Bertrand sat down on the right hand place. He looked around. Empty lawn, leafy tree, sky: it all looked fine. He lifted his chin and sniffed.
‘Excuse me, is this place taken?’ The young fellow gestured next to Bertrand.
‘Hurrumph, no. Not at all, you can see it is free.’
‘Basil. The name’s Basil. Pleased to meet you.’
‘Bertrand. The same.’ He hurrumphed again. ‘What brings you here then, my boy?’
‘The view. It’s peaceful, isn’t it?’ He sighed. ‘No barking dogs. Not many people.’
‘Yes, I know what you mean. Don’t care for dogs myself.’ He pointed to his leg. ‘See that scar? That was a dog. Beagle. I thought I was a goner. A lucky escape.’
‘Nasty sir. You were lucky.’ The younger fellow sighed again. ‘You must have had some adventures though, with the pack?’
‘Don’t mention the hunt, boy. It’s not considered polite in these parts.’ Bertrand twisted a whisker.
‘But sir, Bertrand, they’ve stopped all that now, haven’t they? I’d heard it was banned.’ His brown eyes grew moist and the tip of his nose quivered.
‘That’s what they want us to think. They put it about.’ He tapped the side of his head. ‘They’re waiting ‘til we drop our guards, son, and then, it will be all horses and red coats and huntin’ horns and beastly beastly beagles. Mark my words.’ He stood up. ‘I’ll be off now. Nice to meet you. Give my regards to Mrs Vixen.’ And he trotted off, his golden brush swaying in the afternoon sun.