I want to tell you a story.
It’s a story about love.. The love between a young boy and his devoted dog…
Toby grew into a fine wee lad, his crop of red hair, blazon in the sunlight bounced upon his head with every step. The village had warmed to him from that very first outing with his mother. Molly had wrapped Toby in her gran’s shawl and proudly carried him into the general store. “Look at that wee lad!!” Mrs Roberts exclaimed. She was secretly envious because Bob, her husband had no desire what-so-ever to father children. He owned the store and children in his eyes were nothing but a money pit. He would rather spend the profits on whiskey, in the company of men like O’Malley. After all, they had their scarlet women to pleasure them, at a price!
All the women gathered round as Molly unwrapped her precious bundle and showed him to the ladies. Outside, there was a little whimper as Uppli was feeling neglected, once again overshadowed by Toby. He was becoming a bright and loyal pup. Always on guard and alert to the surroundings.
Mr Pandit Singh, the town’s greengrocer, had suggested to Tom Black, that the little pup should have a regal name as he was a special little little creature and had survived despite the odds..
He was named after Mr Singh’s village in India. It was a village that had struggled and had overcome insurmountable odds. It was therefore fitting that this little pup be rightly named Uppli.
The Summer of that year was to be a special time as boy and dog bonded beyond the physical. It happened on a dank irriguous evening when Toby decided he would venture to the stream for a cool swim. Rain from the previous days had filled the river with a swirling current that was swift in its excecution. Toby bounded headlong into the soothing waters, only to slip on the muddy bank and crack his head on a small rock jutting just above the surface.
Dazed and concussed, he very quickly became disorientated. He saw a shadow on the opposite bank and was just able to make out the portly figure of O’Malley. Strength was sucked from his now tired body as O’Malley just stood motionless watching the drama unfold.
Uppli besieged with devotion to his master, propelled himself into the murky waters and dug his teeth into the collar of Toby’s tattered shirt. With the bonded love, between boy and dog, way beyond the strength of a lion, he pulled his master to the muddy edge. Bounding up the bank and without a thought of catching a breath, little Uppli raced to the cottage. Heart pounding and with pain, he fought the undergrowth, determination paramount, the only focus, his ghostly white lifeless master lying on the muddy bank. Barking as only he could, his call was heard by Alfred who happened to be picking blackberries in one of the nearby paddocks.
He let out a shrill whistle that stopped Uppli dead. He knew that sound and saw Alfred run toward him. “What is it boy?” wheezed Alfred, “What is it?” Uppli tugged at the old man beckoning him to follow.
Racing ahead, then stopping to look back, making sure Alfred was keeping pace, the dog did not let up. He was beyond pain, just concerned that his beloved Toby was safe. They reached the bank of the swollen stream and found O’Malley bending over the boy.
He had expired the water from his lungs and Toby was resting in a comfortable position. A bandage around his soggy red mop was blood soaked from where he had punctured the skin. Toby was a tough character and once Albert had checked him over, he declared “You’ll live boy, you’ll live!”
Uppli sat by his master, his little heart still pounding as he continued to pant, tongue screaming for water. Then he saw O’Malley and let forth a blood curling threatened growl. He was about to leap teeth bared right into the neck of O’Malley, when a soft weakened hand reached forward and stopped the little dog in his tracks. “No Uppli! No!” whispered Toby with a calm soothing voice.. “It’s all right!”
O’Malley was fearful for his life, he turned at haste and rapidly scampered up the bank. Slipping and skidding on both knees, seething with anger, he turned and in a mordacious voice said “you’ll keep you.. you scrawny little mutt!” as he scurried to the top of the soaked bank.“Don’t worry about him son, he’s all mouth” said a calming Alfred as he hoisted Toby to his unsteady footing.. “It’s all going to be all right son. Everything’s going to be dandy!”