The Village Dogs of Pucklechuck: Book Two - Emily Garrett - E-Book

The Village Dogs of Pucklechuck: Book Two E-Book

Emily Garrett

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Beschreibung

The second Village Dogs of Pucklechuck book proves to be just as out of the ordinary as the first, filled with an array of enthralling twists and turns as well as a cast of lively characters.

When the villagers steal the body of the dog killed in the Second Beating, the battle between the dogs and the folk of Pucklechuck intensifies. Mog - with Larkin, his right hand bird - must act fast. Village secrets and suspicions, the age-old Prophecy and Mog’s lingering questions all spur on the heart-warming narrative and lead to the final showdown.

Infused with magic and delight, humour and sorrow, The Village Dogs of Pucklechuck: Book Two is a treat for the curious reader in everyone.

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About The Village Dogs of Pucklechuck: Book Two

The second Village Dogs of Pucklechuck book proves to be just as out of the ordinary as the first, filled with an array of enthralling twists and turns as well as a cast of lively characters.

 

When the villagers steal the body of the dog killed in the Second Beating, the battle between the dogs and the folk of Pucklechuck intensifies. Mog - with Larkin, his right hand bird - must act fast. Village secrets and suspicions, the age-old Prophecy and Mog’s lingering questions all spur on the heart-warming narrative and lead to the final showdown.

 

Infused with magic and delight, humour and sorrow, The Village Dogs of Pucklechuck: Book Two is a treat for the curious reader in everyone.

Contents

About The Village Dogs of Pucklechuck: Book Two10.‘One Raft and You’re Good to Go; Two, You’d Better Take It Slow’11.A View from the Hill, the Krute Papers, and the Topod12.The Villagers’ Graves13.‘If I Can Save Moley, I Will’14.The Small Woods15.Tail of the Third, Seek and Find16.Twenty Leaves Become Two17.The Canine HemisphericalAbout Emily GarrettCopyright

10

‘ONE RAFT AND YOU’RE GOOD TO GO; TWO, YOU’D BETTER TAKE IT SLOW’

Warm lights glowed through the windows of the Ferrette Inn as Mog made his way down a back lane towards it. The windows were steamed up, as they usually were at this time, and he could hear the sound of the accordion as it romped along, trying to keep up over the din of the place.

He came to the side of the building. There was a small wooden door with a bolt across it.

Once, some time ago, Mog had opened it as he passed, and stuck his head in. He’d seen a few buckets, a mop, and several bottles of old Raft. Some time after that he’d overheard the owner of the inn, Slick, say to a traveller: ‘You can leave it in the cellar if you like. You’ll see a wooden door with a latch on the side of the building. A small tunnel through there’ll lead you through.’

The boy looked both ways, and then hurried down the side lane beside the inn. The only sign of villagers came from the muffled voices in the room above him.

He snuck to the door and waited there for a moment. Bending down, he opened the latch and straining, forced his way through the hole, hearing the wood splinter on either side of him.

And with a jolt, he fell forward and into a small, unlit room.

As the boy looked around, he saw that the room was only a few feet wide; it was dim, barely any light came in. Piles of bottles and boxes lay strewn across the floor.

On one side he saw the mouth of a very short hallway. He made for it immediately, finding himself in a walkway, only a couple of steps long.

Bending over almost double, he moved through the damp tunnel until it opened into a wider room, with wooden floors and cobwebbed stone walls. He scrunched up his nose at once; it smelled horrible, like putrid milk mixed with stale bread.

Noticing a pile of boxes at his feet, he lifted up the first, ripped the corner of it open with his teeth and pulled out a bottle of Raft.

Looking at it long and hard, he shrugged, flicking the lid off. He took a long gulp, before spitting it out at once.

‘Eurgh!’ It was disgusting. He couldn’t understand why villagers seemed to love it so much.

Glasses clinked above as Slickreed and Tunip bustled around behind the bar as usual. Tunip let out a loud guffaw – Slickreed must have thrown a wet cloth at her; it was their usual routine. Mog heard villagers’ voices as they called out across the inn.

