* BOOK 1 – Excerpt *
Little Lord Oscar Dandelion
(International Jewel – and Sandwich Filling – Thief)
~ BOOK 1 ~
P R E F A C E
Although it has been my life’s work to thoroughly document my own personal memoirs (filled with adventures and daring!) it came upon me to help out in other, perhaps more pressing – and literally literary – ways. Maybe seeming embellished at times, these pages before you are largely a true account of the happenings at Dandelion Hall; they may also be viewed as a social commentary of the typical hardships faced by the upper-classes in modern Britain.
Nevertheless, I proffer to confess –
Faith McCord is the ‘ghostwriter’; and, please note:
Most of the proceeds of this book go towards the funding of the leaky roof at Dandelion Hall.
I trust you will enjoy Little Lord Oscar Dandelion (International Jewel – and Sandwich-Filling Thief).
Yours faithfully dog-like
Old Granddad Dandelion
(author of this book)
THE ROOF DOTH LEAK
The problem was, simply put, that the roof of Dandelion Hall needed repairing. What with that particularly rainy summer they were soon running out of buckets to trap the errant raindrops; and furthermore, they were running out of room for the buckets.
Daisy Elizabeth was already sharing the second biggest East Wing bedroom with CoCo and Beatrix Grace, and Lady Winterton was making noises about joining them too ever since that morning when she had all too hurriedly arose to relieve herself en route to the bathroom but instead aquaplaned, falling bottom first into one of the many buckets in situ round her four-poster Elizabethan bed. The buckets were quite filled at that late hour of 11.39 am.
“Soggy bottomed cakes!” Lady Winterton cried out, “Bloody soggy bottomed cakes! What about my soggy bottom!?”
From the bedroom next door, Daisy Elizabeth ignored that remark, pertaining it to being directed towards her infamous cakes, and retreated further into her shell. From when she’d had her head briefly poked out to see the new day, she’d noticed it wasn’t ideally sunny anyway. Retreat and Sleep, was usually her motto.
Lady Winterton must have been calling out for some time because when CoCo went to eventually investigate the palaver there was water spilled everywhere: the 17th Century wooden floor looked pretty much like the floor in the East Wing bathroom after every time Daisy Elizabeth bathed. This little problem was partly due to Lady Winterton’s not so little derriere getting stuck in one of the tin pails, she observed.
The Lady had an hourglass figure but the sand was all in the bottom. Anyway, although some of them were large the buckets were too small to hold all the escaping raindrops, let alone a small lady’s behind. (Parts of her ample bottom were overlapping the top of her bucket. It wasn’t comfortable).
CoCo, as caring and generous as usual barked at her to get out of the bucket. But her advice went unheeded.
Lady Winterton started crying, her fair face already very red and soon wetted with tears, not raindrops.
Beatrix Grace, sleep still in her slitted otherwise bulbous eyes, appeared in the doorway hopeful that breakfast was oncoming. Her ears had been pricked – and her belly rumbled – by the calling, and being slightly sleep deprived (because the late night horror film had been that good) had mistakenly mistook the words for shouts of ‘Breakfast is READY!’
“She’s not getting out of the bucket.” CoCo explained.
Beatrix Grace then opened her eyes and took in the unfortunate scene herself. She couldn’t understand herself why Lady Winterton was still in the bucket. Breakfast only came once a day and was too important an event to be missed. Everyone, although admittedly not as much as she, enjoyed breakfast. If breakfast was missed that only left lunch, late tea and supper – and perhaps a midnight snack if Cook wasn’t around.
From the West Wing – a ten minute trot to the East Wing for Beatrix Grace; a two hour gamble for Daisy Elizabeth – Old Granddad Dandelion actually heard the cries of distress, but he dismissed it for his hearing aid playing up again.
