundee on the forehead also, noticing the horses finely lined eyes and bright expression.
After the storm Jonathan took time to explore the cave and marked its location with a piece of cloth from his shirt, planning on returning when he had more time to explore. The woods drew on a long while and a farm appeared in the distance once the storm passed far away. The skies were a wintry grey and yellow, creating strong blue shadows on the snow.
At that moment he looked up into the light of the sky, and he felt the love of God in an extraordinary way. He closed his eyes to realize that in his life he can foresee that he will become blind! His companion dog will be the miracle of the first service dog as the guide to the human master. Since Jonathan could remember his eyes were weak with a cloud of black smoke like powder across them. He starved for the first years of his life due to the political turmoil in Ireland where he was raised. His harsh, disciplined, stark Catholic upbringing in Ireland that seemed to be the worst part of his community during the early years when his parents were alive vanished from his memory most of the time. Protestant and Catholic alike had died during that time, and as he lived now in America with his sister because the famine had given them no choice but to leave the land they loved for a new land, a place where they could find food and shelter and start anew. He visited different Protestant churches in the small beautiful agrarian sections of Greenwater but as the Industrial era grew, the churches were fewer and the housing for iron workers and railroad builders changed the faith driven community into a town of the late 19th century that had the promise of making history. In America, he never really joined one church but felt as if he could do God’s work through the people he met and his care for Joan.
Ireland, America, his loss of his brother and parents, all seemed unbearable at times. Jonathan stood still as he was able to flashback to a time in his life when he was hungry and scared. The Great hunger, they called it, as the fungus that killed potato crops all over Ireland spread. There was less to eat every week and the workhouses could not hold the lot of folk there, and even they closed. Memory brought him to a scene on a field with a vision of the past that haunted him and sent chills through his spine. The way the farm pierced his blurry view, the way the memory hit him, felt cold and lonely. Ireland was not unlike the new land of America, he pondered. He rubbed his eyes and lay his head on both
He could recall conversations and the memories poured into his mind to take him to a different part of his life.
He was in Ireland. He transported through memory and closed his eyes to see the moments of life in his youth that formed his present character. Even though he was a real immigrant who came to the new land of promise, the old land stayed with him like a stream of water that kept flowing into his memory. His mind was like a river bed full of mud and caked earth that would never heal due to pain and loss. Here is what Jonathan saw as he remembered his most painful thoughts that would come in dreams and would come during moments of nervous wonder as he tried to exist as an adult. He could become a child instantly and go back to Ireland…His past…His tragic famine…It was as if he was the potato famine and he embodied the pain of all human suffering at the times when he could hear the past talk to him as if he was in a story. A scene, the saddest part of his childhood recalls his striving to aid his sister and save her life.“Jonathan,” she cried. She was a lovely young one with the heart of gold and the mind of God. She wore a simple dress and little wet worn shoes and had big eyes that were the Lord’s creation.
“What?” he answered. “I… I can’t see. Darn’ wind!”
Deep inside, he knew it was a lack of food. Eyes yearned to work but just couldn’t without nutrients…why did it have to be his eyes? His patience had grown thin as he was hungry, tired, and only ten years old. He knelt down and simply hoped and prayed for some potatoes in the wet field. But there were none. The fields were to wet to produce food. Yet, he was thinking of Ma’s boots. They are not right for the muddy pains of Ireland when the rains came and he feared her wrath if he ruined his one pair. Ma was a plain woman who only knew her life in a small village of hand built huts. They were just about floating tonight as the rains ruined the crops and the folks too. He felt his father’s breathe, but Pa was away trying to find a new place to live. His mind went back and forth from the memory of sis’ on the field to watching the strongest man he had ever know become ill and pass to heaven.
Still in his past dream that could take place any time, any where, any day, any second that he let memory take over, he remembered the past. Suddenly, he heard a big scream. Sister Joan fell into a wet hole that he had dug for the hope of new trees. Jonathan was a boy of visions and dreams. But now his plans had hurt his little sister. He ran, pulled her out of the hole, and brought her back to a wet hut where the fire was out and the rains kept coming. He thought of the Almighty and prayed for guidance as he held his crying sister. Ma was sick. Pa fled to find food. What would they do? Memory was the hardest part of his life. If only he could strive to forget, to let go of the pain, the anguish.
Let the dream go, he thought as he tried to cause the memory to vanish and to return himself to the present. Far away now, in America, where he could take care of Joan and try to make a life for himself, he could still smell the dying and the lost.
When his eyes closed he could see the withered fields and the moist ground that made his kin lose hope. It smelled wretched. There was no food. There was no way to get food. Jonathan felt the pain of starvation and the taste of tree bark, the only substance that sustained him as a young boy during the potato famine in Ireland in the early part of the 19th century. He lost a brother, the only one he had. After Peter passed away from starvation, his parents couldn’t live. Their deaths were violent, as they lost their way walking for rations. Ma and Pa died in a river bed where they fell due to lack of food. Jonathan held on to his life only because he and his little sister ate the trees. The horror of seeing their parents dead, lying still, was unbearable and Jonathan would not let Joan see them. He said they were the bodies of others and told her Ma and Pa would be home with food as soon as they could get back to them. He kept her love going. He was the hero and would be her hero even after her death when her child Lily would become his next love.
Then came the coffin boat memories with Uncle. Coffin boats were filled with Irish emigrants who fled the small country to find food but often died before they arrived due to the poor conditions and crowdedness of the travel. On the way to America, no mother, no father, only a distant mean uncle with them, they felt that the love they had could feed them, cloth them, and sustain them as they prayed to God for survival. Even as cold memories of the dark days invaded their dreams, they would survive and come to America.
Jonathan jolted awake as he came back to the present and the warm muzzle of Cedar nudging his right cheek. “I know, Jonathan said to the bay horse and he rubbed Cedar’s forehead playfully. Cedar neighed a high neigh, happy and warm amidst the cold air.
“Let us start for the farm in view and hope they be Christian.”
The stoutly built young man hoisted himself up on Cedar and led Dundee with a lead rope. The ropes were rough from age but old Billy prepared Jonathan for a lifetime of horsemanship with all the equipment the horses carried. The saddle bags were full of brass rings and clips and Chicago screws and extra bridle leather. There were even extra horse shoes, though Jonathan was certain that the city would hold many blacksmiths where he could find work and get more iron for the harness wear and the horses shoes. Jonathan’s pants showed wear; made of flax woven in the traditional fashion, they were not as warm as his wool suit he saved for church. He started to sing a tune of Irish fare as he made his way down the hill.
