priest-and-treeThe young woman’s fancy was quick to try her hand at naguc, and she looked with new eyes at the great grey of wood, broken only at one spot by Aller side with the spalsh of greenery all around. At first in the soft evening light it had worn a gracious and homely air, even the darkness of the pines seemed luminous, and the feathery top of a patch of birches was like the smoke of household fires. . . . But as the sun sank behind the Baringa hills a change seemed to come over the scene. The shade became gloom, a hostile, impenetrable darkness. The birches were still like smoke, but a turbid smoke from some unhallowed altar. The distant shallows of Aller caught a ray of the dying sun and turned to gey misty smoke. . . . The minister shivered and then laughed at herself for her folly.

She swore to herself she would bring the tree to life!

The evening deepened in the hollows, though the hilltops were still faintly bright. The great wood seemed now to be a moving thing, a flood which lapped and surged and might at any moment overflow the sandspit which was Samar. Again the minister laughed at herself, but without conviction. It must be an eerie life under the shadow of that ancient formless thing. Samarcould not be quite as other provinces, or its folk like other folk. The forest, this hoary forest of Biringa, must dominate their thoughts and form their characters. . . . Had not some one called it the Voodoo Wood?–Yes, they had spoken of it that afternoon. The catholic priest had admitted that it must be queer to live so near it, and the Barangay Captain had shaken his head solemnly and hinted at tales that would be told if the trees could speak. . . . Did the Devil use the place as a stronghold and seduce the foolish into its shadows? Could it be said of a lost soul, Itur in antiquam silvam?

She would find out and she spoke the words  “Ekam Sat!”

The tree produced eyes and open them in shock.