Wolf Moon: The Ranulph Fables Episode 4

By Anne Paton-Cragg

The story so far

New to Portsmouth, Ranulph the wolf has found lodgings with feisty fox Trixie, and the two of them have set up a stall selling “wild food wraps” on the seafront. Ranulph is wary of her brother, Tod, untrustworthy in business. In this episode, Trixie gets into a fix but Ranulph and his girlfriend Orla come to the rescue.

Dramatis Personae

RANULPH, a wolf

TOD, a wily fox

TRIXIE, a fox, Tod’s sister

ORLA, a wolf-husky cross, Ranulph’s new girlfriend


Episode 4: The Karma of Jewellery

Orla and Trixie were curled up in front of the telly while I gutted the day’s catch.

Have you ever seen a ruby that big? Orla said.

Both females’ eyes shone, bright as the jewel on the screen. Trixie’s vertical pupils gave her face a sly, knowing look.

Orla’s eyes were honest and wistful. ‘I had a jewelled collar once.’

‘What happened to it?’ asked Trixie.

‘The people I live with now don’t dress dogs up.’

Orla’s folks, Juno and Peter, lived at Eastney on a houseboat. She had more freedom than most Canis domesticus, which suited her wolf half. At the same time, husky genes conferred acceptance and trust from humans that I, a full-blooded wolf or as good as, could never expect.

The doorbell shrilled twice. It was Tod, guarding a large box between his forelegs. ‘All right Prof?’ he barked, glancing over his shoulder.

‘Prof isn’t my name,’ I told him for the nth time.

Tod barged past and dumped the box on the sofa.

Trixie pointed her muzzle at the heap of entrails from the mackerel. ‘’Scuse the mess, bruv.’ The fish was for the wild food wraps Trixie and I sold on the seafront. The fillings were “foraged”, Trixie told the customers, who never enquired further.

‘I’m starving,’ said Tod. ‘ Busy day. Are those mackerel heads going begging?’ When he’d gulped them down, he started on guts.

Orla wrinkled her nose. ‘Scavenger entrails.’ For someone with fifty percent dog genes, she was fastidious.

‘Fresh-caught.’ I was pleased with the day’s haul.

‘What’s in the big box, bruv?’ said Trixie. ‘Anything interesting?’

‘Jewellery, as it happens.’ Tod wiped his whiskers on the end of his kerchief. ‘OK if I leave this lot overnight? Safer than at my place.’

I wasn’t keen to get done for receiving stolen goods or some such offence. But Orla and Trixie already had the box open and were pawing through chains, creole hoops and brooches.

‘Don’t maul the goods,Trix!’ said Tod. ‘You’ll get the chains tangled.’

‘A chain is a chain, however small,’ I said. ‘No adornment for any self-respecting beast.’

‘Hark at the prof.’ Trixie looped an ankle bracelet twice around her paw. ‘Us girls like to look pretty. Can you fasten it for me, Orla?’

Wolves’ and dogs’ paws aren’t any better-adapted than foxes’ to such tasks but Orla used her fine teeth as back-up.

‘You can have that,Trix, if you let these sit overnight,’ said Tod. ‘I’ll come by tomorrow. Orla, you choose something too. All right Ranulph?’

At least he hadn’t called me Prof again. ‘Trixie, are you foraging tonight?’ I said. ‘We need to get a move on if we’re going to have those wraps done to schedule. I’ll cook this fish. Orla, could you melt the butter in the pan then brush it on the wraps?’

‘All go, innit!’ Tod went off with a bag of fish guts I could have used for bait.

Trixie headed off to the allotments and Orla and I set to work. When we’d done, she opened the box of jewellery.

‘Look, there’s a wolf on this!’ She had picked out the only decent piece in Tod’s haul, a cameo of a she-wolf suckling Romulus and Remus.

I pinned it on her collar, next to the disc with her folks’ phone number on it. The brooch nestled in the white fur on her throat. I bit her neck and she rubbed her cheek against mine. ‘Let’s go to my room,’ I murmured.


Suddenly it was midnight.

‘Trixie’s very late,’ I said.

Orla’s eyes widened, showing the whites. ‘D’you think ─ ’

‘Let’s go and find her. She’ll have gone to one of the coops.’

