THE Senator and Morton followed close on the steps of Lord Rufford and Captain Glomax, and were thus able to make their way into the centre of the crowd. There, on a clean sward of grass, laid out as carefully as though he were a royal child prepared for burial, was-- a dead fox. 'It's p'ison, my lord; it's p'ison to a moral,' said Bean, who as keeper of the wood was bound to vindicate himself, and his master, and the wood. 'Feel of him, how stiff he is.' A good many did feel, but Lord Rufford stood still and looked at the poor victim in silence. 'It's easy knowing how he came by it,' said Bean.
The men around gazed into each other's faces with a sad tragic air, as though the occasion were one which at the first blush was too melancholy for many words. There was whispering here and there, and one young farmer's son gave a deep sigh, like a steam-engine beginning to work, and rubbed his eyes with the back of his hand. 'There ain't nothin' too bad,--nothin',' said another,-- leaving his audience to imagine whether he were alluding to the wretchedness of the world in general or to the punishment which was due to the perpetrator of this nefarious act. The dreadful word 'vulpecide'*was heard from various lips with an oath or two before it. 'It makes me sick of my own land, to think it should be done so near,' said Larry Twentyman, who had just come up. Mr. Runciman declared that they must set their wits to work not only to find the criminal but to prove the crime against him, and offered to subscribe a couple of sovereigns on the spot to a common fund to be raised for the purpose. 'I don't know what is to be done with a country like this,' said Captain Glomax, who, as an itinerant, was not averse to cast a slur upon the land of his present sojourn.
'I don't remember anything like it on my property before,' said the lord, standing up for his own estate and the county at large.