How Rubbish the Rabbit Hound Saved Christmas – Part 3
Santa Claus has crashed the sleigh; he is injured, as are some of the reindeer (including Rudolph) and the 2 helpers. Luckily he has been found by Rubbish the Rabbit Hound who fetched Finn, the Maid and the Butler, along with Jeffrey the ancient marmalade cat and together they rescued him and the rest of his crew.
The animals and Sam the Butler have taken the sleigh on a test flight and are now planning to help Santa by doing his Christmas deliveries for him.
They can fly the sleigh, but how will they cope on the big night?
Will Jeffrey’s map-reading be good enough to find every house?
Or any house at all?
Will Christmas still happen as planned?
Now read on……
“Well?” Santa and the Maid both asked together.
“Brilliant!” Rubbish beamed, stepping out of his harness and running to the Maid for a cuddle. Finn was smiling and laughing and went over to Jeffrey who was climbing down from the high seat. He was having problems getting the helmet and goggles off and it took Sam and Finn to help pull them off.
“Absolutely wonderful, old fruit!” the cat called out to the Maid and Santa.
“The book worked perfectly. I am a navigational genius””
Prancer looked at Santa, tutted and rolled his eyes.
“So very modest,” Brownie added.
Finn laughed too, “Yes, never one to blow his own trumpet, are you old boy?”
Jeffrey ignored them and went over to Trevor where they sat on the garden bench and discussed mapwork, routes and Santa-planning.
“There’s hot drinks in the kitchen and a roaring fire so everyone can have a warm,” Kath called out.
Sam was in there like a shot, glugging a mug of hot mulled wine (alcohol free, of course).
They gathered around the blazing fire in the living room, humans, rabbits and cat on the settee, elf and gnome on one armchair, deerhound and greyhound on another and the reindeer fitting in as far as they could around the room. If anyone had looked through the window they would have thought it was a convention of hat and coat racks! They began what Santa called a de-brief, to see if there were any problems, whether they had learnt anything new, and whether they needed to make any adjustments.
“Lights,” Rubbish said. They all nodded and Happy wrote it down with his one good hand. “I have my flashing collar but we need tail lights too.”
“We did have two nice big oil lamps on the back but they were broken off in the crash,” Santa replied.
Jeffrey leaned over and whispered something to Scutter and Scamp. They chuckled. “We’ll sort that,” he said. Scutter, Scamp and Brownie jumped off the settee and disappeared out the back door. The meeting continued without them.
“Any navigational issues?” Happy asked.
The reindeer talked about the stars and Jeffrey’s map reading so this was covered.
“Access for delivery?” Santa questioned.
“We got the guys down and up the chimney with the automatic crane,” Finn answered. “Worked fine.”
“I can’t do chimneys,” Santa Sam said, looking down at his cushioned belly.
Santa shook his head and looked over to the reindeer, “Didn’t anyone tell him?”
Donner and Prancer sniggered, Dancer also laughed, and his taped-on antler wobbled.
“You lot are very naughty!” Santa chided them.
The rest of the crew looked at Santa quizzically, “What do you mean?” asked Finn.
“We only use chimneys as a last resort; not if there’s another way,” Santa replied.
“Eh?” asked Sam.
“You know, patio doors or fire escape,” came Santa’s answer.
Sam looked at the reindeer who were still muttering and giggling amongst themselves, “You cruel lot!”
Prancer looked suitably embarrassed, “Sorry Santa Sam. We just couldn’t resist playing a joke. But we will need to use the rabbits a lot of the time where you can’t get in.”
Santa nodded, “That’s true, Sam. How did it go with the crane?”
Only the big grey rabbit called Bouncer was left as the others had gone off with Jeffrey. “It was ok. It may take a few of us to carry the presents though.”
Santa agreed, “You can use the hover cart.”
“What’s that?” Santa explained it was a small floating cart for heavy objects.
“That sounds fun,” Rubbish said.
“How will we get to all the homes in the world in time?” Finn asked Santa.
Trevor squeaked, “It’s all to do with the speed of light, a time tunnel and a fair bit of magic!”
With that the door flew open and the old cat and the three rabbits fell in through the door carrying a large bundle. Finn recognised them, as did Sam and Kath; square yellow flashing lights – from the skip on the other side of the farmyard!
“It’s ok,” Jeffrey told them, “No-one uses that lane, and they’ll be back tomorrow.”
“How do we get the presents?” asked Finn.
Santa winked. “That’s the cleverest part of all. In the old days where only the rich had presents and most people had a piece of coal or an orange we could get things in a few sacks It would be impossible to carry all the presents in the world these days. So, what we do is once we get to the house we have a materialiser that beams the toys from my workshop in Lapland to the sleigh. Makes things much quicker”.
