Spotted in Barks and Spencer

Nell: What are you doing downstairs?

Me: I thought I’d make myself a cup of tea.

Nell: You’re doing no such thing. You’re confined to bed until further notice.

Me: That’s harsh.

Nell: It’s for your own good and everyone else’s. Until your test results are back you must remain in isolation.

Me: Does that mean you won’t be visiting me?

Nell: Of course I will. Labradors and the more robust animals will continue to have regular access.

Me: Who isn’t robust, if I may ask?

Nell: Malcolm. He worries.

Me: What about Henry and Horst?

Nell: Henry and Horst? They are some of the most robust creatures I know. They go where they like.

Me: Silly me. Was that your iBone?

Nell: Yes, I’d better take the call. My friend Dorothy the Salcombe Setter is picking up a few items for me from Barks and Spencer. ‘Hello dear. Who? Are you sure?’

Me: What’s happened?

Nell: Dorothy saw Lionel King in the Chilled Foods section buying a sandwich.

Me: Gosh.

Nell: ‘He bought a drink, too, and a packet of crisps? Interesting.’

Me: A meal deal. He might as well.

Nell: That’s not the point.

Me: No.

Nell: ‘Now, listen to me carefully, dear. I’m going to let Beauregard know where Lionel is, but in the meantime you’re going to have to try and keep him there.’

Me: You never call me ‘dear’.

Nell: Quiet. ‘I don’t know how you’re going to do that either, dear. Use your feminine wiles. Toss that glossy red hair of yours. Do whatever you must, until Beauregard arrives. Bye.’

Me: I’m not sure Dorothy is going to be enough to distract a hungry lion. Although she might be if he’s really hungry.

Nell: Stop that right now. I’m calling Beauregard.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Pillow Testing

Me: Where are Dave and Harriet? I haven’t seen them this morning and they usually come upstairs to check on me.

Nell: David and Harriet are downstairs in the living room Pillow Testing with Kev.

Me: Did you say Pillow Testing?

Nell: Yes. David is particularly involved in the research. He has extremely sensitive paws for a large animal and a delicate touch.

Me: Does he? I hadn’t noticed.

Nell: Yes. Finding the right pillow is a complicated process. They need to be soft to the touch but with the right amount of bounce.

Me: I know what you mean but why do we need new pillows?

Nell: We don’t need them. You do.

Me: I do?

Nell: Yes. You’ve been coughing all night and it simply cannot continue.

Me: I can’t help it, Nell. It’s this awful cold. There’s nothing I can do.

Nell: We know that. You need greater support. But don’t worry because the right pillows are going to help you.

Me: Are they?

Nell: Yes. Harriet and Kev are squashing them right now.

Me: Squashing them?

Nell: Yes. They are far too hard at first. You don’t know a lot about pillows, do you?

Me: Not as much as you.

Nell: David is gently poking them to check for consistency. There’s nothing worse than a lumpy pillow.

Me: Well, I’m impressed. I do have one question though.

Nell: Yes.

Me: Aren’t the pillows going to be awfully hairy after all that squashing?

Nell: Hair can be hoovered you know.

Me: Yes, but it’s quite a nuisance.

Nell: Nothing is too much trouble when one is in the pursuit of an ideal pillow. We dogs are experts.

Me: You don’t have to do the hoovering though.

Nell: We can’t do everything.

Me: No. I suppose not. Sorry.


Nell is Home

Me: Oh, Nell, you’re home.

Nell: Of course I am.

Me: I woke up this morning and there you were next to my bed.

Nell: As soon as I heard you were unwell I said to Rupert, ‘I don’t care if they’ve caught that wretched lion or not, I’m going home. She needs me.’

Me: I’ve missed you terribly.

Nell: Now, with a cold and a cough it’s essential to keep up your liquid intake.

Me: Yes.

Nell: And nothing beats lemon and honey tea.

Me: Ok.

Nell: Poppy is also preparing some chicken soup for lunch.

Me: It isn’t really soup weather.

Nell: I don’t care, soup is what you’re having.

Me: What about ice cream?

Nell: We’ll see.

Me: What’s the news on Lionel?

Nell: They thought they spotted him on Dartmoor but it turned out to be a lynx.

