She thought of the hill she was traversing as the spine of a decision
neatly splitting the country into before and after, either/or. As she mentally
tossed a coin (ruins or civilisation: which should she choose?), her attention
was drawn to the only movement in that divided landscape, a raggedy flapping
figure running fast out of thick woods on the uncultivated side of the hill.
About two kilometres away, perhaps less, the figure was barely identifiable as
human, and what humanity it had was contradicted by the pack of dogs that
appeared out of the same woods a few moments later. Straining against long
leads, they dragged behind them five hunters with guns protruding stiffly from
their silhouettes like the broomstick arms of scarecrows.
The baying of the dogs carried across the valley on an updraught of wind,
so faintly that it seemed unconnected to the scene below. Charlotte at first
imagined she was watching an Italian version of the mock hunts that took place
near her parents home in England, where the trail for the pack was laid by
a sprinting man rather than a fox. But as the gap between the hunters and
their prey closed, she saw the runners movements become jerky, more
inhuman; they conveyed a sense of urgency that negated any suggestion of play.
The wedge of russet-coloured dogs and the hunters in loden green and brown
were moving forward relentlessly, like part of the forest shifting itself, or
a natural upheaval of the unforgiving earth.
A Man Called Intrepid author dies aged 89(Dec 03 2013) William Stevenson, a journalist and author who drew on his close ties with intelligence sources to write two best-selling books in the 1970s, A Man Called...