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Authors: Sam Jasper

Puppy Pie

BOOK: Puppy Pie
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Puppy Pie

Other books by Sam Jasper

Elephant Jam

Published by Palmer Higgs Pty Ltd

First published 2013

© 2013 Sam Jasper

The moral right of the author has been asserted.

All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright restricted above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

A Cataloguing-in-Publication record is available from the National Library of Australia.

ISBN: 9781925027778 (pbk)

9781925027808 (ebk–ePub)

Designed, typeset and printed by Palmer Higgs
palmerhiggs.com.au

Cover illustration by Lindena Robb

Distributed by Port Campbell Press
portcampbellpress.com.au

For my two wonderful sisters, Pam and Barb, who often ran screaming from the room when I'd say, ‘Last night, I dreamed …'

Together, the three of us have been so fortunate to know our very own Shirley and Ted.

Especially for my late parents, Bernard and Margaret: one who felt right at home on the land, while the other felt perfectly at home with a good book.

Thank you Sarah Murray-White for your editing.

Chapter 1

‘She's here!'
Tom yells at the top of his voice to no one in particular. No one answers back. Yanking open the front door of the old sandstone farmhouse Tom runs down the steps of the wide veranda and out to the car skidding to a halt.

Sitting behind the wheel his mother, Helen, smiles and waits for her exuberant son to unpack his cousin out of the car.

‘The Folly! I'm finally really here at the Folly,' Gull sighs as she scrambles out of the car, giving Tom a big hug. ‘For the whole of the summer holidays! And Helen drove through your town, Getalong, on the way so I could have a peek.' She looks excitedly around her. ‘Phew it's hot for summer.'

‘And air so fresh you can't even see it,' Tom laughs.

‘Not like the city, that's for sure,' Gull says blinking as she adjusts to the glaring light. Small and white like a seagull, a year younger than ten-year old Tom, she is his favourite and only cousin.

‘Lots of fresh air, dust, and tonnes of flies: yep, welcome to country life, Gull.'

Hanging out the car's window, Helen groans.

‘What?'

‘Some welcome, Tom,' she laughs shaking her head.

Tom shrugs. ‘Come on,' he says enthusiastically picking up Gull's bags as he barges through the front door, ‘you're sharing with Lucy. I'll just plonk your bags on the bed,' he adds as she runs after him.

‘Uh! Who's this?' Gull asks staggering back as a big, lively dog bounds and jumps, putting his paws on her shoulders, as they reach Lucy's bedroom.

‘That's our friendly Red Setter, Labrador cross. Down boy,' Tom says.

‘Of course! You wrote about him. Hello Ulysses,' Gull says, patting him.

‘Um, we've changed his name recently,' Tom grins.

Gull looks at him, her head tilted to one side.

‘He's now officially known as “Useless”.'

‘Why?' Gull asks laughing as Useless licks her face ecstatically.

Tom shakes his head in exasperation. ‘You'll find out soon enough: useless by name and useless by nature.'

Gull waits for Tom to say more but he just grins at her. Pretending to ignore him, she says, ‘Well before I do anything else, I'd love to see the real Folly. Is it up here?' she asks walking out onto the landing near Lucy's room.

‘Yep. Follow me,' Tom waves. ‘And get ready for a family history lesson.' A few steps later, the two of them are standing in the legendary Folly.

‘It's not very big,' she frowns. ‘Just big enough for a few people to move around in.' She glances around at the small room with its pyramid-like ceiling. In the corner, Gull notices an old leather trunk, blackened and buckled with age. ‘What's in the trunk?'

‘Just old junk and some ancient photos: the best ones are hanging up in the hall,' Tom says proudly.

‘But who built this room? And why? I mean, why is this room even here at all? Odd!'

Tom nods. ‘I know. Really odd! I mean, our great, great-grandfather – and yours, was supposed to be this tough old farmer. Yet he insisted this room be built at the top of his rambling old farmhouse hundreds of years ago. Frederick Hepplewhite, hardworking and just plain hard by all accounts.'

‘But did anyone ask him why he wanted this room?'

‘Sure,' Tom nods. ‘Some.'

‘And? What did he say?'

Tom grins. ‘He said, “Because I say so”.'

Gull frowns. ‘Is that all he said?'

‘Nope. Apparently the builder asked him why he wanted this room. And Frederick roared, “The farmhouse wants it.” Then he just glared at the builder and stomped off.'

Gull gulps. ‘Phew! I'm glad he's not around now. But why is this huge farm called after this little room? That's so weird.'

‘Because of his neighbours,' Tom explains as he sits down on the old trunk. ‘People started saying this Folly was where Fred kept his “hot air” because a lot of people thought that was what he was full of. They all called it “Fred's Folly” for ages but after he died and his sons took over, the whole farm just became known as the Folly. And before you ask me what a ‘folly' is, I'll tell you.' He laughs at Gull as her mouth is already forming a ‘why' for her next question.

‘Are you a mind reader too?' she asks.

‘Like Mum?' He shakes his head. ‘No thanks! It's just that you like to ask lots of questions that I know the answers to. I like that,' he grins. ‘Makes me feel really clever.'

Gull punches him lightly on the arm. ‘So what's the answer? And where's everybody else? Where's Lucy? And where's Jake?'

Tom shrugs. ‘Jake's pretty easy to find, so we'd better hunt down Lucy first. Then we can all tell you what a ‘folly' is.'

