Chapter 3 -The Green Fields of France

The next day they wake late in the morning light. Bobby raises his handsome head… Zip!.. a shiny black bat propels past his ear, and like a coiled spring he explodes in pursuit. Hurtling along the passageway, he springs a 45 degree trajectory. Soaring through the air, dawns the sudden realisation of the gaping vortex shaped mouth of the steel wine vat below him, and he tumbles, scrabbling frantically at the metal edge, before slithering unceremoniously and landing with a resounding ‘plop’ into the murky purple gunk.

“Millooooooooou!”, he shouts… Legs churning like blurred pistons, he struggles to keep his nose above the tide line. Millou launches down the passageway, tossing the coiled rope free, and hurls the end down to the splashing Bobby.

“Grab this, Bobby!”, he shouts.

“Lillith, help!… Pull!”.

Millou strains and tugs, and with Lillith pulling with all her might on the end of his tail, they slowly heave Bobby up and over the edge to safety. He lands with a soggy Splat! at their paws.

“That was close Bobby”, breathes Lillith.

“My God you stink!”

Bobby shakes, showering them with a cascade of purple droplets.

“That’s enough of chasing bats,” says Millou. “It’s time to move.”

With Bobby trailing a row of pungent pawprints, they reach the exit window. As before, Lillith climbs up onto Bobby’s shoulders, and out into the open air. They blink in the harshness of the dazzling sunshine which greets them. Crossing the drawbridge, they trot down to the waiting canoe. To the left and right, stretch endless acres of rolling vineyards, and in the far distance they can see a tractor and hear barking dogs scampering behind.

Upon reaching the canoe, they stow the rope safely at Millou’s paws, and push away from the bank and out onto the whirling eddies of the river current.

Bobby and Millou are now accomplished sailors, and they sing as they paddle past green and yellow meadows, and sloping hills dotted with white sheep. It’s late afternoon, and Bobby starts to feel hungry. A brick building comes into view, the scent of pot roast floating on the air. As they pull alongside, they see a sign, ‘Restaurant Chez Roger’

“Let’s grab dinner”, says Millou, and they anchor the canoe to a mooring post. Across a courtyard with plastic tables and chairs, they follow the tantalising cooking smell enamating from a side door.

There, leaning over a giant grill, is a chubby cook, in a blue and white striped apron, frying fish in a pan.

She catches sight of them.

“What do we have here then?”, she comes across and leans to rub Millou’s cheek.

“Are you hungry, little ones?”

She picks up a bucket marked Scraps, and shakes the contents into three dishes. She smiles as they hungrily tuck in. Finally, the three shake, sit, and lick their paws.

“Pooh, you whiff”, the cook remarks, noticing Bobby’s sticky spiked fur, and wrinkling her nose.

“If you want to have a bath, there’s a lake – Varengbeque.”

“Just go down that lane – you’ll find it at the end.”

She points to a path through a fringe of trees.

They trot down the pathway, until it opens out onto a glinting blue lake, with a manor house on the other side.

Bobby dips a tentative toe into the crystaline water, before sinking up to his chin.

Millou and Lillith peer at the grey scaly shapes curling through the shadowy grey depths of the pond.

They’ve only ever seen half inch cubes in the gravy of the Kitekat.

“Let’s grab a few”, says Lillith, dunking her arm up to the elbow in the chill water.

Millou joins her, striking at the silver flashes. He grabs one with a hooked claw, and yanks it flapping onto the grassy bank.

“Oi! You!”, comes a deafening bellow. Appearing out of the trees, a heavy built man stalks towards them.

“Can’t you read? It’s No Fishing. 500 euros Fine.” He points to a sign, ‘Fishing Prohibited’.

“Let’s go, come on Bobby,” urges Millou.

On their way back, Lillith hesitates as they pass a Cat Grooming Parlour. Having travelled so far from home, she feels unkempt.

“You two go on,” she says, giving them a wave.

“I’ll catch you up in a while.”

An hour later she emerges, pampered and pristine, wearing a new pink and white collar, her glossy coat glinting in the sun, and her claws neatly manicured.

She arrives at the canal to find Bobby and Millou sitting on edge of the canoe, with fishing rods dangling from their paws.

As the sun slides in the nighttime sky, they toast skewered sardine kebabs on an open fire, and play black jack, while Bobby dangles his toes in the canal.

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