How Rubbish the Rabbit Hound Saved Christmas – Part 2
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. Now they are sitting with Finn and the family in the house and wondering what to do next. Is he well enough to fly? Will the rest of the reindeer be able to cope with two less deer?
Now read on……
Santa lay on the settee and waited patiently as Kath took a scissors and cut up the length of his trousers to check on the damage to the broken leg. He grumbled that they were his best work trousers and he’d had them for 200 years or so. Where the Maid had expected to see blood and broken bone there was really bad bruising but any break was already healing. Santa smiled at the look of confusion on her face, “Its magic! I heal quickly. The bone will fix itself in a few days but the bruising and muscle damage will take a bit longer.”
Happy was sitting with his arm bandaged and Trevor with binding round his chest.
“You really do need a doctor,” Kath chided him.
“And how do I explain all this?” Santa asked, pointing to the two elves and the reindeer with a bloody nose who leaned in from the kitchen.
“It’ll be ok.” Santa added.
The elf shook his head, “I’m not so sure. 2 days to go and things are not ok. Rudolph can’t lead with his nose in plasters, Trevor has broken ribs, I have a dislocated shoulder and Blitzen is not able to pull. You really aren’t up to it either.”
Santa made to speak but Happy interrupted him, “No Santa, I insist. You are not up to it. You can heal magically but even you will not be ready.”
The Butler, Maid, Finn and Rubbish were sitting around the room, warming themselves by the fire and with mugs/bowls of warm milk. As they sat there looking at the gloomy Santa the realisation hit them. If there was no Santa there would be no Christmas.
Finn looked at Santa, “Do you have a backup plan?”
Happy tutted and Santa shook his head slowly.
The room was silent apart from the crackle of the wood burning in the fire and the loud tick of the wall clock.
There was a loud grumbling sound; everyone turned to look at Finn. “My apologies, its past my supper time,” the deerhound said, sheepishly. That seemed to break the tension that had been building.
“Ok,” Kath the Maid pronounced, “What do we have, and what do we need for a successful sleigh flight for Christmas, and how can we overcome any problems.”
“Five reindeer required, one of them leading and one of the front steering, these are the ones not available.” Happy replied.
“Hmm,” muttered Santa.
“One Santa Claus,” added Trevor, squeakily.
“One Santa Nav,” Blitzen chimed in.
“A sleigh,” added Santa.
“I might have an idea,” Santa said. They all turned to look at him expectantly.
“Finn, you’re a big strong lad – could you take a reindeers place?”
Finn nodded slowly.
“We need someone to lead,” Happy droned.
Rubbish disappeared out the kitchen, then came back with the flashing collar he had been given for his birthday, “I could do that!”
“Who can navigate?” asked Blitzen.
“Ahum,” an educated voice called from the doorway, “I have just been given a new atlas. How appropriate,” Jeffrey replied. He stood holding a large atlas of the world which he flourished unsteadily.
“The sleigh is flyable, just don’t take any chances,” Happy scowled.
“But we can’t fly,” Finn said. It was a small point but an important one, the deerhound thought.
“Oh,” came the replies from Sam the Butler, Kath the Maid and Rubbish the Rabbit hound.
Jeffrey tutted. “Haven’t any of you realised, Ladies, Gentlemen and Rubbish, that reindeer can’t fly either.”
They had not thought of that.
“Explain to them, Father Christmas, how it all works” Jeffrey asked.
Santa smiled. “It’s magic, of course. There’s no reason why Finn and Rubbish can’t fly as well.”
Rubbish looked at Finn and they both grinned at each other.
“But what about Santa?” asked Trevor.
“I’ll be..” Santa started but Happy looked over and shook his head.
“I’ll do it,” the Butler called. Kath laughed, “You’ll need some cushions up your jumper!”
“But not many,” Jeffrey giggled. The others joined in and Sam did too.
“This is all going very well but you realise that you’ll never get Sam down the chimney. And you won’t be able to get any elves in time.” Happy was actually not happy about this.
“I know who can do it,” Rubbish jumped up. “I know just the right guys to help!”
“Wow! Yes, we’ll do it! That’s fab!” Scutter beamed.
“Yes please!” shouted Brownie and Scamp. The Rabbits had been amazed when they had heard the story about Santa. Bluebell and Bob were a bit wary, and Bob had even told Bluebell about Rubbish’s tall stories, but it was the cheerful (not!) elf that had convinced them.
“One question,” a little voice piped up. It was Brownie.
Happy scowled, “Yes?”
