Authors: Holly Webb
For Edward and Anna ~ H.W.
For Lucy and James ~ K.P.
“Have you got everything you need to take to Lucy’s house?” Mum came out of the kitchen to see Ellie struggling down the stairs so laden down with bags she looked like a packhorse. “What’s all that? You’re only going for the night!”
“My school bag, my sleeping bag and clothes for tomorrow, that’s all,” Ellie protested. “Um, please will you help me carry it to school?”
“I’ll have to. You haven’t even got your lunch yet!” Mum sighed. “Leave it all here, and come and have breakfast. Lila and Max are halfway through theirs. And where’s Rascal? He hasn’t turned up wanting his breakfast yet.”
Rascal came down the stairs after Ellie. He was still such a small dog that he almost had to jump from step to step, but this morning he didn’t seem to be bouncing down the way he usually did.
Ellie turned round and looked at Rascal anxiously. “I think he’s a bit confused. He doesn’t know why I’ve been packing. Do you think he’ll be all right without me tonight, Mum? I haven’t been on any sleepovers since we got him.”
“It’s only one night. I’m sure he’ll be fine.” Mum lifted Ellie’s rucksack off her shoulder. “Honestly, Ellie, how many outfits have you got in here?” She unzipped it and looked inside. “You don’t need your dressing gown! Or
cardigans. Put those on the stairs, I’ll take them up later. Come on!”
Ellie followed her into the kitchen for breakfast, and Rascal trotted after them. He wolfed down his breakfast and wandered back out into the hallway. But when Ellie, Lila and Max went to put their coats on, he was nowhere to be seen.
“Where is he?” Ellie looked around. Now she thought about it, Rascal hadn’t been sitting at her feet during breakfast,
waiting for her to drop him bits of toast, which was very unusual. She put her lunch box on top of her rucksack, so she could go and check upstairs.
Her rucksack squeaked, and Ellie turned round in surprise. It was wriggling as well. She lifted her lunch box up again, and Rascal poked his head out of the bag, looking cross.
Max shook his head. “I can’t believe he wants to go to school. You can go instead of me, Rascal. I’ve got a French test. It’s not fair! Tests shouldn’t be allowed on Fridays!”
“Oh, Rascal.” Ellie lifted the little Jack Russell out of her rucksack and hugged him. “I’ll see you tomorrow. I’ll be home after lunch. It won’t be that long, honestly.”
She was trying not to sound worried, but it was difficult. What if he really missed her? When they’d first got him, Rascal had made Mum’s life a misery while Ellie was at school, howling and scratching at the doors. Luckily, their dog-training instructor, Jo, had suggested giving him a cardigan of Ellie’s to have in his basket so he wouldn’t miss her, and it had worked. But Rascal still raced to the door to meet Ellie after school, if Mum hadn’t brought him with her to pick Ellie up. And if she went to tea with one of her friends, Lila and Max had told her that
he would sniff them disappointedly, and then go and sulk in his basket till she came home. How was he going to behave now that she was away for a day and a half?
“Ellie, he’ll be fine,” Mum told her firmly. “You worry about him too much. Let’s go.”
Ellie nodded, but as Mum shut the front door, she was sure she could hear Rascal whining sadly.
When Ellie got to school, Christy and Lucy were at the gate waiting for her, looking excited. Sorting Rascal out had made Ellie a bit late, so they hardly had any time to talk about Lucy’s sleepover before school, but as soon as the bell went for break, they dashed
out to grab one of the benches, where they could sit and plan.
“Mum says we can go to the DVD shop on the way home from my dance class,” Lucy told them. She looked anxiously from Ellie to Christy. “You’re sure you don’t mind coming to watch it? It might be a bit boring.”
“Lucy! We’ve said loads of times we don’t mind!” Ellie told her. “It’ll be fun. You were brilliant dancing in the Christmas play, I’d love to watch a class.”
Lucy smiled. “I would have missed it, but I’ve only just started stage dancing.”
“Is it different to ballet?” Christy asked.
“Really different!” Lucy nodded. “It’s a bit of acting, and a bit of dance, and some singing. Last week Miss Louisa, our teacher, said there was going to be something exciting at the next class, but it’s going to be a surprise. Maybe someone’s coming to dance for us. Miss Louisa knows lots of dancers from musicals.”
“What are we going to do tomorrow morning?” Ellie asked.
Lucy smiled. “Well, I’ve got a plan.” She looked hopefully at Ellie and Christy, as though she wanted them to ask her what it was.
Ellie stared at her. “What sort of plan?”
Lucy started to undo her school bag, and Christy pounced, seeing the shiny covers of some magazines poking out. “
magazine! And the new issue of
! Are you going to get a pet?” she asked excitedly. “What are you getting? A dog?”
Lucy shook her head.
“No. We did think about it when we came to the Christmas Fair – we even wondered if we could get one from Paws for Thought. But then we decided it wouldn’t be fair. I’ve got dance classes at the weekend, and we wouldn’t be able to go for really long walks like you two do with Bouncer and Rascal. And I’m still a bit nervous around some dogs, especially big ones. But I would like some sort of pet. I need you two to help me work out what. And then we have to convince my mum! She sort of liked the idea of a dog, but I suggested a pet mouse to her the other day, and she wasn’t happy!”
Ellie nodded thoughtfully. It was a pity that Lucy couldn’t adopt a dog from an
animal shelter like Paws for Thought. The girls had all recently helped out at a Christmas Fair to raise money for the shelter. But it was very exciting that Lucy was getting a pet. Ellie frowned a little, remembering Rascal. She really hoped he was going to be all right without her.