On this summer’s evening, the Houndlings were safely asleep in their dorms and Bella had gone to bed, her tail in curlers. Rolph crept out, heading for the old woodshed at the back of the Orphanage. Once his eyes had adjusted to the gloom, he walked softly behind the shed and lifted up a greasy tarpaulin to reveal a gleaming two-cylinder Houndster Whizzer, complete with woven-can sidecar and brass headlamp. It was Rolph’s pride and joy, one he and Bronson had spent many furtive evenings restoring.
The rusted old Whizzer had been a present from the Baron. ‘Had it in my army days, 1st Houndsford Bike Artillery. Why not give that Bronson lad a crack at getting it going again? But for heaven’s sake, don’t tell Bella. She’ll pickle your ears, Flannegan, and mine as well!’
Ralph Wheeled the Whizzer quietly down Tumbleton Avenue until it was safe to kick the old bike to life without waking half the Orphanage. The engine erupted with a sound like a dozen Cats in a cements mixer, then spluttered off down the street, trailing a noxious cloud of blue smoke. Rakishly googled and with the straps of a leather aviator’s cap flapping about his grizzled ears, Ralph sat hunched over the handlebars. Suddenly something in the sidecar stirred. Then a small hand reached out and tugged frantically at Rolph’s leg.
Ralph turned, gasped and hit the brakes. The Whizzer skidded to a rubber-burning halt.
‘Holy Snouts! Is that you, Arthur Snout?’