My horse is growing weary. I am growing weary. Long miles, fallen behind, these have taken a toll. Fingers are numbing, wrists ache and a muscle in my leg threatens to cramp. Though we still match speed to surface there is not that smooth flow, that oneness that desires yet more road to travel. It is time to find an end, juice for ‘Veloz’, food and bed for me. Dusk is hard upon us, trying to overtake. The nebulous, danger hour, lights look dim as yet, but already the trail and trees are blurring together in the near distance. The ‘Hour of Spirits’. Lurking tractors that turn to hedgerow shadow as you prepare yourself, shadow that hides the mud on the road until you are close upon it. Walkers suddenly appear on the verge as if coagulating from the shades of dusk. The way ahead becomes less real; it could go anywhere. Half an hour ago I could catch glimpses of it in the distance, guess its route by telephone poles and the bend of hedges. In full dark you can track it by the twists and turns of oncoming lights, trace coming corners by hot brake lights; not now.
The new dampness of dusk sharpens up the days smells, before morning, it will lay them down with the dew. A farmer has been cutting silage, moments later I seem to have buried my nose in the moist tilth of a new-ploughed field. That house has a wood-burner, burning sweet apple. Phew that one has just lit coal that stings with its acridity. Ahead the road rises to a crest outlined in tones of grey. Dropping the reins as we reach the top I coast to a stop at the roadside. A low wide valley opens its arms wide. In its heart a small town. lights are slowly clicking on and mist rises like moonlight from the wandering course of a river. Dark closes fast about us now. I pat ‘Veloz’s’ tank.
“A mile or two and we’ll put up.”
Taking up the reins I clunk us into first and Veloz’s heartbeat again lifts to the song of the road that turns us on down the sweeping arms to the valley bottom.