|In the Path of the Storm|
Cover of the 1991 publication
|Publication date||2 November 1989|
|Preceded by||The Siege of White Deer Park|
|Succeeded by||Battle for the Park|
In the Path of the Storm is the sixth book of The Animals of Farthing Wood book series by Colin Dann. The book was illustrated by Trevor Newton and first published on 2 November 1989. It was also released as part of The Animals of Farthing Wood Second Omnibus in 1995.
The Farthing Wood animals' fourth spring in White Deer Park has arrived and The Great Stag arrives at the stream to drink. However, when he drinks the water his body goes into a spasm and he collapses, shaking on the ground before eventually going still and sliding into the stream. Whistler witnesses the Great Stag's demise and quickly flies off to tell his friends of the sad event.
There are many births among the Farthing Wood community, but Tawny Owl has remained unpaired and he is teased about his bachelorhood by Weasel, Rusty and Pace, so he decides to leave the park in search of a mate. Tawny Owl flies back in the direction from which the animals made their journey from Farthing Wood and decides to head back to his old home to see what has become of it. He tries to sleep in the belfry of the church but a colony of bats fly around him and stop him from sleeping. Tawny Owl eventually gets them to be quiet and he sleeps in the belfry before continuing his journey.
Meanwhile, the animals back in the park have been warned by Trey, a large and intimidating member of the deer herd, that he does not welcome their presence in the park and that they must not drink from the pond or eat the juciest grass as they are reserved for the deer. Trey chases and terrorizes Leveret and then tells the young fox Plucky to stay away from the pond when he is seen drinking there. The animals decide that they cannot tolerate this intimidation and decide to convince a few other stags to challenge Trey when it is time for the rut.
Tawny Owl continues his journey and arrives at the rookery copse where the animals stayed on their journey, but none of the rooks recognise him and they chase him away as they see him as a threat to their chicks. Owl eventually arrives in Farthinghurst and rests in an attic, but the window closes and he becomes trapped. A black cat called Sooty and a young boy arrive in the attic and Owl makes his escape, eventually squeezing through a small window. He lands on the Great Beech and realises that it is the last remnant of the old Farthing Wood left in the new town.
Tawny Owl roosts in the Great Beech and hunts in the area, eventually meeting a female owl who has been living in the same tree. He tells her about his journey to and from White Deer Park and about all his friends, and decides to call her Holly. Holly decides to test Owl's true feelings towards her by inventing an owl who she says has been watching her, and Tawny Owl eventually flies off to chase him away. However he becomes tangled in some nylon netting and falls onto a wet concrete driveway. He flies back to the beech but the concrete sets and he is unable to fly any more, so Holly is forced to catch his food for him.
Back in the park the animals have been avoiding the stream since the Great Stag died there, but one day Badger decides to drink from the stream as it is closer to his set than the pond. He takes a few laps but then a rabbit who has also drunk from the stream collapses and dies, so Badger rushes for the pond so he can drink some clean water. Here Trey takes exception to Badger's drinking and butts him into the pond, but Plucky arrives on the scene and distracts Trey, biting him on the leg. Badger returns the favour by biting Trey and they both escape to a disused set. Badger calls for all his friends and makes them promise not to drink from the stream, but he eventually recovers from his ordeal. Trey waits outside for them, but Plucky tells him that the other stags are getting friendly with his hinds and he runs off to stop them. As the rut comes around Trey defeats all challengers and becomes the new leader of the white deer herd.
In Farthinghurst a hurricane arrives and Holly takes cover in a hedge, but Tawny Owl is stranded in the Great Beech which slowly topples over. Owl falls off the branch and lands on the soft ground, but the impact causes the concrete to break and he is free to fly once again. Tawny Owl and Holly immediately set off for White Deer Park, but Holly insists that she continue to hunt for both of them. Owl defies her and catches a mouse, but he tires himself out and gets stranded on the ground until Holly finds and scolds him.
In White Deer Park, Friendly comes up with an idea that all the animals should head to the pond to drink in order to show Trey that he cannot stop them from drinking there. The group of animals arrives at the pond and they stand among the hinds so that Trey cannot attack them. Just then the hurricane arrives and Trey leads the hinds away as the Farthing Wood animals shelter in the disused set. Badger is out in the open when the hurricane arrives and when he gets back to his set he discovers it has been destroyed by a fallen tree. The shock of being homeless confuses him and he starts to head back to his set in Farthing Wood.
As the storm clears Trey tries to remove the other stags from the park by chasing them through a gap in the fence. However, as he battles with one stag, he pushes it into a swaying pine tree which collapses on top of Trey and traps him underneath. Whistler spots Trey and tells Fox and Vixen who arrive on the scene and Fox instructs the other stags to lift the tree with their antlers in order to free Trey. They do so and The Warden arrives, and takes Trey away to be treated.
Tawny Owl and Holly continue their journey back to White Deer Park, flying past the rookery copse and resting on the roof of the church. Here Owl sees Badger lying alongside the building and discovers that he has lost his set and is on his way back to Farthing Wood. Tawny Owl convinces Badger to return to the park and all three head back into the reserve where they are greeted by the other animals. Badger discovers that Mossy and several of the foxes are building him a new set next to Fox and Vixen's earth and Tawny Owl flies off to show Holly around her new home.