When Mr. Weatherby Forgot How To Say No: Part Three
I smiled at her, my thoughts turning to Todd and Daisy and Scamp. How many more were there like those three, lost, hungry, homeless, abandoned, ill?
And then, I turned, and I left, feeling more 'cool' than I ever had done in my life.
"Thank you very much for your purchase, have a lovely day!" said the kindly Elephante nurse as she handed me a brown paper bag that contained Todd's soap. I had handed over the seven thousand Neopoints Aaliyah had begrudgingly given to me, without so much as a wince. This soap was right up there amongst the best purchases I'd ever made, I realised with a smile, as I left the shop and headed for home.
As soon as I slipped the key into the lock, I heard an excited pounding of paws as Daisy and Scamp shot out of bed and bounded to greet me. I pushed open the door and suddenly there was an uproar, Daisy chattering away, Scamp barking randomly, and even Todd sat up to give me a weak smile. I shut the door, and set the basket of food down on the table. Todd climbed out of bed and shuffled to the table, where Daisy and Scamp were already patiently waiting.
I divided the loaf of bread into four -- three of the sections were rather larger than the fourth, and these three went to Todd, Daisy and Scamp. Then I gave each of them a handful of grapes -- I hadn't been expecting Scamp to wolf them down as excitedly as he did. I ate quickly, whilst running a bath, leaving the little ones at the table.
I swallowed a grape, and then said, "I've bought your soap, Todd, so you'll be feeling better very -- OOF!"
For Daisy had pounced on me from behind and knocked me into the biggest hug her tiny arms could give. I was flattened on the ground as she licked my face delightedly, shaping my headfeathers into a kind of spike.
"Thanks, Mr. Weatherby," I heard Todd say, quietly, as Scamp started up his intermittent barking again.
I righted myself, and as everyone was done with breakfast, Todd, Daisy and Scamp sat by my feet as I perched on the edge of the bed to tell them a story while we waited for the bath to fill.
"No way! So you can't say no to anything?" Daisy said, full of disbelief.
I nodded. "That's right."
"Isn't that a little inconvenient?" Todd asked, his voice quiet.
"Well... that's certainly one word for it," I replied, with a wink, and then stood up and walked over to the bathtub. It was now full of surprisingly clean water, and so I beckoned Todd over with a wing, and he hobbled over, shed his green blanket, and let me help him into the bath. Daisy brought me the brown paper bag from the table, and from it I took the soap, dunked it in the water, and gave him a thorough cleansing, working up to a rich lather in his fur. The soap smelled, well, distinctly medicinal, and although it was hardly pleasant, Todd was clearly feeling the benefits. Once I had scrubbed him squeaky clean -- even behind his large ears -- I gave him a final rinse and pulled the plug. He hopped out of the bath and I dried him vigorously with the green blanket.
"How do you feel, big brother?" Daisy said, flopping at Todd's feet.
"I feel great! Never better," he said, grinning up at me.
Happiness welled up in me as I finished drying off Todd's fur, and the instant I was done he set off chasing his baby sister around the shack, Scamp running wonkily along with them.
It was around that moment that I realised that this was my life calling.
I was Mr. Weatherby, and I was founding a Home for Unwanted Pets.
"But Victor, I don't wanna go to school today!" whined Saffron, the blue Wocky sat across from me at the dining table.
Thankfully, Aaliyah eventually did reverse the curse she put on me, or I would be in quite a pickle every time something like this happened.
"Firstly, Saffron, it's Mr. Weatherby. Secondly, no buts, young lady, all your brothers and sisters are going," I said, waving my cereal spoon at her. She stuck out her tongue at me, hopped down from her chair, and left. I heard the front door slam behind her, and watched from the kitchen window as she walked with Todd down the street. I smiled.
And then I looked down the long, loooong dining table, and my smile disappeared.
You try cleaning up some thirty bowls and plates every morning, afternoon, and evening, and you tell me you wouldn't much rather be a watchmaker!
"Mr. Weatherby, Mr. Weatherby, can we go do the gardening now?" came a little voice; it was Daisy at my ankles, hopping around excitedly.
"Soon, Daisy. I have to clean up first," I said, stacking the dishes, my grin having returned. She gave an excited little yell and dashed off to find somebody to play with in the meantime.
Well, reader, we've certainly come a long way in this story, haven't we?
Shortly after we cured Todd's illness, I took up a job as a doorman at The Royal Neopian Hotel, just to pay the rent on our little shack. It was one fateful day that I ran in with Mrs. Kensington, the rich lady Chia who used to purchase my services as a watchmaker, and as I carried her suitcase up to her room I chatted to her about my newfound purpose in life. She was so taken aback by my change of heart, and so delighted to hear of it, that she gifted me five million Neopoints.