Mog looked up at the ceiling, straining to hear. On the other side of the room, he could make out a rusty grate. Looking around, he spotted a stool, which he dragged directly underneath it. He stood on the stool, his hands out for balance, and slowly stretched up towards the grate.

Using his head, he pushed the grate up until he could see into the inn. A pair of stocky legs appeared before him, between the four legs of the table.

Glancing around he saw the inn was packed full, the long wooden tables brimming with noisy villagers, elbows on tables. A fire burned away in the corner, the light flicking across the wall and warming the stone floor. The villagers’ faces were tinted orange by the flames. The jolly accordion player shone with sweat, occasionally stopping for a much-needed sip of Raft.

Mog could hear whispering among some villagers who sat near him.

‘Here comes Pip,’ said one, nudging the other.

The other looked over. Sure enough, in walked a villager. Mog knew at once that it was Pip Lanton. He ambled over to the bar, slender arms by his side; as he got closer to the bar, he stooped, but still bumped his head against some Raft glasses hanging above the bar and sent them swinging. He didn’t notice.

‘He’s finally decided to come back to the inn…’ Mog could hear the voice clearly but couldn’t quite work out from which villager it was coming. ‘Very interesting…’

Mog looked at Pip, and it all rushed back at once. The starry night, the smell of the shed, the roughness of Teades’ face, pale and crazed. The poor dog, first weak and then dead.

Moving his head so he could see better, he now had a clear view of the bar. Slickreed washed the dishes and slid them along the counter to Tunip who caught and dried them, shaking her head, her eyes crinkled at the edges.

Pip wandered over to a seat, a drink in hand, and sat down. Mog saw him reach for his pocket and pull out a thick wad of papers. He sank down low in his chair, until the papers were almost hidden by the table. Mog watched, his eyes narrowing. Pip gave the papers a subtle shake and narrowing his eyes to read, put on his glasses.

There was noise to the left. Through the thick glass window blurred figures lined up, pushing and shoving to get in.

Mog stared at the legs before him, trying to figure out how he knew the voice that matched them, when he heard a familiar voice, which rang out clear and sharp among the bustle, followed by a shriek of delight.

‘If it isn’t Teades himself!’

Sure enough, into the inn sauntered the farmer a little crookedly, with ruddy cheeks and Raft-stained eyes.

Mog let out a low growl.

Teades nodded, plonking himself down at the table directly above the grate. He was so close Mog could have reached out and touched his leg. The boy turned away at the sour stench of the Raft.

Pip started visibly and shoved the papers into his pocket. He sculled the rest of his drink, a hard expression settling on his face. Sliding out of his seat, he slunk around the edge of the inn so that the two sitting above the boy would not notice him.

The door swung open and there stood a stocky man with a thick blonde moustache and piercing green eyes.

Looking very pleased with himself, he strolled in casually, and seeing Teades, said, ‘Ha!’ and plonked himself down in the same booth. His shiny boots swung only an inch from Mog’s face, the boy narrowly avoiding being kicked by them.

‘Teades,’ said the man, hiccupping.

‘Jenkins.’ Teades nodded, swaying slightly.

The men shook hands. And then, lowering their voices, they started speaking.

Mog took another step up on the stool, raising his head higher through the grate to listen.

‘What’s the latest, eh?’

‘They’ve been seen,’ said one in a hushed voice.

‘They?…hic….Who’s they?’

‘Those birds…y’ know, from the Attack. They’re back. Bock saw some flyin’ across the Square, flyin’ low t’ the cobbles they were, a huge flock of ‘em.’

‘Oh my…’

‘Another villager saw them soarin’ up high, in a huge group, and they…they were headed t’ Magnolia Gardens.’

Teades nodded grimly. He slapped his hand onto the table and in doing so knocked over a glass. It rolled off the table and smashed onto the ground, right next to Mog’s head. Mog ducked back in fright, as shards of glass sprayed out towards him. The villager grumbled lazily, making no move to clean it up.

