"The thing about spooks" he said as I joined him,
"Is always to show them disrespect.
They feed on feeling. Not giving a damn
"She seemed so sad,"
"Sad? of course she did.
Every damn thing in this wood is sad.
I'm telling you I did you a favour.
Heard of La Belle Dame Sans Merci?
Well, there you are then. Women," he snorted,
"Never had time for them."
On we trudged,
Pellinore whistling; I in a reverie,
Distanced from him.
A blast of noise
Like a wonky trumpet stopped us dead.
"Oh dear," he said, "the Questing Beast,"
His voice all hurried and wavery,
"I have to go. I've got no choice.
Sorry, old chap. Just keep on going.
I'll see you later. I'll buy you a beer‑
Ice‑cold in Alex."
That noise again
And he was after it, coat tails flapping,
Leaping and weaving between the trees.
I heard the trumpeting of the Beast
Once, twice, three times‑ each time
Further away and like an echo
Pellinore shouting. His last "halloo"
Died out in the middle as if he'd passed
Behind a rock or over a hill
And with that final, truncated note
I knew that I'd been abandoned.
I picked my way through the undergrowth
Till I found a path.
There were figures moving
Among the trees and school-girly voices
Giggling and shushing. I closed my mind to them,
Walking on in a kind of a daze,
Till I came to a place where the path spread out
To flow round a grey‑green glacial rock
Like a giant's coffin.