“And it meets Health and Safety laws too,” scowled Happy.
“Larger presents can be sent straight to the foot of the tree but it’s traditional for us to hand-deliver the smaller ones.”
“Yes, trying to deliver a grand piano used to be really difficult” Trevor nodded.
Aye,” Prancer said, “You think you had a problem getting down a chimney.”
The meeting continued for a while longer until the mince pies were passed around. It was soon time for everyone to get some rest as that night, about 10 o’clock, they would have to get the sleigh loaded up and set off for real.
It was a cold crisp night as the replacement crew settled themselves onto the sleigh. This time the seatbelts were on, and at the back two flashing yellow lights glowed behind the big seat.
Happy and Trevor did the pre-flight checks as the moon cleared the trees above the garden wall, and shone a bright silver blue light into the garden. It was as if she could not believe what she was seeing and needed to light it up for a better look.
Santa stepped forward and shook Sam’s hand. “Well done for volunteering and the very best of luck” he told him. He waved at Jeffrey and the rabbits, and went towards the front of the sleigh. He patted the reindeer and spoke to them in Lapp. “Finn, old chap, you’re a brave and loyal hound. Have a safe journey,” he ruffled Finn’s fur and Finn smiled back, “It’s a pleasure, Santa.”
When he came to Rubbish, he smiled a special smile, “My young pup, I am so very proud of you for offering to lead the sleigh. The gentlest and cleverest rabbit hound I have ever met.” He leaned down and gave the greyhound a squeeze.
Rubbish was so very pleased he could not reply due to the lump in his throat. He beamed up and could only manage, “Thanks Father Christmas.”
“Time!” called out Happy.
Santa stood back and gave Sam thumbs up sign. Sam waved at Kath, as the sleigh slid off across the snowy grass. Rubbish started to trot, then to run, and with a skip he took off and the sleigh lifted up into the air and over the garden wall. They were away!
“Where first?” asked Sam.
Jeffrey lifted his goggles and look at the list he had made with Trevor the Santa Nav’s help. “Off to the west – over the sea and over America to the Pacific.”
The Rabbits jaws dropped, “Where?” They were totally amazed.
Finn shouted from the front, “Makes sense. The sun rises out there so it’s Christmas there first! OK Rubbish, let’s go!”
Rubbish nodded, clicked the light on the collar with his tongue and off he ran. The one thing in having a greyhound lead your sleigh is that they are fast – even faster than any reindeer or even a deerhound. Away the sleigh sped out over the coast, over the sea towards America.
It all went marvellously; the pacific islands, Hawaii, then to the USA. They started in Alaska (it was very snowy there) and bit by bit crossed Canada and ended up at the very tip of South America. It all went very well, with only a few small glitches.
In New York they flew in through the skyscrapers and landed on a balcony. The window was open, so Santa Sam guided the rabbits into the room to drop off the presents as they materialised on the platform on the sleigh. As usual, they checked through the window that there was no-one there – no-one awake.at least. A little girl lay asleep, her head of blonde curls sticking out from under her duvet. Scutter and Brownie floated the hover trolley into the room and started to unload the trolley at the foot of the little girl’s bed. Suddenly a little voice said, “Thank you very much.” Brownie replied, “You’re welcome” and then froze.
The little girl sat up, “Oh, you’re little rabbits! You’re so cute! If you’re the Easter Bunny – where’s Santa?”
“We’re giving him a hand this year. He’s very busy,” Scutter said. He gave Brownie a nudge and they moved towards the window. Brownie and Scutter smiled and gently stepped sideways, waving as they did so, out of the window. The little girl waved back and slipped off to sleep.
“Blimey, that was close,” they said as the jumped back onto the sleigh and the flying machine took off.
“Mary Donahue,” Santa ticked the list. “Been nice all year. Why – what happened?”
“She woke up,” Scutter said.
“Luckily she went back to sleep,” Brownie added.
Jeffrey looked down, “Don’t worry – she’ll just think it’s a dream,” he chuckled.
“I know, but she thinks we were the Easter Bunny,” Brownie said.
Prancer turned and called back over his shoulder, “Can’t be – he’s on holiday in the Bahamas until March.”
They all laughed and made their way to the next family.
The rest of the trip was fairly uneventful. The rabbits enjoyed the carrots they found, and, maybe because it was magic, they never felt full so ate as many as they could.
The mince pies and glasses of wine/schnapps/brandy/beer they brought out for Santa Sam who also said the alcohol did not have an effect, again due to the magic. The occasional biscuit or cake (but not fruit cake as that’s bad for dogs) went Finn and Rubbish’s way, and any hay or oats fed the reindeer. Unfortunately no-one left out any cat food or even a dead mouse for poor old Jeffrey.