“Getting down the chimney will be easy. But how do we get back up?”
Happy grinned back, “You’ll find out tomorrow!”
The next day was Christmas Eve, and everyone assembled on the lawn in the morning sunshine within the huge garden. They had all been told to wear what they were going to on Christmas Eve; Jeffrey had called it a “Dress Rehearsal”. The audience to this spectacle was a reindeer with a bandaged nose, another with a bandaged head, a squeaky gnome with his chest wrapped in more bandages, a really grumpy elf with a permanent scowl and his arm in a sling and a fat man on crutches. None of them looked very happy. In front of them stood a slightly battered sleigh, wood chipped and split. The seat was tied in place (just to hold it more securely, Santa had already declared it safe) and on it sat a man with a cotton-wool beard, in a red suit a few sizes too big, the front evidently stuffed with a pillow (it would have been better with two). Two pairs of reindeer stood in front (one with a black eye, one with an antler held on with tape) and the front pair was a large reindeer and a deerhound, and in the very front a large young brindle-coloured greyhound wearing a red collar. In the sled sat four large rabbits in little harnesses, and beside the imitation Santa, the ancient scruffy old ginger marmalade cat wearing an even older leather flying helmet and goggles. In his paws he clutched a large atlas of the world.
Kath the Maid stood next to Santa and sighed. “Oh dear,” she breathed.
“Huh, doesn’t fill me with a great deal of confidence either,” muttered Happy.
“Nor me,” squeaked Trevor. “I went to Gnomeiversity for 5 years to learn about navigating.”
Santa had that sinking feeling inside, but on the outside he looked really confident. He smiled broadly, “Nowt a bit of good luck and a good dose of magic powder can’t cure!”
He put his hand in his trouser pocket and drew out a small leather bag. From this he took a pinch of golden sand. He shook his head and got out twice as big a handful – it would need a bit more magic than that, he decided.
“OK, just take the sleigh up a few hundred feet, test yourself, then bring her back again, nice and gentle.” He threw the handful of magic dust over the sleigh and accompanying assorted animals (and human). There was a shimmering, a slight flash and pop, and Jeffrey sneezed.
OK, thought Sam, let’s just take it slowly. He gently shook the reins.
Prancer gave Rubbish a nudge, “Righto, Rubbish, lets head on out.”
Rubbish leaned into the harness and started to walk. There was no weight to the sled. So, he started to trot. The sleigh started to slide forward and they headed across the grass towards the garden walls.
“You’d better lift up – over the wall,” Happy called out.
Rubbish was moving faster now and as he came to the wall he leapt upward – and cleared it. Behind him the others could be heard shouting “Blimey” “Watch out” or in Jeffrey’s case, “Crikey! That’s amazing!”
The audience stood with their mouths open watching the sleigh follow Rubbish across the garden and then lurch up into the air. As the greyhound stretched himself upwards and onwards the sleigh, reindeer, deerhound and the rest of the crew followed. Sam had his eyes tight shut and it was only when they levelled off after a few minutes that he dared to look. Beside him he could hear Jeffrey singing loudly and flatly about being in the wide blue yonder. Rubbish was cheering, as was Finn. Forcing his eyes open Sam was absolutely astounded. They must have been a fair way up, as there were clouds around them, and through the gaps he could see the countryside below; a long, long way below. There was nothing holding them up. The greyhound was so fast he had pulled the others with him. They were literally flying. Rubbish was really enjoying this, and as he looked back he was Finn running behind, next to Prancer. They too were smiling as they breathed in the crisp winter air and ran through the scudding clouds.
“OK Jeffrey,” Sam shouted to the old cat beside him. “Where are we?”
Jeffrey looked down at the Atlas, licked his finger and flicked through the pages. “Somewhere over the South of England” he answered.
“Can we narrow that down a bit?” Sam asked.
Jeffrey shrugged. “We are going so fast I can’t keep track of the roads. I think that’s Salisbury down there,” he pointed to the town far far below.
“It’s Devizes,” called out Donner over her shoulder.
Jeffrey tutted and rechecked the atlas, “By gosh, I think you’re right,” he nodded.
The rabbits all looked at each other, Scutter was particularly concerned. “If it’s like this now, what’s it going to be like in the dark at night?”
The very large reindeer next to Donner called back, “It’s easier in the dark. We navigate by the stars. We’ll get you to the towns; you only need to find your way through the streets.”
Jeffrey, Santa 2 and the rabbits all heaved a collective sigh of relief.