Me: A lynx? What on earth was it doing on Dartmoor?

Nell: Hiking with the family. Beauregard said it wasn’t best pleased.

Me: It wouldn’t be. I expect it ruined its holiday.

Nell: Yes. Nobody wants to be pounced on by a tiger half way up Haytor.

Me: They certainly don’t. I wonder where Lionel is.

Nell: There have been several sightings. Sailing at Salcombe. Surfing at Bantham. The usual things. Beauregard will find him eventually.

Me: I hope he doesn’t turn up here.

Nell: He wouldn’t dare. Everyone is armed to the teeth.

Me: With swords?

Nell: No. That’s just Poppy. The others have wooden spoons and water pistols.

Me: Is that enough?

Nell: A hard tap on the muzzle will deter most lions and they hate getting their manes wet.

Me: I never knew that.

Nell: Why would you? Now, drink your lemon and honey and stop worrying about lions. I’m here now.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Time to come home

Me: When is Knitwear Wolf bringing you back? Poppy and the puppies came home last night.

Nell: As soon as Beauregard has found Lionel. Rupert thinks I am at risk until then and best staying here.

Me: The puppies won’t leave the window, apart from the odd bacon sandwich, and even Poppy is worried.

Nell: It won’t be long. There’s been a sighting of Lionel on Dartmoor so everyone has gone up there.

Me: Even Knitwear Wolf? You aren’t alone in that little house are you? Because I could come there right now.

Nell: No. Rupert is here and by the sounds of it so are the Welsh corgi choir.

Me: What do you mean?

Nell: They just passed by on a boat singing their hearts out.

Me: Bless them.

Nell: I can’t believe Lionel King had me fooled. It’s not like me to be taken in by a luxurious mane and smooth talking.

Me: You do have a weakness for a handsome animal, Nell. Admit it.

Nell: I beg your pardon?

Me: Charlie was extremely dashing and Rupert is a bit of a looker.

Nell: A bit of a looker?

Me: Well, he is.

Nell: I agree that Rupert is a most dignified and reassuring kind of wolf but he and I are just friends, I can assure you.

Me: Whatever you say, Mistress Nelly.

Nell: Enough.

Me: You have to be here for Sunday lunch, Nell. Poppy is cooking Roast Beef with all the trimmings including her famous Yorkshire Puddings.

Nell: Tempting as that is I shall be governed by Rupert and Sally’s advice.

Me: Let’s hope we hear something soon then. I don’t want to be without you for a moment longer.

Nell: You are never without me. Wherever we are. You know that.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


An Undisclosed Location

Me: Oh Nell, are you safe?

Nell: Yes, I’m at an undisclosed location.

Me: Are you in the little house on the river?

Nell: I just said undisclosed. Good grief.

Me: But I know where that is, Nell. Let me come and get you.

Nell: No. Rupert wants us to lie low for a little longer. Lionel is on the run.

Me: The villain.

Nell: Don’t worry Beauregard is on his trail.

Me: Good for him.

Nell: He has Lionel’s scent. He’ll track him down. Sally and her team are his back up.

Me: What happened?

Nell: Rupert and the pirate ship arrived alongside.

Me: Did you pretend to be scared?

Nell: I was scared to be honest, although seeing Harriet waving secretly from the ship helped.

Me: What about Poppy?

Nell: She drew her sword and said ‘Let the wolf on board.’

Me: It wasn’t her decision to make.

Nell: She gets carried away. Anyway, Rupert jumped on to the deck and said, ‘Well, Mistress Nelly, we meet again.‘

Me: How romantic.

Nell: I was haughty and distant of course.

Me: You’re good at that.

Nell: He demanded to see the jewels and when Lionel went below to get them he swept me up in his arms.

Me: And carried you over to his ship?

Nell: Yes. David leapt across with Poppy and Henry. He had to wear my hat, but he didn’t mind.

Me: Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: Lionel roared in fury and the Beefies started throwing mackerel.

Me: The hooligans.

Nell: They were no match for SLOP but during the kerfuffle Lionel jumped overboard and swam away.

Me: Oh no.

Nell: He was spotted near the river but he won’t get far. Beauregard will find him. The main thing is we’re safe.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Rupert to the Rescue

Nell: Is that a pirate ship?