He dismounted and told Cedar to walk quietly behind him and the bay roan appaloosa obediently followed the man he had come to adore in just the few days he knew him. The crunch of Jonathan’s boots sounded loud in the quiet of the snow as he led the horses forward. A big dog barked loud from a pen aside the farmhouse. Beautiful in coat and voice, the dog was undoubtedly a collie of the finest line. Jonathan missed Autumn so much…He thought he was imagining her voice…But the voice grew louder and faster as he approached til the dog began to dig herself out of the enclosure where she was confined. More and more excited she grew, barking louder and whining.
Jonathan stopped the horses, dropped the reins and ran to the pen in one fast movement.
His eyes might be weak but his hearing was strong. He ran and clanked against the fence and opened the gate and Autumn jumped on him full force, licking his face and smothering him with her great elegance and her undying devotion.
“How did you get her, my girl?” He asked as he caressed her all over and noticed the fine care she had received since he last saw her. Autumn had saved his sister in Ireland as a pup, and he smuggled her on the boat to America. She was always by his side until the great storm came and she had gotten lost in the night.
Autumn was so happy. She barked and whimpered her story and the sounds brought people out from the house. A father, mother and child, all dressed in Sunday best for a wedding in the town nearby, called Quakerville. They came out carefully, and the man stretched his hand out across the sheep herd in the fenced in area where Jonathan stood with Autumn, his hair blowing in the wind and his eyes bright with excitement at having found his canine companion. His heart beat fast as he found his tongue.
“Greetings and peace my good Christians.” Jonathan offered his hand in return. The new man bellowed, “You must be her owner for she responds to not a soul in town, we kept her clean and fed and nursed her to health when we found her wandering the fields with the sheep.” Finally, she was sharing their food and water and hiding in the caves up on the hill. Autumn looked at the man she loved, Jonathan Strong, and wagged her tail and kissed his face. So long she had waited for sight of him or his sister Joan. They were her pack, her family. Autumn was a huge collie, blonde in shade and striking in appearance. The white blaze on her face shone in the sun and her light eyes glistened. Her low woofs meant that she was devoted to Jonathan and pleased to see him, her ears up and tail wagging midway also showed her affection. She nibbled at Jonathan’s wrist, the ultimate sign of a dog’s affection towards another dog or a person. If a dog nibbled with its front teeth lightly on your skin, it indicated you were a member of the pack. Autumn leaped up and down for joy as Jonathan ran back and forth, getting her to chase him like a little boy. A little boy in a checked blue shirt and brown trousers hid behind his mother and held her skirt as they walked the path to where Jonathan stood.
The path of gravel and dirt led to a small cabin where the family lived. The traditional stone house with black shutters framing each window looked comforting. It was heated by a fireplace and cooled by the wind. The front porch faced the morning sun, so that the shadows that fell through the day circled the cabin, warming the interior and the smoke house and outhouse beyond. This was a true homestead farm of Upper County.
Jonathan confidently approached the place.
The barn was a traditional Pennsylvania Dutch design, with an overhang over stalls that had open top doors and a walk in feeder for each horse. The two work horses occupied half the barn so the young father gave Jonathan the other two stalls for Cedar and Dundee.
Jonathan reached into his saddle bag and found what he sought; crystals and gems he had collected from the cavern where they had spent the night a few days back. “These here gems, me and the horses found them hither about three moons back, in a cavern near the mountains,” Jonathan said. The young man accepted them into the callused palm of his large working hand and eyed them closely.
He grinned through his bearded face and his eyes shone brightly brown as he said, “Make a fine present for my wife. I see limestone in here to make iron for the horses’ hooves, thanks. My name is Fred, Fred Drummer.”
“I spotted your blacksmithing equipment. My horses need to be shod and I would like to learn how to do it, if you have the time.”
“I need to shod mine anyway, and the people of the town should meet you, since you are Autumn’s owner and all. We called her Sugar for her sweet smile and pretty coat,” Fred explained as he walked to his waiting wife and son. “This is Clare and Beau, my family.”
“Pleased to meet you, sir. Your dog has brought us much joy. Would you like some fresh made bread or fried eggs before we depart for church?”
“It would be a pleasure, mam.” Jonathan extended himself in a slight respectful bow. 
Fred went to feed the horses oats and hay and Jonathan accompanied Clare and her son into the cabin. Jonathan petted Autumn’s head while they strode together past the beginnings of the homestead farmhouse, all stone foundation with rafters set. Fred should have it done by Fall for next winter. “I might be able to offer Fred some help if he teaches me to shod horses, and …”
“Pa has been doing it mostly himself,” said little Beau. “I help. I hand him nails and hold the ladder”.
The little boy clung to his dog, a big red coonhound. The dog whimpered at Autumn and Autumn rubbed noses with him as they entered the cabin.
“Where’re you headed, Mr. Strong? A man has to have a destination; he can’t just travel or just look for his dog his whole life. You are young.”
“My sister and I escaped Ireland on a boat. The potato famine hit hard and we were starving and over worked with little hope of a future. Our parents passed in the famine and our uncle offered us a home in Greenwater, by the big mountain. Uncle turned out to be as harsh as the famine and Autumn and I had to defend and protect my sister time and time again from his harsh treatment of her. He passed not too long ago and left us the house, a brick dwelling in the small city. But I need work to support us and skills… If I can learn to blacksmith, or some other skill, then we can stay. She awaits news of me, I started out traveling with a scout named Billy, but he died in the storm. 
Then the horses and I found the cavern, slept a few nights and traveled as far as here. It was amazing that we found Autumn here.”
Clare noticed that Jonathan clung to Autumn’s ruff and held onto her during the meal. She served a big dish of home grown corn, and wheat bread and chicken roasted over the fire. The desert was a pudding that made the little cabin smell of vanilla, and Jonathan and Autumn sniffed the air, soaking in the wonderful aroma. The kitchen had a pot belly stove with iron pans hanging over it and a work sink where Clare put the days water. There was a well in the rear of the property where Clare went every morning with two large buckets on a pole over her shoulders. She carried it to the kitchen and placed the buckets on a shelf near the sink and poured smaller rations into a pitcher for use throughout the day.
Little beau ran into his room and brought wooden animals his father had carved for him to play with to show Jonathan. “Here they are, my collection of wild animals.”
He handed Jonathan a group of three to four inch wooden replicas of wild animals that lived around the farm. Jonathan held them close and studied them, they were amazing. There was a cougar, and a bobcat, a squirrel and a groundhog. He carefully handed them back to Beau and said, teary eyed, “You are really blessed to have a father who cares about you so much,” Jonathan said, thinking of his mean uncle and his harsh ways.
Fred came into the cabin, hung his hat on the rack made of finished tree branches near the door and sat at the table. “Sure am hungry again, and I am glad to have company.” The group ate peacefully and then prepared for town and church.
Clare noticed Jonathan leaning on Autumn as they crossed the field. “You have trouble with your eyes? Mr. Strong.?”
Jonathan hesitated a moment. “I do Madame, a result of the malnourishment during the famine.
