Ghost Horse Hollow ... because a Fantasy should last a lifetime!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Ghost Horse Gift Gallery is On the Web!

Convenient Holiday shopping is just a click away! Ghost Horse Gift Gallery announces the opening of our new online store  We offer fast USPS Priority mail service to the Continental USA and Canada. The web store accepts Visa / MC / Discover / & PayPal.  We offer a variety of fine jewelry with unique characteristics and quality crystal specimens for decoration and contemplation.

Visit our new online store for a selection of magical crystals and jewelry!

Most of the e-store items directly relate to the wondrous fantasy world of Ghost Horse Hollow. The Wizard's Workshop, for example in TURN OF THE BLADE, Part I of the Fairy Lore of Ghost Horse Hollow, is full of crystals and geodes. Jack Williamson's one-of-a-kind intaglio and jewelry creations bring the Wizard's Workshop to life!

"Winter Tree of Life" by Intaglio Artist Jack Williamson

Ghost Horse Gift Gallery - WEB also welcomes a very talented young jewelry designer and wire wrapper Elijah Busse to our family of gallery artists! Elijah uses fine Sterling Silver wire with intricate swirls and overlapping twists to bring out the beauty of delicate gemstones, such as aquamarine, pink tourmaline, and forest green emeralds. The Busse family, of PROSPECTORS TV on the Weather Channel, mine beautiful aquamarines on Mount Antero in Colorado, USA. Mount Antero is only a two hour drive north of Ghost Horse Gift Gallery in the San Luis Valley. The Fairy Queen's jewelry in Ghost Horse Hollow is mainly composed of fresh water pearls, aquamarines, emeralds, and star rubies! 

Exquisite Aquamarine Ring by Elijah Busse of Colorado

Another splendid art form featured on the new Web store is three dimensional gemstone sculpture. Gemstone sculpture requires great accuracy and patience, as each piece must be carefully polished upon completion of the initial carving. The polishing often involves several days, if not weeks, of delicate work with diamond compounds of varying grit. The three dimensional pendants by Jack Williamson are stunning to behold! Jack is one of the few gemstone sculptors in the United States. Some of his signature designs include portraits in quartz, smoky citrine, gold-sheen obsidian, rainbow obsidian, rose quartz, and smoky quartz. The Moonlight Fairies in Ghost Horse Hollow are fond of wearing Black Opals and Moonstones, of course!

Black Honduran Opal Goddess with Moonstone Necklace by Sculptor Jack Williamson

For that special one-of-a-kind gift in celebration of the winter holidays, be sure to visit our new online store! Each of Jack Williamson's creations come with a signed Certificate of Authenticity. Jack and Elijah Busse's designs are shipped in a padded gift box. We invite you to visit the Gallery on Saturday, December 21st, from 3 - 5 PM for our annual Yule Log OPEN HOUSE! It has been a pleasure to serve the southwest Colorado community and visiting tourists from around the world. Now, we are are happy to open our doors to the Internet community with Ghost Horse Gift Gallery - WEB. We invite you to join us on FACEBOOK: for special offerings and updates!

Father Christmas in the Snow Outside Ghost Horse Gift Gallery in Moffat, Colorado

Friday, December 14, 2012

Restoring the Earth, One Forest At a Time

Plant Trees with your family and friends in the New Year!

The year 2013, is a critical time for the restoration of forests worldwide. Trees provide necessary oxygen and cooling temperatures for our entire globe. I urge everyone to connect with the Arbor Day Foundation and other non-profit organizations that support trees in order to plant as many groves, shrubs, and seedlings as possible in the coming months. The Earth needs healthy, massive woodlands in order to remain in balance.

Adventures begin by entering the woodlands.
The human psyche evolves due to the experiences in the forests.

Forests were the original gateways into the mysteries of human existence. Think of how many stories, myths, and tall tales involve entering the Wildwood. One of my favorite examples in children's literature is The Wind in the Willows. Also, where would Winnie-the-Pooh be without the Hundred Acre Wood? Consider the Ents in The Lord of the Rings. Their stately majesty and power saved the day when all seemed lost.

Trees Will Assist Us in Restoring the Earth!

In my own writing for Middle Grade readers, forests provide the settings for many grand adventures. For example, The Fairy Lore of Ghost Horse Hollow is based on the beauty of the Appalachian woodlands. The hardwood forests of North America are truly breathtaking. In eastern Kentucky, I was fortunate enough to see the stump of an old American chestnut tree. The girth of this extinct species was enormous! Several people could fit comfortably inside the remains of the trunk. I marveled at the size of the deciduous elders that once towered across the United States. It was once said that a squirrel could travel from Maine to Louisiana, and never touch the ground. Hind sight has shown us that we have cut down the original forests to our detriment. So many children in today's society cannot comprehend what our world once looked liked when forests stretched unblemished for miles and miles in all directions. Sadly, human technology and greed have destroyed the quality of life on Earth. Sustaining wilderness requires us to be protective and non-invasive. The challenge before the world community is to restore vast tracks of woodlands in spite of economic pressures and political strife.

The Beauty of Trees Inspires the Human Heart to Love More!
I urge all my readers, fans, and friends to remember the importance of forests throughout the world!
How can one person make a difference?
1) Try planting trees in your own backyard or local park.
2) Contribute to sustaining organizations that are focused on preventing the devastation of forests, especially in central Europe, central Africa, North America, and South America.
3) Visit state and national parks and let your political leaders know how much you appreciate their efforts to keep parks safe for families and tourists.
4) Recycle paper products.
5) Conserve fresh water.
6) Hug a tree! It should never be shameful to show respect and appreciation for the world of Nature.
7) Most importantly, let the next generations know that trees and forests are vital to their survival. We are the grandparents and great-grandparents of humans yet to walk upon our planet. In 2013, we have the opportunity to leave these future generations a legacy of beauty, strength, majesty, and true wealth. We have the opportunity to leave them healthy woodlands.
8) Share this blog with your family and friends!

More than ever, the forests of our world need our attention and respect.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Ghost Horse Gift Gallery Opens for the Holidays!

Ghost Horse Gift Gallery is now open in Moffat, Colorado, on Highway 17 and County Road T. The new store features the fine intaglio jewelry of American gemstone sculptor Jack Williamson. The little hexagon gallery also carries excellent crystal specimens, gorgeous T-shirts, incense, candles, journals, books, cards, and coffee mugs, all with a metaphysical touch. The crystal carvings resemble the fantasy concepts found in The Fairy Lore of Ghost Horse Hollow. Jack Williamson inspired the character of Jake MacKennon in the Fairy Lore book series. Jack's artwork has been featured on Jewelry Television and throughout the United States. The new gallery is located in the heart of the San Luis Valley, one of the highest alpine desert valleys in the United States. The valley features many special stops for tourists, like the popular hot springs.

