HungerThe fox had been hungering for quite some time: its fur was growing thin, a dull blanket over starving ribs, and it walked with the careful steps of one who has but little strength to spare. It limped as it walked, for its left forepaw had been hurt some time before by the trap of a hunter. It had escaped the trap with its life intact: but now it hungered, and could no longer hunt.
Today it had caught a carrion scent on the breeze, sweetish, cloying: the smell of rot. It was a hope, and the fox was limping towards it as quickly as its meager strength would allow. Surely it could find something to scavenge from a kill so old.
But as it followed the scent, and at last slipped through a line of dense bushes into a clearing, it found not a wasting cadaver, not the remnants of some other creature's hunt, but a camp – a man's camp – with a greasy fire and a row of iron cages with thick bars. The man himself sat beside the fire, whittling from a piece of bone. His skin and tattere