Autumn often helps me to get from here to there, and such as the case may be.”
“No wonder the dog was so worried when she was lost.”
The little white church was filled with people all in their Sunday best, for it was the one year anniversary of the building of the church structure. Jonathan sang and enjoyed himself and sat in the back where Autumn could join him. He met many people that day. Many people who came to America to find a better life and a safer existence. Mostly farmers, but the town had a hotel, a bank and a general store. Clare often sold her knitting, sewing and eggs there to earn money for what they could not make themselves. The town had a main street, made of dirt with plenty of posts to tie horses and wagons. Many coaches passed through and Fred suggested that Jonathan could earn money driving people to Philadelphia, since he was already going there. Fred had an extra coach to hitch Dundee and Cedar to and the harnesses they had were perfect. Clare and Fred gathered some folk who were traveling to the city and in no time Jonathan had money in his hand. He went to the Western Union to send word to Joan immediately and to send her a telegram of the wonderful news that he once again had Autumn to lead him. She would be so happy.
Jonathan hitched the horses and bid farewell. Fred suggested that it would be better for Jonathan to do something other than blacksmithing because of his poor eyesight, and came up with the coach fare. “This will work while your sight holds,” Fred had told him.
Grateful for the friendship of the farmer’s family, the people in the church and his dog, Jonathan drove the carriage all the way to Philadelphia in one long sweep. It was night and the Pike Road was clear of traffic. The night sky shone bright and the passing light from the moon helped him find his way and reminded him of the Lord’s guidance.
Philadelphia was a bustling city, with taller buildings and more places to find food and water, and more people to drive in the coach. Jonathan sent Joan another letter. It would be some time before she received it, but Jonathan sent it anyway because it made him feel better. The coach Jonathan drove held several passengers and he could charge very little compared to other coaches or railroad. Profit was a lot to him since he had nothing most of his life. Well, he thought to himself, I wouldn’t say nothing, I always had Joan and Autumn. He smiled to himself as he thought of the two females in his life. The road to the city had many interesting sights. Taverns of a type
Jonathan had never seen before and stops for the horses to drink and rest along a very winding, sometimes bumpy road. They called this place Upper County. It had many farms and towns, and different fold from what Jonathan was accustomed. He laughed to himself many times over the extra weight people carried onto the coach that held their belongings. He hoped to never want that many things for they did not seem to make people happy, only to weigh them down with responsibility.
Jonathan stopped several times to allow people to climb onto his coach. He loaded their belongings and helped them into their seats. Ten miles from the city his clients included Mr. Filbert, a lawyer and his wife, Phyllis, a young man named Finnegan with a bright red frock of hair, and an older gentleman, Mr. Hawk, an intense personality in his long silences. Mr. Filbert tried to make light conversation on the road and Jonathan helped to ease the tension between the strangers. Autumn sat beside Jonathan in the front driver’s seat and slept most of the way. The only time she raised her graceful head was when Mr. Hawk spoke, his tone causing tension in her master’s voice. Autumn noticed all the nuances of everything that Jonathan did, from his breathing to his stance and the way he shifted his weight in the seat.
“Perhaps Mr. Hawk might enjoy the ballet or the Opera when we reach Philadelphia? Mr. Filbert,
Mr. Hawk would rather enjoy a day at the stables Mr. Filbert,” Mr. Hawk replied.
Jonathan liked Mrs. Filbert. The ride went fast due to the company and before he knew it, Jonathan was outside the entrance to Independence Hall, the birthplace of the United States of America. Jonathan highly respected all that had to do with the founding of the country that had taken in he and his sister. He thought of Joan and hoped all was well.
“Allow me to help you,” Jonathan offered his guests and he helped them down to the ground and carried their belongings to a safe spot on the side of the walkway. Lit by beautiful lanterns, Jonathan thought he could build such lights on the main street of Greenwater, if the Lord would allow him sight long enough.
He thought of Quinlin and the paper and remembered he had promised to survey the paper in the city to compare the printery and offer suggestions that Quin could use to modernize his business. Jonathan headed for the nearest city stand that had news papers and asked the price.
“One cent, sir, being as it is the time of year when all want the news.” The boy at the booth smiled and said, “You are not from the city, sir?”
“You can tell already? I have not said a whole sentence.”
“Ah, but you have the look of a visitor. My name is Jesse.” He offered his hand to Jonathan.
Jonathan noticed that Jesse had darker skin and different features. He thought a moment and asked, “May I ask your home of origin, sir?”
“You can if you keep calling me, sir.” Jesse grinned.” I am Lenape by origin. I work in the city to earn income for my family. Wait here, I need to post a sign that I will return shortly.”
Jonathan waited by the stand and studied his surroundings. Though his sight was blurred, he could see the bigger picture. Autumn stood close like she always did and Jonathan leaned more and more on her for his ability to see. She told him with gentle pressure on his side to move right or left, to stop or start moving and she always kept a close watch on the edges of the street, to help him stop when coaches or horses approached. Most of the horses in the city Jonathan saw were either stock horses, work horses or walking horses. The latter had a smooth stride and Jonathan admired them. He jumped and moved quickly to the other side of the street, startling Autumn and causing a ruckus in the street as the horses and coaches screeched to a stop so as not to hit the man in their way. “Hey, mister, watch where you are going!”Some yelled out. Jonathan panicked, and grabbed Autumn.
“Could I forget?” he asked as he stroked Cedar’s forelock and patted Dundee’s neck? He waited there by his horses and coach, having no idea what to do with them if he accompanied Jesse to the printer.
Jesse turned the corner and couldn’t see Jonathan where he had left him. He looked around the crowd and spotted the golden dog, and then the man he sought. “There you are. I thought you lost.”
“I forgot my horses in my excitement to be in the city. But they are new to me and I have to get used to the responsibility.” Jonathan’s easy way made Jesse relax.
“You need some new clothes, you are covered with dust,” Jesse said as he studied Jonathan’s condition. Jonathan still wore the clothes from the farmer and his wife who had loaned him the coach. His heart warmed at remembering their kindness. City folk wore jackets cut longer and shirts of a finer material. Jesse thought about where to start Jonathan’s city education.
“I think we will start at the clothes factory where the Irish workers be,” and he grabbed Jonathan’s right arm and led him, the horses and the coach down the busy street.
Daighre sat at her machine working the needle and weaving beautiful blue Irish threads into a cloth that would be most coveted by Philadelphians. It was one of her gifts. She was an Irish immigrant from the famine, here, alone; she befriended other Irish folk and kind Native Americans in the city of Philadelphia. She looked out the window and saw one of her friends leading a stranger, a dog and two horses towards her building. She rose and stretched her arms carefully so as not to draw attention to herself. The factory was a good job, but the overseer was mean and burly and she would be out of there as soon as she could. A young girl was blessed to get a job at all, and thought Daighre was so beautiful; many a bachelor asked for her hand, she had not yet met the man she would give her heart to for always. Daighre lifted her fine facial features up towards the light, and thought of a better day. She walked to the end of the room near the overseer’s desk and asked to be excused.
