Storm's Journal

--| Tangle and Mossy |--- 

[Tangle discovers the small cottage of the wise woman...]

AH, you are come at last! I have been looking for you a long time. 
She sat down with her on her lap, and there the girl sat staring at her. 
She had never seen anything so beautiful. she was tall and strong, 
with white arms and neck...she had not one ornament upon her, 
but she looked as if she had just put off quantities 
of diamonds and emeralds. Yet here she was in the simplest, 
poorest little cottage, where she was evidently at home. 
She was dressed in shining green. 

How old are you, please? 
Thousands of years old, answered the lady. 
You dont look like it, said Tangle. 
Dont I? I think I do. 
Dont you see how beautiful I am? 

and what is your name, please? asked Tangle.
Grandmother, answered the lady. 
Is it really? 
Yes, indeed. I never tell stories, even in fun. 
How good of you! 
I couldnt if I tried. 
It would come true if I said it... 

She got bread out of one hole in the wall; then milk out of another; 
then several kinds of fruit out of a third; and then she went to the pot 
on the fire, and took out the fish now nicely cooked, and, 
as soon as she had pulled off its feathered skin, ready to be eaten. 
But!... exclaimed Tangle, and she stared at the fish, and could say no more. 
I know what you mean, returned the lady. 

You do not like to eat the messenger that brought you home. 
But it is the kindest return you can make. The creature was afraid to go until 
it saw me put the pot on, and heard me promise it should be boiled the moment 
it returned with you. Then it darted out of the door at once. You saw it go 
into the pot of itself the moment it entered, did you not? 

I did, answered tangle, and I thought it very strange; but then I saw you, 
and forgot all about the fish. 

In fairyland, resumed the lady, as they sat down to the table, 
the ambition of the animals is to be eaten by the people; 
for that is their highest end in that condition. 
But they are not therefore destroyed. Out of that pot 
comes something more than the dead fish, you will see. 

Tangle now remarked that the lid was on the pot. 
But the lady took no further notice of it till they had eaten the fish, 
which Tangle found nicer than any fish she had ever tasted before. 
It was as white as snow, and as delicate as cream; and the moment 
she had swallowed a mouthfull of it, a change she could not describe 
began to take place in her. She heard a murmuring all about her, 
which became more and more articulate, and at length, as she went on eating, 
grew intelligible. By the time she had finished her share, 
the sounds of all the animals in the forest came crowding through the door 
to her ears; for the door still stood wide open, though it was 
pitch-dark outside; and they were no longer sounds only; 
they were speech, an speech that she could understand. 
She could tell what the insects in the cottage were saying 
to each other too. She had even a suspicion that the trees 
and flowers all about the cottage were holding midnight 
communications with each other; but what they said 
she could not hear. 

As soon as the fish was eaten, the lady went to the fire and took the lid 
off the pot. A lovely little creature in human shape, with large white wings, 
rose out of it, and flew round and round the roof of the cottage; then dropped, 
fluttering, and nestled in the lap of the lady. she spoke to it some strange words, 
carried it to the door, and threw it out into the darkness. Tangle heard the 
flapping of its wings die away in the distance. 

Now have we done the fish any harm? she said, returning.

No, answered Tangle, I do not think we have. I should not mind eating one every day. 
They must wait their time, like you and me too, my little Tangle. 
and she smiled a smile which the sadness in it made more lovely.

(George MacDonald, exerpted from: The Golden Key) 

[Tangle next visits the old man of the Sea, who breeds the fish 
and then to the man of the Earth, and then finally to the oldest; 
the man of Fire. Tangle is lead deeper and deeper into the bowels 
of the earth, til she must plunge into a river, and the man of Fire
pulls an egg out from under a rock, from which hatches a snake. 
She must follow the snake to the land from whence the shadows come. 
Here, she has just emerged from the river, to meet the man of fire] 

--| Tangle Visits the Man of Fire |--- 

Tangle fell exhausted into a cool mossy cave. 
The floor and walls were covered with mossgreen, soft, and damp. 
A little stream spouted from a rent in the rock and fell into a basin of moss. 
She plunged her face into it and drank. then she lifted her head and looked around. 
Then she rose and looked again. She saw no one in the cave. 
But the moment she stood upright she had a marvellous sense that 
she was in the secret of the earth and all its ways. 
Everything she had seen, or learned from books; 
all that her grandmother had said or sung to her; 
all the talk of the beasts, birds, and fishes; 
all that had hapened to her on her journey with mossy, 
and since then in the heart of the earth 
with the old man and the older man all was plain: 
she understood it all, and saw that everything meant 
the same thing, though she could not have put it 
into words again. 

The next moment she descried, in a corner of the cave, 
a little naked child, sitting on the moss. 

For seven years she had stood there watching the 
naked child with his coloured balls, 
and it seemed to her like seven hours, 
when all at once the shape the balls took, 
she knew not why, reminded her 
of the valley of shadows, and she spoke: 

Where is the old man of the fire? she said. 

Here I am, answered the child, rising... 

Are you the oldest man of all? 
Tangle, at length, although filled with awe, ventured to ask. 

Yes, I am. 
I am very, very old. 
I am able to help you.

(George MacDonald, exerpts from: The Golden Key) 


See Also: 
- Goethe - One Spirit
- Goethe vs Newton on Colour

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SUBMIT AN ARTICLE posted: November 29, 2005