Quartz Crystal Goddess

Winter Tree

White Buffalo

Mushroom Fairy

We invite all our fans to stop by the new store in Moffat, Colorado, and shop for the holidays! Visit our sister website online at for directions and more information. The gallery is open Mon., Wed.-Sat. from 10AM - 5PM. Sundays, 11AM - 4PM. Closed on Tuesdays. Enjoy our 12% OFF SALE on Yule, Friday December 21st. The gallery is open all year long. 

Also, celebrate the joy of the season at the gallery with our Children's Christmas Corner on Sunday, December 23, at 1:00PM & 3:00PM. We will have cookies and hot chocolate. Gallery manager Vince Larson and Marilyn will be reading holiday tales aloud in front of the gallery hearth. Harp music will add to the enchanting readings. Many stocking stuffers are available for under $10, like tumbled stones, lip-gloss, annointing oil, sage, cards, hemp jewelry, and decorative tote bags.

GHOST HORSE GIFT GALLERY welcomes you in 2012!

Sunday, December 04, 2011

THE HOLLY KING, a Family Holiday Tale #12

Our holiday sample from THE HOLLY KING continues with the conclusion of
Chapter V: The Cloak of Wheels.
The scene unfolds in the MacKennon homestead of Ghost Horse Hollow...

Magical cloaks are found throughout fairytales and fantasies.
The Cloak of Wheels in our selection is very special indeed!
Panther vaguely remembered Hannah taking charge from that point on. The girl watched, as if in slow motion, as Purry Paw was sent to awaken Sir Finnias Glowgold, where he lay sleeping in a knitting basket beside Addie’s downy pillow. The Household Light Fairy had forgotten the urgent meeting on the stairs. He had fallen asleep after a busy day of lighting fires, tending candles, and cleaning lanterns. Panther felt her mother grab her by the hand and rush up the two flights of stairs to the attic, where a dusty cedar chest awaited them.

Glowgold finally appeared, a bit grumpy and nervous, for the irritating Siamese cat delighted in chasing fairies. Purry Paw loved to bat at their delicate wings. Glowgold’s escort pounced on top of the cedar chest and intentionally draped his wide, gray tail over the keyhole.

“Move aside! Move aside, you four-pawed fluffy-snoozer!” Glowgold fussed at the feline. Hannah removed the infuriating tail and instructed Glowgold to work as quickly as possible. The Household Light Fairy produced a mysterious wand of finely wrought jade from a hidden pocket inside his waistcoat.

“This should do!” he announced merrily. “I have not employed this wand in nearly a thousand years. Stand back! Oh, do get off, Purry Paw, or my spell will burn your tummy—not that anyone cares.”

The Cloak of Wheels is covered with tiny stars in the shape of wheels!
The eight spokes correspond to the seasonal changes of the year.

Glowgold reverently blew upon the jade wand, which began to shimmer with silver and purple sparks. With great precision, he pointed the wand toward the rusty keyhole on the cedar chest. Purry Paw leapt onto Hannah’s shoulder in protest. The trunk began to sputter with a thin, violet light that spread rapidly in all directions.

Glowing sparks dazzled the onlookers, as the lid popped open, revealing an inner lining of plush, burgundy velvet and faceted gemstones. Inside the chest, a cloak of equal magnificence lay neatly folded. Its midnight blue folds were pulsing and rippling like waves in a velvet puddle. Hannah reached for the fine garment with great tenderness. It had been a farewell gift to her from the aging fairy queen when Lady Titrimia had returned to the Realm of Dreams and Whispers.

News of the queen’s sudden disappearance had reached Hannah by way of a silver hummingbird. The messenger had sadly reported that Titrimia had left the eldest of her nine Green Maidens in charge. The temporary regent was Luka-shen, which translated roughly into “Frog Girl.” Although Hannah had been very fond of the old queen, she did not share the same closeness with Luka-shen. Titrimia had not made Lady MacKennon’s apprenticeship an easy one. Hannah always suspected that Frog Girl’s jealousy was the reason for her hardships and nearly impossible tests. Naturally, Luka-shen’s slick-throated pets bore no love for Hannah’s pampered cats.

Does the cloak make the wizard? Here is a famous magical cloak on
Gandalf the White from The Lord of the Rings.

“Here. Try it on, my love,” Hannah said reverently. Purry Paw, realizing that he was no longer the center of attention, pounced onto the padded seat in the attic’s gable window. The cat proceeded to gaze at the moon, yawn, and lick his paws. Panther reached tentatively for the protective raiment and swept its warm folds across her back. The attached velvet hood was lined with pale green satin that matched the color of Glowgold’s jade wand.

“Shall I awaken the cloak, my lady?” asked the Household Light Fairy, flickering around Panther’s head.

“By all means, Sir Finnias,” Hannah replied hurriedly. Panther’s mother glanced beyond Purry Paw’s broad silhouette in the attic window. She was upset to see her husband leaving the barn with a blue-eyed mare in tow. Three other fresh horses had already been saddled, bridled, and tied to the homestead’s hitching post, which stretched between two tall fir trees. Elestial’s Opal Moon pranced at the end of Jake’s lead rope. The mare sensed the silent tension in Aaron Ray and Jonas White Hand, who were waiting expectantly beside their own mounts. Panther’s cream-colored horse neighed nervously and tossed her head up and down. Hannah knew that time was running out.

“Hold your breath, O human child,” Glowgold commanded. He speedily encircled his prize student three times while touching the tip of his wand to her cloak. With each delicate contact, specks of light appeared on the plush fabric. The luminous dots began to twinkle and spin, like whirling stars. With closer inspection, Panther realized that the stars were actually tiny wheels, their eight spokes spiraling outward from a central hub. These spokes of light gave the cloak an unearthly appearance. The girl seemed to be wearing the night sky itself, only in miniature. As Panther exhaled deeply, Hannah pulled the hood down over her daughter’s brow. Glowgold gave the cloak a final tap, and a stunning constellation appeared over Panther’s enshrouded face.

Lady Yvenova was the first Starlight Fairy Queen to walk the Earth.
She traveled with a herd of milk-white goats.

“You are wearing the stars of the northern sky as seen from our woodlands during the late fall. The fairies refer to this garment as the Cloak of Wheels, for each star in the fabric represents the eight seasonal transitions in our farming calendar. Two spokes in the little wheels stand for the longest and shortest days of the year. Those days, as you well know, are the summer and winter solstices. Two more spokes represent the spring and autumnal equinoxes, when the hours of night and day, light and dark, are in complete balance. The other four spokes mark the sacred holidays that we celebrate in between the solstices and the equinoxes. These celebrations are the Blessing of the Seeds, the Festival of Many Blossoms, the Bread of the Sun, and the Harvest of the Dark,” Hannah informed Panther. “The outermost circle, which binds the eight spokes together, represents the time it takes for the Earth to completely orbit around the Sun. Each wheel on this precious cloak is thus a symbol for the four seasons: spring, summer, autumn, and winter. The fairies call this type of magical calendar the Wheel of the Year.”