“You work a longer day in the morning than all my workers do in a week. I shall see you tomorrow, then?”
“Yes, sir.” Daighre excused herself and walked the steps down to the spot she suspected Jesse was heading. Her skirt swung in the movements and the dull tan bothered her. She preferred blue and pink but no such colors would take the wear and tear the tough tan material endured in her daily life. She loosened her dark hair and shook it free, walked out the side door to the long factory building and saw Jesse standing with a stranger.
“Daighre, greetings. You look as though you worked all night,” he said.
“I practically did. I started early this morning and got at least a weeks’ worth done, so the overseer allowed me to leave for the day. Who is the stranger?”She asked as she studied Jonathan Strong. His clothes were worn from travel and seemed to be those of a farmer. A dog sat by his side and studied her back. The horses behind him were beautiful in their own way, a mottled bay and a Clydesdale.
Then Daighre saw his eyes. Clear and brownish-green, like hers. Could he be…? No, that would be too wonderful….
“This is Jonathan Strong, in from Greenwater. He has a coach he drives. But he needed clothes if people are going to trust him at his work and I thought…” Jesse went on to point out Jonathan’s worn shoes. Then Jesse bowed and waved his hand towards Daighre and said, “Jonathan, this is Daighre.”
All the while Daighre was studying Jonathan, Jonathan was studying Daighre. He thought her the most beautiful girl he had ever seen. She had a traditional Irish face, and freckles that glowed, to him, anyway. He lost his breath and Autumn pushed on his leg, noticing the change in the rhythm of his breathing. She whined. He looked down and placed his hand on her head. “It is okay girl.”
“This is my collie, Autumn, Miss Daighre and I am pleased to meet you.”Hee bowed in a gentlemanly fashion and took her hand and kissed it gently.
Daighre shivered at his touch and felt lightheaded. She shook herself and stood tall and proud. Gently, she asked, “Where are you from, Sir Jonathan?”
Jesse stood and watched, knowing that meeting this man would warm Daighre’s heart to help make her happy. There were other Irish Immigrants in the city, but Jonathan looked to be more from Daighre’s area of Ireland with his accent and manner.
“Ireland, I am from Ireland,” Jonathan told her.
A broad smile warmed Diagre’s face and she jumped with joy. “When did you come? How long have you been here? Do you have relatives? Where do you live? How did you come?”
“Slow down, Daighre,” Jesse told her. We have time. And he led the two Irish immigrants from the potato famine tragedy to his home in the far end of the city, where his wife, son and mother waited for his return. They passed many businesses, including the newspaper. Jonathan took a moment to go inside and look at the presses, and the editor, Mr. Jenkins, was impressed with Jonathan.
“If you can write, bring me news from Greenwater when you drive the coach in and I will print it for you,” the large man said as he shook Jonathan’s hand goodbye. Each press was amazing. The types were still hand set and the manner of printing was clear and in English.
“I will consider it, sir,” Jonathan told the editor.

Jesse took over leading the horses to give Jonathan and Daighre a chance to talk. Jonathan told her of his past, his uncle, and his precious sister, Joan.
“I would like to meet her. I am lonely here, there are many Irish in the city, but they are from clans that are close and not related to mine. Jonathan and Daighre were from a related clan for they both recognized the tartan on Daighre’s hanky. Each clan in Ireland boasted their own coat of arms and their own tartan plaid that embellished the kilts and dresses each clan wore.
“This brings to mind the things I love about Ireland.” Jonathan said as they walked.
Autumn took to Daighre easily and let her pat her head and call her name. It was easy for anyone to love Daighre, she was kind and sincere and honest. The light from the sun shone brightly on Jonathan’s face as he studied the new Irish girl. The light Jonathan saw would indeed be passing, for blindness was in his future. His eyes were declining every day and he leaned on his friends and his dog for guidance.
After passing the inner city business and residences, the trio moved into the country near the city, the place where chickens lay eggs and sheep still grew Irish wool. Jesse had a farm outside the city and he enjoyed every minute of being in the quiet part of the land. The gate to his farm was white and low, he opened it with ease. The pathway was lined with stones carefully laid, and the door was hand built oak, sturdy enough to endure winter storms and summer heat.
Jesse opened the door by the latch, and called into his wife, Lucy, that which calls the wind, came to greet them. She had long dark hair, and a graceful walk about her. Not skinny, nor fat, Lucy was as warm as Jesse. Her son ran into his father’s arms. “Pa Pa!” the boy cried. Jesse and Lucy had kept their traditions from their tribe carefully and had adapted into the Christian society to better their life for their son and future generations. Adaptability was something Jonathan had learned quickly, on the boat to the new nation, in Greenwater and every day as his sight decreased.
“My dear, welcome, come in,” Lucy said to Daighre. Daighre was one of the first, most kind, Irish person that Lucy had met. Her story was a grand one and Lucy was part of it. Lucy stopped and eyed Jonathan.
“You must be special for my husband to bring you home. Are you a farmer?” she asked as she studied Jonathan’s clothes.
“Perhaps I should be, then I could keep these clothes on. It would explain the confusion of my clients on the coach. I was dressed as a farmer and driving a coach to the city.”
Jonathan stood a head taller than Jesse and Lucy, and Daighre was somewhere in the middle.
“Daighre has been working too hard and needs to rest I see”
Lucy always knew a person and their health within a few moments of knowing them. She had many home remedies for every ailment and helped Daighre stay strong through the month after her arrival in the city.
Jesse stood outside the door holding his son in his arms. “We are going to take the horses to the barn, Lucy, and then we are going to harvest the eggs.
“Perhaps there are enough for dinner,” Lucy replied.
She left the room and Jonathan suggested that he and Diaghre sit down. They took seats around a big wooden table and chairs, handmade by Jesse. Lucy returned with clothes for Jonathan to wear and looked at him. “If you like, I will wash the ones you are wearing and return them to you. You are on a farm now, even though it is a small one.”
“You have a point there, I am on a farm. I am finally wearing the right clothes!” Jonathan smiled and left the two women alone while he went into the parlor to change. The room was interesting, Daighre noticed. There were chests of cedar built into the windows for storage of blankets and clothing. Everything was handmade of oak and cherry and the fireplace was built of big Pennsylvania stones. The fire burned brightly passing light through the room as Lucy kindled it to grow larger.
She came and sat by Daighre. “We finally find someone from your home when we stop trying.” Lucy smiled at her.
“I cannot believe it. Ann he is still a Christian. Please pray he likes me.”
“Oh, he does, for his dog greeted you and let you pet her. She would not if he did not like you.”
