*Authors note: This is my part in an online story I am writing with a number of people. The entire thing is entitled “The World’s Eye”. I will post a link at some point.  It is currently making its way around the world.   





  “Well,” said Jackie, “that was interesting.” She opened her hand and looked at the strange stone lying against her palm. Pinching it between her fingers, she held it up to the sun. It was a polished piece of Malachite, the green serrations pleasing to the eye.

     Jackie turned the stone over, and to her surprise there was a bear carved into the relief of the stone.

     “Look Mac, see what she gave me”. Mac glanced at the stone, clearly not interested in it.

     “Jacks, we need to decide what we are going to do now, don’t worry about the stone yet. It’s probably just a rock anyway.” He turned back to look into the eyepiece of the telescope. Mac adjusted the scope to look north, and saw that not much was going on at home, so he looked back at Jackie.

    “O.K., it’s your turn I guess. Don’t pick something stupid, because I don’t know how this thing works, or how much time we will have to explore.” He handed the scope to Jackie as she pocketed her stone.

    “Let me see,” she said as she took the odd telescope from Macs hands. As she placed her eye against the eyepiece, she saw a young girl with long auburn hair running across a field of meadow flowers towards a small castle. The castle was set on a cliff above the ocean, and the sky was overcast. She checked her bearings, and it was just turning into Fall. She lowered the telescope and looking at Mac, she smiled.

     “What does a “1” mean again? I forgot.” Mac frowned at his little sister.

     “One means that we can only stay for a day. Why? What did you see?”

     Jackie pulled the telescope away from Macs’ reaching hands and said, “ I saw a castle and I want to go there! Maybe it’s a Princess castle!” Her face was lit up with excitement at the thought of a real live castle!

     Mac rolled his eyes, and then made a grab for the telescope. Jackie pulled it farther away.

     “No way! You had the first turn, now it’s my choice, and we are going there to check it out! Telescope, take us there!” and sure enough, the eyepiece expanded as before, opening a portal for them to enter the meadow.




Once they stepped clear of the portal, they both released a breath of “oooohhhhhh!” as they looked up towards the castle walls. It was quite impressive, even though it seemed smaller than what they thought a castle would look like.

     It was situated close to the edge of a cliff, and they could smell the bracing salt air blowing up and over the face of the cliff. The rugged cliffs rolled away towards the North of the small crescent shaped inlet, its’ jagged rocks jutting upwards like the sharp, ragged teeth of a massive shark bursting up from the depths of the deepest ocean. From where they stood, they could see a white skirt of foam crashing against the cliff walls. Jackie shuddered and wished she had thought to wear a coat instead of the thin sweater she had on.

     Looking to their left, they could see the cypress and pine trees marching down to the cliffs, blown sideways from many years of high winds. They looked back at the castle; it seemed busy, with a few folks gathering fallen branches and snapping them into smaller pieces; kindling for a fireplace.

         In a window high up one wall, there was a woman shaking out a small piece of carpeting. No noise could be heard from this distance, though the wind caught up one faint snap of the carpet.

     “What do you think Mac? Should we go and see if they are nice? I’m getting a bit thirsty.” Jackie turned her big green eyes towards her brother, looking a bit timid. Her mouth was dry, too dry.

     “I don’t know,” he said frowning, “it looks like there are a lot of people there. What if they aren’t nice Jacks? Where do we tell them we are from? We don’t look like we are from here!” He looked worried, a deep frown on his face. He glanced down to assess his T-shirt and jeans, and then looked at Jackie’s sweater and jeans.

     “O.k., let’s go a bit closer and see what they are doing. Maybe they are nice, but I want to take a look from those trees first.” He pointed off to the right side of the castle wall to a stand of pine trees. Intuitively, he ducked down and began to lope off towards the trees he had pointed out, not looking to see if Jackie was following.

     “Wait for me!” Jackie whispered in a hoarse voice. “I saw a little girl running there when I looked into the telescope- I want to find her!”

     “Why? You don’t know who she is, or if she is nice or not! Remember, we don’t even know where we are,” Mac growled back as he kept dashing for the trees, ducking here and there below the line of wild meadow flowers and mustard.

     “ Well…I think she is nice…I can’t wait to meet her!” Jackie’s face was alight with the thought of the little girl being a real live Princess! Her mind was conjuring up all sorts of fantastic fantasies as she struggled to keep up with her brother.