‘So this time, we have a plan t’ deal with the dirty, stinkin’ beasts…And properly.’

‘A plan?’

‘Yes. We can’ have dead bodies here, dead bodies there…or the same thing will happen, mark m’ words, strange behaviour in the gardens, and another man’ll have his face ripped righ’ off.’

Meanwhile, unable to control himself for a second longer, Pip Lanton charged over to Teades. With his face tense, and eyes bulging, Pip grabbed Teades by the collar, giving him a good shake.

The farmer was stunned, not having seen him approach.

Pip shook him again, and then spat passionately into his face. ‘You scum,’ he said. ‘I won’t let you get away with it.’

Stunned, Teades wiped saliva from his eye. ‘What…What are y’ talkin’ about?’

‘You know exactly what I’m talking about.’ Pip bore his eyes into the other villager, his knuckles whitening.

Through the floorboards, Mog could feel the room become uneasy.

‘Shut up,’ said Teades at once, his eyes fixed on Pip. ‘If y’ know what’s good for y’,’ he said, ‘y’ll do as y’ told, like the rest o’ the villagers. Hand in y’ dog, it’s tha’ easy.’ A cruel smile twitched at his lips and he hiccupped. ‘I almos’ forgot, y’ don’ have a…’

At this Pip threw himself at the man headfirst, bowling him over. The two tussled on the ground before an angular figure cast a shadow across them.

It was Slick.

In one deft movement she untangled them; they dangled helplessly from each of her wiry arms.

‘What’s going on here?’ She held them up. ‘You boys know this is no place for these kinds of antics.’

She caught sight of a tuft of Teades’ red hair in Pip’s hand.

‘What on earth you doing?’ Slickreed snarled at Pip. ‘Attacking paying customers in the middle of the inn? Alright.’ She strode to the man and gave him a good shake. ‘Spit it out.’

Behind her, the villagers quietened at once. It seemed even the roar of the fire had become more subdued.

A second later Slickreed looked at Pip. ‘Sorry old chap. We can’t have you pulling out the hair of other patrons. Out you go.’

‘But…’ Pip was wide-eyed as the woman dragged him to the front door and threw him out.

With the door thrust open, a line of villagers entered the inn clamorously, just as Pip hurried past the window and away.

‘Hey ho! Hey ho!’

The group marched in, licking their lips and lowering themselves into seats. A few slapped the back of the villager who carried what the boy could now see was a dead dog.

‘Here it is!’

Mog’s heart lurched, and he let out a small cry, quickly covering his mouth with his hand. For a moment he thought he was going to be sick.

‘Furl,’ he mouthed, feeling his chin wobble as he saw his friend.

The villagers hadn’t heard him though.

When the villager carrying the dog looked up, Mog could see she was a woman with a round face and pale, tangled hair.

‘Chantra!’ someone called. ‘Give us a look!’ And the woman raised Furl into the air, swinging the body to a resounding cheer.

Glancing towards the counter, Mog saw Slickreed and Tunip exchange quick glances.

‘We’ve been waiting for you to show up!’

‘These mongrels aren’t light!’ Chantra exhaled, as she pulled the animal from her back and let it fall with a crash to the ground. Her audience clapped, as she rubbed her shoulder.

‘Ayeeee!’ someone yelled exultantly and the group chortled, some roared, and snickered. ‘Well done! But make sure you get rid of it before the dogs take it to that godforsaken Garden!’

‘Oh, don’t worry – I will!’ She grinned at the pounding applause. The boy felt his hands sweat as he tried to keep sight of the dog.

Chantra and her villagers squashed along an already overcrowded table.

‘Give us the biggest jug you got!’ she yelled towards the bar. The leader turned to her comrades. ‘Time to celebrate,’ she said. ‘We have another dead dog; the mayor is happy.’

Mog stared at poor Furl, her eyes white and wide as she lay stretched out on the ground, her snout bone dry and still, her limbs lifeless behind her.

