He turned back to Grat. “I am no warrior, but I do have some unusual talents. Before we go down and smite our enemies, to our own possible dismay, let me use them.” Grat agreed and the girl pointedly ignored him, so Blondel moved to the edge of the firelight and called softly. At first nothing came, then a hare hopped up shyly to investigate. He gave a sharp command and it disappeared. He did not want the aid of a fluff brain and besides a rabbit was likely to be stoned for food. Also, Blondel did not like to become too friendly with rabbits; he still had to eat them occasionally. An old bullsnake he also sent away, though it smacked its hard gums and cocked its head in readiness to serve. He needed more than stealth; he needed intelligence.
It was a fox that he chose. It is always hard to call a fox. They like to linger on the edge of things and snap up any appetizing creature that responds. This one had missed the hare Blondel had sent away, but the scent remained and it took all of Blondel‘s concentration to get his mind off dinner and onto war.
“What was that all about?” Sylvia asked when he returned.
“I sent a spy to check things out.”
She stared at him angrily. “Don‘t take me for a fool!”
“I wouldn‘t dare.”
“You can‘t talk to animals. No one can.”
“I can; you see, my grandmother was a fairy.”
“There are no such things.”
Blondel smiled. He had long since learned patience In dealing with rabbits, birds, humans and other less intelligent creatures. “Have it your own way. I must be a figment of your imagination.” He went out to the edge of the light again, so that the fox would not be afraid to come to him, and went to sleep.
An hour later, he came off the ground with a bound and a curse. Just like a fox to wake him by biting his earlobe! He choked back what he was thinking so as not to offend his temporary ally and leaned down, speaking strange and slow in the language of foxes. When he finally barked his thanks and looked up, Grat was looking at him with a new respect and Sylvia looked like she had just found something warm and squirmy in the toe of her boot.
“Well?” Grat wanted to know.
“I didn‘t find out much. There are nine of them now, and they have set up camp. They seem to have no intention of moving before daylight.”
“Didn‘t your friend overhear what they were saying?“
Blondel looked pained. “Foxes don‘t understand human speech. Do you have any idea how long it took me to learn foxtalk?”
“How was I to know?“ more on Monday