He was sitting at his writing bureau since early morning, penning the continuation of his memoirs. He too was thinking of Breakfast. His routinely arrived at midday, on a silver tray, just left outside his closed bedroom door. Just how he liked it as he didn’t appreciate being disturbed. Surmising he didn’t have many more years left at his ripe old age, he better get his memoirs finished. He’d promised himself that for years now; he just couldn’t remember how many years.
Old Granddad Dandelion wasn’t actually anyone’s grandfather, but it was just too complicated to remember how many granddads back he was – he was really that ancient! – that everyone just called him that. How he came to have such longevity was anyone’s guess.
Suddenly the postman, Nice John – as opposed to Grumpy John The Gardener – appeared in the doorway. At first he was shocked at Lady Winterton’s being stuck; then confused about the room being littered with buckets; then rather embarrassed by the naked woman stuck in the bucket. And he realised her bottom was even bigger than what it had seemed clothed. (The Lady had a preferential for 1930’s style loose fitting dresses).
The postman gallantly helped Lady Winterton out of the bucket, and because he was Nice John, he averted his eyes and got his feet wet in another bucket. But soon, with all feet dried (although damp shoes in Nice John’s case) everyone, except Old Granddad Dandelion was seated at the big rickety table in the kitchen eating a bacon and egg breakfast whilst Daisy Elizabeth nibbled on a couple of butter head leaves.
It was a minute before midday.
Old Granddad Dandelion’s breakfast tray would have to be taken up two flights of stairs to the tower in the west wing, a little later than usual.
Once sated with the fry up and now sipping a third or fourth cup of tea, and the postman gone, they wondered out loud what had happened to Oscar Dandelion.
He hadn’t been seen for over three weeks. A postcard had been sent from a foreign place of warm climes, briefly expressing his joy of the golden sunshine and jewel coloured embroidery threads. And a hastily written, ‘but I miss you all!’ then typically signed with a muddy paw print.
CoCo had detected, from the postcard, the whiff of cinnamon, oranges and honey – also mint tea – but she didn’t know anyone who drank that. Everyone drank decent Earl Grey, none of this strange herbal stuff, except Daisy Elizabeth who had a bizarre taste for dandelion tea. Grumpy John, another sort of human species entirely, drank something called builder’s tea – which brought to mind, said Daisy Elizabeth – ‘Builder’s Crack’. Bent over men, bottoms partially exposed above sliding jeans, as they worked on building structures. Usually displaying the crack between the cheeks. Very undignified. Enough to make a tortoise take early hibernation.
Beatrix Grace couldn’t understand this love of textiles – and the hall was full of it! Vast tapestries lining the walls, including a medium sized one of The Virgin Queen with the very first Lord Dandelion – she much liked digging in the dirt in the vast gardens, picking out flower bulbs and running off with dastardly snails. If caught she was scolded by Cook for leaving muddy prints in the kitchen. Lady Winterton, in fact the custodian of Dandelion Hall and of the entire Dandelion clan, never complained of muddy floors. Just wet ones. The Lady was short sighted but her feet felt the wet.
The story goes…
Lady Winterton’s family had always looked after the Dandelions. Ever since Queen Elizabeth The First bestowed the title of Lord Dandelion on the very first Dandelion in England, and gave him and his descendants Dandelion Hall. Fearful of the Queen’s wrath – because indeed the first Dandelion had been The Love of Her Life and she had a thing for lopping off heads – her subjects didn’t dare oppose the title of Lord being given to a dog.
Little Lord Oscar’s ancestor, the very first Lord Dandelion arrived from the city of Chihuahua after an accident prone adventure seeking sailor managed to make it across the Atlantic – and (almost safely) back again. At one point he landed on the wrong continent and made the mistake of leaving the potatoes behind. Nonetheless he was given a title too, Sir something or other. It isn’t important, he made The Queen happy, and that was (important). Sir Something came home to his queen bearing gifts of oversized sunhats, brightly coloured cloths (alas with holes), and bottles of Tequila. (There were also squat plants of a fleshy nature but their needles weren’t really appropriate for needlecraft.) The Tequila made poor furniture polish, but made The Queen happy. Though what made The Queen most happy was the animate ball of white fluff. ‘Pray tell me what that is but a dandelion!’ She laughed and everyone readily agreed.
