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Priscilla Masters

Winding Up the Serpent

Macmillan 1995
Jacket design Joe Partridge

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Priscilla Masters

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It was the dog, Ben, who first knew something was wrong. When the alarm clock clicked on at 6.55 he opened one brown eye and waited. Nothing happened. He dropped a huge paw over the side of his basket and sat up on his haunches, waiting for the familiar sounds... rustling of bedclothes, soft foot on the floor, steps to the bathroom. He opened the other eye. In the bedroom the clock radio chattered brightly. The dog gave a low growl and padded to the foot of the stairs, his tail down. Dogs are supposed to be more sensitive to atmosphere than humans. Apparently civilization has bred out human instinct for danger. So it was fitting that it should be the dog who first knew something was wrong. Because he was a dog he did not know what, but he bounded up the stairs, across the landing, and pushed the bedroom door further open with his nose, peering round cautiously. Then he crossed the room in two great strides and waited expectantly by the bed. His mistress did not wake. He gave a quiet whine and took up a patient watching post at the foot of the bed, like a sphinx, with his head between his paws.

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