A Green Companion
Among other things, The Mary Russell Companion offers back-story for the dramatis personae of the Memoirs, including the quizzical Mr Goodman of The God of the Hive. Not that we can ever know quite how the man came to be as he was, but a previously unpublished short-short story, “The Birth of a Green Man”, appears in the Companion by way of a hint:
Birth of a Green Man
This short piece reflects on the period in the life of Robert Goodman (The God of the Hive) after he had left the hospital in Edinburgh, where he was being treated for shell shock, and before Mary Russell dropped out of the sky on him in 1924.
A god is born where need and torment meet. A god is born when dark and light are one and the same. A god is born, and the earth is given voice in which to sing its joy and its terror. And where a god is born—have no doubt about this—there is blood.
He died when the god named War ripped open his skull and thundered confusion inside. He died, until one spring day he left the hospital, creeping away to a place of childhood quiet and innocence, among the Cumbrian lakes. A place where all deaths were meant to be and the only thunder lay in the rain.
There, green air washed him, wood and soil touched him, fur and feather healed him. He shunned a mansion; he built a cave in the green. He went days, weeks without speech….
. . . .
For the rest of Mr Goodman’s tale, The Mary Russell Companion
is available here.