“I pray you are correct, Lucy.”
Lucy was named for a past woman who had many children and lived a good Christian life. She and Jesse took Christian names when they joined the church. Jesse still kept all his possessions, his bow, shawl and tepee for times of need. One never knew when travel would again become necessary. The city of Philadelphia had been a good place to live so far, but things could change for Jesse and Lucy. They were always prepared. Their son, Josh, had the advantages of the city and the knowledge from the city folk and the tribe; he would be a great leader some day.

Out in the barn Jesse enjoyed studying the new horses eat. Dundee was sloppy, in his older years, not caring about his manners in front of others, just caring about his food. Cedar, the Appaloosa, a horse breed founded by the Nez Perce Indians of the northwest United States. It was unusual for one to be separated from the tribe and so far east, and that was a mystery Jesse would look into soon. There was a mythical Appaloosa, who survived a battle with the Sioux and never returned to the Nez Perce, but Jesse doubted Cedar could be the one, or could he? Jesse went over and lowered his eyes in correct manner so as not to make the horse nervous. He lifted his hand slowly and touched Cedar’s forelock and neck. The horse responded by closing his eyes and for a moment Jesse could feel the horse breathing and being. The horse like Jonathan Strong, that was certain.

Back in the cabin, Jonathan came into the kitchen sporting a wool top and denim pants. The new thing for cowboys and farmers alike, denim was a tough material that would become an American tradition. Jonathan liked looking American, though anyone within ear’s shot would know for certain he was Irish. He spun in a circle playfully and asked, “What do you think?”
“I think your pants too long” Lucy replied and she went over and folded up the hem. “I can fix it tonight.”
“Let us go out to the barn and show Jesse and check my horses,” Jonathan suggested.
Daighre rose from her chair and walked beside Jonathan, a place she felt at home and would for the next seventy years. At the same moment, Jonathan knew he would never leave her side again. Somehow she was for him and he was for her.

“Jesse, come and look,” Diaghre called. Jesse peered out the door and his son, Josh, peered out with his Papa.
“Looks like you are ready to take on the town, Jonathan Strong. Your name suits you, should help you get clients for the return ride home.”
The entire group walked back to the cabin and Jesse helped Lucy prepare the table while Lucy fried the eggs and served them with fresh churned butter and corn bread.
“Where did you get the corn this time of year? Jonathan asked.
“We harvest it in the fall and store it for the winter. The cow we have is old but she still gives good milk for the butter and as you saw, we have several chickens that give us eggs.”
“Are you set on living here, near the city, Jesse? “ Jonathan asked the stocky young man.
“I like my farm but what did you have in mind?”
“I am thinking a strong driver like you could help me run the coach. My eyes grow weaker and I think I need to prepare for the day they may not work at all.”

Jesse eyed Diaghre and Lucy and knew his answer already. “If I can help you around my stand sales, it will work. Let us at least try.” Jesse could use the extra funds and he liked Jonathan. And it would keep Diaghre and Jonathan connected. Just then, Jonathan said something that did not surprise Jesse at all.
“Miss Diaghre, Would you be able to join me on the coach ride back to Greenwater to meet my sister and help her with her sewing for the town?”
“I have heard of dogs that help people who cannot see. I believe Autumn is one to them, Jonathan,” Diaghre said softly.
“I too have heard of them. May she live a long life. My sister has a collie also, given to us from a friend of mine in Greenwater. His name is Quinlin. He runs the printer and the town paper. He also has a farm.”
“The ride may be treacherous if another storm arises, though I know of caves to take shelter, prepare yourself and Daighre for bad weather, Jesse. I have my cowboy coat in the trail bag. And we will need extra rations in case of delay. I think we will go alone without taking any clients on this trip,” Jonathan offered.
“I need little, Jonathan. There are no ties for me here and I will borrow some of Lucy’s clothing if she doesn’t mind,” Diaghre explained.
“You may have all you need, since you weaved much of it you can make me more,” Lucy said as she lifted the lid to the chest under the front window and drew out clothing for the trip.
“There are blankets in the far end of that chest over there, Jesse.”
Jesse lifted the lid and thought a minute. He turned to Jonathan. “Cedar, the spotted horse, how did you come to own him, Jonathan?”
“I traveled out of Greenwater with a wilderness scout named Billy. I have owned Cedar since he willed Cedar and Dundee and his possessions to me on his death bed. He took ill shortly after we left Greenwater and died several hours later. He’s been gone twelve days now.” Jonathan’s eyes grew wet with the memory. The old man had drastically changed Jonathan’s life for the better with that kind gesture at his moment of death. Jonathan still had the old man’s diary and the map, things he could pay attention to later. Right now he had found a new friend and colleague in Jesse and the love of his life in Diaghre.
Jonathan knelt down and put his arms gently around his dog, Autumn. She licked his face with affection, the highest affection in fact that a canine can give, and she wagged her tail. “Are you ready to go home, girl?”
She barked a response and pranced with joy. Home meant Joan and warmth she knew well.
Jonathan went to get the coach ready for his new found family and friends. He knew the journey could be hazardous and long and he wanted to make Jesse and Diaghre as comfortable as possible. Lucy prepared rations of cornbread for each of them for ten days journey and packed cooked eggs that would stay fresh in the cold at the back of the coach. In addition, Jonathan asked Jesse to gather jerky, knowing that protein would make them all stronger and Autumn could eat it too. She usually shared whatever food Jonathan chose to have each day and she was always happy with her master’s choice of foods. Jesse wrapped the jerky in deer skin bags and packed them as trail bags on each horse. If for some reason they lost the coach, the emergency rations should be on the horses and each person should carry a day’s ration in case any of them became separated. It was a difficult goodbye for Lucy and Jesse. Not to mention Josh. He cried and grabbed his mother’s skirt and cried silently into it.
“Little one, I shall return. Do not cry. You are the man of the house now. You must take special care of your mother.” Jesse eyed his young son affectionately yet with the strength of his tribe.
Josh rubbed his eyes and stood as tall as he could. He looked up into his father’s eyes and said, “I will, Papa.” They stood in the doorway of their cabin together, mother and son, watching their beloved husband and father leave on the journey with Jonathan Strong.
Once again Jonathan’s journey through this life was connected to the Lord by the passing light of day, as the little band of horses, men and dog began their journey northeast of the city of Philadelphia, towards the mountains that later would be called the Pocono mountains, in the light of the sun passing into night and the time of the moon. Autumn liked this time; she was not all collie. Autumn had wolf in her heritage and it explained her great strength and ability to defend her master whom she loved more than life in any circumstance. She had exceptionally strong senses and agile legs and could run with the wind. Autumn was greatly attached to the spotted horse Jonathan called Cedar and she traveled on his left as they made their way towards the town of Greenwater. Later she would ride in her place in the driver’s seat by Jonathan Strong, but now she was fascinated by the smells and sounds of the forest and the animals and plants that made it their home. The wind blew stronger as thunder broke overhead and the trio sought refuge under a rocky ledge.
