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101 Dalmatians [Secure eReader]
eBook by Dodie Smith

eBook Category: Children's Fiction
eBook Description: A rollicking adventure that is also exuberant fun, Dodie Smith's 101 Dalmatians has become a modern classic for children and families.The alarming premise is that Dalmatian puppies have begun to vanishall over England. Behind this dastardly crime is a villain whoseviciousness is matched only by her style, the one and only Cruella deVil. Who will save them? The fate of their fellow canines is left toPongo and his Missis, aided by their masters Mr. and Mrs. Dearly,who rally dogs all over England to save the Dalmatian pups. It is not surprising to learn that the English-born author Dodie Smithlived and traveled with Dalmatians. In fact, when she and herhusband lived in the U.S., they traveled across the country six timesaccompanied by their dogs. Her affection for Dalmatians inspired herto write the story "The Great Dog Robbery," first published inWoman's Day magazine, which she expanded into the novel 101Dalmatians, published to critical acclaim in 1956. The book'spopularity took off when Walt Disney made it into an animated featurefilm in 1959. Disney produced a live-action remake in 1996 and asequel (102 Dalmatians) four years later. At the heart of thephenomenon is Dodie Smith's charming novel, which the ChicagoTribune called "a tale full to overflowing with those prime requisites ofa good story--warmth and humor, imagination and suspense--anda fascinating array of characters."

eBook Publisher: RosettaBooks, Published: 2002
Fictionwise Release Date: July 2002

9 Reader Ratings:
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Chapter 1
The Happy Couples

Not long ago, there lived in London a young married couple of Dalmatian dogs named Pongo and Missis Pongo. (Missis had added Pongo's name to her own on their marriage, but was still called Missis by most people.) They were lucky enough to own a young married couple of humans named Mr. and Mrs. Dearly, who were gentle, obedient, and unusually intelligent -- almost canine at times. They understood quite a number of barks: the barks for "Out, please!" "In, please!" "Hurry up with my dinner!" and "What about a walk?" And even when they could not understand, they could often guess -- if looked at soulfully or scratched by an eager paw. Like many other much-loved humans, they believed that they owned their dogs, instead of realizing that dogs owned them. Pongo and Missis found this touching and amusing and let their pets think it was true.

Mr. Dearly, who had an office in the City, was particularly good at arithmetic. Many people called him a wizard of finance -- which is not the same thing as a wizard of magic, though sometimes fairly similar. At the time when this story starts he was rather unusually rich for a rather unusual reason. He had done the Government a great service (something to do with getting rid of the national debt) and, as a reward, had been let off his income tax for life. Also the Government had lent him a small house on the Outer Circle of Regent's Park -- just the right house for a man with a wife and dogs.

Before their marriages, Mr. Dearly and Pongo had lived in a bachelor flat, where they were looked after by Mr. Dearly's old nurse, Nanny Butler. Mrs. Dearly and Missis had also lived in a bachelor flat (there are no such things as spinster flats), where they were looked after by Mrs. Dearly's old nurse, Nanny Cook. The dogs and their pets met at the same time and shared a wonderfully happy double engagement, but they were all a little worried about what was to happen to Nanny Cook and Nanny Butler. It would be all right when the Dearlys started a family, particularly if it could be twins, with one twin for each Nanny, but until then, what were the Nannies going to do? For though they could cook breakfast and provide meals on trays (meals called "a nice egg by the fire") neither of them was capable of running a smart little house in Regent's Park, where the Dearlys hoped to invite their friends to diner.

And then something happened. Nanny Cook and Nanny Butler met and, after a few minutes of deep suspicion, took a great liking to each other. And they had a good laugh about their names.

"What a pity we're not a real cook and butler," said Nanny Cook.

"Yes, that's what's needed now," said Nanny Butler.

And then they both together had the Great Idea: Nanny Cook would train to be a real cook, and Nanny Butler would train to be a real butler. They would start the very next day and be fully trained by the wedding.

"But you'll have to be a parlourmaid, really," said Nanny Cook.

"Certainly not," said Nanny Butler. "I haven't the figure for it. I shall be a real butler -- and I shall valet Mr. Dearly, which will need no training as I've done it since the day he was born."

And so when the Dearlys and the Pongos got back from their joint honeymoon, there were Nanny Cook and Nanny Butler, fully trained, ready to welcome them into the little house facing Regent's Park.

It came as something of a shock that Nanny Butler was wearing trousers.