Once or twice they forgot to wipe up their footprints so a few houses had sooty rabbit prints on the carpet, or little rabbit prints on the fireplace. When one little boy opened his window in Moscow he saw a set of greyhound prints on his windowsill! That caused some confusion!
Once the eastern pacific was completed, the sleigh sped up and Rubbish led them back over the coast towards home. As they came over the coast they hit a gust of cold air and the sleigh jumped, like it had been hit by an invisible hand. Everything jumped – including Jeffrey. He was tired and his paws were cold so he did not have a proper grip on his book so the atlas bounced and jumped out of his grasp. “Hey!” he exclaimed as the book tripped over the edge of the sleigh and disappeared into the night, down to the ground far below. He was stunned, and upset that his book was gone, but they had no time to go after it. They did manage a stop on the way to deliver some presents to the rabbit warren where Scutter, Brownie, Scamp and Bouncer lived. It included a new cooking apron for Bluebell and a new storybook for Bob (so he had some different tales to tell for a change!).
At the magic garden the sleigh landed quietly. Kath was asleep as the rabbits sneaked in and left a pair of slippers and a little box (with a gold wristwatch inside). The reindeer and Santa were all fast asleep, as was Happy. Only Trevor was awake and he just waved sleepily.
Everyone untethered themselves from the sleigh and there was a great big group hug. They felt so happy, though tired as it had taken them a long time and yet no time at all to make the journey around the world. It gave some of them a headache just to think about it. That’s the thing with magic – if affects everyone in a strange way. The reindeer had been doing it for so long they were immune but the rabbits, dogs, cat and human were dazed by it.
They all drifted off to their beds leaving Rubbish, Finn, Jeffrey and Sam standing together on the lawn under the shining moon. It was so bright it was practically day.
“It’s been really good to actually be able to talk to you all,” Sam said looking at the animals around him.
“We’ve always been talking, even to you, but you’ve never understood us,” Jeffrey said.
Rubbish thought a bit, “It might be that we all heard each other, but we never really listened.”
Finn’s eyebrows rose, “Well said, my young friend.”
Sam shook his head and whistled gently, “Sean, that’s really deep,” (the humans called him Sean).
“Rubbish, young fellow you are rather clever,” Jeffrey said.
They all said good night and Jeffrey climbed through the gap in the fence and the others went off to bed.
Christmas morning arrived. Sam was wakened by Kath giving him a kiss and a cup of tea, and thanking him for the lovely gold watch. Sam found a new laptop computer wrapped up on the bedside cabinet – he had wanted a new one for years!
Finn had a lovely new day bed, on little feet so it was just off the ground. “Wonderful! Keep the draught off my old bones!” he chuckled.
Rubbish pulled the gold paper off his present – a new red collar with his name in gold letters on it, and a flashing light on the front. The card with it said “To help you guide the way.”
Next door Jeffrey awoke to find a parcel under the tree for him; it was a small sat nav and a book of maps. The card said “To the best navigator for Christmas.” He was so touched he had a tear in his eye.
Santa and the reindeer were gathered on the lawn and they said their good byes. He was up to flying home now, and the two bruised reindeer were ok to lead the sleigh home slowly. The ground crew waved as Santa and the sleigh took off. He circled the garden twice, and then off it went up into the air. As he went round for the last time he called down, “If it’s ok, I might ask for your help again? Would you be up for it?”
“Yes!” the animals and the humans shouted.
Santa smiled…..and then he was gone.
Kath called from the kitchen door, “Come on everyone – dinner’s nearly ready! In you come and wash your hands….and paws!”
“Fabulous!” said Finn.
“I’ve never had a Christmas dinner before,” Rubbish said.
“Marvellous! I’m rather peckish,” said Jeffery rubbing his tummy. “Brussels sprouts?”
“But of course,” said Sam.
“What’s sprouts?” asked Rubbish.
Finn sighed , “Let me show you..”
On Christmas Eve, as you get ready for Santa’s visit, just remember that it might not be Santa and the reindeer and elves visiting tonight. It could be Santa Sam, Rubbish and Finn and the rabbits. Watch out for rabbit prints on your fireside rug, or doggie footprints on the windowsill. Remember to leave out a carrot of course (if there are large teeth marks it means reindeer, small teethmarks mean rabbits), but also a dog biscuit for Finn and Rubbish, and maybe a small piece of ham for a rather hungry old marmalade cat!
If you want to read more about Rubbish the Deerhound, and how he became the Largest Rabbit, look out for the book “The Largest Rabbit” available from the Crafty-Dog-Cymru.co.uk website.
All characters copyright Chris Dignam/Crafty Dog Books Cymru, except for The Mighty Finn copyright Kate Standing/World of Finn.
Illustrations copyright Jacs Little Welsh Studio/Crafty Dog Books Cymru