The Owner is checking her Bank Account.
What is a Bank Account, I ask.
It is where you save your Money, says the Owner, for when The Prime Minister needs it.
Why should the Prime Minister have it? I ask.
It is a Social Responsibility, she says, in Order that we can have the Park and the Busses and the BBC.
I have seen the movies in which Men on Horses arrive and Steal the Money, I say. What if Others take your Money? Is it not safer to keep it under the mattress?
Banks are Very Safe, says the Owner. The Money is Protected by the Government. Only the Prime Minister can take it. That is the Rule.
For the Park and the Busses and the BBC? I ask.
Quite, she says.
So if I had Something in the Bank Nobody but the Prime Minister could take it?
Yes, she says, that is right.
And could I have it whenever I wished? I ask.
Yes, says the Owner, it would be yours for whenever you wanted it.
That is a Very Good Idea, I say.
Later the Owner and the Man and I go for a long walk. I am Extremely Good. I run alongside them all the way. I walk and stay and sit and wait and heel next to the Owner and I do not pursue any of the birds which taunt me. I say a Moral Hello to the People running the other way (a Moral Hello is the type of greeting I perform without Sharing my feet). I am a Positive Saint. When we get home it is clear that they are pleased. Well done, Hergest, says the Owner, you have been a Good Dog. You shall have a Significant Portion of Cheese.
You can put it in my Cheese Account, I say. I will hold it for later.
Very well, says the Owner.
As she slices the Cheese I hear a sound from the Beach outside. I need to go out, I say. Nature is Calling Me.
The Owner opens the door. I step out onto the Beach. The Sea calls me! The Waves call me! Far down the Beach is Another Owner! A Ball! Another Fairly Moral Dog!
I have a Wonderful Time on the Beach. Several Wonderful Times, in fact. At times I hear the Plaintive Whistle of the Owner but the thought of my Bank Account sustains me through the fear of Cheese Shortage that this implies.
Some time later we head home. I am On a Lead.
I cannot believe you did that, says the Owner. That was Not Your Owner. Nor Your Ball. Nor Your Garden. Nor Your House. Nor Your Welcoming Family.
I agree, I say. It was reprehensible. But at least I have worked up an appetite, I say. For my Cheese, I say.
Your Cheese? Asks the Owner, turning that shade of light mauve she does so well. You Ran Away from Home. You inveigled yourself into the home of strangers. You Begged. You cannot expect Cheese for being a Bad Dog.
I would not dream of expecting Cheese for these terrible acts of Bad Dogness, I say, but I am intending to consume a small portion of the Cheese which I have on account from when I was a Good Dog earlier. Once you have earned it, I say, it cannot be Taken Away other than by the Prime Minister. Is that not what you said?
Dammit, says the Owner. I suppose I did.
She produces the Cheese.
I only want half of it, I say. I recognise I do not deserve such a large portion. In the circumstances.
At least you have Some Conscience, says the Owner, putting half of it back.
Of course I have Some Conscience. Besides, there is a Dog on the Beach with a Ball. I may need the rest later.
Hergest the Hound
I am a dog of many thoughts.