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The Plan

Nell: Why are you calling me so late? I’m watching University Challenge.

Me: I wanted to run through tomorrow’s plan to save the cubs again.

Nell: Lionel King has a meeting on the mainland so he will be off the island all morning.

Me: Who with?

Nell: You mean with whom and that’s not the point.

Me: No.

Nell: The cubs will be in the Agatha Christie suite guarded by rooks. You and David will go there and ask to be let in.

Me: What if they refuse?

Nell: You insist. You’re a famous author. You need to see where Agatha stayed.

Me: So I am famous?

Nell: This is just the role you are playing.

Me: Oh yes.

Nell: Once inside, David will distract the rooks with his singing while you find the cubs and smuggle them out under your cloak.

Me: I don’t have a cloak.

Nell: Yes, you do. Check in the wardrobe. The Cat sent one over.

Me: I forgot. Are you sure I can fit a tiger and a lion under it?

Nell: No, but you’ll have to find a way. Once you are out you must run to the top of the hill next to the ruins and leave the cubs there.

Me: Would a brisk walk do? I’m not much good at running.

Nell: Good grief.

Me: I don’t like the thought of leaving them there alone. It’s ever so cold at the moment and they are only babies.

Nell: They won’t be alone for long. Poppy will fly in with her helicopter and rescue them.

Me: What about me and Dave?

Nell: You have to pretend to help the rooks search for them.

Me: Can’t we go in the helicopter too?

Nell: You need to give Poppy time.

Me: Of course. Sorry.

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Good News and Bad News

Nell: So, how was the soirée?

Me: I’ve got good news and bad news.

Nell: Go on.

Me: The good news is that Dave was a huge hit with the rooks.

Nell: Any particular reason why?

Me: They enjoyed the singing but it was mainly down to the pie.

Nell: Before we get to the pie, would you like to explain the singing, please? Only, I seem to remember you were asked to be discreet.

Me: I was ever so discreet. I just sat and knitted.

Nell: You don’t knit.

Me: I know but Miss Marple does so I thought it might be a good idea.

Nell: Good grief. Just tell me about the pie.

Me: Well, for someone unknown reason there was a Victorian theme going on.

Nell: I’m beginning to regret asking this.

Me: And the hotel decided to serve the old favourite of four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie.

Nell: Don’t tell me David ate the blackbirds?

Me: No. He bit into the pie and released them all to tumultuous applause.

Nell: Especially from the blackbirds, I expect.

Me: Yes. They were only sitting in the pie but it was ever so cramped.

Nell: Dare I ask what the bad news is?

Me: I’m afraid we didn’t manage to take any photos in the ballroom. Only one of Dave in the garden, but it’s a good one.

Nell: Was Lionel King there?

Me: Yes, alone though. No sign of Roary or Tigerlily.

Nell: That’s where you are wrong. Sally’s plan worked. While you and David were acting as decoys Sally’s team managed to locate them.

Me: Where are they?

Nell: In the Agatha Christie suite and you are going to help us save them.

Me: I am?

Nell: You can do this.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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An Invitation

Me: You look awfully worried. Has something happened?

Nell: Why haven’t you been answering your iBone? I’ve been trying to get hold of you for ages.

Me: Have you? I didn’t realise. Why?

Nell: The last I heard someone was knocking at your door.

Me: I must have accidentally put it on silent.

Nell: Did you open the door?

Me: Yes.

Nell: Was it room service?

Me: No. It was a rather stylish French rook with an envelope in its beak.

Nell: Did it say anything?

Me: No. It just dropped the envelope, bowed and left.

Nell: How do you know it was French then?

Me: It was wearing a beret and a little red scarf around its neck.

Nell: I see. That makes sense. What was in the envelope?

Me: Well, that’s the exciting part. Dave and I have been invited to a party.

Nell: A party?

Me: Yes, this evening. It’s black so I’m not sure what I’m going to wear.

Nell: Don’t you mean black tie? You can wear your best dress.

Me: No. Just black. Dave has his top hat and fur coat but what about me? Maybe The Cat can send something over?

