As well as deadwood, Mother Nature has pruned a few powerlines out by Tarker Brook this wild March night; the sleet has coated the big lines, growing heavier and heavier, until they have parted and fallen on the road like a nest of snakes, lazily. On the bureau the Valentine cards shiver minutely in the breeze from the open window; one of them falls and seesaws lazily to the floor, cutting the air in big silent arcs. The wolf puts its paw up on the bed, one on either side. A cold finger of fear is probing just below his heart. This has been a bad season in Tarker's Mills; there have been omens of evil on the land. Arnie has his father's Welsh blood strong in his veins, and he doesn't like the feel. Sorry! And suddenly there is a scratching at the window. She starts up on her elbows, the coverlet falling away from her ample bosom. The moonlight has been blocked out by a dark shape-amorphous but clearly masculine, and she thinks: I am dreaming and in my. Before he can decide what to do about his visitor, the lowpitched whining rises to a snarl. There is a thud as something incredibly heavy hits the door draws back hits again. The door trembles in its frame, and a puff of snow billows in. The scratching comes again. Someone's dog, he thinks, lost and wanting to be let in. That's all it is but still, he pauses. It would be inhuman to leave it out there in the cold, he thinks (not that it is much warmer in here;. She cries out. In the dark, her husband laughs heartily. He finds his wife's pain more amusing than anything, except maybe the jokes they have in The Reader's Digest. Those jokes-Humor in Uniform, Life in These United States-really tickle his funnybone.