I followed the winding road through East Looe and West Looe, at the joining of the West Looe River and the East Looe River. I travelled through a town called Barcelona, and was afraid I might have ended up on the wrong continent, but then some people with definite Cornish accents told me I would have to leave my wagon if I wanted to visit Polperro. Intrigued by the idea of a village without vehicles, I left my wagon with those honest people and walked down a steep hill.
Polperro is a small fishing village, with a long history. I found a Museum of Fishers and Smugglers, a curious name which convinced me to part with a small amount of silver and wander through, but the museum had little of the sensational presentation that I had expected. My friends in Esmerel would have done it better.
I wandered through the rest of the town, and was amazed by the size of the gulls who followed me hoping I would not eat my entire lunch. The harbour, ringed with cliffs, was thick with mist and swaying fishing boats, all imprisoned by the weather. The white houses looked very old; at least one was supported by props above the water.
After sharing my lunch with some of the gulls, I went back to my wagon and continued into the heart of Britain.
My next adventure came as I passed through Dartmoor. I came across a small forest of trees older than any I had yet seen in Britain. I recognized them as the kind of ancient oaks associated with Robin Hood, as well as with older and bloodier legends. I left my wagon and wandered on foot into the darkness of the sacred wood.
I had barely entered the trees when I noticed a man sitting on a log. He was dressed from head to foot entirely in black, and he did not turn his head nor even move his eyes to watch me as I passed. I found it strange that I had not noticed him before I entered the wood, and I walked more warily. I could feel the ancient power of the trees enfolding me as I walked. After a few minutes, I encountered a second man in black. This one was walking straight toward me, in a purposeful way which I found somehow frightening, and I had either to pass him or to turn around and go back the way I had come. I elected for the latter option and walked quickly back toward my wagon.
I stopped short when I saw the first man just ahead of me. He was facing me, but he did not seem to see me. He was ceremonially removing his black cloak and folding it, and he was dressed in green beneath it. I felt it would be better, perhaps much better, if I did not interfere. I waited until he had finished. Unfortunately, he then started to walk back toward me. He looked as if he were going to walk right into me without noticing me, so I dodged quickly out of his way. He continued without a glance in my direction.
I ran to my wagon and hitched up my horse, glad to escape with my life and property.
I noticed as I left Dartmoor that I was followed by an owl, who pursued my wagon at a distance for a long time. I left that region of the country behind, and headed north. Whether the owl were guard or escort, I never knew.
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