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The day Miranda got her new puppy

“But we want THIS puppy” cried Miranda, the loudest of the urchins, stomping her foot to add to her opinion.

“But children, a puppy like this will become too expensive to keep” said the manager of the animal refuge. “I know because I have seen puppies just like him come back when their owners have realised the big mistake they made”.

“Just look at his paws for a start” he said, directing their attention to the disproportionate feet on the pup.

“Even though this might look like a little puppy, and you had originally decided you wanted to have a smaller dog, this puppy is going to grow and grow and grow, and before you know it you won’t be able to afford to keep it”.

Miranda was not going to hear another word, and to make her point she slammed down her fist on the desk, striking it as if with a gavel, and announced “I have told all of my friends that I am going to get a dog JUST like this one. If I show up with one that is ‘practical’ and ‘affordable’ they are going to laugh at me. They voted me as their leader because I was going to have a dog JUST like this one.”

“But Miranda” piped up one of the less timid of the children “everybody has told us that we can’t afford a dog like this”.

“All we originally wanted was just a dog we could enjoy to replace the lovely old dog we had. And now you want a designer dog with a designer collar, that requires clipping every couple of months and will have an appetite the size of a bear”.

“Where are we going to get the extra money to pay for all that?” he added, trying to coerce at least one of the other children to back him up.

For a minute or so Miranda appeared to ignore him. Looking at first confused she turned to seek the reassurance of Mrs Balourd, the phlegmatic principle of the orphanage, and, on receiving a nod, she turned lightning fast and responded “the donors of the orphanage will pay for it”.

“Every year they give us money to keep our building satisfactory, they pay for the fuel and tyres for our bus and they pay for our food and lodging. They even buy us clothes and pay for our school books”.

“We can just tell them that we need more. They won’t care, they have lots of money… and they trust us”, Miranda added.

“Mrs Balourd will make a report that will convince them we need more money” the girl expanded, as if this comment would seal the deal.

“But what if they don’t want to pay?” asked the skinny young boy who was often game enough to call out Miranda while the others remained silent. “What if they become suspicious? What then? How will you afford to feed a puppy that this man says will grow into a beast?”

Mrs Balourd looked first at Miranda and then at some imaginary item on the floor, giving her time to think, and with a wry smile looked up and said “we will sell some of our things if we need to” adding “there is much we can consider “surplus to use”.

“If Miranda wants this puppy, then so be it. Even if the donors object it doesn’t matter”.

The outburst was not at all surprising to the children who knew that Miranda and Mrs Bolourd shared a bond. Miranda had become the favoured one over the scrawny young lad who used to “rule the roost” before the new favourite arrived. The boy had been too smart for his own good and it was Mrs Bolourd who ensured that he now took second fiddle.

Miranda was now her girl. And with that control came the power to manipulate all of the children; with the exception of just two, who could be managed, if not ignored.

And with that the decision now final, despite the squeaky protestations and the sage advice of the refuge manager, Miranda, the children and the phlegmatic Mrs Bolourd boarded their bus with the new puppy in tow, knowing fully well that while the future might reveal they were wrong in their choice, at the end of the day the opinions of donors, supporters and the rest of town didn’t amount to a can of beans.

By Lei

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