Frankly, readers, I very nearly collapsed. I reopened my bank account, and bought not a shack, not a cottage, not even a house, but a mansion.
That was my first mistake: mansions are never totally clean. Not ever. Especially not when there's a ridiculously large family living inside, and only one responsible adult.
Daisy reappeared in the kitchen and hopped up onto the work surface. Scamp followed, and he fell into the soapy dishwater.
"Scamp! Spardels don't belong in the sink!" I said, seizing him and setting him down on the floor, where he skidded around on foamy paws, barking with joy. A baby Eyrie, Tom, fluttered in on his tiny wings and chased Scamp all over the place. My back was turned to this mischief, so I could preserve my sanity as long as I pretended it wasn't happening, and just kept cleaning the dishes.
Moments later, a yellow Kougra swung in, cool as ice, and said, "I'm headed to school now, Weatherby, catch you later."
"Dale! You're late! If I get one more angry Neomail from school --"
But he was gone.
After the early morning school rush, the house falls rather quiet; there's still a boisterous handful of baby Neopets around, a few too old for school, and some who can't go to school for a variety of reasons. They help with the gardening.
And believe me, we need all the help we can get.
I finished stacking the clean, dry dishes, wiped my wings on my white apron, and crossed the room to the screen doors. I opened them wide to let in the early summer morning's air, took a deep, contented breath, and tried not to fall over as a handful of babies, an eclectic mashup of all sorts of Neopets, and one very hyper Spardel barged past me, sprinting to the shed.
Our grounds stretch on for a very, very, very long way. There are literally hundreds of vegetable plots, and as I walked to the shed I surveyed the ones closest to the house. Our tomatoes were doing very well this year, and the asparagus was looking delicious already.
Around ten baby Neopets, the older lot, and a confused Spardel wearing a gardening glove on his head, all emerged from the shed, kitted out in various bits and pieces of gardening gear. They lined up for inspection as I trotted over to them.
"Alright, team," I said, heading into the shed and dragging out a stack of baskets, "today, we're picking carrots. So everybody grab a basket in an orderly fashion and let's go!"
Of course, the kids never really do anything in an orderly fashion. And I don't think I would ever want them to change, I thought, as I watched them racing off towards the carrot patch, leaving me in the dust.
You see, we grow vegetables for the Soup Faerie's soup nowadays. Forgive me this cliché, but... everybody knows that the best vegetables are the ones grown with love, and there's plenty of that in the gardens at Mr. Weatherby's Home for Unwanted Pets.
That was my second mistake, by the way: the name of this place. Because the pets living here are far from unwanted, the very second that they step through our massive double doors. But the name has stuck.
Weatherby's is kept running by donations from Neopians who like to see the work we do. It's because of kind people -- probably not so unlike yourself -- that we're kept stocked with food and toys and bedclothes and the literally infinite list of other things that one needs when caring for children. For example, fire extinguishers.
That was not a joke.
"Mr. Weatherby," a baby Scorchio said to get my attention as I hopped over the border of the carrot patch.
"Yes, Annie?" I said, craning my neck down so that I could look her in the eyes.
"I accimadentally made my carrots go boom," she said, and a tiny ember escaped from her nostrils as she did so. I peered into her basket. It was full of ash.
This was nothing. Buster, a blue Scorchio with a very independent streak, burned all his bedroom furniture to cinders because I wouldn't let him stay up past his bedtime.
That was my third mistake. Never argue with a fire-breather. It does not end well.
"Never mind, Annie. Just be more careful next time, that's all," I said cheerily, as I uprooted a carrot, then placed it in my blanket.
Laughing, Annie bumbled away to go and help her friends.
That, my friends, is the end of the story. I hope that you've enjoyed it, and I certainly hope that you've picked up a few things along the way. Mr. Weatherby's Home for Unwanted Pets is of course still running -- so if you ever wondered just what happens to those Soup Kitchen waifs, or the poor pets that crowd around the Money Tree, well, a lot of them end up with me. My life is hardly easy, and it's by no means the one that my parents would've picked for their son, but I'd take the smile on an abandoned pet's face over a million Neopoints any day of the week.
And now I'm afraid I've got to dash. Scamp has attached himself to the ceiling fan. Again.
Thanks for reading!
Author's Note: Mr. Weatherby would like to request that if you're about to Pound a pet, please think twice. They may only be a name and a colour to you, but he reckons that if you look a little closer, you might just see something very special. Pets are for life.