'Perhaps you should walk, Brother,' I told him, 'before Joseph throws us both to the ground. What is the matter with you today?'
'I am listening for the bells,' the hob said.
I sat quite still on Joseph's back but could only hear birdsong and the first cuckoo of the year, calling from Foxwist Wood.
The hob smiled broadly. 'The queen's bells,' he whispered, but the magic was his alone to hear and I felt an odd regret not to have heard the bells for myself.
The hob smacked his lips at this. 'Mmm, butter! Your mother was a wise woman,' he said, nodding.
We passed the lane leading to the holy well in Framlinghoe wood.
'People from Yagleah still go to the well and leave offerings on May Day,' I said. 'They have been doing so for hundreds of years and show no signs of stopping, in spite of the warnings on Sundays in church against such a heathen practise.'
The hob nodded again. 'I have seen them, washing their faces in the water. Some drink it too.'
'They believe the water will make them handsome to look at.'
The hob snorted and patted his hairy little face. 'It might make them cleaner!'
'I often used to wonder what I would see, if ever I went into the forest on May Day morning,' I said, gazing along the path through the blackthorn thicket.