     Safe in the trees, the siblings paused to catch their breath, and Mac peeked around the edge of the tree to see if anyone had noticed their mad dash across the meadow. The only two people around the outer wall of the castle now were both stooped over, gathering their branches into bundles and tying them off with string, then throwing them onto a larger pile. The man turned towards the bundles, and picked up a strap from the ground and threw it over the heap, tying it off with the other end, and hoisting the huge bale onto his back. The woman helped him adjust it, and then turned towards the massive oak doors in the front of the castle. She then lifted up a large brass mallet that was hanging from a chain in the wall and banged three times on a brass plate in the door. It was slowly opened from the other side.

     As the children watched, the enormous door slowly swung open, and they crept closer so they could see inside. Unfortunately there was mostly darkness beyond the opening, but ambient light revealed the edge of a staircase.

     “What should we do?” Jackie whispered to Mac, “How do we get inside?” Mac looked at her, incredulous.

     “ ‘Get inside?’ Are you nuts???? We don’t know who is in there! And if we get in, what do we do then?” Mac grabbed Jackie’s sweater and pulled her back to the relative safety of the tree. “I need to think here a minute. I don’t know what to do.” Jackie shuffled her feet back and forth, trying to warm herself.

     “We need to do something, I’m so thirsty, Mac.”

     “I know, I’m thinking here!” Mac looked worried, but then he always looked worried about something.

     “I know, let’s go look around the back side, the ocean side. Maybe we can find a window or something to see inside. I need to know it is safe before we just bang on the door.” Jackie let out an exaggerated sigh and rolled her eyes as Mac took off towards the north edge of the castle wall. She reluctantly followed him, stomping her feet as she went.


     As the two made their way around the corner of the wall, they saw that there was a small fenced off area against the side of the castle. Inside the fencing, there were a couple of cows and five goats. Outside the fencing there was a pigsty, and three very large hogs were lounging around in it. Huge mounds of hay bales were stacked against the wall. The stench of sewage assaulted their noses the closer they walked towards the animals.

“Ewwwww! What smells?” Jackie wrinkled her nose and put her wrist up against it. The smell was awful.

“It’s the animals, dummy. Just hurry up.” Mac wasn’t in the best mood, and Jackie wasn’t sure why. After all, weren’t they on an adventure? She was pretty sure no one else was doing the things they were doing, nor had a magical telescope! She continued to follow Mac as he skirted the wall, getting ever closer to the horrid smell and the animals.

“Hey! Look!” Mac said as he got close to the fence. Set into the wall, was a thick wooden doorframe, and the door was open. He peered closer to see inside the interior and saw that it looked to be a kitchen! To his surprise, out came a short, robust woman with a large bucket. She was humming to herself.

The woman was wearing vast skirts that must have been white once upon a time but now were stained and the hem was covered in what looked like mud that had been wicked up from the ground. Her once white blouse had the sleeves rolled up and across her massive bosom were the traces of food and dirt. Her round, red face was glistening with sweat, yet her eyes were sparkling. She seemed as though she was happy; off to do her chores.

The woman went through a small gate in the fencing, and closed it behind her, lifting the loop of rope over the heavy wooden post. She made her way towards the pigsty.


The bucket must have been full, as she listed off to one side as she waddled over to the where the pigs were trotting to the trough, knowing that she came bearing treats. She placed a hand under the edge of the bucket and tossed the contents of the bucket into the trough, splashing something green over the opposite end of the trough. The pigs were grunting and snorkeling as they threw their heads into the trough and began slurping down the feast.

                   As she turned to go back the way she came, she jerked her head up and turned to look directly at the children. Her face registered first shock, then anger.

“There now! What are you doing? Come here!” Mac shot straight up, standing at attention at the sound of the woman’s voice. Jackie looked at him frowning; he seemed to be frozen where he stood.

“Come on then, who are you? Come here now wee ones!” She had dropped the bucket and now had her hands on her massive hips, her face a thunderhead of anger. Her grey curls tufted around her head in the strong wind blowing up from the bluff.

“Mac, Mac she wants us to come!” Jackie said in a stage whisper. “What do we do?” This seemed to mobilize him, and he glanced cautiously at Jackie.

“I…I guess we better go over there, we’re caught now. Stay close to me though” and he took her hand, slowly walking towards the woman.

“Come on, hurry along then. Where did you two come from? What are you doing here?” She looked them up and down, taking in the odd clothing they were wearing. “You’re not from around here are you? What are these clothes you are wearing then?” She cocked one eyebrow, as bushy as a caterpillar, at Jackie’s jeans.

The two children minced their way towards her; coming around the pigsty, as they weren’t going to climb the rickety looking fencing that surrounded the cows. Mac had his head down, frantically thinking of what he could tell this woman.

As they got closer to her, her eyes bulged open wide with shock. “Mercy…what are you?” her hands dropped to her sides as she took in the strange clothing the children were wearing. She reached a hand out to touch Jackie’s sweater, but Jackie instinctively pulled back.

