Posts Tagged: public domain

Ghosts of trees, not ghosts in trees

We know Clare has helped lots of animals in her life. Even the ones that passed away come back to visit her as ghosts. But has she helped any trees along the way? If so, where are their ghosts? Are they ungrateful? Are tree ghosts even a thing?

According to this guy they are. He has twenty years of experience as a ghost hunter. He knows the hidden world of the vagrants, and the vagrants say that tree ghosts are not only real, they’re malevolent. If they could only, you know, move around, this might be very scary.

This is what the people of leisure might learn, if they visited the haunts I visit; and they might learn more beside. They might learn of another world, a spirit world, such as is never alluded to in the pulpits, with which people in the poorest parts—people who are too poor to pay for beds—are forced to live in contact. Nights in the parks and commons have taught these vagrants more, a thousand times more, than they ever learned in Sunday or County Council Schools. They have seen sights—spirits in the form of man and of beast, of both and of neither—that have revealed to them how closely the other world borders on this, and to what close supervision the inhabitants of the other world subject some of us. They have learned, I say, what no priest or preacher would, or could, teach them, namely, that the hell of spirit-land lies on this earth, and that the worst of all punishments is that of the poor phantasms of the dead, that glides in and out the trees nocturnally, never meeting those it knew and loved, but ever encountering the most terrifying of the spirits that are hostile to man.

Our vagrants know, too, the power of these neutrarians, they know they can adopt any shape, and tempt and goad man on to the committal of any crime, however heinous. They have, moreover, acquired a further knowledge—a knowledge denied and scoffed at by the ministry of all Christian denominations—namely that all forms of animal and vegetable life, all forms of flora and fauna, pass into the superphysical, and live again.

I myself first learned of a tree ghost from an old tramp, who came and sat by my side on a seat on Clapham Common.

“Do I ever see anything strange here at night?” he repeated in answer to my question. “Yes, I do, at times, but what gives me the worst fright is a tree that I sometimes see close to the spot where that man was murdered some ten or twelve years ago. I never saw it before the murder, but a few nights afterwards, as I was passing the spot, I saw a peculiar glimmer of white, and, on getting a bit closer, I found, to my astonishment, that it was a tall, slender white thing with branches just like a tree, only it was not behaving like a tree. Although there was not a breath of wind, it kept lurching with a strange, creaking noise, and I felt it was watching me, watching me furtively, just as if it had eyes, and was bent on doing me all the harm it possibly could. I was so scared, I turned tail, and never ceased running till I had reached home.”

“Home!” I said.

“Yes, a clump of bushes near the ditch, where I always turn in of nights. It ain’t much of a home, to be sure, but it’s the only one I’ve got, and I can generally count on lying there undisturbed till the morning.”

I gave him a few coppers, and he blessed me as if I had given him a fortune.

Don’t open the moon room

Last week, something strange happened in Francine’s bathroom. Unbeknownst to our heroes, a moonbeam came in through the bathroom window to rustle the bale of Oscar’s fur left in the tub. We’ll find out what happens this week, but it’s no secret that people have always thought of moonlight as the cause of many ills.

Maybe that explains why Lassie’s foster-mother kept the moon, the stars and the sun trapped in closets. Today’s “From the Bookshelf” is from a beautifully illustrated book of Norse folk tales called East of the Sun and West of the Moon. The whole book is worth a read.

out popped the sunNow, when the Lassie had grown to be big enough to know right and wrong, her Foster-mother got ready to go on a journey.

“You have my leave,” she said, “to go all over the house, except those rooms which I shew you;” and when she had said that, away she went.

But the Lassie could not forbear just to open one of the doors a little bit, when—Pop! out flew a Star.

When her Foster-mother came back, she was very vexed to find that the star had flown out, and she got very angry with her Foster-daughter, and threatened to send her away; but the child cried and begged so hard that she got leave to stay.

Now, after a while, the Foster-mother had to go on another journey; and, before she went, she forbade the Lassie to go into those two rooms into which she had never been. She promised to beware; but when she was left alone, she began to think and to wonder what there could be in the second room, and at last she could not help setting the door a little ajar, just to peep in, when—Pop! out flew the Moon.

When her Foster-mother came home and found the moon let out, she was very downcast, and said to the Lassie she must go away, she could not stay with her any longer. But the Lassie wept so bitterly, and prayed so heartily for forgiveness, that this time, too, she got leave to stay.

Some time after, the Foster-mother had to go away again, and she charged the Lassie, who by this time was half grown up, most earnestly that she mustn’t try to go into, or to peep into, the third room. But when her Foster-mother had been gone some time, and the Lassie was weary of walking about alone, all at once she thought, “Dear me, what fun it would be just to peep a little into that third room.” Then she thought she mustn’t do it for her Foster-mother’s sake; but when the bad thought came the second time she could hold out no longer; come what might, she must and would look into the room; so she just opened the door a tiny bit, when—POP! out flew the Sun.

But when her Foster-mother came back and saw that the sun had flown away, she was cut to the heart, and said, “Now, there was no help for it, the Lassie must and should go away; she couldn’t hear of her staying 69 any longer.” Now the Lassie cried her eyes out, and begged and prayed so prettily; but it was all no good.

“Nay! but I must punish you!” said her Foster-mother; “but you may have your choice, either to be the loveliest woman in the world, and not to be able to speak, or to keep your speech, and to be the ugliest of all women; but away from me you must go.”

And the Lassie said, “I would sooner be lovely.” So she became all at once wondrous fair; but from that day forth she was dumb.