The rain slacked and a wind came up. Fortunate for the fox, Thompson murmured, since it would waft his scent away. A pickup truck passed from the other direction.
"You hear anything?" asked the driver.
"Not a thing," said Thompson. The truck pulled away, and two judges came by on horseback. "They're in full cry over to Emory Road!" shouted one judge as he passed.
"Some breakneck races are on hand," Crane predicted.
"Sweetest music in the world," Thompson murmured as he shot the car into gear. We drove past old corn and cotton fields and woods partly covered with an ominous gray-looking growth called kudzu vines. "Look!" Thompson shouted, jamming on the brake. "Fox!"
"I declare," said Crane, peering through the windshield, "A big red."
About 200 yards up the road a fox was indolently trotting. "Knows the road don't hold scent," said Crane. "Don't get any closer, Mr. Thompson. We don't want to frighten him. You frighten a fox, he loses his scent. Nature does that for him. Here come some dogs." We got out and Crane dutifully wrote down the numbers. The fox slipped into the woods far ahead. The dogs came on in an irregular pattern, their heads bent close to the ground, their tails wagging. Finally, one of them opened in a kind of doleful way and made off in the direction of the fox. At first the other dogs seemed dubious. Then, reassured, they trotted after him.
Dr. Bledsoe and two companions drove up in a truck. Crane told them about seeing a big red and they got out. Dr. Bledsoe carried a cane, wore a fedora and a rubber rain suit. Over his shoulder was a stethoscope to which a funnel was attached—his helper, apparently. In answer to an unspoken question, Crane checked to see if he had spotted Dr. Bledsoe's dogs, then the Bledsoe party made off and we followed, leaving them at a fork near an old sawmill. A short while later we stopped at a tiny grocery store in the area for coffee. Several hunters, men and women, were sitting or standing around inside, some huddled by an iron stove. "Heard anything?" Thompson was asked.
"Heard some babblin', I guess," Thompson replied with a smile. Then Crane told them about sighting the big red.
After we'd had a chance to warm ourselves a little, Crane suggested we head for Dodds Pasture, a section of land near an area called High Ridge. "Nothin' like an old field to hold the scent of a fox," he said.