Nell: What does the invitation say?

Me: ‘NOIR cordially invites Sara and David Martin to a special soirée in the ballroom at 7pm on Tuesday, 18th January, 2022. Dress: Black.

Nell: NOIR?

Me: Yes, it means black in French.

Nell: It also means the Notorious Organisation of International Rooks.

Me: Oh yes. I’d forgotten.

Nell: You and David are going to have to be very careful not to arouse suspicion, but take as many photos as you can.

Me: Where are Henry and Horst going to go? I can’t wear my hat.

Nell: David has his top hat.

Me: Oh yes. Sorry.

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Monday Updates

Me: You sound tired.

Nell: I’m just resting my eyes. Poppy is here. I’ve got you on speaker.

Me: We’ve checked in to the hotel.

Nell: Any problems?

Me: Not really.

Nell: What does that mean?

Me: I may have had a slight disagreement with a rather rude man on reception.

Nell: Oh dear.

Me: He said, ‘ When you mentioned you were bringing your dog I wasn’t expecting it to be quite so large.‘

Nell: That’s unforgivably rude. Calling David ‘large’ and ‘it.’

Me: I said, ‘You don’t seem to mind lions and tiger cubs so I don’t see why a large Labrador should bother you.’

Nell: You said ‘tiger cubs’?

Me: Yes. He looked ever so shifty and mumbled about upgrading me which goes to prove Tigerlily is definitely here.

Nell: Sally told you to be discreet.

Me: Anyway, we now have a luxury suite with plenty of room and a lovely view of our beach. You’ll have to let me know when you’re going down there next and we can wave to you from the balcony.

Nell: May I remind you that you are not on holiday. You are on a mission.

Me: Yes, but I have to get into my role. Famous author and her trusty four legged companion. The hotel has a history of accommodating authors you know.

Nell: You aren’t famous.

Me: They don’t know that.

Nell: We need you to make a thorough tour of the hotel and grounds. Take photos if you can but don’t be too obvious.

Me: Don’t worry I shall wear a hat.

Nell: Just try not to draw attention to yourselves, please.

Me: Oh, there’s someone knocking at the door. Must be room service. Funny, I haven’t ordered anything.

Nell: Don’t open the door.

Me: Got to go. Sorry.

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We need your help

Nell: Sally has decided to give you an important task.

Me: How exciting.

Nell: You’re going to have to remain Calm and Unflappable.

Me: I can do that.

Nell: Have you heard of Growltiger?

Me: Possibly.

Nell: He’s been in the top ten of the Animal Charts for decades.

Me: I’m not sure I know the Animal Charts.

Nell: You do. David and his band Driftwood Bark managed to get into the top 40 with ‘Bacon on the Beach’. Remember?

Me: Oh yes. Is Growltiger performing at Sunday Songs?

Nell: No. Growltiger performs in stadiums, not a muddy field with the Welsh corgi choir.

Me: Glastonbury is muddy.

Nell: Growltiger is Beauregard’s brother and he has a daughter called Tigerlily.

Me: Ok.

Nell: Tigerlily recently went missing.

Me: Like Roary?

Nell: Beauregard connected the two when the parcel arrived.

Me: What was in it?

Nell: Pelage.

Me: Why are you speaking French?

Nell: It means fur coat.

Me: It is rather cold.

Nell: It contained clippings of tiger fur.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: And a note.

Me: What did it say?

Nell: ‘Missing someone?’

Me: Is it Tigerlily’s fur?

Nell: Beauregard is sure of it.

Me: What a coincidence. Two cubs going missing at the same time.

Nell: It’s no coincidence.

Me: Is Lionel King is behind this?

Nell: Yes, and you’re going to prove it.

Me: I am?

Nell: A crate was taken to the hotel by sea tractor a few days ago surrounded by rooks.

Me: And you think Tigerlily was in the crate?

Nell: Yes, that’s why we’ve booked you a room. Henry and Horst are going with you, so you won’t be alone.

Me: Couldn’t I take Knitwear Wolf, or Dave?

