Still on the road…
After some time walking along that straight dirt road Hester heard hoof-beats on the dust behind her. Jumping to the side of the road she was passed by a horse and rider, both of who turned to look at her.
The rider stopped the horse.
“Ah! This seems to solve my problems. Young lady, what can you tell me of this wood here?”
“It has many trees…”
“Ah, so I’m speaking to a great wit am I? Well, I shall rephrase. Is this the woods where dwells a most vicious beast, unslayed as yet by man?” He leaned down, peering at Hester with a lofty sort of expression. Hester did not like him, nor his horse, which seemed rather full of itself as well.
“No. It’s not.” She answered.
The rider frowned and drew out a map.
“But you see, dear child, by my judgement I ought to be here, and that is right by the Beast’s Wood. See here?”
Hester did see. She also looked ahead down the road and saw the town Hyde said she would come to.
“No, you’ve got it all wrong. We’re not here. We’re here.” Hester pointed to another road, a little further over. The rider looked perplexed.
“But that cannot be. I have passed nothing to suggest it…”
“Well, believe me or not, but I’ve been walking through that wood for a week now, and I’ve seen no beast.” Hester said, putting her hands on her hips and staring into the rider’s eyes.
For a few moments there was a painful degree of silence. The rider seemed to be considering whether to laugh or brush aside the remark.
“What do you want hunting beasts anyway?” Hester asked, not yet daring to hope he had believed her.
“It is a matter of honour, little girl, I would not expect you to fully comprehend.” He looked away with a long-suffering sigh.
“Well, I told you there’s no beast here. So you’ll have to go get yourself some honour somewhere else.”
The rider sighed again and looked at his map. “I shall try that other road then.” And without thanking Hester for her help, he took off.