Jonathan’s Dream (An Adventure Novel) – Chapter Two, Part Six

Jonathan’s Dream (An Adventure Novel)

(Copyright 1984, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)

Chapter Two, Part Six

The wind picked up and its damp chill made Jonathan shiver and pull his cloak even closer around him.  Dark clouds had emerged from behind Mount Rhayander that now blanketed Glandwr with overcast and threatening skies.  Jonathan cautiously scanned the high terrain ringing Glandwr in a vain attempt to put aside the feelings that something or someone was watching them from above.  They continued across the valley to Mirror Lake and entered into a wood of twisted, gnarled and stunted white oaks crowding around its shores. Here they found shelter under the tangled canopy of low branches just overhead.  Hiding within the wood’s shadows didn’t ease Jonathan’s anxiety or his concerns – and he could feel in the nervousness of Majeka’s movements that he wasn’t alone in his feelings.  The only relief Jonathan felt was that Glandwr was covered in small patches of woods stretching from Mirror Lake to as high up the lower slopes of Mount Rhayander as the trees were able to hold their ground, which was the general area the old man had pointed to across the valley as the location of Tywyn.

“This is Mirror Lake, Jonathan – if you look across its surface you will see Mount Rhayander’s reflection.  The snowpack is melting quickly in the high country and spring is well under way.  Spring arrives later in the mountains than it does in Ohio. Summer is short-lived here in Glandwr with the snows returning soon after the first chill of autumn arrives in the lowlands.  We’ll stop here for a few minutes to eat and rest before continuing on to Tywyn, which is at the far end of the valley at the foot of Mount Rhayander.  There you will have the opportunity to rest and learn what awaits you on the journey ahead of you.  You may be a young lad, but much is now required of you, Jonathan.  You must understand the path you’ve traveled, before you can walk the path ahead of you – but understand you must if you are to ever return to Hampton – and to the Spencer Family Farm.”

Jonathan didn’t really understand the old man’s talk of journeys and requirements.  He was set on the idea of going home and didn’t let anything else enter into his mind, at least not here and not now. There was still one nagging concern that bothered him though and he had to ask the question, “Excuse me, Sir – I would like to ask one more question if I could?  We’ve come a long way and you have been very kind to let me ride, Majeka.  All this time you have known my name without my telling it to you – but I still don’t know yours.”

The old man was sitting on a large rock at the edge of the water, his cloak blending into both the rocks of the shoreline and the shadows created within the muted light of the wood.  A chill wind sent small ripples across the lake’s surface, erasing the reflection of just a moment ago as if it had only been a mirage.  Jonathan heard in the silence of the moment the quiet of small waves lapping up against the rocks and the rustling of leaves in the shifting whims of the wind through the trees. The old man took out some bread and pieces of smoked meat to eat, giving an equal portion to Jonathan, while seemingly lost in distant thoughts of days long gone by.  After what seemed like hours to Jonathan, he began to speak saying, “Jonathan, I realize you don’t understand very much about what has happened to you in the past few days.  Some of it I will be able to explain to you, while much remains unanswered for now, since even I don’t have all the answers yet to give you.  What I can’t answer for you, you will simply have to discover on your own – that is, if you are ever given the opportunity.”

After a momentary pause, he continued, “I know a friend of yours and have been able to learn much about you and where you have come from…this land you call, Ohio.  Of what I have learned, there is still much I don’t understand and you will have to enlighten me about Ohio, just as I will be enlightening you about our land.  We live in two different worlds my young friend and it is you that will have to adapt to mine for the time being until the day you are allowed to travel back home to yours.  What I don’t understand, is how you happened to pass through the veil of separation and arrive in our land, although I do know the path you traveled.  There are mysteries in the world that we will never know, but which we must come to accept if we are to ever find our way in life.  That may be one of them, I don’t know. However, now that you are here, I have the answers you need for the journey before you and will reveal them to you in good time once you’ve been prepared.”

Jonathan quietly ate his lunch as the old man talked, most of it making little sense to him with this talk of different worlds, mysteries and the like.  As he ate and listened, Jonathan was still puzzled – waiting for a momentary pause to ask his question once again, “But Sir, I still don’t know your name…that’s all I wanted to know.”

The old man smiled and let out a hearty laugh that startled him with the abruptness of its arrival.  “Young boys and their questions” the old man recited aloud while sitting on the rock and looking over at Jonathan with a smile.  He had once been a boy himself he thought, although it seemed like such a very, very long time ago.  He smiled again and stood up, putting down the rest of his bread on the rock beside him.  Reaching down, he picked up Jonathan with surprising ease and stood him on top of the rock where he had been seated, now looking at him at eye level.  For a moment the old man hesitated and then began to speak while Jonathan watched him with amazement, as if he was only now seeing the old man for the first time.  “Son, I was once a young lad just like yourself, many years ago.  Over the years I have had many names – they seem to come and go with the seasons.  For me to explain my names is not important to you at this time, but I will give you a name by which you may call me.  I am known to many as Illandor, which means Of the Wind and you may call me that if you like…or by any other name that pleases you.”

Jonathan thought for a while and decided that the old man looked a lot like his grandfather.  He looked into the old man’s eyes and asked almost apologetically, “How ’bout if I just call you, Gramps.  You remind me of my grandfather back in Minnesota.”

The old man smiled, patted Jonathan on the head and said, “Alright, Gramps it is.  Let’s get going now so that we’ll reach Tywyn by nightfall.”

(End of Chapter Two)

Jonathan’s Dream (An Adventure Novel) – Chapter Two, Part Five

Jonathan’s Dream (An Adventure Novel)

(Copyright 1984, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)

Chapter Two, Part Five

“Well Jonathan, have you ever seen anything as beautiful as this valley in all your years? It’s named, Glandwr – and I doubt that if you lived a lifetime you’d ever see anything more beautiful than this! There are few people alive today that have ever laid eyes on or set foot in Glandwr, for it’s a forgotten place that’s jealously guarded by the eagles.  These mountain peaks surrounding us are their breeding grounds and they protect this valley from all intruders that might attempt to enter into their realm.  The riders you encountered won’t bother us here, or at least they haven’t ever made their way into this valley before.  Well, what do you think, lad?”

“Sir, I think it’s very beautiful, but it doesn’t look like Ohio at all.  Will I be able to go home to Hampton soon, or are we going to stay here for a while first – and why did the eagles allow us to enter their valley?”

