White continued his own search, turning up nothing but a rusty lager can and an old crisp packet before he heard Peters call out again.
“Found it, sir. A fox. Still alive, too.”
White waded through the bracken to where Peters stood looking down at the animal. Dried blood matted its lower quarters though it had obviously attempted to clean itself before its strength had given way. “Poor little sod.”
“Shall I call animal control?”
“There's a blanket in the boot of my car. One of those tartan ones the garage sells cheap when you spend twenty quid on petrol. Put him in that.”
Peters gave a nervous laugh. “You're joking, sir. I'm not touching it. You don't know what it's carrying.”
“I don't know. Fleas, for one thing. Ticks, TB, leptospirosis.”
“You never know.”
“I think it's badgers that carry TB. Besides, I know you've had the jab for it, I've seen your medical file.”
“Rabies then. It could have rabies.”
“In England? We still have quarantine laws. What it probably has, sergeant, is evidence.”
Peters looked back towards the crime scene. “You reckon?”
“It's certainly the best lead so far. Go on, you get the blanket and I'll wrap him in it.”
White talked to the fox in what Beryl called his 'children and animal' voice until Peters returned with the cloth. White eyed it in distaste. He'd bought it because it was the right thing to do. Arrive at the scene of an accident and a victim would feel cared for just by the simple process of giving them a blanket. According to the department, it increased the rate of recovery by twelve percent. More to the point, it doubled the likelihood they would aid police with their enquiries.
“Here you go, sir.” Peters opened up the cloth, the green tartan offending White's sensibilities. He pulled on his driving gloves.
“Come on boy. Let's get you to a vet, eh?” White reached gingerly toward the animal. It growled but allowed itself to be picked up, its breath coming fast and hard. He laid it on the blanket and reached for the edge to pull it across.
“I think it's died, sir.”