We are walking down the road when I see it. A great, dark monster, strangely shaped and looming there, on the far wall. Silent, menacing, without eyes, without even scent, thrashing about in the wind. Malevolently it eyes us, and I stop.
The Moral Dog would show caution and courage. The Moral Dog would stand fast against the foe with strong heart and brave looks. The Moral Dog would stand his ground. A day may come when the courage of the Moral Dog fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. I attempt to drag the Owner backwards into a bush. For her own safety. This is what Aragorn would have done.
The Owner looks up. It’s a shadow, Hergest, she says, it won’t do us any harm. She then attempts to pull me towards it.
I suggest that the Moral Dog would not be doing his job properly if I allowed my Owner to be eaten by a Shadow. If the Owner is to be eaten one day by anything at all it is not this day.
She says the Shadow will not eat us. Come and see, Hergest, she says. Come and stand over here.
It seems to me as a Moral but also a Practical Dog that demonstrating that something will not eat you by putting your head in its mouth is something of a high risk strategy. The day may come when I stick my head willingly into the mouth of a monster just to allow the Owner to prove a point, but it is not this day. Eventually the Owner, sighing in a somewhat patronising manner, bypasses the Shadow, and we head home.
The next morning, by unhappy coincidence, the Man has to get up very early and we all head for the coffee shop together. Outside the house the streetlights are still golden. Cars flash past with their great headlights shining. The cafe is bright and warm. The Owner acquires her cappuccino and then we head on to the Park.
And then, only then, the true enormity of the horror is revealed to us. The headlights, the streetlights, the cafe lights… they are all just vain attempts to keep it at bay. As we pass through the gate and darkness engulfs us I realise that all is lost. I look to my inner Aragorn and he says Hergest, it is this day.
I did try to warn her.
The Shadow has eaten the park.
Hergest the Hound
I am a dog of many thoughts.