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Caroline Fairchild has never met a mystic, never known the Magic,never matched wits with a dark queen and never ever ridden bareback on a unicorn. All she knows is that her life has taken a turn for the worst since her step mother banished her to the wood shed. But all that is about to change when she meets Ali,a mysterious girl of the garden who shares with her its secrets.
Guided by a mystic and helped by the magic Caroline along with Uni, a mystical friend brought to life through the wonder of dreams, must struggle to find their way through the the forest of shadows. On the path they must confront their own fear and doubt; for it will be the only way they will be able to find and rescue Ali, the tiny miss who in fact has a secret of her own...perhaps the best kept secret of all!
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Read an Excerpt
By R P Ward
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2011 R P Ward
All right reserved.
Chapter OneA Unique Friend
In truth, the little girl might have fallen instantly in love with the little fuzz head, were it not for the rather "odd thing" stuck on his nose. It was singular of nature, not large and, as best anyone could tell, of absolutely no use or consequence. Fortunately in the end it was a flaw that was easy enough to overlook, and in time forget about altogether.
Others on the farm couldn't help but make snide comments about the newcomer and his funny nose. The pig, for instance, under his breath of course, asked, "Hello, has anyone noticed that the rather odd little fellow has something looking very much like a banana stuck to his nose?"
Meanwhile, the goat, in his own inimitable fashion, was quick to point out how unusual it was to see such a noticeably needless noodle stuck atop such a notably nonsensical noggin.
In no time at all, it had become perfectly clear, to the pig and goat at least, that the newcomer, without question—yes, without a doubt—was, purely and plainly stated, a bit of an "odd duck," though, in truth, he wasn't a duck at all! This "odd duck" was, by the way, as far as they were concerned, not to be trusted! The little girl's mother, on the other hand, found her daughter's new friend to be quite charming, often remarking how sweet he actually was. By her estimation, the little fur-ball was "wonderfully unusual," and, as she so often mentioned, so very ... ah ... so very unique. Because, from the start, the word unique was so difficult for the little girl to say, her new friend would soon become known as Uni.
It was sometime later, after her mother had grown so very ill, that the youngster was so very grateful to have Uni by her side.
"You must live your life with love, my little one," her mother counseled, "and love the life you live."
"I will keep you in my heart and in my dreams forever," the young girl whispered with tear-filled eyes. And while the thought seemed to buoy her spirits somewhat, in her heart, there remained a deep sadness.
Following her mother's passing, life at Morning Cloud wasn't the same. Though her father was kind, he too had been deeply saddened by the loss of his wife, when, as any young girl might, his daughter complained of their hardship, her father's reply was always the same. "Remember what your mother would say: 'Little one, Count your blessings and think of those less fortunate.'" While she knew in her heart her mother's words were true, the youngster could find no comfort in them.
A few years later, her father remarried in an attempt to restore harmony to family and to Morning Cloud. Her new stepmother was a stern woman, tall and lean, with sad eyes. As it was soon discovered, she was a woman with her own ideas. In her way of thinking, there was no longer enough room in the tiny house, and so it was decided, over her father's protests, the daughter would be moved to the woodshed.
"The girl will be comfortable there!" the stepmother insisted. And so a feather bed was placed beneath the shed's small window.
Chapter TwoA Flickering Light
Some years later, as Caroline lay staring at the full moon through the shed's summer window, she thought about her mother and dreamed of life beyond the farm. The flickering candle cast dancing shadows on the rafters and tantalized her imagination. She saw gentlemen in their finery and fair maidens in their soft, satin gowns twirling round and round, and she heard the music wafting on the warm night air. Suddenly, the candle flickered in the soft summer breeze, and her so-real vision began to fade.
"Wouldn't it be wonderful, Uni?" she asked her friend with inquiring eyes. "Wouldn't it?" In his silence—to Caroline at least—her old friend seemed to agree.
Later, that night, Caroline was awakened by another flickering light. She wondered for just an instant what it could be before drifting quietly off to sleep again.
And so the flickering light may have forever remained a mystery—were it not for the wonder of dreams and all the possibilities it held.
Later that night, the light flickered again, and this time, when Caroline opened her eyes, she wasn't sure if she were awake—or only dreaming she was awake?
"Well now," a voice giggled. "It could be ya jewst might be wide awake 'n' dream'n."