“I understand!” the girl said, smiling with enthusiasm. Every fairy education began with the study of nature, time, and their corresponding ceremonies. Regular rituals kept the fairies in tune with the movements of the stars and the moon. Hannah squeezed her daughter’s hand. She was proud of Panther’s quick ability to learn complex ideas.

“As the Earth rotates, the cloak’s fabric changes in appearance to match the stars we see overhead.” Lady MacKennon’s fingers worked rapidly to tie an ornate closure beneath her daughter’s chin. The hood’s wide, green satin ties flowed in and out of Hannah’s confident hands, while her lips moved in a soft prayer. Panther thought she recognized a cadence used by the great fairy poets of ancient times. The girl’s eyes opened wide with surprise. Hannah was speaking in the Heraldry of Kings! How had her mother mastered this difficult language, when her apprenticeship had been cut short? Hannah must have been an extremely gifted student.

“This special knot will serve to ward off any fairy trickery,” Hannah said hurriedly, “so long as you don’t remove the Cloak of Wheels of your own accord. It is of inestimable value, and many treacherous thieves would risk much to have it for themselves. If you undo the ties yourself, or are somehow injured beneath the folds of the cloak, the garment’s stars will fly away and return to their place in the night sky. Should this happen, the fabric’s magic will no longer protect you. Panther, this cloth was cut from the first fairy queen’s royal robe.” Lady MacKennon paused, waiting for her daughter’s reaction.

“The Great Lady Yvenova of the Milk White Goats!” Panther exclaimed. As a young student of Fairy Lore, Genevieve MacKennon had memorized the legend of Queen Yvenova. The first Starlight Fairy had walked the Earth at the dawn of time with a herd of silky companions whose milk, it was said, had fed all the creatures of the world and brought them to life. Panther, up until this very moment, had believed the legend to be a myth, a graceful story told to explain the origins of the Universe. Could the legend actually be based on truth?

“It was Queen Yvenova who spun this thread and wove this cloth,” Hannah continued while cradling a fold of the Cloak of Wheels. “The fabric became our heavenly night when the Great Goat Lady threw it over her shoulders, ages and ages ago.” Lady MacKennon pressed the sparkling hood to her lips. “Should anyone beg you to remove this sacred garment, remember my kiss and heed my warning! If serious peril befalls you—for the ties can be severed with a black troll blade—call my fairy name out loud. Someone from the Starlight Fairy Realm will hear your cry and come to your aid. Please remember that even I have no power to summon assistance from King Thrace-rak’s Moonlight Fairies. Your grandmother was of the Starlight Realm, and it is to Lord Achelon’s kingdom that we must turn in perilous times.”

“Momma,” Panther asked in surprise, “what is your fairy name?” Lady MacKennon’s daughter had never been privileged to this information before, since all the fairy descendants cautiously guarded their true identities. Secret names carried such enormous power that they were seldom used and rarely revealed to others.

Fairies share their Magical Secret Names very rarely.
 A true fairy name could be sold for magical power along the trade routes
 throughout Ghost Horse Hollow and the surrounding woodlands.

“Farendel Elissia,” Hannah replied with a breath of caution. Lady MacKennon looked around the attic suspiciously as Panther carefully repeated the name in her own mind. Not every spider or mouse could be trusted. True fairy names were often sold or exchanged for worldly goods. Magical secrets, incantations, daggers, wands, crystals, cloaks, and enchanted gemstones all had their price on the trade routes that crisscrossed throughout the Fairylands.

Both mother and daughter could hear restless noises below. The men had unhitched their horses and had led them close to the front porch. Hannah enfolded Panther in a tender embrace.

“Remember, touch neither food nor drink upon Tormac’s table. Stay close to your father. When you return, I will undo this magic knot myself, for I have set the original tying spell. Glowgold will then lock the queen’s gift back in this cedar chest, and you will be able to wear it once more, when need arises. Now, go! Titrimia’s Eyes be upon you!”

Panther tore away from her mother’s arms and sped down the stairs, the Cloak of Wheels swirling behind her. Sir Finnias flew to the attic window and unlatched a brass hook, which normally held the glass panes tightly shut. The autumn wind rushed in, scattering dry leaves and eerie moonbeams across the hardwood floor. Purry Paw meowed in protest. With a flick of his tail, the cat merged into the shadows of the attic.

Lady Hannah soundlessly floated to the window, her jeweled slippers barely touching the floor and her long gown wafting behind her. Panther’s mother never unveiled her fairy powers in the human world, for they made it difficult for her to interact with others. Tonight was an exception. Hannah’s gossamer wings nervously unfurled, like a pair of dainty rose petals.

After all, Lady MacKennon was the granddaughter of the Wild Rose Prince, who had married a Waterfall Mermaid princess. The mismatched pair’s only daughter, Sherona of the Crystal Cascades, had rebelliously chosen to marry Isaiah Hensley, a common potato farmer. Isaiah and Sherona also had but one child together, Hannah Rose. Shortly after the little girl’s fifth birthday, Sherona had vanished into the woods, leaving her husband to raise their magical offspring. No wonder the Hensleys disapproved of Hannah’s apprenticeship with the fairies! What a troublesome marriage that had been, Lady MacKennon thought with an inward sigh.

“Shall I attend young Genevieve, my lady?” Glowgold broke through Hannah’s musings.

“Yes. Light the trail for them all! But take care, my dear and oldest friend. Hide when you reach the Dead Oak Tree!” Hannah warned. “You know how Tormac despises the Household Light Fairies. His dungeons in the Sunken Elm Grove are full of your relatives.”

The small sprite bowed so low that his ruby circlet brushed the shimmering buckles on his boots. Glowgold spun out into the night as Hannah Rose MacKennon latched the attic window, her shoulders shaking uncontrollably with fear.

Panther MacKennon in the Cloak of Wheels by Steve Lillegard.
She is riding Elestial's Opal Moon, a cremello mare in our story!
Hope your enjoyed our samples this holiday from the book
 THE HOLLY KING by Anne Severn Williamson!
Blessings to ALL this happy winter season.
The Ghost Horses continue to gallop for peace, prosperity,
literacy, and conservation for all nations.
We visualize and support freedom for children everywhere
 and good tidings to all countries.
Please be sure to visit our website for more information,
homestead recipes, holiday shopping ideas,
and photos of the Ghost Horses!
Special Thanks to our equine photographers:
Larry Inman and David Abbott!

