My Dear Friend Luther,

It is sheer madness out here in these God-forsaken provinces. The people here do not hold to sense or reason, and instead let their superstitions govern what few wits they do possess. I will, of course, endeavor to carry out my duties to the best of my capabilities despite these difficult times. Yet I cannot help but dwell on how ill my own luck has turned to land me in such a primitive backwater.

To wit: the other week Mrs. Hornleaf approached me, demanding I take men out into the West Wood to chop down a certain tree. I explained to her that such a task was better suited to lumberjacks and woodsmen, and hardly fitting for a town magistrate. Her face reddened as with apoplexy, and she clutched in her hand a braid of woven yarrow. She shook her talisman at me, and proceeded to tell me that it is a churchman I should be fetching, as any lumberjack would surely meet his doom as soon as he put his axe to the foul tree’s bark.

How far have men fallen, Luther, to require an esteemed member of the clergy perform sacred rites over nothing more than old, decrepit tree? I will not stand for it. Not as long as I hold the office of magistrate. Such matters are not to be mocked with superstitious ignorance.

I told all of this to Mrs. Hornleaf, of course. As you can expect, she was less than pleased. She stormed off in a fluster, and I have not since spoken with her. Talk of the tree had lessened, though with the recent disappearance of Mr. Tieren, it has again become a topic among rumormongers. They whisper of his failure to return from a venture into the West Wood. Of course, no one dare acknowledge the man’s proclivity towards excessive drink, in which, I suspect, lies the truth of the matter. I hold no doubt that he will turn up in a day or two, sober as whistle, if for no other reason than to purchase more ale.

I look forward to the day we will again meet, though I pray it be in more amenable surroundings than those in which I find myself. Until then, I will always remain,

Your Devoted Friend,





  1. Methinks Cecil might need to rethink his attitude on superstitions πŸ™‚
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    • Sara C. Snider

      Haha! Yeah… he’s not giving up his views without a fight. πŸ˜‰

  2. So the question is, who is right, Cecil or Mrs. Hornleaf? I’m guessing he’ll find out if he goes into the West Wood.
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    • Sara C. Snider

      He’ll probably have to be dragged out there, but yeah. πŸ™‚

  3. Hah πŸ™‚ Reminds me of a Roma story I read about a forest where people kept disappearing, and then the hero found skeletons inside the trees…

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
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    • Sara C. Snider

      That sounds both creepy and awesome–my kind of story, in other words. πŸ˜‰

  4. Thank you Sara, gripping! It reads so well … I look forward to tomorrow for more excellence-ness!

    • Sara C. Snider

      Thanks, Susan! Hopefully I can keep up the excellence-ness. πŸ˜‰

  5. Ooh this has me so intrigued. πŸ˜€

  6. Very foreboding. I fear Cecil will find he should be doing more listening to the people and less complaining about their ignorance.

  7. C-raig

    A very intriquing beginning that makes me want more. It has the feel of an H.P. Lovecraft story, only more readable.

    • Sara C. Snider

      I love H.P. Lovecraft! That’s a great compliment, thank you. πŸ™‚

  8. Jennifer Tyron

    I’m a big Patrick O’Brian fan, particularly of his gorgeous use of the English language. This to me is reminiscent. What a great read, and I’m finding that each day your offering has me thinking about the story the rest of the day, filling in what might be going on, what happened, etc. It’s not only creative, it sparks creativity. Huzzah!

  9. it’s so sinister in such a naive way. creepy woods always my favorite.

  10. I love how this has two sides, and you’re not sure which way it’s going to go. A beautifully written piece!

    • Sara C. Snider

      Thanks, Sue. I’m always a fan of a little bit of ambiguity. πŸ˜‰

  11. Hi Sara – the meeting of the old with the new … I too wonder where the tale of the old tree with its foul bark will lead us .. the woven yarrow thread could hold the outcome – the poison for someone … cheers Hilary

    • Sara C. Snider

      Perhaps–Mrs. Hornleaf certainly seems to think so. πŸ˜‰ Thanks for stopping by, Hilary.

  12. I love the foreshadowing of this letter. The obnoxious yet ignorant magistrate points fingers and calls names. Doom is surely in his path. I love it!

    • Sara C. Snider

      Yep, he might want to bring his nose out of the air before doom is upon him. πŸ˜‰ Thanks, Tanya!

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