“Ohio.  Son, you’re a lot farther from Ohio than you might think and it won’t be an easy task for you to get home from here.  We’ll talk more about that once we reach my cabin, which isn’t far now – on the far side of the valley beyond Mirror Lake at the base of Mount Rhayander, from which the eagles derive their name – the Rhayander.  I am a friend of the Rhayander, which is why we were allowed to enter this sacred place.  Few are alive today who are aware of the history of these lands, let alone have set foot here, but there will be time for explanations once we reach my cabin, which I call Tywyn, or Hidden Place.   Rest assured, you’ll be safe while you’re with me, Jonathan. I’ll take good care of you, however, I won’t always be with you.  It will be a very long and demanding journey home for you, Jonathan, and danger will be your constant companion.  Fear not and rest your cares and worries for now, for we’ll discuss all these things and more after dinner beside the fire.”

With that, he set off, walking staff in hand, setting a pace that reflected neither his age nor the distance they had already covered that day.  With the mention of dinner, Jonathan realized they hadn’t eaten lunch or even rested and it was already mid-afternoon.  The old man seemed to be in a hurry to reach Tywyn by nightfall.  Jonathan looked nervously around from his elevated perch atop Majeka, thinking that perhaps they had been in more danger than he had previously thought.  High above them, two eagles rode the thermals silently on outstretched wings. Jonathan looked nervously around at the towering, mountain peaks surrounding the valley and wondered how many other eyes may be watching them as they continued across the valley towards the Mirror Lake.

It had always seemed to Jonathan that life itself was an adventure and now there was no doubt in his mind, as the three of them followed along a rocky path running beside the dry river bed leading out of Mirror Lake.  It was indeed a beautiful place, full of majesty and grandeur.  Jonathan felt as if they were within nature’s perfect fortress, surrounded by massive mountain peaks towering over him, yet this alpine valley they were crossing was carpeted with the most delicate of wildflowers, moss and lichen.  Jonathan felt the sensation of a vast openness and distance surrounding him, as Mount Rhayander loomed before them.  Majeka shook his mane in a sign of nervousness and looking up Jonathan noted the two sentinels aloft were now joined by three others.  Their increased vigilance was a comforting and reassuring presence to him – yet foreboding at the same time.  In the back of Jonathan’s mind the lingering thought remained that he was lost and very far from home and he hoped to understand more once they reached this nebulous place called Tywyn.

The farmlands of Ohio had never given Jonathan the same feelings of volume, openness and primitive isolation as this land did.  He had only been able to catch fleeting glimpses of the horizon before – over corn fields, between tree lines and after climbing to the top of a tree – but those views were nothing like this.  It seemed to Jonathan that the distant peaks were miles and miles away and they were, but he had no experience of judging distance in the mountains.  Once, Jonathan had climbed up a water tower with a friend of his and looked out over the City of Hampton, which was the only experience he could relate to the view before him now.  He was overwhelmed by the magnitude of these towering peaks and there were no water towers anywhere to be seen in these lands…

The range of mountains featuring Mount Rhayander ran perpendicular to and formed the end of the long, narrow valley they were traversing.  In fact, they were crossing the floor of an ancient volcano that was once the highest peak in this range of mountains and now transformed through the ages into a pristine alpine valley ringed with snow covered peaks glistening in the sunshine from a long forgotten age.  Individual dwarfed and twisted trees, contorted from seasons of encasement under winter snowpack now emerged into the sunshine from their entrapment – were clinging to mountain slopes as if desperately seeking higher ground.  Behind them was the massive rock face they had just come through, where melting mountain snows from higher terrain fed the waterfall that masked the valley’s entrance.

The gentle sound of spring was reflected in the soothing trickling and dripping sounds of water that filled the valley.  Everywhere it seemed there were little drips, trickles, dribbles, flows and streams of water formed from snowmelt running down into Mirror Lake from the previous winter’s snowpack – now but a fraction of what it must have been at winter’s end.  Moss, lichen and spring wildflowers covered the trail they followed across the valley floor, indicating to Jonathan that this path was seldom traveled, if at all.  The entire valley was covered in a glorious carpet of small wildflowers, creating an idyllic picturesque setting of unspoiled nature in its finest hour.  Small trickles of water combined into little creeks and streams that lapped at rocks and tumbled over miniature falls while meandering along their way between rocks and across fields.   Jonathan imagined that in winter this valley was covered in glacial snows and in early spring the entrance into the valley was transformed into a raging flood of water pouring through the narrow passageway they had just traveled through – and he was right.  In fact, Glandwr was only accessible from late spring through early fall, when heavy snows would begin transforming it once again into an impenetrable fortress of snow and ice.

Jonathan was now tired and sore from a full day of riding atop Majeka as they journeyed across the valley.  Jonathan saw that a wood of white oak trees crowded around the rim of Mirror Lake, gnarled and twisted as if contorting themselves to drink at the water’s edge. These same stunted oaks were found clustered in small groups around the valley, desperately clinging to the steep mountain slopes. Dotted around the valley were also small groves of birch and aspen, seeking safety and security within their own numbers while relying on their slender, flexible nature to stand tall in the drifts of winter. Individual and isolated windblown pines, stiff and twisted by the wind and heavy snows had no such shelter to protect them.  Jonathan was quick to notice the valley’s abundant wildlife as well: mice, rabbits, ground squirrels, foxes, songbirds, owls, hawks and mountain goats – as well as the haunting howl of a lone wolf carried by the wind from a great distance away – while a growing number of eagles soared high above, ever watchful and vigilant in the skies above them.  Mirror Lake reflected Mount Rhayander as it shimmered and danced in ripples created by a growing breeze – appearing to Jonathan as if it was only an illusion or a mirage – unreal and forbidding, yet at the same time towering over him and calling out his name.

A series of sharp cries cracked the air and startled Jonathan back to reality from his daydreams.  Majeka immediately stopped, ears forward and listening intently while standing as still as a statue.  The old man recognized the cry and looked up into the sky to where a lone eagle spiraled down out of the heavens and into the valley.  “Be still, Jonathan” said the old man without averting his gaze from the descending eagle.  Swooping left and right in great sweeping arcs, the eagle made a controlled descent while breaking his speed to slow his approach, pulling up in front of them into a tight circle overhead before landing with its great, majestic, golden wings fully extended in front of the old man on a rock outcrop.

“Stay where you are and wait, Jonathan, while I meet with Amroth, the King of the Rhayander.”  With that cautionary note, the old man climbed the rock outcrop of perhaps ten feet in height and stood eye to eye with Amroth, conversing intensely together in a series of short, sharp clicks, screeches and cries.  Jonathan was startled at the size of Amroth’s massive, hooked beak and dagger-like talons and mesmerized as the old man conversed in the language of eagles. Suddenly, Amroth, who stood as tall as the old man, spread his majestic wings to their full 15 foot wingspan, turned to face the breeze and launched himself into the sky – slowly circling upwards on rising thermals until he eventually reached the heavens and rejoined his compatriots.

