After dinner Bartholomew walked outside to enjoy some fresh autumn air.
It was early evening on 1 November. Rain, earlier in the day, had ended.
He watched the trees sway and clouds scud across the sky. A colder wind
blew mostly from the north. It felt like an early winter was coming. He
was thinking about what needed to be completed in preparation. He also
recalled the fabulous Halloween that the weasels had created for
everyone last night.
His keen ears picked up a sound from far across the pond.
“Whoo. Whoo, Whoo. Whoo, Whoo.”
Could that possibly be an owl, he thought.
It came again, “Whoo. Whoo, Whoo. Whoo, Whoo.”
“Whoo. Whoo, Whoo. Whoo, Whoo,” he answered.
Shortly thereafter, he spotted two familiar shapes winging their way
towards him. As they approached, he noticed that one was significantly
bigger than the other. It only took a minute for the owls to cross the
pond and land next to him.
“Welcome to Ballymore,” he said cordially.
The older visitor said, “Thank you. Hello, Bartholomew.”
Bartholomew was startled. “You know me?” he asked.
“Yes and no,” replied the visitor. “I’m sorry. My name is Jonathan Owl
and this is my son, Oliver. We flew here from Cadwell to the east to
give you some important information. Unfortunately, I’m afraid that our
information might be disturbing. Could we possibly go inside and sit
Bartholomew was now concerned but said, “Yes, of course. Please come
As he led them into his home, he remembered that Sam had mentioned a
Jonathan Owl. He offered the unexpected visitors seats at the dining
Jonathan began, “I don’t think that there is an easy way to say this, so
I will just say it. Bartholomew, I am your brother and Oliver is your
Bartholomew stared at them in disbelief.
“I am sorry to shock you this way. Please let me explain. Our parents’
names were Chesney and Olivia. We were both born twenty-one years ago.
Our parents used to live in Cadwell but decided to move to Ballymore
because they had heard many good things about it. Upon arriving, they
built a home, and soon thereafter, our mother had two eggs.”
Bartholomew was listening intently.
“Our mother’s sister, aunt Penelope, had also lived in Cadwell with her
husband, uncle Percy. Unfortunately, they were not able to have any
children. Our parents had a close relationship with them and offered one
of the eggs to them before it hatched. No one else knew of the
arrangement. It was a very kind thing to do, but I’m not sure if it was
the right thing to do. I was born in Cadwell, and my father and mother
were Percy and Penelope, as far as I knew. You were born and raised here
and thought you had no brothers or sisters.
“When I was two years old, my foster parents told me the truth about us.
Needless to say, it upset me greatly. It upset all of us. However, they
were the only parents I knew, and I learned to accept the situation. I
must say, they were very good parents to me. Apparently, both sets of
parents decided that it would be better if we had no contact and so we
“I found out later that you were never told about me. I don’t know what
else to say except that I am sorry to be the one to bring you this
information. Coming here was difficult, but I finally decided I had to
Bartholomew was overwhelmed with these revelations. He didn’t know where
to begin. Then, he thought, stay calm and don’t rush.
“You are my brother, and you are my nephew?” he asked.
“Yes, we really are,” answered Jonathan.
Bartholomew, with tears in eyes, stood up, went to them, and hugged
them. They hugged for a long time.
Bartholomew looked at them and said, “I don’t know where to begin or
even how to feel. I need to sit down again. No, I’ll make some tea.”
That was a good idea. He went to the kitchen and prepared the tea, which
he made extra strong. That gave him some time to gather his thoughts.
He returned to the table with the tea and asked, “Why did you wait so
long to come here? Our parents have been gone for a long time.”
“Yes, they have,” answered Jonathan. “I lived with my foster parents
until I married. Then, my wife, Regina, and I had Oliver. Time went by
quickly, and I heard you were doing well. I thought of visiting many
times, but I didn’t want to cause you trouble. Also, I didn’t know how
you would react.”
“Something must have changed for you to come here now,” said
“Yes. Last year, Regina passed on,” said his brother sadly. “We were
married for ten years. She was a wonderful wife and mother.” He smiled
and continued, “I am not getting any younger either. When I think about
Oliver, I want him to have the best possible future. I believe that
Ballymore offers that opportunity. I also knew that we finally had to
meet. You needed to know the truth. You deserved to know the truth.”
Bartholomew stared at the table. There was silence.
