The dogs are
still inside the car, pouring around behind the glass, jumping from front to
back, back to front, scrambling for traction on the upholstery. You know how it
A moment of
silence, and Jim says, "Uh, shall we let the dogs out?"
say, almost gaily. I open the front door a little and am rudely slammed back as
the two evil hounds vault for the forest like voltage jumping a gap.
instruments, the Acme Thunderer seems the least appropriate for playing dirges,
but over and again Jim tried, I tried. A bluish pallor fell across our faces.
From the distance the yapping of the fun couple rang in the swamps.
Later Jim and I
decided to go hunting. We walked miles in a forest less than entirely stiff
with game birds. Ultimately, a partridge sprang into the air. Jim and I fired
simultaneously. The bird fell. We ran from converging courses to the bird and
came darkly close to forming an encounter group over its expired person. An
autopsy with an examination of shot was considered. We would carefully shred
the corpse with a carrot grater, placing each bit of shot on a sheet of white
paper to be measured in the micrometer. But this was ruled out because we were
both shooting 7�s.
The pitch of the
dogs' barking suddenly changed. They apparently had treed a coon.
Later in the day
our dogs came back to relax and warm up in the car. We sealed them inside the
Land Rover, then wedged our way through the doors to be sure neither of them
tried anything cheap like another 40 mph swamp crossing. But the dogs were
content to save themselves in the back, studying migrating songbirds high in
the sky through the window and listening to the radio.
We crossed the
county. A grouse had been seen in a cherry orchard that week, and we were
headed for that cherry orchard. A short time later we were slithering up a wet
clay road that ended in an open field. Jim instructed me to head across, toward
the woods and orchard at the other side.
I shifted the
Land Rover into low and started out onto the level field. A minute later this
machine, which had proven itself all over the world—in desert and in
swamp—lurched to a stop within whimpering distance of 1,000 white cottages. We
got out and rather formally looked under the car. The differential was resting
neatly in the crotch of a cherry tree stump. I got back in and put it in
four-wheel drive, compound low, and goosed hell out of it. Nothing. This went
on for about an hour. Finally I got out of the car and the dogs shot between my
legs and went shrieking into the sunset. We saw a grouse depart the orchard as
they barreled through.
Sometime later we
called a wrecker. How strange it all seems now, the big white wrecker in a
level open field, hauling that safari vehicle off a cherry stump while the dogs
prospected for county lines at incalculable land speeds. And how strange,
finally, to be standing out there in the absolute middle of nowhere, presenting
one's AAA card to a service station attendant.