I.
. . . until they reached a clearing in the middle
of the woods. There they stopped short.
Someone had been there not long before.
They could see footprints in the moss.
Whoever it was had walked to the center
of the clearing, but then had turned back,
as if he had found what he was looking for
or had forgotten something important
that needed fetching. Who could it have been?
The prints were too large for a cat or rabbit,
or even a fox. And yet they were too shallow
for a wolf. They almost seemed made
by a small, barefoot man, though on closer
inspection they showed evidence of claws.
And they smelled faintly of rotten goat!

II.
Amos stood naked in the parlor. Whatever shall I do! he cried. It was
too late to return to town. Besides he couldn’t go out without his cap
and scarf. And even if he could find his clothes, his knees ached
terribly. What’s more, something he guessed was blackberry jam
was matting down the fur along the inside of his hind legs, making
it quite uncomfortable to walk. It was beginning to attract bees.

III.
Flora descended the passageway
for what seemed at least a quarter-hour.
How very long it is, she thought, and how steep.
The cottage appeared so dear from the outside.
She continued onward. Several times,
she thought she heard footsteps.
But when she stopped to listen,
the footsteps ceased. And once,
a sudden draft, as if from a closing door,
almost blew out her lantern!
Finally the passageway leveled off.
Flora found herself in some sort of storeroom.
In it were two enormous piles,
each one reaching nearly to the ceiling.
One pile was of almonds.
The other was of a fruit she’d never seen.
Its peel was crimson and its perfume
was like mead, pleasant but quite insistent.
Flora suddenly felt rather faint from hunger.

IV.
He stood above the brook and gazed sadly
at his reflection. His jacket was stained
from the port, and his fine, new waistcoat
was torn from all the fawning.
Three young trout poked their heads through
the waterline just where his face reflected
back at him. They mocked him, singing
Oliver Ermine, used to looking so fine
Oliver Ermine, used to looking so fine

Then they spouted water all over
his handsome pair of suede bucks.
He never could get the water stains out.

V.
She went around to the far side of the cottage
wearing work gloves and carrying a basket
woven from cattails. There she collected
an alarming assortment of growths and vegetation,
including rhubarb leaves, nightshade, and foxgloves.
She stopped to collect a discarded peach pit
from the rubbish heap, before going to the tool shed
in search of a mallet. When she returned to the kitchen,
the broth on the stove had begun to boil.

VI.
And that was the last that anyone ever saw of Doctor Julian Jackal.