“Wait, Lance!” hollered Celeste. “Ther nis no poynt! Hee can nat nowher ga, and hee wolden out heere a vexynge distourbaunce ybe. We need with Longbark for to speken, and quyet hit most ybe. Thou needist with us for to sytte.”
Lance jogged right back. “But, Mothers, Longbark has never spoken with me. Wouldn’t it be better for me to keep Abaddon out of mischief while the three of you find out what she has to say?”
“Na,” said Celeste. “Longbark spekith to thos who konnen heere. Perchaunce now thou kanst if with us thou sittest and as weo do soo doeth. And if thou trewly to heere hir wysshest, in tyme thou certeynly shal.”
“Truly?” said Lance with wonder in his voice. He had always been awed by their speaking with the trees.
Celeste and Alvita took his hands as Nacea took Celeste’s other hand and all of them stood in silence for a very long spell, facing Longbark’s trunk. Presently, Celeste bowed her head as she rested the palm of her hand on her bark. Lance also rested his hand against her trunk the moment he saw Alvita and Nacea doing likewise. Celeste slowly kneeled, dragging her hand down the trunk, followed by the rest of them. There they stayed for a very long time. Once in a while one of the mothers would rest her forehead against the trunk. “Na i drio ateb eich cwestiwn…” said Celeste in Old Niarg, and then fell silent for a very, very long time. Much later, Lance heard her say: “Bydd angen cywiro’r camgymeriadau…”
For a much longer spell all was silent. Lance noticed that his legs, which had fallen asleep long ago, felt that they had somehow taken root into the earth and it felt quite good. Suddenly he was aware that a kindly and comforting presence had been within him for some time. One by one, various perplexing matters that had been taxing him were resolved and set aside at last. Far, far away he could hear Celeste murmuring: “Oes gynnoch chi rywbeth arbennig mewn golwg?” and after a long while: “Oedd y syniad ynun da, neu a fedrwch chi feddwl am un gwell?”
He had felt chilly for quite some time and was suddenly aware of Celeste taking him by the hand and slowly rising with him as he struggled to get onto his feet. Still holding hands, the four of them made their way without a word through the weeds back to the lava tube. Lance had the queer sensation that the sun was in the wrong place. “I swear it seems earlier than when we brought Abby out here,” he said, just before they entered the tunnel.
“Wel, thou canst righte certeyn be that hit trewly lattir than hit was erlyer ybe,” said Nacea.
“Longbark is so profoundly wise and understanding,” he said as he paused to have a last bewildered look at the sun.
Celeste, Alvita and Nacea each nodded at him.
Ch. 7, The Burgeoning
Carol Marrs Phipps and Tom Phipps