Hot buttered toast with Dodie Smith

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Then he put a slice of bread on a toasting fork. It was no ordinary toasting fork for it was made of iron and nearly four feet long… it was just what Sir Charles needed, and he handled it with great skill, avoiding the flaming logs and toasting the bread where the wood glowed red hot. A slice of toast was ready in no time. Sir Charles buttered it thickly and offered a piece to the spaniel, who ate it while Sir Charles watched…

One of Janet and Anne Grahame Johnstone's illustrations for The Hundred and One Dalmations by Dodie Smith

‘Hot buttered toast’ is a superb chapter from The Hundred and One Dalmations – one of those passages of calm amid the tumult of adventure and uncertainty that remain in the memory from all the best books. Missis pulls some hay over a sleeping Pongo (nursing a wounded leg) and goes off in search of food, and enters into a scene reminiscent of Manderley in Rebecca

She could see no house ahead of her because the drive twisted. It was overgrown with weeds… so wild and neglected that it seemed more like a path through a wood than the approach to a house. And it was so strangely silent… suddenly she was out in the open, with the house in front of her… very old, built of mellowed red brick… with many little diamond-paned windows and one great window that stretched to the roof…

Here Missis meets an old spaniel, and she returns with Pongo to sleep in a four poster bed, rest in front of the fire and feast on toast. The spaniel’s owner, ninety years of age, thinks he is seeing the ghosts of his carriage dogs, and says, wonderfully, ‘What a joy to know that dogs go on too’.

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