The Edge of Twilight 13 – If Nothing Else, There’s Tea

The Young Vixen and the Old Fox sat at the lair entrance staring into the forest and the sunset. ‘It’s almost like old times,’ said the Old Fox

‘But it isn’t’

‘Indeed, it isn’t. This is going to be a long night.’

‘I will never understand why Reynard did it.’

‘Some foxes just go bad and there never seems to be a reason.’

‘Bad, doesn’t even cut it.’

‘Best word I have got, my dear, but you are right it isn’t strong enough.’

Achak came up behind them. ‘The little pup is asleep, Chepi. I think a day playing with my pups has worn him out.’

‘Thank you, Achak.’ The Young Vixen smiled, it was rare she heard her name and she liked it.

Achak sat just outside the lair and listened to the air. The Old Fox looked at the Young Vixen, ‘So you would rather be called Chepi, my dear.’ It wasn’t a question but a statement of fact.

‘You don’t miss anything do you?’

‘Not much,’ he said. ‘Chepi it is from now on.’

‘I am guessing Bel is babysitting, she loves cubs.’

‘Hardly surprising, my dear, she lost all hers in the great fires.’

‘She had a husband.’

‘She still does, he is out there somewhere.’

‘Well, I never.’

Just then Achak stood up. ‘Sssshhh, the great howling has begun.’ The wolf tilted her head back and howled into the twilight air. Then she stood silent, her ears raised listening for a response.’

The Young Vixen listened too, she could hear the howls of distant wolves, but couldn’t understand them. Achak howled again, a long and tuneful howl. She then turned to the foxes, they have sighted Reynard and two cubs. Si is with them. They are maintaining surveillance tonight.’

‘What about Vanda?’

‘They said nothing about her, I am sorry.’

Achak returned inside the lair. The Old Fox rested a paw on the Young Vixen. ‘It could just be they haven’t seen her, Chepi.’

‘But it could be worse?’

‘Yes, it could be worse, you must be prepared for that.’

‘It’s getting cold.’

‘Go inside, my dear, I can watch until Bel and Zuzu take over,’ said the Old Fox, ‘some time with Bel might be good for you.’

The Young Vixen stood and nuzzled the Old Fox. Her brush hung limply as she walked into the lair. Bel and Zuzu stood in the central hall as if waiting for her. Achak walked past her to join the Old Fox. Bel huddled with her niece and Zuzu made tea.

©JG Farmer 2019