“I ask you, who are you, and where did you come from?” but her voice was filled with more wonder than malice at this point.

“My name is Mac, and this is my sister Jackie, ma’m” Mac looked sheepish as he gestured to his sister who was scowling at the woman, her lip jutting out in an indignant pout. “We came from the meadow”, and he pointed back the way they had come.

“No, you came from no meadow we have here! What town do you come from that makes such clothing?” She was more amazed than angry, still leaning in to see the buttons on Jackie’s sweater.

“We’re from America! Are we still in America?” Jackie asked in an excited voice.

 “America? Where is that? I never heard of it!” She looked truly confused and baffled by this. Mac looked quickly at his sister, frowning to warn her to not speak again. He glanced at his shoes, and then looked up at the large woman and her raised eyebrows.

“Where…where are we now?” he asked tentatively. The woman leaned back, eyeing the two bizarre children, her eyes wide with surprise.

“Why, you’re in Scotland, of course! Where did you think you were? Are you right in the head then?” She frowned again, her face an ever-changing landscape of moods and reactions.

“Scotland! How did we get to Scotland?” Mac looked pale. He looked from under his brow and asked her “What year is this?”

The woman threw her head back and laughed, “why, it’s 1674, what are you thinking? Don’t you know anything?”

Mac turned and looked at Jackie, his face a mask of fear. Jackie looked at him incredulously. He turned slowly back to the woman. His mouth worked around like it was full of peanut butter, but nothing came out.

“Can I get a drink of water? I am so thirsty!” Jackie blurted out. Mac shot her a dirty look, stunned that she could ask this stranger for anything when they still didn’t know if she was “safe”. Besides, they just found out they were in another time frame entirely from the one they lived in. They were on another continent. It was one thing to travel to exotic places, another to travel through time!

The woman looked at them with a skeptical eye, not sure if they were crazy.

“I suppose it can’t hurt to give you a draught of water.” Her hands were back on her hips. “Come along then, I have a lot more questions for you” As she turned to head for the kitchen, she looked around frowning.

“Are you alone? Where are your Ma and Da?” She almost growled out the question.

“Yes, we are alone, ma’m, our parents are dead.” Mac said sadly. He hoped she didn’t ask who they were with then! She spun around and gave him a sorrowful look of surprise.

“You don’t say! You poor dears…” she hustled along a bit quicker, lifting her skirts to speed her progress. She spoke over her shoulder to them, loudly to be heard over the wind.

“You must be hungry as well. Let’s get on then…” and stopped next to the doorway to let them enter before her. With one last glance around, she followed them inside and swung around to close the door.




The kitchen was huge, and like nothing they had ever seen. There was a trestle table in the middle of the room, longer than their beds set end to end. At one end was a huge Butcher block, and on one side of it, a deep trough had been hacked out; evidently from killing chickens because the wood was stained a deep red color. A tin bucket was on the floor in front of it, its’ interior caked in flakes of dried blood.

 There were bushels and bushels of potatoes, turnips, nuts, and squash against the far corner. Shelves held wooden plates, cups, and one huge pewter cup. Crocks filled one entire shelf alone. A fireplace held an enormous caldron, which was steaming merrily. Another wooden table held a vast metal pan and a giant pottery pitcher stood next to it. Along another wall, more large pots were stacked on the floor, leaning precariously. Jackie grabbed her brother’s arm as a rat scuttled from behind one of the sacks on the floor.

“Well, have a sit then, don’t dawdle. You must be hungry, eh?” The woman took two wooden bowls down from the shelf, turned to place them on the table, and looked over to where the two stunned children watched her, unable to take it all in.

“Come on then, time for a bite. Oh! My name is Meggie. This is my kitchen. I work for this family. There is no need to worry yourselves.”  She smiled warmly, her smile reaching her twinkling eyes. She reached down and patted the shiny, well-worn bench below her. She turned on her heel and went straight to the pitcher on the table, then placed it on the trestle table, and went to the shelf for two wooden cups.

Mac looked warily at Jackie and gently pushed her shoulder towards the bench, following her. They sat down as Meggie filled their cups with water, then scuttled over to the massive pot on the fire. She took down the largest ladle they had ever seen, and filled the bowls one at a time with the steaming brew. The children smelled it, and it smelled like a stew.

“That’s a fine rabbit stew there, if I say so me self.” She looked proud as her head went up. Jackie grabbed the cup and slurped down the water, then looked at her hostess hopefully. Meggie laughed, and filled it again with cool, fresh water.

Suddenly, a loud crash was heard from behind them. They whirled around as one to see the source of the noise. Filling the crude doorway was the biggest man either of them had ever seen.


Copyright J.E.George 2008




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