Jonathan ran to loosen the harnesses so Cedar and Dundee could hide also and Autumn lay close to Daighre under the ledge and the young woman covered her with her shawl and her arms to protect her from the wet wind and the sounds of the storm. Dundee became erratic and disoriented at the sound of the thunder and the smell of the lightening. Jesse took his rope off his trail bag and swung it high in a loop quickly lassoing the horse from his spot near the coach.
“Horses lose their sense of everything they know in lightening and the thunder makes it worse!” he hollered to Jonathan over the howl of the wind. “The Lord is saying something with a storm like this in the winter.”
Jesse couldn’t hold him. “Get a hold of Cedar, Jon, fast… I cannot hold Dundee much longer.” The big old horse wildly reared, picking up Jesse with the force of his body and throwing him across the rocks. Jesse laid still, the rain and hail fast turning to snow over him. The sky opened and the storm hammered the trio with all the force of nature and the trees bent til they touched the ground. Jonathan held tight to cedar and bid Dundee farewell, thinking he would never see him again.
An hour later, the storm had turned to all snow and it was safe for Jonathan and Daighre to go fetch Jesse. The Lenape was chilled and wet, but he started to cough when they sat him upright under the rocks. Jonathan set about making a fire to warm them but Jesse warned,” one of the reasons I agreed to help you is the amount of bad blood and bandits in these rural roads. And there has been an outbreak of rabies, meaning you must take care if any wild animals like opossums, raccoons, bears, rabbits and the like come too close and seem friendly or agitated. The illness can go either direction and is not curable, so the animal must be destroyed.”
“I think I liked you better before you spoke too much, Jesse,” Jonathan teased the other man.
Diaghre worked to loosen any of the packed goods they retrieved from Dundee’s harness to reuse them later for another horse or Cedar. Her fine hands were gentle as she placed an extra rope around Cedar’s harness and leaned by his face to check his right front hoof. She lifted it slowly and checked for stones and found one or two, loosening them with the hoof pick. Cedar studied her quietly, chewing his oats and coming to the conclusion that he liked this woman. She smelled nice “Honeysuckle, I collect the flowers and squeeze the oil and use that for perfume, and it makes one feel really clean and refreshed in the bath.” Diagrhe explained as she placed Cedar’s hoof back on the ground.
“Where did you learn to care for horses?” Jonathan questioned with glistening eyes.
“You would be surprised. I grew up on a large estate in Ireland. We had Connemara ponies, Irish stock horses and Irish thoroughbreds. I learned to ride on the meanest of the lot, because my father told me if I could handle him, I could ride anything like the wind. He was right. He chose a big black dappled thoroughbred named Dublin. Seventeen hands. I learned to raise myself light as a feather to get on his back. He would try to bite me as I readied him to ride, but I usually won. One time I didn’t, thus this scar.” She rolled up the sleeve of her wool coat to reveal a mark in the shape of an oval, just the size of a large horse’s mouth.
“What happened to your father, and the horses?” Jonathan asked carefully, hoping he wasn’t overstepping his bounds. He eyed her through his thick Irish brows and bright Irish eyes.
“The Famine. Papa tried to help as many as he could. He even sold our horses. He did, however, before his death from hunger, insure that I had a dowry. And I do. I worked for something to do in the city. That is why I had no ties, my family gone, and a job I just used to keep busy. I met Jesse my first days off the boat. They were very kind to me and they fed me and helped me adapt. My dowry is safe, part there in that trunk in the coach and part in the city in a holding place in a bank. I have my entire life written in my diary. I write every day, so that others will know what we suffered and what brought us to America. I greatly love our past and want my children, well, our children to know what their heritage is and,” she stopped short at Jesse’s moan.
“He wakes, we must tend to him,” Diaghre said to Jonathan.
Jonathan was already by the other man’s side, holding his head and telling Jesse that all was okay, they lost Dundee but all the others were safe.
Jesse coughed again and sat up, rubbing his head with his right hand, tossing his thick black hair.
“What a horse, and how dramatic a way to leave us.” He laughed and sipped some of the broth Diaghre brought. I know we couldn’t have a fire so it is cold, but Lucy made it before we left.
“Good old leather canteens. I love ‘em.” Jesse slurped some soup and breathed evenly. Steam rose from his breathing in the cold air and Autumn playfully jumped to catch it. Jesse caught her and tickled her belly, and they ended up rolling together in a ball across the snow covered ground. Jesse sat up again covered with cold snowflakes and laughed until he cried.
“I feel so accepted for who I am, my family and I are really blessed to have met such people. Thank you all for being!”
Daighre stood silently enjoying the two laughing men and thought of her past and the men she had known in Ireland. Strong men who were defeated by a famine that was not necessary, a famine caused by the wish and coveting of power. She vowed to help these men avoid the clutches of power and the vice of greed and to pass onto the less fortunate the understanding that the two traits pointed out by Dickens in A Christmas Carol, want and ignorance, be done away with forever in her presence. Diaghre was a woman of strong faith and the firm belief that the Lord answers prayers, if we remember to ask with reverence and the faith of a mustard seed. The wind blew so cold and the snow delivered more coldness and Daighre quivered with a chill. Her face felt the cold wind through her scarf and her skin was cold to the touch. Jonathan noticed her checking her face with her hands and he thought it a sign to move on into a warmer place, now that Jesse was able to move about. He hitched Cedar up to the coach and Jesse and Daighre lifted Autumn inside, out of the snow. Accustomed to riding with her master, Jonathan, Autumn whined and complained until Jonathan arose from his seat, leaned inside the coach and told her to stay. She whimpered a complaint but sat still beside Daighre. Daighre held the furry dog warmly as if she had known her her whole life, and Autumn responded in kind. The collie gently laid her head on Daighre’s knee, gratefully accepting the affection. She liked this new girl and felt that Jonathan liked her, too.
The clumpity clump of Cedar’s hooves echoed through the snow covered landscape as the trio made their way to Greenwater. Jonathan had wanted to stop at the same farm he had on his way southeast, and he steered the coach in that direction. The family would be glad to see the travelers Jonathan had met on his journey. Before long, Jonathan could see the barn in the distance and he bellowed an early hello to the farmer and his wife and son. Cedar didn’t think the bellow to be a good idea, it scared him and he bolted into a gallop towards the farmer.
“Whoa!” Jonathan called as he reined in the horse and slowed their speed.
“Hey, will you watch your speed out there, Jonathan?” Jesse called. “We are all on top of one another and I am liable to come out wearing your dog’s collar and she’ll have on my shirt!”
