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Green Mansions: A Romance of the Tropical Forest
W. H. Hudson
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Perhaps I was not capable of thinking quite coherently on what had just
happened until I was once more fairly outside of the forest shadows--out in that
clear open daylight, where things seem what they are, and imagination, like a
juggler detected and laughed at, hastily takes itself out of the way. As I walked
homewards I paused midway on the barren ridge to gaze back on the scene I
had left, and then the recent adventure began to take a semi-ludicrous aspect in
my mind. All that circumstance of preparation, that mysterious prelude to
something unheard of, unimaginable, surpassing all fables ancient and modern,
and all tragedies--to end at last in a concert of howling monkeys! Certainly the
concert was very grand--indeed, one of the most astounding in nature---but still--I
sat down on a stone and laughed freely.
The sun was sinking behind the forest, its broad red disk still showing through the
topmost leaves, and the higher part of the foliage was of a luminous green, like
green flame, throwing off flakes of quivering, fiery light, but lower down the trees
were in profound shadow.
I felt very light-hearted while I gazed on this scene, for how pleasant it was just
now to think of the strange experience I had passed through--to think that I had
come safely out of it, that no human eye had witnessed my weakness, and that
the mystery existed still to fascinate me! For, ludicrous as the denouement now
looked, the cause of all, the voice itself, was a thing to marvel at more than ever.
That it proceeded from an intelligent being I was firmly convinced; and although
too materialistic in my way of thinking to admit for a moment that it was a
supernatural being, I still felt that there was something more than I had at first
imagined in Kua-ko's speech about a daughter of the Didi. That the Indians knew
a great deal about the mysterious voice, and had held it in great fear, seemed
evident. But they were savages, with ways that were not mine; and however
friendly they might be towards one of a superior race, there was always in their
relations with him a low cunning, prompted partly by suspicion, underlying their
words and actions. For the white man to put himself mentally on their level is not
more impossible than for these aborigines to be perfectly open, as children are,
towards the white. Whatever subject the stranger within their gates exhibits an
interest in, that they will be reticent about; and their reticence, which conceals
itself under easily invented lies or an affected stupidity, invariably increases with
his desire for information. It was plain to them that some very unusual interest
took me to the wood; consequently I could not expect that they would tell me
anything they might know to enlighten me about the matter; and I concluded that
Kua-ko's words about the daughter of the Didi, and what she would do if he blew
an arrow at a bird, had accidentally escaped him in a moment of excitement.
Nothing, therefore, was to be gained by questioning them, or, at all events, by
telling them how much the subject attracted me. And I had nothing to fear; my
independent investigations had made this much clear to me; the voice might
proceed from a very frolicsome and tricksy creature, full of wild fantastic
humours, but nothing worse. It was friendly to me, I felt sure; at the same time it