Tuesday, 4 November 2008
A dread autumn (part two)
The hermitage was dark and moist. It smelled of moss and mould, but the dim light of candle would not prick the shadows enough to throw clear light on the walls and floor of the hut, in order that Lord Winstanley might see what was growing there.
Winstanley had given this stone dwelling over to the hermit, following a dying practice of landowners allowing a wise man to stay for free upon his land.
Lord Winstanley used his squatting tenant as a sign to others that he was both rich enough to give this property away and benevolent enough to suffer the old fool gladly, this hermit. He certainly wasn’t glad to suffer his ravings now. The hermit bounced about the room, excited by the arcane words he spouted. His wild eyes glinted towards Winstanley, who caught a reek of his bastard breath and had to cough so that he wouldn’t wretch.
“Fr Seddon,” enquired Stanley, “would you kindly ask this man to aid us sensibly and with some decorum and more judgement than his childish persona suggests he is capable.”
Stopping his manic jig and standing stock still, the hermit spoke but looked away from Winstanley, his back to him. “You may address me directly, sir, for I am no fool, though I see and hear of things so phenomenal you too would lose yourself on occasion and find it a simple thing to become lost on the way back to a salient mind.”
Though the hermit addressed the stone wall beyond, Winstanley was transfixed and stared intently at the back of the hermit’s head, feeling his words through the slightest of neck movements; a tilt of the head this way or that became mesmerising.
“The priest has come to me with more than the devil on his mind, for if it were Satan at work then his God would show him the way.”
“But, these green ones. They vex him. They are of a magik older even than Lucifer, for they have crawled straight out of the belly of the Earth herself and woe to him who sends them back to their mother now.
At this, the priest spoke up: “But if it were possible, to cast these creatures back to the sluices of hell they grew up from, then you could tell us how. You could guide us?”
The hermit didn’t speak for a long while and Winstanley was almost moved to speak when he became aware of a sudden warmth, becoming a strong heat within the dank cabin, but no flame was lit there.
“It is done,” said the hermit, presently. “I have spoken to them, to Leanlo and her brothers and they are coming to meet us.”
“What!” exclaimed Winstanley, “the green ones come here now? And when shall they arrive, and what shall they do?”
“They arrive soon, they are almost here,” said the hermit turning with a delicious smile to face his landlord now. “And they come to dine upon you, my lord, if they should be allowed to.”
With that Winstanley grew pale and looked at the hermit’s sandaled feet. “Though, I dare say,” continued the hermit, “they should not be allowed such liberties, wouldn’t you agree Lord Winstanley?”
“Come now,” the hermit said, taking an agape Winstanley by the hand. “They are at hand and we must go out and meet our guests where the grass still grows.”
The hermit then led Winstanley from the hut and the priest had little option but to follow on, slowly and most fearfully, close behind.
(to be continued)
This story is a continuation of ideas from earlier tales, including:
Winter Quakes, Spring Awakens, and The summer meadow.