The Lake County Blarney Stone
by euhal allen
|part 2 of 3|
It seemed that the elixir that Sean’s mother had taught him to make, along with the effect of the stone he carried in his pack, had some real effect on the bunny. There was many a night that Sean, to make sure Erin was kept warm, had the wee bunny sleep in his pack next to the stone itself. And each morning after, when he pulled the bunny out, it did seem that its eyes were a little brighter and its smile a little happier. Of course, as Sean knew, it was hard to tell about such things with bunnies.
Still, it did seem that the bunny was growing in intelligence and character. It was only when Sean was reading his little book on semaphore, that the little bunny, ensconced, as usual on his shoulder, and paying more attention than a bunny ought to, that Sean began to get the idea that Erin was more unusual an animal than he thought. That was confirmed the first time Erin signaled “Good morning, Sean” to him with his ears as Sean made the morning coffee.
Taking life as it came, Sean soon found himself grateful that he now had someone to talk to every morning, and soon it seemed completely normal for Sean and Erin to have long conversations over breakfast. And later, as time went by, the days began to end with such conversations over a bit of his sainted mother’s elixir. Sean discovered that they began to resemble the ones he had heard back in Ireland when his father and his father’s friends would have minor disagreements, oiled by a bit of lubrication for the throat.
That was when Sean began to cut Erin’s share of the elixir with a bit of water, so as, mind you, not to allow the soothing liquid to become too much of a habit with the bunny. And that was when Erin began to sample the elixir himself when he was sure that Sean wasn’t watching.
It did not take long for Sean to see that the level of his medicinal supplies were going down much faster than he thought they should and that was when there began the contest of hiding and finding the bottles of his sainted mother’s grand recipe.
At first it was a challenge to each of them that stifled any boredom in the long walks they took each day to reach those mountains that, so Sean was told, “scraped the very sky.” Then, because Erin would get a little smarter each time he found and tipped a wee sip of the medicine, it became somewhat of a serious battle. Sean knew that bunnies were not to be getting smarter than men and felt it behooving upon him to defend the status quo.
Erin, already being somewhat of a tradition breaker, was determined not only to get as much of the elixir down his gullet, but also to find the recipe so as to spread it among bunnies everywhere. Of course, not knowing the value and the effect was partly that of the stone, he never realized the true source of his new found intelligence.
Finally the day came when Erin jumped Sean openly and sought to wrestle the elixir bottle from him while Sean was himself, feeling the coming on of a cold, taking a dose of the elixir. ’Twas a terrible struggle for Erin was attacking with all he had while Sean, ten times his size and a hundred times his strength, was trying to keep hold of the bottle without hurting the bunny.
It was only when Erin took a wee bite out of Sean’s hand that he stopped being so gentle and tossed Erin about twenty yards out into the grassy plain. Then, reflecting on what had happened, Sean called out to Erin, “Erin, me lad, ’Tis sorry I am to have sent you flying so far. If you come back in and apologize for your temper, ’Tis a drop of the elixir I’ll be giving you.”
Erin, of course, feeling justified in his quest for the elixir, and being just a little frightened at Sean’s show of strength in sending him flying, a thing he had never wanted to do, decided that he was better off going out on his own and letting Sean just suffer from the effects of his pigheadedness. That decided, Erin turn his back on Sean and headed out through the tall grass, seeking a place where he could safely sleep.
At first not having Erin around to talk to was disheartening to Sean, for the lack of conversation was a bit depressing. Then, Sean being a person who lived for the day he had, shook of the bad moods and began again to enjoy the magnificence of the creation around him. Each new adventure added to his story repertoire and assured him of welcome where ever he would go.
As he headed in the direction of those great and Rocky Mountains he did pass by a herd of buffalo so large that he had to walk three days just to get around it. And, while on that diverted course he took the opportunity to bag a small bull and pack a large chunk of meat, to jerk later, as well as the buffalo hide he would soon turn into a robe to keep him warm in those high mountain passes.
It was while he was working on that robe that he met Constance. Not really her name, but Sean couldn’t pronounce her real name and he had always liked the name Constance, so that is what he called her. It was when he was camped for long enough to tan the buffalo hide and turn it into a huge coat, that he heard a moan from the bushes nearby. Going there he saw a lovely Indian girl who was on the edge of death from wounds all over her body.
