There is a picture of a Dog on the bedroom wall. It has brown ears and a rather smug expression. It is pictured Standing with the Owner and the Man as if it is Owned. It is the Ugliest, Smuggest, most Unpleasant Dog I have ever seen. It does not Even look Moral. I growl at it in case it gets Any Ideas.
What are you growling at, Hergest? Asks the Owner, but I do not want to Say. What if I am Banished for Growling at this obviously Much Loved Dog?
Later Caspar comes to visit whilst his Owner goes shopping, and I take him into the bedroom. Look, I say to Caspar, it is even facing the Bed. I fear the Owner must be Gazing Adoringly at it All Night whilst I sleep next door in my Lonely Dog-Incarcerating Bed with no company at all.
Do you not have Squeaky Cat, Chewy Log and The Blanket? Asks Caspar. And a special cushion?
No company other than Squeaky Cat, Chewy Log and The Blanket, I say. And the Special Cushion. They are Little Consolation.
Caspar gazes at the Picture. That is Certainly Your Owner, he says after a while. And that does appear to be the Man. He gazes a little more. The Dog looks rather Adoring, he says. I think in fact, he adds, it looks somewhat Moral.
I cannot believe it. Am I to be betrayed by even My Trusty Sidekick Fluffy? That is no Moral Dog, I say, but this Moral Dog knows when he is No Longer Necessary. I will pack my meagre bags, take Squeaky Cat and head out Into the Sunset.
Caspar is still looking at the Amoral Dog. Don’t you think its ears are rather like yours, he says. And its tail is surprisingly white. You should not be jealous of a Dog which so resembles you.
I am not jealous, I say, I am Morally assailed in a manner comparable to the fall of the French at Dien Bien Phu. That Dog does not resemble me, I say. Its ears are a parody of the ears of a Moral Dog. They are excessively floppy, as might be expected of the kind of Dog it clearly is. As for that tail, I have never seen anything like it. It looks as if it was stolen from Some Other Dog.
Come on you two, calls the Owner from the kitchen, it is time to take my Two Favourite Moral Dogs to the Park.
You see, says Caspar. She is clearly not interested in any Other Dog.
I look at the Picture. Clearly she is, I say. It’s a Fine Thing when the Owner can use perfidious language like that when she has an Amoral Dog on her wall. Perhaps, I add, she might like to take the Picture for a Walk in the Park and I will just stay here, alone with my Memories in this Dark, Cold Bedroom.
It’s not very dark in here, says Caspar, and I think it’s actually quite cosy.
I get the impression Caspar is not Taking This Seriously. Okay, I say, I will just stay here in this Light and Reasonably Warm Bedroom, alone with my Memories.
The Owner appears at the door. Oh, she says, are you two looking at Hergest’s picture? The Man acquired it and placed it on the wall. It allows me to see the Moral Dog even in the night when he is sleeping in his cosy dog-bed next door.
Caspar follows her out. His shoulders are shaking. It must be the relief.
I linger in front of the picture, taking one more look. It seems to me that I previously misjudged the image completely. The Pictured Dog is Quite Extraordinarily Handsome and Quite Plainly Moral. His ears are particularly Fine. I can’t imagine why I ever thought Otherwise.
Hergest the Hound
I am a dog of many thoughts.