Wha—? What's that? Raven floundered awake—
Ow!—with a crick in her neck.
A nearly full moon shown down on the meadow below, its bright light washing away the stars and illuminating the field with clarity.
I heard something; I know I did.
Yet only the songs of crickets and chorus of small peeping frogs penetrated the night.
But then pealed a high-pitched Aroo! Aroo!
A foxhound horn? What the heck? Is someone hunting in the woods?
Raven stood and stepped to the railing. It sounded as if it were somewhere off to the right.
Aroo! Aroo! It drew closer.
Suddenly a large stag with a great rack of antlers burst from the woodland and fled downhill and across the meadow. Oh, how magnificent!
Raven's heart raced with the buck.
Moments later a thunder of hooves hammered after the running deer.
Hunters on horses? But I don't see any. Where the hell are they? Raven shaded her eyes from the moonlight, but still she saw no horses or riders.
The stag, its raised white tail a beacon, fled onward, to vanish into the trees beyond.
The hoof beats followed.
Aroo! Aroo! The horn belled again.
The sounds slowly faded as the stag and its unseen pursuers raced into the west, up the far side of the valley and over the crest and beyond . . . until they finally fell to silence, a faint horn cry the last.
Sweet mother, what have I just seen and heard, or rather not seen, but heard? Ghosts? Spirits? Phantoms? And what does this have to do with Hunters Wood?