The Art of Trading Places
To the untrained eye it would appear that the big dog was sleeping. True, he was lying still as stone under the lady’s chair - head resting on paws, eyes closed, breathing slow. But if one were to look closely one would perhaps notice the occasional flutter of a furry white ear as it moved back and forth on his head, following each utterance of conversation taking place across the dinner table above him. From what he could gather, The Man was feeling much better and if so, the big dog was conflicted. Not that he wished The Man to feel anything but perfectly hale and hearty, you understand. But for the past three days, The Man had been suffering that most frustrating, yet least worrisome, malady of a bad cold and in consideration of The Lady’s health, had been sleeping in another part of the house. This had created a vacancy in his usual place in the soft four-poster bed, a vacancy that the big white dog had happily, and most comfortably, filled these past three cold and windy nights. If indeed The Man was feeling well, then this most happy situation was due to change. The big white dog had to make some plans.
All evening long he watched The Man closely. No sneezes. No coughs. Yes, it appeared he was back to regular form. The dog thought and thought. It was not as though he had anything to complain about when it came to his sleeping arrangements. He had a fat paisley bed of generous proportions that sat at the foot of the chaise lounge. Everyone knew it was his and his alone and he found it more than sufficient most nights of the year. He had never been banned from the big four-poster bed either. Indeed, most winter nights found him fast asleep there with his head resting on The Lady’s feet, a satisfying condition for them both. But then, he’d never tried sleeping in The Man’s place before - never knew what an immensely agreeable spot it was, resting one’s head on a pillow at the top of the bed, right up next to The Lady, on a January night when the wind howled past the eaves and the temperature dropped down low. He just wasn’t ready to relinquish this newly discovered comfort. Not ready at all.
Finally, bedtime approached. He watched as The Lady picked up the book she was reading, plumped up her pillows, and climbed inside the tall bed. The big dog hopped up and lay down with a plop at her feet to wait. The Lady smiled his way. Fighting sleep, he rubbed his face with his paws. He waited. He could hear The Man checking locks, setting out the coffee pot for morning. Finally, The Lady closed her book and placed it on the table beside her. She snuggled down and switched off her light. Just what the big dog had been waiting for. Slowly, he traveled up the downy hills and valleys of the bed till he reached the top. Quietly he lay down beside the lady and rolled over on his side. He closed his eyes tight. And waited.
Next morning, over breakfast,
The Big Dog listened to the conversation taking place above him.
“I thought you were feeling better! Where were you when I woke up?”, said the lady.
The Man sighed. “Well....... I was. I mean, I do. It was just, well, when I came to bed you looked so comfortable. Edward was up in my place and you both were sound asleep. You even had your arm draped over him. I stood there looking at you both for several minutes and realized I just couldn’t wake you up. So I slept in the other room.”
“Honestly!”, said The Lady, laughing.
And The Big Dog smiled.