A Sneak Preview of “One Young Fool in Dorset”

One Young Fool in Dorset is finished! My latest baby is in the hands of my trusted editors and advance readers, and Nick Saltmer has created a beautiful cover. It will be launched 12th June 2015, but is already available for pre-order on Amazon.

And yes, that is a rabbit on a leash on the cover…

Here’s a little excerpt:

One Young Fool in Dorset

“Can I help you, love?” asked the lady behind the pet shop counter.

“I’d like a collar and lead, please,” I said.

“What size would you like? What breed of dog?”

“Um, it’s not exactly a dog.”

“Not a dog? Oh, you’d like a ferret harness?”

“No, a collar and lead, please. For a rabbit.”

“Sorry, speak up, love, did you say a rabbit?”

“Yes, please.”

“Well, if you’re sure… What colour would you like?”

“Red, please.”

I ended up with a cat collar, complete with a bell, and a lead attached. I can’t tell you how many times I drew that collar and lead out of the paper bag and admired them. Everything was ready and I thought I might burst with excitement.

At last came the day when my father arrived home with a cardboard box. Something was scrabbling around in it, something with claws.

“Ach, open it,” said my mother.

I lifted the flaps, and there, pressed into a corner was a white ball of fluff, a baby rabbit.

“Ohhhh…” I exhaled, already in love with the little thing. I reached into the box and lifted her out, admiring her pink floppy ears and deep red eyes.

“What are you going to call her?”

“Twinkletoes.”

“Not Snowy, like you said?”

“Well, her long name is Princess Snowy Twinkletoes the First.”

“Well, take Princess Snowy Twinkletoes to her new enclosure, see if she likes it.”

Princess Snowy did like it. She particularly liked the honeysuckle plants my mother had painstakingly planted. She didn’t eat them, she just hopped along the row snipping them off at ground level with her razor teeth, ensuring they would never grow again. My mother was furious.

“I wouldn’t mind so much if she ate them!” she fumed.

“She’s just a baby,” I said protectively. “She’s probably teething.”

But my mother never succeeded in growing honeysuckle around Princess Snowy’s enclosure, and Snowy thrived. She grew bigger, and bigger. Soon she was big enough to wear the collar and lead, and she came everywhere with me. It took a long time to go anywhere because she would hop this way and that, nibbling grass. People would stare at us, but I didn’t care.

My rabbit was constantly hungry and soon grew to be a very large rabbit. And she developed a kick like a kangaroo. If she didn’t want to be cuddled, which was all the time, a well-aimed kick in my stomach took all my breath away.

“I don’t know why she’s so unfriendly,” I complained.

“Ach, perhaps she needs rabbit company,” said my mother. “We’ll take her over to the Hale’s house today. I know the girls have a nice girl rabbit. Perhaps they’ll be friends and it’ll be nice for them both.”

Princess Snowy Twinkletoes the First was on her leash and I led the way to the rabbit run where Heather Hale’s Miss Bunny sat on her hind legs daintily washing her face. Princess Snowy suddenly saw Miss Bunny and stood stock still, staring, her nose twitching. She tensed, and made a beeline for Miss Bunny, bounding so fast that I had to run to keep up. The signs were good; it looked as though Princess Snowy was keen to play.

Miss Bunny hopped to the front of her run and stood on her back legs, nose whiffling, front paws on the wire. Miss Bunny was much smaller than Snowy, but definitely interested in her new playmate. Princess Snowy was almost rigid with excitement as they touched noses through the wire mesh.

“Look!” I said, clasping my hands under my chin in delight. “Look how excited Snowy is, she can’t wait to go in and play with Miss Bunny.”

“I think they are going to be best friends,” said Mrs Hale, smiling.

“Ach, put Snowy into the run and we can watch them play,” said my mother.

Did we say play?

Wrong word, wrong description.

The instant that Princess Snowy’s fluffy feet hit the ground, she was galloping after Miss Bunny. Miss Bunny, a rather alarmed expression on her face, lolloped away from her pursuer. But Princess Snowy was on a mission and soon caught up. Miss Bunny froze as Snowy gripped her round the midriff, and pumped.

My mouth dropped open.

“Oh!” said Mrs Hale.

“Golly!” said Heather.

“Ach,” said my mother.

“Oh look,” I said, “Princess Snowy Twinkletoes and Miss Bunny are playing a lovely game together!”

“Hmm…” said my mother.

“Oh, look, they’re playing that game again!” I said, as Miss Bunny broke free, chased by Snowy Twinkletoes.

“I think we may have misunderstood Princess Snowy Twinkletoes,” said Mrs Hale grimly.

“Ach, I’m terribly sorry…” said my mother as Snowy climbed aboard Miss Bunny again. And again. And again.

One Young Fool in Dorset is available from

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.ca

Amazon.es

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