“The one after the storm?” Granny Wytcher settled back in her chair, continued knitting and began. She knew which story they wanted.
“Well, it was the night after the terrible storm that took away the bridge. All of a sudden, old Tiny there, he came into the farmyard barking like a mad thing and pulling at my sleeve. He dragged me near off my feet, out to the Land Rover and started leaping at the door like he wanted to get in and drive himself.” She paused and took a sip of her tea, building up the tension, even though the children had heard this story a hundred times.
“Was it like in the filums, Granny? Was it like when Lassie comes and gets help for the poor man with the broken leg who fell down the well?” Little Caroline’s eyes were shining at the thought as she glanced over at the old dog asleep by the fire with his nose on his paws.
“Not at all. Did you ever hear that dog speak, now? Did you? Such nonsense. No…but Tiny is a good dog and I just felt…well, there was something amiss somewhere and he wanted me to go, so I went. We jumped in the Land Rover and Tiny stuck his head out the window, like he does, and he was looking up at the sky all the time, not barking at other dogs, like he usually does.”
“Where did you go, Granny?”
“You know right well, Thomas, we ended up at Port Felan although how that dog knew where to go, I’ll never work out to my dying day. He pushed my arm with his nose and he growled at me! Yes! A proper growl, when I tried to take the town-road. And when we got to the port he started up again with all that barking and scratching at the door, so I let him out. I remember there was a big load of cormorants and black-backs on the beach and a bundle of fur.”
“What was the fur, Granny?”
“It was an otter, Caroline. A big male otter, lying all limp-like. So I got him wrapped in a sack and put him in the Land Rover. Vitniry said that he was lucky. He was near-dead-spent, poor creature. So she gave him some injections and we kept him warm here and I mushed up fish for him and he was right as ninepence, so he was. God love ‘im.”
“Why didn’t you keep him for a pet, Granny? Sure that would be awful nice to have a pet otter!”
“Because, Michael, that otter had his own life, somewhere out there and his place was there with his own kind, not cooped up in here with a mad old lady. You wouldn’t like it if some mad old lady took your sister away for a pet, now would you, darlin’? Put your mugs on the drainer and off to bed with you. Night Night. God bless.”
Granny Wytcher stayed in her rocking chair, still knitting, staring into the fire. She would never tell the children the rest. If they’d known, they’d have gone and tried to find hm and his family, pestering the life out of the poor creatures. But she knew, and Tiny knew and that was all that mattered. Things had been put back to rights. Which was how it should be. The otters and their cubs’ secret was safe with her.