Run with the Wind

Run with the Wind by Tom McCaughren

Book: Run with the Wind by Tom McCaughren Read Free Book Online
Authors: Tom McCaughren
catkins and empty cones. Under the willows, which were now sprouting soft silvery buds, a tiny blue-tit hung upside down, showing hisyellow underparts to the sky. He was unconcerned with what was happening in the pheasant farm, and unaware of the drama that was soon to take place there.
    In the woods above, the foxes pondered on what Whiskers the otter had told them. The fact that the mink was back in the valley was serious news. It meant that he would soon be raiding the pheasant farm again, and once he started that, the men and the fun dogs would be scouring the undergrowth looking for foxes. If that happened, they would be in trouble.
    ‘Maybe we should move on,’ said Fang, knowing that the inability of Old Sage Brush and Hop-along to run fast endangered them all.
    Vickey, however, felt that the two weren’t ready to move yet, and she wondered if the danger was so imminent as to require their departure immediately. ‘Can’t we wait just a little longer?’ she asked.
    ‘It would be a pity to move on without even one supper of pheasant,’ said Skulking Dog.
    ‘Even so,’ said Black Tip. ‘I agree with Fang. The moment the mink strikes again, we’re in great danger.’
    She-la thought it would be better for her mate, Hop-along to move on, however slowly, rather than risk a hopeless flight from the fun dogs. ‘I think,’ she said, ‘we should go and make the most of it while we can.’
    ‘Sinnéad?’ asked Old Sage Brush.
    Sinnéad tried to put a brave face on it. ‘We’ve outrun fundogs before.’
    ‘Hop-along?’
    ‘Maybe the others can — not me.’
    ‘Nor me,’ said Old Sage Brush.
    ‘What do you want to do then?’ asked Black Tip.
    The old fox thought for a moment. ‘It’s not what we want to do. It’s what we have to do. As long as the mink is allowed to do as it pleases, no fox is safe in this valley’
    ‘Let me go after it,’ urged Fang.
    ‘And me,’ said Skulking Dog. ‘We’ll soon drive it out.’
    ‘That is not the way of survival,’ Old Sage Brush told them. ‘I admire your courage, Fang. And yours too, Skulking Dog. But what use will it be to us if one of you gets injured? The mink is small, but he is a savage fighter. We need all the strength and courage we have for the journey ahead.’
    ‘What would you have us do then?’ asked Vickey.
    ‘Our brothers lie dead in the earth,’ said Old Sage Brush. ‘And we cannot hunt as we wish. Why? Because of the the greed of a mink.’ He rested his head between his forepaws. ‘You ask me what we should do. Hasn’t Vulpes shown us that the greedy fox who snaps off many heads when one will do, will lose his own? So also must the mink be shown that he — and he alone — must pay for his own greed.’
    They all agreed that the mink should be made to pay. The question was how?
    ‘If the mink is greedy,’ said Old Sage Brush, ‘he is not cunning.And if he is not cunning, then we must show him that we are.’ He curled up and they could see he was still tired. ‘I must sleep now. Black Tip, I’d like you to go and see the otter again at gloomglow. Talk to him. Find out all you can about the mink.’
    Whatever their good intentions, the younger foxes should have known by this time that to run, even if they were able to do so, wasn’t the old fox’s way of doing things. Their concern was for each other, especially the weaker members of the group. His was a greater concern, a concern not only for themselves, but for any fox that might come to the valley when they had gone.
    That night, as the others set out — Black Tip in search of the otter, the rest of them in search of food — Hop-along confided to Old Sage Brush that for the first time since they had left Beech Paw, he felt he might not be able to continue. His foreleg was still swollen and sore, and he realised he was slowing them down.
    ‘Maybe it would be best if She-la and I found a safe earth somewhere and stayed behind to rear our cubs,’ he said.
    Old Sage Brush

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