- by Pete "Pappy" Miles
His eyes were growing heavy, so laying the Beagle magazine on his chest, he
reached up to remove his glasses and rub his tired old eyes. Maybe he would just
lean back in the recliner and close them for a minute or so to relieve the stress that
reading always caused. He squirmed his head back and forth, getting it deeper into
the soft cushioned back of the Big Boy recliner, wiggled his butt a couple of times to
a more comfortable position, closed his eyes and took a long deep breath.

He was standing on the top of a small hill, taking in the beauty of the rich green
valley that stretched away below him and seemed to run on forever. A little babbling
brook with thick briar thickets adorning each bank, added to the scenery of the little
valley. A strange wavering haze covered the view as far as he could see and it
almost frightened him, as he had never seen his valley look this way. It was almost
like the dancing lines of a giant heat wave that limited his vision but he knew it
couldn't be as it was a cold overcast day. He continued to stare at the heat wave,
trying to understand the cause and why of it, ruling out heat waves as there were
no wildfires burning anywhere in the country. Suddenly his eyes fixed on a tiny dot
in the midst of the dancing haze and he watched it with a growing interest, as it
seemed to slowly get closer and closer.

Minutes seemed to turn into hours as the dot drew closer but still not close enough
to determine the source of the object. Then suddenly a very faint, far off cry came
to his ears. A sound that tugged at his memory but one that he couldn't quiet put a
name to. It came again, this time seeming to be a little clearer and closer but still
from afar, then once again and this time his breath caught, and his heartbeat
began to race, anxiously awaiting the next cry. When the next cry came it was close
enough that the echoes bounced off the sides of the little valley and were plain to
hear.... It couldn't be...it wasn't humanly possible...but it was. The sound of his
beloved friend and constant companion.... the beautiful long drawn out bawl of
BUCK announcing that a rabbit had come this way and he was in hot persuit. The
dot had also grown and he was able to vaguely make out the outlines of his beagle
as it drove forward on the track of the evasive rabbit.

The scene gradually unfolded before his eyes and the haze began to lift to provide
him with a clear crisp view of the events taking place below him. He picked out the
rabbit sneaking through the thick cover of the briars on his side of the creek and he
watched to see what bag of tricks it would unload to try to elude the determined
hound that followed his trail. The sudden appearance of his little thirteen-inch, tri
colored, hound brought a hunter's cry from his lips, and urging him on and then he
disappeared into the briars again out of view. His eyes shifted back to the rabbit
who had made a sharp left hand turn and came out of the briars into the open
meadow for twenty feet then an about face and reentering the briars on his exact
same trail before continuing on his course. You’ve got to do better than that Mr.
Briar Rabbit, were the thoughts of the man as he stood on the hill with a big smile
on his face. That will never fool Buck.
How could that be his Buck? He had sat with Buck's head in his lap and watched the
last light fade from the eyes of his thirteen year old hound...he had dug the grave for
his little friend while tears of pain streamed down his face and he had suffered month
after month of tortured heartache following the death of the dearest friend he had
ever known...this couldn't be his Buck. He looked again for the little hound coming
steadily up the valley and when it came into another small clearing he gasped with
recognition. It was Buck and somehow he had found a way to come back to him.
Another hunter's cry screamed out across the valley floor, a scream of utter joy and
the little hound lifted it's head and looked his way, but like the veteran he was, he
quickly went back to doing his job. The little dido the rabbit tried was to no avail and
hardly slowed the progress of the little hound one iota.

The next trick came when the rabbit found a huge log that had fallen across the tiny
brook and he leaped upon it and ran the full length, hopped off and momentarily
disappeared from sight. It’s reappearance told the man that the log was hollow and
the rabbit had gone inside and came back out on the original side of brook, leaping
as far away from it's old track as it could as it was leaving the hollow log. Now that
was a trick worthy of an intelligent foe and recognized as such by the man watching
but he didn't think it would fool Buck for long. He watched with held breath as Buck
came to the log, scampered across on the trail of the rabbit, then became silent on
the far side for what seemed an eternity to the man listening and watching. He
watched his little hound make the check and search inch by inch in an effort to find
the trail. Unable to do so he then swung to the right and made a short circle but
picking up no trail he quickly swung to the left to do the same. Still not finding where
the rabbit had gone, Buck came back to the end of the log where he had last
smelled rabbit and discovered where the rabbit had gone into the log.

Being to big to get in the log, he paused a few moments to determine that the rabbit
was not inside then back across the log he came where he made the same circling
circles he had done on the other side and finding where the rabbit had left the
scene, gave his long drawn out bawl that the race was not over and the rabbit had
better reach down into his bag of tricks for another, better try than this one.
The trail led on up the valley and almost out of the man's hearing until he just
couldn't stand it any longer...he had to call in his hound and give it the loving he had
so long been without. He reached for his hunting horn only to discover he didn't
have it with him and then from far down in the valley he heard the clear, ringing
sound of a hunter calling his hound to the sound of his horn. One more blast of the
horn and he could see his hound coming back along the brook, heading back in the
direction he had originally came from, back into the bouncing haze that had
suddenly returned.

He wanted to call the hound to him but it seemed the little hound had gone deaf. He
wanted to rush off the hill to intercept his friend but his companion had suddenly
reduced its size back to a mere dot in the haze. He tried to scream for Buck to come
back but no sound would come from within. He wanted to rush after him but he
couldn't get through the thick tangle of brush that kept pulling and tugging at him as
he tried desperately to rip his way through. He suddenly didn't have the energy to
continue the struggle, as feelings of his hound returning to him only to have him
leave again, overtook him and left him weak. It felt like the brush just kept tugging at
him until finally his groggy brain told him that it was his wife that was trying to wake
him from his nap. He could only stare at her a few moments as his mind struggled
from the dreamland where he had been, back into the reality of the present.

He picked up the magazine and looked at it as his thoughts moved back to the article
he'd been reading of how to reproduce a likeness or better offspring than a sire had
been...he gently laid the magazine down...thinking there was no way anyone could
reproduce a likeness much less a better one than ol' Buck had been...in his mind's
eye there was just not any way to improve on perfection.