Nell: Sally might agree to David. You can do this you know.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Monitoring Deliveries

Me: Are you and Dave waiting for someone?

Nell: There has been a worrying development so David and I are monitoring all deliveries.

Me: You’re not going to see much from back there on the sofa.

Nell: I am being guided by David. If he gives a Warning Bark I will join him immediately.

Me: Immediately is a bit of an exaggeration, Nell. Nowadays it takes you quite a time to get off the sofa.

Nell: I will join in him in my own good time then. Arthritis isn’t much good for spontaneity.

Me: Tell me about it.

Nell: I just did.

Me: Never mind.

Nell: Have you eaten your morning cereal yet?

Me: Yes, although I was hoping for a bacon sandwich as it’s Saturday.

Nell: Poppy has other priorities today. The troops are gathering and picnics need to be made. Armies march on their stomachs.

Me: What troops?

Nell: The general kind. Knitwear Wolf and Sally say we have to be prepared.

Me: For war? What on earth happened?

Nell: Beauregard received a very upsetting parcel.

Me: In the post?

Nell: No. Hanging on a lobster’s claw. Somebody tied it to the treehouse.

Me: Was it alive?

Nell: No. It was just the claw.

Me: How shocking.

Nell: Oliver says Beauregard turned white when he saw what was inside.

Me: Can tigers turn white?

Nell: You know what I mean. His stripes faded.

Me: What happened then?

Nell: Beauregard was absolutely furious and his stripes came back with a vengeance.

Me: Good for him. Go tiger!

Nell: He sprang out of the treehouse and shouted up at the sky, ‘This is war!’

Me: Well, I’m signing up.

Nell: Don’t be ridiculous. You don’t even know what’s happened and besides, you’re a writer not a fighter.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Gathering Evidence or Enjoying the Beach?

Me: How was your visit to the beach?

Nell: Extremely interesting, thank you very much.

Me: I noticed you took an awful lot of photos.

Nell: We did. Have you examined the evidence?

Me: What evidence?

Nell: Gulls were Gathering. Things were on the move.

Me: Yes, until Harriet chased them away.

Nell: And there was a suspiciously copious amount of seaweed all over the beach.

Me: Which you and Dave seemed to find absolutely fascinating.

Nell: We were looking for clues.

Me: It seemed to me that you were all having tremendous fun. Apart from Poppy who tried to eat her lead.

Nell: She doesn’t like to be restrained. Poppy is a free spirit. She can’t stand being tethered.

Me: This may sound silly but what kind of clues were you actually expecting to find?

Nell: I beg your pardon?

Me: When you all said you needed to get down to the beach urgently.

Nell: One has to move fast in times of crisis.

Me: Was it actually because you fancied a walk on the beach and a quick swim?

Nell: How dare you suggest such a thing. Gathering evidence is an essential part of the process.

Me: What process and evidence of what? We know Roary and Lionel are at the Burgh Island Hotel and we know the Beefies are guarding the beaches.

Nell: That’s where you are wrong. Take another look at the photos.

Me: Harriet is simply having tremendous fun chasing Beefies.

Nell: Those aren’t Beefies.

Me: They aren’t?

Nell: No. They are gulls. Much smaller than Beefies and low ranking.

Me: So, where were the Beefies?

Nell: Exactly. And who is in the sea tractor heading towards the island?

Me: What sea tractor?

Nell: Just examine the evidence properly next time, please.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Kev Time

Nell: Have you seen David? Sally is looking for him.

Me: He’s in the yellow chair having cuddles with Kev.

Nell: This isn’t the time for cuddles. We have work to do.

Me: Just let him enjoy his Kev Time. Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: We’d all like more Kev Time but there’s a baby lion out there who needs his mother.

Me: You’re right. What’s the latest?

Nell: Mrs King is considering taking legal action to force Lionel to return Roary.

Me: Can she do that?

Nell: Yes. She was granted full custody in the divorce so he has no right to do this.

Me: I didn’t know the separation was official.

Nell: It is. She’s already been in contact with her solicitor.

Me: A legal eagle?

Nell: No, a turtle.

Me: A turtle?

