Guest Author Pamela Cleaver
Lucy and her family lived on a farm. One market day, Lucy was in town to sell their eggs. Once she’d sold them, she tied up the money carefully in the corner of her handkerchief. She was on her way home when she overheard two farmers talking near the butter-cross. One of them was holding, in the crook of his arm, a very small grey dog, with tightly curled hair. It’s eyes had a knowing twinkle, but one was bigger than the other. In spite of this, Lucy liked the puppy right away.
“I dunno what to do with this wretched little tyke,” the farmer said to his friend. “He’s the last one in the litter and much smaller than the six others. I sold them as easy as kiss-me-hand.”
His friend laughed. “He’s too small for herding sheep or guarding the house, he’s too ugly for anyone to want him as a pet. You’ll have a job getting rid of him.”
“Well I don’t want to keep him,” said the first farmer. “I’d give him away, but I doubt anyone would want him.”
Lucy could hardly believe her ears. “Please mister,” she said shyly, “if you don’t want him, can I have him?”
“You want him?” The farmer was surprised. “Right then Missy, the little tyke’s yours. Take him and good riddance.”
Lucy thanked him. She tucked the little grey dog under her arm and ran all the way home in case the farmer changed his mind.
“Mum, Mum!” she cried, bursting in through the kitchen door. “See what I’ve got – a teeny, tiny dog called Tyke.”
Lucy’s mother looked doubtful. “He’s so small Lucy, and his eyes are crooked. What good’ll he be? How will he earn his keep? he’s too small for herding or guarding the house.”
“Please let me keep him,” Lucy pleaded. “I’ll work twice as hard to make up for him.”
“We’ll see,” said her mother. “I can’t worry about dogs now. The witch has put a spell on the well. I can’t get any water for cooking and the boys can’t get water for the stock to drink.”
Their farm was in a valley, on the hill above lived a horrible witch. Although Lucy’s family were poor, they were happy. This made the witch sick with envy.
Tyke had been sniffing around the kitchen. When he heard about the witch, he sidled up to Lucy and whispered, “I can deal with the witch.” But Lucy was too busy helping her mother to listen.
Lucy’s father stamped angrily into the kitchen. “That cursed witch put a spell on the gate. It won’t let me through to pen the sheep and it’ll be dusk soon.”
Tyke stepped forward, and spoke a little louder this time. “I can deal with the gate,” he said, but no one took any notice.
Lucy’s big brother Tom came into the kitchen, his cheeks flushed with frustration. “The cows won’t give milk, they’re too thirsty. Old witch has put a spell on the well.”
Tyke swaggered forward. “I can deal with the well,” he boasted, but everyone was too busy to listen.
Lucy’s little brother Peter came in looking sad. “Not one egg in the henhouse,” he showed his empty basket. “They’re so thirsty there’s no cackle from the hens nor a crow from the cock.”
“I can deal with the well,” shouted Tyke, having climbed on a chair. “Leave it to me.”
All the family turned to stare at the teeny, tiny dog.
“You!” they cried. “You’re a scruffy grey ball of fur, what can you do? You’re too small to fight and you’re not clever enough to deal with the witch’s spells. Get out! Get away from here.”
The teeny, tiny dog’s boasting had amazed and angered everyone except Lucy. She picked him up and looked into his mis-matched eyes.
“Could you, Tyke? Would you?”
“I could and I will,” he said firmly.
“All right,” said Lucy, “prove it.” She opened the door and let him out. Tyke ran to the gate.
“You can’t go through, the bewitched gate said importantly. “No one belonging to this farm can pass through.”
Tyke threw back his scruffy grey head and laughed, his little pink tongue hanging out. “But I don’t belong here, they told me to get out.”
“Then I’ll have to let you pass,” squeaked the gate grudgingly.
Tyke scuttled through, ran up the hill, rounded up the sheep and penned them in the fold. Next, he ran to the well.
“No water, no water!” cried the well. “No water for anyone belonging to this farm.”
“That’s all right then, because I don’t belong here,” said teeny, tiny Tyke. Then he hauled up the water bucket with the rope held between his teeny, tiny teeth.
Big brother Tom took water to the cows, little Peter carried a bucketful to the hens and Lucy took water to her mother so she could cook. In no time there was milk and eggs on the kitchen table and a stew bubbling on the stove.
Lucy picked Tyke up and gave him a hug. “Isn’t he clever?” she said to her mother. “Now he can stay, can’t he?”
Just then they heard the gate calling. “Look out, here comes the witch!”
Lucy was still hugging Tyke when her father, Tom and Peter ran in.
“Put me down, I have work to do,” said Tyke. “I’ll deal with the witch.”
“You!” said Lucy’s father scornfully, “you couldn’t outwit her – not in a million years.” But Lucy believed in Tyke and let him out.
The witch was so angry, she was spitting. Her temper had changed from sour jealousy to burning fury. Her broomstick knew better than to dawdle when she was in this kind of meed, it had brought her down so fast that the earth scorched where she landed. She began to walk around the farmhouse waving her arms and chanting a spell to keep everyone inside until she released them.
“And that’ll be never!” she cackled at her own cunning plan.
“That’s where you’re wrong!” said teeny, tiny Tyke. “I’ve followed behind you every step of the way, brushing your footprints out with my teeny, tiny tail. I’ve broken the spell.”
The witch’s face went rigid with fear. “You’ve ruined it, you horrid little grey mutt,” she cried. “Shoo, scat!”
“No – you go or I’ll bite you and drain all your power.” He began to run after the witch, snapping his teeny, tiny teeth.
The witch was furious, but she knew she was beaten. Muttering and grumbling, she leapt back on her broomstick and flew away.
“And that’s the last time she will trouble you,” said teeny, tiny Tyke.
“Well done, you clever dog, come indoors,” said Lucy.
“You said I don’t belong,” said teeny tiny Tyke.
“We want you to live with us,” said little Peter.
“But I’m ugly and scruffy, said teeny, tiny Tyke.
“A stout heart’s worth more than a pretty face,” said Lucy’s mother, “come, sit by the hearth.”
“But I’m too small to be any use,” said teeny, tiny Tyke.
“Good things come in small parcels,” said Lucy’s father. “You proved that.”
“I need a friend,” said Lucy, “please stay Tyke.”
“Oh, very well,” said the little dog, “I’ll stay for Lucy’s sake, and in case the witch tries to come back.”
But she never did. Teeny, tiny Tyke lived on the farm and made himself useful. He was Lucy’s best friend. He followed like a shadow when she was at home, he walked her to school and was always waiting when she came out. At night he slept curled up at the foot of her bed. He and Lucy were very content.
“This is the life for me,” said teeny, tiny Tyke.