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Authors: Scilla James

Charlie's Gang

BOOK: Charlie's Gang
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Charlie's gang

Charlie's gang

SCILLA JAMES

For Ruby and Harry

Swift Publishing Ltd,

145-157, St John Street,

London,

EC1V 4PW

This book is a work of fiction. People, places, events and situations are the product of the author's imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or historical events, is purely coincidental.

© Copyright Scilla James. All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means without the written permission of the author.

First published by Swift Publishing in March 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9927154-2-7
ebook ISBN: 978-0-9927154-3-4

Contents

1
The Society of Superior Jack Russell Terriers (
No Rat Too Big
)

2
No Pest Too Small (Incorporated) (
Charlie's Gang
)

3
Charlie's Secret

4
Mrs Featherstone's Rats

5
Dr Mulligan's House

6
Beattie

7
Charlie meets Dora

8
Rat Hall

9
Charlie

10
Beattie

11
Darren

12
Timba

13
The Rescue Centre

14
Dora

15
Beattie

16
East Foxmould

17
East Foxmould Pest Control (Incorporated) (
Any Pest Any Size
)

1

The Society of Superior Jack Russell Terriers
(
No Rat Too Big
)

Dora remembered the day she and her puppies arrived at the Dog Rescue Centre. The farm they'd lived at had been sold and Mr Gibbons, the farmer, had been moved into a special home for old farmers. She remembered the ambulance men who'd come to take him away, and how they'd laughed when he'd begged them to break the rules and take an enormous portrait in the ambulance with them – a portrait of Dora herself and her puppies.

‘If I can't have my girls with me I must at least have my picture of them,' Mr Gibbons said.

‘Most people want a picture of their grandchildren,' said one of the drivers, ‘but all right. Budge up and we'll try and fit it in the back. But don't tell anyone! I'll pop it up to your room when no-one's looking.'

As Dora watched poor old Mr Gibbons being carried into the back of the ambulance, and before she had time to feel sad or to worry about what might happen next, a car arrived and a woman in yellow overalls came and picked her up and placed her carefully, with her young family, Allie, Meg and Beattie, into a cardboard box. The lid closed and Dora could feel them all being driven away.

The Dog Rescue Centre wasn't a bad place. Once Dora and her family had been bathed with some funny smelling stuff, wormed, microchipped and fed, they were given a comfortable pen to sleep in.

‘Ah, they're so sweet!' said Alison, one of the Rescue Centre workers. ‘Fancy having to get rid of all four of them! Poor old Mr Gibbons. I told him we'll do our best to find new homes for them and set his mind at rest, although Jack Russell terriers aren't too popular at the moment.'

Dora didn't like the sound of that. How many homes? Did that mean they'd be separated? She wanted a home for herself
and
her daughters. And what did the girl mean by saying that Jack Russell terriers weren't too popular at the moment? When anyone with any sense would know they were the cleverest of dogs, and should be the most popular of all breeds?

But one Sunday two men came and took Beattie away. Brian Wilson was a removal man
(Utterly Reliable Man & Van)
who wanted a Jack Russell to keep him company as he travelled around shifting furniture. He seemed OK and had a kind face, but his assistant, who was called Darren, looked horrible. Darren stood outside Dora's pen, making faces at her through the bars, while Brian was signing papers in the office. Dora had heard that all new owners were checked by the rescue people, who had visitors specially trained to do that job. But were people's
assistants
checked too? Dora didn't think so, and she growled a warning at Darren.

‘Shut up!' he told her, ‘who asked you?' He reached behind his ear for a cigarette.

Within an hour, Beattie was gone.

‘Don't worry Mum,' she whispered to Dora as Brian slipped a collar round her neck. ‘I'll be all right. I expect I'll like Small Removals, and the men look
sort
of friendly.'

Unable to do anything else, Dora put on a brave face for her daughter, and gave Beattie a last lick.

‘You are the prettiest of my girls,' she said, ‘the one white ear you have reminds me so much of your dear father, and you carry yourself beautifully. Please do your best in your new job. And remember that the reputation of the SSJRT rests with you, as it does with all our family.'

As if Beattie could forget. She'd been taught about the
Society of Superior Jack Russell Terriers (No Rat Too Big)
or SSJRT for short, since early puppyhood. Members of this famous Society must have sharp teeth and be very brave and skilful, particularly when it came to catching rats. Membership was not open to just any old terrier.

Once Beattie had been driven away in Brian's van, that left only Allie and Meg. Dora guessed that soon they would go too.

