One Summer In France – Episode 42

Libby put the final touches to the cake she’d promised to make Lucas and stood back to look at it. Cake decoration had never been a skill of hers, so she’d simply covered it with an easily made chocolate ganache. It certainly looked good enough to eat!

She glanced at the kitchen clock. Evening surgery would be finishing about now. She’d give Lucas a ring and see if he wanted to collect the cake on his way home.

An unusual noise sounded outside as she went to pick up the phone and she hesitated, listening. Silence.

She dialled the surgery number and waited. Just as Lucas answered the noise sounded again.

“Hi. The cake I promised you is ready if you’d like to collect it tonight?”

There was that noise again. Louder this time. Definitely an animal in pain. She’d have to investigate.

“Sorry, Lucas. I’ll ring you back. There’s something going on outside.”

She hung up and, grabbing a jacket from the cupboard, ran outside.

Which direction was the noise coming from? She checked the chickens and the ducks before walking quickly down on to the canal path. The noise sounded again and appeared to be coming from a field bordering the canal path 50 yards away.

Libby began to run down the path, wishing she’d thought to pick up her mobile phone. She had no way of calling for assistance if she needed it. If only the Bichets had been around in the auberge – Andre in particular. She was sure he’d have joined her on her mission. But the Bichets had elected to go to the cinema in the nearby town and didn’t expect to be back before eleven o’clock.

It would be dusk soon, which would make seeing and finding any injured animal more difficult. As she ran she heard a car coming down the canal path behind her. She turned and sighed in relief as she recognised the car. It was Lucas.

“Heard the noise down the phone and thought you might need a hand.”

Taking a large industrial-sized torch from the front seat, he slammed the car door shut.

“Whatever it is seems to be in that field there,” Libby said, pointing to the field on their left.

As they made their way into the field another pitiful cry filled the evening air and Lucas switched on the torch and shone the light around the field.

“There it is.”

Halfway up the field a young fawn had somehow got caught up in some orange electric fence netting the farmer had placed across the field opening. Every time the fence pulsed he cried. Standing ten yards away, a doe was watching.

“Right. I’ll need to get some things from the car. Wait here.” Lucas ran back down to the path.

A minute later he was back with three thick rubber gloves and a large wooden-handled knife.

“If we go this way we should be able to get to him,” Lucas said, starting up a small track alongside the hedge. Heart in mouth, Libby followed him.

“I can’t see why the farmer has left this fence on. There aren’t any animals in the field. Unfortunately I can’t see anywhere to switch the thing off. Luckily he’s this side so we can at least reach him,” Lucas said. He handed Libby the torch. “I think I can manage without light. It will only distress him more, shining in his eyes.”

Quickly he pulled on two of the industrial black rubber gloves and wrapped the third around the knife’s wooden handle.

Kneeling down beside the distressed animal, he murmured quietly as he stroked it gently, trying to work out the best way to do things.

Somehow the fawn had got his head through one of the small squares of the mesh netting, but couldn’t pull it back. Working between the regular pings of electricity and talking softly, Lucas quickly cut the mesh in several places. It took less than ten seconds to make the hole big enough and he was able to pull the fawn’s head gently back through the opened-up space.

The poor animal was exhausted. Gently Lucas picked him up and carried him into a corner of the field before laying him down on clear ground under the shelter of a hedge.

“Goodness only knows how long he’s been there,” he said. “If we move away the doe should go to him.”

“I don’t think he can have been there more than half an hour,” Libby said thoughtfully. “I only heard his cries as I rang you.

“Are you OK?” she asked as Lucas peeled off the rubber gloves.

“I’m fine. These definitely protected me.”

Together they stood in the shadows, watching as the doe made her way to the fawn and started to nuzzle him.

“Do you think he’ll be all right?” Libby whispered.

Lucas nodded.

“I think we got here just in time. Let’s leave him to Mum. We’ll come back later and check on him.”




Margaret Scott

Margaret is a sub-editor within the Production Team on the "Friend". Her main job is to work on the stories and make sure the magazine leaves us in its best possible guise. When not doing that, however, she either has her head buried in the old “Friend” volumes or is out and about giving talks or going on Warner trips (fab!). She hates cheese.