Saturday, December 03, 2011

THE HOLLY KING, a Family Holiday Tale #11

THE HOLLY KING continues for the holidays with episode #11.
We are starting Chapter V: The Cloak of Wheels ...

To review... The Coyote King has summoned
Farmer Jake MacKennon to the Dead Oak Tree ...

Chapter V: The Cloak of Wheels

“I cannot allow you to take our fourteen-year-old daughter! Jake, you know it is far too dangerous. Tormac is bound to invite her to dine at his table. The Fairy Laws of Etiquette demand that she reply favorably. Who knows what that ruthless prince will serve?” Hannah’s voice was strained with apprehension.

Panther MacKennon, tucked behind the carved railing at the top of the stairs, could easily hear her parents arguing in the kitchen. She wondered what her father had in mind to protect her from the Autumn Fairy Prince. Purry Paw, Hannah’s pampered blue-point Siamese, wandered down the hall, weaving precise, little steps beneath his plump belly. The cat combed his whiskers against the girl’s extended fingertips and fixed his slightly cross-eyed stare upon her for a brief second. Purry Paw then turned his attention to the frenzied dialogue below.

“I’ll respond to the prince. Panther need say nothin‘ to him directly,” Jake reassured his wife. The chair hounds growled as the farmer explained his plans. “That way our girl won’t be in danger of breakin‘ any fairy codes. She’ll never directly refuse Tormac’s offer of hospitality. I’m takin‘ Aaron Ray, White Hand, the two hounds Bugle and Belle. The other six dogs I’ll leave with you for protection.” Jake felt that Snowy, Cave, Sage, Mountain, Moonwolf, and Guardian could handle any intruders. The homesteaders kept a pair of watch dogs for each side of their wraparound porch. If Bugle and Belle attended the adventurers, only the eastern doorway would be left unguarded. Hannah MacKennon’s fears, nonetheless, were increasing with each passing second.

“Aaron’s two hounds cannot take on the whole coyote pack! Besides, King Vixus has allowed his followers to mingle with larger and meaner wild dogs, even trained pit fighters. Old Spit was well aware of the dangers surrounding the Dead Oak Tree when he delivered his master’s orders. What if Tormac orders the pack to charge? Have you forgotten that the prince is one of the finest swordsmen in all the Fairylands? Jake, this is madness!”

The Dead Oak Tree north of Ghost Horse Hollow
Hannah’s chair ponies were neighing loudly in the background. Panther and the Siamese cat crept down a few more risers toward the rooster. Black Bottom paused for a long moment to admire himself in the full-length, gilded mirror alongside the stairwell.

“Isn’t this exciting?” he clucked.

“Shh! Here. Sit by us, and above all, don’t crow! Where have you been?” Panther whispered fiercely as the chicken squatted down on his long, yellow legs.

“My innocent and unknowing child, there are times when even a Captain of Crow must retreat. I thought it best to hide under the dinner table.”

“I thought I heard you sneaking into the cookie jar, like last time.” Panther smothered a laugh with her hand. She was remembering how Black Bottom had made himself sick by eating too many peanut butter bars while hiding in Lady Hannah’s porcelain jar.

“The container was full this evening,” the bird retorted. “Besides, the truffles were sticky.”

“Once and for all, Panther must go with me!” Jake MacKennon’s voice traveled up the stairs. His wooden hounds were barking fiercely. “She’s the only member of this family that can translate Ancient Fairy Scroll, which the prince is sure to use. If’n I miss Tormac’s instructions to the coyotes, we may not be able to defend this farm. I must know what he’s up to. Hannah Rose, I need your support on this one!”

There was a very long pause. Even the magic chairs were silent. Panther’s future was being tossed into the air, like a ball. Breathlessly, the girl waited to see where it would land. The young apprentice to the Starlight Fairy Queen could clearly detect the sound of her mother’s fingertips rapidly tapping on the rim of a crystal goblet.

Hannah MacKennon's Wood Cook Stove in the Farmstead Kitchen

“Promise me that you will not permit her to dine or to drink from Tormac’s serving stump. There may be Dwindle-Down Dust on everything. I won’t have our daughter returning home six inches tall, even if I do know how to make the antidote! Sprinkle-Up Spray is so difficult to concoct this time of year, for the Sun rides low at the noon hour.” Hannah spoke in a flat, steady voice. Panther sensed that her mother was pacing beside the dinner table and that the wide hem of Lady MacKennon’s patchwork dress was dragging on the pine floorboards.

“Hannah, you have my word. I’ll defend our little girl with my life!” Jake swore.

“That is precisely what I am afraid of!” came the muffled reply.

Husband and wife were now speaking so quietly that the listeners on the staircase had to strain to make out their words. Panther and her two companions slid soundlessly down the broad banister, hopped over the bottom step, and peered around the kitchen corner. Black Bottom poked his beak between the Siamese cat’s ears, and the girl leaned over the rooster’s comb.

There stood Hannah and Jake in each other’s arms. Lady MacKennon was weeping silent, raindrop tears. Her normally steady hands were trembling. She knew that her husband’s decision was the right one. Her own apprenticeship in the woods had not touched upon the old fairy tongue; otherwise, Hannah MacKennon would have readily volunteered to go in her daughter’s place.

“Panther,” Jake asked suddenly, “how long have you been listenin‘ there?”

“Long enough to know that Tormac is more dangerous than a rattlesnake with its tail caught in a bale of hay,” the girl responded candidly. “He’ll strike at everything he can.”

MacKennon grinned, in spite of the gravity of the situation. Panther had summed up her evening’s opponent perfectly.

A Ghost Horse in the Cherokee Mountains
“Jake, I have a cloak that was given to me by the Fairy Queen, Lady Titrimia.” Hannah’s voice brightened with hope. “It was made for protecting a human child. I have never used it. Panther can wear it tonight. She will at least be safe from any of Tormac’s treachery, so long as she does not remove the cloak willingly. It must be tied with a special knot.”

“Quickly then,” Jake agreed. “The moon has crossed the First Hill of Dendoran. We can’t be late for Tormac’s meetin‘ at the Dead Oak Tree. I’d best go saddle up the horses.”

From the background of the tin sink and the wood cook stove, Eli MacKennon stepped forward. The teenager’s hands were covered with dish soap, and he was carrying a drippy wash cloth. He called to Jake just as the farmer reached the front door.

“Uncle, what about me?” Panther’s cousin eagerly asked. “I’m the best trail rider on the farm, and I’ve been practicing with your sword every evenin‘ for a whole six months.”