“I’m very sorry to hear about your wife and your mother.” He nodded at
Jonathan and Oliver and looked down at the table again.
Emotion was brewing in him.
“You have given me quite a surprise. I wish we had met sooner, but I
understand the difficult situation in which you found yourself. But I am
happy that you finally came to me. I welcome you to my home and to
Ballymore. This morning I had no family. Now, I have family. It’s a day
They stood and hugged again. Jonathan and Oliver were very happy that
Bartholomew had accepted them. They had been worried that he might not.
A new owl family had been created or perhaps finally reunited.
The next few hours passed quickly as they each told of their lives. It
was late when they finally retired. For the first time in years,
Bartholomew forgot his nightly rounds. The treehouse wasn’t meant to
sleep three, but they managed. Jonathan slept in Bartholomew’s room, and
Oliver slept in the parlour.
Even though it was after midnight, Bartholomew couldn’t fall asleep. He
tossed and turned. It would take a while for him to become used to the
fact that he now had some family. When he was younger, he had always
hoped for a brother or sister or someone. As time went by, he adapted to
the missing pieces in his life. The dear animals of Ballymore had become
his family. Now, out of the sky, a brother and nephew had flown into his
life, only a few hours ago. He hardly knew them. Would he come to love
them? What would happen?
He needed to relax, and let things unfold in their own time. They always
In the morning, he awoke with a strange new feeling. The house was not
empty. He saw his brother wrapped up in a blanket on the floor under the
window. Suddenly, he realised he was now part of a family. It felt good
and comforting. He smiled.
“It’s morning everybody,” he yelled. That woke the others. They yawned
and returned the greeting. It was a new experience for Jonathan and
Oliver, also. They were in unfamiliar surroundings but with the
knowledge that they had gained a brother and uncle. Ballymore would be
their new home. It was an exciting change to their lives. Jonathan knew
that he had brought his son to a place where he could thrive in many
ways. Living in Ballymore didn’t guarantee happiness, but it offered a
wonderful opportunity. It would be up to Oliver to make the most of it.
Jonathan would continue to guide him the best way he knew how. That’s
what a parent does.
The Owl family arose, got dressed, and prepared a light breakfast. At
breakfast Bartholomew said to Jonathan, “My home is small but, if you
like, you can stay with me until a treehouse is built for you and
Then, he realised what he had just said.
“I’m sorry. I’m being presumptuous and rushing. What would you like to
do, and how can I help?”
“Thank you, but I think it would be best to have a home built before we
move,” said Jonathan. “Moving is a complicated process and we should not
hurry. The type of home we build depends partially on what we will do
here. I have some ideas I would like to mention.”
“Of course,” responded Bartholomew. “I am interested to hear them.”
“My two great interests are books and teaching. I am teaching Oliver
reading, writing, and basic math. He is doing very well. I would love to
teach more. Do you think there would be any interest here?”
Bartholomew said, “Right now, there are only two of us who can read and
write. A few can do simple math. There is certainly a great need here
for teaching the basics. That is something I have wanted to offer for
years but never seem to have the time. I think there would be some
interest, but I don’t know how much. It is an excellent idea and worth
“We have a large, open pavilion on the island, which we use for events
such as picnics. About half of it will be enclosed soon. That will allow
us to gather in bad weather. Perhaps you could also use the new space as
a classroom at times.”
“That would be fantastic,” said Jonathan enthusiastically. “If my
teaching is successful, my dream is to have a dedicated one room
“Well, it’s certainly possible. I hope your teaching plans are very
successful. It would be a great benefit to Ballymore,” said Bartholomew.
“I will do everything I can to help.”
“Thank you very much,” responded Jonathan. “My other interest is books.
I see you also love them. I’m not surprised. The love of books must run
in the family. My library is currently at one hundred and one. When we
move here, my books will be available to everybody. They could form the
beginning of a small library in the classroom.”
Bartholomew was impressed with Jonathan and his plans. “You have some
wonderful ideas, and together, I think we can bring them to life.”
“Now I’m getting very excited and want to be here yesterday,” said
Jonathan as he laughed.
Bartholomew also laughed and said, “I’m ready when you are.”
Notice that Bartholomew didn’t offer to donate his books to the proposed
library. They were like family to him, and he couldn’t think of parting
with them. Besides, he frequently needed them to find answers to one
problem or another.
He turned to Oliver and asked, “So Oliver, what do you think you would
like to do in Ballymore?”
