A Kinrowan Estate story: Tree Spirit (A Letter to Tessa)

A letter from Lady Alexandra Margaret Quinn, Head Gardener at in the Reign of Her Majesty Queen Victoria, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, Empress of India, to her botanist friend Tessa, then in the Ottoman Empire.

Alex, as she was known, copied her personal correspondence into her Journal. She noted in her will that her letters were to become part of the Estate Library upon her death. Alexandra would live to well over a hundred, even longer than Her Queen would!

Note that she did not call him a Green Man as despite pubs for centuries being called that, Lady Raglan in the 1930s would be the first person to attach the name to foliage beings as they were found in churches and other locations.

Dear Tessa,

We get some very odd visitors to the grounds here, as you well know but, he was certainly one of the queerest I’d ever seen in all my decades of watching the comings and goings. He was even stranger than the minor goddess made of owl feathers and rose petals, for he was that rarest of beings, a tree spirit who had survived being made over by the Christian invaders of ancient Briton.

He was standing at the edge of Oberon’s Wood watching one of the red foxes we have here — the fox, I think it was Old One-Eye who lost his eye in a fight last summer — who was stalking a field mouse. He was so quiet, so still, that I at first didn’t notice him.

He was at first glance normal: a skinny being whose skin looked rough from being in the sun too long. Closer up it was apparent that he was not ’tall human as his skin was really very small overlapping leaves, something so dark green that they looked almost black, and his hair I swear was made of some odd moss. And his clothes were obviously made of leaves, oak and ash so it seemed.

Remember the self-portrait I showed you in the Library of that artist who was here last summer? Imagine a younger version of him and you’ve got a good idea of what he looked like.

His voice was rough, like old oak leaves rustling in the wind sound: ‘I’m Thorn. I’m the Forester here as I have been from before there was an Estate.’ I introduce myself and we walked into the Fall forest to talk, to observe, and just be. We talked of the Estate, Of music, of old gods getting as thin as river mist, and (not surprisingly) all things botanic.

I realized that I had seen him in the Pub standing in the shadows listening very late at night to the Neverending Session — not drinking, not eating, and not conversing with everyone. Just listening.

We parted after several hours — him back to His Forest, me to harvest the pumpkins, as Samhain approaches and the rascals among the staff still can’t resist making spirit catchers which causes no end of trouble. We promised to play chess soon, as it’s one of the human pleasures he likes.

Affectionately yours, Alex

PS: the carpets you shipped back from Cairo are wonderful! One went in my bedroom; the other as you requested went on the floor of the still unnamed Reading Room in the Library. And Isabella has made the Several Annies responsible for enforcing the no shoes on it rule!

Diverse Voices

Diverse Voices is our catch-all for writers and other staffers who did but a few reviews or other writings for us. They are credited at the beginning of the actual writing if we know who they are which we don't always. It also includes material by writers that first appeared in the Sleeping Hedgehog, our in-house newsletter for staff and readers here. Some material is drawn from Folk Tales, Mostly Folk and Roots & Branches, three other publications we've done.

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