I nodded at the sign over the bar. “What’s that mean, then?”
The pub landlord was straight out of central casting. Ruddy cheeks, a mop of grey hair and a West Country accent that belonged on a Thomas Hardy novel.
“What you think it means?” he asked as he pulled my pint.
I shrugged. “I wouldn’t know. I’m just visiting. It’s your valley. That makes it your spirit, right?”
He closed the beer tap and tipped off a little froth. “That don’t make no sense, do it? How can something without end be mine? Or anyone’s?”
“Fair play,” I said. “Perhaps you belong to the spirit.”
“Perhaps I do.” He put the glass in front of me. “That’ll be nine fifty.”
I blinked in surprise.
“Aye, it’s a bit dear,” he said. “You did ask for the local specialty.”
I dug out my visa card.
“Sorry, machine’s broke,” he said. “You got cash?”
I dug a fiver and a few coins out of my pocket and counted them. “Only nine quid, I’m afraid.”
He nodded. “Them’ll do.”
I tasted the pint. “That’s good.”
I wasn’t being polite. I’d have paid twice what I’d given him and counted it worth the price. I took a proper drink and couldn’t help but smile at the sensation of it.
“That it is.” He tipped the cash into the till. “Spirit don’t take tribute in plastic. And now the spirit’s in you. Perhaps you’ll find out what the sign means. ‘Specially as you already owe it fifty pence.”