12

Anybody remember a short in anthology late 50s? Huge tree last of kind being cut down. Member Sawyer crew meets woman evenings off. Falls for her. She is spirit of the tree slowly dying as it is cut down.

2
  • 1
    I take it "sawyer" is used as in the term for someone who saws wood?
    – FuzzyBoots
    Nov 17, 2017 at 2:40
  • 1
    Yes the people who drop a tree are fallers, who cut up and mill them are Sawyer's I probably should have used the word logger
    – Eric
    Nov 17, 2017 at 2:44

1 Answer 1

15

Anybody remember a short in anthology late 50s?

"To Fell a Tree", a novelette by Robert F. Young, first published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, July 1959, available at the Internet Archive. You probably read it in the 1960 anthology A Decade of Fantasy and Science Fiction, edited by Robert P. Mills.

Huge tree last of kind being cut down.

Yep. It's on another planet:

Why, Strong wondered for the dozenth time, had the original inhabitants of Omicron Ceti 18's major continent built their villages around the bases of such arboreal monsters? The Advance Team had stated in its report that the natives, despite their ability to build beautiful houses, had really been very primitive. But even so, they should have realized the potential threat such massive trees could pose during an electrical storm; and most of all they should have realized that excessive shade encouraged dampness and that dampness was the forerunner of decay.

Clearly they had not. For, of all the villages they had built, the present one was the only one that had not rotted into noisome ruin, just as the present tree was the only one that had not contracted the hypothetical blight that had caused the others to wither away and die.

Member Sawyer crew meets woman evenings off.

The slack in the "new" cable caused the lift to drop several feet. He waited till the swing diminished sufficiently, then told Wright to start the winch again. The infinitesimal Timkens coating the thread-thin cable began rolling over the "new" limb, and the lift resumed its upward journey. Strong leaned back in his safety belt and lit a cigarette.

That was when he say the dryad.

Or thought he did.

The trouble was, the dryad talk had been a big joke. The kind of a joke that springs up among men whose relationships with real women are confined to the brief intervals between assignments.

[. . . .]

It had been the merest glimpse—no more than a suggestion of curves and color and fairy-face—and as the image faded from his retina, his conviction faded too. By the time the lift pulled him up into the bower where he'd thought she'd been, he was positive she would not be there. She was not.

[. . . .]

Then, at 475 feet, he thought he saw her again.

He had just checked his elevation with Wright when he happened to glance toward the trunk. She appeared to be leaning against the bark, her long leg braced on the limb he had just come abreast of. Tenuous of figure, pixyish of features, golden of hair. She couldn't have been more than twenty feet away.

"Hold it," he told Wright in a low voice. When the lift stopped rising he unfastened his safety belt and stepped out upon the limb. The dryad did not move.

He walked toward her slowly. Still she did not move. He rubbed his eyes to clear them, half-hoping she would not. She went on standing where she was, back propped against the trunk, long legs braced on the limb; immobile, statuesque. She wore a short tunic woven of leaves, held in place by a strap looped over her shoulder; delicate sandals, also woven of leaves, interlaced halfway to her calves. He began to think she was real. They, without warning, she twinkled out of sight.

Falls for her.

*You couldn't possibly be in love with me—

How do you know I couldn't be?

Because— Because—

Because I don't think you're real?

You don't, do you?
she said.

I don't know what to think, he said. Sometimes I think you are, sometimes I think you aren't.

I'm as real as you are,
she said. Though in a different way.

She is spirit of the tree slowly dying as it is cut down.

Now I must go. I must prepare for tomorrow. I'll be on every limb you cut. Every falling leaf will be my hand, every dying flower my face.

I'm sorry, he said.

I know, she said. But the part of you that's sorry lives only in the night. It dies with every dawn.

0

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.