For a long while he was a Dandelion, not even a small dog. For many years he was known as Little Lord Dandelion, Queen Elizabeth’s constant faithful and loving companion. Seated and fussed over on her royal lap. Entwined in her tapestry and embroidery yarns on occasions, lost in giant flower beds sometimes, found with stolen bones from the fearsome guard dogs often.
Then one fateful day Sir Something accidentally called Lord Dandelion a Chihuahua and lost his head for it.
Upon The Queen’s Death, a little aging Chihuahua was housed in the palatial home of Dandelion Hall. He and his many subsequent descendants would live there for hundreds of years, under the custodian of the Wintertons.
Back to the kitchen table, present day…
Daisy Elizabeth burped her dandelion tea and mumbled something about Oscar coming home today. CoCo said that was good because something had to be done about the leaky roof. Beatrix Grace would have agreed but her mouth was full of bacon. Lady Winterton, now decently clothed, said “I wonder where that bloody dog is?”
The sun popped out from behind a cloud, sent a dazzling blinding ray through the leaded paned window into the kitchen and Daisy Elizabeth was out onto the terrace via the French doors, like a champagne cork shot out of its bottle. Deliciously squinting in the sun she soon forgot her worries and knew she was really a lucky tortoise.
As the other family members were leaving the kitchen table, Cook – who looked like a proper cook: fat, late middle-aged, red cheeks and a not-to-be-messed-about-with look on her face – arrived to prepare the lunch. She always disdainfully wondered to herself if all upper classes slept half the day. She plonked down the jute bags of shopping – she was one for recycling – and told everyone to get out of her kitchen; which everyone did. You didn’t mess with Cook. If you did, you wouldn’t be fed, and everyone here really appreciated their food and Beatrix Grace even more so.
Lady Winterton returned to her bedroom to rest until lunch, CoCo and Beatrix Grace joined Daisy Elizabeth outside to sun themselves on a sun-lounger. Although Daisy Elizabeth was vegetarian they discussed favoured cuts of meat and how they were to raise the money for the roof repairs. They just weren’t as wealthy as they used to be.
Then they closed their eyes in the beautiful warm sunshine…until a shadow abruptly appeared, blocking out the sun’s rays. It wasn’t a cloud.
“I need to see Lady W.” A gruff voice said, and they all knew without opening their eyes it was Grumpy John – not the postman, but the gardener.
Daisy Elizabeth muttered she may as well stick her head back in her shell because that man always brought the clouds with him.
The others began answering him and then Cook came outside. She sounded irritable. “What do you want John? I’ve got something on the stove…”
“She said would I ask my mate about seeing the roof.”
Cook’s beady dark eyes urged the gardener to continue, why did the man always have to talk so slowly?
“He said he can come at two.”
Cook was well aware of the leaky roof; it had been awfully holey for almost a year now, and was sprouting new holes every day. She was also aware of how tight the monetary budget was these days. Indeed, if she was thankful for anything – it wasn’t her thick legs with the awful arthritis – it was for having this job.
“Yes, alright then,” she answered, wondering where the money to pay for the roof repairs would come from. “but I’m off at six.” All too aware of tradesmen and their ‘reliability’ of time-keeping.
“He’s coming at two I said.” The gardener was gruff, louder as if she was hard of hearing.
“Here till six.” Cook sauntered off back to her hot stove.
At half past six Grumpy John’s mate arrived. A minute later so had Little Lord Oscar Dandelion.
Copyright Faith McCord 2015
Story and artwork belongs to Faith McCord who is the author and artist holding the copyright. This is not a public domain work. Worldwide rights.