The Thirty-Ninth Leaf


I did my chores today with a new zeal. I slid the knife through the belly of the pig, I hung him next to the leg of lamb, I tended to the horses, and cleared the brush. All seemed different to me today, as it should. Later, I went to the garden maze to relax. Will this garden ever be completed? The King designed this for one who is no longer here and so it seems to me as though this garden is orphaned, a tool with no purpose. I sat in the center of the maze, alone except for the birds who shared my retreat. It all started for me here. Were it not for the King the present would not be here, as it is now, as it should be. And now I huddle near the candle and scribble my thoughts until my hand wearies and my eyes fall from tiredness. This is my life, as it should be, at least until tomorrow, when I start to go.

- Sorren

Sorren shows a rare contentment in this leaf. No doubt it is because his plans are ready and he merely waits until it is time to carry them out, so now he enjoys a few lasting luxuries to take away with him, including an afternoon in the garden writing in his diary. I know he is an honorable man. He is ostensibly fleeing the island because of a perceived dishonor he has committed against his King, a man he esteems above all others. However, does he not see the irony? Does it slip by him unawares that he would abandon his King when he is one of his most esteemed servant’s? Sorren is fleeing the island because of a perceived dishonor while the real dishonor goes completely undetected.

His troubles began with the confession to the Bishop about the burying of a book by King Sigmus, beneath the cover of darkness, after the death of Queen Kathryn. Why should the King decide to bury a particular book? Would it not have been safer and more prudent to have simply burned the book? Perhaps he is afraid to burn the book. And what kind of book is too dangerous to burn, and that instead it must be buried? A book of the occult perhaps. All the talk of the King’s special garden makes me wonder what kind of occult witchery he could have woven into it. I think that the King has taught the servant how to read for more than one reason.
— M

I like this. Sorren is happy in his duties and sentimental, even before he has left. I think there is no question though that the reason he is happy is because his plans are now driving him forward and he has accepted his fate. The human spirit is resilient and the human spirit is strong; we can endure pain, and we can stare down death with calmness if we understand that there is no alternative left for us, no choice. Or faith allows us to do this.

Sorren’s mention of the garden interests me greatly. he wonders if it will ever be completed, and then he says the garden is orphaned after the death of the Queen. What he says next is what truly makes me wonder. He calls the garden a tool with no purpose. Is this a poor turn of phrase, or is it possible that the servant has revealed something unintentionally? Why does he use the word tool? How can this garden be seen as a tool? Tools are designed with precise purpose: to do work. Sorren implies that the King has designed this garden for a purpose, and not arbitrarily. I can think of no purpose of building a garden except to keep something special, like a bird in a gilded cage, or a criminal monster from reentering the world. Perhaps, like the whippoorwill, the King decided to build his garden to capture the soul of his beloved wife, as a testament to her beauty. I’m not exactly sure, but Sorren also uses the word gift. This garden was intended as a gift for his wife, and it is here that he hoped to capture the magic between them. Perhaps he thought he could keep the spirit alive forever, like the rejuvenation of a perennial flower.

If this is true I like it, for that is not the world I live in. Magic in the modern world is meant to hurt and to maim and to hex people. The magic of today is done with malice. The magic of today is indeed a tool, a tool for selfish needs. Even modern-day witches go on television and brag about putting hexes on politicians they disagree with. To me this is malevolent and evil, and I can see why magic has been looked at with fear and hatred. Magic is all around us. Look into your heart and you will find it.