"What!" Caroline cried, sitting up with a start. "Who ... ah ... where ... ah ... who are you?" she asked with a shiver, holding Uni tight.
"I holly luv ta play hide 'n' seek with me moon shadow," the voice replied. "Hav ya tried it?"
"Who are you?" Caroline asked, gaining courage.
"Well now, lass, ain't it jewst the wit," the voice spoke. "I'd be right here in front ta ya, can't ya see me?"
"Here?" Caroline asked, reaching out toward the candle. "Careful, lass!" the voice pleaded.
In that moment, a tiny young woman with flowing red hair wearing a brief corn-silk dress, a bright blue shawl, and sequined slippers appeared next to her on the nightstand. To add to the mystery of the moment, she appeared to have a gentle glow about her.
"Oh, surry," she giggled. "I furgot, tiz a dream. I can be show'n when you're dream'n, I nary shude be otherwise!" she told Caroline with a sheepish grin.
"Otherwise?" Caroline asked.
"When yude be waken!" she replied.
"Oh, I see," Caroline said with a puzzled look on her face.
"When yude bin waken, iz pretty fare ta dream'n," the tiny miss explained. "Oary Begory! I sezs, are you dream'n or waken? Or are ya awake 'n' think'n yur dream'n? Makes me dizzy jewst try'n to keep it straight," she confessed.
The little woman asked again, "Had ya ever played hide 'n' seek with yur moon shadow?"
"Well ... no ... not really," Caroline admitted, feeling a little sorry that she hadn't.
"Jump'n McCevers thad ud be the fune of it!" she admitted. "And some nights can be just plain scary," she added with a shiver.
"Scary?" Caroline asked.
"O'course! That adds to the fune!" she went on.
"Depend'n on who might be snoop'n round in the dark!"
"Snoop'n round," Caroline repeated.
"It's usually after midnight when they come creep'n." she told her with another shiver.
"Midnight," Caroline echoed.
"By the saints," the tiny girl protested, by now getting a bit irritated by the constant interruptions. "Why is it you keep repeat'n me, lass?" she asked. "If I wud be need'n ta hear meself twice, I wud be say'n it 'duble' ... but as luk wud hav it I, sure as day, wud be hear'n me self the first time round!"
"Is it true are there really such a thing as ghosts and goblins?" Caroline asked her.
As if she were pondering the question, her little guest hesitated for a moment before speaking. "Well now, lass, the truth known, a bunch o them scary thins can cume creep'n round ... I'd be mean'n really!"
"What?" Caroline asked with a start.
"There ya go again, want'n me to repeat meself!" she complained. "By good Saint Pat, you shude nary worry, girl. You'd be safe and sound right here in yur bed," she assured her.
"Wait a minute!" Caroline interrupted, looking at the tiny girl with curious eyes. "Who and, if you don't mind me asking, what are you?"
"Well, lass, You'll jewst have ta be the judge o that." She explained, "You cude say I'm this, you cude say I'm that. But the truth known: it's yur dream and yur imagination"
"Life tizn't always logical, young one, and dreams for sure have their own way!" She went on, "But, as they say, I'd be off the wagon!"
"I think you mean off the subject." Caroline told her "Who did you say you are?"
With that, the little lady hesitated before taking a step closer to Caroline.
"I, me young friend—and I hope you'll soon consider me as suche—am Alicia of the Briar Moore Garden, at yur service," she said with a bow. "You, lassie, can be call'n me Ali!"
"Hello, Ali, I'm Caroline," she said, introducing herself. "I really don't have many friends out here in the country," she admitted.
"Don't be forgett'n yur mum and dad and all the critters here at Morning Cloud," Ali reminded her.
"Oh, sure, I love the animals and my father and ... well ... my father has been different since my mother died," Caroline explained. "So you know my family and the farm?"
"I shude say, lass ... turns out, I'd be know'n the likes 'o' you 'n' yurs long afur yude be know'n the likes 'o' me 'n' mine!" Ali spoke.
"So you've been here a long time?" Caroline asked.
"Ya cude say that," Ali said with a wry grin. "The truth, Caroline a Morn'n Cloud," she continued. "Time iz jewst a made up, to fare it all!"
"Pardon?" Caroline asked with puzzled look on her face.
"Time is jewst a made upe!" Ali repeated.
"Made upe?" Caroline echoed.
