Once I thought all fairies were wise," I confessed to her as I had to Carabosse.
"Oh, no," Mama said. "Wisdom is not a great thing among The Sidhe. I have
heard a legend about that." She settled herself in the saddle and told me
"It is said that the Holy One, Blessed be He, first created mankind as he
created the Sidhe, marvelously fair, and he set The first of them in a garden
much like Faery except that day and night came there, spring and fall, warm
and cool, dry and wet, and every animal which has ever been, and every bird
and every fish"
"I think I've heard this tale," I said, remembering
"Very likely. The story is very old. And it continues that He set in the
middle of the garden the tree of the hunger for wisdom, and He told them
what it was.
'Eat of it or not,' He said, 'as you choose. Except, you eat of it, you must
leave the garden of ever-life, for wisdom brings a terrible price, the price
of pain and death and loneliness. But if you will be immortal, do not eat
of it, and you may live here forever in peace."
And she went on to tell me the whole story of Eden, as though she were reading
it out of the Bible, as Father Raymond had used to read it to me.
"Until the first woman could bear it no more.,” said Mama, "and she went
to the tree of the hunger for wisdom and picked a fruit from it and ate it.
Then she sat down beneath the tree and cried, for all the questions of the
world percolated about in her head, like fish she could not catch, and she
knew herself and all her children forever would be adrift in mystery, that
as soon as one thing was found out another would present itself to be discovered.
"And the man found her there. When she told him what she had done, he took
the core of the fruit she had eaten and tasted it and put the seeds in his
pocket. 'For.' he said, 'if you must leave the garden, so will I. And if
you must die, so will I. I will go with you wherever you go, leaving all
the garden behind. And of the tree of knowledge you have given up paradise
for, we will take the seeds to plant in every land we come to, and we will
find the fruit bitter and we will find the fruit sweet."
Mama sighed. "And that is why man was cast out to be no better than a beast,
dirty and itchy and covered by smuts from the lire. And it is why he creates,
and why he may grow wise, and why he is numerous.”
Beauty, by Sheri S. Tepper