Runaway retriever, p.11
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       Runaway Retriever, p.11

           Tui T. Sutherland
 
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  “Julianne thought you’d be happy about that,” Dad said, smiling. “It was her idea. She says that you’ve been working really hard to take care of Merlin and be responsible for him. It’s a lot to ask of an eleven-year-old. I want you to know we’re here to help you.”

  I sat down again and thought about all the people who had helped me with Merlin. Troy and Danny and Eric, of course. And Kristal and Skye. Camellia. Dad and Julianne. Alicia and Russell. Even Ella Finegold. If it hadn’t been for her and Danny and Russell on the day of the food fight, Merlin and I would have been totally doomed.

  Merlin had to learn to trust that I would always come back for him, so he didn’t have to run away to find me. And I had to learn to trust other people to help me take care of him. Even Dad’s new girlfriend.

  Merlin sat down next to me and we leaned into each other. He tilted his head back and licked my ear.

  “See, Merlin?” I said to him, burying my hands in his golden fur as I hugged him. “I knew it. You’re not such a bad dog after all.”

  “IT’S ALIIIIIIIIIIIIVE!” my brother, Isaac, yelled at the top of his lungs, like a swamp creature had popped out of the ground or something. And by the way, this is not the best thing to yell in a cemetery. I saw people at a funeral halfway up the next hill all turn around to stare at us.

  The bag wriggled like crazy in the lawyer’s hands. I jumped back. “It is alive!” I squeaked.

  “What on earth is in there?” Mom demanded. Dad leaned down and peeked inside.

  “A​R​O​O​O​OO​OO​OO​OO​OO​OO​OO​OO​OO​OO​OO​OO​OO​OO​OO​OO!” went the bag. It was the loudest howl I’d ever heard.

  “Oh, wow,” Dad said. “Ella, look.”

  I edged closer and peeked through the mesh. A pair of enormous brown eyes met mine. Two white paws were pressed up to the screen.

  “It’s a dog!” I gasped.

  “Awwrrrooo,” the bag said sadly. The dog poked its wet black nose at me and scratched the mesh screen with its claws.

  “I didn’t know Aunt Golda had a dog,” my mom said, looking confused. “Why would she leave it to Ella?”

  “She didn’t have it very long. I have all its paperwork here,” the lawyer said, handing my Dad a manila envelope. Before Dad could say anything else, the lawyer leaped back into his car and drove away.

  “AWWWRRROOOOOOOOO,” the dog went again.

  “I guess we take it home with us,” Dad said.

  We all jumped into our car. I dumped the dog carrier on the seat between me and Isaac.

  My dad opened the manila envelope. “This says it’s a she,” he said. “And her name is Trumpet.”

  I took the zipper at the top of the bag and pulled it slowly. Before I’d gotten it open very far, a shiny black nose appeared in the opening. The dog poked and wriggled like she thought she could fit her whole body out through that tiny hole if she just tried hard enough. I pulled the zipper the rest of the way and the top of the bag peeled back.

  An explosion of fur flew out of the bag. Before I could even blink, a white-and-brown blur leaped onto my dress and tried to climb up onto my shoulders. I shrieked as the dog started licking my face with a big, pink, surprisingly scratchy tongue.

  “Awww, she likes you!” Dad said, clearly not seeing the difference between “liking me” and “trampling me into the car seat.”

  I was too busy trying to protect my face with my arms to answer him. The dog was practically up on my shoulders, poking its nose into every gap, trying everything it could do to get past my hands so it could lick my face again.

  “See, look how she’s wagging her tail,” Dad said.

  Trumpet’s ears were long and droopy and smooth. They looked as silky as my velvet dress.

  “She is pretty” Mom said, as if she were looking for something nice to say.

  “Of course she is. She’s a beagle,” Dad said. “Hey there, Trumpet. How’s it going, girl?” He scratched behind her floppy ears.

  “I like her!” Isaac announced.

  “That’s because she hasn’t tried to lick your face off yet,” I said. I glanced down at my dress. It was covered in little white and brown hairs. As the car started to move, before I could stop her, Trumpet curled up on my lap. She rolled onto her back like she was offering her belly to me.

  “She wants you to rub her tummy,” Isaac said. He reached over the bag and patted Trumpet’s stomach.

  “Are you sure? That’s weird,” I said.

  “Isaac’s right. Dogs like that,” Dad said, peeking at us in the rearview mirror.

  I gingerly touched Trumpet’s pink and white stomach. It was much softer than I expected. I ran my fingers through the little whorls of short white fur. She wagged her tail and wriggled closer to me, resting her head on my free arm.

  OK, I thought. Maybe she is a little bit cute.

  In addition to the New York Times- and USA Today-bestselling Wings of Fire series, Tui T. Sutherland is the author of several books for young readers, including the Menagerie trilogy, the Pet Trouble series, and three books in the bestselling Seekers series (as part of the Erin Hunter team). In 2009, she was a two-day champion on Jeopardy! She lives in Massachusetts with her wonderful husband, two adorable sons, and one very patient dog. To learn more about Tui’s books, visit her online at www.tuibooks.com.

  Copyright © 2009 by Tui T. Sutherland.

  All rights reserved. Published by Scholastic Inc.

  SCHOLASTIC, APPLE PAPERBACKS, and associated logos are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of Scholastic Inc.

  First printing, April 2009

  e-ISBN 978-0-545-28387-8

  All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. No part of this publication may be reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereafter invented, without the express written permission of the publisher. For information regarding permission, write to Scholastic Inc., Attention: Permissions Department, 557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012.

 


 

  Tui T. Sutherland, Runaway Retriever

 


 

 
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