Finally, the old man broke off his skyward gaze and descended the rock outcropping to rejoin Jonathan and Majeka.  “Hurry, we haven’t much time.  We must make haste to Tywyn.”  Without pausing, the old man set off for Mirror Lake as if he hadn’t already spent the entire day journeying and Jonathan could tell from his urgency that there was no time to lose, as he and Majeka trailed behind him.

Jonathan’s Dream (An Adventure Novel) – Chapter Two, Part Four

Jonathan’s Dream (An Adventure Novel)

(Copyright 1984, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)

Chapter Two, Part Four

Jonathan had dried out overnight beside the campfire and the old man gave him his spare cloak to wear over his clothing to protect him from the elements.  The cloak hung down past Jonathan’s knees and although it was light to the touch, it kept out both wind and rain.   The thin fabric was made from a tight weave of various shades of thread from light gray to dark green which mimicked both rocks and earth, as well as the shadows of the forest.  The cloak had a short cape attached to it that covered his shoulders and torso in an additional layer for added protection from the elements, as well as a woven belt and a hood that fell loosely over his shoulders and down to the middle of his back. Jonathan put the cloak on, tied the belt, fastened the front edges of both cloak and cape together with buttons made of bone and pulled the hood up over his head.  Not only did he blend perfectly into the woods around him, but Jonathan realized he could also sleep in it at night to stay warm.

Unbuttoning the garment to match the day’s weather and throwing the hood back over his shoulders, Jonathan said, “Thank you, Sir, for this coat, it’s just what I need when it rains.  It reminds me of my long, yellow raincoat for school and my hooded bathrobe back home on the farm if I attached a beach towel over my robe like a superhero!”

The old man simply smiled and said, “Jonathan, this cloak won’t give you superpowers, but it will protect you on your journey.  It’ll keep you warm and offer you protection in the shadows.  It’s lightweight, so it won’t hinder your movement – and the inside of both cloak and cape is a light, silvery-gray color.  When you’re in the mountains and snowfields you can reverse it and fade from view, appearing as a rock on the side of the mountain.”

They packed up the camp, placing furs, blankets, cooking utensils and the leather-bound volume into two coarsely-woven bags and hung them from a wide, fabric swath placed across Majeka’s back.  The old man helped Jonathan mount Majeka – sitting on the fabric swath which served as a rudimentary saddle and provided a handhold for Jonathan to steady himself with.  Majeka was a majestic horse – beautiful, strong, yet at the same time delicate, with the distinctive characteristics of purebred Arabian stallions – wide-spread, flared nostrils, ears that were always in motion, high spirited and always on alert.  Jonathan knew this because he had an Arabian horse model on his bedroom shelf in his collection at home, as well as a picture book of every horse breed and their characteristics.  The old man, staff in hand, then plunged into the forest with Majeka and Jonathan trailing behind him.

Although everything was still too confusing for Jonathan, he didn’t show it.  In fact, he was actually starting to enjoy this adventure.  He didn’t feel lost anymore now that he was with friends.  Oh sure, he still missed Sammy and wondered if he was being missed back home on the farm, but the fact was, he was having fun.  One quickly forgets the element of danger when it’s no longer staring you in the face.  Jonathan was beginning to feel secure in this world that he didn’t really understand, but there would be time for him to ponder that thought later on.

They traveled for a long time through the woods – how long he didn’t really know – for his watch was broken from being soaked in the river and getting water inside.  Jonathan took the watch off and put it into a pocket of his backpack.  It had been a gift from Gramps and he couldn’t bare throwing it away.  While he was at it, he couldn’t resist eating the last of his cookies – three to be exact.  The only food he had left now were the dozen acorns he had collected from under the tree the day before.

The old man set a brisk pace as they made their way along an overgrown trail until it left the shadows of the forest and crossed an area of numerous, shallow creeks that quickly became a water meadow of spongy, marshy ground that drained into the river. Majeka’s hoofs made deep depressions in the damp earth that quickly filled with water.  The area was thick with flies and mosquitoes, that bothered Jonathan to no end.  He wrapped the cloak as tightly around him as he could and put up his hood to help avoid insect bites, but to no avail.  Jonathan felt exposed among the reeds and tall grasses of the swampy ground – but the constant distraction of the biting insects kept him from dwelling on their vulnerability while crossing through the open marshlands.

They finally reached higher ground around mid-morning and followed alongside another stream, as it flowed out of the hills.  In the distance, Jonathan could see mountains rising up before them whenever the trees and clouds thinned out up ahead.  They were majestic, yet terribly imposing, like sharp daggers pointing into the sky – higher than Jonathan had ever before imagined – covered in snow and ice.  He had never seen anything like it before.  It was a formidable fortress of rock, snow and ice – causing Jonathan to shake and shiver just looking at it.  Jonathan drew his hood tightly around his neck, as an ice rain began falling in the chill air of the foothills.  Deep inside, however, Jonathan had a tiny spark of wonder about what it would really be like to climb up into the mountains.  Even he had to admit it to himself that he wanted to do it – that is, if he first somehow found the courage!

The old man didn’t seem to mind the ice rain at all and simply let his hood drape back casually over his shoulders.  He had short white hair that blended into his well-kept beard, sprinkled with streaks of gray and white.  He wore small, round glasses that slid down to the end of his nose when he didn’t need them – often looking at Jonathan over the top of the lenses.  Jonathan remembered the old man’s glasses reflecting the glow of the campfire the night before, while reading his book.  The cloak he wore over his robe was made of the same light, woven fabric of grays and greens that Jonathan was wearing, creating a drab appearance in the rain that blended perfectly into the landscape around them.  He wore a gold chain around his neck upon which hung a round, gold medallion in the image of the sun with an oak tree engraved within it.  Although there were deep lines etched into the old man’s face – signs of his many years spent living on the land – he seemed as fit as Jonathan’s father ever was.  Yet his eyes revealed an ageless depth and kindness that Jonathan had never seen before.  The old man’s pace was swift as they journeyed deeper into the foothills, as if there was something unseen driving him to keep up his relentless pace.  It finally occurred to Jonathan that he didn’t know the old man’s name, or where he was leading them to – or even when he could ever go back home.

The path rose before them as they continued winding their way into ever higher terrain. They kept up the relentless pace throughout the morning without pausing to rest.  Jonathan’s mind drifted away with the sounds and familiar rhythm of Majeka’s hoofs and movements under him.  They had long ago left the low, marshy country behind them, climbing higher into the foothills leading to the imposing mountains before them.  The trees had begun to thin out and were replaced with jagged rock and boulders, breaking through the ground’s surface as if they were some kind of crop growing out of the earth.  Moss, flowers and small mountain plants filled the spaces between the rocks and dwindling number of trees, as the landscape opened up around them.  The wind blew stronger here, without the natural windbreak of the forest below and it was impossible to stay hidden within the shadows of the forest any longer.  The large boulders and rock formations helped conceal their progress, as they made their way into the mountains, however, Jonathan felt uneasy about their exposure on the ridge line.  He pulled his cloak tightly around him with a shiver, all the while worried they were being watched from afar.

