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plugged '98 tourbook intro

Stardust was originally published in single-magazine form, and has since been released in hardback and as a novel. Stardust was written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Charles Vess. As a favor, Tori lent Neil a house for him to write in. It turned out to be somewhat of a swap...

"Make me a tree," she said one day. Her house was built over a canal, and swans and narrowboats travelled beneath us.
"What kind of tree?" I asked.
"A red tree," she said. With boyfaeries in my bushes.
So I did.

"WILL YOU FIND ME IF NEIL MAKES ME A TREE?"

"You were dreaming," said a young woman's voice, from somewhere above him. The voice was gentle, and oddly accented. He could hear leaves rustle in the copper beech tree overhead.

"Yes," he said, to whoever was in the tree, "I was dreaming."

"I had a dream last night, too," said the voice. "In my dream, I looked up and I could see the whole forest, and something huge was moving through it. And it got closer, and closer, and I knew what it was." She stopped abruptly.


"What was it?" asked Tristran.

"Everything," she said. "It was Pan. When I was very young, somebody - maybe it was a squirrel, they talk so much, or a magpie, or maybe a fishie - told me that Pan owned all this forest. Well, not owned owned. Not like he would sell the forest to someone else, or put a wall around it - "

"Or cut down the trees," said Tristran helpfully.

There was a silence. He wondered where the girl had gone.

"Hello?" he said. "Hello?"

There was another rustle of leaves from above him.

"You shouldn't say things like that," she said.

"Sorry," said Tristran, not entirely sure what he was apologising for. "But you were telling me that Pan owned the forest ..."

"Of course he does," said the voice. "It's not hard to own something. Or everything. You just have to know that it's yours, and then be willing to let it go. Pan owns this forest, like that. And in my dream he came over to me. You were in my dream, too, leading a sad girl by a chain. She was a very sad girl. Pan told me to help you."

"Me?"

"And it made me feel all warm and tingly and squishy inside, from the tips of my leaves to the end of my roots. So I woke up, nd there you were, fast asleep with your head by my trunk, snoring like a pigwiggin."

Tristran scratched his nose. He stopped looking for a woman in the branches of the copper beech tree above him, and looked instead at the tree itself. "You are a tree," said Tristran, putting his thoughts into words.

"I didn't always used to be a tree," said the voice in the rustling of the copper beech leaves. "A magician made me a tree."

"What were you before?" asked Tristran.

"Do you think he likes me?"

"Who?"

"Pan. if you were the Lord of the Forest, you wouldn't give a job to someone, tel them to give all possible aid and succour, unless you liked them, would you?"

"Well..." said Tristran, but before he had decided on the politic answer, the tree had already said, "A nymph. I was a wood-nymph. But I got pursued by a prince, not a nice prince, the other kind, and, well, you'd think a prince, even the wrong kind, would understand about boundaries, wouldn't you?"

"You would?"

"Exactly what I think. But he didn't, so I did a bit of invoking, while I was running, and - ba-boom! - tree. What do you think?"

"Well," said Tristran. "I do not know what you were like as a wood-nymph, madam, but you are a magnificent tree."

The tree made no immediate reply, but her leaves rustled, prettily. "I was pretty cute as a nymph, too," she admitted coyly.

"What kind of aid and succour, exactly," asked Tristran. "Not that I am grumbling. I mean, right now I need all the aid and succour I can get. But a tree is not necessarily the obvious place to look for it. You cannot come with me, or feed me, or bring the star back, or send us back to Wall to see my true love. I am certain you would do a remarkable job of keeping off the rain, were it to rain, but it is not, at present, raining ..."

The tree rustled, unimpressed. "Why don't you tell me your story so far," said the tree, "and let me be the best judge of that."

NEIL GAIMAN

From "STARDUST" by Neil Gaiman.
Copyright 1998 by Neil Gaiman.

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