Keates glared impatiently at his solid silver fob watch as the gardener from the village
hastily made his way up the gravel drive with a highly audible 'crunch crunch crunch.'
"You're late" grumbled Keates as he gestured towards the lawn with his goose head
walking stick. "So there's the offending article gardener, I want it gone by this evening"
he barked. "I can only see that tree sir" replied the gardener. "Yes yes...the tree, I want
the tree gone" Keates snapped. "But sir....I, I can't...it's a hawthorne, a faerie tree sir,
I for one do not have the right to lay one finger on it" replied the gardener
"permission must be sought from the faeries before touching so much as a leaf!"
"What utter nonsense gardener...are you going to cut it down or not?" shouted Keates
"With respect sir.....no, I dare not, I'm so very sorry" answered the gardener, and with
that, he retreated back down the gravel drive with a 'crunch crunch crunch.'
"Hmmph" went Keates feeling most put out at the insubordinate gardener's refusal
to carry out his request. "Right then" he growled "I shall do it myself!" and shortly he
found himself standing by the ancient hawthorne with a sharp axe ready to perform
the deed. The first swing of the axe made a sickening 'thunk' as it embedded itself
deep into the twisted bark. Several hours passed and eventually, a very dirty and
tired Keates stood knee deep in what was left of the poor unfortunate tree. A quick
glimpse of the solid silver fob watch, and he decided that it was time for
a cup of Earl Grey before dragging the remains of the tree down to the wood pile
at the bottom of the hill.
As evening finally set in, a very tired and dusty Keates walked up the hill from the
woodpile, brushing sawdust and wood chips off of his tweed jacket. He stood on
the lawn and gazed with a great sense of achievement at the empty spot where the
tree once stood. "At last I have a view of the moor from my study" he mused.
Once inside, a large glass of port was poured and a very weary Keates sank into
the large red Chesterfield in the window that overlooked the now treeless
lawn. After about twenty minutes, something caught his eye outside in the
failing light of dusk. Keates strained his eyes to see exactly what the strange sight
actually was. There...silhouetted against the purple and red sunset, were branches,
branches where branches should not be. They were protruding above the slope
which descended the end of the garden to the woodpile, and what's more.....they
were growing, growing as he watched. "What the..!" Keates started as he stood bolt
upright, dropping the glass of port which smashed across the wooden floor.
Now the branches at the top of slope revealed that they were attached to a tree,
the very tree that he cut down not several hours previous. The tree was moving,
moving towards the empty spot that stood between the house and itself.
He watched in total disbelief as the tree slowly moved into the spot where it
once proudly stood, except........it didn't stop. It was moving towards the house,
moving towards Keates.
With a fit of blind panic, he fled from the study into the hallway and bounded
up the stairs two at a time, as behind him the creaking and splintering sound of the
front door echoed across the house and into the darkness. Keates slammed the
bedroom door shut and slumped against it. It was quiet outside, but it wasn't
for long. A high pitched 'screeeechh screeeechh screeeechh' pierced the night as
the tree's thorny branches dragged themselves across the portraits of Keates'
ancestors that were hanging on the walls that lined the stairway. Silence........
"It's a tree for goodness sake, this can't be happening....how on earth is it
going to open this door?" a terrified Keates whispered to himself.
Then....slowly...very slowly, the door handle began to turn.
The following morning, the familiar 'crunch crunch crunch' sound echoed up the
driveway as the gardener from the village returned to apologize for his rudeness.
"Oh good, the tree is still there" said the gardener on noticing the hawthorne
standing in its usual spot, but then noticed a shiny object swinging from the
thorny branches in the morning breeze. There, hanging from the tree was a watch,
no ordinary watch.....it was a very familiar watch...a solid silver fob watch.