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At 46, Miles Hann gives it all up for the little cottage he has built on the slopes of his native Ingonish, Cape Breton. Miles has five times circumnavigated the globe and in his years of wandering has grown weary of man’s work of mendacity and pursuit of pleasure. Mostly though, Miles is tired; even a trip around the harbour is a weighty prospect. He writes himself a letter to express better his commitment to stay away from all, to contemplate the animals of the slope and to try for even one day with no ill thought of others. He does not manage it. For, people climb the hill to his door. They know Miles is a quiet man, a polite man; that Miles has travelled everywhere there is to travel and that he alone must have the answers to the burning questions singeing their hearts. Also — who else is there free like this to drop in on any time you want? No one is who.
Miles listens to every word of how yet again the world has been maligning even these poor gentle folk. And, afterward, though he has told them nothing, each visitor agrees that: yes, Miles Hann is one wise man. On their way back down his hill they agree to it; they stop and turn to his lofty house and say aloud: “Yes! Wise if ever wise there was one. The man bothers with not a soul!” Miles waves his hand and he shakes his head too, turning for his trees: ‘Further proof of the pride,’ he says. ‘And that everyone is a wound.’ The next time that someone comes (and it is every day now), Miles runs for the cover of his trees, to crouch and hide from them. He spies at the same instant the little red fox that had been visiting him: ‘Charlie, the one who found my glasses! the one who now leads me haphazardly up the mountain proper and out onto the beautiful lonesome rockslide scree of a blackening evening. Here is one place I have not been up to in many, many years’, and as he remarks further at its utter forlornness, lurking in the black spruce fringe is a badly starved coyote pack, one grown desperate and bold, one that has killed.