‘’Ang on a minute, ’ang on,’ said Teades to Jenkins, and rising from his booth he stumbled to the counter, returning soon after with a swelling jug. He slammed it onto the table where Chantra and the other villagers sat. ‘Good work,’ he said, chest out.

‘Boss’s orders,’ saluted the woman, grinning from ear to ear. Rummaging around her coat pocket she pulled out a badge and held it up for Teades to see. ‘I know the drill: Dogs are pests, not pets. I got it in ink on me arm, look at this.’ She pulled up her sleeve, revealing the black splindly words.

Teades looked at the woman’s arm, a disgusting look of pleasure twitching his features. He took a step, stumbling backwards, bumping into the table where Jenkins sat. Crookedly, he sat down.

The night roared on, fuelled by Raft and oven-roasted food. Their faces growing darker, heavier and rounder the longer the night persisted, their bodies more languid.

‘Tell me more…you know, about the plan,’ said Jenkins in a low voice.

Teades hesitated. ‘Alrigh’,’ he said, ‘but y’ can’ say a word t’ anyone, not yet. Tap said he’ll announce it the day after tomorra and if everyone already knows, it’ll be m’ head.’

‘I won’t.’ Jenkins was impatient.

‘Another Dogless Villages,’ said Teades, leaning across the table and gripping the man’s arm.

‘Dogless Villages…’ echoed Jenkins slowly.

‘Dogless Villages…’ Mog mouthed from below, his eyes growing wide.

‘I don’t know,’ said Jenkins, and Mog could hear the doubt in his voice. ‘Like you said, the pests always come back.’

‘This time it’ll work.’ Teades lips were curled upwards in a small, unpleasant smile. ‘I’m sure o’ it.’

The boy made his way back up onto the top of the stool, head rising slowly through the grate. He needed to hear what they said next.

A villager pounded a glass down right above his head.

Just then, there was an outburst from the other side of the inn. Looking around Mog saw everyone clapping in time, while Slickreed led a drunken villager to the trapdoor. She held onto his shirt, as he looked around helplessly, red-faced. ‘Should he go down the trap?’ Her yell was met with a chorus of cheers and boos.

‘Oh no!’ Mog ducked his head, and closed the grate quietly. Jumping off the stool, he crossed the room to the tunnel.

Crouching in the other room, he breathed quickly.

Above, Teades said, ‘Hang on a moment,’ to Jenkins and then rose to see what was going on. Crowded around the trapdoor, the villagers were eagerly watching what would happen next.

There was a scuffle as the drunkard yelled; Slickreed was probably giving him a hard shake.

‘I think someone has forgotten the rules here at the Ferrette.’ Her voice boomed through the floorboards. ‘Does anyone care to remind him?’

All at once the villagers began to sway this way and that, their arms around each other, Raft splashing across the floor. They chanted:

One Raft and you’re good to go

Two, you’d better take it slow

Three is fine if you can stand

Four is fine – with no demands

Five is getting mighty brave

Six is risky if you want to stay

Seven – don’t you ask for more

Eight’ll send you on the way to the –

The crowd shouted together: ‘TRAPDOOR!’

With this, Slick dragged the villager, kicking and yelling, towards the trapdoor, shouting ‘Door!’ to Tunip, who ran around the bar and lifted it quickly.

The boy heard it squeak and took another step back into the storeroom. Above, the woman pulled the man back behind her and with a hefty toss threw him headfirst into the black square of darkness, slamming the door triumphantly behind him. A roar accompanied his yell.

He fell swiftly through the air and landed beside Mog with a thud.

‘Ouch!’ said the villager.

Mog waited, trying not to make a sound.

But after a while he could see the villager was going nowhere; drawn-out snores erupted from his open mouth.

As Teades guffawed loudly, Mog crept passed the sleeping villager who lay dribbling as he snored. When he climbed back onto the stool to peer in, he saw that the din in the inn had subsided. In fact, the room was practically empty.

