I was surprised to find a willow that stood so straight and tall, and more surpirsed to find it here in the middle of the forest instead of at the water's edge.
I stepped up to the tree, looking for the best place to plant my axe. I ran my hands over its bark to find marks of disease, and rapped on it, testing to see if it were hollow. I looked up at the branches and saw that they were thick and strong. Seeing these things, and knowing where I should cut, I nodded to myself and stepped back to pick up my axe.
"You'll need more than just yourself to pull that to the water," came a voice behind me.
I spun around. There in the clearing stood a man who carried an axe over his shoulder. He was admiring my axe with a practiced eye. "That's a nice axe, son. Where'd you get it?"
"You'll laugh at me if I tell you, good sir."
"Probably. You look like you'd say a good number of funny things. I'd wager that you're the only peson who gets even half your jokes, though."
I smiled. "You're probably right. You look like you're a woodcutter by trade. Are you the satyr's friend?"
"I am. I assume from that question that Sam suckered you into doing the cutting, huh?" He laughed. "You know, he isn't even a very good carpenter. His bridge probably looks like shit and is useless to anyone who wants to drive a team across."
"Truth be told, sir, it might even be useless to a horse to cross."
The man laughed uproariously at this. His laugh was an honest, deep laugh, one born of a life in the woods, where a man doesn't need to impress anyone except himself. It wasn't a careless laugh, the kind that filled children and asylums, but a responsible laugh, where the world itself is still an interesting place, and things are full of beauty. One might wonder if there is truly a difference between types of laughter, but I assure you there is.
His laughter trailed off, but not before he had fully experienced it. "Well, son, I suppose I should help you, shouldn't I? You're not scrawny, but you could do with some more exercise."
Without another word, we each stepped up to the tree and began to cut.
To be continued. . .
Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V
Part VI | Part VII | Part VIII | Part IX | Part X