The moon had turned the wood to silver. The leaves, etched sharply against the shadows, glittered trembling in the light summer breeze as I followed the winding path leading to the clearing. The ancient cromlech gleamed in the moonlight, the white stones of the dolmen framing the entry to another world.
As I stepped through that magic gateway, I felt the usual sense of disorientation, the slight vertigo that always accompanied the transition. I was still in a wood, the moonlight seemed brighter, as well it might. There were now two moons in the sky.
She was waiting there, fulfilling her promise, and she smiled and spoke in the soft warbling speech that had in it the sound of a stream rippling over pebbles or birdsong at dawn. I was beginning to recognise speech patterns and had even begun to understand some expressions. 1 say expressions as 1 suspect that the elves do not use words as we know them. There are, I think, no nouns, and therefore no adjectives. The language seems to be purely verbal, but lacking adverbs of time. As far as I could gather, there was no yesterday or tomorrow, only a perpetual now. There was no way on earth, or wherever THERE is, that I could ever speak that language, my vocal chords are far too coarse and inept, but there are other languages than the spoken. By body language, mime and gesture, we managed to communicate quite well, and I smiled as 1 thought of the surprise I had prepared for her.
She was looking at me with a surprisingly human air of expectancy. Obviously she was reading my feeling of suppressed excitement. 1 took the little cassette recorder from my pocket and switched it on. The effect was dramatic. The cat’s-eye pupils of the large green eyes widened until they were nearly round. I had chosen Mozart, the clarinet concerto in A.
The strings introduce the melody, and as she listened her disbelief gave way to a look of rapture. But it was the clarinet, sliding so effortlessly into the melody after the first minute or so, that really enthralled her. She began to dance, whirling in great looping circles around me as I stood there holding the player. Faster and faster she spun, her gossamer robe translucent in the light of the two moons. Her arms rose and fell, at one moment flung wide, and at the next drawn into her body in that trick ice-skaters use to increase the speed of their spin. And as she danced she began to sing, in perfect pitch, weaving an eerie counterpoint which somehow reinforced the magic of Mozart. I felt the hairs on the back of my neck rise as the music played havoc with my body chemistry; adrenalin or endorphins, I didn’t know. I only know that it resembled the intense excitement of falling in love.
The end of the first movement took her by surprise and she stopped uncertainly, bewildered. I took her by the hand and indicated that we should sit together on the grassy knoll in the centre of the clearing. The little sounds of night caressed our ears in the silence which followed the music. The elf maid still held my hand, her touch cool yet warm and electric. Her other hand touched my face, turning my head to look into those lovely eyes. Her pupils were still distended into circles, their black depths ready to swallow me up. Seemingly our species were similar in one respect, the pupil size expressed and engendered attraction. The bird song voice warbled something and I realised that she wanted more music. I released the pause button and we lost ourselves in the dreamy wonder of the slow movement.
It was a wonderful night. The concerto was followed by the clarinet quintet as we finally got to know each other. Elves are not greatly different from humans, as we discovered. The two species are entirely compatible, and I am confident that my elven son will grow up to be a music lover.
(c) Copyright H.St.V.Beechey, 1993 (October)