Chapter 3: A Hole in a Fence
Barley stood on his hind legs and squinted. He thought he had glimpsed Button Mushroom jumping up and out of here, though he was not sure. What a shame all the others were facing the other way: nobody else would have seen. Examining a slight dip in the ground where he thought he had last seen her, Barley was pleased to spot a small gap in the fence. Struggling hard, it took him a few minutes to wriggle through because he was a lot rounder than Button Mushroom. The thrill when his body shot free of the fence was immense and his feet galloped away gladly on firm green ground. Barley’s smile grew as he ran, then diminished swiftly as he saw that the main rock was empty. Glancing up at the horizon, he saw a small group in the distance. The silhouette of Asparagus was unmistakable against the skyline. They were too far away for him to even consider catching them up. He was too late.
Trotting dejectedly back to the gully, Barley decided that at least he could free most of the other sheep by showing them the gap in the fence. He was surprised to see Prunella and Cinnamon peering into the gully from a hilltop position. He paused to see what they were up to but they seemed to be merely observing, so he gave them no further thought.
Once the others realised there was a way out, they were very happy to form a queue and, one by one, wriggle through. Barley was quick to tell them not to hurry once on the other side.
“They’ve already gone,” he stated. “I could see Asparagus and Carrot Cake. The other lucky ones were Button Mushroom, Florentine, Ginger and Hickory.”
Ashley and Herbert could not contain their unrest. Herbert actually cried with frustration. Although they had been to Hadrian’s Wall on an earlier expedition, it had not been for long and they felt sure they were supposed to go this time. Their bitterness at having been delayed was immense.
“Well, we couldn’t predict we would get trapped in this gully,”
said Ashley, trying to console Herbert.
“Yes,” agreed Herbert, trying to wipe away his tears. “Who could have known how the mud would wash down like that in the rain?”
Something in that question caused Barley to stand stock still. If he remembered rightly, it had been Prunella that had suggested they shelter in the gully. He squinted up at the hilltop to see if she was still up there, watching. Ashley caught sight of his gaze.
“Who is up there?” he asked.
Then his agitation increased as he put two and two together.