“And who are you?” I said.
“I, I am the spirit of the tower,” he said.
When I asked him how he came by so human an aspect and was so unlike the material tower beside him he told me that the lives of all the watchers who had ever held the horn in the tower there had gone to make the spirit of the tower. “It takes a hundred lives,” he said. “None hold the horn of late and men neglect the tower. When the walls are in ill repair the Saracens come: it was ever so.”
“The Saracens don’t come nowadays,” I said.
But he was gazing past me watching, and did not seem to heed me.
“They will run down those hills,” he said, pointing away to the South, “out of the woods about nightfall, and I shall blow my horn. The people will all come up from the town to the tower again; but the loopholes are in very ill repair.”
“We never hear of the Saracens now,” I said.
“Hear of the Saracens!” the old spirit said. “Hear of the Saracens! They slip one evening out of that forest, in the long white robes that they wear, and I blow my horn. That is the first that anyone ever hears of the Saracens.”
“I mean,” I said, “that they never come at all. They cannot come and men fear other things.” For I thought the old spirit might rest if he knew that the Saracens can never come again. But he said, “There is nothing in the world to fear but the Saracens. Nothing else matters. How can men fear other things?”
Then I explained, so that he might have rest, and told him how all Europe, and in particular France, had terrible engines of war, both on land and sea; and how the Saracens had not these terrible engines either on sea or land, and so could by no means cross the Mediterranean or escape destruction on shore even though they should come there. I alluded to the European railways that could move armies night and day faster than horses could gallop. And when as well as I could I had explained all, he answered, “In time all these things pass away and then there will still be the Saracens.”
And then I said, “There has not been a Saracen either in France or Spain for over four hundred years.”
And he said, “The Saracens! You do not know their cunning. That was ever the way of the Saracens. They do not come for a while, no not they, for a long while, and then one day they come.”
And peering southwards, but not seeing clearly because of the rising mist, he silently moved to his tower and up its broken steps.
In a thatched cottage of enormous size, so vast that we might consider it a palace, but only a cottage in the style of its building, its timbers and the nature of its interior, there lived Plash-Goo.
Plash-Goo was of the children of the giants, whose sire was Uph. And the lineage of Uph had dwindled in bulk for the last five hundred years, till the giants were now no more than fifteen foot high; but Uph ate elephants which he caught with his hands.