Sean, knowing just a little first aid from his sainted mother’s doctoring, picked her up and carried her back to his camp, where he poured elixir on those wounds, as well as down her throat. The effect was immediate and positive, for within minutes the girl stopped moaning and began to sleep quite peacefully.
The treatment, having been beneficial so far, Sean decided to continue it for a few more days, adding a little buffalo broth to her diet when she could take it. Soon, Constance, as he now called her, was up and about the camp, straightening it up from the mess that Sean, like any man in that situation, left.
Ordinarily she would not have done those types of things, being a great chief’s daughter, but Sean had saved her life and she had a touch of gratitude for his efforts. She was also looking for the elixir recipe because she had gained a liking for it.
After a few days in camp, and having his robe finished and ready for the journey, Sean decided to return to his travels. He was just getting the last of his things bundled when he felt the point of a knife in his back and heard an angry Constance yelling at the knife-wielder, for the knife was immediately withdrawn and he was turned around to face a large group of Indian braves.
One of them, who had lived a short while among the whites on the coast, knew some English and spoke. “Our chief’s daughter speaks words of good for you. She says you saved her life, that you healed the bear wounds that put her close to her ancestors. She says we must be good to you.”
“Well,” answered Sean, “it was only what any good Irishman would do. Besides, she has been good company for the last few days, except for the bad habit of moving my stuff so I can’t find it without a major search. But, other than that, Constance — I can’t say her real name, so I call her Constance — has been very pleasant to have as company.”
“I hear your words,” said the brave. “They are good. You speak with strange accent, have you traveled in Virginia?”
“Oh,” replied Sean, “I have been almost everywhere on the Atlantic coast and was in Virginia for a nice stay.”
“Then, you know George and Martha?”
Soon Sean was at the village of the great chief and received, because he had saved the chief’s daughter, gifts to his supply pack that would enable him to continue on in his journey at a faster pace. He was also offered the hand of the maiden he had saved but declined because, as he said gallantly, “Aye, and though ’Tis what any man would wish, to have such a beauty for a wife, but I have my journey to complete and it would be a hardship on any woman to be picking up after me on the road.”
Satisfied by the reasoning — since warriors did not take women on their forays into new territory, this made perfect sense to the chief — he gave Sean a horse instead. He then drew a map on the ground of all the territory his people knew and spent some time helping Sean to find ways to bypass possible trouble spots on the way ahead.
Sean, seeing the wisdom of the chief’s words, found himself deciding to change his route a bit to the north. He would then head for a pass shown on the map that was a little lower than the others because it would be less likely to be snowed in by the time he got there. He also accorded the chief the privilege of knowing the recipe of his sainted mother’s elixir, minus one ingredient, so that medicinal tonic could be of use to the tribe.
Saying good-bye, Sean was soon on his way to the decided upon trail and on up into the higher elevations. Being that he was now going up in direction, Sean found that even he had to stop a little more often for a short break to rest and observe the grand scenery around him. It was, at least once, a very good thing that he did, for it was on one of those rests that he reacquainted himself with his old friend, Erin.
It was three days out from the Indian village, when Sean was sitting on a large rock and looking down on the scenery that he happened to see a strange sight in the grassy plain below. It was late summer, and the grass was high, too high to see most of the critters that inhabited the plain, but Sean did see what looked like a couple of sticks jumping in the distance and coming in his direction. Being Irish and curious, Sean got out his spyglass; put it to one of his eyes and searched for those two sticks until he had their image bright and strong in the lens of the little telescope.
“Well now,” he thought, “I would know those ears anywhere. It’s me wee bunny friend, Erin. But it is a wonder now just what his rush is. Aye, and his ears are signaling ‘Help!’”
Shifting the scope a little to Erin’s back trail, Sean saw the problem. Erin had gotten into the path of a big, grey and very hungry wolf. Feeling sorry for the wolf, but loyal to his little friend, Sean picked up his musket and, adding a little extra powder, loaded it faster than it was his usual habit.