"A made upe!" she insisted. "When ya think about it," Ali began, "There's yesterday, tomorrow, the future, and the past, but when it's all been said and done, you're still right here at last. There's sometime, most the time, and any time ... ta call ... but when it's all been said and done there's no time left at all. "The truth o it, Caroline a Morn'n Cloud," Ali spoke, standing up straight and tall in order to look as important as possible. "Thar's only now ... right now!"
"Right now," Caroline repeated, not knowing for sure what Ali was trying to tell her.
"That's it, the truth known!" she spoke, smiling at her puzzled pupil. "Now ... right now! When you fale, it you'll know! The fune a liv'n now," Ali told her, "that's when ya wud be fale'n it!"
"Fale'n it?" Caroline asked, looking puzzled.
"Fale'n the magic!" Ali spouted with a grin.
"The magic," Caroline mouthed.
"The rainbow magic," Alicia added, obviously excited about the present topic. "And when you 'fale it,' the magic; I mean really 'fale it,' tiz when ya'll know!"
"Know?" Caroline asked.
"Exactly," Ali chimed in with enthusiasm. "Aye, lass, ya'll be know'n the magic, and fale'n the joy!"
"Oh!" Caroline said with a smile, finally understanding what Ali had been trying to tell her. "Feel it," she said out loud. "When you 'feel it,' you'll know!"
"Aye, lass; fale it," Ali agreed. "You'll be know'n the magic and fale'n the joy," she said with a laugh. "Ta the joy! I have to tell ya, lass," she spoke "yur wee Uni is a fine one ta be hav'n the magic, and then some."
"Uni?" Caroline repeated with a laugh. "But he's just a stuffed toy."
"Thar ya go, lass," Ali spoke. "What tiz can be a sham, giv'n the look but nary the feel," she counseled, "The truth a it, young one, is yur wee friend wud be know'n the magic and then some."
With that, Caroline picked up Uni, looking at him carefully, and in that moment, he had never seemed so alive, as if he would say or do something any minute. According to Ali, though he had been a very quiet friend, Uni had been alive all along. Caroline wasn't convinced; that would have to come later—if there was going to be a later, since, according to Ali, there was only now ... right now.
Caroline sat quietly, pondering for a minute before she spoke. "The Rainbow magic," she mouthed in a quiet voice. "I bet it would be 'fune' ta play hide and seek with your moon shadow, don't you think Uni?" she asked her pal with curious eyes, wondering. In his silence, to Caroline at least, Uni all of a sudden seemed to agree.
"I'd best be go'n now," Ali spoke.
"Will you come back?" Caroline asked.
"Aye, lass, I'm forever flit'n about like a firefly in luv. Anytime yude be dream'n tiz the time I jewst might be beam'n!" she chuckled. "But before I go there's something I'd best be shar'n,"
With that Ali reached into her shoulder pouch and with drew a small, round stone. It was a silky smooth, well-polished gem appearing to sparkle of its own accord.
"This ud be a very special stone, priceless on all occasions," Ali told her. "Itud be of the magic and all its colors. If ya find truble brew'n, rub the stone, it'll put the fear in a banshee, it will!" she counseled. "It's called a Rainbow Stone," she explained, "it's just a rub ta think such a tiny thing can be hold'n so many secrets. Nary forget, young one!" Ali warned. "Use it wisely, and keep it safe."
With that she leaned and rubbed the stone with a gentle motion. At first there was nothing. But then, from deep within the stone, came a shimmering blue light. Caroline could only watch as the light began expanding, growing bigger and bigger, filling up the room before bursting into millions of tiny sparkling jewels of rainbow color!
At first, Caroline was dazzled by the colorful light show, but her beguile was short-lived when she noticed she had lost Ali.
"Ali, where are you?" Caroline cried.
"Well now, lass, I'd be right here, in the thick o things!" her tiny friend giggled. "Ain't it jewst the glory?"
As Caroline looked closer, to her relief, she found her friend perched a top the nightstand, shimmering bright with all the colors.
"Ali!" Caroline cried, "are you alright?!"
And in that next instant, the millions of shimmering jewels were sucked back into the stone with a "whoosh."
"Now ain't it jewst the glory!" Ali cried.
"I was afraid I'd lost you!" Caroline confessed.
"Don't be afraid, girl!" Ali encouraged, "be 'fale'n the joy!
