She dressed quickly in a long skirt and cardigan and went downstairs to pull on
her boots in the porch by the kitchen door. As she bent to lace them, she
noticed Tom's weren't there. Not just his work boots but his summer ones too;
both pairs were missing. She stared for a moment at the space where they'd been,
four vague outlines in a scattering of dust blown in under the door. Leaning
forward on her knee, she touched one of these empty footprints as if it could
tell her where he'd gone. But there was nothing, just the cold stone against her
fingertips. She shook her head. What was she doing? She stood up, took her coat
from the hook on the back of the door, pushed her arms through its sleeves, and
drew its belt tight about her waist. Lifting the door's latch she stepped out
into the brightness of the cobbled yard where the day fell in on her with a cool
wash of air. She breathed in deeply, feeling the first metallic tang of autumn
at the back of her throat. Shards of sunlight reflected off the stones. The dogs
barked faster and louder to greet her. She moved towards them and they settled
back on their haunches, stepping the ground with their forepaws, quivering with
anticipation as if a voltage ran under their skins.
The dogs, let loose of their chains, wove and slipped about her as she walked up
the slope across the lower paddock and through the coppiced wood behind the
farm. The extra hours of restraint had charged them with a frantic energy and
they raced ahead of her, ears flat, before doubling back, their sorrowful eyes
looking up at hers, their heads low and their coats slickly black in the dappled
sunlight. Sarah, in contrast, felt her legs heavy and awkward beneath her. She
took the slope with more pace, pressing the heels of her palms into her thighs
with each step. Twice she found herself stopping to rest against the trunk of a
tree. She was twentysix years old, worked every day and was usually through
this wood before she knew it, but this morning it was as if one of the dogs'
chains had snagged around her feet and was dragging her back down the hill with
every step she took.
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...