"Wouldn't a black dress with a nice frilly apron be better?" suggested Mrs. Dearly -- rather nervously, because Nanny Butler had never been her Nanny.

"You can't be a butler without trousers," said Nanny Butler firmly. "But I'll get a frilly apron tomorrow. It will add a note of originality." It did.

The Nannies said they no longer expected to be called Nanny, and were now prepared to be called by their surnames, in the correct way. But though you can call a cook "Cook," the one thing you cannot call a butler is "Butler," so in the end both Nannies were just called "Nanny, darling," as they always had been.

After the dogs and the Dearlys had been back from their honeymoons for several happy weeks, something even happier happened. Mrs. Dearly took Pongo and Missis across the park to St. John's Wood, where they called on their good friend, the Splendid Veterinary Surgeon. She came back with the wonderful news that the Pongos were shortly to become parents. Puppies were due in a month.

The Nannies gave Missis a big lunch to keep her strength up, and Pongo a big lunch in case he should feel neglected (as the fathers of expected puppies sometimes do), and then both dogs had a long afternoon nap on the best sofa. By the time Mr. Dearly came home from business they were wide awake and asking for a walk.

"Let us all go for a walk, to celebrate," said Mr. Dearly, after hearing the good news. Nanny Cook said the dinner was well ahead, and Nanny Butler said she could do with a bit of exercise, so off they all set along the Outer Circle.

The Dearlys led the way, Mrs. Dearly very pretty in the green going-away suit from her trousseau, and Mr. Dearly in his old tweed jacket, which was known as his dog-walker. (Mr. Dearly wasn't exactly handsome, but he had the kind of face you don't get tired of.) Then came the Pongos, looking noble; they could both have become champions if Mr. Dearly had not felt that dog shows would bore them -- and him. They had splendid heads, fine shoulders, strong legs, and straight tails. The spots on their bodies were jet-black and mostly the size of a two-shilling piece; they had smaller spots on their heads, legs, and tails. Their noses and eye-rims were black. Missis had a most winning expression. Pongo, though a dog born to command, had a twinkle in his eye. They walked side by side with great dignity, only putting the Dearlys on the leash to lead them over crossings. Nanny Cook (plump) in her white overall, and Nanny Butler (plumper) in a well-cut tail coat and trousers, plus dainty apron, completed the procession.

It was a beautiful September evening, windless, very peaceful. The park and the old, cream-painted houses facing it basked in the golden light of sunset. There were many sounds but no noises. The cries of playing children and the whir of London's traffic seemed quieter than usual, as if softened by the evening's gentleness. Birds were singing their last song of the day, and farther along the Circle, at the house where a great composer lived, someone was playing the piano.

"I shall always remember this happy walk," said Mr. Dearly.

At that moment the peace was shattered by an extremely strident motor horn. A large car was coming towards them. It drew up at a big house just ahead of them, and a tall woman came out onto the front-door steps. She was wearing a tight-fitting emerald satin dress, several ropes of rubies, and an absolutely simple white mink cloak, which reached to the high heels of her ruby-red shoes. She had a dark skin, black eyes with a tinge of red in them, and a very pointed nose. Her hair was parted severely down the middle and one half of it was black and the other white -- rather unusual.

"Why, that's Cruella de Vil," said Mrs. Dearly. "We were at school together. She was expelled for drinking ink."

"Isn't she a bit showy?" said Mr. Dearly, and would have turned back. But the tall woman had seen Mrs. Dearly and come down the steps to meet her. So Mrs. Dearly had to introduce Mr. Dearly.

"Come in and meet my husband," said the tall woman.

"But you were going out," said Mrs. Dearly, looking at the chauffeur who was waiting at the open door of the large car. It was painted black and white, in stripes -- rather noticeable.

"No hurry at all. I insist on your coming."

The Nannies said they would get back and see about dinner, and take the dogs with them, but the tall woman said the dogs must come in too. "They are so beautiful. I want my husband to see them," she said.

"What is your married name, Cruella?" asked Mrs. Dearly, as they walked through a green marble hall into a red marble drawing room.

"My name is still de Vil," said Cruella. "I am the last of my family so I made my husband change his name to mine."

Just then the absolutely simple white mink cloak slipped from her shoulders to the floor. Mr. Dearly picked it up.

"What a beautiful cloak," he said. "But you'll find it too warm for this evening."

"I never find anything too warm," said Cruella. "I wear furs all the year round. I sleep between ermine sheets."