Furl lay there still, beside the villagers, many of whom were fast asleep, or playing cards quietly.

Soon the inn was quite silent.

Mog took a deep breath. He could hear Tunip talking softly.

‘I know it’s for the good of the town and everything,’ she said, ‘but I don’t know why we have to give them our Treasure…I mean…’

Slickreed walked to her quickly, and put an arm around her.

‘Our Treas will be safe,’ she said. ‘She’s a tough old girl.’ She then kissed the other woman on the cheek and then on the mouth. ‘I’ll look after us. Don’t worry. Let’s go up; it’s been a big night.’

Tunip nodded and the two hurried around the counter, cleaning it quickly. Slickreed hit a switch on the wall, and the inn was thrust into a deep darkness.

The body of the dog was now barely visible. The woman walked past it, oblivious. She made for the stairs.

And now Mog slowly pushed the grate open, launched up and out, taking a few hurried steps towards the animal. A floorboard creaked.

‘What was that?’ It was Tunip’s voice. Mog stopped. They weren’t as far up the stairs as he’d thought.

‘I just want to check something,’ the inn owner said, as she turned on the step. Mog’s heart leapt into his mouth.

He stood there, aware of his size.

‘Don’t worry, Tun,’ said Slickreed, reaching out to grab her arm. ‘Bedtime now, my love.’

Mog edged towards the side of the room, casting an apologetic glance at the dog. Before him he could see the outline of the trapdoor, gleaming in the dim space.

‘But…’ The other woman was still not convinced.

Mog went to open the trapdoor, fumbling for a while with his oversized fingers.

‘Come now.’ Slickreed started up the stairs with her usual sharp steps.

However, a second set of footsteps did not follow. Instead, Tunip said, ‘I’ll be up in just a moment,’ and to the boy’s horror, he heard her feet descend, getting closer and closer to him.

He forced the trapdoor open and leapt in.

Landing on the ground he breathed heavily in the dark as he heard Tunip make her way directly over his head through the bar, stopping here and there.

Mog waited until she walked across the wooden boards of the inn and back up the stairs. He then counted to ten very slowly, and then climbed back up into the inn – trying to walk as gently as possible.

The animal was gone.

The boy walked over to where the body had been only moments ago. There were a few drops of blood on the ground, and a few hairs, but no dog. It had vanished entirely.

He looked around. The tables stood silent, empty glasses turned over. No movement, and no dog.

‘I can’t believe it,’ he murmured.

Mog left the inn soundlessly and made his way across the Square. He was near the Water Fountain when Larkin flew through the air and landed on his shoulder.

‘Where is it?’ said the bird straight away. ‘You were so close.’

Mog sighed. ‘Tunip came downstairs…just when I was about to grab it. She must have taken it!’

Larkin’s eyes narrowed. ‘Taken it where?’

‘I don’t know! I was under the inn; she would have seen me otherwise.’

‘I was watching you through the window,’ said Larkin knowingly. ‘Poking your big head through that grate, it’s a wonder none of them saw you!’

Mog shook his head. ‘Villagers who have had too much Raft,’ he said, ‘wouldn’t see me if I stood in front of them, waving Furl in their faces.’

Larkin twittered into his chest. ‘Anyway,’ he said. ‘Who knows where Tunip put the body. A pity we couldn’t get it, but we’ll find a way. Let’s go speak to Rasmus; he might know.’

As the Sibyl was talking, the boy heard something behind him. He looked around, but there was nothing there.

Frowning he continued, but sure enough, after a few steps he heard it again: the pitter patter of feet behind him. He turned.

It was Treasure. She watched him, her head low to the ground and her tail curled under her body.

‘You been at Ferrette?’ she spat, her eye roaming up and down his body for clues.

‘Of course,’ he said. ‘To get Furl…’

‘Where is she?’ she said sharply. ‘Where’s Furl?’

The boy breathed out, almost too exhausted to speak.

‘I almost had her…but Tunip came downstairs just as I was –’