“Easy, Jesse, sorry for the mistake,” Jonathan explained as he pulled the coach to a stop.

Fred had cleared the road near the barn for his cows and the path to the house for his wife to get the chicken eggs in the morning.
“Nice evening, isn’t it folks?” the man asked. His checked shirt was reminiscent of the one Jonathan had first worn in the city and Jesse knew right away where Jonathan had gotten the shirt. Seemed the farmer’s wife, Clare, specialized in them because the young boy wore the same style.
“Looks like I am going to need one of your shirts, madam,” Jesse said as he offered the woman his hand in greeting.
“My pleasure, sir,” she replied.
Autumn climbed carefully out of the coach, heights were not her favorite thing, and wagged her tail at the people who had saved her. Jonathan explained the whole story to Jesse and Diaghre, and they all thanked the family that had helped reunite Jonathan and Autumn and given Jonathan the coach to use.
“I have several, it was no bother,” the man said as he prepared the benches in their main living space for the visitors to sleep. “These blankets will keep you folks keep warm and there is a lantern in the kitchen for light.”
The fire had burned in the cabin all day and the place was warm and comfortable. Diaghre sat holding a warm cup of cider and studied the living space. The boy shared a loft to sleep with his hound dog and the husband and wife shared the room off the kitchen. The kitchen held a cooking pot for over the fire, a kettle and pans for cooking, flat wear, handmade of wood or iron hung across the top of the kitchen area and there was an iron rack for drying dishes. Off to the side by the window lay the morning’s bucket to bring in water and the wash board for cleaning the clothes. The butter churn was by the fireplace—a nice wistful area in which to work.
Dinner was like being home in Ireland. Though the food served was Pennsylvania Dutch, the makings were very warm and Irish and the potatoes made her eyes water. The light from the lantern flickered off her eyes and Jonathan noticed. He held her hand to let her know he was here and that he would always be with her, whether it be winter or summer, spring or fall. She looked at him gratefully and lifted her cup of cider to her lips.
Jesse was just having fun being in a warm place. He talked about his cabin and how he built it and compared his methods of doing things to the farm where he sat. They all laughed and had fun and ate and prayed in thanks.
The evening light was romantic and beautiful and Diaghre sat by the window, counting as many snowflakes as she could to remember this night. She could see Jonathan walking Autumn out in the snow, the collie playfully jumping to and fro, chasing snow balls and barking with joy. They both entered the cabin covered with snow and Jonathan brushed it off with his gloved hands and took his shoes off at the door. He changed his hand knit wool socks for a dry pair and placed all the wet clothes over the fireplace like Christmas stockings, where the newly started fire would dry them. Then he went and poured himself a cup of tea and sat down by Daighre.
“You didn’t have to tell me of your wealth, I loved you anyway, Daighre,” Jonathan spoke quietly so as not to wake everyone else, especially the boy.
“I know, but it is something I needed to tell you, so it wouldn’t matter. I still like to live close to the land and close to the Lord’s Word.”
“Of course.”
They both sat side by side holding hands until the sun came up, too excited in having found one another to sleep.
“Will she like me?”
“She will love having a sister about do things with and your expertise in sewing will light up her life.” Jonathan told her with a light gleam in his voice. He liked to tease Diaghre and he knew she understood his humor.
“I am happy you had the kerchief of the Tartan in your belongings, or I would not have found you so easily. It was a sign.”
“It was indeed.” She smiled up at him as Jonathan was taller than Diaghre.
“It seems as though I have known you my whole life. Like we were meant to be. It is so easy to be with you and talk to you.”
“I feel the same. It is also uncanny how Autumn took to you so easily. She is usually very choosy about what people she accepts into our lives.”
“Doesn’t that make it difficult for you when you like someone she does not?”
Jonathan thought a moment and raised his right eyebrow over his green-brownish eyes and smiled. “I think she is usually the wiser when it comes to relationships; I have found many people are not what they appear to be. Since my arrival off the boat from Ireland, I have met women and men who want me to believe they are sincere when they turn out to be presenting an illusion of what they think I want.” He gently patted Autumn on her side and belly where she liked it the most. Autumn responded with a light nibble to Jonathan’s hand, the highest level of canine affection. Then she placed her head back on Daighre’s knee, delicately, yet with serenity. Diaghre sat quietly watching Jonathan and Autumn. He relaxed his breathing and position as they sat together.
Jonathan tilted his head up to the moonlight, the glow from the moon illuminating his face in silhouette style. Diaghre looked closer at the shape of Jonathan’s silhouette. It looked like the shape of the boy’s shadow long ago, if memory served her. The boy from the boat had the same shaped silhouette, but smaller! Could it be Jonathan and the boy were one and the same? No, that would be impossible. Still the breath froze in her throat. She contemplated the idea and her concentration showed in her stature. Autumn lifted her beautiful collie head to see what could possibly be the matter. The dog’s amber eyes shone in the light and she whined in traditional collie style, questioning the change in Daighe’s mood. Jonathan pulled himself from his dreamy silence peering at the moon and looked calmly from Autumn to Daighre.
“What is it? What troubles you Daighre?” He leaned closer so his face almost touched hers. She didn’t pull back but raised her hands to touch his face and looked affectionately into his eyes.
“I was thinking about the boat ride over. It was stormy and the view was obscured by fog and rain but I think I might have seen you on the journey. We were younger of course, and thinner from the famine. We traveled on the Lavender Lady and it held so many of us it was hard to separate where one person stopped and another began. The air was rancid under deck because we were contained so long in so small a space; the food and drink minimal, Joan hiding Autumn as a pup, me sneaking to get food. Yes, I was on the upper decks. I borrowed the clothes of a midshipman and snuck about and brought us food and water if I could find it. I was there—”
“Then it was you!” Joan grabbed Jonathan by the shoulders and he held her in a tight embrace, kissed her for the first time and Joan laid her head on his chest. They sat there, very much in love and a dog who covered them both. A collie’s heart is large and determined and this sheer devotion and will drives their devotion to family and home. Autumn did miss Joan.
The days in Ireland were difficult. The starving collie puppy, like so many, ran about the streets and through the lanes of each town scavenging for food and water with little hope of an actual home. Autumn was from Royal stock. One of the finest collies in Ireland and as one of the finest collies, she was elegant even in the wretched environment of the streets. Joan saw her and picked her up and held the little dirty fuzz ball that would become Autumn. Countless times through the following months the dog followed her quietly to protect her. Even Joan’s uncle in the new world of America was unaware of the dog’s presence, so secretive were Jonathan and Joan about her. That is why the townsfolk thought Autumn was a gift to Jonathan and Joan from Quinlin. He often hid her from the obtrusive, domineering uncle whose death no one mourned. Though he and Joan forgave him and prayed for his place in heaven, Jonathan often thought that his uncle was a clean cut case of the Marley personality, Scrooge’s business partner from A Christmas Carol. However, in this case there was no partner to save. Jonathan already had a kind heart and a powerful will, sighted or not. He was a formidable man with a strong faith in the Lord and a devotion to his family and heritage. Jonathan Strong had the warmth of Bob Crachet and the joy of Scrooge on Christmas morning.
