Orange flashed in the corner of his eye. He dug his heels into his chestnut mare and she took him up the hill in pursuit of the she-fox. It was his first hunt and he would make the first kill. Yelping and barking signalled that the hounds caught her scent. Her ladyship would be exceedingly impressed with him for contributing to her new winter coat. It was a chance to redeem himself for his father’s indiscretion and his little sister’s insufferable flirtations that happened to occur on a daily basis.
A long, haunting howl filled the air. He pulled on his horse’s reins at the sight of dogs forming a circle, snarling and snapping. It was then that he realized how much smaller she was. Her eyes darted back and forth, her rounded ears drew back against her head.
“Back!” he shouted at the dogs.
Only one of the hounds heeded his voice. This was not what he imagined. It was one thing to kill, it was another to torment and terrorize.
He swallowed, shaking hands holding his rifle. All he could think about was the fear in the vixen’s eyes. She was like a princess surrounded by raging infidels. Heart racing, he looked around to see if any of the other hunters were in sight.
He fired a bullet into the air. Shocked by the random sound, a few of the dogs jumped back. The fox saw her chance to flee, but the dogs in their superior strength caught up to her. One picked her up and held her in his powerful jaws.
“No!” he shouted. “Stop!”
Before his echoing voice vanished, they had already mauled her. In blood thirsty madness, the ravenous canines fled in search of their next prey. Still in the fallen leaves she laid. How had he been foolish enough to think that it could have gone any other way?
The vixen’s life brutally stolen to satisfy a fat, privileged lady. He jumped down from his mount, removed his jacket and knelt next to her.
“Curse your damn coat!” he cried.
Had her fur been a drab grey, no one would have bothered her. He wrapped her up in his coat. Her body was still warm. Moments ago, she had been wandering about the forest in bliss. His worst failure was this. He had behaved as nothing more than a savage, at her expense.
He remounted, and rode for the meadow of white wild flowers where he would leave her to rest in peace.