Rushing out of the Folly and down the stairs with Gull close on his heels and Useless bounding ahead, they race out the front door and away towards a stand of ghost gums in the distance. As they stumble through the undergrowth, Useless sniffing every twig, Tom calls out, ‘Lucy? Lucy? Are you here?' Just as he's about to give up, Gull hears someone calling down.

‘Look out, dopey!'

Automatically, Tom and Gull look up. The next minute, a sketchpad is sailing through the air over their heads. Coloured pencils like arrows rain down on them, Gull ducking, Tom hitting the ground and groaning dramatically. The next minute, a scruffy looking twelve year-old girl in oil and paint-smeared overalls, lands in front of them.

‘Ta da! How's that for an entrance?'

‘Pretty dangerous if you ask me,' Tom says grumpily as he struggles up brushing leaves and twigs off his t-shirt and jeans.

Ignoring him, Lucy grins at Gull and gives her a big hug. ‘One grumpy brother! Don't know why: they're only pencils, not missiles.'

‘But what were you doing up there?' Gull asks as she and Lucy begin picking up the scattered pencils and the sketchpad.

‘Oh, just trying to get a different view: trying to draw the tops of trees looking down instead of looking up for a change.'

‘She's always doing funny stuff like that,' Tom says shaking his head. ‘She's always embarrassing me: always trying to work things out by looking at them upside down instead of the right way up, like normal people. Like a bat hanging upside down: guess she must be batty.'

Lucy winks at Gull and smirking says, ‘Remember Tom, I'm your big sister…'

‘That's her excuse for everything,' he says kicking up some dirt with his foot. “I'm your big sister…” which is then followed by “and I'm always right because I was here first.'

Gull giggles. ‘I wish I had a brother or sister to fight with.'

‘We're not fighting,' her cousins say together looking surprised.

‘Could have fooled me,' Gull says as she sees Lucy elbow her brother. Changing the subject, she asks, ‘Can I see what you've done?'

Lucy shakes her head, trying to hide her sketchpad behind her back. ‘Sorry but Tom'll only laugh at me. It always looks really stupid at the beginning. I don't let anyone see what I've done until I'm happy with it.' Quickly changing the subject, she adds, ‘Let's go find Jake.'

Hardly glancing at her sketchpad, Lucy strides off with Tom and Gull trooping behind. ‘He'll be in his favourite room. Come on you two, let's run.'

Lucy sprints ahead holding her sketchpad above her head and yelling “Yip, yip, yip, yip” at the top of her voice. From nowhere, Useless suddenly appears running after Lucy as hard as he can.

Just as she reaches the kitchen door, Tom and Gull catch her up puffing.

‘Here's Jake. And here's Gull,' Lucy pants as Useless pushes past all of them.

‘Wondered when you'd turn up,' Jake smiles shyly. He gives Gull a warm, floury hug. Fairer and slighter than his untidy, restless twin, Tom, and his big sister, Jake grabs a covered plate behind him. ‘You're just in time for morning tea,' he says as he slides the plate onto the kitchen table. ‘I'm trying out a new recipe, a flourless chocolate cake.'

‘Yum! Gull exclaims. ‘So how come you're covered in flour?'

‘Oh, that's from the scones I made this morning,' he answers as he boils the kettle for tea. Gull notices there is already cream and jam, plates, cups and saucers on the table under a see-through tablecloth to keep the flies away. He shakes his head at his sister. ‘You're a mess, Lucy.'

Tom grins. ‘Only happy when she's covered in paint or engine oil.'

‘But you're so lucky to be doing something you really love, Lucy,' Gull sighs.

‘Just as long as it's a mess,' Tom grins, leaping away just in time as his big sister playfully lunges at him. ‘Gull's got a question,' he squeals.

‘What?'

‘What's a “folly”?'

‘Good question,' Lucy nods as Useless leans on her for a rubdown. She laughs. ‘A bit like our dog: useless. Just a useless room! Our Folly just happens to be a small room with a triangular window almost to the floor: don't know why. Except you can see a lot of the farm from there.'

‘But what did Fred say when people called his farm the Folly?' Gull asks.

Lucy shrugs. ‘Well I think he just ignored it: Fred didn't have a lot to do with his neighbours. He just called this place “my farm”.'

‘It was always “my” something or other,' Tom adds. ‘My farm, my wife, my children, my money, my sheep…” It's a long list.'

‘Weird,' Gull muses as she pats Useless idly.

‘But the really weird thing,' Tom continues cutting across Gull's daydreaming, ‘is that in each generation, one particular dog on the farm takes over the Folly and seems to spend a lot of time up there. Can you guess which dog, Gull?'

‘It's a pretty easy guess,' Lucy laughs, ‘seeing she's only met one dog so far.'

‘It has to be Useless. But I wonder why?' Gull frowns.

‘That's what every generation wonders,' Tom says eagerly.

Gull imagines the small, strange room. ‘So that's all there is? Just a small, useless room?'

‘Yep,' Jake answers. ‘No big mystery! No secret cupboards. No sliding walls.'

‘We've searched everywhere for something hidden,' Tom says.

Gull's frown deepens. ‘What about rumours? Aren't there any rumours about hidden treasure or nasty villains or…?'

‘Sure. Some old rumour about robbers and stuff,' Tom shrugs bored.

‘And that the Folly is always protected against disaster,' Lucy pipes up.

‘But no one takes much notice of that stuff. Everyone's too busy,' Tom says. ‘Pretty boring if you ask me! Anyway, the farm is called the Folly. So, Gull,' he adds, now totally bored with the subject, ‘what do you want to do next?'

BOOK: Puppy Pie
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