Me: I don’t know, Nell, I’m at home.

Nell: It is and I think I saw Princess in a pirate’s hat earlier playing Cheeky Animals.

Me: Interesting.

Nell: Maybe I’m hallucinating. It’s rather hot.

Me: Have you checked WoofsApp lately?

Nell: No. I have other things on my mind at the moment.

Me: Have a look.

Nell: Oh. There’s a photo of Rupert in a hat.

Me: Is it knitted?

Nell: No.

Me: Does it suit him?

Nell: Yes. But that’s not the point.

Me: Is it a bit piratey?

Nell: There’s no such word.

Me: Is it though?

Nell: Yes, and there’s a message.

Me: What does it say?

Nell: ‘I’m coming to get you.’

Me: There you are then.

Nell: What do you mean?

Me: All’s well. Knitwear Wolf is on his way.

Nell: But Rupert isn’t a pirate.

Me: He is now.

Nell: Are you telling me that Rupert has turned bad?

Me: No, He’s pretending he wants the jewels when really he wants you.

Nell: I beg your pardon?

Me: I mean he wants to rescue you.

Nell: And Princess? I thought she was with SLOP.

Me: You mean the Sea Lion Ocean Pirates?

Nell: So they’re on board, too?

Me: No. They’re in the sea. Now, make sure you all look deeply shocked when Rupert’s ship arrives.

Nell: Even Poppy?

Me: Poppy can be shocked and annoyed but no sword fighting.

Nell: Not even with Lionel?

Me: Only when it’s safe to do so. Remember you had no idea that Rupert was a pirate.

Nell: Neither did he until you came up with the idea.

Me: How did you know it was me?

Nell: Only you would think of a story like this.

Me: You know me well. Sorry.


Dave makes a mistake

Nell: You’re not going to believe this.

Me: Does it have something to do with Dave?

Nell: If the Royal Owl Force were going to lower someone down from a helicopter why on earth did they choose David?

Me: He volunteered, Nell. Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy. He thought Lionel might succumb to his winning ways.

Nell: Well, he didn’t.

Me: He seems awfully tired, Nell. Maybe it’s the excitement of being on an enemy boat on the high seas.

Nell: It’s a fishing boat off the Devon coast and he’s asleep because he’s drugged.

Me: Drugged? That horrible lion.

Nell: It wasn’t Lionel King. It was Poppy.

Me: Poppy? Why would she do such a thing?

Nell: Strictly speaking she didn’t.

Me: What happened?

Nell: To cut a long story short. Henry found some sleeping pills in my hat.

Me: Your hat?

Nell: Yes. Sally had hidden them there just in case. As soon as Poppy saw them she knew what to do.

Me: Drug Dave?

Nell: Don’t be ridiculous. David wasn’t even there at that time. May I continue?

Me: Please do.

Nell: Poppy told Lionel that she was prepared to make him some scones so he took her down to the kitchen.

Me: I see where this is going.

Nell: She ground down the pills and added them to the scone mixture.

Me: Clever.

Nell: Fortunately Lionel was distracted by the arrival of David.

Me: It’s not every day a giant Labrador is lowered from the sky.

Nell: Anyway, once the scones were ready Poppy brought them up on a plate.

Me: Good for her.

Nell: You can guess what happened next.

Me: Oh no.

Nell: Yes. Another meal David ate by mistake.

Me: Do you think Lionel suspects anything?

Nell: Of course he does.

Me: Sorry.


Whose idea was that?

Nell: Whose idea was it to put Poppy in my handbag?

Me: It was supposed to be Gladys.

Nell: Good grief.

Me: I’m guessing Poppy didn’t stay in there.

Nell: Not even for a moment. She jumped out immediately the handbag landed.

Me: Was she hurt?

Nell: No. She started waving her sword around and issuing threats. She was wearing boots.

Me: What did Lionel do?

Nell: He wasn’t very pleased. We’re both tied up on deck.

Me: What about the hat?

Nell: I’m wearing it. Fortunately Henry was attached securely or he would have been lost at sea.

Me: Did you see the iBone charger?

Nell: Yes, while Lionel was distracted.