“No, son,” Jake said forcefully. “That weapon takes quite a while to master. I’ll be takin’ it myself, in case Tormac gives us any trouble. Eli, I need you and Black Bottom to guard the home front. I’ll not leave the ladies alone. I want you to keep watch from the loft above the hay barn. That’s the highest lookout in these parts. The coyotes and wild dogs will come from the northwest should their king order an attack. Take your best bow and your throwin‘ stars. And, Eli,” the farmer said, hesitating to drive his point home, “don’t miss!”

“Yes, sir!” The nineteen-year-old spun around and tossed his washcloth into a tub of suds. It landed with a noisy plop, splashing Pelbert the Crow. The irate bird danced about on the rim of the wash basin and cawed repeatedly. Eli was so caught up in the moment that he almost jumped out the kitchen window feet-first. Gracie Farrow snatched at the young man’s elbow and guided him to the back door, past the well-stocked pantry full of Hannah’s fairy helpers. The Pickled-Egg Fairy looked up from tasting a jar of cherry preserves and wished Eli good luck. Several other sprites turned somersaults in midair and blew kisses at the handsome boy.

Miss Alma Barder intently hoped that the two teenagers would exchange a kiss, but Cousin Eli tore past Gracie and ran lickety-split to the bunkhouse to prepare for his assignment. White Hand alone was a better shot with a bow than Jake’s nephew, who exercised constantly with his extensive collection of handcrafted weapons.

It was fortunate for Eli that Aaron Ray was such a skilled metalworker. Aaron’s creative and accurate designs satisfied the agile youth’s appetite for knives, daggers, boomerangs, and swords. Steel was hard to come by in the Fairylands. Aaron produced oddly shaped, but well- balanced tools for self-defense. He used only scraps of discarded metal from an extensive junkyard north of Ghost Horse Hollow.

Nut and Bolt, the homestead’s squirrel mechanics, had discovered the machinery and automobile graveyard.  Eli helped the squirrels transport broken bits of metal back to Aaron’s forge. It was a risky undertaking, since the salvage yard was owned and operated by two watchful giants. The squirrels whisked in and out without being noticed, but Eli was in considerable danger while sneaking around the Jiggly Giant JUNK . The nineteen-year-old also bravely served as the metalworker’s test partner. Eli had somehow survived each weapon’s test with a grin and a shrug, though he had nearly lost a few body parts during the experiments.

The woodlands are full of squirrels. Nut and Bolt are husband and wife.
“My post, General?” Black Bottom inquired with dignity.

“Rooster, I need you on the weathervane. Crow three times to alert the critters and the ladies of anything unusual ’bout the farm.” Jake reached to embrace Hannah one last time as Black Bottom strutted out the front door to his worthy station. MacKennon then knelt to consult with Panther.

“Which ride?” Jake asked his daughter after they had exchanged a knowing look.

“Elestial,” she murmured.

Jake nodded in agreement. Elestial’s Opal Moon was a sweet, even-tempered, intelligent mare. She would maintain her calm on this uncertain night and would not spook on the high, mountain trails, even with a coyote on her heels. Neither Jake nor Panther could predict the future. They were simply preparing, as best they could, for what lay ahead.

Hope you are enjoying our magical holiday ride
with the MacKennon homesteaders of Ghost Horse Hollow!
Next intallment will introduce readers to a very magical cloak!

Friday, December 02, 2011

THE HOLLY KING, a Family Holiday Tale #10

Our journey this holiday continues with the 10th episode of THE HOLLY KING.  We  are in the middle of Chapter IV: The Battle of the Ponies and the Hounds

White Hand has just received a very important letter ...

The second delivery intrigued the entire family, for Jonas had never received a letter before. White Hand hesitantly passed his envelope to Panther. The expert bowman was illiterate, for his schooling had been limited to the woodlands. Panther had agreed to teach White Hand to read in exchange for learning to speak his Native language. For now, he needed her help. Graciously, she opened the small packet and unfolded a yellow slip of paper, which had been hastily torn from a larger sheet and covered with green, plant juice ink. Panther was careful not to smudge the faint, child-like lettering. She cleared her throat, sat up straight, and read aloud:

This beautiful, young girl looks a lot like Salina Little Dove

           Grandfather … I come to you. My mother says I belong with you. I wish to learn the Old Ways. I will wait for you in the Valley of the Drums, near the hidden cave of our Ancestors. I will come before the Moon When Deer Sheds His Antlers. Please do not be angry with me. I would walk all the way to you, but I do not know the way. By the time this letter reaches you, I will have begun my journey. My stepfather will not keep me. I am afraid of him. He says I see too much.

 … Forever Yours …

Salina Little Dove

In the polite, but awkward, silence that followed, Panther noticed that the hounds on the back of her father’s chair had pricked up their ears and leaned forward. Other than this unintentional display of concern, MacKennon’s reaction to the letter was casual. The farmer scratched his chin. Jake’s wooden dogs always reflected his hidden emotions; as the carved ponies displayed Hannah’s passionate moods. The tops of Lady MacKennon’s chair pointed their sleek, pretty noses toward one another, their necks arched in graceful question marks.

Panther’s mother passed the blackberry jelly over to Addie and helped her youngest daughter with the sticky serving spoon. Everyone else continued eating quietly, except for Lyla Morning Sky, who mumbled something about castoff seeds returning to the sender. Panther squirmed in her seat with excitement.

“What hidden cave?” she asked aloud, scattering the collective tension like a dog shaking off the morning dew.

“It is a forgotten site that was once sacred to the People,” White Hand explained slowly. “From deep inside a limestone cavern, clear water gushes out of an underground spring. Medicine elders from many tribes are buried in the shelves of rock and in the open fields nearby. The grasslands are called the Valley of the Drums. The entranceway is hard to find, so buffalo still graze there, as they once did long ago. A group of young hunters, boys and girls of Panther’s age, known as the Wolf Society, have recently spotted a white buffalo calf in this Valley. The white buffalo is the most sacred creature for all the tribes. It is a sign that balance is returning to our world.”

The buffalo roam freely one hundred years
 in the future in the Valley of the Drums!

Lyla Morning Sky cleared her throat and added to the mystery of her brother’s explanation, “Tell Panther more about the history of the spring, White Hand. She should know of its power.”

“The spring is deep beyond measure,” the warrior continued with his arms crossed in front of his chest, as if he were protecting his heart. “Long ago, when the stars were bright in the night sky, a brave swimmer named Yellow Otter dove into the spring to find its depth. He never returned. It is said his spirit guards the cave and that his Medicine Bundle is still lodged inside. It is also said that this Medicine Bundle contains great wisdom to heal the Earth,” Jonas finished with a worried glance at his elder sister.

