At the sound of hooves, I had looked up from the plowshare. The horse bore no bridle, and the lady’s eyes were as bright as stars. My boots slipping on sodden clay, I tried to bow. The Fair Folk seldom journey in these parts, and we offered our guest all that we had—dry onions, black bread, and bacon from the rafters. With gentle speech she thanked us, yet the meal was hardly touched as she gazed about the room with distant eyes.
How short and wretched our lives must have seemed, as we ate last year’s onions for supper!
How many years had passed since last I had traveled these wastelands? Fifty years? Five hundred? I found that much was changed. Stone cottages had sprung up, like mushrooms after rain. The farmfolk gave me shelter, for still there was no inn or castle. It seemed strange to sit with these mortals, as if I kept vigil over the dying, for they changed with every breath they drew while I neither grew nor grew older. Life had left no marks on me.
In truth, I envied their hands worn with work, and their greying hair. I even envied their dying.top