Nell: Do you have a problem with that?

Me: Not at all but won’t it take time?

Nell: Possibly and the worry is that Lionel might decide to take Roary out of the country.

Me: So, Lionel and Roary are still staying at the Burgh Island Hotel?

Nell: They are. Princess and Our Penguin swam over this morning and filmed Roary playing in the gardens so Mrs King could see he was fine.

Me: That was thoughtful of them. Did Our Penguin climb up to the hotel? He can’t have filmed it from the sea.

Nell: Of course not. Haven’t you seen his little feet? He used a drone. Do keep up.

Me: Well, I’m glad Roary is not distressed.

Nell: Mrs King was extremely relieved too. Owl Pacino and the Royal Owl Force are going to fly over later just to check on Roary and let Lionel know he is being monitored.

Me: Is that wise?

Nell: They are owls.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

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Lions and Tigers

Me: You’re looking at me in a particular way. Have I done something wrong?

Nell: I’m trying to decide if you’re to be trusted. There are things I wouldn’t mind discussing with you.

Me: I definitely am. Especially if it’s about Mrs King and Beauregard. I love a good romance.

Nell: This isn’t one of your stories, you know. This is real life. A lioness doesn’t just fall in love with a tiger.

Me: Beauregard isn’t any old tiger. He’s awfully handsome and ever so charming.

Nell: Mrs King was a married lion at the time.

Me: Married to a nasty lion.

Nell: Lionel King wasn’t nasty when she first met him.

Me: What happened?

Nell: He got involved with the wrong crowd.

Me: Beefies?

Nell: No. Rooks.

Me: Oh dear. A whole parliament?

Nell: Why bring politics into it?

Me: No, it’s what you call a group of rooks.

Nell: Anyway, he started playing poker and soon he owed the rooks a large amount of money.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: Mrs King says Lionel began to change for the worse. She hardly recognised the lion she had married.

Me: How sad.

Nell: Little Roary was born but Lionel had no time for him. He was now working full time for the rooks.

Me: Stealing and cheating?

Nell: Exactly. It was during a poker game at their house that Mrs King first met Beauregard.

Me: Was he a baddie too?

Nell: No. He had retired as an international jewel thief and was now working undercover.

Me: Of course. Silly me.

Nell: When their eyes met she said it was like coming home. She just knew he was the one and so did he.

Me: You do, don’t you?

Nell: Yes. It was the same for me and Charlie.

Me: Sorry.

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Sharing a Bed and Taking Tea.

Me: Why are Poppy and Dave sharing a bed when you have a whole sofa and an excess of cushions to yourself?

Nell: Poppy had her hair cut and David felt she needed him to keep her warm.

Me: I’m not sure she agrees, judging by her face.

Nell: Now, Mrs King is taking tea with me later in the drawing room so we’ll need some space.

Me: We don’t have a drawing room.

Nell: Drawing room, living room, they’re the same thing.

Me: If we had a drawing room it would be for Timothy so he doesn’t have to paint in the kitchen.

Nell: Is Timothy back from retreat?

Me: He flew in just now.

Nell: Nonsense. We both know turkeys only fly very short distances and Timothy has been abroad.

Me: Knitwear Wolf collected him from the station on his motorbike. Malcolm went with him in the sidecar.

Nell: I hope there was enough room for Timothy.

Me: Princess goes in it all the time and she’s a seal so there’s definitely room for a turkey and a flamingo.

Nell: Feathers take up more room than you think and Malcolm has long legs.

Me: Long spindly legs which he can tuck away.

Nell: I suppose so.

Me: What are you going to discuss with Mrs King?

Nell: Never you mind.

Me: I bet you want to know all about her romantic affair with Beauregard.

Nell: Mrs King’s personal life is none of my business.

Me: That’s not the impression I got when you were gossiping with your friend Dorothy just now on your iBone.

Nell: I was merely bringing Dorothy up to date. She’s most concerned about Roary. Eavesdropping is a most unattractive trait, by the way, and you should be thoroughly ashamed of yourself.

Me: Yes. Sorry.