I don’t have a pet to write about, so I thought I would post this scene from my novel, Frontier Belle.
“Touser’s lost.” Jamie dashed over to Tommy as she pegged out the washing.
“He’s probably having a nap somewhere,” she soothed, wondering how she could remain so calm when in less than a week she would be Adam Munro’s wife.
“I’ve called him. Why won’t he come?”
“Perhaps he didn’t hear you.”
“He’s lost, he’s lost.” Jamie’s voice rose in anguish and his eyes glistened with tears.
“Oh, darling.” She knelt down and cupped his face between her hands. “Don’t be upset, he won’t have gone far. I’ll put the washing basket away and get my hat then we’ll search together, all right?”
“Hurry up.” He tugged at her hand.
“We can’t go rushing around in this heat, otherwise we’ll get too exhausted,” she cautioned. “We’ll have a cool drink before we go.” She glanced at Jamie’s flushed, perspiring face and her worry intensified. Common sense warned her they should wait until David returned from town. But Jamie, desperate to find Touser, would start searching on his own the moment she turned her back.
After they finished their drink, she collected her hat and they set off in the direction of the barn. Touser probably sought refuge in there from the searing heat.
“I searched in there,” Jamie said.
“We’ll look again in case he hid under some straw.”
“Touser, Touser,” they called out in unison, but received no answering bark.
A thorough search yielded nothing. They went to the water hole, checked out all his favorite haunts but could not find him. She felt close to despair, Jamie absolutely distraught.
“Get Adam,” he sobbed. “He’ll find him.”
She wrapped her fingers around Jamie’s grubby little paw and squeezed it. “We’ll keep looking for a while longer. David will be home soon so he can help. If we can’t find Touser, then we’ll get Adam.”
They searched for another hour until the heat drove them back to the homestead for a cool drink.
“Phew.” She collapsed exhausted on a chair. “It’s so hot, let’s have a little rest and something to eat.”
“We’ll find him, won’t we?” Jamie’s eyes beseeched her.
“Of course we will, darling,” she lied. Would someone have taken the dog? He was old. On pain of death she wouldn’t admit this to Jamie, but the animal was so ugly no one would want to bother with him, especially in the middle of a drought.
After a quick lunch, they commenced searching again. Swirls of red dust whipped up by the wind added to their discomfort. With dogged determination they kept on going. Several black crows circling over the little pine plantation Uncle Henry had planted were a sudden, chilling sign that something dead lay down there.
“Jamie, run back to the homestead and see if David’s there.”
“No.” He clutched her hand. “See the crows; Adam says crows come when something dies.”
“It’s probably a fox or a rabbit.”
Jamie dropped her hand and dashed away. “Touser, where are you, Touser?” The only answer came from the cawing crows.
With her skirt and petticoats slowing her down, Jamie streaked ahead. When she arrived at the little pine forest he knelt in the pine needles beside his fallen friend. “Touser, Touser.” His tears fell on to the dog’s lifeless body.
“It’s no good, darling.” She tried to pick Jamie up. “I’m afraid he’s dead.”
“He’s just asleep. Wake up.” He shook the dog’s front paw.
“It’s no use. He’s gone to doggy heaven to be with God.”
“No, no.” Tears streaming down his cheeks formed muddy rivulets on his dusty face. “Why did he die?”
“He got old and tired.” She clasped Jamie’s hand and led him away. “He had a good life, don’t you see.” She cuddled him as sobs racked his body. “He came down here because he knew his time was near. Touser picked this special place out. Every Christmas from now on, when we chose a tree to decorate we’ll be reminded of him. He wouldn’t want you to be sad, but to remember the fun times you shared. He’s in doggy heaven with God now, he’ll be happy having lots of other dogs to play with. He won’t get crippled or sick like some old dogs do. Don’t you see it’s much better this way?”
She ran her fingers through the child’s damp hair. “We’ll give him a funeral, and he’ll be able to sleep here for always. David can make a cross so we’ll know which tree he’s buried under, and we’ll never cut it down. It will always be special. Come on, we’ll cover him over with the pine needles for now, it will keep him safe from the crows.”
He pushed himself away from her and started heaping pine needles on top of the dog’s body. She didn’t know whether this was the right way to handle such a tragedy or not. At least it made him understand his old friend would never be coming back.
She scooped up handfuls of the tinder-dry pine needles that carpeted the ground around them. Once they covered the body, they heaped a few pinecones on top of the mound.
Hand in hand, they walked away, leaving this old warrior to sleep where he fell.
Her feats of daring intrigued him, but her beauty scared the hell out of him.
Adam Munro, a wealthy rancher, wants a suitable bride who will provide him with heirs. He doesn’t need love in his life, not until he meets the beautiful English belle living next door and falls victim to cupid’s arrow.
Only in the new world can a highborn young Englishwoman and a tough frontier man, ignite the passion that will fulfil their hopes and dreams, in ways they never imagined possible.