Chapter 13


It was night. Stan was in the kitchen looking for something to eat when he heard crying. He went into the dining room, but it was empty. Then he realized the crying was coming from upstairs. Candle in hand, he went up the winding stairway the locals call snail stairs in their Pennsylvania German dialect.

The room above was a small dormitory. But what Stan saw was Chris holding a candle before a wall of pictures. He was looking at the pictures and crying.

Stan came closer and held his own light up to the drawings and photographs. They were of buildings, a community of some kind, then Stan realized this was the community located at the spring they had first visited. This was the community named in honor of Chris. This was what it had been when dozens and dozens of his brothers had come here from Germany, brothers and lovers, too. This is what they had built to honor Chris, and to be his new home. This was the community he had never seen until now. And now it existed only in pictures on this wall. Stan set his candle down and took Chris' candle as well. Then he led him to one of the beds, sat him down and held his crying, shaking body for the longest time.


Johannes and Christian left early the next before before the three were awake. Blain was making breakfast when Stan and Chris came in together. Facing them with a smile, Blain said jokingly, "Well, I bet I know what you two were up to last night."

Seeing Stan's glare, Blain added, "Well, I guess I don't."

The three of them sat down to eat in silence. Finally, Chris spoke.

"I had a dream last night," he said. "My father appeared to me and said he was taking away my titles, my duties, my position. He said I would have to go with him to London, leaving my dear brothers behind to be sent to America. I would only regain my position if, and when, I proved myself worthy."

The other two stopped eating and just looked down at their plates.

"And you know what?" Chris asked. No one spoke. "I told the bastard to go fuck himself!"

Stan hooted, then slammed the table with a fist, banging the china. "All right!" he said.

"Go baby!" said Blain. They laughed and ate some more. Then Blain put down his fork and looked at the others.

"I had a dream last night," he said. "My brother had just stumbled and struck his head on a rock. His blood was soaking into the sand. I rushed to him and wrapped a cloth around his head to stop the flow. He recovered after several hours and asked me for water. I gave him some from my hands. He drank slowly, haltingly, but the water gave him nourishment and strength.

"Finally he tried to get up. I kept him from falling and helped him back to our home. Father saw me and rushed to help get Abel into bed. Mother prepared hot broth with sweet herbs that also nourished him. Healing was slow but he recovered. I saved his life.”

The three sat in silence for a while, then Stan spoke.

"I never knew my mother, yet she came to me last night in a dream. I was in a strange place, dark and cold. I couldn't move. I was trapped, immobilized, in ice. And I was cold, so very cold. All I felt was pain. I hurt so much. Even my lips were frozen shut so I couldn't even scream aloud. So I screamed inside my head and screamed and screamed.

"Then someone touched my face. I forced my eyes open as even they'd been frozen shut, and looked into the face of a beautiful woman dressed all in blue. She didn't seem cold at all. She put her arms around me and held me close to her. She warmed me.

"Gradually, the ice melted around me and I was free. She helped me. She supported me. We started walking. 'I've come to take you home,' she said. 'And father?' I asked. "'Let's wait and see,' she said as we walked through darkness that gradually turned to light. I awoke and it was morning."

The three looked at each other then continued eating. Suddenly Blain stopped as though hearing something far away, then rushed out of the room, shouting behind him, "Come on; it's time!" They all ran down to the stable.