And so, says the Owner, finishing the story, ‘as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One!’ She closes the book.
It was a good story, I say. I liked the part about the turkey and the games. But I did not like the Ghosts. It would have been better without the Ghosts.
The Ghosts are Essential to the Story, says the Owner. It is a Ghost Story. That is the Point.
It strikes me that it would be better not to have heard a story like that on Christmas Eve.
They were almost certainly the products of Scrooge’s indigestion and his guilty conscience, says the Owner.
Oh, I say.
Later the Owner and the Man fight briefly over a strange paper thing, then there is a tearing sound and lots of small things made of single use plastic fall out.
It did not go bang, says the Man.
What did you eat, Hergest? Asks the Owner.
I think it was a Smurf, I say, and also a small plastic Donald.
Duck? Asks the Owner.
Trump, I say.
Excellent, says the Owner.
They will come out eventually, says the Man.
I do not like the Sound of This.
It is bedtime. The Owner has left Mince Pies and a Carrot for Santa. It seems to me that he has Rather More mince pies than he needs, although I do not have a strong view about the Carrot.
We all go to bed. The Smurf is on my conscience (I have no regrets regarding the Donald) and I sleep poorly. As the clock strikes midnight there is a tinkling sound. I realise that Santa has arrived. He is larger than I expected although, given the Owner’s lack of prudence with Portion Control I perhaps should not be surprised.
I was afraid of this, I say. This is what happens when things Come Out Eventually, isn’t it?
You tell me, says Santa. Have you been a Good Dog or a Bad Dog?
I did not expect to be asked, I say. I assumed you would know.
Santa raises an Inquisitorial eyebrow somewhat reminiscent of that raised by the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. And I am unable to stop myself. It all comes pouring out. I ate a Smurf and a Donald and the thing out of the cracker that goes bang, I say, and some seaweed and the Owner’s Sock. And I stood on the table in the pub and I pushed the Man out of bed (possibly twice although the second time was a misunderstanding regarding legs) and I refused to go in the shower. And I sang along to the Carols in church even when the Carols had stopped and I think I may be about to explode because the thing out of the cracker had gunpowder on it, I say. And I ate the tail off Squeaky Cat who will never be the same again.
A Bad Dog, then, says Santa, and then he eats all of the pies.
The Dream pops and I wake up, howling.
What is it? Asks the Owner.
Santa was here, I say, and he asked me if I had been a Good Dog or a Bad Dog. And then he ate all the pies.
What is the problem with that? Asks the Owner.
I did not want to be asked, I say, because then I was obliged to explain about all the Things I should Not Have Done. Even about the Donald, which deserved to be eaten, given his actions regarding Ukraine.
Why did you tell him? Asks the Owner.
Because I am Moral Dog, I say.
That, says the Owner, is what makes you a Good Dog. Look, the pies are still there. It was just a Dream.
I thought it was the Smurf and the Plastic Donald Coming Out Eventually, I say.
Alas, says the Owner, not. I think perhaps you should have a mince pie. It will help. We can tell the Man that Santa ate them all.
I accept gratefully. Santa won’t miss one, being the size he was. I cannot imagine why she thinks I need it but it is Christmas, after all.
Hergest the Hound
I am a dog of many thoughts.