In fact Rincewind never spoke to this particular tree again, but from that brief conversation it spun the basis of the first tree religion which, in time, swept the forests of the world. Its tenet of faith was this: a tree that was a good tree, and led a clean, decent and upstanding life, could be assured of future life after death. If it was very good indeed it would eventually be reincarnated as five thousands rolls of lavatory paper.
Strangely enough, he was not particulary worried. Twoflower was a tourist, the first of the species to evolve on the Disc, and fundamental to his very existence was the rock-hard belief that nothing bad could really happen to him because he was not involved; he also believed that anyone could understand anything he said provided he spoke loudly and slowly, that people were basically trustworthy and that anything could be sorted out among men of goodwill if they just acted sensibly
On the face of it this gave him a survival value marginally less than, say a soap herring, but to Rincewind's amazement it all seemed to work and the little man's total bliviousness to all forms of danger somehow made danger so discouraged that it gave up and went away.
Do you think there is anything to eat in this forest?
Yes, said the wizard bitterly,
I've got some accorns, if you like, said the tree helpfully.
They sat in damp silence for some moments.
Rincewind, the tree said -
Trees can't talk, snapped Rincewind.
It's very important
to remember that.
But you just heard -
Look, he said
It's all down to simple biology,
isn't it? If you are going to talk you need the right equipment, like
lungs and lips and, and -
Vocal chords said the tree.
Yeah them, said Rincewind. He shut up and stared gloomily at the rain.
For the last few hours he has been very busy. He may be deaf and a little hard of thinking, but elderly wizards have very well-terained survival instincts, and they know that when a tall figure in a black robe and the latest in agricultural handtools starts looking thoughtfully at you it is time to act fast. The servants were dismissed. The doorways have been sealed witha paste made from powdered mayflies, and protective octograms have been drawn on the windows. Rare and rather smelly oils have been pured in complex patterns on the floor, in designs which hurt eyes and suggest that the designer was drunk or from other dimension or, possibly, both; in the very centre of the room is the eightfold octogram of Withollding, surrounded by red and green candles. And in the centre of that is a box made from wood of the curlyfernpine, which grows to great age, and it is lined with red silk and yet more protective amulets. Because Greyhald Spold knows that Death is looking for him, and spent many years designing an impregnable hiding place.
He has just set the complicated clockwork of the lock and shut the lid, lying back in the knowledge that here at last is the prefect defence agains the most ultimated of all his enemies, althoug as yet he has not considered the important part that airholes must play in an enterprise of this kind.
And right beside him, very close to his ear, a voice has just said:
Dark in here, isn't it?
Seven league boots, as has already been intimated, are a tricksy form of magic at best, and he remembered too late that the utmost caution must be taken in using a means of transport which, when all is said and done, relies on effectiveness of trying to put one foot twenty-one miles in front of the other.
It'sh hard to be a hero with no teethsh. It don't matter what elsh you loosh, you can get by with one eye even, but you show 'em a mouth full of gumsh and no-one hash any reshpect.
I do, said Bethan loyally.
Why don't you get some more? said Twoflower brightly.
Yesh, well, if I was a shark or something, yesh, I'd grow some said
Oh, no, you buy them, said Twoflower.
Look, I'll show you - er, Bethan, do you mind looking the other way? He waited until she had turned around and
then put his hand in his mouth.
You shee? he said.
Bethan heard Cohen gasp.
You can take yoursh out?
Oh yesh. I've got several shets. Excushe me - there was a swallowing
noise and then in a more normal voice Twoflower said,
It's very convenient,
Cohen's very voice raidated awe, or as much awe as is possible without teeth, which is about the same amount as with teeth but sounds a great deal less impressive.
I should think show, he said.
When they ache, you jusht take
them out and leth them get on with it, yesh? Teach the little buggers
a lesshon, shee how they like being left to ache all by themshelvesh!
I think she's rather taken with you, he said. Cohen sighed.
If I wash twenty yearsh younger, he said wistfully.
I'd be shixty-sheven
What's that got to do with it?
Well - how can I put it? When I wash a young man, carving my name in
the world, well, then I liked my women red-haired and fiery.
And then I grew a little older and for preference I looked for a woman
with blonde hair and the glint of world in her eye.
But than I grew a little older again and I came to see the point of dark
woman of a sultry nature.
He paused. Rincewind waited.
And? he said.
The what? What is it that you look for in a woman now?
Cohen turned one rheumy blue eye on him.
Patience, he said.