Sunrise brought new hope, just like the first morning, and Jonathan stood up to wake Jesse so that the trio of humans and the dog could be on their way home to Greenwater.
He had no alternative but to call in Autumn to wake the Native American man. Jonathan called Autumn with a quick whistle and the collie came running into the space where Jesse lay slumbering, covered with blankets. Jonathan patted her head and told her, “Good girl, Autumn. Now get Uncle Jesse up, jump on him, kiss his face, do anything you can to wake him. I am going to help prepare breakfast. I will be in the kitchen area.” And with that Jonathan walked to the fire and the hearth and started to fry eggs for everyone. Daighre prepared the cornbread and the farmer and his wife and son sat watching because Jonathan and Diaghre would not allow them to help. The family played with their hound dog, throwing sticks out the door for him to retrieve. He was quite good at this fetching game and enjoyed it almost as much as he enjoyed eating.
“These will be wonderful eggs, how is the bread heating up?” Jonathan asked Daighre. Both of them wore a handmade apron to keep their traveling clothes free of the smell of food. The wilderness held many animals and most were attracted to travelers by the smell of edibles.
Suddenly, a big “yikes! I am up, I am up, I am up!” sound came from the place where Jesse had been sleeping. “All right, Okay, Autumn, I get it, I am up!” Jesse came running into the kitchen in his long johns, the traditional sleep wear of the time. He ran around and around the table with Autumn chasing him, nipping at his heels and grabbing his red long johns. He ran behind Daighre, thinking that Autumn wouldn’t chase him there, but she did and the farmer’s hound dog joined in the fun, the boy following the dogs and Jesse, all of them laughing out loud. Jonathan almost dropped his spatula and Daighre did drop her serving tool in the excitement. Autumn picked it up in her mouth and carried it about the room like a trophy. Everyone calmed down and Clare and Fred joined in the laughter abundant when Jonathan and Diaghre retold the story of the dog and Jesse and the chase through the kitchen. Jonathan noticed that Jesse was slightly limping on one leg, his right leg, specifically. “What is bothering you, Jesse? You are walking a bit funny since you ran with Autumn.”
“I think Dundee kicked me in the thigh when he bucked and then reared to escape in the storm. It will pass with time,” Jesse replied.
“Perhaps we should wrap it in any case. I have some extra shirting material here,” Jonathan said as he ripped a piece of red royal Stewart plaid and began to wrap Jesse’s leg with it. “Now, when you go to put your pants on it will really hold. Long johns and all.” Jesse went to get dressed and prepare to go out in the aftermath of the storm in an effort to continue their journey to the town of Greenwater, Pennsylvania.

Fred andClare and their son waved a warm goodbye to Jonathan, Diaghre, Jesse and Autumn as they drove down the snow covered road in a northeast direction.
The evergreen trees appeared white against the blue-gray horizon and the deciduous trees hung low, weighed down with newly fallen snow. Snow birds clung to the innermost branches of the pines, seeking shelter from the cold wind.
Diaghre could see the far away Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania near the northeast horizon. They shone purple in the morning light and it reminded her of the American National Anthem that she had just learned in her studies to become an American citizen. The study involved seven years of study and living in the United States followed by a swearing in, witnessed by friends chosen at her discretion. She assumed Jonathan would also be seeking citizenship, but she must remember to ask him what his plans were in this affair after they reached Greenwater. Interesting, she thought, how purple mountains reminded her of a song. She smiled and looked at Jonathan, driving the coach with such confidence and daring in the winter conditions. How blessed an event that she found him and that he loved her also. She silently thanked the Lord for bringing her and Jonathan together. Diaghre fingered the bag of coins in her pocket. She carried emergency money in case they needed it for any passage or lodging or food. Jonathan approved because if they pooled their resources, all would be the better for it.
The coach traveled up hills and down them, past many farms and open land and Jonathan stopped rather quickly at a fork in the road marked by a piece of blue cloth.
He dismounted from the driver’s seat in the coach and leaned into the cabin of the coach and said,
“I think this is where the cave is, at least pretty close to here. Its night fall and the cave was a warm, safe place to spend the night for me before. I was thinking that we could use it again for the five of us, including Cedar and Autumn.” Autumn stretched and reached her neck out so her muzzle could reach Jonathan. She licked him on the chin.
“Autumn agrees with me, and there is plenty of room to spread out in the cavern. What do you say? Can we? Jesse? Diaghre?”
Jonathan had that little boy look on his face and neither one of them could turn him down. Diaghre was first to speak.
“Well, do we need everything, or can we just take what we need?” Diaghre asked as she climbed down out of the coach, her boots crunching on the snow.
“I think just what we need, though we do not have that much to begin with. But I sure am hungry.”
“You are always hungry!” Jonathan and Diaghre answered in chorus.
“You act like you are already married,” Jesse chuckled as he took his saddle bag off of Cedar’s harness.
The horse was happy and relieved to be free of the weight of the harness and he bucked a few times and reared once before Jonathan let him enter the cavern. “It is safe, but I do not want to chance losing him in the caverns, they go far into the wilderness and Cedar could get lost, so I will just stake him with a loose rope.”
“Sounds good,” Jesse and Diaghre agreed.
Cedar was indeed happy and he munched on the oats in his feeding bag heartily until they were gone. Then the bay Palouse horse drank deeply from the water bucket Jonathan offered. All the horse equipment was custom made by Cedar’s former owner, Billy, and it was a work of art. The feed bucket was solid oak, the bag woven flax, and all the harnesses soft leather with iron loops and connections. Jonathan had been truly blessed when Billy gave him the horses and equipment.
Thinking about that triggered the memory of the map Billy had given him that Jonathan had sewed into his jacket pocket. Someday, after he and Daigrhe and Joan were settled, he would explore the possibilities of the map and where it led. Now Jonathan had to concentrate on getting them home.
The cavern was warm and spacious after the five passed through the narrow entrance. “It is the narrow entrance that keeps the cavern so comfortable and warm in the winter and I bet it is cool and airy in the summer. We will have to come back and check it out on one of our trips to the city,” Jonathan suggested.
“I don’t miss the city. I lived in the country in Ireland and I am used to more trees and air and having the people more spread out,” Diaghre commented to no one in particular, though Jonathan paid close attention to everything Daighre spoke. Autumn sat looking up at the two of them. She was content and happy to be near her human, Jonathan and her heart rejoiced in his presence. Still, she always kept her guard up and watched for any hidden danger in order to protect the family she loved, so was the devotion of the dog.
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