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Cora Smith was born on a sunny winters day in 1898, to Ida and Sam Smith. A healthy girl but blind, and according to the Doctor would always stay that way. Sam, a Bank Manager and a man of some if not great wealth, would seek other opinions, but always get the same answer. She grew strong and tall and a happier child you would not find anywhere in Sheffield. Ida and Sam always meant to have more children but it never happened, and with all the love they had given to Cora, their lives did feel full and complete.

By 14 years old she could find her way around for miles, with the help of her dog Rags. Most days she would walk up to the top of her street, turn left for 345 paces, and left again on to some common ground, where her father had taken her as a small child and held her hand so she could run. And run she did. Although now with the dog pulling at the lead to guide her, even though she knew every inch of that common. People would Say, Cora was as fast as the wind, and she would

laugh and say I am faster than that old wind.

Over the years, Cora had become good friends with the travellers who stayed on the common. As she got older, she had been allowed out with Rags more on her own. Her father knew the gippos, as he referred to them, would keep a close eye on her. She spent many hours up there listening to their many stories, and riding the horses. Always two or three would see her home.

It was on one such day, when some new travellers had come to the common. A family of seven, one being a lad of about 15. A tall scrawny lad who always looked filthy. He had this thick black hair, which grew in 10 different directions, but mainly straight up. He noticed this girl, with a dog pulling her around, running and running in the field, never tiring or slowing. John could not take his eyes off her. This was of course, noticed by every one else out, so they watched John, as John watched Cora, and although he became aware of laughing around him, he never turned to see what could be so funny. He never suspected he was the cause.

John started to walk over to the girl, who by now was sitting on a small grass mound. She was throwing a stick for the dog who would then fetch it back. Then they would play who could pull the hardest. With the dog growling, and throwing his head from side to side, and Cora laughing so loud. It was to become one of John’s favoured memories, he would think of it often in his short life.

That’s one crazy dog you have there, what’s his name John said. Rags Cora said Crazy name for a crazy dog, sounds about right. Can I pet him? John said. If you dare he only seems to like me, no one else will go anywhere near him. Cora said. She felt the stick go limp, heard and felt Rags being patted. Seems as soft as a brush to me. How did he get the daft name? John Said. Well, mother would keep old rags in a box under the sink, to use as dusters or for cleaning things, and I would get some out, so he would play pulling with me. So to get him to come I would shout rags and wave them about. It well, sort of stuck, Cora Said.

You Blind John said. You Stupid Cora said. Very. said John and they laughed. John leaned over to pat the dog again. As he did, Cora could smell him, it was a earthy smell though not unpleasant, but under that smell, was what she could only describe as a warm friendly sort of musty but nice smell. She liked John. A feeling her father would never have for him.

John and Cora where in separable for the next two years, his family moved on from the common. John did not.



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