Panther tingled with curiosity. Lyla and Jonas were concealing something. Perhaps Yellow Otter’s Medicine Bundle was too sacred to discuss. Besides, she only knew of two other magic springs. One was called Elven Falls, where a magnificent brook cascaded down a series of flat limestone formations. The Fairy Queen had been very cautious when talking about this watercourse and had refused to visit the wondrous place. Seldom would Titrimia and her fair Green Maidens play near such a source of unbridled enchantment. Panther was also familiar with the Well of Brigga in the northeastern corner of the Fairylands. This icy fountain was famous for its restorative waters, a fluid so pure and vital that it cured any illness, even old age and fairy freezing spells, though no one had ever been able to capture a drop of the precious liquid. Panther had never heard of a sacred spring inside a cave that housed buried shamans.

Elven Falls houses a secret cave where spring water gushes into a mountain stream.
The Starlight Fairy maidens will not play there.
Occasionally a Moonlight Fairy of great power,
such as the Moonlight Fairy Princess, will hide there.

“But the Moon When Deer Sheds His Antlers is so soon!” The girl looked pleadingly from one end of the table to the other. Both Hannah and Jake immediately sensed that their daughter wished to accompany White Hand to find Salina Little Dove. Panther had already guessed correctly that her parents would be quite willing to rescue a desperate child.

“Will wonders never cease?” Hannah responded to Panther’s unspoken request. “Looks like the girls are finally going to have a friend to play with. I know this Hollow gets mighty lonesome. I suppose Panther will want to ride in the wagon to fetch Salina.” Hannah passed the gravy to Eli with a gesture for him to save some for others. “Jonas, just how old is your granddaughter?”

“Little Dove is entering her twelfth year. She was born in the Moon of Falling Leaves.” White Hand stared at his dinner plate. He seemed troubled and unwilling to say more.

Morning Sky cleared her throat once more and began removing the dirty dishes from the table. Gracie quietlyjoined the Medicine Woman in clearing the main course away and replacing it with spicy peach pie, blackberry cobbler, and apple dumplings.

“Jonas bears no love for Salina’s stepfather,” Lyla began in a serious tone as she placed a slice of pie in front of her brother. “Valente does not honor the wild creatures that he hunts. He sells the teeth and hides, but he does not eat the meat or use the bones. He shows little respect for Salina’s mother, as well. Tita has never been treated as an equal. He is violent in his home, like an angry badger. This has troubled White Hand and me for many years.”

Morning Sky clicked her tongue to encourage Pelbert to hop onto Addie’s shoulder. The little girl smiled and held up a bite of flaky crust for the bird to peck. Hannah, for once, was allowing the crow to eat at the table. She was too busy making a wordless decision with her husband. Lady MacKennon looked expectantly at the far end of the table. Jake leaned back in his chair and winked at his wife.

A log cabin surrounded by a split rail fence in the Smokey Mountains.

“We must make a place for Salina in the old log cabin with Jonas and Lyla. She can move into the empty storeroom under the sleeping loft,” Hannah announced cheerfully. “I’ll bring in the old sleigh bed, a nice rockin‘ chair, and a wash basin. That storeroom has a lovely bay window. We would all be pleased to have her on the farm. Ain’t that right, Jake?”

“Salina Little Dove would be most welcome,” MacKennon offered aloud. Panther’s father glanced at his eldest daughter’s eager expression. “Yep, you can go with White Hand, if’n you promise to behave yourself, and if’n it’s all right with Hannah.”

Lady MacKennon gave Panther one of her special, twinkling grins. The whole family began talking at once, such was their joy in anticipating another voice in Ghost Horse Hollow. The homesteaders did not hear the screen door slam as Black Bottom the Rooster strutted in. The chicken made his way toward the talkative table and crowed, announcing his presence. Everyone observed that Black Bottom’s tail feathers had been immaculately preened, and that his leg spurs had been polished with beeswax. The rooster approached Jake MacKennon’s chair with the air of a proud soldier reporting for duty.

“Ready for battle, sir.” Black Bottom lifted one of his bright yellow legs in a stiff salute. The great effort tilted the rooster off balance. He fell sideways with an awkward squawk while batting his wings. Miss Gracie leaned over politely and helped Black Bottom to his toes. She tried not to laugh at his disgrace, but could not help giggling into her napkin. Cousin Eli nudged her with his elbow and made a flapping gesture, and the two teenagers burst into laughter. Hannah thought it good to see Gracie brighten, for the girl’s mood these past few months had been nothing but tragic. Alma Barder was on top of the situation in a heartbeat, forever playing the lively matchmaker.

Black Bottom the Rooster was named for his Beautiful Tail Feathers!

“Bless my buttons! You two puppies can help me with the dishes later on,” the retired schoolteacher said, widening her eyes with anticipation. “Black Bottom, tell us all about this battle. Are you goin‘ fighting down at the Wish Wash Cafe again? Are the raccoons having another contest with all-you-can-eat crawdads as the prize?” Alma’s question caught MacKennon off guard. He turned suddenly toward the chicken with a warning glance, but Black Bottom was too fluffed up with self-importance to notice.

“Madame, I am joining the team of warriors attending Master Jake, our brave and noteworthy farmer. We are to face grave and terrible danger this night at the Dead Oak Tree, where Tormac and the Coyote King await us,” the rooster replied gallantly. “Pelbert the Crow has informed the barnyard that a certain young lady, namely Miss Genevieve of the Honey-Hair, is to serve the party of valiant, but foolhardy, warriors as an interpreter. This is a fact which Pelbert the Crow received from very reliable sources, otherwise known as Bugle and Belle, the esteemed hounds of Master Aaron Ray.”

Pelbert let out a squeaky whistle and hid within the folds of Morning Sky’s loose shawl. Hannah gasped in stunned surprise. Jake threw a hunk of cold cornbread at the rooster’s head, but Black Bottom quickly ducked and popped his wings.

“I guess Jake ain’t told her yet,” Aaron said as he looked intently at White Hand. Both men artfully excused themselves from the table to continue their evening chores. The dishes suddenly needed washing very badly by several people, and Panther thought it was a most excellent idea to give her little sister a bath. Within a few hurried moments, the long benches on either side of the trestle table were empty. Hannah and Jake, whose ponies and hounds were alternately neighing and barking, stood stubbornly facing one another down the length of the cluttered table.

As Panther slipped out of the kitchen with Addie by her side and Glowgold flitting along behind, she wondered what Black Bottom had meant about her serving as an interpreter for Tormac. She had never met the Autumn Fairy Prince. Now her Wind-sight visions from earlier that day were beginning to make sense. The Starlight Fairy Queen had disliked her third son’s volatile temper and had rarely allowed him to address the royal court. Panther decided to put her sister to bed as soon as possible and then listen to her parents’ heated conversation from the top of the stairs in the front hall. Hannah and Jake rarely fought except upon occasion when they had a significant difference of opinion. Tonight’s disagreement promised to be a doozie.