Jonathan thought about many things along the way as their journey progressed into the mountains.  He wondered how everyone was back home on the farm.  He was sure his mother would be very worried by now and thought about how he would go about explaining his absence once he returned home.  There was also the thought that he might not ever return home, but he simply didn’t want to dwell on that thought very much.  However, it wasn’t easy for him to ignore this lingering thought in the back of his mind.  He just couldn’t seem to resolve the situation he found himself in, because it didn’t make any sense.  The mountains bothered him the most.  He knew all about the Appalachian Mountains that were close to his home in southern Ohio, but these mountains weren’t anything like the pictures he had seen. Besides, Jonathan’s family had once taken a vacation to see the fall colors in the Appalachians and the massive wall of ice covered peaks that towered in front of him definitely wasn’t part of the Appalachian Mountains.

These mountains reminded Jonathan more of the Andes – tall, jagged and covered in ice and snow.  They were also like the Alps, except wilder – more imposing, formidable and impenetrable.  Jonathan had a picture book of the world’s mountains in his room and loved to looked at pictures of the Rockies, Andes, Alps and the massive Himalayan Mountain Range.  These mountains rising before them showed no signs of civilization at all – no cities or villages anywhere in the area that he had seen.  Jonathan saw nothing but wilderness everywhere he looked and as the path gained in elevation he saw no signs of civilization anywhere while scanning out to the far distant horizon behind them.  Not even a power line in sight, thought Jonathan.  The vastness of this wilderness and the complete lack of civilization gave Jonathan an unsettled and disheartening feeling, like treading water in the deep end of a swimming pool or in a lake knowing there’s nothing but deep water beneath you – and help isn’t close at hand.  As Jonathan scanned across distant forests and rugged mountain slopes, he could only think that he was treading in very deep and dangerous waters indeed – and didn’t know what was hidden in the depths of the shadows around him.

The other problem he had reconciling his current situation was the river.  Jonathan knew about the Ohio River.  His father had taken him to see it many times before.  There were great barges that seemed to float past him for miles carrying all kinds of goods and resources up and down the river.  They had often leisurely fished along its banks on a Saturday afternoon and although they hadn’t caught very many fish, Jonathan always had a great time.  Also, his Cub Scout Den went on a hike along the river once and camped out beside it over a weekend.  Jonathan knew the Ohio River.  The problem was, it wasn’t a simple day hike away from his house.  It was a good hour long drive by car to reach the river, so there wasn’t any way he could have walked to the river in a day, or even a week.  The river that he and Majeka were in yesterday was not the Ohio River – Jonathan knew that for sure. This river was bigger, deeper, rougher and more intense than the Ohio River – and there were no signs of civilization anywhere to be seen along its banks.

Another problem that concerned Jonathan was the whole atmosphere of the land that surrounded him.  It was nothing like anything he had known before.  The riders weren’t something he was familiar with in Ohio.  The old man didn’t seem like he was from Hampton, or had ever been there before.  In fact, he might not have even heard of Hampton.  Jonathan was lost and confused and had no idea where he was.  It was easily past midday by now and they hadn’t taken a single break since breaking camp beside the river.  The terrain had become more rugged and the path narrower as it wound beyond the foothills and into the ominous mountains themselves – a massive wall of granite, snow and ice standing like a fortress before them.  It was springtime and the stream they had been following lower in the valley was now a turbulent, rock filled torrent of melting snow pack as they followed along its right bank.  Small patches of snow remained undisturbed in the shadows of rock walls alongside the trail as they made they way ever higher in elevation.  Jonathan remained lost in the swirling thoughts of this wilderness he found himself in, when he first heard the distant echos of falling water.

At first there was only the faint sound of water in the distance that seemed to echo from all directions, but Jonathan couldn’t differentiate the sound from the rapids beside them.  They had earlier crossed over a ridge line and had now started their way ascending higher into a canyon.  The walls of the canyon quickly narrowed and steepened, with snow capped peaks rising high above the canyon walls.  Jonathan looked up at the cloudy skies between the cliffs and sensed that the weather had begun clearing now that they were in the mountains. The ice rain had stopped and Jonathan threw back his hood to enjoy breathing in the fresh, crisp mountain air.  An eagle soared effortlessly high above them on outstretched wings, riding unseen winds aloft.  The eagle was a golden brown color and seemed to be quietly watching their travels, but the sight of the eagle did not frighten Jonathan as the crows had before.  In fact, the presence of the eagle seemed to reassure him and it took his mind off the things that had been bothering him.

The path they were following was little more than bare rock and dirt as they made their way alongside the rapids, filled with the spring runoff from snow fields high above them in the mountains.  They followed a bend around an outcrop of rocks in the canyon wall and started up a precarious, narrow ledge that clung to the side of the cliff wall beside them, while the other side dropped off to the rapids below.  There wasn’t enough room for them to travel side-by-side on the ledge and the old man continued on without a second thought – only barely slowing the pace as they carefully followed along the ledge single-file.  Jonathan tried not to look down over the edge of the ledge to the rocks and rapids that were now far below them and quietly patted Majeka on the side of the neck – more to soothe himself than then anything else.  They continued following along the perilous rock ledge for awhile before Jonathan finally caught the first glimpse of the waterfall.

Jonathan thought the water seemed to be falling directly out of the sky, at the end of the canyon in the distance ahead of them.  Actually, the waterfall poured over the edge of a high cliff, perhaps 300 feet above the ledge they were traversing.  The waterfall fell in an unbroken stream to the jumble of rocks and boulders strewn beside a small pool in their midst – now some 100 feet or more below the level of the ledge.  The pool of water looked like an oasis to Jonathan before overflowing its basin to create the turbulent rapids they had been following for miles through the foothills.  The path, if one could even call it a path as there was no visible sign anyone had been foolish enough to follow this rocky ledge before – continued along the face of the rock wall beside them until it joined up with the cascading waterfall in front of them.  Jonathan was sure the ledge was a dead end and wondered where the old man was taking them, as they wouldn’t even have enough room to turn around once they arrived at the waterfall.

