On the way, Willow spoke of her husband and her son who had gone off to fight the war, but only in their peaceful way. They had gone to fill the air with music, music to march the young men back home again. Her man, a Scot, a woodsmen, a player of the pipes, never returned to her. But in the mellow of the last gloaming of the day, when the last light is carried away by the evening breeze, she could hear the far off lilting song of the pipes passing by and the ratattat of the brave drumming of innocent courage close beside. And when she would speak of her son lost in war, she would always smile at me and rub her fingers through my hair.
It took us much longer to return from the cannon fields than it did to journey there. Willow's stories wandered back and forth in a beautiful, tender wistfulness that somehow maintained a steady peace within the come and go of tears. Along the way, blue-eyed Squire went off on forays into here and there, almost everywhere, a patient biding of time for Willow and me to have our necessary conversation.
When we eventually did near Willow's place, we first caught scent of the hickory fire and then the laughter of two old men being lost in being friends and finally, in the last few steps, the whiff of Middleton's Cherry being shared.
It would a farewell to both Willow and the Padre for Granddad had prepared traveling packs forjust him and me. We would be moving on after hearty handshakes, hugs, and a kiss from Miss Willow upon my forehead and a tear upon my cheek.