“Come along, Glowgold,” Panther whispered. “I don’t want to miss this.”

“By the sound of it, My Little Firefly, no one will miss this fight. I shall see to Miss Adeline’s bath and put her to bed for you. Meet you on the stairs.”

“Why can’t I stay up and listen?” Addie complained to her favorite fairy.

“You are entirely too young for such an altercation,” said Sir Finnias, waving his wand.

Luka Shen, the eldest of the Green Fairy Maidens, looks a bit like this image from Bing.
Luka Shen was always jealous of Lady Hannah MacKennon.

While Glowgold went on to explain the meaning of altercation to Addie and whisk her into a bubble bath, Panther took her place at the top of the first flight of stairs in the MacKennon home. Already, sparks were flying around the corner of the hall below. The girl could distinctly hear the rooster trying to fit inside her mother’s cookie jar, as was his usual habit during a quarrel of any sort. She heard the jar crash to the floor, and then a befuddled black chicken wandered out of the kitchen.

“Up here!” Panther whispered loudly.

“Coming, Miss Genevieve,” Black Bottom responded amiably. Panther grinned, remembering how her feathered friend was afraid of all cats, let alone big ones.

“You did say Tormac and the Coyote King?” she inquired.

“Indeed, Miss Genevieve. Your skills are needed, and much adventure is afoot. But first, we must await the outcome of the Battle of the Ponies and the Hounds!”

Join our blog tomorrow for the next installment of THE HOLLY KING.
We shall begin Chapter V : The Cloak of Wheels!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

THE HOLLY KING, a Family Holiday Tale #9

Our adventure continues with Chapter IV of THE HOLLY KING inside the MacKennon homestead in Ghost Horse Hollow. Thanks so much for joining us today with our ongoing holiday tale ...

The little guest cabin where Jonas White Hand and Lyla Morning Sky reside.
Ghost Horse Hollow looks like this photo taken in the late fall in the Cherokee Mountains.

Chapter IV : The Battle of the Ponies and the Hounds

The evening star tipped the horizon just as the waxing moon appeared above the First Hill of Dendoran. Aaron Ray carefully latched the garden gate behind him. It was a necessary routine on any farm. The metalworker beckoned to White Hand to hurry on, and Jonas responded by waving a rope halter in the air, while turning to his last chore of filling the water troughs. Aaron looked around for Bugle and Belle, but the Blue Tick hounds had already nudged their way past the gate and reached the front porch. With a fluttering of his jet-colored wings, Pelbert the Crow escaped out the kitchen window and spoke briefly with the dogs. The bird then flew in the direction of the clothesline in the side yard and headed toward the chicken coop to gossip with Black Bottom the Rooster. By the time the hounds had flopped down beneath the front porch swing, Pelbert had returned triumphantly and slipped back inside.

“Panther! Addie! The bell’s been rung twice now, girls!” Hannah called as she followed the lilting notes coming from the antique pipe organ in the parlor. Lady MacKennon smiled tenderly. The melodies that tumbled down the wide front hall were hauntingly beautiful. They were reminiscent of old fairy tunes, which Glowgold had been teaching the girls all afternoon. He flitted from one daughter to the next, humming in their ears and waving his wand in time to the music.

This pump organ looks similar to the one in the MacKennon's parlour.
Notice the old foot pedals that have to be pressed back and forth to make the sound!

Hannah fondly remembered when Glowgold had begun teaching her the same melodies when she was but six years of age. How she had loved the fancy organ, with its beveled glass panels and creaky, embroidered bench seat! Panther and Addie were presently taking turns at pumping the stiff pedals, while giving each other a chance to play the instrument’s worn, ivory keys. The Household Light Fairy was singing with gusto:

A fairy’s night is a wondrous flight,

Of moonbeams and of shadows.

The two girls repeated the same line in perfect harmony. Hannah, standing in the parlor doorway, added a third soprano part as their winged leader began the spirited chorus:

Oh, sing-a-ling, sing,

A‘ ring-a-ding, ding,

A fairy night so fair—

Oh, bell-a-dell, dell,

For all is well,

And we, never a care!

“Bravo, my Little Fireflies! Well done, my Pumpkin Seeds! You both are much improved. But it is time for food and drink. Your mother awaits you. I shall go and light the candles.”

Glowgold spun upward and twirled his glittering wand. His transparent, golden wings pulsed with delight. He returned dutifully to lead five-year-old Addie into the next room, for the youngest member of the farm family was blind.

Adeline MacKennon opens the door for many hearts throughout the fantasy.
She represents pure goodness, patience, trust, and the healing power of music.

“I’ll help with Sissy, Glowgold,” Panther spoke up, though she knew her little sister could negotiate the homestead’s halls without any prompting. Addie had developed a keen sense of hearing and the ability to count her steps from one threshold to the next. Still, the whole family looked out for her, believing she had already suffered far too much.

Adeline Mariah MacKennon had contracted an unknown disease when she was but three years of age. Many of the children in the Eastern Woodlands had wrestled with the virus’s deadly fury. All of Hannah and Morning Sky’s herbal medicines had been unable to save the little girl’s sight, though they had saved her life. Jake suspected that the contagious virus had leaked from a rusty barrel stored in an abandoned laboratory. The Starlight Fairies, who specialized in healing plants, were confounded by the disease and unable to provide a cure. The sickness wandered relentlessly through the human body from organ to organ without logic. Morning Sky had concluded that only a scientist without a conscience would have created such a problem for others to deal with. Lyla thought germ warfare to be an act of absolute madness; for she knew that illnesses, such as the one which had destroyed Addie’s eyes, could never be successfully contained. As Addie slowly recovered, the Medicine Woman had prayed for the return of health and balance for all Earth’s Children.

Sir Finnias Glowgold had told the grieving mother to keep her chin up. He would personally see to it that Addie be trained as a treasured fairy bard. She already displayed an uncommon love for music and poetry. Let the loss of her fair blue eyes be her payment for remarkable abilities yet to come! This explained the girl’s regular music lessons from a fairy who frequently complained that children were messy, loud, and rude. Glowgold himself had experienced a change of heart in Miss Adeline’s peaceful, trusting presence. Perhaps one day, the royal Starlight Fairy Bard, Thruka-den-al, would visit with his two harmony maidens, Lady Hummy and Lady Lindalynn, to hear young Addie sing.

The tressle table in the homestead kitchen in solid and elegant.
Many of the activities on the farm are planned during the evening meal.