"Begory!" Ali cried as she spied the morning light creeping through shed's small window. "Tiz the time fur sleep'n girl, you shude be turn'n round ta the land of dreams" she said whispering in Caroline's ear. "May yur sleep'n be still, yur dreams be sweet, 'n' may ya be safe and sound till next we meet."
Instantly Caroline's lids grew heavy, and, as if she were caught in a spell, she was soon fast asleep.
"Next time, we'll be gett'n ta know yer moon shadow!" Ali promised. "Ta the joy!" she whispered as she disappeared into the night!
Chapter ThreeThe Best Things in Life
After meeting Ali, Caroline found herself with a renewed enthusiasm for her life at Morning Cloud. When she pulled weeds in the pea patch, she stopped to smell the fragrant blossoms. When she carried hay to the barn, she delighted in the playful lambs. Tossing grain to the noisy goose, she couldn't help but laugh at the cantankerous old fellow and his hilarious honking.
Caroline had taken Ali's counsel to heart and stopped to smell the blossoms. It was so simple. As Ali suggested, "Good things are all around us if we just open our eyes," and so Caroline eagerly looked forward to her visits with her Ali.
It was during one of the visits that Caroline told Ali of her growing desire to see what the rest of the world had to offer; the world far away and beyond the little farm of Morning Cloud.
"I truly appreciate all you've taught me," Caroline told her friend, "but I know in my heart I have to go, I've got to find my own way."
"Well now, lass," Ali replied, "it's shy ta be larn'n girl, but tiz clear as day the wanderlust has cume calling," she told her. "Hear'n ya, wud be remind'n me of a lad I once knew:" she began; "He was a fine lad, a shepherd boy liv'n with his grandpa high upe in a lovely mountain meadow. Thar was a time the lad truly luved mind'n a bonney bunch 'o' sheep being all wooly 'n' the like, but one day, it cum ta fare out to the lad that tend'n sheep was none better than watch'n paint dry on a rainy day.
"Well now, as it turns out the lad's grandpa wud be know'n the boy like the back of his hand and would be tell'n him a old-timer stury ta be sett'n him straight.
"'Now hear me lad,' the old man told the boy, 'since ya got the urge to be a travl'n man, I best be tell'n ya about a sight for sav'n special. Ta stops ya in your tracks, like a tiger in the tar pits!
"'As legend would have it ... way off yonder way beyond them high-top mountains, in a green green valley far, far away, there'd be a village—an enchanted village at that—a downright tinsel-town delight be'n all made upe, all made upe believe it or not, all made upe a gold.
"'Begory,' his grandpa went on, "it was many years ago now. I'd been search'n some three days gone for a little lost lamb when it first caught me eye,' he told the lad. 'by the saints, I says, it can't be! But there it was: an enchanted town all right, and all shimmer'n and shin'n, all made upe a that shin'n yellow metal—all made upe a gold.
"'Now listen, boy,' his grandpa said, 'Ta find that tinsel town, ya must be go'n way over yonder to the high-top mountain and way down through the deep green valley some three days gone, and in the early morn'n hour, be wait'n. When the morn'n sun is on the rise, tiz when you wud be see'n it—right then there, just shin'n bright,' His grandpa told him. 'And when ya see it is when you'll know ... you'll be know'n right where the treasure lies.
Excerpted from Le Rêve by R P Ward Copyright © 2011 by R P Ward. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
ContentsChapter 1 A Unique Friend....................1
Chapter 2 A Flickering Light....................5
Chapter 3 The Best Things in Life....................13
Chapter 4 Into the Night....................17
Chapter 5 A Friend Lost, a Friend Found....................23
Chapter 6 The Forest of Shadows....................37
Chapter 7 Falling....................45
Chapter 8 Obstacles on the Path....................55
Chapter 9 Light on the Path....................63
Chapter 10 A Shining Light....................67
Chapter 11 Peasant Boy Bullied....................79
Chapter 12 Destiny's Agenda....................83
Chapter 13 Farm Girl Meets Stable Boy....................89
Chapter 14 Let the Games Begin....................95
Chapter 15 Race of the Royals....................99
Chapter 16 The Grand Prize Awarded....................109
Chapter 17 Lighten Up!....................123
Chapter 18 Blinded by the Light....................131
Chapter 19 A Familiar Young Man....................135