The Wild Hunt
Dreamed 1998/7/24 by Chris Wayan
My sisters and I have just inherited an old English farm. We come there to live, and find a bewildering maze of sheds and house-wings at the heart of it. It's a convoluted story too, like a modern Dickens. The farm is ours, but we're children, and the farm managers, a whole clan speaking a thick county dialect, are hiding secrets from us. Do they mistrust us as outsiders, or fear we're unready to handle the truth emotionally? Or to decide maturely... Or do they just want to keep their power?
It may be some murky mixture of all these, which even they couldn't unsort. As I get hints of the depths involved, I also start to see just how much these folk (supposedly explaining it all to us) have hidden. Layers of manipulation...
Two girls who we thought grew up here in the main compound were really moved here recently by the farm's manager, to distract us from a dark Gypsy girl, who has a strong accent or speaks another tongue, but has pieces of the puzzle--if we knew what to ask. And every surface element of the farm's life hides secrets, or reveals facets the managers choose, at a pace they decide--unilaterally.
One afternoon, we tour our uplands beyond the cultivated fields. My sisters and I ride in a horse-drawn cart. I like our mare, but wonder why she needs blinders, here in the country. She clops sedately enough up muddy paths. High moors, low marshes. The pale sea beyond.
It's Easter, and following the ancient country tradition, a line of women straggles across the marsh, in birdlike bonnets like Gauguin's Breton peasants (or the Flying Nun). They dance and chase the giant eggs of Easter. Living eggs! They scurry about like drunken chickens. No, too big--but they move birdily. Aha. They're turkeys in drag!
One bumbles up from behind us and blindly follows our curving mud track. Trailing it, a mad horde of lean red hounds baying. They boil up from behind our mare, pouring recklessly under her hooves. I worry she'll panic.
Now a bird-bonnet woman runs past, wild as Diana, directing the hounds with calls like eerie heron-cries. Frenzied, she ignores us utterly--her whole soul bent on catching that living egg! She doesn't care if the hunt spooks our mare--and on this hill-road, if she bolts, our cart will overturn, and we'll fall under the hounds. In their mood now, they'll tear us to death.
I shiver--but not just with personal fear. A fierce hot current rushes through us, tugging the blood. This is no rustic exercise, but the Wild Hunt itself! Disguised, but showing through its tattered cloak.
But our mare, our flighty, nervous mare, stands fast, though wide-eyed and shivering--and at last, the Wild Hunt fades, and passes.
Leaving us alive.
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