The old man continued without pausing, albeit it very carefully as the rocks were slippery and dripping wet from the spray and mist coming off of the waterfall, until he reached the falling water and disappeared into the cascading stream of water itself.  Majeka didn’t pause either and carefully followed behind the old man into the spray of the waterfall. It quickly became apparent to Jonathan that the path didn’t end at the waterfall, but in fact, continued behind the stream of falling water.  He never thought about that possibility as they were approaching – even up to the point of entering into the spray of the waterfall itself.  The sound of falling water hitting the rocks below was deafening while passing behind the waterfall.  Jonathan’s eyes tried to adjust to the dim light behind the cascading water and he worried that Majeka might slip and lose his balance on the dripping rocks. The old man had literally disappeared into the cliff face the waterfall was pouring over, causing  Jonathan to blink as if not believing what he had just seen – yet Majeka followed right behind him.

At first, Jonathan couldn’t see anything in the mist and darkness behind the waterfall and was sure the old man must have fallen to his end on the broken rocks far below.  Majeka stepped with care on the wet rocks and Jonathan soon realized that there was a natural break in the rock wall that led into a narrow passageway only a few feet wide – just barely wide and tall enough for him to ride Majeka through the tunnel-like gap.  It was like the two mountains had split and broken apart, creating a deep fissure and tunnel running under them.  The passage wound through the darkness – piercing the bowels of the mountain as if spelunking in a cave deep underground – until Jonathan detected a faint light ahead of them.  He could feel that the sides of the passageway were worn smooth as they undulated under the mountain like the movements of some great snake.  The light became brighter as they approached the tunnel’s end and Jonathan had to shield his eyes once they exited.

The fissure had wound its way through hundreds of feet of rock and they emerged at the other end into brilliant sunshine. The old man stopped as Majeka and Jonathan came alongside him and Jonathan was spellbound at the sight he saw before him.  This view was not new to the old man, but one he never tired of admiring. Jonathan had never seen anything like it before.  In front of them was a very deep and narrow valley, as if a boot had stepped into thick mud and left the indentation of the boot print behind – pushing up the edges of the mud into towering mountains around it.  Jonathan gazed at this deep valley completely ringed with towering, jagged, snow and ice covered peaks – piercing the sky with their tips like daggers.  The floor of this isolated valley stood at their same level and created a hidden alpine world filled with lichen and wildflowers that covered it in soft hues of green and splashes of color.  In the center of the valley was a large, crystal-clear, ice-blue lake that shimmered in the sunlight while standing in the midst of ancient woods that clung to distant mountain slopes as if trying to reach higher ground.  Even without climbing to reach a higher perspective, Jonathan could see the lake reflecting the lower portions of the distant mountains at the end of the valley.

The melting snowpack in the mountains above them had created streams that flowed into the lake on the valley floor.  A dry riverbed ran from the lake in the distance to where they were standing and Jonathan realized that when the early spring thaw first arrived and the snowpack began to melt, the lake overflowed through the fissure of rock they had just traversed through – creating a torrent of water that fed into the middle of the waterfall they had passed behind. Melting snow from higher up the side of the mountain fed the beginning of the waterfall, as it cascaded over the cliff into the canyon they had earlier traveled through.  The sight of this remote and seemingly forgotten mountain valley looked like paradise to Jonathan – all the while, two eagles kept a silent vigil while silently riding the winds aloft high above them.

Jonathan’s Dream (An Adventure Novel) – Chapter Two, Part Three

Jonathan’s Dream (An Adventure Novel)

(Copyright 1984, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)

Chapter Two, Part Three

It was dark when Jonathan awoke with his lower legs still immersed in the water.  He was cold, wet and shivering in the dim light of a crescent moon that danced on the undulating surface of the river as it flowed by.  Jonathan thought the river could hold a hundred Stony Creeks or more within its banks.  He made a futile attempt to stand up and only managed to slowly crawl higher up the riverbank to the edge of a meadow before being overcome with exhaustion.  At least he was out of the river.  Still soaked to the bone and shivering in the chill night air, Jonathan wrapped his arms tightly around himself, tucked his chin down into his chest and curled into a fetal position trying to get warm – all the while trying to think of what to do.

Beyond the small meadow and barely visible in the darkness stood the edge of a great forest, but Jonathan didn’t see it as he lay shivering on the ground.  He was on the verge of passing out again and barely aware of anything except the bone numbing chill of his damp clothes in the cooling air of the evening.  Jonathan wondered if this was how it all ends and flashed back to his nightmare of panicking as he plunged through snow and ice into freezing water.  Out of the moonlight as if the very shadows themselves were moving, the figure of an old man approached from seemingly nowhere and stood motionless over Jonathan.  He wore a robe made from a coarse, woolen fabric with a sheepskin cloak draped around his shoulders like a blanket, while leaning against a long, wooden staff grasped tightly in his hands.

“I see you have had quite a ride my son.  Come with me to the fire to warm yourself and dry those wet clothes of yours.  You are cold and weary – and in need of food and rest – which I will provide for you.  Your journey has been difficult, but your luck has been great indeed.  Come with me and I’ll take care of you.”  As if waking from a bad dream, Jonathan was taken entirely by surprise by the voice of the old man and needed a minute to come to his senses.  Had he shivered alone in the darkness much longer, he wouldn’t have survived. Jonathan started to respond but the chill and fatigue kept him from doing so.

Jonathan tried to get up, but needed the stranger’s help to raise himself off the ground.  With the old man’s support they slowly walked under the silvery light of the moon across the meadow before stopping at the edge of the woods.  Jonathan collapsed beside the warmth of a small campfire and the old man gave him a wooden spoon and bowl of hot soup.  The soup seemed to be a gravy based goulash with chunks of meat, potatoes and vegetables in it.  As the warmth began to permeate his limbs, Jonathan thought it was the best soup he had ever eaten.  Just visible in the shadows at the edge of the woods stood the great gray horse that had carried him to safety.  The horse lifted his head momentarily to look nervously across the meadow and then returned to grazing in the fresh, dew covered, spring grass.

As Jonathan ate the soup he began to thaw out beside the campfire.  The old man sat across from him on a rock, reading from an old, worn and tattered book bound in leather.  Each time Jonathan tried to ask the old man a question he replied to continue eating.  The time for questions, he said, would come later after Jonathan had eaten and rested.  Jonathan enjoyed his soup and a portion of bread torn from a loaf while welcoming the feeling of warmth and vitality permeating his bones.  The old man was dressed in a dark gray robe cinched at his waist with a thin, woven rope.  He wore sandals on his bare feet and stroked his weathered gray and white beard – lost in thought as he continued reading the pages of the thick volume.  The warmth of the fire and a full stomach of warm goulash was refreshing Jonathan and he took the opportunity to look around and visually explore his surroundings.

