“Tree on the Hill, The“

“Tree on the Hill, The“
   Short story (4,280 words); written in collaboration with Duane W.Rimel, May 1934. First published in Polaris(September 1940); first collected in HM.
   Near the town of Hampden, Idaho, the narrator, named Single, stumbles upon a strange landscape whose central feature is a peculiar tree with round leaves. He manages to photograph the site and brings the developed photographs to his friend Constantine Theunis, a writer of esoteric books. Theunis, usually languid and bored, is startled by the photographs, as he realizes that the landscape must be from a planet that has three suns. Theunis then remembers that Rudolf Yergler’s Chronicle of Nathmentions some such landscape. The passage in question speaks of a “shadow that should not be on Earth,” and it bodes ill for humanity unless a “Gem” can be found to drive the shadow back into the cosmic realm from which it came. Theunis knows where the Gem is housed, and he manages to borrow it. Some weeks later Single is asked to come to a hospital where Theunis is placed, suffering from some seizure. Theunis tells Single that he has saved the world, but he must destroy the photographs and any sketches that Theunis may have made; but before doing so, Single sees a sketch that suggests that the peculiar tree is in reality the gnarled, twisted hand of some hideous entity.
   Clearly HPL revised the tale from a draft by Rimel. HPL says in a letter: “I read your ‘Tree on the Hill’ with great interest, & believe it truly captures the essence of the weird. I like it exceedingly despite a certain cumbrousness & tendency toward anticlimax in the later parts. I’ve made a few emendations which you may find helpful, & have tried a bit of strengthening toward the end. Hope you’ll like what I’ve done” (HPL to Duane W.Rimel, May 13, 1934; ms., JHL). Of the three sections of the story, the final one—as well as the citation from the mythical Chronicle of Nathin the second section—is certainly by HPL. Some have believed that much of the rest of the second section is also HPL’s, but this is an open question that must be decided merely from internal evidence, as no manuscript survives. The title Chronicle of Nathis probably Rimel’s invention, as he mentions it in several of his stories.
   See Donald R.Burleson, “Lovecraftian Branches in Rimel’s ‘Tree,’” Crypt No. 17 (Hallowmas 1983): 3– 4; Peter Cannon, “Who Wrote ‘The Tree on the Hill?’” Crypt No. 17 (Hallowmas 1983): 5; William Fulwiler, “Some Comments on ‘The Tree on the Hill,’” CryptNo. 17 (Hallowmas 1983): 6; S.T.Joshi, “On ‘The Tree on the Hill,’” Crypt No. 17 (Hallowmas 1983): 6–9; Steven Mariconda, “Lovecraft’s Role in ‘The Tree on the Hill,’” Crypt No. 17 (Hallowmas 1983): 10–12, 24; Will Murray, “Examining ‘The Tree on the Hill,’” Crypt No. 17 (Hallowmas 1983): 13–14; Robert M.Price, “A ‘New’ Lovecraft Revision,” Crypt No. 17 (Hallowmas 1983): 15–19; David E.Schultz, “Regarding Lovecraft’s Hand in ‘The Tree on the Hill,’” Crypt No. 17 (Hallowmas 1983): 19–21.

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