Once inside the kitchen, the MacKennon’s youngest daughter found her place at the crowded table beside her mother’s chair. The carved pony heads turned toward Adeline and neighed in greeting. Jake had completed the chairs before he realized that the materials had come from the Enchanted Maple Grove, not far from Grandfather Mountain. Three Toe the Bear simply said that he had found the wood somewhere in the forest. The unforeseen result was that all the sculptures in the Hollow were capable of coming to life whenever they pleased. It took some getting used to, but the MacKennons were delighted in the long run. Addie reached up to pet the well-polished wooden noses and quickly climbed onto the log bench that stretched the length of the dinner table. Hannah and Lyla Morning Sky reached out to clasp her searching hands.

Panther squeezed onto the bench farther down the table, between White Hand and her cousin Eli. Her long hair, slightly darker in hue than her mother’s, was still pinned up in delicate braids. Panther had a passion for running and climbing trees and did not want her hair to interfere with her speed. Slender, strong fingers and the posture of a princess brought her much attention, as did her eyes, which changed with the color of the sky. They looked at the world with both wonder and amusement. Panther had laughter for breakfast and mirth for lunch. Her exuberance only partially explained why everyone loved her so dearly. The other factor was her heart, which embraced the poorest of folks as royalty and the weakest of souls as kin.

“Good evening, Eli. Good evening, White Hand,” the Panther said in greeting. Both men nodded with respect in her direction.

Somehow Panther had inherited both of her parents’ keen intellect and their combined magical abilities, as well as their courage and compassion. She stood among the adults almost as an equal, with her soft, lilac-colored sweater tucked inside a pair of faded, blue corduroy pants and a wide, rugged belt. The buttons on her clothing were made from flattened old coins. A stranger would never have suspected that she spoke three fairy languages, including Ancient Fairy Scroll, the more contemporary Fairy Brogue, and the Heraldry of Kings. This difficult tongue was revealed only to a human child capable of surviving a rigorous apprenticeship with the Starlight Fairy Queen. Few were chosen to attempt the study program, and fewer still returned from the wild woods with their sanity intact; but Panther had survived six demanding years under Lady Titrimia’s tutelage, returning to Hannah’s arms each afternoon with clear eyes as penetrating and wise as the unblinking owl’s. Eli and White Hand, as tough as they were, knew Panther could handle herself in a tussle as well. Fairy combat training was not for the faint of heart, and the young teen had mastered the rapier, willow switches, dragon daggers, throwing stars, whip-o-will, and defendo, the dangerous art of hand-to-wing survival.

Actress Ellyon Elestial brought the part of Panther MacKennon to life
 in the first book trailer for THE HOLLY KING.
 Here she is practicing with the willow switches for the video.
 Check it out on You tube:

Only in this seventh and final year, Panther had been forced to continue her studies solely with Glowgold. The Household Light Fairy had volunteered to fill in for the Fairy Queen and her royal court, because Titrimia had chosen to return suddenly to the Land of Dreams and Whispers, a cloudy realm where fairies dwelt when not upon the Earth. Titrimia’s decision had rocked the Fairylands, for the Starlight Queen’s thousand-year reign was not yet over. No one understood the reason for her early disappearance. To add to the mystery, Glowgold had been very reluctant to discuss the matter when pressed for an explanation.

By the time the two girls reached the dinner table, everyone else had gathered for the evening prayer before the bountiful meal. Ten pairs of hands clasped together in thanksgiving and loyalty, including those of the two children, their mother and father, White Hand, Morning Sky, Alma Barder, Aaron Ray, Gracie Farrow, and Cousin Eli. The companionship of the evening meal was traditional and important. Breakfast and lunch were served on the heavy sideboard for each person to grab, according to what their daily chores would allow. Suppertime, however, was a community event, which afforded everyone an opportunity to exchange the daily news.

“Glowgold, I do believe that it is your turn to say the blessing,” Hannah prompted.

The Household Light Fairy looked most pleased as the family bent their heads with respect. Jake and Hannah encouraged every member of Ghost Horse Hollow to express their unique faith without ridicule. There were so many different beliefs represented within the group that it was necessary to honor the various concepts of creation by taking turns in leading prayers and ceremonies. This evening, Glowgold selected a more conservative speech as he awakened each bayberry candle in the center of the table with a dash of his wand.

“O Lady Titrimia, Blessed Fairy Queen, and O Lord Achelon, Beloved Fairy King, we are most humbly grateful for these fruits of the vine and flowers of the field,” the fairy droned on with a smug expression. “Keep us ever mindful of your Dance of Balance and Melody of Mysteries, O Abundant Ones.”

“How kind of you to keep it short this evenin‘,” said Alma. As a schoolteacher, she had long ago abandoned flowery speeches. “These youngins can’t wait around for their supper to get cold. Pass the mashed potatoes, if you please, Mr. Ray.”

“Not ’til I get my share, Miss Barder. They are just dripping with butter. Yum, yum,” Aaron made a hungry sound and scooped a mound of creamy potatoes onto his blue and white china plate before passing the wooden bowl to Alma. This initial sharing started a crisscrossing of platters and baskets and serving dishes, with much clinking and plopping and spooning from the entire crowd. No one ever went hungry in the Hollow, due to Hannah and Jake’s careful management of the land and their utmost respect for the natural world.

‘Well, what’s the news?” Alma began, holding a large, fluffy biscuit in her hand. “Eli, did you make it all the way to Piney Grove like you was a goin’ to?”

The MacKennon family kitchen was known for its creek rock hearth and cheerful fire.
Be sure to join us tomorrow for the mysterious second letter that White Hand receives.

All the knives and forks at the table froze in mid-air. Piney Grove was many miles away, down Curvy Creek Road. It was not often that a member of Ghost Horse Hollow set out for the post office and general store, known as the Opossum’s Tradin‘ Post, and returned the same day.

“I surely did Miss Barder … What?” Eli looked around the table at the wide eyes and opened mouths. “I done told you, Ravenwood is special. That colt can fly! Now, I got two letters right here in my pocket.”

Eli hastily produced the unexpected mail. The teenager reached across the cornbread to deliver one crumpled blue envelope to the retired schoolteacher and one small, brown envelope to Jonas White Hand. Everyone knew that the blue letter was from one of Alma’s beaus, Mr. G. J. Trotter of Turkey Foot Junction, who wrote to the schoolmarm upon occasion. He complained regularly about his arthritis and bunions. Alma seemed a bit disappointed with her love letter as she glanced over the wrinkled paper.

“I’ll just read this a bit later on,” Miss Barder smiled discreetly. “I do believe Mr. Trotter’s foot ailments can wait. Now what have you got there, White Hand?”

Drop by tomorrow to find out about the mysterious letter addressed to Jonas White Hand!