Then, taking careful aim, he fired the weapon and ended the wolf’s need for a meal with that first shot. “Not bad,” he told himself, “but then it was only four hundred yards.”
Soon Erin, still quivering a little, was at Sean’s rock and heading for his usual place in the travel pack. Before he got there, Sean put his big, rough hand on the bunny and brought him back to a place on his lap. With his other hand he got the bottle of elixir out of his pocket and, telling Erin to open wide, he poured some of it down the bunny’s throat. And, as Erin was swallowing the medicine, Sean helped him into the pack.
Sean, not one to waste anything useful, then went out to the wolf and skinning him, said to himself, “It will be a nice, warm bag to carry Erin in when we really start climbing.” Then with that wolf’s skin in his hands he headed back to the rock to work on it.
Back at the rock, he set himself down and examined the wolf skin closely, planning how to complete his new project as soon as possible. But, feeling a furry head against his arm, he turned and saw that Erin was out of the pack and talking to him about just how many dangers a wee bunny faced when being out there all alone.
Sean just nodded in understanding and told the bunny that if he had just apologized for his actions and come back to the camp on that day he would never have had to face those dangers. Still, a smiling Sean reminded Erin, “You are still alive and wiser than ever, and now you know that you can do pretty well in taking care of yourself. That’s a good lesson to learn.”
And then Erin continued on with his story, telling Sean about all the plains bunnies he had met, and how they, finding out that he was from the foot of the Appalachians and in the company of Sean Riley O’Halihan, were very hospitable and interested in Sean and his travels. “But,” Erin’s ears continued to signal, “there were a lot of questions about you I couldn’t answer.”
The rabbit, finished in his stories, sat back, next to Sean and was soon absorbed in the scenery around them and into what Sean was doing with that wolf skin. Being that it was off the wolf, it did look warm and Erin was sure that he would enjoy the softness of it. Then, getting Sean’s attention, he said, “Sean, there was something that I did not understand when talking to my bunny friends. They kept wondering and asking about some people called George and Martha.”
As the days followed and Sean and Erin climbed higher and higher into those big, rocky mountains, the weather got colder and colder. The two travelers were glad they had their fur lined garments and the extra supplies given to them by the Indian chief in the plains down below. Also, they were grateful that Sean carried a paper copy of the territory map drawn by that chief. Most of all they were happy that Sean had spent some time making a large supply of the elixir, for it warmed their insides when nothing else could.
Traveling in the cold and going interminably upward, trying to beat the winter storms was not the only problem they faced. There were hungry predators out there and Sean at times resembled a good meal to them while Erin had the appearance of a delectable snack. So much time had to be spent finding a safe camping site each night of their long journey.
Suffice it to say that they would never have made it without the elixir, for it not only warmed their insides, but when poured into a small clay bowl with a wick inserted, it put out a very strong heat from an almost invisible dark blue flame. With the great buffalo robe covering them and the unlaced wolf skin to sit on, the little stove kept them at least above freezing each night. Still it was the hardest part of their journey.
Then one late November day they crossed the last of the pass and started down the trail that led to Oregon country. With winter around them still, as it was, they found the going somewhat easier as they headed for the coast in the final part of their journey. On their way, they passed through a place that Sean knew that he would have to revisit as soon as he got tired of the coast and seeing the Pacific Ocean.
To make sure that he would find his way back, Sean removed the now large stone from his pack and hid it in a field not too far from the great hill, whose top reminded him of the old black cap his father had always worn, overlooking the wide valley that called to his heart.
Before he and Erin continued his journey Sean stopped long enough to brew up some more of his sainted mother’s cough elixir, so as to have plenty on hand should a need arise, which was reasonable since the need did arise almost daily. It was then that Sean discovered that the one ingredient that he had not told that plains chief was gone from his pack. Thinking back as to where he might have left it, he realized that he had not seen it since he had made his last medicinal supply back there on the plains.
Well, to continue on without the elixir was not anything he wanted to try, colds and flues being what they were, hanging around waiting to attack whenever you got short on the elixir. Since that situation had not been allowed, up to that moment, Sean made sure that he always had a good supply. He knew that he had to make some more even if he had to find a substitute for the missing ingredient.
Copyright © 2008 by euhal allen