At the moment I’m reading The Fox, a novella by D. H. Lawrence, and I have spent the whole day being haunted by a wonderful passage that I read last night. I have the honour of knowing a wild fox personally, and I think that D. H. Lawrence has really captured the magic of an encounter with this animal, as well as the personality of the fox who introduces himself to a human. I remember the first time that my fox appeared (out of nowhere) in front of me, and the way he looked at me. It was as if he was looking right down into my soul, and he was not afraid. It created an instantaneous connection, and I was spellbound.
It’s a great achievement for an author to be able to recreate such an emotional moment in writing, and it’s a testament to their talent. I also think that D. H. Lawrence has spent a lot of time observing foxes before writing this novella – he even managed to capture that quirky little way that they look back at you over their shoulder before they leave you.
The trees on the wood-edge were a darkish, brownish green in the full light–for it was the end of August. Beyond, the naked, copper-like shafts and limbs of the pine trees shone in the air. Nearer the rough grass, with its long, brownish stalks all agleam, was full of light. The fowls were round about–the ducks were still swimming on the pond under the pine trees. March looked at it all, saw it all, and did not see it. She heard Banford speaking to the fowls in the distance–and she did not hear. What was she thinking about? Heaven knows. Her consciousness was, as it were, held back.
She lowered her eyes, and suddenly saw the fox. He was looking up at her. Her chin was pressed down, and his eyes were looking up. They met her eyes. And he knew her. She was spellbound–she knew he knew her. So he looked into her eyes, and her soul failed her. He knew her, he was not daunted.
She struggled, confusedly she came to herself, and saw him making off, with slow leaps over some fallen boughs, slow, impudent jumps. Then he glanced over his shoulder, and ran smoothly away. She saw his brush held smooth like a feather, she saw his white buttocks twinkle. And he was gone, softly, soft as the wind.