Half a mile or so from the heavy farm gate a figure could be seen approaching in the gloom. A dark shape bobbing gently along the cinder path that ran all the way from the main road, dissecting the wide corn fields on either side of it. Fleetingly the figure disappeared in the low cold mist only to appear again, this time closer, close enough to see that it was a young man on a bicycle. He wore a cloth cap pulled down tightly over his brow, a long coat and a pair of solid brown work boots. When he reached the gate he dismounted, rested the bicycle against his thigh and disengaged the iron bar that locked it shut.
Now on its far side he paused and seemed preoccupied with some thought or other because he leant against the damp wood of the gate and looked back at the route he had taken as if he had dropped something and was looking for it. He pushed at the peak of his cap with a single finger and then ran his palm thoughtfully over his chin before turning slowly and pulling himself back up onto the high saddle. The bicycle itself was old and its frame was black and chipped, the wire basket on its front held a brown paper packet. It wasn’t long now before he reached the silent farmyard; again he dismounted but this time he walked the creaking bicycle across the yard, parking it against the dark wooden slats of the empty barn.
He was now in full view of the great house. Its windows peering out like sunken eyes over the sleeping farm. . . .