John Fitzjames’s Personal account.
Of Hunts and Foxes
Most of you will have heard of the undead, nosferatu, vampires or whatever you care call us. Do not believe the fiction and the legends! When I read that Civil Servant’s book, ‘Dracula’, I thought it to be just fiction, for I was born into a rational age and believed in science and that nothing comparable to the undead could exist. Many a foolish ‘Mortal’ and Vampire, have taken that novel and ‘Carmilla’ as their guide to us, only later to regret their great folly. Due to the nature, of my contagion, by this damnable curse, I never believed the propaganda, had it been otherwise, I, too, would have taken it to be gospel.
The year of my birth was the one after Khartoum fell, to the Mahrdi. I was born into the minor gentry, the second son of a family in decline. I was a sickly child, so avoided being sent to some dark and sinister educational institution, only to instead be trapped upon the family’s old manor.
It was the Christmas after I had read ‘Dracula’; my twin sister, Helena, was by then much taller than me and becoming larger than me in many ways. My distant cousin Roberta, a wealthy colonial was a house guest. I had been told, that she was the great granddaughter, of the family’s black sheep, Robert, who had fled, to the colonies, to escape gambling debts. Roberta was no beauty, and bore a strong resemblance to the black sheep’s portrait.
On the feast of Thomas, I watched the hunt set off; my family had always thought me too weak to join in the hunt, so I had yet to taste the joys of the hunt. The hunt was always an important social occasion. That year’s hunt had a special importance to the villagers, for they hoped it would deal with the foxes and another greater danger, that had stalked the winter nights. I expected to have a miserable day, because I had to keep company with Roberta. She was more than twice the age of my elder brother. To my surprise I enjoyed my duty. She was good company, for an old spinster, and much too well read for local society. I cannot remember how it happened, but we came to be left alone, with the trap, on the village green. Roberta laughed; “Old Renard is safe today.”
At her behest, I had to drive the trap out, in the opposite direction to that that the hunt had taken. I could not get the trap to go fast enough, for her. Eventually, we reached the Ironroad, where we stopped. A short time later, two foxes broke cover and sat, each side of the trap. That day I saw more of foxes, than the hunt ever did. Some days later, I did not object, when Roberta demanded that I accompany her to the market, as this was such a rare treat for me.
Very hungry, thirsty and tired was when we journeyed home in the trap. Upon that journey, we travelled so fast, that I feared for the welfare of the horse. Several times, I feared that we would end in the ditch. Rapid though our progress had been, as the sun set and the moon arose, the trap lost a wheel, which was the last thing that I truly remember, of that night.