Coarsely woven blankets made of thick wool strands along with animal skins and furs appeared to be laid out as bedding on the ground.  The small fire was made of dry hardwood and carefully prepared to leave as little smoke as possible.  Their campsite was sheltered within a natural depression in the ground and protected by three large boulders on the side facing the meadow.  It would be difficult to detect this fire unless someone was nearby or directly overhead and at night there was no visible smoke that would alert someone as to their presence.  Jonathan couldn’t keep his eyes open any longer and lay down on the blankets and furs, pulling them over him and immediately drifted off to asleep.

The pre-dawn glow was visible in the leaves of the forest beside him, as Jonathan opened his eyes and peered out from among the blankets, animal skins and furs.  The old man was stirring something in an iron pot over the fire with a long handled wooden spoon.  Now Jonathan remembered – he had fallen asleep beside the fire last night.  Off in the distance across the meadow, the great horse was standing in the dim, emerging light – his gray coat blending into the shadows of the dawn.  “I thought you would sleep the whole day away, lad.  You don’t seem to be at all concerned about those riders.  If I were you, I would pay a little more attention to the comings and goings that surround you – but this morning I have allowed you the luxury of a good, long rest.  You will need it shortly, I’m very sure of that.”

Jonathan wasn’t quite able to take in all that the old man said to him.  He was just a boy after all, lost on an adventure and really didn’t seem to grasp what was happening to him.  Jonathan took a moment to wash up in the river and then they both had a breakfast of hot tea, grilled rabbit and a small loaf of chewy bread.  “Sir, may I now ask you a question?” Jonathan asked hesitantly, not really knowing what to expect in reply.  He was feeling refreshed from washing up in the river and eating breakfast.  “I will tell you all you need to know in good time, Jonathan.  We must shortly leave this place, but for now I will answer just one question of yours” the old man said patiently, with a quiet urgency in his eyes as he scanned beyond the meadow.

“The gray horse, sir, what is his name?  He saved me from the riders yesterday.  Is he yours?”  Jonathan was beginning to feel slightly bolder now that his single question was asked.  The old man fixed his gaze down at Jonathan while supporting himself on his long staff of white oak with both hands and said, “Ah, the horse.  He is a beautiful and magnificent animal.  I should have expected such a question from a young lad – simply the name of a horse.  Not the important questions of the day or what dangers lurk beyond in the shadows of the woods – or even what am I going to do with you – but merely the name of a horse.”

It was easy to see that the old man was clearly taken aback by the nature of Jonathan’s question.  He had clearly expected to have explained to Jonathan who the riders were, or how far it was to Hampton, or even to explain himself.  After all, he was dealing with a boy whose greatest concern in the world was the name of a horse.  He smiled and said, “Jonathan, the horse you rode yesterday that now stands in the meadow belongs to no man – but when we are in need of each other we have our ways of coming together – as we did last night.  I had only arrived in this place shortly before you awoke and decided to let you sleep until dinner was ready.  Last night you had the benefit of warmth, sustenance and rest, which quickly renews both body and spirit.  We’ll leave now and travel to my cabin where I will explain to you all that you will need to know – where you are and the ways of this land.  Your adventure has only just begun and you have a lot to learn before I send you on your way – but all in good time.”

“But sir, what’s the horse’s name?  I just wanted to know his name.”  Jonathan wasn’t too concerned with the overview of his situation and problem just then.  His concerns were that of a child – a child that would quickly grow up – faster than he would have liked.  This last act of innocence was not too much for him to ask.

“The horse, ah yes, the horse’s name.  I have known him his entire life and his lineage before him.  Many years ago his distant sire came to me in a storm when I needed him – much as he came to you in your time of need – which is his way.  His name is Majeka.  He has seen many seasons come and go, as have I.  I fear our time to depart this land is fast approaching and we may not see many seasons together in the years ahead.  Trust him, Jonathan, and he will take care of you whenever you are in need – of that you can be sure.”

Jonathan smiled a satisfied smile, knowing that the horse’s name was Majeka.  “What does Majeka mean?” Jonathan asked innocently.

“The name Majeka means Magical in our tongue.  It is Majeka’s good fortune you will need to carry with you from here on out, Jonathan” said the old man hesitantly as he scanned the distant horizon and sky with a worried look.  “That’s enough talking for now.  We must pack up and leave immediately.”

Jonathan’s Dream (An Adventure Novel) – Chapter Two, Part Two

Jonathan’s Dream (An Adventure Novel)

(Copyright 1984, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)

Chapter Two, Part Two

Shivering in the wind, Jonathan tied the drawstrings of his sweatshirt’s hood tightly together in a vain attempt to stay warm.  He still had his gloves on as he ate another chocolate chip cookie while slowly riding along the path, brushing against low hanging branches as they went along.  Now he was down to three cookies and was starting to get hungry.  The rain lingered in the clouds, but Jonathan thought that it was sure to  pour down at any moment.  Jonathan feared that he wouldn’t get the reprieve from the rain that he had hoped for.  He looked at his watch and it was 11:30 a.m.  He would surely miss lunch and probably dinner as well.  Jonathan didn’t even want to think about the trouble he would be in when he got home – if he ever got home.

He still hadn’t come up with a name for the great, gray horse.  The horse didn’t seem to mind the fact that Jonathan was riding him at all.  In fact, the horse seemed to be doing all of the leading as they wandered through the forest.  Twice now, when they had come to a fork in the trail, the horse just chose its own direction to take without any hesitation – as if he knew where he was going.  Jonathan had been lost in thought and wasn’t paying any attention at all to the course they were on.  At the moment, any direction seemed to be as good as any other.  The horse’s name would have to wait.

All of a sudden, the horse came to a stop while remaining at attention with his ears forward – sensing that something was in the air.  Instinctively, Jonathan looked up and when he did he saw a crow flying overhead through the treetops.  They remained motionless, not making a sound.  Jonathan wondered if the crow had seen them.  He didn’t think so, as both the gray horse and his gray sweatshirt blended well into the forest’s shadows.  From a distance he heard the riders again, galloping at high speed through the forest.  Jonathan was worried and feared what would happen next.  The great steed below Jonathan remained motionless – listening and watching.  So far they were hidden from view from the approaching riders, but not for long.

A loud cry from above brought Jonathan back to reality.  The crow circled in and out of the trees above them and continued its calling to the approaching riders.  Their position was given away and there was no hope of eluding the riders now.  A low, resonating sound from a horn confirmed his thoughts – the riders had seen them!  In an instant the horse sprang into a gallop, almost throwing Jonathan off its back in its suddenness.  He was now hanging on for dear life as the horse bounded down the path.  Behind him, three horsemen gave chase.

