The owl lifts noiselessly off the field, his ghostly shape caught at the edge of the torchlight.
Startled, Bertie looks up at me for reassurance and his eyes glow green-gold. Other eyes, across Monsieur F's land, reflect back the same colour and immediately vanish - a fox or feral cat.
We reach the brow of the hill and walk down the slope towards the small bridge crossing the stream. Our cottage comes into view on the left. A grey outline with two small diamonds of light shining out from high in the end wall. No doubt Tod is still at his computer.
Vita and Bertie hunt ecstatically along the pitch black ditches. The wet grass sparkles with rain drops lit by the torch as we pass. The sky shimmers with stars. Orion's Belt to the south and west. The Plough to the north and east. The only two constellations I recognise. A plane's lights wink overhead - too high for the engine noise to carry.
Heavy rain clouds lie along the western horizon, deep grey billows touched with orange from the light spill of a distant town.
We turn down onto Monsieur F's left-hand field , slipping and slithering through the mud, and follow the stream, swollen with all the rain, gurgling and splashing in the dark.
Sloshing across the gully that borders Philippe's farmland, we head back for the final trek up our meadow to the cottage. To warmth. And dry towels for wet muddy paws. And bed.