Me: And the scones?

Nell: Who sends scones?

Me: Poppy insisted. In fact that’s probably how she got into the handbag.

Nell: Well, Lionel has eaten them all.

Me: How rude.

Nell: Actually he’s asked Poppy to make some more. There’s a kitchen down below.

Me: Will she?

Nell: She said she’ll think about it. Now, did I see Princess with the sea lions?

Me: You might have done.

Nell: And the kite surfer looked remarkably like David.

Me: He loves surfing.

Nell: I sincerely hope the tiger who swam past us with an opossum on his head was Beauregard.

Me: As soon as PC Panda let him go he fetched Oliver from the hotel and jumped into the sea.

Nell: It’s good to know you’re all out there.

Me: I’m still at home, Nell. Sally wouldn’t let me join the Land, Sea and Sky Rescue teams.

Nell: Thank goodness for that. All I need now is you parachuting in wearing your all encasing hat.

Me: You would be pleased to see me though, wouldn’t you?

Nell: I’ve got quite enough to deal with. Thank you.

Me: Sorry.


A Handbag and a Hat

Nell: You were right. Lionel King is not a nice lion. He wants me to go to the South of France.

Me: Are you back on the boat?

Nell: Yes.

Me: Sally says to pretend you’re going with him.

Nell: I am. I don’t have any choice.

Me: And say you can’t travel to France without your handbag and a hat.

Nell: He’s not going to let me go back to the hotel to choose one, you know.

Me: Tell him you need to Book a Beefy.

Nell: Are you insane? I’m not going to trust my handbag to a Beefy and Lionel doesn’t know I have my iBone with me.

Me: Ask to use his. Terry is standing by with your handbag and hat. As soon as you pretend to phone him he will fly them in.

Nell: Why do I need a hat?

Me: Because Henry will hide on it. If you lose a signal Henry can still contact Horst using Louse Code.

Nell: I see. There are an awful lot of Beefies gathering around the boat, by the way, and I can still hear roaring.

Me: Yes. Sally wants you to know the roaring is nothing to worry about. SLOP are monitoring the island.

Nell: You mean the Sea Lion Ocean Patrol is here?

Me: Yes. They’ve been there for a while.

Nell: Somebody could have told us.

Me: Sally said it all had to stay hush hush.

Nell: At least I know they are out there.

Me: Yes. Just go and tell Lionel you need to Book a Beefy now and I will let Terry know.

Nell: I hope you didn’t choose the hat. It needs to be stylish. If I’m going to the South of France I had better look the part.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Monday Revelations

Nell: So, how are you? Bit down after yesterday’s defeat?

Me: Never mind the football. Where are you?

Nell: I’m on a beach near the island. I had no signal. Why?

Me: We’re all so worried.

Nell: There’s no need. I’m with Lionel. He invited me out on his boat.

Me: His boat?

Nell: Yes, it’s a fishing boat. Not what I expected at all. We’ve stopped to pick up a few more crates but we should be back soon.

Me: Listen to me, Nell. You need to come home right now.

Nell: Don’t be silly. We haven’t caught the Masked Thief yet. He never turned up to meet Jacques D’Or yesterday. I blame Lionel.

Me: Why?

Nell: He arrived to interview the guests about Beauregard. He even talked to Jacques D’Or. I never realised he could speak French. Apparently, he has a villa in the South of France.

Me: Really?

Nell: Yes, he wants to take me there. Anyway, I think Jacques became suspicious because he left. Lionel still has an air of authority even when he’s in casual clothes, although the medallion was a bit much.

Me: Medallion?

Nell: Yes. I must say it wasn’t what I was expecting either. More tiger than lion.

Me: Exactly.

Nell: Are you saying the medallion is Beauregard’s?

Me: Oh Nell. Sally’s been trying to reach you all morning. It turns out that Oliver speaks French too.

Nell: What’s that got to do with anything?

Me: He overheard Lionel King talking to Jacques D’Or. They startled him so he played dead.

Nell: And?

Me: They were arranging the jewellery delivery.

Nell: Do you mean what I think you do?

Me: Yes. Lionel is the Masked Thief.

Nell: And you think he’s planning on taking me with him to France?

Me: Yes. Sorry.