Holey stones and hazelnuts

Brother Walter has a weakness for hazelnuts. Ripe, unripe, roasted in the embers, it is all the same to him. He tells me that two forked branches of hazel can be used to find water flowing underground. A long time ago, before the abbey was built and even before Weforde was a village, a man called Eadred farmed land in a clearing of the forest. He cut two hazel branches and walked his land until he discovered a stream beneath the ground. He dug a well and to this day, the well has never run dry, come drought or winter freeze. The water is clear and pure and it is locally believed that it cures afflictions of the eyes. Brother Walter tells a different tale. He says that as soon as Eadred dug his well, a water fay came to live in it. It is the fay who heals those looking for a cure. But woe betide anyone foolish enough to forget a small offering of thanks - a hazelnut or a bent bronze pin are always acceptable, the hob assures me. No iron pins, though; fays do not like iron and such an offering will only draw the fay's wrath.

The hob brought me a gift today, a holey stone. He tells me it is possible to see the Otherworld through the hole in a stone, but it must be one that has formed naturally. Perhaps this glimpse of a place beyond the everyday world is granted only to those with the Sight, for I saw nothing.

We walked in the forest today. Berries and nuts hang heavy on branches and it felt as if we were following in the footsteps of the Green Man of the Woods, but always a few paces behind. I didn't see this woodland spirit, though Brother Walter caught a glimpse of a leafy face in a hawthorn thicket. Perhaps, the next time we go into Foxwist, I will take one of the hob's holey stones with me and who knows? Perhaps I will see the Green Man for myself.


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