There were people still about, and the odd police car, so we followed the side streets. It took us twenty minutes to reach the allotments.

‘Those are her pawprints.’ I pointed at the wall. As we leapt over, a rooster gave a warning crow and started his hens off clucking. Beside the wire enclosure skulked a desolate figure, tail drooping, head lowered. Trixie yelped when she saw us. The hens squawked and flapped, the rooster screeched and puffed up his feathers.

Orla hurried to Trixie’s side. ‘Are you hurt?’

‘I’m stuck.’ Her gold chain had looped and knotted itself around the chicken wire.

‘Why didn’t you phone?’ I said.

‘I never take it when I’m foraging, you know that.’

‘Well, let’s get you free.’ I managed to undo the bigger of the knots. The smaller one wouldn’t budge.

Orla tried to untangle the knot with the pin of her brooch, but her paws weren’t up to the job. She broke it with her sharp, white teeth.

Trixie stretched her front legs, her back ones, shook her fur. ‘We’ll leave that chain. You were right Ranulph, for once.’ Up went her head as she assumed her usual sassy stance.

Orla gave her an affectionate cuff and we set off. The streets were quieter now and Orla stopped to sniff at a lamppost.

‘Don’t dawdle,’ said Trixie. You’re standing right under the light.’

Too late. A car slowed down and the man in the passenger seat leaned out of the window. ‘We’re looking for a stolen dog.’

‘A guard dog from a jewellery store in North End,’ said the driver.

Jewellery store! Uh-oh. ‘This isn’t the one you’re looking for,’ I said. ‘She’s not a guard dog.’

Opening the door, the bald-headed passenger reached for Orla’s collar.

She growled low in her throat.

‘Come on doggie, don’t be shy.’

Orla strained backwards. She drew her lips back and growled again.

I took a step towards her. ‘Don’t b ─’

‘Of course I won’t bite,’ Orla snapped. She turned back to Baldhead. ‘Just ring the number on my disc. They’ll tell you I’m not stolen.’

The driver got his phone out. Baldhead read him the number.

‘Hello?’ said the driver. ‘About your dog. Your husky. Yep. Yeah…. She’s running around with dodgy-looking characters –’

I couldn’t hear what Orla’s folks were saying on the other end.

‘Want me to drop her over to you?’ said the driver.

I exchanged glances with Orla. She took a bold step forward. ‘Let me speak to them. Hello, hello… yes it’s me…. No, don’t worry… I’ll be right back, we aren’t far away…. OK, bye.’

But Baldhead’s eyes were on the brooch. ‘What’s that on your collar, doggie?’

Trixie disappeared into the shadows. Orla growled and backed away, mane bristling.

‘No need for that,’ said Baldhead. ‘Let’s have a proper look.’ Ignoring our snarls, he grabbed her collar from the side.

I bared my teeth and lunged at the car.

‘Shit!’ Baldhead let go of Orla’s collar like it was red-hot. ‘The big one’s a wolf!’

The door slammed, the driver revved the engine. The car roared into the distance, jumping the lights.

‘Phew!’ Orla, sank onto the pavement. ‘My legs are shaking.’

‘You were marvellous.’ Trixie slunk out of the gloom. ‘So were you, Ranulph.’

‘Whereas you made yourself scarce.’

‘She’s had a bad evening,’ said Orla. ‘Don’t give her a hard time. I’d better get straight back or Juno will worry.’ And she was off.

Trixie went straight to bed but I opened a can. I’d nearly drained it when my phone rang.

‘You won’t believe this,’ said Orla.

‘Believe what?’

‘The wolf brooch belongs to Juno. They pawned it up at North End. Inherited from her grandmother. She never wears it.’

‘Blimey! Did they ask where you got it?’ I didn’t fancy shifting the rest of Tod’s haul back to his den in the small hours.

‘They’re cool. Juno said the pawnbroker had robbed her and it was karma that she’s got the brooch back.’

‘The karma of jewellery,’ I said. ‘Hmm. A lot of that around tonight.’


Next instalment – Full Moon Barbeque: The resourceful four encounter gatecrashers when they hold a beach BBQ.


Image by Christel SAGNIEZ from Pixabay.