So when Harvest asked if anyone would be kind enough to go to the Mobile Library for her, I volunteered.
"But Gordon" she looked concerned. "C'est dangereuse! Tu es petit!"
Normally Alice runs errands for Harvest, but Alice hasn't been herself just lately and Harvest herself can only amble slowly around the yard nowadays.
"But I can nip through the bottom of the stock fence quite easily. And I am nimble and quick too!" I sprung in the air and side-stepped with the grace of the late Rudolph Nureyev. "Truffle would get tangled in the thistles, and Mr Fox would spot Mrs White a mile off!"
"Very well Gordon. But take care mon courageux ami"
There had been a few disparaging comments about my feathering and I noticed the girls were avoiding me today - and really I just wanted to escape for a bit. So I collected Moby Duck from Harvest and headed across the lane and into the field on my way to Wattlebury Green where the Library parked on a Monday morning. The grass in the field was very long and reached high above my head. I followed Peter Rabbit's well worn paths that criss-crossed through the waving swards, but every so often I had to jump in the air to make sure that I was heading in the right direction. The tall dock stems shone red in the sun, as red as the Fox's brush and the thistles leaned towards me and threatened to spike me with their purple combs. I felt like Crocodile Dundee in the Outback. I safely negotiated the stock fence and ran across the next field as fast as my little legs would carry me. The neighbour's cows had grazed it down to spikey rye remains and it was a lot easier. Then I saw the Library! Hoorah!
"Hello Gordon dear," Miss Spence peered down at me from the top stair. "What a nice surprise - and how is Harvest keeping?"
I replied that she was very well, considering her great age. Miss Spence and Miss Manse were very kind ladies of great age too and they had run the Mobile Library for hundreds of years.
"Where is Harvest's book that she ordered, Ro?" Miss Spence turned slowly to her friend who started to ferret in a big pile under the desk.
"Here we are Sue - this is the one!" Miss Manse handed the book down to me and I tucked it safely under my wing.
"Thank you, I will hurry back now" I boppedy bopped down the steps.
"Take care dear! " They called and waved their handkerchiefs frantically until I was out of sight.
I reached the field with the very long grass in it in record time and consoled myself with the thought that I was nearly home. Oh! I was really looking forward to being home again. Then it happened! Out of the deepest patch of timothy sprung a creature with talons outstretched and teeth bared!
"Mickey!" I squealed shrilly."Don't do that!"
Mickey rolled around laughing hysterically."I was watching you from my log pile Gordon! I thought it would be fun to jump out at you!"
"Thanks a bunch, Mickey. You nearly made me drop the book!"
We walked the rest of the way back together, and I felt a lot safer.
In the yard everyone ran from all their corners and perches to greet me. I felt like a celebrity - and it was wonderful. They patted me on the back and shook my foot and exclaimed how brave I was. Sylvia gave me a hug and so did Mandy. I felt good again!
"Here's your book, Harvest!"
"Merci beaucoup Gordon. Tu es tres brave!"
And Harvest ambled back to her box, settled down in the warm straw, and as she did so, a satisfied smile flitted across her beak and her wise eyes twinkled contentedly. Then she settled down to read her new book: The Secret Diary of A Call Duck.