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Here is the next installment of Beatrice Allen Page’s unpublished manuscript, Landscape With Figures:

“Walked by a house where a man was cutting down a small weeping willow on his front lawn. I suppose he was afraid its roots would creep into his cellar or his water main or whatever it is that willows do in their intemperate thirst. Still, it always makes me sad to see a tree cut down even when there’s good reason for it.

At each blow of the ax, the whole tree shuddered and I could feel the shudder in myself. Came the final stroke, and for a second the tree remained as delicately poised as a ballet dance on one toe. Then it seemed to turn slightly and lean against the air in a dream-like way before it let go and collapsed with a sound like a quivering sigh. A brief paroxysm of trembling seized it when it hit the earth and then it lay still, looking like a woman who had flung herself prone upon the ground in despair with her long, pale hair thrown forward over her head.

As soon as I got home I scrutinized my vulnerable oak, hoary with grayish-green lichens, and decided it didn’t look quite right. I went directly to the phone and called a tree man. If anything happened to that oak, it would be almost like losing a pet dog or cat.”