“I would like to help my father. I think I have learned reading well
enough that I could teach the letters.”
“So, we will have a teaching family in Ballymore. Wonderful!” said
“There is one other thing, my ‘Pride and Joy’,” Jonathan said.
Oliver smiled and Bartholomew looked puzzled.
“It will be my gift to Ballymore and I would prefer that it remain a
secret until it can be presented.”
“Okay,” said Bartholomew. “Then, a secret it shall remain, but can you
give me a hint?”
“No,” said Jonathan and he winked.
Everyone smiled and finished breakfast.
After breakfast Bartholomew gave them a flying tour around Ballymore and
answered many questions. Among other things, he told them about the
swans’ ambulance service. They would be needing that to move their
belongings. Appropriately, they stopped at the swans’ cottage on the
island. Stoddard answered the door and was surprised to see not one but
three owls standing on his doorstep.
“Good morning, Stoddard. Please let me introduce you to my brother,
Jonathan and my nephew Oliver,” said Bartholomew.
“Good morning, all. Where have you been hiding this family,
Bartholomew laughed, “It’s a long story, which I will tell you later.”
“That’ll be a story I don’t want to miss. In any event, please come in,”
welcomed the swan.
“It’s nice to meet you,” said Jonathan.
“The main purpose of our visit is to introduce my family and tell you
that they will be moving here soon,” said Bartholomew. “They now reside
in Cadwell. Are you familiar with that village?”
“Oh, yes,” said Stoddard. “Sean and I have been to that area many
Looking at Jonathan, he asked, “Do you live north or south of the
“Are you in the forest on the west side?”
“Birches or pines?”
“There is a large strawberry field near there,” said Stoddard.
“Yes, we live next to it on the east side,” said Oliver.
“I would say that is about a one hour flight in good weather,”
“Yes, that’s correct. I think it will be difficult keeping secrets from
you,” said Jonathan laughing.
Bartholomew stared at Stoddard. “How do you know all this?” he asked.
“We get around,” said Stoddard with a wink. “I assume you have some
belongings to be transported. We’ll be happy to help, and welcome to
“Thank you very much. Yes, we do,” said Jonathan. “The most important
belongings are my books and some pieces of a special machine. It will
probably take a few trips.”
“So, your ‘Pride and Joy’ is a machine?” asked Bartholomew.
“Yes, and it’s still a secret.”
Stoddard said, “That doesn’t sound like a problem as long as the weather
holds. The sooner we do it, the better.”
“Is there a place we can store everything until our home is built?”
Bartholomew answered, “Some of your things can be stored in my home. I
will find other places for the rest.”
Looking at Stoddard, Bartholomew said, “I will let you know when they
are ready. I hope we can move almost everything within two weeks.”
Jonathan agreed that was likely.
Stoddard invited them to stay for tea. During the tea Jonathan told
Stoddard a bit about himself and Oliver. After the tea Jonathan asked if
they could see the pavilion.
“Of course. I was saving that until last,” said his brother.
So the three owls said goodbye and walked there. It was only next door.
Bartholomew pointed out which part was to be enclosed. After studying
the pavilion briefly, he said, “I think we could easily make a larger
enclosure and divide it into two rooms. You could use the second room as
a classroom and library.”
“You think it is possible?” asked Jonathan excitedly.
“Yes, I believe so. Let me talk to our chief builder, Burton Beaver,
about it. I will let you know.”
“That would be incredible! Thank you very much,” said Jonathan.
They continued to talk about possibilities for a while and then returned
to the treehouse. After a light lunch it was time for Bartholomew’s new
family to return to Cadwell. They had a lot of planning and packing to
Bartholomew hugged them and said, “I am so happy you came to me and that
you are moving to Ballymore. I look forward to helping you with your
plans. Please have a safe trip back.”
Jonathan and Oliver said their goodbyes and left. Bartholomew watched
them until they disappeared over the trees at the east end of the pond.
Over the next week, he found two storage locations for his brother’s
belongings. He also met with Burton Beaver and told him of the design
changes to the pavilion enclosure. Burton agreed to create two rooms
instead of one. He said the additional effort would be minimal.
Bartholomew didn’t mention the reason for the changes, and Burton didn’t
ask. Construction was scheduled to begin soon. The new meeting hall and
Jonathan’s special room would be finished in time for the Winter
Solstice Eve celebration.