The riders wore long, dark green capes that flew in the wind as they rushed after him.  Jonathan recognized them as the same dark figures on horseback that he and Sammy had seen the day before. What he saw next frightened him more than anything he had seen so far – even more than the crows or watching Sammy fall into the turbulent water – the rider in the lead raised a bow as his horse strained under him.  The sound of an arrow in flight rushed past Jonathan’s head.  Jonathan buried his eyes in the horse’s mane and held on for all he was worth – hoping that the great horse would save him.

Just then, the horse broke sharply to the right, leaving the path and jumped a low row of bushes.  They seemed to be airborne for an eternity, as if in slow motion.  Jonathan wasn’t looking.  His head was still buried behind the horse’s neck and he couldn’t watch what was coming next.  Not only didn’t he expect what was coming up, he wasn’t ready for it either.  Actually, it was probably better that way – otherwise he might not have hung on.  They fell for a long time, but the impact with the water jarred him loose, knocking him upside down in the swift current.  He didn’t know up from down, right from left or backwards from forwards as he tumbled through the water.  All that mattered to Jonathan was to reach the surface, as he floundered in the water – desperate for air.  Finally, he broke the surface, letting out a great gasp as he inhaled his first breath.  Fortunately, he still had his backpack on as he was swept downstream in the swift current.  Jonathan found himself helpless, spun around mercilessly in the rapids as he tried vainly to gain some sort of control over his situation.  As he made another rotation in the water Jonathan saw the great horse nearby, also being swept along in the current through the rapids.  He was glad that his father had taught him how to swim – very glad indeed – and would have to thank his father once he made it back home.

Jonathan could now see where he had just been.  In the distance, on a high cliff, stood three horsemen with two black crows circling overhead.  Arrows floated in the water beside him, but he was now out of bow range to worry about any future shots.  The men turned away and headed back into the woods to their waiting horses.  There would be little reason to fear them for the time being, as Jonathan and his steed floated around a bend in the river, continuing to put more distance between themselves and the riders.  But who were they – and why did they want to harm him?  Jonathan saw an arrow floating downstream with him and he reached out and grabbed it.  It had a black shaft and feathers, with a red band around the middle and a sharp metal arrowhead that had been fashioned with great care.  He clung tightly to the shaft as they both continued floating downstream in what were now calmer waters.

The river was very wide, wider than any river Jonathan had seen before.  He thought it might even lead to the ocean – but there was no ocean around Ohio.  Perhaps it emptied into Lake Erie, Jonathan thought, but he didn’t have much time to contemplate geography at the moment.  He and the horse were now closer together as they made their way downstream and soon found themselves on the outside of a bend in the river.  Jonathan’s feet felt the river bottom for the first time, but as he tried to stand the current wouldn’t allow him to get his footing among all of the rocks.  Eventually, Jonathan was able to make his way against the current into shallower water, literally crawling through the shallows to cling to weeds along the riverbank to hold onto.  He managed to pull himself halfway out of the water and collapsed while lying partially on the riverbank.  Exhaustion overcame him and Jonathan was out cold – his legs still dangling into the rushing waters that had both rescued him and ended any hopes of his returning home in time for dinner.

Jonathan’s Dream (An Adventure Novel) – Chapter Two, Part One – Unexpected Discoveries

Jonathan’s Dream (An Adventure Novel)

(Copyright 1984, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)

Chapter Two, Part One – Unexpected Discoveries

~~~~~~~~~~ 

“Young boys, lives filled with fantasy, often find it hard to understand reality.  It’s a fine line that separates the two and harder yet to know on which side of the line to stand.”  – Mark D. Jones

~~~~~~~~~~

The tear on his sweatshirt reminded Jonathan of the previous day’s events, although he really didn’t want to remember.  The crows, crossing the creek, losing Sammy – Jonathan lamented to himself quietly, struggling to hold back tears as he recalled seeing Sammy fall into the churning water below the fallen tree.  Taking in a very deep breath, Jonathan sat up in the bush to assess his situation.  He still had the backpack with him, which contained the orange and the five cookies that were left.  This was not the time for a picnic though, he had to start moving.  The crows could return at any moment.

Jonathan took one last look for the crows, but they were nowhere in sight.  The wind made a soft rippling sound through the leaves of the great oak overhead.  He saw two squirrels running across the forest floor searching for food, which gave Jonathan the sense that all was clear.  If danger was nearby the squirrels would surely be the first to know.  Besides, keeping an eye out for a few nuts might not be a bad idea he thought, as his provisions were running low.  Jonathan turned around slowly in the bush, being careful not to make very much noise.  A knee broke a small branch, making a sharp, crisp sound that Jonathan was sure would alert the crows to his hiding place.  The squirrels took notice for a second and then went back to their foraging.  His heart was beating faster than ever before as Jonathan slowly and deliberately made his way back deeper into the woods.  It seemed to take forever, but soon he was surrounded by the shadows and darkness of the forest and was hidden by layers upon layers of foliage beneath the canopy of the trees.  The crows were nowhere to be seen.

Now he could rest easy again.  Although his pulse had slowed, his senses were sharper than he had ever noticed them before.  Every noise in the woods was listened to carefully and evaluated for its potential consequences.  Jonathan remembered watching films about Indians and he tried to mimic their quiet and stealthy technique of not making any noise when walking through the woods.  Every stick on the ground was a possible giveaway if it was accidentally stepped on.  The wind began to pick up and the highest tree branches swayed and brushed up against each other making swishing and swirling sounds. The sounds of his movement would be masked and shielded by the wind now.  Jonathan’s eyes peered through the branches, searching for clues as to what to do next.  The smell of pine needles filled the air around him and the dirt had a damp odor that reminded him of worms and fishing.  Sitting down on the forest floor and leaning up against a tree, he took out the orange and had his breakfast – wondering if he would ever make it back home before lunchtime.

A stick lying in the leaves beside Jonathan reminded him of Sammy.  Picking it up he looked at the stick and thought of all the times they had played fetch before.  When he went to put the stick back down, Jonathan noticed a pile of acorns under the leaves and also on top of a flat rock.  Thinking that the squirrels had put them there for safe keeping, Jonathan scooped them up and put them into his backpack.  He wasn’t sure when and where he would get his next meal.  As he went to get up, he thought of the squirrels and put two of the acorns back in place and covered them up with the leaves.  The squirrels had to eat something too, he thought.

The morning seemed to pass by quickly as he wandered along through the forest.  He had seen no sign of civilization and followed an old deer trail to make the walking easier.  The wind was building and Jonathan thought that he might get caught out in a storm.  He really wasn’t prepared to hike through a rainstorm.  The rains had been more frequent than usual this spring, causing many floods in the area.  One time, it had rained for three straight days and the prospects of getting caught in a storm like that made him uneasy.  He hoped that it wouldn’t decide to rain until nightfall – once he was home safe and sound.

