My guest and I were sitting peacefully at the table, large coffees slowly being sipped, Macs before us sifting the morning’s news in companionable silence.

César, who’d been briefly out, was stretched alongside us in the sun shafting through the glass doors.

All was calm in our south west French world.

I didn’t recognise the car that drew up outside as C belatedly reacted with his outraged bark of "who dares go there?"

The face and outline, cap on head, could have been Pierrot but this man barely wound his window down and made no move to get out.

C too continued his barking which was not the greeting he makes for our friend and neighbour.

I went outside and C barked loudly on, fixated on the driver’s window. The man, a mirror image, but harsher, of Pierrot, barely wound down the window.

His accent was even thicker and more difficult to understand than Pierrot’s, but eventually it became clear that César had chased down the parc, leapt the ditch and forced him off his new electric cycle.

"I just bought two bikes at 2,600 euros," he kept repeating. "For me and my wife who’s now retired."

He pulled out his phone and showed me the buckled electric driver of the bike, getting more and more agitated.

My heart no longer sinks. Instead, my buggered lungs react to trouble by semi-shutting down, and, despite the workings of my brain, I find it hard to comprehend or respond as I concentrate on breathing.

My French deserted me and all I could think of, was: He wants cash. A load of cash. I have no cash. I have just 300 euros in all the world.

I stumbled with my words as I asked, "You want money. I’m so sorry. He’s never done this. How much?"

As I strove to both understand, speak and breathe, some part of my brain was flicking through French custom and laws regarding control of dogs etc., but far more deadly the laying of a complaint.

The French ‘porte plainte’, as easily as we mouth off to our friends about a perceived injustice. They go first to the Maire, who must investigate, and they to the police if not satisfied – who must investigate.

It’s all part of a Vichy world where denunciation is still a dirty habit.

I’ve now lived long enough in France to have a fear of the police and a fear, in my Front National (now renamed but still the same) village of any trouble coming to my door.

Eventually, I understand that he is telling me he doesn’t want any money; it is not why he is here.

"I live by the field with the horses," he says. "I’m your neighbour. I know you. I know your dog – he has followed my car from your parc many times.

"But he’s never jumped the ditch. I turned my bike when he did and went down.

"I’m telling you because it could have been a child riding it. The bike is in the garage for repair. My wife is too frightened to ride past your house because of him."

Eventually, it became clear he did not intend to take this further; because I was his neighbour. But, he insisted, César must be kept within his compound with the gate locked.

Disturbingly he told me he was a chasseur who kept his own dogs firmly locked away. Then he raised his arms as if holding a gun, clicked on an imaginary trigger, pulled it and said: "I’m a chasseur. Others might not be so kind. They will pull the trigger and kill him."

I nodded for there was nothing else I could do. At least, I insisted, I could pay for the damage to his bike.

"I’m not here for money, Fidelma." Yes, he used my name. "I’m just here to warn you."

You can imagine how I felt walking back into my house; César now inside too, desperate to go outside.

It takes just one incident to tip your already tricky world further upside down.

Yes, I’ve let him roam free but he stays within the confines of my land and rarely, rarely, leaps on to the road. I revel in his freedom, and mine, for there are times I have neither the energy nor the strength to walk him into his cloistered enclave.

But I have undoubtedly been given a very strong warning and not one to be taken lightly in La France Profonde.

Once my guest, now guests, have left, I will call on Pierrot and Miriam to seek their thoughts and check out exactly who my caller was, for I haven’t a clue.

I will ask Pierrot, a fellow chasseur, to discover precisely what happened and what was implied and seek a name and address so I can take some fine wine and flowers to the couple.

It is all I can think of to do, for without a doubt it will be a story that will swirl around the neighbourhood.

And I worry that, if by accident or necessity, César is seen running the boundaries he will now be a moving target.

That is an unbearable thought.