Riverland: Colliope and the Scammers

Here is the next part of Riverland (Book 1 of Riverland Series)—children’s fiction (7-12 years). We already heard all about Uncle Tim’s first visit to Riverland in Part 1: Uncle Tim Discovers Riverland. Now, we are up to Part 2: Rose of Riverland.

That was all great for Uncle Tim, but what about me? When did I get to go to Riverland? I was five, the same age as when Uncle Tim first went. And a dog was also involved. You guessed it—a Cavalier. Nannie says all the Cavaliers roll into one jolly, round, fluff-ball of smilingness for her. She told Mummy that we should continue the Cavalier tradition. Mummy said the tradition was too expensive, but Nannie started searching the internet for my puppy. 

We were in lockdown, at the time, because of the Covid pandemic. Many families must have decided that a wagging tail would cheer things up, and all the puppies were taken. Neither money nor pity seemed to be able to change that. However, much to Nannie’s delight, not only did she find an interstate puppy, but it could be air freighted immediately (no long processing of our family’s credentials to see if we were suitable). To add to the bargain, it was half-price! We were thrilled.

I asked Mummy to print out a photo of my soon-to-be puppy, which the breeders had already named Colliope. I took the picture to school for show-and-tell in one of our short out-of-lockdown periods. All my classmates couldn’t wait to pat my puppy. I was going to be the most popular kid at school.

On the day that Colliope was to arrive, nothing and nobody came. 

“That’s strange,” said Mummy.

I cried. 

“Don’t worry,” said Mummy, “we’ll ring Nannie.”

Mummy and Nannie talked on the phone for a long time, but I couldn’t understand what they were saying. 

Eventually, Mummy got off the phone and said, “I’m so sorry, darling, but Colliope is ill and has to stay with her family.”

Sometimes, I can be a little dramatic. That afternoon, I definitely was. But let’s not talk about that. The next time I went to stay at Nannie’s house, she told me she knew where Colliope was and that we could visit. That was my first visit to Riverland. 

However, I must tell you something else about Colliope. The other day, Nannie told me that there was a secret about Colliope that she couldn’t tell me when I was little, but now she could. She explained that the reason Colliope couldn’t come wasn’t that she was sick. It was that she wasn’t real. 

“Actually,” said Nannie, “she was real. She was probably some nice person’s dog happily playing in the park when the photos were taken. But Colliope couldn’t come to you because the breeders weren’t real. They were scammers.”

I didn’t know what scammers were, but Nannie told me that online people pretend to be someone else, usually selling something they don’t own, to steal money.

“That’s terrible,” I said. “They must be bad people.”

“They often come from sad situations,” said Nannie, “and need the money.”

“Do you mean we should feel sorry for them?” I asked.

“I feel sorry for everyone who doesn’t know how to live properly,” said Nannie.

“But they stole a lot of money from you,” I said.

“They cannot steal what is most valuable,” said Nannie. “But you are not old enough to walk amongst thieves, so you do exactly what Mummy tells you, and you will be safe.”

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