“Time to go home,” Sam (Santa 2) called. Rubbish nodded, slowed a bit and led the sleigh around and retraced his steps through the clouds.
They came down a few thousand feet and this time they did fly over Salisbury. Rubbish drew the sleigh lower and led them down until they could see the figures on the streets below. Sam and Jeffrey were calling on him to behave, but Rubbish knew they needed to practice at roof level. He called this back to Finn, who relayed it to Donner who relayed it to the crew in the sleigh.
“Just be careful,” Sam shouted back.
At that minute, Rubbish had to swerve to avoid the spire of the Cathedral. A group of crows sitting amongst the carved stone gargoyles had a real shock as a group of dogs, deer, rabbits, a cat and Santa flew past.
“Caw, what was that,” one said, pulling himself back up onto the parapet he had slid off. There was a lot of crowing and cawing from the rest of them.
“Looked like Father Christmas, caw, caw,” his mate answered.
“He’s lost weight since last year,” the first one replied.
“And that Rudolph looks strange. He really needs a holiday.”
“Engage cloaking device,” shouted Santa Sam. They had all forgotten that as it was daylight they might have been seen. Brownie looked to her left and there was a blue lever with “cloak” written on it. As she pulled it the sleigh shimmered and vanished. They were invisible to everyone, even the people below who now looked up to see what the commotion was above their heads. Rubbish led them through the snowy streets, above the people shopping below, and the cars and lorries delivering stuff to the shops that the people were then taking home.
“Ready for a test landing, old boy?” Jeffrey called out. They were out of the town buy now and there was a large redbrick and stone house ahead in a centre of a field of thick snow.
“Test landing,” they shouted down the line to Finn and Rubbish. The greyhound slowed and swung the sleigh around and downwards. There was a large flat roof at the back and it was here they decided to land. Down they flew, until they were at the same height. They approached, slowing as they did. “Careful not to overshoot,” called Santa Sam.
Donner and the reindeer shook their heads, “Don’t worry, Prancer called, “We’ve done this a few times before. You lot follow us!”
The sleigh clipped the edge of the roof and within a few yards, drew to a halt.
“Wow! That was amazing,” Scutter laughed. The others looked equally pleased by the test so far.
“Brilliant,” Brownie agreed.
“Absolutely fantastic,” the rounded tones of Jeffrey could be heard though he could not be seen. In the sudden stop he had slid out of his seat and was lying under the rug on which the rabbits had been sitting. He climbed out and straightened his flying helmet.
“Don’t forget your seatbelt.” Prancer bellowed to him.
Finn stood on the roof, his thick grey shaggy coat blowing in the gentle breeze. He felt as young as a puppy again. He had not had such an exciting time for a long time, even considering his adventures with Rubbish and the others.
“Right,” Santa Sam called out, “Time to practice a chimney.”
To their left was a large brick chimney, about four feet high. Sam and the rabbits moved over to it and looked inside.
“Will I get down there?” he asked. Even as a slimmer Santa he had real doubts he would fit.
Prancer came over and looked. “Hmmm, with modern central heating we don’t do many chimneys any more. He relies on a few elves and gnomes. In this case, the rabbits.”
The rabbits all stood to attention and saluted Santa. “Ready for action, sir,” Scutter announced.
From the back of the sleigh a long arm stretched out – it was a crane! It swung over the chimney. The rope lowered to rabbit height and hooked onto the harness. One by one the crane swung them over the chimney and lowered the rabbits down.
Scutter unhitched himself and, after looking carefully out of the hearth, he stepped onto the mat in front of the fireplace. It was a large room, nicely furnished, with a large TV and lots of Christmas cards and a vast settee and chairs. He knew what they were as he’d seen them in Finn’s house. One by one the other rabbits arrived. They had a look around the room, then made their way back to the fireplace. One by one they went back up the chimney.
Just after the last rabbit disappeared the door of the room opened and in came the lady of the house. She had just dusted and put the vacuum cleaner away. She looked at the white rug in front of the fire and gasped – it was covered in black sooty foot prints. She looked again. They looked like rabbit prints?
Back up on the roof everyone climbed into the sleigh, did the pre-flight checks and then took off for the journey home Within a few minutes they were circling Sam’s house and they could see the tiny figures of Santa, the Maid and the reindeer below. Down they swooped, over the garden wall and then slithered to a halt in front of the expectant ground crew.
Keep your eyes out for Part 3 next week;
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?
If you want to read more about Rubbish the Rabbit Hound, 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