I found Lantern Waste much to my liking. As with my former home in the land of the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve, the west of Narnia was in those days generally uninhabited, and the forest was not entirely strange to me, sharing many species of tree I was familiar with. Of course, I tried at once the passage by which I had arrived, the hollow tree in which I had awakened, but there seemed no way back to the world I had come from. For some that would have been a serious matter, but it bothered me little. I had chosen for myself a solitary life, and no one there would miss me in the least: I had no family there.

My first endeavor was to find a place of suitable shelter, for I did not know what the climate of this strange new land would prove to be, though at the time it seemed temperate enough. It was morning, as I correctly guessed, when I awoke in Narnia. I spent most of the first day looking for shelter, but by evening could find no better than a small dell, wooded and sheltered from the wind. I had entered this new world with little in the way of provision. I had quickly shed much of the winter warmth I had worn when I sheltered against the storm. I had little else: my flint and tinder box, a small axe (a true woodsmen is seldom without). In my pack was a good knife, a short length of rope, a bit of fishing line, some jerky, a bit of cheese, and a small first aid kit. On my belt was my canteen of water. During the day I found some berries to eat, and a small fresh stream at which I washed and replenished my drinking water. Dinner was meager that first evening, yet I was not unhappy with my lot, for I sensed I was on the verge of a great adventure. I slept in the dell that night, using my excess clothes for pillow and blanket, and fell asleep with the stars twinkling down through the leaves of the trees.

That night as I slept, I dreamed strange dreams. It seemed that the trees were talking to one another, not in some strange tree language, but in the language of men. It seemed, at times, as though they were discussing me, and what should be done with me, or about me. I even felt at times, in my dream that the trees were moving about, though when I woke in the middle of the night, there was not the slightest breeze and all was still. It was strange, like a nightmare, and yet not frightening as one. For whatever reason it did not cause me any fear, and in the morning I awoke refreshed and at ease.

I determined there were two things I needed to settle immediately: food and shelter. Water seemed to be no problem, as long as I did not wander too far from the stream. There were plenty of trees, and I was not averse to using my axe or working up a sweat in constructing a shelter. The question of food bothered me, especially since the color of the leaves indicated that autumn was well advanced and the growing season was over. I wondered how cold the winter would be, and how long. I finished the last of my provisions for breakfast, and walked back to the stream to wash my face, and refill my canteen.

It seemed prudent to build my shelter near the stream, close to the source of water. Although I had yet to see any, I also reasoned that there were likely to be fish in the stream, which could settle at least a part of the issue of food. I gathered berries on the way to the stream, thinking I would soon be tired of them, and also thinking that the time for berries would soon be past. I would have to find something more substantial, and soon. I drank, and bathed, then turned north, crossing the stream, and then west, and went up the stream, in search of a place suitable for my cabin. It was a pleasant day, and a pleasant walk beside the babbling stream, beneath the rustling leaves. At times, however, it seemed to me that the voice of the stream had words, that the sounds of the trees had voices. I passed it off as imagination, and the strangeness of my situation.

I found a place that suited me about mid morning. It was a level space well above the level of the stream, safe from the spring floods, or so I hoped. It was on the northern side of the stream, with forested hills rising behind it, a little bay of grass and thistle facing south into the warmth of the sun, which would surely be welcome if the winters were cold. A few hundred yards east of my building site the stream flowed over a ridge of rocks, a small natural dam of sorts, and behind it the stream broadened into a level pool. As I had hoped, I saw fish in the shallows that looked similar to what in my old world would have been brook trout. That was a very promising and welcome sign.

I determined to begin at once building my shelter. I used my rope as a crude measuring device to mark out as best I could a square space on which to build my little house. I marked each corner with a large stone from the bank of the stream. Then axe in hand, I strode to the edge of the clearing and chose a tree to fell, a tall beech, straight and true, perfect as the foundation of the wall. I took out my axe and was about to swing when suddenly there was a voice behind me.

"What have I done to anger you?"

I turned quickly, startled by the voice, for I thought I was alone and had heard no one approach. I was startled a second time by the sight of the person who stood before me, a tall, slender, stately lady, it seemed. She was beautiful and yet strange. Her dress, or gown was gray, if it was a dress, for it seemed more a part of her. Her hands and arms did not hang at her side, but seemed always to be extended, moving gently, gracefully like branches in a gentle breeze. Her hair was long and flowing, yet not exactly like hair. It seemed too thick at the roots, and too coarse for hair, and yet beautiful. Her eyes were a brilliant green, shot through with sunlight. Her face, though beautiful was perplexed. She asked again, "What have I done to anger you? Why will you cut me down?"

Copyrightę2001, John Nelson



Copyright © 2001 John Nelson, Hermit of Lantern Waste.
Created - March 25, 2001 ~ Revised April 21, 2001