The Soupster learns that bravery comes in many forms.
Prince Little, the chihuahua, huddled under a salmonberry thicket, hiding out. He was only a few blocks from his home, but little creatures don’t have to go far to have big adventures.
How to explain how he ended up in the salmonberries? First, the front door was left open, then the fence gate. He spotted a stunning poodle-corgi mix and before he made any kind of decision he was already in hot pursuit. He scarcely realized he was running, even as he was getting lost.
Mademoiselle Corgi was fleet and Prince Little could no longer see her. But he did see the two big cars that came very close and one honked angrily. Bicycles swished by, spraying him with drizzle. A jogger. A really big dog who smelled like teeth. Prince Little was an inside guy, and the salmonberry thicket seemed the closest thing to inside that he could find.
Only a few blocks away, Jennifer Boveen, Prince Little’s owner, paced her house with grief and worry. Tomorrow was the big parade and she was marching with the summer school band and had to practice her flute. But how could she? Prince Little was her practice partner, always listening, sitting quietly while she played, his thin tail swishing back and forth like a metronome. Where was Prince Little?
Jennifer couldn’t bring herself to even open her flute case. Her parents offered her all sorts of bribes, but nothing could dispel the dark cloud of Prince Little’s disappearance. She went to bed early, dreading having to march and play her flute, when all she wanted to do was pull her blankets over her head.
Morning – parade day. Jennifer had breakfast with her parents, who treated her gently. They told her they’d be cheering from the sidelines and they were proud of her. They watched their daughter leave, wearing her band uniform and carrying her flute — a brave little soldier.
Jennifer arrived at parade lineup and disappeared among the excited cacophony of band members. Her friends were so wired, Jennifer’s gloominess went unnoticed. The bandleader called for the musicians to take their places. And off they went, Jennifer doing her musical best as they played the song she had practiced for hours in her room, Prince Little wagging his tail at her side.
Two blocks ahead, inside the salmonberry thicket, Prince Little’s ears perked up. For the last hour, the street in front of the bushes had filled with chattering strangers, and the chihuahua had slid further back into the thicket. The crowd started making a lot of noise and Prince Little shivered.
And then a sound coming down the street, the blaring summer band belting out the tune that Jennifer had practiced for hours with Prince Little at her side. As the band got closer still, the dog’s small, keen ears recognized the familiar sound of a particular flute playing a familiar song in a most particular way. He picked up Jennifer’s smell, sealing the deal. Prince Little tore out of the salmonberries, ran past the Soupster and into the middle of the band, and danced around Jennifer’s feet. In celebration, she played her heart out.
The very next day, when they announced that the school summer band took first prize for musical acts, Prince Little’s dancing was awarded a special mention.
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