On closer inspection it turned out to be a wood-cat, a stubble-stag, a shook-deer, a wry-leg, a cow-with-leather-horns, a malkin, a long-ear, a cross-mouth, a hare.
It looked rather sinister and I immediately suspected foul-play. Had someone been out hunting? Was it a sacrifice? A warning from the local farmer not to stray into his fields?
In fact it was a bit of road-kill, retrieved by a Dutch family on their way back from the village of Saint Chartier (where, it seems, the party had been in full swing). It just so happens that they regularly eat road-kill (herbivores only) and so they were delighted when they'd spotted this hare. It was still warm which meant it was fresh and probably good to eat.
They went to La Chatre to buy a decent knife, then set about preparing the meat. First they hung it up, cut an artery, and left it so that the blood could drain. Then they removed the head...
...next the skin...
...then the intestines (carefully, so not to split them)...
...and finally the organs. It was like a biology lesson (or, as Jo my travelling companion and fellow piper put it, a Christmas stocking) and I found it fascinating, not remotely ghoulish. This is the side of food-preparation we never see. It felt important to watch.
"What are those strange white things?" I asked.
"It seems he was a boy."
My biology is a bit rusty.
They butchered the meat and cooked it in wine. Something that otherwise would have gone to waste fed seven people. That's what I call an ethical meal.
I tasted it and it was delicious, dark, rich and gamey. It stirred something in me.
And that night I dreamt of a hollow for a home and that the moonlight jagging across the furrowed fields was a kind of road, urging me to run.
And so I ran.