The trail he followed was covered by many different types of animal tracks.  He recognized the deer tracks that left deep impressions in what had recently been soft and muddy dirt from a recent rainstorm.  There were impressions left by various little bird feet – likely visiting a puddle  for a drink.  There was also a print that looked like it was from a large dog or wolf.  Jonathan had never seen a wolf print before except in the book that his father used to teach him how to read animal tracks.  Jonathan liked that book, because it was a gift from Gramps returning from one of his far away trips.  Gramps always brought the best presents – you could never guess what he would bring next.  His visits were always unannounced. Every now and again there he was at the doorstep – months or even years between visits – and Gramps always brought a present or two with him when he came.  Jonathan’s father had read him the book when he was little and even quizzed him on the various tracks and the animals that made them.  Of course, it was always easier in the winter to read tracks that had been left behind in the snow.  Rabbits and squirrels, pheasants and quail, deer and bobcat – were all tracks that Jonathan had seen before.  But this track was either from a very large German Shepherd – or a wolf.  He could tell by the similarity with old Trooper’s tracks, only larger – with the distinctive nail marks extending out in front of the pads into the mud.

It made Jonathan feel good to be able to identify the tracks.  Suddenly there was a new track in front of him, further on down the trail.  Oh, it wasn’t new in the sense that he hadn’t seen it before, but rather because it took him by surprise.  In fact, it reminded him of the close call he had the day before.  It was unmistakable there in the soft dirt in front of him.  The print was a hoof print and it was pointed in the same direction that he was going.  It was relatively recent, because the edges of the print were soft, not very deep and wasn’t left behind in wet, muddy soil.  If Jonathan were to guess it was only hours old, if that.  Another thing that caught Jonathan’s eye was that there was no horseshoe mark with this track.  Jonathan had studied the hoof prints of his father’s horses and there was always an unmistakable impression that the horseshoe leaves in the dirt.  This print didn’t have the same markings, but left a softer and more natural looking indentation.  Jonathan didn’t know anyone that didn’t shoe their horses.  Perhaps it had wandered away and thrown a shoe in that time, Jonathan thought to himself.

Jonathan stopped his pondering and put his head up and quickly scanned the woods immediately around him.  It could have been the tracks of one of riders he had seen yesterday with Sammy.  If they were still in the area and Jonathan ran into them again, might they be able to help him get back home?  After all, they had been on the other side of the creek yesterday and that means there must be a bridge or ford where they would have crossed over nearby.  Or perhaps they might not be very happy with him trespassing on their property.  Jonathan couldn’t know for sure, but he remembered they didn’t look very friendly from what he could see through the shadows.  Dark cloaks were all that he could remember for sure, everything else was unclear to him now.  Of course this print could have been from another rider on horseback.  Maybe it was Jim from the next farm down the road – he has horses too – and these prints could have been from any horse.  In fact, it might turn out to be someone that would help him out.  That would change everything and he could still be home in time for dinner.

Surely, Jonathan couldn’t go back the way he had just come, so by default he decided to continue on along the deer trail, albeit rather cautiously.  It wasn’t long before Jonathan had answered his own questions.  He soon came to a clearing in front of him and in the middle of it was a large, gray horse.  Not just an average horse mind you, but the most beautiful horse Jonathan had ever laid eyes on before!  It stood in the sunshine, quietly nibbling the tender spring grasses, occasionally shaking its long silver tail back and forth.  It was an Arabian stallion, soft gray in color with a silvery mane and tail. The mane was longer and prettier than any Jonathan had ever seen before and its tail was thick and full, reaching to just above the ground.  The horse was beautiful, exotic and well-muscled, yet delicate at the same time – unlike the sturdy horses his father owned.  Jonathan looked across the small meadow to see if there were any mares nearby, while crouching at the edge of the woods.  As the horse grazed, it slowly walked in the direction towards where Jonathan was hiding.

There didn’t seem to be anyone else around, but even so, Jonathan was very cautious not to let the horse see him.  The minutes seemed like hours before Jonathan was certain that he and the horse were the only ones there and that no one else was around the meadow.  He had to act now if he was going to catch the horse.  He carefully took the rope and gloves out of his pack, undid the knots he had made yesterday and then formed a loop.  Slowly, Jonathan stood up at the edge of the meadow and made a soft, gentle whistle – similar to a bird call.  He often practiced making bird calls while on adventures with Sammy.  His mother could mimic songbirds and she showed Jonathan how she did it.  His dad taught him how to make a loud whistle using two fingers in his mouth, because on the farm it was easier to get someone’s attention from a distance by whistling than trying to shout across a field.  Hearing the soft whistle, the horse immediately stood very still, ears forward and head turned, looking in Jonathan’s direction.  Now only thirty feet separated them from each other and they stood there for a moment before either one made a move.

Finally, Jonathan came up with a plan and addressed the horse.  “Hi, I’m Jonathan.  I don’t have many chocolate chip cookies left, but if you want, I’ll give you one of them” he said in a soft but confident manner.  He took his hand out of the backpack and motioned towards the horse with an outstretched hand, holding one of his five cookies he had left.  Cautiously, he started walking towards the horse.  With its head held high, the horse nervously lifted his feet, unsure of whether to stay or bolt.  As he got closer, Jonathan started talking to the horse to put it at ease, like he had done many times before on the farm.  Jonathan stopped about ten feet away, still holding the cookie in his outstretched hand.  He was good with horses and they liked him, too.  Maybe it was his manner, or his voice, but mostly it was his confidence.  Jonathan didn’t have any reason to believe that the horse wouldn’t be his friend, so he just continued on slowly towards the horse.

The great horse let out a nervous whinny, pawed the earth and shook his mane back and forth.  He was clearly undecided as to what to do and what to expect from this young visitor.  As the cookie came under his muzzle, the horse flared his nostrils, breathing in heavily to smell the cookie.  Slowly, he began to nibble the cookie out of Jonathan’s hand and then drew away, letting his head drop down again to the grass.  As the horse grazed on the new grass, Jonathan stroked his neck and whispered into his ear that everything would be alright.

Jonathan quickly made a halter out of the rope that he carried, as he had done many times before with his pony.  He was still concerned about being seen out in the open and although he hadn’t seen a crow for awhile now, he wasn’t convinced that they weren’t around here somewhere – watching from high above.  The horse didn’t fight the halter and let Jonathan lead him over to a tree stump.  The horse was too tall for him to climb up without the aid of the stump.  Once he climbed upon the horse’s back they returned to the trail that lead beyond the meadow.  This adventure was starting to look up now that Jonathan had a new companion, although he still missed Sammy.  The horse would need a name.  As they continued along the trail through the woods, Jonathan was lost in thought thinking of a name for his new found friend.