The Fox in the Attic

The Fox in the Attic

The Fox in the Attic

The Fox in the Attic

Excerpt

Only the steady creaking of a flight of swans disturbed the silence, labouring low overhead with outstretched necks towards the sea.

It was a warm, wet, windless afternoon with a soft feathery feeling in the air: rain, yet so fine it could scarcely fall but rather floated. It clung to everything it touched; the rushes in the deep choked ditches of the sea-marsh were bowed down with it, the small black cattle looked cobwebbed with it, their horns were jewelled with it. Curiously stumpy too these cattle looked, the whole herd sunk nearly to the knees in a soft patch.

This sea-marsh stretched for miles. Seaward, a greyness merging into sky had altogether rubbed out the line of dunes which bounded it that way: inland, another and darker blurred greyness was all you could see of the solid Welsh hills. But near by loomed a solitary gate, where the path crossed a footbridge and humped over the big dyke; and here in a sodden tangle of brambles the scent of a fox hung, too heavy today to rise or dissipate.

The gate clicked sharply and shed its cascade as two men passed through. Both were heavily loaded in oilskins. The elder and more tattered one carried two shotguns, negligently, and a brace of golden plover were tied to the bit of old rope he wore knotted round his middle: glimpses of a sharp-featured weather-beaten face showed from within his bonneted sou'-wester, but mouth and even chin were hidden in a long weeping moustache. The younger man was springy and tall and well-built and carried over his shoulder the body of a dead child. Her thin muddy legs dangled against his chest, her head and arms hung . . .

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