The green forest, silent but for its emerald whisperings, held the day’s last shafts of light, filtered and fading as if trailing off in thought. Soft moss and lichens like dreams hung from rambling boughs and branches, no particular beginning or end. Like being lost. But the softness and the solitude of being lost in such a wood began to decay, and darkness fell suddenly on men who were not ready for it.
Silas was amongst them. They who merrily trod in leather boots and stirred, amongst other things, the sweet smell of cypress and sycamore. They who played at the hunt and carried with them flintlock and steel and boasted of the last time they were unprepared and afraid. Or this is how they seemed to the curious eye of the forest peering from the high branches and low hollows.
The forest felt the plight of Silas and the men in new leather boots and fresh faces. It knew theirs as it knew that of the young deer strayed from its mother, and also the hunger of the mother fox, and the widowed dove, and the fish frozen in fall’s new ice. Because ice was an eager thing, so much as a newborn, or a Silas, or an adventure — even though it crept slowly as if to say nothing to its new bedfellows.
And so the forest in its knowing darkness took Silas and the men, only hours past the shadows on their own faces. It took them with great knowing into its arms, knowing them as its own — even if they screamed and did not recognize their mother as their own. For the moss and the owls, the cypress and the sycamore, these were patient things, and they held their children until they settled, and were silent once more.