One morning Dora was lying with her nose on her paws, feeling depressed. So much talent, she said to herself, but the three of us are wasted without a proper home. What would be the point of teaching Allie and Meg how to catch a rat in the quickest and tidiest way possible, when nobody was interested in giving them a job?

It was visiting day at the Rescue Centre. A thin crowd of would-be dog owners was wandering around, asking as they always did for Cockapoos and Labradoodles, but not for Jack Russells. Families passing by would smile and cluck at Dora and her girls, and say things like
Ah Bless!
But nobody wanted to take them home.

Until at lunch time Mrs Featherstone arrived with her 10 year old daughter Emily.

‘I'm looking for the sort of dog that might be able to frighten away rats.' Dora heard this person saying, in a bossy loud voice, a bit like a head teacher. ‘We've recently moved to the country and you've no
idea
how horrid it can be! The rats have started nesting in the loft above the garage, and my husband's 4X4 gets covered in poo. It's just
dreadful!'

‘You need a Jack Russell terrier,' Alison told her. Dora heard the visitors coming towards her pen.

‘Oh? And are they good with children?' Mrs Featherstone asked.

Depends on the children, thought Dora, looking Emily up and down. Emily winked at her. Dora stood up on her hind legs and scratched at the bars of the pen.

Here I am,
she wanted to shout.
And catching rats is in my blood!

Mrs Featherstone looked at Dora.

‘It's very small,' she said in a disappointed voice, ‘are you sure it could stand up to rats?'

‘It's a
she
,' said Alison rather sharply, ‘and yes she could deal with rats, no guarantee of course. But if you want to take her away we'll need to come and visit you at home, to make sure the place you have is suitable.'

Dora couldn't help getting her hopes up, and a week later Mrs Featherstone came again.

In the meantime Dora was able to learn a little about the Featherstone family, since Alison always chatted to Dora as she cleaned out her pen, without realising, of course, that Dora understood everything she said.

‘They're bossy but otherwise I
think
they're OK,' she said. ‘I can't be sure to be honest, as I've only met the wife and then only a couple of times. Mr Featherstone goes around buying up old houses and farms that are falling down and building holiday homes instead, and it's made the family very rich. I don't know what Mrs Featherstone does all day but the house is terribly tidy and her little girl looks bored stiff. No toys or happy mess around the place, so I bet the girl's glad to get to school in the mornings. She hasn't any brothers or sisters, and would just love to have you three dogs to play with.'

What Dora wanted to know was, when could they go?

‘We're trying to decide whether to let you go there,' Alison went on, as Dora's heart sank. ‘They haven't got a clue about dogs, and I can't see Mrs F. actually ever wanting to go for a muddy walk. On the other hand Emily looks like a girl who would take you out and about, and she's already reading up about Jack Russell terriers. It could be just the thing.'

Dora's heart rose again, just a little. And sure enough, a few days later, Mrs Featherstone and Emily came and picked her up, together with Allie and Meg, and drove them home in their big expensive car.

2

No Pest Too Small
(
Incorporated
)
(
Charlie's gang
)

Two weeks later a rackety blue van was driving slowly up the lane in the midday heat as Mr Archibald Trundle (known to his friends as Trundle) and four Jack Russell terriers were returning home from their morning's ratting job. Four pairs of ears flapped hopefully out of the passenger side window. The dogs needed Mr Trundle to drive faster so they could cool down, but the old man was singing a song to himself and wasn't worried.

‘Forty rats!' He sang in his croaky voice, ‘well done lads! What a team!' The dogs panted in the heat.

The accident happened suddenly. Mr Trundle braked and swerved as a speeding 4X4 came round the bend towards them. Herbie, Snip and Spud flew out of the open window and landed in a heap on the grass verge. Dust flew in all directions as Mr Trundle swore.

‘What the ….?' His van jerked and slid, coming to a halt high up on the verge. Luckily it stopped far enough away from the three dogs, all of whom had had the sense to duck as soon as they landed.

And the 4X4 didn't even stop!!! Was that a cheery wave meaning the driver was sorry? Or was it a rude sign? Archibald Trundle didn't care which, but he was furious. Leaning across to open the door for the dogs to climb back in, he checked they had no bumps and cuts, and drove home muttering.

‘It's not good enough Charlie boy, is it?' he said to his favourite Jack Russell. ‘Haven't people got
any
sense these days? We might have been killed! He or she might have been killed! I think it must have been a
she,'
he said, ‘you wouldn't catch a man driving like that.'

Charlie agreed, but he was busy feeling glad not to have been thrown out of the window with the others. He hated to lose his dignity.

BOOK: Charlie's Gang
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