|The Fox Cub Bold|
Cover of the 1985 publication
|Publication date||7 January 1983|
|Preceded by||Fox's Feud|
|Succeeded by||The Siege of White Deer Park|
The Fox Cub Bold is the fourth book of The Animals of Farthing Wood book series by Colin Dann. The book was illustrated by Terry Riley and first published on 7 January 1983. It was also released as part of The Animals of Farthing Wood Omnibus in 1994.
Bold has left White Deer Park and is exploring his new surroundings in what he calls "the real world". He sees a magpie which criticises him for being out during the daytime and feeding off scraps that many smaller animals would be grateful for, instead of hunting for his own food. Bold continues to explore the downland and encounters a carrion crow, who warns him about his daylight activity as there could be humans about. Bold ignores this warning as he sees nothing to fear from humans, and in the following days he encounters several humans who do no harm to him at all, which increases his confidence.
A few weeks later Bold discovers a game wood on some farmland and catches several game birds including a partridge and some pheasants. He sleeps in a badger set, but its owner soon arrives and wakes him up. Bold is friendly towards this female badger and she warns him about the humans in the area. Bold ignores this warning too, but a few days later he discovers the badger in a snare and, although he manages to save her, the wire that he bites through to release her snaps back and injures his eye. The badger is grateful and offers to help Bold whenever he may need her.
One day Bold hears the sound of gunfire and discovers he has been caught in a pheasant shoot. He tries to run away, but one of the hunters sees him and shoots him through the leg. Bold limps across the field with his injured leg dragging along the ground and eventually reaches a ditch where he is out of sight. Bold sees a dormouse nearby and tries to catch it, but his jaws close on thin air and the mouse taunts him.
Bold is unable to move far from the ditch and his diet consists mainly of slugs and insects he can find nearby. He is found by the crow he met previously and Bold asks the bird for help, but the crow refuses until Bold tells him that he is the son of the famous Farthing Wood Fox. After this the crow agrees to help him and heads off to find the badger that Bold had met in the game wood. She eventually arrives with three of her kin and they feed Bold, before one of her offspring suggests that he return to their set until he recovers.
A few days later Bold prepares to travel back to the game wood with the female badger, whom he has decided to call Shadow because of her constant watch over him. They travel very slowly and Shadow goes hunting, discovering her three youngsters with food for Bold, but when they return to him he has gone. Bold heads off on his own and finds an abandoned earth containing the remains of another fox's catches, which he gratefully devours. The next day he tries to catch a vole, but has no success, so he decides he will live by raiding the food supplies of humans. He meets Shadow again and tells her of his plan, and they say their goodbyes to each other.
The next day Bold travels to a nearby farm and comes across a pair of bantams which have been allowed to make their nest in the open. They notice the young fox and escape, but Bold is able to eat the eggs that they have abandoned in their nest. He returns to the farm a few days later and catches one of the bantams, then takes it back to his earth and eats it with relish. He returns to the farm the next evening but the remaining bantam has been locked away and the farm dog sees him, forcing Bold to escape. Two humans and the dog come after him and dig up his earth, but when they see his weakened state they assume he cannot be the culprit and leave him alone.
Bold meets the crow again, who suggests that he scavenge for food in a nearby town. It takes Bold several days to arrive, but when he does the two friends agree to collect food for each other in their scavenging. The crow is the first to look for food and, after telling his friend that he has eaten some food left out for a dog or cat, Bold decides to call him Robber. One evening while he is scavenging, Bold sees a vixen in one of the gardens, but she completely ignores him and Bold feels humiliated.
Several days later Bold sees the vixen in the garden once more and tries to dig his way in. She notices him and Bold tells her he cannot jump because he is injured. She offers to help him hunt but Bold's pride causes him to reject her offer. The vixen sees Bold again a month later and tells him she wants to hunt with him, and this time Bold does not refuse. Together they catch some rats and Bold calls her Whisper because of her stealth. Whisper offers to let Bold stay in her earth, but he goes back to his usual home to give one of the rats to Robber.
When Bold tells Robber about Whisper, the crow insists that his friend forget their agreement and go to live in the vixen's earth, which Bold does the following night. Bold is unable to jump the wall to get in, but they find a hole through which he can climb. In the earth Whisper mistakes Bold for a much older fox and asks where he was born. Bold tells her he was born in White Deer Park and that his father is the famous Farthing Wood Fox, and Whisper makes a plan which Bold knows nothing of.
A few days later they come across a large dog who barks loudly outside their earth. One day Bold cannot get back into the earth because the wall has been mended and the dog pursues him, so Bold hastily tries to make a new hole but gets stuck. Robber comes to his rescue but the dog turns out to be friendly and he helps Bold to make the hole in the wall big enough for him to get through. The dog's name is Rollo and he visits the foxes frequently in the ensuing weeks.
As mating season arrives the two foxes mate and Whisper is soon carrying Bold's cubs. Whisper tells Bold she wants the cubs to be born in White Deer Park and he reluctantly agrees to lead her there. The foxes are fed for their last few days in the town by Rollo, and they head off back towards the country. Heavy snow makes travelling difficult and their pace is very slow. Whisper wants to speed up so they try to travel through the snow, but this exhausts Bold and he collapses on open land. He insists that Whisper go to find cover and Robber, who has been tracking their journey, discovers Bold on the ground. He promises to bring Bold some good food and heads back towards the town.
Robber heads back to Rollo, who agrees to bring a bone he has buried to Bold and Whisper, and they set off towards them. When Robber arrives he sees that Bold is about to be attacked by a greyhound and distracts it until Rollo gets there. The greyhound gets free of Robber and attacks Bold, but Rollo soon arrives and grabs it by the neck, shaking it and casting it away. Rollo brings the foxes his bone and a hare that had been killed by another greyhound, before heading back home to his master.
As the foxes approach White Deer Park, Bold leaves Whisper while she is sleeping and hides himself away, forcing her to finish the journey alone. She arrives at the reserve and meets Charmer, who immediately tells her family of Bold's return. Meanwhile Robber has noticed Bold go into hiding and offers to feed him, but the injured fox wants to wait for his death. Robber notices Fox and Friendly searching outside the park and leads them to Bold, joining up with Vixen and Charmer along the way. The foxes arrive and Fox tells Bold how proud he is, before the young fox departs the real world for good.