"How nice," said Mrs. Dearly politely. "Do they wash well?"

Cruella did not seem to hear this. She went on, "I worship furs, I live for furs! That's why I married a furrier."

Then Mr. de Vil came in. He was a small, worried-looking man who didn't seem to be anything besides a furrier. Cruella introduced him and then said, "Where are those two delightful dogs?"

Pongo and Missis were sitting under the grand piano, feeling hungry. The red marble walls had made them think of slabs of raw meat.

"They're expecting puppies," said Mrs. Dearly happily.

"Oh, are they? Good!" said Cruella. "Come here, dogs!"

Pongo and Misses came forward politely.

"Wouldn't they make enchanting fur coats?" said Cruella to her husband. "For spring wear, over a black suit. We've never thought of making coats out of dogs' skins."

Pongo gave a sharp, menacing bark.

"It was only a joke, dear Pongo," said Mrs. Dearly, patting him. Then she said to Cruella, "I sometimes think they understand every word we say."

But she did not really think it. And it was true.

That is, it was true of Pongo. Missis did not understand quite so many human words as he did. But she understood Cruella's joke and thought it a very bad one. As for Pongo, he was furious. What a thing to say in front of his wife when she was expecting her first puppies! He was glad to see Missis was not upset.

"You must dine with us -- next Saturday," said Cruella to Mrs. Dearly.

And as Mrs. Dearly could not think of a good excuse (she was very truthful) she accepted. Then she said they must not keep the de Vils any longer.

As they went through the hall, a most beautiful white Persian cat dashed past them and ran upstairs. Mrs. Dearly admired it.

"I don't like her much," said Cruella. "I'd drown her if she wasn't so valuable."

The cat turned on the stairs and made an angry spitting noise. It might have been at Pongo and Missis -- but then again, it might not.

"I want you to hear my new motor horn," said Cruella as they all went down the front-door steps. "It's the loudest horn in England."

She pushed past the chauffeur and sounded the horn herself, making it last a long time. Pongo and Missis were nearly deafened.

"Lovely, lovely dogs," Cruella said to them as she got into the striped black-and white car. "You'd go so well with my car -- and my black-and-white hair."

Then the chauffeur spread a sable rug over the de Vils' knees and drove the striped car away.

"That car looks like a moving Zebra Crossing," said Mr. Dearly.

"Was your friend's hair black-and-white when she was at school?"

"She was no friend of mine, I was scared of her," said Mrs. Dearly. "Yes, her hair was just the same. She had one white plait and one black."

Mr. Dearly thought how lucky he was to be married to Mrs. Dearly and not to Cruella de Vil. He felt sorry for her husband. Pongo and Missis felt sorry for her white cat.

The golden sunset had gone now, and the blue twilight had come. The park was nearly empty, and a park-keeper was calling, "All out, all out!" in a far away voice. There was a faint scent of hay from the sum-scorched lawns, and a weedy, watery smell from the lake. All the houses on the Outer Circle that had been turned into government offices were now closed for the night. No light shone in their windows. But the Dearlys could see welcoming lights in their own windows. And soon Pongo and Missis sniffed an exquisite smell of dinner. The Dearlys liked it too.

They all paused to look down through the iron railings at the kitchen. Although it was in the basement, this was not at all a dark kitchen. It had a door and two large windows opening onto one of the narrow paved yards which are so often found in front of old London houses. The correct name for these little basement yards is "the area." A narrow flight of steps led up from the area to the street.

The Dearlys and the dogs thought how very nice their brightly lit kitchen looked. It had white walls, red linoleum, and a dresser on which was blue-spotted china. There was a new-fashioned electric stove for the cooking, and an old-fashioned kitchen fire to keep the Nannies happy. Nanny Cook was basting something in the oven, while Nanny Butler stacked plates on the lift which would take them up through the dining-room floor as if delivering the Demon King in a pantomime. Near the fire were two cushioned dog-baskets. And already two superb dinners, in shining bowls, were waiting for Pongo and Missis.

"I hope we haven't tired Missis," said Mr. Dearly as he opened the front door with his latch-key.

Missis would have liked to say she had never felt better in her life. As she could not speak, she tried to show how well she felt, and rushed down to the kitchen, lashing her tail. So did Pongo, looking forward to his dinner and a long, firelit snooze beside his dear Missis.

"I wish we had tails to wag," said Mr. Dearly.

Copyright © 1956 by Dodie Smith

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