W3C Lock On DO U KNOW?

The closer we got to the borran, the stronger the smell became, that mixture of warm hounds and water soaked earth. The entrance to the underground labyrinth had been widened quite considerably using the bar and spade which some poor bugger had carried up from the Land Rover parked on the track in the valley bottom some 2000 feet below. It was the cry of "Fetch a bar" carried on the wind across the mist covered fell side which had alerted us to the location of the hunt. Earlier we had watched the fox playing with the hounds in the crag above the borra. "Bet the bugger was born there," said Pete as the fox eluded his pursuers once again, but then the threatening mist had descended the wind had changed direction and we "knew nowt". Not even a bark to indicate the position of the hunt reached us.

We sat under a big rock sheltering as best we could from the rain which had accompanied the mist, that type of rain which is not heavy but insidiously works its way through clothing and soaks you to the skin. I passed this view on to my two colleges. "Bloody serves you right," Pete said with an evil grin. "God knows why you bought that rubbish." He indicated my expensive recently purchased mountaineering jacket, having its first outing. I looked at his old quarry coat and how dry he appeared. Jack lit his pipe and smiled. The cry on the wind galvanised us to activity, and as one we rose and began climbing the steep, rocky fell side in that direction. Twenty minutes later, and considerably warmer than when we began, we arrived at the borran to be met with a scene of destruction on an industrial scale; not only had a bar been carried up from the valley floor but a couple of spades as well and the evidence of this was everywhere. The Master had his jacket off and was getting a good sweat on levering a big rock with the bar. "Ah, reinforcement," he grunted indicating a discarded spade.

"You got planning permission for this?" I asked glancing at the site. He ignored me.

"Just bloody dig," he grunted.

A while later I was relieved and went to sit down in the lee of a boulder out of the drizzle. A lad from school days had the best place but he moved over. "What's the craic?" I asked.

"Tha knaw's the fox that did Mary's chickens?" he said.


He spat on the grass, "Well it's in yon hole." (Mary was an elderly lady who kept chickens and regarded them as more like pets, one night she had forgotten to shut the door to their roost and the next morning ...) He went on. "We worked out the lay of the tunnel, dug down and dropped a terrier behind the bugger, it can't be far in by now." At that moment there was a cry for quiet as the master stuck his head into the tunnel entrance. Shortly after he announced the fox was close to the entrance. Pete leapt to his feet.

"Let's be in," he said, "I'll draw the bugger."

He disappeared into the entrance to the borran until only the soles of his boots were visible. All around the entrance to the borran it went quiet, even the hounds ceased their barking and two who had wandered down the fell side with the intention of visiting the dustbins (after slipping away) at the hotel down the valley before a leisurely amble back to the kennel returned to their comrades.

"Can tha see owt?" enquired the Master to Pete.

"Nay nowt," he replied, "I'll go in a bit further." And with that his feet disappeared.

We will just take a short break to view things from the point of view of the fox.

At dusk the previous night he awoke from his laying up spot high in the crag face and trotted down to the valley floor, where he had feasted royally on Ned Johnson's prize game cock. Dawn saw him resting quietly in a bracken bed under the crag. The cry of hounds several hundred feet below had woken him and after a good look around he had slipped quietly into a gully beside the steep face, quitting it at mid height and jumping ledge to ledge onto the crag face proper. Over the next half hour he had no end of fun on the crag face with the hounds leading them hither and thither. Finally he was forced to vacate the crag and seek refuge in a borran at its base.

He regarded the terrier behind him with some disdain, but gradually improved his opinion as it forced him towards the entrance and the baying pack. He was saved by a shelf in the tunnel wall onto which he jumped, achieving an impregnable position. Here he stood at bay. The terrier yapped and snarled at him but could do no damage, suddenly a man crawled into view, the fox saw him but he did not see the fox above him. The fox waited until the man was directly below him and opened his jaws.

The crowd assembled outside of the borran leapt as one at the sound of a blood curdling scream which emanated from the bowels of the earth, the sound carried down to the farm on the valley floor where it startled the pony trek which was just about to leave. Riders were dumped all over the field as the normally docile steeds bucked and farted, galloping around kicking their heels. A married couple (not necessarily to each other) who were just about to get amorous in the wood beside the river were quite disconcerted at the sound. "Did you hear that scream Bill?" his 'wife' asked.

"I did, Rose," he replied, "sounds like someone is having a fit."

She thought for a moment. "Yes," she replied, "and it sounds like a tight one!"

Back at the borran Pete was unceremoniously dragged out by his heels; he emerged into the daylight with the fox still attached to his buttock.

"Lock on," some bugger shouted and there was a general falling around as mirth set in.

"By god it's drawn blood," the huntsman exclaimed.

"Better suck the poison out, Master, or he's dead." The Master looked at Pete. "You're dead," he said.

The hounds, totally ignoring the goings on at the borran entrance, raced off down the boulder field after the rapidly departing fox catching it as it tried to leap the wall.

That night Pete entered the pub carrying a large pillow which after some messing about with he sat on with a wince. "Never mind," I said with a smile. "Mary is happy, her chickens have been avenged."

Jack took a pull from his pint. "Afraid she isn't," he said, "she is quite upset we killed the fox." Pete groaned.

"Never mind," Jack said, "you escaped a kiss from the Master."

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